The Problem With Your Resolution

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January is the universal month that we spend much of our time going public with our desires to improve ourselves.  We want to be thinner, healthier, happier, richer, less stressed and more organized.  We want to start a new hobby, stop an old habit, say no to doing so much and say yes to finding some “me time”.

The problem with our New Year’s resolutions is that they never offer a real solution to our true desire.

At the core of all of our resolutions is the desire to improve ourselves, to be a better person.  And while all of those things are great ideas, not one of them can accomplish that.

Sure, you should lose a few pounds.  You should definitely quit smoking.  I’m a huge fan of being organized and learning new things.  But those are things you should just do because they’re good for you.  Those are not things that you need a new month or year to do.  And those are certainly not things that are going to make you any better than the person you are right at this very moment.

So who is a “better person”? It’s someone who inspires others to be better people too. 

People that truly inspire others are people who don’t focus on changing themselves.  Instead, they look beyond themselves and they see the brokenness in the world around them…and then they do something about it.

Inspiration is the restaurant owner who doesn’t turn away the homeless, but offers them food.  It’s a community that raises money to support their neighbor who’s losing a battle with cancer.  We’re inspired by little kids who start lemonade stands to raise money for puppy shelters and teens who collect prom dresses for girls that can’t afford one.  People who use their voice to advocate for others and those that use their influence to bring attention to the problems and needs of others, they are the ones that inspire us.

Nobody’s ever been inspired by someone whose one accomplishment in life was to maintain their ideal body weight.

So now that we’re well in to January and our resolutions are probably broken anyhow, I have a suggestion.  Let’s spend some time figuring out how to be better people.  Let’s figure out what breaks our hearts and let’s start to fix the broken things around us.  I know that we will never be able to change the world, but we can change the world for one person.  And that’s inspirational. That, my friends, is a real-solution worth having.

 

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Meeting Mr. Hopkins

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I met a man on Beale Street.

“Excuse me ma’am, I feel like I just must tell you somthin.  You’s the prettiest little thing I’ve seen yet today”

A little uncomfortable.  I smiled.

He smiled back.  No longer uncomfortable.

“Well thank you sir.  You’re not half bad yourself.”

“Hopkins. Mr. Clyde Hopkins.  Name’s right there on the ground, man his self’s right here in fronna you.”

Sure enough, engraved in the brass music note on the ground between us, Clyde Hopkins – Godfather of the Blues.

I’d never heard of him.

“Mr. Hopkins, it’s a pleasure to meet you.  And thank you, really.  For the compliment I mean.  It made my day.”

“Young lady, I am 92 years young.  I learned a thing or two about the ladies in my time.”

Intrigued. 92 years young.  His hunched back the only real sign of his age.

“I’ll bet you have.  Well then, Mr. Hopkins, what is the most important thing you’ve learned about women in your time?”

We were in front of an album store. He was leaning on his cane.  Adjusted his weight and placed one hand on top of the other.  I noticed his shoes, his suit, his hat, everything about him bright.  He was cheery, classy.  92 years he’s been alive.

“Most important thing you gots to remember about a lady is she has got to feel pretty.  Ain’t no woman thinks she pretty, so you gots to tell her.  Everyday.  And not only do you gots to tell her, but you gots to believe it too cause if you don’t believe it than she ain’t gonna believe it either.  And trust me, if a man don’t make his lady feel pretty, some other man gonna come along and make her feel pretty. And ain’t no man want that. So I tell every lady she’s the prettiest thing I ever did see.”

Feeling a little less special about being told I was pretty, but glad that I stopped to talk to Clyde Hopkins.  His smile beamed.  He liked having someone to share this with.  I was glad it was me.

“Well, Mr. Hopkins, what if they’re not pretty at all?  Do you still say it then?”

“Oh yes’m I do. Because every lady be pretty one way or the other.  Some ladies, they real pretty on the outside but ugly as a hog on the inside.  And some ladies, well they outside ain’t nothin to look at, but on the inside they just as pretty as anythin you ever did see.  And then every once in a blue jazz moon, you meet a one that’s just as pretty on the outside as she is on the in.  And that’s the one you gots to grab on to. Yes’m thems the ones you want to marry and hold on tight to and never let go of.”

