The Time I Went to Austin and Came Home Without My Wedding Ring

Wedding Rings and Expectations

Wedding Rings and Expectations

Let me start with the story behind the title, and then I’ll make the leap to how it applies to my family’s life right now.

The Friday before last, my “Weekly Wrap-Up” was all about friends, and more specifically the friend who had been visiting us for the week. Well, we had to take her to Austin to catch her flight on Friday morning. Since the plane was scheduled to leave at a very early hour, we chose to go down the night before. Cool hotel, swimming, shopping–what more could we ask for!

The shopping part took us to a humongous mall in Austin where there just happens to be a jewelry store of the same variety where we bought my wedding ring oh-so-many-years-ago in Colorado. I was excited to find it! I’m supposed to regularly get my ring cleaned (in order to keep the repair agreement active) and it had been awhile since I’d had that done.

So I confidently walked to the counter, told them what I wanted, and slipped my ring off. It’s still off my finger as I type this!

Apparently, along with cleaning comes inspection and the inspector didn’t like what he found under the magnifying glass. Several stones were quite loose and a couple of the prongs were about ready to fall off. It needed to be repaired.

I walked in to the store expecting to be there for about 10 minutes and then walk out with a shiny, clean ring. Instead, I walked out with no ring.

Then, when I went back to pick it up, excited to have it back on my forlornly empty finger, something wasn’t right and I had to send it back to the fix-it man again. Sigh.

My family has been through something similar, and it all has to do with expectations–what we thought we knew about our future.

When we moved to Texas last May, we expected to be here for 15 months. We expected that this would be an interesting interlude and then we would return to our normal lives back in Indiana. We expected this time of schooling for my husband to be somewhat intense, but then our time here would be done and we would go back to what we knew.

The reality: this last 15 months has been a grueling time of intense study and practice, with issues brought to the surface in ourselves and our relationships that weren’t pretty. We’ve experienced incredible, exciting changes in our girls, and bonded with amazing people. We’ve missed our friends in Indiana.

The reality: we’re staying here at Fort Hood for another year. Wait, what?! God, is this true and real?

It’s not that we hate where we’re at and the idea of staying, it’s just not what we expected! (Well, to be honest, I love the people and friendliness of Texas, but I do hate the heat and the bugs.)

So what does one do when God upends the expectations? Really, one has basically two choices:

  • Whine, complain, throw a fit, question God, wallow in disappointment
  • Acknowledge the disappointment and surprise (and maybe even fear) and then acknowledge that God’s ways are best and begin looking forward in anticipation of what he will do.

Am I wrong? Can you think of other ways of handling it?

I’ve tried both choices, and though the first method seems reasonable in the moment, it is so not worth it. The second choice is sometimes more difficult, but obviously the one that brings contentment. (I wish it was easier to jump immediately to that response.)

Staying here at Fort Hood is now our new expected. Until God changes things up again.

 

How has God upended your expectations? How did you handle it?

 

 

Things I Heard My Mother Say

Mom and company

Mom and company
My mom is one of the most organized people I know.

I often lament the fact that more of her skills didn’t rub off on me!

As I seek to become more organized now, however, certain phrases and tidbits I heard my mom mention through the years have come to mind. I find myself wanting to revisit those and put them into better practice.

Here are a few I remember with the most clarity:

Handle the mail only once.

She was referring to paper mail from the real mailbox, and as most of us still receive items in the mail, this still applies. Bring in the mail, open it right then, and put it where it needs to go–junk mail in the trash, bills in the box or file or wherever you keep them, catalogs and magazines in their place on the shelf, rack, or table on which they normally reside.

This is opposed to bringing in the mail, flinging it onto the table, moving it to the counter when it’s time for dinner, scooping it off the counter (because you need the space) and onto the coffee table in the living room, etc., etc.

I think the same concept can apply to email as well. “Bring in” the mail when you have the time to read it. Then, either respond right then, file it in a folder, forward it, or delete it. Handle it only once. 

Start early when working on a project.

Oh, this is one I struggle with! I am such an excellent procrastinator! I get that from my dad. My mom has always been really good at getting things done way ahead of time. (Total side note–what is funny is when they are getting ready to speak at marriage conferences together, Mom’s part is ready 2 months in advance and Dad is still working on his the night before.)

