Family life, Paleo-ish eating and Coping with Chronic Illness

Posts tagged ‘Blog’

Goliath and My Sister’s Blog

beauty ashes

I wonder what my sister, Gail,  would say if you asked her if she’d rather be hugging her eldest son who is now in heaven, or writing books with a prestigious editor.  I think she’d say,  “I’ll take my son back. Thanks.”

Life’s tricky like that.  Some of the things that we want more than anything to have a say on, we don’t have any say at all. The only say we have is in how we respond.

I always think about how God says He will turn ashes to beauty. I feel like the only way God can make the beautiful part is with our permission. A life can remain ashes.

Gail gives God full permission.  She’s open and trusts His greater purpose.

When I was young, I always thought Gail was like a warrior.  She welcomed going places she’s never been; places where other people are afraid to go.  So, here she is.

If you want to know a secret, I’ll tell you that having a sister with this kind of faith is always inspiring, and, occasionally, (just like twice a year or less) annoying.  Let’s just keep that here.  Okay?  I blog a lot of stuff that’s confidential.  Just seems like the right place for it.

Sometimes.  Just sometimes.  You want to be afraid.  You want to question.  You want to doubt.

Sometimes, Goliath just scares the crap out of you, and you want to yell, “Pick on someone your own size, ya big bully.”

You don’t want to hear, “Fear not.  The battle is not yours. The battle is won.”  You don’t want to hear that, because you’re the only one with the itty bitty sling shot in your hand.

Next time I’m having one of those days, I’ll read Gail’s blog.  Her blog is all handsome and professional now that she’s a real writer, wearing a real writer’s fancy pants.  Her blog is full of “Choose Faith.  Choose Joy.  Just choose it, for goodness sake!” I love it.

God allowed my sister’s beloved son to be taken from her on Earth.  Then, God lit up a new path; showing her just where to step, and how to give birth to something different; something that expresses truth and inspiration to so many others who feel like ashes just remains ashes.

I can see it all very clearly.  It certainly is beautiful.  Maybe you’ll see it too:

Gail Wahl’s Blog

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Vacation in Galena and a History Lesson

I can’t remember if I told you how much I love Scott’s family.  Did I do that?  I meant to.  Scott has jolly parents, two brothers and a sister.  Scott is the oldest child.

In the family I grew up in, we are all huggy, and I love you and let’s talk this thing out.  Scott’s family is not like that.  Scott’s family is all let’s show up for each other, like all the same things,  and  have a great laugh.  Both kinds of families make me happy.

We just had our 16th annual Smith Family Summer Vacation.  Wow. What a wild party.  And by wild I mean most of the guests were 7 and under.

Scott's family

We went to Galena, IL.  Galena is a beautiful place.  Rolling farmland and a quaint and historic downtown area.  Scott and I went to Galena for a romantic getaway when Eddie was a baby, 16 years ago.  That was the first time we left Eddie over night.

Galena 2

Scott’s parents watched Eddie.  I remember that leaving our baby over night was very, very hard for me.  I was nervous and scared.

As we were driving away from Scott’s parent’s house, Scott reminded me that he was pretty sure his parents knew how to take care of a baby.  They’d done so successfully four times.  I wasn’t easily convinced.  I mean, let’s be honest.  Scott has issues.

Scott’s parents still have the double-sided, single spaced, hour by hour instructions I typed up for them before we left their house on that first trip to Galena.   For some reason, that  precious piece of memorabilia is still alive today. Maybe to  keep me humble.

At this very moment that piece of paper is lying  between the pages of my in-law’s 10 pound Catholic Bible.  The Bible sits on a special chair in my in-law’s formal dining room. I’m not exactly sure how my instructions ended up there, or how they survived all these years, but they have.

Maybe Scott’s parents  shut the door behind my young mom self and thought to themselves, “We got this, little lady. We respect your wishes.  To show you just how much, we’re going to place this lengthy list of instructions in the Bible.  Just don’t expect us to follow all of them. Or, read them.”

Who knows for sure?

When Scott and I went to Galena as young parents, we took a tour of the home of Ulysses S. Grant.  Grant used to live in Galena with his family. Just a little history lesson for you.  I’m surprised you didn’t know that.  I’m a bit of a history buff.  So,  that’s not really fair to you.

You and I are friends, so I can tell you the truth. I’m not actually very smart.  Maybe you have suspected that about me.  You are right.  You would totally slay me in a game of trivial pursuit.

