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Posts Tagged ‘Change’

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Now what?

This graduation season is the first in a number of years that I do not have a child graduating from a high school or university.

Though there are no caps and gowns to be worn under my roof, I do get to annually experience high school graduation through the students I get to work alongside.

As the ceremonies approach there are often two types of graduates:

  1. those who can’t wait to graduate
  2. those who say graduation is coming too soon

The thing is that neither of those responses to graduation is any indicator of how successful they will be after they cross the stage to receive their diploma.

There is one thing for certain, graduation will indeed occur, and this season of life will now be in their past.

As a mom who has watched three of her kids go through the high school graduation process, each with their own approach to, each with their own unique next step, I can say one thing is certain …

change is inevitable, unpredictable
and
in God’s hands.

One can never guess what a year from commencement might bring in the life of a graduate.

After a dozen or so years, a young adult experiences change in every area of their lives, often all at once.

Like the grad cap that gets thrown up into the air as the graduation ceremony comes to an end, the routines, schedules and relationships of much of one’s life disappear. For those who will leave home for school, work or travel in a new community, the amount of change mounts even more.

For many a hard reality awaits as:

  • finances include not just purchasing the newest technology, but rent, a car payment and the awful reality called taxes.
  • education means actually having to be responsible for doing the work, and a due date is actually the date the assignment is due … no exceptions.
  • one’s bestie in high school might find a new bestie
  • those amazingly natural basketball skills one exhibited in high school are mediocre at the university level, and one will need to work harder than ever before to get off the bench.

For others a great and unexpected freedom reveals itself:

  • education is exciting now that one can choose courses that provide interest and stimulation
  • new friendships develop with people who accept each other as they are
  • the list of extracurricular activities grows, providing more opportunities to participate in an area of strength
  • entering the workforce means leaving homework in the past

Whatever route a graduate goes, whether it is work, school or a bit of both, it can seem daunting and exciting … all at once.

Last weekend, actress and comedian Mindy Kaling gave the commencement address at Dartmouth College. She said,

“Can I do this by myself?
The reality is, I’m not doing it by myself,”
“I’m surrounded by family and friends
who love and support me.””

As the transitions associated with graduation occur, our graduates need to be reminded that they are not all alone in their changes. That they have supporters all around them, cheering them on, at the ready for when they need advise, a few bucks, a meal, a hug.

They also need the reminder that their futures are in the hands of a God who has “created them in their mother’s womb” (Psalm 139:13), “has loved them with an everlasting love” (Jeremiah 31:3), “who will never leave them or forsake them” (Deuteronomy 31:6).

 

 

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change2

It is when our children were in their toddler and preschool years that I came to understand the back and forth, the yin and yang of change.

With each stage of growing independence and change, there would be two steps forward and one back. They would take their first steps towards that independence in walking, and become more parent-needy. They would move from crib to bed, and become even more attached to their teddy. They would excitedly start preschool one day, and play ever the more intentionally with their siblings the next.

Children are not alone in this response to change.

As an adult, I find as my summer break ends and I head back to work, within days I am longing for time with my loves. When the road trip starts I look forward to not having to prepare meals, but on the drive home I am excitedly planning a menu for the days after we return home. All those years of longing for the kids to grow up to adulthood … then we miss their daily presence.

Change is never easy,
you fight to hold on
and you fight to let go.

This reality is not necessarily negative, as a matter of fact, it is most healthy to both strive for something new, while mourning that which is behind. That is the life balance that we are all playing with, no doubt, all throughout our lives. The past being like a teddy bear, to run back to and embrace … just a one-step-back kind of embrace.

And so we keep moving forward, we keep changing and growing, not forgetting where our strength to change came from.

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School has begun for our household, and we are limping into the routine that comes with it.

The paperwork of a new school year accumulates on my counter, and in my inbox. The school photo days are on the calendar. The money for various activities, yearbooks and fees demand payment. The dinner calendar filled out for the next week. Bedtimes become earlier, to prevent fatigue, and because of it.

