Megan's Ponderings

Contemplations from a Blessed Life

Archive for the category “Thoughts and Contemplations”

Letting It Go (even the good things)

It’s the time of year when schedules are filled with activities upon activities: back to school programs, extra-curricular activities, filled-to-the-brim schedules. I’ve been caught in this trap before – each activity reels me in with it’s promise to satisfy one area of my life  (or my family’s life), yet fails to deliver when I’m stretched too thin to know what’s good for me. I then find myself frustrated for something I caused, something I did to myself. I usually justify my participation by saying, “It’s a good thing. I need to join because _________.” (The second justification is usually based on my own selfish desires or pride that I can prove myself in this activity.)

This looks completely different for each person, and for that, I’m so thankful. I love being busy and helping other people.  But, I’ve really been struggling with feeling like I’m going through the motions in some areas of my life. It seems like I keep doing something because I’ve always done it, or I want to please the people involved. Recently, I’ve had to say no to activities that I know are great, but would take away time with my family or not allow me time to rest after a busy day. It’s been hard because I want to do EVERYTHING. I don’t want to miss getting together with other Christians or giving my sons the opportunity to participate in social activities. Those are so important, and they do have a place in our lives. But, I’m not my best when I’m doing something out of routine or obligation.

This is a hard lesson to learn, and I’m not good at saying “no”. Maybe, for now, I can use what God’s given me to do a few things really well. I’ll struggle, but it’s certainly for the best.

How do you balance crazy demands on your life and finding time to rest and be with your loved ones?

Back to School Time

It’s that time of year when students return to the hallowed hall of their academic institutions (a.k.a. schools) and look back at a summer gone by too quickly. For me, this time of year has, and will always, hold a nostalgic place in my heart. I spent 19 out of my 33 years as a student, and 5 years were spent in the role as teacher. I remember the excitement and nervousness that encompassed the first day, and how I looked forward to it and dreaded its coming at the same time. The start of a new school year always signaled the return to routine (and getting up early…blah!), focused time on academic material, and meeting new friends or rekindling friendships with those from the past.

In a few weeks, Ryan and I will start “school.” I have goals for his learning this year, but I’m not pushing him too much. We’ll focus on letters, numbers, shapes, and colors, as well as his weekly AWANA verse and other topics that peak his interest. We’ll go places and see new things, have playdates throughout the week, and maybe do a craft or make a new food every once in a while. My hope isn’t that he can spell or add or read a book by the end of the “school” year. My hope is that he’ll enjoy learning and seek to find nuggets of knowledge in everyday life.

To all of you, whether student, teacher, or parent, I hope this is a great year of learning for you and yours. Happy Back To School!

 

 

Almost 3: A Very Fun Age

Ryan is almost 3, and I’m enjoying every (well…almost every) minute with him. His speech has developed over the last few months. He’s excited to talk to us, mostly about fire trucks and airplanes.  His imagination is running wild, and he’s fascinated with Curious George. He’s also remembering more events each day. So, what does this have to do with me? Well, I get to listen to his discussions about “John Fire Trucks” and “Mr. Glenn’s airplane.” I also get to watch him play with Evan, mostly pretending to be in various situations. I’m also very aware that he’s becoming more independent, needing to “spread his wings” more often.

I’m learning a few lessons from my almost-3-year old:

1. I thought I was pretty laid back, but I was sorely mistaken. Having a child who wants to walk by himself or do another task on his own is enough to bring out the helicopter parent in me. I’m more of a hoverer than I realized. I’m learning that Ryan wants independence, but he also needs clear cut boundaries. I’m ok with that, as long as he stays within an arm’s reach away from me 😉

2. Focus is key when talking to Ryan. If I’m distracted by something else, he will say my name constantly. We are working on patiently waiting for me to be done with my task, but I’m also aware that I need to give him my attention the first time and not wait until I can’t handle the “mommy” call anymore.

3. Ryan wants to be involved in projects around the house, a.k.a. helping. I appreciate his helpfulness, and I’ve learned to take the time to teach him about the task I’m completing. Right now, he puts away silverware, helps load laundry, and wipes up spill. He’s also fascinated by any DIY jobs Philip tackles throughout the house.

4. Ryan is more affectionate than I though. For example, he nuzzles his way under my arm while we read books or watch a cartoon. He gives lots of hugs and kisses, and is starting to say “I love you” without being prompted. (I’m glad I’m writing this down so I have something to remember when he’s in the yelling/non-affectionate stage of life.)

