Monday, August 25, 2014

Love Languages

At the request of some of my youth group kids, I am going to TRY to post some of my youth group lessons here. Probably not consistently, but hey, when have I ever been consistent with blogging!?

When we talk about love languages, we are not just talking about Oooo La La love. We are talking all types of love. Love is found among family, friends and those of interest in the opposite sex.

Many times you will hear people say love is not a feeling, it is a choice, action, decision, etc While this is true to some extent, we all know we must feel something also! There are people you meet and you just click (as friends or more) and people who just rub you the wrong way. I don't believe that every single person was made to be close friends with every single other person (friendship is different then treating people respectfully no matter what!). Sometimes it is a personality conflict, other times a misunderstanding or problem with perception on either part.

I had this experience vividly with one woman. When we were in the same Sunday School class it always came across to me that her answers were better than any others. She would respectfully let others answer then it always felt like she had to address their answer. I got to the point where I would avoid certain classes because she would be in them. I realized this was only hurting ME and not bothering her a bit so I prayed and got the feeling I was supposed to get to know her better. WHAT! So not the answer I wanted! I wanted to hold on to my negative feelings! After much time and an attitude change on MY part, I now see her heart. She AGREED with the answers given by others and was simply adding her thoughts. Maybe not the same way I would, but not belittling as I had perceived it either.

Opening myself to God on this did two things, it made me rethink how I view people and not be so quick to judge base on my initial impressions. I may still end up with people I simply don't click with, but I TRY not to view them judgmentally or negatively.

All of that to say, be sure to examine what you are bringing into each and every relationship and start recognizing how that plays into the feelings of "love" you have. Bring it to God. Give Him your negative feelings and ask for Him to open your eyes to the positive things about those people. Take your positive feelings to Him and ask Him to guide you in this and show you areas of concern if this is not a relationship He wants in your life.

So as we enter a few lessons on love languages, we need to think about why we desire love; what love looks and feels like for us in different relationships; and how we give love naturally. if we are expressing our love to someone one way but they don't receive love that way, we both miss out. They feel unloved, we feel unappreciated and misunderstood and frustration and anger often follow. This is a huge part of the breakdown of any relationship.

We were designed to seek relationships. Our creator declared that not only did He desired relationship with us, but we were to desire relationship with each other. In Genesis 2:18 the Bible clearly tells us "The Lord God said, 'It is not good for the man to be alone I will make a helper suitable for him.'". In Genesis 3:8-9 we are told "Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in  the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, 'Where are you?'". He was actively seeking Adam and Eve. Desiring to interact with them. And He didn't design us to only seek relationship with each other in a romantic way, but true community with others. 1 Corinthians 1:9-10 tells us "God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful. I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so there may be no divisions among you and that you might be perfectly united in mind and thought."

From our desire to seek relationship comes a desire to connect. We want to interact with others in a meaningful way. It leads to our desire to pray and connect with God and our need to talk, some more than others! Mark 12:33 says "To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all the burnt offering and sacrifices." WOW! This implies a desire to connect on a deeper, more meaningful level. This desire gives us the power to demonstrate acceptance and friendship or the power to harm others with our rejection. This is a powerful tool in today's world.

In addition to wanting to connect, we want to take care of others, and be taken care of in return. Philippians 4:19, "And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus." This isn't just holding hands, scratching someone's back or rubbing their feet (which are all wonderful things!) but true nurturing of all needs, physical and emotional. It drives mothers to feed, shelter and clothe their children, fathers to provide and people in general to truly care about the people around them. Think of and share some ways you feel compelled to nurture those around you. Is it different for family, friends, etc?

We need to feel important or special. Our self-worth or self-esteem comes into play. When we believe that others do not find us valuable (true or not), we start to believe that we are not valuable. As we recognize this need in ourselves, we should begin to recognize the need to fill this need in others. Choose to uplift and encourage others, even when you don't feel like it.

