Day 16~ Sharing about Family on Facebook

Occasionally I look through my Facebook photo albums.  They’re like a chronological photo diary of my life for the past 6 years which is actually pretty cool.  Every album I post usually has a theme, whether it’s seasonal(Christmas, summer , springtime, harvest) or topical( graduation, weddings, reunions, storms).

One thing I do not have a lot of, is photos of my family.

For some people this is a bummer, a downer.  And I’ll admit that I wish you could see what I see and I wish I could share more but here’s the thing, my family doesn’t want me sharing any more than I already am.

For a long time there was an inside joke about “she who shall not be named” and the fact that SHE didn’t want any photos, comments, posts, etc of her, about her, relating to her on Facebook not then , not now, not ever.  Since that time SHE has relaxed but only slightly and realizes that I am not the only person in the world who takes her photos, goes to family functions with her, sees her, visits her, talks to her. SHE has realized that she can’t control it all. So I have snuck in a few photos and some highlights that yes, SHE indeed is still alive and well and we do see HER. BUT, that’s where it ends.  SHE wants her privacy and I have to respect that.

In the same way, my kids don’t like me posting, tagging and generally commenting about them, to them or to others about them.  I have 4 kids and they are all teens. We have a rule that they MUST have their parents as Facebook friends. My oldest two have blocked me or restricted me. They still do occasionally but I have learned that even “liking” a post or photo or a generic comment may get me banned, so I just don’t.  They do let me post the odd photo of them but I can’t tag them.  However, I do tag them in statuses if I want them to see something or if I want to totally embarrass them. (Yes, that is my prerogative).  I don’t use this option often but it’s there if I need it!

The thing is this: Your family didn’t ask you to join Facebook and you didn’t consult them when you did.

And there’s a bit of compromise that needs to happen here. My family who is NOT on Facebook has to concede that although they may not want their face ever seen on Facebook , the reality is that people do take pictures and they do share them. We’ve been doing this since the dawn of photography, Facebook or not. You go into people’s homes and they have photos of you that  you never knew about. Most of us  are likely in thousands of photos in the world and we will never see most of them.  But when it comes to respecting the privacy and wishes of our family members, we have to show some grace.

 

I mean no disrespect to my family. But I will post photos that are relevant and pertinent to MY life. I never want to offend or embarrass(well, except my kids occasionally) anyone so there have been times when I have been asked to remove photos and remove tags and even though I may have disagreed with the reasoning, I did it. Because I love my family.

You won’t see a lot of pictures of my kids. They just don’t want me to post much.  However, I do find it funny how they will post a ridiculous amount of “selfies”. That’s tomorrow’s topic. ;)

 

For all of the posts in this series, click here. 

For last year’s Day 16 post from the Redeeming Christmas series: Overwhelmed By Expectations 

HEY BULLY! It’s You.No, it’s Me. No, actually,it’s really you.

Yesterday, I posted about the family bully.  The guy that everyone is afraid of but no one dares stand up to.  He’s the one who the rest of the family thinks is just a jerk but they don’t have to live with him or see him at his worst or feel his wrath.

You see, the family bully is often the one with the Bible in his hands on Sunday morning and before family meals.  He talks big, prays bigger and uses the Word to defend himself.  He looks good in public and makes sure his family looks good too.  Appearance and public perception are the most important things to him.  In fact, how he looks to others is all he cares about.  If he cared about how he looked to his family, he’d probably be less noticeable in public and way more humble. But more often than not, family bullies are very easy to spot: they’re the first one to sign up for church boards and committees, they’re first to take the mic at receptions and funerals, they have the loudest laughs and the biggest stories to tell and they’re always right.  Did you hear that?  They’re ALWAYS right.  You can’t tell a bully anything because they know it all.  They will get into arguments over the silliest things~ how to butter bread, how to tie a shoe, where the best mechanic is, what the name of that tree is…they KNOW. IT. ALL.

Exasperating.

Having been around a few of these characters in my life I will tell you this: forget trying to change them. Their egos and arrogance is what got them this far and it will take a mighty big fall for them to come back down to the reality in which the rest of us live.  You can beat your head against a wall in frustration or you can simply roll over and play their game. You nod your head, you shut up, you stay silent and you don’t get into any political, spiritual or deep conversations.  You limit your communication to civil, benign, shallow banter of 6 words or less. It’s just best that way.

