Friday, March 2, 2018

It All Started With Ash on the Forehead

Quite a few years back, I noticed something black/gray on my aunt's forehead.  When I mentioned it, she told me about Ash Wednesday.  On Ash Wednesday, Catholics and maybe others put ash on their foreheads and begin their "40" day fast of Lent.  Everyone fasts something different.  Some fast sweets, some meats, some coffee, and such.  I may not be Catholic but thought this would be a good way to eat healthier.  I know that is not the intention of Lent, but those were my thoughts just the same :)

Next year began my first full fast during Lent.  I couldn't think of anything I was hooked on, but I had been drinking one hot chocolate each night for months.  So I decided to give that up.  The next year, I limited my television watching TREMENDOUSLY.  That was harder on me than giving up hot chocolate, but I still didn't feel accomplished much less closer to God.

I really did like the idea of  Lent but needed to change it up a bit.  I decided to add something instead of give something up.  From Lent forward, every time I drive by myself before 10am, I keep the radio off and pray to God.  I have pretty much kept that up to this day.  What a blessing it has been!  I felt my relationship with God get stronger even though it was only a short drive to work.  These days, I get that time with God a lot less as children are usually with me.  But, our relationship is like a best friend who you don't get to see as often as you used to when neither of you had family obligations.  We still talk throughout the day, but that drive time is coveted.

I began thinking that waiting for Lent to happen was no longer needed.  I could start any time of the year.  So, a few years back, I began a November thankful for post on Facebook like I saw so many others doing.  However on December 1, I found myself longing to stay positive and thinking on what I was thankful for.  You guessed it.  I started my "Lent fast" a few months early :)  I started writing it to keep me thinking positively and being grateful for what I have.  A year or so later, various people started telling me in person or via message how they looked forward to reading my thankful for posts.  Wow!  God works in mysterious ways.

I now think, "In what way can I better my life and/or someone else's life."  It may be something that takes a few seconds or something that continues through the years.  Blessing someone else ends up blessing me even if just by a shared smile or a smile I envision them having when they see how someone has secretly blessed them.

What are some blessing suggestions you have that don't cost much if anything?

putting away someone else's grocery cart
pushing store carts back to the store that don't have a place in the parking lot
giving a neighbor a note of appreciation
smiling at passersby (it might be the only smile they get that day)
saying "Thank you, ..."  Saying someones name adds SO much to the thank you.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Racism – does it exist here in our beloved USA?

Racism – does it exist here in our beloved USA?

If you had asked me that question before I went to college, I would have said only with individuals.  Mind you, I had only lived in VT, where there were only white people at the time, and in AZ which is a great state to live for any color for the most part.  It wasn’t until I was visiting my sisters during my summer break after my first year of college that I realized racism still existed in the US and in AZ no less. 

The oldest of my two sisters was dating a black guy.  He was hours late, so my little sister and I started teasing him about being late.  He explained that he was pulled over by a cop on his way there.  I asked why.  He said he was only pulled over because he was a black man driving a Cadillac.  I laughed, because I thought he was joking.  He explained that that happened a lot.  My sisters agreed with him.  Well, I was shocked and appalled.  That didn’t make any sense to me.  The laws were/are completely against this.  But it still happens.  There are racist individuals who are part of the government and other organizations, so my shock was soon turned to sadness.

The first time I remember experiencing racism was when a girl, who was part black with beautiful green eyes and had a sweet little girl, befriended me when I switched schools my senior year of high school.   Her friendship soon turned to hatred toward me.  She helped spread a lie and turned many of the black girls in the school against me.  The crazy thing was, she didn’t even like black girls.  But because she was part black, they believed her lies.  Actually, many people who heard those lies believed them.  My world got turned upside down.  That year was the best and worst year of my school life all in one.  Thankfully, there were some people who ignored her and befriended me anyway. 

