Priorities

What are yours?  What do you want them to be?

You may think the answer for each question is the same.  But take a look at how you spend your time.  That will tell you where your priorities are.   Think about this.  Say your priorities are God, spouse, children, followed by job or other things.

How much time do you spend with God in a day, a week?   Time with God doesn’t have to be 100% focused on Him.  I could be doing dishes and praying while I’m doing it, or listening to Christian music or radio.

What about with your spouse?  Here I am referring more to specific, directed one-on-one time with him/her.  Where you are sitting and listening to what they are saying.  Doing things you like to do together.  Things without the children underfoot (some couples set up an hour each week where they go alone into their bedroom and the rule is they are not to be disturbed.)

And children.  A great deal of time with children is care-taking.  Feeding, clothing, reasonably clean sheltering, educating them and so on.  And that’s fine, and good, and necessary.  But do you really know your children?  Know what they like/dislike, what they think.  DO you talk TO them (as opposed to AT them)?

If God is your number one priority, that doesn’t mean you must spend most of your time on your knees in prayer.  It does mean that He will be often in your mind, you will think/ pray/ talk to/with Him often, many times each day.

And so on.

Think about it.  What are you priorities?  What do you want them to be?

Yes, But

I think this phrase could be banned from the English language.

“I lost 20 pounds.” “Yes, but you have another 30 to lose.”

“I got my assignment done and turned in on time.”“Yes, but you only got a C on the paper.”

“I got a job!”“Yes, but it’s not full time and only pays $x”

People also do this to themselves:

“Yes, I lost 20 pounds, but still have 30 to go.”

“Yes, I got the assignment done on time, but I only got a C on it.”

“Yes, I got a job, but it’s only part time and doesn’t pay well.”

While the phrases after the “but” may indeed be true, they negate or cancel out the positive first part.  Can’t we/you/I just skip the “but” part?  Do we need to mention that?  Maybe it does need to be covered, to do it at another time might be better?

For example, later on , maybe the next time an assignment is due, discuss with the student what they might be able to do to earn a grade better than a C.  Think about what has worked to shed 20 pounds and how you will continue to lose the remainder you need to lose.  And so on.

Think about this the next few days.  How often do you say, “Yes, but…”

Does it serve you/others well?

 

Clutter

Boys are our lives cluttered!  Mine is anyway, and most people around me have cluttered lives.

We have physical clutter.  Things.  Stuff.   Papers.  Clothes.   Gadgets.  Toys (kids toys and big kid – adult-  toys.   We need to keep track of, organize store and sort all that clutter.  Some of it may indeed be necessary and valuable.  I have noticed that when the piles on my desk get too high and I go through and sort them, a good many (that I “thought” were important can now be tossed, 2-3 months later?)

My son got us a new toaster for Christmas.  The old one worked, kind of.  (It DID work, just set off the smoke alarm a lot.)  So really the old one could have been tossed.  Instead hubby put it in the basement.  WHY????

We have “social busyness” clutter.  This and that obligation (our own, or our children’s).  Maybe good things, or some good things, but they still clutter up our lives.  Does doing X really serve you (or your family) best?

And mind clutter.  So many things on our minds.  Some people are quite overloaded in that way.  One thing most helpful for me is to make list.  Once I write it on the list, it doesn’t have to stay in my mind any longer.

I find that when my physical space is decluttered, I can function much better.  My thinking is clearer, I am more efficient, and simply happy.  Same with my social schedule.  Being free from “having” to do xyz is quite liberating.

So think about the clutter in your life- any kind of clutter.  Think about if it serves you (or are you a slave to IT)?  What can you do to improve things?

 

Act

What gets in the way of your acting the way you want to act?

I think about my 9 yo daughter, Rosemary, who has Down Syndrome.  She is a joyful, happy free spirit.  She loves and expresses herself as she feels.    New Year’s Eve she heard someone say something about a party and began jumping up and down, totally excited.   Every week after Mass she gives Father a hug.  She gives anyone a hug who she thinks needs one.

Why do we not act in ways we might like to?  I think a big key is that we worry about what others will think of us.  This never crosses Rosemary’s mind.

Would it not be better to act as we feel is best, and not concern ourselves with what others may think?  Yes, we need to abide by social norms, but I think often we fear demonstrating emotions: giving someone a hug, crying at a movie.

Perhaps it would be good to evaluate some of our choices, and be more open.

Even if we are afraid.  I recall once (twice actually) when we once did a door-to-door mission.  We are Catholic, and as a family (as part of a larger group) we went door to door in a community inviting people to Easter Week mass and services.  Part of our :script” was to ask folks if they had anything we would like us to pray for- any intentions.  Some people did.

Twice over the 3 days period we did this, I felt called to ask the person if they would like us to pray with them NOW for this intention.   They said yes, and I/we did.  Now I am NOT an expert pray-er.  I am NOT used to praying with complete strangers out loud.  I am not sued to praying out loud, period (except prayers like the rosary and Mass prayers.)

Yet I choose to follow through and pray with those people and they were very powerful experiences, both for me and for them.  Was I afraid?  You bet!  Was I glad I did it?  You bet!

Be not afraid, step out and act in the way you want, the way you are called to.  Forget about what others may think of you.

Actions and your Heart

I saw this quote the other day:

People can only see what is in your heart through your actions.

Think about this.  What are people seeing with you?  Is it the way you want to be?   Sometimes we think we are one way, in reality we are not what we imagine ourselves to be.   I do think our actions (and words) reflect what is in our hearts.

Challenge: spend some time consciously paying attention to your actions- see what picture you are presenting.  Analyze if you want to change or not.

People are good, people are generous

Back in 1987, my husband and I and our 3 children (at the time) worked as missionaries in Venezuela.  Before we left for our 2 ½ year journey, and while we were there, we asked friends and family for financial support, for ourselves, but also (and mostly) to run the children’s home we were in charge of.  There was some local funding, but it was pretty meager, not enough to do the job well.

People responded most generously.  We had enough funds to support ourselves, hire 3 local people to help run the home, and even enough left over to help the other children’s homes in the area (drastically underfunded).

The other day, Jan. 8, there was an accident and the 4 yo son of a woman I know was badly burned.  He ended up far from home in a specialized burn center.  His mom is with him, leaving 5 other children at home.  Her husband was also burned, but not as badly as the child.  He did not need to be moved to the burn center.

Someone (a relative I think) set up a donation center/ fundraiser to help with costs.  It looks like the child will be in the hospital 6 months plus.  I cannot imagine what that must be like for the entire family.  But what impresses me greatly is the outpouring of generosity.  The current fundraiser goal is $25,000.  It has been only 4 days since the accident as of this writing, and already they have gotten over $16,000.

Now, this is an ordinary family.  They are not celebrities, not famous, they don’t have thousands and thousands of friends.  Just ordinary folks.  Yet there has been a  tremendous outpouring of support- prayers and financially.    I suspect that many of the donors have never met them.  I posted on my facebook page about it, and asked folks to support them, with prayers and/or financially.  Others have done the same, I’m sure.  (And this is not a “close” friend, just someone I know.  I only met her once through a Catholic moms group we both belonged to.)

The money will continue to pour in, and if they raise their goal, I’m sure folks will keep giving until it is met.  As I scanned the donations list, there were some $10 donations, but also a fair number of $500 ones, and even more.  And I suspect some of those donors have never met the family or heard of them until they read the appeal.

People are good, people are generous.  Even in these supposed times of a lousy economy.

Thank you, Lord.

PS Should anyone like to read more or contribute:  Fulton Poppe Fundraiser

Generosity

I’ve been thinking about this lately.  You really can never outdo God in generosity.  My kids (ages 34-9), none of whom are “wealthy” are all generous.   I think they kind of picked this up from my husband and I.  (Again, I take no credit for excellent parenting, we just followed the lead God showed us.)  When we “gave”, we usually tried not to let the receiver know, of possible.  So we’d do things like give our parish priest $400 to give to the single mom whose washer broke so she could buy a  new one.  I’d tell my husband about a friend who had a grandchild they had never seen because they couldn’t afford an airplane ticket ($300).  Without batting an eye, he’d say, “Buy it for her.”   (Or get the money to her to buy it.)  The kids saw these kinds of things.

And just one way this has turned around and come back to us is in their generosity.  The other day my 22 yo son bought his dad a new top of the line chain saw because we really needed another one (we had two older ones that were pretty well used), and because he felt he wanted to give us something for some of the shenanigans he pulled over the last year or so.

My 30 yo daughter bought her brother an airline ticket to come home to see his wife and kids when he couldn’t afford it.  This same daughter amazed us all last Christmas with an amazing gift.    In mid-December our mini-van was totaled (no injuries).   No collision on the vehicle.    We had several thousand in other vehicle repair bills as well as a few other financial crunch items pop up.    Money was tight, we were having a cash flow problem.  My husband was stressing over the loss of the mini-van.

So Christmas rolls around.  My daughter (this one, the 30 yo) gave her dad $100, but had it in all kinds of forms, rolls of quarters, dollars bills, a few $20s, all wrapped up separate.  He thought that was nice, generous, and funny.   Then she gives him another gift as a kind of “afterthought”.  He opens it and it’s the title to a new (used) mini-van!  She rallied her siblings and they bought him (us) a car.  (I must be honest and say that 95% of the gift was from our daughter.)   We were floored and stunned.  Amazing generosity!  (She knew it was one he wanted because it was a van our mechanic had and my husband had plans to buy it from him after the New Year).

