Tag Archives: relationships

Top choices for July

Red computer mouse
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As you know, each post contains a choice for the day.  Looking at the choices which you read the most, these posts stood out from the crowd.  You can click the link, if you missed it the first time.  If you think these choices matter and can help someone you know, pass them on.

1.  Warning on pointless arguments, someone always gets stabbed

2.  Go ahead, bite the shark

3.  What lense are you using?

4.  6 reasons to see Cars 2

5.  Dancing in the daylight

6.  How do you find peace?

7.  Lessons from the garden: An unexpected guide to family growth (part 2)

8.  5 ways to make your marriage a team sport

9.  Superfood for the spirit

10.  Lessons from the garden: an unexpected guide to family growth

Thank you, dear friends, for taking the time with me to think through each one.

My choice today:

Celebrate successes.

Personhood appreciation versus depreciation

Wedding hugs
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We’ve lived through the appreciation of housing prices and their depreciation.  While the dollar depreciates, gold appreciates.  It’s an up and down world.  But what about people?

How well do we appreciate?

According to dictionary.com , appreciation is “the act of estimating the qualities of things and giving them their proper value.”  On the reverse side, depreciation means “to decrease in value due to wear and tear, decay, decline in price, etc. ”

If we apply those meanings to the people around us, are we value builders or value breakers?

I attended a conference years ago, headed by financial guru Ron Blue.  He taught about portfolios and people.  He stated, when we tear people down or devalue them, it’s like writing a check.  When we build up people and display their value, it’s like making a deposit.  If we want strong ongoing relationships, we must deposit more than we write.

According to studies conducted by UC Davis, grateful value builders show higher levels of life satisfaction, vitality, and optimism while displaying lower levels of depression and stress.  They demonstrate emotions one might associate with happiness, while not denying or ignoring negative aspects of life.  How do they do it?

5 steps to an appreciative life:

1.  Make a habit of being thankful every day.  Find something or someone to appreciate. 

2.  Write it down or vocally express the thankful thoughts.  Make it your own, not just a concept.

3.  Help others.  Getting your mind off yourself helps you to appreciate all you have.  Otherwise, you will get caught in the whirlpool of your own fears and opinions. 

4.  Nothing and no one is too little to appreciate. Starting small can be less intimidating and equally as valuable.

5.  Start by thanking God.  Even if you’re simply glad to exist, it’s a start.

For me, this appreciation builds as I think of you, dear readers.  I understand and appreciate why the Apostle Paul wrote this to friends in the town of Philippi, “I thank my God every time I remember you.” (Philippians 1:3)

I, too, thank God for each of you and your kind hearts.

My choice today:

Seek something or someone to appreciate. 

Why every grocery cart matters

Standard shopping cart, picture taken at a Weg...
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I read multiple blogs and news arenas online daily, seeking to discover what people need.  One thing I’ve noticed.  Common kindness isn’t as common as it used to be.  A few specific people give in outrageous ways, but day in and day out regular life lacks the visually kind moments.

A grocery cart could change that.

People assume others wants something.  They guard themselves from every intrusion: the random sales calls, online ads, facebook privacy settings.  We’re closing ourselves off from one another.  Why?

We’ve watched it multiple times.  People take advantage of one another.  Everyone’s out for themselves, or so it seems.

What can we do?  It’s our world, our home, our life, we don’t have to passively observe the actions of others and assume that’s it.  We can proactively take the reins in our space and break the mold.

We can choose kindness (one grocery cart at a time).

Not because we have something to gain, not because we’re such wonderful people, but because it matters.  Kindness in its various forms matters.

Where does your brain go when you imagine a kind act you personally could do?  Do you picture Bill Gates with all his lucrative approaches to world education and poverty? What about Oprah and her giving network of friends?

Since those guys are so generous, we can sit back and do nothing, right.  I don’t think so.  Our kind actions may weigh less on the scale of life, but invaluable they are not.  If one million me’s gave one million little kindnesses, we’d outweigh Oprah and Bill Gates.  Or we’d inclusively tip the scales so much, the world would do a double-flip for change.

I like double-flip change.  What about you?

