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Posts Tagged ‘Listen’

Shhh!

Shhh!

Just stop talking.

Stop playing music.

Stop doing.

Stop watching the news, the movie, the show, the …

Stop answering the phone, the text, the email the …

Stop filling all of the hours.

Stop filling the space, with noise.

Shhh!

“When we are so filled with noise and busyness

we cannot hear the voice of God”

Tim Kimmel

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One of our kids desires to spend Christmas with extended family … on the opposite coast of the country. Although my momma heart wants all of my kids with me for Christmas, I also desire greatly for our kids to not miss out on opportunities to spend time living their own lives. I felt I had easily made peace with this desire, until the other day …

“I just don’t want to be here at Christmas”

Wanting to be away is one thing, but to not want to be here … ouch!

That very same day, another child returned from a weekend retreat with our church youth group. I was so excited to hear about his time away, until I heard his reply to my question about his time away …

“It was great! I just love being at camp so much better than being here

I felt the knuckle punch, hard, to my abs, my throat.

Ah, but it didn’t end there!

My daughter’s and I had a plan to go to the church that my eldest attends, but then she had to work later than planned. I suggested that, rather than leave her out, we could go to another church together, later in the day. Together was, in my mind, the joy. Well, child number three, when we got back home from church, was out of the vehicle and into her room, with her door shut, faster than I could lower my feet from the vehicle.

Apparently, it was not her church of choice, and not joy-filled.

I went to bed that night feeling rather low, unappreciated, unloved.

It was not that they were desiring bad things, but that they were desiring them … more.

more than me.

As I worked through the scar tissue, I realized what my problem was how I heard their words … I heard them through momma ears, where there are momma-sized regrets.

I heard their words of preference of another place, through my memories of saying no to things that they have wanted me to do with them, over the years. The times they wanted just one more story, the times they wanted to go to the park, or play a board or video game, or make cookies, or have a tea party, or go for coffee.

What I heard was my own condemnation, my own guilt, my own regrets.

Moms, we need to stop living the guilt-laden life. We need to stop looking back, with regret and sadness over our choices, mistakes and weaknesses. We need to live

today.

We need to look forward, not back.

Our children are moving forward, grabbing for life’s new adventures, and we need to cheer them on, and be thankful that they want to share the stories of their life with us.

In the days since my momma version of the horrible, terrible, no good, really bad day, I have been embraced by arms and words of love from my three. With each embrace I was reminded that their desire for other is not their method of punishing me. As a matter of fact, they have far more memories of things we did together than of times I said not today, just wait, or no.

They are not living their increasingly independent-of-me lives, as a punishment for my frailties. As a matter of fact, they are growing increasingly independent because they have had space to grow, to make their own mistakes, to experience their own successes, and then to share their stories with me … even if my ears are not always ready to hear them.

Moms, lets:

look forward

hear words as they are spoken (not as we imagine them)

receive their stories as a loving, healing balm to heal our momma guilt

love them,

imperfectly, but sincerely, love them.

 

 

 

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imagesAs we begin to adjust to the moving of the calendar to December, we can no longer deny that Christmas is coming.

Truly one would have to live as a hermit in the forest to have not been noticing it for weeks already. Our mailbox is stuffed with flyers, our inbox is stuffed with admail, and our grocery stores are stuffed with more than the usual amounts of food that we should only eat in moderation.

Another giveaway of the impending holiday season is that our calendars, daytimers and schedules are packed with activities, parties, concerts and celebrations.

Since way back on the hottest day in July, when shopping at a wholesale store and seeing that Christmas decorations filled one aisle, I have been aware that the Christmas that I celebrate, is not the one that is loudest at this time of year. I sighed, and began the mental preparations for the noises of the season.

My guest post today is one that I have shared before, but the video that holds the message is different.

It arrived in my inbox one day last week, almost drowned from my inbox by the dozens of Black Friday and Cyber Monday sale advertisements. As I hit delete for the twenty-ninth time, I almost didn’t open this message, but decided to check it out.

And here it is, give it a look, no …give it a LISTEN

“… but the Lord was not in the wind:
and after the wind an earthquake;
but the Lord was not in the earthquake:
And after the earthquake a fire;
but the Lord was not in the fire:
and after the fire a still small voice.”
1 Kings 19:11-12

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There is a verse from 1 Corinthians 13 that has been (partially) marinating in my brain cells this week, and it has nothing, and everything, to do with love (as 1 Corinthians 13 is known as the “Love Chapter” of the Bible).

The verse that I have been pondering (and taking out of context) is verse 12; “now we see a blurred image in a mirror. Then we will see very clearly. Now my knowledge is incomplete.”

I found myself thinking of my mom, back when I was a single adult (barely an adult, since hubby stole me away so young 😉 ), and she was … about the age that I am now. I found myself trying to remember what I was like as a young adult, and what she was like as a VERY YOUNG woman (remember, I was remembering her when she was the age that I am now).

Then out of the blue the verse above came to mind, and I thought of our relationship back then.

My mom and I had a great relationship when I was a child, and even when I tortured her through my teen years. Many times when my friends came over, they were as eager to sit and chat with her, as with me. My mom had a fantastic gift for listening, and what more could a teenage girl want than to have an adult actually listen to them when they speak?!