With today’s technology, there are all kinds of ways to give yourself reminder notices and calendar checks. Set small deadlines as part of the process. Add in some rewards and incentives for getting things done early–a white chocolate mocha, for example (or whatever drink or activity is a favorite of yours!). The point is to try and help yourself enjoy whatever must be done by giving yourself time and space to be creative.

Do extra when the time is available.

This can apply in more than one area of your home or personal life. As a small example, when my mom bought chicken she would cook up extra in order to have it ready for a second meal later in the week.

A while back, every Tuesday and Thursday I would take my youngest to Tae Kwon Do. It was an hour-long class, and I had to stay with her. So I learned to take a book, my blogging notebook, or my checkbook and budget folder. Sure, there were times when I needed to watch her so she could show me something new; there were also plenty of days when ample time was available to focus on getting something done.

I think the lesson in this statement is to take advantage of the time you have NOW in order to save yourself time and energy LATER.

Work first, then play.

It might sound old-fashioned, but her theory is that play is so much more enjoyable when the “work” isn’t hanging over your head.

Small steps can be made here as well. Laundry overwhelming? Make a goal of doing 2 loads (washed, dried, folded, and put away) and then treat yourself to some reading, a game, a movie…anything that is “play” for you.

I know this one comes down to balance. Sometimes you (and your family) need to play despite the work that has to be done. Sometimes that’s the healthier option. Take this axiom with a bit of caution, based on the needs of your family.

 

There are many more lessons I learned from my mother, but these are the ones that have come to mind most recently as I challenge myself to set and accomplish goals.

Have you learned any organizational tips from your parents?

 

List_it_Tuesday

Hidden Hurts

Hidden Hurts

“You never know what goes on behind closed doors.”

“You can’t judge a book by its cover.”

“You’d never know by looking at him.”

“But she always seemed so put-together and happy.”

Hidden Hurts

How many times have we heard–or spoken–phrases like these about people? People who we assume are doing ok, until we find out…they’re not. People who surprise us with sudden outbursts or breakdowns. People who decide they’re tired of the facade and become very open about what they’ve been facing. People who suddenly disappear from the normal activities where we see them.

In the last several months my husband and I both have been confronted anew with the depth and breadth of hurting, damaged relationships and people. It has brought home the fact that in so many ways we are fragile entities desperately in need of a Healer and Savior.

All of us, to a certain degree, have things we “hide” from others. These are the things which (rightly) shouldn’t be shared in particular groups or settings, things we’re working through and aren’t ready yet to share, or any number of other reasons.

What I’ve been contemplating are those (including myself sometimes!) who pretend everything is fine and then suddenly it comes out that it is so NOT fine.

Speaking of fine, do you know what it stands for (at least according to a certain movie)? F.I.N.E: Freaked out, Insecure, Neurotic, and Emotional! Think about that the next time someone asks how you are and you’re tempted to answer with the word. But I digress.

I’m not going to delve into all the reasons people hide their hurts–it’s too deep and wide a subject. What I’d like to do is share a few thoughts on how you and I can possibly alleviate some of the hiding.

  • When asking someone how they are, let’s specifically ask, “How are you doing–really?” and then be willing to take the time and emotional attention to listen to the answer.
  • Speaking of listening, when others are sharing with us let’s truly focus attention on them. We can do things like make direct eye contact, refrain from looking at our phones, when in a crowd we can refrain from looking around for other people to talk to, and let the person know through our body language that we’re not anxious to move on to the next person, place, or thing.
  • Be the “safe” friend. So many are unwilling to share their hearts and hurts because in the past they have done so and been burned when the one they trusted turned out to be untrustworthy. Let’s be the ones who are known for keeping information entrusted to us to ourselves.
  • We can be people who pay attention. I know it sounds elementary, but we get so busy “doing” that we miss signs others show that they are in need of attention and help. When we pay attention, we are better able to discern hurting hearts.
  • When someone mentions a prayer need, let’s take the time right then and there to stop and pray with them. There is a difference between saying, “I’ll pray for you” and “Let me pray for you now.”

Do you have other thoughts about how we can be helpful to those who feel they must hide what is truly going on in their heads and hearts?

 

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