Advent 2017: Wrong Oft So Strong

For the Advent Week of Hope…

advent 2017 hopeful sunset

I sat and listened to their stories. The ones where relationships were broken and families hurt and bodies just struggled to heal.

It just seems hard and unfair.

I opened up the news and it was overwhelming. People being crushed by words and war, whole stories not being told and those in influential positions unwilling to listen.

When the world is hurting, we begin to hurt.

Every generation has faced its own dark night. War, politics, nature, economy…they are often broken systems run by broken people and when both the people and systems are struggling, hope is not what we feel.

And then I sit, with my toddlers, exploring crayons and paper and trying to keep the two together and not all over the table and wall.

I see it, in the midst of a hurting world there is always hope. There is joy in small things undiscovered, experiences not yet had, personalities not yet known.

And these words float through the air and HOPE seems accessible all over again…

Oh, let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong,
God is the ruler yet.

 

This Is My Father’s World

  1. This is my Father’s world,
    And to my list’ning ears
    All nature sings, and round me rings
    The music of the spheres.
    This is my Father’s world:
    I rest me in the thought
    Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas—
    His hand the wonders wrought.
  2. This is my Father’s world:
    The birds their carols raise,
    The morning light, the lily white,
    Declare their Maker’s praise.
    This is my Father’s world:
    He shines in all that’s fair;
    In the rustling grass I hear Him pass,
    He speaks to me everywhere.
  3. This is my Father’s world:
    Oh, let me ne’er forget
    That though the wrong seems oft so strong,
    God is the ruler yet.
    This is my Father’s world,
    The battle is not done:
    Jesus who died shall be satisfied,
    And earth and Heav’n be one.

 

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Advent 2017: With Patience

For the Advent week of Hope…

Patience

I was sitting outside my office waiting for a few people to come for a meeting. It was quiet as all the other businesses in our building had left for the day.

There I was, me, my office and my thoughts.

I don’t know if you’ve ever read any writers like James Joyce who adhere to a stream of consciousness style but that is a little what that moment felt like.

Kids…big kids…kids with struggles…my kids…friends kids… friends…friendships…my dear friends who are not close this holiday season…immediate work…job…business…community…struggling community…changing community…needs…how the world needs…human limitations…holy beings unlimited.

Walking with my son to pick up some quick dinner in between meetings he said “Mom, how does God show himself? What kind of form does He take?”

Hope has such a grand breadth and depth of meaning but this point of it is sure, hope holds on to that which is more than ones self.

Sitting in the quiet hallway I’m brought back. In this season of preparation hope begs of us to sit in patience. Not in want. Not in fear. Not busyness. In patience.

As I long to be WITH this season, I find this practice of sitting in hope with my own humanity may be the hardest belonging practice of them all.

Patient Trust

Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything
to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way to something
unknown, something new.
And yet it is the law of all progress
that it is made by passing through
some stages of instability—
and that it may take a very long time.

And so I think it is with you;
your ideas mature gradually—let them grow,
let them shape themselves, without undue haste.
Don’t try to force them on,
as though you could be today what time
(that is to say, grace and circumstances
acting on your own good will)
will make of you tomorrow.

Only God could say what this new spirit
gradually forming within you will be.
Give Our Lord the benefit of believing
that his hand is leading you,
and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself
in suspense and incomplete.

—Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, SJ

Advent 2017: Unspoken

For the evening before Advent…

Have you ever been with a friend and seen a need but didn’t act? You know, she’s changing her kids and only has a few dishes left in the sink. Or she puts kids in the car and still has to put the stroller in the trunk.

Unspoken.

All of us have unspoken needs. Sometimes we don’t speak them because we feel shame or guilt in asking someone else to step in. Sometimes we don’t speak them because we don’t know how to ask. Sometimes we don’t speak them because we want the control that comes with doing it ourselves.

Unspoken.

Yet, when an unspoken need is met, how do you feel? For me, most often, I feel relieved. One less small thing to do in a day of thousands of small things. I also feel grateful. When my unspoken needs are seen and acknowledged I feel seen and acknowledged.

In this season of preparation, this season of being WITH, listen and watch for the unspoken need and then wait to see how your soul responds.

