Showing Kindness to 200 Kids

What a week! ūüôā

For five days I helped assemble breakfast, snack and lunch for 80+ first to sixth graders at an academic camp put on by our church. And let me tell you, it was tiring, but a blast.

Here are some of the snacks we served – can you guess what the theme was? (Hint: Something that’s related to tents, campfires and the great outdoors.)

IMG_3341
11188337_10155790133720693_2608599269524228006_n
11737915_10155790133455693_820692373814401025_n
11098191_10155790133700693_1095386325162464523_n

I found out recently that our school district only has one summer school site¬†for the entire¬†district, which means each school can only send one or two kids from each grade to attend. There are so many kids who need the academic help that summer school offers, but they can’t get in! This¬†is why some teachers from our church decided to put this summer camp¬†together for the underprivileged kids in our¬†community. Last year we served¬†close to 100 kids on one campus, and this year we expanded to two campuses! By God’s grace, we were able to reach out to almost 200¬†kids in all.

Each child who came was touched¬†by the registration folks, the group leaders, the teachers (for science, reading/writing, math, PE, crafts and music) and the food crew. They received one-on-one attention and were affirmed on how valuable and loved¬†they are. Over the course of the week, the kids really¬†opened up and blossomed. One child who showed up¬†on Monday was so quiet and shy that she needed her group leader to speak for her, but by Thursday she had gained the confidence and courage¬†to sing a solo in front of her whole music class! This was just one of many stories I heard over the week that proved it’s possible to make a huge impact on children in a short, but meaningful time.

As part of the food prep team, I particularly enjoyed seeing the kids’¬†smiles when they received a meal or¬†even for something as small¬†as a carton of milk. These are kids who don’t have much (a couple of them live in motels), but they were¬†so polite and¬†thankful¬†and enthusiastic. It really made my day to know I could play a role in helping¬†their minds and bodies be ready to learn and grow.

I ended the week with this quote on my mind:kind

Life is hard, so let us be kind to one another. Even a smile can go a long way. I know the smiles the kids gave me this week made a big dent in my heart and will stay in my memory for a long time.

Here’s a short clip of the kids singing Josh Groban’s song, “You Raise Me Up” for their families on the last day of camp. ūüôā May these little ones inspire you to raise someone up with your kind words and actions.

How have you shown kindness to others recently? How has someone’s act of kindness made a difference in your life?

The Power of the (Toilet) Plunger and the Pen

Have you ever witnessed¬†a backed-up toilet explode? Let me tell you, it’s not a pretty sight (or smell!).

During my last two years of college, I had the pleasure of living with three girlfriends. We shared a lot of things in that two bedroom apartment Рmeals, laughter, tears and, of course, a bathroom. And it was in that tiny bathroom that I got the shock of my life one spring afternoon when I pushed down the lever to flush.

Sputter. Gurgle. WHOOSH.

Before I could blink, the water in the bowl had risen¬†to the rim and began rushing over the edge like a mini Niagara Falls. I jumped back¬†as far as I could as the contents of the toilet¬†seeped onto¬†the linoleum and threatened to touch my bare feet. Half holding my breath and half praying, I considered my options: A) Run and hide! or B) Unclog the toilet. No matter how much I wanted to go with the first option, I knew I’d have to deal with¬†the mess¬†sooner or later. The only problem was that none of us girls had thought to buy a toilet plunger.

Oops.

Thankfully, the landlord lived upstairs, and after explaining the situation to him, he ventured into the toxic waste zone known as our bathroom and restored the porcelain throne to working condition. After thanking him profusely, I cleaned up the floor, disinfected my hands and said a prayer of thanks for whoever invented the plunger. (The fact that I used three forms of the word thanks in two sentences should tell you how thankful I was!)

Image courtesy of Mister GC/freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of Mister GC/freedigitalphotos.net

Who knew a¬†simple rubber device like a plunger could be so powerful? ūüôā

I think the same can be said of the pen.

You’ve probably heard the quote “The pen is mightier than the sword”. Have you ever thought about why that’s true?

As someone who writes every day, I can testify to how amazing words are. They have the influence to make or break a person, the force to change a situation and the power to evoke laughter or tears. Most importantly, I believe words have the power to heal.

