Sunday, August 29, 2010

Kids and Weeds

I've always heard the phrase, "My (your, his, her) kids are growing like weeds." I never really thought about it too much other than the usual, "Yeah, it seems they grow up so fast." Well, they do. They really grow up fast and you don't have nearly the time with them that you thought you might have.

Anyway, I have been thinking about that phrase a lot in the past week. You see, with DH overseas since mid-May, and all three boys participated on swim team this year in addition to all our usual stuff, well, the weeds have kinda taken over. I knew that I would not have time to tend to a vegetable garden like we usually do, so we just didn't plant one. There are weeds there. Like a jungle of weeds. Taller than me. It's the same in the flower beds that surround 1/2 the house. Weeds choking out all my beautiful plants and bushes. And, I'm ashamed to say, weeds choking out the playground equipment. We have one of those nice cedar playgrounds (we went all out expecting to have lots of kids ourselves and lots of kid's friends playing on it). We put it in when we moved in four years ago and put down freshly chipped mulch. Well, in four years, the mulch has composted beautifully into this dark rich soil with tons of nutrients for growing... weeds. To be fair, I did pull weeds for two hours one day in June so the boys could play out there. However, they came right back. And I didn't pull them... and they grew... and they spread.

So a week ago last Saturday, DH, my 3 sons and I go out to pull weeds. The boys all did really, REALLY, well with weed pulling. They took swing breaks starting when we finally had the swings free but they only ever stopped for 5 or 10 minutes at a time. DH and I worked almost non-stop. It was rough. It took almost 5 hours. When we were finished, we could hardly stand upright having been bent over for so long. Anyway, to give you an idea... we let the weed piles set out for several days to dry up some before we bagged them. On Thursday (still sore from pulling weeds, mind you) the boys and I went outside to bag them. Six HUGE garden and lawn trash bags later... we had all the weeds from the flower beds. We didn't even touch the weed piles from the playground yet. And might I say, I had anticipated the hard work and the being tired afterwards. I even anticipated being sore. But I had no idea just how sore I was going to be. The back of my left leg was in constant aching pain for almost a full week. It hurt every time I moved and whenever I was sitting still... even laying down. It affected every part of every activity, of every day. I couldn't believe how sore I was (DH was too). I mean, serious pain. I was more surprised than anything about how badly I hurt.

So I've been thinking about that phrase, "kids growing like weeds." I've often heard it said, "Put a lot of time in with them when they are younger and it will go a little easier when they are older." Like weeds. Pull a few little ones here and there when they spring up and you won't have to kill yourself to get it weeded later. Work with your kids consistently, correct what needs correcting and strengthen their good traits. I realize this was a long post for such a short point. But it rings true. One more point: I got to thinking about this analogy and what really hit home for me is how much I hurt, and for how long... How much do families hurt when they try to clean up the mess of an undisciplined son or daughter? And I don't mean spanking... I mean discipleship. Raising and training. How long does the pain of a broken family last? How does it affect every aspect of their days? These thoughts have been swirling around all week. I'm just glad I learned this lesson with weeds and not with my kids.

Monday, August 23, 2010

MBM-A Night at the Airport

So, I've been wanting to start doing a Memorial Box Monday post for quite some time. A bloggy friend of mine over at A Place Called Simplicity does them every Monday. The idea is based on the memorial that the Israelites set up after they crossed the Jordan River into the promised land. Something visual, something tangible to help me remember all the wonderful times that God has provided for me, protected me, and shown me the way in my life. I have to actually find/make a box to keep all the little reminders in. But for now, I think I'm going to put them on top of our movie shelf so they'll be where I can see them. If you want to read more about MBM please go to Linny's page. She came up with it and she explains it so much better than I could.

Anyway, on with the story...

Way back when DH and I were newlyweds (we are coming up on our 10th very, very soon), back before the events of airport extremists... you could still walk all the way out to the gates when someone was leaving on a flight. I hated when he had to go away for work, I still do. So we decided that I would take him to the airport and park, go with him to check in and we'd have something for dinner out by his gate while we waited for his plane to take off. As luck would have it, there was parking in the lot immediately in front of the airport and I didn't have to park in a garage or long term parking. We went in and had a leisurely dinner at the gate and enjoyed the last few minutes that we would have together for a week. He got on his plane and left. Of course, I had to watch the plane taxi out and wait until the plane that I thought was his (cause you really can't keep track of the planes at this airport) take off. I then proceeded to make my way through the airport to go back to my lonely home.

