Monday, August 29, 2011


Slumped on the picnic bench, I sit disappointed as I listen  to our son say, “No” for the umpteenth time.  It is the end of summer break and we are on our one and only family vacation.  Our oldest son, who has special needs, is filled with stress and anxiety this morning.  “No” is the limited word choice he uses to express his discomfort.

We apply our behavior plan, but the negative behavior looms.  The rest of the family continues discussing the day’s plans as we sit around the picnic table.  My mind wanders away from the conversation, wondering if there are other tools we could use to coax our boy along.  Sinking my chin into the palm of my hand, I watch him as he eats and I begin to pray, “Jesus, please help him be carefree”.

We couldn’t have picked a more relaxing, stress-free vacation place.  Regardless of the calm lake and lazy schedule, our boy was stressing over straws for his cup, climbing into a rowboat or walking up a small row of stairs.  The anxious behaviors interfere with his ability to enjoy new experiences and relationships.

Our family of five responds to his needs like second nature.  We take paths of least resistance; avoiding stairs and carrying straws in our bag.  We plan to ignore negative responses; trusting the lack of attention will deflate some behaviors.  And we carry a “tool box” of high fives, praise and gummy bears for his great behavior choices.

Brother encourages brother on stairs
We have come to expect new situations will often create anxiety in our son.  A new place to sleep, a change in schedule, and crowds of people can throw off a normally delightful child.  This is the life of a special needs family.  There are times we respond to his behavior with our own erupting stress. More often we take deep breaths and dig deep inside ourselves to persevere and love and laugh, and sometimes cry, (speaking of myself).

Most of all, I pray.  Try as I may to be equipped with effective survival tools to empower my family, ultimately I have very little control.  I release our boy to One who loves deeper.  As everyone finishes their breakfast I silently pray, “Lord thank you for giving us tools.  Thank you for giving me a kind husband and compassionate sons.  But, I pray for a carefree heart in our boy.  He can’t pray it for himself.  I pray You’d work your Spirit within our boy…to relieve him of his anxieties…give him joy and rest.  Only Your Spirit can do that, Lord.  Do a mighty work.”

I’m going to pray this prayer relentlessly.


Monday, August 22, 2011


"Brokenness ...  brokenness is what I long for ... Brokenness ... brokenness is what I need ...Brokenness ... brokenness is what You want from me"

~ I tend to want the resurrection without going through the grave.

~ When it comes to my heart, I've learned there are no shortcuts, no exceptions, no substitutes ... it always begins with humility before God.

~ Pride renders me more useless to God and others than any kind of failure.

~ When I get caught up in religion, I am very far from God.

~ My self-will must be shattered & my self-reliance must be stripped away to be broken.

~ In reality, those who refuse to die are the ones who give up everything.

~ Warning signs in my life that I'm far from broken:
   defensive when corrected
   prone to manipulate and control
   first instinct is to 'cover up'
   more concerned about the consequence my sin causes
   driven to extremes
   protecting my reputation
   wounded when overlooked
   keeping others at arm's length
   need to have last word
   critical & easy to see where growth is needed in others
   self-conscious and comparing

~I pray for a fresh vision of my God ... for Him to show me His glory in new ways!

~ I can choose to be broken. I don't have to wait for God to break me.

~ I try to tell God every morning that I need Him.

~ I seek to live each day revolved around God's Glory.

"It's a wonder what God can do with a broken heart, if He gets all the pieces!"
Samuel Chadwick

What have you learned about brokenness in your life? What are you warning signs that tell you pride is getting in your way? Let's encourage one another!

Christie Lee Rayburn

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


“Are you my mother” the baby bird asks different animals from page to page.  I listened to my son read the Dr. Seuss book aloud, with its pages full of childhood wonder.  Every stage of my life I have had something to look forward to in the next stage.  With wonder, I looked forward to becoming a cheerleader, a high school student, my first boyfriend, going away to college, doing my part to help the world, and ultimately getting married and becoming a mommy.  Similar to the baby bird, I pursued role models as if to say, “Are you my mentor?”
With wonder, I watched the lives of godly men and women and I valued their input in my life.  I became a note-taker.  Literally taking notes in the blank pages of my bible, journals and scrapbooks, I wrote about the way they loved their spouses, the way they treated their children, and the way they loved Jesus with their lives.
I took mental notes, too.  Mental notes about parenting, discipline, faithful husbands, and godly moms.  I mentally jotted how they shared conversation around the table, required integrity in their ministry, and balanced their lives.  Thanks to the deliberate teaching of those who purposed to build into me, as well as the teaching I “caught” from observing these godly lives, these notes have paid off through the seasons of my life.
I can’t help but lament the lack of notes I have taken for this mid-life season.   I have so many questions about the empty nest, becoming a mother-in law, and a grandmother.  Are you my mentor?
My sons have not yet entered the dating phase of life, but I’ve been searching for a role model who can pass on her wisdom about being a great mother-in-law.  I’ve been on the look-out for years.  I have a few mental notes about “how not to be a mother-in-law”, but I’m still looking for the “how-to”.
Do I have more to look forward to in my senior years than the empty nest, osteoporosis and dentures?  Please show me!
Are you my mentor?

