Monday, March 25, 2013

Gossip

I don't know anyone who doesn't gossip, myself included. That's probably because everyone I know is human. What is gossip, by your own definition? Before writing this, I had never pondered the question before. When I began trying to answer it, I found myself more vague than before. Before going any further on this topic, let me first say that this is completely written from my point of view without any verification from anyone.

I have heard people say that if you are stating a fact, it doesn't qualify as gossip. They are trying to justify their actions. I'm not sure I agree. There are many things that I can state as fact but that doesn't make it my place to tell others. Here's my take on gossip. Ultimately, it comes down to intention and reason. If I have a true need to tell someone something that isn't about me, then I should have a reason for that person to know. Does it involve them directly? Next, are my intentions pure? If I tell a friend about another friend's transgressions that does not affect either of us, isn't that gossip? Suppose I tell someone with good intentions. Good intentions would imply that I have some solution for a problem. I believe this all boils down to one simple concept.

Before I tell someone news that is not about me or does not pertain to me in any way, I need to stop and think. This is where the "filter" comes in! Am I telling this out of care or concern? Would the person I am talking about mind that I am sharing information about them? Last and most important, have I spoken to God about it and used Him as a reference as to whether or not I should divulge the information?

How do you feel about gossip and what is your take on it?

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Inconsiderate Kindness


Inconsiderate kindness may sound like an oxymoron to you. It is an oxymoron by literal meaning but I am going to put it into context for you. Imagine you are waiting in a long line of traffic at a busy intersection waiting to make a right turn. Now imagine that car in front of you (who plans to make a left turn at the traffic light) stops to let someone out of a road to the right of you. A large trucks pulls out onto the road. Now, this large truck is blocking both the left and right turning lanes until the light turns green. Because I live in NC, a state which allows a person to turn right at a red light, the right hand lane in front of this large truck is completely open. However, you are blocked behind this truck and the kind person in the car directly in front of you who allowed this to happen. I hope you were able to follow and imagine this scenario. What has happened in this situation is that a person was offering a kind gesture to one person but in doing so, he inconvenienced a countless number of people behind him who now had to wait for this large truck to move.

I am guessing the person who made this kind gesture never knew how the people behind him were bothered. He may have assumed they would be OK with him offering a space in the line of traffic. Perhaps they were. My guess is that it never even occurred to him to think about the people behind him because in his mind he was doing a good deed. Was that rude of him to not think about the others that would also be forced to endure his kind gesture? This same type of situation happened to me in a different scenario as well. I had agreed to pick someone up at a certain time. I pulled up and waited where we were to meet at the agreed upon time. Twenty minutes passed before I saw my passenger coming out of the building. My perturbed attitude prompted him to offer an explanation. He had been assisting someone who had asked him for help with something just as he was walking out the door. I realized that his explanation did not make me any less annoyed because it had disrupted my schedule in which I needed to be somewhere else and was now going to be late.

The point to this post is not to discourage random acts of kindness! It is simply to make you think. Even when you are offering kindness to someone, think about its effect on others too. Will it inconvenience someone else and therefore create the opposite effect than what you intended? If you owe someone money but put $10 into a charity box, is that the right thing to do? If you have agreed to meet someone at a particular time but stop to help someone else when they call, is that OK? Again, this is not at all meant to discourage helping others but instead it was meant to be thought provoking. Before acting, try to determine if there is a way that can help one without effecting another. Can you think of a time or situation in which you were trying to help someone and may not have realized the opposite effect it had on someone else?

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Just Get Another One!


My children have been taught many things that I am proud of so far. However, I have learned that there is at least one area in which I have done them a great disservice. Let me set up this explanation.

This issue first came to my attention when I was looking for a marker in a box full of markers that my children use for various homework assignments or crafts. Annoyed by the number of markers without the caps, I called one of my girls into the room to ask why I found the box that way. In the most nonchalant voice she answered, “I don’t know but we can just go get another box.”

What?!? Was she serious? Yes! She was very serious and believed that she was justified in her answer. They were only markers; inexpensive markers. If they dried up, we could pick up another box the next time we were at the store. Dried up markers do not seem like something I should get upset over and I didn’t. I was upset over the careless attitude that I have allowed my children to have by apparently displaying that same attitude myself. Because I am overly aware of the precious and limited time that our children are actually children, I often overlook petty things like this. I do so because the markers really aren’t important and I would rather let them be children than to spend my time scolding them for every innocent move they make. HOWEVER, it appears I have done this to the wrong extreme if this is the attitude that my child has towards her belongings.

There is a medium here and I have failed to reach it. While I don’t believe in making a production over an innocent mistake or putting importance on material things, I do think that it should be pointed out a child why he or she should take care of their things. They need to learn to appreciate everything they have even if it is as insignificant as a marker. If they appreciate their things, they should be showing it by the care they demonstrate. In this case, she should have made a point to put the lids on the markers before putting them in the box. The fact that she failed to see the reason behind it is where I have failed her. So what can I take from this? While I still feel it is OK to let my kids be kids, I also need to make sure they get the basic fundamentals that are necessary for them to live a life that will be pleasing to God. Would God actually care about the dried up marker and want me to “just get another one”? I don’t think so. I think He would want me to use this opportunity to teach my children the value of things and that they should appreciate what they have. Message received!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Unfair!