… and I am starting my day writing a blog post.

But, there is something different in the blog writing from the three previous years of September mornings.

This fall itsawonderfilledlife will not be published every day of the week, but twice a week, so as to avail time for other writing. My intent is that each Tuesday and Friday I will publish a new post.

So, stay tuned!

 

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IMG_1192.JPGIn our house, yesterday was the end of summer.

The summer of a mostly empty house, with our teen and twenty-something kids working, volunteering and traveling. The summer of cleaning, purging and refreshing our house. The summer of perfect weather, lazy mornings and unparalleled quiet.

With today’s dawning, the window to summer is closed and fall commences. Today school begins, with the courses, the activities, the schedules of autumn giving us need for the organizational skills which have lay dormant for the past two months.

Our autumn begins back in high school, for me … grade 10, for our ‘baby boy’ … grade 12, for our ‘baby girl’ … final year of university, for our first born girl … autumn number twelve for hubby, in his role as pastor.

There is change in the air of autumn, of this autumn.

Our international student graduated high school in June, and we being this autumn with no student, renter or boarder.

Our son has chosen to not play football, and hubby will not be coaching.

I have moved from middle to high school … from grade 8 to 12.

We moved our son’s bedroom from the cave to the penthouse.

This year I one I have been praying about for months. You see there is change in the air of this school year, with one daughter graduating from high school and the other completing her undergraduate program. We cannot know yet what our household will look like a year from now, with our first born looking at grad schools in the east, and our youngest daughter looking at L’Arche communities around the world.

Change will continue to be in the air as our autumn turns to winter, to spring and back to summer again.

Normally I love change, I live for change, new, unique, and doing things ‘out of the box’, but the unknown changes to come in the next year(s) make me a bit more uneasy.

With the changes of season, occupations, school years, residence, family and any other small or big alteration to our lives, we do have one thing that never changes.

Jesus Christ never changes!
He is the same
yesterday,
today,

FOREVER.
Hebrews 13:8

As we embrace the changes that life places in our hands, may we constantly remember that not everything changes, and that there is the One oft called our rock, our anchor, our cornerstone who is the forever the same, unchanging.

Welcome to another new season of life!

 

 

 

 

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*although I wrote this three years ago, and my house of adolescents has become a household of teens and young adults, the same realization of what has past can hit me hard, and out of nowhere. The same level of learning continues for this, sometimes longing to be needed, mom.

He walked through my bedroom door,

my once little boy.

But as I watched him just brush his hair,

in my bathroom mirror,

 it hit me,

my youngest child

is no longer a baby.

And my heart sunk,

As I realized, that part of my life, so far, is past.

There is a sense of longing that comes as I realize that I am no longer a mom to ‘babies’ or even ‘children’. Oh, I am still a mom to minors, but my minors have all reached the edge of the abyss known as adolescence. And this edge is where I say farewell to a part of my life, that has been all-consumingly present for over eighteen years. My adolescent kids have all reached the stage of not needing me.

There are times (many) over the past eighteen years, when I would have given anything for them to need me less. I can so easily remember those ‘touched out’ days, those sleepless nights (they do still happen, but just when they get ready for bed, and they slam the bathroom door), those stomach virus weeks, when ‘the bucket’ would be transported from one sick kid to the next, and then around again, and again, and again.

I do love the parent-pre-teen/teen relationships. Truly that is what I was looking for when hubby and I decided that we wanted to have children. I feel so bad for our kids … as neither hubby or I are ‘baby people’. One would thinkg that our kids would have had one ‘nurturer’-parent. Honestly, when I see someone holding a newborn I just feel sorry for them (did I just say that out loud?), I mean, I am happy for them, but I know they are in the midst of a stressful time of life … and man, I’m glad it’s not me! To me, going through all of the stresses of babies and toddlers is worth it, if I get to, finally, live in a house with pre-teens and teens (and really, they are just like toddlers … they are just too heavy to pick up, place in their bed, and shut the door … same ‘hissy fits’, same growth spurts, same level of curiosity, and a beautiful sense of wonder … you just need to look harder for it). But, I digress …

Our youngest is almost twelve, and, although in private he will still hug me, and give and receive ‘I love you’s’, he is ‘moving on’ through the doorway to his teens, to be followed by adulthood. And, I have to say, it makes me feel a little sad, a little lonely, a lot … unneeded (and I need to feel needed).

