Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Run Forrest Run

All of my life...well maybe just in the teen years...I struggled with feelings of being inadequate in one particular area of life. Athletics. I am capable of a good many things, but put a ball in my hand, skates on my feet or a helmet on my head and something supernatural happens to me. it's as if I have entered a new dimension. One in which I cannot move freely, feel the competition nor understand what everyone else around me is easily comprehending. I am athletically handicapped.

This is easy to live with now, but as an insecure teenager with several sport champions as best friends, it was daunting. My boyfriend, at the time was captain of the High School hockey team and football team member, my girlfriends all enjoyed basketball and soccer road trips without me and I had no jersey number to tote :( I actually did make the soccer team in grade ten only to be the sole player cut from the team the next year. Humiliating. Haunting. Still recovering.

Fortunately, my parents, who are still under the impression that I'm perfect (sshhh!) were able to float me along these fragile years with my head sufficiently puffed up. One thing my husband continues to remind me about is the fact that I could run like the wind. From Sunday School picnics as a child to recreational races in my 20's, I could pass anyone on a straightaway. As long as I didn't have to think about anything like following a play, moving my body in any special way and only had the ONE guy beside me to keep my eye on, I was ok. Just run. Run fast and be the first. THAT, I could do.

Life has a funny way of balancing things. Somehow, this kinesthetically awkward girl gave birth to at least three out of four (so far) athletes. My boys think, sleep, move and breathe sports. And they have loads of talent. That is a miracle. I would have voted for music or art to be our "thing", but sports it is. Music is our minor :) They can play anything! And are really good! Hockey, football, water skiing, snowboarding are their specialties. I blame it on their Gramma.

My husband's 78 year old mother is a jock. She has the spunk and size of Granny from the Beverly Hillbillies with the grace and sophistication of Queen Elizabeth. She stands a whole 5 feet donning angora sweaters and lipstick, but put a football in her hand and watch what happens in her eyes. She knows who is leading who in whatever sport you mention, even if she doesn't watch it. Her barn full of trophies is a legacy we frequently brag about. She is the youngest of her siblings and had 7 brothers. Most of whom were athletes too. She grew up on a team. Her son inherited the blessing...and now our kids. It's in the blood. Of course it's on my side of the family as well. My niece is competing in the Canada Games as I write we are surrounded.

I spent the day yesterday with my kids downhill skiing/snowboarding. My ankles are chaffed from following my little girl up and down the bunny hill about 6,582 times. The boys were gone. Fearlessly speeding down a steep mountain, jumping ramps and somehow easily stopping at the bottom of the hill, just in front of the glass windows of the Chalet. I would go right through the windows. Even my 9 year old took me on ONE "easy" run. "The Lazy Way" it's called. I don't consider myself lazy, but my thighs were burning and my heart was pounding by the time we were done. I was more interested in taking pictures of the gorgeous view at the top than the ride down. I let small mounds of ski gear pass me left and right. I suppose there were children underneath those mounds, but their goggles were too dark to see eyes. Little fearless flyers. My baby boy "waited" for me. I wondered why Social Services wasn't there removing children from their parents for letting them do such a dangerous thing. My daughter, though still on the Bunny Hill, wants to tuck herself forward and head straight down the hill to pick up as much speed as possible. No side to side frolicking for her...just speed please. My big boys were clad in colorful sports clothing, high tech face masks and performing stunts I'm better off not seeing. I'm severely outnumbered. Speed and heights make me queezy.

So, life is balancing itself out. I didn't intend to live my athletic dream out in my children. I kind of left that dream behind, but there it is. I'm still not an athlete, but the Mom of athletes. I'm like that famous football guy's mom who makes hearty soup for him and his teammates. The commercial has her lovingly surrounded with hugs by these musclebound, athletic geniuses. I can make soup. I can make a MEAN soup.

I think I have found my calling in this life.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Junior High Blues and Maple Sugar

I'm sitting here at the computer, lost in the sax solo of Christopher Cross's "Arthur's Theme". Such an 80's girl, I am. That guy has such an amazing voice and writing ability. He may have lasted a lot longer if he had had better camera appeal. I mean, he just looks like the guy eating a sloppy hot dog next to you at a hockey game. Not much "star" power with Mr. Cross. I guess that was critical in the age of music videos, so he fell by the wayside. Except for this chic...sitting in the middle of nowhere...enjoying his "Minstrel Gigolo" and "Sailing" away with my thoughts.

Who really cares what people think about his music anyway, right? One of my favorite quotes, by someone unknown, is this:

"Opinions are like armpits. Everyone has a couple and they usually stink."

This has become our motto at Ladies Bible Study lately. Not that we don't care to hear your opinion, we do! That's why we allow our questions and opinions to be aired. But not to solidify them in stone, or to painfully grasp each others' head and "mind meld" with one another until we are of like mind. Our opinions or questions are brought out, then the opinion of all opinions is sought after the scriptures. We might not leave with all the answers nor in complete agreement with God on the subject, but our being there is an expression of our desire to know what He thinks. We admit His authority on all things and are willing to be challenged on our thinking... and even changed.

