Category Archives: Daily Happenings

The Rules of Communication

“No More Quiet”

A bumper sticker that our local library gives out, loudly proclaimed the message of change, but the carefully penned words underneath gave voice to the way some of the users felt about it.

“Talking is okay. But no cell phones.”

Who makes the rules?

It seems everywhere I look, read, turn, I hear a rule about what you should say, shouldn’t say, how you should visit, how you should talk, and so on. I was struck by the above statement as when I was a young mom, sometimes the only quiet time I got was at the library.

I would take my children and they were occupied by the activities, the computer, new books, and toys and I got a moment to sit and read for a minute. The way the library is set up now, it is conducive to visiting, children playing, reading, learning and all that combined.

As I read the message about cell phones, I have noticed that people have a lot of anger about what they believe to be out of place or wrong. I encouraged someone recently, whose life was jam packed with impossible expectations, to take 5 minutes in the car and call someone. She needed it to regain some focus. But when you were the car passing her in the turn lane, and saw she was on her phone, anger could strike you. “Why is she on her phone? She didn’t speed through that light with the speed that I think she should have. I am now 10 seconds later than I would have been otherwise.”

No, we don’t really say all that, but we might think it. What if we instead looked at the young mother on the phone in the library, while her kids playing and realized that might be the first minute she had to talk to her mom all week. Maybe we can see the person in the car and realize that this is the first time her grandmother had heard her voice in several months. It could be that it was a phone call from the doctors office, letting her know that her tests had come back with questionable results.  Perhaps that student you called out in public, was answering a phone call from her mother that she had to take or checking the text to see that her grandma died.

Cell phones, social media, computers, technology are all a part of our lives now. When we react to others that use them with anger and frustration, we become part of the problem. We set rules that are impossible to follow.

I would ask. Do you think before you react?  Do we stop to listen to the conversation to see what it is about? It may not sound important to you, but who are you to say that you are more important than the phone call?

I recently had a text letting me know of a death from someone I knew. I was in a public place, in a bible study. I knew I had to answer it. I could not ignore it, yet it would be rude to withdraw from the group. It took me 10 seconds to send condolences and comfort. I did not explain to the group, but it is hard to not wonder if someone wonders why.

My job ends up putting me in the path where I am a bit tied to my phone and social media. I hate it sometimes. But I have learned to have mercy on those on the phone in their cars, in public places and lend a little love when they are distracted.

So, as I seek to find grace, I also seek to not make more rules of communication for others.

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The visible invisible person…

What am I talking about?

I know, it sounds crazy. A person that is completely visible, yet invisible at the same time.

Who is the person that you first think of when you need help?

Who do you turn to when you know that something has to be done?

When information is needed or things need to be gathered, there is always that person you think of.

What about when you have something personal to celebrate in your life.

Are they that person you think of? You know you can count on them for everyday needs, but when you celebrate, are they the one you invite or do you find they are not the one you usually think of?

Invisibility is a gift at times. It can be a relief for someone that get overwhelmed by too much social interaction. But at times, it is hard when you are the person everyone needs, but no one wants.

How can we change this? How can help those that are visible in our daily life, less invisible in our social life?

It is possible to be visible to all, yet lonely and invisible in so many other ways.

I was thinking about connection one day, trying to bring up ways to connect with others, who to befriend. I realized that often connection requires giving of yourself. It requires the invisible person to become more visible. Vulnerable. It is hard on both ends to connect. For those on the outside, they may think, “Oh, that person is so busy. They may not want to come to my birthday party, baby shower, tea or get together. I won’t put that on them.”  The visible/invisible may think, “I am glad I was not invited, as it would be another thing on my list, and besides, I would likely not be someone that would add to the day anyhow.”

I think there has to be a balance from both sides. The visible/invisible has to allow themselves to move past the surface at times. I don’t just mean fun mom stories, or stories of messes your children made. I mean sometimes opening up and addressing the depth of the life you try to keep inside at times. Of course, that has to be done in a safe way, but opening up even a little can be scary.

Think of someone in your life, that you may not know that well that opened up a bit to you. Then think of them and how have you been able to be a friend to them?

