Monthly Archives: June 2012

Rylie and Griffin, 1

TIME FOR Patience: A Blog Shared

Jason and I have been writing a weekly shared blog for about a month now.  Topics have come easily as we take turns choosing and starting.  It’s my turn.  I’ve tried to wait for the perfect prompt to pop into my head.  I’m tired of waiting.  I’m no good at waiting.  Just yesterday I burned my tongue on pizza though I knew it needed to cool. Waiting would be one of my shortcomings.  So here it is.  On this topic,  I’m the subject and Jason is the voice. We’re talking about impatience.

I’ve been impatiently trying to get Kristi to start this blog all week-long.  The irony is, when she finally did get it started, I made her wait half a day before I contributed anything to it.

I think we both have our areas of patience and impatience.  She has more patience with people and I have more patience with things.  You should see her when the computer freezes up.  I’m usually not there beside her when it happens but I can hear it from the other side of the house.  It’s not a scream, per se, but rather a sigh from the pit of her technologically frustrated soul that fills the air with angst.  You won’t hear that kind of sigh when she’s teaching, though.  She seems to have the longsuffering of Job when it comes to kids.

I think in both of our cases, impatience leads to unnecessary frustration.  We get too easily bent out of shape over things we cannot control.  In every case, when we let the things around us start yanking our inner chains, we find ourselves stumbling down a defeated path.

Impatience always finds an excuse to act.

That was Jason’s response the last time I was explaining to him why I was doing something in a hasty fashion.  I believe it may have been a blog post.  I felt passionately about what I was saying.  I was determined that if I didn’t post at that moment, that there was no use in posting it all.  Impatience is akin to impulsivity.  The nice word that I use for my acting upon my inner urging is spontaneous.

Passionate.  Determined.  Spontaneous.  Those are good qualities.  But acting with no regard to timing can be disastrous.  Ninety percent of the time, maybe you’ve noticed, my posts contain glaring errors because I was in such a state of hurry. I skip steps and misstep when cooking and cleaning not to mention other daily activities.

Being impatient can also be characterized as being graceless.  I have family members who experience mild but frequent road rage.  I have a touch of it now and then.  Impatience doesn’t just mean that I have to do what I want to do NOW.  It also demands that others do what I want them to do with urgency. Though I refrain from honking I have little grace when someone doesn’t instantaneously notice that the light is green.  Afterall I have places I need to be.

We are going to lose our patience.  It’s not a matter of IF it’s going to happen, it’s a matter of WHEN.  What can you do when your feel your patience running out?

Breathe—You cannot always control the things going on around you, but you can control some of the things that are going on within you.  Our psychological state affects our physiological state and vice versa.  When we get anxious our heart rate increases, our breathing becomes more rapid and shallow, and a myriad of other physical consequences of impatience start to appear.  If we focus on what we can control physically, it will help with what is out of control psychologically.  When we choose to breathe deeply,  and slowly, it helps calms us to the point where we can make rational decisions rather than impulsive ones.  This works for dealing with irritable computers and adorable children.

Find Your Valuables—I’m not talking about the rings and the gold.  I’m talking about your inner compass; that basket of beliefs you hold near and dear to your heart that helps direct your life.  When we get impatient, sometimes we make impulsive decisions that run roughshod over our highest beliefs and ideals.  It’s always good to have a short mental list of those values and beliefs that help determine our decisions.  Referring to these core values will help keep you from doing anything in your impatience that you will later regret.

Patience Building Practices—Every one of us, whether we consider ourselves a patient person or not, has a limited capacity for being patient.  At some point everyone’s patience will run out.  It might take 10 computer crashes, 4 bad drivers cutting you off, and 27 screaming kids, but it will happen.  The good news is that we can increase our capacity for patience.  Consider these patience building practices:

  • Sleep.  I tell Hayden, “A good day starts the night before.”  If you are starting out your day tired and frazzled, impatience will be only one thing on a long list of things that make your day go badly.  Each morning that you wake up after a good night’s rest, you have a renewed capacity to endure those things that make you impatient.  Insuring a good night’s sleep helps to ensure a good day’s supply of patience.
  • Pray.  To improve patience, you need to practice trust.  We feel anxious and impatient when we feel that life is spinning out of control.  Prayer is practiced trust.  We pray to God who is unseen about things that we cannot control.  We trust that His power is great and that His will is good.  By placing our trust in God we reap the benefit of being able to patiently wait on the Lord to work His will in our world.  If you are not in the habit of prayer consider using the Lord’s prayer as a model for constructing you own, heartfelt prayers to God.  In the Lord’s prayer you are praying for daily provision (both spiritual and physical), personal shortcomings and the shortcomings of others, temptations we suffer, and about the presence of evil.  If you can’t categorize your impatience under one or more of these categories, you might have bigger troubles than what I can help you with.
  • Read.  When we start our day off with scripture, we reinforce the values that help direct our steps.  Not only does the study of scripture help reinforce our values, but the regular study of scripture helps us refine those values.  When we are dealing with the Bible, we are not dealing with pie-in-the-sky idealism but down to earth spirituality.  As God’s story becomes our story, the values present in God’s book become the values exhibited in our lives.

