Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Lesson in Disagreeing

Mr. Butler and I disagree a lot.  As I've said before, we're very different and that gets complicated.  But we like each other a lot too.  Sometimes I get very frustrated, demanding he agree with me or I feel utterly rejected.  And, just as a reminder, he's the safest place in the world for me.

Now think of a group of people - friends, your local congregation, colleagues at work, a class at school - and think about times anyone has disagreed with anyone else.  At their worst, things can get so ugly that there is separation, ridicule and some form of exile.  And I'm not talking at all about discipline situations. Do you dislike people because they disagree with you?  Do they dislike you because you disagree with them? 

I think a lot of people make an assumption, myself included, that is really wrong.  Disagreement doesn't have to mean or equal dislike.  I can say from first hand experience that sometimes it feels like you disagreeing with me is you disliking me, but that's not usually true.  At least not at first.  Most dislike comes when harsh words or flippant attitudes are thrown around and then concern for others flies out the window.

If you're like me and you've seen a lot of ugliness from people (myself included), it's hard to imagine what it's like for disagreements to be calm and productive.  But, I tell you they do exist and can be taught.  Mr. Butler is slowly teaching me, emphasis on slowly.  Let's just say it's very challenging to pull your emotions out of the game of disagreeing.  However, the foundation I'm trying to build on is that disagreement doesn't have to mean dislike.  I'll keep you posted! 

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Peaceful & Tranquil Heart

Bear shame and glory with an equal peace and an ever tranquil heart.

I do NOT do this. at. all.  If there is equality in shame and glory in my life, it is in the level of intense drama that surrounds my exaggerated emotions.  But a peaceful and tranquil heart is something I've yet to maintain for an extended period of time.  I adore the peace that comes after the panic or pain has been subdued and all is well when I had previously feared otherwise.  But that peace isn't ever tranquil.  It's temporary, momentary until distraction sets in and normalcy is again king, complete with a dissatisfied appetite for change.

A peace and tranquil heart in shame and glory is something I need.  Let's be honest - it's something I can't even begin to understand in deed.  But I've decided to start thinking about it and approaching ALL things with the same tranquil attitude.  What do you do to maintain peace in your heart?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Some Wins & Some Fails

In looking for balance in my life, it seems to be really important for me to celebrate failure the same way I celebrate success.  It brings the extremes closer to together and works to keep my reactions from going overboard in one direction or the other.  So, here are some recent wins and some recent fails.

WIN: I made a Peanut Butter Cheeseball for J's birthday party that looks like this:

I love when trying new things is so easy and tastes so good!  It was a big hit and for those who asked about it, you can get the recipe here.

FAIL: With all of the leftovers from J's party and two thanksgiving dinners, I have not be exercising self-control in my eating habits.  It's just shameful. And for that, I'm glad thanksgiving is over.

WIN: Over the weekend we sent our final payment on my student loans.  This means we will be debt-free, except for our house.  It was a very large mountain, but it didn't take us all that long once we really committed to it. This is a very big victory in the Butler household.  Thanks, Dave Ramsey, for prodding.

FAIL: Though my son can say "more" in sign language like a pro, that's it.  Why? Because he can't be taught or is a little slow? Nope. Because his mother keeps saying she's going to learn and teach him more, but just hasn't gotten around to it.  This is something I REALLY want to do and soon.

How do you turn a fail into a win?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

These two guys have loved me in spite of myself and I couldn't be more grateful for them.  I'm so glad that God gives 57 chances to start over.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

So, a funny thing happened...

Sometimes things in life just get away from you.  I think that's why balance is so important to me.  There's no telling where I'd end up if balancing wasn't an option.  After my last post, my son turned one, we had a party, I was exhausted, J and I visited my brother and sister-in-law in Kansas City and now we're home resetting.

With all of that going on, I didn't post about thankfulness, but I did think about it.  A lot.  So much that I busted out the christmas music because it felt like November should be over by now.  Here's the conclusion I came to: I say things really easily, but doing, living, being those things is such a different story.  I struggle with being thankful.  My appetite for more, better, different is rarely satisfied for long.  I will take all you are giving to me, say thank you, and then start searching for more, something better or all things different.  The contentment that gratitude should grow gets shuffled around until there's nothing left of it.

My giving of thanks this year is a mixture of limited criticism and complaining, double portions of positive thinking and encouragement, and topped with continual acknowledgement of who God is and how much that has changed me and my life.  What's yours?

