Plane Coffee Mom

Chatting about Mission Aviation over coffee

Tag: family

Happy Thanksgiving 2017

Thanksgiving. One of the most American holidays ever, complete with underlying values and heavy with tradition. A day to celebrate all we have and to share a meal with family and friends. A day that nearly everyone cooks, apparently. A day that is synonymous with family and food and relaxation.

 

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope your day is full of the best parts of each of those things: that the traditions you follow bring joy, that the thankfulness you express today is a gratitude that is lived most days, and that the food you prepare is truly enjoyed.

I realized yesterday that we have no traditions for this holiday as it isn’t one we have often celebrated. Most Thanksgiving days in our lives have been spent as regular work days, with maybe a few moments set aside to read about the celebrations going on in the USA or Canada, as the case may be.

Still, as long as I can remember I’ve seen beautiful photos of a loaded Thanksgiving table with a large family gathered. I have a mental picture of what Thanksgiving could or should be, and I’ve tried hard to recreate it sometimes. The perfect turkey with delicious stuffing, cranberry sauce, sweet potato something, and pumpkin pie with coffee to finish it off. This amazing meal followed by a time of sharing gratitude for the people around the table and the things we enjoy.

No matter how hard I try, the experience simply doesn’t meet my expectations. Usually by the time the food is on the table there have been frustrations that make me harried. We cut into a turkey that isn’t perfect, nobody really enjoys cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie isn’t a family favorite. Thanksgiving feels forced and my sons mumbled thanks feel like a reflection on my poor parenting. So, for all my effort, it’s empty. Disappointing. Discouraging.

I still hold to the thought that for many people, the pictures in their mind of a Thanksgiving celebration are based on a reality that has grown over their years of childhood and into the present. What they expect is maybe much closer to what they get. And for them, the effort they spend on Thanksgiving creates a reality that connects them to one another and to the past and their heritage. For the rest of us, it’s a different story.

This year as we celebrate Thanksgiving in the USA, I am trying to carve a new path based on reality and our history. As I ponder the things that I am truly thankful for, they are people and experiences. The people who have helped us grow and the ones we’ve been privileged to help. Our family who lives scattered by calls that are unique  but hearts that are similar. The people we have served and the ones who have served us.  The people who have prayed with us and cried with us. The places we’ve lived and the ones we’ve visited. The cultures we’ve experienced that have changed our biases and taught us new things. The places that felt like home when we arrived and the ones that became home only by a force of will. The teams that welcomed us and the ones we tried so hard to join. These are the things that make our history and define us as a family, and today I am celebrating each one of them.

In fact, in the process of blogging I’ve come up with next year’s menu: Rice, carne mechada, black beans, chipa, and a side of pancit. Leche flan with a cup of cafe con leche for dessert while we remember and give thanks.

May your Thanksgiving be filled with thanksgiving.

Ideal Friday evening

It’s quiet right now, an ideal Friday evening. We’re reading and writing, chatting a little about life between the silences, and simply being.  It’s strange how seldom this happens. Life is busy. We’re running, we’re doing, we’re busy. We have people over and we go out. We are involved and engaged.

And then suddenly, quiet. We value this because we’ve learned the hard way that we need it. All four of us. Parents, grown son, and nearly grown son. We have lived many different ways and survived deep changes. The process has been amazing and beautiful, terrible and painful.

Some of my best family memories are  of  a Sunday morning spent listening to songs chosen by our sons, sometimes crazy songs with round-about lyrics and sometimes straightforward worship music. Terere, a Paraguayan ritual we’d carried with us to Philippines, made its way around our small circle as we sat together. We discussed the music. After a while we’d turn on a podcast we were interested in. When it finished we’d chat about what we’d heard and the week just passed. There was wood carving and drawing and painting in the circle. For a while friends joined our circle and we enjoyed the quiet together.  About the only thing we tried to keep outside the circle was hurry, though it sometimes crept in also.

Sometimes we planned a day of rest only to interrupted by an emergency. Sometimes we’d get a text, or turn on the radio at noon, and find our plans meaningless in the face of urgent need. Each of us had our job in those times– food, overnight bag, phone calls, and weather checks were the norm as we went methodically about the business of doing our best to get Garry out the door to do a medical flight or an evacuation. Our plans were soon forgotten in the rush and noise of interruption. The radio always crackled in the background during those times, its static somehow friendly because we knew it was what allowed us to stay in touch.