I think sometimes, we don't really need people to agree with us, we just want to be heard. Truly and respectfully heard. It brings such value to us, to think that someone else cares enough to put their opinion aside and consider our point of view.

My parents always did this with us. No matter how trivial or ridiculous my thought was, they listened...sometimes with a hidden smirk, but still listening. If I was standing in the middle of the busy street and a car was rushing toward me, they insisted that I listen to them and obey first, but they heard my rebuttal after the life saving obedience. Most times, it was not a defense of my traffic violations (and there were a few), but maybe more like...expressing my disappointment that they thought my two perfectly controlled and sweet sisters had done NOTHING to provoke me into pushing one blonde head under the damp, insect infested basement carpet edge. Or maybe patiently hearing my regular moaning of rejection by boys in Junior high school. Not that I made any advancements to be rejected, but where was the line of male suitors with flowers in hand at my front door?? Didn't everyone else have that?? My faithful Wall Flower friend and I sat pathetically dreaming at the dances together...the two of us...and Christopher Cross. She's a happily married mom of two now and a school Principal. We got over it. I digress...

My point is, listeners are invaluable. My dear husband and I used to waste hours on bickering over who was right and who wasn't being loving. Now, we have learned to cuddle up to the other with a respectful voice of "Could I have your ear for a moment? I promise I'll be gentle." the other...ready for a challenge, but turning the defenses down...listens. Surprisingly, when the approach is custom made and empty of pride or anger, the other one is often quick to agree and ready to "work on it".

Huh...all I had to do all those years was pour on the sweetness and he would have been putty in my hand. I'm just not that good at sweetness when I'm mad. I often don't remember anything that I said when I'm mad. I'm nasty when I'm mad. I zip my mouth when I'm mad now. So that I don't wake up to Hiroshima when the anger subsides. My husband likes me much more now...and the kids do I, really. It's not easy to zip my mouth, but with age comes more self control and after a gazillion instances of hurtful words, you start to see that it doesn't work...for anyone.

Pour the sweetness on...he listens...I'm one is a puddle on the floor...I like it!

People listen when our approach is respectful and humble. It only took me 20 years to get it, but I think the next 20 will be much more cuddly and warm...with more flowers...and chocolate. Actually, I'm more of a Maritime maple sugar kind of girl...just saying. In case you are reading this someday, Sweetheart...I really like maple sugar.

This is another reason why I like blogging. I get the sense that someone is listening...and I can't hear the critical responses :) People are free to block my link (and I'm sure some do), but I'm not offended...cause I have no idea they did! Cool...blogging. Now I can put on cyber-paper all of those speeches I find myself making to no one. Well...maybe not ALL of them.

Thanks for listening :)

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Myers' Home's Cool

I remember, years and years ago, setting out on this homeschooling adventure. I was confident, yet overwhelmed. My excitement was high over the endless possibilities of what we would be able to do. My head was filled with plans, books, and experiences to bring into our class of 6 (sometimes Mom and Dad are the students too!). My plans were quickly thwarted by something called life. Life with busy babies, housework, ministry, motivation swings and the lack of energy that results stalled my excitement and reality firmly stared me in the face. I put my grand schemes in my back pocket and determinedly stared back with an "I'll be back" promise under my breath.

Ok, so just math, reading and writing. That's all we are going to be able to fit into our school day. Discouraged, but accepting, I carried on with life as it demanded. Eventually, phases pass and when a tiny opportunity for something more presented itself, my ambitions were pulled out my back pocket and smuggled into reality. As time went on and I got a bit of a handle on life, it realized that I was not giving up and more and more of my educational plans came to be a regular occurrence...our school was looking more like a lifestyle now...which is what I was going for.

Some days are a mess. I have learned when to let go and when to hang on, without blabbing about like a spoiled baby. I always was a strong willed child...according to my family...we is unanimous...I had an unbendable spine. I still am, but hide my crossed armed pouty face with a Mrs Cleaver like smile and bide my time till I can assert my will, stealthily. My lack of confidence helps to sift out those acts of will that are not really necessary nor God ordained. I like that. Having God at the helm of our schooling keeps me from raising my kids into MY image or likeness and prayerfully, into His.

Then there are the good days. I had one of those recently. Most days are pretty good, but this one was extra satisfying. Things didn't go perfectly. No one got 100% on a his Algebra test nor did anyone start speaking fluent French, but the mood and atmosphere were rich and rewarding. A lot was accomplished before lunch (half of my definition of success involves accomplishment), the kids were playing various instruments, watching video's about coral reefs and talking about the Spanish ancestry of South America...and I didn't have to MAKE them do it. I took a moment to take in the atmosphere. I don't care if my kids are geniuses. I don't care if they have one or several diplomas on a wall behind a big desk nor does their pay check have to be impressive...but I do care that they HAVE a paycheck. In that moment of that day I watched my kids enjoying learning. Learning all kinds of different things.

