Now blogging over at Grace Notes
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My dog is BORED.
My 12 year old Bichon, who we call Dobby, is bored. Yes, in case you are wondering, he is indeed named after Harry Potter's favorite house elf. Poor Dobby misses Brooke. While he loves all his people, his favorite roll-around-on-the-floor playmate is Brooke and she lives in Boston now.
The reason I know he is bored is that he is driving me berserk. He follows me around the house staring at me and when it gets within 2 hours of dinner time, he starts the hard core whining and begging. Being that I have less people to care for lately, I have decided that Dobby and I need to try something new, so that I don't have to kill him.
SO, we have started taking walks! TWO DAYS in a row we have gone for a walk! For those of you who have been walking your dog for years and do not understand why this warrants an exclamation mark, I should explain that we have a fenced back yard and we have always just let Dobby out back to do his business. His exercise routine has consisted primarily of chasing a Kong across the family room. But we are mixing it up here in Chantilly and we are going for walks. We are crazy and spontaneous that way. :-)
Today on our walk, I was thinking about the phrase "you can't teach an old dog new tricks" and laughing about Dobby and me....me just turning 50 and I suppose Dobby somewhere around 84 in dog years...learning how to go on walks in our "old" age. So far, we aren't very good at this walking thing. He tends to strain at the leash, pulling ahead in his excitement to smell all the one million smells and course, pee on every immobile object we pass. He wanders off the path to smell something new and I probably yank a little too hard instead of just calling him back. My guess is that we will probably get better at it, in time, should we choose to continue this experiment. I've found that is generally how these things work, although I much prefer being good at new things right from
As we are walking, I'm thinking about the connections to all the other things going on in my life and how there might even be blog material to be found in this little outing. I've started doing that again....seeing my life through the lense of what I could potentially write about it. When I was blogging and writing regularly years ago, I tended to see connections and spiritual metaphors everywhere I looked and, even if I didn't end up using what I discovered for a blog post, I always found blessings in being watchful for God's simple graces in the ordinary days. I found there was usually a theme to what God was growing in me and it deepened my faith to see repeated connections as I explored them through my writing.
So I am finding myself drawn to the writing again and the theme these days seems to be new beginnings. The manna ceased and God is doing a new thing in this season of my life. I am starting to explore what practices and disciplines I need to start or change as I adjust to my new normal. From past experience, I've learned that doing a new thing requires repetition and perserverance. So I'm trying to show up and do the things I know are good for me. And now, I think that includes writing something every day. Sometimes it is good and sometimes it is just practice. I am learning to be ok with that because I have learned that showing up consistently is 90% of the battle for me. So we will see where this leads. And, for the record, I do think an old dog can learn new tricks!
Back to our walk for a minute. So, I'm thinking about these things as we walk...trying new things, establishing new habits, not being too old to try something new, how in the world does this dog possibly have enough urine to continue to pee on everything we pass....and then this happens!
Sometimes when we try something new, something completely unexpected happens. Who knows, maybe a delightful blessing might be just around the corner...
If you are over 40, you perhaps share my amazement at how the world has changed in our lifetime. I recently blogged about my journey parenting teenagers, but neglected to mention the additional challenges created by the fact that my kids can be connected to their peers 24/7 due to their access to cell phones and Facebook. Living life online is the only way my kids know how to be teenagers. It is a challenge that our parents did not face when we were making our journeys through adolescence, so we have no model to follow on this front. As I find with much of this parenting thing, we are making it up as we go along...even more so, in terms of guiding our children and their use of social media and technology. Perhaps a good addition to my list in that previous blog entry: remember that we as parents have to teach our kids that computers and cell phones are not a right, but a privilege...a privilege that can be lost, if not handled responsibly.
But I digress...I am not interested in talking today about my kid's use of technology, but my own. Although I ostensibly originally got on Facebook to spy on my teenagers, I have found myself to be every bit as enamored by it as they are. In fact, I love ALL of this stuff! I was thrilled by my first car phone in the early 90s...remember, they were actually installed in your car? You couldn't carry it around with you! No phone in the grocery store; how did we survive? And I remember when my girlfriend in Michigan showed me this cool Internet thing when I was there visiting her in the mid 90's. Funny how antiquated that first computer we had then would be now that we are a house of multiple computers. The phones got smaller, the hard drives got bigger, the internet access got faster and now I can access my email and Facebook from my phone from anywhere in the world! And don't even get me started on how much I love my IPhone...it is ridiculous! Frankly, it still seems like some kind of magic to me that I can be on my wireless home phone with my sister in North Carolina and email her a picture, either with my cell phone or my computer, while I am still talking to her and she can instantly see what I am referencing. Crazy!
