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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Love is patient, love is.....

Love is patient, love is kind..... you're now picturing the last wedding you attended right?

Either the blimpy bridesmaid dresses, or the crazy best man speech. Some vision of a wedding likely just popped into your head. I think of the wedding of a good family friend where I read this passage over 10 years ago. I was wearing a suit that I loved, it was the color of butter. I wonder what happened to that suit?

My church is doing a series on love. This passage from ICorinthians, of course is the foundation....stay tuned it has a twist.  It's easy to say these words when you're all dressed up and on your best behavior. Of course love is patient, the bride and groom are goo goo eyes with visions of sugar plums and future babies that look like a Gerber ad.  They're so cute when they're new. Brides and babies.

It's the next 40 years that living this passage gets a little dicier. Who hasn't looked across the table at your handsome groom or blushing bride with kids screaming in the background thinking, "If they say one more word, I jump out that window."  Once the bridal gown is stored away and the bouquet has been tossed, then life happens. It comes at you hard some days.

Remember the twist I mentioned?  It's kinda like the fortune cookie twist. Read your fortune and then add, .... in bed.  I know it's a stretch, but I think it proves the point, hang with me.

Read I Corinthians and then add ..... even when they don't deserve your love and likely won't return it.

Now let's see how you're doing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
......... even when they don't deserve it, or won't return it.

There should be a requirement that each marriage that uses this passage comes in once per year to do a check on how it's going.

patient - check
kind - check
does not envy - needs improvement
does not boast - major fail

You get the picture.

It's all fun and games when you spend the morning getting your hair and nails done and you're in your Vera Wang knock off looking all fabulous.  How are you doing in the day to day at love when you realize that your soul mate has some pretty human sins and flaws. Yea, that's the real test. 

Let's make sure we look in the mirror and take the I Corinthians test on ourselves before we get out our red marker for the soul mate and start to be the judge and jury.  Chances are, you're not the valedictorian in this class. Some days I'm just trying not to flunk out.

I've written before about a really wise friend who said something profound when I was frustrated with my handsome groom.  He said, "Can you see him through God's eyes instead of your own?"  Yea, that was the knock between the eyes I needed. Not the one I necessarily wanted, but yes, needed.

I think that God meant I Corinthians for more than just the wedding day.  He gives it to us and we don't deserve it. Surely we can look across the breakfast table and try to see that same kind of love in our bride or groom, even when they don't deserve it and sometimes won't return it.

It's easy to point out the problems. It's a different story to love when it's tough to love. To love when we're exhausted and frustrated and there are socks all over the floor and kids screaming because they want their lunch. Try some love is patient, love is kind on that day and put your red marker away.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Good Gone Bad

You know what sucks, when something you're really good at, is actually a bad thing.  Ask my best friend Ann. We've been friends since I was 15.  I was good at drinking, even the warm beer, her warm beer. So she'd drink all but the last two drinks and I'd finish my beer and hers.  My first shot at recycling I guess.  Remember, I'm more than half redneck.  Don't judge me, we didn't even have a movie theater.

You know the other thing I'm really good at?

Sarcasm. I'm like blue ribbon at the County Fair good. I'm like Sammy Hagar fronting Van Halen good.

I'm not only good at it, it comes so naturally, I can hardly "not" do it.  Remember vintage Ally McBeal when she had the bubble thoughts above her head?  I have those.  I have to bat them away and clear my head before they leak out of my bubble back into my head and out my mouth......constantly.  Sometimes I even giggle to myself about an all-star sarcastic comment that I refrain from saying out loud. 

Why would I refrain when it's my "rock the house" skill?

 Because it can be really really bad.

Well the shit of it is, here's the definition of sarcasm and worse yet, the latin origin.

 sar⋅casm  /ˈsɑrkæzəm/ [sahr-kaz-uhm]

  –noun 1. harsh or bitter derision or irony.

2. a sharply ironical taunt; sneering or cutting remark: a review full of sarcasms.

