Archive for the ‘challenges’ Tag

Cleaning Up   Leave a comment

We’ve gone through quite a few transitions at our house lately.  Some have been good, others more difficult.

My daughter graduated last June, and in the fall she took several college courses while living at home.  She wasn’t interested in going away to college and had not settled on a career path, so that seemed like a decent idea.  It didn’t turn out that way, because she discovered in the process that she really wasn’t all that interested in taking several random college classes.  This led to an existential meltdown for both of us.

Life transitions can do that sometimes.  They can push you to the edge.

It’s pretty terrifying when you’re at that type of juncture, and there is no obvious path into the future.  For that matter, there may not even seem to be an obvious next step into the future.

However, the sun rises, the sun sets, and you have to take steps forward, but only, apparently, when you are good and ready.

After Christmas break, my daughter decided with our agreement that she would take a break from classes until she knew more about what she wanted to do with life.  So, if she wasn’t at school, the plan was for her to get a job.

However, January started to pass away without any serious movement on her part (that I could see) toward applying for jobs.  I was a bit perturbed.  More than once I have mentally called her Bartleby, because when asked when she was going to make a step toward the future, the overall response appeared to be “I would prefer not to.”

However, she was very helpful at home, she was talking with and getting together with friends again, and she was doing a lot of extra cleaning chores that I really appreciated because I never get to them.

Then she started cleaning out her bedroom.

The closet floor had been a pile for years.  One step at a time, she tossed, recycled, re-gifted and reorganized that space.

Then, the Fisher Price toy castle that had been in her room for years went downstairs to the school room, where we keep age-appropriate toys for the children of friends who visit our house regularly.

A variety of other toys she had long since outgrown went to Goodwill or to the children of friends.

The large Plan Toys dollhouse and doll family that were the center of funny movies the kids used to make got moved to the empty kids’ bedroom.  She dusted off all the furniture and miniatures in it and shook out all the tiny rugs.  It didn’t get given away because we are not ready yet as a family to say a final farewell to the Fraw family, but, it’s not in her room any more.

Then, and only then, when her bedroom was updated to her adult sensibilities, did she start researching jobs.

Within a week, she had her first interview.  It went really well and she wasn’t even nervous.

Three more interviews followed and from start to finish the job hunting process was only three weeks. She has a job at Hobby Lobby, which is exactly where she wanted to be, and she loves it.  She’s driving herself to work and making all kinds of plans and taking on responsibilities that can only be described as adult.

But she was only ready, when she was ready.  She cleaned out her room and her life, reinventing herself in the process.

We’ve homeschooled since 2000, and I’m now in what you might call the home stretch.  I have only one student left and he will finish up his freshman year of high school at the end of May.  There are only a few more years to go; a mere 14% of the total time I will have spent homeschooling lies before me.  It’s been difficult to imagine what I will do after he graduates, although of course I do have some appealing ideas.  But mainly, graduating my daughter and seeing this future change coming has been mysterious and a bit scary.

However, I am finally ready to move on.  It took a trip downward into depression and the wrestling with my purpose to do it, but I too am cleaning out my room and my life.

I’ve wanted to really get the creeping Charlie and overflowing iris out of the flower garden for years, but just didn’t have the time.  It’s now done and I’m working on shade loving flowers to plant to replace the bare spots.

Getting back into embroidery sometime in the past twenty years would have been nice, but I never had the time.  Yesterday I emptied out my sewing bag and found a beautiful kit I never finished.  I washed the entire bag, which was covered with dust.  I gave away kits I didn’t want.  I threw away random pins and scraps of fabric that I knew I would never use.  And last night, while my son read to us, I was cross-stitching.

I cleaned out a magazine rack that was stuffed full of a wonderful magazine, long since ceased publishing, called Welcome Home.  I first subscribed twenty years ago.  It was just what I needed for encouragement to love and parent well.  The articles were so good, I saved every issue, thinking I would re-read them someday.

Twenty years later, that day hasn’t come.  I now have not just one but two adult children.

I donated the magazines to the library–when I was good and ready.

 

Posted April 29, 2019 by swanatbagend in transitions

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Now   1 comment

Your days with your small children are difficult.  They are long, and challenging.

But trust me when I say–this really will end.

Your child will grow up.

Depending on his circumstance, the point at which he becomes an adult–moving out of your house and not coming back, will vary.  In some situations, your child will not leave home, whether through disability or disease.  Even there, the future with your child will be different, whether he is living his life somewhere else or if he is still with you.  He’ll be different.  You will be different.