For in this regard, his moving through that doorway signals the end of that, very defining, very demanding, very all-consuming part of MY life (and really, it is all about me). And I think I am needing to get my head wrapped around it!

The process of this ‘end’, of course began when mothering began … but it seemed so very  f a r  away. Then last summer, about half of our dinners together consisted of only hubby, the boy and me (as our daughters both have ‘gotten a life’). This was shocking to me! And, much of the time, one or two, or three of the kids were gone away overnight! My goodness … my nest is beginning to empty!

But, there is a flip side to all of this. This past year our family ‘adopted’ a local university student, who we fed, watched hockey games with and fed again (it is so gratifying to feed a ‘starving’ university student … they eat anything! And talk like you can cook like Jamie Oliver). And then we rented our suite to a delightful young lady, who we encouraged to join us for many mealtimes, for rides to church, for laughter and chats. And, last summer, our pool was frequently filled with the laughter of not just our kids, but many of our neighbors and friends. And dinners, well … truly it is feast or famine for numbers sitting at the table. Sometimes three, sometimes thirteen.

So, the dynamics of our life are changing. And, so I too need to learn to change … my expectations (and, frequently, my meal plans … at the last minute). I now have the privilege of ‘mothering’ others … who need a hug, a home-cooked meal … a house with a pool, on a hot day. It’s a new kind of being needed.

And, one day, that too will cause change, and adjustment, and introspection. And, if I am ever going to be wise, I will lean to accept the change, and seek within it a new kind of being needed … a new kind of wonder.

“Cause babies don’t keep, we’ve learned to our sorrow.”

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Oh, I so love to wonder! (like you didn’t know that by now)

But, once in a while, I come across a thing (like snakes ... well, most of the time), or a place (like the dentist’s office), or an event that really steals the wonder from my day.

One day, while walking in the beautiful sun, with my beast, Shiloh, I walked by two women. One woman was pushing an infant (I peeked, and ‘it’ was definitely an infant) in a stroller, and the other walking along side of them.

They looked to be mid-late twenties, attractive, and nicely dressed (I noticed all of this because I am a female, and WE notice EVERYTHING about people). But, they didn’t notice my beast (everyone notices my beast, she is a beauty. When we walk, she makes eye contact with everyone, looking for positive attention … she hears, “oh, pretty puppy” so often, I have had to push her into the van after the walk, due to the swelling of her head … but I digress). I do not think they noticed me either, but that is not uncommon, as I walk with a beast who gets all the attention.

Just as my beast and I were passing the trio, the lady (?) pushing the stroller, says to her friend, ” … and I said, that was F#@$ing rude …”

Ouch! My ears were hurting. Then I thought of the the infant in the stroller, and my heart was aching for him/her (no color definition in the child’s clothing to indicate the gender). I may be a purist, but a new little bundle should not start life hearing such cold language. Man, what will that child hear (at home) when the ‘newness’ of infant becomes the ‘awkwardness’ of adolescence, or the independence of teenage?

Sadly, I expect more of the same. And as I walked by, feeling the sense of wonder of nature, and of life ebb from my being, I also predict that the child, sleeping peacefully in his/her stroller, may grow up hearing such caustic-ness directed ‘towards’ him/her.

I felt deflated! I felt angry! I felt violated!

What I felt most was a desire to turn around, catch up with the classy-looking ‘ladies’ and give them a piece of my mind!

But, instead, shoulders hanging low, I prayed. I prayed that God would inject, as only He can, himself into the life of that child, and the lives of those two women. I prayed that the child would never hear such nastiness, at home, when he/she is old enough to mimic what is heard.