Anyway, you can never outdo God in generosity.  Give and give generously.  Give of your time, talent and treasure.  And the more you have, the more you can give.

 

Thoughts on Married Life- 36 years today

PRAISE THE LORD

36 years ago today, I wed the man I loved.  I can reflect on lessons learned, what works for us.    I realize some have troubled marriages, I pray for them.  These are reflections on what we’ve learned, what’s important to us, what has helped us persevere for 36 years.

I just watched a video from a liberal (but wonderful) friend who actually teaches flirting (she’s a hoot).    She talks about seduction, says every married couple should be seducing each other (and gives a few suggestions, detailed, but not TOO detailed).  Made my husband watch the video.  Also, she was at one of the conferences we were at and gave him an “assignment” to do with me (had to do with hugging or something).  He hasn’t done it (this was like last summer!).  Okay, so I’d like a hubby who is “seductive”.  Mine isn’t, in the unusual sense of the word.  So be it.  I accept that.  Which kind of brings me to my first point (these aren’t in any order of importance…)

My husband is who he is.  I accept that.   I didn’t always.  30 years ago if he had wanted to wear that silly yellow and black tie, I would have had a hissy fit.  (Side note… I had an on-line discussion with about 200 moms, posted a picture of John’s new tie.  It is a hideous yellow and black striped thing, looks like a road construction warning.  None of them thought it was good, a very few thought okay. It was from a thrift store, so he only paid a few bucks for it.)    Now, I let him clearly know I think it’s terrible, and makes HIM look stupid/foolish, but I can easily accept him even if he wears it.  I love HIM, occasional bad taste in ties and all.

My husband is NOT me, he’s his own person.  We complement each other.  Took me a long time to realize that what other people thought of HIM is what they think of HIM, not ME.  And if he wants to present that image, that’s up to him.  As his loving wife, I can make him aware of how he comes across sometimes, but he can act how he wants.  So I can say that if he wears that tie, most people will think he’s pretty dorky (this is something he does not, obviously, realize on his own).  Or when he talks a certain way, he offends a lot of people and they think he’s arrogant and uninformed (he can sometimes seem kind of boorish).  He, as a man in general, does not notice people’s reactions.  So I just help him be aware of how he looks to others, and ask him if that is that what he WANTS to look like, is that the image he wants to present?   Now, how he or I look to others is NOT important to either of us, EXCEPT in so much as it is our obligation to help others get to Heaven.  If by our dress, attitude, words, whatever, we come across certain ways, that will probably not be a good example to others.  Also, and this was a big thing for me, is to realize that if people think John is a fool or dork or anything else, that is what they think about HIM, NOT me.  When they see him with that tie, they judge HIM, not me.  Except perhaps they might think I married a real loser for marrying him (and I’m not, I’m one of the luckiest women out there).  It reflects about 99% on HIM, not me.  And if that’s what he wants (or doesn’t care), I don’t let it bother me.  Now this is not to say I’m not proud of him, I am.  And generally he respects my opinion and if I ask him not to wear that tie to our Valentine’s dance, he won’t.  He’ll dress up sharp and look like a million bucks.  But he WILL probably still wear the tie to Toastmasters (where he goes without me).

Took me a long time to realize my husband is NOT perfect.  I think he is wonderful in many ways (but like all of us, does have faults).  But he’s not perfect.  He will, sooner or later, in big and/or small ways, sometimes disappoint me or let me down (unintentionally).  That’s what really took me a long time, to realize that it’s okay for him to let me down sometimes.  More than the fact that he’s not perfect.    I need to forgive that (and I can).  I don’t like it (neither does he), but it’s going to happen.  Live with it, don’t hang on to those times.

Life will have ups and downs, good times and bad.  Enjoy them all.

Okay, just a bit here.  We learned NFP (Natural Family Planning) when we were engaged.  The only time we practiced it to avoid pregnancy was when we were working as missionaries in Venezuela for 2 ½ years.  My opinion (John would agree): it’s a whole lot more fun to forget charts, temps and all that and just let nature take its course! Laugh!  But it’s true!  (11 pregnancies later…..)

Communicate.  Talk.  Share.  If you have a man (like many) who aren’t used to that, teach him.  They can learn.  (Maybe slowly, and you need to repeat frequently, but they’ll get it.)

Give 100%.  Marriage is not 50/50.  It’s 100/100.

