Tag Archives: friendship

AAAAAaaaAAAAAAA!!!

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theking

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!

*deep breath*

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!

…opened….cabinet…KING…..diet coke cans….falling….screaming….falling……

Never get into a war with Kathy.

She fights dirty.

*shudder*

Not cool.

*twitch*

*whimper*

Not cool at all.

Before and After

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Guess what?

I am writing this from the master bedroom in our very own house!  That’s right–moving day has come and gone, leaving a trail of sore muscles, stacked boxes, and happy new homeowners in its wake.  I am exhausted and elated in equal measures.  Recent days have passed in a whirlwind of activity, and I’ve barely had time to breathe, but at last I can sit down and catch you up on all the fun details.

We closed over a week early on the house, and it’s a good thing we did, because the renovating work I so flippantly planned to accomplish in one Saturday before the move actually took about five days, and all the helping hands we could recruit.

In the past week, I’ve learned a couple of things:

1) Home improvement projects always take longer and cost more than you think they will.

and

2) We have the best friends in the whole wide world.

Since we got the keys to our place on the 18th, a small army of generous, hard working friends has been crawling over the house like worker ants–demolishing the old floor, taping and painting, installing the thermostat, cutting laminate flooring, and generally making me all teary-eyed with gratitude for their willing hearts and hands.  They brought over every tool they own, and spent night after night of their own precious free time wrestling with baseboard molding and breathing paint fumes.  They bent their backs to every large and small task I had on my massive To Do list, and then came back after all that and moved our heavy furniture and our thousand boxes, all with cheerful hearts and unflagging good grace.

A million thanks to:

Ben–our very own Helpful Hardware Man, who has generously donated time, supplies, and his limitless knowledge of home improvement techniques.  Also, he let me use his pneumatic nail gun.  Have you ever used a pneumatic nail gun?  That alone puts him near the top of my favorite people list.

Jim–cheerful and resourceful, he isn’t afraid to dive in and figure things out.  He presided over the destruction of our old kitchen and dining room floors, trimmed down and installed closet shelves, and provided the saw and the muscle for getting our new floor started.  His wife, Alyson, brought lunch for the entire crowd on moving day, including diet coke and my favorite store-bought cookies, Fudge Stripes.

Michael–a jack-of-all-trades, he was there with his wife Jessica every single day, helping out wherever he was needed, from demolition to taping off the molding.  He just showed up and said, “Put me to work.”  What a servant heart!

Jessica–room painter extraordinaire.  She mastered the art of cutting in and using the paint edger without getting goop all over the place (I’m still working on that.)

Brenda–even with a sick child at home and a fast-approaching moving day of her own on the horizon, she showed up to wield a paintbrush and kept us entertained with her witty banter.  I can’t wait to return the favor next week when she’s painting her new home.  (My banter might not be witty, but at least I can guarantee it will be plentiful.)

Martin–taped up the high places and provided chairs and stools for those of us who needed a little help to reach the heavens.

Patrick and Allison–speed painters.  I left for a quick hardware store run and when I returned, the family room was almost completely painted!  Patrick also risked life and limb last night to help Paul maneuver our new fridge up the stairs and into the kitchen.  I just watched from a chair across the room, praying that he wouldn’t get squished.

Ryan–drove in from the Valley to help out on moving day (and to scope out the location of future WoW LAN parties, of course).

Kathy–cleaned out her van (and its impressive collection of kid-related detritus) to haul boxes and spent the day waging a campaign to get everyone to start calling the family room the rumpus room.

Dad–brought his truck, his trailer, and his years of experience to bear on the logistical puzzles involved in moving large pieces of furniture through a narrow split entry.  (Clue: removing the front door helps.)

Yvie–Shop vac operator.  She became a torrent of cleanliness in the crazy mess that was our garage.

Mimi–wheeler, dealer, floor joint sealer.  On Wednesday she helped us close on the house and on Thursday she called to see when the work party would be.  She showed up with tools in hand and proceeded to work until the last floorboard was pounded into place.  Now that’s what I call a full-service real estate agent!

