Liz Benigno

a view from the porch

Pups and Husbands

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Confession Time. I really could live my life without a dog. Before you dog lovers judge me, hear me out. I don't really get the love of puppy breath, or their tummies, or "adorable" whimpers. But, even more than that, I am not a fan of dog hair everywhere, wet paw prints on windows and chewed baseboards. Dog barf because they got into something? No thanks.

Yes, yes I know, it's about companionship and unconditional love. Isn't that what a husband and best friend are for?

So WHY did we get a puppy? Because I am married to a dog lover. A man who finds satisfaction with a dog at his feet.

It has been a really crummy year for Steve. A year ago May I was diagnosed with cancer and had surgery. Then on the very first day of chemo in July his dad unexpectedly passed away. Steve remained steady and calm. My rock. If there were tears they were private ones, not wanting to burden me with any additional stress. But then one evening in early September our 15 year old dog Rascal had a seizure and died. Oh my. Rascal's death unleashed a season of pain and grief. Free to cry over his beloved dog, he did. 

Fast forward one year and Steve was ready for a dog. Eesh, Not me. I liked the freedom from responsibility and quite frankly I didn't miss the fur tumbleweeds normally found in the corners of my house. So what's a girl to do? I had two choices, be unyielding to my husband or call Jodi.

I called Jodi. Jodi is my straight shootin' prayer partner. She's the one who knows all the ugly of my life. Jodi is the one who tells me to get my act together and always points me to what God wants me to do. She is un-apologetically uninterested in how I "feel". She is however, very interested in what I do and how I do it. Here is what she said, " Steve needs this. I'll start praying for your heart to change."

Honest to goodness I felt my heart change. I actively began looking for pups with Steve. We laid in bed weighing the pros and cons of types, sizes and gender. I found myself buying toys that squeaked (squeaked for God's sake!).

Penny, our spaniel mix, came home on Tuesday. She's sweet and smart and follows Steve everywhere he goes. A new best friend. And I am a newly converted dog lover. Thanks Jodi.

Get yourself a Jodi. A person who knows what it means to love Jesus, and who will fight for all that is good, true and beautiful for you and your family. 

He who walks with wise men will be wise, But the companion of fools suffers harm. 

Proverbs 13:20 

 

 

 

Josie and Claire

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It's time to go. 

Please go well. Go and find all that God has in store for you. Explore and discover all of the gifts and talents He has so freely given you. Seek joy and wisdom and gladness of heart. Find friends who edify you, support you, extol the virtues and want you to be the best you. 

There will be days when you forget your value, when you make mistakes and wish that "thing" never happened. It's OKAY. Turn your face back to Him and remember that you are loved with an all consuming, take-your-breath-away love that covers over and smooths away all the mistakes.

We moms (and Aunties!) are feeling weepy, sad, excited and hopeful for you and all our girls who are leaving. It's a mixed up time of emotion and sometimes we can be weird. The night before Joanie left for college I was raw and tender. Every word felt prickly. There was no fighting, just an odd wackiness between us. I was so tangled up I didn't know what I was feeling. I went to my room got under the covers and cried. Uncle Steve came in and I told him I was NOT going to dinner with the family and I was NOT going to drive and drop her off in the morning. He very quietly and firmly looked at me and said, "Get out of bed. We will be waiting in the car." Needless to say I got out of bed and it all went fine. Until I cried the whole way home after dropping her off.... 

Tell all your friends to be super duper kind to their moms the next few weeks. For you all, it's the beginning of a brand new adventure, for us it's the end of a very long sweet chapter. 

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.  Micah 6:8

 

Be Brave and Mother

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Dear Mom in the baseball bleachers~

Your daughter's shorts are too short. I think so, which isn't really the point. The point is YOU think they are too short, but as you said, "It just isn't worth the fight." Um, yes it is.

Yes. It. Is. Because it isn't actually about the shorts. It's about being afraid to say and do the hard right thing. We are afraid of parenting. Afraid they won't like us, afraid we will harm their self-esteem, afraid of looking "mean", afraid of upsetting them, afraid of not being the cool parent. Just plain afraid. Or maybe, just plain tired. Either way, the job has got to get done.

Be brave Mom. We are called to "train a child up in the way that he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it" (Proverbs 22:6). Think about the 30 year old you want her to be. The thoughtful, people-loving, human being that is a plus to society. The one that exhibits love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control (Galatians 5:22-23). That's quite a list and quite a human being. 

