Saturday, December 31, 2005
In essence, she explained how writing down goals is the first step toward achieving them. I believe that. In fact, most of the things I wrote down have come to pass.
One goal on my list was that I wanted to be published in Woman's World, another was that I wanted to be a public speaker. I've done both. I also wrote that I wanted to go to England. I'm going there in April.
I also wrote that I wanted to weigh 140 lbs. Oh well, like I said, most, have happened.
January 1st is a good time to list goals. Goals, not resolutions.
Dream big. Write them down, and be faithful to do your part. Rarely are things handed to us on a silver platter. The reason I was published in Woman's World was because I wrote something.
List at least 5 things. I'll do the same, and let's meet here next December 31st and share what happened in 2006!
Friday, December 02, 2005
I mused over that word the other day. A sort of compound word. Divided it says Christ and mass. It means, "Communion of Christ."
But, in my mind I pictured Christ looking at the masses. The people who came to hear Him speak of hope, to feel His touch, to be healed in their bodies and souls.
It occurred to me that He looks at the masses in a different way than some do. He looks and sees a face. All too often, there are those who only see governments, presidents, kings, prime ministers, dictators, and the like.
I admit, it is easy to resent certain people groups when the news shows crowds shaking their fists at the sky, chanting, burning our flag.
It is easy to fear certain people groups, like North Korea, because of the constant threat and desire to use a nuclear bomb.
When images of mud slides, hurricanes, tornadoes, and broken levees, are flashed on our television screens, and we hear how thousands of Americans have lost their homes, our hearts go out to them. But life goes on and all too soon, we forget.
In fact, some even dismiss the tragedy by holding the opinion that these people took a risk in the first place when they made their homes there.
But what most don’t see is the old Iraqi woman stooping over a fire while her granddaughter sits beside her drawing pictures in the dirt with a stick, or the tears running down the cheeks of a the North Korean mother who clutches her toddler, limp from starvation, because all of the food is given to the soldiers by the madman who dictates the country, or the little boy in New Orleans sobbing, reaching for his dog, but being told he can’t take his beloved pet as he is pushed into a bus.
We may not like the attitudes, the actions, or the policies of other countries, governments, cultures, or the personal choices of others.
We may get offended, insulted, and even angry. But we must not let that anger turn us against a people group and blind us to the individual beings.
Jesus' heart was broken by the masses. He saw each individual. Even those who stood over Him while driving spikes through his hands. That's why He came. To forgive and to give hope and life for everyone. Not so we could have a holiday.
This year, if you truly want to give Jesus something, then donate money or provisions to the someone in need. A meaningful gift to give someone is to donate money in honor of that person.
I have a suggestion for a great place to donate, Mercy International in Honduras. This ministry, headed by the founders, Henry and Cindy Lowman, feeds the poor, provides medicine for the sick, has an education program called "A Hope and a Future," which sponsors children to go to school. You see, after 6th grade the children have to pay $200.00 a year in order to go to high school. Most have parents who don't earn that much in a year and the average family has at least 4 children.
100% of the money given goes to the people of Honduras. Their stateside address is:
P.O. Box 9794
Springdale, AR 72703
Another great and safe place to give is Gateway Educational Services in Istanbul Turkey. For more information go to their website: www.gatewayeducation.org
Have a wonderful holiday with your family and friends. And this season remember to see what Jesus sees. Remember that the masses have faces.
Thursday, September 29, 2005
Can you tell it is my FAVORITE time of year?
This makes one year that I've had this site. My format has been to write observations corresponding to each month.
However, this year I want to concentrate on thoughts and I would like to receive your thoughts, too.
My friend, Cozy Dixon, conducts seminars called The Path. It is wonderful because it helps a person discover his or her purpose and passion. In essence you discover why you were born.
During the seminar, we write a mission statement based on what we've discovered about ourselves. Mine is to equip, encourage, and validate, the fullness of God in others. Essentially, I'm a cheerleader!