Wondering about that grocery cart thing?  Allow me to share a story.

Years ago, a friend of mine prayed for ideas on how she could help others.  She didn’t know where to begin.  Standing in a parking lot, she felt like God told her to put away a grocery cart hanging out by itself.  Such a small thing, she thought, but she did it.

A few days after she told her story to me, I sat in my car waiting for food at In-and-Out Burger.  She had felt like it didn’t matter.  While I waited, the winter winds blew around my car.   Across the street, I watched a story play out.

One lone grocery cart began rolling across a predominately empty parking lot.  As the wind blew, it picked up speed.  It rammed itself into a parked truck.  From where I sat, I could easily make out the huge dent created by the cart.  Someone’s day had just become incredibly worse.  Then, I thought of my friend.

By moving the cart, she may have saved someone a bunch of money and the headache which inevitably would come.  She may have kept a day brighter for someone who’d already taken enough hits.  I don’t know the real impact of her kind act, but I believe it had an impact.

We can do that.  We can change the world one grocery cart at a time.

Here are 5 kindness ideas you could do today:

1.  Move a grocery cart (you knew I’d say that).

2.  Let someone pass you in line.

3.  Smile at others, whether they smile back or not.

4.  Buy a stranger a cup of coffee.  Next time you visit Starbucks, tell the guy at the counter you want to pay for the person behind you (maybe three people after you, but you get the idea).  Don’t claim credit, just pay the bill.

5.  Put away your neighbor’s garbage bins.  After it’s been picked up, if they keep the bins outside a locked area, pull them back for them. 

Feel free to come up with your own idea and keep the kindness coming.  In today’s tough times, a little kindness shows a little light, and a bunch of little lights really brighten a space.

My choice today:

Seek out a simple kind action and do it. 

If you like this post, be sure to pass it on to someone you know.  You can subscribe to this blog by entering your email in the top left corner.

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The gratification of a fierce burn

A young girl taking a break in a swimming pool...
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That’s right baby.  The summer sun beats down and pierces the skin through to the bone.  Finally.  I’ve been waiting for this.

You won’t find me charring my children in the car or craving summer cancer, but I love the feel of the heat.  While many hide from its piercing pressure I know the strength of this human body I’ve been given.  As a child, in Arizona’s 120’s I played outside and progressively build tough toes to retrieve balls from the street.

There’s wisdom in fearing the rages of summer, but once you know what you can do, there’s also freedom.

That’s how I see it when God works on helping me to become better than I’ve been.  The Bible refers to His work in my life as an all-consuming fire.  He cleans us in a refining fire, like the fire necessary to remove impurities from metal to make them more valuable.  Ouch!

In practical application, inviting God to refine me sounds painful, but so does 120 degrees farenheit, unless you know what to do.

It’s all about the water.  When you face massive heat, water is your best friend.  If I drive in the car, in Arizona, it takes a while for the air conditioner to dissipate the heat from the space.  So, there you sit, for maybe 5 minutes, in a car which could be as hot as 140 degrees.  Bring water, lots of it.  The super big gulp people make bucks in Arizona.

Jesus calls himself the living water.  That’s what we need, when the heat of life bears down on us.  Creative, embracing, fulfilling, living water.  Can you picture it?

The sun beats down, the sweat builds up, then out of the corner of your eye you see it, a pool.  It’s free and open to anyone.  It’s clean and the refractive light sparkles.  It’s calling out to you to leap in.

That’s what Jesus is like.  The tough stuff of life can strengthen us, if we have the proper tools to help us endure.  Without water, heat is just heat, and it does destroy.  The proper tool for enduring and even enjoying heat is water.  He cools us and calms us.  He refreshes and strengthens.

My Choice today:

Face whatever heat comes my way with a cool glass of water from the fountain that never runs dry, Jesus.

Related articles:

Relationship thoughts: Prepare for a wise spouse choice

Hands
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Are you single and struggling?  Are you challenged by the emotions you feel and the wisdom you hope you have?  Are you fed up with failing to see partner flaws only to find yourself flailing about like a fish who dreams of being tossed back into the water?