How do words heal? By taking the unspoken and unsettled things in our hearts¬†and bringing¬†them to the forefront. By pinpointing the reasons behind¬†our emotions – our joy and sadness and¬†fear – and¬†making¬†us reflect on them. Taking the time to put¬†our thoughts and feelings into words forces us to stop … to feel … and to be.

We spend so much of our days doing and fighting and stuffing and, basically, hiding away the experiences we go through. This is especially true of the negative situations we face. It’s so much safer to push the bad memories and emotions down and not deal with them. But the truth is that sooner or later, all the gunk and refuse¬†and waste we hide away¬†gets¬†backed-up in the recesses of our¬†hearts. And it cuts off¬†the life that should be flowing through¬†it. And as we learned¬†from my bathroom story, a clogged toilet – or heart – is not a pretty sight.

I recently read some old essays that I wrote a few years ago. These pieces were penned when I first began my writing journey and was still processing through a lot of “life stuff” from the past. As expected, the words I jotted down were a little on the emo side and even a little dark. Reading those essays probably should have brought me down, but they didn’t. I felt nothing but relief and freedom.

It was through the power of the pen (or in my case, the computer keyboard) that I was able to dig through the stuff that I had hidden away. When I formed those experiences and emotions into words, I began the process of unclogging my heart.

Writing is seriously one of the best (and¬†cheapest) forms of therapy. You can do it anytime and anywhere, as long as you have a pen and a piece of paper. So, take some time to listen to your heart and write down what it’s telling you.

Also, take a listen to Rachel Platten’s song, “Fight Song”. I hope it will inspire you to fight for your freedom from¬†the¬†stuff that’s clogging up your heart.

What experiences or emotions are clogging your heart? Write about them today.

Conversations with a 6 Year Old about Relationships

C was in the middle of her bedtime routine when she asked me, “Do you love Po Po (maternal Grandma) and Gong Gong (maternal Grandpa) more or Bob (aka. Baba) more?”

In the mirror I saw her head tilt up as she looked at me, the top of her three foot frame nearly reaching my shoulders thanks to the stool she stood on. Her big brown eyes sparkled with intensity, waiting for an answer.

Hm? What was she getting at? And why do I always get asked the strange/deep/unanswerable questions?

Humph. But as any parent (and¬†therapist) knows, when you don’t have an answer to a question, you keep your cool and do the ‘ole switcheroo. So I asked the¬†question back, “Who do you think I love more?”

She¬†replied¬†without hesitation (because as usual¬†C already had it all figured out and was just testing me!), “Bob, of course. Because without Bob, you wouldn’t have me and E.”

Hee hee. Of course. ūüôā

Although her 6 year old logic had some flaws, she was right about one thing. Life is all about relationships.

No matter who we are, where we come from or where we’re going, we are all connected to other people. Our parents, siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles, grandparents, children, neighbors, classmates, coworkers, friends, enemies, strangers … the list goes on and on, especially if you include social networking.

My conversation with C got me thinking that as much as I’m an introvert and prefer to be alone, I am a better person because of the relationships I have. (I may have groaned as I typed that last sentence.)

The hardest things I have had to learn¬†have happened because of other people’s presence and influence on my life. I’m talking about the processes of acceptance, forgiveness and trust. There’s also¬†the acts of sharing, cooperation and encouragement. To put it simply, it’s the lessons of learning how to get along¬†that have built my character. (Okay, I did groan this time, haha.)

As complicated and messy and tiring as relationships can be, we would not be who we are without them. And I firmly believe the people we have in our lives are there for a reason.

f88e8b5fd0b13a196483cab9ae20d13e

What’s that reason? It’s the¬†four letter word that seems to weave itself through all of our relationships: LOVE.

It’s a sense of belonging that we all want and need. It’s the idea that C has that she and E¬†are important to me, which is why I should¬†love their Baba¬†more than their¬†grandparents. I didn’t mention¬†to her that without my parents, I wouldn’t be around to have kids, but that’s beside the point. What I did say to her at the end of our conversation was this: “I love God the most¬†because He gave all of you¬†to me.”

