Although, we are already almost a week into the New Year, it’s never too late to make resolutions. Whether you have made resolutions to make changes for the better or you gave up making resolutions because, like most of us, you fail to keep them… this blog is worth the read and I found it worthy to be posted on my own blog today.

Unshakable Hope

In the years before I had ALS, I made and broke, usually quickly, more New Year resolutions than I care to remember. I became so bad at keeping my resolutions that I quit making them. But I began making resolutions again about 6 years ago and actually succeeded in keeping a few of them – resolutions like committing to follow a daily Bible reading program, which I’ve done several times and will do this year also. But following a daily Bible is more like a renewed commitment for me so it’s not one of the new resolutions I’m referring to in this post.

ALS has taken away a lot of the things I wanted to change about myself. Unfortunately it’s also taken away many of the things that I didn’t want to change. For example;

  • I am fed through a feeding tube now so I no longer have to make…

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I only recently stumbled across the bloggings of “persuaded2go”. It was the title of this blog, “the gift of imperfection” that made me want to read more. I wasn’t sure what the blog would be about but it was that word, “imperfection” that I related to so well. I wanted to know what this person had to say because I couldn’t seem to put the words “gift” and “imperfection” together.
As you read this blog, one of the main messages that I want you to take from it this Christmas season is summed up in this quote from the blog,

“If your family is larger than ONE, you may be dealing with the very same people you love to hate. People who are messed up, broken packages. You may even feel like the broken package is you. Welcome here. Let’s gather ourselves together under a tree, and pretend we are alive. Or actually be alive. Whichever you choose. Being alive means living in the moment. And this year, if your gift looks a little broken, let others see you. REALLY see you.”
I hope that after reading this post, that you will take the time to read the story of this blogger.
Thank you persuaded2go for sharing your journey.

Never too late


Bible“You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” 

Deuteronomy 6:7           

 

I became a mom at the young age of 17. Talk about being clueless… I was completely head over heels in love with that precious little girl but I didn’t really know how to help her grow up. I didn’t know what I was supposed to do to prepare her to leave home and build a life of her own or to raise children of her own.

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That little girl is now 33 years old and has two little girls of her own. I also have a 28 year old daughter, and a 26 year old son. In spite of my youthful ignorance, they all survived and I’m proud of the adults they have become. I do however, think about all the things that I “didn’t do”, that I wish I had done with them when they were children.

I Did Not:

  • read them bedtime stories
  • help them say their prayers at night
  • always teach them to pray and give thanks for meals
  • have a time of devotions and Bible reading with them
  • give them an allowance and teach them to be good stewards
  • get them involved in giving to charities and helping the needy

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As I watch my children today, I realize that even though I didn’t do all the right things, it is not too late to be a role model and to teach them by example. They still call me for advice and they still look to me for answers, so I know that I can still have an influence on them and  help them be better role models for their children.

What I Now Do:

  • I read a lot and I share what I am reading with my children.
  • I pray for my children and I tell them that I’m praying. My children will tell you that Momma’s answer for everything is “let’s pray about it”.
  • When we have meals together, we give thanks.
  • I have a time of devotion and Bible reading with my husband daily and my children are aware of this.
  • We are missionaries, so we live on a budget and my children have seen how God has provided for our needs and how we  practice being good stewards of God’s blessings.
  • As missionaries, we serve others in need.

I hope that my life today influences the lives of my children but even though there were things I failed to do, they have grown up to be healthy, happy, godly adults. This is not because of what I did or did not do but because God took care of them. As a young parent, many times I didn’t know what to do, so I just prayed and I still do that today… I pray over my children and God takes care of the rest. If your children are not “children” any longer; don’t look back and regret the things you didn’t do or the things you did wrong, it’s never too late to be a role model. Be an example of Christ for your children, no matter their age.

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“Hey, it’s me”


Have you ever received a phone call that went something like this?phone-hand

“Hello”

“Hey, how are you?”