Pray.   Without God, you might as well hang it up.  If only one of you has faith, then you will have to make that enough to get you by (until he gets some as well..)  For us, with the many things we’ve lived through, without out God, we would have crumbled about 25 years ago.  HE will sustain you when you cannot….

John and I committed to each other on Sept. 24, 1976.  Committed.  No matter what.  So when the going gets tough, remember your commitment.  Life hasn’t always even a bed of roses for us, or between us, but we have remained committed to each other.  No matter what.  (I think it has been much worse for him than me.. I went through some years of …uh….. pretty intense PMS stuff… not a very loving wife or person for a while…)

Support one another. Particularly in the roles of husband and wife, man and woman.  Submission is another whole topic, but it IS a good thing, and works, and makes a marriage, and both partners stronger.

Your husband is more important than your kids.  For many years, and many times, the needs of your children may outweigh the needs of your husband,.  That is fine, meet the needs of your children.  But NOT at the expense of your marriage.    Meeting needs (or the level of needs) is not the same as importance.  Rosemary may have greater needs than my other children, that doesn’t mean she any more important than they are.  One of the very best things a child can have/get is parents with a solid marriage.

You cannot change your spouse.  I can encourage, and do lots of things to help.  But for him to change, he has to 1) see there is a problem, 2) admit he has control (some or all) over it, 3) WANT to change. (This is  a HUGE one, I think.  My husbnad needs to lose weight,. He knows it, he admits he has control, he doesn’t WANT to change that much.  He SAYS he does, but his actions do not bear that out.)  And if 1, 2 and 3 are met, it will probably still take a long time, with slips and back pedaling.

You CAN change you.  You can change your attitude, your thinking, all kinds of things.  I’m NOT suggesting anyone become a door mat or something God is not calling them to be.  Just to realize you control YOU control you- your actions, and can choose them, and change the way you act/think.  You can’t control/change your spouse.

LAUGH together!  FLIRT with each other!  Have FUN together.

Be not afraid.  Don’t be afraid of the hard things.  They WILL come.  Face them head on together.    Many of you have heard this story, but it illustrates my point.  I’m in a hospital bed in mayo clinic facing major surgery the next morning (unexpected).  I was scared.  John asked of what and why.  He proceeded to explain (correctly and it was just what I needed to hear) that the only thing to fear is dying and going to hell.  “You just had the Anointing of the Sick, so that’s not going to happen.  Anything else we can deal with.”  And he meant it.  Anything else (even my death or his) we/he/I can deal with.  Be not afraid (expect of dying and going to hell, and if you’re worried about that, do something NOW about it- get RIGHT with God.)  be not afraid.

Our priorities (and I’ll admit that there are times when both of us fail to live up to them) are: God, each other, family (kids), and then others.  Set your priorities (talk about them, discuss this) and keep them in front of you.  We help keep each other on the straight and narrow (or try).  Admittedly, often this is not “fun”.  If I remind John that he hasn’t exercised all week, he may not like that.  If he sees a candy wrapper in the car and says something to me, I may not like that.  We both know it’s for the other’s good, and we try to help each other in positive ways, but sometimes it’s not fun to give or get such “reminders”.  When I am ticked at my husband for something like that, I try to remember he’s doing it because he loves me and wants to help me get to Heaven.

One of the very best things we can do for each other is indirect compliments.  If I overhear John on the phone bragging about me to some customer or supplier, that makes my day.  And if I give this to him to read (I did) and he sees the part about where I say he’ll look like a million bucks, it will boost him (not that this particular man’s ego needs much boosting, but it is still very nice to hear).  Direct compliments are also very nice.

You don’t need to compare yourself to others.  John is not the type to write love letters to me.  That’s okay.  Getting a love letter would be wonderful.  But he can show his love in other ways (and does).  I’d like it if he were more romantic in certain ways.  (And me being a woman and him a … shall I say… typically dense?….. man I have explained EXACTLY what I mean by that.)  And if he can do that, or do it sometimes, fine.  If not, that’s okay.  Like I said, I can’t change him.

FIND THE POSITIVE.  Be encouraging.  Okay, I’ve got this husband with this ridiculous tie.  I can kid him about it, and so on.  And I have been.  BUT, the same qualities that “allow” him to be able to wear that thing in public are the same ones I admire I so many ways. They are the qualities that allow him to start evangelizing with a complete stranger about the faith.  So I can lament that he doesn’t care what people think about him, or I can rejoice that he doesn’t care.  On the one hand it means the tie, on the other it means saving souls.  Saving souls is more important.  That’s just an example of focusing on the positive.

Lately, I have been realizing how important a good marriage is to help your CHILDREN prepare for married life.  If they do not grow up with mom and dad happily married, it is so much harder for them to learn how to be a good spouse.