Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Lately Overheard: Lunchtime Edition

MrC, chattering about a really nifty idea for an iPhone app (to turn it into an RC remote), paused for breath.  (A rare occurrence; I'm not sure how he does it, but he manages a constant stream of verbiage other times.)

5-year-old LilMissL, in her measured, careful way, with hand gestures for empahsis, said:

"But, in order to make that app, you'd have to have the right kind of saaaaaahftwaaaaaare."

Vern and I looked at each other, nodded in a "you've gotta agree with that" way.  Then MrC pipes up:

"That's an old head on young shoulders!"

Out of the mouths of babes, indeed. ;o)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

About that Mother's Day . . .

What I Did Differently This Year

Mother's Day has been something of a minefield for me.  Some years are nice . . . and some have been very difficult.  As a newbie mom, I was crushed by a speaker at church (well meaning, but who sent the message: it doesn't matter whether or not you try or what your results are: all mothers are wonderful!), and later I've been weighed down by unrealistic expectations for our time & situation, etc.

But not this time.

I decided, a few days before, as I watched the same old anticipations and worries begin to rear their heads, wondering if anything would be done to celebrate the holiday, or if it would be like a lot of others: lost in the chaos of daily life.  As I felt myself begin to get a little worked up about it, I stopped.  I cleared my mind for a moment, and decided a very quiet, rather pivotal thing:

This year, I would celebrate Mother's Day.  

With gratitude.

I took Mother's Day for my own.  A quiet decision, made in the silence of my own heart . . . but it literally transformed my day.  Mother's Day was a joyous one for me: I chose to take the entire day to be thankful for my opportunity to sink or swim in motherhood, to thank my Redeemer over and over for the opportunity to try to take care of these six hoodlums over there in the sidebar, and their Dad.  Every time I saw one of my children, I chose to nurture gratitude in my heart, until it overflowed.

"Thou shalt athank the Lord thy God in all things. . . . And in nothing doth man aoffend God, or against none is hisbwrath ckindled, save those who dconfess not his hand in all things . . ." 

I get the feeling I should wield gratitude's formidable power a little more often.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Holding back

From my tiny snatch of reading today, in Leadership Education:

"Some of you may be thinking: 
'My Mary is just not a leader.  She is a good girl, yes, but not a leader.' 

Don't give in to that midset. 

It comes from our public socialization and the false idea that a leader is someone with smooth charisma and a TV personality.  This is false.  

Jefferson hated to speak in public and hardly ever did.  
Madison was sickly, shy and quiet.  
John Adams was considered abrasive and annoying.  
Lincoln was homely and lost many more elections than he won.  
Columbus couldn't convince anyone for years and years.  
Joan of Arc was from a poor family in a little farm community.  

Leadership isn't something that just happens to you; it is a choice, a choice to pay the price to be great.  

It isn't a certain set of talents, but rather a choice to develop your own talents, to use classics, mentors, hard work and faith to become great.  

Of course your Mary, your Bobby, your Kimberly are not leaders yet; 
they haven't earned it.  

But they can.  You can if you will pay the price."  

                                                                --Oliver Van DeMille, Leadership Education, p 117
(Line breaks and bold added for emphasis).

Contrast that with:

"That's the way it is."

"I'm just not good at math." (Or English, or . . . .)

"That's how he sees the world."

"Oh, he's a good kid, but he's not that kind of material."

And the list could go on and on.  I cringe, often visibly, when I hear people literally damning themselves with self-effacing language, locking the door of their own cell with simple and short-sighted concepts of their own abilities and worth.  Human beings are wildly intelligent, or have the capacity to become such.  It's all about getting outside of the stodgy, brick-lined cells into which we've been stuffed by those whose worldview we've trusted.

It's not who you are that holds you back.  It's who you think you're not.  --Dr. Hanoch McCarty

'Nough said.

Monday, May 9, 2011

A little about self-image.

Today I read this hearbreaking post by Amy.  (It's short--just go read it. I'll wait right here.)

It got me thinking about self-image, and how far I've come.  See, I was the "fat girl" at school.  (Even though I wasn't fat when the name calling started in kindergarten.)  I grew to be really, really heavy as a young child, but stretched out of it some as I neared twelve.  Most of the fatty-name-calling had tapered off by then, but I remained the brunt of plenty of jokes and insults.  Despite decreased frequency, the severity and pain inflicted by each had grown to more than make up the difference as my classmates grew older and more cruel.

Thanks to a rock-solid faith and support from adults around me, I managed to stay out of the eating disorder snare . . . but just barely.  Supremely insecure in my own appearance, I focused on other things (academics, reading, my own interests).  Going to college did a world of good for me, as it was a fresh start, and nobody knew my history or assigned layer in the public school social strata.  I could be whoever I wanted to be, liberating me to some extent.  This addage held true, though:

(Image Source)

I had been married for nearly six years to a man who literally brainwashed me into believing I was beautiful no matter what the scale read before I realized I was free from most of the self-deprecating baggage garnered as a child.  I'll never forget that moment: looking through a Title 9 catalog shortly after I gave birth to baby #3, I realized I identified with those healthy, lithe, slender women.  I no longer felt the alienation and outsider-ness that used to accompany seeing those kinds of images.  I knew I would one day feel that healthy, move with that much freedom, and feel that kind of liberation inside my own skin.

Vern has loved me from a thin 150 (when you're 5' 7", 150 is pretty skinny!), to an about-to-pop-pregnant 230, and all of the post-partum stages in between.  I still find myself feeling dissatisfied with my appearance . . . but it's always underpinned by a reasonable self-confidence.  The love of another person worked miracles in my life.

So parents, be vigilant.  Don't pass off lightly the ridicule your child experiences at school . . . or, worse yet, might be inflicting on someone else.  My experiences along these lines are some of the largest reasons I chose homeschooling.  Vern went through similar (and some far worse) things during his elementary & junior high sentences.  Odds were our children had no chance . . . and we just couldn't see putting them at risk that way when, once they cleared graduation, none of it would matter anyway.

Talking with one of my best friends, Mark, shortly after MrC was born, homeschooling came up.  Mark's experience in school had been like mine, but his achilles heel had been severe astigmatism and the thick glasses that accompanied it.  Contact lenses helped him escape ostracization, along with progressing to a monstrous high school where the pond grew large enough to afford him some liberty.

"But what about socialization?" he asked, honestly concerned.

I looked at him for a second, and answered: "Name one kind of socialization you experienced at school that you want your children to go through."

He looked at me for a second, and simply said: "Yeah.  I see what you mean."

Sunday, May 8, 2011

On Mother's Day

Something stumbled upon last week, in a most unexpected spot, captured with an old phone's camera.  Carefully framed and matted in Irish linen, this must have come from the leftovers of an estate sale, as I'm having a hard time imaging someone deciding this is no longer "their thing".

The complete text:

Lord of all pots and pans and things
Since I've not time to be
A saint by doing lovely things or
Watching late with Thee
Or dreaming in the dawn light or
Storming Heaven's gates
Make me a saint by getting meals and
Washing up the plates.

Although I must have Martha's hands,
I have a Mary mind
And when I black the boots and shoes,
Thy sandals Lord I find.
I think of how they trod the earth,
What time I scrub the floor
Accept this meditation Lord,
I haven't time for more.

Warm all the kitchen with Thy love,
And light it with Thy peace
Forgive me all my worrying and make
My grumbling cease.
Thou who didst love to give men food,
In room or by the sea
Accept this service that I do,
I do it unto Thee.

                             --Klara Munkres

(In searching out info on Klara, it seems that she lived in Savanna, Missouri after retiring from teaching school.) 

Friday, May 6, 2011

Words I needed to hear. Even if it's from myself.

Life is supposed to be hard.  No, really and honestly: hard.  Full of bumps in the road, pain, heartache, limitations, and struggle.  As much as I rail against that, life would be of little use to us without it.

I try (with limited success) to remember that in blog reading, 99% of the time I see the blogger's best (like we see others at church), while I focus mostly on my own worst.  Granted, I'm coming out of a solid year of illness (after only feeling moderately good for less than a year), am still stuck in up-late-and-in-the-night-with-the-baby-even-though-the-baby-isn't, and still haven't hit the "settled in" two year mark in this house (and won't get to).  But in my own mind, those aren't good enough excuses.

The only thing I've been able to come up with (with so much prayer and pondering and struggling)  is to simplify.  Drastically.  Time is so limited (especially with the children home all the time), that I just have to simplify.  It's a scary and frustrating process, but I'm starting.  We have accumulated quite the pile of boxes full of things saved (we all know the excuses, so I'll forbear), and I'm worn out from endlessly hunting for things I know we have, but can't find in the excess.  My neighborhood has a community garage sale coming up in a couple weeks, and I'll be a part of it.

I'll try to let you know how it goes . . .