Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Some Things We Just Can't Control

Are you a control freak? I know there are times when I am and I'm mature enough to admit it. Truth be told I think there are times when we'd all like to know what is going to happen and when. Unfortunately, that could be good or bad. There is such a thing as destiny, which to many is always known as 'God's Plan'. God's plan is something that none of us have any control over and maybe that's for the best. If I knew what was going to happen to me tomorrow I'd probably do one of two things ... first if it was a good thing I'd probably try and rush it to make it happen sooner (and probably mess it up by interfering) or second if it was something bad I'd be so angry and depressed that I'd ruin today. You can see where it might be best for everyone if we were to let God handle our destinies for us and just sit back and go along for the ride. Have faith that God will do what's best for you. If something good happens, that's awesome! If something you would have preferred did not happen happens anyway have faith that God will give you the strength you need to get through it.

Below are a few quotes by Charles Swindoll that I have always enjoyed. I hope they make you stop and think as much as they do me.

“We are all faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as impossible situations.”

"The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failure, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company... a church... a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past... we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. And so it is with you... we are in charge of our Attitudes.”

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The True Value Of A Word

Words can be simple or they can be complicated. The choice is always there and always yours. You've probably heard the old sayings 'choose your words carefully' and 'if you can't say anything nice then don't say anything at all'. I can't think of better advice. Words have the amazing ability to be anything. They can be heartfelt and supportive or they can be hurtful and mean-spirited. They can be comedic, witty and punny or they can be warm, endearing and inspiring.

Words can be singular and powerful like 'GO', 'STOP', 'YES', and 'NO'. Words can also become clear phrases when put together that tell us exactly what someone is thinking: 'I LOVE YOU', 'I'M HUNGRY', and when my kids were young ... 'BRUSH YOUR TEETH, IT'S TIME FOR BED'. I don't think a parent can be any clearer than that. Words can be very effective. They can used to form meaningful prayers that guide us when we are in need, the rhymes in a greeting card that make us smile, the lyrics in a song that warm our hearts, or create life-changing effects in a politician's speech.

I have a favorite website that I go to when I want to read words that are unique; words that make me think or make me laugh. The website is called the 'Quote Garden'. You can type in any category and you'll be blessed with a wide variety of quotes, some by people you've heard of and others that you haven't. The fascinating part isn't always 'who said what' but rather 'what was actually said'. Words have the keen ability to entertain us, but also to make us stop and think.

Here are a few quotes that caught my eye today.

You can tell more about a person by what he says about others than you can by what others say about him. ~ Leo Aikman

Do what you can, with what you have, where you are. ~ Theodore Roosevelt

The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little extra. ~ Jimmy Johnson

Look at everything as though you were seeing it either for the first or last time. ~ Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

I thought growing up was something that happened automatically as you got older. But it turns out it's something you have to choose to do. ~ From the television show Scrubs

What are my words for you today? Think of what you want to say to someone or what you want to write ... hear them in your mind first or read what you have written ... listen to or read the words carefully, be sure you are clear and that they are the right words. Remember that once you use them you can't always get them back. Make them count and use them wisely.

Friday, August 12, 2011

It's not all about you!

I've come to realize that while my life and schedule are extremely busy and important (at least to me) ... that it's not all about me. Yes, I have responsibilities and agendas and hopes and dreams, but then so do a lot of other people. Mine certainly aren't any more important than theirs are. Of course, I'm sure there are times when all of us (if we were to be completely honest) think that the world revolves only around us, that what we do is most crucial, that our time is more valuable that anyone else's and that what we think and have to say is always right. Wow, is it just me or does that last sentence sound really selfish and perhaps even delusional? We've all experienced people like these.

Only this week I was sitting in 'clearly marked' construction where signs indicated for a good 1/2 mile that the 'left lane would be closed ahead'. While I sat in bumper-to-bumper traffic in the right lane patiently waiting my turn (or at least I'd like to think I was patient), car after car sped by me in the left lane thinking that there was no need for them to wait their turn like everyone else, that it was perfectly acceptable for them to suddenly cut me off and merge into my lane ... AS IF their time was somehow so much more valuable than mine or everyone else who was sitting in the right lane. I tried to show them some grace ... I swear I looked for the flashing lights on top of their car to indicate that they were a police car or an EMS vehicle on their way to saving someone's life, but try as I might I just didn't see those flashers. Go figure! So what is my point with all of this, besides the clear disregards for other people's time? My point is that we need to look outside of our own little bubbles sometimes. We need to make a bigger effort to support other people, whether that is through everyday courtesies to total strangers (in the backed up traffic lane, in the cashier's line at the grocery store, or merely opening up the door for a young mother who is struggling to push the stroller all while holding the hand of a distracted 4 year old). Sad to say but we shouldn't even have to think twice about the situations above. These should be natural instincts.

