Monday, January 30, 2012

Gettin' Up There

I am coming up quickly on what I consider a milestone – 35 years old.  I know that in the grand scheme of things that is not actually that old.  To my mind, I often wonder how on earth I could possibly be that old already though, because I swear my brain is still trying to catch up after getting through my twenties.  And don’t get me started on how fast time flies with my kids.  

Compared to some of my friends, I’m considerably older, others, much younger.  (I figure with your good friends, it doesn’t matter.)  I did come to a realization the other day, however, in relation to my age, sort of.  I have discovered that I am becoming braver.

That sounds kind of silly, just putting that out there like that.  But since I’ve turned 30, I’ve done more things that I’m scared of than I ever expected: traveling to a foreign country, twice (once doing the flying in totally by myself); learning how to drive a motorcycle; and my most recent adventure, snowboarding.

As I write this, I am currently pretty sore and really, really stiff after a weekend of snowboarding with some great youth from our church and some of my friends as well.  (And before you think, wait, isn’t she living in the desert? – the answer is yes, I do.  But the high country has some great snow resorts, for a very short season)  I am also physically exhausted from 5 hours of riding in vehicles and getting home late and staying up too late while there, etc., etc.  See, I told you I was getting old.

However, I do have to say that I’m kind of proud of myself.  Aside from getting so frustrated a few times that I literally cried – hey, you fall so hard face-first (downhill) that the wind gets knocked out of you and see how you feel.  But I know that probably even 10 years ago I might not have even bothered to try.  It was one of those “bucket-list” things that probably would have stayed there in the bucket.  Why?  Because I was too much of a chicken!  If something could cause me harm, bodily or emotionally, I shied away from it.  Much calmer to live my life of relative “ease”. 

But then I had kids.  It’s funny how those little (okay, not-so-little these days) guys have inspired so much in my life.  I ask them to learn new things all the time: food that looks weird, a book with smaller print, ice skating, and much more.  And I while I am always cheering them on, I am also always pushing them to face the things they are afraid of, to try it out before they decide they just can’t do it.

I’m sure some of that is my New Englander upbringing – a “git’er done” kind of mentality, that you just suck it up and do whatcha gotta do.  That mind-frame worked really well for me during my year of involuntary single-parenting (gotta love military deployments) – and I realized that it could and would work elsewhere. 
After all, if I’m not willing to go after the things I’ve dreamed of experiencing, then how on earth can I ask my children to do the same?  If I give up on something just because I’m scared or I’m tired or worry too much about how I look doing it, how can I be a good example to my boys? 

Joshua 1:9 says, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”  You know, I went back and read the whole chapter – it says “be strong and courageous” 4 times in that chapter.  God was speaking to Moses, and then through him to the people of Israel, but those words apply to us right now as well – okay, yeah, I mean me.  I am not, by nature, a brave person.  But God clearly tells us, not just in Joshua, but in many places in the Bible, that I do not need to be afraid.  That I need to trust Him to take care of me, to bring me through what He has planned out already.  I tell my own kids those words, but didn’t always apply them to myself. 

As I try things that are just a little crazier than I used to, I like to think I’m growing.  I’m not testing God, I’m pushing myself beyond my comfy little bubble and relating to others.  At the same time, I’m building a strong foundation of tangible evidence for my kids that they can try new adventures – and even if they get hurt (because I’ll tell you what, I get hurt), they can be strong and courageous, and God will be with them.  Even as their mom, I can still do new, fun things.  Things that they might be willing to try with me someday.  And it makes me feel a little better about getting “old”. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Christmas, er, New Year's Greetings!

I've been a bit of a slacker this year, which means my "Christmas" cards have now become New Year's cards, and I never even put up my Facebook equivalent before Christmas - though I could have.  *sigh*  Well, folks, here it is.  Better late than never....