I don’t mean a FB friend. I have many FB friends, that honestly barely know what my real life looks. But I am thankful for them, it just looks different than friendship. This doesn’t mean you need to have 567 friends. It is impossible to connect on a deep level with anyone that much. But maybe choose a few people and step out of your comfort zone a little with them. It might mean getting together for coffee, doing an activity you both enjoy together, or listening when they have had a hard day.

Think of that person you know you can turn to when times are hard for info or help. Do you know what they are going through right now? Maybe it might be time for you to take the time to listen and be there for them.  What is funny, is sometimes that is how we find the best friends, when we turn around and be a friend to them.

What is one thing you can do this week to be a friend to someone?

Please leave me a comment if you think of someone when you read this post, that is visible, yet invisible. You know them, but don’t really know them. Let me know how you are going to reach out this week and let them know they are visible to you.

 

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Words of Encouragement or Discouragement?

“Oh, what a cute little girl you have there! She looks a little cold. Have you thought maybe she might need a jacket?”

“Are we ready to go? You don’t look like you are quite ready. We will wait here while you change.”

“Just try a little harder, dear, to focus on the positive. Life can’t all be bad, can it?”

 

This can happen on accident or on purpose. I truly believe many people have good intentions. Good intentions though, are often wrought with grief and discouragement.

For example, last week, I learned that not only am I am a complete failure as a parent because I don’t have sit down meals with our whole family anymore, I also am to blame for many other issues because I allow screen time, and don’t share stories from life lessons I learned with my children enough.

I remember reading a book, one that was highly recommended in homeschool circles. My oldest son was 6 or 7 years old, and I was trying to learn all I could about this homeschooling thing. As I read, I learned that if I did not read aloud to him for 2-3 hours daily, I not only ruined his education, but at the age of seven, it was already too late. He was doomed to a life of mediocrity, because I had already failed him in his education. I got about halfway through the book, and ended up sobbing at my failures.

No doubt the author of the book was seeking to encourage parents to read to their children. I am sure of that. In her zeal, she discouraged me. What I didn’t see, was while I was not able to read aloud that many hours, my son did listen to books for 1-3 hours a day, on audio. Yes, they were not always the classics, but they were many times as well. The discouragement of parents is something that I find reprehensible, yet, I am sure I do it often myself.

When we hear blanket statements, or even backhanded compliments given to people, or remarks that are self serving or self righteous, (For example: “I am so thankful to have such wonderful children. Most parents don’t even teach their children how to have basic manners any more, and I am so blessed to have well mannered children.”) take time to stop and examine your life a bit.

  • Is there something you can improve on a daily basis in your life?
  • Is there a life lesson you can share with your children, family, friends without putting them down?
  • Are your words seasoned with salt so that you are not lifting yourself up, while putting others down?
  • If you have offended someone, can you apologize sincerely?
  • Are we leaving people with encouragement or are we discouraging them by bragging about our triumphs?

In the end, we have to do the best we can do. Yes, it is a good idea to sit down to eat at the dinner table together. But sometimes when we spend all day together, talking, discussing and come time to eat, sometimes eating just has to happen without waiting for everyone to arrive. This is especially true when you have gone over 16 hours without eating, which happens often around here.

Table manners? Yes, they are a great thing to have. But don’t judge your neighbor as having never taught their children because their child made a major flub. It might be your child next and we totally know you have taught them all of it. Who knows if maybe that mom has as well?

I would encourage you to give grace, even when you are frustrated with others. Let us not judge so many times, and instead truly come along side people with encouragement, rather than encouragement that is backhanded discouragement.

We are never failures when we seek to do our best. We can always improve, yes, but as long as we are seeking to do our best, we will never fail completely.

Make mistakes? YES!

Perfection is overrated anyhow. We can always be improving, but just keep working towards a goal of doing our best.

 

 

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The Words of Kindness

“If wisdom’s ways you wisely seek,
Five things observe with care,
To whom you speak,
Of whom you speak,
And how, and when, and where.”

Caroline Lake Ingalls

 

Often I think when we say words, correcting someone or telling someone what to do, I often wonder if we remember this little proverb.

I think that in this life, we have so many times listened to the words either spoken to us or even the unspoken words, with looks that mean something else and felt their sting.

I was thinking after taking part in an exercise, where you looked at other people and told them things that we saw they contributed of value to others and  in the world in general. Some these people I did not know well, but after spending a weekend together, many of their gifts shone forth.

