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Friendship Friday ~ Dewey’s Doggie Morning

My daughter faithfully rises early each weekday morning to walk and care for her dog. She is often up before me, pulling on a coat and slipping on headphones before grabbing the leash. I remain in my room, doing my morning routine, preparing to engage another day.

One morning, I heard unusual scrambling and barking from Dewey upon returning from his walk. Run-in with ZephyrI conjectured. She’s the boss of us all. I wonder what is up with them this morning. He must have crossed her.

I stepped out of my room to find a ball of white scampering around and under the dining room table with Dewey following closely behind, barking and snapping at it. It was another terrier.

I found Louie this morning on the walk. He was loose, so I brought him here to call his owner.

Sure enough, the name on his tag read Louie, which was kind of funny considering we have Dewey. We wondered aloud if they had been at the SPCA together, and if there was a Huey out there, also.

The morning routine continued as Dewey and Louie dashed around underfoot, reminding me of why I was hesitant to get a dog in the first place and why we have only one. Steve called the number on the tag which went directly to voicemail. He then offered the following words while preparing to drive Kirk to school:

I’m going to walk Louie around the block to see if someone is looking for him while Kirk finishes getting ready.

I got in my car to wait for the girls to come out for their ride to school. They exited the house as Steve returned from his walk around the block with another little dog under his arm.

I think they belong together, because this little one came running up. I had to grab him quickly before he got away.

Then there were three! I was laughing out loud in disbelief. The little brown dog had no tag. Of course we called him Huey.

Please don’t call the SPCA until I get home. The little brown dog is SOOOOO cute! Can we keep him?

I was beyond my comfort zone as Steve deposited the dogs in the backyard while I assured my daughter that I would make no sudden moves without her. We left for school.

I am not exaggerating when I say that at the top of our street there was a large white dog off-leash doing his business. No human in sight.

We are not even stopping for Donald! We have GOT to get to school. 

I returned home to the sight of two dogs looking longingly at me through the fence.

Inside, Dewey was waiting by the back door. I opened it for him to join his friends in the back yard.

There was an incredible amount of cuteness.

Then it was time for me to go to breakfast with my son. This meant bringing Dewey inside but leaving the others out in case their owner should come looking for them. Can you guess the dynamic here? Which dog is supposed to be coming inside?

Please can I come in, too?

After a leisurely breakfast downtown, my son and I returned home to an empty yard. The dogs had been picked up. At least I hoped so!

The call came later. The dogs had, indeed, made it home, and we had made a fun family memory. I’m grateful for caring hearts, bounding dogs, and healing laughter.

Also for a fenced-in yard.

Oh. And the little dog’s name is Chance.

Ending Well

February 23 is when I first dared speak it. I was at an extra-curricular fair at the high school and connected with a safe sister who teaches there. I knew she would hold my words in confidence while holding me accountable to them. I had spoken them to my husband the day before.

I’ve made the decision to leave Good Shepherd at the end of this school year.

It felt terrifying, yet I knew I was the only one who could make the decision. No one else could do it for me. I needed to use my own voice. Hearing that voice speaking the words aloud stirred a mixture of fear and peace, confidence and uncertainty, joy and sorrow, relief and grief.

There was So. Much. Ambivalence. attached to the decision to end my teaching season.

There were nudges in the direction. I had agreed to two years when I signed on to return to the classroom. This was year four. There were changes going on in my world both internally and externally. There was little margin for the best with all of the good I was doing.

Wrestling with the decision was hard.

It was hard to imagine leaving the students and other teachers whom I dearly loved.

It was hard to imagine finding a replacement for my income.

It was hard to imagine walking by faith and not by sight. It was terrifying, but I knew it was time to step out.

I don’t know what’s next, but I know what’s now.

I penned these words in my journal the weekend I composed a resignation letter.  I turned in the letter on Monday morning, and then spoke in person to those I knew needed to hear the words directly from me, not in a memo or through the grapevine. I let them feel their feelings while I felt mine, not rushing through or trying to fix. It was so hard.

Again I wrote,

There are so many feelings inside. So much stirring. With the end of this chapter in sight, I need to be attentive to what is required to attend to the hearts around me and finish well. I am trusting what God has in store for me as good.

Last night was rough when the lights went out and things were still. I began to wrestle with the reality to end my time at Good Shepherd and with adulthood. What about all of the unknowns? Will you be there, God? Of course you will! How can I not trust that you have been and will be?