I might not be that smart, but I sort of  do like going to museums. I am mildly interested in history and what not.  I just think I would appreciate a condensed version of most museums better than the full version.

When I visit museums, I don’t   hold on to what I have learned much beyond the time it takes me to walk to the car.  So that kind of stinks. I want my kids to be better.

Scott and I had pleasant memories of our Grant Home Tour.  We wanted to do it again with the kids. Our family was the first of the Smith clan to arrive in Galena,   we decided to take the kids to see Grant’s home..

I wish I could tell you that our kids were like, “Wow.  Thanks Mom and Dad.  You’re so cool the way you always give us opportunities for cultural enrichment!”  I wish I could say that.

Our kids actually asked us if we were kidding.  They totally didn’t believe us when we told them we were going on a historical tour.

Our kids are used to us playing basketball, ping pong and bad mitten with them.  Museums, theater and opera have been off our radar.  And, I think we all know we can blame Scott for that.  Mostly, because he doesn’t read my blog, and can’t defend himself.

Our kids’  upbringing has been kind of lopsided; more physical and  less cerebral.   But, don’t you think I should at least get a few points for using the word cerebral?

I assured the kids that learning something new would be fun.  I said, I remembered enjoying the tour when their Dad and I visited the first time.  I didn’t tell the kids that I actually couldn’t remember one single thing I was told on the first tour.  (Really, what IS the point?  We should just play bad mitten.)

Scott made me stuff this in my purse before we went into the home for our tour.  You know, just in case.

Grant 4

If there’s one thing the State of Illinois Historical Society encourages, it’s throwing a football through their 160-year-old, priceless, perfectly preserved museum.  They’d be silly not to, really.

I asked my family to show some class.  Stand by this picture of Ulysses and Julia Grant, and act like you appreciate their hospitality!

Grant 2

I’m sorry for my family, Ulysses and Julia.

 

You can see the disgust written all over Ulysses and Julia’s faces.  It’s this generation, Mr. and Mrs. Grant.  You just can’t do anything with them.

On this visit, I promised myself I’d remember some stuff:

1. Ulysses and Julia held hands, and were affectionate in public.  This was uncommon for that time period.

2. Julia’s feet were size four.

3. Women in that time had to wear black for two years after their husband died.  The black clothes would often dye the women’s skin black.  Meanwhile, men only had to wear a black band around their arm.  The main reason for that is because men back then were stupid.   It’s true.  Look it up.

That’s all I got.

I know there was something else in there about presidents and wars and blah, blah, blah.  I just remember the interesting stuff.

Hey, Strict Christians, Stop It.

strict teacher

I think you and I both know that I don’t really know what I’m doing here. We’ve established that, right? I like to write. I like to be silly. I like to write silly stories. I especially like to write about my family. I like Jesus. Sometimes I write about that too. Sometimes people read what I write. Sometimes they even like it (love you Mom and Dad). Some people don’t. That’s all I know. So, let’s get that straight, before you go off believing I think I’ve got answers. I don’t. I mostly have questions.

When I have time, I like to read other people’s blogs. I think it might help me figure out what I’m doing. I especially like to read blogs from people who share my faith in Christ.

I read this one Christian blog about bikinis. This author had a humble tone. He was kind of funny too. I bet if I met him, I’d really like him. He thought Christian women have no business wearing bikinis.

I do agree that Americans are way over the top with their supersized food and undersized clothing. We’re just a, “go big or go home” type of culture. That attitude probably doesn’t always serve us well. Moderation is pretty cool.

The last time I went on a tropical vacation, I think my swim suit would have received a Vatican stamp of approval. In fact, it was so modest, I felt sort of outlandish in that environment. So, it’s not like I disagree with this guy based on my personal preferences. Yet, here I am, disagreeing with him.

I don’t want people to tell me what to wear. I really don’t. I have never thought about telling other people what to wear, but I wouldn’t want to do that either.

When I was a freshman in college I went to a sweet little Christian school that was not meant for me. This was a really good school down South. Many humble, Christ-like people graduated from that school. Lives were changed there. They had some rules.

One day I went to the cafeteria for lunch. I was stopped at the entrance. I was told I couldn’t enter the cafeteria because I was wearing a knee length skort. Yep. You’re reading that correctly. I was once a sinner, and wore skorts. You might think that’s just a fashion sin. At that school they thought it was a sin sin.

