Tag Archives: Unusual Choices

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.


Lessons from the garden: an unexpected guide to family growth (part 3)

Manure, a field in Randers in Denmark
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As I plucked invasive weeds from my yard, I found myself inspired by the plants that surrounded me.  This three-part series resulted from all my hard labor.

In part one, I shared about my love of plants and how  it taught me “Everyone is beautifully unique”. 

Part two allowed me to reveal three more lessons I learned, including:  we need others for success, watch out for weeds, and one person’s weed is another’s lily.

In part three, we’ll find out more about the nutrients which produce powerful growth and the odd places where they originate.

Lessons from the garden continued:

5.  Manure magic.

Yes, you are reading what you think you’re reading.  Poop does produce precious product.  Good mature comes loaded with outstanding nutrients.

I’ve watched it in action.  If the good gardener adds manure to their garden during the fall, by spring, you’ve got some gorgeous flowers and fruit. 

As a parent, we can interpret this truth to help us see the problems of life as ultimate blessings.  Much yuck can bring much yum.  But…and this is an important but (not butt), so listen carefully. 

If we toss manure onto the soil during the wrong season, it’ll fry the plants.  Manure added to plants in a hot land, during the hot season, makes the plants feel the heat stronger, and they fry.  Having said that, not all the poop which flies in the face of our family helps to strengthen it. 

As parents and spouses, we need to watch out for our beautiful garden (aka kids and hubby).  If someone flings poop their way, figuratively or literally, we need open eyes to see if it contains a possible blessing or if it’s just too much for this season of their lives. 

The wise gardener, scoops out unnecessary poop and protects an already hot plant.  Wise families do the same thing.  As I mentioned earlier, good gardeners get dirty. 

6.  Water brings wonderful refreshment

Gardeners use water to flick bugs away, cool plants, and feed them.  Rather than pesticide, many home gardeners prefer going out in the early morning to power spray bugs off foliage.  They do it because it works.  Some plants need the cooling mist water provides, and as we all know, without water any plant will die, even cactus. 

Where does a family get water?  Christ.  He’s the center of a strong family.  We simply cannot do it alone.  Throughout the Bible (old and new testaments) references pop up displaying God as living water.  Jesus claimed that title too as he spoke with a woman at a well. 

One of my favorite scriptural water references is found in Revelation 7:17

” For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; ‘he will lead them to springs of living water.’  ‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’ ”

His water protects us from that which would devour us.   He cools our anxious hearts.  And, only this type of water will ever fully nourish our family, and the more we seek it, the more we’ll find. 

My choice today:

Enjoy the water,  and keep my eyes open and ready for poop patrol, my family’s worth it.

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

National flower of Ethiopia
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Have you  wanted to grow a strong family?  The principles of growth surround us daily and provide learning opportunities.

Lessons from the garden continued:

2.  We need others for success.

Some plants, like marigolds, deter pests from other vegetation.  Some plants provide necessary shade for others.  Daylilies make great rose neighbors because of their noninvasive roots.  The differences complement and strengthen one another.

The same is true within a family.  One child may not follow the same patters as another but will still find value in their mutual connection.  The shy child may appreciate and need the outgoing brother or sister.  The energetic one needs the calming nature of their polar opposite.  This complimentary status applies to parenting styles too.  One parent may serve as disciplinarian while the other’s calm assertive gifts sooth the family.

3.  Watch out for weeds.

No matter the terrain, weeds sneak in and disturb solid growth.  They can blend in with soil at first.  Suddenly, they burst up and choke your precious plants.  In order to save the plants, the weeds must go.  This requires getting dirty and digging or pulling them out by hand.

The same is true with people in our lives.  Some people cause us and our family more harm than good.  We have to weed them out of our lives. Cutting out people weeds is just as messy, or more so, than the plant form.  Some people don’t wish for removal and put up a fight.  But in the interest of personal growth, the value of weeding shows itself in family productivity and beauty.