Believe it or not, this is not a post about how you must adore every moment you spend rocking/singing/nursing/carrying your baby to sleep.  It’s not a post about how you must seize the day.  It’s not that you must schedule your time so that none of it is wasted.   It’s not a post about how you must parent well precisely because your time as a parent is fleeting.  You have already been told that, and felt guilty about your inability to fully extract all the joy from every minute.

I just want you to know that the moment you have now does not guarantee anything about the future.

What I want to tell you is, whether the moment is horrendous, tedious, messy, awful, or wonderful, accept that it is now.  Live in that now moment, however good or bad it is.  You don’t have to plan for the future in every moment.  You don’t have to do it perfectly or even do it well.  You don’t have to even like it.

Just be in it.

 

Posted January 27, 2018 by swanatbagend in parenting

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No Greater Love   Leave a comment

I have a tendency to take things literally and so I think this has colored my understanding of the text in John 16 where Jesus says, “Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”  If you read on from that point, where Jesus says he’s calling his disciples friends, it’s easy to infer that he’s referring to what he’s about to do.  And Jesus does literally give his life for his friends, which includes his 12 disciples, but us as well.  So until last week, I didn’t get any further with that verse than thinking 1) Jesus is stating what he’s about to do for us and 2) he’s saying that a willingness to even die for someone else if needed is the test that you really love.

There is so much more to it than that.

So forgive me for stating the obvious (if this was already obvious to you), but this time when I read those verses I saw something else.

It isn’t laid down all at once. It’s laid down each moment of each day.
If you lay down your life, that does not necessarily mean that you die doing it.
Maybe you don’t die.
Maybe you are already laying down your life.
Maybe you are laying down what you want, your ideas and plans, even the idea that it is your life to begin with.
Perhaps you are in a difficult work situation or relationship situation, that requires dedication. It goes on and is not temporary. It’s not what you signed up for, but it the reality you currently face. In moving forward through the challenges of it, you are laying down your life.

As you get older, perhaps you feel it more, this laying down. As you go forward, it’s unrolling like a layer of asphalt or perhaps a lovely red carpet. There will be an end to it, not seen by you, but you know it’s closer. Maybe that’s why you feel the laying down.
Also you can’t take it up again; you can’t get it back. It’s irretrievable.
When you give it away, it’s given, it’s gone. But that is as it should be, because after all, you are laying it down.

No greater love.  You lay it down.

 

Posted December 28, 2017 by swanatbagend in servanthood

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Chronic   Leave a comment

Do you have anything in your life like this?

If you’re like me, I’m sure you do.  No matter what it may be, it is something that does not diminish with time.  It’s something that does not seem to have a packaged, straightforward treatment.  It does not go to the doctor, come home with medication for pain and an antibiotic, then three days later go back to school/work.

It might be a disease.  It might be a habit you have wrestled with for years.  It may be a person you’re connected to who is difficult but whom you can’t abandon.  It might be money worries.  It might be the mess in your garage, or the yard work that never really gets done, or the pile of dirty laundry that completely covers your cracked cement basement floor.

Whatever it is, it’s chronic.  It’s not fixable today or this week.

You know what I mean?

Reflecting on my own life at the beginning of a new year, and wondering what will become of the chronic situations in my life during the course of the months to come, something else came to mind.

There’s all of this stuff, but, whatever else may be chronic, thank God that He is chronically good.

Posted January 7, 2017 by swanatbagend in gratitude, reality

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I Asked the Lord   Leave a comment

Seems like the answers to what you need come in a way you don’t expect.

The past 10 months have been a season of physical weakness, which for me invariably leads to emotional and mental challenges.  Honestly, I don’t know if I should call them challenges.  It hasn’t been horrible; it’s just been an ongoing small simmering fog of not feeling as up to my regular routine as usual.

Anyway, the text of one of the songs from a Christmas gift CD has addressed a question of the heart.  It’s by John Newton, the same who wrote Amazing Grace.

I asked the Lord that I might grow in faith and love and every grace

Might more of his salvation know And seek more earnestly his face

And you know, I have asked that.  Sometimes, when I’m really feeling great, I really mean it, I really do want it, and I have asked that.  I don’t want to be halfway; I want to be serious about my faith.  But here’s what happens.  I assume that the answer to this prayer and the others I’ve prayed for healing or freedom from sin will be immediate, instantaneous and complete.  It’s like when I’m at a good spot in life, I can’t imagine things being bad again.  My mind just doesn’t even go there.  My current emotional status is reality; nothing will change.

Of course, that’s not true.

My mood always changes; the only thing that’s constant there is change itself.  So as when I’m in a solid spot and think that this is what life really is, and how it is going to stay, I assume my straightforward prayer for deliverance will be answered straightforwardly, and in the way I think it should be.

