Mar 182013

I HAVE COME TO LOVE, APPRECIATE, BUT ALWAYS BE READY FOR THE CRAZY RIDE THAT IS OUR WILLIS FAMILY GATHERINGS.  (If you have toddlers in your extended family, you may relate with some of our situation below.)

Our family gatherings consist of:

  • Surround sound cries from children due to scraped/bumped body parts
  • The aroma of poopy diapers and fishy crackers
  • Laughter from all when the older cousins play “hide behind the big chair”, wrestle/dog pile, imagination space trip, or “Roll the pool balls”
  • Random vocal debuts of, “The Wheels on the Bus”, “ABC’s”, or “Jesus Loves Me”
  • Peas, cheese and spilled drinks on the floor
  • Multiple rounds of Pass the Pickle or Candyland
  • Babies/toddler’s who cry for 40 min before exhaustion kicks in and the nap happens
  • Disjointed, but somehow life giving adult conversations
  • Many reminders to take turns with the popular toys, say the “magic words”, try to go on the big girl/boy potty
  • Discipline
  • Grammy and Grandad’s ever present smiles and service to the crew
  • Distractions of lamps tipping over and other mysterious noises from the upstairs which need some investigating
  • 50 tries for smiles at the camera.  From all the children.  At the same time.
  • Worn parents who are out of wipes, patience and ideas

Last Saturday we celebrated Easter which included all of the above- a day of 6 toddlers, 148 eggs, and a lesson in sharing.

The Willis egg hunt began-My sister in law and I watched with smiles as our kids exploded with excitement.  As each child found an egg, they would follow the same drill, hold it up high, and say, “Look, I found one!” to whomever was within ear shot.

We as parents were on guard.  Ready to be the “fairness enforcers”.  Ready to shout out to our own children, “Now, you need to share with the little ones”; “Please give your egg to your cousin because they don’t have as much as you.”  “Could you help your cousin find some eggs?”

We were ready for the worst, but didn’t need to be.  I watched as my daughter yelled to her baby cousin to come take one of her eggs she had found.  At a concurrent moment, my nephew led the other baby cousin to an egg.

I witnessed my daughter quickly and happily give multiple eggs to her sister.  Then my niece helped her brother in the same way.

My sister in law and I looked at each other in awe of what was happening around us.  Because 99 out of 100 days, we would have to remind our kids to share.  Instead of us giving them a lesson, they taught us.

Unforced and joyful giving from the least of these.  (And I, being the crier I am, shed a tear.  Or two.)

The lesson I learned from the egg sharing moment:

  • Be aware of people who don’t have as many “eggs” as I do and be quick to do something about it.
  • Give first.  Without someone telling me to do so.
  • Don’t compare my “eggs” with others’ “eggs”.  Be content and thankful with what I have.
  • Hold my “eggs” loosely and be ready to give them up at any time.  Because everything I have is from God and to be used for God.
  • When I give, do it with a smile and good attitude.

Acts 2:45 “Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.”

2 Cor 9:7 “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

Do you hold tightly to your rights and your stuff or are you quick to give when a need presents itself?  And when you give, is it with a happy heart or begrudgingly?





© 2012 Standing on Peace

Jan 182013

My first experience with vulnerability was a train-wreck. I believed those around me who had told me vulnerability would bring connection and healing. Instead, it offered me a lethal blow and left me in pieces for over a year afterwards.

My eating disorder had gotten so out of control, I could no longer function properly and I could no longer hide it.

So I told my boyfriend of 4 years that I had a problem. I needed help.

He told me he could never marry someone as weak as me. We broke up about six months later.

It wasn’t until about four years later I realized I had turned my back on vulnerability. I had built major walls. And I was terribly lonely deep within because of it.

At just the right time, God gave me a growth group leader who would change me.

As is typical with a new Bible study group, many of us did not know each other well. Trust and vulnerability had to be earned and cultivated over time.

Our leader came in every week, wearing her heart on her sleeve. She shared her struggles, her hurts, her joys. She creatively thought of prompts and exercises to help us each open up. Some of us did, some of us didn’t. But she never let on that she was disheartened. She just kept on being vulnerable with us.

Week after week, I watched in sheer amazement at how our leader was able to bring out the “realness” in others. Even if they weren’t planning on sharing, they would. She asked pointed questions, but more importantly, she let us into her soul. And revealing her soul wasn’t usually the easy version either.

I never got to the point of true vulnerability in her group. I never was able to let them into the parts of me that were eating at my soul. But in my heart, I loved and admired her ability to share herself. At times I was envious that she could be so brave. How would I ever be there too?

Through her interactions with our group, she lit a flame inside of me. I wanted to be this kind of person. To be someone who could draw out others, by sharing my heart. To be someone who breaks down the wall of superficiality and prompts sharing stories that run red. To be someone who doesn’t turn her back on vulnerability. To be someone who believes and trusts that vulnerability touches souls.

She touched my soul. She was one person who God used to send me down a very different path. Her example marinated in my soul and has shown me what vulnerability can do.

Our being vulnerable can impact others deeply and have a lasting effect. Even if we don’t see it right away. Even if we never see it’s effect. We must trust it is in sharing our hearts – our joys, our hurts, our fears, our pasts, our futures – we open ourselves up to God’s love, healing and gift of meaningful friendship.

What does your relationship with vulnerability look like today? Have you turned your back to it? Or are you open to sharing your story in order to help others?



© 2012 Standing on Peace