4.  One person’s weed is another’s Lily.

Having mentioned the need to weed, let me also add, occasionally we discover the beauty of some weeds.  Within our yard, we had the most annoying big leaf thing sprouting by our patio, where we wanted grass to grow.  For two years, we chopped it down with the weeder-eater.  Out of curiosity, the third year, we let it grow.  The weed in question grew into a fountain shape and bloomed a Calla Lily.  It lit up a corner of our garden with amazing beauty.

At first, some people seem weed-ish.  They bring unexpected discomfort to our lives.  Their way of doing things differs from ours.  But with care, an open heart, and an appreciation for their uniquenesses, they can bloom so beautifully.  Discerning the good weed from the bad can prove challenging and isn’t appropriate for everyone.

But, as confidence allows, you might discover your own Calla Lily.

My choice today:

Tend the garden that is my family.

(coming tomorrow, part 3, final lessons from the garden.)

Lessons from the garden: an unexpected guide to family growth

The Japanese Garden in Spring.
Image via Wikipedia

The outdoors inspires me like nothing else.  It’s colors and shapes, scents and sensations all grab my imagination and stir my thinking.  I love taking a walk with our stubby dog, Wall-e, and looking at the variety of plants which decorate our roadside.

Have you ever really looked at a garden or even the plants in the neighborhood?

In Pasadena, California sits the Huntington Gardens.  Within a few acres, you stroll through a cactus garden into a rose garden which neighbors a Japanese garden and even orange groves sprout within reach.  Its variety entices the senses.

I began gardening at my home in my early twenties.   Years later, I’m still expanding my little gardening prowess, and have unexpectedly learned much about people and families because of it.

It’s become a guide to helping me and my husband grow our family. Today, we begin a series called “Lessons from the garden”. Maybe it could help you too.

Lessons from the garden:

1.  Everyone is beautifully unique. 

From the stature of a pine tree to the delicate tulip, each plant carries its beauty on its proverbial sleeve. Were the world loaded with only one plant, we’d be bored beyond belief.   Take a walk and notice the different tones of green or shapes of leaves.  They tip up or sideways.  Some flower petitely and some burst with gigantic blooms.  Appreciating a garden means taking it all in.   

In the same way plants grow uniquely within their space, so do children and families.  One could say, “A rose is a rose,” but it wouldn’t be true.  Based on location, how it was planted, what kind of attention it receives and what attempts to attack it, each rose grows differently as does each child.  Some need more attention and some flourish with little effort but the beauty exists within both. 

“The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.”  Isaiah 58:11 


My choice today:

Notice the unique beauty in each member of my family.

(coming tomorrow- more unexpected lessons from the garden)

Parenting blessings (the things I love)

Calliope Hummingbird / Stellula calliope - fem...
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Parenting has down sides, but sometimes it’s good to focus on the blessings.  If we don’t fully embrace each moment we might miss them and what a tragedy it would be.  As I look out my window and listen to the kids playing in the other room, I can’t help but feel blessed.

The definition:

blessing:  a special favor, mercy, or benefit

The List:

1.  Outrageous laughter which fills the air.

2.  Different types of expressions. (One who owns something must be an owner.  The toy dogs call out “Owner!”)

3.  Morning hugs.

4.  Creative energy.  (The experience of making baskets into bedrooms for dolls or foil into shoes.)

5.  Generous forgiveness.  (When one messes up, instantaneously the other says “I forgive you”, and means it.)

6.  My personal rooting squad.  (When something goes well, they cheer.) 

7.  Empathy central.  (When it goes badly, they feel the pain.)

8.  Fabulous fighting.  (Nothing gets held back and then it’s out there, ready to be dealt with.)

9.  Each day brings new adventure.

10.  Chubby cheeks packed with marshmallows.

11.  Loothe tooth lithps.  (loose tooth lisps)

12.  Sparkling eyes of energy.

13.  Watching brain development each year, and the surprises it brings. (“Dry ice comes from carbon dioxide which is CO2 and when it melts it becomes gas.”…today’s eleven year old observation in the grocery store.)

