Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Words.....

Words are so powerful.  Just a few spoken words can cause the stock market to plummet, can hurt people we care about, and can make us regret ever having opened our mouths!

There is certainly an art to the way we communicate.  In times of anger, we can spurt out words that we really don't mean(or maybe we do), before we think about what we really want the outcome to be.  Do we want to resolve a conflict, or add more flame to the fire?   It can happen with our children, spouses, or any other family members or friends. If we speak from our hearts in love,  we can save everyone a lot of grief!

The way in which we phrase our words can make all the difference.  The scripture verse found in Luke 6:31, "do unto others as you would have them do to you" goes not only for what we "do" but also what we "say".   Words can "do" just as much or more damage as physically striking someone.   Proverbs 18:21 teaches that "Death and life are in the power of the tongue.."  It didn't say "in the power of the fist" it says "tongue".  So speaking negatively about or to someone else can cause very serious consequences.  That also includes speaking negatively about ourselves, but that's a whole 'nother blog topic! 

We have all heard phrases like "watch what you say", and "once you say it, you can't take it back" or "bite your tongue (ouch!)".  We can all relate to that, right?!

So back to the art part...we have something to say, but how should we say it?  We can try rephrasing it in our mind to see how it might sound.  Then think about how we would feel if someone was saying it to us.  I do this exercise a lot and it really works!  How can you best phrase your words to have them come out in a loving way vs. being judgemental or critical?  We should always speak to someone in order to encourage and show love, even when we have to deliver a tough message.  How many times has someone said something to us that really hurt our feelings, but they didn't even realize what they had done?  Then we end up feeling silly about the way we might have overreacted or had been overly sensative.  That could be true, but maybe it wasn't us.  Maybe we are just making excuses for the other person so we wouldn't have to go back to them to say, "you know, what you said really bothered me."   It's okay to tell someone they hurt your feelings, as long as you don't come at it in a confrontational way or in an argumentative manner.  That defeats the whole purpose of correction, doesn't it?

So here's an example of something that happened just a few days ago.  It was such a beautiful day, so I opened the windows to let all of that fresh air breeze through the house.   Brian was cleaning out the garage, and had parked our scooter right in front of the living room window.  For some reason, he started it up ('cause that's what guys do :).  In an instant, the gas fumes replaced that wonderfully fresh air in the living room.  It was so strong, I could feel a headache coming on..  I opened the front door.  He figured I was coming out to tell him something.. Having no idea about the fumes, he smiled at me and said "you look very pretty today."  Whew..close one!  I could have started right in complaining about the fumes and my head as soon as I walked out the door.  Then I just said, "honey, do you think you could move the scooter away from the window?  The fumes are coming into the house."  He then proceeded to tell me that just as soon as he started it up, he thought about the fumes, and quickly shut it off.   Now how badly would I have felt if I would have stormed out the front door and said something negative?  I'm so glad I didn't..I would have missed that wonderful, loving compliment as well as blindside my husband with something he didn't even mean to do!

So that's all I wanted to share today..I know, you're saying "what do you mean, that's ALL?"  Hope you have a blessed day and remember, watch what you say!!   

