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It’s Soup, Not a Conspiracy

Train a child in the way he should go,

and when he is old he will not turn from it.

Proverbs 22:6

My children are wonderful.  Mind if I take a little credit for a part of that?

We eat together

We watch T.V. together

We go to the movies together

But here’s my big bragging point:

*They eat their vegetables and they try new foods – in a foreign country no less.*

We moved to Germany when our girls were ages 12, 8, and 3 1/2.  It was the perfect age for them to enjoy and remember our overseas tour.  Each child had something unique to their own experience while living there for three years.  One took a trip to Italy for Spring Break with Club Beyond – a Christian youth group.  Another traveled with the Girl Scouts to “Our Chalet” in the Swiss alps – headquarters of  WAGGGS.  And the other, well, let’s just say she experienced (and survived) Pre School while Mom became a part time volunteer for the Red Cross at the post chapel.

We all enjoyed train trips, castle and cathedral tours, shopping and eating downtown, Volksmarching, Christmas markets and our big weekend adventure to Prague in the Czech Republic.  Everyday life in a little German town was also special.  Some of our favorite dining experiences were just a short walk away.  Perfect on a late summer evening when the sun hangs in the sky hours longer than it does in the States.

When my husband and I were young, our parents held very similar views on table etiquette.  You know, like being told to eat everything on your plate … regardless of what it was or how much was there.  My husband ate well, but does confess to occasionally having to sit there until everything was gone from his plate.  He says that on a few occasions, he was there until bedtime.

I didn’t eat much at all when I was little.  The dining room table was a place of torture for me as a child.   But, I was also sneaky and I was really good at hiding my food after the authorities left the room.  Really, I don’t know why my parents didn’t catch on when they’d find the hamburgers (we called them hockey pucks) under the china hutch…

Maybe, just maybe, we learned a little about parenting though through these experiences.  Now, let me be honest when I say, I stopped blaming my parents for what I deemed inappropriate long before I had children.  I read some books, I watched other Moms, and I learned on the fly.

I understood how much and how often to feed children and as they grew, we just gently expanded their horizons by increments.  I learned just how small their stomachs really were, how to feed them healthy food, saved treats for special times and to average out what they ate over a period of a few days.

While cleaning the soup pot last night I recalled an adult who remarked to me how I “snuck ” lima beans into the soup once – apparently she didn’t like them.  Perhaps she was forced to eat them as a child and still has lima bean nightmares to this very day …

All I could think was “Hey, it’s soup, not a conspiracy.”  (Insert YOUR giggle here)

When cooking for company, I usually try to make amiable food that everyone will enjoy…. not eccentric things that kids won’t like.  And healthy … I’m kind of known for that.  But, I certainly don’t try to sneak in an ingredient.  (The lima beans are already included in the frozen mixed veggie bag)

So, here’s the deal … We love food, we love having company, and we’ve been known to have cereal for dinner…

We teach good table manners, but I think we have really been teaching honesty, respect, and thankfulness.

I think those are really the core values hiding under all those {mushrooms, olives, beets, cooked spinach, etc.}  And the biggest lesson of all is … when they go out on their own, they are going to make their own choices.

And that, my friends and fellow parents…  {THAT WAS HARD FOR ME TO SWALLOW!}

We do intend to train a child in the way they should go, and then we {Let. Them. Go.}  And it’s a lesson I’m still learning.

**After a long day visiting Prague in the Czech Republic, the kids ate some interesting food for dinner. We were seated in a little alcove room with some other English-speaking travelers.  Here is a picture of the kids being silly and making imprints on their foreheads with the woven placemats.

  We decided that the “were all Czeched out.”

czeched out

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Posted by on March 17, 2013 in Life, in general

 

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Five Minute Friday – Ordinary

pyrex

Ordinary?  Wow, do we even know what that means anymore?  I consulted the Holy Grail of words – the Merriam-Webster dictionary – to see just how they define ordinary.

The definition was this:  a common quality, rank, or ability.