“I’m good, how are you?”

“Great, did you watch the game last night?”

“Yes, great game”

“Well, all of us need to get together to watch a game soon.”

“Sure, we need to do that.”

“What about this weekend?”

“Uh… who is this?”

I don’t always recognize every voice that comes over the phone. That’s why I have Caller ID. However, there are some voices that I always recognize. I know my husband’s voice and he recognizes my voice without me having to introduce myself on the phone. I can pick his voice out of crowd. Actually, that’s not very difficult because he’s usually the loudest one in the group… sorry honey, but it’s true. He has a very nice voice by the way (I hope that smoothed things over with him).

I also can easily recognize the voice of my children. I don’t have to ask who is calling when I hear a voice over the phone. Although, I do have to confess that many times when I’m talking about one of my three children, I will run through all three names and even add in the names of the grandchildren before saying the correct one (everyone does that… right?).

What I love most is that there are people in my life that know the sound of my voice and all I have to say is, “hey, it’s me” and they know exactly who’s calling. Before my mom passed away, I could call her and just simply say, “hey Momma”, and even though she has three daughters, she always knew that it was me, it was Darlene, her oldest daughter calling. Not only did she know my voice but the sound of her voice let me know that she was happy to hear from me.

My ramblings here do have a purpose, so I’ll get to the point that I want to make.

I am thankful that God also knows my voice. At times when I cry out, “Jesus”; my heart can feel him answer, “Hello Darlene, I’m glad you called”. When I fall on my knees and pray, “Father God”, I can almost hear Him say, “Yes, Baby Girl, I’m right here”. When life gets busy and the world gets so loud that I don’t think anyone can hear me, it’s comforting to know that my Heavenly Father always hears me and He knows my voice. I love to talk to Him, especially at times when I know that no one else could understand my ramblings. I love that I can call Him and just say, “Hey, it’s me”.

The other side of this coin is that God wants us to recognize His voice as well. This is where I fall short. I tend to be more like Samuel. A voice called to him three times before Eli finally explained to him that the voice he was hearing was God (1 Samuel 3). I talk often to my Heavenly Father, but I need more practice at listening well enough to be able to recognize His voice. We were created to commune with God. That means he wants a relationship with us. Most will agree that to have a good relationship with someone else, such as a spouse or a friend, we need to communicate. Communication should not be “one-way”. I love to share my thoughts with my husband and tell him about my day but sometimes, I also have to allow him to talk and I have to practice my listening skills.

Here are a few things to improve communication

With Others:

  • Sit face to face and make eye contact – we spend a lot of time communicating through text, emails, and social networks but to build a good relationship, we need to get face to face.
  • Minimize distractions; both external and internal – life is filled with distractions. It may take some effort but reduce the noise, turn off the TV, the computer, the cell phone, etc. Focus your thoughts on the conversation and guard against letting your mind wander to other things.
  • Focus all your attention on the one speaking – we want others to pay attention to us when we are talking, so we should do the same for them. Remember the “Golden Rule”.

With God

  • Face to Face: we can’t do this literally but we can find a quiet place where we can have an intimate conversation with God.
  • Minimize distractions: shut out external distractions by turning the noise of the world off; spending time in prayer, reading God’s Word, or worshiping Him in song can help clear your thoughts of worldly distractions.
  • Focus all your attention on Him: God gives us His full attention and He doesn’t want to compete for our attention.