Academically speaking, my initial objective at the starting gate of our homeschooling was that my kids love to learn. Also, that they be equipped and motivated to acquire information and skills that they do not have. To be self taught and independent of a teacher's hand all the time. That was 10 years ago. I am now experiencing the first fruits of this endeavour. I can't tell you how rewarding it is. In fact, it is kind of "taking off" on me. The older boys are quickly involving themselves in activities and subjects that I have absolutely no interest or skill to help them in. I'm just the resource person, the equipment guy or the water boy...definitely the cheerleader...minus the short skirt and pigtails. They are becoming their own person and I love it.

I used to want them to like what I liked. To do the things I never got to do. I don't so much anymore. I love it when we can share a love, and we do in some things, but mostly I love it when they find something of their own. Something they can dive into and share with others, including me. I think I am seeing the beginnings of success in the subjects I have been insisting upon...independent thinking and following God's design for their life. That sometimes requires a letting go of things I wanted to be part of their repertoire. It's another faith step in my relationship with God. Trusting that His plan for them is better than mine and that I will find joy in it regardless. Fortunately, I am still SO very YOUNG that I have lots of time to pursue all of these uncharted learning territories for myself :)

Fostering a rich learning environment takes time. I once wondered if it was ever going to happen. All of my wonderful, veteran, homeschool mom friends reassured me that it would and they were right. I see the light, not at the end of the tunnel, more like in the middle somewhere.

I love my job. I love my kids. I am learning the necessity of patience and flexibility in educating them. I still don't love hockey, but I love my kids playing hockey. By the way, my second son got a beautiful goal last night...right through the "five hole"...whatever that is exactly. He was on cloud nine all the way home and I was sitting right beside him enjoying his big smile.

Proverbs 22:6 "Train up a child in the way he should go (literally translated: "according to his way"), Even when he is old he will not depart from it."

Saturday, February 5, 2011

It is February. Love is in the air...along with the moans and groans regarding the ridiculous amount of snow we have been covered with. Valentines Day is fast approaching, so the stores are glowing with red hearts, chocolate and fuzzy teddy bears. For some, this holiday is not very warm and fuzzy. Bad memories and fresh hurts mark the day...which is what all the chocolate is for, by the way. For others, it is a day of cuddling, celebrating and for most women, expectation. When no red velvet box of any kind or floral explosion occurs, we join the others, binging on chocolate for the following days of St Valentine aftermath.

I used to have high expectations. I think the surprise, candlelit lobster dinner he arranged on our first Valentines day kind of worked against him in the long run. Poor guy. He didn't know any better. You don't START that work up to it. Little things at first, so the next year we aren't expecting so much. This summer will be our 20th year of wedded bliss. Bliss? How about fulfillment. Comfortable partnership, interspersed with episodes of passionate loathing and loving. Yes it's true, you really can feel the same intensity of disgust for someone as you do love. But it's all just feelings. Feelings come and feelings go. They are very deceiving. They don't really measure love and be sure, those feelings are often reciprocated. I really believe that the divorce rate is so high because people measure love on the "feelings" thermometer. It's understandable, but inaccurate.

I finally understand the true definition on love after so many years of fighting with an old one. The longer Guy and I are together, the stronger and more solid I experience the love. The "staying together" is the love. It can't grow if it ends. It can't grow if it isn't pruned, watered and fed with sunshine. It works opposite what Hollywood and our human nature tells us. Follow your heart and you will be heartbroken. Follow God's ironic truth and you will be "Surprised by Joy" as C.S. Lewis says. Good feelings FOLLOW right action, they don't lead you to them.

I admit, it take two, and it's a difficult battle when you are the only one trying to love properly. But giving up ends the possibility of watching God perform a miracle. He is in the business of resurecting things. He brings lifeless bodies back to life as well as lifeless, loveless relationships. Just because your love appears dead, and it may be, doesn't mean it's the end of the road. It may just be the beginning.

Do you believe in the almighty power of God? I'm being bold here. If you end your marriage, I suggest that you don't believe in this power. Or maybe you do, but you have decided to live for your happiness instead of God's glory. I was doing that. God stopped me and caused me to live for Him instead. Thank you for that, God. We all know the wedding vow verse:

Matthew 19:6 "What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate."

God is the only one with the right and ability to separate two that have become one. Men cannot and may not, according to God. He can, and in His sovereign wisdom sometimes He does, but WE may not...but we do...frequently...flipantly and with much damage...mostly to those around us, not just to us. I don't have to go on about how epidemic this divorce disease is. Everyone knows, but not many see the devastation of the plague. God offers the antecdote. He has the power. Your spouse might be bad, but no one is too bad for God to overpower.

I wouldn't be "preaching" this if I hadn't experienced it. Of course, you've probably guessed that Guy was the awful problem I had to live with for SO many dreaded years until God changed HIM ;) Not at all. We equally needed changing. We equally were touched by the mighty, gentle hand of the Healer. He can part the waters, but He asks us to step into the icy shallows first. Now to Him who is able...

Ephesians 3:20-21 " do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen."

This Valentines Day, my expectaions are different. I expect to shower my best friend with all the love I have learned. I expect to try to make him understand how valued, respected and desirable he is to me. I expect he will do the same for me. I expect to buy him some Passion Flakies. He LOVES Passion Flakies. They quite accurately symbolize our marriage...I'm passionate and he's a flakie :)