Thursday, March 29, 2012

Try Again

Giving up, before even really trying, has been a trademark of mine since I was young.  My strong-will demands perfection in the important things (to me anyway) and as soon as it looks like work or not perfection for the get-go, well, I'm out.  I know that's why I was never successful losing weight (the 5-10 lbs) when I wanted to.  I just never really gave it a chance to work before giving up.

I have about 10 more pounds to lose before I reach pre-pregnancy weight and wouldn't mind if I knocked off another 5-10 while I was at it.  The fact that I've lost over 35 pounds is so exciting to me, but overwhelming at the same time.  It just seems like something that should've been too hard for me.  How could I actually do that?  I know a lot of people who desire to achieve things - things like weight-loss, improving certain skills, have better relationships, get better jobs - but day after day, year after year, nothing really changes much.  If you're happy and content with your circumstances, then I am not talking about you.  But to those of us who complain (even if its just to ourselves every night) about how we wish life was and then never try or never try AGAIN, well shame on us.

It took me 30+ years to figure out how to accomplish something really difficult.  We have little to be proud of when things come easy.  When things are really hard, that's when we should be impressed by you.  Do you know the secret to succeeding at something really challenging?  It's a real game changer - let me tell you.  Try again.  No, that's the secret.  Just try again.  Keep trying.  Make those little decisions AGAIN.  Whether it has to do with making a better eating choice, a better word choice with your spouse or a better use of the next 5 minutes, just try again.  It's never going to flow out like honey or happen while you're asleep.  So, just try again.  And after the next 50 tries, look back and realize you're actually getting somewhere! 

I struggle all the time with these little decisions.  It IS easier to stay in bed.  It IS easier to shoot my mouth off with snide remark because HE DESERVES IT! It IS easier complain about my life than actually do something to change it.  At least that's the way it feels at first.  But once those little decisions start paying off, you'll find that it is more work to beat yourself up in discontentment than it is to just make a better choice today.

Let's all try again today, shall we?

Monday, March 19, 2012

Writing Prompt: Identity Check

Sometimes we just need a moment to reflect on the person we are.  Would we like to be around ourselves?  I struggle with focusing on how the world is making me feel rather than recognizing the power I have to make others feel certain ways.  Demanding justice or vengeance might satisfy my complaint at the moment, but does it alienate the people in my household (office, school, etc.)?  Let's think today about how we are making the people around us feel. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Appreciating the Good

Everything from elementary school to parenthood requires correction, just about EVERY day.  Fix this, slow down, this is not right.  Whether you're taking it or giving it, focusing on what's wrong takes up so much of our thoughts and attitudes if we're not actively working against it.  This is another one of those balance issues that cause so much destruction if not kept in check.

Correction is necessary and good.  None of us see everything clearly all of the time and need the help of others to show us better.  On the other hand, if correction is all you give or all you hear things can spiral downward really fast.  Before you correct, pause to consider what someone does or is doing well.  Have you ever expressed appreciation for the good?

Perhaps there's nothing to correct right now.  Wouldn't you love to have the kind of relationship with someone/others where they trust and can appreciate (no matter how hard it is to be wrong) you correcting them?  It begins with verbalizing what they do well, what they got right or why they are important to you/your family/your organization.  Maybe it involves special privileges (as with children), special honors or responsibilities (in a business or congregation) or just an out of your way dinner to say they are cared about.

It's very very easy to discount someone else's feelings as unimportant (in light of the way things should be), but turn around and use ours as an excuse to give up, belittle or criticize others.  There is balance that must be maintained to keep a ship from sinking, so to speak.  On the receiving end of correction, if all you hear is how bad things are, it's very hard not to get discouraged and perhaps even quit trying.  From telling a child no all the way to calling someone out for a life choice, corrections are necessary but requires a healthy relationship to be effective.  Healthy relationships begin when we appreciate the good in others.  Take time to tell those you see today what you appreciate about them.  Be the change you want to see from others! And we all desire to be appreciated more for what we do, don't we?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Road to Submission

Even the title sounds so oppressive and negative.  Submission.  It just carries this aura of heaviness and harshness.  Submission is not a characteristic or action that comes easily for me.  Demanding fairness, my due and "you started it" attitudes are really my cup of tea.  Trusting that someone else knows best and, even though I feel otherwise, yielding to their way of thinking simply because of their position.  Bleh.  Ugh.  It just stinks!  There's so much I could say (and probably will, eventually), but I'm going to try and summarize with a couple of lists.

4 Reasons Why Submission Stinks

-It usually means I give first a lot.
-It doesn't feel fair.  (And fairness gets ignored a lot!)
-It means I don't get my way a lot.
-It's terrifying.  Giving up control is t-e-r-r-i-f-y-i-n-g.

4 Reasons Why Submission is Beautiful (when it's done right)

-It means a happier, more proactive husband.
-It takes a load of responsibility and pressure off me.
-It's fulfilling, both emotionally and spiritually.
-It teaches my children (and others) lessons about God without saying a word.