Funny, after I wrote this, I realized that is exactly what I've done all my life. but now I had permission to concentrate on my mission and actually say "no" to things that were not part of my statement. This is a good thing. Most of us want to be all things to all people, diluting our purpose.
Since concentrating on my purpose, my path, I am more effective. Recently I spoke to an excellent writing group, the Saturday Morning Writers, a chapter of the Missouri Writers Guild. It gave me incredible energy when some came up after the session and said, "I'm going home to write!" I'd done my job.
It all comes back to this; a successful life isn't determined by what you acquire, but by what you give away.
Monday, August 08, 2005
Although my children have graduated and one has children of her own, I still feel the old excitement. I remember the anticipation of having some “free time” after a summer of five children 24/7. That feeling lasted a couple of weeks, maybe three at the most. Then I found myself wanting to partner with their teachers and work together as a team.
As I worked with my children’s teachers, I gained a new understanding—a new perspective—of their world. Teaching isn’t a 9-5 job. It is a lot like my job as a mother, 24/7. They work nights and weekends. None that I know get paid overtime. One unique thing about being a teacher is you are answering to more than your direct supervisors. If a teacher has thirty students, he or she is answering to thirty parents. And not all the parents are supportive.
Are all teachers saints? No. However, they may have started that way. But after being held responsible because little Johnny failed his spelling test—let alone that when he was home he played video games and watched television never once having the parent practice the words with him—or having to spend extra time with little Susie because she doesn’t get enough sleep, or little Taylor who is a discipline problem at school and at home, a teacher over the years may lose heart.
That is why I volunteer. Teachers are not to take the place of parents but to partner with them in education. Parents are teachers,too. They should also be child experts where their own children are concerned. I have a few suggestions of ways to partner with teachers. If you have any to add to the list, please leave them in a comment and I will be glad to list them. This year make it your goal to “Partner with your child’s or children’s teachers” no matter if it is elementary to high school. Your kids will be the real winners!
1. Write a brief bio about your child. In a classroom of twenty or more children, it is a daunting task of knowing each child. I sent a note to each of my children’s teachers describing their personality, their siblings and their birth order, likes and dislikes, learning style, and in the case of my son Charles whose eyes-what some callbedroom eyes-always made him look sleepy, I’d inform his teacher that he is getting enough sleep, he just looks like he doesn’t. I had to revise my note in Jr. High to read, “he gets enough sleep and he’s not on drugs!” You might also want to tell of any food allergies or health information and any family problems that could affect your child.
2. Ask the teacher how you can help him or her.
3. When shopping, pick up extra pencils, paper, and crayons and give them to the teacher. Often times when a student runs out, she or he pays for them from their own pocketbook.
4. If at all possible, never miss a meeting with your teacher. Try not to be defensive on your child’s behalf. There have been times that the truth was hard for me to hear, especially when it came in the form of venting from a frustrated teacher. This is where knowing your child really helps. There did come a time when the accusations pointed at one of my children didn’t add up.
It didn’t do any good to get angry or argue with the teacher. Instead we spoke with the principle and counselor and resolved the problem. Always try to remember there are two sides to every situation. The important thing is to handle yourself with dignity and integrity. Believe me, I’ve done it with and without
Those two character traits always achieve better results.
5. Spend time at home doing something school related with your child. Reviewing spelling word or information for a test. Correcting wrong answers on a test. I found that this time didn’t need to be long and drawn out. My children had spent the entire day in the classroom and didn’t need to spend all evening there as well. But, by spending a few minutes communicated to them that I considered school important and supported them.
6. Read to your children. Turn off that television!! It drains creativity and quality time from the family.
7. Play card or board games with your children. It makes them think and is great for family communication.
How about you? Any ideas? Be sure this school year to let your teachers know how much you appreciate them. They are not babysitters, they are people who want to join you in producing productive members in society.
Friday, July 08, 2005
My daughter, Amanda, was three and my son, Rob, was nine months when the doctor told me that there would be a new member joining our family. I can't say that this pregnancy wasn't planned, because we wanted a large family, it just wasn't our timing.
