In Between

Featured Five Minute Friday:
Here’s the deal. Five Minute Friday. You go find the little prompt at the wonderful Lisa-Jo’s blog, set the time and write for five minutes, and then just stop. Where you are, no edits, just publish raw words.

1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community..

OK, are you ready? Please give us your best five minutes on the word:::

In Between

GO

Most of my life I’ve been a mom. I was either “mothering” friends and classmates, or later in life my own kids. By the end of 2013, both kids will be on their own. I’m at that strange place of still being a “mom” but needing to stand back and not “mother” so much.

So the question arises, Now What? Where do I go from here? For the first time in almost 25 years, I will have no one that directly depends upon me. I can make choices. I am free. And it scares me a bit not to be anchored. Vaguely reminiscent of that time between high school and college or college and my first job, I’m caught in between holding on to the familiar and excitement for the future. What’s out there in the world for a middle-aged widow lady? Am I a butterfly ready to fly from the cocoon? Will my fear of flying cripple me? I’m looking to what God has to show me for my future. It could be that I’m right where I need to be. And, that would be fine. Or, there could be a great adventure in my future. That would be exciting.

Maybe, there’s a bit of both!! Here we go!

Happiness: A right or a privilege

Recently, at a high school graduation ceremony, the principal listed several things that have affected the graduates of 2013. These graduates have never known life without a cellphone or MP3 player. They’ve watched technology take off and offer “new & improved” things with increased regularity. Social media are the norm for this graduating class: Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram. They’ve had pictures and videos posted on a routine basis for most of their lives. DVRs, Netflix, Hulu & Amazon Prime have made on-demand television and movie watching an expectation. You no longer have to wait for the summer reruns to know what happened.

We have developed a fast-moving, impatient life style. Remember Hallmark’s slogan “When you care enough to send the very best”? Today, with the instant social media, Facebook “helps you connect and share with the people in your life.” We used to get the Yellow Pages and “let your fingers to the walking”. Now, Verizon trumpets “Can you hear me now?” Timex told us “it takes and licking and keeps on ticking.” Nike says “Just do it!” In our fast food society, we are unwilling to wait for anything. In our rush to make everything better, and faster, and quicker. we have robbed our children of the gift of savoring the moment.

We push our kids to grow up quickly. Little girls are dressed like grown-ups with make-up and high-heels. We start asking about boyfriends before they can read. Little boys are “coached” early to excel in sports. Our children are exposed to open sexuality in the media, in entertainment and too often in our homes. We no longer protect their innocence, but encourage adult behaviors way before the emotional base is ready to handle it. We are more concerned with being friends with our children than we are in parenting them.

We teach our kids with our own actions that happiness is the most important thing in life. We show them that happiness means a big house, a fancy car, and lots of money. Happiness is something pursued with a passion. People become disposable in the quest for happiness. The momentary pleasures and excitements that were at one time considered the little extras of a respectable, hard-working man or woman’s commitments, have now become the focus of everyday life. Why waste time on commitments and promises? Just go directly to the fun! I deserve to be happy. And, when happiness becomes elusive in one place, we just move on to another.

Don’t misunderstand me. I’m all for being happy. It’s my preferred emotion. But, it is just that: an emotion. I do not want to be controlled by my emotions. And I do not believe happiness should come at the expense of those around me or even of my own conscience.

I look around at the world that I am leaving to my kids and my grand kids and sigh. My generation has done so much damage with the lackadaisical attitudes we have taught this generation. Adulthood brings with it responsibilities and privileges. unfortunately, my generation has taught that the privileges are actually rights. And these rights often are demanded at the expense of the responsibilities.

More is not necessarily better. Fast doesn’t always mean quality. Easy doesn’t build strength or character. Stop running after temporary happiness and instead make some serious, life-long investments of time and patience.

Rhythm

Featured Five Minute Friday:
Here’s the deal. Five Minute Friday. You go find the little prompt at the wonderful Lisa-Jo’s blog, set the time and write for five minutes, and then just stop. Where you are, no edits, just publish raw words.

1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community..