For the friendship of two, the patience of one is required.

 What causes you to lose your patience?

What do you do to regain it?

Check out Kristi’s Blog @ www.godsgirlies.com

Subscribe By Email.  Don't Miss A Post.
Broken Pencil

Better To Be Flexible Than To Break

I was reminded this week about the need for flexibility. I had my plans for prayer meeting, my notes were laid out, and my heart was ready to lead.

That’s when the lightning struck.

I’m not being metaphorical here.  Lightning literally struck the building and knocked out our power.  Our building started to warm up.  Our phone system and internet were down.  It was difficult to see in the shadowy hallways and impossible to see in the bathrooms.

What were we to do?

A lightning strike caused this distraction, but there is no end to the list of things that can happen to throw our plans into confusion.  It is impossible to have a contingency plan for everything that can happen.  There are, however, some healthy ways of approaching these unforeseen distractions.

The End Is Not Near!

When things like this happen, you have to remember that a change in plans is not the end of the world.  The power came back on later in the evening.  Life goes on even after you hit a bump in the road.  After all, it’s not our plans that ultimately matter but God’s.  I have to tell myself this to calm myself down.

Even when it seems that hours of preparation have gone down the drain, I recognize that those hours were part of God’s growing process.  Just because they were not used for a particular event or lesson does not mean that they will not be used later on.

Do What You Can 

Some disruptions to our schedule serve to remind us how limited we are.  Ideally, if we were not going to have prayer meeting on a Wednesday night, I would publicize it weeks in advance.  I didn’t have weeks to get the word out, I had hours.

On top of not having time, I didn’t have my usual resources.  With the power out here at the church, we did not have access to the phones or to our membership management software.  I had to use the contacts I had on my cell phone and on my home computer to spread the word.

This actually worked pretty well.  I was able to enlist the help of a number of people who made calls, sent texts and wrote emails informing others that we were not meeting.

Total resignation to a distraction is not healthy, but neither is going bonkers because of it.  There is always something we can do to help alleviate the frustrations these disruptions cause.

Don’t Lose Your Religion

People tend to show their true colors when life pulls the rug out from underneath them.  One preacher told me that his golfing buddies would marvel at how well composed he was when his shots would go astray.  His responded to them saying, “I may not curse when I hit a bad shot, but the grass doesn’t grow where I spit.”

When we lose our head, our religion usually follows.  We give a positive witness to the peace of God that guards our hearts when we exhibit grace and understanding during trying times.

Make the Most of the Occasion

Kristi and I had some great conversations with dear friends who we met in the parking lot.  These were the kinds of unstructured conversations that normally don’t happen during business meeting or prayer meeting.  Even though it was too hot to have church in the parking lot, and too dark to visit inside the church, we still experienced sweet fellowship with those we were able to visit with.

After leaving the church, we enjoyed a long quiet evening in each other’s company.  A break in our routine became an unexpected gift of Sabbath.  It’s OK to rest from time to time, to “Be still and know that I am God,” as the Psalmist says.

Learn from what Happened

We can always learn from those things that challenge us.  I heard someone say recently, “Never let a crisis go to waste.”  We gain the victory over these disruptions when we grow from them. A careful examination of what happened might not serve to prevent these things from happening again, but will give insight into how to deal with other distractions in the future.

What are some distractions that you have learned from recently?

How did you grow from them?

Check out the other Leadership articles. Click Here. ←

Don't Miss A Post. Subscribe By Email.

 

 

 

 

map to colorado, cropped

Travel Dehydration and Other Vacation Necesities: A Blog Shared

We are about to depart on a journey of a thousand miles. It is literally 1,062 miles from our driveway to our destination in Colorado. I’m bracing myself for this trip. Being in the car with the family for as many hours as it takes to make this trek can turn into a toxic situation. The kids get bored and whiney, I get tired and cranky, and Kristi gets caught in the crossfire. Over the years we have learned a few relationship preserving techniques for arriving at our destination with our sanity intact.

