Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Love Languages: Words of Affirmation

Words are powerful. Some people feel them more than others. Negative words replay through your head, dragging you down. The flip side is that positive words can replay and lift you up. Yet let me ask you this.....how many times do we complain? How many times do we encourage? We go to a restaurant and the service is terrible, the waiter is rude, the service is slow, the order is wrong and we want the manager! We want it fixed! How many times is the service good and we don't say a word? We just assume people don't need to be told or think that is just their job so we don't need to comment! Personally, I make it a point to leave a note or word of encouragement on those occasions. I hunt down the manager and make a point to say something GOOD about good service.

I've heard it said that for every negative thing we hear, we need to hear 5 positive things to counteract it. I've heard it takes 10 or 20 positives. But I don't think of it as a tally sheet. You learn from the negative AND the positive, but you feel better learning from the things you are doing right! So what do we do? We get in the habit of using more positive things than negative in our daily lives with everyone!

So what exactly are words of affirmation?

Praise: recognizing and acknowledging accomplishments and efforts SINCERELY! Fake things do no good! People know when you are just sicking up and when you are being real! You can praise even failures as long as you are genuine in recognizing the effort.

Affection: Not just the words "I love you" even though that can be very important too. But people we care about need to hear that they are important and valuable to us. They need to hear that we recognize and acknowledge the things in their life that are important to them and that we see those things as positive, even if they are not equally important in our lives. I may not LOVE to do the same things as my husband or children, but I can encourage them to pursue the things that make them happy instead of grumbling about the time, effort or money those pursuits take. This is MORE than a generic "good job" occasionally.

Affirmation and Acknowledgement: Not only do the people around us want us to affirm them, but they want us to do it in public too. Think about it, when someone tells you something positive about yourself, it feels good. When they tell you that same thing in front of other people, it feels even better. We perceive it to be more real or true.

So now that we have touched on the basics of words of affirmation: praise, affection, affirmation, acknowledgement; we need to talk about what it really looks like to give and receive it.

Some guidelines for giving words of affirmation include being genuine, being timely and being low key. When we are genuine, people can tell. It is more than just the words we say. It involves tone, facial expressions, body language...things that go beyond the words we are saying.

You have probably all had an experience where someone has said all of the right words but you just knew they didn't mean it. My mom used to tell me "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all" and I would add "AND MEAN IT!" People aren't stupid. They can tell when something being said is genuine. Actually, things that are not really meant are almost more harmful that things not said at all.

As we think about timely words of affirmation, we need to think about how it feels to have someone react with an immediate and excited "Great job!" or a comment hours later that usually sounds like "Oh, by the way, you did a great job earlier." Which one feels better to hear? Are both words of affirmation? Sure, but one feel like an afterthought or obligation rather than a true reaction. As we look to give words of affirmation to others, we need to think about how we would feel if someone said that thing in that way to us. Would it uplift and encourage or instill doubts about the sincerity?

Then we have that low key part....I know, I just talked about doing it in public or immediately, but it also needs to not be overblown, over-the-top or excessive. If someone tells you the same thing in the same excited voice about 10 times and always in front of others, it starts to feel fake. You start to think they are trying to convince themselves, others and you that what they are saying is truth. Maybe it is, but this behavior can lead to doubts. That doesn't mean never affirm in front of others. It just means keep it believable.

In addition to knowing how to GIVE words of affirmation, we need to know how to RECEIVE them. I admit, I a particularly bad at this. I do not say thank you with grace and accept that people mean what they say even when they are following all of the above guidelines! I still doubt. I still try to deny, undermine or blow off what they are saying. It makes me uncomfortable and I never quite know what to say. Responding in that way does a great disservice to the people giving the words of affirmation. When people compliment you, graciously accept with a polite and heart felt thank you. Do not try to deny their words or opinion. Do not negate their blessing in that way. It isn't always easy and we are tempted to say "thanks but....." and try to explain away their words. We need to not do that.

Here are some questions to ponder.

Can you think of examples of words of affirmation that were obviously genuine? What gave you that confidence?

Do you regularly give words of affirmation? Why or why not?

How do you react when people give you words of affirmation? Why do you think you react that way? Is that a good reaction or not?

This can be a really touchy subject for a lot of people and that is why it is so important to learn the healthy way to both give and receive words of affirmation! We don't want to hurt someone else with our efforts to bless them or their efforts to bless us!

Have a wonderful day!

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!

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