Yes, this is the house that love built.  Or at least the house that love painted and installed new flooring in.  Here are some pictures of the whole glorious, messy process:

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Paul's dad loaned us his ladder for reaching the vaulted ceilings.

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Jessica and Michael bringing color to the washed-out kitchen.

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Well, this explains a lot.

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Our own home improvement Ace, Ben. When it comes to "how to" questions, he's the guy to ask.

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Brenda getting some practice in before painting her own house this week.

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The old floor was destroyed to make way for the new one. I think most of the guys enjoyed the demolition much more than the reconstruction.

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Jim and Mimi putting together the world's largest jigsaw puzzle.

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Allison making sure we didn't accidentally paint our taupe carpet...taupe. Hmm.

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Mimi and the dance of the seven saws.

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Our new entry floor.

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Ta da!

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Green paint: $25. Laminate flooring: $312. Being able to look directly at your kitchen without wearing sunglasses: priceless.

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Paul waiting for CSI to show up and outline him in chalk.

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The family/rumpus room.

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Caleb's blue room. I like the two different shades.

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Katie's purple paradise.

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Michael and Dad bring in the entertainment center.

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Pause for lunch and a little web surfing.

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Jessica and Michael taking a well-deserved break.

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Paul and the mercifully un-squished Patrick catch their breath after manhandling the Amana up the stairs.

Lily, the littlest member of the moving crew, with mom Alyson and dad Jim.

Lily, the littlest member of the moving crew, with mom Alyson and dad Jim.

Kathy eating "see-food".

Kathy eating "see-food".

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Caleb and Katie helping out with the move in their own special way.

So there you have it.  We are clearly blessed beyond what we deserve.

Thank you, Lord, for our new house–and for the friends that make it a home.

Now back to unpacking!

Bits and Pieces

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*I’d like to give a shout out to my awesome friend, Regina J, who, when she heard that I had finished the first three books in the Twilight series, offered to loan me her copy of the fourth one, but instead secretly went and ordered me my very own copy from Amazon. It arrived yesterday in the company of yet another book by the same author that I’ve been wanting to read! The riches!

How lovely is that? Of course, this means I’ll have to stop teasing Regina about her “allergy” to the post office (she usually saves up Christmas and birthday gifts between visits and showers us with them all at once and in person), since that nearly pathological aversion is probably partly responsible for the two beautiful new hardbacks sitting on my bookshelf right now.

And oh, they smell delicious! (Come on! I know I’m not the only book sniffer out there.)

*Today I got to talk with the mother of one of my new students. She wanted to meet me before finalizing her daughter’s enrollment in kindergarten. We had a nice visit and I tried not to feel like I was being tested as I answered questions about the curriculum and myself. (I think I’d give myself a B+.) So there you have it: I’ve already convinced one parent that I am an honest-to-goodness, bona fide teacher! Now I just have to convince a room full of five year olds and I’m gold.

*Speaking of teaching, Jen came in to the school today to officially pass the torch, showing me where to find all the supplemental teaching materials, answering the first hundred of my thousand questions, and revealing the top secret hiding spot for Kathy’s chocolate stash (you don’t keep track of how much is in there, do you, Kathy?) I feel like I’m stepping into big shoes, but Jen’s confidence in me also bolstered my own. And I have her cell phone number, for when I remember those other 900 questions.

*I just cracked open an egg for the veggie omelet I was making for lunch, and it had two yolks. Two yolks! Cool, huh? If I was Caroline Ingalls, I could charge Mrs. Oleson extra for that one.

Friendship in Marriage

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Paul and I play Scrabble. It’s our dorky obsession. We even have a travel Scrabble board which rides around in our trunk just in case we’re stranded somewhere and are struck with a sudden, irrepressible need for a triple word score. We pull it out sometimes at restaurants and play through a whole game while sipping bottomless cokes and eating steak fries. It’s an acknowledged truth between us that, though I have the larger vocabulary, Paul is the master of Scrabble mathematics (a skill that somehow allows him to lay down only two tiles and still score a whopping 39 points.) This makes for close games, and we’re pretty evenly matched in the wins and losses department.