Perhaps you will find that being with that person, in that place, in that moment, is exactly where you were meant to be.

St. Francis of Sales

O GOD, how admirable is that which we see;
but O GOD,
how much more so is that which we cannot see.

Advent 2017: Just Be There.

In preparation for Advent…

Why aren’t we just there for each other? We do FOR each other, but what about being WITH each other?

There to be trusted, there to listen, there to encourage. There to cry, there to sit, there to laugh.

Too busy? Maybe. Afraid? Probably.

So here’s my challenge in December…be there. 

We often celebrate Advent as a coming of something. Who needs you to come to them? What if we practiced what we are about to experience?

What if we commit to being with someone like Christmas celebrates God’s commitment to be with us?

Be there.

And come back…I’ll be posting regularly about people who are “being there”.

The Prayer of St. Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is dispair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy;

O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Love: What IS

 

So I’m reporting back on our family experiment to learn and implement a monthly theme.

GUYS. WHY? Why do I think this is ever going to go the way I think! It never does!

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A Week’s Recap

Day 1: Family Meeting. The big kids get it, the preschooler shares their excitement but she’s not sure why and the littles pull out all the Christmas books and spread them all over the floor. This is success.

Day 2: At dinner the kids start going around and doing the best/hardest part of their day. I pause them and remind them that we are going to share where we saw love in our day. They look at me puzzled and no one comes up with anything. We rehash the family meeting and vow to try again.

Day 3: Dinner again. “Where did you see love today?” Yep, crickets. So I give an example of appreciating the kids doing some chores without being asked. They then each retell that story as their love experience for the day. *insert eye roll here*

Day 4-6: Okay! I decide to pre-prepare them for dinner at school drop off. “Bye guys, love you, don’t forget to look for LOVE today!” Dinner came around, there were real stories about where the kids saw love.

love-cookies

Things I’ve Learned

  • Where kids see love tells me a lot. Our oldest sees other people doing acts of love for one another yet never tells about himself feeling/acting in love. Our daughter is always telling us how she loved someone. Our preschooler sees the whole world as love and she can connect love to just about anything in her day.
  • I need to better define love for our kids. Love is more than an act of kindness, an encouraging word or a feeling. How we define love may change where the kids see love.
  • No one has taken me up on the senses challenge yet. I am sure it is coming but it hasn’t happened yet. I’ll report back when it does!

Goals Moving Forward

  • Define Love. Outside of some scripture I already have been working with I am turning to Pinterest for some inspiration and kid perspective on love.
  • See love more. As I’ve been telling the kids to “look for love” around them I realized I haven’t done a great job of that myself. Time to buy in and start!

Love…Love…Love…

Hello 2017…Let’s Eat!

An End of Year Intro?

So picture me and 2 of my friends sitting around laughing to the point of tears. And then a few breaths later imagine them both staring at me intently. That’s where this little 2017 adventure begins…

Over the years the idea of choosing a word has become something people do. Everyone from serious journalists to bloggers to the every day person can do it. Pick a word, learn about it, explore it, experience it and see what life brings your way.

I’ve been a fair-weather fan in the past. Yet, regardless of my past record I’ve jumped on board for 2017.

(drumroll please…) WHOLE. My word for 2017 is WHOLE.

So now…

2016 was a rough year – in so many ways. Yet, I don’t want to look back on it and have it be a big black spot in my memory. I want to believe that many of the hard, bad and broken things of 2016 can still be redeemed. 

So…there are 3 places this is going to play out for me and 1 I am going to specifically blog about…

The three areas I am seeking wholeness are: Immediate Family Relationships and Rhythms, Our Home, My Personal Calling to Teach.

Feel free to ask me about any of these anytime but I want to focus on a specific aspect of our Immediate Family Relationships…moms, this one is for you!

We are family?

We are a family of 7. With 7 personalities, ages, stages, schedules and needs it is SO HARD to feel a sense of unity. Even though we have family movie night and we have a minimum of 2 meals around the same table every day, I feel like our actual connectedness is lacking.

So, the marketer in me realized that I could Pinterest and Plan until I had nothing left but it wasn’t going to make a bit of difference if the other 6 people in our family didn’t have any buy in. It’s marketing 101! The team has to want to play!