And maybe that was a cop-out answer or the most brilliant answer I could have given, but it is what I know to be true. I am thankful for all the people that God has brought to cross my path. I may not always act like it (especially when I just want some peace and quiet!), but my world is so much richer because of all the relationships Рclose and far, in person and online Рthat I have had the privilege of meeting and doing life with.

So, here’s wishing you all a wonderful weekend of being with the people you love, especially the¬†moms in your life¬†this Sunday. ūüôā

And here’s a fun parody of the song “American Boy” by Only Won & Larissa Lam called “Cantonese Boy”. I picked it in light of C’s answer to her own question (that I should love hubby more) and also because I just celebrated 14 years of marriage with my own Cantonese boy. ūüôā

Who are the people in your life that you are sure crossed your path for a reason? 

Practicing What I Teach

“It’s okay to be frustrated. You’re learning something new. I can help you. Let’s try again.”

I repeated these words as I held and rocked C in my lap. Just moments before she had been working on her homework packet and I had been cleaning out the guinea pigs’ cage. Her little, high-pitched voice had called out to me as I was scooping up pellet-sized poop into a bag to ask, “Is this right?”

I craned my neck from my seat on the floor to see the paper she held up. She had circled: rectangle, circle, triangle, rectangle; circle, triangle, rectangle; circle, triangle.¬†“No, try again. Make sure each set of the¬†pattern starts with the same shape.”

She sighed her signature sigh, which to be accurate is more like a half groan/half roar. With an eraser in her dimpled hand, she began undoing her work. Half a minute later, she asked again, “Is this right?”

The process repeated again. “No, try again,” I replied.

Groan/roar. Erase. Groan/roar. Erase.

It was after probably the fourth cycle that I saw C plop herself down on the tile floor and burst into tears.

Oh dear.

Fortunately I had finished refilling the guinea pig cage with clean bedding by then. I closed the metal door, rushed to the sink to wash my poopy hands and then hurried over to stop the waterworks.

As I sat there comforting a very distraught kindergartener, I couldn’t help but smile. Yes, the situation was a dire one – the homework paper had been written on and erased so many times that it was now covered in gray eraser bits – but thankfully it was an easy one to fix. After letting C belt out her tears (her wails could almost be categorized as melodic), I turned her around in my lap and resumed my pep talk.

“It’s okay to be frustrated. You’re learning something new. I can help you.¬†Let’s try again.”

I spoke those words to C that day, but I could very well have been speaking them to myself. Because it was only a few days ago that I felt like plopping down on the floor and wailing my own version of a cantata.

I had been sitting in the dark by the light of my laptop (in the wee hours of the morning) and attempting to set up a website. I had been calculating and recalculating the money I have spent on my new business venture and wondering when/if I will be able to recoup the costs. I had been frustrated and stressed out by the tasks I still need to complete and the timelines I want to meet.

In short, I was having a (recovering) perfectionist moment. A total “I have to have things done the way I want, but things are not working out right now, so can I crawl into a hole and hide?!” moment.

Hmm. These “moments” are much cuter¬†when a five year old has them. (Side note: C is not a perfectionist; she was just being a five year old.)

Thankfully, hubby was¬†my voice of reason. The next day when I poured out my frustrations to him, he basically said the same thing I would later tell C: “This is your first time doing this, just learn as you go. Don’t worry about the money. Just enjoy the process.”

I wanted to respond, “Enjoy the process, my foot!”, but instead I sighed my signature sigh, which¬†meant gritting my teeth and half growling/half roaring. (Hm, I think I see a trend¬†here, LOL). I picked myself up, dusted off my bum (figuratively speaking) and made the decision to throw my timelines, expectations and all the “shoulds” I had given myself out the window.

So here I am a few days later still reminding myself to breathe deeply, massaging the stress knots out of my neck and shoulders and saying a lot of prayers.

Most of all, I’m trying to focus¬†on being, creating, enjoying, and NOT stressing because …

Real-Values

 

The song, “Under Pressure” could have been my theme song this week. ūüėõ Here it is sung by Queen and David Bowie (I’m dating myself again with this song choice, haha).

How do you deal with the pressure of perfection?

