Keep calm and wait … what?

If you hadn’t noticed, things have been quiet around here lately. I didn’t plan to take a break from blogging, but it happened anyway.

And that’s okay.

We need breaks from time to time. We need to relax, to take some deep breaths, and to recharge. We need to try new things, and experience new experiences.

Above all, we need to live.

It’s so easy to get lock into writing. To focus on word counts and deadlines. It’a even easier to get caught up in the business of writing. To spend more time on social media trying to be heard above the din of voices.

We spend so much time on output, we forget about input. Reading a book, taking a walk, singing, or  playing a musical instrument. Talking to our friends, engaging with our partners, or playing with our kids. And then we wonder why the output stops.

No input, no output.

No living, no life.

That’s why we have to take breaks, and that’s why the blog has slowed down and why it will pick up again once I am filled.

Five Minute Friday

And this week, a two-for one (to catch up with both online communities):

Cheerleaders of Faith

Making New Friends

Anna and her new friend

Waiting for the bus with a new friend.

Anna has been ready to go back to school since her last Girl Scout camp ended on August 15th. It’s been a long two-and-a-half weeks, but the time has finally arrived and she has started third grade!

Tuesday morning, we visited her new classroom and met her new teacher during the Meet and Greet. She found her desk, and was glad to see that she was sitting next to a friend from her second grade class. He also sat next to her last year, so seeing the familiar name next to hers helped calm down her jitters.

Then she met a new friend, a girl who was new to Anna’s elementary school this year. We told her that Anna had been in the same situation last year. They started chatting, and before long Anna started introducing her to the other kids she knew as she came in. It was such a thoughtful gesture.

On the way home she said how nice it would be if her new friend rode the bus with her this year. This is Anna’s first year riding the bus to school (long story) and as much as she was looking forward to it, I think she was a bit apprehensive as well.

I told her it was possible, but not to be disappointed. We had no idea where her new friend lives.

So yesterday morning, Julia and I walked Anna to meet the bus. And who did we see walking up the street as we reached the corner? Her new friend, together with her mom and older sister. Anna was so excited to see her and they chatted away until the bus came. Then they sat together and rode to school.

Anna had a great first day. She likes her new teacher and her classroom. She saw her best friend at recess, along with some other friends who are in different classes this year.

And she made a new friend who lives right around the corner from us. A friend she gets to ride the bus with, and see in class. A friend that’s only a short walk away.

That’s a great start to a new school year!

I am Grateful

Julia and I kiss Anna after her first communion.

Photo: Olga Burgess

It’s been a very busy and very emotional week, and as it comes to a close I have a lot to be grateful for.

I am grateful that Anna received the Body and Blood of Jesus for the first time in the Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist.

I am grateful that Anna’s Godparents could make the drive up from Sacramento for her First Communion Mass on Saturday, and that we got to spend the day with them.

I am grateful that Julia’s “medical procedure” was successful, and that—following her recovery—she will free from the chronic pain that she has suffered with for the last year or so. (Out of respect for her privacy, that’s all I am saying.)

I am grateful for all those who have prayed for her and continue to pray for her recovery.

I am grateful that the dark cloud that has hung over my own head for the last year may finally be receding. I am grateful for those who have helped. (Out of respect for my own privacy, that’s all I am saying.)

I am grateful that we have people to turn to when we are in need.

I am grateful that Julia’s mom is close by and always willing to help.

I am grateful that Anna is happy at school, and she has a teacher who cares enough to both challenge and support her.

I am grateful to live in one of the most beautiful places in the country—even when it rains.

I am grateful to God for every blessing in my life.

Five Minute Friday

Calling Each Other “Friends”

A giant FB friend collage.

A Facebook “friends” collage.

Today’s Five Minute Friday prompt is “friend.” Another repeat prompt—not the first—but coincidentally it’s back exactly one year later. Here’s what I wrote about “friend” last year.

Facebook has ruined the word “Friend.”

First of all, it is not a verb. You do not friend people, you meet them—preferably in person—and over time, if you find enough in common between you to make connections, a friendship will grow organically.

Second, “defriend” and “unfriend” are not words. I do not defriend someone to make him my unfriend, or unfriend someone to make her my defriend. If a friendship ends, it is usually through inaction. Except for a couple of Seinfeld episodes, no one ever “breaks up” with a friend.  Friendships don’t get killed, they die through neglect.

But worst of all, Facebook abuses of the meaning of the word “friend.” In real life, we have layers of friendship. Best friends, good friends, friends-of-friends, acquaintances, colleagues, people-we-know-but-don’t-think-too-much-about, people-we-nod-to-politely-as-we-pass-them, etc.

But in Facebook, everyone is a potential friend. All it takes is a friend request …

It was a real-life friend that got me on Facebook in the first place. And early on, the people I connected with—often after many years out-of-touch—were real-life friends too. But then I started connecting with people I only knew online. That’s when it got a little weird, and a few of these virtual “friendships” had to end.

But there’s a good part too, and maybe it’s proof that a tool is only as good as what you do with it.

I’ve since met some of the people I once knew only through social media. I’ve gotten a chance to talk to them face to face, if only for a short time. And it’s been wonderful. No, they’re not really “friends” in the same way people I’ve known for years are, but they are colleagues and, in many cases, fellow disciples of Jesus too.

Jesus said “I call you friends.” Maybe we can call each other friends, and—unlike Facebook—have it mean something.

Five Minute Friday

Bloggerhood Etc. 2/17/14

What is beautiful

From a 1981 LEGO ad (Image via Women You Should Know)

Happy Presidents’ Day. Here’s the best of the week.

Best Flashback.The Little Girl from the 1981 LEGO Ad is All Grown Up, and She’s Got Something to Say” by Lori Day at Women You Should Know.

Best List.Westminster Dog Rankings, 2014: Another Tough Year for Spaniels” by Spencer Hall at SB Nation.

Best NSFW Rant.F**k that Sh***y Coloring Book” by Lucky Shirt at Medium.

Best Manifesto.Frank Lloyd Wright’s 10-point Manifesto for His Apprentices” by Gretchen Ruben at The Happiness Project.

Best Homily.Sermon on that special class of salty, light-bearing people to whom Jesus preaches” by Nadia Bolz-Weber at Sarcastically Lutheran.

Most Encouraging.Cleft palate, bullying overcome by beauty pageant contestant” at CBC News.

Best Q and A (tie). Savage and Trust Unplugged: Cross-Sex Friendship” by Natalie Trust at her blog, and “Trust and Savage Unplugged: Cross-Sex Friendships” by Aaron Smith at Cultural Savage.

Best Advice.12 Habits of Highly Effective Stay-At-Home Dads” by Chris Routly at The Daddy Doctrines.

Best Video.Fix Your Grammar” by Glove and Boots (via YouTube).

“You keep using that word …”