Holding my decision until an official word from the school office was released was challenging. I longed to write about my version of The End, May’s theme for Red Tent Living, and process on my blog, but the timing wasn’t right. I wanted to honor the timing.

I am glad that I did.

The day that the student intent letter went home with the information that I would not be the classroom teacher in the fall, there were many big feelings from small people, some of whom I had taught for all four years due to the nature of our program. There were feelings from adults, as well.

Today my students found out I am not returning next year. There were lots of feelings and emotions. Next week will be long. I need to trust.

There is much to ponder and process still about how that final week went. It was long. It was good. It was full. It was kind.

It is finished.

Recap of 2016 Goals

In looking back over 2016, I feel grateful for my daughter’s challenge to set goals. I found myself motivated by thinking through tangible actions to take and by setting the intention of recording progress.

I noticed that the wintery early months of the year seemed to slow for me, offering time and space to write and record. As the year progressed, the whirlwind grew, so that after July’s detailed post, I just lumped the goals together with good intention in October.

I still believe that a little bit of something is better than a lot of nothing, so those somethings count! Below is a recapping of last year’s goals followed by my thoughts moving forward into 2017.

Goals for 2016:

  • Spiritual ~ Maintain daily quiet time and prayer, following current Bible reading plan. Journal responses and thoughts that result from that time. Spend time in stillness. Read one faith-based book/month.

I followed this consistently and well. While I don’t have a detailed list of books that I read, I read a lot, I have plenty of journal pages full of words, and I read through the Bible again. In 2017 I am following a chronological Bible reading plan and continuing to journal. I hope to focus on growth in my prayer life while continuing to read a faith-based book each month.

  • Family ~ Connect with Steve intentionally each week on a heart-level. Risk sharing something scary or overwhelming inside of me with him during that time. Connect with at least one child intentionally each week. Keep track. Make the most of one~on~one impromptu moments that arise with the children. Keep track.

I am still working here, but many times with Steve and with the children happened. There are a lot of people to keep up with in my life! In 2017 I want to continue on this path with more intentionality, especially in connecting with Steve. As I gain clarity as to my style of relating, I am better able to name barriers to connecting and work to overcome them.

  • Social ~ Connect with at least one friend for coffee or conversation time each week. Say yes to fun. Make an effort to have people over to the house again starting with once/month. Adult kids and their guests are a bonus and not part of this number!

While friend and coffee time happened regularly, having people over did not. This season still hasn’t picked up with adults, though our children have had friends over and adult children have visited. Also, our parents have come over. That counts! Thanks to friends in my life, I said yes to a few fun things! I am grateful for those who continue to invite me to play. I hope that 2017 finds me continuing to grow here while also recognizing the space that I need for rest, renewal, and recovery.

  • Physical ~ Do 20 minutes of yoga at least five times a week. Longer or more times is a bonus. Improve flexibility in my down dog. Practice presence on the mat. Consider walking Dewey as an opportunity to get exercise and fresh air and not an annoying burden built into my already full day!

I am feeling good about my exercise habits. It was a good year, and I feel more healthy and fit than I have for a long time. For 2017 I am adding mindful eating and drinking to my physical goals. I often eat and drink mindlessly, making poor choices.

  • Teaching ~ Organize my teaching materials and office space. Write an encouraging note to one student/week recognizing individuality and strengths.

This happened. It is always a work in progress. For 2017 I plan to continue focusing on this.

  • Personal Development ~ Pursue the Allender Center’s Lay Counseling Certificate. Read one book per month related to personal growth.

This is my big work in progress. Not only did I pursue the certificate, but I registered for and started it thanks to encouragement from friends and family. I am halfway through and will finish in March. The reading for this course has more than fulfilled my personal growth reading goal. In 2017 I plan to finish this certificate and then evaluate where I am in my personal development goals and where I would like to be. I plan to continue reading personal growth material.

  • Ministry ~ Attend Stephen Ministry meetings regularly. Participate actively. Return to worship team rotation at least once per cycle.

I did this. For 2017, I plan to continue participating in these ministries.

  • Financial ~ Take intentional time with Steve to go over the family finances and budget and grow in understanding of our financial goals together.

Still working. I am weak here. There is a lot of baggage surrounding money in my life, and this is a huge mental block for me. In 2017 I plan to be better at mindfully planning and spending money, using cash only, and communicating with Steve regularly about our family financial goals.

