Thursday, November 29, 2012

Listen to your Father ... it works for me!

Welcome to Day 31 of the 31 Days series It Works for Me!

This post concludes this 31 Days series (yay!), inspired by The Nester. 
If you're not familiar with The Nesting Place blog, you can check it out
and get to know The Nester here, you'll be glad you did ... 
and if you're not familiar with the 31 Days Blog Challenge issued in October, check that and the hundreds of other participating blogs out here.
The Nesting Place is a lovely blog,
and there is a wealth of great material offered by the 31 Day Bloggers.
Although blogging (nearly) every day was a challenge, I'm immensely glad to have participated.
You can find a link to my other posts in this series here.

Technically, I should be publishing this post on October 31 to close out this series ... 
but in reality, today is November 29.

And it's my Dad's 94th birthday ...

He was born in 1918.

My dad grew up during the depression era on a farm in Oklahoma, 
in a family with eleven children.  
My grandfather passed away when Dad was 18, 
and he had to put his hopes of going to college on the back burner for a time.  

He served in the Air Force as a pilot in World War II and also during the Korean Conflict.  

 { image credit:  my sister Sandy :o) }

He graduated from Texas Tech University with a degree in Engineering and still has some of his text books on his bookshelves.  He worked in the aerospace and oil & gas industry.
He met the challenges of being laid off with a growing family more than once.
Later, when he "retired", he built a successful business buying, rehabbing and owning many rental properties.

He was always an exerciser.  

He'll tell you he's "a smoker but hasn't had a cigarette in 65 years."  
He gardened.  He could fix anything.  He had a garage that was a scaled down equivalent of Home Depot.

He has a passion for travel that even now occasionally has him contemplating trips to Europe.  

He's the King of Humorous One-Liner Responses.
He is the most consistently kind, genuinely congenial man I have ever known.
He still reads his Bible, and is a man of strong, deep, abiding, quiet faith.  

Dad taught me and my sisters and brother uncountable lessons throughout life.  
I would like to offer you one that's very basic, one that's kind of funny but true, 
and one that I hope will soothe your soul and stick with you like it did me:  

Always put things in the same place.
Did your father tell you this?  Were you in your twenties before you really and truly got it?  
It's so simple, and yet the results can be profound.  
Always put your keys in the same place.  Always put wallet in the same place.  
"Never lay them down, never take them out of your hand
if you're not putting them in the right place."
My dad always had a spot on top of his dresser for his,
and if his keys and wallet weren't in his pocket, you could find them there.
With all the complexities of life, just knowing where to find your keys and your wallet when you need them is one less thing to worry about, and it frees up your brain for more important things.  

Get to the Reunion early.
We had family reunions every summer.  
Although our family didn't go on annual vacations, we faithfully attended the family reunion, 
which was the highlight of many a long childhood summer.  
It wasn't until I was an adult that it occurred to me to wonder why we were always among the first to arrive.  Here's Dad's reasoning:  when you arrive late, 
everyone has already caught up with each other and told their best stories, 
you don't get the benefit of the first telling, and people really don't want to go through all the details again.
So if you're among the first to arrive, you don't miss anything, and you get the best of everyone's story telling.

Everything is going to be all right.
I think, by far, the most enduring bit of advice Dad has given me is an observation he made
 about life just four years ago, when he was ninety.
Here it is ... let it wash over you ... and feel the stress abate:

"Challenges do come along in life, and sometimes you feel like the bottom's dropping out.  
You worry how you're going to make it.  
But if there's one thing I've learned in all my ninety years, it's this:  
in spite of all the troubles that come ... 


going to be 

all right."

Listen to your Father ... it works for me!  

Friday, November 23, 2012

... and we are thankful ...

Did you have a good Thanksgiving?

I have loved so much the emphasis on being thankful in the days leading up to Thanksgiving.  
Everywhere I look, people are counting their blessings.

It makes me happy :o)

Our family gathering was here at the JustB this year.  

We had three turkeys and nine cooks.  
It was awesome!

I wanted to do something to bring us all together in commemorating what we're thankful for.
What I came up with would not be on the Martha Stewart approved list.  
Even though I thought it was kind of cheesy, 
it was all I could manage.

 ... but this morning when I got up and read back over it, I'm so thankful for it ...

I put up a long piece of craft paper in the hall for everyone to write what they were thankful for ...
Across the top I wrote:
I am thankful for ... I am thankful for ... I am ((lost concentration)) THANKSGIVING! ... 
I am ((lost concentration AGAIN!))  THANKSGIVING! ... I am thankful for ...

But we all had a good time putting into words what we're thankful for ...

.... that means you!

things are just so much cuter when put into words by kids :o)

thankful all my friends are here ... kind of the same as all my rowdy friends are coming over tonight,
at least for a  kiddo ... I'm thankful that when the cousins are together they feel like the gang's all here.


Even the grownups feel that way!

you should always use every opportunity to score Good Husband points ...

... heartfelt!!

This year was a pretty incredible year ... and we are thankful.

Portal 2 = Video Game.  
Silly Teenagers ... who in Portal 2 is going to make you a turkey dinner?!
They'll tell you there's cake, but it's a lie.

... I'm not sure.

Amen, and Amen and Amen and Amen!

This was me ... a meal for 24 ... 
and all I did was make a pumpkin pie, stir up some grits and make cranberry relish.
oh! and put a smoked turkey in the oven. 

It felt very strange not to make green bean casserole.

LtDan fried a turkey ... it was fabulous!
My nephew spiced up a turkey kind of canjun style ... it was fantastic!


My brother-in-law remembered to get us all together for a group photo,
which is not easy to do with so many people ... 
the difference in age between youngest to eldest was 92 years!
The test shot came out nice and clear.  
The one where we're all there was just a little blurry ...
 but sometimes a little softness is nice ... 
and we are thankful.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

A Prayer Journal ... it works for me!

Welcome to Day 30 of the 31 Days series It Works for Me!

My inner perfectionist is seriously annoyed with me for not completing this series in the month of October.
My inner California girl says 28 out of 31 isn't too shabby.
So I figure to make peace between the two, if you could just turn your calendar back to golden October before you read this, everything will be okay.

I've had some wonderful examples in my life of people who prayed, and encouraged me to pray.  
A prayer journal is by no means my idea, 
but I would like to share with you a little of my experience with mine.  

After using a prayer journal for many years, I got too busy my prayer life changed, and I laid the journal aside for some time.  I didn't stop praying, I just didn't use my prayer journal.  But then we moved, and in the packing and unpacking, my prayer journal resurfaced.  

So what was I praying for more than 10 years ago when I began my journal?

That some of my children would learn other ways to show affection 
besides squeezing the pudding out of their siblings 
(it really was affection, it was just ... unharnessed :o)

That others of my children would learn to be wise about risk and stop going too fast on their bicycles, stop knocking on doors of neighboring homes belonging to people we didn't know, 
and stop climbing on tall unstable things.

That others of my children would learn not to whine.
Or pout.

And that others of my children would learn to enjoy the church nursery
and not cry the ENTIRE hour.  
And also that they would be safe from germs in there and stop coming home sick 
every. single. time.

God answered those prayers ... and we outgrew the need for them.  

But I was praying for other things that were more far-reaching during that period as well, 
and when I rediscovered my prayer journal, I was a little astounded and wholly delighted to see 
the answers to those prayers coming to fruition.

I prayed that my children would have close friendships with each other.
And they do.

I prayed that my children would value their relationships with each other 
no matter who else was around.
And they do.

I prayed that our family would be a place of encouragement for each other.
And it is. 

I prayed that our family would be a place of cooperation and teamwork.
And it is.

I prayed that my children would delight in the Lord.
And they do.

I prayed prayers that God did not answer with a yes during that time.
I prayed that God would let us buy the house we were renting in the city ... but the contract fell through.

So we moved to the country.

God's plan?
Better than mine.
Every.  Single.  Time.

My first prayer journal was just a small spiral notebook.
For me, it works to have separate pages for the people I pray for, where I write out 
the things I'm praying for them.
Generally I designate a day of the week to pray for specific individuals.