But we can take it a step further and put more effort in to it. There are so many ways to support the people around us. We just need to slow down and observe, take the time to really pay attention. Look around you and take note ... what are your friend's or family's passions and interests? Go to your 8 year old nephew's baseball game. Cheer him on. It doesn't matter if he's the MVP or the bench warmer. Cheer his name, let him know you're there for him. Trust me, after YEARS of attending hockey games, dance recitals, school concerts, half time shows, and charity fundraising events people welcome the support. I remember years ago when my husband was coaching the high school's roller hockey team. I would sit in the bleachers (at EVERY game) and cheer for EVERY boy on the team. I know that schedules can get demanding, but it was sad to see a 16 year old boy score a goal and look into the stands for his parents (who weren't there). That's why I made the effort to know the name of each player on the team and cheered for every one of them. See, it's not all about me or my son. Of course I should probably add a disclaimer that lets you know that I am one of 'those' fans ... the kind that scream and cheer and stand for most of the game. I'm not an athletic person, but have ALWAYS loved high school sports. At one high school football game I was cheering and carrying on after the home team scored a touchdown when another parent said 'Wow, you sure are a proud parent. What position does your son play?' I just laughed and said, "Oh I don't have a son on the football team, my son is in the drum line with the marching band!' The look are the parent's face was priceless.

There are so many ways to show your support. Your gesture doesn't have to big, just letting someone know that you're paying attention can be huge. This week I attended my first garden walk. It was amazing. This couple had beautiful gardens at their home. They'd obviously spent a lot of money and time planning, planting and pruning their plants and flowers. It was well thought out and just plain beautiful. The fun part was watching how excited they were to talk about what they had accomplished and how they'd done it. While they appreciated the support, I enjoyed the view!

This morning started the 2011 Susan G. Komen Michigan 3 Day Walk for breast cancer. I walked in the event last summer, but was unable to participate this year. I know several of the walkers who are out there walking or volunteering today. As a past walker, I KNOW first hand the impact the enthusiasm from the cheering stations has on the walkers. It's what they need to keep going as they walk 60 miles in 3 days in the hopes of making a difference for research and for finding a cure. If you should see a walker out there today or in your town, make a friendly sign, honk your car horn, wave to them, give them sandwich bags filled with ice cubes, anything ... but show them some support!

In any of life's situations, a little show of support can go a long way!

Friday, August 5, 2011

What a busy week!

I feel like I've neglected my readers and this blog lately. Sorry about that. Last week I took 4 days of R&R (minus the rest) to drive south with my family. 1,150 miles in 4 days doesn't leave a whole lot of time for sleep. I got to spend time with my son in Bloomington, IN and then (as a family) we drove further south on Saturday to attend my brother's wedding in Louisville, KY. I had a really good time! The weather was mostly clear (but hot) - one night we watched an unbelievable lightning storm. It never did rain but for an hour we watched the sky continually light up with horizontal lightning bolts. That's something I'm not used to seeing. I've seen vertical bolts look like they stretch from the top of the sky all the way down to ground, but can't say that I've ever seen that much horizontal lightning. It was almost as if someone was flashing huge construction lights at us ... at one point when we were outside walking back to the van my kids said they could actually feel vibrations coming up through the ground and up their legs. That was a bit freaky. I must say we ALL got back to the van pretty quickly after that.

The wedding, though, was wonderful. My brother and his new bride make a beautiful couple. The chapel was historic and had amazing stained glass windows. It was really something special to see.

We got back late on Sunday night because I needed to be back to work for Monday morning. The church where I work was hosting VBS (vacation bible school) all this week. More than 130 children were registered. The weather held out (a true blessing when you have games to be played outside), no one was injured, no one got sick, no one got lost, and except for a few minor cases of 'mommy-itis' the week went off extremely well. I always enjoy watching the enthusiasm that the children (and volunteers) display. The theme days are always a highlight ... pajama day, mismatch day, crazy hair day (my favorite), and dressing like your new friends for twin/triplet day.

Needless to say, it's been a long 10 days or so but I'm hoping to get back on track now. Although I'm not sure how I would react if I had a non-busy life to live. That's one of the secrets to staying young at heart, right? I hope so, because that's what I always try to tell myself.

So what's on my horizon now? Let's see ... maybe find an hour or so to clean up my flowerbeds this weekend, get primed for volunteering at my daughter's high school marching band mini-camp next week, and hopefully finish up my current library book since I got an email this morning that the next book that I had on hold is in.

After weeks like this I think I know just how a hamster on a wheel feels ... kind of like you're not sure if you're coming or going. But exercise is good for you, right?