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Opposite of Thanksgiving

Did you get yesterday's post?  The opposite for thankfulness is dishing out criticism.  Ouch.  I am very thankful for my life, but I'm pretty critical of things as well.  So, then, just how thankful am I?  Could what I think is thankfulness be a flimsy excuse?  Sometimes we say we're thankful, but in the very same breath take so much for granted.  Think about every person or situation you criticize today.  Is your criticism truly constructive?  Try being full of gratitude and then try to criticize.  I'm finding that the two do not co-exist very easily.   Maybe all our families need to be more grateful is just to decrease the amount of criticism.  I bet it's a really great place to start!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

What Not To Do

Thanks (thankfulness) - defined as appreciation.

Synonyms: admiration, aesthetic sense, affectionappraisal,assessmentattractionawarenesscognizance,commendationcomprehensionenjoyment,esteem, estimation, grasp, gratefulness,gratitude, high regard, knowledgelikinglove,perceptionrealizationrecognitionregard,relishrespect, responsivenesss, sensibility,sensitiveness, sensitivitysympathythanks,understanding, valuation

Antonym: Criticism

Be Thankful First!

Technically, with the time change, it's still Saturday so I'm going to count this!

In our little neck of the woods, we had a 5.6 (I think) earthquake tonight!  Scared me so much that I ran to J's room before I even knew what was happening.  When big stuff happens that sort of just shocks you and leaves you trembling, does that make you stop and say a prayer of thanksgiving?  Or, like me, does it shake your whole (emotional) world and stun you into fear?

Today's lesson I'm struggling with is taking the good, bad, ugly, uncomfortable, easy, hard, and downright terrifying and being thankful.  And not just thankful eventually, but thankful first!   What a great example to leave our children. 

Friday, November 4, 2011

Thanks for Nothing

It's easy to be content and thankful when we have plenty - warm beds on a cold night, healthy children, etc.  But what about when the heat is out or there is sickness in our family.  Can we be thankful then?

I really struggle with this because I want so desperately for everything to be 'right' or the way (I think) it 'should' be.  Today I'm going to try to look at the things I don't like, the frustrations and disappointments, and see if I can be thankful for them.  

Thursday, November 3, 2011

In God We Trust - Do We Really?

Day 3: Why aren't we more thankful?  As a society we have more gadgets, more abundance, more opportunities - even in a recession - than just about any other period of time.  And yet our favorite pastime is complaining and demanding what we 'deserve'.

For my little family, understanding why we aren't thankful is key to growing gratitude because the why points directly to the problem.  Last night I was in a funk and being very hard on Mr. Butler, demanding and griping.  There was no gratitude or respect in my heart.  Why?  Really it was because I was tired and I wanted his attention.  Without thankfulness, we often are filled with ourselves, our worries, our needs and not trusting anyone, least of all God to take care of anything.  In this state, we lose sight of the really good things we could be doing in someone else's life.

Remember that we have a God to fill all our earthly needs.  Instead of holding tight to your little world, be thankful you have one and open it up to others.

What are some of the reasons you aren't thankful sometimes?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Why Bother?

A good place to start in our quest for gratitude is to first ask why.  Why should we bother learning to be a thankful people?  What do you tell a child who asks "Why?" when you tell them to be thankful?  "Because I said so" is lame and you know it.  Here are a few things I found about the benefits of being thankful:

-In a few experiments in 2009 it was found that participants in a daily/weekly gratitude exercise experienced greater levels of optimism, positive mood, and feelings of belongingness.

- In 2008, Jeffrey Froh, Asst. Prof. of Psycholoy at Hofstra was quoted saying "...grateful people who counted blessings were more likely to exercise, more likely to report better sleep; less likely to report these physical complaints. There's even some research done, we're looking at, when you have a sense of appreciation your heart rhythms are more coherent and smooth, which of course is healthy." 

Beyond the physical health benefits, I think being thankful has the power to change your relationships and interactions with each other.  In teaching piano I am much more effective if I enumerate the good things a student does before and (especially) more than the mistakes they make.  How does being thankful change your relationships?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Challenge: A Better November

There is a lot that I can get worked up about.  People disappoint me, comparison eats at me, perfection haunts me and yet here I am to live in this world despite it all.  Like I said the other day, trying to change everybody else is just going to drain your energy and accomplish very little.

It is really important to Mr. Butler and I that our kids be thankful, giving and others-focused people, but ensuring that, I expect, will take extra effort.  And I bet the best place to start is with me, the example and role model they will follow whether I like it or not!  November is an easy place to start because Thanksgiving is on the brain, but it's also easy to get caught up by busy-ness.

So, here's your challenge, if you choose to accept:  Every day this month there will be a short post on some aspect of gratitude/giving and it will all be in search of ways to express it in my family's life.  As you find things you are thankful for, tricks for cultivating gratitude or acts of service for others, please share them in the comments section or on facebook.  I think most of us genuinely desire to be a more giving and thankful people, but often we just let time get away.  By sharing what you find in your own life will automatically be an act of service to others, reminding and encouraging them of ways to grow gratitude in their family.