Know what’s inside Stretch Armstrong?

I have figured out what is inside the Stretch Armstrong figures of my youth. You’ll find it ironic since Stretch was masculinity immortalized forever in a tiny toy. Ole Stretch was made of…

Female DNA.

I know this because I am now in the Stretch Armstrong phase of life.

Actually, I think women are stretched to capacity at all stages of their adult lives, but this time is especially hard.

Cathy Guisewhite (creator of the Cathy cartoon strip) calls it the panini generation, sandwiched between the needs of the generations before and after us.

Our kids don’t need us like once did; they are on their own. But they still need help. Advice, babysitting, money…all of the things we relied on our parents for in our 20’s and 30’s are the things they are relying on us for now.

Our parents, the ones we rebelled against in our teens and were determined not to be like as young adults, are now treasured friends. We have come full circle, needing them as much as we did when we were children, worrying when they aren’t within our sight and pleading with them to never leave us.

We find a strange new demand at home. Having put the needs of a spouse, work, and other commitments at the forefront for so long, we are surprised when the little revolt from within pops up.

What about me? it cries.

So in a weird, narcissistic twist, we are stretched even farther by our own desires and forgotten dreams.

We are stretched to the limit.

As families grow, they often expand numerically and geographically. Traveling to visit family means leaving loved ones alone at home. Staying home to care for your spouse means not being able to travel and help with your parents as much as you’d like.

It’s “whose family to spend holidays with” all over again. But times 1000. Because the time grows shorter and the needs grow longer.

But this is nothing new.

We’ve been stretched from the moment we tossed our graduation caps in the air, even longer for some women. We’ve adapted and we’ve overcome and we will do it again.

But this time, we know to make every moment count!

Gear Up: Nature

It’s Sunday night! Time to gear up for a new week. As always, the best way to do that is to PUT ON THE ARMOR OF GOD (Ephesians 6:10-18) but we also will focus on ONE area to strengthen our walk with the Lord. Just one focus to help us grow a faith that cannot fade with the demands of life and the pressures of this world. This week we will focus on NATURE!

I remember the day my dad called to tell me that he’d developed a new morning routine. He would make himself a cup of coffee and go sit on the porch and listen to the birds. I was old enough to appreciate the idea but too busy to try it myself.

As the years went on, I learned to slow down and take time to smell the roses, literally as well as figuratively. I listen to the birds. And, out here in the country, the tree frogs. I’m in awe of the lush green tree that sprouted nearly overnight when we had to add a spray field to our septic system!

The Lord made a beautiful landscape for us to enjoy. We just need to open our eyes and see it.

This week take 15 minutes each day to enjoy nature. Instead of looking at landscapes on your phone, look at them in your backyard. Close your eyes and listen to the different sounds you hear. Smell the scents of a flowerbed or garden. Pick a bunch of wildflowers. Enjoy this beautiful world the Lord has made.

A time to cry; a time to suck it up

I went home to celebrate my 50th birthday last week.

It was…eventful.

Actually, it was a lot of fun and I appreciate all the hard work my family did in making my birthday extra-special. I treasure the time spent with my family, special occasions or not.

But in the midst of the party there was a traumatic experience, one that affected everyone differently.

My sister, letting my toddler grandson help her drive the golf cart, was headed down the  hill when the cart picked up speed and hit a patch of rocks, wet from the week’s rains. It became obvious to her that she had two choices: let go of the baby and use both hands to try and control the steering wheel or let go of the steering wheel and wrap the baby up in her arms to protect him. She chose the baby.

Out of vision from the rest of the family, we only heard the crash followed by faint cries. In fact, the cries were so muffled everyone froze for a second to determine whether we were hearing crying or kids playing. A split second later, everyone was sprinting across the deck. Turned out that my sister had managed to protect the baby, pushing him out of her arms to get help as she lay in a tangled mess of metal. (The fire dept. would later extricate her as EMT’s put her on a stretcher.)

In those few seconds, though, before reaching the bottom of the hill, my mind went through a million different scenarios. Who was still in the cart? I couldn’t see and I’d had no idea who was on it. Were they alive? I pictured my other grandchildren in a tangled mess as well.

Then one of the grandkids came flying past me. Then another.

It was as if time slowed down, relief flooding me as I counted one person safe in my mind after another. By the time I reached the cart, about 10 seconds had passed. It had seemed like a lifetime. I saw my sister lying there and knew everything would be okay.

She was hurt, but my baby sister is one tough cookie. Nevertheless, I gently took her hand and prayed while the paramedics were en route.

I then went back up the hill with the other grandkids who were shaken. Meaning well, everyone was telling my 9-year-old granddaughter not to cry because everything was alright.

Sometimes you just need to cry.

When she finally snuck off a few minutes later to cry in peace, I wrapped my arms around her and let her sob.

Pent-up emotions like that need to come out.

At least when you’re a girl. My pragmatic 8-year-old grandson deduced that she’d probably shattered every bone in her body and then came up with a plan to get the golf cart back so it could be fixed!

Driving home the next day, I still had some pent-up emotions myself and cried a little myself.

But then it was time to dry my tears.

Too often, we feed on our sorrow. We like to wallow and commiserate.  We rehash things in our heads to the point where we can’t even function. We aren’t enjoying life; we have given the devil full control.

We must guard against this.

Sorrow may last for the night but joy comes in the morning.

Know when it’s time to let the sorrow go.