“Did you ever find one like that?  One that was pretty inside and out?”

He closed his eyes and breathed deep. I could see on his face that he was conjuring up a memory.  The sweetest kind.  The ones that you can see and smell and taste and feel like it just happened when it’s really ages and ages ago.

Slowly in his thick Memphis drawl he said, “MmHmm. Yes’m, I sho nuff did.  I sho nuff did.”

That was it.  He opened his eyes.

Anxious, I asked “Well, did you marry her?”

“No ma’am. How you think I got so good at singing the blues?”

My heart sunk a little. “I’m sorry to hear that.” And I was.  I’m a hopeless romantic.  I wanted him to end up with the girl.

“Oh me too, young lady, I’m sorry too.  But she found someone else, someone that made her feel pretty.  She deserved that.  And me, I turned my broken heart into a buncha blues.  Looka here, Godfather of the Blues.  Right in fronna you.  And now I tell every woman they’s the prettiest woman I seen yet today.  But I mean it for you.  Hah, now I know you won’t believe it, but I do.” We walked into the store.  “Here, I’mma sign this here CD and give it to you. When you get yourself a case a the blues, you listen to it and remember that ol’ Clyde, he gots the blues right there with you.”

The man behind the counter yelled out “Clyde, you can’t be giving away your albums to every pretty little lady that comes along.”

“You listen to me young man.  I’m 92 years young and I ain’t gonna be around forever.  And all I gots left is knowing that there’s a buncha pretty ladies sittin’ round, listening to ol’ Clyde Hopkins singing the blues and that he thought they’s the prettiest thing he’d seen yet that day. Don’t rob me a that.  Don’t take that from me, cause that’s all ol’ Clyde’s got left.”

MrClydeHopkins

 

 

 

 

Doughnut Bottoms and Muffin Tops

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I had the rare opportunity this morning to stop at the mall with no children in tow.  I could barely contain my excitement as I was walking in.  Actually, I might have frightened the little old lady walking out who decided to hold the door for me.  “OH MY GOSH!!! Door service, THANK YOU SO MUCH!  WOW, THIS DAY JUST KEEPS GETTING BETTER.  That was so nice of you to hold the door for me, really, you didn’t need to do that, but thank you!  You have a great day now!”  I probably should’ve just said thanks, she looked pretty confused and a little afraid.

I wanted to wander the store aimlessly, possibly trying on one of everything in my size.  But I was on a mission and since I’m pretty much broke, I decided that I’d better get in and get out.  I needed to pick up a new pair of shoes for Little B who has decided that his tennis shoes make a great set of brakes while he’s riding his scooter.  I got the shoes and headed out…well, started to head out at least. But I decided that I’d better check out the new styles for summer before I left.

Now, admittedly, it’s been a while since I’ve shopped.  But I did not realize how out of the loop I am on today’s fashion.

What the heck are these?

doughnut pants

They look to be pants covered in doughnuts, right?  (For those of you that don’t have a sweet tooth, they also have cheeseburgers and pizza print available.)

Please tell me I’m missing something and that these pants are not really trending.  Or better yet, if you see someone wearing these…please send me a picture, it would really make my day.

Guess I no longer need to be embarrassed about being a child of the 80’s.  Our style’s got nothing on doughnut print leggings.

 

 

Excuse me ma’am…but those shorts don’t fit you

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I try pretty hard not to complain. But some things just irk me and today I was feeling especially irritable.  I would usually just vent about this to a select few people, certainly not in a public space…but I can’t help it today, so here it goes.

In Michigan, I get that it feels like summer is here when the sun comes out for a few days in a row.  Or when the temperatures hit a certain high…like 50 degrees or so. But you can always tell that summer is really near when all of the moms start trying to squeeze their 40 year old rear ends into their 12 year old daughters size 2 booty shorts. As I sat at my son’s little league baseball game today I saw more than my share of these moms and it got me thinking that there are some things that us moms  just shouldn’t wear.  I think most of these could be for any time, but we’ll just call this little league etiquette.  I compiled a list in my head at the game…as I sat there wearing my winter coat and wrapped in a wool blanket watching those other moms pretend that they weren’t freezing.