Here's what I love about keeping a prayer journal:

  • My prayer journal keeps me more or less on subject. When I pray, my mind tends to wander.  I really wish it didn't, but it does.  
  • Keeping a prayer journal helps me focus on areas of need for a sustained period of time.  Like weeks.  Or years :o)  
  • Keeping a prayer journal gives me opportunity to remind myself how, over and over again ...  God answers prayer in my life, and His answers are always the best ones.

I've added to the prayer requests of my early years, and since my journal is starting to fall apart, 
I'm gradually moving myself into a new book.
But my first one will always have a special place in my heart
and remind me of an exceedingly sweet season of life.  

God answered the prayers I prayed while changing diapers, watching Barney, searching for sipee cups, and strapping little guys into car seats.

Now that the kids are in their teens, the things I pray for are increasingly "adult" things.  
The answers to these prayers probably won't be complete until my children are well into their twenties.  
But having seen God answer the prayers of the toddler years, 
the thought of that fills me with thrill and anticipation.

A prayer journal ... it works for me!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

In Praise of Affirmations ... it works for me!

Welcome to Day 29 of the 31 Days series It Works for Me!

yes ... 
I'm pretending it's still October 
and am determined to finish out the 31 posts for the 31 Days series ... 
28 down, 3 to go!

Look out ...

it's more psychobabble!

I've mentioned before I love self-improvement literature.
  One very common recommendation is the practice of positive affirmations.

I know what you're thinking!

it's okay to laugh ... it does seem a little silly!

But the countless wise people who recommend positive affirmations can't all be wrong. 
If you've never tried this practice, let me tell you a little about what I understand of it.

The Bible is my foundation for seeking and testing wisdom.  
I believe all true wisdom is rooted in Biblical principle.

You know the verse ...

The power of your thoughts is a force to be reckoned with.  

Basically, your mind doesn't make the distinction between what you think and reality.  
Thus, when you tell yourself that people like you, doggone it ... 
your mind believes it to be truth.
And when your mind believes it, you become it. 

There really is something to it.  

We all have self-talk going on in our heads all the time.  Positive affirmations are intentional positive statements that you tell yourself about yourself.  Especially if you have a habit of negative self-talk, using positive affirmations can help you re-program your thinking.  

A couple important points:  

-  Affirmations should be in the present tense.  As in "I am", as opposed to "I want to be" or 
"I will be".  Telling yourself you will be tells your mind that you don't have to right now.  Using the present tense is a little like tricking yourself.  Your mind dwells in the present, 
so telling yourself you are means it simply is.  

-  Affirmations should always be stated positively.  As in "I feel energetic and hopeful" as opposed to "I am not tired and discouraged".  For some reason, your mind hears "tired" and "discouraged" and ignores the not.  So always make sure your statement is clear and positive.

-  Affirmations should be believable.  Although your mind can be "tricked" into believing something is reality if you state it in the present tense, it will not be tricked into believing something that isn't credible.  So stating "I am an Olympic marathon runner" would be counter-productive, since my mind would get into an argument with itself because please, this is nowhere close to the truth.  However, stating "I am an exerciser" is believable, and it helps me build the habit.  

Initially, I was skeptical, but I decided to give it a shot.  
As an experiment, I told myself "I am happy."  
And while I knew that I already was happy, telling myself I was happy 
made me mindful of being happy ... and lo and behold, 
I became happier.  

There was a time when I felt as though every. single. decision 
took way too much effort and mental anguish ... 
so I began telling myself "I am decisive".  
I was surprised at how quickly I found making decisions to be less stressful and time consuming.  
It's like a switch is flipped, your mind goes back to what it's been told, 
and it acts accordingly.

I'm not trying to tell you that you can make vast and sweeping personal changes 
just by using positive affirmations.  For me, they help me visualize more clearly the person I want to be, and that takes me just a little step closer to being that person.  I go through periods where I use affirmations more regularly than not, and I would say that the days when I think on them are better than the days that I don't.  

I still have my first list of character qualities that I wanted to develop from which I created my list of affirmations.  I don't sit still and go through affirmations in a formal meditation, I generally just think on them while I'm doing more or less menial tasks.  
Repetition of the same affirmations seems to have a more sustained effect.  

Because I'm good enough.  I'm smart enough ... and doggone it ... people like me.


Affirmations ... it works for me!