Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The L Word

Oh, the L word. I have never really liked the L word. You see, I'm not a mushy gushy kinda girl. Secretly, I'm a hopeless romantic, but first and foremost, I'm practical. If it's not realistic, let's not get carried away! When my knight shows up, MAYBE then we can talk. I don't like to be touched, I'm not a hugger, and I crinkle my nose up when my family members kiss me. Don't worry, my family is very loving. I heard "I love you" everyday as a child and received plenty of affection. Physical touch and lovey dovey just aren't my love language. 

I've been thinking about this L word though...
I can't even imagine how many times a day I say "I love". I love chocolate, I love coffee, I  love her shoes, I love that necklace, I love to run, I love, I love, I love! I don't really mean it, though. Chocolate can lift my spirits, coffee keeps me sane, shoes are a collector's item for me, jewelry is fabulous, and running is my therapy. These are all wonderful things that I enjoy, but I don't really love them. I say this word about things all the time, but, I don't really say it to people. And, when I do, it's more like a "luv you"...a passing phrase that sounds endearing, but from which I am emotionally removed. For me, it's a conscious thing. It protects me from getting hurt, it keeps me at a distance, and I like it that way.

This past weekend, Beth Moore came to town. One of her remarks was about love. She challenged us to put the "I" back in our "Love You". Apparently, it isn't just me. I don't know that other people take out the "I" consciously, but without it, it is less intense. She feels that we need to express that love for others strongly, for their good and ours. I have thought about this quite a bit. At first, I thought it was dumb, in all honesty. Does it really matter? I'm set in my ways and I have my reasons. It's one letter that happens to be a vowel. It shouldn't bother me so much, but tonight at church, it came up again. 

As I left church this evening, I was hoping for a sense of renewal. I was a bit disappointed when I didn't feel that sense of relief after the day I had. As I walked to the parking lot, I heard a little girl telling her mother what she learned in Children's Worship. They are memorizing scripture while the adults are praying in 'Big Church'. She carefully began reciting 1st Corinthians 13:4. 

1st Corinthians 13:4

I was so impressed with how well she did! It was the most precious moment of my day listening to the pride in her voice. Then, it got me thinking...

This is what love is supposed to be. This is how we are called to love. This is why we are meant to say it and truly mean it. As I read the characteristics, I realize I'm not so far off from the type of love this scripture describes. What I've found is I don't know when to let go. I may not say it, but in my heart, I grow attached. I trust too much, I'm too nice, I don't take enough pride in myself, and I hope too much. Where is the practicality in that???

I will come right out with it...I lost my marbles this morning. I, who am rarely emotional, became an emotional wreck in a matter of minutes. It started out with a few tears and turned into a panic attack from being so shocked by my balling escapade. I cannot even remember being this upset in the past. It took me a long while to gain my composure, and I can't lie and say I did it gracefully either. That experience illustrated just how passionate I am about kids and their success. From that experience, I learned that I am human. As hard as I try, I am just as 'normal' as everyone else, and it is ok to shed tears. Ok, I typed that, but I'm still trying to convince myself about the tear shedding! 

Most importantly this traumatic experience brings me right back to the L word. I truly care about all of my students. I am doing everything I can for them, and it is wearing me out. I want the best for them even when they don't want it for themselves. But, I must LOVE them the way I have been called to love them even when they don't deserve it. I must be kind and patient. I must persevere. I must be the one who doesn't fail them. 
Yes, I will fail. I have to let go of that. But, they must always count on the fact that I am their advocate. 

So, I have taken all of this too heart. I'm still stubborn about my love. It means something when I say least when it comes to people. :)

Monday, September 5, 2011

Lessons I Learned Over Labor Day

This weekend was a very welcome and much needed chance to get away. It is no secret that I love to travel, but it is not often that I get a chance to relax. This weekend in the mountains was a VERY relaxing vacation with very dear friends. 

It is almost always impossible for me to not think about work. I live for work, and love my job. This weekend, I allowed myself to completely forget about all obligations and enjoy the exact moments I was living. I spent the weekend with three amazing mommas, one husband, two high school teenage girls, my sweet Sammy love, and five children under the age of 10. There was never a dull moment! 

Friday night, we had fajitas waiting for us when we arrived at our newly remodeled cabin. We put the kids to bed, and the adults relaxed on the back deck under the stars. The married couple (17 years and counting) danced in the moonlight as if they were newlyweds again. Saturday brought with it cool temperatures and sunshine. I heard the most wonderful story of a widower's new found love. It was absolutely enchanting to watch her sweet face light up with every word. It doesn't matter what age we are, all women want to be cherished. 

Later that day, I took the high school girls to get ice cream. Oh, high school relationships...just as I remembered. These girls, too, had stories to tell. Mainly of disappointment and confusion. I gave the best advice I could, but secretly I was glad to be past that stage in life. And, then, the little girls told me of their 'boyfriends'. It's amazing to me they have gone through so many at such a young age. They are still at the 'cootie stage', but boy crazy none the less. 

Every story I heard was different, but the emotions were all the same. I've learned love comes in many different forms at every stage in life...the trick is being open to it. Sometimes, I think it's easy to look around and think it can be so easy for other people. But, we don't always know all the details. It may be better right where we are. 

Which brings me to the map...
Of course, I found this on pinterest...I mean, where else would I waste/invest countless hours of my time?? 

I think often about the future, but it is also imperative to look at 'the now'. After all, it is the now that gets us to the future we someday would like to see. I've learned, these moments that add up to become days in our lives are valuable. We can remember them forever, but we cannot relive them or change the way they happen. It is up to us to be diligent with our time and spend our moments wisely. Cherish the days we are given, both good and bad, for they are our lives. 

I've seen the value of working hard for that in which you believe. Sometimes it is easier to get busy with other things, and let the important stuff move to the back burner. But, it can be dangerous to let that happen. 

I stepped outside in the crisp mountain air multiple times this weekend. As I looked off into the vastness of greenery, I realized how much for which I have to give thanks. I also had to reevaluate where I am going. I know where I want to be, I'm on my way there. But, I can't miss the opportunities right before my eyes just because I am lost in the fantasy of my future.

I think of life like a race. From the minute I start training, all I can think about is the finish far it is, how hot I am, how tired, beat down, and thirsty I am becoming. The whole way through, I keep telling myself 'You can do it!', 'you're strong enough!' 'Keep going!' When I get to the end, I am so proud of my accomplishment. I am pleased with the payoff of my hard work. At the end of the road, it's great to be proud, but all that really matters is the crowd of people I have to surround me...the ones who have supported me all along and experienced the ups and downs of the run.

I have come to appreciate relationships so much more over the past year. I have a great group of friends, but I keep them at a distance. In all honesty, I like to be alone. I value having time to think, and I appreciate privacy. But, life is about more than that. Life is about being open and allowing yourself to be vulnerable. I will be the first to admit I am AWFUL at that, but I am working on it. I am finding it is better for me and for all those I share with to know the true emotions of my heart. It makes the thrills of life more thrilling and the struggles in life less painful.

My challenge to you this week is to look at your life. What do you  need to work on to get the most out of life? Where are you going and how will you get there?