P.S. C finished that homework problem correctly on her next try and with a triumphant smile on her face. ūüôā

An Unexpected Trip to the ER and a Confession

My family and I had the pleasure of taking a short weekend getaway to a nearby¬†beach town last weekend. It was the four of us, plus my parents and sister and brother-in-law. One weekend together staying in a quaint house should have equaled semi-rest and relaxation (after all, we had babysitters on hand); what we didn’t expect¬†however was that it would also include a visit to the ER.

Hubby, the kids and the grandparents had settled themselves comfortably on a stretch of sand while my sister and bro-in-law had gone boogie boarding. I had been given the task of buying some beach toys because we of course had forgotten to bring our whole stash of shovels, pails and molds from home. I had just made the purchase and was returning my wallet to my purse when I decided to check my phone.

Three missed calls and one voicemail?!?! I had not even been gone for ten minutes. What could be wrong?

As I walked out of the store, I listened to the message from my mom and heard the worry in her voice as she said, “T dislocated his shoulder again! He needs to go to the hospital!”

My thought process went something like this:

AIYA! But they barely got into the water! It was probably a foreshadowing of things to come when T joked, “It was nice knowing you” right before he headed off towards the ocean. Oh dear! Where, what, how …?!?!

After a series of calls and missed calls, I finally reached my mom who told me hubby and the kids had driven our bro-in-law and my sister to the ER. I met up with my parents, and we decided to walk the 1.3 miles back to our rental house, two boogie boards and an unopened bag of sand toys in tow.

The thirty minute stroll (which could have taken twenty minutes had we thought to take¬†a shortcut via a bridge) gave us a¬†good opportunity to enjoy the warm¬†sunshine. It also¬†provided a rare chance¬†for my parents and I to chat, just the three of us. So there we were, looking very¬†touristy with Google maps open on my phone, walking single file up and down the narrow streets when my dad called up to me, “I told Mommy when you got married that I was worried it wouldn’t work out.”

Later on when I¬†shared my dad’s confession with hubby, he also said, without batting an eye, “I was worried, too.”

Hm … Was I the only person who had optimistically naively thought our dating relationship, and subsequent marriage, would have a happily ever after?

Apparently, yes. ūüėČ

You may be wondering what all the fuss was about? Well, let’s just say that hubby and I are very different in a lot of areas,¬†personality and dating histories¬†being two of them. Throw in¬†some concerned family and friends to the mix, and well, you’ve got some legitimately concerned family and friends.

Looking back, I can say I was 100% sure of my decision to marry hubby.¬†But frankly speaking, my confidence came from a lot of unrealistic notions of love and marriage. Beliefs such as: troubles will never come our way; we will always feel loving towards each other; and we’ll always have a happy relationship (yes, I’ve needed to wean myself from an “all or nothing” mentality over the years). What I learned in the days¬†following our wedding was the complete opposite: all couples will face troubles; there will be times when you dislike each other; and there will be plenty of moments when you drive each other bananas.

Isn't this a cute group of bananas?

Isn’t this a cute group of bananas?

The years leading up to today have included many such doses of reality. But as an older friend¬†at church (with eleven years of marriage under his belt compared to our one at the time) once told us, “It gets better.”

It does?! If so, when? And how? His comment left me with some doubt, but also with some hope.

But he was right. Marriage does get better. With time, you really get to know your spouse, his way of thinking, doing and planning (or not planning). You grow to trust each other more. You learn to not take things so personally. You try to become a better lover and friend.

The key is that it takes time. Time to change and to see change happen. So it’s important that we be patient with our spouses and with ourselves. Our marriages are a work in progress because we are a work in progress.

On that note, my dad followed up on his confession during our walk with this: “I see how happy your (and your sister’s) marriages are and I’m not worried anymore.”

Whew. ūüôā

Here’s Alicia Keys’ song, “If I Ain’t Got You“, a sappy, but powerful love song. ūüėČ

In what ways have you seen a relationship or marriage improve over the years?

P.S. Our brother-in-law got his shoulder relocated at the hospital (his 7th time!) and has now learned how to do it himself should it ever happen again. ūüėõ

Parenting Unlike a Duck

Whoever said everything changes after you have kids was right! Not only does this saying apply to your priorities, waistline, bank account, and number of brain cells, it also holds true for definitions of some words and phrases.

