Category Archives: contentment

You Can’t Train Kindness

In less that 14 days, I will be leaving my current job and returning to my Alma Mater for a job in the Geography Department. Many people at my current job have told me they will miss me because I have always been so kind. My kindness comes not from a sense of duty (“I am a Christian – or an American, or a mom, or a grandmother, or a woman – so I should be kind”). No. My kindness comes from a thankful heart and a genuine desire to serve others.

Is that altruism? Some will argue that altruism comes from a motivation of self-centeredness (“Look at how kind I am”, “Look at how generous I am with my time, money, etc.”). Others will argue that altruism comes from guilt, or the need for penance, or another negative response. Still others will argue that altruism comes from man’s ‘basic goodness’. (As an aside, Jeremiah 17:9 says, ‘The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked: who can know it?’) I argue that my kindness comes from none of the above, that it is not altruism for altruism’s sake.

My kindness comes from a thankful heart – thankful for my children, my grandbabies, Cycle Dude, my pups, my mom and my family and so many more blessings God has given me. My kindness comes from a genuine desire to serve others. I know how I want to be treated and so I treat others that way. The sum of my past equals the person I am now.

Will my replacement be kind? Will he or she be willing to do what’s not ‘in their job description’ in order to help others? Will my replacement take the time to answer people’s questions? Will my replacement answer the phone with a smile, ask, “How may I help you?” and be genuinely concerned for others’ welfare?

You can’t train kindness – it must come from a thankful heart and a grateful life. Kindness is a heart overflowing with joy, in spite of difficult circumstances. Kindness is seeking the best in others and expecting it in ourselves. Kindness is pouring out abundant grace to those who least deserve it. Kindness is seeing our weaknesses and admitting them and forgiving them in others. Kindness is going the extra mile, then going a mile more. Kindness comes from sitting quietly, hearing our heartbeat and thanking God for the gift of life. Kindness comes from selflessness.

I have learned a great deal in my 50 something years. I have learned that serving others in kindness and grace is the most joyful thing I can do. Stay tuned. . . .

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Lawn Mower

I recently read about the new trend in parenting, the “Lawn Mower Parent”. These folks seem far worse than the “Helicopter Parent”. The Lawn Mower Parent mows down every obstacle in their child’s life so the child doesn’t have to overcome adversity, etc. Needless to say, this kind of parenting will produce very weak, pampered and entitled people – even more so that the Helicopter Parent.

A child is like a butterfly. If you help the butterfly out of its cocoon, it will die. the butterfly needs to struggle out of the cocoon to gain strength. It needs to let its wings unfold slowly so they will dry and also be strong. We do our children no favors when we mow down the obstacles for them. The obstacles are what causes strength and resiliency in a person’s life. Are they fun? Heck, no! But they are needed to allow us to grow into strong, healthy people.

One cannot live one’s life without some pain and adversity. I know of people who try to avoid pain at all costs – their lives are dull and they are dull. Getting out of bed in the morning is inviting pain and adversity. My divorce was one of the most painful things I had ever been through. I would much rather had gone through natural childbirth again! But I have come out of it a much stronger and more compassionate person.

We can spend so much time mowing down pain and adversity that we have little time for anything else. We may be mowing down flowers or insects – the little things that make life special. Weeds continue to pop up in different parts of the yard. As we go after one weed, another pops up and at the end of the day we are exhausted from mowing. Put the lawn mower away. A few weeds are good.

Yes, pain and adversity are not pleasant. That’s a ‘duhism’. But pain and adversity help us to become stronger. We grow and change in ways we never thought possible. And through that growth and change, we are able to be more empathetic toward others as they face pain and diversity in their lives. Isn’t that part of what life is about – helping one another along on this journey? Life is an adventure, live it! Stay tuned. . . .

Looking in the Rear View Mirror

When I was learning to drive (way back in the Dark Ages), my Driver’s Ed teacher told us we should constantly be scanning the rear view and side mirrors. I thought, “How can I do that and keep my mind on what’s in front of me?”

The aftermath of a divorce is sort of like driving – you have a destination and you need to keep your mind on what’s ahead of you, not constantly what’s behind you. Every now and then, my past raises its ugly head and I can easily get distracted and not be able to focus on the here and now and what is ahead. I have to remember that a) my past is under the grace of God and b) my past is past.

Sometimes it’s easy to go down that slippery slope and want to get caught up in the past. We have regrets, we feel angry, sad or bitter. Stop that!! Just like the rear view mirror on a car, the past is a tool: learn from your past, understand your mistakes, mature past your mistakes and move on. If you are constantly looking in the rear view mirror while you are driving, you’ll smash into something ahead of you! The same thing goes with your healing journey – look ahead, not behind.

In 1989, Christian Artist Bob Bennett released, “Lord of the Past”:

Every harsh word spoken
Every promise ever broken to me
Total recall of data in the memory
Every tear that has washed my face
Every moment of disgrace that I have known
Every time I’ve ever felt alone

Lord of the here and now
Lord of the come what may
I want to believe somehow
That you can heal these wounds of yesterday
(You can redeem these things so far away)
So now I’m asking you
To do what you want to do
Be the Lord of the Past
(Be the Lord of my Past)
Oh how I want you to
Be the Lord of the Past

All the chances I let slip by
All the dreams that I let die in vain
Afraid of failure and afraid of pain
Every tear that has washed my face
Every moment of disgrace that I have known
Every time I’ve ever felt alone

Today, resolve to spend more time looking ahead than looking behind. After all, you can’t change the past. Learn from it. Let God heal it. Stay tuned. . . .

 

 

 

Who Needs an Umbrella?