There were times we survived too long without quiet, getting by on too little sleep and driven by seemingly endless needs. Conversations and tempers both got shorter. We questioned one another’s motives and wished for more hours in a day and more energy in our bodies. Non-essentials were left undone and efficiency became king. If we didn’t choose to stop, it was chosen for us. Paperwork, sickness, or unavoidable obstacles would put us out of commission and we’d find it was a good place to regroup and get back to basics.

As I sit here writing I ponder the path that has brought us here and I am deeply grateful. I’m thankful we value this, and I’m thankful we do it. And I’m just a bit surprised still at how ideal this evening feels.

February Reflections on Success

At this time of year there is a huge focus on celebrating love, relationships, dating, and “successful” marriages. Since I get to celebrate my birthday in February, I get a big dose of spoiled this month. I enjoy every moment of it! Sometimes, though, when I tell my friends the latest amazing thing Garry has done for me, the response is a look of sadness. I wonder if they’re missing the kinds of things I am privileged to enjoy, but that’s seldom an appropriate question. Still it makes me think.

The other day it crossed my mind that I love Garry because he buys me coffee. Ok, not really.
It’s the fact that though he doesn’t enjoy the stuff, he goes to great lengths to get me good coffee. He goes out of his way when we’re headed to stressful meetings to make sure I have my favorite brew on the way. He takes me out for coffee sometimes, and while he may have a cup of tea or a snack, basically he is there just because I love having coffee with him. So, maybe it isn’t the coffee. Maybe it’s the way he lays his life down for me in a million small ways, in so many seasons and so many ways.

Really, I think this sacrifice is what every successful relationship is built on. It goes both ways, hopefully. It happens often. And maybe as much as either of those, it doesn’t go unnoticed. Because unnoticed acts of kindness and sacrifice are not appreciated. And every relationship has plenty of reasons for more negative emotions, so if we don’t take the time to notice the good things, the hard things can swallow us up.

Appreciating the good is not just for marriage either. It’s every relationship, including our relationship with God. It’s not whether God does good things for us, it’s whether we notice it. It’s not a question of God’s goodness, but of our perception of it. It isn’t about whether God answers prayer, but whether we notice when He does.

Experience tells me it is easy to expect and hard to appreciate. So I am practicing appreciating. And so far, it’s been a good and profitable journey!

Reflections on 25 Years Together

Maybe I wasn’t very smart when I got married– after all, I wasn’t even 20 years old. I have, however, been incredibly blessed. Honestly, I had no idea what I was getting into. Like everyone else in the world, I had no clue how life would turn out. In my case, things have turned out a million times better than I ever imagined!

We celebrated 25 years of marriage last month. This weekend we are blessed by a few days home alone together as both our sons are elsewhere. These opportunities to reflect have reminded me how blessed I am. They have made me fall in love all over again. I’ve been nearly giddy at the opportunity to spend time with Garry. I’ve been amazed at where our sons are, and how little we really had to do with it.

On the other hand, I’ve been humbled at the realization of how different life could be. Those times when I’ve been upset and I could have allowed the anger to grow. The times Garry has forgiven me when he had every right to hold a grudge. The times I’ve been disappointed and could have kept blaming him for how things were. The times I’ve failed my husband and he has chosen to love me anyway. The ways my parenting skills have fallen short and Garry’s have filled the gaps. The ways we have both failed and yet God’s grace has redeemed what we deserved to lose.

Beyond reflecting on success and failure, I’ve enjoyed pondering the journey we’ve taken thus far. The early years of marriage when we were just two adults, free to choose how to spend our time after work. Trips across the USA and Venezuela, by car and plane and bus. Endless dreaming and planning, hard work and relaxing. The joy at the arrival of our first son and the surprise at how he changed our lives. Finding that God was so much more than we’d imagined and that obedience was sometimes costly. The joy of another son being added to our family and surprise at how life changed yet again. New countries and new experiences. Traveling the world together and staying home with the boys while Garry travelled. New friends and growing friendships. Experiencing God in everyday life and finding a relationship with Him that continues to change and grow and surprise us. Chaos and adjustment. New wisdom and continued growth. Experiences beyond our wildest dreams and sometimes pain greater than we knew existed.

My perception of the world and its size has changed dramatically. My thoughts on other people have been shaken to the core and re-organized. My relationship with God has been turned upside down. My value on family and friends has grown. My circle of friends stretches across the globe.

And the more I think about it, the more I realize that Garry has been near the center of most of these changes. Knowing him, living with him, has changed me. He has chosen the higher way and the better option again and again. He has chosen to grow continually. He has chosen to take this journey with me, and I am one blessed woman who is anticipating the next 25 years with excitement and joy.

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