In my daily blog read, I adore the writings of Donald Miller.  He wrote the book Blue Like Jazz and has a blog which intrigues me.  Today, he announced his engagement and shared how his future spouse created a list of what she dreamt a husband would be.  Apparently, Donald fit the bill.

My heart did an Irish jig as I read.  I made a list too.

My husband of 14 years and I met when I was 28 years old.  The dating scene had shown me its pitfalls and I became frustrated.  On the suggestion of a friend, I made a list of who I hoped to meet and live out the rest of my life.  That was a tough task.

The idea of making a shopping list for a guy kind of weirded me out.  I don’t like being pinned down or put into a box.  Keeping options open has become a major past-time, but I ventured into list-land.  While writing the list, my emotions wrapped themselves around the guy of the moment I chose to date.  The challenge I faced involved being true to my thoughts in spite of my present emotions.

After finally penning my dream, I folded it and tucked it away.  I feared it didn’t matter, it couldn’t really happen anyway.

But, the list helped give me wisdom.  When I dated the next guy and found my emotions becoming stirred, I brought out the list.  He fit a few items, but not the whole, not some specific elements that really mattered to me.  It gave me courage to not continue the connection.

I assumed I’d need to water down my thoughts, but held tightly to those most precious.   Again, the list lost itself in a book which rested on my shelf untouched.

Then came Tim.

We dated more wisely than I had previously thought I could.  We grew as friends.  I respected him and his thoughts while not agreeing with everything.  He appreciated my unique idiosyncracies and I truly enjoyed his presence.  Time to check the list.

I figured he didn’t fit everything, because my expectations were unrealistic.  But it had provided wisdom earlier, so I sought it.  When I unfolded this unpretentious piece of paper, my finger went down my 34 items ( I think it was 34 items but on a recent household hunt I couldn’t find the list, so this is going from memory.)

He filled every one.  Fourteen years later, he still does.

What I imagined as an exercise in futility, became a flashlight switch in the dark tunnel of my life.  It gave me pertinent feedback I desperately needed to realize the vitality of the man before me.  Never could I have dreamt anyone would fit all my dreams.  But the man of my life did, and he was worth waiting for.

I’ve known men to make spousal lists too.  Michael Hyatt, another blogger I often read, made a list before meeting his bride Gail . They’ve celebrated 34 years of marriage.

If you’re on the hunt and want a path worth pursuing, a list is a great starting spot.  As Donald said in his post today, “Why not create a list?”

My choice today:

Think ahead on who I want to married, and be as detailed as I can.

Oh, Canada! What were you thinking?

Stanley Cup, on display at the Hockey Hall of ...
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It’s sad to witness how Canadian choices unfolded in dramatic ways last night.  Sorry, your guys lost the Stanley cup, but come on Canada,  we hoped for better.

Granted, I don’t have much room to talk, since I live in the Los Angeles area; home to multiple post game riots, post-game beatings, regular riots, and gang shootings.  Some how I thought people were wise enough not to see Los Angeles as a mentoring model on life.  I guess I was wrong.

Last night Vancouver broke out in riots, when the local Canucks failed to win hockey’s Stanley Cup in a game seven match up.  For a country whose national sport is hockey, I get the disappointment.

It’s understandable to feel frustration when your guys fail to complete the task in the way you’ve dreamed.  But, does it mean we must expect destruction and damage from energetic fans?  Come on people, get a life!  It’s a game, isn’t it? Or is it a deeper problem?

We’ve seen it here too.  At a Dodger baseball game, a zealous fan received a beating in the parking lot.  The justice system desires to right the wrong, but this is a heart issue which jail-time won’t solve.  And clearly, it’s contagious.  Now the nice Canadians are doing it.

It’s enough to make the average onlooker get ticked off and want to break something.  But has that solved the problem?

If expressing our anger helps us feel better, we should be seeing peaceful waving of flowers in the streets, but instead cars get tipped and fire thrown, because of the anger and hatred seething beneath our collective surface.

What’s the alternative?

You’re going to think I’m some sort of wacko, but what if, we choose to forgive. 