Take for example the word vacation.¬†B.K. (before kids), going on vacation likely meant moonlit walks on the beach or hours hiking up and down beautiful mountains or visiting historic/artsy museums for days on end. But vacationing A.K. (after kids) takes on a whole new meaning.¬†Vacationing with kids involves throwing in a pack ‘n play, dozens of diapers and wipes, a boatload of fruit snacks, adhering to nap and meal schedules, and all the other stuff you normally do when you’re at home. So essentially the vacation you planned for months and looked forward to is really¬†life in a different place (but hopefully a scenic place). ūüėČ

Also, think about the phrase sleeping in.¬†When I was in college, sleeping in meant first staying up way past my bedtime the night before and waking up close to lunchtime the day after. Sleeping in A.K. however is a little similar in some ways. You still get to stay up late or be woken up several times during the night by a little person who is teething or feverish or just wants to party,¬†but you’re lucky if you get to sleep till 7AM the next day. These days when I open my eyes in the morning and see any digit after 6, I’m a happy camper. Oh, how life has changed. ūüôā

Recently I’ve been pondering another phrase that has been radically redefined since I had kids:¬†running errands.¬†I don’t know about you, but when I’m on my own, I can attack 4-5 different stores within the span of 1 hour; the longer my shopping list is, the faster I run. But I’ve learned that running errands A.K. never involves¬†running, unless it’s running to the nearest bathroom after a certain child has downed a bottle of water. Shopping with my munchkins means speed walking and looking back every so often to make sure the kids are still following me.

I was doing this exact activity the other day – “running” errands with E and C at Costco – when a realization hit me.

Image courtesy of EA/freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of EA/freedigitalphotos.net

I always thought it was cute to see a mama duck with her ducklings trailing behind her, but now I wonder if that’s how parenting is supposed to work. Of course I’m not a bird (even though I gave birth to a girl who¬†loves them), so I can’t speak for bird parents, but I’m thinking in the context of human parents. Let me explain …

As an adult, I thought patience was one of my stronger suits … until I had children. Then I realized I am anything¬†but¬†patient. I’m forever wanting, hoping, praying that my kids will grow up. That they will learn how to do things on their own. That they won’t have to rely on me to wipe their behinds or feed them or cut their nails. That they will walk faster, have the physical dexterity to keep cups from spilling, and communicate with words instead of kicks.

I realize now that I spend a lot of my days as a parent walking ahead of my kids, like a mama duck, when I should actually be walking beside them.

In the effort of focusing my energy on checking off a to-do list, I’ve forgotten the more important priorities in life, like the people I’m leading. They’re the ones with little hands that need holding, little feet that need to take double the steps to keep up with mine, little eyes that are curious about everything they see, little minds that need compassion and care to face this great, big world.

If I am to lead and mold and love my kids, I need to slow down. Slow down enough to look them in the eyes when they talk. To listen patiently to their many questions and answer them as best as I can. To understand the things that are important to them (even if it’s the name of their favorite Pokemon) and to make those things important to me.

Because being a kid is hard. But we adults have been there and we’re the best ones to help them navigate their way. ūüôā

P.S. I had many opportunities to walk beside kids this past week at an academic camp I was helping with. It was a wonderful experience, one that left me with little time to sit in front of a computer (hence the lateness of this post!), but one I will treasure forever.

For some reason the Spice Girls’ song, “Stop” came to mind as I wrote this post. I think the chorus applies well. ūüėČ

Which kids in your life have you had the joy of walking beside?

Multi-tasking = An Overtaxed Brain

There comes a point in your life (likely when you’ve reached the summit of the proverbial hill) when you start diagnosing your own medical issues. This happened to me about a month ago when I began doing research (aka. googling) on some of the “symptoms” I seemed to be exhibiting.¬†I brought up my suspicions with my doctor at a routine check-up and this was the gist of our conversation …

Me: “I think my thyroid levels might be low. Is that what’s causing my high cholesterol, slight weight gain in the past year and my fuzzy brain? I have a hard time remembering simple words that I want to use.”

Doc (with a matter-of-fact look): “No, your levels are normal. Your brain is probably just overtaxed. It happens a lot to people who multi-task, like women. We try to take care of the house, a job, the kids, etc. It’s a lot for your brain to juggle.”

