Posted in Children, communication, humility, Kindness, Uncategorized

Going Out While Staying In

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I was recently challenged to do a 7 Day Experiment in Intentional Living from John Maxwell’s blog.

The first day of the experiment was about putting family first and the exercise was to pick a family member to do something special for them. It was suggested to take them out to a place that I knew they would enjoy. (if your interested in doing this experiment go to John C. Maxwell and Intentional Living).

My husband is the family member I wanted to do something with and for because I know that after 50 plus years of marriage we can get into a rut now and then and take each other for granted. But I had a problem because going out was not in our budget that week. As a retired couple on a fixed income we have to watch our pennies you know.
As I contemplated what I could do for him I realized that I could go out of my way and comfort zone to do something with him right here at home.

My husband is a real Sci-fy kind of guy and I am soooo not a Sci-fy gal! So in the evenings he graciously hands me the remote and has me watch what I am comfortable with, or if there is a Sci-fy that he really wants to watch I go to the den and read while he watches it.
On day one of the 7 Day Experiment we stayed in and I fixed him a special dinner and after dishes were done and we settled in for the evening I gave him the remote and told him to watch whatever he would like, even the Sci-fy channel and then stayed in the room with him to watch it.
Before we went to bed that night I gave him a card with a poem I wrote ( I use the term poem loosely here) noted below:

“I fixed you a special dinner and gave the remote to you
Because I love you and
I know that you love me too!”

Needless to say he was surprised and pleased and he even mentioned it the next day!
But most of all I was absolutely giddy when I went to bed that night and the world seemed a better place over all! It is amazing what a blessing can come from one little act of kindness, and especially when that act of kindness is for someone you love.
I plan to make it a regular event on my calendar each month!

When was the last time you went out of your comfort zone to spend some special time with a loved one, a spouse, a significant other, a child or parent?

Choose someone today, and don’t forget to write them a note at the end of the day to let them know they are special to you.

 

Posted in Children, Kindness

“The Family Reunion”

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What is the first thought that comes to mind when you receive the invitation to the annual “Family Reunion” ?

I dread it, I will tolerate it, I don’t have time for it, It’s just a bunch of old people and nutty relatives?

Or

I can’t wait, love seeing everyone and catching up, will meet new family members and fellowship with the elders, hope crazy Uncle Larry is there, he is so much fun!

After 50 years of family reunions I have observed that there is a general response that varies depending on what seasons of life we are in and the family dynamics we have grown up with.

As a kid I didn’t go to family reunions because we didn’t have them. Our family was pretty fragmented and had a degree of dysfunction that kept us from being close to family most of the time. So when I married my husband who had a very large family and experienced my first “Family Reunion” it was a bit overwhelming to say the least.

Everyone came Grama and Grampa, Aunts and Uncles, Great Aunts and Great Uncles, all of the cousins from the oldest to the youngest, there was even an aunt who brought her husband and her boyfriend! Everyone brought food of some kind and games to play. It was like a rerun of Walton’s Mountain, as a matter of fact it was on a mountain where my husband’s sister and brother-in-law lived on a farm.

These people were excited to see each other and everyone knew everyone else that was there. I recall thinking “I could probably only recall two of my Aunt’s names and maybe four of my cousin’s”.
Older relatives commenting on how the little ones had grown, younger ones smiling then running off to play, laughing and teasing one another.

The men quickly went off to visit with family members they hadn’t seen which always led to a game of horseshoes and or a discussion regarding fishing and/or hunting.
The women were left to visit, get food set up, and compare notes on kids, husbands and life in general.
My husband’s family was very kind and tried to include me in conversation and activities but, having been raised in the city in a smaller and transient family, I saw nothing that we had in common and felt like a fish out of water. They were country folk and I was a city slicker, they had farms, cows and huge gardens that supplied their families with food. I, on the other hand, depended totally on what was on special at the grocery store to fill our cupboards. I even turned my nose up at the thought of having to dig in the dirt to get my food and drinking milk straight from the cow out of a stainless steel pitcher . I was also somewhat perturbed that the women were left to watch the kids and get the food set up while the men went and played (well, truth be known, probably more than slightly perturbed). After all hadn’t these women heard of the women’s rights movement?

All very foreign to me yet it somehow held a fascination I couldn’t explain at the time.

So for several years my response was “it’s his family so we will go for my husband’s sake”. But after we had a couple of children and they couldn’t wait to go see all their family and play with their cousins my heart began to soften. I thought about what I had missed as a child by not having the same opportunity with my own family and my attitude began to change. I wanted our children to experience family in a way I never had. The realization came to me that I was a part of “this family” now.

Every year I would get to know this family better and began to see that there love for each other was genuine and that they loved me in the same way. They were actually showing me what being part of a family was really all about. The full impact of their influence on me and how I raised my family was not realized until many years later when my own children began leaving home.