The first and most obvious one based on my observations today is booty shorts.  I know you must’ve been roasting in that 52 degree weather, but come on ladies, there is no need to show the world your cheeks.  I don’t care if you’re a size 2 or size 22, there is no need for all of us other parents to have to look at your ass hanging out all over the place…we just want to watch our kids play ball.

Shorts/Pants with words on the butt.  You are not a “cutie” or “sweet” and it’s just plain stupid for your butt to say “pink”.  I’m a firm believer that a woman’s butt is not meant to be a surface for reading material.  (I especially think this is true for your daughters…there is no reason in the world to draw attention to your child’s behind…but that’s for another time.)

Pajamas.  Nothing says “I don’t give a crap about my appearance” like wearing your pjs out in public.  My son’s game was at 1:00 this afternoon.  Why in the world are you in your pajamas?  You’re a freaking grown up!  Didn’t you have any responsibilities to fulfill today before the game that required you to get dressed?  Grocery shopping, yard work, anything?  Maybe you should’ve gotten dressed to go into 7-11 and get that Big Gulp of Mountain Dew that you’re letting your toddler drink.

Yoga pants/leggings.  Call them what you want, they’re tights. And they’re not appropriate outerwear attire, ever.  Not for you.  Not for your daughter.  Not for anyone.  Unless of course they are worn underneath something, then they’re acceptable.  But not alone…do you not look in a mirror?  Do you not see what we see, which is basically everything?

Tiny Tees.  Are you trying to cut costs by buying children’s size clothing?  Listen, I am one of you.  I know firsthand that my belly just isn’t as flat as it used to be pre-little darlings.  But why accentuate it by wearing a shirt that clings to every roll?

Tanks with built-in-bras.  It may not say it on the tag, but these are not meant for us moms.  We all know that the girls lose their perkiness once we’re graced with a little one.  They’ve had their time to shine, and it was years ago. There is no amount of building-in that will help us.  You need a bra, a bra is your friend.

Hey, I’m not being judgmental.  I’m really not.  I couldn’t care less how you dress most of the time.  But spare your child the embarrassment on the field. And for the sake of all of us other parents who really just want to watch our kids play ball, it would just be really nice if you could wear clothes…that actually fit you…for the remainder of the season.

 

 

 

Broken Parts

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Several years ago I took up running for the first time.  I’ve given it up and taken it up again three times since then.  But my first attempt at running was thwarted by a pretty serious injury, a stress fracture of my knee.  And even though I’ve had surgery to repair it, it still gives me trouble to this day.

The other day, (that one day of spring that we had here in Michigan), when the sun came out,  I was so anxious to get outside and run.  I can’t even believe I’m saying that because most days I hate running.  But anyhow, I couldn’t wait to get out and so off I went.  Now, mind you, I haven’t really ran much at all since my marathon last October.   Six full months ago.  But being that the last time I ran I finished 26.2 miles, I was feeling pretty ambitious. So I got out my earbuds, put on my (now too tight) running clothes and took off.  I was feeling pretty good for a mile and even the second mile wasn’t awful.  But my knee started bugging me and I was smart enough to turn around then.  Mile three was tolerable but that fourth mile, well that one was no fun at all.  My knee was killing me.  That injury from almost twelve stupid years ago showed up to haunt me, and I hate it.

As I hobbled my way homeward, cursing my knee and the stupid reminder of something broken so long ago, I had this weird thought.  (Ok, it’s a stretch but just track with me for a minute, I think this might make sense in the end.)

I was wondering how an injury from practically ages ago, that I thought had been dealt with, could still show up in my life now and then.  Unwelcome, uninvited…but it shows up nonetheless.  And that led me to wonder if the same thing isn’t true about broken relationships.  Are all of the things that hurt me, all the broken parts, going to show up for my whole life?  Following me around and haunting me at inopportune moments?  Am I gonna be constantly limping my way through every relationship in my future?  Because I can’t even imagine how terrible that would be.

I sometimes use my old injury as an excuse to not run.  “Hey do you wanna meet up and do three miles?” “Oh, I’d love to, but ya know…my knee.  I just can’t.” And I can totally see myself using old injuries in my relationships to keep people away if I’m not careful. I’ve never really been one to be guarded. I’ve always been open about pretty much everything with just about everyone. But I’ve noticed changes in myself recently that I don’t like, I’ve been a little more reserved with people.  Giving short answers and not sharing things that I normally would.  I have not isolated myself at all, but I’ve certainly disengaged a little bit with some people that I love.  I don’t want to live my life like that. I’ll have to figure out how to fix that broken part.