It hit me hard again when I found out some of my family members were racist but “only” against interracial marriages like that’s any better.  I found this out when my mom started to date a really nice guy who happened to be black.  He wasn’t allowed in a family members home for the simple reason he was dating her and he was black.  They even agreed that he was a good guy.  But that didn’t matter.  What?!  Are you kidding me?  Then I found out that feeling was found on my mother’s and father’s side.  WOW!  Talk about a RUDE awakening!  I was shocked!  I was horrified!  But I was thankful that they didn’t pass that racism down to my brother and me.  My mother protected us from so much 😊

Then, when I started dating my now husband, I wasn’t sure how a specific family member of mine was going to react.  I mentioned to that person that I was dating someone.  He asked what my boyfriend looked like.  I pulled out a photo I specifically took for this question.  Just before I handed him the photo, I told him that my boyfriend is black.  He looks at the photo.  Without skipping a beat, he says, “He’s not black.”  What?!  Yes, he is.  Then, I realized my now husband wasn’t the “black” guy this person had pictured in his head.  My now husband wasn’t a thug.  This person’s problem was making ‘black guy’ and ‘thug’ synonymous. 

Later that year, my fiancé and I had been pulled up on stage to do a little dance during a wedding show.  Well, as we walked off, I saw these two piercing, cold eyes staring at me.  I swear you would have thought I just stole her man.  My man didn’t know who she was but wasn’t surprised at it.  I on the other hand was shocked.  I didn’t understand why she looked at me like that.  He then told me that he gets that look from a lot of white guys.  I said, “no” thinking he was just kidding.  But he wasn’t. 

I also found out that there was at least one person close to my husband who didn’t want us to get married for the simple reason that I wasn’t black.  He also had a crazy uncle who didn’t like white people.  He just laughed about all of it.  That’s the way it is.  He didn’t take it personally either way. 

After we got married, we were looking for a church.  Some would say we were church hopping.  It just so happens that Michael Jackson had died recently when we checked out this one church.  This specific church was small, only one isle.  We, my husband, our new baby, and I, were a bit late but not much.  We found a spot near the back.  We sang and praised God just like everyone else.  Then, the pastor got up and started preaching.  Now, my husband and I remember this part differently…  My view:  the pastor starts saying how Michael Jackson is in hell, but he keeps repeating himself, at least five times, in different ways.  My husband’s view:  the pastor started preaching.  After he had preached for a little while, he says once or twice that Michael Jackson went to hell.  My husband “finally” looks at me and says that we are leaving.  I couldn’t get out of there fast enough.  But as we were walking out the door, the preacher says, ‘yah, you leave.’  My husband almost turned around and told him off.  Thankfully, he didn’t.  I swore the congregation had shotguns and were going to kill us.

Yes, there is racism in our beloved USA.  But don’t think that it shines everywhere.  Don’t think that someone who doesn’t have a ‘Black Lives Matter’ bumper sticker on their car or who raises an American flag on their lawn is racist.  Yes, black lives matter but so do white, brown, red, and yellow.  Lives matter, period.  The American flag is a symbol of unity, courage, strength, liberty, and justice for ALL.  When you piss on the flag, you piss on the ALL.   We are the ALL…  you, me, the person on your left and right, the person in front of you and behind you, the person in that uniform and this, all of us are the ALL.  

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Five Love Languages

Is your love tank full?  What fills your love tank?  What fills your spouse's love tank?  Are you and your spouse trying to fill each other's love tank with the wrong ingredients?

Everybody has a love language, a way that they feel loved.  It is amazing how finding out the ways your spouse feels loved and fulfilling that can revive a marriage.  Do not forget.  It goes both ways.

Words of Affirmation:  Words to affirm other people

Quality Time:  Actions speak louder than words

Acts of Service:  Giving the other person your undivided attention

Physical Touch:  Appropriate Touch

Receiving Gifts:  To receive a gift

My husband and I took the Five Love Language Quiz before or shortly after we got married about a decade ago.  We both had Physical Touch as one of our top two with Receiving Gifts at a zero.  One might think that we had it made.  But there was one kink in the 'had it made' scenario.  My other top love language that was right up there with Physical Touch was Words of Affirmation.  His score for Words of Affirmation was a one or zero.

