Followers

WELCOME

Knowledge, inspiration, and encouragement from a Christian perspective is my goal. I post a weekly commentary, which could be about world events or the events of my week. Other days I might share stories, recipes, homemaking tips, book reviews, political talk, biblical truth, or other blogs and websites I like. This blog is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

THE BLESSINGS OF BEING MINDFUL

Since writing about mindfulness a few weeks ago, I've been trying to practice a deeper awareness of the people around me, my actions and the words I speak. Being mindful is hard work. I've been paying more attention to what people say, their likes and dislikes for example, so that I can be a better friend when it comes to knowing who they really are. Knowing someone's likes and dislikes is important because it gives me an opportunity to show that I truly listen to them and I care enough to cater to their individual tastes.

For example, I have a friend who hates onions. Every month we get together with four other friends and share a home-cooked meal. I can't say with complete certainty that I haven't added onions to the meals I've made when it was my turn to cook. We've been getting together like this for two years and only recently have I made a mental note to remember that onions are a bad choice for our girl's night menu. In fact, I'm just now remembering that I made potato soup last time and I'm sure I added onions. Had I been mindful of my friends aversion to onions, I could have chosen another recipe and made her feel more important.

Gift giving is another example of the benefits of mindfulness. My same friend who hates onions also has an allergy to certain types of jewelry. Her skin gets itchy and red when she wears it. So imagine if I gave her a lovely piece of costume jewelry as a gift and she opened it knowing that she will never wear it, then has to pretend that she likes it to avoid hurting my feelings. By being mindful, I could avoid such an awkward moment and instead give her a gift that she would truly appreciate and actually use, a gift that would say, "I know you, I listen, and I care."

People long to be known and loved for who they are, and choosing the right gift is a powerful way to make someone feel extra special and loved. I admire people who put so much effort into gift giving. They pay attention to what others like. They listen to conversations and make mental notes of future gift ideas based on the person's needs and wants. Receiving a gift from someone who really knows me is such a joy. I don't have to pretend to like a gift that's chosen especially for me. Part of the joy is knowing that someone has listened to the deepest desires of my heart. Someone has taken the time to know me.

Sometimes the greatest gift we can give someone is what we choose to say. Being mindful of my words is something else I'm working on. There are so many ways we can offend people with words. We can use a poor choice of words, we can say the words in the wrong tone, and sometimes it's the timing of our words that causes hurt. Written words can be particularly offensive because we don't hear the person's tone of voice and we can easily misunderstand the meaning. I'm sure that many relationships have been destroyed by misinterpreted letters and e-mails. I'm trying to be more mindful of the words I speak and write so that what I say brings life to the relationship, and there's no room for misunderstanding.

Mindfulness isn't just for the sake of others. Being mindful is to our own advantage as well. I know a woman who lost her husband several months ago. She recently said something that made a big impact on me. She said, "Pay attention to the things your husband does. How he pays bills, how he maintains the house, all the things he does to keep the household running, you should know how and when to do it." Since she told me that, I've started what I call an independence journal. It's a list of things I'll need to know if I were to become a widow. My last entry was a step-by-step explanation of how to change the water filter and UV light on our water system. I also made a note of when the septic was last pumped, when the real estate taxes come and how much I can expect to pay, who to call if the water pump breaks and what it costs to replace it, etc, etc. We need to prepare for life's unexpected turns and the only way we can is by being mindful today.

Mindfulness is definitely something worth pursuing. No it's not easy, it's work. It takes a daily awareness and effort to live mindfully. But by paying attention to the details of our lives and the lives of others, we can be a blessing to those we love and we can bear the burden when they leave us behind.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

DON'T GET YOUR KNICKERS IN A TWIST

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose - Romans 8:28


I recall first hearing the above title phrase when I was a young girl. For years afterward it was my favorite thing to say to people when I saw them getting worked up about something. I'd pull out my best English accent and say, "Don't get your knickers in a twist, my Dear."

It's always humbling to discover that I need to take my own advice. I've said before that I'm far from perfect and I'm still in the process like everyone else. My recent entry about people who can't relax came to hit me in the face yesterday during a shopping trip with my daughter. She was looking for new sneakers and about drove me crazy as we searched one store after another without finding a single pair of sneakers that even interested her.

