Sometimes lost time is lost, sometimes it is not!

As usual, I have found myself a year older and lacking blogging posts for 2017. I had such great intentions but not much follow through on things that I still find important.

I thought about blogging A LOT! Time took its toll, or I felt the topic too controversial; I found myself putting in too many hours at work.

I have a lot of excuses for not blogging, quilting, writing letters to my children or decorating my home for the numerous occasions for which I have knick knacks to put out. When it comes down to brass tacks , I have let a lot of important things go by the wayside.

The Background to this Blog

This morning, I was supposed to be going to a Show Choir event to take photos for friends. My daughter was a part of the Blair High School Show Choir when she was in high school and I was the person who took photos. I was asked this year to return to capture the bright eyes and smiles of the performers because there just haven’t been photos like I posted for the families. (but I digress!)

An ice storm canceled the school participating, so I found myself, at home, in an ice castle thinking how I was going to spend the day. Driving was out of the question. I decided that I wanted to find some inspirational words to start my day.

I got out my Kindle Fire and the first book that shows is  “40 Days with Wesley” by Reuben P. Job.  My mind immediately went to, ‘Well, even though Ash Wednesday was last week, I could read everything and get caught up to day 5 and then move forward daily.’ I mean there are 40 days in Lent. That was perfect! Then it hit me!

The Purpose of this Blog

Why did I feel compelled to get caught up? My brain was racing, thinking that if I just got caught up…But would I get anything out of the reading by quickly catching up? Was I reading to feel that time of reflection, or to just accomplish a step? I decided it was the goal, when I should have been focusing on the journey.

I thought it was great that I actually realized my error before I started reading. I didn’t even get the book opened before the lesson started forming.

I slowed my breathing. I opened the book and read the first day of my 40 day journey. It was not going to be a 40 day journey during Lent. It was going to be the 40 day journey in my life. It is going to be a time to reflect, revitalize and re-center my focus.

As I was realizing the error of my ways, my thoughts went to another job I have in working with children and youth with handchimes and handbells.  I realized I was not following my own advice.

My handchime choir is open to children starting in 2nd grade. I teach them how to use the instrument, how to read music and how to use their musical talent to be a part of music ministry in my church. One of the lessons I need to frequently remind my choir members is that if you miss playing a note, it doesn’t do any good, in fact, it is bad to try to “catch up” by playing that missed note quickly in the wrong spot. If you miss a note, just let it go and be ready when you are to play next.

I was trying to “catch up” but it would have been in the wrong spot and it would have served no purpose to read five days worth of readings, just to get to the right place. I have the luxury that I can start day one at any time. I needed to take the time and take in the words and take in the message of Job’s words.

How many times do we rush through something just to say we did it?  Sometimes you can get away with it. How many times have you said, “Wew, I made dinner; I got it done.” It may not have been made from scratch. It may have been a frozen pizza but you did it! Yes, in that case, rushing to get dinner on the table can be worth it. The ultimate purpose is to feed your body and spend time with family and friends. It is not always about the food, but it is always about the nourishment and the company.

I have fabric for a lot of quilt projects and it sits there uncut and patiently waiting for me to find the time. While I would rather be quilting, I do not have the time that needs to be put into a quilting project. I know my limitations when it  comes to quilting but it seems I lack that same discernment in other aspects of my life.

In 2016, I did not take the time to send out Christmas cards. In 2017, I spent the time and money to order cards but guess what? The cards are still in my home, no addresses, no festive words.  It was a valiant attempt and a total failure. I can’t get Christmas 2017 back. Every time I thought of taking the time to get them addressed, it was only a thought, no follow through. I can’t get that back.

I do not know how I am going to apply my mini lesson of the day to the bigger things in my life. There are only 24 hours in a day and seven days in a week.  I cannot add more time; I can only try to manage my time better. If an hour is lost, I cannot work harder to reclaim it. It is overwhelming.

As I write, I realize that I am doing something to get time back-to create memories to take me into the future.  In just over two weeks, I am taking my parents on a road trip. Coming along will be my son, who will be graduating college in May. We are heading to Savannah, Georgia. It is a fast trip, a mere five days. We’ll take a day and a half to go down and the same to get back. We will be two full days in Savannah and two partial days. It will be a whirlwind trip but a chance to spend quality time with my parents and my son. It is a trip my mom has wanted to take for years. We are all very excited. (And BTW, it took almost three years for this trip to come to fruition)

Just last week, I brought up the notion of heading to Spain to spend time with dear friends. I wrote about Jorge in a previous blog. I want to spend time listening to the stories of George and his wife, Janet and eventually write their stories and pair them with his paintings. I want to actually do something that I have wanted to do for ten years. I need to do this sooner than later because no one is getting younger. I need to act.

