Archive for the ‘Relationships’ Category

Super Sunday

It’s been a super day.  It began with a moving and emotional pastoral message, followed by an enriching Sunday school class during which my husband volunteered us to perform a skit unbeknownst to me.  The class verdict on our performances is that they were Oscar-worthy.  Who knew we were closet Thespians?  After services, we collected one of our teens who’d returned to church from a weekend retreat, gathered the rest of the crew, including my youngest daughter’s BFF, and went on a family outing to a local skating rink.  What a fun time and sweat-inducing workout!  Hopefully, I burned off enough calories from lunch to feel less guilty about taking the easy way out – pizza for the third time this week!

Today is day five of a month of publicly expressing thankfulness for random things.  Today’s random gift for which I am thankful?  My love for football.  As I sit here now watching Superbowl XLVI, I can’t help but recall memories of countless Sundays in the living room surrounded by the sound of whistles, play-calling, celebrations of victory, and sneers of defeat accompanied a larger than life figure who filled a room with his mere presence – my dad.

My mom is a football fan, but there is just something about watching the game with Dad that brings forth fond memories.  Perhaps it was the range of emotions that he showed.  Or maybe it was the couch coaching for which he was famously heckled by us kids.  Maybe it was the fact that he knew exactly what was going on in a game; I couldn’t have named a play if it hit me in the head.  I don’t quite know the exact moment or reason that I became a fan of football.  All that I remember is that football reminds me of my dad and I am a huge fan of his.  I can’t speak of the sport without thinking of him.  I can’t think of John Madden without picturing my dad yelling at the television as superfluous X’s and O’s covered the screen.

Dad has been in Heaven for nearly twenty years, but as I sit here watching the Superbowl, I can vividly imagine him sitting next to me coaching from his heavenly seat.  Today, I am thankful for my love of football, because it means so much more to me than a game.

Father,

Thank you for blessing me with a dad whose love for You was great, whose unconditional love for me still warms my heart, and whose love for football is the reason I enjoy the game so much.  I know that Dad is in Heaven looking down on me and smiling as I recall fond memories of him.  Football brings me as close to Dad as any other memory from my childhood.  I pray that something I do with my children will bring about the same kinds of fond memories when they think of me.   Please keep the players in today’s game physically safe and mentally alert.  I pray these things in Jesus’ name, Amen!

CC

Saturdays Mornings Are the Best!

Four days into a month of thankfulness and the list of things from which to choose is still quite lengthy.  My fourth reason for thankfulness is as much a blessing as the others, which means it’s quite a big deal to me.

As a parent of four children, it took quite a few years to get to the point where my husband and I could go out on dates for a couple of hours without the need for a sitter, but we have now arrived at that point!  We can’t do overnights yet, but we’ll take whatever we can get.  We are by no means a wild and crazy couple, so you’ll never find us painting the town red in a club or bar.  You’ll rarely even spot us in a movie theater for a matinee, let alone an evening showing.

Instead, you’ll find us dining at a local restaurant in the early morning hours each Saturday. It’s not about the food as much as it is about spending quality time with one another, in a relaxing setting with no interruptions, well, except the server, but that’s to be expected when you’re dining outside of home.

I am thankful for the opportunity to spend every Saturday morning out on a date with my husband.  I am grateful that our children can take care of themselves for an hour or two before calling one of us about some kind of non-crisis that they’re having.  As each successful date goes by, the length of time that we will spend away from home will expand.  One of these years, we just might be able to go out at night and paint the town until the roosters crow.  ;-)  Until then, Saturday morning is “date night”.

Father,

Thank you for allowing me to have Saturday morning dates with my husband.  I am thankful for the quiet time that we have during which we are able to pray together for our family and friends.  I feel blessed for being able to shut out the busyness of our schedules and just focus on one another in a way that’s difficult to do at home.  I pray that you will continue to bless our family and the friends for whom we pray and help us to sense your presence wherever we spend our Saturday mornings.  In Jesus’ name, Amen!

CC

Third Day of Thanksgiving

There’s no big buildup to today’s message of thankfulness.  I’ll get right to the point.  I am thankful for the amazing man whom I call best friend, confidant, and husband.

He understands me.  He works hard to maintain a wonderful marriage and to be a great dad.  He works hard to provide for our family.  He is caring.  He is funny.  He is kind.  He is loving.  He is patient. He is my hero!

I love that he frequently shares the Gospel with his clients, plays Christian music in his stores, and invites customers, family, and friends to attend our church.  He takes seriously the command to make disciples of others.  The Great Commission isn’t just a string of words for him; it’s his mission.

Father,

Thank you for blessing me with an amazing husband, best friend, and father to our children.  I pray that you will keep him safe as he travels each day for work and as he spreads Your Gospel.

In love,

CC

 

Arms encircling me

 

Let’s Eat!

 

Guys, come eat!”  Those are the words that my family eagerly awaits to hear each evening at dinnertime.  The patter of nearly a dozen feet can be heard on every floor of the house as everyone makes their way to get cleaned up for our last meal of the day.

One of my teens is usually in, or near, the house with two friends.  Routinely, I invite them to stay for dinner.  Inevitably, both teen boys decline.  I began to wonder if my cooking abilities could have been the reason for the repeated rejection.  So, to my surprise, when I offered to have them join us for take-out, the invitation was once again declined.