One problem. Did I mention we are a family of 7? I don’t actually have time to Pinterest and plan and prep. I barely have time to drink a warm cup of coffee or eat a whole meal. Whatever the big plan for unity was – it was going to have to be easy.

And it is going to be…

Let’s learn together, but PLEASE make it EASY!

First, I picked a theme: Fruits of the Spirit. Don’t roll your eyes quite yet. One of the things we want all our kids to have is good character. Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Gentleness, Faithfulness and Self Control are ALL parts of character building.

Second, I needed a visual: I have a very talented friend who is helping me make wall decals. Done.

Third, Organization: Each month we have a theme. Yes, I know there aren’t 12 fruits! We are going to repeat a few that we either need to work on or we really enjoyed. We are starting with Love.

  • Each night at dinner instead of asking the kids the best part and hardest part of their days like we currently do, we are going to ask them to tell us something about their day that reminded them of our theme.
  • Each night at dinner I will share a fact, definition, quote or verse about Love. Defining the character aspect is key.
  • Each day when I am talking to the kids about life, homework, friends…or disciplining, guiding or teaching I will be asking myself how is this reflecting or implementing our theme this month?

Fourth, Buy In: #TeamJudd, as we call ourselves, needs to get on the same page. But this mom, she is tired and busy and did I mention tired? So I am going to have the kids do the work!

Anytime I get an “I’m bored.” “I don’t have anything to do.” “No one will play with me.” I am going to give them a theme discovery task. We are going to ask ourselves the basic sensory questions in regards to our theme and then see if any other activities or opportunities present themselves.  If so, great, the child who thought of it will help implement it. If not, that’s okay, at least we are thinking and exploring!

So for example with Love…

  • What does love LOOK like?
  • What does love SOUND like?
  • What does love TASTE like?
  • What does love SMELL like?
  • What does love FEEL like?

Because of the various ages, stages and personalities of our kids I expect the responses and ideas to vary pretty greatly.

And this accomplishes what?

For me, Love tastes like Dove Milk Chocolate after a really long day…but it could also taste like a big juicy steak on a date with my husband.

What I learn about what love tastes like is that it isn’t really what I am eating but when and with who. How does that change what I pack my child’s lunch or choose what snacks I provide when a girlfriend comes over?

The Best Part…

I am really excited to explore some of the themes with the younger kids like joy and kindness and others of them with the older kids like faithfulness and self control. I think we will all learn a lot about who we are meant to be.

Here’s the best part: This is easy. I will spend less than 15 minutes a day “preparing” to implement this activity. The goal is not what we DO but what we LEARN. If we do nothing but have an increased, unified, knowledge of our character, this will be successful in my mind.

So, come along with me. I am going to try to swing by the blog once a week and update, share our ideas, conversations, failures and growth.

And, if you’re feeling adventurous, join in! We’d love to see how other families grow together.

 

WDIDT: Explored Broken #Write31Days

#Write31Days. 1 Topic, 31 Days, Lots of Thoughts.  This year I am reflecting on one small moment a day and why it mattered (or didn’t!). What did I do today?

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I’m a little bit of a skeptic. When the world seems to be yelling – do more – be more – live more – it can be hard to know who to listen to, what to read and where to go.

For some of us, we are grounded by grace. Yet, even then, we can find ourself doubting, confused, frustrated and sad instead of hopeful, excited and full of joy. It doesn’t mean we lack faith or even hope, it just means we are human.

Human. Broken. Saved.

An author who challenges me wrote a book that has just come out about being broken. I even had a chance to pre-read some of it. She asks what it is we are supposed to do with our one broken heart? Our one broken life?

Her encouragement is to live broken. To hold tightly to that grace we profess and continue to be a gift to people in the midst of our own brokenness. She says that by doing so we do 2 things. First, we give other people permission to be wholly themselves, as broken or whole as they are in that moment. Second, we heal together, we create and curate beautiful community.

Today I followed her around the internet as she gave interviews and shared her story.

As I stand in the thick of broken, I hear her words and am encouraged. This skeptic is still thinking it all through. Yet, this truth remains…

Human. Broken. Saved. 

Who challenged you to live differently today?