5. We are not without tantrums, “my way or the highway” attitudes, and “mine…mine…mine”. Philip and I are learning what works and doesn’t work. Even when dealing with the selfish behavior of my son, I’m realizing I need to apologize (at times) for my own failures when confronting those behaviors. I’m definitely not a doormat for my children, but there are times an “I’m sorry” is warranted.

If you have children, what are you enjoying about them right now? (Taking a nap is an acceptable answer!)

Summer Bible Study: Part 1

If there’s something that excites me,  it’s Bible study. The thrill of learning about the Lord, and being reminded of His love for me, is beyond fun. I usually participate in Bible studies throughout the school year at church, and find another study to do during the summer.

This summer, like last, I’m participating in Beth Moore’s Bible study through her blog. She is “leading” women through Gideon: Your Weakness. God’s Strength by Pricilla Shirer. I’m already 2 weeks in, and God is already working on my heart. For me, the most fascinating part of this study is who Gideon was. He was definitely NOT an Abraham (strong in faith) or a David (strong in might). When the angel of the Lord appeared to him, he was secretly threshing his wheat in a winepress!

Over and over, God calls men and women who don’t measure up to our idea of “God’s chosen”. In the Bible, He called murderers (David), tax collectors (Matthew), childless couples (Abraham and Sarah), and even a secret wheat thresher (Gideon) to accomplish great tasks. But, He didn’t call them after they had demonstrated their greatness. He called them when they were doing ordinary tasks. Mundane tasks, if you will. How often I forget that God is preparing me for something, even in the daily grind of life. When I’m folding laundry, God is preparing me for something greater. (I’m certainly not going to be a professional laundry folder, but I do think God examines my attitude when faced with jobs like that.)

What about our identity? In Judges 6, the angel of the Lord called Gideon a “mighty warrior.” What in the world? Gideon wasn’t behaving like a mighty warrior. Instead, he was acting like a scared child looking over his shoulder for the Midianites to pounce at any moment. I’m so thankful God doesn’t call me by my behavior. I can think of many unbecoming ones that I’ve had throughout my life. But those aren’t my identity in Christ. Colossians 3:12 says, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved…” Am I living in light of my identity in Christ or my behaviors?

I’m excited for the next few weeks in this study. I’ll continue to post thoughts about what I’m learning. In the meantime, are you participating in a summer Bible study? What are you studying and what are you learning from it?

(Updated) Friends are Friends Forever…

As a child of the 80s and 90s, this song is the quintessential “friend” song. This song was played every year at my high school’s graduation. (I wonder if they’ve found something new, or if they’ve stayed with the tried and true.) It’s become a joke, just because it was played over and over and over…and over 🙂 But, I can’t help to think that some friends are forever, and when you find a forever friend, you are blessed beyond measure.

I’ve been thinking a lot about friendship recently. I looked up “friend” on dictionary.reference.com, and I found words/phrases like “on good terms,” “attached to another by feeling or affection,” “supporter.” Those are pretty positive terms, and all those characteristics are necessary for a good friend. But sometimes, one isn’t on good terms with a friend or not supportive of a friend’s decision or action. What happens then? Are the two still friends?

In my opinion, if a friend stays with you no matter what, they are considered a forever friend. They are your supporter, your cheerleader, your confidant. You may not agree with each other all the time, but you love them, and you want what’s best for them. I’m finding that it’s hard to find forever friends the older I get, but they are out there (and I’m excited to find them!).

I have been blessed to find forever friends in 3 other women. We grew up together, from church nursery through college, and to today. We have been in each other’s weddings, grieved the loss of parents and grandparents together, cried over boys together (gotta love high school…), and have watched our families grow together. We’ve disagreed and fought with each other, but that never broke our friendship bond. We’d quickly get over our differences and go back to loving each other.

I love these girls more than they’ll ever know. We don’t live close anymore, but we are bound together forever. We’ll see each other in a few weeks, and we’ll pick up right where we left off.

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Vacation Time!

We’re a week from Memorial Day, which signals the beginning of another vacation season! Philip and I will be returning from our vacation to Outer Banks, NC later this weekend. For us, this week’s been a time to be with family and relax. These are a few highlights from our trip:

-Celebrating the 40th anniversary of my parents’ marriage: There’s no better way to celebrate than at the beach! We rented a home overlooking the ocean, and just relaxed the week away. This was the first vacation with my parents and brother since the boys were born, so it’s been fun to watch their interactions this week.

-Visiting sites in the Outer Banks: We’ve visited lighthouses, state parks, other surrounding islands, the aquarium, and of course, the beach.

NC Aquarium at Roanoke Island

Currituck Lighthouse

One of the best visits was to the Wright Brothers’ Memorial. Of course, we had to wear our Dayton shirts to represent “The Birthplace Of Aviation”.

