Saturday, August 29, 2009

Friends

Something came out of my mouth recently that I know I didn't come up with on my own. I said, "I have friends that I talk to and then I have friends that I am there for." After it was spoken, I started to think. I have way more friends that I am there for than I talk to. I would say that I have one friend that I talk to and the rest that I am there for. And I wish it could be different. But I know that I would have to change for that to take place and I haven't a clue where to start.

Being that I am a Navy brat, I think that I have learned that people are not going to be there for me. I went to 9 different schools over 12 years. I have a lot of friends all over the country and not many that I would call and talk to about my life. It's not because I wouldn't like to share with them. We are just not close anymore. They left my life and we all moved on. And now that I am in one place, I am not sure how to do this friend thing. I seem to hold everyone at a distance- waiting for them to leave. I am there for them to talk to or ask a favor of, but beyond that, there isn't much else to hope for. I know that I don't like to make myself vulnerable or to rely on others and I am sure this is a big stumbling block to building friendships. I have recently become aware that if I decline someones offer of help, then I am robbing them of the joy of giving. So, I am trying to be accepting of offered help. But it is hard. I just don't know how else to be but I do know that I would like the joy of friendship in my life so I guess I have to be different. Or become a nun. But Gerry wouldn't like that so much, I think. I'm not quite sure why I am blogging about this but so I am so here it is.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Our Storms

Today, at my house, the A/C broke. The air handler was working, but blowing hot air. Upon further investigation, I discovered the lifeless condenser outside and almost started to cry. Just two weeks ago, we spent $600 fixing the air handler and today my husband finally got the A/C fixed in my car which was another $600. And now the condenser wasn't working. I immediately started praying. Several of my friends have had to replace their whole units. We just can't afford to do that right now. So I prayed. When the A/C man told us that we didn't have to replace the unit- only the motor and capacitor, I immediately thanked God. It will only cost about $600. I am happy that it isn't more than $600 but I am watching my meager saving account dry up and wondering how I am going to replace the money. When it rains, it pours. That seems to be the motto my husband and I live by.

So, why does it have to pour so hard in our life? Why does a God fearing couple, who has devoted their lives to shaping kids for tomorrow's world, have to be living in this financial storm that doesn't ever seem to end? As I am pondering all this, I am reminded of all the things I should be thankful for. We are all healthy. Gerry has a job. We have family and friends who love us. We have wonderful children. We live in a great country where we enjoy freedom. Yes, there is much to be thankful for. But sometimes it is so hard to see that when the visibility in the storm is zero.

Why do we have to keep suffering like this? What is the purpose of living in this never ending storm? I am reminded of the story of Jesus sleeping in the boat while the storm raged around him. And the disciples were terrified and woke him and asked him to do something about it. His reaction is what I have always been perplexed about. He was annoyed with them. He wanted to know why they had such little faith. Well, they did have faith. They had faith that he could do something about it. And he did do something about it. He calmed the storm. So, what did he mean when he said they had little faith?

We only have this one life. We only have this one chance to find true happiness. What would this life be without the storms? Would we wilt? Would we thirst for something more meaningful? The Father is our creator. He knows the beginning, the end and all the stuff in between of each and every one of us. Our lives are designed to find Him and thus find true love and happiness. So how do the storms fit in? The storms shape us into who we are to be. The storms are our opportunity to turn to God and have the faith that He is in control. And at the end of the storm, we will be a little more like the person He plans for us to become. It's our chance to find out what is really important in this life.

So, how do I handle the storm? Should I be asking Him to calm the storm? Or should I dare to walk out on the water with my eyes totally focused on him? One thing has occurred to me. If I don't experience the storm, then how am I supposed to witness the miracles? If there is nothing in my life that requires me to depend on God, then how am I suppose to have that miraculous encounter? So, on that point, I should welcome the storms. I should dance with God in the rain. I should step out of the safety of the boat and walk on the water with my eyes totally focused on the one who loves me more than I imagine. The storms keep me from wilting. They grow my faith. They help me set my priorities and they wash away the dust of this world so I can see God's light and love more clearly. If I stop worrying about the storm, then maybe I can enjoy my dance with Jesus out on the water.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Praying and Dancing


In CRHP tonight, we discussed prayer. We shared about prayer and about how we were touched by prayer in key moments in our lives. The one question that really stuck out to me was, "When has God really touched you through prayer?" I don't think it was quite worded that way in the meeting, but the responses that ensued definitely begged this question. As we shared, my mind wandered to one defining moment in my walk with God. It was one of those moments where you wish you could make it last forever. It was magical. It is a moment I will cherish for the rest of my days.

After college was over and we went through the trauma of having a baby just three months after we were married, I was not walking closely with God. Before these moments, I did. Afterwards, not so much. I was angry. I worked so hard in college (3 jobs plus 20 plus hours of course work each semester) and it wasn't fair that I got pregnant right at the end of it all and I had to rearrange all the wedding plans while I was student teaching and pregnant to top it all off. Oh, and I was giving my senior recital at the same time. It was STRESSFUL and I didn't respond well to the pressure. I was 22 and I had everything already planned in my life and I was mad that it was not going according to plan. And it all got blamed on God. I was not a happy camper. And when I am mad at someone, I quit talking to that person. And that is what I did with God. I tried to take full control of my life since he was making such a mess of it. I no longer trusted that he knew what to do. What my older and wiser self knows now is that I was to proud to see that my own sin is how I got into the mess. Anyhow, the point is I quit talking. And I thought I took control of my life.

