Lessons Learned

Not everything that ends badly was all bad.

You can learn valuable lessons from even the worst mistakes and miseries.  Sometimes, you just have to look really hard to find the redeeming reward.

There is almost always one to be found.

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Personal case in point:

Relationships and marriages (…or some of what I learned from my exes…)

Ex #1 – I learned how to be a mom.  I was young, I made many mistakes, and I discovered a love so big that I felt my heart would burst.  I also learned that sometimes it is better to remain friends than to get married, and that you can remain friends after a divorce.

Ex #2 – I learned how to shoot a gun, how to clean a fish, and how to ride a motorcycle.  I also learned what it feels like to be at the wrong end of a loaded twelve-gauge shot gun.

Ex #3 – I learned firsthand how illegal drug use and alcohol abuse (his addictions) can destroy a marriage, a family, a life.  That is a place I never want to experience again.

Ex #4 – I learned how to hang drywall.  I learned about the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the government.  I learned about how to study the Bible to find out what it really says instead of just believing what someone else says it says. I also learned that just because someone says they are a Christian and a patriot doesn’t necessarily mean that they live like a Christian or have the same definition of patriot as most people.  This is when I began to identify more than a little with Sarah Connor of the Terminator movies…

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            Example (not ex!) #5 – I learned that there are good, decent, honest, trustworthy, Godly, kind and loving men in the world.

davemy holy hottie!

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Another lesson that you may learn from your messes is how to make great meals!

From the mother of ex #4, I received this recipe for Hot Hamburgers.  It is spicy, but not too spicy (well, for most people – I still have to put sour cream on mine to calm it a bit).  It comes together quickly and cooks in the crock-pot as you go about your life.  It also makes great use of a beef cut that is rather difficult to prepare on its own, namely beef cubed steaks.  This dish comes out so tender and flavorful!

hot-hamburger-ingredients

Hot Hamburgers

5 cups tomato sauce

15 ounce jar of mild or hot pepper rings, undrained

3 medium onions, sliced or diced

1 teaspoon garlic powder or 1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

½ teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

½ cup Tabasco sauce

1 teaspoon chipped red pepper

3 pounds of beef cubed steaks

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hot-hamburger-serving

Combine all ingredients except beef cubed steaks in a crock-pot.  Stir well.  Cook on low for two hours.  Add beef cubed steaks.  Cook on high for two hours.  Serve beef cubed steaks on buns or with cooked rice.  Top with sour cream if desired.  May substitute chicken breasts for the beef cubed steaks.

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optimist-or-pessimist

Build-A-Prayer Workshop

Too many people spend too much time trying to perfect something before they actually do it. Instead of waiting for perfection, run with what you do, and fix it along the way… (Paul Arden)

One of the scariest things many of us are ever asked to do in public is to…

 

PRAY.

walrus-prayer

Why is the very thought of leading a group in a prayer so dreadfully daunting?  Are we fearful of friends finding fault?  Or afraid of approaching an awesome God and being appraised as inadequate?

Perhaps a primer on prayer, what it is and what it is not, is appropriate.

I asked my sixth grade girls in youth group to help me brainstorm just what prayer is to them.  Their thoughts were:

prayer-isPrayer is…

Amazing   Talking to God   Something you should not be ashamed of   Hopeful   Not complicated   Short or long    Inspiring   Listening   Whenever and wherever   Reading the Bible   Gratefulness   Being honest to yourself   Beautiful   Mine   Worship   Realizing there is a higher authority   Important   Helpful   Conversation   Healthy   A lifestyle   Worldwide   Love   Time with God   Talking to the Creator of the universe   Not fearful   Something you can do on your own time   Self-less   Forgiveness   Unique   Saying “Thank You”   Not all about you   Relationship   Something that can change your life   Something that should be repeated   Main priority!

 

Still, the social aspect of praying in public is intimidating.

So I suggest you practice in private.  Even if you are never called upon to call upon God in community, we are called to commune with him.

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Practice may not make perfect, but practice does make prayer more powerful.

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To assist in making prayer a potent priority in your life, I have created an acrostic to help cultivate your communication with the Creator.