When you and your spouse have different love languages, you may try to fill each other's tank with what you want not what they need.  Sometimes when your love tank is depleted, you try to get them to give you what you need by giving that to them in abundance.  I would tell my husband I loved him many times throughout the day.  The problem was, he felt it didn't mean anything because it was overused.  Due to it being 'overused', he said it to me even less than before.  I began to feel unloved until we opened communication by me crying and getting all emotional on him.  Then, he told me what he thought about those words.  In that instance, we both had to change.  I had to find other ways to "say" I love you, and he had to start saying I love you.  You may think it was an easy fix; however, I tell you, both of us had to work hard at it.  We still have to remain conscious about it.

I suggest you and your spouse take the quiz.  You never know, your love tank may get filled today and/or you may fill your spouse's love tank :)

You could even quiz your children.  Just as your discipline should be a bit curtailed toward the child so should filling his/her love tank.  Child A may feel loved by a high five after getting a 100% on a test, while Child B feels loved after getting a sticker.

The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman
Quiz as PDF

Monday, September 21, 2015

What Do You See When You Look at Someone

I've been talking to a lot of people lately about relationships.  So many have a strong desire to be married or at least be in a good/healthy relationship but can't figure out how to do that.

What do you see when you look at someone?

     Most people see...
         physical beauty/ugliness
         money or lack there of
         status in society

     Important to see...
         what their source for happiness is
         how do they treat others
         what do they think of themselves

I challenge you, when you talk to others, to change what you see.  Start looking through God's eyes. See what He sees.

       A rich man to the world may be a pauper to God.
       A beautiful lady to the world may be a wart faced leper to God.
       A poor man to the world may be a prince to God.
       An ugly woman to the world may be an angelic angel to God.

Who do you want to surround yourself with, those the world finds attractive or those God knows are royalty?  Are you more interested in what others think about your spouse or how well the two of you work together/how he or she treats you?

Friday, September 11, 2015

Best Gift

I have been reading Say Goodbye to Whining Complaining, and Bad Attitudes... In You and Your Kids.  Along with this book is Kids Honor Club children's curriculum.  

Right away the book talks about giving gifts.  Some gifts we give are bags of dirt, whining, complaining, bragging, etc.  Then there are precious gifts, thank yous, I love yous, hugs, smiles, thinking of others first.

I was itching to start this curriculum but waited until a little guy who spends the days with us was back from vacation :)  So last week we started.

What does it mean to show honor?
1. Treating people as special
2.  Doing more than what's expected
3.  Having a good attitude

We have only done the first lesson thus far but we keep using it every day.  How have you shown honor today?  - giving my brother the color otter pop he wanted even though it was the one I wanted too - I didn't hit anybody  - giving you a hug and kiss  - picking up my toys without complaining

Well, I tell you what!  Those gifts are the BEST gifts ever.  Being showed honor, seeing your children treat others with honor, seeing others treat your children with honor...  What more could one ask for?!  I am so looking forward to the next lesson :)

BEWARE:  This will change you too!!!

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Pilgrim's Progress - Final Product

See Pilgrim's Progress - part a for more information on how we got to this final product :)
It may not be the flow chart I planned, but it works well.  Rebekah helped me paste the pix to the pages.  See the last pic for some of our insights to this story :)

Monday, August 24, 2015

Our Father's Eyes

As a child, we obey our parents and then sometimes don't.  We think, "It's our lives.  Why are they getting so bent out of shape?"  

Then we become parents.  We aren't perfect, but we do our best raising our children.  Now we say, "Why won't they listen?  Don't they understand how much we love them, wouldn't steer them wrong, want what's best for them?" 

Recently, I have been seeing things from a new perspective.  Not only do I see my children's behavior and how my heart breaks for them but I see God's heart breaking for us.  We aren't perfect but God is.  He know's what is best for us.  If we'd only listen to him, we'd find peace.