Monday, October 31, 2011

The Ultimate Connection--Unlike Any Other

I believe that I get along well with people who do not see life as I do. You may reference my previous blog on Civility and Decent Behavior, if you wish to see more about that. I believe that comes from mutual respect and agreeing to disagree.

However, that said, there is a connection that just does not happen to people if they do not share the same belief and relationship with God and Jesus Christ.


The Ultimate Connection is with God through His son Jesus. I am not talking about religion or denomination here; I am talking about the relationship an individual has with God by turning from our own desires and natures which naturally lead us away from Him, and turning toward God and accepting His gift of eternal life through Jesus. It may not be my favorite verse or your favorite verse, but Jesus Himself says it: "Jesus answered, 'I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'" (John 14:6) And fundamentally, it's about whether you believe that the words spoken are actually true, because they are there and He says it!
 
Not everyone who reads this will agree with me. That's OK, blogspot.com is free and you can write your own blog.

All of this is to say that, my relationships that have the spiritual component and agreement in Jesus Christ are unlike all others. There are words spoken, confidences shared, prayers prayed and physical expressions made that take it to another level.

I repeat that this is not about my church. I have believing friends in every aspect of life.  This is a unique connection altogether.

It was not always so. Although I always went to church as a young person, it was not until after I was married that my mother-in-law introduced me to a magazine (using the term loosely, but it came monthly) which was Christian. The reading of this publication led me to realize that I needed to do something I had not done before, through all my years of “church.” I sinned, but I had never actually thought to myself, "I need to turn away from sin (this is a general term, but I had some things in mind too!) and turn to Jesus Christ as the complete payment for my sin."

I certainly did not have a big discussion with myself about it; once I realized it, I did it. I prayed in a way I had not done previously in corporate or even private prayer. This is the moment I was brought into a relationship with Christ. No one ever told me to write down the date, but it was in November 1978. I had been married just a year.

At that time, I didn't attend a church that surrounded me with the type of relationship I am describing. We had social relationships, and I do believe some of them are believers, but there just wasn't this sort of connection. For several years I just floundered along on my own, although I did find a church with many people of my age that helped me learn during this time. As I look back, I do not know what I would have done without those folks.

Eventually I ended up in another denomination where I wanted to raise any children God might give me. My children were born in 1983 and 1988 and reborn in 1989 and 1994. As I dedicated them to God, I knew this group of people would surround me with the connection I needed to raise them. The most important thing to me was leading them, not forcing them, to have this kind of relationship with God.

These are the people I go to first when I need uplifting, support, prayer or maybe a good laugh! They are members of many denominations, but have agreement in Christ.


Monday, October 24, 2011

Motherhood

Happy Birthday to my first-born!

This blog celebrates the 28th anniversary of the day that I became a mother.

The first thing that I tell my children is that anytime you meet someone that thinks they know everything about raising children, it is a red flag. Run the other way!

That said, some of my observations about parenthood:

My objective for raising my family was to think of them as future adults and the “product” I hoped to launch into society when they were grown. My personal goal was for my children to be honest, kind, Christian citizens and everything else fell under that goal. It was easy to think of them as cute babies, but I never forgot the long-range goal.  That made it easier for me to let go at each level. The hardest “letting go” was watching Jessica drive away alone. I was at work and missed it with Joel. Thank you Lord!

Everyone told me how fast it goes and to enjoy them when they are little. I enjoyed every step and rejoiced with each new achievement. I didn’t want them to be babies forever.

Joel is grown but still lives at home. Our parenting duties are over, but we are still “advisors,” and by the way, that role goes both ways sometimes. There are subjects in which he is more knowledgeable than we are.

My advice to young mothers:

Don’t let breast feeding be an issue. If it doesn’t work, you will be a good mom if you bottle feed. I struggled for 6 days with Jessica and at age 30, said to myself, “I don’t need someone telling me how to be a good mom and I don’t have to breast feed to prove it.” If it doesn’t work, chuck the idea and move on. It is nutritionally best and saves money, but certainly doesn’t measure the quality of motherhood!