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Listen, you heavens, and I will speak; hear, you earth, the words of my mouth. Let my teaching fall like rain and my words descend like dew, like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants.  Deuteronomy 32:1-2

 The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.  When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.   John 10: 2-5

My son, if you accept my words
and store up my commands within you,
 turning your ear to wisdom
and applying your heart to understanding—
 indeed, if you call out for insight
and cry aloud for understanding,
 and if you look for it as for silver
and search for it as for hidden treasure,
 then you will understand the fear of the Lord
and find the knowledge of God

                                    Proverbs 2: 1-5

Reprinted at faithwriters.com

What About Santa Claus?


santa_clausA large part of the Christmas season centers around the tradition of “Santa Claus”. However, many people may question whether or not Christians should take part in this tradition. As Christians, we believe that Christmas is meant as a celebration of the birth of Christ and as a reminder that Christ was a gift from God to all who will accept Him. So, is it ok to allow our children to believe that there is a Santa Claus? How parents approach this question is a personal choice but I feel that the key is to keep “the main thing, the main thing”… meaning that Christ is the main thing in Christmas, so keep Him the main thing.

Allow children to enjoy the “magic” of Christmas but don’t go to great lengths to tell lies and perpetuate the fantasy of Santa Claus. Children are going to learn about Santa, elves, and the North Pole from other places even if parents don’t put a big emphasis on these things. When they are old enough to ask questions, then that is the time to evaluate just how well they can separate fantasy from reality. When children are old enough to ask, “How can Santa Claus visit all the children in the world in one night?” they are beginning to develop reasoning skills. This may be the time to explain that mommies and daddies actually help Santa… this is the first step to helping children separate what is real and what is fantasy. Don’t lie to children when they begin asking questions; allow the natural process of learning and discovery to take place. With or without the belief of “Santa Claus”, Christmas will still be a magical time, and there will still be presents under the tree when they wake up on Christmas morning.

Parents can use Santa to teach biblical principles to children. There are many similarities between Christ and the persona of Santa.

  • Both encourage children to come to them.
  • Both are givers are good things
  • Both reward good and punish bad
  • Both can be in multiple places at the same time
  • Both live forever

The list of comparisons could go on and on. These similarities can be viewed as either good or bad depending on how you look at them. Parents can use them to teach and reinforce the true meaning of Christmas. They can teach biblical principles such as hope, giving to others, caring for the needy, and loving others. Parents can explain how Santa is a secular symbol for these things. The parallels between Christ and Santa can be a bad thing however, if parents allow Santa to become a replacement for Christ during the Christmas season.

Nativity

The Christmas season actually begins the day after the Thanksgiving holiday, so there is plenty of time to focus on Christ and the true meaning of Christmas. Santa Claus really only has one night, he arrives on the 24th of December; on Christmas Eve… so keep Christ the main focus on all the other days of the season.

Christmas is a special time of year and regardless of how commercialized some people make it, Christmas is a Christian holiday. Without CHRIST there is no CHRISTMAS.

This was reprinted on faithwriters.com

Introverts need to budget their energy reserves like others budget money


All the jargon about introversion and extraversion may be confusing to many but most people do understand the need for “budgeting” resources.

Just as most of us must watch our financial spending closely, introverts have to do the same with their energy. Unless you are one of the recently won the lottery or have some endless source of income, then you usually budget your finances to some degree. Of course, some have more to work with than others. The same is true for introverts. Some of us may have larger energy reserves than others but for the most part, introverts have small reserves of energy that must be refilled frequently.

For this introvert, the magic number or amount of time that I can spend energy without completely emptying the tank is about three hours. After three hours of an activity, I’m finished and looking for the nearest exit. This is especially true if I’m out shopping or have to attend an event or party… basically, anything that involves a lot of interaction with other people will burn up my energy source quickly.

Since most people can understand budgeting finances, let’s look at some common tips for managing money.

  • Plan ahead – take a look at a typical week/month and determine how much money is coming in and what will need to go out.
  • Be aware of “leakage” unplanned expenses – trips to the ATM, going out for fast-food… any expense that is not regularly a part of your planned budget.
  • Don’t be afraid to cut back – what expenses can be cut out or what could you do without or possibly sell?
  • Don’t spend your surplus – if you budget well and have a surplus then save it or invest it.
  • Don’t deplete your bank accounts – always leave funds for unexpected expenses or emergencies.