As I returned to “normal” life, I found myself wondering how much was the truth and struggled to not fall into the pit of doubt.

Life is hard. I mean, it just is. There are so many everyday errors people may either believe you made or you actually did make. In the end, you can throw up your hands and scream or you can keep pushing on.

I can sit and ask myself the questions that roll around in my head day after day.

“What do I offer of value?”

“Are the positive words right that I have heard others say, or are they simply saying what they think they should say?”

“Are the critical words actually the truth?”

“How can I change my impact on others to be more positive?”

My mind starts to buzz with how I can change myself to be more a person of impact on others, but then as I start to do this, asking the questions, I wonder “Are those really the right questions?”  I know that I have always believed in self sacrifice, long suffering, meekness and all those things. It seems so counterproductive to say that I need to focus on the positive things about myself.

Instead asking/saying, “Do you believe in yourself? Do you think you can do this? Do you think you made the wrong choice? You messed up? That’s ok. Pick up and move on.”

There is someone I have been acquainted with, that rarely says a positive thing about anyone, unless she knows them very well. In fact, I can generally count on her saying something negative about someone until she gets to know them.

I know other people that will look at a person and if they are not fitting in the correct racial or belief boxes, they mark them off the list of approved people.

The list could go on and on. We all know those kind of people. They are not the people we tend to want to hang out with as we know that if we end up displeasing them in some way, we will be on that list.

Instead, I think of how I would love to be surrounded by people that love others despite flaws. They may not be perfectly dressed, believe the same as you, walk, talk or act like you, but they are valued and loved.

I have many friends and acquaintances that are so totally different from me, that I cherish having them in my life. I tend to be drawn to the ones that fit outside the box. It is the stories I want to tell and write. The overcomers, the “damaged” ones that succeed, the success stories. They are the ones that love best because they know pain.

As I write my stories, I never know what will become of them, but one day, I hope others will read them and love them as well.

But for now, I am going to think about Caroline Ingall’s saying, and let wisdom guide my words. I may need to look and find someone to say a positive word to. I may need to hold my tongue when a critical word comes my way. But in the end, I need to remember that I have to believe it as truth when someone tells me something they appreciate about me.

It is a choice that I must make to survive.

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Summer Musings…

The summer heat is burning into my soul at the moment. It longs to impact my brain, my memory and my equilibrium if I choose to step outside of my home to participate in any activities.

I live in the north for a reason. I want to be able to live a happy life. For some reason, Montana has decided to be very hot for much more than just a couple of weeks of the summer.

You would think it would make the garden grow better, and it has, but not to the extent of producing the fruit I would like to see. The tomatoes are still green, the raspberries drying up even with copious amounts of water, and the cucumbers are being plagued by insects. Then there is the plants that are huge, producing amazing green leaves, and no fruit at all.

Fruit.  Sometimes I think that people are like plants.  Sometimes they can shout out their indignant posts on social media, comment on the news pages,  and appear to be living a fruitful and well intentioned life. Sometimes though, when we reach beneath the leaves, we can find that their fruit is lacking. Maybe it is insect ridden, or simply not there at all.

I observed recently in a book discussion we were having that sometimes the person that is crying out the loudest is not always the victim. I often wonder if when we stop, observe and see what we are hearing, and sought out the person they are speaking out against, what would we find?

Would we find beautiful fruit or half eaten peppers and squash hidden under the leaves?

I feel like for myself, this is a fear of mine as I do not want to be that type of person. I tend to error on the other side of this as much as possible. Seeking honestly when it comes to my flaws and faults, and not speaking evil of others unless absolutely needed.

I think and would hope that if someone knows me well enough, they would come to me and ask about anything that is abnormal. But also on the flip side, if I do have to speak out about someone, that I do it because it is the last resort.

I hope in the end, my plants have fruit under the leaves, and the bugs are not eating all my fruit.

Obviously, I have been spending a bit of time in the garden, so just a few musings as I putter around in my little hobby. Back to working to stay cool in the heat!

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Homeschooling. Getting started?

I was chatting with a friend today about getting started with homeschooling.

I was thinking of all the things that we tell people that want to start with homeschooling. You know, you start with the basics. The laws. The requirements. The curriculum.

