Happy Easter

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I have to admit it…I’ve been a little lukewarm about Easter this year.  We haven’t been to church in a long time and I’ve been feeling strange about celebrating Christian holidays without the traditional churchy stuff surrounding them.  It was the same at Christmas.  The Santa Claus hype and present shopping were so empty because I wasn’t focusing on the real meaning of Christmas.  At Christmas, I worked through it by deliberately choosing to focus on the birth of Christ and letting the rest of it be icing on my spiritual cake.  I read my Bible for the first time in a long time, did some praying, and really felt the message in the traditional Christmas carols.  It worked, and I celebrated the birth of Christ, not just a cultural holiday.  But the lesson seemed to fade into the background over the next few months, so when Easter started approaching, I was back to feeling that emptiness again. 

This morning, I woke up very early with the Bean so I had a lot of time to think about things.  While I was cuddling and playing with my daughter, my heart was calling out for some answers.  “Remind me why this day is important”, it cried.  “It used to be about more than chocolate.” 

Larry (left) and Bob from Veggie Tales

I decided that it was time to start teaching my daughter about, and reminding myself of, the reason why we keep Easter Sunday and Good Friday sacred.  So I searched Netflix for Easter programs, and, would you believe it, the only ones I could find were Veggie Tales episodes!  If you’re not familiar with Veggie Tales, let me explain.  It’s a cute and smart Christian cartoon featuring – you guessed it – talking vegetables.  Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber are the hosts of the show.  They use bible stories and modern parables to teach moral lessons to kids, and there is usually a joke or comical reference that only adults and older children will chuckle over, just to keep everyone engaged.  I love it! 

The lessons in the episodes we watched today were exactly what I needed.  The moral of the first story, “The Night Before Easter“, was that Easter is about loving and serving each other.   They quoted Mark 10:45 – “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  I took the verse as a reminder that, as a wife and mother, my job is to love and serve my husband and daughter (just as it is my husband’s job to love and serve me and my daughter.  Don’t want to get any feminists on my back – I’m an equal rights kinda girl).  So I continued with my plan to set up an Easter treat hunt, and I made breakfast a little more special.  And it paid off in spades.  The Bean had fun picking up the ducks and eggs I had scattered and putting them in her plush duck Easter basket – for a few minutes at least.  And my Sweetie enjoyed hunting for the hidden treats I’d bought for us to share.  Then we had breakfast together, and I got a huge hug and “Thank You” from my husband.  What a great way to start an Easter Sunday celebration! 

We’re not planning to go to church today, but that’s okay.  I feel like God has touched my heart right here at home.   Instead we’re going to enjoy the company of some wonderful friends and visit a farm in Petaluma.  I’m so grateful for all that God has given me: a loving family, good food to eat, great friends, a beautiful earth to enjoy, and the hope and salvation brought by the sacrifice and resurrection of His Son. 

I was tempted to end by saying “Amen”, but that seemed a little cheesy coming from someone who hasn’t been to church recently.  (wink)  So Happy Easter, and I hope the day brings you hope, peace, joy, and lots of candy!

A Reason, a Season or a Lifetime

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Yellow Rose

The yellow rose symbolizes friendship

I am fortunate to have a lot of people in my life that I call friends.  The reason I phrase it that way is because I think I call people friends that others might refer to as acquaintances.  But if I like you, and we’ve gotten together in person on purpose, you’re my friend.  Actually, I have a few people that I call friends whom I’ve never met or only met by accident once, but we’ve communicated since then on purpose. 

Anyhow, definitions aside, I’ve been thinking a lot about friendship lately.  I recently tested a close friendship (without really meaning to) by allowing my selfish, inconsiderate and not-so-nice side to escape.  And my friend’s very mature and forgiving response got me thinking.  What is it about certain people that allow you to be totally yourself around them?  What is the recipe for having and being the kind of friend who will do (just about) anything for you, but will still stand up for their own needs?  And how many of these people is it possible to cultivate these kinds of friendships with? 

I think the answer to the last question is that you can’t have a lot of those friends.  I think you can have several, but it takes time and energy to grow a friendship that close and intimate, and we are all very busy. 

Which is why we have different kinds of friends. 

Friends For a Reason

A great example of this from my life is my Maid of Honor.  We became friends in college and spent a lot of time together.  We took a lot of the same classes and really enjoyed each other’s company.  At the end of college, when I was finally getting married, I decided that she would be the perfect Maid of Honor in my wedding.  I agonized over the decision a little – I had other friends with whom I had been close for a longer period of time.  But in this case, I knew that I needed a particular kind of friend in that role – a friend for a reason.  What I needed was someone who could set aside her own needs for the day of my wedding and a few specific days before the big day, and just focus on me.  I’m not normally a “take care of me” person.  I like to do things for myself and it’s very hard for me to ask for help.  But I knew that on my wedding day, I would need the kind of friend who would rub my feet to relax me, keep me calm if I got too emotional, and make sure the day was all about me (and my husband of course).  I got what I needed that day.  Unfortunately, after the wedding, we both got busy with our lives and drifted apart.  There was no fight – no ill feelings at all as far as I know.  We bumped into each other a few years later and had a great chat, and then proceeded to lose touch again.  She was the friend that I needed for the reason of being a wonderful Maid of Honor at my wedding.  And she served her purpose well. 

