Why I Am This Way, And How It Applies To My Dating Daughter

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I grew up a fighter. At a time when women were belittled– not taken seriously while harassed for wanting to break out of the “norm” set for us by men– I decided not to just accept that, but to push past it. I have dealt with that issue head-on for many years now. From a grandpa who refused to call me by my given name because it was a “boys name”, to being treated as an emotional idiot, I have learned how to stand my ground and not ever just take what someone has dished out.

I’ve fought for jobs that “girls aren’t hired for”, and won. The pizza place that refused to hire me to work in the kitchen because “girls only work as cashiers and hostesses”– I worked in the kitchen. The Air Force recruiter who thought I should enlist to be a cook– I became a plumber. The plumbing shop owner who laughed at this female Veteran AirForce  plumber– because “girls don’t get hired as plumbers”– I was hired by someone to help with their in-house plumbing problems. (Nevermind that I had mostly worked on Japanese plumbing, and as a side-effort, I tried to help my aunt in her older house. Let’s just say, I screwed that up REALLY bad! That’s one of my biggest regrets.) 

I drove heavy machinery in Korea when women still didn’t drive there. I drove a Humvee in the middle-east where women aren’t allowed to drive.

When I am backed into a corner and told I can’t do something just because I’m a girl– watch me do just that.

I don’t deal with that so much anymore, as a military spouse and stay at home mom.

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Now, I’m dealing with a new kind of thing– I’m now the teen girlfriend’s mom. Oh yes. So far her boyfriend has referred to me as not knowing what I’m talking about, and childish. This 18 year old boy that I am allowing my 16 year old daughter to date– with getting-stricter monitoring.

He has some nerve! I am struggling to not take my “childish” attitude and sever his relationship with my daughter!

How do I get it across to my daughter that how he treats me and his own mother will be how he treats her, once they move past all the hormonal ushy-gushy crap?

I am angry that he has the nerve to say things like that about me.

I am concerned that he does not have a relationship with Jesus at all. I want to put a stop to them dating, but at the same time, she is not going to learn important life lessons if I do that.

I am uncomfortable with my daughter dating him at all. Very uncomfortable.

So, the fighter in me has taken to prayer and sobering interaction.

I am accountable to God for my daughter. I will not take that lightly, but I’m not going to give into the temptation to “fight” with her boyfriend. I’m gonna let God fight that battle for me.

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180 Into Momhood

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It started with a carnation.

Just over 20 years ago I walked into my church service on Mother’s Day Sunday. A divorced Airman, stationed in Japan, I assumed everyone knew my status. But a boy handed me a red carnation, my favorite flower. I started to give it back, saying I wasn’t a mom, and he told me not to worry about it. I could keep it.

As I went to find my seat, I saw a friend who was a mom. I told her I felt bad for keeping the flower, and she said, “Don’t. It’s a promise from God that you will one day become a mother.”

A few years before that day, I nearly made an appointment to have surgery so I wouldn’t have children. I had a sad, awful childhood, and I didn’t want to bring kids into this world full of such ugly hatred for innocence and vulnerability. A friend talked me out of it.

Today I have 4 children. Each one carried and formed within my body. Their lives are so different from how mine was.

The change to motherhood began in my heart, a seed desiring children was planted the day I received that carnation. I wasn’t in a relationship, but I began looking into adoption options. I pondered the future, thought of ways I could include a child. I thought I’d be a single mom. I believed I’d never find a man I could trust to be the father of my children. I refused to have children with the  man who divorced me because I did not trust him.

God did a work in my heart that caught me off guard. I don’t know how or when He made the changes. I made a list of 50 things I believed I’d find in the man He would bring into my life, if He wanted me to remarry.

Months passed. I forgot about the list I had written. I was introduced to a guy, and we started walking and talking together. We went to church together. It wasn’t long before I found the forgotten list. I could check off 46 out of the 50 things, and I recognized evidence of God at work on the 4 things unchecked. A short time after, he asked me to marry him.

I said yes!

The next year and a half was a jumble of long distance, high phone bills, separation anxieties, misunderstandings, making up, praying together, wedding preparations, family frictions, and finally we were together as man and wife. During that long year and a half, God spoke to my heart about the promise of a daughter, and He gave me her name. Deborah.

I got pregnant immediately after rejoining with my new husband.