I often myself in situations that are less than appealing yet I am limited as to what I can do about it. If you are around me very much, you will quickly learn that I have no tolerance for drama. (Of course everyone has moments including myself). If I am unhappy with something or someone is telling me about their unhappiness with a situation, my response usually leads to one thing. After letting a person vent, my next question to that person or even myself is “What are you going to do about it?” If you or I are unhappy with something as it is, then one of two things needs to happen. Either we can accept things how they are and learn to have joy in it or we can do something to change the situation.
Now, despite this no nonsense attitude, I have lately found myself in situations where I am unwilling to change how I feel about something because that something is absolutely not acceptable. However, in that same situation, there may not be anything that I can do to change the circumstances! How can this be? Why should I be made to accept something in which I have been given no choices and no opportunities to change that which seems completely unacceptable?
I’ll tell you how. This is possible because God allows us as humans the privilege of free will. While it may be true that I would not make particular choices, others might make choices that contradict my own. If those people are in positions higher than me, then their choices can determine my fate. That doesn’t seem fair at all. However, if you around me for long, you’ll also hear another phrase of mine. “Life isn’t fair so don’t ever think that you are entitled to anything out of fairness.”
While there is no answer to this dilemma, the Serenity Prayers seems to be the most appropriate response.

I can say this prayer but the real challenge is to mean it and then put it into practice! We’ll see…….

Monday, March 11, 2013

Overwhelming

When I stop to think about my purpose here on this Earth, it is greatly overwhelming. Don’t misunderstand; I don’t mean to imply that my specific purpose is overwhelming or that I am very significant. I am saying that trying to determine how I might best serve this world (in order to glorify God) is overwhelming due to the many needs that exist. When I try to find a cause that I might lead or even assist, the task quickly goes aside due to my own inability to handle all the pain that I come across.

There are an endless number of people in the world doing good and helping others. Some do it in their day to day walk. Others start a foundation or raise money to contribute to a cause. Many of those people start their endeavor because they have been inspired by a specific person or event. Others see the worthy outcome of something and realize they need to invest with either their time or money. Then there are people like me.
Where do you begin if you have had no particular inspiration or any one cause that tugs at your heart? How do you choose one over another without feeling as though you have decided which cause is more important?

Although I haven’t yet found the precise answer, I believe I have learned where to start. Why not begin by determining my strengths and talents? Some organizations may not consider my love for baking a necessary contribution. That was just an example but this has also presented me with yet another dilemma; discovering my strengths. Do you put effort or money into a certain cause or area of need? What led you to do what you do?

Monday, March 4, 2013

Paltry Holidays

Perhaps “paltry” is not the best word but I could find one that conveyed the feeling without seeming even more demeaning. For the sake of hurting someone’s feelings or traditions, I apologize for the choice of word. However, what I am referring to is the many holidays that we designate or even celebrate that could in the least be considered minor.
This topic came to be because of my time spent on Pinterest. The amount of effort that I see people putting into so many holidays is mind boggling to me. This was also a topic I first encountered when I began homeschooling. As the teacher, I paid more attention to these holidays so that our activities could sometimes revolve around them and make the lessons more interesting or break up the everyday work we usually did. For that reason, these trivial holidays were welcome. Still, I often questioned the hype.
In my own family, we do have traditions to celebrate a few holidays such as Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, Independence Day, Halloween, and New Year’s Day. There are a handful of others that make the cut to at least be acknowledged like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Valentine’s, and St. Patrick’s Day. For the major holidays, there’s much more anticipation and preparation. The others are simply a special day for which we may exchange cards or wishes and wear a specific color. The holidays that we acknowledge in my family do not begin to touch on the many that exist and that a significant number of people celebrate. I’d rather not say how I feel about having so many holidays outlined on a calendar but I’m sure it can be inferred.

What is a holiday that is significant in your life and why?

Friday, March 1, 2013

Same Stuff, Different Day

I hear this phrase all the time although its usually with different words. Why do people say this? Usually it's because it does seem like we are doing the same things day in and day out. That's not the same for everyone. There are a fortunate many who cannot say this. Why is that? Are they living a more adventurous life than others? Am I only speaking of those with money or fame? The answer is not at all. While it's true that some lead more exciting lives than others, it doesn't mean that a simple life has to be mundane. Even the simplest life can have joy.

I consider my own to be a simple life. I have also been guilty of responding to a question of "How have you been?" with "Same stuff, different day."  Sometimes, I think it may be accepted small talk more than an actual reflection of our feelings. It is just easier to say that and we know that others will accept it for an answer. If it isn't always what I'm feeling, why do I think I should answer in that way?

I should feel ashamed when I answer a question with the phrase, "Same stuff, different day." First of all, if a person has been kind enough to ask how I am then I should feel an obligation to give an honest answer. Even if they were only asking out of their own obligated feeling, I still owe them more. I should never assume another person's intentions. That being said, I should answer because I believe the other person wants to know.

Second, each morning when we awake, we do so because God has allowed it. He has given us another day to enjoy His creations and His grace and glory. We should revel in that! No matter how mundane the activities of our day may seem, there is something unique about each and every day. If there isn't, maybe that's my point. Perhaps it is our responsibility to make each day special. We should be looking for opportunities everywhere in which to find and share joy with others. Here's my proposal both for you and myself. For the next week, consider the gift of each day. Find the good in it and look for ways to make it different. If we can do it for one week, then we may find that we can change our lives with a new outlook of "Another day, more opportunities!"