One thing that I really hate is when people excuse away their own bad behavior.  “I can’t help it that I’m always accusing you of doing things…but you know I have trust issues from my last boyfriend.” Or “You know I get defensive easily, I can’t help it. My ex-husband was always pointing out my flaws.” Whatever.  If I become like that, somebody please punch me.  I don’t EVER want to use my past hurts to excuse my future bad behavior.  I’ll have to figure out how to fix that broken part too.

It’s frustrating to think that a bad relationship can have such an effect on future relationships.  How can I expect to ever have a healthy relationship if I have all of these broken parts that are likely to start hurting if they get triggered by the slightest thing?

My hope is that this early self-diagnosis is going to be healthy for me.  My doctor gave me a bunch of exercises and stretches to do to help out with my knee.  He told me that it would never be 100% but that if I really work on it, it could be close.  I’m hoping that a knee and a heart aren’t really all that different.

 

 

 

The Bad Thing About Being a Christian

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I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what other people would say if asked to describe me.  I’ve never been one to really care what others think and to be totally honest, I still really don’t care all that much, which I guess makes it strange that I’ve been giving it so much thought. But recently, I’ve heard so many negative things about Christians that I’ve begun to wonder what people in my life would say about me.

Because I know one thing for certain. If you ask anybody I know to describe me, whether they’ve known me for hours or years, they would say I am a Christian. Hopefully they’d say some other stuff too…but that’s the only one I’m sure of. You see, I work at a church which, by societal standards, pretty much propels me into Superchristian status. Of course I do other typical Christian things too, I go on mission trips and send my kids to Christian camps. They’ve been a part of every type of Christian club around and have played on Christian sports teams. We’ve gone to Christian concerts and I read Christian books.  My older kids have volunteered, interned for and worked at the church, and one of them is now looking into attending a Christian college. Yep, everyone who knows me, would say I am a Christian.  

So with all of the bad publicity surrounding Christians, what does that mean about how people view me? Because if I just listened to what’s being said, I would think that we are all terrible, greedy monsters that want to keep our money to ourselves and don’t want healthcare to be accessible to the poor.  We want those poor to keep having babies, although we don’t want to give them any public assistance. But if they decide to have an abortion,  we’ll be waiting outside to shoot the doctor or bomb the clinic. We hate gays and lesbians, Muslims, Jews and atheists and love protesting pretty much anything but especially funerals for fallen soldiers.  We don’t drink, swear or do anything fun and we only associate with others that share our view points. In our free time, we love to sit around thumping our Bibles and judging others for doing all of the things that we are far to holy to do.

So I’m having trouble getting my mind around the fact that I am one of them.

I try hard to follow Jesus.  I want to be like him and for my life to look like his did. He was always loving and kind.  He purposefully hung out with the people that nobody else wanted anything to do with.  He called out the religious people and told them that they needed to be taking care of the poor and the oppressed.  He told them that they should be helping the widows and the orphans.  He said that it wasn’t their place to judge people and that they should love others more than they love themselves.

I try to be like him, but I find myself slipping back into old habits and ways, being judgmental and critical. Being unkind, and not showing love to people who just irritate me.  I can get gossipy and I’ve been rude to people just because I wasn’t in the mood to deal with whatever was going on at the time. Jesus wouldn’t do those things.

And although some days are better than others, even on my best day I am a pretty poor representation of Jesus. But I don’t think I look anything like the picture that society paints of a Christian either.

The bad thing about being a Christian is that people are basing their opinion of Jesus on my behavior,  and I am never going to be a true reflection of him.

I can’t change the way that society as a whole views Christians.  But I hope that the people around me see my life and know that I’m trying, and that when they see all of those other negative things about Christians, they realize that those people aren’t a reflection of Jesus either. I hope that in me they see an example, however pitiful it is, of someone who is kind and generous and someone who loves others.  Not because I want people to be impressed with me but because I want people to catch a glimpse of a God that is loving and gracious and good all the time.  A God that is nothing like us Christians.