Questions to ponder:

1. What is love to you? Why do you have that view of love?

2. Have you had times where your first impression of someone (either positive or negative) was skewed by what you bring into a relationship and later that impression was changed? Would you share why you think caused the first impression and what triggered the change?

3. What is your first thought when someone says love? Does something in your history figure into your perception of love? Do you think your view of love is healthy or unhealthy? Why?

4. Everyone is at a different place in life, remembering that there are no right or wrong answers, do you feel like your need for connection is seriously lacking, okay, pretty well taken care of, or kinda spotty (Good in some areas, lacking in others)? How can you fix any problem areas?

5. Everyone connects differently. What does connection look like to you in relation to your family? Friends? Church? (Ex: Hanging out, playing games, watching TV, eating meals, conversations, Bible Study, etc.)

6. Just like we all feel connected in different ways, we all feel nurtured or the need to nurture in different ways. What does that look like for you? Is it different with the different people in your life? If so, why?

7. The dreaded self-esteem! Where do you stand? (Low, middle, high) Good in some areas, struggling in others? More importantly, do you share that with others, seeking their help in boosting the lows and viewing the highs objectively? Why or why not?

8. What if anything, really touched you about this lesson? Why?


As you can tell, the above lesson was directed at my youth group. I am pretty much including everything and encouraging the people who read it to really think about it. If you feel comfortable commenting, answering questions, etc. Feel free! I will gladly read those comments! I look forward to seeing what you think!

Suz

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Forgiveness

As I have led my Super Random, God Filled, Crazy People this summer I have pushed. I have pushed them to step out of their comfort zone, become leaders, pray out loud, learn to ask for help, work together, etc.

This week my daughter taught on forgiveness. She had a great start to her lesson. She worked alone and she was prepared...for a very short lesson! It was GREAT to see other kids step in, take the lesson a step farther and see where God led them! I was so awed!

And the lesson that could have gone no where fast......kids from the group quoted some of it in facebook! So it actually hit home!

You know their take away from the lesson?

Forgiveness is like a cut, it will heal, but it will leave a scar. Sometimes that makes you stronger, if you let it. THEN they realized that it is only that way from a human standpoint, from GOD'S standpoint, it can heal completely!

WOW! I'm impressed!

A few were honest and admitted they struggled with forgiveness. One said he struggled with hurt feelings when forgiveness was given to him but trust didn't follow. The whole leaving a scar and needing time to heal thing hit home with him. It was GREAT to see God take a small lesson and make it impactful!


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Many thoughts, little time!

WOW! It has been a LONG time since I wrote anything!

I have been busy living life and running my business. This week I am involved in the Build Your Bundle Homeschooling Book sale (https://www.buildyourbundle.net/affiliates/idevaffiliate.php?id=422) so I have been anticipating TONS of business. Well, it isn't so much a flood, but a tiny trickle so far! Here is hoping though. It is only day two!

I sit here knowing the sun is shining the kids are happy with Grandma, the house is a mess and I went to a meeting this morning to learn how to use Twitter and learned nothing about it, but did get some good insight and networking time with other business owners.

I am learning that there is TONS involved with owning and operating a business that I never considered and I have struggled to feel like I needed to be an expert at it all and I am learning that it is OKAY to not be perfect in every area, as long as you are able to delegate to someone qualified. Sigh, now to find qualified people! :-)

I start a new chapter in life here soon, homeschooling. Yep, we took the leap and are going to homeschool some of the kids. The oldest will stay in school, but the Freshman and 3rd grader will come home and my 4 year old will start a Pre-K/K combo this year. We will see how it goes! I am revved up and they are excited but when reality sets in it may be a different story! I am going to do a post about it once we get going on that!

Have an amazing day if you took the time to read this and let me know you are out there!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Painful Lessons

A few weeks ago for her birthday I got my oldest daughter a hand-fed, peach-faced, love bird. She was BEAUTIFUL!



