Tuesday, September 22, 2015

What a friend...

I'm sitting at the dining room table, catching up on some work and trying to savor my cup of coffee.  There's no school today and I am steeling myself for the inevitable nonstop bickering between my kids.  The two oldest are up, playing in Noah's room until they migrate into their playroom.  I hear Noah, frustrated with the drawing activity on his Leapster, proclaim, "Zoe! I'm trying to draw you a Zebra but I just cant do it!"  You see, little brother knows his sister's favorite animal has always been a Zebra.  He's trying so hard to do something nice for her.  Zoe, with patience that would rival most adults, responds like this,"That's okay.  Maybe you should try to draw something you know how to draw, like a dog.  You draw great dogs."  Just like that, Noah's frustration melts away.

I marvel at the relationship my kids have with one another.  They bicker so much.  They yell, fight, sometimes hit (always an "accident" of course), and make one another cry more than any two people I know.   However, they also comfort, soothe, encourage, and support one another in ways that warm this mom's heart.  The picture below is one of my all time favorites.  I had been trying to get a good picture of the kids in their Fourth of July outfits.  Zoe was not feeling it.  She was upset and frustrated about something I obviously didn't understand.  Noah probably didn't understand either.  However, his reaction to his sister was different than that of an aggravated mother.  He grabbed her in a huge, genuine hug, and her reaction was just picture perfect.  With that act, that love he showed her, Noah was able to turn the day around for all of us.

Our church is in the middle of a sermon series on friendship so I've been thinking a lot about what makes a good friend.  Honestly folks, good friends are hard to come by.  There aren't always very many people with whom we feel completely comfortable around.  People that take us as we are, "wart's and all" and love us unconditionally.  People who are honest and loving at the same time.

Zach and I understand that the path we've chosen in life, being a pastor in the United Methodist Church, means that we will move probably more often than we will like.  I worry sometimes about how this lifestyle will affect our children.  Seeing moments like I witnessed this morning, my kids truly being each other's best friends, eases my heart somewhat.  I think we would all consider ourselves blessed indeed to have a friend like they have found in one another.

May we also take the time to consider, "How have I been a friend to someone lately."  What act of genuine love and support have you shown to someone recently?  I know I could take a lesson from my kids today.

Blessings to you and yours, thanks for reading.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

FAQs, Bechtold style

Zach and I recently returned from a wonderful trip to celebrate our 10 year anniversary that will happen in September.  We have dubbed it our "tiniversary" since tin is the traditional gift for 10 years.  We have received alot of questions from friends and strangers about this trip that I thought I would address here.

1.  How could you afford to do this trip?  Or, the more common but less of a question: "Must be nice to be able to afford it."  Since Zach and I have been married we have only taken a handful of vacations.  Nearly all have been baseball related and the longest one we took was for three days.  We usually stay in questionable hotel accommodations and we watch every penny we spend.  Since we started planning our honeymoon, which was to Santa Fe, we agreed that for our ten year anniversary we would try and do something big.  So, about two years ago, we started planning.  We put back nearly every extra dollar we received, either through an unexpected job, or money we received at Christmas and birthdays.  In September we officially booked the cruise and we were able to make payments.  Our flights, which we also booked early, we used our tax refund to purchase.  That, coupled with my incredible "cheapness" enabled us to be able to afford this wonderful trip.  It wasn't luck, it was work and conscious effort on our parts to make sacrifices to be able to afford it.

2.  How could you leave your kids for that long?  It was hard, trust me.  I am grateful to have a wonderful set of in-laws who were able to watch our kids for that long.  There were many moments during our trip that I was racked with guilt and worry for leaving my kids.  We were also unable to be in contact with them much which made it harder.  However, with everything that our daily lives encompass: school, work, church, kids, family, etc., we needed this time together.  I loved the moments and experiences we were able to share together, Zach and I.  So many memories were made that are priceless.  Also, for someone like me, who has never been out of the country, I treasured this experience with travel.  I was able to check many things off my bucket list that at times, I was quite emotional about it.  I kept thinking, what if we had kept putting this trip off, to when we thought it was "more convenient" and maybe missed having this experience at all?