Hmm. No kidding.

I came away from that appointment a bit relieved that my hormones were in sync (though disappointed that I now had to blame my weight gain on the extra sweets I had been eating, haha), but also concerned that I might never get my brain back to normal. Because I’ll be the first one to admit that I am great at multi-tasking. I’m talking about being able to nurse a newborn and cut a napping toddler’s hair at the same time. Being able to listen – and absorb – most of what two little individuals are simultaneously telling me and have an answer for both of them. Simply put, I’m a “doing a load of laundry while cooking dinner while wiping a child’s bottom while opening the mail while crafting my next article in my head while feeding the pet guinea pigs while unloading the dishwasher” kind of multi-tasker. (All you moms out there know I’m only slightly exaggerating!)

Even though I may pride myself on being able to do a bazillion things at once, I have to say the time has come when I’m starting to question whether or not I really want to be a chicken. You know the one I’m talking about – the chicken running around with its head cut off. That’s not a pretty image to conjure up, literally or figuratively.

Couldn't find a picture of a headless chicken running, so this will have to do! :)

Couldn’t find a picture of a headless chicken running, so this will have to do! ūüôā

It’s been gradually dawning on me that my brain might really be overtaxed. I realized this when I forgot to pay a credit card bill on time – two months in a row. And the other week when I picked up a pot of tea and almost poured what I thought was soy sauce into the dish of wasabi I was using for my sushi. And most recently, this morning when I woke up and for the life of me could not remember the name of an acquaintance hubby and I were just talking about last night. (It finally came to me ten minutes later after I ran through a whole list of names in my head.)

Sigh, I think it’s safe to say that we have all wandered around like a headless chicken before. Maybe even in this moment you are feeling rather “fowly” as you attempt to simultaneously read this post, eat lunch and make a phone call or two. (I’ll admit I scheduled an orthodontist and an ophthalmologist appointment while I typed this up!) If so, it’s time to give our cerebrums a break.

Let’s remember to¬†focus more on being, than doing. To remind ourselves that the world will not fall apart (and that thing or multiple things we have to do will still be waiting for us) if we take off our multi-tasking hats for a little while. For me, it was telling myself that it would be okay to write this blog post one day later than I meant to because sometimes schedules need to be thrown out the window. ūüėČ

And just how do we rest our brains? Maybe by spending a few minutes unwinding with a good book. Going on a walk and listening to the birds sing. Turning on the radio and dancing like no one’s watching (even if you’re stuck in traffic). Setting aside some time at the start or end of the day to pray and just be still. Taking some deep breaths and pausing for a moment.

Ahh. I feel a little more rested just by thinking about resting. ūüôā

So let’s try to slow down a bit today. Take a moment to rest and renew your brain. Cause if it’s headless poultry you’re after, it’d be best to take a trip to the market than to become one yourself.

Take a listen to Otis Redding’s “Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay“, that reminds us to “waste our time” once in a while. Here’s also a¬†cover¬†of the same song by Sara Bareilles.

What do you do to rest your overtaxed brain?

Monday Mentionables: Famous Books, Homelessness & College Devotional

Hi everyone! Now that spring break is over, it looks like summer’s ready to show up. The forecast for later this week shows highs in the 90’s. I know this is California, but we might be breaking a few records for this kind of heat in April! ūüėõ Say, how’s the weather in your hometown?

Image courtesy of renjith krishnan/freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of renjith krishnan/freedigitalphotos.net

Today’s mentionables are here:

1. Famous Books. I came across this list online of the most famous books set in every state of America. This is quite an eclectic list, featuring titles such as To Kill a Mocking Bird, A Walk to Remember (one of my favorites!), and the Twilight trilogy. Check it out here to see which book made your state famous.

2.¬†Homelessness.¬†This video addresses the question of whether the homeless have become invisible. I know for myself that it’s easy to walk past someone sitting on the street and not “see” them. But what if that person was someone you actually knew, such as a family member? I have personally known someone who lived on the street for a while and that experience has taught me that homelessness is a complicated matter. Each person who is caught in such a situation has a story and is somebody’s family member, whether it be an uncle, daughter, brother or parent.¬†That’s the scenario set up in this video, which really may make you think twice about the next homeless person you encounter.

