Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Frenetic focus - and family thoughts

Adorable and active: Levi at Oma's
Tuesday, May 25, 2016
YouTube plays old-style instrumental songs while I chunk through chores. The cup of tea on my desk needs another refill by 5pm. I slept until 1:30 in the afternoon and have used 5 teabags to get revved up. Each bag makes two 12oz mugs of tea, so I must be dehydrated. (By midnight, 7 or 8 teabags litter a pretty porcelain catch-bowl by the kettle.)

Last night was not restful: I fell asleep before 11, but woke at 2am. Then sleep came just after 7am. Apparently I was stressed, which doesn't help on a jet-lagged sleep schedule.

This week has had its high points, though, including:

  • a wonderful family visit on Sunday: Timothy and Melissa hosted siblings, grandparents, a nephew and me. Every time my family gathers, I'm so grateful for the peace and joy of Christ that has shaped us, along with the affirmation and encouragement of my folks. 

(---Here I'm going to take a family detour to reflect on the influence of Dad and Mom. It's a heartfelt "Thank you!" to my folks between Mothers Day and Fathers Day. I'll end at the asterisks. *** Feel free to read or skip the whole section!)

Recently, a cousin pointed out what great guys my brothers are, skilled and creative at whatever they attempt. We talked about reasons why we siblings - such individuals - remain connected at the heart. We feel loved and self-confident, even when things don't turn out as planned. We and our parents can discuss things or disagree without staying mad. We accept each other's choices and quirks. We like to be together. Why?
    The tribe eats in peace
    More, more! Isaac takes a spin on the dining Lazy Susan
  • We are blessed with great role models, a dad and mom who remain committed to each other and us. They love us deeply and that provides security for life!
  • They provided family structure and discipline. There were clear expectations of behavior and manners while we were growing up. (Yeah, at times we had the 'meanest' parents of anyone we knew.)
  • We went to church together. Depending who caught us first in the morning, either Dad (the early-bird headed to work) or Mom (who saw us off to school) read the Bible and prayed with us.
    • Sleepy or lively: all generations
  • My parents were a team who set consistent rules and arbitrated conflicts. We could disagree respectfully but rebellion was swiftly rewarded. (No talking back! My final spanking at age 13 came when I told Mom a rebellious "NO." "Go upstairs and wait until your father gets home," she said, sending me to my room in dread. Dad affirmed with little emotion but great firmness, "You will not talk to my wife that way," just before he spanked me. I never sassed her off again.) Siblings weren't allowed shouting matches or physical fights, either.
  • When we got punished as youngsters, there were no timeouts or gentle explanations of why we deserved a licking = we already knew we'd "asked for it by testing the parameters - ouch! (Very effective for a livewire like me.) If we thought discipline was unfair, there was no harm in talking about the injustice later, though we understood we'd probably gotten away with something another time ... so things generally evened out. haha
  • Parental self-discipline = children's skills. We were kept busy! We did chores and helped each other as needed. Music lessons were routines not options, no matter what Mom and Dad had to do to make them happen. It was all for one and one for all, even when blizzards in Winnipeg winters made travel difficult.
      Grandmama plays with the great-grands
  • The extended family hung out together - even when some of them didn't much get along. (Blood matters.)
  • Hospitality was part of family life; we expected to give ourselves and our best to guests.
  • We were told we could accomplish anything. Our parents acted mildly surprised and occasionally sympathetic if we complained about disappointments and failure. The focus remained on possibilities, being a good person, and interesting ideas, not on the negative. Grudges and slights by other people were knocked away, with, "Well, small minds will think small things." (The clear message: don't have a small mind. Focus on worthwhile things and let other stuff go.)
  • When we fell flat, we were dusted off with a "Try again," or "Well, try something else next time!" There was no big drama around bandages and owies. Within the security of our family's love, life naturally included complicated messes, disagreements with siblings or friends, and unexpected thumps. "Oh well."
    Levi appropriates Oma's shoe tray for his trucks
 Mom and Dad continue to share their legacy and love through the generations. Sunday, they drove a few hours to have lunch with us. You are AMAZING, dear Mom and Dad! Thank you.

(Ok, that's enough about our family. But now you know why I feel incredibly privileged with good parents, right?) ***
Sunday, I also connect online with a lovely friend. Time with you refreshes my mind and soul, Brandy!
Goodbye, Mrs. Resident Alien: 
one last look at my 30-year-old Green Card

Monday, it takes all day to hand in my Green Card for a certificate of naturalization. I'll miss the reminder that we are aliens and strangers in this world.

Today, it takes until after midnight to prep and send off the syllabus for a class I'm teaching in the Philippines in a few months. The students needed the syllabus yesterday or sooner. But I have only so much energy and time to spend here and there. (It's done when it's done.)

Tomorrow, I will check about a passport application. (Passport = the reason for citizenship is that traversing the American border has become difficult.)

On the horizon: a writer's group, editing a friend's book, 2 class preps (research, notes, and PPTs), perhaps a trip to TX to help a son move.
Somewhere between, I'm going to be writing a book based on my dissertation. (Topic: the Spirit's empowerment of a disempowered group; Title: "What made them think they could?!" = the first generation of Pentecostal women serving overseas.)
I haven't scheduled art classes or much socializing this time around. The trip (Feb/Mar - for citizenship applications) filled my soul with good things. I'm not as starved for companionship, music, and art as I was when I got here last time.

It's long after midnight by the time I am done. What a day.

Read more:
*Then Moses, Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and the seventy elders of Israel climbed up the mountain. There they saw the God of Israel. Under his feet there seemed to be a surface of brilliant blue lapis lazuli, as clear as the sky itself. And though these nobles of Israel gazed upon God, he did not destroy them. In fact, they ate a covenant meal, eating and drinking in his presence! Exodus 24:9–11 NLT

*Not one word has failed of all his good promise, which he spoke through his servant Moses. 1 Kings 8:56 ESV

*I look up to the mountains—does my help come from there? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth!

He will not let you stumble; the one who watches over you will not slumber. Indeed, he who watches over Israel   never slumbers or sleeps. Psalm 121:1–4 NLT
*By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us. Luke 1:78 ESV
*Then Jesus explained: "My nourishment comes from doing the will of God, who sent me, and from finishing his work." John 4:34 NLT
*Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Romans 12:10 ESV
Moravian Prayer: Heavenly Father, once again we are reminded that you never cease to forget us or break your promises to us. May this reminder of your love serve to assist us to try to be more worthy of you. Amen.

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