OK, are you ready? Please give us your best five minutes on the word:::

Rhythm…

GO

We talk of the rhythm of life. The easy movement among and between friends and family. Easy conversations and interactions, normal stuff makes up the rhythm of our lives. But, what happens when the rhythm is upset, when an extra beat is added or removed. What then? There are times when it’s just a small blip, much like 2/4 measure stuck into a 4/4 piece in music. You just make a short adjustment and then you go back to the way it was. But, then there are those times in music where you switch completely from 4/4 to 3/4. It’s not easy. It takes work to change the downbeat, to change the rhythm until it feels normal again.

That’s much the way life is. There are days of feeling so normal and then the blips come along. And sometimes there are more than blips, and we have to adjust to a new normal. A new rhythm of life. Not always easy and very awkward at first. But, eventually, it feels okay. Maybe even right. The rhythm of life.

The Middle

What happens when you wake up one day and realize that there’s no way around the fact: You are middle-aged? I know that 20 is the new thirty, blah, blah, blah. When you hit 50, there’s no denying it. You are on the downhill side of life. I’ve known people who hit their 40’s or 50’s and go thru the “middle age crazies”. They dump everything that’s been important: family, job, reputation, stability. The need to be young brings new adventures, new boyfriends/girlfriends, new family units and sometimes new jobs. It’s sad to watch lives implode with the panic that comes with middle age and the need to abandon everything “old”.

But, what happens when middle age hits and you find that you’re done? The kids are raised. Circumstances have ended that important relationship you hoped was forever. The job is just a way to pay bills. The days are just an excuse to get up so you can go back to sleep later. There’s not much left to do. What then? What if you don’t want a new family or new adventures? What if the best thing in the world is to sit safely at home on the couch with a kindred spirit and talk or watch a movie or play separately on your electronic devices? What then? Is it better to dump life before it has the chance to dump you?

There have to be new adventures out there that even the weary middle-aged person can attempt. There must be new joys each day to make the day worth living. There are better things to do than just drift along and wait for life to stop in for a visit. There must be. And, I’m going to find them.

better dreams. . .

We tell our children, “You can be anything you want to be!” And as children, we dream of being an astronaut, a doctor, a teacher, the president, a star, Cinderella, all sorts of things. We play in our make-believe worlds where mommy’s and daddy’s are always happy and the children smart and well-behaved. We stand in front of mirrors singing in to the hairbrush/microphone while we imagine wild applause from the huge audience. We dream about traveling thru jungles or space or living in the old West. We invent the best thing, cure the worst disease, save the most lives in our dreams. And, we imagine meeting Mr. or Ms. Right and falling in love and living happily ever after in our wonderful & beautiful mansion.

And then we get older. The dreams are squelched a bit by reality. It takes HOW long to become a doctor? Close quarters cause my claustrophobia to rage, so an astronaut it out. We see families disintegrate before us over lack of money and disinterest. We’re told we’re ‘average’ at best, so get the stars out of your head. And, we still imagine meeting Mr. or Ms. Right and falling in love and living happily ever after in our large family home.

And then we are adults and reality is harsh. We no longer dream about what we will do with our lives. We just get up each day and get thru it. We have moments of greatness in our everyday lives, but wonder where the loudly applauding audience went. We compete with our co-workers, our peers, our friends to be better: a better employee, a better parent and spouse, a success. And, sometimes, we meet Mr. or Ms. Right or think we have to settle for Mr/Ms ThisWillDo and fall into debt trying to live up to what the world says we have to have. Some of us struggle to have children. Some of us struggle to stop having children. Most of us struggle with our lovely, not always happy, sometimes well-behaved little darlings and all their wants and dreams. And we wonder where are our dreams? Is this all there is?

Often we get caught up in the race to get there (wherever “there” is) and we forget where we are. There are dreams still to be had. We just have to look a little harder. It may mean letting go of some expectations we have put out there. You will never live the life of Cinderella with her Prince. But who wants to live a life in glass slippers? They aren’t comfortable at all. Maybe simple and everyday is much more interesting and livable. So what if you never get your name in lights or invent some great cure? Can you say you lived your life well? Did you do the best that you could do?

