Woe! It’s Wednesday: Being Brave

I finally figured out my word for 2015. Or more likely I guess, I already have my word for 2016.

I had decided on “Let it Go” for 2015. But as much as I liked it, it didn’t really resonate with me. I did work on letting things, not worrying and/or obsessing over what I can’t change. I think I’m better about that.

CatFantasizesatMirrorSo maybe Let it Go was not ambitious enough.

You know how things/phrases/people sometimes converge and you know you need to pay attention?

I’ve had that happen lately about being brave.

I read an amazing book recently. I’ll review it soon, I promise.

Then I heard a podcast sermon about Matthew 18. Closely followed by a podcast interview which cited the same passage. What I took away from both was that when someone has hurt you, the burden to set it right is on the person who was wronged. I think I had to hear two separate messages about this because the first one I pretty much ignored.

I saw a quote from Louis C.K. recently. He said, “When a person tell you that you hurt them, you don’t get to decide that you didn’t.”

I love this! For several reasons, but first of all because several years ago, I was hurt by someone. I told them I was hurt and was told I was in the wrong for being hurt. That festered for a long time. I did the right thing. I took it to that person in private and was completely shot down and ignored. That’s not a great way to heal a damaged relationship. Reading this quote was incredibly freeing. It validated everything I felt back then as well as the lingering vestiges of hurt that still try to derail me.

Then, as if I needed one last indication, an opportunity fell into my lap last week to say something to someone that needed to be said. Normally, I’d just pass it by and tell myself not to rock the boat, “let it go.” 😉

But instead, I decided to be brave and speak up.

Guess what happened? The person heard me, apologized, and we moved on. It’s over.

All because I was brave.

So that’s why I’ve adopting it as my 2016 word. It’s kind of like the calendars that go on sale at this time of year. You know. They’re advertised as being 16-month calendars, to encourage you to buy now and use it for the rest of this year and all of next year. Except the extra four months from this year are all listed on one page. No pretty picture as a header. No space to write appointments. Basically, a bait and switch, in my not so humble opinion.

But I’m getting an early start on being brave and I plan to carry it from this year and throughout the next.

Have you started thinking about your word/phrase for next year yet? Or am I the only one?

Woe! It’s Wednesday: We’re Not Getting Old, We Are Old

Tomorrow is our 38th anniversary. Friday Stud Muffin turns 60.

Where do the years go?

60th-birthday-clip-art-564852 It seems like last year we celebrated ten years; last week our first grand-daughter was born; and yesterday he retired.

We’re having a big party for him this weekend. I’m very excited to share this milestone with forty of our closest friends and family. These are the people who have walked with us through the challenges of life, who haven’t given up on us when we’ve been less than lovable, who’ve prayed for us, laughed with us, supported us through tough times, and celebrated with us the sweet times.

Stud Muffin is going to roast a whole pig in his La Caja China. We’ve got salads coming, decorations purchased, and the yard is almost ready.

When Stud Muffin turned 30, he was depressed and complained that his life was half over. I asked him if he was only planning on living till 60. I’m glad to report, he was not middle aged at 30. He may not have half of his life left, but he’s still pretty darn vibrant and active and alive. That’s the main thing.

Woe! It’s Wednesday: Friends, part 2

I had a lovely time at the spa a couple of weeks ago with my old friends that I blogged about here. My concerns about the minerals and my skin allergy were unfounded. I was no worse (and perhaps a tiny bit better) after the visit. Of course, I did avoid the actual mineral baths and instead enjoyed the saline pool, the hot and cold pools, and the various other pools the spa offered.

Darling Grand-daughter fixing the face
Darling Grand-daughter fixing the face

Now we get to take another trip with long time friends. There’s some overlap in these groups so we get to see some of these people again soon. We’re leaving today for a long weekend in Yosemite at our friend’s family cabin. We’ve been visiting this cabin for over twenty-five years now. Our daughters grew up looking forward to cabin trips. Now our grand-daughters love the cabin too.

This trip will be a mini-reunion with the arrival of a family who moved out of state several years ago. They’re coming back with their grown kids and grand kids, so it will be a busy and wonderful time of making memories, eating, swimming (presuming there’s still water, always a concern in August), drinking, puzzles, reading, digging in the dirt, collecting rocks and feathers, forest golf, ping pong, Rook, cribbage, relaxing, laughing, and having fun.