As the reality of a new baby sunk in, I began to hope for a girl. Amanda balked at my dressing her in frills, and Rob was all boy. I missed all the pink and lace. However, God had other plans.
When the doctor announced, "It's a boy," I have to admit that my heart sank a little. But when he laid Charles in my arms, it bounced right back up.
Later, while nursing him, I felt the guilt rise. How could I have wanted anyone but him? Tears filled my eyes as I begged forgiveness for my ingratitude. God answered me with a question.
"Do you love Charles?"
"Yes, Lord, so much it hurts. I look at him and can hardly breathe."
"Why do you love him?"
I thought about that for a little while. Charles finished nursing and I burped him. He spit-up part of his meal on my shoulder and the rest went in his diaper. After cleaning up both ends of my little son, I watched him as he slept. He looked like a little old man- bald, toothless, and wrinkled. He demanded to be fed, warm, clean, and dry without as much as a smile in gratitude. Charles could do nothing to earn my love. And yet, I loved him with my life. The only answer I could give God was, "I love him because he's mine."
"That, my daughter, is why I love you."
Wow. What a revelation! God loved me even when I'm was unlovely, messy, ungrateful, or demanding. In fact, there was nothing I could do to earn His love. He had to send His Son, who loved me so much, it hurt.
Today, Charles is twenty-five and six foot three inches tall. No longer a baby - but always my baby.
Next Saturday as I watch him pledge his love to Kasey, I know I'll remember my tiny brown-eyed baby and the lesson of love that he brought. And I'll confess that I'm already hoping for and looking forward to the day when he holds one of God's little "object lesson on love" in his arms!
Congratulations and many blessings on you both, Charles and Kasey. I love you.
Wednesday, June 22, 2005
When one of my stories appear in a book, I usually sign a few in our local Barnes & Nobel. I tried to think of something appropriate to write in the Father & Daughter Soul and came upon the idea of looking up quotes about fathers. I didn’t find anything I could use in signing the books, but I did find wisdom in what I read.
In honor of fathers everywhere, I'm going to list some of my favorite quotes. And, just for the record, my father, Charles Diehl, and my husband, Neal, are the best fathers that ever walked the earth.
Fatherhood is pretending the present you love the most is soap-on-a-rope. - Bill Cosby
These fathers are sensitive to the feelings of others. Their little guys think soap-on-a-rope is the coolest thing they ever saw and they want their daddy to have one. Or it could be a rock they found with fossils.
Neal is one of the VP’s in the worlds largest food company and he still has the fossil rocks given to him by our children on his desk.
Fathers like Neal are not as concerned with the gift as they are with the giver. They want to teach their children how to love, honor, respect, and be caring adults.
That’s the way God, our Heavenly Father is. He receives our little tokens of time, our little prayers, but he is far more concerned with us. He wants us to realize that time spent with Him will teach us to love, honor, respect and be caring human beings.
Becoming a father isn't difficult, but it's very difficult to be a father. - Wilhelm Busch, Julchen
A good father isn’t Santa Claus.
Giving a child gifts and money instead of time is a cop-out. When our children were young and had their little palms out, Neal would say, “I’ll give you money, but you have to earn it,” and would send them on a small errand. Ask our kids today what their favorite dad quote is and they will all say in unison, “get a job.”
But it is hard to not give in. Just ask old softie here. Thank goodness Neal was strong enough to take the hard position of saying, “No.”
God isn’t Santa Claus either. And yet it is so easy to pray gimme prayers. It is a wise person who realizes the love in the answer, “no,” or “not yet.”
I cannot think of any need in childhood as strong as the need for a father's protection." -- Sigmund Freud
Have you ever seen someone trying to save a kitten caught in a tree?
After climbing to dizzying heights to help it, the kitten spits, hisses, and bares its claws at its rescuer. That is the way it goes for most dads. They go out on a limb to help their kids, at the risk of being totally misunderstood and accused of being unfair, or controlling. They may even hear those age old three words, I hate you.