39 years, one month…and a never ending winter.

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Well, I survived the first month of being 39.  It was sort of anticlimactic in that it felt pretty much the same as 38.  Not that I really expected it to feel any different, but I was hoping I’d feel wiser or something.  So far, the only thing that’s been different about this year is that we seem to be stuck in a never ending winter. But I’m pretty sure that has nothing to do with my creeping up on 40.

I am not a fan of cold weather.  However, I am not going to complain about the long winter…or the sub-arctic temperatures…or even the mountain of snow that once was my yard. I am committed to seeing the glass-half-full…but my heart is yearning for Spring to come.  I am craving sunshine and warm breezes.  Green grass and flowers.  I’ll even take the mosquitoes.  In all of my years, I don’t recall ever wanting a season to end so badly. I feel desperate for change.

This past week I was talking to a friend and we started lamenting about the weather. It’s sort of a shared misery here in the mitten, an easy topic to grieve over. And I thought about how I have this new ache in my heart for it to be Spring.  Then I heard a song on the radio that had a line “bad times make the good times better”.  And that’s what this is.  It’s a bad time that is going to make a good time so much better.

When If Spring arrives this year, I promise that I will not complain about chilly temperatures, or rain or even the bugs.  I will be grateful for the beauty of the grass and leaves and flowers. I will enjoy every single bud that I see.  I will appreciate the scent of the rain, even when it smells like worms. I will be thankful for every day that I can venture out without wearing a coat.

But I also want to remember this bad time, my “winter of 39”. Because when I forget the bad times, I start to take the good times for granted.  I wish I didn’t slip so easily back into that habit, but I know me, and that’s what I do.

I’m not talking so much about seasons of weather as I am about seasons of life. This winter has served as a reminder to me that my bad times will make my good times better. I don’t want to take a single good thing for granted in my life.  I want these bad times to make my good times better and sweeter than ever before.

So as these literal and figurative winters (hopefully) come to an end,  and as I continue on towards the big 4-0, I vow to remember the bad, and even to try to remember it fondly, so that I live a life full of gratitude for all of the good that is to come.

When Love is Tough

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It’s easy enough to understand the concept of tough love.  It makes perfect sense when I see other people in situations where they need to practice it and I’m certain that I’ve given advice on more than one occasion to just show some tough love. But wow is it hard to practice it myself.  

If tough love is when you treat another person sternly in an effort to help them in the long run, then I guess as a parent I’ve used tough love. You know, for minor things that the kids have done. Grounding them, keeping them home from a birthday party because they didn’t do their homework, taking away their t.v. privileges, stuff like that.  I guess that counts as tough love, right? But honestly, that’s pretty easy. 

Recently though, things have changed and I’m becoming well-versed in matters of tough love, and it really is tough.  It feels pretty confusing and on most days it’s awful and doesn’t feel a whole lot like love at all.

Tough love situations are always borne out of necessity, which is exactly what has happened to my family. My sister is fighting a heroin addiction which has pretty much destroyed her life, and is having serious effects on ours as well.  Her story is exactly the same as the many others I’ve heard recently.  She started using, then stealing to use even more, wound up getting arrested for stealing, spent time in jail, went to rehab in hopes of getting a reduced sentence, got out…went back to using…steal, arrest, rehab, repeat. And in 2011 during a two week break between rehab and a jail stay, she managed to get pregnant.  I was so certain that a baby would be the catalyst for change that she needed, but when he was just 18 months old, she wound up back in jail and Little B found a new home here with us.  

It’s exhausting to be the family member of an addict. It’s tiresome and it’s frustrating constantly trying to figure out the “right” thing to do. I’m getting better with the “tough” part, but it wears me out sometimes trying to figure out how to love my sister when I’m so angry with her decisions, upset by the effects that her addiction has had on my family, and saddened by the fact that Little B is caught up in the middle of her mess.

But as a follower of Jesus, I believe that I’m called to show love.  In John 13, Jesus says “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

The Bible doesn’t put any contingencies on this calling.  Three times in three sentences he says to “love one another”. But he doesn’t clarify what that love looks like.  He doesn’t use the phrase “tough love”, and he doesn’t give instructions as to how we are to show love.  I wish Jesus would’ve been just a little more clear.