Watch your children. Observe how they learn. This is lifelong advice. I know that some things just don’t work with each child. If you recognize their learning patterns early, you are not trying to force them into another mold, and you will know to speak up when a teacher tries to. I knew at 9 months of age that Joel was left-handed. In the “olden days,” children were forced to be right-handed. I accepted and rejoiced that this was a part of who Joel was. Later he was a good pitcher and was used in (high school) situational pitching! Batting lefty was an advantage.

Back to teachers and schooling, you want to be involved as they are young, but even in this you pull back a little bit each year. I was in the high school once with Jessica and actually it was the only teacher issue we had in 13 years. He was a jerk and fortunately for me the superintendent’s daughter was in the same class. In the 6th grade, Jessica had to deal by herself with a case of mistaken identity on the bus (how can those bus drivers ever know who they are looking at and drive at the same time?). I remember thinking at the time that, although I support those who home-educate, this is what homeschooled children miss out—the learning to handle difficult situations on their own. The child grows in each of those situations. Don’t try to bail them out. If the Derges had to step in at school, it was so seldom that the teacher or principal listened.

Church has been an important part of the kids’ lives. And I don’t just mean CEO (Christmas and Easter Only). The highest recommendation I have is to find a church which has good Bible-teaching programs for children and will probably naturally have things for young parents also. I swear (pun intended) by AWANA. It starts at age 3 and continues through 6th grade, with some larger churches having Junior and Senior High programs also. If not, youth groups are important for that age group, at a church where their school friends are their church friends, if at all possible.

Recognize each child for the individual they are. Jessica was involved with the music in our church; Joel hated it. I didn’t push him that direction. Joel participated and helped in the sports programs.

More important than attending church regularly was that each child had a personal relationship with Jesus as his/her savior. Both of my children understood this at age 5, Joel a little younger than his sister.

I always said that we would support each child in whatever interests they had. If it was sculpting, we would find lessons for that, music, dance or whatever. It was easy for us as they both excelled in sports and there were plenty of opportunities. The important thing is to find what they love and support that! The funny thing is that Jerry and I can hardly walk and chew gum at the same time, and Joel will earn his living in coaching and Jessica runs marathons!

Another thing we did with regard to sports is KEEP OUR MOUTH SHUT. I can’t believe how many people try to “coach” their child from the sidelines, sometimes even undermining the coaches. Of course it does help that Joel and Jessica didn’t need our coaching at all. We did make an effort for one of us to be at every event, because the likelihood of Joel injuring himself was pretty good, and we spent a night at Community Hospital ER after a track meet with Jessica; where she had an asthma attack. (Do you know you can ride in the ambulance with your child? Do not ask permission. Get in the vehicle, strap yourself in behind the driver, and act as if you know what you are doing.)

I have made mistakes. The biggest one was because I stayed home, we all had the idea that Mom should “earn her keep” by doing everything. Consequently, my kids were behind the curve in helping with household chores. Whether or not you stay home, work full or part-time, this should be part of their upbringing.  Everyone in the house has chores!

I always told my kids that life is just not fair! There is no way I can keep everything equal between them as they have different needs. Sometimes it is just not fair—get over it! I always had the kids work, both starting at age 12 to help with their expenses. Jess babysat and later had a paper route. When she got a “real job”, he inherited the paper route. The Derges had that route for ten years! Both kids had a good handle on what a dollar is worth.

Discipline was not the same for each. My standard line was that my desired outcomes were the same for both, but how we got there may be a different path.

Vacations were seldom. We usually went to Loren’s or Mom’s as well as the visits to Jerry’s parents about every two months. We took four trips to the Smoky Mountains with them—two camping and two with cabins. Jessica didn’t know what Gatlinburg was until her senior year; we always went in the back way to avoid the commercialization. My kids have had one day at Disney World; they were 15 and 10 respectively.

If I had it to do over again, I would spend much less on toys and more on making memories (vacations or other) or saving for college! Grandparents and others buy enough toys to get a kid by, save your money for the larger ticket items they want later in life that others usually won’t buy.

Re: video games. Both of my kids have been very active so it really wasn’t much of an issue. The only issue we had was violent games. We didn’t permit them. Joel had to give back a birthday present and I am sure the parents of the kid were not impressed. He played many sports games and that helped him to understand the strategies and helped him in his profession, teaching and coaching.

Both of my kids were adults by the time social networking became an issue. I believe that some of the other ground rules contributed to their basic good sense in this area. Since I had a Facebook account, and it changes all the time, I was learning alongside them.

You get lots of advice about baby issues, but always keep in mind the big picture—the end of the run, so to speak. That helped me so much in parenting. While others are bemoaning the “empty nest” syndrome, I am rejoicing that the children are doing well on their own—as they are supposed to be. If you think of yourself as a mother primarily, that will be a problem someday. I think of it as a stage of life. When Joel is gone, all I have to worry about is getting old and dying! I’d better have some hobbies!

One more piece of advice I always give: if at all possible, NEVER take a husband or children to the grocery store! If you have lots of money it may be OK, but I was always pinching pennies and all of them were a distraction!

Remember the words of First Corinthians 13:13c, “the greatest of these is love.” Our highest calling, to love our Lord and our family.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

About My Blog

This is a short narrative about blogging in general. I know of two people who are thinking about doing this as I write, and another who has been “inspired” by my process. I have to admit, she writes better than I.

It is not a contest, but there are several features of blogging which my readers might be interested in.

I use blogspot which is a Google product. If you have a smart phone and a gmail account, you are already halfway home. There are other blogging products out there, but this integrates with what I am doing now. My calendar, gmail (which is used for specific purposes, blogging being one of them), YouTube account and blog are all in one place. I have no plans to join Google Plus at this time.

I have been experimenting with various new templates that are offered. The first one I used began to do weird things to my text and font. I never figured out the problem, so I changed templates. Blogspot came out with some new stuff and I have been playing around with it. My current design reminds me of some of the glass art work I loved at the art museum where I previously worked, so I chose it.

There are some features of my blog I would like to call attention to. One of them is “following.” There are several ways to do this, publically which I believe requires a gmail account (someone correct me if I am wrong) or privately, which you may do by selecting the “follow by email” box. This is located under the picture of Fairborn Baker Middle School. If you don’t have a google account, you may choose this option. I follow several blogs from other sources this way.

Another is the Top Ten Blogs. Since they are posted, they tend to keep being the top ten as those are the ones people naturally click on, but not always. Google keeps track of the visits to these blogs and adjusts them accordingly. It’s interesting to me to see what blogs strike a chord with people. I never know when that may happen.

People are confused by the comment section. The comment section can be very fun. If you have a google account, you can use that. There are other choices if you are part of other blogging products; but the default is anonymous. Maybe you want to post anonymously; but that is not recommended. I (and others) want to know who says what! If you post anonymously, write what you wish and then just sign your name. It serves the same purpose!

If you don’t want a full blown comment, there are three choices for “reactions.” These are choices from a number of them, which I felt best represented what would be appropriate for my blog. I am not setting out to solve big world problems. Some will absolutely NOT be funny! I am not humorous all the time, and my subjects are not humorous all the time. I don’t know who clicks on what.

As you look at the blogs, there will be "older posts" and "newer posts," depending on what entry you are reading. As time permits, don't hesitate to look around. There is also an "archive" of older entries, and if you are looking for something in particular, such as the reunion itself, it will be in the July-August time frame.

Finally, I do want to point the reader to the “blogs I follow.” These represent a wide variety of people that are in my life. From my muse who is fighting cancer to my nephew’s wife who blogs about various topics relating to life with young children and her husband’s chronic pain; and everyone in between, these are people I have deemed important in my living. I am not advertising for them, but you might find them interesting.