Merry Christmas everyone!  I saw a joke on FaceBook the other day about how you’d think with our daily updates and check-ins with everyone throughout the year, maybe you wouldn’t get these kinds of cards.  Sorry, here it is.  J  Only because I enjoy hearing about everyone else, and since there are so many of you who live so far away from us, well, this is the only time I get to brag.  Thanks for bearing with me.

If I had to use only one word to describe the year, it would be “learning”.  Learning to figure out how to live as a family again after a year-long deployment; learning how to adjust our lives and schedules to help with a medical condition; learning how to be quiet and listen – or sometimes just watch – when God is trying to do something for and with us.  Learning isn’t easy, but I’m happy to say that I think we’ve learned a lot this year.  And we’re not done yet.

As individuals, here’s the rundown: Coleman is 8 and in 3rd grade this year, and his teachers say he’s like a new kid.  He was diagnosed with ADHD last February, and thankfully we’ve been able to adjust our eating habits and schedules and lots of other little things to improve the way he handles the effects of that.  He is much more confident of himself and is more willing to try new things, like going hunting with Dad and grandparents (and actually handling the dead animals).  He also discovered a new favorite sport this year: hockey.  I know, we live in the desert.  But after a couple introductory lessons Coleman has decided he wants to keep at it – and he’s pretty good at it, too!  He also still plays baseball and soccer, which he also excels at.  The boy can play!

Joseph is 6 and in 1st grade now, which astounds me to no end.  He’s the biggest kid in his class, of course, but he is still our gentle giant.  He started losing baby teeth this year, which he thinks is the coolest thing, and he’s getting to be a real ace when it comes to math and reading.  Of course, it helps that he’s learning extra stuff from his big brother, who’s been trying to teach Joe multiplication tables already (and he gets it, at least a little!).  Joe has also been trying hockey, though he’s not as steady on his feet (silly ice) so hasn’t decided if he wants to keep at it long term.  Soccer, though, he’s the fastest kid on the team even though he was one of the youngest this year.  He also played teeball in the spring, and we’re hoping he gets to move up to pitched ball this year, because he loves playing.

Dominic is still here in AZ, though we get mixed messages whether he’ll deploy again or not within the next year or two.  He’s still playing with those big toys as crew chief and technician for the Blackhawk unit here.  Dom was also pretty proud to get a deer this hunting season (a little 3x3 for those who care).  Though he won’t tell you, we’re all pretty proud of Dom volunteering to speak at our boys’ school on several occasions.  He also gets “voluntold” for several classes and extra responsibilities at work, which oddly means he’s doing a good job, so they have him do more.  And of course he’s still teaching the high schoolers and occasionally the junior high at our church, plus helping out with our own kiddos activities. 

Me, I’m as busy as always.  I was thrilled to be able to go back to the Dominican Republic over Thanksgiving on a planning trip – and hopefully be able to return next summer as well.  I feel like God really softened my heart this time and helped me be able to see a little more “God-like” even back here at home.  Of course, on the homefront I’m working 3 days a week at my church office, plus volunteering one day at our local crisis pregnancy center.  I’ve become the “soccer/baseball/hockey mom” (minus the minivan), and help out with stuff at the boys’ school as well.  I’m still singing at church, and help Dominic with the youth there, too.  It has been a joy to see those teenagers mature and grown, even as we have seen those we used to minister to years ago continue to do so. 

What have you learned this year?  We’ve learned much physically, emotionally, and spiritually around here.  God has been so good to us – continuing to provide for us with steady jobs in a crazy economy, giving us safety with vehicles, including a new-to-us car this year, and becoming a central part of our lives, especially in seeing Coleman and Joe grow, “in wisdom and stature”.  We look forward to the new year knowing God will continue to work and teach us – and we pray the same for you!

Have a merry Christmas and a blessed new year!   

With love, Hilary ,Dominic, Coleman & Joe Rigo

P.S.  See, you even get to see the same photo everyone else will get....  :)