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Evil in Disguise

This is a true story of an event that occurred years ago in my hometown in New Jersey.  I must warn you ahead of time, the story isn't pleasant, but maybe we can all learn something from it.
I remember when two girls in my neighborhood were killed by a boy who had some type of mental disability.  They were my age, eight years old.  Darlene was the dark-haired girl and she went to my school.  I thought I remembered seeing her in the hallways, but couldn't say for sure.  The other girl, Julie, went to a Catholic School in our town.  They were playing one day in a wooded area right across from Park's Lake.  I can only recall part of the newspaper article;  My mother was reading it to my grandmother over the phone the day after "it" happened.  She didn't think I was listening since kids shouldn't hear such evil things.  The reporter wrote some chilling words that I will never forget, "..they had lived together, played together, and died together."
I'm not sure if they had a picture of Darlene in the paper, but I remember seeing Julie's.  It was her First Holy Communion picture.  She was wearing a white dress and a crown with a white veil.  It's a shame that she would never get the chance to wear a white wedding dress, with a crown and white veil.  Evil took her breath away that day. 
I guess the police must have pieced together much of what had happened from the boy who did it.  He came upon them playing in the woods, and when they saw him, they started to make fun of him.  I guess something snapped, and that was all it took.  I won't go into what happened after that, as it is much too disturbing. 
The story stuck with me all of these years.  As I think about it now, I can't help but wonder what would have happened if they had just been nice to him?  Would that have made all the difference?  Would they still be alive?  They would be my age, possibly mothers and even grandmothers.  What other lives never came to pass because their's ended at age eight?
  Teasing is something all kids do at one time or another, so somtimes we might make light of it.  Maybe we need to really talk to our children, nieces, nephews, about the danger of teasing and making fun of others.  God instructs us to show love to one another.   How many people are shot because of road rage and other actions that cause hate and anger?
 I don't know if the girls knew this boy or not, but they had no idea he was someone they should fear.  We teach our children to beware of strangers.  I'm sure this boy didn't seem like a "stranger" to these girls, but just a young boy. 
I think it would be a sad thing for these girls to be forgotten.  Of course, their families will never forget, but that's to be expected.  I'm sure the police officers investigating the crime scene will never forget what they saw.
There is a great lesson to be learned about how we should treat people who are different.  I wonder what he said to them, or if he started bothering them.  Maybe he didn't speak well, or walked funny.  Whatever it was that caused the chain of events is irrelevant now.  Those innocent girls were just children, and to put the blame on them would be a crime in itself.  Their families were forever changed by this tragic event.  The family of the boy also lost a child that day.  He was older, perhaps a teen.  He had the mind of a child but the strength of a man.  I'm sure they put him away for a very long time in some hospital for the mentally ill.  I wonder if he's still living.  I wonder if he remembers what he had done.  Even though he commited the most heinous crime imaginable, even he can still be forgiven by God.  And what about the family?  Have they ever forgiven this boy?   Forgiveness is never easy, but if they have forgiven him then they too can be forgiven for their sins.  Not easy, but releasing the bondage of hate and unforgiveness can only bring a relief and a joy that passes all understanding.
So if you read this, maybe you can say a small prayer for the families, wherever they are now.  Even after all of this time, they are still missing the beautiful lives that were taken from them.  Wouldn't they be blessed that somebody somewhere still remembered.
God can heal hearts and bring joy, even in the midst of a tragic event such as this.  Those beautiful little girls have been dancing in Heaven all of these years..never to cry another tear, or experience anymore hurt or pain.  It's the loved ones left behind that really need what only the Lord can give...peace.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Thank You God; there are no Tryouts for Heaven!

  All I have to say is, thank you God; there are no tryouts for Heaven!  Let's take a little journey back to my high school days.  I can remember it like it was yesterday; funny, since I can't even remember what I wore two days ago.  When I say "little" journey, I'm talking a good thirty three years ago.  It seemed difficult enough dealing with homework, clubs, and passing all of those notes--add cheerleading tryouts to the mix and then it really gets interesting.  It seems we spend our lives just trying to fit in, to be good enough.

I'll never forget trying out for cheerleading in high school.  I was at a definite disadvantage not having been a cheerleader before.  Many of the other girls had been cheering since they were five, and knew all the right moves.  On the day of the tryouts, I noticed that some of the girls had left campus during lunch.  I later learned they ran out to buy those cute little Keds sneakers; you know, the spotlessly clean, white canvas ones?  Remember those?  The ones that actually looked like girls' shoes, instead of the ones that looked like you borrowed them from your brother?  I don't even have a brother, but I bet you can guess what kind of shoes I wore to the tryouts..I didn't remember any of the girls wearing Keds during the cheerleading camp.  It was as if they waited until the very last minute to produce them, like it was some kind of cheerleader's secret dress code; could it be a cheerleading conspiracy? 

Finally, the time had come and it was my turn to face the judges.  I wasn't looking forward to getting up in front of all of the other girls..I began to sweat a little.  The panel of judges were sitting at a long table that seemed to go on forever.  I stood up slowly then walked forward to face them.  At least I didn't trip.  

I don't really remember much of my routine, except that I pretty much choked; mainly because I couldn't remember much of my routine...  I couldn't remember the words or most of the moves I had practiced. I really did practice, honest...  I just froze.  Ever had that happen to you?

I'm not really even sure why I wanted to be a cheerleader, but I think my dating the quarterback could have had something to do with it.  I mean, shouldn't the quarterback's girlfriend be a cheerleader?  Isn't that some type of football tradition?  Maybe it was because they got to wear those cute uniforms to school on pep-rally days.  So perhaps I wanted to do it for all of the wrong reasons.  I know for some of the girls, it would have been the end of the world if they had not made the squad.  I even remember one girl saying that her mother wanted to move her to a new school, but if she made the squad, she could stay.  That's pretty major.  I don't know how I would have felt knowing I got her spot and she was out.

Now, please don't misunderstand me.  I know I may sound a little bitter, but I'm really not.  I do admire the cheerleaders of America, and know they work very, very hard to make the squad and to stay on it.  I know they have to keep their grades up and represent their schools, even while attending parties and functions not related to school events.  I just feel strongly that if a student wants to represent his or her school and cheer for their team, they should be able to do it, whether they can do three back flips in a row or not.  It seems the only criteria you should have to meet is to have a good pair of lungs and some school spirit.  Of course, that alone won't win the trophies at competitions, so we really do need those great back flips, back-bends, and walk-overs.