I was so ill prepared for rules at that age. I remember it took me a decent amount of time just to absorb the information from the dress code enforcer. I stood there at the cafeteria entrance, waiting for him to smile. I thought he might tell me he was joking. I thought he might say he just wanted to see how I would react if he acted in a way that was unreasonable. He didn’t do any of that. He was serious. He was unreasonable.

I didn’t get it. It was such a nice school. Why were they being so weird? At 18-years-old, I had no personal experience with adults trying to micro manage my choices. I was not used to it. I did not like it.

On a spectrum of typical family life, I would compare my upbringing to the Waltons or Little House on the Prairie. We lived pretty innocently. So why don’t I remember having a bunch of rules? I don’t think we had a firm curfew. Nobody told us who we could be friends with, what to eat, drink, who to vote for, or what to wear. Everything my sisters and I knew about our parents confirmed their Christian beliefs. Why weren’t they strict? Isn’t that a hallmark of a Christian household? If it is, it shouldn’t be. Being strict doesn’t work.

That’s saying a lot, isn’t it? I’m usually more diplomatic. Let me rephrase. In my experience and time on this Earth, I have not seen evidence that being strict works. Better?

I can only know the stuff I know. What I know is that I have too many adult friends who went to strict, Christian schools when they were young, or had super strict parents. Now they reject Christianity. I have so many of these friends that I’ve come to a conclusion that there’s a connection between being strict and rebellion. Those adults I know are hurt and bitter. They want nothing to do with Christianity. That makes me sad, because it is my belief that Christianity isn’t what hurt them. Weird people who are strict did.

Did feeling judged for wearing a skort help develop me spiritually? Let me think back. I remember being embarrassed and my feelings were kind of hurt. Nope. It didn’t. I asked my self what good can come from all of that. I still do.

When I was a young mother, a really nice mom gave me a book. She said it was a great read, and would really help me learn how to discipline. I respected this young mom, and I suck at discipline; two good reasons to read the book.

I have never hated a book more in my life; I am talking about real hate. Usually, I work at keeping an open mind. I’m slow to develop strong opinions. I instantly had a strong opinion on this book. My opinion was that it belonged in our trash.

The author and his wife had a lot of children. The author’s philosophy involved breaking the child’s spirit. He compared children to horses. He spanked a lot, with a switch. He described what kind of switch to use. I’m sorry. That’s hard to even write. Did I mention what an awful book it was? Like reading a nightmare.

He said his oldest children were proof that his methods worked. They never questioned him, and they were always, instantly obedient. His methods proved to me that he’d actually scared his kids to death. Congratulations. He calls his methods discipline. I call them something else.

I felt sorry for the children in that book. And there’s nothing funny about adults hitting kids in to submission. But the methods discussed became a joke in our house. I found them so absurd.

When I described what I was reading to my children, their eyes became wide. I think they started behaving better just hearing about this guy. So, I guess he helped me after all. Too bad, I think he is so, so wrong. I’ll keep my naughtier kids with unbroken spirits, thanks anyway weird, strict guy.

My parents were not weird. They were calm and respectful. They gave us room to make mistakes and disagree with them. They heard us. Kids want to be heard. They gave us plenty of work to do, and we couldn’t afford to be spoiled. They never told us what the rules were for being a Christian. Their Christianity was personal. It was a relationship between God and them, and it happened in their hearts.

I’m trying to emulate that combination now that I’m responsible for my own kids. I can’t really know if it’s working, can I? It’s too soon. And you should know that just because I think out loud, in public, doesn’t mean I’m right.

I just know that I won’t be telling my kids that there are rules for being a Christian. I will tell them that being a Christian does not happen from the outside in. It happens from the inside out. It is a condition of your heart. It’s a personal relationship between you and God. Your personal relationship with God will help you make decisions about what you should say, do, eat, drink and wear. We don’t get to decide what God is telling other people about all of those things, and other people don’t get to decide what God is telling us.

I find talk about clothing and spankings tedious, really. I’m sorry for that. I would rather talk to my kids about being kind, faithful, humble, patient, self controlled, and joyful. I’d like to model that too. I want to tell them that they are going to have to determine for themselves whether they believe Jesus has the power to affect their lives. I want to tell them that’s what I believe, and that is what I have experienced. I want to tell them that divine relationship will be a solid foundation for building healthy human relationships and weathering life’s most violent storms.

I want to talk to my kids about all that, but mostly I want to show them. After that, my job is done. Then they get to decide what they want for their hearts on their own, and my job will be to love them no matter what.