Still, a good father looks past that and once again takes the hard road of protector even at the risk of being misunderstood, and unpopular. Our children need that because they will climb the same tree over and over. And a wise father may decide to let them sit there a while before rescuing. It’s a good place for them to think over their bad decisions.
God is our protector. And He is often misunderstood by us. When things don’t go our way, how many times have we blamed Him? Oh, we may not do it directly, but we may say, “where is God?” “Why did God _______” fill in the blank.
He will climb the tree for us, but sometimes he let’s us sit there a while and think over our bad decisions.
It's only when you grow up, and step back from him, or leave him for your own career and your own home—it's only then that you can measure his greatness and fully appreciate it. Pride reinforces love."- Margaret Truman
It is sad for those who do not appreciate loved ones while we have them.
It's so easy to find fault, and yet, when a loved one dies, we suddenly act like they did no wrong. Oh that we would take the time to appreciate the good in others and tell them how special they are while they are alive.
I’m so thankful that there is no place I can go where God cannot reach me.
And now from my soapbox
It frustrates me that men have been portrayed as fools by the entertainment industry. Fathers are always the idiots. Even in our commercials. And what’s really sad is that men are buying into it.
Our sons feel guilty because they are boys. They are covertly and sometimes overtly taught that being a boy is bad and that they “owe” girls.
I remember when my unusually handsome sons (they really are!) had to sit in rallys and listen to the speaker telling girls how bad boys were and that they were after one thing-sex. Girls were told to protect themselves from these preditors. My guys would come home disgusted because it was the girls who stalked them, and they were only after one thing. Can you guess what it was?
Today, there are countless special interest groups who proclaim competition is bad, success is bad, those who work hard owe their reward to those with their palms out who do nothing.
And it seems the white male is to blame for everything.
I don’t see why it's necessary in the struggle for equality that we go from one ditch to another. Life is better for everyone: minority, female, male, religious, non-religious, on the road. The philosophy that one group has to be relegated to a ditch so others can succeed is dangerous and harmful to all.
If you need proof, just look at the declining moral fabric of America.
And now for the best and last quote:
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility, consider others better than yourselves.
If we would just obey our Heavenly Father, this world would be a perfect place.
Tuesday, May 31, 2005
My pastor and friend Steve Dixon said at his 50th birthday, that this was his year of Jubilee! He made reference back to the Jewish custom that on the 50th year:
1. Liberty was proclaimed everywhere for everyone
2. Reversion of landed property to its original owner, who had been driven by poverty to sell it
3. Rest for the soil
So his year of jubilee was liberty, restoration, and rest.
I like that. So I choose to view this birthday as "My Year of Jubilee!" But, what does this mean for me?
It's my turn.My husband and I chose for me to be a stay-at-home mom. We felt it was important for our five children. It meant doing without a lot and our children didn't have the latest and greatest, but there was a lot of love, laughter, and wonderful childhood memories that I'm blessed to hear from them when we get together.
They are grown and I've done my job as a stay-at-home mom. Now what? Well, I'm free to start something new. To forge a new path. To grow. And that is just what I'm doing and hopefully making a positive impact on those around me by writing and by being an inspirational, motivational, speaker.
2. Restoration. Being 50 has many advantages. It clears the head of what is and is not important, restoring the true values of life that are to be treasured.
Beauty of the soul and spirit is much more important that the beauty of the body. No matter what we do, time softens our outward beauty. We lose the "edge." But age can't wrinkle or weaken our spirit, unless we let it by bitterness, hate, or misplaced priorities.
I've learned that it isn't important that everyone agrees with me. I don't have to argue, but rest in what I believe. I can love those who disagree with me without compromising my principles.
Time is more important than money. That is a gift everyone can afford to give others.
Television can be a great thief of time and a retarder to relationships. If we aren't careful, the pretend lives of the characters we watch can become our reality, making us discontent with our own "real" lives. Television is also a thief of creativity and original thought.