If you grew up in a family where there was a bully who intimidated and threatened and beat his will into you , you probably at some point thought, “it must be me. I must not be hearing right or doing right.” You have probably done your best to get ahead of any potential problem before the bully gets a hold of you.  In one sense, you become proactive instead of reactive.  Not a bad trait.  That’s what you tell yourself.  You protect your abuser and you become a master of prediction.  Body language, attitudes, comments~you read them all and you know when to jump and how high.  And you are good at it.  So, it must have been you.  That’s what you think.

But somewhere along the way you lost something.  You lost your voice.  You lost your rights and freedoms and the pure joy of having an opinion, sharing it and fine-tuning it. And the moment you realize this , is the moment you know~it’s not you.  It never was. It’s him.

If you’re in a family situation where a spouse, a partner, a father, mother, brother or sister is hurting you verbally, emotionally or physically and you think it’s you.  It’s not.  It’s them.

I learned something about love and family a long, long time ago~before I was ever born I knew this because this is God’s way and His spirit within me told me and showed me this:

Love is patient, love is kind.

It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.

 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

 Love never fails.

(1 Corinthians 13:4-8)

That’s what real family is.  Patient, kind, not boastful, not easily angered and always protecting. Family is LOVE. 

To those of you who don’t have to deal with the family bully except for once a year or once every 5 years when there’s a funeral or a wedding, let me tell you something:  the family bully is scary and is enabled because you pretend to like him and you put up with his garbage all the time even though you hear and have seen the fallout of his abuse.   He continues to do his damage because you let him.  He pushes you around too but you laugh it off and walk away. You are privileged.  Meanwhile, your niece, nephew, cousin, sister-in-laws or brother have to deal with him all the time. And just once, they’d love it if you took their side and defended them and told the bully off.  Just once.  If everyone in the family told him off, he might have less power because right now, his power is in knowing that no one will tell what really goes on in his house.

Open your eyes and ears. Abusers are everywhere and you will know them when you see them. Whether you think it’s none of your business or not~make it your business. Silence is the fuel abusive bullies survive on. Silence is what beats wives into submission.  Silence is what breaks the jaw of a toddler at the hand of her daddy.  Silence is how a man gets away with beating his sons black and blue. Silence kills hearts, souls and bodies.
Determine that you will not be silent in the face of a bully’s abusive ways.

The Cowboy and The Indian~ A Story about Family

He shuffled forward, almost like his boots were too big;  they probably were. His body, frail and small after years of health problems. My dad and my uncle flanked him on either side and moved him slowly forward. He reached out his hand and I nearly missed that moment. I quickly grabbed my camera because I knew we were about to witness something special.  Grandma stood and reached out her hand too. And then it happened~barely a whisper but his voice got stronger as he spoke.  A beautiful language I did not understand. Though I didn’t need to.  It was between him and his Maker.  “The Creator” is what he calls Him.  A blessing from one friend to another.  Tears rolled down my cheek as I listened and watched. And he touched my grandpa’s hands and his face. A final farewell from the Indian to the Cowboy after nearly eight decades of friendship.  I can’t imagine the stories or the adventures these two have shared. Most will never be heard or known by human ears.  For barely two months later, Old Bill went to meet his Maker too. I suspect he was homesick for his friend, The Cowboy.IMG_1332

Everyone has a story.  It doesn’t matter where you’ve come from or where you’ve been.  If matters not if your skin colour is brown, white, black or red. And for my grandpa and his friend Bill, the story is full of love, respect and friendship that stood the test of time and  bypassed all political,racial and economical barriers.  I am glad they aren’t around to see what has become of their people and their country.  Protests and name-calling are dividing families and friendships for nothing more than greed and status.

I was called a racist this week. I was called ignorant and uninformed. Someone told me I couldn’t possibly understand what it is like to grow up on a reservation or have ones rights stripped. If only they knew….

