I can think of a few things that might come up. Of those, I’m certain that they’ll make fun of me for all the language rules I have. I don’t necessarily mean grammar rules, although that’s part of it.
I am, for instance, a stickler on pronoun cases. I am also a little picky about things like nauseous verses nauseated (think poisonous versus poisoned) since I’m a registered nurse and get to hear them used wrongly every single day. And I also like infinitives to usually remain un-split. But that’s only because it’s fashionable now to not care if they are split.
But the bigger language rules I enforce in our home are not related to grammar. They are about categories, limitations, and attitudes.
For example, I enjoy the liberal use of “yes, sir” and “yes, ma’am”, which my kids predictably hate.
I don’t tolerate the phrase “I can’t.....”
I don’t ever let anyone around me—not even strangers—say things like “I’m just a kid” or “I’m just a nurse” or any manner of “I’m just a...” phrase. No way.
And—here is the big one they will make fun of me for life—no one in our house is allowed to say that they “have to” do something. I just feel that my kids have it pretty easy. They are blessed. Their lives are certainly great enough that I don’t think it’s accurate to complain that they “have to” do homework or “have to” practice piano or “have to” help clean up after dinner.
In my house, they “get to” do those things. And man do they hate that.
The other annoying thing I do is that whenever someone has a rough experience, I ask them, “Why do we fall?” As they know, the only acceptable answer is, “So that we can get back up.”
That’s something I plagiarized from Batman Begins.
And, of course, it’s a really insensitive, condescending thing to say to someone right when they are in the middle of a rough experience. So I do wish I’d stop saying it to the kids when they hit their bumps.
But it’s also something I believe in so much that I can’t stop myself from saying it. It’s what I say to myself in my own worst moments. “Here I am. I’ve fallen again. And why do we fall? So that we can get back up. So I’d better hurry and do that.”
In the last four weeks, I’ve fallen and gotten up a whole lot. My new assignment at work has been challenging and exhausting. Heavy travel and workload have taken their toll on my physical and emotional health. They’ve strained my family relationships. And they’ve eclipsed any capacity I normally reserve for spiritual growth, service, and study.
On top of that baseline strain, we got some news on Wednesday night that was challenging for us to understand and work through. That sapped my energy through Friday. And then, since these things always come in groups, I received the news on Friday that one of my closest friends had run into a devastating setback.
This finally overwhelmed me.
Unfortunately, I had one more conference call to smile through. And I faked it magnificently. But the moment that the call ended, I collapsed into my chair and cried. And cried. And cried.
Wendy held and consoled me. She let me vent out. And she gently suggested that maybe it would possibly help at least a little bit to take a shower finally since it was almost 5PM and I looked and smelled horrible. “You know,” she reminded me, “you can never underestimate the positive influence of taking a shower.”
Shower I did. Then I dressed. And then I prayed for help. I was down and needed to get back up.
As they so often are, my prayer was answered clearly and quickly. Within just a couple hours, a dear old friend noticed my grief and sent me a message online: “We have seen harder times, and must be prepared for even more difficult days to follow. Meaning: we cannot spend ourselves entirely in the course of just one day.”
This was precisely what I needed to hear. As challenging as the times were, I did not need to fix every problem or sort through every conundrum on this one single day.
And so, thus released from my self-imposed bondage, I took the weekend off.
We went as a family to see the local professional hockey team play, which is something we’ve never done before. Isaac got to go out on the ice with the Kiwanis Boys Choir and sing the national anthem. That was an awesome experience for us, and he was beaming with joy afterward.
I can, by the way, prove all of this with a crisp photo I took on my phone that perfectly captures the joy and pageantry of the moment:
Wendy and I capped off the night with a soothing binge of Survivor reruns. This was heaven.
The next morning, I checked in with my work team to help realign the plan for the day. But then I let them know I’d need to pull back until late evening. I’d check in later, but I wouldn’t be able to be a constant support through the day.
And, as good teams always do, they stepped up and performed brilliantly without me.
We went to the dog park in the morning. We should have taken pictures, because it was our dog’s first time going. You’ve never seen a happier creature. And then, since it was an unbelievably beautiful fall day, we ate a quick snack and went to Boise’s Camel Back Park.
The park has an awesomely steep hill that we hiked up multiple times. We were too sweaty and red-faced for selfies, but here is a stock photo of the park:
Here’s a video of a stacked guy from bodybuilding.com demonstrating the equipment and making it look like it all works really well.
In reality, some of it was great and some was not. The squat machine felt like a medieval torture device. And the row machine was so poorly leveraged that three of us had to climb on before it gave sufficient resistance.
Afterward, we went home to clean up and then went together to eat at Boise’s best Indian restaurant. Who would have thought we’d have such a great Indian restaurant? But we do!
Later that night, I took some time to myself to meditate, to read, and to pray. This was a luxury that I’ve missed dearly.
Today I woke up with a sweet calm in my heart that I have not known all month. Stepping back a bit had given me perspective. It had allowed me to enjoy the day with my family. And it re-invited God’s love into my heart. I was no longer too busy or too stressed to recognize that spirit.
Whatever challenges I need to face, I was blessed today with confidence that it was all working out and that all I needed to do was just to dust off and get back up. I was blessed to know I’m not alone. I’m a child of God and I am ever blessed by his love.
We closed our meeting at church today by singing the lovely hymn, Abide with Me:
Abide with me! Fast falls the eventide.
The darkness deepens. Lord, with me abide!
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, oh abide with me!
I need thy presence every passing hour.
What but thy grace can foil the tempter’s power?
Who, like thyself, my guide and stay can be?
Thru cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me!
The tenor line is beautiful. It’s very fun to sing. But I couldn’t finish the hymn because I was crying tears of joy.