It was not an easy pregnancy. I had awful morning sickness, and a terrible rash some first time moms carrying girls got… I knew that child was fulfillment of God’s promise of a daughter. Everyone thought I was carrying a boy, but I knew she was a girl.

My water broke 30 days before she was due to be born. She was a tiny 5 pounds 8 ounces. Then she lost a full pound the first week. Our first two weeks together were the hardest I have ever endured. I was fighting to keep her alive. She slept all the time, nursed constantly. I was sore, tired, scared… I had no family nearby to get help from. There were ladies at our church that supported me and prayed for us, and I know God used them to help me continue.

When my daughter was born, my mom-hood was born as well.

I went from fighting as a survivor from my own circumstances, to loving a tiny human who was part of me and yet separate– loving her so much I could feel my heart tearing to be able to fit more love inside of it.

With each child, my heart has stretched and broken apart to fit even more love inside of it. The eye can’t see that, but I have felt every tug, pull and tear. Each child and I have our own story, our own bondings, as well as our own conflicts.

God has been incredibly good to me. He fulfilled His promise and gave me so much more! He provided me with a safe, healthy environment to raise my own children, with a man who selflessly displays so many of God’s characteristics.

I am indescribably thankful that God helped me find my way on to a different life course than I started out on.

 

 

 

Embracing Pain and Fear

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It’s on my heart to share this, and given recent events in the Middle East, I can see that in some respects, it could be a timely message for some.

As an American, I’d say–in our modern American culture, there seems to be a strong growing trend to avoid pain and suffering. We’re a first world nation, we should expect to have comfort and some luxuries, isn’t that the mindset we have all just accepted as normal, healthy living?

We tell ourselves we deserve it.

I think this has, in some ways, weakened some of our resolve and even work ethics.

In today’s America we often expect to be well paid for a job we put minimal effort into doing well. We complain about working, about customers, about our bosses, about not getting paid enough–so little contentment with so much expectation and even an overreaching of an attitude of entitlement of money, healthcare, cell phones or the latest electronic device, of getting everything we want and having every convenience possible, with as little effort as possible.

Us moms, we often give in to the temptation of having a pain-free birth. I gave in with our 4th baby, but I felt like I had somehow cheated. I’m not saying I think that’s wrong, but it seems like it could be a symptom of pain avoidance.

My first 3 births were natural, no pain killers at all. Our second child came so quickly, there was no time to even have an IV put in.

Through childbirth, I learned how to embrace the pain of the contractions, to use that pain to know when to help my baby come out into the world. I bonded with my babies, I struggled and strove to help them. The pain wasn’t something I feared, but something I embraced, I used it to accomplish purpose.

During the labor of my 3rd baby, God spoke to me through the pain.

He told me no one could touch my soul because it’s safe with Him. No matter what happens to my body, my soul can never be touched, harmed, or stolen.

With the recent growing number of killings of Christians, this is something He has reminded me of, to share and have others meditate on.

Pain is fleeting. Salvation is Eternal. Our soul is safe when we give it to God through belief on Christ Jesus. As a result, I know deep within, I Never have to be afraid of any pain. I know that God will avenge me for anyone who hurts me, because I belong to Him.

I know that God will avenge every Christian murdered by those who have set themselves up as enemies of The Most High God. We may not see how He does it, but their souls will never have the comfort, peace, rest or safety that the souls of those they murdered will have for ALL of Eternity.

God’s judgment is coming for those who dare to touch the ones He has claimed as His own.

I have no fear, because I know Who I belong to. And, if I stumble into fearfulness, God reminds me that it’s His perfect love that casts that out. I don’t have to succumb to it, to let it take over my reactions, my emotions or my actions and words. I don’t have to let it take control, I am not helpless because I have Help.

I have read and heard quite a few interpretations of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednigo–from prosperity encouragements, to commitment, to God’s faithfulness to us. But, what I get out of that account is that no matter what–no matter the pain, no matter if God chose not to intervene or help them–No Matter What, they would remain faithful to God. Because they knew Who they belonged to. No amount of pain, or manipulation, or fear-inducing circumstances could make them turn their backs to God.

He chose to help them. I have no doubt if He hadn’t, they would have died in that furnace still completely faithful to God. Because they knew He knows the end from the beginning. He knows the reasons He does, or does not do things.