If you would like to receive a .pdf of this acrostic and accompanying scripture notes, please contact me.

build-a-prayer-workshop

 

 

 

What Were My Words?

Have you ever tried to literally ‘watch your mouth’?

After a teacher said this to me, I was soon trying to watch my backside due to a paddling.  Note to self (and anyone else reading this) – when you are already in trouble, don’t make it worse by being silly.  Ouch, ouch, ouch…

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Your words are the only thing in life you have absolute control over.

While we cannot actually watch our spoken words, we can watch our written words and we can listen to what we say.  It is even better to consider, and reframe, and perhaps refrain from our words before they are shared.

Do your words reflect your true self?

two-things

I did an experiment on my own word usage on a very social platform to put myself to the test.  I chose a random month, August of 2011, and I read every post I made.  (Granted, I did not include shares, comments, or memes/photos – I concentrated only on the letters my own fingers typed.what-were-my-words

These are the results this little analysis:

  • Out of 31 days in August, I only posted my own words 17 times on 14 days. All other posts (and there was a post almost every day) were photos, memes, shares, and Happy Birthday greetings on a friend’s page.
  • Of these 17 posts, 6 were questions or requests for assistance.
  • 4 posts were simply sharing information, some exciting and some not-so-exciting but still possibly helpful
  • 5 posts were just plain complaining.
  • 2 were random thoughts
  • 2 posts were about things that nobody really cares about, i.e. “I’m going to bed”

Yes, I realize this adds up to more than 17.  Some posts fit into more than one category.   I also realized that I needed to change.  So I set myself a challenge.

I learned a little lesson on words a while back, and it is still relevant. Just remember the word “THINK” and apply it to the words you are choosing before you say them or before you hit ‘send.’

think

When I apply the T.H.I.N.K. acronym to these posts, I am more than a little embarrassed at what I find.

  • Is it True? I can confidently say that I did not lie about anything in these posts.
  • Is it Helpful? Two were possibly helpful, announcing a neighborhood garage sale and available childcare in the area.
  • Is it Inspiring? Not. A. Single. One.
  • Is it Necessary? Admittedly, Facebook in itself is not necessary. Still, I applied this portion more to mean that what I wrote didn’t fall into the “Well, that was unnecessary” category.  And only one fell to that level.  One more than there should have been…
  • Is it Kind? This one hurts. Although I wasn’t really unkind (except for probably that remark about the golf caddy – see Necessary), neither was I kind or considerate or uplifting.

Ouch, ouch, ouch again…

I had a confrontation with my conscience well over a year ago.  I don’t remember the trigger, but I do recall the results.  I was convicted that although I wasn’t a mean, hateful or heartless person, I was also not living up to the hype.  I did not walk the talk I was teaching.  I needed to make a positive transformation in my world of words.

The first step was to wait.  I don’t mean I sat around and did nothing at all.  WAIT is another easy way to consider your conversation.

wait-why-am-i-talking

Why am I talking (or typing)?  Is it to make a particular point?  Is it to share some splendid insight?  Is it to offer comfort and consolation?  Is it to provoke thought or make a call to action?  Why am I talking?

The next move is to consider what you are consuming.  What are you putting into your head and your heart?

But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.                                                                                                                                     Matthew 15:18-19

I had to change some habits.  I had to unfollow some people.  I had to find places to feed my faith and feelings.  This was not difficult at all.  I simply changed my focus and found myself fulfilled.

mudslinging

The final footstep was to share my breakthroughs with my beloved friends and followers.  This can be accomplished in a variety of ways.  Since I am a weaver of words and a social media maven, I employ these as my platforms.  I created a Facebook page, Positive Post Pledge.  I manage my social media to uplift and encourage as often as I possibly can, and I watch my words carefully (most of the time – I still slip occasionally because, you know, humanness…).

…and I share the positivity repeatedly and persistently and purposefully.

Will you join me?

Sunrise, Sunset: Part 2

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1.  Going to bed early.