Most of the love that I see around me is really different than the love that I see in the Bible. It says in Romans that God showed his own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  But in this world, love seems to be completely contingent on the behavior of the other person.  It’s more of an “if/then” love.  IF you do this for me, THEN I will love you.  IF you (meet all my needs/make me happy/buy me nice things/put up with my bad attitude…etc) THEN I will love you.  But if you don’t, then forget about it.

So, my dilemma is this. I want to love my sister through this addiction, I really do.  But my natural inclination is to have an “if you clean up your act, then I will be able to love you” mentality…which is exacerbated by the fact that her addiction has had such a huge effect on my family.  I want to love like Jesus, but to be honest, most days it’s a struggle. 

What makes it harder is that all of my really well-intentioned, loving and loyal friends are quick to point out that I’ve done enough for her and that I need to stop, that I can’t let her take advantage of me, that she’s in this mess because of her own bad decisions, that these are her consequences so she has to deal with them…etc.  These are not things that I need someone to point out to me.  I already know all of this.  What I could really use is someone to remind me that I am called to love her.  Period.  Not with contingency, not IF she gets her life together, not IF her bad decisions don’t effect me.  None of those things matter.

I’ve been shown love and I’m undeserving too. I’m grateful for love that comes without contingencies and I want to pour that out for others. 

Love is tough. Tough love is tougher. And I don’t do either of them as well as I’d like to.  But I’m learning.

Sometimes You Get a Redo

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I’ve told my kids a million times to be really careful about the choices that they make because they’ll have to live with that choice forever. I’ve also said that choices are so important because there are no do overs in life.  I still believe that…mostly.

But I’m starting to see things a little different lately.  And I think that sometimes you do get a redo.  They’re pretty few and far between, but they’re there.  I wish they came along more often, there are so many things that I’d like to redo.  I’m not talking about regrets necessarily, just things I’d do differently.

I remember being in school at Atwood Elementary.  There was a girl named Zena who didn’t have any hair.  I never talked to her, I don’t think she was around very long.  She always wore a hat. One day we were out at recess and Zena was on the swings.  A group of older kids grabbed the hat off of her head and threw it over the fence.  Zena didn’t fight back, she didn’t yell or try to get them to stop.  She just sat on the swing and cried.  I sat on the swing next to her and watched.  I distinctly remember thinking that my arm would fit through the fence, I could reach through and get her hat for her.  I thought that for what seems like a long time but was probably seconds.  And then I stood up and walked over to my friends, leaving Zena sitting on the swings crying.  I wish I could do that over.

And there was this time in high school that I was at Cedar Point.  There was a kid there, not from my school, that was in a wheelchair.  He couldn’t ride any of the rides, and his friends would push him from ride to ride and then he’d wait in his chair at the end for his friends.  I saw him several times throughout the day and this one time, he was waiting at the end of a ride and smiled when I walked by.  I knew that I should have stopped and sat with him. I can’t explain what it felt like, but I just knew that I was supposed to. And instead, I kept walking with my friends.  When we got off the ride, he was still there and his friends certainly should have been off before us.  We walked past and he stopped me and asked me to help him find his group because they hadn’t come back for him.  I told him that I couldn’t, that I didn’t have time.  I’d like to redo that.

And this one time I was walking through the Metro Station in Washington D.C. and there was this young kid, maybe 13 or 14 years old laying against the wall sleeping.  I was on my way to Chipotle to get lunch.  I remember thinking that he was about the same age as my son.  I felt like I should wake him up and ask him if he wanted to go with me and I’d buy him lunch.  I stopped for probably five minutes and stood nearby watching what seemed like a million people walk past him.  I planned out how I was going to approach him without startling him, I figured out what I was going to say.  And then I talked myself out of it and left him there in the middle of February in the freezing cold.  Man, I’d really like to do that differently.

These moments and others just like them have followed me for a long time.  Taking up space in my head and reminding me of times that I’ve ignored that still small voice inside prompting me to help others.  And while I can’t redo those exact things, I think I can, and do, redo them in my life now when I have the opportunity.

I don’t know if it’s age or motherhood, or simply trying harder to follow the model of Jesus in my life that has softened my heart towards others.  But something has happened in my life that not only leads me to not let these type of moments pass me, but it’s also given me the chance for some redo’s.

