Archive for July 2016

What would life look like if you–GASP!–dropped an activity?   2 comments

I’m writing this blog entry to myself, mainly, but maybe it can set you free-er too.

And I am also writing this in the knowledge that I could be extremely wrong in the lecture I’m about to give myself.

It is good for your children to participate in clubs, such as scouting, and sports, such as soccer.  It’s definitely great for your child to take music lessons.  I’d vote for piano lessons as the starter as I think they provide many benefits–learning to read music, confidence, not to mention all the benefits to the brain and fine motor skills.  And I like piano because you can get pretty pleasing results after very few lessons–if the piano is in tune, of course.

As your child grows older, he may want to partake in activities friends of his enjoy.  There is no shortage of sports she can play; there are dance lessons of all types.  There’s fencing.  There are clubs centered around gaming.  There are clubs centered around computer programming and robotics.  There is a wonderful plethora of options for kids to benefit from.

Then in high school there’s homework, time to socialize, sports, after school clubs, work, and of course volunteer hours.

All good: no complaint there.  Volunteering is for sure one thing I did almost none of as a teen but should have.

But.

Yes, I’m asking the question.

Where did the down time, the free time, the daydreaming time go?

How can someone develop fully as a human being if she is constantly on the go and nothing, but nothing, ever shuts off?

Is it truly necessary for your child to be fully immersed in several activities at most times of the year in order for her to get into college and have a future?  I don’t know.  Maybe it is.  Maybe things have gotten so competitive because there are so many people on the planet that my ideas are just naive.  Maybe my daughter will be omitting a key that would have gotten her into the door of a better college that would then have opened a further door, and someday I’ll be sorry.

And maybe you and your kids love your lives the way they are.  If you love what you’re doing, don’t stop doing it.

But if you don’t, just imagine what you could do with the time you free up if your family drops one activity.  It might be interesting to drop them all for a month or two in summer.

Perhaps that is an impossible dream.  But, what if you could back off?  What would life look like outside of a minivan?

Imagine.

An art form you dropped years ago.

Volunteering for a cause you care about.

Time to spend building connections with other people.

No longer being too busy and too tired at the end of the week to get together with friends.

Wouldn’t that be great?

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Posted July 29, 2016 by swanatbagend in learning, parenting

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What I Miss about a Small Church   2 comments

For most of my adult life, I have been a member of small churches.  During the last five years, we ended up making an unprecedented shift to both a different denomination than the one we’d been part of for twenty-five years, and to a church much larger than any we had attended before.  It didn’t start out large as it was a church plant, but it rapidly grew to several hundred and went on up from there.  It’s now at about 700.  To me that is huge.

I didn’t expect to be a member of a church that big, of course.  Starting from a small group one doesn’t know what to expect.  It just kind of took off.

Now that I’ve experienced both, there are some differences I’ve noted.

In a small church, there are always financial challenges, of course.  If the pastor says he will eat beans if he has to, you know two things.  One he’s an amazing man, but two, you have a financial problem.

If there are personality conflicts that cause big problems, they are front and center in a small church.

It is hard to find people to fill all the roles that need to be filled.  There are only so many adults who can be elected deacon or elder.

One of the main difficulties with a small church body is it can be quite problematic to get the needed momentum to pass the boundary of awkward into do-able.  People who want to just blend in are not going to be comfortable attending a church where they stand out.  Many people who are looking for a church may have expectations about size, programming, dynamics and so forth.

The good point of a large church are that there are lots of people.

There are people to volunteer in the nursery, there are people coming in who are interested in serving, although, honestly, in big churches as well there can be problems with motivating people to serve.  Big churches can have financial problems, too, but I think it is less likely, barring some disaster in leadership, which thankfully I have not experienced.

Big churches are more likely to have vibrant children’s and youth programs, as those can more easily be funded and fueled, and there are more kids there to keep the momentum going.

But I’ll tell you what I miss.

I miss being in a body small enough that I know everyone.  That takes a small body, as in 50-100 strong.

In that setting, there are few enough people that over enough fellowship dinners, service days, and nursery work, you get to know people well.  It creates an intimacy that is often missing in the general culture.

A small church united in a common cause is a force to be reckoned with.  When someone has a problem, it is noted, and people draw in around the sufferer to help.

Over time, devotion of that sort creates a very strong bond.  Family would not be too strong of a word.

That’s what I miss.