14.  Flopsy dancing on tippy toes.

15.  Elbows rammed into my stomach, always on accident.

16.  T.V. cuddles.

17.  Surprise kisses. 

18.  Grocery cart rides and how they change over the years.

19.  Nighttime prayer and Bible which they request daily.

That’s my list, why don’t you add your own ideas. 

My choice today:

Appreciate my children. 

Question therapy

question mark
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How many questions do you ask in the course of day?  Not internally, but out loud.

If I really allow myself to think it through, many parts of my day include questions.  What’s the best time of day to buy gas?  When will the sun go down? How much is that? Why are my children screaming in the other room?

But how often do we genuinely ask what’s on our mind?

I sat down one day with a lovely lady who wanted to get to know me better.  I also wanted to know her.  She began by expressing interest in what I’ve done in the past.  I found myself sharing.  As I shared, her intrigue grew, she asked another question.  Not prodding or in any way annoying, she genuinely wanted to know more about me.

When our time together had finished, she had learned much about me and I felt great, but I knew so little about her.  I didn’t ask the proper questions.  I didn’t ask much at all.  It made me wonder how she felt when we finished talking.

Now I sit in my home, near the most precious people in the world to me.  Have I asked them good questions today?  There’s an art to good questions.  They flow from our experiences without being predetermined.  One question ignites the next because of our genuine care and concern for others.

If my girls and my husband are to know how much I value them, I must ask questions.  The more I inquire, the better I’ll become at the art of question asking.  I’ve seen this within my home already.

This might make you think you’ll never get to share your stuff.  Maybe.  But so far, I’ve seen quite the opposite.  The better and more caring my questions become, the more they inspire questions from my children, just like my friend inspired me.

Let’s imagine this experience as life continues.  The more questions I ask, the better I get at asking questions.  The more my family shares, the better we know each other.  We become closer.  We understand each other more.  We converse on multiple topics without fear throughout our lives.

Now that’s how a family should work, don’t you think?

If this is something you struggle with, take the challenge with me today.  Make a plan to ask more questions than you answer.  At first it might be difficult, because you haven’t had much practice.  But in the same way we learn to walk and spit our watermelon seeds, we can do this.

My choice today:

Ask more questions than I answer. 

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6 reasons to see Cars 2

250 px
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Our family made a plan, we read an online listing telling what to expect in movies this summer.  Only one caught the mutual family eye.  That’s right, one

Cars 2.

Since movies have become so amazingly expensive, we don’t want to catch gazillion mediocre flicks.  One good one will do.  Of course that places serious pressure on the movie to come through.  I mean, mathematically speaking, even at an early play time, watching the regular version (no IMAX or 3D), if you include the snacks for the family, the event cost us $67.00.

Can I hear a Mater-like, “DANG”?

Again, that flick better rock.  And it did.

Here are our family’s reasons for enjoying CARS 2:

1.  It’s family history.  We own the original CARS and love the music and the characters. Continuing the journey ignites the engine of our family.

2.  Action and adventure.  From the moment the pictures began dancing on the big screen, we saw chases, mystery, intrigue and a CARS take on Tokyo, Paris and London.  (Let’s just say Lightning McQueen vacuum cleaner ads in lights)

3.  Friendship factor.  Much like the first CARS, this one holds true to the value of friendship.  In spite of previous lessons learned, you can take those same cars and put them into a different space and the lesson becomes new.

4.  Tension hugs.  As the action picked up, our kids clung close to mom and dad.  They felt the tension and sought parental security.  We happily obliged.

5.  Roaring laughter.  Pixar knows that perfect balance with tension and release as they help kids to enjoy learning vital lessons.  When the release came, our munchkins burst out with outrageous giggles worth bottling and selling.

6.  Memories.  When all was said and done, our youngest informed us that we will, of course, need to buy this movie when it comes out on DVD.  Thus the memories continue.

(other less noteworthy reasons for parents to like this one: no bad language, mediocre violence, same great characters with extras added, great relationship building skills.)