I began blogging in September of 2005 after being introduced to the blogging world by my friend Neil (whose blog I still enjoy.) Initially, I blogged A LOT and found that it opened up a whole new world for me. I loved the creativity of writing and I have been blessed by the opportunity to share my faith journey with the folks who stopped by to read what I had to say. When I added Facebook to the mix a couple of years ago, I found that I backed off blogging a bit to play with this "new toy." In the last couple of months, I have begun to connect my Facebook community and my blog readers with some extremely cool technology that my blogging host Typepad has recently offered.
Please join me on a tour of the new features that we now offer here at Seeking Him :-)
So there you have it!! Before I added anymore bells and whistles, I thought I would update everyone on some of the cool stuff that is already there. I'm sure Typepad will come up with more fun toys to add to my blog and I will have to add them as well. Did I mention that I can also access my blog from my phone? So far, I have never posted a blog entry from my phone, but the fact that I could if I wanted to makes me giggle. So fun!
First of all, I love Facebook. I do not think that Facebook represents the decline of civilization, the root of all evil, or the single most likely factor to destroy our children. I love Facebook! Facebook is fun and I have had a blast getting in touch with childhood friends, spying on my teenagers, finding out the latest news, looking at pictures and generally plugging in to my culture through this new phenomenon of social media. During the recent snowstorm here on the East Coast, FB was a fabulous way of connecting and commiserating while we were all stuck in our houses....even when our power was out, many of us went on FB on our phones! It was fun to see everyone's snow pictures, to share our snow totals with friends in warmer climates, and to generally stay connected with my community. I did not decide to take a break from Facebook because I think Facebook is bad. Furthermore, I do not think everyone else, or for that matter, anyone else should give up Facebook for Lent. In fact, I have no opinion whatsoever about your relationship with Facebook.
So why then, you ask (at least one of you,) did I decide to take a break from Facebook during this season of Lent? It's really none of your business.
Just kidding!! I chose to inform my Facebook friends of my "status" for Lent so that noone would take it personally if I don't respond to their friend request, their comment, their awesome pictures, their inspirational message or any other overtures of interaction that may be directed my way. Before I disappeared, I thought I would alert anyone who checks their Newsfeed every day JUST to see what I am doing :-) Since you (Neil) are interested, here is why.
In my Protestant background, the observance of Lent is largely left up to the individual. We are not required to observe any particular dietary restrictions and noone really talks that much about "giving something up" for Lent. In my church, the youth actually tend to take the lead on the discussion and observance of Lent. Their media fast during Lent last year actually gave me the idea of "fasting" from Facebook this year. In past years, I have been more likely to add a spiritual discipline during Lent, rather than give something up.
For me, Lent is about preparing for the re-birth and renewal of the Resurrection. As Easter approaches, I like to take inventory of where I am in my journey with the Lord. What is working as I seek to hear His voice and see His glory in my day to day life? What gets in the way of me seeing Him at work? My experience tells me that where there is lack of peace in my life, it is there that there may also be a lack of obedience. What spiritual disciplines bring His will and word into greater focus...prayer, study, sabbath rest, worship, fellowship? And where have I blurred that vision with distractions that draw my gaze elsewhere? Am I missing opportunities to be a blessing because I am rushing through my life with my spiritual eyes shut?
As I consider those questions, I naturally had to consider how I use my time. Because I do not work outside the home, I have a large degree of flexibility in how I plan my days. Taking care of my family, fulfilling my volunteer obligations, serving in my church, spending time with friends can all be done in the order and with the priority that I choose. Because of that, I often find myself "working" without any clear deadlines. It is awfully easy for me to get distracted by things that, if I thought about it, are not a priority for me. And that brings us back to Facebook.
Facebook, FOR ME, is a huge time waster (re-read my first paragraph if that statement causes your to feel defensive or protective of FB.) FOR ME, much of what I do on Facebook is useless. While I love connecting with my friends, I have to honestly admit that 75% of the time that I am logged into my Facebook account is primarily a vehicle for procrastination...again, FOR ME. Checking the FB newsfeed numerous times a day has become a habit that is no longer about community or connection, but rather a way of putting off folding the laundry, paying the bills or other mundane tasks that I may be putting off. And FOR ME, that procrastination contributes to me feeling too busy, too rushed, and spread too thin when that really isn't the case at all. So time management is one reason I am taking a break from Facebook.