Posted July 21, 2016 by swanatbagend in the church

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Overbearing to Invite?   Leave a comment

Lately, I’ve found myself asking a question about relationships in my day-to-day reaching out to people and inviting them into my life and into my home.  I like to cook, and having people join our family for dinner has always been something I enjoy.  I like to spend time getting to know people.  I like making them feel welcome, that they are important to me, that they are included in our mutual community, whatever that context is.  And this context is what I’m used to.

Despite having been hospitable in this particular way for over twenty-five years, recently it seems that dinner invitations are not as well received as they used to be.

So, I’m asking myself, what’s different?  I find myself wondering if there are new social rules about how to initiate further contact with acquaintances and friends.  If there are new rules, I’m afraid that I don’t know them.

Perhaps there is another way that relationships are supposed to be nurtured in 2016?  Maybe people I know from work or church or kids’ activities are not comfortable being invited to someone’s home?  Am I supposed to meet the other mom at a Starbuck’s first, before I invite the whole family to dinner?

I don’t know and I would like to.  The last thing I want to do is be overbearing when my intent is simply to invite.

How is relationship building supposed to happen now?  Let me hear from you.

 

Posted July 18, 2016 by swanatbagend in friendship

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Once in a Lifetime   Leave a comment

People use this phrase to explain how peak an experience is.  You’ve most likely heard it in association with some sort of dream vacation.  I know I did.  When my husband of five years used it of our trip to Alaska, a place, let’s confess, I hoped to return to at least a couple more times, I was a bit displeased.

On the other hand, he probably meant it was a fantastic trip, filled with memorable sights, beautiful scenery, and far from home.  That for sure was true.

What I hoped wasn’t was the literal meaning–that it would not ever happen again.

So far, it hasn’t for a lot of reasons that would be understandable to most adults: children, work, money, you know how it goes.  You can’t take a trip like that every other year; it’s just not practical.

But here’s the thing.

When you get together with friends, you enjoy it; it makes a nice break in the usual routine.  You laugh, have fun, eat something, drink something, talk.  When you leave, you say, “We’ll do this again,” or in some cases where it’s the final dinner before a friend moves out of state, you say, “Take care of yourself.  I’ll miss you.  Let me know when you’re back in town.”

You are working on the assumption that–all things being equal–you will see those people again, enjoy a beer again, laugh and carry on again.

But you won’t have that particular gathering again.  No matter how many times you see the same group of friends or family, it won’t be the same gathering.  It’s unique and discrete by virtue of time and loss.

It’s once in a lifetime.

 

Posted July 13, 2016 by swanatbagend in friendship

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I Have a Life   Leave a comment

I’ve been working through my latest lab results, and how I’m feeling, and re-reading a book about autoimmune disease and health that I read before…and I feel myself going back into research mode.

I really don’t know that I have a choice in the sense that while I’m back on the thyroid medication I prefer, finally, after a full year of dealing with different medications in an effort to chase away premature ventricular contractions, I don’t feel as well as I was hoping and expecting to.  The PVCs were horrible when they started last April, keeping me up all night many nights.  So I had to go off thyroid medication altogether for a while, which caused me to gain some weight.  I had to get my iron levels up high enough to ward off the PVCs, and the process plain took longer than I wanted.

So, here I am, supposedly back where I was two years ago.  Only I’m not.

I have a few other issues I didn’t have then and the mediation doesn’t seem to be doing what it was then.

So what do I do?

Back to the drawing board.  Is there a different medication I could take?  How can I help my digestion?  Should I change my diet?  Drop the fish oil?  Change the type of magnesium?  Change the B complex?  Would a sleep study be beneficial?  Something else to support the adrenals?

There are quite a few questions, but the main one is this.

How much effort am I supposed to put into trying for better health?

Would it be better to stop spending valuable time reading and researching and live my life as it is?

I get drawn into the complexities, and sometimes I find myself thinking about nothing else throughout the day but my recurring questions about the health strategies I’ve been reading about.  Then I ask myself, what kind of life is that?

Maybe I should just give it up, accept how I am doing for how I am doing, and make the best of it.

But those of you who know me well know I am not the kind of person who gives up when faced with an obstacle.  Hermione-like, I turn to the library of information in an effort to find a solution.

I just don’t want to spend most of my life–trying to fix my life.

Posted July 6, 2016 by swanatbagend in health

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