Really Relating

LIFE, LOVE, AND THE RELATIONSHIPS THAT MAKE IT ALL MATTER

Friends or Family? 11/24/2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Vickey Banks @ 6:26 pm

“Friends are the family we get to choose.”

Be honest. If your life was a reality television show, and if you’d been given the opportunity to hand pick who you would and wouldn’t be related to…well, would you have chosen each of your family members??? I’m guessing there’s one or two you would have voted out of your family tree, as well as off the island, the stage, the runway, and the dance floor!
I think that’s one of the reasons that we love our friends so much: they’re not assigned to us; we actually get to pick them. Besides common interests, we share the beliefs and convictions that determine the way we live our very lives. It’s connecting on such deep levels that make our friends more than friends…they actually become our family.

Jesus felt that way about a group of His friends. Once, when He was teaching in someone’s home, He was so surrounded by his closest friends and other followers that his mom and brothers couldn’t even get through the door to talk with Him. When someone told Jesus that His family wanted to see Him, Matthew 12:49-50 says He pointed to His disciples and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”  Jesus wasn’t downplaying the importance of family. What He was doing was elevating the importance of friendship. Essentially saying, “These people here get me! They know and accept who I am. They believe in what I believe in. They are so important to me that I consider them as family!”

I’ve always been deeply grateful for my own family of choice, but never more so than now. The truth is my own family is shrinking. In the past three years, my husband and I have grieved the deaths of our family’s patriarch and of both our mothers. My father was then diagnosed with terminal cancer, and we’ve said good-bye to both our children as they’ve flown our homey nest to spread their wings at college. While I’m weary of saying good-bye, I’ve been beautifully blessed with a treasured gift in the midst of this hellaciously hard season:
   
A much, much welcomed family of choice. 

As I count my many blessings this Thanksgiving, I’ll certainly thank God for each and every relative I still have on this earth. But, I won’t stop there. More than ever before, I’ll be thanking Him for the priceless privilege of having another family, a family I get to choose. And because there’s always new friends to be made, that’s a family I can increase. So, be gone shrinkage! Bring on the friends – the family I get to choose!

Really Relating 
What do you appreciate most about your family of choice? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
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Rx for Anxiety 11/16/2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Vickey Banks @ 5:39 pm

Worry. It’s the uninvited guest who kidnaps your concentration and causes your heart to race. It sucks the life out of your days and keeps you up at night.
  
Friday after Friday, I sit in a hard, uninviting waiting room chair, next to my Dad and trying for the life of me to think of something to do or say that will ease the troubled mind of this man who has been my hero my entire life. But, it’s not just his mind that needs quieting. No, it’s also my own. He’s the patient, but the oncology waiting room can hold us both captive.
  
We’ve been doing this ill-fated dance with terminal Cancer for 2 ½ years now, and to be honest, my head is starting to spin again. What will the doctor say today? What are the results of Dad’s latest scan? Is the cancer growing again? Will he decide to keep doing the treatments that are sapping the life out of him? Or worse, will he not, because they’re no longer working? Oh God, just please don’t let him cry – I don’t think I can take seeing him cry. And, please oh please, please don’t let me cry. Keep me strong for him, God. I feel like I’m holding my breath and I wonder if I’ll ever be able to truly breathe again. God…I think I’m running out of air.
   
Tenderly, God reminds me of a well-worn passage,
  
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition,  
WITH THANKSGIVING, 
 let your requests be known to God.” – Philippians 4:6
  
Now, my Bible doesn’t really record the phrase “WITH THANKSGIVING” in bold capital letters. The words are there, just not with the emphasis with which I see them. But, it’s that emphasis that God impresses me with over and over again when I start to rework worry in my head. It’s as if He’s saying, “Start your list, Vickey.” He doesn’t have to say anything else, because I know exactly what He means. It’s a little trick He taught me a few years ago…a prescription, if you will, to quiet my overanxious mind. It might not be FDA approved, but it has shaken me out of my negative preoccupation more than once: I just start saying, “Thank You” to God for every single thing that comes to my mind.
  
Many of my thank yous are related to my worry, but the gratefulness grows. Thank You, God, for doctors that know more about this than we do. Thank You for Heaven and the promise of a place where there’s no more death and dying, no more cancer and chemo and cells gone cookoo, no more tears and saying good-bye. Thank You that I’ve had a father to love and one that loves me. Thank You that no matter what does or doesn’t happen, You will NEVER leave me. Thank You that I can talk to You about anything at anytime. Thank You for being big enough to handle my questions. Thank You for pain medicine and promises from Scripture…
   
Amazingly, I find that when I “start my list,” my preoccupation does change – even when my circumstances stay the same. My breathing relaxes and the corners of mouth often even turn up into a smile. Instead of fighting tears of concern, I allow grateful ones to fall because I’m reminded that I have a Heavenly Father who knows my fickle heart better than I do, yet passionately loves me anyway. I’m encouraged by rehearsing His character and promised constancy in my life.
  
Yeah, I’m not a fan of the waiting room. But, you know what? The Great Physician is in. Every single day from here to eternity. And, what is the promised result when we take our medicine and start giving thanks?
  
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, 
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:7
  
Peace. Blissful, life-altering, hope-filled, breath-inflating peace. Ahhhhh, that’s a cure we could all use. I’m more than willing to take my medicine today. How about you?
  
REALLY RELATING 
What are you prone to worry about?
If you were to start your own “with thanksgiving” list, what would be at the top of it today? Let me know so we can thank God together.

 

The Conversation of Life 11/10/2009

I love a really good conversation. You know, the kind that Nora Ephron might write – especially if her life revolved around a Biblically based, authentic faith in God. The kind of chatty conversation that spills over with what is deep and meaningful, fantastical and oozing with hope-filled dreams, newsy and real, transparent and intimate, but also loaded with belly shaking laughs. A Gilmore Girls meets CS Lewis and the boys at their favorite Eagle & Child hangout in Oxford. Yeah, that’s manna for this quality time craving gal!

 A chronic thinker, many of my most animated conversations occur inside my own head. I think that’s why I eventually took to journaling – just trying to make room for all the thoughts that bounce around in this increasingly overcrowded brain of mine. But, there’s nothing like having someone to think and dream and laugh and cry out loud with, is there? A girlfriend who hears your heart and doesn’t think you’ve lost your ever lovin’ mind. A trusted confidante whose head begins to nod and whose eyes mist up when you talk about the darkest night of your soul. Isn’t it incredible when someone shares her own dreams with you, entrusting a little piece of her heart into your hands? And God love the heaven-sent friend whose quick wit and quirky take on things gives you some MUCH needed perspective when you’re fresh out. Someone who alternatively helps you make sense out of things AND isn’t afraid to sometimes say out loud, “You know…I just DON’T know. Sometimes life is just a mess and I’m sorry you’re up to waist in it.”

I do love the conversation of life. The laid-back contemplation, intentional and forward-leaning listening, the kind and caring comments, fast comebacks, whispered secrets, and the gesture-making, volume-rising enthusiasm of it all. Whether you mostly find yourself thinking, listening, talking, or (like some of us) doing them all at the same time…you are part of the conversation of life. And, it’s that conversation that we relate to. I hope that’s what you’ll find here at this blog: a conversation you can relate to. May you feel understood. Heard. May you find some fresh perspective, a good giggle now and then, and something worth both thinking about and commenting on when you finish reading here.

Join me, won’t you. I’d love to share part of life’s conversation with you.

Really Relating
What have some of your most memorable conversations been about? Who have you shared them with and why are you still thinking about them today?