If everyone has a story and we’re all fighting for the same thing, do you want to hear mine? Some people don’t. It seems we’ve come to this moment in history where no one’s story matters except those of one specific race. But how different am I from them?

I grew up living on the threshold of an Indian Reservation on the Alberta Saskatchewan border in the north. Our neighbours were Cree. I don’t remember knowing or understanding anything about the difference between them and me. They were our friends, and our family.  In our home, my mom and dad often had young people around. Some played their guitars, others sang. Dad had moved an old school building onto our property before I was born and that became the meeting house for weddings, potlucks, gatherings, baptisms, Bible studies, and Christmas concerts. In a world where the “Us and Them” mentality decided where you lived and where you didn’t, where you shopped and where you ate, we managed to live harmoniously and obliviously happy for decades. My grandpa pushed bush and built a thriving ranch from nothing. He was a man in tune with the land and all of its resources. A businessman for sure but before that and always thereafter, a lover of life, nature,horses  and the Cree people who he called his friends.  That’s why it’s no surprise really, that his children fell in love with this indigenous people too.

If you’ve lived on the prairies of Canada for any length of time, chances are that you too, have family and friends who call themselves First Nations.  That’s a perplexing label to me. Indian, Metis, First Nations, Aboriginal….whatever you call these people, it doesn’t really matter; they are our neighbours and they are fellow Canadians. This is where I find myself confused and somewhat hurt.  My great-grandparents were either born just prior to coming to Canada or born following the migration of their own parents to Canada.  At what point do I become First Nations?  Doesn’t the idea of “first” mean the place of your birth? The place of your heritage? The place of your family’s beginnings? And what is the beginning? Is the beginning 3 generations back? Or ten?  Does it really matter?

Yesterday the news came out that a high court in Canada had decided that all people of First Nations/Aboriginal/Metis descent , whether living on reserves,settlements or in cities,off reserve or elsewhere would benefit from Indian status. What does this mean? Well, as best as I can tell it means that they can apply and be approved for any funding, health care, privileges that people on reserve are privy to.  Now, as far as the concept goes, I agree. If people on reserves are getting special privileges for their racial background then in all fairness, those of the same race should receive those privileges regardless of where they live. I absolutely 100 % agree with this.  However(and you knew I’d have a big BUT right here),  this is exactly where the system is wrong and broken.  The idea that a group of people, based on race alone, are treated differently than the rest of the country is absolutely offensive to every race, Aboriginals included. This is not equality. This is segregation. And it now muddies the waters of inter-racial  heritage. It also encourages the ongoing labeling of people based on country of ethnic origin which is silly and pointless.

Back to my story…..

My mom’s family, both sides, are Mennonites.  Mennonites from Russia to be precise.  They fled the Ukraine in the late 1870s because of religious persecution.  Some stayed but most left. The Canadian government helped them to get here because the land in southern Manitoba and southern Saskatchewan was uninhabited and the ground needed to be broken and worked. Thousands upon thousands of Mennonites , Ukranians, Irish and Scottish Europeans came over with little idea of what they were about to face. Can you imagine not speaking the language, facing your first prairie winter in little more than a shack for shelter? And the process of homesteading required that the land be lived on for the entire year before land titles were turned over to the owners. I have seen some of these “homes” that could only be called mud huts at best.  But they did it, to be free and to have a hope of a future. This is my family and this is the family of my husband.  In the 1920s the government of Manitoba took over the education of all immigrant children. Up until that time, Mennonites, Hutterites, Ukranians and any other ethnic group were free to educate their children in their mother tongue.  But the Canadian government and provincial and territorial governments of the day decided that English must be taught as well as government approved curriculum. There is a part of me that totally understands the fear and anger that my family must have felt during this time.  They had just become accustomed to a new way of life in a new country and now their rights were being taken away. And so, many fled.  South to Mexico and other points in the US. There is , to this day, a very large community of Mennonites in Mexico and more communities in Bolivia, Paraguay, Brazil and other South American countries.  My great aunt was one who fled and died a short time after, leaving many children without a mother. But I do not blame the government.  I do not advocate for compensation for my family who were persecuted and driven from their homes. (There was a threat of government intervention and children were forced by authorities to attend these schools. It was not optional.)  But that was then and this is now.

