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IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE!

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      life    It has been quite a while since my last post, and my head has been buzzing with ideas, of what I would like to write about, what I am learning, what fresh insights God is showing me… However, my hubby is finally taking some time off, so instead of hunching over my computer, trying desperately to put pen to paper, or iron out my thoughts, we’ve been enjoying some much needed down time; time together; time to relax and enjoy each others company.  

Although my perfectionist ways can often flare up when relaxing, ‘doing nothing’ – this Christmas, I’ve been sick. Quite sick. However, instead of complaining (which I surely did at first!) I am beginning to see it as a blessing.  It has given me ‘permission’ to just be as I am and enjoy our time together without the inner guilt trip or nasty “you should’s”.  I am doing exactly what I would like to be doing this holiday – resting, healing, laughing, and loving. With all of my heart, my prayer is that you could, in your own way, be doing the same.

On Christmas day, I started a holiday poem, modeled after “Twas the Night Before Christmas”.  It was meant to be a light reflection on the craziness of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  A craziness that seems to come every Christmas, no matter how prepared or determined we may be.  Each year it is wrapped in different scenarios and taped hurriedly with different crisis, but leaves our heads reeling nonetheless. I hope you are encouraged as you read, and are compelled to, as author Brene Brown puts it, “lean into the mess”!

Twas the day of Christmas and all through our house,

The munchkins were stirring with giggles and shouts.

The stockings, no longer, hung in their spot,

But wrappings and ribbons long revealed what was bought.

Ma, with her latte, and Dad with his grin,

Enjoyed the kids wonder, knowing where they had been,

Just a few hours back, on the eve before now,

There was work that was done, by the sweat of their brow.

A service, a band, a story to tell

Of the birth of a baby in whom God would dwell.

The planning, the set up, the families, the smiles,

The deficit of chairs that filled up the aisles!

The babes dressed in white, with red bows and red cheek,

Sang with voices raised proud, having practiced for weeks.

Ma, with the sniffles, and a voice barely there,

Still read out the story, with expression and care.

Pa, stood in front, with the good news he’d heard,

About Jesus, the babe, both in picture and word.

It came to a close as we thoughtfully sang,

Of a ‘Silent Night’, our voices they rang

Through the gym and our hearts, now warm with good cheer

Feeling God’s comfort, now present and near.

We parted our ways now to dine we would go

Off to Nana and Papa’s with our kiddies in tow.

After dining, and reading the Christmas story aloud,

The youngest played Santa, gifting presents, so proud.

Soon after the presents were opened and shared,

The clock rung out TEN and excited hearts flared

We must get the children to bed for the night

As Santa has surely began his long flight,

Delivering presents to those who are SLEEPING,

And who go to bed quickly, without any peaking.

Surprisingly tame, the kids slept without tricks,

And Mom and Dad focused on problems to fix!

Dad worked on the tablet – the main gift for our girl,

That earlier had Mom’s frazzled mind in a whirl!

An update to ‘kit kat’ had it scream to a halt,

And after hours of forums, and ‘google’ at fault,

It still was not working, so gift couldn’t be gifted,

Dad went to the task now, Mom’s stress level lifted!

Until the small matter of a wee tiny guest,

Who needed a bath, before he could rest.

So Mom, with her sister and nephew in tow,

Bathed the new kitty, from it’s head to its toe.

The clock moving onward, a persistent tick tock,

Shocked when they looked, it showed 2 o’clock!

The tablet still broken, but all else complete,

We went to bed tired, dragging our feet!

Quickly the morning came with the sun,

And it looked like old Santa had brought them more fun!

Everything was opened, the kids filled with bliss,

When Dad called to Mom, was there something amiss?

He said: “I just prayed, and now, it is working!”

The tablet, once broke, now had us both smirking!

“Quick! Wrap it up! She will be so excited!”

Both of us relieved, this wrong had been righted.

When she opened it up, so wide were her eyes,

She was now like her brother, with her very own prize!

Then together in pj’s we hopped in our car,

For breakfast with family, which wasnt too far.

We sang and we laughed as we went on our way,

“Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good day!”

Becoming Ordinary: Day 135

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How BIG is YOUR brave?