3.¬†College Devotional. Calling all college students and parents or friends of college students! If you are interested in purchasing a devotional that addresses topics relevant to the undergraduate years, you may want to check out¬†Rise. This is a daily devotional which¬†I had the opportunity to write for and share the story of my struggle being the last single girl standing among my college roommates. It would make a good high school graduation gift – hint hint. ūüôā

Alrighty, have a good week! ūüôā

Monday Mentionables: Underwater Photos, Pie Crusts & Rice Crispy Treats

Happy Monday-before-tax-day! Argh, sigh, grr. ūüėČ Let’s just say that I am thrilled to be done with taxes – finally! ūüôā I feel like this calls for a celebration, don’t you? So, lift up your glass/mug/sippy cup (whatever you have on hand) and let’s toast to the next 365 days we have before the next tax day arrives.¬†Clink!

I’m also celebrating the fact that E finished a major project for school – five days early! We spent Saturday afternoon working on a life-size replica of his rainforest animal of choice, the¬†tarsier. Thank God for the hairy fabric and big, brown eyes we found at Joann’s, which made for a much more realistic creation.

Too bad we couldn't find bigger eyes. :)

Too bad we couldn’t find bigger eyes. ūüôā

Moving on now to today’s mentionables:

1. Underwater Photos. I was very inspired by this¬†story I read online about a photographer who overcame her aquaphobia by taking pictures of children – underwater. What a courageous and creative way of overcoming a fear! ūüôā The photos are very cute as well.

2. Pie Crusts. I LOVE pie crusts. I may or may not have baked one before to eat by itself (no filling necessary!). ūüėČ If you like pie crusts or pies in general, check out these 14¬†designs that will make your mouth water and your creative juices flow. I think #13 (made with cookie cutters) is pretty cute.

3. Rice Crispy Treats. If you want a dessert that is faster to make than pies, you may want to try rice crispy treats. Here are three¬†ideas for adding even more snap, crackle and pop to these yummy bars. They may be the prettiest and easiest treats you’ll ever make.

Alrighty, have a beautiful week! ūüôā

A Friend Who Loves at All Times

Image courtesy of Ambro/freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of Ambro/freedigitalphotos.net

The thing I appreciate most about the counselor-client relationship is the formality of it all. Both parties show up to each session with one goal in mind – to work on whatever issue needs to be dealt with to move on from unhealthiness to health. Such is not the case however among friends.

Friends share, vent and disclose information to one another (which is a wonderful thing), but friends may not necessarily do so with the intention of seeking a solution. Sometimes friends just need a listening ear, a non-judgmental heart and a warm embrace in their time of need. Sometimes friends need to play with fire and get burned. Sometimes friends just need you to get dirty with them when they are stuck in the muck.

Sigh.

I’m not sure if it’s the counselor part of me or the perfectionist side of me, but something in me wants to save people. To prevent them from getting hurt. To stop them from doing things they will regret. This desire comes in handy when I’m sitting in the therapist’s chair, but it produces a tangled, jumbled ball of frustration when I can only be a friend.

One thing I have learned over the years is that being a friend during the good times is easy and fun. Staying up late at night chatting about boys or going to the spa to get your nails done is great and a necessary aspect of friendship. But then there’s the “a friend loves at all times” (Proverbs 17:17) side that is way more complicated. Why? Because it involves speaking the truth in love and letting go of the wish to micro-manage someone’s choices. Loving a friend at all times means just that – loving them through the back-and-forth struggles, the shocking revelations and the emotional messiness. Love means sticking around as the conflict unfolds, the story reaches its climax and hoping beyond hope that it arrives at a good resolution.

I am learning to be that kind of a friend. The process is pushing me way out of my comfort zone and making me squirm and scream at times, but my friends are worth it. Moreover, I find myself being even more grateful to have God to look to as the ultimate example of a friend who never gives up on us, but loves us completely and unconditionally.

Here’s The Fray’s “How to Save a Life“, a song which reveals the earnest desire to help a friend.

How have you learned to be a friend who loves at all times?