In the 1940s following the bombing of Pearl Harbour, there was a mass round up of Japanese Canadians.  They were interned in camps and forced to work in often treachorous conditions. Japanese men were separated from their wives and children and laboured on the Trans Canada Highway that we all now enjoy the freedom to drive. This was less than 70 years ago but you don’t see Japanese Canadians demanding compensation or restitution for the time or property lost(their houses and possessions were sold and they didn’t receive the proceeds).  It was a different time and a different place.  That doesn’t excuse what happened but it is no more Stephen Harper’s fault than it is my own. It is a sad part of our history but it is in the past.  The stories of these people is no less important than that of Aboriginals who were forced into residential schools.

So why does any of this matter? It matters only in the context of each family’s history and story. And all of our stories matter in the context of what Canada is and who we are as Canadians.  Why an aboriginal who is 28 gets more privileges, rights and protection than I , at 41, when we both have been born here, our parents and grandparents and great-grandparents were born, worked, paid taxes here is beyond me.  I get treaties. I understand promises and the shaking of hands. I also understand that the day a treaty was signed in the 1860s  or 1910s it was a very different world than it is today.  No vehicles relying on gas and oil, no homes powered by electricity, no hospitals with NICUs keeping preemies alive long before they ever would have survived in more primitive times.  The leaders of the day shook hands in good faith and they promised in the context of what they knew and what they could imagine only years ahead of where they were.  Not decades and not centuries.  I am Canadian.  My kids are Canadian.  My cousin and brother and sister and aunts and uncles and nephews and nieces are all Canadian.  Some of us have darker skin and some of us are pasty white. But we are still family and we love the land which we came from and which we still hold dear.

A year ago, we laid my grandpa to rest a mile or so from the border of the Indian Reservation where he lived most of his life. I was in the minority at his funeral. As I looked out across that room full of friends and family there were definitely more brown faces than white. And it made me smile. This is how my grandpa would have wanted it:Friends and family all together~Laughing, hugging and sharing stories of times gone by.

My dad and a dear family friend whom I had not seen in many years. I love the smiles and I love these two people.

My dad and a dear family friend whom I had not seen in many years. I love the smiles and I love these two people.

Old Bill, my Grandpa's lifelong friend, with help from my Dad and my cousin throws one of the first shovels of dirt onto Grandpa's casket. A poetic moment I will never forget.

Old Bill, my Grandpa’s lifelong friend, with help from my Dad and my cousin throws one of the first shovels of dirt onto Grandpa’s casket. A poetic moment I will never forget.

 

 

How do I , a white woman, introduce the brown-faced members of my family?  Like this:

He’s my brother.

My dad and my brother. Love them.

My dad and my brother. Love them.

My brother, my cousin and my husband. Three of the handsomest men I know.

My brother, my cousin and my husband. Three of the handsomest men I know.

She’s my sister.

My sister, and 2 cousins(they're all about the same age)~ and their dads are all brothers.

My sister, and 2 cousins(they’re all about the same age)~ and their dads are all brothers.

 

This is my cousin, whom I love like a brother.

This is my nephew,isn’t he cute?

The last time many of us got to see Grandpa it was a lovely time~family time.

The last time many of us got to see Grandpa it was a lovely time~family time.

And here’s one of  some of my favourite people in the world.

This is my family.

Me,my sister, my grandma, my aunt and my cousins.

Me,my sister, my grandma, my aunt and my cousins.

Tebow and Weakness.{Some Answers to Your Questions}

In case you’re not up to speed on all things “Tebow”, I can’t help you. He’s a quarterback for the Denver Broncos of the NFL, a born-again Christian who is bold about his faith and an all round great guy.  He’s also the most criticized athlete around right now because he defers all glory to God and not himself.  And he’s also been rated as a not-so-great player. And yet, he wins.  You’ll have to Google him and find out the rest.  The reason I mention him is because to my shock and horror, my husband didn’t know who  or what I was referring to when I asked him if he was watching Tebow.  Shock because my husband is an NFL fanatic and knows more about the teams and players than anyone I know and Horror because the fact that he doesn’t know *Tebow* made me concerned for his mental and physical health.  This, my friends is our life.  Missing out on things we love.