Then, I prayed for forgiveness. I may not use the same word I heard from that lady on the path (I tell my kids that only people who have no creativity of language use such words, so loosely, and that I know they are creative people, so I expect more from them). But, my kids have surely heard the same cold, hard, unrighteous anger from me.

That day on the path reminded me that if wonder is so important to me, then I need to be more conscious to not steal it from those around me with my words … and my attitude.

“Watch the way you talk.

Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth.

Say only what helps, each word a gift.

Don’t grieve God.

Don’t break his heart.

His Holy Spirit, moving and breathing in you,

is the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for himself.

Don’t take such a gift for granted.

Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk.

Be gentle with one another, sensitive.”

Ephesians 4:29-31 (Message)

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20140608-144703-53223590.jpgI love music. I love Bach, Johnny Cash, U2, Ella Fitzgerald, Starfield, Elton John, Louis Armstrong, Taylor Swift, Casting Crowns, Ennio Marricone, Coldplay, ABBA, Paolo Nutini, Michael Buble,  TobyMac, Adele, and this list is truly just a tip of my music loves iceberg!

Music speaks to me, it challenges, moves, and teaches me. I love the visuals that can be created in it’s combination of lyrics and music. I love the emotions that a song can bring out. I love how, out of nowhere a song can ‘pop’ into my mind, and be mulled over for hours, as though it was ‘placed’ there, just for me, like a lovingly wrapped gift. I hate songs that speak lies, I love songs that speak truth.

This morning I have had a song in my mind, ‘placed’ there, I am certain.

It is a song called “This is your Life”, by Switchfoot. Some of the lyrics are:

yesterday is a wrinkle on your forehead
yesterday is a promise that you’ve broken
don’t close your eyes, don’t close your eyes
this is your life and today is all you’ve got now
yeah, and today is all you’ll ever have
don’t close your eyes
don’t close your eyes

this is your life, are you who you want to be
this is your life, are you who you want to be
this is your life, is it everything you dreamed that it would be
when the world was younger and you had everything to lose

yesterday is a kid in the corner
yesterday is dead and over

don’t close your eyes

Now, maybe I awoke with it in my head because I slept miserably last night (‘don’t close your eyes‘).

Or, maybe it is because I recently celebrated a birthday … like three months ago (‘this is your life, are you who you want to be, this is your life, is it everything you dreamed that it would be‘).

Maybe it is because this weekend I was chatting with my eldest daughter about my memories of childhood (‘yesterday is a kid in the corner’ … pretty much sums up my entire childhood, so now you know what I was like as a kid!).

Maybe it’s because today is my last day of classes with students (‘today is all you’ve got now’).

Or maybe it is playing in my mind because I awoke in a rather melancholy mood (this is your life and today is all you’ve got now yeah, and today is all you’ll ever have).

I expect it’s a combination of all of the above, but, today, it might be more of the last. Now today is not all that bad, but with the combination of lack of sleep, end of the school year, thinking of years past, a kind of recent birthday AND melancholy I’m really not excited that today (more this present season of life, than this ‘day’) is all I’ve got, and all I’ll ever have. This season is one of realizing that there are parts of my life that just simply are so far from where I want them to be.

As an obsessive compulsive person when it comes to planning into the future, today my future looks far more fuzzy than I would like. To use more song lyrics, I prefer an outlook where ‘the future’s so bright I gotta wear shades’. And it’s not that it’s an all doom and gloom forecast of the future, it is simply that I cannot see anything. And I’m an ‘inquiring mind, and inquiring minds need to know’ (more indicators of my age).

Maybe the real reason this song is in my mind is that, despite my melancholy mood, despite the lack of sleep, despite my aging body, despite the end of Spring Break, despite the fact that not all childhood memories are sweetness and light, and even despite the fact the promises get broken, and the future is unknown, I’ve been given this day, and if I don’t close my eyes, I might find a bit of wonder laying in my path.

AND, by the way, there are NO wrinkles on this forehead! See, at my age, that is something to wonder about 😉

 

 

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