You know what they say: the couple that plays together stays together. Even if the play sometimes involves beating each other about the head and shoulders with a pocket dictionary. (“I told you ‘pukka’ was a word! You dare to challenge me?”)

This month’s Marriage Support Groups discussion topic is Maintaining Friendship in Marriage. Studies show that one of the biggest predictors of marital success is having a strong friendship at the foundation of your relationship with your spouse. Fun, teamwork, trust, communication, loyalty, laughter–the building blocks of a good friendship are also essential to a fulfilling marriage.

Here are this month’s discussion questions:

Ice Breaker: Many wedding invitations feature the popular phrase: “Today I marry my best friend.” What one characteristic of a good friend have you come to appreciate most about your spouse since your wedding day?

1. According to Dr. John Gottman*, the common denominator among most long-lasting, happy marriages is a firm foundation in friendship. He describes this as “an abiding regard” for each other that expresses itself in big and little ways every day. Share some of the ‘little things’ that you and your spouse do to nurture your friendship.

2. Most successful marriage friendships are characterized by something called positive sentiment override. This means that despite the usual irritations and disagreements two married people experience, their positive feelings about each other and their marriage are so pervasive that they tend to supersede the negative feelings. The natural state for a marriage in this condition is optimism. What can we do to help create this ‘positive sentiment override’ in our own marriages?

3. Research has revealed that there is one behavior that nearly all emotionally healthy marriages have in common. That behavior is called the repair attempt (though the couples who use it may not even realize it.) In an argument, a repair attempt is any statement or action-silly or serious-that prevents negativity from escalating out of control. A funny phrase, a sincere look, or a familiar hand squeeze-whatever it is, in healthy friendships it disarms the combatants and brings the tension back down to a manageable level. Share a common repair attempt you and your spouse use.

4. Emotionally connected couples tend to be very familiar with each other’s worlds–what their days are like, how they feel about things, their dreams and worries, their favorite dessert. How well do you feel you know the little details of your spouse’s life? What can we do to improve this intimate knowledge of each other?

5. Another key to a strong marital friendship is to create shared meaning, an inner life together that emphasizes the feeling of being part of a special and unique bond. We do this in a number of ways: traditions, inside jokes, personal rituals, shared goals and dreams. Give an example from your own marriage. How do you cultivate that sense of “us-ness” with your spouse?

6. Share one thing you could do to be a better friend to your spouse.

Assignment: Plan a date night this week for the two of you. Nurture that friendship with the gift of time!

*The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John M. Gottman, Ph.D. and Nan Silver

Thank You for My Girlfriends

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It’s after eleven o’clock at night, and I’ve just finished watching the most recent episode of Grey’s Anatomy online. Typically, I’m in a dither. “What is the deal with George and Izzy?” I ask the universe. The universe doesn’t answer, and in the next second I’m dialing up my friend, Kathy, whose fault it is that my emotions are invested in the events of a fictional Seattle hospital in the first place.

“Hello?” she answers.

“What is the deal with George and Izzy?” I splutter, and without asking why I’m calling so late or what I’m talking about, she proceeds to explain in great detail exactly what the deal is. A lively half hour discussion of various characters and subplots ensues, followed by a conversation that touches on all our latest news and thoughts, and finally I hang up, a little enlightened and a lot entertained.

Girlfriends.

It’s hard to imagine life without them.

Today I’m dishing with Kathy over trivia, six years ago I was floundering around in the deep waters of personal crisis, and her hand was one of those that reached down and grabbed on to keep me from going under. A good girlfriend is equally at home in your life on your best day and on your worst.

It’s been my joy and privilege to enjoy the friendship of some amazing women.

Tracy. I met Tracy on my very first day of college classes. We were both freshman, and I knew from the first moment of talking to her that we were going to be life long friends. Her calm serenity and even temper were a balm to my flighty and fidgeting spirit. When we accidentally dyed our hair pink in a Clairol experiment gone awry, she was the one who helped me see the funny side of it. She’s spent holidays at my house, we’ve gotten tattoos together, and we’ve walked each other through the jungle of dating disasters. I confess, when she got married, I felt a little jealous. Not of her, but of her husband, Perry. How dare he step in and break up the team? I consoled myself with being her maid of honor, and a year later, she was mine. Our friendship has not only survived marriage, but grown over the years. Though she lives a thousand miles away, every time we talk on the phone, we’re roommates again, alternately cheering and commiserating in equal measure.

