5 things I remembered this week

Multiple new folks have landed on my blog over the past couple of months and I figured it was time for an update to bring everyone up to speed on who this Ann person is.  This post is mostly about my transparent qualities that some find … how shall I say… disturbing.  But honestly my transparency is one of the things that helps me connect so deeply to others.

So here are 5 things that I remembered about myself this week:

  1. My husband can make me laugh harder than anyone else on the planet.  To the point that I snort when I laugh.  Which makes him laugh harder, and that makes me laugh harder — and we pretty much take on the characteristics of two middle school boys who laugh at completely inappropriate things, in totally inappropriate locations.
  2. I would rather put together a gas grill than cook dinner.  I can rock a drill — actually “our” drill is only “ours” because he married me.  That whole common property thing keeps me from really being able to claim it as “mine” anymore.
  3. I can’t handle the sensation of having something stuck between my teeth.  And I WILL stop to buy dental floss should such an issue arise.  And I will use it in my car until the issue is resolved.
  4. There is something very therapeutic about emptying a filled vacuum canister.  I have a great sense of accomplishment from removing a ginormous about of disgusting things from our carpet/floors/blinds … and anything else I happen to vacuum while I’m at it….. lights, fans, my shirt, chairs, the dust on the entertainment center, and … for the sake of full transparency… lampshades.
  5. I thrive in a clean environment – I don’t have OCD but I absolutely have OCD tendencies.  However, I seem to be one of the main reasons why we have stacks of random things in the kitchen.  I’m sure there’s a need for therapy in there somewhere, but whatever.  (Putting my shoes away right after I post this to appease my husband)

So there you have it.  There’s a little bit of the disturbance in the force of my mind.  So tell me something about you!  Tell me one thing you remembered about YOURSELF this week!

there’s doo-doo on my cape

photo

It’s not easy to keep healthy boundaries when you’re a healthy human being, statistically speaking.  It is 200 times harder (remember, I never exaggerate… ever) to have healthy boundaries when your physical abilities are already compromised.

If you’re a Christian and you study scripture often you already know that we aren’t supposed to judge others; it’s not our job to judge.  But, we do it anyway.  Often.  Need examples?  No problem…

  • we think that overweight lady is just lazy
  • we think the mother in the grocery store just isn’t a strong parent because her toddler is freaking out and cleaning the floor with his shirt and his tears
  • we think the guy who always cancels has messed up priorities
  • we think homeless people need to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and get a job
  • we think that brand new teenage driver has no business being on the road

I can give you a million and two scenarios and legit reasons why all of these judgments are grossly inaccurate, but I won’t – because I bet you can come up with a list all on your own.

Our judgement of others is detrimental to our own self-worth.  Perhaps I have unrealistic boundaries and I try to do, do, do, do, do (and usually doo-doo on others in the process) because I have a nasty habit of judging others who DON’T “do.”

I would like to apologize in advance for letting you into my brain so you can see my thought process.  This always frightens my husband and he feels like he needs a helmet before we open the doors.

  1. I would love to be part of this cool new ministry at church, I’ll sign up for it especially since no one else is. I mean SOMEONE needs to help it get off the ground!
  2. The school needs parents to help sell ice cream on Thursdays?  YES – I am absolutely going to be there for my kiddo’s school, he will be so glad to see me every week!  Wait, where the heck are the other moms?
  3. I can’t believe no one else is signing up for this ministry!  I can’t do all this on my own, where is everyone? Being lazy and sleeping in? Playing tennis and golf???
  4. That mom I sell ice cream with is a total flake, she never shows up on time and she’s a complete mess when she does show up!
  5. I know honey, we need milk… and bread, and meat, and fruit… and toilet paper… but I’m SO busy serving others that I can’t actually serve my own family.
  6. Our neighbor is having surgery next week so I am going to take them a meal.
  7. I don’t have time to make a meal for my neighbor, I’ll get just them pizza.
  8. Man, I am exhausted – I don’t have time to go to the gym… I need to find a quick fix to get this weight off, then I’ll get back to the gym.
  9. “Yes, I read scripture every day!” <—- flat out lie, I don’t have time for that!
  10. Son, can you just NOT NEED ME for 10 minutes?  Do your homework on your own!  GEEZ, I already passed 4th grade, your turn!  Quit being so selfish.
  11. I just need to get away, I’m completely stressed out and I can’t handle all this anymore!  And you know what, dear husband?  YOU are perfectly capable of stopping at the grocery store too!  Seriously, can’t you see that if I don’t show up to sell ice cream that NO ONE WILL?  All the other moms are so selfish with their time.  If I don’t do it, ,NO ONE WILL!

WOAH Nelly.
Just…. woah.

