Friday, March 29, 2013

Treating People Well

We think it's about being on one side or another.  We are convinced it's about proving our point.  We are often fed a diet of panic, despair and emergency that should result in change.  I'm pretty sure we have it all wrong.

The world will be debating truths and campaigning for their view as long as it is still spinning.  There's no doubt about that.  And yes, I have my own view about what's true and what's right.  We all do.  Why we are so shocked to find others who absolutely disagree with us, I just don't know.  So, it's not about disagreeing because that has always been with us and always will be.

Here's what it IS about:  Treating people well.  Period.  Whether you disagree or are bosom buddies on every issue known to man, you should still be able to treat another human being well.  If your view of the world (and any little thing in it) is so vital, true and imperative, do you really think antagonizing or alienating someone will help them come to agree with you?

Human nature says no.  Doesn't make it reasonable or righteous.  But we just can't go around barking at  each other - no matter what we're saying - and expect change.  Most people, when they feel attacked, can't hear anything but their own defense.  When a person feels understood and valued, then they are more likely open to considering what you have to say.

You're wondering now if I'm in favor of ignoring the truth of someone's situation just to keep them from hurting.  No, we all have to hear hard things and ultimately it is up to us to either change or live with the consequences.

But we all know what it is like to be corrected with respect and dignity.  And what it's like to be bashed and brushed aside.  Speaking as a mother, there are ways to tell my son he is wrong that are healthy and useful.  Belittling, hateful arrogance is not involved and certainly doesn't do anyone any good.  Our world is continually changing and that alone can be really overwhelming.  But you know what?  So far, none of those changes has taken away my ability to treat people with respect and honor, even when they are wrong.  Don't be surprised when you meet those who oppose everything you're about.  Instead, look for ways to treat them well.  

Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Introvert Extrovert Conflict

For the majority of my adolescence, I assumed I was extroverted probably because my mom was and my subconscious just figured that was 'right'.  What I failed to notice was how introverted my dad was and how much more I identified with him on basic relationships with time and things.  As a result of my confusion, I've been made very aware of how often conflicts aren't really about what we're saying at the moment, but how we value and define elements in our life.

Take a few minutes and read through the definitions below. 

We all know that people are 'different', but how often do we think less of them, as though they don't really know how to live life well or the right way to act?  Or sometimes we assume others are choosing to be extroverted or introverted, and somehow place blame on another for not being conveniently like us.  

The easiest test of that I know is asking where a person gets their energy from.  For the typical extrovert, people soothe and energize them.  For the typical introvert, time alone (away from people) soothes and energizes them.  Our life is full of choices in behavior, but in where we obtain and lose energy, it seems to be a done deal largely set at birth.

What's the point?  The point is that these ideas are just a good illustrations of how differently we can be approaching something.  If I spend an entire weekend constantly with people - even if it's different people - I will be a zombie and the crankiness will be hard to contain come Sunday night.  Others (extroverts) forced to spend an entire weekend at home working by themselves will often find a similar scenario - deflated and grumpy - from a lack of interaction.  

Whether it's a spouse, your children, a group of friends or an organization, these differences can affect the dynamics very negatively if we don't keep some of this in mind.  It, of course, means there will need to be compromises, but just remember everyone needs to be energized sooner or later whatever that will take!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Act Hysterical and Give Up

I ran across this picture on pinterest and was struck by how deeply that notion is imbedded in my DNA.  If there's pressure, if things aren't in control, if others don't behave how I think they should, if (insert any uncertainty in life), then my brain wants to freak out and quit.

You and I would laugh at the ridiculous notion, but I'm not kidding.  And I bet, even if you're not this way very often, you know a few people who are.  Outside of the hysterical moment, it's clear that this kind of approach only makes matters worse, right?  But inside that stressful, out of control moment, it tempts to solve all of our problems.

I happen to know that so many people are struggling right now.  Financial worries.  Health crises. Relational problems.  Depression.  So. much. stress.  For you and those around you that tend to react this way, keep this little thought handy.  Post it in your house or office maybe.  Set it as a wallpaper for your computer or phone.  Let's see if we can keep the hysterics to a minimum this weekend and maybe even be fruitful!

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and self-control." 2 Tim. 1:7

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Put Some Spring Into Your Step

Good day to you!  Did you realize that today is the first official day of Spring here in the US?  I didn't until facebook told me this morning, but I've been getting the fever for a few weeks now!

Talk about the seasons always brings to mind times without central air, without lights beyond candlelight, where reliance on the sun was so heavy.  It's a blessing to be able to accomplish more in our modern times, but in doing so I think we can rob the seasons of their value.

Summer gives you long days to spend outdoors, but how easy is it to hide away in the air conditioning watching hours of television?

Fall, with it's crisp air, reminds us to cherish our remaining time before winter, but how easy is it to let 'busy' be our master?

Winter provides early nights to heal, to recover, to ruminate and bring clarity to the fleeting year, but how easy is it to keep going full steam, claiming "no time" for reflection and rejuvenation?

And now our Spring has arrived with its renewed spirit, energy to grow and spring forth, but how easy is it to fret, worry, and accomplish very little?

Put some Spring - energy, possibility, growth - into your step today!  The summer heat will be upon us before we're ready so take stock now.  What joy, what good, what new creation can you fulfill this month? Let the very nature of Spring push you forward with a spirit of God.  Doesn't God make really cool things?

Monday, March 11, 2013

Talents: Something is Better Than Nothing

I've heard a lot of lessons and discussions in my lifetime about multiplying your talents and learning new skills.  The consensus, of which I wholeheartedly agree, is to always keep learning and trying to grow further.  Take what you're not good at and work at it!