  • Writing ~ Schedule intentional time each week to write and work on the blog. Submit one Red Tent post for consideration each month.

Finding intentional time to write for myself did not happen. I grabbed moments here and there for any writing that I did on the blog. I submitted 11 Red Tent posts, 10 of which were published. I gave myself grace to not submit in December. For 2017 I renewed my personal blog hosting, after much consideration. I plan to continue to write into the ambivalent space that is Composting the Heart while seeking future direction. I may submit to Red Tent as I feel led or inspired but will not make it a set goal like last year. I am grateful for the way my goal of engaging last year’s themes led me to process more deeply my heart and find more clearly my voice.

In keeping with my focus word for 2017, I am going to persist in the work set before me. If I were to choose two areas for improved focus, they would be financial and writing. Those felt weakest last year.

Rather than list out an entire set of new goals for the year, I hope to continue on the current path and see where it has taken me twelve months from now. Thank you to all of you who continue to read and support me with your love and encouraging words.

What are your 2017 goals and intentions, Dear Reader? Do share!

Look

Look at the ant.

She’s busily working,

Minding her business,

Staying on task.

Such a small creature,

She teaches a lesson.

To work in each season

Is not too much to ask.

~a thought inspired by Proverbs 6:6-8~

How to Rest

How are you resting today?

I am learning the slow, difficult way how to rest in the mess.

I don’t usually do how to’s, but there’s a lot to be learned from Zephyr.

Zephyr

Who, me?

Zephyr resting in the mess.

I’m just resting in the mess. It’s not that hard. Really. You should try it sometime. How about today?

When a Zen Garden Isn’t

Little fingers picking through the rocks and raking sand out of the tray defeat the purpose of my zen garden.

It’s not relaxing to clean up scattered sand.

But little fingers are so eager and so busy and so excited, and they won’t be little for much longer.

It’s not that hard to brush up the mess.

And when little fingers encourage my heart, then a zen garden IS.

Christmas Laughter

It wasn’t feeling funny at 2:00 am. Or at 4:00 when Steve finally went upstairs to sleep with the little girls who were up with the lights on playing in their room. I never went back to sleep. Wait. I guess I did, because by 7:47 it was determined that everyone had waited long enough, and it was time to wake mom and dad and send Little Mae to get Shani.

When adult children are home laughing hysterically over ridiculous international children’s shows at 1:30 am and eager little ones hear sleigh bells at 2, there leaves little room for actual sleep for the real Santa and Mrs. Claus who were up filling stockings and wrapping last-minute gifts and drinking a nightcap or two.

Such is life with bigs and littles in the now of enjoying adult children and the not yet of still having to actively parent several younger ones.

Gifts were opened with relative order and appreciation and cheer. I was moved by the thoughtfulness displayed in the gifts chosen by my husband and children for me. They know and heard me well.

After present time, breakfast was prepared by Steve and Shani. The smell of coffee and bacon began to fill the air while cheeses were sliced in the kitchen and hot dog buns warmed in the oven.

The Edible Arrangement was placed on the table. Thank you, Phil and Doris!

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Our traditional Christmas breakfast consists of toasted hot dog buns, bacon, and sliced smoked gouda and cheddar cheese with hot chocolate to drink. The addition of a son-in-law who doesn’t eat pork and my forgetting to purchase turkey bacon resulted in the addition of made-to-order omelets to the menu. An abundance of avocado inspired me to slice it up and add it to the spread.

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Delicious.

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After breakfast, or brunch if you consider the time, we sat around the table talking and laughing.

Ok, Mom and Dad, answer honestly. Go around the table saying which of us were accidents.

None of our children were accidents. Some God brought into existence through crazy bouts of human passion and some through technical difficulties, but all were planned by him, and we were more than willing to begin sharing some of their more interesting stories.

Ew! No, no, no! STOP!

So the topic changed to remember whens which is always risky family conversation.

But with great risk can come great reward, and we were rewarded with a time of rich laughter and discovery and truth-telling and family stories shared by young and old.

Oh tidings of comfort and JOY.

I have longed for laughter and joy around my table. I have fought for it for years. I have tried and failed miserably. I have felt discouraged by the strife and tension and angst. And there will be more of that.

But for an hour after Christmas breakfast there was lingering and laughter and love.

And it was sweet. And I was comforted. And there was JOY!