Do you know Who you belong to? Do you believe on Him so deeply, that no amount of pain or suffering will manipulate you into relenting and turning away?

We need to pray that those being killed for belonging to Him through Jesus know Who they belong to. We need to pray that God will intervene, that Jesus will return, and that this persecution will be stopped. Only the return of Jesus is going to stop it.

When we obey the command to pray for peace in Jerusalem, we are praying for Jesus to come back and intervene on behalf of those who are suffering because of His Name.

Return, Lord Jesus, return quickly!

When we Christians unite, the power of God is manifest through our agreement in prayer, through our worship of God, and that is what causes fear in our enemies. That is why they kill, because Satan knows and wants to stop God’s power from flowing through His body–The Church, The Bride of Christ.

We are part of something so much greater than we are just in ourselves.

Satan is using people who believe his lies to try to stop God from working through us. He will not succeed, we know that from The Revelation of John.

But, where 2 or 3 are gathered, He is in our midst. When we have faith, we can tell a mountain to move, and it will.

Do we ever challenge our own faith?

Paul had a thorn in his side that God chose not to remove. There is debate of what that thorn was, but what I understand is–Paul chose to continue to faithfully serve God with that thorn unremoved. He didn’t complain. He didn’t yell at God. He didn’t quit. He didn’t rebuke it.

Paul focused on God, not on the thorn.

Our faith and our commitment need to grow up. We need to put off the American part of ourselves and embrace the Eternal, like putting off our old selves to put on the new. Ephesians 4:22-32 Colossians 3:1-4

We can’t, after all, take America with us, and America can’t keep our souls safe Eternally.

Only the One True God can do that.

What My Mom Helped Me Learn

My mom has helped me learn some things that I now have the opportunity to purposefully make sure my daughter gets from me.

Deborah turning 4 Incidentally, when my mom came o1) Always have her back. Even if I don’t agree with her or she doesn’t handle things the way I would, never make her feel as though she has to deal with things alone.

2) No amount of money or possessions can replace a sense of being cherished or belonging.

3)  I need to be approachable.

4) Listen, even when it drives me crazy to hear about her friends I’ve never met. It’s important to her to be able to share it with me. Also, that keeps me informed and interested. I know who is dating who, who just moved into the neighborhood, who I should be aware of,  and what their ages are.

5) I need to be involved without being controlling.

6) Make time just for her, just because I want to spend time with her. I enjoy her company.

7) Help her find a sense of purpose by telling her what her strengths are, and what I admire about her.

8) Praise her and compliment her; critique things she does without harsh or mean criticism of her.

9) Teach her skills that will help her fit into society in a healthy way.

10) Help her value herself so she will make decisions that will be healthy and beneficial.

11) Don’t say negative things about her behind her back. When I share information out of frustration or as a prayer request, she knows about it and what I have said.

12) Don’t side with someone who calls her a liar. She isn’t always completely truthful with me, but I have never, ever known her to lie to someone, outright. And, even if I thought she did lie, we would deal with that in private and she would apologize to the person face-to-face. I will not take sides against my daughter.

13) Teach her the “why” behind each piece of instruction, guidance or advice.

14) Make sure she knows I separate her from her actions, decisions and mistakes. She is not what she does.

15) Let her wear my shoes and clothes sometimes. There is just something uniquely bonding about this with my daughter.

16) Don’t attack her for, or say harsh, mean things about, what I view as faults. My view is only one perspective, but she gets her cues at self-confidence from me.

17) Make sure she knows beyond any shadow of doubt, every single day, that I love her, cherish her, and my life is better because she’s in it.

18) I am careful to not expose her to things she’s not old enough to be able to process with an informative maturity. Raising children is like growing plants in some ways: I wouldn’t throw a rose-bush out into a blizzard just because I was tired of it being in the house and it’s too expensive to buy it food and soil. The same with my daughter: there will be no cut-off time for her, we won’t force her out of the house by a certain age. My hope is that we will help her become confident and prepared when the time comes for her to begin a new phase of life apart from us. I’m in no rush for that day, but I also won’t hold her back from embracing it.

19) Give her a healthy view of marriage. I think this is one of the best gifts my husband and I can give to our children, especially our daughter. As she sees how her dad treats me, and how I treat him, she will be able to discern the right relationship for herself. It’s so important for her to understand God’s perspective in marriage, because the world’s perspective brings no peace, no comfort, no health, and no longevity.

20) Make sure she has a firm foundation in Christ, while I encourage her in her own relationship with God, but don’t criticize when she doesn’t do things the same as me, or she isn’t passionate about the same things with God and church that I am. She is uniquely formed by God, and I trust Him to lead her in the direction that He has planned for her.

I hope I can pass on things that she will pass on to her own daughter someday, and so on, and so on…

My desire above everything is to bless my daughter. When a mother curses her daughter with negatives and harsh criticism, it affects every relationship and interaction she has, negatively. My hope is in blessing her it will do the exact opposite. I can already see some positive fruit from things people say to me about her, and how she is treated by her peers.

Getting Our Attention, and Missed Opportunities

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If you have children, then you understand what I am saying when I tell you my mind is exhausted from the attention grabbing attempts of my kids. I have 4, and they all want my attention, they even compete for it at times. When my dog climbs into my lap, my 2 year old will rush over and try to push him off, climb into my lap for just a minute, then climb back down. He has to let the dog know who owns my lap, already showing 10150407652477456signs of that male conquering spirit, lol.

Each of my kids has their own way of getting my attention, and we have a method we call the “interrupt rule” that they are supposed to follow (put a hand on my shoulder or arm and wait until I can give my full attention), but of course they often forget to follow it. My daughter,  DaBee , will text me questions and pictures she takes with her phone, or come over to where I am and start talking 111940127455about whatever comes to mind. She gets excited and shows me pictures she draws, or things she sews. She is so talented! My oldest boy, “Jonenator Dude” (JD), he waits until I am alone to talk about his different collections. JD can also be competitive  with the others and try to demand I give him my full attention. I am teaching him how important it is to be considerate and patient, some days those aren’t easy lessons to teach. My middle boy, “Little Red” (LR), he often copies his older brother, or tries to get my attention away from JD, in order to show me his latest drawing or tell me about his Lego creation or a game he’s excited about playing. My 2 year old, “Doctor Oo!” (DO),  lately he will stand behind me and put his hands on my cheeks or in my hair. Sometimes he just sits next to me and takes hold of my hand. He loves to be playful and show me his toys by pretending to shoot me with them, or holding them up close in my face, and often I don’t mind at all.

But, I have learned from past mistakes. Those times when I have been too busy to look up and listen, or when distracted and frustrated, I pushed them away… I can’t get those opportunities back. I lost out.

72083967455As God’s child, I don’t feel I have to try to get His attention. But, I’ve been thinking about how I become aware of God trying to get my attention. How many times have I missed Him during my distracted daily activities, or when I’m frustrated by something or someone? When do I become aware, then give Him my full attention?

Sometimes, I have a song or a verse on my mind that woos my attention to Him. Sometimes I have a sudden urge to pray about something specific, or for someone specific. At times a subject comes to mind with a sadness that overwhelms my spirit and I can’t help but pray and seek God on behalf of what He places on my heart.

I am desperate to not miss Him, to not miss an opportunity to pray or speak into someone’s life, or just be available in the way He impresses on my heart. Except when I’m distracted by the cares of this life. Then I miss Him.

But, because I am distracted, I don’t miss that I miss Him.

That makes my heart sad, when I take the time to let myself think deep on that.

Isaiah 55:6 “Seek the LORD while He may be found; Call upon Him while He is near.” (NASB)

How Have You Grown?

I was inspired to write this by this blog:
http://thingstoadore.wordpress.com/2013/03/15/and-before-you-know-it/

There is nothing like becoming a mom and being responsible for the lives of our little ones who are so vulnerable and completely dependent on us, to make us both grow, and grow up.

I became a mom at 29. I had almost 3 decades to learn how to be selfish and think about “mememe”. My transition to momhood was ugly. My life before marrying a Godly man was all about my survival, my being independent and responsible, my working hard. I can count on one hand the number of people who sincerely had my back or even cared whether I survived. Transferring that mindset into taking care of a baby, especially after not being around babies much at all, I was a huge mess. I didn’t have family nearby to help me, and I didn’t have the benefit or experience from a healthy relationship with my own parents. I did have my Grandma to confide in, and I had an amazing husband that God provided for me, who supported me, believed in me, and continually shows me kindness I often feel undeserving of.