2.  Not leaving the house.

3.  Not going to a party.

My childhood punishments have become my adult goals…

 

I overheard my father once telling someone that I was the only child out of six that never gave him trouble when it was time to go to bed.  You didn’t have to tell me twice!

I don’t understand why people have to “get ready” for bed.

I’m always ready for bed…

Now, sleep is sometimes elusive, even when I do go to bed in a timely manner.  Part of my brain wants to go over (and over and over and…) tasks I need to complete, ideas that must be written down, things I wish I had done and things I wish I hadn’t done. I have been able to silence some of the grey matter chatter by organizing my evening routine.  My routine doesn’t entirely eliminate the ruminations, but it does cut out some of it.

My evening routine:

  • Begin with a bite.

I have bedtime medications that I must take every day.  A couple require that they be taken with food.  I love my Bedtime Banana Blend.  This smoothie recipe includes several foods that are proven to be sleep-enhancing, and it also just plain tastes good!

bedtime-banana-blend

In a blender or food processor, combine one banana, 1/4 cup almonds, three dark chocolate candy kisses, 1/2 cup Greek-style yogurt, one “handful” of ice cubes, 1/2 cup chamomile tea (chilled), 1/2 cup almond milk, one tablespoon honey or agave, and one teaspoon vanilla.  Process until smooth.  Makes 2 cups.

almond-milk-ice-cubes

Bedtime Banana Blend packets can be made ahead of time minus the milk, yogurt, and ice.  Add the milk before blending.  No need to add ice (unless you want it) since the bananas are already frozen.  You may also make the almond milk and/or the chamomile tea into ice cubes for ease of assembly into packets.  Again, eliminate the water ice cubes if you do use frozen milk or tea.

banana-blend

  • These Three Things

I am easily overwhelmed by the sheer number of tasks I feel I must do and need to accomplish.  I keep a to-do list, and I use it to create other lists to keep from being frustrated by my inability to do everything as fast, timely, and efficiently as I would desire. I choose three things from my to-do list or I add appointments/tasks with deadlines, whether or not these tasks are on the to-do list.

My bed is a magical place…

 …where I suddenly remember everything I was supposed to do.

 

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Rabbit Trail  These Three Things

I tend to decide my These Three Things tasks for the next day either while I am in the kitchen making my Bedtime Banana Blend, or as I am… (ahem) on the throne.  Hey, it’s time-efficient.  Anyway, what else are you going to do while you’re there?

sunset-these-three-things

  • Get a head start on tomorrow

Do you have an appointment or meeting first thing in the morning?  Choose your outfit before going to bed.  You can make sure you have all of the necessary pieces, including jewelry and shoes, without searching in the dawning daylight hours.  Why add stress to your morning?

Make breakfast or at least assemble the elements of breakfast.  Milk, cereal and fruit are your morning choices?  Set out the bowl, spoon, glass, cereal box, and fruit together so you only need to go after the milk.  Overnight oats are a great on-the-go breakfast and a real time-saver too.  If you are a coffee-drinker (and if you are not, you are wrong), invest in a coffee-maker with a timer, so you can wake to the wonderful wafting of liquid motivation…

breakfast-spread

  • Lastly, eliminate the electronics.

No, not forever, just for an hour before going to bed.  Science has shown that the use of electronic devices (mobile phones, tablets, computers, televisions, and so son) impede our brain’s ability to shut down and rest properly.  Brain growth and repair actually happens while we are sleeping.  So put down the devices and pick up a book, a craft, a board game, whatever.  Give your brain a break and a breather!  It will love you back.

prayer-before-sleep

Sunrise, Sunset: Part 1

sunrise-over-callon-pond-by-matt-giebler(photo courtesy of Matt Giebler)

Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance…

The 5 stages of waking up.

 

I hate the part of my morning where I have to get out of my bed and participate in real life.

 

The early bird can have the worm, because worms are gross and mornings are stupid.

 

I am sooooooo not a morning person.  I am also not a night owl.  But I can rock about two hours after naptime like nobody’s business!

I will nap here

For me, morning motivation is an oxymoron.  I need more than just an alarm clock to get up and go and do.  I need some organization and a method to the morning madness.