Common, ordinary … I mulled this over in my mind as I was putting up the groceries today and stumbled upon some ordinary things.  My glass measuring cup, the spoon I was using, most of the appliances in my kitchen, etc.  But, what burned in the back of my mind is how poorly people think of ordinary things.  Possessions for the most part.  People really enjoy things that are a little more special, than ordinary.

I was raised by parents who were frugal and held some strong beliefs as to conservation, waste, and needs before wants.  And they believed these things so strongly that they carried out certain practices for all their years of parenthood.  It would be the same rules for me growing up – even though I was the late-comer to the family of five children.  This was a difficult pill to swallow when I was in high school in the 80’s.  Materialism became a very strong influence in my life as a high schooler.

As I became a military wife and mother, there was only so much money to go around and I successfully employed what came naturally to me – I was frugal.  I’m now very thankful for this, but pray that my children will also see the wisdom in this way of life.

In my opinion, I think “ordinary” is who we are.  I also believe in a God who makes us extra-ordinary when He is the one that influences us, and not the world.

1 John 2:17 says this …The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.

I think that ordinary sounds free, and unfettered by the world and its trappings.  And I think God needs us to be just that – ordinary – so that He might shine brighter than our possessions. 

Curious about Five Minute Friday?  It’s like a Flashmob for writers.

A bunch of us, with a one-word prompt, write fearlessly for FIVE minutes and link up together. Join us!

http://lisajobaker.com/

 
 

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Strangers or Friends?

friends

It’s February and love is in the air, and on the store shelves too!  As usual, we see candy and flowers at this time of the year and retailers try their best to sell us something to help us prepare for Valentine’s Day.  Since my children are older, there is no longer a need for boxes of paper valentines for their classmates, but usually they like to receive something a little chocolatey.  Last year I even sprang for a little stuffed bear in a mug WITH chocolate.

Regardless of a somewhat “retail” holiday on the 14th, many times love is attributed to the entire month of February.  Which is where my “drafts” pile comes in … I have been writing about all sorts of relationships in my life and I thought February would be a good time to flush a few of them out and share them.  Good stories, special friends, excellent memories…

In our everyday life, among the other fellow humans of the world, in what way do we fall together? As Strangers or Friends? And what is the difference?

~A stranger is defined as someone with whom you are unacquainted~

~A friend, on the other hand, is someone attached to you by affection or esteem~

As I think through my list of friends I can clearly recall, for the most part, the “how and where” we met. Others have landed on my list without any recollection whatsoever as to how we found each other.  I am utterly fascinated how you can be so close to a person for years and never remember how you were first introduced!

I know, that over the spanse of time, we are found to be closer in our friendship through the sharing of our life stories.  The good, the bad, and – you know – the ugly.  Many times there are major simularities about parts of our lives that seem to draw us to each other.  Where we’re from, who we know, etc.  And there’s nothing like a little common ground to get your feet wet with the building of a long-lasting relationship.

When I was growing up in my small town, these life stories and sometimes the everyday problems, were discussed over morning coffee and Entenmann’s coffee cake at a kitchen table with your favorite neighbor.  I know, we live in different times.  Instant messages, email, social media, and texts with friends across the miles are all that we have sometimes.

{It seems the longer we live together on this earth, the farther apart we get}

It can be close to impossible to find someone to talk to when needed.  And that is only if we dare and are brave enough to reach out at all!  Sadly, as time passes, sometimes friends slip into the stranger category as they grow apart or move away.  Not everyone is meant to be by your side forever.

I’ve spent a great deal of effort trying to keep in touch with my friends. My collection is quite extensive. Some are from childhood, others from high school, then many came from our years spent in the military. Most of these friends are still living right where I found them and others are scattered to the four winds. They represent, to me, diversity.

Somehow they have all crossed my path. A God-ordained gravity rooted us together for a season in our lives … and definitely for a reason.  Sometimes I long for the past – the long stretches of time where we were closely interwoven in each other’s lives.  It’s not just that I miss them, but I also miss that time in my life.  The struggles and joys we shared as giggling girlfriends, spouses, parents, or Americans living on foreign soil – for any one of these settings we were woven together so tightly that you couldn’t tell where one family started and another family ended.  Just a continuous string of people sharing a time and a space in life that was meant just for us.

