losing your balance

July 12, 2010


I’ve never been a very graceful or coordinated person. I tend to run into things and drop stuff (especially in the kitchen). I’ve been known to  fall down while going up the stairs and trip over invisible bumps in the sidewalk. After 15 years of marriage Scott’s pretty much used to it. I like to tell myself he finds it to be an endearing quality of mine.

One of my most embarrassing moments occurred while I was working for the Department of Defense and performing with the USO overseas. It was a 4th of July show on a large military base in Japan. Picture 1000 families, a stage that had just been waxed and an opening number performed in a pair of old dance shoes that desperately needed to be re-soled. Combine all that with my stellar coordination (they hired me for my voice not for my dance skills) and you can imagine what that embarrassing moment looked like. I slid across the stage and landed right on my… (well, you get the picture).

Staying balanced has been an issue in others ways too. As a teen and young adult my days were booked solid. Friends joked with me about having to be penciled into my schedule. I look back on those days and realize how much I missed in some of those relationships. Mostly because I was a chronic overachiever for all the wrong reasons.

In my mid-twenties I did a lot of soul-searching and began to understand the motivation behind many of my choices. Since then I’ve made a conscious effort to be careful as to where I spend my time, talents and thoughts. I know well some of my weaknesses and I don’t want my relationship with God,  my family or my close friends to suffer because of them.

It’s easy to lose your balance in life–to wake up one day and realize you’ve spent too much time and energy on something that God never really called you to do. It could be as big as career and relationship choices made from a deeply rooted and mistaken belief that you are what you do. Or as simple as a worry or concern you’ve allowed to consume your thoughts. Either one is like a cyst or foreign object growing in your heart and mind, taking up space in a place it doesn’t belong. Before you know it things just don’t feel right and your life is thrown out of balance.

Last week my brother had brain surgery to remove some tumors and a large cyst that was placing pressure on his  cerebellum. Apparently it had been there growing at a slow pace for quite some time. He didn’t know it until his symptoms appeared. His coordination and balance were off. He lost dexteriety in his hand and there were headaches as a well as fatigue. 

They were a lot like the spiritual sypmptoms I see when I’ve allowed something to creep into my life that shouldn’t be there. My balance is thrown off, it’s hard to coordinate everything in my calendar and it’s easy to fall into sin. I find I’m not as flexible in my relationships, especially with my family, and I can get tired and stressed out.

I’m especially in tune with this balance issue right now because of starting my new job at church. Not only has my brother’s surgery made me stop and think but God sent me another reminder a few weeks ago when the girls went to VBS (Vacation Bible School). The theme was about keeping your balance when you work,  play, rest and pray. It was His not so subtle way of reminding me that now more than ever I need to guard my time and my thoughts so I stay centered in Christ.

Of course, I can’t help but ask…

What is it in your life that causes you to lose your balance? What do you need to do this week to stay centered in your relationship with Christ? Whatever it is, make sure you do it!

Change is coming…

May 17, 2010


It’s been raining off and on all night and this morning. Looks like a good snow day to me.

Translation: No School!! 

I think we’ll curl up on the couch and read books today. We need a quiet day and some rest. Life’s been busy around here. Our weekends have been especially busy.

It seems like we’ve been going non-stop ever since Holy Week.

After Easter we had the dedication of our new church. I’ll share some pictures sometime soon.

Claire then had her First Communion retreat.

I’ve had a couple of weddings to sing at (one of which was very special to our family).

Claire received her First Holy Communion last weekend. That was a full weekend. There’s more to share about First Communion and I probably will, just not today.

My sister was in town last week. We celebrated my brother’s graduation from his PH.D program. We now have a Dr. in the family! (We’re proud of you Pat and so glad that part of your journey is over for you and your family).

And of course there’s been much time spent with friends, just doing life and this faith journey together.

So I’ve been too busy to write. And life is about to get a little busier. Busy in a good way though.

I’ve been contemplating taking on a new role in life. I finally made a decision last week.

Scott and I are embarking on a new adventure in our faith journey.  I agreed to join the staff at my church where I’ll serve part-time as a faith formation director. On the one hand this is totally new but on the other I’ve sensed some kind of change in my life coming. I just didn’t expect it this year.

You can pray for us as we serve. I say we because this really is a family deal. There’s no way I could do this and still home school the girls without Scott’s involvement and support. Although it’s a sacrifice of time we’re excited about what God will do as we serve and grow with the other families in our parish.

Change can be good.

Change for our family.

And change for me as I’m challenged in this new role to grow in His grace and love.

Seven Signs of Spring

March 7, 2010


It’s beginning to look a lot a little like spring!

It sure has taken long enough. This has been the coldest Florida winter I can remember (and I’ve been here for all but 2 of the last 40 years).

We usually get a few good beach days in February. Not this year. Nada, none, zilch. It’s March 7th and it’s still too cold.

Finally this weekend, there are signs of hope; signs that spring is right around the corner. The sun is shining, the temp has been in the 60’s and now the rest of the week looks promising.