The first 2 weeks of my first baby’s life were the hardest and scariest of my entire life, and believe me, that is saying a lot. She lost a full pound after being born a month early, and I was trying to learn how to breastfeed her. Thankfully I had encouragement from people at church to not give up breastfeeding. I am so very glad I pushed through. She finally started gaining weight at 2 weeks, and we had some rough times, like clumsily trying to feed her in public and getting a yeast infection in my milk ducts. She is 13 now, and she’s one of the best accomplishments of my life, and a reminder of how much God changed my life when she was born. When she was born, the “mom” me was born. As a mom, she and I are both 13, and trust me, we both have some seriously real “adolescent” days.

Over the past almost 15 years of marriage, God has used His Word to instruct me to not be anxious for anything, to cast all of my cares on Him, and that no matter what, I can lean on Him and He will make all of my pathways clear. He has never failed, He has never given up on me, and I know there is nothing I can’t trust Him with. I have grown as a Believer.

I have grown as a wife. When we first married, I had all sorts of expectations of what I believed a Christian marriage would/should be. I was previously married to a nonbeliever. It was a disaster, and I know it was because of God’s protection over me, in my ignorance and desperation to just have someone who would love me, that I’m alive today. He delivered me from that marriage that I clung to when my ex decided one day he wanted a divorce, but I wouldn’t grant him one. Until I read Scripture, and I heard God in my spirit tell me it was ok to let him go. So, I joined my new husband 6 years later, with God’s permission to remarry, with hopes, plans and expectations. All of those either died out or were changed by God. I learned to relax when things feel out of control, spinning ahead of what I feel ready for, because God knows everything, and I can just lean back on Him, rest, and trust. Being married to a Christian has both defied and soared beyond my expectations.  We don’t pray together about everything, we don’t sing and play praise and worship songs together all the time, we don’t always have it all together with perfect smiles on our faces and lots of Christian friends who adore us, we don’t have popular Bible studies and prayer meetings in our home every week, and we have never gone on mission trips as a family like my heart still longs to do. Yeah, my picture guess was way off from our reality, lol. I’m not “Suzy Homemaker”. I’m a military spouse who has almost no control over any area of decisions or plans, the military takes care of all of that for both of us. I have learned to be content during some pretty intense times, but I’m still learning, and I fail at “content” pretty much every day in one way or another.

I have grown as a daughter. I have a new lens on my “hindsight” indicator. I no longer look through it as a daughter, but I look through it as one who has a daughter. There are things my mom did that I have made sure not to do. There are things I cringe every time I do or say. There are things I am careful to do, and I’m sure there are things I wish I had done, though I can’t think of any off-hand. I learned a lot from my Grandma that I didn’t learn from my own mom. There have also been times when anger or tears pop in because of things I missed out on or was robbed of in my own relationship with my parents. I have had much forgiving to do, needed much grace to apply, and tempered with love much disappointment and frustration. God has helped me to be a better mom to my children than I ever could have been without His compassion and help.

It’s amazing to me when I look back over all of the events of the past decade and a half, just how much “growing” God has accomplished in me while I was distracted by my life’s moments. I still have a lot of growing to do, but wow: God sure has been busy in me!

In what ways have you grown?

Who Controls Your Time?

This is painfully honest, but it’s “real”.

There are some days when I have a heightened sense of awareness concerning how very little control and input I have in my daily life’s circumstances. I am writing this as I sit in our one vehicle waiting for my husband to finish something he’s volunteered to do for our church. I have no issues with his having volunteered. What I am continually frustrated about are my lack choices in my own life. Some days it’s apparent that nothing about my life is about me.

As a Christian, I remind myself that that’s the way my life is supposed to go. Putting others before myself. This is the “season” I am in, and the lesson of learning to be content in all things, it’s a doozy some days.