The dog and house sitter is booked. The menu planning is done. The shopping and packing is done. We’re ready to hit the road!

Where’s your favorite place to make memories?

Woe! It’s Wednesday: Friends

I’ve blogged before about how special my friends are. I think I have the best group of friends in the world.

I know many others think their friends are the best, but they’re wrong.

Glen Ivy https://www.flickr.com/photos/miheco/4719605398/
Glen Ivy https://www.flickr.com/photos/miheco/4719605398/

I’m so excited to be spending a few days visiting these friends and we’re even sneaking in a spa day.

We started having a girl’s getaway when each of us turn 60 but we’re in a bit of a lull right now. It’s been a couple of years since the last 60th and we have another year or so until the next so we’re having an interim spa trip.

48 hours from now I’ll be laughing, getting a massage, and loving life.

I’m a little concerned about one thing. I’ve got a funky kind of skin sensitivity issue and I’ve been having a flareup for a few weeks. Okay a couple of months. I can’t get rid of it. The last time it was bad, a doctor said to avoid mineral products and use plant-based products. That seemed to help immensely and I’ve had minimal problems ever since then. But our spa has all kinds of mineral baths and treatments and I’m debating on the wisdom of partaking.

Oh, who am I kidding? Of course, I’m going to enjoy every minute and not think about the consequences. Truthfully, this is an irritation only, not nearly as severe as other people with allergic rashes. So I can handle a couple days of discomfort in return for a spa day with my BFFs.

Woe! It’s Wednesday: Family Connections

I’ve blogged before that my family of origin is a blended family. But I’ve never been treated as a step- or a half- or as anything other than a welcomed and loved family member.

Family Trees
Family Trees

We just got back from a quick trip to visit a cousin in Nevada. We talked, we laughed, we even cried a bit. We did some fun tourist things, we relaxed, we enjoyed each other’s company.

I love that I have cousins around the country. I’ve popped in on one in San Francisco while he was at work. I have a cousin in New England who’s invited us to visit and we hope to take him up on that. A cousin in Portland taught how to make homemade pasta. One cousin just gave me a ton of grandchild toys that my girls are having a ball with.

I love that I have amazing people in my life and I’m so grateful for each of them, no matter how we ended up as family.

Woe! It’s Wednesday: Dress Up or Dress Down?

I addressed this subject several years ago on my former blog (Chocolate, No Nuts), but it’s been on my mind again recently and I think it’s worth a revisit. (I just spent an hour searching both blogs for that post so I could link back to it, but I can’t find it. If anyone knows where I can find it, please let me know.)

I’ll summarize what I remember posting and expand on it a bit.

There’s been a growing trend in contemporary churches toward casual dress. Now I’ll all for being comfortable. As I get older, my heels get lower and my waistbands looser. Stud Muffin has a question he likes to ask his friends who wear shorts and flip-flops to church: “Are you going to church or summer camp?” They both laugh as they head into the worship service.

courtesy of: https://www.flickr.com/photos/javacolleen/4803324406/
courtesy of: https://www.flickr.com/photos/javacolleen/4803324406/

I’m not saying we need to go back to the days of suits for men and women, hats, and clutch purses.

I am saying that perhaps the pendulum could swing a teeny tiny bit more toward caring what we wear to church.

We visit churches when we’re out of town. I freely admit, our home church is the most formal in both dress and worship style. We don’t think our church is “right” and the others are “wrong.”

When I see people on the platform (worship team, pastors, staff) in faded jeans, flip-flops, untucked shirts, and slogan T-shirts, it gives an impression of sloppiness. And if they’re sloppy in how they present themselves to visitors, I have to ask myself, what else are they sloppy about? Theology? Welcoming guests? Small group gatherings?

I know the rationale for casual dress is so visitors don’t feel out of place if they’re dressed casually. I just happen to think it’s actually causing the reverse.