On the other hand, time spent with friends and family in conversation sparks inspiration, correction, and vision.
We can rejoice in others successes without being threatened with our own.
I accept my personal responsibility to be the best I can be and trust the rest to God. So if someone achieves something I would also like to achieve, I can applaud them without feeling threatened or jealous.
My self-worth does not come from the position I hold in life or from the things I own.
My self-esteem comes from what God says about me. He says that I'm wonderfully made, that He loves me, that I'm the apple of His eye, that I am His and He is mine. Imagine that! The Creator of the Universe says that about me! In fact, He says that about all His children.
Peace with myself comes from being grateful for what I have, knowing that God will supply all my needs, which He has in abundance.
Have faith. I've seen the hand of God in my life countless times. I've learned I can rest in Him that He will not fail me. Worry is unnecessary, in fact, it is an insult to God.
My house doesn't have to be perfect when others come to visit.
I now see that it is much more important to keep it comfortably clean and be mentally and emotionally ready for visitors. And if they come for dinner, the dishes can wait until they have left.
I'm sure I'll think of more things to add to my "Jubilee Year" list and will post them. But it doesn't have to be your 50th year for this epiphany. If you are younger than 50, learn from us over-the-hill crowd! If you are older, teach the younger by example how great the higher decades can be!
From the summit of 50, life looks great. I plan on enjoying the ride!
Monday, April 11, 2005
A few years ago I remember watching Neal cut the first grass of spring while enjoying the light herbal fragrance of a new mown lawn. He was riding in high gear. Mowing isn’t his favorite task. With each swipe came dangerously closer to my heirloom fig plant—a shoot from my grandmother’s tree given to me after she died. I felt like part of my life had ended as well. A chapter forever closed. This sprout linked me to her and my childhood, something I could touch.
When we purchased property in the country, I planted my little fig sprout to give it a good start before we started building. Seemed like a good plan, but during the course of the building project a cement truck and a tractor ran over it, leaving only a stick surrounded by broken bricks. Surprisingly, it survived. To prove its valiancy it produced one fig.
Neal rounded the corner in full throttle
“Watch out for my tree,” I yelled.
“What? I can’t hear you over this mower,” he answered as he ran over my fig stick cutting it even with the ground.
Neal felt terrible, but not nearly as bad as I did. So much for my hold on the past.
Later that summer while Neal reenacted the Indy 500 on his riding lawn mower, I heard him yell,
“Honey, come here. Quick.”
My heart skipped a beat, my throat constricted. What happened? Had he turned the mower over on himself? I ran to the door, threw it open, and saw him standing where my tree used to be.
“You scared me spitless,” I said as I walked to where he stood.
I couldn’t believe what I saw. Sprouting from the ground was a tiny fig leaf. I thought my tree was dead. After all, for months no sign of life showed. But below the surface, the earth continued to hug my little tree’s roots, protecting and feeding them.
In the darkness, where I couldn’t see growth, its roots spread and grew deep in the soil. Even though it wasn’t yet a tree, a strong foundation was being prepared for it.
The lesson of the fig tree is things are not always the way they appear.
Just like last night’s storm, circumstances rage against us—destroying our dreams, blowing away any hope. Sometimes there seems to be nothing showing for our lives. Our prayers seem to go unanswered. But, that’s where we must cling to our faith! Deep in God, our dreams, our hopes, our future, is nourished and is growing deep in order to support what He is doing in us.
We must continue to cultivate by reading and applying God’s word, by praying and listening, by serving others, knowing all the while that our lives are in good soil.
Thursday, March 10, 2005
Over coffee at our local Barnes and Nobel, I asked my son, Rob, what came to his mind when I said the word “treasure.” I expected him to give the same answer as my husband and daughter gave—pirate. However, his answer surprised me.
“Treasure is anything I pursue.”
He sipped his coffee and gave me his half smile and raised one eyebrow.
“But, Mom, that doesn’t always mean what we treasure is good.”
“What fills our minds, what drives us each day, is what we treasure. So, greed, envy, lust, could be our treasure.”