As a military spouse and veteran, I remind myself that serving our country is an honor. Supporting my husband as he serves, is some days a more difficult sacrifice than my own military service was. He has people telling him what to do and where to be pretty much every minute of his work day. He’s scheduled for meetings without any communication with him about it, and he has no say, nor does he even get to take real vacation time. There is often little to no consideration or concern for how his work affects his home life, by his leadership. He wasn’t issued a family, so his family isn’t important to them. I do my best to keep things under control at home, but I have reached a near breaking point a few times since we moved to this assignment 1 year ago. Service before self, that’s what is expected, even from military families. When he gets orders just days before he’s sent away, I just have to go through the motions of having it all together. If I’m sick or stressed, it doesn’t matter, his duty comes before my life, in every way possible. That’s just the way it is. When he flies, I drop him off so I won’t be without the car if he gets stuck somewhere over night, or for several days. Everything revolves around his schedule, and truth be told: I don’t often feel much like running errands just because his work schedule makes our car available for me to actually go somewhere.
I cannot plan anything. When he comes home from work, he tries not to bring his frustration home too, and he plays with the kids when he can. Sometimes he lays down and falls asleep. Ok, lots of times he does that. I get the leftover exhaustion that’s a result of all the junk he deals with, or exhaustion from his flying 6-10 hours a day.

As a home educating mom, I remind myself that my kids educational needs are priority. They have to learn, we have to stick to a schedule to fit in the State mandated number of hours required, even though the school system certainly doesn’t follow that guideline very strictly. The school system gives kids 5 days off over Valentine’s Day and Presidents Day, alone. My kids can’t take that amount of time off without having to make up time over a weekend or extra long schooldays. Even though they will beg me to go play with their friends, they have to do schoolwork, because of those mandated hours I signed my name before a Notary Republic agreeing to enforce. Normally I enjoy the kids staying home to learn, but I honestly despise that box of “time” everyday that this state has inflicted on us. I have consistently been strict concerning their education from day 1 of their schooling, that mandate is unnecessary, and it’s too restricting.

I have no one to talk to that really understands where I’m coming from. There is nothing that is about “me”, at all right now. When people ask what I like to do, I’m at a loss. I don’t even know anymore. I try to write, but I’m only motivated by getting stuff off of my chest, encouraging others one-on-one, or politics. I play my violin for church sometimes, but that’s another part of my life that is scheduled for me, which isn’t a big deal in and of itself, but when I look at the whole picture, I just get overwhelmed by how lost I am in everyone’s scheduling that affects me but isn’t ever about me. I very much want to play my violin and bless others, just some days I feel crushed by “overwhelm”. Thankfully God never lets it really crush me, and He gives me the strength to get out from under it, and rise above it. I am no good at anything without God’s help.

Nothing about my life is my own right now. I sometimes stay up too late just to get peace and quiet time to myself, but that comes with a price, too. I cannot ever get away from responsibility, or everything being planned for me while not including me in the planning.

I just follow the schedule.

America the Great

Life. Liberty. The Pursuit of Happiness. The American Dream. This is how America was described to me as I was growing up.

I was taught to love and appreciate the country I was blessed to be born into. I was taught to be a giver, and to fight the need to be given to. I was taught to have a sense of pride, and even a touch of arrogance, about being an American, because I live in the greatest country in the world. I was told to love my neighbor as myself.

The definition of neighbor seems to vary among individuals.

Neighbor, to some, means the people in our neighborhoods. To some, it means friends. For some, it includes people at work, school, church, or those we interact with as we enjoy our hobbies and our lives. For some, they also include other nations as our neighbors.

For me, the title of neighbor has grown to include the homeless, the person standing alone at a gathering, the child whose parents would rather they go play than stay home, and the person across the world being persecuted for what they believe, or rather, what they have rejected to take on as a belief.

American Pride often keeps us looking at the things we value, that look good on the surface, but rarely does it acknowledge those within our nation that are the least desirables. At best, we touch those subjects with a few glancing words giving a shallow appearance of compassion, while moving on to a more comfortable subject like football, or how many medals we won in the Olympics this year. American Pride give homage to what looks pretty on the outside, while skirting issues that don’t reflect pride or even the pretty. For example, the way our war heroes are treated, often neglected, if they don’t find the successful path that ends up in a house with the white picket fence and the 2.5 children, that have become entwined with our definition of “American Exceptionalism”.

Years ago, when I was placed in another country, I went with my American Pride and touch of arrogance. I had been taught being an American meant I was the best, that I was better than other people. I learned pretty fast, that I had been taught wrong. I learned that even though we have this great respect for ourselves, other people in the world, well honestly, they hate us. They don’t think we are great, they don’t rejoice with us that we were born in the greatest country in the world. No, they don’t respect us, they don’t even like us.