I have an affinity for lists, and rhymes, and alliteration.  Somehow, these themes help me to accomplish things – maybe not great things, but still accomplish things.

My morning routine:

  • Rise and shine! (yeah, right…at least rise)

My silly alarm is set for 7:00.  I hit snooze a minimum three times most mornings.  So I am usually at least vertical by 7:30…most mornings.

  • Read and feed

I have a Bible study plan that I follow on YouVersion while I am eating breakfast.  It is the best way I have found to remember to eat breakfast is to feed my body while I feed my mind and soul.  If you prefer not to read a Bible study, I highly suggest you read something.  Stretch your mind, learn new things.

  • Bike or hike

I have a lovely touring bicycle that I ride when my body and the weather allow.  It is my favorite color (orange), it has a happy little bell and a pretty daisy affixed to the handlebars.  It is cute and it encourages me to ride.

my-bicycle

When I cannot ride, I at least practice my range of motion routine and maybe climb up and down the stairs a couple of times.  I am compromised by my health from doing much more then these exercises, and I still do what I can.

  • Wash and wear

I am a bath person.  I detest and resent having to take a shower when I have no other option.  We remodeled our master bathroom a few years ago and I gained a beautiful claw-foot slipper tub that I adore!

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Getting dressed in the morning is both easy and sometimes difficult for me.  Due to miscellaneous maladies, my clothing consists of a great deal of LuLaRoe leggings and comfortable blouses.  I still like to look as nice as I can, so I have very few pieces that I would not wear out of the house.  When I dress better, I feel better, and it shows in my face and attitude.

  • Morning meds

I take several prescriptions and supplements.  I have a pill organizer that is fantastic.  Once a week, I fill the morning and evening sides of the organizer, along with my holy hottie hubby’s pill organizer.  This is helpful to me for not only remembering to take my meds every day, but also in knowing when I am getting low before I run out completely and I am stuck.

pill-organizer

 

One more motivational tip for your mornings…

eat-a-frog

Git’er Done!

Good, better, best.  Never let it rest

‘Til your good is better and your better is best.

-St. Jerome

 

The secret of getting ahead is getting started.

-Mark Twain

 

If you can dream it, you can do it.

-Walt Disney

 

 

If only life was as light and lovely and lenient as these words make it seem.

Many times, life seems more like:

 

If life doesn’t break you today, don’t worry.

It will try again tomorrow.

 

Every day is another chance to screw everything up again.

 

Legacy:

In the end, all of your contributions will be taken for granted

and people will only remember your mistakes.

 

Wow.

Life can be easy, life can be hard.

Life is not always easy, and life is not always hard.

 

we-should-always-proceed

 

But if you have an opportunity to make the easy happen more and the hard easier to handle, why not take that opportunity?

 

never-too-late

 

Beginning today, I share a series of tips, tricks and techniques for getting and staying motivated, even when you would rather swallow a mugful of mealworms.

 

Today, the very first step… is to read this post.

See?  You have accomplished something already!

 

Stop being afraid of what could go wrong

and start being excited about what could go right.

-Tony Robbins

13 Ways to Better Your Days

camp is my happy place

I almost always come home from summer camp a different person than I was when I left.  I am not sure if it is the change of scenery, the change in schedule, or the change in my mental mood.  Whatever it is, I am changed, at least for a while.

I will let you in on a secret – I was privately worried that I would not make it all the way through camp without having to retreat from the retreat.  With my medical issues, life is hard to predict from day to day.  Surprisingly to me, I not only survived the entire week of camp, but I thrived!  I only had to take four pain pills, and two of those were during the same day.  I struggled a little, but way less than I thought I would.  Maybe it was combination of adrenaline and the power of God…

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Rabbit Trail  For insight on health and wellness

            Now why did I get through the week without major issues when I can barely get through a week at home without major issues?  Who knows?  I do know that I am willing to try making some changes that at least seemed to work during my camp week.  Will it help?  Who knows?  The least I can do is try it out for a while and see.

In adapting my church camp lifestyle to my home lifestyle, I thought of these thirteen areas that I handled differently at camp.