I wonder how many girls like me had tried out, didn't make it, and remembered that feeling for the rest of their lives.  The feeling that you weren't good enough or talented enough. 

You do learn from the whole experience.  If you make it, you learn the discipline of what it takes to stay with it.  If you don't make it, you learn that you have to pick yourself up and keep the faith Life will disappoint you if you let it.  You can't change some of the things that may happen to you, but you can control how you react to them; you have a choice...  One thing is for certain, God will never let you down.  He is always with you no matter what.  He didn't allow me to win a spot on the squad, because there was a reason why it wasn't the right thing for me.

So here I am years later.  I wasn't a high school cheerleader, but I have been cheering ever since.  I've cheered for my children and grandchildren, their accomplishments, and how they make me feel proud every day.  I've cheered for my family members and friends and rejoiced with them as they've celebrated successes.  I've cheered for my husband who achieved his Bachelors Degree while working to support his family, built his own business, and continues to make me laugh every day. 

Most importantly, I cheer for Jesus Christ and how he gave His life to save me...me, that girl who didn't make the cheerleading squad...  I pray every day that all of my friends and loved ones would come to the saving knowledge that He is the way, the truth and the life.  That He is our One and Only Savior, The Way, The Truth, and the Life...(John 14:6)....the only way to the Father, and that Heaven will cheer for them as they commit their lives to Him.

Aren't you glad there are no tryouts for Heaven?  We don't have to wait for that letter in the mail saying "thank you for trying out, but you were not selected."  We have all been selected.  We are all invited into God's family. God has made a way for each one of us... by accepting the free gift of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior....

I am a cheerleader!  Who knew?!  I will keep cheering for the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  

...I wonder if I'll be able to do a back- handspring in Heaven...Hmmmm...

How about you?  Can you do a back-handspring?  Share a high school experience that made an impact on your life....in a good way....in a God way....
 
   

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Diet

     So I'm on this diet.  It took me a little while to get motivated to do it, then needed to find one that would work for me.  A couple of my friends have done the Metabolic weight loss program and have had great results, so I thought I'd give it a try.   Now the word diet in and of itself doesn't necessarily mean you are being deprived of Oreos, although in my case, it does.  I don't really love the fact that the first three letters are "die" with the t off by itself on the end, I mean, why can't we just spell it with a "y" instead, dyet? 
     After awhile of measuring the food you eat,  you can practically look at the food and judge 4 ounces of chicken.  I like to keep things simple; if it gets too complicated, I might get discouraged and give up.  So far, I'm doing pretty well.  The Eliptical helps too by the way.
     It is getting so much harder to lose the weight since let's face facts here,  I'm not twenty five.  The weight gain began during the last six months or so while I was working.  As I had said in an earlier blog, I had gone through a very stressful time when changes came about at work.  Stress causes weight gain, and it didn't help when I would finally get home at seven thirty pm and go right to the chips.   I just love chips, don't you?  Thankfully, there are healthy alternatives and snacks that can manage that craving.  I can have Sea Salt!  Yay!
     I have been going twice a week to weigh-in.  When you know you have to go get weighed, it's like putting a force-field on the pantry; kind of like those invisible boundries in the yard that trigger when the dog's collar gets too close?  You know what I'm talking about.  I think that's kind of mean, but I don't think it really hurts them since after a time, they get wise to it.  I kept telling my grandson that I had to go get weighed, and he thought I meant I had to go get "Wayde", a friend of ours.  Then my son thought the same thing, so now I say I'm going to my "weigh-in".  Let's keep things perfectly clear to avoid any confusion here.  
     I'm really not that hungry, and I can eat regular food.  Just less of it!  I did realize something though, that I am perfectly satisfied with the amount that I eat. That is probably true in many other areas of life.  Why do we feel like we are always supposed to have more?  And where does that more go?  Well, it's probably jammed in the back of the closet or garage.  I read somewhere that the body can efficiently process 4 ounces of protein, but anything over that adds weight.  All the extra "stuff" we think we need, adds more weight to our lives.   Learning to be satisfied with what you have, and to be thankful that you have it, is a real life lesson.  As they say, knowledge is power, but that knowledge comes through the one and only higher power, our God.  Prayer is an awesome way to ask for the help you need to accomplish anything according to God's will. 
     I know God wants us to be healthy and fit.  In 1 Corinthians 6:19, the scripture says we are the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in us.  That is a gift from God when we accept Jesus Christ.  I know the Holy Spirit is probably not too concerned if "we"(He and I) can't fit into my skinny jeans, but He knows that it bothers me.  So because it bothers me, then it is important to Him.  The Lord does not want me being so consumed or preoccupied with what doesn't fit, that I can't minister to others.  Satan will try to use any way he can to distract us from running the race, and fighting the good fight of faith.   True faith in Christ can free us from any bondage, so giving it to Him, even a diet(dyet :) is the key. 
     I'll keep you posted on my weight loss journey.  It should be interesting since right now I'm thinking about the box of Cheezits in the pantry.  Nevermind, I think they're getting stale anyway :)    