I took a week-long class several years ago on speaking and writing as a ministry. We were told that the rule of thumb is that people on the platform should dress one notch above the audience. For instance, if you’re speaking at a weekend retreat in the mountains and the attendees will be wearing jeans and Ts, it’s appropriate for the speaker to wear casual pants and a nice top/shirt. If the audience is in business casual, the speaker should be in a suit or a nice dress. The speaker dressing up a little conveys to the audience that they’re respected and worth making an effort for.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/125992663@N02/14598904124
https://www.flickr.com/photos/125992663@N02/14598904124

When I see a worship team on the platform in faded jeans and flip-flops, it feels like they just rolled out of bed, pulled on whatever was closest to the bed and then hurried to church. That does not make me feel respected or welcomed.

When we (and yes, I mean you and me) attend weddings and funerals, we dress up. (Unless the wedding is in a meadow.) We put on nice clothes as a display of the honor and respect we hold for the bride and groom or the deceased.

I believe it’s time to show respect for God and each other by leaving the flip-flops home on Sundays. What do you think? Have I missed the point of casual dress?

Woe! It’s Wednesday: Vacations

We just spent five days in our favorite vacation destination: Yosemite.

I remember visiting the park as a child, camping in the Valley, and hiking the trails. I rode my first horse in Yosemite. I remember the legendary firefall from Glacier Point.

FireFall

In 1989 we were invited to a cabin owned by dear friends and we’ve been blessed to return two or three times a year ever since. Our girls grew up looking forward to our next visit to “the cabin.” They’ve now hiked the trails. They’ve seen the effects of drought on the falls and the consequences of flooding in the Valley.

It’s now a family tradition: looking forward to our next cabin trip. One grand-daughter has now ridden her first horse around the park’s perimeter. The other loves playing in the dirt, splashing in the river, and hunting for feathers and bones (she found a deer leg on this trip!).

We have several must-dos on each visit:

  • We must visit the river. 
    Merced river
  • We must take a nap on the deck overlooking the river.

    Yosemite
    Yosemite
  • We must walk to the store and have an ice-cream and perhaps visit the Pioneer Village, walk over the covered bridge and visit the jail and watch the horses pull the stage coach. HorsePioneer Village

We love Hawaii. We love traveling to new places. But Yosemite is where we return every year. Like swallows who can’t imagine a better place to nest than San Juan Capistrano.

We get to go back in August and we can’t wait! Where is your favorite summer destination?

Woe! It’s Wednesday: Community

Stud Muffin and I have been talking recently about community. What it is. How do you develop it? How do you find it? Can community be legislated? Or does it have to happen organically?

With social media, we see plenty of online communities forming around common interests and hobbies. But I’m talking about something deeper, the feeling that you’re my people and I’m yours.

Lincoln Cathedral, from Wikimedia CommonsWhen we moved to Southern California back in the mid-1980s, we found a church right away. We had friends in the area and they told us where they attended. We liked it and never visited anywhere else. It was a big church (still is), especially to two wide-eyed bumpkins transplanted from the sticks to the big city. But we felt at home right away.

Whenever we met anyone new at church, they always asked three questions.

  • Are you in a Sunday School class?
  • Are you in a small group?
  • What’s your ministry?

There was a recognition that with a large church, being connected had to be intentional. Everyone was expected to answer those three questions.

Our answers:

  • Yes! We’re in Bereans.
  • Yes! We meet with several other couples regularly for Bible study and prayer.
  • Uh … ministry?

That third one took a little longer, but we both found a niche. Even Stud Muffin whose church attendance in those days was sporadic, due to his work hours. I served in Mothers Class (the precursor to MOPS, back in the dark ages), Pioneer Girls, and as a substitute Sunday school teacher. Stud Muffin served as an usher.

The friends we made during those years are still our community. They’re the ones we call when life knocks us down.

Stud Muffin and I have talked about why those connections have lasted. We don’t really have an answer.

It could be the difference in Southern and Central California.

Southern California is full of people not from there, so they’re used to making community, from https://www.flickr.com/photos/bpcp/5280344991friends and blooming where they’re planted. Central California has more people who grew up here and have family close by and have never needed to go looking for a friend.

Or it could be the season of life we were in then. There’s a shared history. We’ve known each other a long time now and we’ve seen our children grow up together.

But we have made good friends here, both in Central California and at a later stage in life, so neither of those theories seem to be valid. Although I found it telling that when life kicked us in the gut in early 2014, our first calls were to family, our Southern California community, and then to a few local friends. Only one of those locals was at our church. We did tell our table group in our Sunday school class, but not until Sunday. I only called one church friend when we were still trying to figure out what happened and what we were doing and what was going on.