My husband and I were getting quite ruffled as we knew we had our own list of things to find. After about an hour into our sneaker search, we voiced our disgust with a continuous string of comments aimed at pushing our daughter into making a decision. Finally I jumped off the bench and said, "You picked that same pair up twice, now try the darn things on!" I threw the box on the floor and stood over her as she obediently tried on the sneakers and decided she didn't like them.

Long story short, last night on our way home we stopped at Wal Mart and found a pair of sneakers she loved, the last pair in her size, for half the price we would have paid if she had found a pair at the mall. Her particular taste actually worked in our favor and all the fussing we did had been unnecessary. What I should have done was shut my mouth and pray like I suggested several weeks ago. Guess I'm guilty of being someone who can't relax. eeeek!!!

Perhaps next time I'll recall that little incident and remember that God works all things out for good. Getting worked up doesn't help. What I need to do during those stressful moments is to RELAX... untwist my knickers and have a little patience and faith.

Monday, January 4, 2010

MY FIRST MINDFUL MONDAY

On the first Moday of the year, I'm sitting at my computer waiting for my writer's block to lift. I want to write something encouraging since my NewYear's resolution is to give more compliments and encouragement. Wouldn't it be great if we all made that resolution and then stuck to it. My usual resolution is to lose ten pounds. Most women can afford to lose ten pounds. But it seems that my weight sticks at the same number no matter what I do so I gave up on that one.

However, I can make other resolutions that could lead to weight loss if I keep them. For example, I can stop eating directly out of the box or the bag. This is a terrible habit that results in consuming more calories than we realize. I just did it yesterday with a box of Wheat Thins and when I finally shut the box, I realized that I didn't count out my serving and put it in a bowl like I promised myself I would. I must have eaten five servings! Wheat Thins are my favorite cracker.

Another strategy for losing weight is to eat more slowly. I'm a fast eater. I think I learned to eat quickly when I was a single mother working two jobs and attending college. Those years were the most stressful of my life. I rushed through everything I did like a tightly wound toy. Three years of that and rushing became a way of life. Now it's time to slow down and really enjoy eating, actually savor the food instead of sending it down the chute before my taste buds recognize what it is. I'm trying to put down my fork once in a while, take more sips of water during a meal, and watch my posture so I'm not hovering over my plate the way animals eat.

Another bad habit I'm trying to correct is eating while standing. I'll grab a slice of cake and then stand over the sink to eat it. It's embarrassing to admit because it sounds so piggish. Eating shouldn't be done on the run. We should set aside a specific time for it and then make it an event we sit down for. Set out a nice plate, maybe a candle or flowers. Once in a while I'll pour a glass of wine and play some Kenny G. When I make eating a special event, I'm less likely to stuff myself becuase I'm being mindful of what I'm doing.

That's another thing I'm trying to change... being mindful. Mindfulness can be applied to so many circumstances. I want to be more mindful when people are talking. Listening is not easy for me for some reason. My mind wanders and I miss things that people say. This is probably the most bothersome thing about myself that I want to improve. You miss life when you don't listen.

I admire people who are mindful. Because they're good listeners, they choose the perfect gifts. They say things like, "I remember you saying that you needed one of those." Mindful people use their mental skills to bring joy to others. I want to do that. Mindful people remember birthdays and that is so encouraging to receive a birthday card. Someone out there cares that you were born. That's good to know.

If I were more mindful I wouldn't misplace my car keys just before I'm ready to walk out the door. I wouldn't lose my sunglasses or take pens along when I'm finished writing and have to walk back to return them. I wouldn't forget to put money in the meter in Millersburg. Once I did that at the Wooden Nickle and had a great view of the police officer as he placed a ticket on my windshield. I like sitting in the sun light beside those big windows at the Nickle. It's my daughter's favorite place to eat. Now she reminds me about the meters. I'm teaching her to be mindful by showing her what happens when you're not.

I didn't know that today's blog would be about being mindful. I love the writing process and how it travels around different subjects until one jumps aboard and becomes the topic. That's the fun of writing for me. When I sit down I often have no idea what I'm going to write about. Then as I'm writing, the topic appears. Mindfulness is an awesome subject.  Lord, help me to be mindful today.