Friday, January 27, 2017

I am not an evergreen

All throughout my yard, evergreens are planted next to flowering shrubs or trees that lose their leaves and stand bare through the winter months.   While the evergreens have the same, stately fullness of needle or leaf, same depth of the color green, the flowering bushes and trees look naked, fruitless.

I love peering out to my yard in the dead of winter, amidst its cold, sometimes gray, low cloud hanging days to see streaks of green, round orbs of color.
Something lives!
Something thrives when all else appears lifeless.
I love these evergreens because they are ever green.

I am not an evergreen.

Like my flowering bushes and trees, I languish during the winter. The cold, the lack of sunshine, illnesses that relentlessly creep all converges at once. It wears me down physically and wears on me spiritually.

I have long despised my frailty. I have wondered why I am so easily undone. I've analyzed and evaluated how to grow more stout,  more steady, more stately – poised – like some of my evergreen friends.

Without fail, I fail. I fall prey to external circumstances that weaken my resolve, steal my smile, and drain my liveliness.

I am learning to wait. I am learning to live fruitless and bare. I'm learning to not feel shame in my nakedness and nothing-to-offer seasons. These are the seasons of simply standing still, staying rooted, bearing the cold wind.

Fruitfulness and color will come.
For me, it's not the season.
It's my winter, and I'm not an evergreen

Saturday, January 21, 2017


gloomy, gray days
when will the fog lift?
for an ice storm?
into a bank one drifts

illness after illness
squeeze life and laundry
into the cracks
between runs for antibiotics

fill the diffusers
pump the fluids
wash hands
daily probiotics

make bone broth
take immune boosters
lots of vitamin C
and hand sanitizer

cover your mouth
don't share food
wonder why one well sibling
is in school

wafts of lysol
drinks of ACV or hard liqor
to tighten up
a loose stomach

postponed plans with friends
finally cancelled 'til spring
sickness circulates
keeping track of meds

hot tea
lots of TV

This is January.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Why #adifferentway is going to be the Almengor way through 2017

We Almengors are a family of mantras. It is mostly my husband’s doing, but I am agreeable to it because I love having a focus or goal, and I love words yet am less concise with them than my husband. Verbosity is my game which does not work so well when trying to convey the heart of a matter quickly. 

When in the midst of our everyday, sometimes frantic life, communicating the goal quickly is necessary, skipping the lecture, preferred. So, for 2017, Lawrence and I have chosen a mantra of #adifferentway because we are now living in the era of the hashtag, and we have fully embraced it at our house. I unashamedly love the hashtag movement.

A different way. What does that mean for us? Let me try to flesh that out here.

Lawrence and I read a book last year that influenced the two of us greatly called, “Emotionally Healthy Spirituality” by Peter Scazarro. We were impressed with how much of an impact our families of origin, culture and the experiences of our childhood have had upon our marriage, parenting, friendships, and relationships within our extended family.  And, we realized there are now patterns of behaving, speaking, and reacting to situations that just are not in keeping with what we see exemplified in the Bible by Christ and other followers of Jesus.

We are passing these sins and habits onto our children. They are now 12, 12 and 9 and giving full expression to some of the sinful ways of their parents. Oh, how difficult that is to see sometimes.
In some of these behaviors, we are simply stuck after years of wearing down a nice, deep rut. We know love is patient and kind, but the tone of our voices still sounds so sharp and even cruel at times.  We know we want to embrace a godly sorrow when faced with our sin, repent and ask for forgiveness from God and from each other, but goodness, that stubborn pride of ours just doesn’t want to hear it in the moment especially. 

So, we came up with a prompt of sorts: #adifferentway.  We learned that in the heat of a “moment,” it’s harder to hear, “You are wrong and need to repent,” and easier to hear, “There is a different way through this. You can choose a different way.”

When we say #adifferentway, we mean that
  • ·        You are not enslaved to this all too familiar way of responding
  • ·        You are not defined by this pattern of speech or way of behaving
  • ·        You are able to choose in this moment the godly way through
  • ·        You are able to ask for wisdom and grace and receive it right in this moment
  • ·        You are able to change

Like a flick of a rubber band around one’s wrist, #adifferentway will become for us a jolt out of some ruts we have laid over the years. Or at least we hope so.

#Adifferentway also makes room for us to keep exploring and trying on new ideas and routines. Where we, for years, have enjoyed family night on Fridays with pizza and a movie, we are going to try using some of those Friday nights to play games together.  Watching a movie every Friday night was good for us as a family for many years. It was easy for us as parents who, by the end of the week, were bone tired from raising and home educating young children.  And, it also built within our family a cache of common stories to refer back to, inside jokes, and one-liners. And we will continue to watch good movies for this purpose.

But, our children are entering a new season of growth and development, and it seems a good time to step up our game in pursuing them relationally. We *think* we are ready to take on the potential mire of playing games together for the new level of growth that might afford us as a family and as human beings.

Another area we are exploring #adifferentway is in how we educate our children. We are currently in our 7th year of homeschooling, and aside from one year for the boys in Kindergarten at a private school, my children have never known anything but home education.  We may continue down this road, but we are going to at least explore what it might look like to educate #adifferentway.  I am working on a few shadow days for my kids to experience at a handful of local schools.  I don’t know what will come of this, but we are stepping out and choosing to investiage #adifferentway.

On a personal note, I want to grow in communicating God’s story in my story by way of writing and public speaking. To do this, I know I need to be a voracious reader except that I am not. L  I kicked around the familiar plan of upping my reading intake but #adifferentway occurred to me, and I am choosing that instead. This different way is in keeping with the doer God created me to be versus the sit and read volumes of material person I am not. 

Instead of doubling the amount of books I read in a year, I picked five influential, time tested authors of whose material I will ingest this next year. Curious?  Comment and I’ll let you know who made my list. J

So, 2017, whatever you may hold for us Almengors, we are choosing #adifferentway.

Where we have worn down ruts of reacting, we are resolved to forge new paths, ones that will honor God and each other.

Where familiar routines no longer serve us, we are resolved to do the hard work of beginning and reinforcing new routines that will further our growth and joy.

Where common held practices do not line up with who you have made us to be, we will not try to fit our square self into a round hold but are resolved to conjure up #adifferentway that will accomplish the same goal.

How might you choose #adifferentway for your 2017?
If you think of any ways, I would love to hear about it and cheer you on in your pursuit of #adifferentway.