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It’s Worth Every Minute

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On June 19th, I turned west and put my foot on the gas pedal. Ten days later, I returned home having spent over 40 hours behind the wheel of the car, the last 14 of which were spent with the engine light glaring angrily in my eyes and my car sputtering in protest at certain moments.  And it was worth every minute.

Do you have family or friends you rarely see? Sure, in today’s world, we can be in touch with everyone on a daily basis. With email, Facebook, Skype, Instagram, blogs, and a million apps to help us stay connected, there’s no need to miss any news. But is it the same? Have you seen the emotions shining in their eyes? Have you wrapped them in your arms and hugged them tight? I have friends who only live an hour or less from me, but I still only see them a couple times a year. I have family scattered all across the country. The busyness of life fills our calendars and makes it difficult to spend time with our loved ones, but for ten days, I did. And it was worth every minute.

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As an 8th grade teacher, I know boys change a lot after they leave middle school. It had only been two years since I’d seen my nephews, but they have grown into handsome young men from the cute boys they were. My sister, Lauren, lives in Reno and we’re in Virginia, so it’s hard to align our schedules for visits. Colton was in awe of Ian and Tate, wanted to be with them every possible second, and tears poured when they left.

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Living so far from my family makes it difficult (impossible?) to go to family weddings most of the time. God must have taken pity on me for not attending one in decades because my cousin Gabriel married his long-time sweetheart Katie while we were in Missouri. My “little cousin” Gabriel is now a college graduate, an engineer, and a husband. His siblings have all grown up as well. The little kids I remember now have precious kids of their own. What a blessing for me to see each of them and meet the rest of my family.

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I rarely engage in nostalgia, but I couldn’t help searching for – and finding – the home my grandparents lived in when my mom was a child. This contrasted sharply to seeing with my own eyes the “progress” which obliterated my other grandparents’ home. I knew it was gone but seeing it firsthand stung like a slap.

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My mom and Fred always spoil us rotten when we visit. Every day is an adventure. We visited the City Museum, toured the St. Louis Cardinals’ Busch Stadium, went up in the Arch, went to the local pool (actually a waterpark!), and listened to a concert in Faust Park. But most of all, we spent time with family. I only get to see my parents once or twice a year, which is never enough. We also visited with many other aunts, uncles, and cousins. Even though everyone has a different version of the same story (business and busyness, kids’ activities, aches and pains, births and deaths, summer plans), it’s such a joy to share the details. Yes, I can get most of that information online or over the phone, but it doesn’t compare to face time without a device in between.

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I’m back home in Virginia now. My car will be admitted to the hospital tomorrow morning. Autumn goes back to work tonight, and Colton and I are going to run a few errands and relax a bit now that the piles of laundry have diminished. As I reflect on my trip, I am reminded of a few things:

1) Sometimes I’m stronger than I believe.

2) People change, but not that much.

3) 5–Hour Energy really works.

4) God has blessed me with an amazing family, and my greatest regret is living so far from them all.

5) Time spent for love is worth every minute.

Do you have loved ones you haven’t seen for a long time? Who do you need to go visit? I can promise you, however long it takes to get there and whatever obstacles you must overcome, it will be worth the effort!

Are You Trapped Within Your Natural Habitat?

Posted in A Class Act by Linden Barrick on August 6, 2012
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What is your natural habitat? How do you define your comfort zone? Existing within boundaries of familiarity can certainly create peace and contentment in life.

But can you become too comfortable? Be too content? Our daily routines become similar to a worn pair of jeans. They fit so well, we want to wear them every day. Sometimes, though, the jeans aren’t hanging in the closet and we have to choose something different.

Does stepping outside familiar boundaries cause you discomfort? Do you cringe from stress or do you view it as an adventure?

Today, I visited the St. Louis Zoo with my mom and my kids. As we braved the brutal heat and admired the animals, I couldn’t help but consider them trapped within their fences, glass walls, or screens.

The zoo has created beautiful environments for the animals, each closely resembling their natural habitats. But what if they broke out? Would they be scared and confused? Or would they run, fly, or jump with excitement?

I have to admit sometimes breaking free of my natural habitat is scary. I like having a plan and knowing what to expect. When I have to step (not run, fly, or jump…more likely tiptoe, creep, or even crawl) outside my comfort zone, my heart pumps erratically and my breath comes out in shallow gasps.

I realize after the fact this type of intimidating situation is a good thing. Logically, I acknowledge my need to embrace change as adventures and/or opportunities because I know I miss out on a lot when I don’t.

Are you also trapped inside your comfortable life? Do you need to break free and embrace opportunities that force you outside your boundaries? Together, let’s be brave and accept the next situation that would normally make us cringe in trepidation.

Do you like being in your comfort zone? Or do you thrive on change and the unknown? Share in a comment.

 

This baby in the primate house was the highlight of my day!

P.S. Just a short public service announcement…the St. Louis Zoo is a wonderful place. Entrance into the zoo is free, and if you’re patient enough to wait for a spot to open or willing to walk a bit, you can park along one of the roadways nearby instead of the more costly parking lots. Picnic areas surround the zoo, so you can pack a lunch and enjoy an inexpensive or even free day with the whole family. The gorgeous landscaping must take continuous care. The animals are whimsical and majestic. The staff and volunteers are helpful, friendly, and informative. The zoo is one of our favorite spots when we visit St. Louis. If you ever find yourself in the area, it’s definitely worth the time.

 

 


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