And before anyone gets the braniac idea to chastise for “liking” football or feeling like we’re missing out, please do me a favor and consider all the things you do “just because”. There are many.   A hot bath. Reading the morning paper by an eastern sunny window.  A game of Wii tennis.  Hockey Night in Canada.  Your favorite TV show on Wednesday nights.   There’s TONS of little things each of us do every day just because we can~ just because we want to.  And there’s nothing wrong with that.

 

 But consider this:

My husband has not slept in his own bed for more than 2 nights in a row in the past 5 months. In fact, he has only slept in his own bed with me for less than 20 nights in the past 5 months.  Add to that that he has not watched one entire NFL game at all this season. Not one.  He has missed 95% of the Flames games and the ones he has managed to watch have not been seen from start to finish.  He hasn’t gone out to coffee with any friends except for 2 or 3 times since moving to Regina.  He hasn’t been invited to any of his “friends” house to watch football, hockey or just hang out.  He’s been attending the same church for the past several months but hasn’t really connected with any group there.

 

I tell you all of this so that you understand.  Understand that this is not easy for any of us, especially him. He loves his job~ he is finally able to put into practice all of the things he has learned over the past 20 years on the job.  His boss is amazingly generous and supportive.  However, at the end of the day, when all he wants to do is head home to his wife’s home cooking and family time, he is instead running kids to various sports and other commitments.  On at least 3 nights of the week it is 10 p.m. before he gets to kick back and relax. But hang on, he isn’t living in his own house so he can’t just pull on his PJs and watch some TV. He is in someone else’s home and therefore, TV watching is limited to what is already on.

 

Some have asked why he isn’t renting.  This is a loaded question. In August, our house had already been on the market for 6 weeks so we figured it was only a matter of time before it would sell.  Financially, we were in no position to pay for rent on top of our mortgage payment, utility bills plus all the extra travel expenses of him driving home weekends(have I mentioned it’s a 5 hour drive one direction?).  With our son starting grade 12, we wanted him to begin school where he would graduate. For as many times as people have questioned the wisdom of this decision, let me say, it’s been the best thing for him. My husband has company but my son also is involved in things he loves at his school . However, it’s still a hardship without a mom around.    But this brings back the question of renting. Sure, there may be advantages but there are so many variables: furniture for a rental(if they take their beds then they have none here for when they come home), space for the 3 of them(my daughter is there too in grade 11)~ can’t really have the guys sharing a room as my husband is a light sleeper and goes to bed early and has to be up for work early. Can’t really have son and daughter share a room for obvious reasons.  So, finding a 3 bedroom is more challenging, more expensive, more complicated.

 

Others have asked why we don’t rent out our acreage and then move to the city to rent a house.  The location of our acreage is not desirable for renters.  Plus we would need to charge a significant amount to cover the costs.  Where would all of our stuff go? To rent a house in Regina for the  6 of us is well over $2000 plus utilities.  What about our animals? I haven’t found any houses that will allow dogs or cats.  So, we shoot the dogs, let the cats fend for themselves, pack everything up, try to find a place to accommodate us and then what?    Our house is either not being looked at or not being cared for in a way that we would do it in order to sell and therefore we lose money in the end.  Trust me, I’ve thought this through and we’ve been through it already with our Alberta place taking 16 months to sell.   There are no easy answers.  Financially, we are backed into a corner and the only thing we can do is wait.    The kids are all fairing pretty well in their respective schools and house situations but I can see the cracks forming.  Their involvement in their sports and extracurricular activities is something that keeps them grounded and focused but it is also restricting our flexibility to see each other regularly.  Commitments to clubs and organizations has meant that there are many weekends where it does not work for us to meet up.  That and travel time have us all exhausted.  

 

The mental and emotional toll alone on me and my husband have reduced us both to tears on many occasions.  We don’t have a family of little kids anymore. When they are all under 12 you can very easily control where everyone is going and what activities to be involved in.  Very often , the fact that you have little ones means you’re meeting up with other moms in the nursery at church, parents groups at school, playdates, etc.  But when your kids are teens , that all changes. They have different interests and obligations. Their homework load alone is very restricting especially during term and semester finals.  I can’t just pull my kids out of school for 3 or 4 days.  We’ve done it a couple of times and the back log of homework and catching up is ridiculous.   

So, we(the parents) are not meeting people because we’re just trying to keep our kids’ lives afloat.  

We’re not spending time together(although a lot of texting and phoning in the evenings is happening).

We don’t have routine~ you should see my house! It’s a chaotic mess.

We don’t have an agenda~ all we do is wait each day for someone to buy our house.  We can’t even look for a new one because all the ones we’ve looked at have sold. 

We weren’t prepared for this journey to take so long otherwise the kids would all be with me(and my two oldest are SO thankful we didn’t know because they were miserable in their school here). 

We say “if only”….and “we should have” and  “maybe” and “what next” a lot.    We have no answers.  

But Jesus does and this is what HE says: 

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 1 Corinthians 12:9-10

 

So, I’m going to boast about my weaknesses.  I’m boasting that we were ill prepared, irresponsible, ill-equipped and uneducated.  I will boast that all of our screw ups are the perfect, most holy, annointed place for Jesus to show up and show all of us how great He is and how He can take this tangled mess of our lives and do something awesome with it!(kind of like how the rest of the world looks at Tim Tebow)

Yes, I’m totally weak.  And that’s why, I’m strong.

Day 30~ Love Unconditionally {What You Have To Lay Down For Love}

Over the past 30 days I’ve been participating with over 700 other bloggers to post about one topic over the entire month. I admit that when I began I wasn’t really set on my topic: Loving Your Family.  I should have been broader…or maybe more specific. I’m not sure. I’d do it differently though.  And, actually, it’s quite hard to  do. I did miss a few days which I intended to make up for…but, well, that’s not going to happen.   Through it all, I’ve been loving my family through a series of small crises.  In our house, there’s always drama. But this month has been fraught with more than I’d care to share.  For the most part, I’ve kept my family out of this conversation. Mostly because teenagers don’t much appreciate their dirty laundry being aired for all the world to read.(And can I blame them?)  But now that we are to the end of this topic, I’d like to talk to myself.  If you want to listen in, that’s fine.  But this is for me.

I’ve always thought that I understood love.  REAL love.  Maybe I’m naive or maybe I’m just not thinking hard enough about it, but love is tough.  It’s not romantic and calm.  It doesn’t fit the mold that I thought it would.  Love takes work.  Lots of work.  Love takes sacrifice~ more than I even know at this point in my life.  Love hurts.  And love rewards.

Yesterday, I watched a video.  I knew the story behind it years ago but I had avoided watching the video knowing it would reduce me to a puddle of mush.  It did.  I was sobbing.  Tears flowed.  I could not contain the swelling of my heart.  Love broke the mold.

Watch:

 

Are you crying yet?  I can’t stop.  It’s unconditional love.  The kind of love that gets up early in the morning when all you want to do is sleep. Love that gently rocks a baby back to sleep for the 10th time this night.   A love that holds the forehead of not one child, but 4 all through the night as they fight a stomach flu so that their dad can sleep and be okay for work in the morning.

Love hurts your muscles; carrying a too-tall child up the stairs to their bed because they have fallen asleep on the couch.

Love hurts your heart; watching your daughter’s heart be broken for the first time because she’s not ready to give her heart away.

Love hurts your time; you cannot watch that TV show or read that book tonight because someone needs help with their homework.

Love hurts your wallet~ yes. It does.

What are you willing to lay down for love?  If you say you love unconditionally and are willing to sacrifice then what will you lay down?

Are you patient with your kids and your spouse? Are you kind? Do you envy them or their position? Are you too proud to sit at their volleyball game for 3 hours and cheer even though your daughter isn’t likely to play more than 3 minutes?   Do you dishonor them by talking about the dumb thing they did last week to your friends?   Are you short-tempered and do you tend to bring up their past mistakes just to rub it in?

1 Corinthians 13(also known as the Love chapter) says this:

           4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

 8 Love never fails.

LOVE NEVER FAILS. EVER.  You keep going even when you want to quit.  You hug when you want to walk away. You show grace and mercy when all you want to do is punish.   LOVE NEVER FAILS.

Failing to love your family is not an option. It doesn’t mean you’re perfect~ it just means you’ll get back up and try again.

 

Day 12~ Pick up the Phone

Do you still have a phone?? I mean really, do you? Go check..go look in the couch, under the couch, in your teenage daughter’s room, beside the toilet, in the garage.  Did you find it? Or maybe it’s still stuck to the wall like it was in 1989!! Wherever it is, find it and make sure it’s working.  

Okay, now call someone in your family.  You know, the sister who lives 2000 miles away, the brother you never hear from, your parents, your grandparents.. …CALL. THEM.

We have become all too accustomed  to e-mail, instant messaging, texts, FB chat~ it’s too easy. In fact, it’s really hurting our relationships with our family.  Maybe you have Skype and are able to do face-to-face chatting where your voice is heard and your expressions are shared.  But many of us have not.  And furthermore, many of us have made our friends our priority over our family.

So, let’s get right to it: call that family member that you haven’t talked to in a very long while. You won’t regret it and they’ll love you for it.

 

 

 

 

Check out all of the 31 Day Posts here on Loving your Family.

Day 11~ Follow Through

I’ve been struggling with my daily topics for this series on loving your family. Struggling because my family is not all together, life has thrown us some curve balls and I’m feeling lost in my own home.  But today I’m shaking it off. “Woe is me” doesn’t cut it around here and only perpetuates making excuses. Which is what I’ve decided to focus on today: Following through on what you’ve promised.

First of all, let’s just get something straight here.  Saying “I promise” is a hard core commitment and you better do what you said you would. If you don’t, well, your kids and your husband will come to believe they can’t rely on you.  But equally as important is the times you don’t say “I promise” but substitute it with “I will” , “you can count on me” , “I’ll have it done by tomorrow” or anything else resembling those phrases.

As a mom, I’m sure you can attest to the times when one of your kids has asked you to wash their favourite jacket, sew a button on their jeans,  fix a tear in their dress or shirt…….well, you know what I mean.  Did you do it?? Did you? I admit, that I have failed miserably in this area.  I get distracted or worse, I commit and I haven’t given myself enough time. I very often mistakenly THINK I can get something done when I really can’t~ I guess that’s some serious over-confidence on my part. The important thing here is to do what you said you’d do.  If you have promised to take your youngest shopping for shoes, then do it.  Don’t wait until she can’t even find a pair to pull on her growing feet! (my house..this morning….*sigh*)

And then there’s the follow through with the husband. ooo….boy…..

I’m sure my husband rolls his eyes, and likely some other choice words come out of his mouth.  I really do plan on doing all the things that need to be done….but, I haven’t done them yet.  This is not good.  It is priority #1 in your house to take care of those things that your husband has asked and is fully expecting you to do.  This week, for me, I must attack a rather disorganized garage and begin to pack and stack boxes. I have promised that by Friday it will be done.  So, this is my accountability group right here~ you all are my witnesses.  I will post a photo on Friday evening of my newly reorganized garage complete with boxes that actually look like they’re packed and labeled! See, now I’ve done it. I’ve put myself out there, there’s no looking back.

Sometimes, this is what it comes to: being honest about your limitations but also coming clean about your shortcomings.  It’s okay to mess up…as long as you make it up.  It’s okay to forget…as long as you remember.  It’s okay to be late, as long as you start earlier the  next time.  Perfection isn’t required, but being focused on the task at hand is.

My son has been asking for homemade lemon meringue pie. This weekend I finally made one~ he ate most of it. :)

So, what is it that you have promised to your spouse or kids that you haven’t done yet? Did you promise a plate of fresh cookies for after school? What about a game of Wii Sports that one of your kids is dying to play with you?  Have you put stuff off in favour of less important things?  Remember, following through is one of the best ways to show your family that you are 100% committed to them.  This is love in action.

 

UPDATE:  I completed my task….it’s a work in progress but it’s a great big job that is finally dealt with and it feels great!  Check out my update post and pics here.