 Friends for a Season

I have a lot of friends that fall into this category.  I think it’s because I make friends very easily, and so if it becomes difficult to keep in touch because of distance, I will still love you, but I’ll make more friends who are easier to get together with.  Now distance, in this case, doesn’t necessarily mean a big distance.  I’ve made some really good friends at work only to have them fade into the background when I’ve started another job in the same city or even just moved into another department.  It’s not that they weren’t good friends in the first place.  It’s that they were friends for the season during which we were placed together.   Some of these seasonal changes have made me a little sad.  I wish that I had made more of an effort with some of them.  Thankfully, there is Facebook, where you can keep in touch with people who were friends for a reason or a season without having to invest too much time or energy. 

 Friends for a Lifetime

And then there are those friends who just seem to stick around forever.  I am very fortunate to have several of these friends.  These are the friends with whom you can step back into each others lives after time or distance has separated you, and it’s like nothing ever changed.  These are the friends who make the effort to keep in touch even if you are separated for a while.  These are the friends to whom you turn when life is hard.  And hopefully they are close enough that you can unveil your ugly side once in a while and emerge from the experience with a friendship that’s stronger than ever.  They are like family, but family you’ve chosen. 

I think I need to do some more thinking about my questions at the beginning.  I’m sure that as I explore my friendships and work at them, I’ll find some answers.  I’ll keep you posted.

Sick Leave

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Okay, so here’s the thing.  I have a bunch of ideas for things to write about, but they will all take some research, thinking and a clear head.  We’ve been sick in our house for about 6 weeks now.  First my Sweetie and my Baby, and then me!  I’m sorry, Cold-And-Flu-Season, but I’m a Mom – I’m not supposed to get sick…right?  Isn’t that somewhere in the contract that you sign when you give birth?  Anyhow, I’m finally on the mend, but still really tired from dealing with sick people for so long.  So we will resume our originally scheduled programming as soon as I have a bit more pep in my step.  All I really feel like doing by the end of the day is vegging in front of the TV or going to bed.  I’m behind in reading the blogs that I’ve subscribed to, I haven’t been keeping in very close touch with friends and family, and I haven’t even been reading my Kindle!!!  You know something’s up when I’m not reading. 

But I did feel some sense of responsibility towards you, my readers.  I thought I should at least say ‘Hi’.  So “Hey, how ya doin’?”  I miss you all terribly and can’t wait to post something good so that I can read all your great comments. 

Oh, I am excited to announce that I’m officially getting readers (and subscribers) who were unknown to me before I started blogging.  Totally cool.  (Can I say that?  I AM a child of the 80’s after all.)  Also, one of the authors of Choosing to Smile saw my link to her site and read the post in which I mentioned their book.  She commented!!!!  I’m really freakin’ excited.  Thanks Michelle, if you’re still following. 

So, I’ll be back soon.  I suspect it will be within a few days.  Because now I feel inspired to write, but it’s way too late to start, and I’ve had too much good food and wine to write anything well.

Choosing to Smile

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The daffodil is the Cancer Society's symbol of hope

I just finished reading another amazing book, Choosing to Smile by Glenda Standeven, Michelle Rickaby and Julie Houlker.  It contains the autobiographies of three women who survived cancer, and their testimonies of how a positive attitude can make a huge difference in your life.  Each of the women has her own section of the book, and as I read through each story, I was more humbled and more encouraged.  They all live in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, where I grew up, so it was neat to have them refer to places that I know well.  But more important was the message…no matter what challenges life is throwing your way, if you choose to smile and refuse to take your life for granted, great things can happen. 

This has been a great lesson for me over the past couple of weeks.  I’ve been griping and grumbling about my lack of sleep and my daughter’s poor health; I’ve been breaking down sobbing when she won’t go back to sleep early in the morning; and I’ve been growling at the dog, the cat, and my husband for the slightest infraction.  Now, I could blame the weather (it was ridiculously rainy in March), or my hormones (Holy PMS Batman!), or the lack of sleep (4am really IS too early to get up, honey), or the isolation of having a sick child (oh boy, did I miss my friends!).  But those things are nothing compared to the beauty, joy and harmony I can experience if I choose to take each bump in stride and smile through adversity.  That’s what I chose to do this week, and it was awesome!  I had so much more fun with the Bean despite her ear infection and stomach bug, and the evenings with my Sweetie were relaxed and enjoyable.  Of course, the brilliant sunshine and normalization of my endocrine system may have helped too. J

Another thing I learned this week is that I don’t need to get all stressed out if things don’t go as planned.  I love to make plans to see people – I am truly a social butterfly, flitting from one social engagement to another.  But when a child gets sick, or babysitters are suddenly unavailable, or naptime happens at the wrong time, I agonize over having to change or cancel my plans.  It’s partly that I don’t want to miss out on the fun, but I also hate to let other people down.  I discovered this week that the world doesn’t end when I have to call and cancel a playdate or a therapy session.  The people I love still love me and are not offended.  As Sporty Best Friend told me this week, “Life happens”. 

So, I’m looking forward to another great week after a relaxing and fun weekend.  What adventures will be in store?  Who knows, but I’m game to find out.