I really wasn't convinced my daughter would like having a bird around. I thought it might be like all the other animals we had tried in the past (guinea pigs, rabbits, dogs, cats, fish, even our horses!) and it would be a cool novelty for the first few days then the reality of taking care of it would set in and she would be kinda ignoring the bird, etc. I was fully prepared to have to take over the care and keeping of the bird myself.

From the day she arrived and ended up being named Kuruka (Swahili for fly), the bird and Rebekah were best friends. If Rebekah was home, the bird was on her shoulder or with her in some way. They bonded in a way I had never seen.

Yes, you can see what is to come. The child who always left the bird with me when she went in the laundry room with the dogs, one time forgot, then played with the dog, knocking the bird off her shoulder, dog thought bird was toy, grabbed bird. Bird died. Pain hit! HARD! Both for my daughter and I.

For starters we had both bonded with the bird. Second, I hurt because I got my daughter something, in the best of intentions, to bring her joy. Instead it brought her heartache and pain. I felt like I had failed as a Mom in not shielding her and protecting her from that pain. I feel guilty for not reminding her to keep the bird and the dog apart. I felt guilty for not knowing how to keep the bird from dying in my hands a few minutes later.

We are still working through the pain in this house, but I am also seeing the lessons. When tough times hit in life, you can close your eyes and plow ahead and chose to never remember them again, you can choose to wallow in them, constantly returning and getting sucked back into that pain and not letting go of it, or you can choose to learn the lessons that every trail can teach. Rebekah is learning that in the future she will be a lot more careful with her actions. She learned that she LOVED having a bird and she wants another one (which is ordered and will be hatching in the next couple of weeks and arriving here in another 9 weeks or after that). I am learning that as much as I wanted to shield my child from such pain, I can't, but I can help her through it. I can help her learn not to let the pain ruin her life. I can encourage her that even though it hurts, the love is worth it (being widowed, I can identify with that in the scary step of loving again and remarrying!) and that life is for living, not trying to hide from the pain the way Kuruka hid under Rebekah's pony tail!














And though it is hard and painful and we can't see ever loving another bird quite like we did Kuruka, we are learning to stretch our wings, cock our heads, perch on a high spot and examine our world with the wonder and awe of a young bird. Sometimes the perch isn't the safest or the most comfortable, but it is still worth trying! So we are going to get another bird, open our hearts to love, let others in and stop trying to wrap up in bubble wrap for protection!


Have you experienced pain in your life? Has your instinct been to wallow in it, hide from it, plow through it? How did that one work for you?

God didn't call us to protect ourselves from all hurt and pain. He called us to open ourselves to His love and sharing it. It may not be comfortable but that is what we are going to do!

So as we look at pictures and remember, we will also look forward with hope that we will have another amazing bird in the future and until then, we are going to choose to wallow in God's love to comfort the pain. Who wants to wallow with us?




Saturday, June 29, 2013

Fruit Cocktail Cake and Memories

Sounds funny doesn't it? And maybe kinda yucky! Fruit Cocktail Cake. The first time my mom ever told me to get out the recipe I remember looking at her like she was nuts!

My nutty look must not have gone un-noticed because my mom told me that way back during the depression my grandma had this recipe for cake that didn't use milk. It was not uncommon to improvise things back then and I guess this was an improvision that they liked so well, they kept the recipe. I admit it, I had heard of ritz cracker apple pies that are made of crackers but supposed to taste like apple pie. I just don't buy it! So this idea of using fruit cocktail in a cake had me leery. Of course, this was BEFORE we made it.

After we made the fruit cocktail cake, I thought we messed it up! It was darker brown than most cakes, it was moist and one of the huge things I don't like about cake is that dryness so I thought we did something wrong! Mom reassured me that this was right. As we ate the cake I was in shock! This is a cake that is moist! And yummy!