What you don’t tell them is that often when you are 14 years into the journey or so, you sometimes feel like you are still just learning how to begin.

I haven’t been homeschooling that long compared to some moms that I know. But, since I am what is called a “Second Generation Homeschooler”, it feels a lot longer. Not only was I homeschooled, but I was an active participant in helping or teaching my siblings as well.

I think one of the best things I can say, is “You will mess up. You will spend all that money on a set of curriculum and sometimes it just does not fit with the way your child learns. Most days will not go as you plan. But the key here is that often you are homeschooling because it was what your child needed. If you are teaching him and educating, (I don’t mean the parents that claim to homeschool and really do nothing), you are doing what they need. It might not look like the pretty picture in your head, as your son is hanging upside down reciting his times tables. But keep it up.”

What is your mantra that you would tell someone that is beginning homeschooling?

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A Week away…

It is always fun to get away from home at times. I live a high stress life, which is not always enjoyable for me. But it is not really something that is going to change very soon, so I seek out ways to help me to cope in the middle of it.

Every summer, for the last four years, we volunteer at a beautiful camp in the middle of the mountains just outside East Glacier in Montana. It is rustic, by many people’s standards, but for me, it feels a little like going home.  It has the conveniences that I wish I had when we lived without electricity. The generator is set up to the run the camp when needed, but is only on for brief moments and about an hour in the evening.

I love technology, but I also hate it at the same time. My job and how I make money is linked to it, so I cannot live without it, but I love being away from it all.

When I do not have to work and have the stress of daily life pounding on me, I get a lot of reading done!

The view from the cabin. We were up near the tree line, so most of the mountains were below us as well.

20155979_10210246747664929_5164266823872110304_n.jpg20229112_10210246747224918_4438296154974285741_n.jpgMy little bedroom set up and ready for reading and napping.

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One of the daily skits! 20228257_10210246746704905_2272606574586338845_n.jpgEach cabin put on a skit as well..

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Singing time is always exuberant! 20246468_10210246742184792_3497062737534175458_n.jpg

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One of the many meals we prepared! 20229288_10210246740904760_2541237538891886057_n.jpg

 

20245756_10210246741064764_599955545030869020_n.jpgSaying goodbye to the last camper before we headed out of camp!

If you ever want a great camp experience or volunteer experience, this is a good one!

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The Turquoise Table by Kristen Schell

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

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Book Description

A simple way to connect your neighborhood, your community and build friendships.

Are you consumed with a busy life but unsure how to slow down? Do you desire connection within your community and think, “Absolutely, but I don’t have time for that” or “I can’t create that”? What if there was another way through it all, a way to find those moments of peace and to create a time for honest, comfortable connection? What if meeting neighbors and connecting with friends was as simple as showing up and being available?

Desperate for a way to slow down and connect, Kristin Schell put an ordinary picnic table in her front yard, painted it turquoise, and began inviting friends and neighbors to join her. Life changed in her community and it can change in yours, too. Alongside personal and heartwarming stories, Kristin gives you:

Stress-free ideas for kick-starting your own Turquoise Table Simple recipes to take outside and share with others Stories from people using Turquoise Tables in their neighborhoods Encouragement to overcome barriers that keep you from connecting New ways to view hospitality

Today, Turquoise Tables are inviting individuals to connect with each other in nearly all fifty states and seven countries. Ordinary people like you wanting to make a difference right where they live.

Community and friendship are waiting just outside your front door.

My Review:

This simply written book gives plenty of great ideas on connecting with family and making new friends with your neighbors. For me, as someone that deathly afraid of getting too close to anyone who lives in the near vicinity, it had some very scary ideas, but it is good to stretch my mind.

I liked the simple ideas filled with connection that pull people. I thought of that cheesy commercial, where everyone brought tables into the hallway and their dinners out to share with one another.

We do truly live in a society where connection is lacking in person, but I also think for the severe introverts these ideas can be horrifying as well. So, I read this book and thought of ways that I can incorporate them without chilling me to my bones. =)

Overall, amazing concept, great book and one I will want to buy as gifts for a few people.

This book is available on Amazon for purchase. “The Turquoise Table” 

This book was given to me for review by BookLookBloggers. The opinions contained herein are my own.