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brave

Very few of us know or have had the privilege of meeting a knight in shining armor. A larger than life soul, who belly laughs in the face of danger, whose strength seems to grow with each successive trial as they tap into an endless wellspring of bravery and self assurance.  The one warrior who can turn coal into a diamond, by utilizing, not fearing, the breath of the dragon!I so desperately want to be that brave knight. I want to have courage in the face of my fears! I don’t always want to whimper in pain and run the opposite direction. Or, I find just as effective, hopping into my bed, pulling the blankets over my head, and solemnly vowing that I will not leave until I’ve prayed all of my fear away!But maybe ‘brave’ doesn’t look the way I want it to…shiny, solid, stoic, unshakeable. Maybe ‘brave’ is not a once in a lifetime, knight in shining armor rescue mission, but an everyday occurrence, that is practised by all of us.  When someone chooses to live; to love; to serve; to touch; to pray.

 

As I sit to write, I have so many pictures flashing through my mind of the ordinary but profound bravery that each one of us uses, clings to, during the difficult times in our lives. I begin to see a much clearer, more realistic picture taking shape than that of the knight in protective armor. I see each one of us, part of the same army, doing battle, being brave, in so many small but heroic ways.Brave is the one who, at a snails pace, continues their journey to the wardrobe that has been locked up and feared for so long. Brave is when they reach into the darkness of the wardrobe, knowing that they will meet the cobwebs of brokenness and the dirt of unworthiness that will try to cling. Brave is knowing and shakily accepting that they will never be free… be clean… until they put in the difficult, often painful work that it will take to clean out the wardrobe.  Brave is taking away the wardrobes power to lock things up to rot.

 

Brave is choosing another path to tread than the one that we find ourselves on.  Perhaps this new road is awkward and unfamiliar, but hints of a different journey that, in the end, will be less damaging; less draining; more simple; more profound.Brave is the husband who holds the hand of his wife, his best friend, when she fights for her life. Brave is the wife, who puts her hand in her man’s, and continues to pray for a miracle.Brave is holding your tongue in a situation when it would be easy to join in the gossip or NOT holding your tongue when you witness an injustice or just need to stand up for yourself, for once!

 

Brave is the quiet, but brilliant child, who raises her hand to answer the teacher’s difficult question, even though

she knows there are consequences to being ‘the smart one’.

 

Brave is the single mother who holds their child close for a time, but then allows them to find their own freedom,           apart from her, knowing the pain of loss will be her child’s gain.

 

Brave is honouring a promise or vow, even when you don’t want to.

 

Brave is not letting your past failures define your present or your future success.

 

Brave is acknowledging your flaws and moving on in spite of them. Or perhaps reaching out because of them.

 

Many of your OWN stories may have cozied their way onto my bravery list and I thank you with a full heart, for being willing to share your stories with me. They bring me great comfort and inspiration, reminding me that though I am broken and ordinary, I am not alone!

 

Unfortunately, we will never rid ourselves of those who kick when their opponent is down, or those who choose to play the pharisee. However, we can choose to foster true strength and bravery by seeing our self in the face of another and making the choice, then and there, to embrace them with a wild, passionate, inexplicable grace.THAT, is being brave.

 

Becoming Ordinary: Day 102

JUST SAY NO! When being polite, is rude!

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spoiled-girl

There appears to be an epidemic out there among certain types of people. You know who they are. They have welcoming smiles. They are well mannered. They merge correctly. For the most part, they err on the side of humility, always the first to offer an apology, especially when fearful that they may have offended someone. They are ‘the nice’ people; the people who, when chatted about by others, inspire the phrases: “Oh, she’s lovely”, “He’s such a sweetheart”, “I LOVE her!”

       Don’t we all wish we could be talked about in this way? Personally, I have always had this internal desire to make sure, once all is said and done, that I be considered a ‘nice’ person; hoping, desperately, that people will like me; fearful that they might think ill of me.Today, I want to flip my own dearly held beliefs and perceptions about being ‘nice’, on their head! I want to pose the question:What if the choice to be polite, was ultimately being rude?

      What if being a ‘yes’ man or woman, is actually hurting yourself and those around you?

     Let me share a story that I was told recently which is inspired by an actual event.

    Once upon a time there was a lovely young woman who had some time on her hands as she waited for her son’s music lesson to finish. She discovered a furniture store close to her sons lessons, and decided to take a look inside. She knew when she arrived that she couldn’t afford to purchase anything, however, looking at all of the pretty things was appealing and helped pass the time. As she began to look around she was very quickly greeted by a salesperson who was working on commission and eager to make a sale, “May I help you?”. My friend quickly replied, ‘Just looking, thanks.’, and attempted to move on. However, her response didn’t seem to satiate the hungry salesperson, “What is it that you’re looking for?”.

