Thursday, October 27, 2011

How To Change Everybody Else

Think about all the times in a week you try to change someone else.  How many times are you successful? What if we took just half the amount of time spent on changing others and spent it on changing ourselves or at least insuring that we 'practice what we preach'?

I could be the poster child for trying to will others to be like me, see like me or at least think I'm right.  There isn't a better picture of that than in my marriage.  Mr. Butler and I are so vastly different and I know it.  But that doesn't seem to compute a good part of the time because I demand he be like me, see like me or at least admit that I'm right!  The first part of this week I spent more time than I'd like to admit trying to change him.  What I have realized is that I was pouring myself, not into being a wife of patience, grace and unconditional love, but into demanding he be different.

What makes you want to change anything the most? Is it when someone nags you about how wrong you are? Or maybe it's when ultimatums are thrown around like candy? Maybe I'm weird, but what makes me want to change is to see someone else being successful (think weight-loss, relationships, attitudes) and the comparison bug brings about hope.  I want what they have and then I'm all ears as to how they do it.

Are you frustrated with someone right now for the choices they are making, the attitudes they have or the things they believe?  There is a time for confrontation and hashing things out, most definitely.  But sometimes what they need in order to change is to see you following through, being successful and content in your own situation instead of being pre-occupied with them. Let's give them room to face themselves instead of always giving them an excuse to fight about it.

If any of you think you are something when you are nothing, you deceive yourselves.  Each of you should test your own actions.  Then you can take pride in yourself, without comparing yourself to somebody else, for each of you should carry your own load.  - Galatians 6:3-5

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Word of the Day: Effective

Effective adjective
successful in producing a desired or intended result.
Sometimes Mr. Butler hurts my feelings.  Maybe he wasn't listening to me or made light of something really important to me.  Often, in response to my hurt feelings, I get very disgruntled with him, build with resentment, ignore him and usually that results in an explosion of feelings at some point.  Why would I do that?  Well, to be honest, because I am MAD and it feels appropriate.  Never mind that it is disrespectful, unChristlike and not effective towards what I am really wanting - understanding, love and resolution.  It's those pesky feelings that are dictating (yet again) the state of my relationship.  

This is just one situation that was relevant to my weekend, but how many other things are we doing and saying that are not, at all, getting the desired result.  Think of a parenting issue - is how you're handling something being effective?  If not, why are you continuing?  In business, finances, school studies, any relationship - you name it - it is so important to question everything to ensure it is effective.  A lot of things seem right, but when put in practice they don't change a thing.  This can be especially difficult when what seems right has been done for years, but just because something has been done for years a certain way still doesn't make it effective.
In most things, if we're not being effective we're wasting our time and energy.  Take some time this week to take inventory of the things that are working really well and then those that aren't.  How can we be more effective?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Tough Decisions

As a teenager and young adult, claustrophobia is a common ailment.  To just get out from under the thumb of parents and teachers, come and go as you please and just LIVE - that is the cry of all-too-soon-to-be adults.  And then, before you know it, you've found yourself on the brink of things larger than you and you hold the power switch.  You can stay or go, say yes or no, buy or save - the decisions are piling up.  And then it hits you.  THIS is the reason everyone says don't grow up too fast and enjoy the freedom while it lasts.

I have several people on my mind this morning that are in the throws of making tough decisions.  Financial choices, relationship choices, faith choices - they are all there.  And in the end, loving and trusting them as I do, I expect they will make good - dare I say right? - decisions.  But that doesn't make them any less tough.    Do I take a job in another state?  Do I risk rejection by applying for a new job? Should I sell my house? Should I buy a house?  Is God really worth sacrificing anything for? What about all the dreams and plans I had? We all start things with expectations, hopes, big plans.  And then the doing of it takes over, which brings choices and compromises and ultimately disappointments.  It's just tough that we can't have it all.  I'm not saying choosing one over the other isn't worth it, but I know as much as anybody how it feels to want it all - so badly.

About the time Randy and I got engaged, he was looking for a job.  He was going to be graduating soon and then getting married in the fall, so we were having to make some serious life decisions with very little practical experience under our belt.  He was offered jobs in San Antonio, TX, Kansas City, MO, Tulsa, OK and OKC.  In retrospect, we both feel like he should've taken the one in San Antonio or KC but we (I) was afraid to move out of Oklahoma.  But, he learned a lot about what he wanted in a job by staying too long at one he hated and then learned how unfulfilling the oil field was for him.  And then, after getting laid off, we learned a host of other things.  All in all, it brought us here - a great job, a great situation for having Jude and lots of lessons learned.

I think it is really easy to criticize others for the choices they make.  "If it were me, I would..." But it's not me and if it really were, I'd be less quick to open my mouth so wide.  I guess my point today is to encourage myself and everyone else to honor others because of the tough choices we make every day.  Adulthood isn't easy and everybody deserves a pat on the back sometimes for making the tough decisions.