How could this be?!  Teen boys…love…food! 

Question: What could be the reason teen boys would turn down an offer to eat – even if they’d already had dinner at home? 

Answer: Family habits.

Let me explain.  I later learned that neither boy’s family enjoys mealtime together.  Everyone eats at different times and not always at a table.  One friend admitted to my son that he eats dinner in front of the television every night – alone.  Why?  The table in their dining room has a glass top and has been deemed too fragile for use.  It’s just there to fill space and no one can use it.

That story made me sad.  I can’t imagine not regularly having dinner with my family.  Sure, we have nights when one or two of us are absent from the dinner table due to a class or some kind of practice, but we still dine together nearly every evening. 

I love hearing about what’s on everyone’s mind.  I love seeing their faces.  I love the silliness that’s expressed in every prank, comment, or joke.  I love taking turns praying over our meals.  Simply put, I love the time that we spend together. 

In a household with one tween and three teens, we are well aware that our days together as a nuclear family are numbered.  Soon, our oldest will be leaving for college.  Two years later, two more will also leave for higher education.  And two years after that, we will become empty-nesters.

Time is not on our side, so for us, dinnertime is a sacred gathering where stories are shared, questions about life are asked and answered, manners are taught, jokes are played, and silly faces are made.  Families bond are tightened and memories are made at the dinner table.

Dinnertime togetherness is one of the most blessed gifts we can give to our children.  I pray that the values we’re passing along to them will be passed down by them to our grandchildren and that the tradition of family togetherness doesn’t become lost in conflicting schedules or the simple awkwardness of needing to be alone.

What’s dinnertime like in your house?  Is the dinner table a place for laughter and sharing?  Do conflicting work or activity schedules keep everyone from dining together?  Does a museum-like status of your furniture trump use of your family’s dining area?  

Share with us!

CC

How Well Do You Know Your Neighbors?

On a recent afternoon trip to the local grocer, I noticed a lady perusing the plant and flower selections outside of the store.  I wasn’t totally sure if I knew her, but thought, “If that isn’t Mrs. X, no harm done. Go and say, ‘hello’”.  So I did just that.  I approached the woman whose back was to me and said, “Mrs. X?”  The lady turned around and greeted me with a familiar smile and we hugged.  She then commented on how big the tween and teen that I had in tow had grown.

Mrs. X was the secretary at the elementary school in my neighborhood.  The same familiar smile that I saw at the grocer was the one that had greeted me for so many years.  During the course of our conversation, Mrs. X and I realized that we live just two blocks away from one another.  That got me to thinking (again) just how little we know about our neighbors.  I had seen Mrs. X in the elementary school numerous times over the past six years, but never knew she was a neighbor.

Where I love, most days, we pull in and out of our garages never seeing or hearing from our neighbors.  On occasion, we may happen to be outside working on our yards at the same time, but just smile and wave.  Never once do we stop what we’re doing to walk over and shake the hands of the people geographically closest to us.   Not all neighborhoods are this way, but mine is.  What am I going to do about it?  Am I going to go stop manicuring the lawn and greet a neighbor when I see them outside, or will I let my or their (perceived) level of comfort dictate how neighborly I am?  Honestly, I don’t know.  What I do know is that Mrs. X and I didn’t squander the opportunity to get to know one another and develop a friendship.  She suggested that we get together and go for walks throughout our neighborhood, so I gave her my telephone number.  That’s a start and I hope it catches on for other neighbors.

It would be nice to live in a community where everyone knows one another – like in the good ol’ days.  We can make that happen one handshake or footstep at a time. 

How neighborly is your neighborhood?  Does it resemble anything from your childhood neighborhood or any of the feel-good movies you’ve seen?

Let’s chat!

CC

Valentine Presents for Children

Valentine’s Day is most widely celebrated by couples.  We plan dates, get gussied up, exchange gifts, and hire a sitter before going out to paint the town red.  But what about the children?

Do you celebrate Valentine’s Day with your children?  If so, what are your family’s traditions?  I usually bake red velvet cake or cupcakes or make strawberry shortcake for dessert.  I also prepare gift bags for each child.  The items in the gift bag need not be expensive; I just fill them with small stuffed animals, candy, and other gifts (the $1 bin at Target is full of great items).  I give gifts to the children, because I want them to know that they are also my Valentines.

But I have a dilemma this year: whether or not to continue giving them gifts, and if so, what?  They are now teens and tweens, so the desserts, stuffed animals and special Valentine’s trinkets don’t have the same effect.  I’ve thought about buying a small token, such as bracelets or flowers for the girls and cologne for boys.  Or maybe even books for all of them.  I’m at a loss, but I want to do something that will have a lasting impact. 

So, here’s the thing that makes the most sense.  Writing love letters to each of them.  Yes, love letters.  Something that they can cherish for a lifetime.  Something that I would make with lots of love.  Something that they can go back and read when life’s harsh realities gets them down in the dumps.

Whatever it is that I choose, I have less than two full days to make it happen.

Share your ideas for celebrating Valentine’s Day with children.

Love to all!

CC