I don’t want to try to control people. I’d be terrible at it. I do want to celebrate faith. My Faith is my light house.

A sweet friend sent me this song, listening always helps me celebrate! You might like it too.

God and Things that Don’t Make Sense

A Facebook friend of mine recently posted a blog that was titled, “God will give you more than you can handle: I guarantee it.”

Here, here, my fellow blogger and friend! I concur. If you’ve traveled in Christian circles for a long time, then someone at some point has told you, “God WON’T give you more than you can handle.” We tell each other this, because it’s supposed to be comforting. My husband Scott and I have discussed this sentiment at length. We’re suspicious, very suspicious.

I’ve been pondering some deep things lately. I prefer pondering recipes, silly You Tube videos and puppies. But, here I am; I’m thinking about human beings, faith, what is true and what is not true. Blaach! I hate it when I do that.

If you have known me for a while, or are nice enough to read my blog, then you know faith is front and center in my life. I have mentioned that, right? At least I think I have. Why wouldn’t I mention that? I really meant to! How could I be so dumb? Oh, sorry. Are you still there? Stay focused, Miki. This is serious.

I’ve been thinking about faith, particularly my faith in Christ. I have some dear friends who don’t get me on this. I love these friends. They are part of the reason I have to stop and ask myself sometimes what really makes sense.

What I have learned is that there is a lot about God and His plan that makes no sense to me at all. For example, this whole, “He won’t give you more than you can handle,” business. What if you have pain and heartache so deep, that your mind fractures and you become permanently unstable? To me that seems like more than a person can handle.

That’s a really smart lady who wrote the blog post I mentioned above. She can quote you verses in the Bible that call in to question the whole, “He won’t give you more than you can handle” debate. I’m not that smart, and I’m not going to quote scripture. Not that I couldn’t, “Jesus Wept”! I know that verse by heart. But there I go again, intimidating you with my knowledge of the scripture. I don’t mean to do that. I promise, I’m a common person, just like you.

What I really wanted to do was think about my own life, and decide what has proven to be true and what has proven to be untrue.

What is TRUE is learning that life was never supposed to work out neatly. Figuring that out was a relief. Here I was going along thinking people were supposed to always be nice and stay healthy. Once I learned the truth, the shock of it all was more easily absorbed. Now you’re going to ask me, “But, why DOES God give us all the pain, Miki?”

And, my answer to you is, “Get in line with that question, sister! I’m asking the same thing.” Seems that God could have chosen to give us a problem free existence, right?

I know the Sunday School reply is that God gives us free will. Our nature is to choose sin. Sin messes up EVERYTHING!!!! I guess the more philosophical way to state that is, we live in a world that is jacked up by design. Then, you have part two of that answer: all these trials and troubles are helping us grow and to live by faith.

I guess, looking back, I would have to say that hardship has made me stronger, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I have told God that I promise I’ll grow without all the troubles. We’re still in negotiations. I’ll let you know if I make any headway.

What has been UNTRUE for me is that I am capable of absorbing the pain of life without Faith. I need it. I need God. If I thought life was random, I would be well beyond the threshold of what I can tolerate. BUT….if there is a POINT, and if there is a place I can relinquish all my troubles, and if there is God who’s invested in and cares about my pain. I can do that.

I still have a lot of questions. I still feel sad and I mourn. I get weary. God knows it, because that’s what I keep telling Him. I won’t do life without Him though. I’m clinging to His leg, like my kids clung to mine when I used to try dropping them off in the nursery. I never was able to shake them. God can’t shake me either. I’m too attached to the peace that comes from being in his presence. My roots are too deep in a foundation of a life that is built on believing His plan is Good. Those deep roots are what keep me from breaking and protect my mind from a fracture.

I know now that I can simultaneously feel deep sadness and a sense of peace. If I thought life was random, I think I’d be left with just the sadness. I don’t want that. So, God definitely HAS given me more than I can handle…without faith.

I’m not here to settle anyone’s theological debates. I truly shudder at the thought of telling people what they should and should not be doing. I’m sorry. I know Christians are good at that. Maybe they want me to be good at it too. I am working on too many problems of my own right now; I could not begin to find the motivation for pointing out other people’s. What I CAN handle is talking about what I am learning. Sometimes people share what they’re learning with me too. I like it.

When I am having a day where I feel like I am absolutely at the end of myself, I’m tired of praying, and I am all out of answers, God puts music in my life to comfort my soul. This song spoke for me the other day. If you’re tired and weary today, you may like it too.

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