Today is Cycle Dude’s birthday. I got up very early to make him cinnamon rolls (the frozen kind) as well as to make a bouquet of chocolate covered Oreos (his favorite cookie!). We are going downtown tonight to do whatever he wants to do, then tomorrow we’ll have a birthday dinner with his son. I am excited! I enjoy making Cycle Dude’s birthday special because it’s just one way to show him how much I love him.

When I got to work, my boss was not in a very good mood. He has been very critical to me all day long. He has been short and impatient with me and has been getting easily angry with me. I was a little discouraged after several hours of his behavior. (But who knows what’s going on in his world?) My day started out so well and now it was not so well.

I had a choice to make – was I going to let my boss ‘rain on my parade’ or was I going to let the rain roll off my back and enjoy a wonderful evening with the man I love? I decided to enjoy the wonderful evening, of course.

We are faced daily with choices – are we going to choose joy or pain? Freedom or chains? Light or darkness?  It’s so easy to let others affect our choices. One wrong word can cause us to deflate like a balloon. But who has power in your life? YOU are the one who makes that decision. I did not give my boss the power to determine my mood or my value. I am the one who chooses to be happy or sad. Christ is the One who gives me value.

So, go ahead, boss, go ahead and rain. It’s not affecting me. I don’t need an umbrella because I choose joy with my sweetheart tonight. Stay tuned. . .

 

Take it in Stride

This past weekend, Cycle Dude and I went with a group of friends to an amazing fossil site not far from Mytown. The dig site, the lab, the fossil storage and the museum were all at the same place. It was exciting to see the different steps paleontologists go through to identify and preserve fossils.

The group carpooled and Cycle Dude was one of the drivers. He had just had his car worked on a few days before the ‘field trip’. The car began acting up on the way to the fossil site and got worse on the way back. We were less than a mile from where the group met to carpool, stopped at a stoplight. Cycle Dude said, “Well, we made it home”. But as he pulled into the intersection, the car died. Thankfully, several Good Samaritans stopped and helped us push the car to the side of the road. And, thankfully, Cycle Dude has AAA.

Needless to say, Cycle Dude was not too happy about the car breaking down. I told him that at least we almost made home and didn’t get stuck several hours away. I was able to get a ride home and come back to get Cycle Dude and follow the tow truck to the car repair shop. To me, the whole situation was a minor inconvenience, but it could have been worse.

Since I divorced, I have learned there are many things in my life that are out of my control. To get angry about it only makes the situation worse. I have learned to take situations in stride, to be okay with not being in control. What good does it do to get all worked up over something or someone you cannot control?

Whenever my children experience a situation like the car breaking down, the washer dying, or an unexpected visit to the doctor, I tell them to look at the situation and ask, “What have I learned from this? What good has (or might) come out of this situation?”

Some situations in our lives we can control – others we cannot. We have to be okay with not being in control. We have to give ourselves and others grace. We have to realize the world is not perfect – things will go wrong. Begin to look at those times of not being in control as learning opportunites. . . and take it in stride. Stay tuned. . .

Getting On In Years

I recently found out that my eleven-year old Boxer/terrier mix dog named Jack has cancer. I was devastated! After surgery and consultation with Jack’s doctor, we decided to monitor the tumor since it is a low-grade, non-aggressive type of cancer. It took Jack a couple of days to recover from surgery, but he’s back to his old self. I have noticed, though, that Jack has seemed to slow down in the last year. He is getting on in years and seems quite content to live his life out in peace.

I, too, am getting on in years – but not how you may think. When I refer to “getting on in years”, I refer to the years that have passed since I got divorced. The years immediately preceding and immediately after my divorce were raw and angry – kind of like a cancerous tumor. It took a few years for me to work through the pain and anger.

I am now eight years on this side of the divorce. Life is good again. I have an amazing wonderful man in my life who I love like crazy and who loves me. My pups keep me laughing. I am going to be a grandma for the second time in January. My children and first grand baby are all doing well. My job is good. I have a wonderful church family. I am blessed beyond measure.

I still think about the past at times and remember the pain, the anger and the mess that my marriage had become. Those years were difficult, but they are getting further and further away. Like Jack, I am quite content to live out my life in peace – surrounded by those I love and blessed more than I deserve! Stay tuned. . .

 

Where Are Your Eyes?

I was the Queen of the Pity Party when I was a child. I was always upset that my older sister (by 10 months) got to do things before me. I was upset when life didn’t go my way and I had a strong tendency to wallow in self-pity. My mom would often tell me, “Get your eyes off yourself and go do something for someone else!” Why are moms always so wise?

I remembered that advice when I first got divorced and tended to muck around in the mud puddle of self-pity. I looked for ways to “do something for someone else”. I eventually volunteered with a local refugee resettlement service in teaching those refugees English.

Where are your eyes? Are they on yourself? Are you stuck in the muck of the mud puddle of self-pity? Get your eyes off yourself!

1. Volunteer: There are so many opportunities in one’s community to volunteer – at the local humane society, at the Boys and Girls Club, at a local after school program, etc. Go to https://www.volunteermatch.org to see what’s going on in your community and how you can get involved.

2. Join a local philanthropic organization: There are plenty of philanthropic organizations in your community – Lions Club, Rotary, etc. Google those in your area. Volunteer your time and talents for a cause you believe in.

3. Give: Being newly divorced will most likely leave you with fewer financial resources. That’s okay. Do you sew? Can you teach others a new skill (music, etc.)? Use your talents to help others. There are many people in your community who can benefit from your talents and experience.

It’s okay to feel sorry for yourself. After all, divorce is a painful situation to have to endure. However, it is not okay to stay in that place of self-pity! Stand up, dust yourself off and move on! Getting your eyes off yourself and giving to others is one step in your healing journey. One step at a time! Stay tuned. . .