Herald Journal Columns
Jan. 9, 2006 Herald Journal

Lessons learned; looking ahead


I was so intensely glad to see the end of 2005 for obvious reasons.

It will be quite some time before we can escape the impact of my husband’s deployment, but we are borrowing some semblance of normalcy and moving forward since he returned.

I am happy to report that I know what color the floor of my laundry room is – it’s blue. And it needs paint. This is thanks to my husband, who is head of that department. He doesn’t mind folding clothes at all.

Also, the kids are minding MUCH better, although it bugs me that they didn’t listen all year long to me saying the same thing to them, and they listen differently when my husband speaks (well, OK – he has to repeat himself at least two or three times, too, but still!).

What is it about a dad that makes things so different? Fathers are such an integral part of children’s lives. There’s no replacement for them. This is an experiment that I have lived and can say it’s true, without a doubt.

I think the lower voice range helps when they are yelling at kids, too (ha ha). I actually took away every privilege they ever had at one point and had almost the same impact as the second warning from my husband; which frankly stinks.

Taking stock of the past year, I assembled the following two lists.

Things that got worse:

• my memory

• my handwriting

• my back

Things that are better:

• my relationship with God

• my relationship with husband

• I lost weight, although this was stress related. And I didn’t lose enough to make it worth it, either.

I think the only time your faith grows is under duress.

There was a time in my younger years when I prayed to the Lord to increase my faith, and then Wham-o!, all kinds of bad things happened – but, wow! Did my faith grow!

Lessons well learned

For me, a new year is really a clean break and a chance to balance out.

Looking back, there are many things that God taught me.

Main lesson: never forget that God is a spirit by nature and works unseen, most of the time.

In fact, most things that God really cares about can’t be seen (your true intentions, your heart, even the words you speak). None of these things are visible.

For example, what people look like (color of hair or skin, etc.) has nothing to do with their spiritual state of being.

Even our son picked up on this element, since we were studying Galatians quite a bit.

If you think about it, all of the fruits of the Holy Spirit are things unseen: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Faith, upon which our Christian spirituality depends (at least while we are still on this earth), is unseen.

Interestingly enough, the things that God hates can be very visible.

“The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

Galatians 19-21

“Do you know what else I learned?” I said to my husband. “People can look completely different than the way they are on the inside.”

“You’re 37 years old and you just learned that now?” he said.

“Well, no! I mean that I relearned it,” I said sheepishly.

But he’s right. Some of the basic stuff you just keep re-learning until it finally sticks.

Some of the most wonderful people who got me through the worst times are ordinary looking people whose wisdom you can’t guess until they speak, and you walk away with good advice.

The old, made new again

Without drama, our family took on resolutions for the new year – and actually, we didn’t even label them as such, or talked much about it.

“Talk is cheap. Get on the treadmill,” is our 2006 saying, and we’ve been in the fitness club since.

We had a weigh in for the entire family (including one of the fatter dogs), which is posted on our fridge.

Buster the daschund weighs 18 pounds. We thought the baby would beat him, but she’s 23 pounds.

We’ve been drinking more water. But I’m not giving up chocolate, ever.

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