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Retreat

In March of this year I wrote this about a friend of mine:

“My sister – not by blood, but by a bond forged over the years.

Sometimes we are fortunate in that God gives two people a heritage that goes beyond blood, and we can truly call ourselves sisters.

Through thick and thin – good times and bad – I know I can depend on her to be there – for support – for physical assistance – someone who never thought twice to fly all the way from England to be with me when my husband was dying.”

And in the same way, she knows I will be there for her, whatever the situation she may be challenged with. It’s not keeping score.

It’s a friendship freely given.

Critical Investments

“A friend is a gift you give yourself.”

Robert Louis Stevenson

When you want to make your money grow, you check out investment options. What amount do you need to invest and what will be your return over time.

When I was growing up, I was taught to save 10% of everything I earned. From the berry fields to my first job after high school, there was little left to put into savings after expenses.

But it was a principle I took seriously, abided by and was always amazed at how those little deposits added up over time.

When my husband and I got married, we started out barely able to make ends meet and pay the bills. In fact the first six months of our marriage we lived with his parents.

But over the years, we continued that same principle of putting away whatever we could, investing for future years. It required discipline, self-regulation, sacrifice and commitment. But it was a diligence that paid off in huge dividends.

Investing wisely took a while to learn. Some stocks were too risky, others gave no return for an investment; but after a short period of time we learned how to invest wisely and prudently, maximizing our return while minimizing the risks.

Those Good Times

As we continue our series in relationships, we want to know how we can make our current relationships more meaningful and satisfying.

Exploring our past gives us information about what we bring with us into our present day relationships. We may not always find the answers we want, but we find enough clues to help re-direct, fix or change courses today.

Patterns are repeated from generation to generation.

Children growing up with an alcoholic parent are only too aware of how destructive addictions can have on the family. They swear they won’t repeat the same mistakes. Yet, more times than we want to recognize, children growing up in alcoholic families end up marrying an alcoholic or someone with an addictive personality.

We repeat what we are familiar with. It is what we know. To keep from repeating them, we need to have new information to work with.

Remembering those good times

We often forget the positive experiences we had growing up. There were those times when we knew we were loved and appreciated, complimented or encouraged. Who were involved in these affirming experiences?

Grab Hold, Let Go and Swing

Grab hold – let go – and swing!

Really!!!

You don’t know what you are asking!

But as we grab hold of understanding our past, we can let go of those parts that hold us hostage and keep us from swinging free into tomorrow.

My son was born without the muscles to hold up his head. A special brace was designed just for him so he could learn to walk and do all the things every kid does. It had a metal rod that went up the back and was anchored around his waist and around his forehead to hold the head up.

He never let his brace or lack of muscles deter him from grabbing hold of life and swinging into the unknown. He let go of anything that kept him grounded and swung freely.

Handicaps

Handicaps of any kind do not need to deter us. Difficult childhood experiences of neglect, lack of love, favoritism, alcoholism, rejection, abandonment or abuse can feel like handicaps. They can make us feel as though we are trapped in an ongoing cycle of shame, anger, self doubt or depression. But these nor any other handicaps need to keep us imprisoned to a past or unable to find hope for the future.

Let’s create a rope we can grab hold of and swing to a new way of doing things.

Unspoken Rules

Years ago, I facilitated many parenting classes for Kaiser Permanente Health Education. We helped parents identify the needs of their children and the importance of establishing rules, structure and communication within the family.

If children know what is expected of them, they will know how to comply. They will understand the consequences of their choices, good or bad and know that they are making those choices.

When children are unsure, there is an undercurrent of not knowing what to do.

Family Meetings

One way for parents to set rules and structure is to do hold periodic family meetings. In these meetings kids are able to give their input while parents make the final decisions. Here rules and responsibilities can be discussed and chores and household tasks set for everyone. It is here where the family can discuss vacation options and review different outside schedules.

