Why “Things you should never say” articles bug me

I am an imperfect person.  I did once ask a non-pregnant woman if she was pregnant.  I do put my foot in my mouth.  But don’t we all sometimes?

I’ve noticed a trend in articles that start with “5 things you should never say to…”.  These articles that scold me or warn me to say or not say certain things make me nervous.  I can’t be hip to every culture and all their nuances and what they struggle with.  I don’t understand what it’s like to always be skinny, quiet, single, have constant anxiety… I do know what it’s like to be in mourning, be a new mom, and even struggle with depression…but does that even make a difference?

The truth is, I still make mistakes when I do understand a certain group.  When someone shares something heartbreaking, like losing a loved one (been there before), finding out about an illness…I just know in my heart there is nothing I can say to make it better, so I fumble around hoping to say something compassionate.  It doesn’t always work.

If I meet someone new I want to know more about them.  I might ask an idiotic question just grasping at a tidbit they shared.  I don’t do it to be offensive or obtuse.  I do it to understand more.

We are humans and we are curious and often not sure what to say.  We most often ask the wrong question just trying to gain some understanding.  I’d rather have someone ask me something stupid in an attempt to understand my situation better, than be ignored because they are so afraid to say the wrong thing.  In fact I have some great stories about funny statements or questions I’ve been presented with (including a manicurist who told me to eat more vegetables so I could lose weight ~ still hilarious).

So the next time someone you care about says something that shows they don’t know your story or don’t understand what you’re going through, share your heart and help them join you in your struggle.  If someone less important says something, just smile and know they just don’t get it and maybe that’s ok.  Who cares what a stranger thinks anyway?

I’m Hermione, and No, I didn’t take a quiz.

Today I started school again. It’s been over 20 years since I’ve been in a classroom as a student. I’m getting my Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy at a local San Jose School called Western Seminary.  Due to the fact it’s a seminary, I will also be taking a lot of courses on studying and teaching the Bible.

To prepare, I downloaded all the syllabuses for my four classes. I bought my textbooks and did all the reading required for the first class. I also happened to be looking for some reading on my Kindle, so I purchased one of the “recommended books” and have read a good chunk of it already. Another of the recommended books was a book Jared and I read when we were homeschooling two years ago.  I might have been one of the few who was so prepared (a little keen you ask, yes).

I made friends immediately.  I was chatting before class with the people around me and the teacher said “You should be like these students and getting to know each other” (Yikes, already the teacher’s pet.  Is that ever cool?  Who cares? I’m just so blessed to be there).  My classmates are amazing and I love the small class size.  I have a new study buddy whom I’m meeting for lunch this week; Allison and I clicked right away.  During break I sat at a table and four students joined me and we all chatted.

I’m not sure if it’s my outgoing personality or my preparedness, but I was able to interact a few times with the professor when he asked questions. My husband warned me that I might be the “*Hermione Granger” of the class.  I was.  There are 15 people in my class.  Most of the students are in their 20s and 30s, and then there’s me and that other guy who’s also old and married.  I kind of liked it.

My encouragement to you is that it’s not too late to do something different with your life.  This process is going to take at least 5 years until I’m licensed.  Yes, I’m 45 now and I don’t care.  This is my journey right now.  And what a wondrous adventure it is.

(I’m not sure how I’m going to handle my night classes.  I’m so wound up from going to class.  I’m never going to sleep again.)

* Hermione Granger is a character in the Harry Potter books who is ALWAYS prepared and has done ALL the reading. She also spends her spare time reading extra books to gain more knowledge. I’m only adding this note for the non-Harry Potter people (and really, if you didn’t know, I highly recommend them as great read).

I’m Still Confused

Just sharing this so I don’t have to explain it over and over to many different people…

This year we decided to take in a Chinese student. He is 15 and a very nice boy. People warned me that we would have struggles. We were told to expect him to hide away and never talk to us. That he would be consumed with studies and would rarely socialize. All that was mostly wrong, except the part that said we would have struggles.

He did sometimes do very little communicating, however, he ate dinner with us every night and worked at telling us more things about his day as the months went by.  He was never consumed with studying, in fact he became addicted to video games and had to be reminded to get his schoolwork done.  Honestly, that was a problem we could handle.  We set boundaries for times that he could play and encouraged him to try other things.  He liked playing board games with the family, he was learning the guitar, and really enjoyed playing sports like basketball.  Sure we had some teenager moments, but nothing major (he learned not to talk back and shush us).  But over all, we liked him.

The troubles we were having all came from the woman who ran the program.  I don’t think her English was very good and she started misinterpreting texts and emails and somehow she escalated problems very quickly.  I would say that she would “fix a scratch with surgery”.  I tried to explain myself when she responded weirdly to texts, but she would just get more reactive and more angry.