I put my most important priorities last, and filled my schedule with things that were not absolutely necessary because I think I am superwoman and can save the day.  And in the end, I burnt myself out, I bad mouthed other people, and I dropped the ball on multiple responsibilities… and I did it ALL BECAUSE I let my judgement of others dictate how I was going to prioritize my own schedule.

I hate to break it to you, but you aren’t THAT important.  

If you don’t sell ice cream at the school, someone else will.  Or God forbid, they don’t have ice cream one Thursday.  I think our children will all survive.

Maybe I am afraid to say no because of the fear that people will call me lazy, or call me a flake, or un-involved, or selfish — or any of the other words I use to describe others.  It pretty much came back to bite me in the …. donkey.  I really don’t believe those things about my family – but stress jades my judgement and my capacity to love with my words and actions.

So yes, I can do anything…. but if I am doing them all for the wrong reasons then I’m going to burn myself out.

I can’t do everything … especially if I am a martyr donning a superwoman cape, expecting others to thank me for saving the day since everyone else was too lazy to step in to help.

In the process I completely doo-doo’d all over my own family — the people I love the most.  And I doo-doo’d all over my reputation as a Christian — you know, a Christian? Someone who is supposed to “Love God, and love others.”

Does that sting a little?
youbetcha

First up … change my attitude and see people the way Jesus see’s people.
Second … priority check. God first (that includes reading scripture), then family, and then everything else.
and Last … lose the cape…. it has doo-doo all over it anyway.

 

 

a hero among us

neighborhood
photo from http://www.watchdogmi.com/

This is a typical suburb — unless you live in Dallas, then your grass is more of a yellow/brown color and the houses are MUCH closer together.  But I digress.  We let our kids go out and play, but we keep a close watch on them by going outside with them… because there could be predators out there, other kids could bully ours, those people next door just keep their heads down all the time so who knows what they are really like, that single guy over there is just bizarre so we stay away from him, and on and on the list goes.

But what if you got to know your neighbors?  I know, who has time for that, right?  I admit it – I STINK at this… I really do.  Especially when it’s 172 degrees outside in the summertime.  And I NEVER exaggerate.  Ok seriously, what if you got to know your neighbors.  What if you found out the truth about the family life of that bully up the street, and you realize she’s pretty much pissed at the world because her mom died from cancer two years ago?  What if you found out that bizarre single guy just lost his kids in an awful custody case and he lost his self-confidence along with his kids?  What if … what if you found out these people weren’t just people going through life — but they are actually heroes in training?  They are heroes in their daily lives and in what they are facing.

Today marks 12 years since angry people chose to take the lives of thousands in New York City.  And we celebrate the heroes who rushed toward the chaos instead of running away – and rightfully so.  I have very close relational ties to all kinds of heroes who rush toward the chaos DAILY.  I don’t have enough glowing adjectives to accurately describe these people… and I’m not one of those people, that’s for sure.  Their daily heroic work might look like coming to your house at 2am because you smell gas.  Or maybe you came home and your back door was wide open, I bet some heroes showed up and looked through every closet and behind every shower curtain to ensure you could safely enter your home.  I have called some heroes before because my smoke detectors went CRAZY  — one of the heroes came straight from the pool with his family to help me because it was completely outside of my scope of knowledge.

But all that stuff?  It’s training.  It keeps them on their toes so that when you are t-boned in an intersection, they know how to calmly help you.  When your son’s school is on lock-down because a kid showed up with a weapon, they all know exactly what to do.  They show up when chaos erupts.

And when a plane flies into a building … man, I doubt there is training to prepare them for that, but they run toward it anyway.
Heroes.
All of them.
No matter if their hero capes are RED or BLUE.

Guess what?  Your neighbors are all in training too.  And so are you.  Your daily heroic actions might look like inviting the bully and her dad to come have ice cream with you outside.  It might look like leaving a fun little baked good in the bizarre single guy’s mailbox with a note that says, “thought you could use a smile today — from, your neighbor.”  It might look like helping that mom across the street carry her groceries inside.  It might look like mowing your neighbor’s yard when you know her husband is on active duty overseas.

Scripture tells us to treat others the way we want to be treated here, in Romans 13:9

…and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”[b]

So what are you doing?  Are you going to be the hero among us?

Get to know your neighbors now and go through the training, so that if chaos ever erupts on your street you can confidently run toward it.  Like a hero. #nocapesnecessary

knocking helmets with your spouse

Kids have no trouble understanding the idea of being on the same team in sports.  In fact, adults can grasp that idea pretty solidly as well.  So why is it that when we get married and have kids that BOOM, husband and wife are no longer on the same team?