As you can tell, we enjoy our movie fun, but if you aren’t movie people, check that list again.  These are vital criteria for any family experience worth doing.

My choice today:

Have fun with my family that uniquely fits my family.

How to build healthy family habits

The Andy Griffith Show
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As parents, we ache to see our families succeed.  Our hearts long for that picture perfect, almost Andy Griffith life.  Okay, so Andy Griffith is old and black and white, but come on, they never argue and always encourage with the right words at the right moment.  Who doesn’t want that?

Our families are outrageously complicated, but we do have multiple choices to help our family develop into the true beauty we’ve always dreamt it would be.

Here are a few ideas I’ve discovered about building a healthy family:

Where to start?

1.  Becoming a better lover   is a post about what real love is, how to identify it, experience it and give it.

2.  Family goals is a poll on what kind of goals you have for your family.  Use it to get you started thinking about your goals.

3. Plans for the family journey shows our family’s goal setting process.  Making the goal is the first step toward getting there.

4.  Did you know you are a mentor? helps parents to look at their roles in a new light.

The discipline dilemma

1.  Unwrapping the ropes of fear, one bite at a time  enables us to face our fears.  One big fear parents face centers around the arena of discipline.  Let’s not get tied up any longer.

2.  Do you hear me now? reminds us to value the ears we’ve been given.  The better we listen, the better we’ll know how to connect with our kids in vital ways that matter.

3.  Even a garden requires discipline opens our eyes to the value of boundaries in the lives of our children.

4.  Does solid discipline create a solid disciple? For those of us who long to see our kids grow closer to Christ, discipline plays a huge role in that development. 

5.  Put on a helmet, you’ve pummeled the wall too long encourages us to look at our struggles from a different angle. 

Breaking the mold

1.  Overcoming chaos in our lives is a post about how easily we can get caught up in what other people think we should do.  Let’s break the mold and allow our family to be unique by not enabling chaos to control our decisions.

2.  Build your day one hour at a time allows us to slow down and think about the start and not the finish.

3.  You’re welcome, no really, you are reminds us of the value of hospitality, teaching it and living it.

4.  Why we don’t do the toothfairy, and never will enables us, as parents, to choose our family traditions.  We set the plan for our kids, and we can do it creatively and joyfully.

5. 6 steps to a smooth summer lets us break the mold by stepping outside the norm and appreciating the warmth of each day.

Further food for thought

1.  Things I never ate until I had kids helps us bond with one another over the issue of food and how it changes when parenthood comes.

2.  Stay-at-home stereotypes revealed – cooking shows all of us who stay at home, there isn’t just one way to do it. 

3.  Feed that family reminds us, we all gotta eat, right? It contains great ideas to help us feed ourselves and our family.

4.  Feeding children to hear and receive God’s word is a post about a different kind of food, one that matters just as much or more than the traditional pyramid shows.

My choice today:

Learn more to do more, and begin building a healthy family.

Food for thought: things I never ate until I had kids

Peer pressure’s strength endures, but parental self-pressure outweighs it every time.  Here are five foods I never ate, until I became a parent.

1.  Sweet potatoes

2.  Fried kale chips

3.  Butternut squash soup

4.  Lemonade, made with lemons

5.  Star fruit

My choice today:

Try something new.

Dad you are…

Photo taken by me as an example of a stay at h...
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The one with the strength.

The one with wisdom.

You bring chuckles to my heart.

You educate and illuminate in dark times.

Creativity bursts from your finger tips.

Rooms pause to hear your thoughts.

When you sing, the birds listen.

Even your name makes me smile.

Calmness reigns in your presence.

You know what I need.

I never want to hurt you,

but you’ve been hurt by others.

It pains me to recall

When people turn their backs on you.

They shouted and yelled and spit.

They challenged your authority.

And you took it.

You didn’t bicker or continue the argument

That’s how I know your strength.

I want mirror you, Dad.

Making you smile is my personal touchdown.

Who is everything I ever wanted as a friend and a guide?

Dad, You are.

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