Saturday, October 22, 2011


Sculpture by: Zenos Frudakis "Freedom" 

This picture was floating around facebook a while back and it caught my eye.  As most works of art can, this can be interpreted many ways, depending on your perspective.  Freedom, to me, has always been complicated.  Freedom requires taking away some restraint, but absolute freedom leads to destruction eventually.  There's nothing like the liberating feeling of freedom, as the sculpture suggests, but there's nothing so painful as the regret of squandered opportunity in the name of freedom.  How do you balance freedom with order and control?

Friday, October 7, 2011

If You're Miserable, Then You're Doing It Wrong!

I was waiting just off stage, listening for my cue to enter.  In between lines and entrances, the two of us were sharing comments and mutterings.  What I didn't realize was that mine were communicating a lot about my state of mind and conflicts in my heart.  Perhaps I had criticized those in charge or complained about the show we were doing, I don't quite remember that much.  What I do remember is what she said next.  "If you hate it so much, why do you still do it?"  The truth was, I didn't really hate it, but I certainly wasn't enjoying it either.  Her question left me speechless but deeply reprimanded.

This was many years ago, but I remembered it the other day because I was arguing with myself on whether or not I was happy.  As a believer in God and the saving power of Jesus' death, if I'm miserable, then I'm doing it wrong.  With everything that comes with it (prayer, joy, hope, peace, salvation), I have every reason to be content and if I'm not, the fault is with me!  Complaining and commiserating is a huge part of our culture today.  So much so, that often we don't even realize how negative and miserable we sound to others.  

This beautiful fall weekend is a great opportunity to live a great life!  There's always something to complain about and get angry about.  Join me in reminding myself and others around us why God is so good!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Works for Me Wednesday: Planning

I have this habit of doing things a lot differently than most people I know.  As we all know, not everything works for everyone.  So, this weekly post is about what works for me.  Take it or leave it. :)

Grocery Shopping:  I shop for groceries and most household items twice a month - 1st and 15th.  I have written out a calendar through December with dinner for at least all week nights.  I also try to account for parties, pot lucks, etc.  A day or two before, I write out a large list after consulting the calendar and thinking about the following two weeks.  Then on the day of I make a long trek to Sam's (only the first of the month), Natural Grocer's, Wal-Mart and Braums.

The reason I even started this was because of Mr. Butler wanting a budget and everything planned.  I hated it at first, but after the 2nd or 3rd time, it was pretty easy. And we didn't have to run to the store every other day.  We buy the same stuff anyway.  The down side only came after J was born.  But then again, everything is harder with a little one. :)

Laundry - Before J was born I only did laundry once a week.  Thankfully, Mr. Butler and I have enough clothes and what not to last at least that long so there was no down side.  With J's addition of clothes and complicating schedule, I don't always get it done in one day. But it sure does simplify things when I do.

This is another one I developed at the request of Mr. Butler. Are you detecting a pattern?  The Butlers don't love laundry (even the little one!)...
but I love not having to think about it most of the week! And that works for me!  Do you have any planning tips that work for you?  I'd love to hear them!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Why Would You Swim Upstream?

Do you ever feel like you're a little fish trying to swim upstream?  Some days it's as though every choice you make is contrary to everyone around you.  It's no wonder we get caught following ridiculous ideas or leaders before we even realize it.  It's hard to think and act from careful thought and reason.  And it's easy to assume that whoever yells the loudest is right.  I could cite evil (german) dictators, a pre-civil war america or the fast food coma we're slowing waking up from to prove it.

But we don't remember those kinds of things when we wake up in the morning and dive into the necessary but unexciting chores of the day.  All the voices of the media, culture and cynics rise like yeast into every corner of our mind, doing their best to convince us that love is a noun to be discovered instead of a verb to be perfected, fame and fortune is a destination instead of just another means to glorify God, and anything easy must be the solution.

You are never going to get everyone to agree with you, certainly not all the time.  So, if you (I) are waiting for the applause track to start every time a decision has been made, well don't hold your breath.  My feeling, for what it's worth, is that no matter how hard going against the grain is, there are some things that just matter more than what anyone thinks.  And sure, those 'things' are going to be different for different people (hence the not everyone agreeing).  I think the important thing is to make sure you aren't giving more power and value to ideas that you just went along with than to the priorities and people in your own life.  I'm the only mom and wife (Lord willing, ha) J and Mr. Butler will ever have.  This is the only life I have to live for God and, as far as I know, there aren't any do-overs. So, it's up to me to intentionally live my life, making decisions based on what I find and know to be valuable and not get discouraged if I'm not everybody's hero today.