Calling all emotionally healthy and godly women!  There is a generation who wants to learn from you!  We don’t expect perfection and scholarly advice; we want to learn from your mistakes, your heartaches, your trials.  Are you willing to let us in on your great tools for adjusting to a changing family life?  Will you tell stories about how you try to strike a healthy balance with your adult children?   Will you tell us how you feel and how you wrestle with your changing roles?
If you are still trying to figure it all out, that’s okay.  We want to hear that, too.
If you have a wonderful “mid-life” mentor, tell us some stories!


Monday, August 8, 2011


I like lists. Scratch that, I LOVE lists! When the world is spinning out of control and I’m feeling overwhelmed, a list makes everything better. Seriously, it’s better than Prozac.
I can’t think of a situation that can’t be improved with a listI dare you – try to stump me!
Work piling up and you don’t know where to start? Make a list. Kids acting like orangutans? Make a list of goals and how to get there (even better when they are in on the discussion, something I like to facilitate with liberal amounts of ice cream). Worries keeping you up at all hours? Make a list of things to think about tomorrow.
If you are wondering what brought about this list making infomercial, it is this:

That’s my summer chore list… with not one single thing marked off. It’s a new low for me. Now I could give you plenty of valid excuses… ahem… REASONS why this is the case, but the truth is they don’t make me feel any less discouraged and depressed about it.
So, I’ve decided to resurrect an old habit. It’s something my sweetheart has enjoyed mocking me for over the years. I’m going to go back to that list and add things I’ve already done – then cross them off with great relish.
  • Spend time with my kids – CHECK!
  • Cuddle my new nephew and niece/god-daughter – CHECK!
  • Figure out how to Skype my sister – CHECK!
  • Go to Bard on the Beach – CHECK!
  • Buy a cowboy hat the Calgary Stampede – CHECK!
  • Sit on the beach with my feet in the sand and my nose in a book (and one eye on the kids) – CHECK!
It seems to me that there’s a whole lot about celebrating in the bible – whole chapters commanding festivals and holidays and dozens of poems with lists (YES, that’s right lists) of God’s blessings. Maybe I’ll add that to my list:
  • Worshiping God by enjoying the life I’ve been given!
So here’s me – celebrating the life I live, instead of obsessing about everything still left to do.


Friday, August 5, 2011


It is time to sit myself down and give this girl a reality check.   I am disheartened by the reflection of the woman I see each morning; deep lines around her eyes and even deeper crevices around her lips.   Her image does not line up with the youthful woman in my mind.  My mind is playing tricks on me, making me believe I am ten to 15 years younger than I really am.  What is that about?  I know some of you are in the midst of this inner-struggle, while others are asking, “What took you so long, Bonnie?”
I’ve been engrossed in the joys of raising my boys who are quickly approaching manhood.   Their changing voices and interests warn me that my lifestyle is about to take a big turn.  With the rude awakening of a 40-something birthday and friends reminding me I am next in line to turn 50, I know it’s time for the woman in the mirror and the one in my mind to come to terms with one another.
Suddenly I am struck with my own mortality.  These precious days are slipping through my fingers and I am helpless to grasp them and hold them back.   More than half my life is over.  This reality presents a new dimension of feelings to sort through.
I have observed many who confront this mid-life crisis by digging in their heels, clenching the last moments of their youth, and risking their families with their shenanigans…it isn’t pretty.  Naively, I thought I could take healthy steps to avoid this crisis.  But now that I am in the middle of my own mid-life reality, avoiding the crisis is not an option.  Making healthy choices is however; as I learn to embrace this new season of life.
Crisis is not a four letter word
As youth, we go through an identity crisis, wrestling with who we are, what character qualities we want to define us, and what we will allow to form our value system.  As we progress toward young adulthood, we must face a crisis of belief, where we wrestle with our beliefs about God and choose to make our beliefs our own.  This is all good.
Crisis invites us to move forward in our lives.  We can choose to be the passive victim of a life-stage crisis, ridiculously try to fight it, or welcome it as a refining process of fresh new things to come.  How are you confronting this age-old crisis?  Let’s take this journey together, and ride into the second half of our lives with zeal!  Crisis is not a four-letter word.   It has the potential to cause turbulence, but I’m determined it will bring great growth.
I don’t have all the answers to this mid-life crisis. But as I come to terms with the second half of my life, two truths come to mind:
  • I came from dust, I will return to dust.  That’s the way it is.  (Ecclesiastes 3:20)  It’s nothing to fight or debate.  I am assured of my eternal home and rest with Jesus, and all is well.
  • The character of the Proverbs 31 woman spoke to me in my youth, “Strength and dignity are her clothing and she smiles at the future.”  (Proverbs 31:25) Now is my opportunity to emulate this woman.
Despite my ever-changing body, mind and relationships, God’s love and purpose for me remain the same.   He reveals it to me through His Word, like road signs along the way.   I will keep trusting and obeying Him, and He will keep leading me in the way that delights Him.
This crisis is going to be good.