Like I said, I agree.  Yet, in this very full and chaotic season of my life, I've found myself sometimes shying away from everything because I am not perfecting a new skill or reaching for the challenges.  Maybe it's just been a focus in my own brain, but it's as though doing the good things that come easily - those that would be considered my talents - are lesser or not 'right' choices because they are easier.  I would even argue that sometimes we don't even consider them to be talents because they aren't hard or full of brow-beating work.

Last I checked, doing something good is better than doing nothing.  And why shouldn't I do the things that God has blessed me with skills to do? Talents, from organization to hospitality to cleaning a bathroom, are there to bring blessings.  Blessings that not everyone can provide.  Are you hiding your skills away because they aren't the most obvious or celebrated?  Or maybe you're waiting on someone to ask you to use your skill?

Growth is always the goal.  But if you're busy/burdened/separated/confused/stuck, something is better than nothing.  Make sure we don't overlook the obvious in search of a miraculous transformation.  

Friday, March 8, 2013

Where Do You Find Imagination?

There was laundry to be finished and dogs to be fed.  There were plants needing water and a bed to made.  There was a list of things that needed my attention, but my heavy heart needed somewhere to rest.  With a moveable deadline that day, I could justify a few moments at the piano for my heart's sake.

I'm rusty and ill-practiced, but my heart didn't care.  For me, practicing was always dreadful, but playing -when I was upset and emotional- was living.  And after a couple of songs, gratitude was replacing the sorrow.  Gratitude for simple notes on a page and tones in the air that echoed back to whatever pain and struggle my heart needed to let out.

Perhaps it was mostly the baby hormones, but the point was clear to me.  Every person needs a place where they dream a little and let go a little.  Music is a perfect place for that.  As a piano teacher, it must sound like a shameless plug to put your child in lessons right away or something, but piano, guitar, just singing in the shower to the radio can reach those rough places of the heart.  And maybe music isn't your avenue.  Writing does the same cathartic thing for me.  Others find comfort in painting, reading, gardening, woodworking, outdoors - you get the idea.

I would like to encourage everybody to reserve a small space in time - every now and again - for the comfort of dreaming.  Dreaming of what could be, dreaming of what is somewhere else, filling your soul up with imagination, even if it's just for a little while.  Reality never let's go for very long, but the joy that comes from a mindful wandering can go the distance.  Learn from the kids in your life and don't squash their imagination.  Why do you think most kids keep that smile in their pocket all the time?  They know how to dream and imagine.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Benefits of Spirulina & 'Green' Products Sale

The company we primarily use for our herbs and supplements, Nature's Sunshine Products is running a special March 6th & 7th on some "Green" products like Chlorophyll, Aloe Vera Juice and a great pregnancy addition, Spirulina, in honor of St. Patty's Day a little early!

Since I'm over halfway done with my second pregnancy and due to NSP's latest special, I thought I'd share real quick some info about the value of Spirulina during pregnancy!  I took it with my first baby and have started it with this pregnancy as well! 

-Supports the nervous system
-Provides 400 mg of pure, 100% blue-green microalgae per capsule
-Is a great source of protein.
-Contains plant-sourced vitamin B12

How It Works:
Spirulina is a blue-green algae that grows in warm, alkaline fresh waters around the world.  It naturally contains protein representing all eight essential amino acids, as well as chelated minerals, natural plant sugars, trace minerals and enzymes.  Spirulina is easily assimilated by the body and provides naturally occurring Chlorophyll.  The high concentration of protein and iron makes it ideal for pregnancy and a growing baby's brain to be awesomely nourished!

If this is something you're interested in, don't forget that Spirulina is 50% off today and tomorrow!  As always, members receive an even better discount so let me know if you'd like to join (it's free with a purchase!).

Monday, March 4, 2013

What Living on Purpose Looks Like

Most of us are so busy just trying to make it - make ends meet, put out fires, get everything to calm down - that living on purpose sounds nice, but seems impossible to fit into our schedules.  I think it seems impossible because we don't really understand what living on purpose looks like - at least not for our own life.

What does living on purpose actually look like?

-State the End Game: Verbalize or write down what you REALLY want (lose weight, gain trust, run a marathon, better relationship, own a business, please God, survive this week, etc.).  I for one don't even know what I'm really unhappy about or wanting until I take a minute to honestly talk/write it out.  You can't live on purpose without knowledge of some purpose!

-Set Realistic, Reachable Goals:  Sometimes these are called mini-goals or benchmarks.  Line up goals or tasks that you know can be accomplished.  Losing 50 lbs is overwhelming, but losing 5 or cutting out sodas are things that can be done first in the process of losing 50 lbs.  This increases your success rate and prevents discouragement from hijacking the whole thing!

-Get up early.  Set a budget.  Make a calendar.  Exercise.  Do the hard work of disciplining yourself in the way you need to better reach your goals.  Without limits in my life, things get out of control real fast.  Doesn't mean you'll never go beyond those limits, but not having them usually means you'll ALWAYS go beyond.  And always going beyond is usually why we're miserable in the first place!

-Be thankful.  Take responsibility.  Balance (not binge) with consistency.  When we aren't living on purpose, we're living on reactions.  That always involves exaggeration, a victim mentality, and lots of excuses for why we deserve better but settle for this binge instead (think large waste of time and/or calories trying to forget your troubles).  Laziness in the hard areas of our life can be combatted with thanksgiving.  Being thankful changes everything!

And if all else fails, surround yourself with the people who ARE living on purpose and achieving the kinds of successes you want.  Ask them what they do and see how your life is different.  The trouble with us humans is that we assume our way is not only the best way, but God's way too just because it seems right to us.  While considering what our purpose should be, I pray we always look for what God's purpose for us is before we accept any lifestyle or choice.  That seems to make it a whole lot easier when I remember to do that!