I've spent the past couple of weeks really working on submitting to Mr. Butler and learning what that looks like in every day moments with us.  It's hard and terrifying and some moments it just feels pointless. But I know God has been merciful to me and giving me emotional aid on this one.  Once the initial knee jerks were silenced, it got a lot easier and began producing fruit (in both of us).  I could just write and write about this, but you'd get bored really fast.   If you would like to talk about it further or have any questions, I would LOVE to talk about it.  It's been such a huge issue in my life and I'm seeing the enormous value for myself and my family in really understanding it.  What helps you in areas of submission, whether in the home, office or other relationships?

Sunday, March 11, 2012

A Great Pick-Me-Up

Encouragement.  Perspective.  Challenging.   Useful in every day life.  Focus on the Family produces regular podcasts that I have subscribed and listened to for a few years now.  They have been such a rich source of good things in my life and I want to encourage you to give them a chance.

I know personally it is sometimes risky to devote time and energy to something that is new or full of another man's ideas.  If something isn't grounded in God's word, it's not what I need to be filling myself with most of the time.  That being said, 90% of the time I agree with and really benefit from the thoughts these broadcasts share.  That might be a better percentage than I have with my family half the time!

When you subscribe (at least thru itunes - not sure about other places) you can go back and download past shows, which is great if you're only interested in a few areas.  Parenting, Dating, Grief, Finances, Health Issues, Adoption, Truth, Relationships, Men, Women, you name it and they've probably done 2 or 3 shows about it, at least.  I can be pretty emotional and sink into negative funks pretty quickly.  When there is housework to be done, I've made a habit of turning on one of these podcasts to help the time go by (which it does a great job of!).  EVERY time I finish one, especially when I was grumpy before, I come out encouraged, convicted to be less selfish, fill my role as a mom/wife better and I am able to show more grace and mercy to those around me (usually Mr. Butler).

That kind of success and reward is worth the 30 minutes that I was going to spend on housework anyway!  To give it a try, simply search for Focus on the Family in iTunes, download their iPhone app or go to their website for other options.  I guess I probably sound like they are paying me to advertise for them (and yes I would accept payment if offered), but really I just want to see others thrive in their lives.  So many people are unhappy, discontent and flat out angry about the life they lead.  None of us have all the cards dealt exactly the way we want, but the Lord is so good when you do it His way.  These broadcasts are really good at showing that.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Parenting: Lessons From the Field

As I've mentioned before, I was (am - you never really grow out of it) a strong-willed child.  Mr. Butler is a really strong personality, but not necessarily strong-willed in the sense of resistance and negative behavior.  So, when baby Butler came along we've all just waited with anticipation to see what the result would be!

J is definitely one to get his feelings deeply hurt (he gets that from me) at the sign of NO, but he's also one to let it go pretty quickly if we don't feed into it (he gets that from his dad).  So, he has thrown a few royal fits, but we're not strong-willed certified yet.  Yesterday, though, was certainly a step in that direction.

J had been fed, changed and been playing.  I sat down at the piano with a set plan and needed to complete it - approximately 12-15 minutes worth.  As soon as I started playing, he rushed in there to apparently squash all the good intentions I had just mustered up! :)  He instantly started fussing and pushing his way between the piano bench and piano.  After about a minute of trying to ignore him, it became obvious that he would not get bored and move on.

It quickly felt like a moment to put my foot down.  He was fine and I needed to do this.  So I did the most logical thing I could think of (ha!) and propped my foot on the edge of the piano in such a way so that he could not reach the keys or crawl under anything. He didn't like this at all - not. at. all.  But since I could easily still play and keep him back, I continued.  About 3 times I had to pick him and set him in the hall.  Then it was getting ridiculous (because playing the piano with one leg propped up isn't silly enough) and I took him all the way back to his room, telling him that if he needed to cry or throw a fit to do it in here, but that he needed to calm himself down one way or another.  I gave him his pacifier and blanket and left.

I went back to the piano and finished my work.  There was silence after a while and I reached a stopping point.  The scene I came to in his room was certainly photo worthy, but I didn't take the time.  He had curled up in front of the rocking chair in his room on his blanket and was just laying there.  Not asleep, not crying, just resting.  When I walked in he didn't scramble up to me or even lift his head.  His eyes turned to me and smiled.  I picked him up, rocked him, read a few books, prayed with him and put him down for a nap.

Victory!  One of the challenges of a strong-willed person early on is requiring them to soothe themselves and accept NO.  I still struggle with both.  This incident was a good example of how to discipline -consistently, not out of emotion, capped with love.  I'm sharing this because so often it doesn't look like this.  My emotion sky-rockets and the discipline comes from anger.  Checking myself BEFORE I start yelling out orders seems to melt all of the "bad parenting" away.  Now if I can do it again and prove yesterday wasn't just a fluke!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Giveaway at The Herb Garden

I am a believer in healthy living and making natural choices whenever possible.  Throughout my pregnancy, birth and now J's life, I've used herbs and still work really hard to provide my household with a healthy real-food diet as often as I can.

The Herb Garden is a nutritional counseling and consulting business owned by my parents that seeks to educate and guide others in natural health alternatives.  This week they are giving away a bottle of Vitamin D3 to a lucky follower on facebook!  For a chance to win, like The Herb Garden on facebook and leave them a comment - you can enter daily!