3.  What was your favorite part of the trip?  This is a tough one.  I asked Zach this question and he said that his was visiting Vatican City, more specifically St. Peter's Basilica.  He said, "It's amazing to think I'm standing on the same ground where many Popes have walked.  Where Peter was crucified."

There's Zach's feet, in the purple chucks, standing where the Pope has walked.

No doubt about it, that is cool.  As for the Basilica, no words can describe the beauty of that place.  You walk in and your jaw drops.  You think you know what to expect, but you just cant.


For me, it's hard to pin down the best moment.  Rome was awesome.  Malta and Sicily were amazingly beautiful.  I got to walk on the beach in Corsica.  The ship was lovely, the service was perfect, and the food divine.  What's not to love?

4.  What was your least favorite part of the trip?  Hands down it would be trying to find the hotel in Barcelona.  Here's a tip, don't try to save money when trying to get around a place like Barcelona, just go for the cab.  We went with a bus then the metro. Never again.  Taxi all the way.

5.  What cruise line did you go with?  We went with Royal Caribbean and I would highly recommend it.  We were on the Vision of the Seas which isn't a huge ship but large nonetheless.  The service was impeccable and we seriously have no complaints about anything about the ship.  

I mean, two desserts each!  What's not to love??

6.  Would you do it again? YES.  In fact, we would do this exact same cruise again.  There's so much to see in this world and a day at each of the ports was simply not enough.  The only thing we would change is we would like some friends or family to go with us and share the experience.  Not to mention, sometime our "selfies" were a little difficult to pull off and some willing hands to help us out with pictures would be nice.

See what I mean, that bleached out part behind us is the Trevi Fountain.

I'm going to begin now to save those dollars.  Who wants to join us?

Sunset view from the ship.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Taking control

As any mother of more than one child can attest to, your kids arguing with one another can be a major issue in your household.  If my oldest two children are in the same place for more than a minute, they are arguing.  Mostly it stems from my seven year old believing she knows everything and my four year old saying things just to make her mad.  I am constantly reminding Zoe that she cant control what others do, she can only control her reaction.  In frustration I'll lament,  "Why can't you just let it go?"  Obviously the sky isn't green, he's just saying that because he knows it makes her mad.  That's what little brothers do.  She has to be right, she has to set him straight, and the arguing continues until there are tears or I step in to separate them.

It's easy to get my mom voice and lecture my children about letting go of the little things and taking control of our own reactions.  It comes naturally to me to sit my daughter down and remind her that being right isn't the most important thing we can do.  When it comes to living what I teach, that's another matter.

I've been slapped by the realization that I have let certain people steal my joy.  I has hit with daunting clarity recently at a Bible Study that I have held on to criticisms I have received in the past, in some cases, the distant past, and it has colored the perception I have of myself and my ability to do certain things.  I have allowed those negative people and thoughts to define a part of who I am, or, at the very least, of who I think I am.  I have let my desire to be right in some instances damage my relationships with certain people.  I have done that, no body else. 

With new insight comes a new challenge.   How do I let go of years of hanging on to my bitterness?  How do I truly forgive, down in my heart, where it counts?  How do I refuse to let other people define me?

Friends, I honestly don't know, but I'm working on it.  Something that has helped me in ways I would never of guessed is to intentionally focus on the good in others.  I'm talking, everyone I come into contact with.  I try to think of something I admire about that person with every encounter.  By seeing something positive in other people, I'm more easily able to see the positive things within myself.  By focusing on a person's good quality, I'm less likely to get annoyed by the little things.  By trying to enjoy the presence of those I come into contact with, I find it easier to put myself into their shoes, to understand why they may say or do hurtful things.  By doing each of these things, I find it easier, in most cases, to voice my opinion without major conflict arising over differences.

My family, with Zach's guidance, has made a mantra of "Love God, Love others, reach out."  I remind my children that when we show love to others, especially those who annoy us or hurt us, we are truly showing love to God.  It's so hard sometimes, and sometimes it's even harder to love ourselves.  

I can not control others.  I can only control myself.  It's a daily challenge, one that I fail at constantly, but I pray daily to see change.  I pray that by through my actions, I am teaching my children what it means to LOVE, and that I someday, I can honestly say that I practice what I preach.

 I would love to hear from you on this topic.