Togetherness.  Close-knit.  Harmonious.  Friends.  Family.

Friends are an important part of life.  As our bonds as friends strengthen, we also strengthen as an individuals.  We were never meant to live life all on our own.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 says

Two are better than one,

because they have a good return for their work;

if one falls down

his friend can help him up.

But pity the man who falls

and has no one to help him up!

May you be blessed with many friends and may you continue to collect new ones that encourage you to grow as an individual.

 
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Posted by on February 9, 2013 in Life, in general

 

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Abandoned, for a reason?

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I’m not sure this is how a writer should look, but I’m in the jammies and a robe, propped up with the pillows and my infamous wool socks… Oh, and please, let’s not forget the bifocals – at least the glasses fit the part!  Well, this is the way it is tonight because I just finished a movie that left me feeling a little desperate.  Desperate to dump on a page an unsettling piece of my childhood – all over again.  It’s better this time, though, as I see the words forming and the ideas taking shape…

All the way through this movie I felt the grumbling and churning of words and emotions that were begging to be spilled out on paper.  A confession of sorts, a purging of the angst over the childhood that didn’t go right.  It came to one word.

Abandoned.

Like a vapor, I was gone.  I was on the leading edge of being a teenager – just 13 – and my tender, young life was full of boys, dances, braces, and blue jeans.  That’s when it hit – the big change of address.  A move like none I’d ever heard of before that day – except in fiction.  A move out West.  This tiny, scrappy girl from a small town in Pennsylvania was moving to a place I had only heard of in books.  I really don’t know if I even knew where Arizona was, to be honest!  Somebody, give me a map!

Cowboy hats and pearl-buttoned shirts.  Houses made from stucco with clay-tile roofs.  Cactus and various poisonous wildlife.  I was excited and thought that it was really cool!  I know I was hoping that all my friends would be envious.  And what teenage girl doesn’t want to be envied?  Well, noticed at least?  Okay … maybe talked about?

Slam.  It was like someone closed a giant safe door on my childhood and home town and locked it away forever.  A place for me to remember, but never to really touch again.  Some wise person said “You can never go home again” and yes, it’s true.  Sometimes, unbearably true.

Stares came from all the kids at my new school because I was the new kid and you {Always. Stand. Out.}  So much for being envied…because if I was being talked about back home, how was I supposed to know?

You can make a career out of reinventing yourself at this new place to impress the “natives.”  It must be a defense mechanism.  But, eventually, the right people pick you out and gently allow you to enter their world.  For me, it was Carol, Muffy, Michelle and a few others with long-forgotten names.  Their faces will be forever etched in my mind though…

restored cross jr high

Somewhere in our adulthood, we unearth it – our childhood. Everyone knows about this, right?  Not everyone sees their past as unfortunate…Some only remember glorious times and great parents.  Others can be overcome with regret and others even terror.  I remember feeling abandoned, alone, set apart, set adrift and somewhat forced to find my own way through the adolescent mess PLUS moving clear across the country.  I no longer had my 4 siblings, my long list of childhood friends, my Grandmothers, or my neighborhood full of sidewalks that took you everywhere you needed to go.  How else can I describe it other than {Night. And. Day}

Four years later, we made yet another move right after my high school graduation.  Another effortless transition?  No, but I won’t digress into some diatribe that makes you feel sorry for the kid who gets moved without any real support system.  Instead, here’s the redemptive part…

I soon married, really soon, like that Fall.  He was my high school sweetheart and newly inducted into the US Army.  In case you don’t know anyone in the military, let me just tell you… you move a lot.  Actually, his first duty station was in Korea and so we spent that first year apart except for 2 weeks of leave time.