PRESS PAUSE

What would YOUR response be? Would you politely reiterate that you were just looking? Would you push back with the same fervor as the salesperson and tell them that you really want to be left alone? Or would you pretend to want help with something so that the salesperson person doesn’t feel rejected and you don’t feel guilty for being in a story when you aren’t actually buying anything? BINGO

UN-PAUSE

“Well…I’m not sure, actually.” the young woman replied with a hint of sheepishness. “The one you’re sitting on is a very nice sofa – we just got it in.” the salesperson smiled as she engaged her customer. “Yes. It’s lovely… It’s not really my color though…” the young lady answered politely hoping to put an end to the conversation. “What sort of colors do you like?” the salesperson inquired with a warm and friendly tone. “Oh…I…ah…I really like neutrals.” the young lady decided to respond honestly. “I don’t like too much color ” Appearing inspired the salesperson replied, “Oh, then you have to see this one over here.”

The salesperson turned and began to walk away, expecting the young woman to follow. After negotiate through many different furniture pieces, they arrive at a beautiful taupe colored sofa and chaise lounge. “Aren’t these spectacular?” the salesperson asked as she brushed her hand in a sweeping motion over the soft luxurious suede. “Oh yes. Absolutely beautiful!” the young lady answered. “Why don’t you try it out?” the salesperson offered. “Here, you must try the chaise lounge, it is so comfortable.” The salesperson guided the young woman onto the chaise. “Wow, it IS comfortable!” the young woman replied once she had slipped off her shoes making sure not to get the chaise dirty. “I could fall asleep right now, it’s so comfortable!” she added with a smile, trying to set the salesperson at ease.

“And this one comes in MANY different colors – lots of neutrals… brown, taupe, cream, sage green…” the salesperson trailed off hoping that the list of colors might secure a sale.“Hmmm…” the woman said, as she appeared to be seriously contemplating the purchase. “It is quite beautiful…and very comfortable…and I love the color”.

    She was trapped. She had no idea how she was going to get out of the situation. When suddenly she looked at her phone, tightly gripped in her left hand. “Oh dear!” she exclaimed, “I’m so sorry! I didn’t realize what time it is. I have to pick up my son in the next few minutes. Thanks so much for your help!” she quipped, hoping this would now be the end of the conversation. However, the salesperson, with one last ditch effort quickly asked, “Can I take your name down and put this on hold for you?” Feeling daft for being caught in this awkward situation to begin with, the young lady falsely answered, “My name is Susan. I’ll be back tomorrow.”

    When reading the above story, do you cringe in empathy having found yourself in many similar situations? Do you worry far too much about the needs of others, and quickly sacrifice your own comfort or even truthfulness in order to ‘please’? Many of us do. I know I often do. However, I am beginning to see the craziness of it all. If I take myself out of the position of the customer in the above story and move myself into the shoes of the salesperson. I am suddenly struck with compassion for the salesperson and suddenly feel upset with the customer’s behavior. Can you see the absurdity of the situation? The LAST thing I would want is for someone to come into my store, pretend that they are interested in purchasing something just to be polite, and then watch them dash out with nothing in hand. Not only is it a colossal waste of the salesperson’s time, but it is also them up to experience some major disappointment when the customer doesn’t follow through with their purchase.

    This same principle can be applied when deciding to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to something. Saying ‘yes’ isn’t always the polite or the right answer. Those who are hard core people pleasers with an altruistically inclined nature have trouble with this one.  However, once again, try turning the tables – put yourself in the shoes of the person making the request. Would you want someone to say ‘yes’ to you if you knew that they didn’t  actually want to be involved? Of course not! If you STILL find it difficult to say ‘no’ even after examining the situation, then speak to the nurturing part of your personality by taking a look at the ripple effect. If I don’t say ‘no’, what are the consequences, not only to myself, but particularly to those whom I love? If I can’t say ‘no’, will those I love around me have to pay the price?

   I am slowly learning that being able say ‘NO’ is ACTUALLY kind, considerate, compassionate, and necessary for survival!

Becoming Ordinary: Day 60