A few mornings a week, I walk with my friend Tonya, who lives in the next neighborhood over. We have an "official" meeting spot about halfway between our houses. But likely as not, that's not where we meet up. One of us is usually running late, so sometimes I make it almost all the way to her house before I see her smiling face. And just as likely as not, she makes it well into my neighborhood before she sees me ambling toward her. "I just woke up ten minutes ago..." And that's perfectly fine with us. We're each willing to go more than halfway, especially since we're going to be walking together for an hour anyway! Sometimes she talks more, and sometimes I do. Sometimes she chooses the route, and sometimes I do. Our joy is not in the technicalities, but in our friendship of over 25 years.
That's just a tiny metaphor for the rest of life. So many times in our relationships, especially in our marriages, we have to go "more than halfway" -- and sometimes we feel like we are doing more than our fair share. Sure, there are times that we need to address that issue if someone is consistently taking unfair advantage of us. We're not doing them any favors or helping them mature if we let them get away with this.
But there are times when we just need to accept temporary imbalance as a very normal fact of life. As has often been said, marriage is not 50%/50%, but 100%/100%. Each person ideally needs to "give it their all" as much as possible. Don't try to keep score, though, because that's the ideal, not always the real, in any relationship. Part of that is seasons of life, such as the fact that my husband Thad took over a lot of the heavier home duties during the decades I was birthing babies every other year, but now that our youngest is almost six (!) I am having to remind myself to take my jobs back and not take him for granted. And we certainly have to serve our children sacrificially when they are young and can't do much for themselves. Another part of going more than halfway is being sensitive to circumstances and special needs. On my walking route, there is a sweet older widow who just had back surgery the other day. There are so many practical ways my family can serve her, such as watering her plants or cleaning her roof gutters, even if she can't reciprocate at the moment. Yesterday, my husband Thad suggested that I take her a stuffed pepper which he had made. She was delighted, since she used to make them for her husband, but hadn't had one in the few years since he had passed away. And part of it is just "give and take", like doing the dishes for a teen who is rushing to get to work on time, and later finding that another child has cleaned up one of my messes just because it needed to be done and I looked busy.
Did you see those delicate white mushrooms in the pictures above? At first glance, I thought they were flowers when Tonya and I saw these on our walk the other day. The mushrooms were accidental, I'm sure, but the owners of that house always plant the prettiest flower beds, such as great clusters of marigolds around their trees and along their walkways. It inspires me! These pretty pink portulaca are flowers that I planted in our own yard. They are succulents, supposed to be hardy and love full sun, but they bloom best in the morning. The other picture is of something dangling from trees that we pass on our walks. Can anyone tell me what it is?
I love to notice beauty as I go, whether it is a mushroom, a flower, the sun and clouds, or a bird singing. And I love beauty created by others, whether it is a painting in a museum or a crayon drawing by my kindergarten daughter, a symphony on CD or an improvised piano melody by my teenager, and elaborate botanical garden or simply a star jasmine bush trimmed by my husband. (He's even more beautiful of the bush, of course!)
OK, the rest of the post is dedicated to blogging -- a few posts that are related to what I wrote above, plus updates on my own blogs, plus a list of other favorite blogs.
Learning-Naturally by Sally Clarkson "Nature walks can be some of the most educational, enjoyable, and memorable experiences for children."
Serving Your Way to Their Hearts by Sally Clarkson "When it comes to teaching and ministering to our children, we must realize what a powerful tool our demonstrations of love and grace to them can be–when we put down the phone or the dishes to play with or comfort or simply talk to our children when they need us, we are teaching them how God sacrificially loves them in a real and tangible way that penetrates their hearts and souls deeper than any eloquent speeches or words ever could."
Beauty Never Lies by Sarah Clarkson "This is also why I write. To capture even a hint of that sure loveliness, to embody that illusive, certain grace in what I create, this is my work. To present the beauty I have found in a story of my own is to offer my time and people the most precious thing I have ever found. This is no waste, no child’s dream. This is a glimpse of the kingdom of heaven as it invades the world. I suspect most artists sense this as they work; a hint of redemption seeps into what they create, God speaks into their work from outside the circles of pain, striving, and blindness. My own “knowings,” are just one glimpse of God’s far country. But to listen, to picture, to tell of that world beyond this earth is the work of God’s own kingdom, because the beauty is his. The joy is his love. The life is his own holy self, throbbing through all of creation, calling us back to the wholeness for which we were made."
Several of My Favorite Blogs
- Colored with a Positive Crayon by Marjorie Nelson http://apositivecrayon.
blogspot.com/ -- a BRAND NEW WONDERFUL BLOG about parenting in the early years, by a veteran grandmother and educator. Marjorie mentored my friend Mel Franks, and Mel mentored me in my early marriage and motherhood years, so she is extra special even though I have only met her a few times!
- Mrs. T's Thoughts from a Titus 2 Mom by Tonya Travelstead http://
mrststhoughtsfromatitus2mom. blogspot.com -- Tonya has a huge variety of lovely and practical information on her blog. On our walks we often chat about making our blogs more effective in helping other moms. She helped Marjorie Nelson with some of the technical details on hers.
- Submission is Not Silence by Lizzie Julin http://
submissionisnotsilence.com -- Lizzie is another veteran grandma in this cluster of friends. She writes to encourage wives to bring all of who they are to their marriages, and not just "sit down and shut up!"
- Cheaper by the Baker's Dozen by Debbie Pittman http://
cheaperbythebakersdozen. blogspot.com -- Debbie is a bio and adoptive mom of a huge bunch of kids, now a grandma many times over, too
Let me try to connect the dots a little better here. Tonya, Marjorie, Lizzie and I all used to be members of the then-tiny Northland Church, now a megachurch with about 13,000 members and an internationally known pastor, Dr. Joel Hunter. I met my husband at Northland over 27 years ago. We moved away to Maryland shortly after we married and lived near (and went to church with) Northland's former pastor, Roger Franks, and his wife Mel, whom Marjorie mentored. We moved back to Orlando 18 years ago and went back to Northland for a few years before moving on. Last year, a bunch of us had a mini-reunion for old time Northlanders from over 20 years ago when Roger and Mel were in town. I met both Marjorie and Lizzie there, only vaguely remembering them from the 1980's. Later, Tonya told me about Lizzie's blog, but I didn't recall that I had met her at the reunion until I saw her picture. As for Debbie, I met her about 10 years ago at a small Reformed Baptist church where Tonya is still a member. Debbie moved to north Florida, so I never got to know her well. But I love these blogs and count these ladies as friends, even though Tonya is the only one I see regularly.
Other lovely blogs about education, beauty, family life, and more:
- I Take Joy by Sally Clarkson http://www.itakejoy.
- Thoroughly Alive by Sarah Clarkson http://www.
- Life in Skunk Hollow by Julie Druck http://
- That Mom by Karen Campbell www.thatmom.com
- Heart to Heart by Lois Breneman http://
- Ann Kroeker, Writer http://annkroeker.com
- Sheri Graham http://www.