Well, today he was taken out of our home by the woman who runs the program.  I’m not 100% sure what happened.  I met with the boy’s teacher last week and it turned out he was sleeping in class.  I told the boy the consequence was that he had to surrender his phone and computer every night at 10pm so he can get better sleep.  He agreed.  Last night he was up late.  I confronted him and asked him to follow the rules and go to bed.  Well, it turns out he was talking to the woman from the program.  She took it personally that I sent him to bed.  Every text today that I sent trying to resolve this was returned with a “Fine, I can have him out today.”  I kept saying, “No, I’m just trying to explain so we can be on the same team”.

It was never resolved and our exchange student is gone.  Dave never got to say goodbye.  I do ask that you pray for this boy and my stubbornness to forgive.

Too Young? Nah!

IMG_2928My 18 year old son, Nick, proposed to his girlfriend recently and now they are engaged to be married next Spring.  Yes, they are teens.  Yes, they are young.  But I keep getting asked, “Are they too young?”  My answer is NO!

(The banner behind the plane says, “Sawyer will you marry me?”)

At first the question about their age bugged me.  What I realize, as I talk about it more and more, is maybe we need to ask the question, “Are they ready?” every time anyone gets engaged (or just shut our traps and say CONGRATS).  I know people in their 40s who are not ready.  Some people need to get their own lives in order before involving others.  Maybe all engaged couples need to be able to defend, “Are they ready?”  I can honestly say that my son and his girlfriend are more than ready.

This couple has been praying together since they met over 3 years ago and have made God a central part of their relationship.  They have consistently been faithful and kind to each other for that whole time (there were no breakups and getting back together).  They don’t name call or disrespect each other.  My son has only ever said wonderful things about her to us and around his friends.  Their dreams and ambitions align for their future.  When they are in public, they don’t cling to each other and make others feel awkward, but are confident in each other, to give each other space to have their own passions.  They even took a couples class and found a mentor couple to walk alongside them as they journeyed towards their engagement.  I’ve see more maturity in them in the last year than I see in some couples dealing with relationships in their 20s and 30s.  They have a plan for the next 20 years that is pretty solid and it includes making it work on their own.

Will it be easy to be married that young?  Probably not all the time.  But I say that because NO marriage is easy all the time.  People get sick, you have to pay bills, life changes and moves quickly sometimes and you have to roll with it.

Will they miss out on the “fun” years of their youth?  If you knew their story so far you wouldn’t ask.  Individually they have worked with orphans in Africa, helped with Tsunami relief in Samoa, backpacked remote areas of Honduras to build a feeding center, traveled to Nepal to work with children and provide earthquake relief…that just touches on the surface of their lives so far.  How cool will it be to do more of that with their best friend by their side?  It was in 2012, when they went to build a school in the jungles of Indonesia, that they met. (Maybe I’m the one who is missing out on something).

What if they move back in? Well, I know that’s not their plan, but they are family and we will help them any way we can.  We will always be there if they need us, and it will be our pleasure.  But honestly, I have doubts that we will see them more than a few times every few years as they travel the world in their missionary work (and it makes me a little sad and proud all at the same time).

So join me in praying for this amazing couple as they start their next big adventure…together.

I love you Nick and Sawyer!  God bless your relationship.


How Vic and Jennifer literally saved my life

Let me start by emphasizing that I don’t use the word “literally” to mean figuratively. I try to keep that word pure and in its correct definition. So here it goes, “How Vic and Jennifer literally saved my life”.

This past weekend we went on a couples-only camping trip with 6 other couples.  The view from our tent was gorgeous:

Sawmill Aug (3)

The campsite we had was HUGE.  Each couple had their own area and plenty of elbow room.  We had 3 different kitchen areas.  Our evenings were filled with laughter and good eats.  My hubby made me a wonderful steak and Caesar salad on Friday night.

I was sitting with 4 of the 6 other couples (the 2 other couples were down the hill at their own kitchen spot) and we were eating, drinking, and talking.  In my own little space I suddenly realized for the first time in my life I had food stuck in my throat and it wasn’t going in or out.  I was choking.

I got up and walked past Vic, who was sitting next to me, and went to Jennifer to get her attention.  Right before I walked up to her she had been talking about getting another water and so she thought at first my gesturing was a request for some water.  Fortunately for me, she saw the fear in my eyes and very quickly figured out I was choking and needed assistance.  “She’s choking!”, she said.

I became very calm and stood with my arms at my sides and my eyes closed, allowing Jennifer to manipulate me as she performed the Heimlich maneuver.  It wasn’t quite working.  In my head I started processing the fact that I wouldn’t know exactly what to do if I was the one trying to save someone.  My thoughts started to become peaceful and accepting that “this might be it” (It was probably not it, but it  just might have escalated uncomfortably, and I did need saving).

I hear Jennifer yell for her husband to take over.  What we didn’t realize at the time, was that Vic was the only one in the circle of people sitting there, to actually be trained in how to perform the Heimlich maneuver.  It worked.  A huge steak chunk flew out of my mouth.

I was in shock after that for a little while.  My friends Dena and Hector helped me feel safe with their calming words and actions that followed.  My friends are awesome and I’m very thankful for them.

Note to self…chew your food.

Sawmill Aug (16)