Reading a Book Together

Vacation travel has much improved with iPods and installed DVD players. Many miles are spent in peace and semi-silence while the kids are engrossed in a movie they have already seen or by listening to music.  Sometimes this is a welcome break if there has been bickering.  But we have found that a reading a book aloud captures our children’s attention just as well.  I usually read to the family while Jason is driving, and everybody else listens.  The kids take a couple of turns reading, too.  I feel they learn and are even stretched as they get involved in a plot they might not have chosen had they only been reading for their own pleasure. I have been shocked at how well they listen; from Hayden who is fifteen to Rylie who is six.  The teacher in me also stops ever so often to check for understanding, to make predictions or just to discuss what we think about what just happened in the story.

Some of our reads have included The Bridge to Terabithia, The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and The Great Gilly Hopkins. 

Travel Dehydration

I’m goal oriented when it comes to traveling. For some odd reason I find great satisfaction in getting to the end of a trip as quickly as possible. This is more true for the return trip than it is for our departure.  A few years ago I started a practice while on the road that has served to feed my sick desire to arrive ahead of schedule. I call it travel dehydration. Stopping to use the bathroom adds unwanted hours to an already long trip. I’ve found that when the sodas and juices and water are limited, the only time we have to stop is for gas and food.  The fewer times we have to stop, the faster we get to our goal.

Good Snacks

Jason is the only fan of travel dehydration. The trip coming home is shorter in hours, but the dehydration suffered causes irritability, then finally resignation resulting in sleep. Thankfully he doesn’t enforce this cruel practice while traveling to our Colorado destination.  I’m also thankful that he gladly drives both ways. I like to have an ice-chest full of drinks and little snacks.  Whoever gets the back seat to themself, also has the duty of serving as snack attendant. I for one tend to get cranky on an empty stomach.  The snacks nourish and help the time to pass too.   I keep a small trash bag so that we can clean as we go.  Sometimes that works.

Breaking Up the Trip

One thing that Kristi and I look forward to on these long trips is the great food we will find along the way.  Since we have made this trip to Colorado together over 17 times, we have become familiar with the best eating spots.  But even when we are going places we have never been before, I find it worthwhile to research and plan out our culinary experiences ahead of time. Anticipating great food helps us to break our trip into manageable sized pieces.

Knowing that a 24 oz. ribeye awaits me at the Big Texan in Amarillo helps me stay focused on my westward destination. I’m already anticipating a cup of perfectly made espresso in Rotan, NM at Enchanted Grounds. We have even timed our arrival in Colorado to coincide with the all you can eat stark night at our resort. These stops along the way make the entire vacation seem a little more spectacular.

What travel techniques help you survive in the car on vacation?

 What are your best memories of being on the road?

 How do you pass the time with the kids?

Don't Miss A Post. Subscribe By Email.

pillow fight, 3

Pillow Fight! A Blog Shared

Jason is a great husband.  And after seventeen years of marriage we see eye to eye on most things.  This does not apply to decorative pillows.  Our living room and bedroom are adorned with pillows.  I see great purpose in them.   Jason despises them saying they’re not comfortable.  I think they bring color and beauty to the room.  Jason argues that they’re in the way; that they have no purpose.  When he wants to sit on the couch or go to bed, he throws them with disdain.

I despise Kristi’s decorative pillows.  They serve no purpose but to impede my comfort while reclining on my own couch.  When I am tired enough to try to use one as a pillow, I’m reminded how uncomfortable they are.  The fabric is either rough, or crackly, or the pillow is an odd shape.  They frustrate me.

Some decorative pillows are just dangerous.  I’ve seen pillows covered with pheasant feathers.   Feathers are supposed to be inside the pillow, not on it.  You can lay your head down to rest and come up with a quill stuck in your ear!

They come with sequins, too.  Can you imagine the comfort that comes from laying your cheek down on a bed of sequins!

Most have this little zipper whose pull tab always seems to be poking out.  You can’t have a pillow fight with zipper tabs sticking out everywhere.

You can’t have a pillow fight at all with these decorative pillows!

I don’t want to fight about pillows.  I don’t even want to fight with pillows.  But if we were fighting, I would want to be able to have a pillow fight!

 

But I argue that beauty is not always comfortable.

Comfortable is not always good.  Jason picked out the couches.  People have commented on how difficult it is to get up once having sunk into the thick cushions.  And though I want our guests and Jason to be comfortable I suspect that if the pillows weren’t there, Jason might not ever get up.  

Comfort invites you to stay.  Beauty invites you to go.  After sitting within the comfort of the couches, there is a silent urging from the pillows to move along in renewed strength; that is unless you’ve chunked them onto the floor. 