The second reason is really more important. FB, FOR ME, can serve as a shortcut for my attempts to meet really important needs in my life...ways in which I take care of my emotional and spiritual well-being. Because I don't work in an office and my kids are gone all day, I am alone a great deal of the day. I have my afternoons at the Lamb Center and occasional meetings with church committees or school obligations, but I spend a lot of time alone. Alone is good...sometimes. I think sometimes I go on Facebook to connect to friends and find fellowship when what I really need to do is call a friend to meet for coffee or lunch. FOR ME, it is like being really hungry and choosing to eat a candy bar instead of sitting down for a healthy meal...it satiates the hunger for the short term, but it doesn't really provide much nutrition. Yes, FB can be part of community, but it can't become a substitute for community. It is a shortcut, a quick fix for my need to connect to friends, for my need to share my thoughts through my writing, for my need to see into my children's world. Disconnecting from FB for a while is my way of choosing to do my connecting face to face during this Lenten season. Face to face with my family, face to face with my friends, face to face with myself through more writing, and face to face with God through more study and prayer.
My blog automatically posts to FB, so many of you may actually be reading my ramblings on FB and I love that!! And I still get all my FB email updates, so I am not completely cut off. I would love to hear your thoughts or comments about your relationship with Facebook...what are the good things you get from Facebook and what are the not-so-good things? Also, what are the ways that you observe Lent that you find most meaningful?
For my faithful readers, both of you, you may have noticed that I have not been blogging lately. I keep thinking that I will start blogging again when I figure out something profound to say...that assumes, of course, that I have EVER had anything profound to say or that the purpose here was ever to BE profound! :-) I have had many posts rattling around in my head, but then they never really form with enough urgency to propel me to the computer to write it all down. Sometimes, I think of something about which I could write, but then I think that it really isn't all that interesting after all this time away. It seems amazing, after almost 5 years blogging, that I have not blogged this whole year...all 29 days of it!
Although I haven't been posting any thoughts here, I have recently returned to the habit of writing out my prayers. I find that I can focus my thoughts...empty out the noise...when I write out prayers once a day. When I have run out of words, it is then that I listen best. It also serves as a reminder of the names and issues for which I have been praying so that I can look back and see how God has been at work all around me. If I have learned anything so far on this journey it is that God is always at work; it is my job to notice and say thank you!
So, in my prayers, I have shared with God my desire to write and asked that He guide me in that writing...show me where He can use my words to accomplish His purposes, if that is part of His plan. I originally began to blog because I couldn't keep my thoughts to myself...I felt compelled to share and hoped that the discipline of writing in this particular format would help me find an outlet for those thoughts and prayed that my words might somehow encourage somebody else along the way. For several years, God affirmed my pursuit through constant inspiration and the occasional feedback that, strangely enough, my words here were indeed of some earthly use to some of my readers. Sometimes, that "fan" of my writing was even someone other than my mom!
So what happened? Has the season for my blog ended? Have I become too self-critical of my writing? Do I censor my thoughts to such a degree that I have nothing left to say? Or has God begun to give me other outlets for sharing the ways that I see Him at work? Other ways of sharing myself...pouring myself out in pursuit of the Kingdom? Perhaps a combination of all or some of the above?
I guess these are the questions that I am wrestling with now. Why blog? In the greater scheme of things, does my little blog contribute anything positive to the universe besides serving as a creative outlet for me? And if it is just a creative outlet for me, perhaps that is enough? Perhaps that gives me permission to not say anything of any substance at all or to accidentally say something that matters to someone else.
So, as I mentioned before, I have been talking about all this with God. Best I can tell, since He has not given me a burning bush or engraved stone tablet, He says "just write!" That's all...kind of like the Nike commercial...just do it! Don't worry about what anyone else thinks, don't even worry about what I think about what I write...just write! So, here it is, me writing....we'll see what happens next!
Look! It's my blog! Yes, I'm still here. I can't believe that I haven't written once in the month of November. Life is busy....good, but busy. For some reason, I am not making the time to blog lately and I miss it. I was just spending some time reading some of the blogs that I most frequently visit and found a line that I loved over at don't eat alone. His blog is one of my very favorites. When I grow up, I want to be able to write like Milton. Anyway, he is in the middle of a move and yesterday's post had this line in it:
The longer I live, the more I trust that grace means I’m not required to prove myself before God, or anyone else, in order to be loved.