Over the years I forgot the recipe even existed (am I the only one that does that?) but as I grew and got married and was moving out on my own, one thing I did was to go to Mom's recipe box and go through each recipe! You know, you don't think about it, but when you live at home and the box is there and you KNOW you have the recipes, you don't need them, but once you are on your own and you have to call and ask for the recipe a few times, you go with a bunch of cards and start copying! I found this recipe again during that trip to Mom's recipe box.

Of course, I didn't write it as nicely as Mom and I don't make it that often because it is still a cake and therefore not that healthy. Mom has made it with Splenda instead of sugar (I can't stand artificial sweeteners ever but it can be done!) For me what matters is the memories. When I make it, I remember that time I thought my mom was nuts (yes, there were PLENTY of other times I thought that and when I get that look from MY daughters, I try to extend grace!) and I remember my grandma (who would have been 101 this year). And I smile!





I still haven't learned how to put little arrows and such, but you can clearly see the marachino cherry in the bottom left corner. We add extras because our family LOVES them, but they are not required!


Fruit Cocktail Cake

2 Cups Flour
2 Cups Sugar
2 Eggs
1 Tsp. Salt
1 Tsp Vanilla (I use a bit more, but I make my own vanilla and have plenty on hand)
2 Tsp Baking Soda

Mix it all up. Then drain into separate bowl one large can fruit cocktail. Dump JUST the fruit into the batter. IF it is really dry, add some of the juice you drained, until you get a cake batter texture. 

Pour into 8 x 8 x 2 pan. (hint, if you triple the recipe it perfectly fills TWO 9 x 13 pans) Then you have one for a carry in and one to leave at home! ;-)

Bake at 325 for about 50 minutes. Then enjoy! 

As you can see from the picture, this is not typically frosted. I am sure it COULD be, but we never have. It truly doesn't need it!

If you try this recipe, let me know what you think!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Sleep, Bedtimes

I admit it, I feel like ranting! So I'm throwing this out there...does ANYONE out there have bedtimes for their children and if so, what are they?

My children have bedtimes, summer and winter, spring and fall, weekends and weekdays. I'm mean.

My children are ages 14, 13, 7 and 3. For this summer the 14 and 13 year olds have an 8:30 bedtime. I know they don't actually shut off the light and settle until closer to 9 and that is okay. Heading to their rooms helps relax them and get them started down the road to sleep. The younger two are in bed between 7:30 and 8:00 depending on how grumpy they are!

I know MANY people who think I am too strict, too mean, too unreasonable, too mean...you name it and I have heard it!

My 8 year old nephew had a little league ball game last night that was supposed to START at 8:00 PM! That is crazy! By 8 pm, 8 year old boys need to be settling, calming, reading stories with Mommy and getting tucked in! Not starting a baseball game! But wait, the team before them took too long so their game didn't START until about 8:45! Yes, 8:45 at NIGHT! Then it is supposed to last an hour and a half! Do the math! If a storm hadn't blown up and made them call the game, my nephew could have been playing ball until 10:15 at night! Allowing time to get home and go STRAIGHT to bed he would still have been up until at least 10:40. I don't even stay up that late!

I have noticed a pattern with sports. It is crazy, they expect hours of practice, they expect game times and practice times that make family meals virtually impossible, but it isn't just sports, all sorts of clubs and such are working to fit in around all the others and have crazy schedules! What happened to families settling down and spending some quiet time together?

So I am curious, am I an oddity or do you all have bedtimes and such for your children?

I am also the mean Mom who expects her children to actually get up all summer long! They do NOT get to sleep away the day. Their bodies do better on a schedule so they get to keep closer to their school schedule!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Do you have stress?

HA! What a question! Do you have stress? Don't we all? But the important question is how do you deal with it?

I have realized something lately....we all try to deal with it ourselves! Why do we do that to ourselves? That actually just piles on MORE stress! But realistically, why do we do that? I know for me I try to deal with it myself for a variety of reasons. I don't want to bother my family or friends. I know everyone else has enough junk to deal with and I don't want to bother them, add to their stress or a variety of other things. I sometimes feel like it is a weakness to admit I need help. I sometimes am embarrassed that I can't deal with it as well as I feel I should. Or think I am stressed over things that don't stress other people.