Monday, August 1, 2011


I would like to believe that, on the whole, I am better than average at knowing how to speak to a man. I am pretty good at explaining the differences in the genders when doing my seminars. I can carry on an easy conversation with most men because I understand what they like to talk about. And since one of my missions is to challenge women to appreciate the men in their lives, I actively try to learn more about the way men process information. In a nutshell – I get guys.
But every once in a while, I revert lock, stock and barrel to being a stereotypical girl. Recently, I had one of these moments.
The day had started out very well. Since Eric and I are new to Ontario, we called up the one friend we have out East and decided to go out for breakfast together. This is a young guy who is seriously dating a girl but very much still a bachelor. He exists in that space of wanting to learn about women because he really digs this chick, but hasn’t quite achieved bilingualism in both the guy- and girl-speak.  He’s trying to learn the language, but isn’t yet fluent.
He also introduced us to his roommate – another bachelor – who while he isn’t currently working on a relationship with a woman, he is in the midst of doing his PhD. (One could argue that this is a relationship in and of itself). You might say that he is a serious intellectual, but has not even enrolled in the girl-speak classes yet. Not that I am knocking on the guy. Heck, I felt my IQ rise just by hanging out with him.
Breakfast was fabulous. We were introduced to the amazing Cora‘s restaurant at which I promptly gorged myself on a Brie and Mushroom Eggs Benedict – delicious! The conversation was the perfect blend of intellectualism meets smart-ass. Just how I like it.
As we were leaving the restaurant, however, I noticed that there was a hair salon open right next door which carried the brand of hair product that I use. I had been out of my favourite product for a week and was desperate to track it down in Toronto. I ducked into the store (but alas, I did not find the product), and as I rejoined our friends, I launched into a detailed explanation as to why I had to track down that particular product. V-e-r-y detailed.
As I continued, both guys, who up to this point had been engaged in constant dialogue and banter with me, gave me completely blank looks. It was like the whole scene geared down into slow motion and you could see the Blink*Blink*Blink of their eyes.
To my complete and utter horror, I realized that I was talking in-depth “girl-speak” to two bachelors.  They had no idea how to respond to me. I might as well had been speaking Klingon (wait…scratch that…at least one of them is probably fluent in that).
Thankfully, my husband (who no doubt felt pity on me because I had been without female companionship for weeks) brought the conversation back onto a gender-neutral track and we finished our time together well.
As I laughed at myself later, it occurred to me that very often, we do the same thing in our relationships. We can think we are communicating with each other, but  in reality we are speaking another language.
Unfortunately, women are particularly fond of equating “talking” with “communication”. Men do not define the latter so rigidly. Communication to a man can hanging out with their buddies on a golf course, or watching a game, or sitting silently in a duck blind. That is communication. There doesn’t need to be talk.
I have a vivid memory of asking my husband how his day of golf with a friend had gone. “What did you talk about?” I asked. “Not much,” was his response. “In fact, at the end of the day, my buddy said to me – it is so great to hang out and not have to talk.” They had bonded, they had communicated, but there had not been much conversation.
For women, this seems crazy. If we have more than a 4 second lull in conversation, we feel that we aren’t “connecting” with each other.
It is not that one form of communication is superior to another…they are just different.
I think that the goal of your relationship should not be to make your partner speak your language but to become a bilingual couple. You should be able to fluidly switch back and forth from guy-speak to girl-speak. Sometimes you respect the connection found in a non-verbal golf game and sometimes you cover for your wife speaking a foreign language to two bachelors – that way you know that are always going to truly be communicating.
How about you?  Are you fluent in your lover’s preferred communication style?