Over the next 20 years we moved a few times, had 3 kids, bought a couple of houses…and you know what?  We did it well.  We were highly capable and knew how to prepare the boxes, the kids, and the mountains of paperwork.  No one could have adequately prepared me for this except for … Yes, my childhood.

God’s plan isn’t always clear.  It’s an adventure.  It’s a worthwhile (and continuous) lesson in patience.  Take a shy kid, from a small town, put her in a city, pour all sorts of adjustments onto her and then see what happens.  I’m not saying I didn’t spend a {TON} of energy on regret and anger over it all, but in the end, I can say with all certainty that every bit of it had {HUGE} value.  It’s still my life lesson… to learn my lessons from my life.  Or, if I’m feeling really confused, I pick out a few woeful souls from the scriptures and I can see redemption all over again.

I felt abandoned, for a reason.  And God never meant to leave me there.  Even today He means for someone to hear and understand those things about their childhood and how to have peace with it all.

I love my friends.  I have more than I can count and they live in a million different places.  And most days I’m connected to them, because they never forgot me.  It amazes me still, after 33 years, I can meet someone I haven’t seen since age 13 and with an almost audible WOOSH, that safe door opens and we all get a little thrill from looking back – together – at those 3 decades and we smile.  It’s a little slice of {HOME}.

 
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Posted by on January 3, 2013 in Life, in general

 

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Five Minute Friday – Stay

“You’re afraid.”  I know that’s God’s voice because I’m still trying to follow another path with “Stay” and He won’t let me go there… I’m still trying to hide that little, insidious truth that I AM afraid.

Afraid.  Of more rejection.  Of staying put indefinitely and dealing with more rejection.

In 2004, my husband retired from the Army and we made our final move.  We dove in at our new church, fixed up the house, tried to navigate the new area and all it’s back roads, and we spent time trying to get to know our new church members.  Problem is, eight years later, we feel very much alone.

We’d made a deal to stay put in the house we’d bought for ten years.  By then, our youngest would be out of high school.  Besides, we knew we’d have an itch to move sooner, so this seemed like a good “plan” to avoid scratching that itch and uprooting the kids unnecessarily.

Giant hail.  That’s what did it.  Ruined the new roof, put holes in the siding and this year we re-roofed, re-wrapped the house, put on new gutters and killed termites and cut trees.  Then, I had this wild idea to put a pool in the back yard!

Ok, it’s pointless now, we’re staying.  Although, if one more toilet tank kit breaks, I may start calling the moving company just for my own sanity…

But, it’s God’s voice, I know, reminding me He put us here.  He was VERY clear about that 8 years ago.  So, I will trust in Him that this place, and this time in our life, will have an AWESOME outcome!

Trust in the Lord with all your heart

and lean not on your own understanding;

in all your ways submit to him,

and he will make your paths straight.

Someone really smart gave us a plaque with that verse on it and it hangs over my back door.  Next time I leave the house, maybe I should read it, again.

 
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Posted by on November 16, 2012 in Five Minute Friday Flash Mob

 

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Five Minute Friday – Roots

Five Minute Friday – Roots

When I think of roots, I always think of trees, planting, and household moves.

I loved planting a maple tree with my dad when I was young. Decades later, I’ve gone back and seen the fruit of our labor still standing. Its leaves blowing and showing their silver, fuzzy undersides.

My roots were also firmly planted in that town – only to be removed when I was 13 years old and transplanted 2300 miles away to a somewhat different planet – the desert southwest.

After that transplanting came another with my parents and then a few more as a military spouse and family. Each place I moved involved putting down my roots and usually some trees too.

What’s amazing though, in hindsight, is how much each location and each different soil – all the different churches, friends, environments – helped nourish me and make me grow. So God does have a plan for my life through of these changes – although, at times, I may not have seen that in the midst of the uprooting.

Philippians 1:6 …being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Those changes and “uprooting” have formed me and give me abilities I appreciate greatly today. Especially when they can be beneficial to changes my husband and children go through. Change can be difficult, it’s great to have an enormous God overseeing your planting, transplanting, growth, and sometimes your renewal.