I hoped that in some favored hour At once He’d answer my request

And by His love’s constraining power Subdue my sins and give me rest

I don’t know about you but I definitely have felt at times that the more I try to get myself and my life in order, the harder it is to do.  It seems that he “crosses the fair designs we scheme.”

These inward trials I employ From self and pride to set thee free

And break thy schemes of earthly joy That thou mayest seek thy all in me.

It’s not that we aren’t given gifts of earthly joy; it’s not that they are all removed.  Nope, there are many.  But when I hit the chronic struggles, I see that it is in this way the prayer gets answered.  This way, I’m always seeking him.

And that is the goal.

Is it cruel for him to foil our plans, and to not just fix our problems outright?

No.  It isn’t.

Life is full of challenges and suffering for every person.  In this world it cannot be avoided.  How much better to know that it orchestrates and guides our path closer to the one who knows us and loves us in a way which can never change.

And how alone I’d be, ultimately, if I didn’t ever struggle.  I’d think I could handle life by myself.  Wouldn’t you?

 

Posted February 15, 2016 by swanatbagend in prayer

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A Day with a Friend?   Leave a comment

It’s not that I have no friends.  Sure, I don’t have as many as I would like to, I guess because in my mind, I’m still living in junior high, where I had friendships with most everyone in my class of a hundred.  Apparently, that’s my model of what day-to-day life with friends should be.

Obviously, that is a bit out of date now that I’m pushing 50.

But I do have friends.

I have quite a few friends that I keep up with through social media, and a few less that I see every three to six months for dinner or dessert, to get caught up.  I have fewer friends that come to my house and sit and chat on the porch.  I have a couple of friends I get together with for longer visits, with my children and theirs.

Those are the relationships, the whole family friendships, that I really treasure.  They are jewels.

I know some of the reasons time spent with these friends doesn’t happen as much as I or they would like.

We have reasons like these: Homeschooling

Children’s activities

Distance

Chronic health problems and low energy

Five kids and counting

Doctor’s appointments

Work.School.Stuff.

You know what I mean?

I used to have time to spend a full day with a friend.

When our oldests were little, my closest friend and I would spend the day together about every month. We lived an hour apart, even then, but we enjoyed our time together enough that we’d book those days on our calendars and look forward to them, almost better than chocolate.  My son and I would get up, eat breakfast, dress, load our bag for the trip over and head out.  We’d come back barely in time to put dinner together before Dad got home.

The time would fly by.  We talked, took the kids for walks, took them outside to play, threw lunch together, dealt with needs, tried putting the kids down for naps, laughed, schemed, punned, and just generally had a good time.  (Wendy, please forgive me for being unwilling to get together on Mondays in those days.  🙂  I hope you know you really are more important to me than catching up on my laundry.)

I know I thought my life was full and busy then, but I hadn’t seen anything yet.

Now that I have more kids, I love the friends as much as ever, but apparently, I don’t have as many minutes in a day.

Posted September 30, 2015 by swanatbagend in community, friendship

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If I’da known….   Leave a comment

Sometimes it’s fun to look backwards purely for the amusement of gauging what your reaction would have been, 20 years in the past, if you had been given information about your present situation.

“What on earth?”

“I’d never do that.”

“I can’t do that!”

“I can’t believe that!” would be among the reactions I would probably have had then if you had told me with certainty that I would be doing certain things in my future.

Growing up in the west and not a particular fan of sticky heat, Florida is not a state that I would have thought I’d prefer as a relaxation destination.

However, starting in April 2008, we have gone to a lovely beach in the panhandle.  It’s not touristy and built up and there is a beautiful state park there.  The beaches are not remotely busy and there is so much wildlife we see something new every time we go.  We go in early spring, so it is still comfortable.  And there are hot showers and electricity so I can have a fan on the rare days when it really does get hot and not just warm.  So, I’ve now been to a place repeatedly, that wasn’t even on my radar as a destination ten years ago.  And I’m so glad.

Same way with parenthood.

If a seer could tell you in advance, you will have x number of kids with x and y problems and you will homeschool every single one of them through high school graduation, you would run screaming into the night.

Or just give up entirely on the whole idea of having children.  I know I would have.

“That’s way more than I can handle.  I”m a coward (still am) and I know I cannot do that.  That is some other woman you’re thinking of.”

But thankfully, we don’t get a preview.  We just get to live it — and it is just one day at a time.

Or “one step at a time,” my favorite helpful life saying that my oldest son hates.

It may be annoying but I still think it’s true.  And thank heavens for that.

 

 

Posted April 15, 2014 by swanatbagend in parenting

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