It's our job to set limits, and establish boundaries. Discipline (the ugly word for the 2016 parent) isn't about gaining control; it's about training, teaching, instructing. We're the mama hens, these are our chicks and we rule the roost. Sound to domineering? Well, it is. In the best sense of the word. Please rule the roost. Our chicks are looking to us to figure out what to do, and who to be. And we are just the ones to do it! I promise our hard, consistent work will pay off in the end.

We are not alone on the battlefield. Find the friend who understands the battle cry and is willing to walk alongside you. 

We are what we repeatedly do, excellence is not an act, but a habit.

Aristotle

*You might have missed last week's post 'Imperfect Dad' due to some technical difficulties I had. Please scroll down to read. It may be past Father's Day, but the sentiment remains the same.

 

Imperfect Dad

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The truth is our fathers have all disappointed us in one way or another. Some dads have tragically broken our hearts and left us bruised, bitter or broken, and other dads, pretty decent dads, have let us down in small, but memorable ways. 

The father who can’t connect emotionally. The father who broke your heart because he broke your family with his cheating. The father who provided a good home, but was never there. The father who left his family in financial shambles. The father who left the church and made you drag his baggage with him. The father who withheld physical affection. The father who hit you with fists or with words. The father who was there, but just didn’t seem all that interested in being there.

It’s not easy to honor our parents when anger, pain, distance and confusion stand in the way. The natural tendency is to run and hide, or defend, and blame.

And yet, God calls us to honor our parents. Why? 

Well, for one thing it's good for you. Honoring your mother and father comes with a blessing, “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” Living with bitterness and resentment is hard on a body and mind. You suffer the damage from it, and in turn, those in your world suffer from it as well.  

So how can we faithfully obey the fifth commandment, even if he doesn’t deserve it?

*Forgive him. Forgiveness means that you choose to wipe away the debt he owes you. Did you know that people who practice conditional forgiveness – in other words, people who can only forgive if others say sorry first or promise not to do the transgression again — may be more likely to die earlier according to a a 2011 study in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine? (Can we pause for a moment and notice the connection between the science and the blessing)

*Extend mercy. Guess what? We are all flawed and in need of mercy. It breaks my heart to think my kids have memorable ways in which I have harmed them. But, they do. My hope is that they are practicing forgiveness and extending me mercy and being blessed in return.

*Appreciate the good things. We all have wonderful qualities. What are your dad's? I asked some of my friends who shared their hurts with me what goodness they remember about their dad and all were quick to remember and name them. "Unbridled encouragement" "He was always fun to be around" "He came to every recital and competition I had." "He taught me that the glass is always more than half full." Maybe you get your athleticism for him, your gift of music, your ability to tell a good story…. The gifts from him are there.

Happy Father’s Day Dads. We forgive you, love you and are grateful for the gifts you have given us.

~my dad sent me one of his prized golf hats last summer when my hair fell out. Notice the note. My dad is clever and quick and a wonderful story teller. Thanks Dad.~ Xooxoxxo

“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you."

Exodus 20:12

 

Body Beautiful

liz benigno4 Comments

I recently had my (hopefully) last surgery. It was reconstructive and without going into too much detail it was well, completely reconstructive. As in once there, all removed and let's start over again from scratch. 

I know what you're thinking, you're assuming that it's now waaay better than before. It's the dream we all dream. Brand new! Surely "they" are better than before right? I did have a top notch surgeon who did a  top notch job. 

A slew of professionals continue to line up to look me up and down (and inside and out). I can now strip down without blinking an eye and stand around while people photograph me, admire handiwork, eye me critically and wonder if maybe one thing or another should be moved, smoothed, rearranged, fattened etc. All of this attention has made me more mindful of my body than ever before.

But, mindful in the best way ever. As in the girl who once needed to cover up in a mu-mu to walk the beach, it's kinda nice to not care (okay, not care as much) anymore. I mean I have legs that work. They climb stairs and bend over and get me from here to there. Who cares if they have cellulite (damn you Irish skin!)? My fingers type words and turn pages in books and make meals. They cut spring flowers, hold faces and occasionally wear pretty things. Who cares if they are a bit stubby, and the nail beds are marred from months of chemo? They work.

Full length mirrors are horrifying. When confronted by one we tend to see dimples in all the wrong places, a balding head, more mid-section than we like... something. It's the something at first glance that blinds us to what is really standing in front of the mirror. The body beautiful. What a glorious creation! It breathes, sleeps, eats, moves, thinks, feels, all without a moment's thought. What magnificent creatures we are!

The truth is my surgeon did an exceptional job. But, they are only a poor imitation of the original and he would be the first one to tell us that. 

How about tonight we stand in front of the mirror and take in our full measure and glory?

Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness."