Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Efficiency vs. Kindness

If you had to choose, which of these do you prefer; efficiency or kindness? That probably depends on whether you are on the giving or receiving end of the equation. People tend to consider themselves to be good and therefore the automatic reaction is most likely "kindness". But don't be so quick to answer! Think about different situations and what each calls for. For example, if you are at a restaurant, it goes unsaid that you'd like to have a waiter or waitress that is kind. However, you want him/her to be efficient as well. Now, if that really kind waitress fails to keep your glass full, gets your order wrong and then ends her service by giving you the wrong ticket, will you overlook it simply because she was kind? I'm not referring to the occasional tough day had by all. Instead, this is the type of service that you can take at face value, realizing that its a normal day for this waitress. In that exact same situation, would you have noticed if that waitress was sour, as long as she kept your glass full, answered all your questions, delivered your food exactly as it was ordered and appeared with the ticket with precise timing, almost as if she came and went unnoticed? I know what my answer is! What then, does this say about me? It says that when given a choice, I prefer efficiency and that's all. There really is not much else to add to it. I expect the most of people so ideally, I'd expect them to be efficient AND kind while doing so. However, recognizing that God gave us all strengths, weaknesses and preferences, I stand very clearly on the side of efficiency. Think about different situations in your life and what you prefer. Can you be both kind and efficient at the same time? What about those times in which it is you who is choosing to be one or the other? What would people say about your service?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Evaluating my Views

I'm not one to get into political discussions but feel it necessary to share my recent enlightenment on the unlikely chance that it may change some one's future visit to the polls. I first debated whether or not to share the specifics of how this occurred, afraid the focus might shift to a particular political figure or party. I decided instead to share the general idea, in hopes that you the reader will get where I'm going with this. While listening to the evening news one night, I overheard a sometimes controversial political figure tell a reporter very frankly that what they were asking was none of their business. My first reaction was shock, not just in the bluntness of the answer but in the fact that he was not willing to offer an explanation to the question. Although it was in reference to what might be considered his "private" life, that was not the issue. That is a different story altogether and one that I could spend too much time on debating (and of course I will in a later post). The point was that he made a choice for his family that some argued made him inadequate to be knowledgeable about a different choice. Let me explain. Obviously, this would have been easier had I been willing to share the specific story! The person asking the question was implying that if you do not have a personal experience with something, then you can't possibly have a valuable opinion on the subject. Ponder that for just a moment. I'm sure that anyone reading this would consider themselves to be at least of average intelligence and therefore able to make a decision about something based on observations, and research. Then why is it that we would automatically assume that because someone is making a different choice that they can't possibly understand the reasoning for ours? I believe that I am open minded and considerate and I'm sure you think the same about yourself and that allows us to have opinions on and vote on things that we may not have any personal affiliation with. This particular example left me with a lesson I had not yet learned in my 30+ years. I will not be quick to judge someone else's ability to understand what I am going through simply because that person has not had the same experience. God gave us all the ability to be compassionate and have empathy that should be used to make all of our decisions involving others!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Time 4 Learning

Most who read this blog are parents. Even if you don't have a child of your own, there's probably a child in your life whose education is a concern to you, whether it be a niece or nephew, friend or other family member. If that's the case, I feel compelled to share Time4Learning with you. I first heard of the website through a friend's recommendation and later saw it again while searching online for worksheet supplements to our homeschool classes.
A little bit of background about my middle child: she does not like to read. I was once worried that she might be illiterate until high school because she dreaded Language Arts so much each day that she was putting more effort into refusing to read than she was into learning! After lots of struggling with her and way too much worry on my part, she did in fact learn to read. Still, there was no excitement about reading or enthusiasm for language arts. I did some research and found that Time4Learning could be used as a core curriculum or as a supplement. Because the site includes games and activities, I figured it couldn't hurt to try it, especially since there's no contract! After learning my way around the site, I introduced it to my daughter so she could get familiar with the format before school starts.
Within 3 days (and school hasn't officially started yet), she had gone through several lessons, activities and quizzes and had done well in most areas. And yes, it did include lots of reading. How do I know how she did? That's easy! There's a parent login where I can track what she's been doing on the site without standing over her shoulder. That's right! She is learning on her own without my supervision and yet, I can still supervise on my own time!
So, the point of this post is this. If you homeschool or not, this site is a great supplement to learning (or core curriculum of course). And by the way, its not just for language arts. Other subjects are included and it works the same way! Finally, learning made fun AND effective. Try http://www.time4learning.com/ and I'm sure you'll agree! Oh, and tell them I sent you!

As a member of Time4Learning, I have been asked to review their online education program and share my experiences. While I was compensated, this review was not written or edited by Time4Learning and my opinion is entirely my own. Write your own curriculum review or learn how to use their curriculum for homeschool, after school study or summer learning.


Friday, August 19, 2011

Still Searching: Obligations

Still Searching: Obligations: Obligations are usually surrounded by a negative connotation. But why? What are they and what makes them bad? Obligations are generally peop...

Monday, August 1, 2011

Lost Keys

You've been there. If you haven't, consider yourself lucky and know that its only a matter of time before you share this experience. Its morning, already at least 5 minutes past your designated "leave" time when you realize you forgot your lunch and run back into the house. Now, second time down the steps, and you realize you've forgotten to put something in the mail or to take something out for dinner. You're already late so what's a few more seconds? Finally, getting into your car to leave, feeling rushed and anxious because you're late and it happens. There's no key. How can that be possible? You put it in the same place everyday just so this will not happen. You search frantically through every known place and it has vanished. Your eyes close and you take a deep breath, thinking back to the last time you got out of your car to try and remember where you put the keys. Nothing. Blank space. Well, except for the panic beginning to set in because now you are so late that you'll need to call someone and let them know that you are late. An announcement of your failure to meet a deadline! Of course everyone knows that this ends one of two ways and maybe you can add your own experience as an ending. Either you found the key and were late to where you were going or you didn't. Perhaps you had to call someone to come and get you and have a new key made. Either way, life went on and the incident became a story that you have shared with someone while laughing at a later point.
So many times, we let the lost keys dictate the ending when the ending is going to happen no matter if the keys are found or not. It happens often in life but your reaction to it is the real key.... pun intended. You can let it control your mood for the remainder of the day and decide to succumb to the frustration and possibly even the anger that this extreme inconvenience has caused you. Or, ideally, you will admit the mistake, correct it, and move on. You can choose to abide by those words spoken in the Serenity Prayer: "Accept the things I cannot change." Accepting them does not mean defeat. It simply means what it says so take it literally. You've already lost your keys or maybe its something much bigger in your life. Accept what you can't change such as the past and move on in a positive direction, making a change for the better in the future. It may be as simple as not letting it ruin your day but in the bigger picture, such an attitude of optimism can change your life!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Black Sheep

For most of my life, I've walked the straight and narrow. Like any teenager or young adult, there were times when I strayed, but only briefly and not very far. I'm not saying that to boast but because its a fact. Speaking in fact, there are moments that I wish I had "lived" or rebelled a little more during those years but you can't redo the past so its not something I dwell on. Now that I'm out of my twenties and have really begun to figure out who it is I want to be for the rest of my life instead of what I want to be, I find myself surprised as my eyes are opened. My eyes have been opened to myself and my view is ever changing in reference to those around me. Most of all, I am surprised by what I notice to be other people's perception of me. That's sounds confusing but really it just means that I try to see myself through the eyes of others according to their reaction to me or their words about me. Seems narcissistic but its actually very revealing and useful in making the necessary changes in life to live more like a person aspires to be. After all, if others do not get the impression that you are trying to give or that is not a true representation of who you are, then you should be making changes. Or should you? Maybe if others do not see your true self or intentions, they are looking through lenses that have been stained by jealousy, anger, resentment or some other negative emotion.  You may find that you feel like the Black Sheep when it is the last thing you ever thought you'd be labeled. Generally, the Black Sheep is a term used to reference the one that strays from the normal, and is usually one who does wrong. Perhaps that is not always the situation. Sometimes, the Black Sheep is simply the one who is different and it shouldn't be assumed to be bad just because its not normal. Many great prophets were probably considered Black Sheep in their time because they stood out from the normal and not always in an accepted manner. They were living out God's purpose for their life but because it wasn't what everyone else was doing, it was viewed as being wrong. The purpose of this post is this. If you find yourself being judged as the Black Sheep among your friends or family, you should examine the reasons for that. However, if you find that its only because you do things differently and that you are following where the Holy Spirit is leading you, continue on your path. To be called a Black Sheep because you are open about who you are and your purpose in this life is one of the biggest compliments a person could ever receive!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Still Searching: Recycle bin...... now there's a great concept!

Still Searching: Recycle bin...... now there's a great concept!: "Why is it that we tend to retain so much useless information and be so proud of ourselves when we can pass it along to other people? Genera..."

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Consideration

The definition of the word "considerate" according to Merriam-Webster is the following: Thoughtful of the rights and feelings of others". Wow, that's a lot of meaning in just a few little words! When I was a child, I was na├»ve enough to think that people genuinely cared about others and that everyone meant well with their actions. I am saddened to now see that I was so incredibly wrong.  Children do tend to believe that adults try to do the right thing which includes the fundamental principle of the consideration of other people. Taking a closer look at the word, here is my idea of what it means to be considerate. First and foremost, always put yourself in someone else's shoes. As literally as possible.  Try to imagine yourself in the same situation and think about how you may feel or react. This simple yet powerful concept will help you identify and sympathize with other people in almost every encounter you will have in your lifetime. If you are unsure what to say or do for someone, resort back to what you would like to receive yourself. This serves as a great guide in case you can't remember the Golden Rule. If you are interested in studying further, the Golden Rule is summed up in the Bible, Leviticus, chapter 19. Along with several of the commandments reiterated, God speaks through the writing of Moses to tell us to do to others as we want done to us. It seems simple yet remains one of the most difficult things for a human to do. That is of course, unless you are a Christian.  