1570–80; < LL sarcasmus < Gk sarkasmós, deriv. of sarkázein to rend (flesh), sneer;
So, there it is.  The thing I'm really good at means to "rip at ones flesh".  Which totally sucks.  You don't get on Letterman for being good at ripping at flesh. In fact, shouldn't you probably be hauled into the slammer for that?
The first time I heard this from a colleague, I sunk in despair.  Just like when I realized that all that beer did not make my Guess jeans look so hot either. WTH.  These clearly weren't God given talents, they were the crap I picked up on my own along the way.  I'm pretty sure there's no special spot in heaven next to the good wine and the cheese plate for teenage warm beer drinkers and flesh rippers extraordinaire.
Guess I better spend some time honing some of the other talents I have.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Cross legged on the floor

Finally, a real role model for my girl. I DVR'd the CMA awards from last night for the girl to watch.  There's hell to pay if she stays up too late so this seemed like the sane option. As soon as she saw what was on, she bellied up to the TV, cross legged on the floor, eyes as big as saucers, clapping her hands and singing along to her favorite songs.  Seeing your kids really enjoy something so simple. That's ridiculously cool.

And then Taylor Swift came on and sang her uber famous song, Fifteen.  I sat mesmorized.  I listened to the words of that song with my crossed legged girl and realized that she may be just 8 years old but in the blink of my eye, she will have her heart broken, she will fall madly and deeply in love and the whole world will turn upside down. 

In the same breath, I also realized that her life might just be filled with all of the magic, fairy dust and sparkly dresses that Taylor Swift has in her life right now.  The tears started to roll. As my wide eyed girl sang along and clapped her hands and screamed like young girls do. I was overcome.

Then I watched Taylor's parents embrace when she won the biggest award of country music at the age of 19. Then came the ugly cry.  You know they had a moment watching their crossed legged girl wondering, hoping and praying that life would turn out ok for their gift from God. 

I'm amazed by the grace, humor, maturity and sanity that Taylor possesses in this bright spotlight she lives in. I hope my girl shines in whatever spotlight God chooses for her.

Halloween 2009 - The Girl does Taylor Swift, complete with guitar slung on her back

Friday, November 6, 2009

Quality or Quickly

I read my last blog post from earlier this week.  It sucked.

After reading it, it's painfully obvious why I received no comments. I still like what I wrote about, but the writing sucked.

I wrote that post because the idea was spinning in my head and I wanted to get it down before my week of work and family chewed up the other 166 hours of my week. Quickly, not with quality.

I love to write. I love it like I love my kids and husband, love it. I also love my job. I also love food and sleep.  That's a lot of love to spread over 168 hours. 

It's a fine line between being blessed and being crazed. I fully understand that I'm one of the lucky ones to have so much love in my life. Too much of anything good can sometimes go bad.  Just last night I ate so much pizza I was up all night feeling like total crap.  I love pizza, too much.

Loving so much about my life leaves me feeling torn and crazed some weeks.

What are the things that it's ok to sacrifice and put out a crappy outcome to get it done quickly? Not everything can be done with excellence, all the time. And what are those things that we must narrow our focus and do it really really well?

No sense in me telling you my list.  It won't be the same for you. 

Better to have written something, rather than nothing ... I think. If I'm ever to be the published writer I want to be, I have to decide how many crappy posts are acceptable for you and for me, in the name of quickly over quality. Besides, can you ever have too much love?  You can if it comes in the form of a sausage and mushroom pizza.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Got Skills?

I had the shocking realization this week that my son will be driving in four years. I advised him to start saving now for his car.  Now I'm wondering what the heck I've done in the last 11 years to really prepare him for being an adult.  I'm sure we've got the basics covered, mediocre hygiene, (he is a boy after all), average table manners, takes out the trash every Thursday night.  Yea, yea, but what about the rest.  The rest of his life.