As our kids grew older I began looking forward to the family reunions as I realized the importance of family and that it wasn’t just his family reunion but was our family reunion. I came to look forward to the reunions and the love we found there.

Over the years many of the older generation passed on and finally Dad and Mom Bird went home to heaven too and a strange thing happened for a few years, the “Family Reunion” sort of fell by the wayside. Then all our kids grew up and had families of their own and in-laws to consider and life was so busy that we didn’t see each other much any more. Those of us who were now the matriarchs and patriarchs of our families realized that our grandchildren were missing out on a great family tradition. And as our children grew older and their children as well we began a journey that brought us back to the family reunions.

Things are different now, change happens, and many family members are no longer with us, many have moved out of the area and can’t make it, but we are coming together again and hopefully setting a course that those who come behind us will follow and the importance of family will be passed on to future generations.

In my own extended family we have also developed a new appreciation for each other and have been working to bring our family closer together. Our families have come to be one family as well.

In this winter season of my life I am so grateful for this family that took me in, tolerated me, loved me unconditionally through the rough years and taught me the importance of caring for one another. And I am  thankful for the love that has grown out of it all in our own children for their families.

That love has been passed on to my own siblings and many foster children over the years and it all started at the Family Reunion!

If you’re looking for us the first Sunday in August we won’t be available. We will be at the farm on the hill at our “Family Reunion” where we will find family, food, fellowship, fun, some crazy people, but most of all love!

When is your family reunion?

If you have one don’t miss it!

If you don’t have one, start one!
Don’t have a family? Join us, there is enough love to go around in ours!
Because family matters!

Posted in communication, Kindness, peace, Peaceful, responsibility

Where’s Your Trigger Set?

As the wife of a Master Gunsmith I have found there is much to learn about life from the care and repair of firearms and their ability to help or harm. My husband is retired now but still does some “trigger work” every year for a couple of long time customers. These customers keep coming back because they want someone with experience and the right tools needed to keep the trigger settings within a legal and safe margin.

If the trigger pull is to light (to touchy) the gun can go off prematurely without warning, randomly hitting whatever is in its path. If the trigger pull is to heavy (harder to pull) there is a tendency to pull away from your target and hit what is not intended, missing the mark completely. Adjustments are made by filing and/or adjusting tensions to get just the right trigger set point. Each firearm may have a different set point when it comes from the manufacturer that is within what is considered to be the legal and safe range. Set points may need to be changed in order to accommodate an individuals stature, strength, and the purpose for which the firearm is used, always keeping in mind the legal and safe range.

Just as a trigger on a firearm can be dangerous if it isn’t evaluated and adjusted from time to time, in order to respond appropriately to the pressure being exerted on it, we too have a point where situations, circumstances, and others can “trip our trigger” (pun intended). Where our trigger is set can make the difference in whether or not we miss or hit our mark, whether we harm or help as we fire off our response.

The place we see this analogy play out most often today is in the realm of  social media. With the rapidly increasing social media available, every thought, opinion, and challenge is out there for all to respond to and with many of the opinions and responses having little or no filter. Because there is no personal contact, personal responsibility or immediate repercussions to the response or comment posted, the comments are often shot from the hip. When an opinion or comment hits a nerve we are often quick to fire off our own responses and/or comments, defending or rebuking without any thought that they may consequently ricochet and harm an innocent bystander. But on the other hand we may delay our making positive comments or fail to consider not responding at all in order to diffuse a conversation gone rogue.

So where is your trigger set?

Does your trigger need to be reset?

Is it to touchy? Or is there too much delay? Either way you could be missing the mark and end up needing damage control!

Our set points may need to be changed in order to accommodate our individual natures, strengths or weaknesses, and the purpose of our response, always keeping in mind the safe and effective range.

So what are we to do?

How do we find the experience and the right tools to reset our “trigger point”?

Of course a master gunsmith won’t be able to do the job, but on the other hand we have a Master Creator who made us and He knows just where our triggers are set and has given us the tools to adjust them and maintain them at that safe and effective level that will enable us to fulfill His purpose. God has even given us the instruction book, His own word, on keeping that set point in line with His will, His target for building His kingdom here on earth in a positive and effective way. He will guide us, file down our rough spots, and tighten or loosen the tensions to adjust the response time to where it needs to be.

He gives much attention to instructing us to “be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (James 1:9) , to have “soundness in our speech that cannot be condemned” (Titus 2:8), and to “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” (Colossians 4:6) These are just a few of our instructions regarding our speech, whether spoken or written.

In the final analysis are we going regularly to the Master to assure our trigger point is set where it needs to be or are we just letting emotions and others determine our set point? Is our aim to be right or to live the righteous life that God desires? Do we want to show how much we know or how much we care, to be grumpy or gracious?

To conclude I leave you with a quote from  King Solomon’s practical words for living in the Proverbs:

“A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.”  Proverbs 25:11

Let your words be like “apples of gold” and you will find the “settings of silver” that the Lord wants to reveal in and through you!