 
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Posted by on November 3, 2012 in Five Minute Friday Flash Mob

 

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A New Kitten

 

We adopted a new kitten this weekend and as we have done in the past, my husband is the “official cat tester.”  He tests them by holding them and seeing if they trust him enough to lie on their backs.  It’s a proven method, really…and I’m glad to let him be in charge of this because it pays off in the long run.  Right now she’s hiding under the bed trying to figure out if she trusts US!

8 years ago I had a huge lesson in trust.  Actually I’ve had many experiences with “trust issues”, but this was the one that concreted my trust in God and what He might have in store for me and my family.  This was on my mind all last week and wouldn’t you know … that kitten that was looking at me from under the bed like she was wondering if she could trust us and it propelled me to the journal to write it down.  Please allow me to share.

I didn’t know what trust really was until it was broken.  I didn’t know what trusting in God was until I was drowning in my own stress and far outside my own abilities to do or fix the situation.  It was all about a move…. Well, actually, it was about my husband’s impending Army retirement, job hunting, job finding, selling a house in under 2 years of ownership, picking and buying a new house, living simultaneously at either end of the state, taking care of the 3 kids, fixing a roof, etc.  Get the picture?

I have lots of experience in all those areas.  I knew how to do it all by myself because I learned as a military wife how to navigate the world of a fixed income, close on a house alone (well, ok, the kids WERE with me), how to fix stuff and how to call for HELP… but this move hit me like a ton of bricks.

One dear friend and fellow sister in Christ called me in the midst of my chaos and started blathering on about this scripture (blah blah blah) (roll my eyes) and I was absolutely not interested in what she offered.  (that, by the way, was a FIRST for me)  It was 2 Chronicles 20. 

Part of my stress at the time was that I was on a committee organizing a small retreat and you know…I was packing when she called and I thought “my ducks are in a row, I’m ready to roll” which means my childcare was covered and I was ready for a weekend at the beach with my lovely ladies before we all part ways for the summer moving season.  I did NOT have time to listen!

So, don’t you know, God shows up BIG TIME at the retreat.  By the end of the first night’s session with the speaker, we were in awe.  Trust was the topic and three-fourths of the ladies were dealing with that very issue.  Talk about thirsty, broken, soul-wrenched beings gathered together…

2 Chronicles 20 tells of the Moabites and the Ammonites  coming to make war with Jehoshaphat.  He was “alarmed.”  (I know, all I had was this big, looming relocation ahead)

VS 4  The people of Judah came together to seek help from the Lord.  (good time for a retreat – get together and seek help)

VS 6  The prayer Jehoshaphat spoke to God over them “O Lord, God of our fathers, are you not the God who is in heaven”  (Yes, we felt very small in the presence of that big God who wanted us to ask for help)

VS 13  They all stood before the Lord with this prayer he spoke  (We women were also ready and willing)

VS 18  Jehoshaphat bowed and all the pople of Judah and Jerusalem fell down in worship before the Lord  (Some ladies did that as well)

VS 24  The armies anhihilated each other… God did all the work and when the men of Judah came, they saw only dead bodies!  God took care of it all!!!

Ok, so I trusted God – mostly because it was a financial immpossiblity for me to do it – and He did it all instead.  Every time I turned around that weekend there was a penny in front of me, on the pool steps, falling out of my menu… I just kept telling God, “thanks, that’s a great reminder.”

He never leaves us or forsakes us… I believe in my heart that every cent that we needed, He provided.  He had done it before, (another amazing story years before), but I guess I needed a new reminder that no matter how hard I try, I have to give the task to Him first or I’ll struggle with it.

I know it won’t take long before our new kitty will be running wild and hanging from the curtains – trusting us completely for food and water and a clean litter box with no question in her little mind.

We humans?  We sometimes need a little reminding, a little prompting, a little encouraging… or just an opportunity to trust Him for the first time. ;

John 4:13, 14  Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst.  Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

 
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Posted by on September 22, 2012 in Life, in general

 

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