For some reason, that thought really blessed me. And, I believe it to be true. Part of the work that Katie and I have done in our online retreat in recent weeks is to look at the patterns in our life that keep us from true freedom...the kind of freedom that Christ promises us. One of the paths to freedom for me is to really grasp the fact that I don't have to prove myself. I know that in Christ I am completely loved...thoroughly and totally loved...yet sometimes I still act as if I need to prove myself in order to win the love and approval of others and, in all honesty, of God. The energy expended in trying to prove ourselves smart, capable, worthy and good is exhausting. And we don't have to do it. I don't have to do it.
The longer I live, the more I trust that grace means I am free to just be me. No more, no less. The person that I am right now, the person that God is still working on transforming, the person that God loves madly, deeply, truly right now. I don't have to prove anything to you. But, perhaps with that same grace that has been extended to me, you can feel safe knowing that you don't have anything to prove to me either.
I have been amazed by the response I have gotten to my last post. Although there are only 3 comments here, numerous people have emailed or approached me in person to discuss the things about which I wrote. Apparently, I hit a nerve. As I read back through it today, my first thought is that I shouldn't write on my blog when I have had more than 2 cups of coffee. Whew...talk about multiple cascading thoughts!! Beyond that observation, I notice the distinct note of judgment in my tone throughout the entry....a little holier than thou, perhaps?
But, what is the difference between moral outrage and being judgmental? Or is one just a fancy name for the other? I am far from being a perfect parent. In fact, like many of you, we are just making it up as we go along. What right do I have to judge the job that another parent is doing in raising their child? I certainly don't have all the answers, but perhaps sometimes it is important to state the questions out loud. That is really my intention here.
I think my concern is not so much that we are making poor choices as parents, but that we aren't making any choices at all. We are simply letting adolescence "happen" to our families. We are throwing our hands up in defeat and muttering "oh well" as we watch the children in our community crash and burn. As Christian parents, we certainly have the responsibility for proactively parenting our own teenagers, but what further responsibility do we have to the rest of those kids? The kids we, in all honesty, may want our children to avoid. Wouldn't they be among those Jesus is asking us to reach and, more importantly, to love? I am hopeful that many of the things our churches are doing are designed to do just that....love these kids and offer them a place of safety. Or maybe that is just my guilty conscience speaking.
Our kids are growing up in an exhibitionist/ voyeuristic culture. They are living their lives online for all the world to witness, whether we like it or not. From a parenting standpoint, we have a window to their world unlike any our parents had when we were growing up. All we have to do is get on their MySpace or Facebook sites. Or look through the text messages on their phone. Their AIM profiles alone can tell you all you would want to know about what they consider important. Yet, when I look at some of these kids' sites and profiles, I have to believe that none of the adults in their lives are reading it. If they were, wouldn't they intervene? Or is that naive of me? If we know the kid involved, do we have a responsibility to intervene ourselves?
I have recently gotten a Facebook site, even though my daughter has not gotten on Facebook yet. I hear that, while MySpace is popular with the middle schoolers, the high school kids all like Facebook. I have gone around looking at the Facebook sites of kids in our youth group at church. Our youth minister, being an extremely wise lady and a parent of a teenager, is way ahead of me and listed as a Friend on all their sites. I love peeking into their worlds and seeing what great kids they are. They aren't perfect....whatever that means...but they seem to be holding their own and staying true to themselves. It reassures me that many kids are on the right track. I know our youth group kids can fall prey to the same temptations as any other kids and I think, as parents, we have a responsibility to educate ourselves about how our kids are communicating and attempt to enter their world so that we know what they are facing.
Anyway, just some more thoughts on this new stage of my life....raising teenagers. I am SO grateful that my husband and I have the privilege of traveling this journey with our amazing friends from church and our larger community. Many of you who read this are parents to whom I look for guidance, perspective and support. We are in this together. With apologies to those of you who bristle at all things ever said by a Democrat (particularly one who may be our first woman president!) it does indeed take a village...I'm so glad you guys are part of my kids' village.
I don't really like Chardonnay (too dry for me) but I saw this over at Katie's blog and thought it was kind of fun. What kind of wine are you?
|You Are Chardonnay|
You can be sweet and light. Or deep and complex.
You have a little bit of something to offer everyone... no wonder you're so popular.
Approachable and never smug, you are easy to get to know (and love!).