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Blindsided

     Have you ever been having just the greatest day ever, then all of the sudden, somebody says or does something that makes your emotions just drop like a rock?  That happened to me yesterday.  Maybe I'm just being a little too sensitive..Could be that, I guess, but we shouldn't be afraid to be so full of joy for fear that something is bound to happen that will burst our joyful little bubble.  My faith tells me that joy is not something that should be up and down depending on your circumstances.  Joy is something that you can really have all the time..It's not just being "happy".  It's much different; it goes much deeper.  It's knowing that no matter what, God has a plan...Thank God, right?!  God's plans don't backfire...He doesn't need a backup plan, because plan A is always the right one.  I sometimes picture God and me in a type of locker room setting...He's got one of those whiteboards with the dry-erase marker in His hand..He's got the playbook, and the game plan is going up on the board..Don't let the enemy distract you from the plan; he'll erase the board before you get a chance to memorize the play, if you let him that is..  

So here I am...

     I started a blog today.  I love to write, and so it was suggested that I start one.   I liked the subject of change, because well, I've gone through a few changes lately.  Has anyone had a career that suddenly came to a screeching halt?  Well, been there..I truly believe what has been said, that when one door closes God opens another..I hadn't planned on leaving my career when I did, but due to a series of events, it was a bittersweet ending to almost thirty years of my life.  I think what really bothered me most, was all of the hours spent dedicated to a job at the expense of my family.  I was very torn, but over the years two incomes were a necessity.  It's time to move on and take on new challenges in my life.
     My very wonderful husband was extremely supportive of me during some really dark days when hard decisions needed to be made.  I have always trusted God and after months of what I would call a continual state of oppression, I realized that I needed to give it up to God because I couldn't get through this time in my life without his Grace.  Sorry to be such a downer, because I'm really not like that..but that was what I was becoming, and I didn't like it.  I didn't like that I was losing my smile and the passion for what I had always loved to do, serving my customers.  And so, a new adventure began..beauty from ashes.
     After taking a very needed break, I began working with my husband in his pest control business.  This man has run this business virtually on his own since 1996.  Sure, I did the books, wrote the checks, etc., because that is what I did..I was a banker..emphasis on "was"..  Now that I see all he had to do, I am so proud of what he has accomplished.  I feel things happen for a reason, so all of the years of corporate experience is something I can take away and use for our business. 
     I have two grown children, my son is an up-and-coming artist and right now, a "stay-at-home" dad to a beautiful grandson, while our grandson's adorable mother is at work.  My daughter is a lovely young woman who became an LPN and working toward becoming an RN.  She and her son, another precious grandson, lived with us for the first seven years of his life.  They recently moved out, leaving my husband and I "empty-nesters."   Wow, was that hard for me when they moved out..I mean, I knew the day would eventually come, but I don't think I was really ready for it to happen now (I mean it had just been seven years, right? Lol)  Can you do the lol thing in a blog??  I'm not too up on blog etiquette..I would appreciate any comments.
     I never thought the day would come when it was just Brian and me.  As soon as they moved out, we began painting and planning to move the office into one of the empty rooms (I don't really like that word "empty"..It never does seem to be a good thing).  Jumping in right away to begin home improvements reminded me of that commercial where the son moves out.  Remember that one?  When right away the parents start turning his room into all different things from a work-out room to housing a hot tub.  Of course, in the commercial, they ended up turning it back into the son's room..As I have heard, they leave..then they come back..Sounds like some type of science fiction movie.  That did actually happen with our son.  He left and came back, but he has been back out for quite some years...At thirty, I don't really expect him back anytime soon..It's nice to see him with his own little family, interacting with his son and doing things around the house.  He's become quite neat..I'm not sure when that happened.  Oh, and he does laundry too.  I just remember the old days, closing the door to his room because I was afraid of what was growing in the corner....food would go in there and disappear, plates and glasses never to be seen again..Still not sure where they went to...
     So the business is going really well, and besides working at home (which I love by the way), I have a few more aspirations, one of which is writing childrens' books.  I have written a few pieces, but you know how it is when family reads your stories.  They just know your book will definitely hit the New York Times bestseller list within, like, two weeks or so..I don't think it's the best way to have your work critiqued.  Anyone else out there working on a book?  What's your story?