It’s become popular to choose one word to focus on for the upcoming year, especially among bloggers. Last year, I chose Extreme because I thought it was funny. Put the word “extreme” in front of something and it not only sounds silly; it sells. The book company my husband represents can tell you that. In fact, it’s so effective that I decided to change my title to include it.
I also chose Extreme because I’m pretty much an extremist. I loved having one child, so I had six. I did great with natural labor, so I had a baby at home. I got an extreme amount of education and then ditched my career to teach all my kids. I wrote a book in 3 months. I did an extreme diet for 8 years. I went from being an ardent feminist to being very traditional. Those who know me best are probably itching to tell you about my other extremes. There are some extremes I regret and others I don’t.
It’s against the rules to have two words or I would choose Extreme Encouragement. Why? Because I still think it’s funny and I really mean it. I want to be extremely encouraging this year. My goal is to encourage people every single day. I am having a great time trying to find new people to encourage. It’s not as much fun to encourage the people you know who are extremely annoying, but I’m encouraging them too. (Don’t worry if I’ve encouraged you; it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re annoying, but it doesn’t hurt to consider it, right?).
In the interest of being extremely encouraging, I started a new blog (of course!) solely for the purpose of encouraging others. I encourage authors and bloggers by linking to their sites and readers by giving them uplifting quotes, Scriptures, stories, and challenges. I recently shared with The Inspired Day‘s readers the power of one word to encourage others. One word can be extremely encouraging.
I was driving back to college after a visit home. It was much harder to be away from my family than I’d thought. After months of studying, I loved having my mom’s homemade cooking, being around to get teased by my dad, and seeing my brothers and boyfriend. I was sad as I started on the four-hour trip back on a desolate highway. My mom had put a plate of leftovers together for me. It was one of those nice, microwavable sectioned plates with a cover. I had it on the passenger seat next to me. I stared at it (I was not risking my life as there was no one else on the road) and saw there was a little slip of paper in one of the sections. I pulled it closer and through the condensation on the cover, I could read the one word written on it: Love.
I really bawled then. I wanted to go right back home, but at the same time, I was encouraged to keep going. I was loved. It was just one word, but it was so much more. My mom was showing me that everything she did for me was for love. This year, even though the one-word thing has gotten a little extreme, that’s what I want to do. Like the Savior who went to extremes for you and me, I want whatever I do to be summed up in one precious word: Love.
Do you have a word for the year? What is it and why?
P.S. I’d like to thank Melanie of Only a Breath for making my one-word button. She’s so generous and doesn’t she have a beautiful first name? 🙂
This week I’ve learned how much I will suffer for the sake of this challenge–and enjoy, too. I tried to get away with hanging outside at the kids’ PE class and gabbing with girlfriends while the kids played. The photo below was going to be my 15 Minutes shot. My 12yo would have none of it and insisted I play baseball with them and a friend. Even though I was running around in boots, I honestly had a blast.
On Tuesday, we headed out with dad for a day at the Arch. It was warm, but extremely windy.
The day was cooler on Thursday, but reminded me of spring days in my childhood as we checked out the neighborhood daffodils in bloom.
Friday the kids played tag for co-op. I didn’t play, but comforted kids complaining that the rules were unfair. We played “stoop tag.” You can duck down and not be tagged 3 times. The problem was the taggers would swarm the stooper like a brood of vultures waiting for them to stand up. For some reason, I have horrible facial expressions when taking pictures of myself. Sorry you don’t see any kids running around either, but believe me, they’re there.
On Saturday, we played kick ball. I experienced the joys of little ones crying because they kept getting out and the frustration of the big ones dominating even ME.
On Sunday, it was cold and rainy, so I decided to have the kids blow bubbles with me in our covered drive-through. We had to use a timer for this one! The kids complained quite a bit, but you know what? It was frivolous and refreshing. I tried to create a game where the first one to pop 20 bubbles won and it became tackle bubble. Not good.
What I Learned This Week
- Being outside is really refreshing!
- Being outside brings back really wonderful childhood memories
- My kids love the time I spend outside with them
- I need more rain gear and outdoor sports equipment and toys
- I’d love to have some fellow outside moms to spur me on and give me ideas!
My Driver’s Ed
I learned how to drive when I was eight. Seriously! I would meet my parents at the end of our long driveway and Dad would let me steer home. I finished learning how to drive under the capable tutelage of our driver’s ed instructor, Mr. Wilke. On the deserted streets of our town of 2500, Mr. Wilke kept his foot ready to hit his set of brakes. I remember his sarcastic commentary of “Nice stop!” when I nearly sent us through the windshield.
Once I had plenty of experience (the parallel parking practice was great!), I spent my time driving to and from school on empty country roads. I was only 14 (the permit age in my state), but I was able to drive independently from dawn to dusk and I doubt my parents had a bit of anxiety about it. (They probably should have because one of my best friend’s and my favorite things to do was to drive 80 mph on hilly gravel roads and fish tail, but I digress).
My Permit Driver
Fast forward to today when I am the parent of a 15-year-old permit driver in a suburban area, living right off a major four-lane thoroughfare. My son has had his permit for six months and I keep finding very important things to do that don’t involve sitting in the seat next to him while he puts my life at risk. Psychologists say we will do something when the rewards for doing it outweigh the risks. Up until now, those risks have loomed large in my mind. Like I have never considered whether my passenger side air bag will really inflate until now. And I have wondered if my life insurance policy will really be enough to help my husband care for five kids (five because if my oldest kills me, my husband will kill him, even if he survives the wreck). I’ve worked with enough people who have disabilities to know that I don’t want to be merely maimed either.
But the rewards of allowing my son to drive have become larger for me. The constant requests for items (the toiletries seem to run out individually, never in groups), his need to be delivered to a fun location right when I am in the midst of something (you know, like caring for FIVE other kids), and the always entertaining necessity of picking him up at the time I should be entering REM sleep have added up to a willingness to get in the passenger seat with my permit driver.
His Driver’s Ed
My son has taken an online driver’s ed course (I wanted him to see terrifying videos of ruined lives following dumb driving decisions like I had to) and he knows our state laws, but there is no manual for me. This is what I want to know:
- Should I take a major tranquilizer before getting in the passenger seat with him? I know my judgment will be impaired, but won’t I be able to relax in the face of all the near-accidents and won’t I be less prone to injury if we do crash?
- How am I supposed to be an encouragement to my inexperienced driver when he does things I haven’t seen a driver do since my Alzheimers-suffering mother-in-law was alive? I can tell you that saying “Good job!” right after screaming seems phony.
- Who is liable for any damage done? That Permit Driver sign in the back window isn’t keeping people from honking, I can tell you that. If he kills someone (I swear every foolish pedestrian and old, demented bike rider in town was on the road with us), will that be his fault or mine for not warning him?
- Why don’t I get to rent a car for free with a separate set of brakes and a steering wheel?
- Why aren’t the schools teaching him how to drive? As a homeschooler, this is the one skill I am fine with him learning WITHOUT ME.
As it is, I keep thinking I will let him drive more LATER. But since he will be 16 in six short months, I don’t know how we’ll find the time if I put it off. Why, you may ask, isn’t your husband teaching him? Well, it seems that he is even more anxious than I am. And the first time they drove together, there were a couple of little uh-ohs. I won’t elaborate to spare my son any embarrassment. Really, he’s doing great. I’m the one who’s not.