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-Tasting the food of the Outer Banks: Outer Banks has very few chain restaurants, so we had to try local restaurants. (This is one of my favorite parts of going on vacation. Why eat somewhere that you have at home when you can try something different?) If you ever come to the Outer Banks, I’d suggest you check out Duck Donuts. These are no ordinary donuts. They’re prepared to order. It starts as a simple cake donut, but the frosting and toppings make this a food experience you’ll never forget. They’re warm, delicate, and delicious! I’d also suggest you check out Miller’s Waterfront Restaurant. They had amazing food and great views of the water.

I’d highly recommend Outer Banks, NC as a vacation destination!

We’re already thinking ahead to next year’s vacation, and are open to suggestions. Where do you like to vacation?

Lesson Learned (And Still Learning)

The Henderson Household celebrated Philip’s last chemo treatment last week! We’ve had a celebratory breakfast, lunch, and dinner, parties with friends and family, and the semi-closing of this chapter in our our lives. (Philip still needs to go through 2 tests, but why not celebrate now?!) I’m reflecting on the last 8 months: doctor’s offices, the chemo bag, small victories, tears (mostly mine), pity parties (ALL mine) and…GOD. When Philip  was first diagnosed, I was overcome with God’s peace. I cried, of course, but I was fairly calm. I really was my mother’s daughter when a plan needed to be made for Philip’s care: let’s just face what it is and do what we can to get Philip better. But, it was more than a medical plan that got us through this. It was God Himself: His Word, His Church, His Spirit in our lives.

Now, I could tell you about all these lessons I learned and how I’m more like Christ after this. I could say that I fell more in love with Philip through this whole process, and have never loved him more. I could even tell you that I was “the rock” my boys needed these past few months. But honestly, this whole experience has worn me out, emotionally and spiritually. At times, I’ve wanted to crawl in a hole and “make it all go away.” At other times, I’d put on a smile because it was the only thing I could do to keep from sobbing like a small child.

Right now, the thing that sticks out to me is Satan’s power to mess with my mind, especially in the midst of a trial. Sometimes it’s not the “actual trial” that’s the hardest to handle. It’s the thoughts you think during it. Do you, like me, find your thoughts focused on “woe is me”? Or even dwelling on self rather than God’s promises?

I’ve been there. I’m constantly fighting  for victory over my thoughts. I take comfort in Phil. 4:8 – “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” God gives us a checklist of what we are to think on. When I find myself dwelling on thoughts that aren’t godly, I ask God to forgive me and then I go through these virtues to change my thinking.

How do you take captive those thoughts that Satan uses to attack you?

Garden anyone?

Recently, I’ve considered growing a garden. Now, I don’t have the greenest thumb in the world but I’m willing to work at that. It’s too cold to get the garden ready, but I’m a planner and I’m starting to plan for the garden now. If you garden, what tips do you have? (FYI…our house faces fully east/west. Our backyard gets great sun after noon!) I don’t want to plant too many veggies, but I want a good variety. We also have lots of creatures (mostly bunnies and squirrels) that visit our backyard regularly. What tips do you have for keeping them away?

This will be an ongoing post, especially as I start this project. I’ll post pics too, so you can see our progress!

Valentine’s Day

Today is Valentine’s Day! Yes, it’s a day to celebrate love, but I also celebrate friendships. The next few days bring fun activities that observe this special day. Today, I’m hosting a friendship party. Some ladies from our small group, and their kids, are coming over for a more fun playdate. There’s a small craft (I’m hoping it’s small and not much hassle) and plenty of food. On Friday, my in-laws are hosting their annual Valentine’s Day dinner…always a good time!

On this day of love (and friendship), I want to thank each of you for your friendship. Maybe you’re a family member, a friend I’ve known for a while, or someone I’ve never met, but I appreciate your faithful reading of this blog and leaving your comments. You are all an encouragement to me!

Blessings Now

I am looking forward to many things in the coming months: Philip ending chemo (more on that later!), Evan’s 1st birthday, a getaway with Philip, vacation with my parents for their 40th anniversary, and the list goes on and on. There are even things I’m looking forward to today: making treats for 2 parties, cooking with Ryan, AWANA!

Sometimes, I lose sight of the blessings right in front of me. I’m looking for the next “best” thing or what will satisfy me temporarily. Too often, I take every day blessings for granted. I don’t see the joy in the mundane. I was at a Bible study last night, and the speaker asked us if we (I) had been blessed. Of course I’ve been blessed! We all have!

I found a great way to consider my blessings on A Holy Experience. I’m a little behind, but this way stretches me to think about my blessings in a new light. I hope this helps you in counting your blessings!

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