I spend about 50 hours a week working in a career I enjoy and I'm good at.  Have I figured out how to help him do that?  Not to pick my same career, but to pick something he likes, that he's good at, and can make a living at?  I got a little panicked thinking about his "career clock" ticking. I've been so busy making sure he's got lunch money and the right Lego set for Christmas, I forgot to shift gears into life preparation stage.

Like all of my freak out attacks, I think I can catch up in one evening of meaningful life changing conversation. Friday afternoon I pick him up early from school for an eye doctor appointment.  We have some one on one time.  (Note to self: schedule way more of this. Not the eye doctor, that's expensive, the one on one part. )

He tells me he's writing another book. This kid is 11. This is his second book. I'm 43 and have been dreaming about writing a book for years.  Maybe he should be doing the coaching. He reads me his first three chapters.  They are absoluting amazing.  Not just the, "my kid is the cutest, Mom crap". He is a fantastic writer.  He's also the kid in the back of the bus with a notebook and pencil writing frantically while everyone else is talking about girls and football practice.

Lesson 1: Run with your strengths.  Don't apologize that you don't have a sports trophy on your shelf like the other dudes. Don't spend one minute thinking about who you're not. Celebrate the gifts that God has given you and work them over like there's no tomorrow! Marcus Buckingham writes about this in Now Discover Your Strengths. I wish I would have thought about this or had someone talk to me about this when I was younger.  I might have spent less time running with the pack and been signing books at Barnes and Noble by now. The boy and I had a good conversation about the kinds of things he likes to write about and how they are so different from what I write about and how both are pretty cool.  I want him to tune in to what he likes and why he likes it and then stand loud and proud as the best writer in middle school and bus 59.

Lesson 2: Your strengths are not your actual job.  Huh?  I know, the title could use some tweaking.  Hang in there with me.  Let's stick with the boy and his example.  He wants to be a Lego architect.  Yep, people get paid to build those huge sculptures at Disney and in the mall at the LegoShop. It might as well be my kid if that's what he wants to do. 

I asked him to think about what it is about building Legos that he loves. I suggested that if he ever got tired of working for Lego (yes, he rolled his eyes at me) that he would want to take his skills and do something else. Something besides moving back into our basement.  I encouraged him to take art and design classes.  Someone once told him that if he liked to build Legos that he might be an architect someday.  If you talk to my son, he has no desire to build houses or skyscrapers.  He only uses those Lego instructions once and then he builds his own designs that are way better than what came in the box. He's a designer.

 I asked him to look around the room and tell me one thing that someone didn't design.  He was at least slightly amused. In my head I would have said he was amazed by my brilliance and perspective. I shared that even a company like Johnson and Johnson that makes soap might need a designer.  He thought that was crazy. I said, "why does soap have to be shaped in a boring block?" Why couldn't he design a soap that fit the inside of your hand so when you picked it up, it didn't slip out and land on your toe in the shower? We went on to think about how much more you could charge for cool soap that would really get someone's attention in the store. Now my boy is thinking about design skills, not just working for Lego. At least I like to think he is. (Note to self: that one conversation had more impact on me than him, remind him 423 more times.)

What skills do you use in your current job that are just a piece of your job title?  Hello SAHM's (Stay at Home Mom's) once junior is off to college, if you want to think about a career, what are the skills that you enjoyed most about being a SAHM? Organization, negotiation, relationship building, you've got more skills than most in corporate america.  Name them, claim them and you could get paid to use them, after you raise the next Nobel Peace Prize winner and have some time on your hands.

I have friends that are stuck in jobs they are not all that excited about or just plain can't stand.  It's always an interesting conversation when they realize they don't have to stay in the same industry or in the same occupation, take the skills that you are good at AND enjoy.  Market those, use those, that's when work gets interesting. I've also found, I make a ton more money doing the stuff I'm good at and I enjoy.

Those are the first two lessons I've shared with the boy in my Life Prep101 class.  I'm not sure he even knows he's signed up for this class.  I'll keep you posted if he shows up ready for the quiz next week.