I know it’s a radical thought, but correct me if I’m wrong here.  It seems as if the riots and beatings are some expression of entitlement.  We feel slighted by life, and want to lash out, because we think we deserve better.  I say “we” because we all do it in some way.

Canadians live and breathe hockey, the idea that some Boston upstarts could come in and take away their trophy ticked people off.  My thought is they felt entitled.  They wanted to do something, anything, to express their anger at a loss of what should be theirs.

This mark on peaceful Canada’s reputation shows the way we all feel when our lives don’t work the way we want.  We sit on the freeway stuck by gridlock and find ourselves yelling out the window to the other guy, who’s equally stuck but he’s the only one we see.  He gets the brunt of our emotions.

We need to forgive the people who slowed down our day.  We need to forgive the obnoxious fan, who chose his words unwisely.  We need to forgive the stupid Bruins, who took the Stanley cup.  We need to forgive all those other people who’ve said the wrong thing at the wrong time and added to our personal pile of junk, which just became too heavy to carry and we exploded.    We need to forgive ourselves for not succeeding where we think we should.

We need to forgive Canada for a moment which we’ve lived previously.  I guess we really are all human.

For those of us who’ve heard or said the Lord’s prayer, one section speaks to this dilemma:

“And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.”  Matthew 6: 12 

Jesus brought forgiveness and hope to those of us who haven’t seen that personally.  His forgiveness enables us to forgive, and He asks us to pass it on to others.

My choice today:

I choose to believe in the possibility of forgiveness, and seek it out, and not wallow in my own self-loathing and self-pity. 

10 famous choices

Woman is thinking before making a choice.
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Great people make great choices and you’re one of those great people.  Here are others who’ve had to choose.  May this list sharpen the point on the pencil of your day.

1. “Women now have choices. They can be married, not married, have a job, not have a job, be married with children, unmarried with children. Men have the same choice we’ve always had: work, or prison.” Tim Allen

 

2. “God made a very obvious choice when he made me voluptuous; why would I go against what he decided for me? My limbs work, so I’m not going to complain about the way my body is shaped.” Drew Barrymore

 

3. “for you are a people holy to the LORD your God. Out of all the peoples on the face of the earth, the LORD has chosen you to be his treasured possession.” Deuteronomy 14:2 (the Bible)

 

4.  “Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.” John 7:17 (the Bible)

 

5.  “We are not animals. We are not a product of what has happened to us in our past. We have the power of choice.”Stephen Covey

 

6.  “If you had asked me back in grade school what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would have said my first choice was an actor, but if I couldn’t be that, I’d want to be a superhero.” Vin Diesel

 

7.  “Be miserable. Or motivate yourself. Whatever has to be done, it’s always your choice.” Wayne Dyer

 

8. “In the final choice a soldier’s pack is not so heavy as a prisoner’s chains.” Dwight D. Eisenhower

 

9.  “Every mind must make its choice between truth and repose. It cannot have both.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

10. “Every choice you make has an end result. ” Zig  Ziglar

For more see Paula on Twitter or Facebook.

 

Read more: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/choice.html#ixzz1OzkWUvRh

You’re welcome, no really, you are

Welcome
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We toss that expression out our mouths so fast.  Something happens, a kindness, a smile, allowing someone to pass us in the grocery line, and we say, “You’re welcome.”  But are they?

For some of us this is a skill, welcoming I mean.  I’ve known outrageously welcoming people.  One of my friends is so welcoming, she redesigned her home to make it more comfortable for others to visit.

I know people who greet you and smile and embrace each and every moment.  They are a blast to hang with.   It’s not like they hit servant mode or anything, they just make you feel good in their presence.  They invite people into their space regularly and enjoy it.

I want to be like them, but it doesn’t come easy.

For some people this is a natural skill, a spiritual gift possibly.  But all of us are designed to exist within a community.  We need it and want it, but don’t always know how to start.   I’m one of those non-natural starters, but that’s not going to deter me.  Don’t let it stop you either.

I want an open door attitude, in my house and in my heart.  The best way to start is to start.  Maybe I’m clunky and awkward, but hey, so was walking.  But now, I can prance down the street effortlessly.  This hospitality gig doesn’t have to intimidate.