I’m not angry or bitter (any more – I admit to some frustration when we were trying to find a new community when we first moved back to the Valley).

Our church is currently pushing involvement in small groups and connecting and community. It’s what I wanted for a long time.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/petitshoo/492459548But now that it’s here? My reaction: a yawn.

I wonder if it’s because I’m simply tired from trying to build this on my own. When we first moved to the area, we assumed we’d gather a new community like the one we’d left. We invited people to parties, over for dinner or dessert. All invitations were met with varying amounts of coolness.

  • Oh, we’d love to, but you guys live so far out. Why don’t we meet you at (INSERT RESTAURANT)?
  • Oh … I’ll have to check my calendar and get back to you … (INSERT CRICKETS).

I had one person tell me that while we were welcome to attend (INSERT CHURCH NAME), in their experience, people who lived as far out of town as we did didn’t stick, they got tired of driving and found another church closer to home. That was 23 years ago. We’re still there. And now we’re not the only people who make that drive. In fact, there’s some people who (gasp!) drive even longer to get there! Which is a testimony that it is a great church with solid teaching and good people. Even if it takes a while to feel part of things.

I also had one person (this was in the dark ages, before cell phones), who was putting together a phone tree, ask me if the person ahead of me on the tree could call me collect. 

Yep. Way to make me feel welcome. I cried in the car on the way home from that meeting. BTW, that person moved away a few years later. She visits occasionally but I can’t bring myself to go say hi. Petty, I know. Welcome to my evil, petty heart. But stay away from my phone bill. Smile

Even before we settled on a church, we tried to form community in our community. In SoCal, if I ran out of sugar or milk, a half-dozen neighbors were within reach and happy to share. My new neighbors were willing to share too, but I soon noticed they never ran out of anything and needed to borrow from http://pixabay.com/en/sugar-spoon-cutlery-sweeteners-485045/me. So I got the message. Neighbors weren’t expected to be neighborly. We shared a street name in our address and that was it. Now we wave occasionally and everyone seems happy.

Of course, for every rule there is the exception. We have one neighbor family who actually does seem to enjoy our company and regularly invite us over for a front yard meal of lingua tacos or tripas. Neither of which I eat, but Stud Muffin loves both. Our neighbors know I’m squeamish and always have carne asada on hand for me. Plate Now that’s neighborly!

And I do have a few friends I know I can call when I need something. It’s only taken a couple of decades, but we’ve found our community.

And apparently it’s time to be open to expand. I’m trying. Or at least I want to try.

Wow, this is a long tale of Woe! Thanks for sticking with me, both physically and on the web.

What’s your take on community? What does it look like to you?

Woe! It’s Wednesday: Tis the Season …

… for graduations! We’ve attended several parties, purchased gifts and cards aplenty, and even attended an actual ceremony. Well, Stud Muffin did. I had a previous engagement.

gradHe was quite pleased to receive the invitation and even more pleased to attend. He said it was the nicest graduation he’d ever been to. I hope he means after his own, mine, and our daughters’ ceremonies. Winking smile

Maybe it’s just me, but graduations bring thoughts of endings and beginnings. Of scary things and change and the unknown.

Things I had no idea about when I graduated from high school:

  • That I wasn’t as smart as I thought
  • That the years ahead would be full of happiness and heartache, about in equal measure.
  • Cell phones and computers and VHS players

I like to think I’m a bit smarter now. But you know that saying, You don’t know what you don’t know? I still often have no idea about what I don’t know, much less what I do know. I’ve forgotten some things that would often come in quite handy. Diagramming sentences. How to change a tire. Some passwords.

I look forward to hearing stories about these new graduates making their way in the unknown world of adulthood.

I’m proud of the graduates we know. And their parents!

Congratulation Class of 2015!

Woe! It’s Wednesday: Back from Hiatus

Yes, I took a brief break from blogging. We had a lot going on.

A trip. A wedding. A reception. A move. A nasty stomach virus. Now, a baby!

Yep, grandbaby number three is on the way and expected to arrive a few days before Christmas. We’re so excited we can’t hardly stand it! We’re looking forward to adding to the glut of adorable pictures on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. But I’m back officially as of this week.

Cutest Baby Ever
Cutest Baby Ever