Anyone else ever feel like that?

Well, I was thinking about it today and I remembered...yeah, I know, a bit late, that I don't HAVE to deal with stress alone! For starters, I have God. An amazing and wonderfully loving God who WANTS me to come to him with my stress! And even if I don't go to him, he knows anyway. It isn't like with a friend that I can try to not bother them and they are clueless.

So as I sit here today, trying NOT to focus on all the millions of things I need to get done, or how stressful the evening running around will be, I am resting in him. I am relaxing and knowing that he will be with me today no matter what I go through. He knows all the things I forget and how important they are. He knows how I try to keep organized (and fail!). He knows what works for me and what frustrates me. He also helps me remember and try new things to see what works for me. I have to CHOOSE, DAILY, to trust that he is with me no matter what. That doesn't make the stress go away, it just makes it easier!

So, how can I deal with stress, since it DOES exist and I can't avoid it? First, I am going to acknowledge it. I am stressed. Partially because of things I can control and partially because of things I can't control. Identifying what you CAN control is next. If you are in charge of it and it stresses you, figure out how to change that! For me, I am an avoider. If I know something is going to stress me or be difficult, I avoid it. Then I stress and worry because it isn't done. DUH! If I would just do it and get it over with, then yes, I would have some stress, but then it would be done! We did that with our taxes this year. Usually we have them done in early February but this year with our exchange student we weren't really sure how to do them so we just kept putting them off. Yep, right up until Sunday. Then it turned out they were pretty easy and we cheated ourselves out of our return for quite a long time! Sounds silly, but we did it!

After I change the things that I CAN change and acknowledged that I can't change some things, I have to change my attitude. I spend a lot of time frustrated by the things I can't change. Like that does any good, right? So instead, when there are things beyond my control I am working on REGULARLY and CONSISTENTLY giving them to God. Simply acknowledging that he is in control of the situation and he sees the big picture is pretty comforting. Some people will rely on a Bible verse or a phrase that calms or comforts them. It doesn't happen overnight.

The last thing I am really working on is to STOP! Stop worrying, stop fretting and mostly stop dwelling on the negatives. This became clear to me last week when I had a really busy week and I was REALLY looking forward to my Friday home...all day....just me and James....working on business stuff....blogging....hanging out....catching up on chores.....etc. Hmmm....was that God's plan? Apparently not. I had a friend who had her dad die that morning. So I grabbed some food and headed to her house. I felt really silly because I took a laundry basket (yes, really) full of "stuff" and it is a friend that even though we get along, we don't spend that much time together so I wasn't entire confident that she "needed" me. So I packed up my food and my makings for chai and I headed over there. I parked myself in her kitchen, made chai, started a meal in the crock pot and basically hung out and listened to her talk. I let my little man play with her children and distract them. I stressed that I wasn't doing enough and yada yada yada. Then God knocked on my heart and told me it wasn't about ME...it was about HER. I was filling a need. Even if I didn't feel useful. And all of the sudden, my stress left. I wasn't worried about what I WASN'T doing. I was just enjoying strengthening a friendship. I was not worrying about all the "Stuff" and I was worrying about my friend. Yes, it was a really long day. No, I didn't get anything done that I had planned, but I followed God's plan and I felt no stress about what I didn't get done. It was still all waiting for me on Saturday!

So today is another day when I could stress, lots to do, unsure of the exact schedule, a long list of things to do, etc. And yet, I am at peace. God is in control and I am allowing that. And just since I started typing this, one of the things that I was regretting saying yes to because it was causing me a scheduling conflict and some stress got cancelled. See, calm down, focus on God and give him the stress. He is so much better at dealing with it than I am! I think I will head out to finish my day calmer and less stressed, more focused on him today!

How will you handle your stress today? Alone or with Him?

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