Deep down you are: Dependable and modest
Your partying style: Understated and polite
Your company is enjoyed best with: Cold or wild meat
Matt has honored me with the Thinking Blogger Award. As he says on his blog, it is a nice way to recognize some of the many great blogs out there and it originated here. Once you've been tagged, it is your turn to select, in no particular order, 5 blogs that have blessed you for one reason or another and tag them. Thanks, Matt! I appreciate you considering my blog a place worth visiting!
Here are the five blogs that I would recommend to you:
So, there they are, in no particular order, 5 blogs that I visit regularly and love! 5 very different, but equally gifted writers. Thanks again, Matt! By the way, I also love Matt's blog!
While my family might prefer that I begin cooking dinner again or doing laundry, I decided to spend my new-found free time today by choosing a new template for my blog. I have missed the purple....whaddya' think?
Something silly because my brain is still at the beach....
|Your Power Color Is Magenta|
You energize yourself and push others to suceed.
At Your Lowest:
You feel frustrated and totally overwhelmed.
You are suprised by who you attract. You're a love magnet.
How You're Attractive:
Open and free spirited, people want to explore the world with you.
Your Eternal Question:
"What is my next source of inspiration?"
You have to go check out the latest entry on Neil's blog. As most of you know, Neil is our associate pastor and our good friend. He and my husband, Steve, have been "bumping chests" for two years about some golf challenge...you know, one of those testosterone things. Anyway, it all began when they were filming a comic video for church...it was the intro for a sermon on anger. I have been praying for years that my sweet husband would find a way to get involved at church, NEVER dreaming that his "calling" would be our drama ministry....isn't God creative?! Anyway, this video was his big debut and now Neil has it on his blog. The Golf Challenge (apparently Neil "insulted" Steve's home course, Steve said he couldn't break 100 from the back tees, much chest bumping and smack talking ensued, blah, blah, blah) has now been laid down officially and dates are being chosen. In addition to Neil and Steve, at least 3 other guys from our church are involved as participants and spectators. BOYS!!
BTW, isn't my sweetie awfully cute? He is the one in the cart with Neil that keeps saying "Oh My!"
I just found out that my sister-in-law, Laura, has been secretly blogging since January! She and my brother have two precious little boys, 3 and 5, and she decided that blogging would be a great way to chronicle the day to day fun and frustration of being a stay-home mom of two very active little boys so that my brother could "live" their days with them. Up until now, he was her only reader! Now, of course, the news is traveling like wildfire through the family!
You should know that Laura is brilliant and funny and a great mom and loves Jesus. Did I mention funny? The girls and I spent a couple of days with her, my brother and their boys before we went to Texas and we had a blast. The picture is from our walk around Annapolis. My eldest was in charge of keeping her three year old cousin from falling in the water...you can see that she had her hands full!
I think you will love her stories about the boys...they are precious! Anyway, you can check out her blog right here. I would particularly recommend "Tag in the Bathtub,"In the Closet," and "Need the Cookies." I laughed HARD!!
This is my 100th post! No, I didn't count them. When I log on to check my stats or write a new post, it tells me how many posts I have and how many comments. I have been blogging for 10 months, beginning on September 15th, which would mean an average of around 10 posts per month. On this "historic" occasion, I would like to thank all of you who read my musings, thoughts and occasional rants. It still kind of amazes me that anyone finds this an interesting use of their "web surfing" time! As I said in my initial post, this sometimes seems like a terribly self-indulgent activity, but it has been a tremendous blessing for me all the same. In addition to my writing 100 posts, YOU have written 96 comments and I have been blessed by each and every one of those as well...if you haven't commented before, please do!! I am always surprised to hear who has wandered across this blog and how you got here. I am especially humbled and grateful on those occasions when you tell me that God has used something I have written to bless you in some way. Isn't God creative that He can even use the Internet to connect His people?
Anyway, no great revelations, no great insights, no funny anecdotes...when I realized that I was about to write something for the 100th time, I was just tremendously grateful for those of you who keep coming back on the off chance that I might have something interesting or insightful or amusing to say...even those of you who aren't one of my parents or siblings! If you ever have any ideas for the blog or want to write a "guest" post, let me know!!
I love you...thanks for reading!
I have been reading this girl's blog for several months and she is a riot. She occasionally writes for MSNBC...that's how I originally found her blog. Her name is Mary Beth Ellis. This entry on the Olympics opening ceremony made me laugh so hard I think I pulled something...check her out sometime when you get a minute!