Days 9~10 Quality Time

We’ve been celebrating Canadian Thanksgiving over here. That’s why I’m merging two days’ posts into one.   Pumpkin pie, lemon meringue pie(whoever invented meringue was a genius!!), turkey, stuffing….CFL(football), NHL(go Flames!)… a few movies, some silly muppet videos on YouTube. A lot of laughter, sharing, caring, talking….it’s been good to just hang out together.

Saturday, my daughters asked me to take them to the local arena for public skate. It’s not my favourite thing to do, I’ll admit that.  But they get a look of sheer delight when I pull out the camera and snap all their moves and tricks.  I love to watch them skate~ it’s something I never was very good at. They love it!  And the great thing is: no TVs, no iPods, cellphones or any other distractions…just skating.

What do you do to spend quality time with your kids? Do you regularly drop everything to do something they love? It’s one of the best gifts to give them: undivided attention.

Day 8~Family Priorities

Here it is in the wee hours of the morning. My family is home. Tucked in their beds, sleeping~ resting after a 5 hour drive. So thankful are we that we get an extra day together this weekend: Thanksgiving.  The coming together and giving thanks…for blessings, family and unconditional love.  I’m having to adjust my priorities these days. Things I once thought were so important, well, they’re not.     Love God, Love Family, Love others. In that order.  So, that means that this little blog will have to wait.  For now, I will share sage words of wisdom from a fellow blogger, Juana Mikels.  (I wonder if she gets the same grief with her name as I do with mine??)

Here is an excerpt from her blog yesterday:

Here are my priorities:

My relationship with God (Seek first His kingdom … )

My relationship with my husband 

My relationship with my children (Each one individually, not a group.)

My home (because people live in that home.)

My relationship with other family members.

Building up other Christians (what I am doing now—a small part, but a consistent part of my week.  Because I do not have small children, I have some extra time for this.)

Neighbors, friends, children’s friends

Loving others who do not know Christ.

You can read the rest of her post here.               I realized upon reading this that I have switched some things around. It’s very easy to do for others, pray for others, give to others…….but if those “others” are not your family first(after God of course) then you(I) have missed the mark entirely.  So, this weekend. I am purposefully focusing on my relationship with God~ His Word and very closely behind….my family. They need me and I need them. So we’re going to hang out, eat some food, laugh, work through some stuff and let the rest of the list wait until Tuesday. It’s the best way I know to love my family.  

What about you? Do you have your priorities a little messed up? Do you need to re-adjust some things and get back to what’s most important?  Here’s one more blog worth reading…from one of my favourite author/speakers, Angie Smith:  With Him

Day 5~ Homesickness and Family Dinner

These are the hard days of parenting. It’s not supposed to be this way: me here and them there.  NO, we’re supposed to be messing up the kitchen together, tripping over each others’ stuff in the hallway, fighting over who gets the shower next.

But reality and wants sometimes do not go hand in hand.  What I need and what I have may be two different things. Half of my family~ 5 hours away~ needing home and safety, Mom and comfort.  It doesn’t really matter that we’re trying to get out of here~ trying to move.  It only matters that wherever we ALL are, that’s home. And right now the thought of that is making some sick. We call it homesickness. It bites us when we least expect it.  “Oh I can handle this”~ a 16 year old son says to his mom.  But , can he? Does he want to? No.   I called the school to let them know that he will not be present in class today.  He will rest and hopefully get himself pulled together by later today and then..we try again.  Try to make the best of a rotten situation.

It didn’t help~ me watching Parenthood last night. Oh I love that show. But it sure does tug at the heartstrings.  Don’t we all just want that same unconditional safe place to land? When things go wrong outside our four walls, isn’t it just nice to know that you can come home and sit down with your family? Sit down, feast and linger.  That’s what I love about family dinners. Laughter, chatting, companionship and most of all….love.

What does your family do to keep the home fires burning? Do you gather once a week? Turn off all the TV’s, electronics, gadgets and just…..linger? Do you? Maybe it’s time to start.  This weekend is Canadian Thanksgiving. My kids are so excited for cream pies and turkey and stuffing.  I’m just excited to have us all sit at one table and be thankful.…thankful for us.

And don’t you just love this? … from https://www.facebook.com/foodily