Are You On The Top or Bottom of the Heap

Families not only have an influence on how we approach problems in life or the blueprint we follow, but it can have an effect on the course of our marriages.

It is important to remember, that regardless of our upbringing and past experiences, we are not prisoners of our past.

With knowledge and understanding, we gain personal power to make better and more appropriate choices.

While family dynamics help shape and mold us, there is another component that can have an effect on our relationships that few people think of.

Long term research confirm that our birth order and position within our family of origins has an emotional effect on our lives in predictable ways. It is a phenomenon that occurs in all cultures and countries.

Where do you fall within the structure of your family? Were you the oldest, the middle child or the youngest? How did you feel about your siblings? Did you feel lost within the family, or feel that others received special privileges while you always had to be the “good one”?

Oh those growing up years. . . .

“Please, God, no more yelling, no more trips to the woodshed.

Treat me nice for a change; I’m so starved for affection,”

Psalm 6 – The Message

Families: it’s where we fight for our position in the sun, vie for Mom and Dad’s attention, fight over toys, learn to make excuses and blame others for our failures.

“He took my fire truck” – “No, she took it.” Or “He hit me first!” “I did not”

It’s where we believed that Mom or Dad favored Johnny or Suzie more than me. We may lash out in our perceived injustices, nurse our hurts and believe nobody understands how I feel.

“You always take her side – you don’t care about me – you’re mean – I hate you”

Other times, we bury our feelings because we are afraid to express them.

If we are lucky while growing up, there will be a parent, grandparent, teacher or other caring adult who listens, let’s you know you are heard and helps you through those early childhood traumas.

Book feature – Tales of Two Sisters

As we reflect on the families we grew up in, we read stories and novels about siblings that perhaps remind us of our own experiences.

Sisters.

If you grew up with a sister you may remember the fights, the tears, the camaraderie, the secrets, and competition. You may have looked up to or felt inferior by the other. Perhaps you felt you were treated unfairly and when you left home, you took with you long-standing quarrels that were never resolved; both going their separate ways, hoping their paths would never cross.

Darlene Dubay is a first time Northwest author who has published her first novel about two sisters, their estrangement, setbacks and personal tragedies. Over the years, the sisters went their separate ways, married and had families. Separated geographically, they live two different lives that are full of tragedies, losses and re-discoveries.

Death, betrayal, troubled liaisons, and new loves and relationships are woven into this story of two sisters who are trying to find themselves amidst the fateful events that have touched their lives in different ways.

Love Them or Hate Them

Do you remember when you were a teen and couldn’t wait to leave home? You couldn’t wait to live life the way you wanted to and didn’t want anybody telling you what you could or could not do.

Kids often can’t wait to leave home, establish their own rules and leave behind sibling rivalry, jealousies and what they might view as ongoing conflicts with their parents.

But like it or not, we take our families of origin with us. We can’t run away from them.

And whether we like it or not, we often end up repeating the behaviors we saw modeled – good or bad – even if we desperately want to do things different.

For those fortunate to grow up in nurturing and caring homes, we will have the support of our families as we leave home. We still want to be on our own, but will be able to appreciate the sacrifices and values and discipline we had as kids especially when we start our own families.

But for those who grew up in less than nurturing environments, were subjected to emotional or physical abuse, leaving home represents freedom from neglect and less than favorable family dynamics. They want to remove themselves as far as possible from their family of origin.

God Bless America

Firecrackers popping, potato salad made. Pop and beer are in the cooler covered with ice and we congregate as friends together to watch the evening fireworks.

The 4th of July – it is one of our favorite holidays.

It is a favorite because it represents freedom, independence and liberty.

We are free to be our own person, free to move around and make our own choices.

We have autonomy and self-determination.

Our liberty was bought with the blood, sweat and tears of others who stood up for what was right and fought to help our country become free and remain free.

That liberty assures us that we are free from tyranny, unreasonable control and restrictions of a despotic, arbitrary or over-reaching government.

What are we doing with that freedom?