This is for my friend, Dewey
Armstrong.
I started this whole thing with the idea of following the process of planning and producing a high school class reunion. It was fun; but it goes without saying that high school class reunions are a blip on the radar of life. Connections with the people we come into contact with are not.  At 58, my mind’s eye takes me to the seasons of my life; my youth (sigh!) being only one of them. As I go forth from here, I will take walks down the other paths of my life; but the recurring theme will be “connecting.” Once in awhile I will talk about subjects that “people of a certain age” will relate to. It is my desire that my younger readers might learn from my experience too.

I might whine a little; it seems like I find myself wishing for simpler things, simpler times. Maybe you will pass on those. It is my goal to end up later in life with a record of what was important to me at various times to pass on to future generations, mine and maybe yours. It is never my intent to make money at blogging. I looked into that, because I am curious, but it’s not a road I want to travel.

I am not quitting my day job, but I love to write!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Girls' Road Trip

It’s important to spend time with our girlfriends. It was well past time for a “road trip.” 

My friend Beth Keeney Milling and I decided to drive to Wisconsin to see our mutual friend Brenda Crank and her fiancé Scott Nickell. Brenda has had some health issues this year, but is improving. In fact, she and Scott had just returned from a cruise to Alaska. We enjoyed seeing their pictures and souvenirs. We girls had fun getting our nails done and then Scott joined us for lunch. Then we went to the Coach factory outlet and treated ourselves to some purchases. We went back to their house and visited for several hours before watching the Ohio State football game, which was NOT fun!


Brenda, Beth and I all sang in high school choir together. (We also sang one year in college choir, something we had almost forgotten!) Brenda and Beth grew up in the same church, which happens to be the same one I attend today. We all know a LOT of people in common, and I think we talked about most of them! But our relationships go beyond all of that as the four of us, along with Beth and my husbands and another couple went on a cruise last year. Four completely different couples, yet we created a bond which will last for the rest of our lives.

This is that type of relationship that you can pick up after a period of time, with the feeling that no time has passed at all. While I am thankful for all of our “connections” today; email, Facebook and so forth, nothing beats a road trip and a good face-to-face visit. We needed that, and we had a great time with lots of laughs!

The following day, Beth and I made a connection of a different kind. With our GPS, we went in search of Derge Park. We were about an hour away. Derge Park is 13 acres of land donated by the great-grandfather of the husband of our new friend, Suzanne Derge. Suzanne and I found each other on Facebook. We are not related in any way that we know of. We spent some time walking around the park and up the road to the house where her husband’s grandmother lived until she was 97. It was interesting to compare notes. While we know IF our families are related, it isn’t in America; the link would be further back in time from Germany.
Denise Derge and Suzanne Derge

We got along well with Suzanne. She is close to our age, with children close to our children’s ages. I knew from Facebook that we had many common interests. I did not feel this was taking a risk of any kind; yet I didn’t presume to be invited into her home and life. Visiting at the park seemed right for a first encounter. We spent about one and a half hours talking about our families and lives. We laughed as I told her that my father-in-law went to his grave thinking my son was the last Derge in the world. I have another Facebook friend who is a FOURTH cousin to Suzanne’s husband. Suffice to say, there are lots of Derges from Wisconsin.

And as a side-note: We pronounce our name with a hard g. Phonetically we would say Derg and leave off the e. The Wisconsin Derges pronounce their name phonetically Derg-ee, with the accent on the first syllable. It was so strange to hear her refer to herself in that way!

So we made a new friend. And Suzanne, if you are reading this, I have your number in my cell phone and WILL call you sometime!

Returning home, my husband, who previously had not cared, was very interested in the literature I brought home from Derge Park. It will make interesting conversation for the next Derge Reunion……providing it’s not cancelled because of the heat!

In all of this, I have decided we need to do this again. At least I need to do it again! Meeting up with other women, maybe having some male partners hang around a little bit (Scott knew when to leave the room; I think it was the discussion on menopause), but mostly just being girls. This is a level of connection that my male readers might not get (PLEASE argue with me if you do!) but it’s something we women NEED! The older we get……the more we need it!