 

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The Curse of Pride

Pride is something we may have heard mentioned time and time again. But not until a couple years ago did I realize what it truly was.

I wanted to make no mistakes. I wanted my children to make no mistakes. I wanted to have a very clean house and keep up with everything. I worked very hard at it.

But one day, realizing that the fact that I believed that I could make no mistakes, was in itself pride. I believed that I could be perfect. I believed that was what was demanded of me. By God, by fellow humans and well, just the whole of society.

Then it went on to my children. When my children had struggles in school, I blamed myself. I believed that it was me that caused their issues, or them. One of us was not working hard enough. I tended to blame myself more than them, but continued to look for a solution.

When my first son was diagnosed with learning disability, it felt like a relief, but I felt guilty that I was relieved. I felt like I had failed somehow. I had failed perhaps in my pregnancy, and that was why. Maybe I had done something wrong in their infant hood and they bonked their heads one too many times. But in the end, it was admitting that there was a lack of perfection in us. It came down to pride. It was hard to admit that there was an issue.

I have seen parents that get prickly when you call it a disability. “Why can’t we call it, “a unique learning style”? they ask.  Or they steadfastly persist, “There is nothing wrong with him/her. He/she is just a little unique, but they are work harder and be normal.”

I sometimes wonder if we are only this way with less obvious disabilities. If someone was born without a leg, would we force them to crawl on the floor because they should not depend on a crutch? Would we say that they should not have all the opportunities to help them to walk, because we are pretending they do not have a missing limb?

When someone has a special need, a disability, we need to teach our children to embrace it. Forgo pride in perfection.  Perfection is overrated anyhow! When we embrace our imperfections that is when pearls are formed. We can thrive and do more than when we are trying to be “normal”.

Let’s not ignore our children’s needs for our own pride. If we can embrace our imperfections, stop blaming ourselves for something that had nothing to do with us, we can thrive and be joyful.

Our joy can come from loving how we are, our mistakes and laugh or cry through them.

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A Slow Burn…

There are times in life when comments really can eat away at you.

I am a fairly even tempered person. I can get frustrated on occasion with the normal things in life, messes, children that argue, things that do not seem to go right. But I more often tend to have anxiety than frustration.  I will generally blame myself over someone else.

But recently a myriad of comments seem to build up and cause a slow burn deep within, that culminated in a form of sadness and then anger.

What did it teach me?

People don’t think before they speak.  Including myself at times, although I used to agonize over every word I spoke. The fact that now I can speak my own mind without over analyzing it, is actually healthier than when I did think it through. But I digress.  If other do actually think before they speak, they often speak in ignorance.

My mom is this incredibly positive person, and tries to find the silver lining in every rain cloud. However, sometimes I am realizing, it is okay to be hurt. It is okay to be disappointed. It is okay to not be positive about something.

It is okay to be hurt when people ignore your talents and praise someone else that does the same thing as you.

It is okay when someone tells you that your work is foolishness and in fact, might be sinful to ask others to enjoy it, to feel indignant. (In this case, writing fiction).

It is okay when people speak of your siblings and praise their looks, but have never once complimented you to feel pain.

The slow burn of hurt that culminates in anger from seeing someone you love and care about be abused and controlled by someone that claims to love them is painful to feel.

But it is okay. It is okay to be angry sometimes. It is okay to be hurt. It is what we do with it that can be wrong. If I turn around and scream at someone else because of the anger inside, that is not the healthiest way to cope. But if I journal, confront the behavior or even channel my energy into something healthy, it can help me to grow and be different.

There is not a silver lining in every cloud. Sometimes some people are just mean. Sometimes things are not going to turn out okay. Sometimes people you love die. Men abandon their families. People abuse one another. There is no silver lining there. Sometimes we do ourselves and others a disservice when we look for the positive.

I am not saying to wallow in it. But there is something about a real grieving period where allow ourselves to be hurt, sad and even angry for a time to be able to heal. If we are always looking for the good in it, it is not able to heal. We can’t pretend we are not cut. That doesn’t encourage healing. But when we embrace the pain, work with the pain, like in childbirth, we are able to give birth to a baby.

Don’t let anger turn to bitterness, but embrace the pain.

Today, my hurts, though they are private are many, but I choose to embrace it. I will not fight the pain, but I will fully live in it.

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