Well, what I learned was that I can never really have full control over my life. I kept learning that lesson over and over as the years passed. And I finally came to a point when I was so unhappy that something had to be different. There was an imbalance that I had to fix. And, deep down, I knew exactly what it was. God was waiting for me to soften. His patience is extraordinary while he was waiting for me to come to the end of my rope.

In my search for something at the end of my rope, I decided to go to a lecture at my church. I wish I can remember the name of the man who was speaking, but it escapes me. He was a great speaker and I was hoping to take something away from his words. It was the very last thing he said that struck my heart. As soon as he said it, I could feel what was missing. The ice melted and I knew what I yearned for at that moment. He began by telling us this story of himself in high school. He was at a dance and he wanted to ask a girl he admired to dance with him, but he was too shy. In the end, she asked him to dance. He spoke of how excited he was to dance with her- how much it meant to him that she asked him to dance with her. He felt honored and loved and ecstatic all at the same time. And then, before he walked off the stage, he said, "And that is what Jesus is asking you tonight. Will you dance with him?"

As soon as I got home that night, I got on my knees and admitted my fault. The moment I uttered my apology, the vision began. All of a sudden, I was in Christ's arms looking up in his face and we were twirling around the dance floor. I could feel the love and joy coming from his being. The happiness on his face was amazing. And when I would begin to apologize again, he would stop me and say, "Don't worry, you are forgiven. I am so happy to dance with you." And we danced and we danced and we danced. He held me, and loved me, and danced with me. I fell asleep dancing with him that night. It was incredible. The memory in my mind is so vivid. It's like it happened yesterday. What a wonderful night it was, indeed.

This may all sound a little crazy. But I will take being a little crazy over being hopelessly lost and unhappy any day. And, oh how I love to dance.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Potty Training Miller Boys 101 and 102

I can defiantly say that the difference in potty training my boys has been striking. Gerry was the grandpa- stuck in his diaper wearing ways and refusing to change. While as, Ben is the dictator- taking absolute control of all substances leaving his body and wielding power from all those around him.

Gerry was nearly 3 and 1/2 before he potty trained. Up until that point, he outright refused to sit on the potty. He would scream and cry at the idea of not wearing a diaper. All the books say "don't force them" and "make it a positive experience." Apparently, they never met Gerry Miller. I don't know why using the potty was such a frightening event for him which made it all the more frustrating. We finally took the boot camp approach. We refused to put a diaper on him and played with him in the bathroom all morning while his potty awaited him. He held it from the moment he woke up (with a dry diaper)until around 10:30 a.m. Then, he finally made pee-pee on the potty while screaming in terror. Afterwards, we had a major celebration which must have had an impression because he totally changed his attitude and used the potty like a professional from that moment on. We skipped pull-ups and went straight to underwear.

And then there is Ben. Ben is my little dictator. He likes to tell me when I will eat, where I will sit, which toys I will play with etcetera, etcetera. In the beginning, Comrade Ben enjoyed the idea of using the potty. He would go all day with out an accident in the first week or so. Then, the novelty of the potty wore off. The dictator decided that it was old hat and he wasn't going to do it anymore-especially when Mommy suggested it. So we went back to diapers for a time. Then, I decided not to put any pants on him. He really liked this idea. He could use the potty without any help. And he did for a while- until that got old too and he was back to asking for a diaper or peeing on the floor. So, I broke out the training pants. Well, he didn't like that they got wet so he would very reluctantly use the potty. He would wait until the absolute last second- when the potty dance was no longer effective in delaying the inevitable. And then he would still insist that he didn't need to go. Of course, he would wet his pants just a little bit. And then he would make sure that I had given up waiting on him and went to do something else that wasn't paying attention to Ben. Only after this would he announce he had to "go potty, QUICK!" So, being the dutiful subject, I would halt all activities and run Ben to the potty and be amazed at the amount of pee that can come out of a two-year old bladder. This little routine has been going on now for a month or so. I have been trying to think up little ways to derail his game without hurting the potty progress, but all of my tricks have not really worked. He enjoys watching me drop everything I am doing to run him to the bathroom and if I ask him if he needs to go before his announcement, the answer is always "NO!" despite the yellow eyes and dancing feet. It has to be his idea and it has to interrupt what ever I am doing.

His power wielding game also works nicely when we leave the house. Except he doesn't wait until the last second. He is curious to see what other bathrooms look like. He wants to see how other toilets work and how other sinks work. Who knew that there were bathrooms all over town! Its been a fun discovery for him and every time we go out, he can produce at least 3-4 drops in the potty in order to justify a visit the new and interesting bathroom. I have considered traveling for the next 6 months or so in order to speed this process along, but then I figured the discovery of a new bathroom will also be old hat soon.

I have been a little frustrated at this potty training experience. Everyone told me that Ben is so smart- he would train early and it would be easy. They were right about the smart part- he showed all the signs for potty training readiness at 27 months or so. But he has decided that he is too smart for potty training. It's too easy and boring and it doesn't interest him- unless he can get some entertainment out of it by wielding power from atop his potty.