There are many good people in this world who do care about the rights and feelings of others. Some of those people are Christians and some are not. You do not have to know Jesus to know what is right and wrong but it does help serve as a reliable compass to have the Holy Spirit guiding you. Its also very convenient to have an all knowing savior and a never failing book to reference when you have questions about how to treat others. Although there are lots of considerate people in the world, those numbers continue to decrease. Despite that, I find that I am still shocked when someone lets me down. That shock is magnified when it occurs with family or from someone I considered to be a close friend. Fortunately, we have Jesus on our side whom we can always trust and who will not disappoint us. He has already shown His consideration for His children in what He has done for us. Let us not forget to let Him be our example and to remember that His will is that we try to follow that example in everything that we do. Let us learn to be considerate of each other, knowing that the most important being in the universe is considerate with each of us.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Can I Get a "Do-Over" Please?

Everyone has days that they wish they could do over. For some, those days come more often than for others. Opportunity has much to do with that. Let me explain further. Someone who works a full time job and has a family is less likely to wish for "do-over" days because they have probably done everything required for that day. They have worked a full day, tended to their children, perhaps done some housework and the day is over. Occasionally, that person may tend to be a little more relaxed at work or may let the children watch television for the only couple of hours that they were together but for the most part, the working person with a family will not have too many slack days. Moving on, there's the person who is unemployed or who has several hours a day to spend as they wish. I'm not suggesting these people have no responsibilities but rather that they have a more flexible schedule. They might be more likely to relinquish their responsibilities and do something else like nap, watch TV, read a book, etc. Getting the idea yet? And then there are those who have responsibilities but have the most flexible schedule. This group of people are more likely to want for "do-over" days because they have the most opportunities to become complacent or for lack of a better word, "lazy". I do not mean to say they are lazy people but that they have more opportunities to have a lazy day. Before continuing and possibly offending, let me point out that I consider my current situation to be somewhere in the middle and often wish for "do-over" days myself. Today is one of those days and therefore is what prompted this post.   
I am ONLY talking about what I consider to be lazy days and not the times when we have said or done something we wish we could take back. That's a whole different ballgame that I do not have room for here! I spent today with my entire family at home, with the exception of a trip to the grocery store. Of course there were a few mandatory items taken care of such as a load of laundry, load of dishes to put away, meals, baths and things such as that. Still, that left sooooo many hours of the day to be productive. I was not. Instead, I watched television with my husband, played on the computer, chatted on the phone with a couple of friends, and played with my children. Before I knew it, they day was winding down and it was already time for the children to prepare for bed. I realized just how much time I had wasted in the day. But was it actually "wasted"? The idea is subjective so I'll stick with what it meant to me. After a little examination of today's activities (or lack of), I decided that it was not a complete waste. Yes, I absolutely could have been much more productive than I was and I'm not so sure God would approve of my day. His word does say in Ecclesiastes 10:18 "Through laziness, the rafters sag; because of idle hands, the house leaks.."  OK, maybe that's a little extreme and would require many days of consistent laziness but it still points out that God does not approve of laziness. Still, I remind myself of the story of Jesus, Mary and Martha. He scolded Martha for being so busy that she could not take time to listen to Jesus and enjoy his company. Often, preachers will relate this story to our lives today, reminding us to take time to enjoy what we work for. Obviously, this could be taken out of context or to an extreme but the simple point is this. Beware of idleness and be careful to not let it keep you from your responsibilities and the work God has assigned you to accomplish. However, take the time to enjoy what He has already given you. I believe there is a middle ground where I can be motivated to work towards His ideals while taking an occasional day such as this one to enjoy the gifts He has already blessed me with. So on second thought, I think I'll pass on that "do-over".

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Good Mom

Last summer, while laying in the sand watching my children play in the ocean, a friend commented on how easy my life must be. Putting it into context, she was simply making an observation about that moment and her intention was not to imply that my life in general is easy. Still, she went on to say that I was lucky to have children whom I could trust enough to not stand beside them in the water, fearing that they would disregard my instructions about their depth limit or that they may wander down the beach unattended. She also implied that to be able to enjoy myself while watching my children was something that I should be thankful for because not everyone can do that. Finally, the conversation concluded with her sarcastically noting, "Boy, aren't you a good mom; taking your children to the beach for them to enjoy the beach!"