There are others signs as well.

Here’s The Simmons Family’s Seven Signs of Spring for 2010:

1) The pollen count is slowly rising. Claire, Ella and I are now surviving on Claritin. They’re making a killing off of us each spring.  We should just buy stock and get some of our money back.

2) The gas fire-place has decided to work intermittently. Ok, this is not an official sign of spring but I’m praying it is because it’s the main source of heat we choose to use in this house. I actually think it’s on strike because we’ve over-worked it this winter.

3) Scott and I went to breakfast Saturday morning (sans children) at our favorite diner and it was packed full of snowbirds (shorts, long dark socks with tennis shoes, funny accents and all!). Fortunately the girl who seats people knows us by name and made sure we got a great table…

4) …that great table was outside. It was a gorgeous day yesterday. Warm enough to sit outside, sip coffee and read the paper, oops, I mean sit and stare into one another’s eyes while we waited for our food. 🙂

5) Scott and the girls are outside. They’re cleaning off the trampoline and dusting off the lounge chairs as I type. It won’t be long before we’re spending our Sunday afternoons at the beach and by the pool.

6) Last night I made our favorite spring/summer time appetizer: Avocado, Tomato and Feta Salsa. Yum! It’s not spring yet but here’s my rationale: If you make it, spring will come. I’ll post the recipe sometime. It’s a good one.

And finally, #7:

The girls are working hard (well, Claire is) and gearing up for their annual home school evaluations which we scheduled to have before spring break. Needless to say we’re all counting down the days until evaluations are over we start an extended three week spring break! Gotta’ love the freedom of home schooling. It lets us take advantage of the gorgeous Florida weather.

[Note to my friends up north: I know, I know, I know…I need to stop complaining about how cold it is in Florida! :-)]

Other spring time posts:

One for the Road

The Simple Pleasures of Spring, 2008

you say tom-A-to, I say tom-AH-to

September 28, 2009

I spent this past weekend serving on a women’s retreat. This retreat is patterned after Cursillo which is a Catholic retreat started in Spain more than fifty years ago. I went through this retreat 10 years ago and I’ve served on at least 15 weekends since then. Although patterned after a Catholic retreat and technically “ecumenical,” it’s primarily a Protestant movement and the team members putting on the retreat as well as the participants going through the weekend are primarily made up of Protestants. There aren’t a lot of Catholics who serve; usually I’m the token Catholic in my community.  This weekend I served in another community and there were three Catholics on the weekend. It turns out we are all converts to the faith. One of these ladies was just joined the church last Easter. 

We spent some time talking and she shared she’s still finding her place in her parish and feeling like she don’t really fit in the Catholic world or the Protestant world. How well I remember that feeling. Then she said, ” At church I feel like I talk with a Protestant accent and I have to stop and ask myself, ok – how do I say this in Catholic speak.”  As she spoke I realized this really describes the reason many Catholics and Protestants have trouble communicating.  Of course there are some real differences in our theology and those can’t and shouldn’t be easily dismissed. But even with those differences Protestants and Catholics share many of the same foundational truths and beliefs. The difference is often found in the way in which we talk about those beliefs. Often we’re saying the same thing but using different words or as my new friend put it we’ve got an accent that makes it hard for the other group to understand.

It’s been seven years since I became Catholic and I think I’ve found my Catholic accent but I admit sometimes I still have to stop myself and translate my thoughts when I’m talking with people at my parish (this will be especially true after having spent the weekend with my Protestant friends).  Phrases like “praise and worship” and “the Lord has been showing me in my quiet time…” and “when I became a Christian…”  just aren’t heard in most Catholic circles. It’s not that we Catholics don’t praise and worship God or spend ‘quiet time’ with God in His Word, or that we don’t mark significant times of conversion in our lives. We do all of these. We  just don’t talk about them in the same way.

Interestingly, while on this retreat there is a talk given on the Sacraments. One of the Spiritual Directors for the retreat gives the talk and honestly it’s a tough one to give. Imagine trying to talk about the sacraments celebrated by Christians when you have almost every main-line denomination represented and nurmerous inter-denominational groups there as well. So many differences. After this talk I found myself being asked questions about Catholic beliefs and having to translate between the two languages.  Using my best Protestant accent I managed to explain what Catholics believe and how it relates to some of their beliefs. There seemed to be some mutual understanding or true ecumenism as a result.  

Each time I serve on these retreats I realize how grateful I am for my Protestant upbringing.  I’m grateful for how my youth pastor and my mom taught me to love the written word of God and how I learned to worship God through the use of music and extemporaneous prayer. These are gifts that make my faith journey as a Catholic richer. I think most converts like me would say the same thing.  At the end of the conversation with this new convert and friend I realized speaking with both accents is not a bad thing. Instead I see it as a gift. It’s a gift that allows me to help others overcome some of the misunderstandings and divisions that exist between Catholics and Protestants. And in my little hybrid Christian world that is a very good thing.