Now, you should know, I was raised in a safe small town by an overprotective paranoid mother who loved us dearly. She was always on the lookout for the boogey man. I however have chosen to not be paranoid, but also not to throw caution to the wind. When I leave to go to the parking lot, I have my keys in my hands before I exit the building, I'm aware of my surroundings, when I get in my car I lock the door first thing of all, I pay attention to whoever might be around me when I'm at the ATM. Cautious, aware, alert, not stupid, but also not paranoid. I don't expect something bad to happen, but I want to try and prevent it if I have the opportunity and be prepare in case I cannot prevent it.

I remember when I was in Junior High, my mom took me to this self-defense seminar. It was a one day thing done by a former police woman. It was very interesting and I wish I could remember more of it... if I had been a little older, maybe I would have. Anyway, she when through the different types of perps, how to recognize them, and how to increase your odds of survival with each one. I remember the petty thief, you best odds are to give him all you got and let him run. You will survive in most cases. There were a lot more in between but then the worst case scenario is the psychopath. Chances are, you aren't getting away alive and you gotta fight from the very beginning. In all cases, do NOT ever allow anyone to take you to another location. Your odds of survival decrease significantly if you have a secondary crime scene, not to mention how bad it will be before you die. You can say, "Kill me here or leave me alone, but I ain't going with you." Another thing that really stuck with me was prevention. If you think someone is following you, turn around and look them in the eye. Convince them that you are confident and not an easy target. Talk to them in a confident voice and chances are, they will not see you as the easy, weak victim that they are looking for. Anyway, I guess I remembered more than I thought. I'd still like to know the other types of predators that I can't remember now and how to deal with them.

So there's your self defense lesson for the day, now back to the airport...

As I was getting ready to exit the building, I got my keys out to have ready. I didn't want to be digging through my purse to find them and not paying attention to my surroundings as I walked out alone. I paused as I crossed the taxi lane and then across the the lot where my car was. It was now about 10:00 at night and I realized that I had never been there before in the dark. I also remember thinking to myself, "It's really dark in this lot. They really ought to do something about that." Then I thought, "There could be someone hiding in between any of these parked cars, jump out at someone as they pass by and drag them back into the darkness before they could make a peep." Now, mind you, I never had thoughts like that. I have always been cautious, but never really expected anything to happen. As that thought crossed my mind, I decided to walk straight down the middle of the driving area rather than close to one side or the other. You know, give me time to see it coming. It's weird but I was so hyper aware and super vigilant.

Sure enough, just as I passed a van, a man came out from the dark space beside it. He was to my left and I knew I had a good ways to go before I got to my car. I continued walking for a few paces. I sensed he was following me. If that was the case, he was up to no good b/c the airport was in the other direction. I somehow got up the courage to turn around and look. There he was. I looked him dead in the eyes. I couldn't talk so I just tried to look confident and continue on. I was closing the gap between me and my car and how I wished for keyless entry. I was trying to figure out what to do when I got there. As I reached the driver's door, I was shocked to see that he had really closed the distance between us and was now at my trunk. (My car was a Honda Civic so he was REALLY close.) I knew, KNEW, that I didn't have time to get the door unlocked, get in, and lock the door behind me. This was it, it was now or never. I drudged up the deepest, loudest, most confident voice I could muster and said, "Is there something I can help you with?" It actually sounded almost irritated as it came out. As in, "You're in my space, dude. Either tell me how to help you or get out of my face." It was interesting. In a split second, I watched him go from being aggressive to being defensive. Evidently, that was not what he was expecting and it threw him off enough to make him reconsider his plans. I was not going down easy and now he knew it. He went all weird like he didn't know what to do and said, "Umm... no. I mean... I... uh... no... no..." Then he just turned and walked away. I watched to make sure that he kept going and as soon as he was far enough, I got in my car, locked the door and pulled out of the lot like nobody's business. Obviously, I was very shaken as I approached the toll booth, but then I got really angry. I turned the car around and went back looking for him. I wanted to know where he was so I could tell the toll booth person to go get him. I was soooo mad.

In hindsight, I cannot believe the details that went into keeping me safe that night. My paranoid mother, the self-defense class, the safe-keeping habits that I already had, the eerie (and most unusual for me) thoughts and feelings that I had as I entered the lot, the booming voice that came out of me but I couldn't have mustered on my own. Truly, God protected me that night. It wasn't until I got home that it really affected me. I started thinking about all the things that 'could have happened.' I was really shook up. It's funny, though. I still go into dark parking lots at night, when I need to. I still don't expect bad things to happen. I'd like to think it's because I trust God in whatever happens.

So, I'm going to have to find an old car key to put in my box. To remind me that God is my Protector.