Although I knew that she had no ill intention and that she most likely did consider me to be a decent mother, I also felt like she envied my "luck" and felt that a good mom would be doing something different at that time. I felt judged. It was very much implied that I was enjoying myself too much to have been a good mom in that moment. This idea really got my thoughts stirred up!
 
I began to question myself at that point. Would I be having so much fun if I were indeed working on being a good mother? Most people I know do not consider work to be labeled as fun or enjoyable, even if they have chosen their careers. That was not meant to be a blanket statement but instead a general observation. For decades, people have estimated a mother's worth and job description. Although it varies, a broad consensus is the job is difficult and never completely appreciated. I personally believe that to be considered a good mother, its critical that a woman do more than be present with her children. So then, what does constitute the label of being a "Good Mom"? Here's my opinion, asked for or not!

A "Good Mom" can be summed up in only one sentence. A good mother is one who instructs her children about God, protects them and responds to their needs, and teaches them the lessons of life while setting a good example in a joyful manner. Most mothers fit into this category or miss it by just one small aspect. The majority of mothers teach their children about life, some teach them about God, few set the best examples but rarely do they do all that while keeping a joyful heart. No one will be perfect enough to maintain all of this all the time...... "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" Romans 3:23 
Proverbs 31 describes the perfect wife according to God. However, there is reference to her children as well. Donna Partow writes about this woman in her book (which is great by the way), "Becoming the Woman God Wants Me To Be". She says that "Any determined, hard working woman can bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan. That's no great accomplishment.  A woman who is so wise she has figured out how to get the bacon to come to her and has trained her children to be servant-hearted enough to do the frying- now that's a valuable woman!" (Partow, p. 29) Thank you Donna Partow! Too often, I would doubt myself in my role as a mother when I made my children do housework for chores and yes, even let my 12 year old cook dinner occasionally! Now, when I feel guilt rising as my 7 year old is vacuuming or my 5 year old is dusting, Donna's words ring in my head and I am instantly pleased. It does in fact take discipline and determination to train a child correctly. "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it." Proverbs 22:6  Who are we to judge others when their hard work is paying off and they are able to relax?

My conclusion is this. Although I make mistakes and will always attempt to be better, I AM a good mom; as are most of the women I know. My children are physically and emotionally nurtured. They will not be perfect either and there will always be someone who disagrees with my methods in raising them. None of that matters to God and should not matter to us. He intends for us to teach our children how to be disciples for Him and to love each other in doing so. As long as I strive to meet God's will for myself and my children, doing so in joy and love, who else can judge me?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

False Prophets


Recently, I was enlightened during a sermon about interpreting God’s word. I have to admit that I immediately began to think about false prophets as mentioned in the Bible and how we have to beware of them and the lies that they spread to anyone willing to listen. I also began to think about the form that those false prophets come in. I left the sermon feeling good about myself and assured that I would look out for these people or things that cross my path. It wasn’t until a few weeks later, while reading some assigned Bible passages and textbook chapters for school that it hit me like a ton of bricks. When I say that, I mean that it actually felt like something knocked the air out of me for a moment. Through that giant gasp, I realized that God was speaking to me about me! I had been guilty of being a false prophet! Let me stop here to clarify that I have never intentionally misquoted the Bible or falsely summarized any passage. However, I have often added my input to scripture when my opinion was not necessary. Many times, I have even gone as far as to add my own views regarding what it is God was trying to tell us through His word. Can you believe that? Me. A simple servant in the eyes of the almighty creator, portraying myself as a teacher and believing that I have the authority to offer anything more to God’s word than what is already written. Once I convinced myself that I was innocent of any ill intention, I acknowledged my incompetence and need to learn more about the Bible. Of course God intended for man to pass on His teachings and explain things to those who need to hear the plan of salvation. That being said, it is not up to us to decide what God meant by His words simply be repeating them. Take a pastor for example. Not just anyone can stand before a body of people and preach the Bible. A pastor has been labeled so because he has learned more than most about the Bible. He has studied it in context, in history and with great detail so that he better understands what was meant by each word. I do believe that there are people who have been given the gift of preaching whether they have attended school for the title or not. For those who have learned and been led by God, I am thankful. I too am called to preach the gospel (as is every person) and I plan to obey that command. However, I am now aware of my limitations of interpretation of scripture. What that means is that sharing the gospel is quite simple, as is sharing scripture. I just need to leave it up to God to share its meaning with those who hear it and not take His words through my own analysis.

Let Jesus be our example. When teaching the Jews at the Feast of the Tabernacles, they asked, "How did this man get such learning without having been taught?" Jesus answered "My teaching is not my own. It comes from the one who sent me. Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own. Whoever speaks on their own does so to gain personal glory. But he who seeks the glory of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him." John 7:15-18