That gave me pause. What filled my mind? If I see someone who has offended me haveI forgiven that person or do I rehearse and nurse past hurts? If the latter is true, then my treasure is bitterness and unforgiveness.
Am I unhappy with my home? My position in life? Do I envy friends? Strangers? If so, my treasure is envy, ingratitude and jealousy.
As usual, after an evening with Rob, I had to go home and muse over our conversation.
What’s in my treasure chest? What am I pursuing? After careful evaluation and prayer, I repented of anything I valued that wasn't worthy of my relationship to God. You see, the Lord should be my treasure and what is important to Him is what I should pursue.
What does God treasure?
You. Me. All people.
I should cherish what He cherishes and take every opportunity to actively pursue the good of others, without the worry of self-preservation. God will take care of me.
Can you imagine a world where everyone pursues the good of others without worrying about themselves? That would be Heaven, literally.
Unfortunately, I can’t change the world, but, I can certainly change my little corner of it.
This Irish blessing is something from my treasure chest to yours:
Sunday, February 06, 2005
It seems that '05 promises to be a year on the fast track and I'd better catch up! So, instead of writing about the New Year's promise of fresh starts, I'll turn my muse on the eternal theme of February-Love.
Many have tried to define love. But through all the prose, poetry, and song, love still has an elusive quality. In the English language the word love covers a multitude of things. In one breath I can say:
I love my husband and children,
I love chocolate,
I love my dog,
I love the blues,
I love Jesus.
But the Greeks, who are the masters of language, have many words for love.
Family love is "storgeo." Friendship love is "phileo." For romantic love or passion either for a person or a cause they use "eros." And the ultimate kind of love, the love without conditions, the love that expects nothing in return is "agapao." This love is rooted in the mind and will. It doesn't depend on emotion, but is a choice.
We see this illustrated in the book of John when Jesus asks Peter if he loved him.
Poor Peter. Only a few days earlier he had boldly proclaimed his selfless devotion and willingness to die for Jesus, then denied him three times. He watched Jesus suffer unimaginable torture and cruelty at the hands of the men he came to redeem.
Then, after breakfasting on the banks of the Lake of Galilee, Jesus turned to Peter and asked, "Do you love me? Peter answered,"Yes, you know I love you." Jesus asked the same thing twice more and Peter answered the same way. Or at least that is the way it appears in most biblical translations. But if you look at the original language, the conversation went like this:
"Peter, do you agapao me? Meaning, do you esteem, honor, treasure me? Are you devoted to me with all your heart, soul, and spirit? Do you love me even when you are angry, depressed, hungry, poor, or sick?"
Peter understood exactly what Jesus asked and he was all too aware of what he was capable of doing. He didn't want to make the same foolish mistake as before. A very humbled Peter answered, "Yes, Lord, you know I'm your friend." Meaning I am very fond of you.
Jesus asked a second time, "Do you agapao me?" A second time Peter answered, "You are my friend."
The third time Jesus asked, "Peter, am I your friend?" Peter was grieved that he couldn't love Jesus the way he wanted to be loved, but Peter had to be honest and answered "You know all things, you know I'm your friend."
What does this passage tell us about Jesus and agapao love?
First, no matter how we have let Jesus down, he is waiting to restore us.
Notice how Jesus leads the conversation with Peter having him proclaim three times his affection for Jesus, absolving each denial.
Second, he is willing to meet us at our lowest point, take our hand, and lead us to our highest best.
When he asked Peter, "Am I your friend," he showed Peter that he didn't expect great acts from him, only his willingness to follow, to learn and to obey.
Before Peter left this earth he had an agapao relationship with the Lord.
This is love.
Jesus meets us where we are at. It doesn't matter how many times we've failed, all he asks for is our willingness to obey him. As we know him better we choose to love others without conditions, we choose to love when our emotions are cold, and to love those who have hurt us.
It takes a brave person to love as Jesus loves. But the weakest among us are doing just that.