Regina. Regina, another college buddy, makes me glad that first impressions are often wrong, because it definitely wasn’t love at first sight when the two of us met. Where at first I saw a flirtatious, hairsprayed Southern cheerleader-type (to say nothing of what she thought of me), I soon learned to see an indispensable friend–and to stop making snap judgments! We’ve been through a lot–car trouble, boy trouble, and just plain trouble. Our friendship has run hot and cold, and we jokingly refer to the Three Day Rule (the period of time we can be together without getting on each other’s nerves) but she’s been around through thick and thin, and I wouldn’t trade her for anything. Every couple of years, she and Tracy and I get together to catch up, spill our guts, and eat good food. They’re the sort of girlfriends to whom time and distance don’t matter.

Kathy, Jen, Marci, and Kim. One December day, just after we had moved here to Idaho, I got a phone call. It was a big deal. See, we’d landed in Coeur d’Alene in a maelstrom of chaos and emotional struggle. I was hurting, and I was lonely, and even though we’d come here to visit Paul’s parents at least once a year throughout our married life, I felt as if I knew no one, and no one knew me. I was sinking. Then the phone rang. It was Kathy and Jen, and they invited me to go Christmas shopping with them. I said yes before the question was finished and they picked me up for a whirlwind tour of retail hotspots, lists in hand. There, in the middle of Toys R Us, unknown to my shopping companions, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the feeling that everything was going to be okay. Their asking me to come along was a simple gesture, and they probably didn’t know how desperately needy I was (or they would have run the other way!), but it was the beginning of some of the sweetest friendships of my life. Kathy is outspoken, honest, genuine, and funny. Jen is warm-hearted and gentle-spirited and one of my spiritual heroes. Marci is a devoted friend with a wry sense of humor who reaches out to draw everyone into her circle. Kim is quirky and fun, saves everything she’s ever owned, and can talk the ears off an elephant. One year somebody (I’m still not sure which one of them it was) wanted to plan a trip to Seattle for a girls only getaway. The invitation was open to anyone, and the five of us were the ones who ended up piling into a van and striking out for the coast. It turned out, somehow, that we had perfect chemistry, and the most satisfying weekend chick trip ever ensued, complete with getting lost, eating at a fancy restaurant, endless road trip chatter, and laughter, laughter, laughter. Since then, we’ve cried together, prayed together, faced health crises and marriage problems, worked side by side in ministries, and basically entered into each other’s lives at the deepest level. They’re dirty house friends, every one. Each of these girlfriends totally deserves her own blog post.

Amber. A sister is girlfriend and family all rolled up into one. Amber and I are five years apart in age, and our relationship has gone through different stages as she’s grown from pesky little sister to cherished friend. She’s lived with me, fought with me, borrowed my clothes and checked out my boyfriends. She’s seen my bad habits, my temptations, and my disappointments up close and still she’s there for me. Not all sisters turn out to be friends, but mine has become one of the best.

I am blessed with other wonderful girlfriends, too. Girlfriends from my Bible study group. Girlfriends I call when I want to go shopping. Girlfriends who like the same movies that I do. Girlfriends who watch my kids, and ask me to watch theirs. Girlfriends who are up for an adventure. Girlfriends I exercise with. Girlfriends who are just easy and fun to be around. Even a few girlfriends I only know from the internet, whose encouraging words and shared emotions are no less real for our having never met in person. Some of my girlfriends I’ve known for years, and some I’m just starting to know, waiting and watching the delightful and gradual intertwining of experiences that makes up friendship’s rich history.

Even one good girlfriend is a gift of inestimable worth, and I am blessed with many. I only hope I can bless them half as much.

Thank You, Lord, for my girlfriends.