Don’t give up on dreams. Find those places that made your dream and go there. There are God-sized dreams waiting. We just have to be ready to find them. And, dare to dream again.

With the end in mind. . .

Recently on All Things Heart and Home, (http://www.allthingsheartandhome.com/2013/06/12/whats-your-story/) the question was posed: “how do you want to be remembered. What is it that you hope to leave behind? And I began to think about the ending. What would I choose for people to say about me when I’m gone? What is my legacy?

When my husband died in 2005, my world fell apart. I don’t remember many things in the blur of shock and funeral planning. But, I remember walking out of the hospital room to a hallway full of friends. It was 2:00 in the morning, my kids didn’t yet know, but our friends were there. There were lots of hugs and tears in that hallway. And, I remember one friend saying “He loved you SO much!” In the days that followed, similar statements were repeated over and over. Terry loved God. Terry loved family. Terry loved the kids in his ministry. I heard from several moms how much their sons admired Terry for supporting them and cheering for them in place of their own absent fathers. I talked to hundreds of people at the wake and at his funeral, and the over-arching theme was: Terry Loved. And, he was very loved in return.

A few months ago, my dad passed away. As my brother and sister and a few of the grandkids sat with my mom and her pastor and talked about my dad, we shared laughter and tears and really good memories. I’m sure there were rough points through the years, but honestly, there were no bad memories. As people came to my parents home, to the funeral home, to the church and finally, to the cemetery, everyone talked of what a good man he was. He was a family man. He had integrity and honor. He was the “cool” dad. He loved us deeply and he was loved deeply by those who knew him.

Unfortunately, I’ve been part of less happy endings. I’ve seen ‘adult’ children do their best to slander their own father on the day of his death. Finding it necessary to bring up everything, real or imagined, that this man had done wrong. The fact that he had supported them financially and provided a home for them for many decades didn’t seem to matter. Family feuding had taken its toll. There was no talk of love. Few happy memories. The tension was palpable. Years later, the same tension was still evident at death of their mother. Armed guards were at the graveside service to make sure the handful of people who attended behaved themselves. What was the legacy? Relief. It’s finished. We are free.

I hope that my legacy is one of love and hope. That my children will be surrounded by friends and family and they will talk about all of the silly things we did thru the years.: the Houston cupcake tour, the trips to the zoo, my love of social media. I want to be the remembered as the”cool” mom, not just to the two kids I birthed, but to all the others that knew me as Mama Benson. The mom that may not have been good at keeping house or baking cookies, but was there when my kids needed me. I want my kids to know that I loved them to the depths of my heart. I want them to remember my focus on God was what kept our family going thru the best and the worst times.

When I was trying to decide what to put on Terry’s headstone, I looked for just the right statement to describe him. This was my choice: “He achieved success here because he lived well, laughed often and loved much.”

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So, this is how I want to be remembered:
1. I lived my life as a follower of Christ and I hope as an influence on others to do the same.
2. I brought laughter and joy to those that came into my life.
3. I was the cool mom that loved and cared for those that were around for the ride.

What legacy do you want to leave?

Extraordinary

We live in a world surrounded by the extraordinary. And we just don’t see it. Maybe it’s because we see it so often that it becomes ordinary even a little plain. When I take off my everyday glasses and really look around me it’s amazing

It’s only when something disappears that we realize how truly extraordinary it was. Large, heavy rain drops during a time of drought. The beautiful sunrise hidden by the buildings around us. The birds singing and chattering in the trees that is drowned out by iPods and radios blaring. Lunches that are packed with secrets and surprises and waiting to be eaten at work. The unexpected phone call or text just to say “I love you.” Sticky little fingers reaching for a hug. The symphony of voices greeting you as you walk in the door each evening. Friendly, easy conversations. A warm hug, just because.

Have you ever tried to fold a rose back into the original bud? Or marveled at how quickly the grass grows? Instead of complaining about the petals that are falling on the ground or the grass that has to be mowed, take time to look for the extraordinary. Don’t wait until it’s gone.