I started learning how to welcome people.  While I don’t have it wired yet, I’m toddling better each day.  You can do it too.

Here’s what I’ve learned:

1.  Invite people over, even if it feels uncomfortable.  You’ll get over it.

2.  Understand that people decline invitations all the time, this isn’t a knock on you. A busy world creates busy people.

3.  Smile.  Whether the house is perfectly clean or the meal perfectly finished, smile.

4.  Remember the mantra, “If at first you don’t succeed,” a burnt meal is better than no meal at all, and Pizza Hut delivers.

5.  Be the welcome wagon. Don’t wait for invitations, you may end up just waiting.  Take initiative and risk opening your home.

The Bible gives us great examples of this which have stuck in my head, and it pulls me out of my lethargy when I’m tempted to shut the doors and hide in my abode.  You knew I was going to bring the Bible into this, didn’t you?

The apostle Paul welcomed people:

“For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him.” (Acts 28:30, NIV)

This is why he did it:

“We loved you so much that we shared with you not only God’s Good News but our own lives, too.”  (1 Thessalonians 2:8, NLT)

For those of us who struggle with a welcoming attitude, the question is clear.  Do we love enough to really share ourselves?

I say, “Discomfort be darned.  You are welcome, you really are.”

Give generously

o is for open
Image by Michael W. May via Flickr

Generosity

Open hands,   You understand,
Welcome me in,  Let me begin,

Generosity.

Working hard, Offer your car, 
Bags of clothes, How'd you know?

Generosity.

Let me give,  Watch me live,
Share your stash, Offer cash,

Generosity.

Invent dreams, Sew the seams,
Dig the dirt, Heal the hurt,

Generosity.

You care, You share,
You know, You go with

Generosity.

(I was inspired by my wonderfully generous friends.  May you know the generous inspiration of others.)

God bless.

Do you hear me now?

Human ear
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Have you ever known someone who loved the sound of their own voice?  You know the type.  They start a conversation on one item then continue to another, then another, barely breathing.  The mouth moves and it’s as if they’ve recorded each detail of every day in its totality.  When you get together, they push the play button and recite each moment as it happened.

You like this person.  They aren’t mean or anything like that, just chatty.  Actually they aren’t just chatty, they verbally vomit their day onto the least suspecting person.  Sorry, it’s true.

The listener

What can we do with a friend like this?  Here are some ideas:

1.  Exercise compassion.  They probably don’t realize their capacity to recall daily details.

2.  Recognize loneliness when you see it.  If they saved up all day, maybe no one connected or attempted to connect with them prior to you.   Maybe they spend much time alone and have lost conversational skill practice.

3.  Know the flow is coming and mentally set a timer.  They probably repeat this pattern, so you might as well recognize playback season for what it is. They will reach a finishing point, believe it or not.

4.  Make an effort to connect more regularly.  Yes, that’s what I said. More is better.  By having more regular contact with others,  the loneliness dissipates and true conversations can begin.

The speaker 

As you read this, perhaps you see something in yourself, maybe it’s you who has become the verbal vomit specialist.  How can you redirect and build better friends?

1. Ask questions first.  Before you play your recording, come up with questions you really want to ask other people.  When you ask, bite your lip and allow them to press play on their day.

2.  Listen more than you talk.  This will take great effort because the lips have had more practice than the ears, but there are two of them and maybe they need more use.  There is a danger though.  Listen with the purpose of truly hearing what the other person says, not just waiting for your chance to speak.

3.  Seek to know your friends better.  True friendships develop because we care about one another.  Your friends need to know you care about who they are not just their ears.

4.  Apologize early and often.  As they say in Alcoholics Anonymous, the first step is realizing you have a problem.  If your friends know you are working on this area of your life, they’ll be inclined to support and encourage you and maybe even listen more.

And what’s the Bible connect to all this listening and talking stuff?  Jesus often said, “Whoever has ears, let them hear.” (Matthew 13:9)  Funny, He never said, “Whoever has a mouth, let them talk.”  Just something to think about.

By the way, if I haven’t said it lately,  “I am sorry.”