Like when my son was in fifth grade, he was on a medication that made him lose his hair.  His teacher asked me to come and do a presentation to the class so that they could better understand.  We brain stormed together about how they could all be supportive and the class decided, with the teachers permission, that everyone would be allow to wear a hat when Logyn was around. That was kind of a redo.

I’ve also had the chance to lead a group of high school students to Camp Barnabas.  CB is a camp completely designed for people with special needs.  Last summer, the week I attended was “wheelchair week”.  I spent the entire week being a cabin mom to twelve of the most beautiful, wheelchair bound young ladies and their assistants for the week. I had the incredible privilege of pushing them – up the steepest incline in by far the hottest, most humid weather I’ve ever been in – all week long and my only goal for the week was to make it the best week of their lives.  I think that was a chance to redo.

And I don’t always give money to people that I see on the street.  But I do sometimes, and I always try to make eye contact, smile and talk to them whenever possible.  I’ve bought meals more times than I can remember and I have had some of  my most memorable and favorite conversations with people that are living on the street. A redo for sure.

The older I get, the more I realize that I don’t want to depend on redo’s in life, because you don’t always get one.  I want to do things right the first time.  I want to listen and act when I feel like I should do something.  I know I can’t change the world, but I can change someone’s day.  And that’s how I want to live, making the world a better place, even if  that just means picking up someones hat.

“Old Friends” Are The Very Best Kind

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Some people hoard stuff.  Me, I’m more of a hoarder of friends. I love making new friends and I like keeping my friends for a long, long time.  So I have a lot of them. Some old, some new…and some forever. I’d never really given much thought to the fact that I’m still friends with people that I’ve known for so many years and it wasn’t until recently that I realized this is pretty uncommon.  Who knew? I figured that everyone had a group of, or at least a few, old friends.  The kind that have known you forever and they still like you.  Old friends are the very best kind, and the older the friendship the better.  

If you know me, I’m sure you’ve heard me start a story with “I have this group of friends from middle school that…”.  I’m not really sure why I preface everything I say about these ladies with that, but I do. My newer friends don’t get that, I might say “My friend so and so…”, but this particular group gets special acknowledgment.  I guess they deserve it after knowing me for a practical lifetime and still putting up with me.  We don’t get together nearly often enough, but our friendship is precious to me.  Not only did I grow up with them, but now I get to see their families grow too.

If you’re fortunate enough to have a collection of old friends, you’ll know these things to be true:

With old friends, there is no need to pretend that you are anything more than what you are.  They’ve seen you at your worst and they’re still around.  And while you may be embarrassed if other people see old photos of you, you never have to worry about old friends, because they were there and saw your awkwardness first hand.

Old friends love you for who you are…but also for who you were and who you’ll become.  There is no judgement in old friendships.  Old friends accept who you are today and understand how far you’ve come from where you started. They’re also your biggest cheerleaders, always rooting for you to be even better in the future, knowing that they’ll still be around to witness everything great that you’ll become.

The best conversations happen with old friends.  When you have a shared history there is never a lull in conversation because someone will always have a “Remember the time when…” story.  Reminiscing is just plain fun and with old friends, a story is just as funny the hundredth time as it was when it first happened. 

Old friends can say things to you that nobody else can.  Trust is built over time, so an old friendship has more trust than even most marriages (unless of course you married your high school sweetheart, which many of my old friends did:). Because of this high level of trust, your friends can say things to you that would be downright hurtful coming from anybody else, but when it comes from them you know that it’s being said out of love.

You laugh harder, longer and far more often with old friends. Ralph Waldo Emerson said it perfectly, “It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them.”  And being stupid with them is always hilarious for you and perhaps a bit obnoxious to those who have to witness your reunions.

It’s easy to be around old friends.  Getting together with old friends is like going home.  It’s familiar and comfortable and you don’t do it often enough because life gets in the way, but when you get there you just don’t want to leave.  You can go forever without talking but when you get together it’s like no time has passed at all.

The older I get the more I realize that true friendships, the kind that withstand the test of time, are hard to come by.  And with age, I’m growing increasingly grateful for the many people that I feel blessed to call my “old friends.”