I also remember the post high school years, and how there was more distance between us. I remember that I started to notice flaws in mom. I started to watch her more, and I started to see that she did not do things as I might have thought the ‘right way’ to do them. It was in this stage that I no longer agreed with all that she said.

This was the stage of me growing away from my mom. It is normal, it is predictable and it is good. It is a stage where a young adult begins to become more independent of their parents, in actions and in thoughts.

I also now know that it must have been hellish for her. To go from such closeness to growing distance must have eaten at her mother heart.

“Now we see (like) a blurred image in a mirror …”

I remember that stage of life. I remember the independence that I was feeling. I remember how very eager I was to grow away from my parents. I remember feeling wise and worldly.

What I know now, that I did not know then was that I was seeing the life before me as a blurred image in a mirror. As clear as life and the future seemed to me then, now I know, looking back, that what I saw was often not reality. I saw things as I wanted to see them.

I was living in the idealism of youth. Now idealism is not a bad thing, as a matter of fact, I wish that I could get some of that idealism of youth back in my mind and heart, but idealism is often not seeing things as they are, but as we wish to see them … it is blurred reality.

I judged my mom, based on my blurred vision. I guess it is a common happening in most young adults lives, with their parents, but now I “see very clearly” how blurred that vision was, way back then. I can not say that “my knowledge is incomplete” quite yet, but I am now at the stage of life of seeing my mom as a whole, not just the parts that I thought I understood as a young adult.

I now understand that some of my mother’s actions and inaction, things she said, and refrained from saying, were responses to the decisions she had been making since she was a young adult herself. I now see that she did the best with what life had thrown at her, and with the consequences (good and bad) of her young adult decisions, when her vision was still blurred.

I do look forward to the day when “my knowledge is incomplete.”

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It was at basketball the other day that I was reminded of an important lesson.

Well, actually it was that same day, but in the morning. Hubby had said something and I suggested that he follow the advice of Saint Francis of Assisi (“Preach the gospel at all times. If necessary, use words.“).

But, it was while at basketball that I remembered to practice what I was preaching to hubby.

As the game went on, I was joined by a friend of my daughter. A sweet girl, who I love having as an important relationship in the life of my daughter. I have tried numerous times to engage her in conversation when she is at our home, or in our vehicle, or at school, but have never felt successful.

This particular day, I tried a new tactic, I LISTENED.

The more I said less, the more she spoke. Now it was not that she was talking because there was an awkward silence between us, because we were engaged in the (riveting) game. She was talking because (gulp) I was not. Not only was I NOT talking, but I was also actively listening to her.

I talk … ALOT, but do I listen? Do I take time to hear what others are saying?

Then I looked across the court, at my own daughter, and wondered if I listen to her. I wonder how much I could learn if I stop talking, and start listening. I wonder how much more I could teach her if I shut up long enough to allow her to ask the questions, before I fill her ears with my responses.

1 Peter 3:15 says, “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” There is no way that we are prepared if we do not listen for the question.

It sounds like St. Francis and Peter might have been listening to the same voice. I hope that this reminds me to listen too, so that I might have opportunity to share the hope we have.

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Life Stories

When you ask someone to tell you their story, you have opened up a line of conversation that is intimate, clear and overflowing … with emotion and with sincerity. Being willing and available to hear their story is like imprinting yourself into their heart (and into their life).

This reality became so very true to me as I did home visits for a contract job this summer.

Each day I would knock on the door of a complete stranger, and they would welcome me in. Most times, their welcome was guarded, uneasy and downright awkward … for them, and for me.

And then one day I was heading to the home of an older lady, who I had heard might not be very friendly. This was not a visit I was looking forward to, so I decided to go with a plan. I figured if she was older, there would be photos … so I would ask about the people in them. And I figured you ‘catch more bees with honey’ so I would compliment at every opportunity. So, I drove to her home with my plan in my head. And, lo and behold, as I drove up, I noticed a tree in her garden that I have, but I didn’t know how or when to trim it.

As she came to the door, I introduced myself, and thanked her for allowing me to visit. Then I launched into (sincerely curious questions) about the tree. We chatted outside, then went inside, where I noticed her many family photos … grandbabies, children at various stages, family photos, and her deceased husband. It was then that I forgot about my ‘paid’ purpose in visiting her, and I listened fully to her stories of how her husband died, events surrounding it (with tears welling up in both of our eyes), and then bits and pieces of their life’s love story together. Eventually we did get to the ‘real’ reason for my being there …

My plan in doing home visits, with an intent of finding a connection I could make outside of my purpose for being there, became my daily goal. It combined my paid purpose for being in the homes, and my ability to listen, to really hear people. And I think it worked.

I heard stories of great vacations, dear relationships formed with International students, illnesses (and I am currently awaiting an email to tell me what a ladies mammogram results were), deaths, many stories of family love and loss and separation. There were stories of joy and sorrow and everything in between.

I am sure I have never spent so many hours each day in prayer, as I did during those two months. Most days I would leave a home, and then pray for that person, that family all the way to the next visit.

And then, as I met up with many of them the other day, I was greeted by hugs, smiles and warm greetings. And I knew, our relationships were not simply all about business, but we had made a heart connection with each other. All because they were allowed to tell their stories. I sat and listened, and they poured out a heaping cup of themselves to me.

And I was blessed.


					

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