As a Christian I often get comfortable in my walk, and I like it.  I will remove any obstacle that stands between me and my comfort.  I think of times that I have not wanted to approach people in pain.  Those who have faced tragedy.  It can be uncomfortable not knowing what to say.

I remember anxiously approaching one lady who had lost her four year old son.  Without words I held her hand and we cried together in a crowd of people.  That beauty has stayed with me.

There are other times I know I should invite someone to church or share what God has done in my life, but it can be awkward—similar to laying your head on a pillow with pheasant feathers.  It’s easiest to cast those things which bring discomfort aside.  Choosing not to deal with those things that make us uncomfortable often cause us to miss out on beauty intended. 

I remember a few times where I was faithful to have that awkward conversation with someone upon the prompting of the spirit.  There are times I have walked into a hospital room or a funeral home anxious and uncomfortable but willing.  It is in those times that God displays his beauty.  It is in abandoning comfort that beauty soothes my soul.  And as comfort from a couch quickly evaporates when my feet hit the floor, beauty often remains in my sight traveling down to the depths of my heart.  Beauty is worth it.

In spite of hating her decorative pillows, this is one area that I have come to have a deep appreciation for Kristi.  Can you imagine what the house would look like if the decorating were up to me?

Let me draw you a mental picture: One big cushy couch in the middle of the room.  One 80” TV on the wall.  One large wire spool picked up from the side of the road to set my feet on and to hold my bag of potato chips.  No art.  No decorations.  No pillows.  No Beauty.

I’m getting sad just thinking about it.  I think I can put up with a few snazzy pillows

This is just one area where we have found compromise.  There is an artfulness to compromise in relationships.  Neither one of us has to give up our preferences.  I still have my cushy couch.  She has her pretty pillows.  The house has beauty and functionality.

“And the two shall become one flesh.”

Life is full of that delicate balance between comfort and aesthetics.  Between conviction and convenience.  Between action and hesitation.

Compromise.

One of the keys to an artful life is finding that compromise, that balance, between what we know and what we feel.  Finding that place of agreement with what we want and what we need.  Arriving at the spot where form and function meet.

Do you find compromise easy or difficulty?

How do you arrive at that Just Right spot in your decisions?

Are you more for functionality or style?

Check out our past Shared Blogs:

A Blog Shared: What Did You Say?

A Blog, Shared.

Don't Miss A Post. Subscribe By Email From The Home Page.
Jury Summons

Chosen? Chosen! Chosen.

There are some things we would all like to be chosen for.  Who wouldn’t want to be chosen for some honor or award?  I’m still waiting for Publisher’s Clearinghouse to choose me for their grand prize, million dollar, no entry required giveaway! We invite being chosen when it serves our purposes.

But what about being chosen to serve the purpose of others?

Chosen?

How could they have chosen me?  There are 250,000 other people here in Jefferson County.  How could I have been so fortunate as to be chosen to take part in this week’s jury pool?

I have done nothing to stand out.  I try to blend into the crowd.  I don’t think my voice is heard over that of the crowd, very often at least.

How could I have been chosen?

The odds of being chosen within a year of moving here seem pretty small, unless there are things about Jefferson County that I don’t know.  Is the crime rate so high that people are called for jury duty more frequently than in other counties?  Do they target Baptist for their jury pool?

I have a lot of questions about being chosen.

Chosen!

Don’t they know how much I have going on this week?  I am working on a list of 12,000 things I’d rather be doing.  I’m going to be reviewing that list the whole time I am waiting for my assignment.

I’m not happy.

There is a real chance of being sequestered for two weeks in a cheap motel with contentious people.  I may have to move in with a guy who snores louder than I do.  I might reluctantly take my place in the trial of the century.  I did not put that on my to-do list for this week!

This probably will not happen, but it could.  The thought makes me anxious.

I’m not happy.

Chosen.

Well, I am chosen.  I don’t understand it.  I’m not happy about it.  I’m not getting out of it.

There are times in each of our lives that we are called upon, chosen, to serve a greater cause.  The needs of others require us to lay aside self-interest and seek the interest of our fellow man.  I don’t know who that man or woman is at this point.  I don’t know their story.  I can’t imagine the outcome.

This is where I have landed:  Whether I am chosen to be esteemed or chosen to be despised, let me always reflect my chosen status under God.

I can live in such a way, in either honor or in humility, that shows the world that I have been chosen by God for the greatest cause.

God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth.  And it was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

NAS  2 Thessalonians 2:13-14

What tasks have you been chosen for that you reluctantly accepted?

When is being chosen difficult?

Don't Miss a Post. Subscribe by Email.