I learned that people are people no matter what country they live in, and when we attempt to define them by their country of origin, we are missing the big picture. I learned to appreciate what those in my host country of Japan, the Okinawan people, placed value on, not trying to Americanize them, but embracing their culture and learning to interact with them, even in a limited way, in their own language.

I found that people want you to meet them where they are, and find things in common with them that they love, that honor them. I realized that putting people above America was more important than trying to get them to be more like an American. I learned that something as simple as saying, “Thank you.” in their language meant more to them than just about anything I could do or even give them.

I came to love the people of another country, and even respect them as much, sometimes even more, than those in my own country. I grew to appreciate and sincerely value the true humility I saw in them and in their everyday lives. I gathered as much knowledge and information as I could about the area I lived in, so I could understand them better, and so I could be effective when I prayed for them, from my heart.

I gained a new perspective and clearer sight. My neighbor is everyone, no matter what their station in life, or what their nationality or belief. And, I learned how to love them as myself, even more than myself.

America is an amazing country, full of opportunities, hope, and generosity. I love my country, my heritage and my life. But now I also love people everywhere far above my love for my country.

Grandad’s Teaching and Example

I had 2 Grandads, growing up. Well, actually a Grandpa and a Grandad.

My Grandpa taught me by example how little I mattered by never getting my name right. He called me “Janey” the whole time I knew him. He never teased or joked, he just didn’t like me. I learned that because I’m a female, he thought I was worthless. I despised him, so much so, I refused to go to his funeral when he passed on my Junior year of High School.

My Grandad called me by my name, never got it wrong. He also called me “Sunshine”, and “Punkin” (his way of saying “pumpkin”). He taught me work ethics and the importance of respecting and valuing others. He had all sorts of stories about knowing Jesse James (he lived on the farm down the street from my great grandparents) as a child before he became an outlaw, meeting Bonnie and Clyde during his days as a security guard on a train before they turned to crime, and his having met Buffalo Bill Cody. I wish I had paid closer attention to his stories, so I could pass them on to my own kids.

My Grandad was a hard worker, and he placed value on others by the work effort they demonstrated, as well. He had the best garden with the yummiest “pickins’ ” I still have ever seen or tasted. He would pay my brother and I a dime to pull weeds each summer. Then as he held the dime out to give to us, he would tell us a story about how that was a day’s wage when he was a kid, or how bread used to cost a nickel a loaf. I never forgot those facts.

He also taught me, consistently, that the effort I put into the work I did would tell people more about me than I could with words. It tells people whether I respect them or not, whether I have self-respect, and if I would be willing to go that extra mile and put in extra hours when needed. In my heart of hearts, work ethics are more important than most things.

Health issues frustrate and keep me from doing all I really want to do. I am trying to pass on to my kids all I learned from my Grandad. I think they are getting it, but sometimes I wonder. Then again, I bet my Grandad wondered if he was getting through to me, and his lessons and example are still some of the strongest bricks of the foundation of my character and person.

So, maybe one day, I will be pleasantly surprised by my own kids really getting it.

Worth the Effort

We have all seen those “funny” television shows with the background laughter letting us all know we should find whatever is being said or done funnier than anything we have ever seen or heard before. You know the shows, where someone thinks something else is happening, but ends up being completely, even embarrassingly, wrong? I always wonder what would happen if they would just talk. To each other. But, where is the “fun” in that, right?

My husband and I try to sincerely talk about as much as possible, to avoid miscommunications and tense situations. While on televisions those can be hilarious, in marriage for real, not so much.
He and I have been co-parenting our children for as long as 13 years. 12 years ago, communication was so easy, and tons of fun. We have developed our own family “language” over the years as a result of all the cute words the kids have made up in learning how to communicate with us. Now, it’s hard not to wish we had skipped that whole “teaching them to talk” stuff. The sarcasm, the back-talk, the arguing with each other… Many times the problems that rise up would have been headed off before they began, if they would communicate more with us and with each other. I hope I can get that point across to them, it will make their own lives so much easier.

Getting past miscommunicating is an art anymore, I think. Not many people seem to want to put the effort necessary into avoiding miscommunicating, or working past misunderstandings, anymore. They are too busy, and just don’t care how their lack of effort sometimes hurts other people.

I think people are worth the effort. I hope they think I am worth the effort, too.