Ok, now let’s apply those same tips to budgeting energy for introverts.

  • Plan ahead – plan your week/month; what activities or events do you have planned that will drain your energy bank? How much time will you have daily to recharge your battery or deposit energy into that bank?
  • Be aware of “leakage”, unplanned energy zappers – things like unexpected guests, last minute invites to events, or other types of stimulation can slowly drain your battery.
  • Don’t be afraid to cut back – determine what activities can wait until another time or what events can you cancel or decline on an invite.
  • Don’t spend your surplus – if you have managed your day/week well and have extra energy, don’t burn it up all at once, save it or spend it wisely
  • Don’t deplete your energy reserve – take time to refuel before you reach empty

Most people don’t have to budget their energy so tightly. However, these tips are good ideas for anyone. Most people are extroverts; we are the minority (3 extroverts to every 1 introvert). Extroverts typically can handle several activities in one day or attend several events in a single week without having a complete melt down but for introverts, if we do not have time to refuel then we have one of our “Jekyll and Hyde” episodes. Well, at least that is true for this introvert, not necessarily true for everyone.

If you want to read more about introverts, read The Introvert Advantage: How to Thrive in an Extrovert World.

Introvert: Over-exposure to stimulation may require a nap to recharge


Extroverts may at times wish that their Introvert spouses or friends came with a set of instructions. If you haven’t had a crash course on “how to understand an Introvert” then it can be confusing when your friend appears exhausted after a simple trip to the shopping mall or when your spouse, who is very talkative at home, barely speaks to anyone at your office party.

Extraversion and Introversion are personality traits. An individual who is said to be extroverted is typically more outgoing, more talkative and seems to have a high level of energy. An introverted individual typically talks less, may avoid large social gatherings, and seems to live life at a slower pace.

It’s all about “energy”. All living things require energy (source of fuel) to function. Some living things require large stores of energy and others not so much. Some burn through their energy sources quickly so they have to refuel often and others reserve energy.

Let’s imagine people as battery operated toys for a moment. A toy that has many functions, such as one that moves in many directions, plays music, and lights up in some way will require a larger supply of batteries than a simple toy that may just play a sound or give off a soft glow of light. What if that toy moves, plays music, and lights up every time someone walks past it? In that case, it may require large batteries that may need to be recharged often. The other toy only operates at the push of a button so the energy source is being used slowly.

Are you beginning to get the picture? Extroverts burn a lot of energy because they are usually more active and outgoing. They tend to jump from one activity to another like the toy that moves, plays music and lights up. Unlike the toy, their battery is actually recharged when they interact with others or when they receive stimulation from their environment.

Ok, now it’s time to help those Extroverts understand their Introvert friends. Introverts are like the toy that reacts only when the button is pushed. They may sit quietly until someone draws them into the conversation by “pushing their button”.  Unlike the extrovert who welcomes stimulation, because it recharges their battery, the introvert avoids over stimulation because it has the opposite effect. Too much stimulation will quickly drain the battery of an introvert. Stimulation may come in many forms. It can be interaction with other people, either by being in a crowd at a gathering or among the crowd while out shopping. It can come in the form of multiple activities, such as household chores, caring for children, running errands, etc. Jumping from one activity to another can be exhausting for an introvert. Stimulation also comes from the noise of the environment. Introverts are sensitive to what they consider “noise”. Having the TV playing while people are trying to carry on a conversation is too much stimulation for many introverts. If you add in the sound of children playing and barking dogs then you will find that your introvert friend may soon need to retreat to the bedroom for a nap.

I have a strong introverted personality and I’m married to an extrovert…. so the source for this blog is mostly personal experience.

I’ll leave you with this.  Introverts are like Glow-Worms. Extroverts need to get out into the sun, but we carry our sunshine inside.

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If you are unsure about where you fall on the “introversion/extraversion” scale, take this quiz.