  1. Schedule

I had a fairly strict schedule at camp, and duties that had to happen at certain times.  I didn’t have just any old time that I could veg out playing a word game on my iPad or peruse Pinterest for hours.  I had places to be and jobs to do and people to see.

  1. Study

The first part of each day was devoted to Bible study and prayer for about twenty minutes.  This did come after a shower and getting dressed; otherwise, it was top priority.  Getting with God first thing in the morning – is there any more positive way to begin a new day?

Bible study

  1. Diet: Meals and Snacks

I ate.  I ate more.  I ate better.  This eating habit was an important part of the daily schedule.  Breakfast at 8, lunch at 11:45, snack at 3:15, dinner at 4:45 (that was a little tough), and another snack at 8. I paid attention to what I was eating and added what I needed to add (i.e., extra protein or iron, again due to my health issues).  Today, I didn’t eat anything until after I took a bath, which I didn’t do until 1:15.  An entire morning wasted away…

  1. Work

From 9:30 to 11:45, I taught lessons and led the campers in making a project each day.  At home, I equate this to my writing and my online income.  It doesn’t contribute much to our bank account, but it does contribute a little money and a lot of accomplishment.

  1. Service

Missions time was in a morning time slot, but we addressed it throughout the day.  At home, my main mission and service is to my husband, my home, and our house guests.  Housekeeping, community concerns, and my extended family and friends are my focus of ministry and service.

  1. Medications

This should be a no-brainer.  The problem is that sometimes, I can be a no-brainer.  If I forget to take my meds, I have difficulties and if I have difficulties, I forget to take my meds.  Since my medication are important to my health, I need to be sure I take them at the appropriate times.  At camp, I had my camp nurse that helped me remember to take them.  She never had to remind me; just seeing her hanging out would remind me.  I plan to figure out some trigger that will have the same effect here at home.

  1. Exercise

I did not have an exercise plan in place when I went to camp.  Just being at church camp tends to be an exercise in itself.  Walking, doing the motions to worship songs, just hanging out with faculty and campers gets me much more exercise than I am accustomed to getting.  Incorporating a walk and maybe a worship song or two into my day will go a long way.

  1. Nature

I am often saying or typing “Get out and play out.”  There are some very good books written on the topic of the nature deficit of modern children.  I tend to forget that adults need time in nature too!  Even if it is as simple as sitting out on my deck enjoying the outdoors, I need some nature in my life.  So do you.

Drake and Gertrude

  1. Friends

I was surrounded by friends this entire week.  At home, I tend to sequester myself inside my own four walls.  It’s not that I don’t like people.  I just don’t go out of my way to be where the people are. (Cue “The Little Mermaid”)  Everyone needs that human connection, including those of us who consider ourselves introverts or ambiverts.

faculty foosball

  1. Delegation of Duties

            Help!  I need somebody!  Help!  Not just anybody!

            Trying to do it all by myself is exhausting.  Doing this with my health is even more exhausting.  The past few years, I have started delegating more and dropping duties less.  At camp, I had others lead two nights of group games, others led campfire, others led meal time prayers, and others led all kinds of things.  This helped me then and it can help me at home.  Instead of leaving things undone because I cannot do it all, I will ask for help when I need or want it.

  1. Rest Time

            Naptime!!!

I will nap here

            A rest and relaxation time was built into the camp schedule after lunch.  I tended not to get much rest at this time because of other duties.  Instead, during the campers’ swimming time that followed, I was able to get an hour of rest, sometimes even sleep.  Recharging my battery is very important.  How can I help others if my own battery is running dead?

  1. Me Time: Creativity

“We were created by a Creator to be creative” was our camp theme this year.  During the day, I was able to get my camera out and practice using it.  I was able to doodle in my notepad.  I was able to write out thoughts.  I was allowing God to speak to me through my gift of creativity.

  1. Greater Good

I think the most important part of the camp week was that I was focused on the greater good.  I was there to serve, to lead, to show by example, to experience God and help others to experience God.  Sometimes, I feel my life has no focus, but that never happens at camp.  Maybe my camp mindset is one I should carry year-round.

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