5 But Jesus responded, “He wrote this commandment only as a concession to your hard hearts. 6 But ‘God made them male and female’ from the beginning of creation. 7 ‘This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, 8 and the two are united into one.’ Since they are no longer two but one, 9 let no one split apart what God has joined together.”  Mark 10:5-9

I have to hand it to my mom, she didn’t hover when our son was little and we were trying to figure out bedtime routines, healthy boundaries and so on.  She really didn’t.  My dad is the advice giving member of the family – even when it’s unsolicited. My husband’s parents were much the same.  His dad was the unsolicited advice giver — usually loud and in public… awesome — and his mom only gave advice when we asked her for it.  Even still, up until about 5 years ago my husband and I tried to stick with the way things worked when we were kids. 

Here’s the problem with that — he grew up in a teeny tiny town, lived out in the country, didn’t go to church, always had hunting rifles around him, and he was an only child.  I grew up in the city, going to private schools, and attending Catholic church with my parents, and had two older sisters.  Dare I say we were parenting in opposite directions?  Sure, we had the appearance of being on the same team, but really we were sabotaging each other’s efforts.

My sister and her husband have a very simple saying when things get heated at their house regarding parenting … they take a deep breath and say:

“same team”

Here are 4 simple steps to ensure you and your spouse both understand you’re on the same team, and act like you’re on the same team!

  1. Create a simple statement like “same team” that you can say to each other when things get heated.  This statement is intended to take the emotion out of your decision making as parents.  You both want to do what’s best for your kiddo.  Period.  This is like a huge TIME OUT being called on the field.
  2. Watch your tone. If you say “same team” like a teenager who swears she knows it all, I don’t think your spouse is going to take that as a time out as much as he will a body check.  Put your helmet on if you plan to talk ugly to your spouse because it’s about to get sporty up in your house! Or even better, remember that having an attitude in confrontation tells your spouse you don’t want to resolve anything, but you want to fight and show you’re right.  And that makes this all about you, and not about your kid.  (FLAG ON THE PLAY!)
  3. Be prepared to walk away.  If an agreement can’t be made on how to discipline your child, take a break.  Each of you make a list of three ALTERNATIVE disciplinary actions that have yet to be discussed.  Then when the time is right, come back together and talk like grown ups about a solution.
  4. Stop sabotaging your spouse’s efforts. Don’t go undo everything your spouse has just done.  After he grounds your daughter, don’t go to her room and say, “I really don’t agree with daddy, and I say you are NOT grounded.”  BAD IDEA.  Now your spouse knows you don’t have his back, and your daughter sees an avenue to get between you to get what she wants, anytime she wants it.  Kids NEED a unified front.  And you do too or this parenting gig is going to swallow you whole.

So whose team are you on?
Your own?
Or your spouse’s?

Leave your old ways, leave your childhood behind (cuz it’s sooo yesterday).
Become ONE with your spouse.

give the gift of grace today

give the gift of grace today

In the Dallas area, it’s the first day of school for the majority of public schools.  So not only do we have hundreds of thousands of nervous, anxious, and excited kids who poured out of our homes and cars this morning — we also have hundreds of thousands of nervous, anxious, and excited parents who are doing their best to function “normally” today.

Even if you don’t have kids who went back to school,
give the gift of grace today.  

Here are real life examples of why you should give your coworkers (and strangers at the grocery store) some grace today:

  1. A family just moved from New Mexico 5 weeks ago and her kids know ZERO kids at school today, so mom is a bit nervous and anxious for her kids.
  2. A middle school girl was bullied to the point of wanting to take her life last year, and today she had to go back to school — needless to say, mom and dad are doing all they can to focus on their jobs today.
  3. A 5th grade boy with ADHD is going back to school, but this time with medication that will help him “not feel like a goof ball on the playground” (his words).  Mom and dad are anxious to hear how he fared socially today.
  4. Moms and dads took their “babies” to school for the very first time this morning and peeled their nervous children off their legs before they walked out of the school.
  5. A mom who gave a teacher the benefit of the doubt last year only to find out she truly had been singling out her kiddo is trying her best to give grace to the teacher this year and not hover over her son.
  6. A teacher fresh out of college welcomed kids into his classroom for the very first time this morning – I bet even HIS parents are nervous and anxious for him!

I have a feeling that many many moms and dads will be watching the clock today, waiting for that hour when they get to reunite with their kids to talk about what was awesome, and what needs improvement.  I bet many of these families could use our prayers.

While anxiety may be weighing down the hearts of many parents around you, cheer them up with an unexpected kind word.  Or when your coworker doesn’t follow through with the thing she said she would take care of, or the lady in Wal-Mart seems to be aimlessly walking down the middle of the aisle, do your very best to give them the gift of grace.