There are instances when you can make up for lost time. It can be a fine line. A lost note in a piece of music is lost forever. You can only work to try to not miss it the next time. That is what practice is all about. If you haven’t told someone you love them, do it while there is still time.

If your eating is unhealthy, you can change those habits and your body has some ability to rejuvenate. Sometimes, the damage is done. You can still improve yourself by looking forward and not at the mistakes of the past.

So, I need to quit fretting about those Christmas cards that are setting in my home. I cannot get the Christmas season back. It is too late to send them out now.

My 40 days started today. I cannot worry that they are not the 40 days of Lent but rejoice that I chose to start my 40 days of devotion.

I can really celebrate that I am taking time to spend with my parents and my son, and my son will be spending time with his grandparents. This is going to be an experience I will relish forever. There have been very few trips with my parents that didn’t include my siblings.

And I can move forward with my plan to spend time with dear friends in Spain, hear their stories and show them all of the love I can.

There have been times when “I missed a note” and I tried to catch up by playing it in the wrong place just to say I played all of the notes. I need to be more aware and not rush, but also to try to play all of the notes in my life.

Right now, I am going to work on a photo book that I started in November. While I missed getting it mailed out for Christmas, it is never too late to share memories and to show love to those people important to you in your life.

Ice storms, which are really bad, can also be a blessing in disguise.

Blessing to you today and I share with you, my Christmas card!

 

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In this time of Divisiveness, don’t forget who YOU are

It is the Lenten Season and I am trying to be good and have daily devotion. Even though I work for a religious business (a church camp), I have to admit that, sometimes, I fall short of reading the Bible daily. I converse with God daily and I try to be a good listener, but the education component is sometimes missing-except during this season.

Today, my devotion took me back to my upbringing.

My dad was a small business owner. I was raised in a small/mid-sized city and I was sure that everyone knew who my father was (silly child!) What that did for me was to help keep me on the straight and narrow. (http://www.co-z-aire.com/)

I didn’t want to do anything that would cause shame to my family or in any way impact my father being able to do business. I was so sure that my actions might impact my dad being able to have customers. I may have been very naive, but it was something I always thought about when I had a choice to make; ‘How will this affect the family name? Will Dad lose business if I do this, or that?’

Today, I was reading about being part of the family of God. It made me think about what I do daily. Do I think ‘How will my actions affect my Godly family? Will Dad (God) lose business if I do this, or that?’ I will have to honestly say that I do not always think in those terms.

I am not a bad person but I could always be better.

Yesterday, my son had me take a survey to “determine” my political temperament. Where did I fit on the political strata? The questions were very black & white and very polarizing. I answered honestly and I think my son was surprised that I was almost smack-dab in the middle of the fascist/libertarian & right/left quadrants.

circle UM logo  When I take “what are you?” political tests, I always rank as a conservative Republican. If I were to take a religious test, I would be right where I am supposed to be. As a United Methodist (click and learn more about the UM Church) , I am allowed to have my own beliefs and still feel confident in my political views. You see, the United Methodist Church is made up of all peoples. And studies do show that over 50% of church members are conservative but over 50% of the pastors are liberal (I do not have exact percentages but you can read this article: https://www.theatlantic.com/notes/2016/05/on-the-political-leanings-of-methodists/483683/ )

I think my son was surprised at the results. I told him that I try to see all points of view and try to be compassionate and understanding. But there are times when I do not think about my God Family when I do things. I don’t think about how God might look at my actions.

While the majority of people in the United States believe in God, the percentage is dropping – http://www.theharrispoll.com/in-the-news/harris-polls/Americas-Belief-in-God.html . I think it is apparent when you see how violence has escalated, how insensitiveness  has increased and how people are louder, ruder and less kind than in the past. I think that people are hard and combative and not willing to sit across the table and break bread. It seems to have become ‘It’s my way or the highway’ attitude.

I try not to be that person. But I also know that I need to be more concerned about my God Family and think first how God will react to my actions. Just as I don’t want my children to behave inappropriately, I, as a child of God, need to make sure that I do not behave inappropriately. I need to make sure that my words are loving and not divisive; that I use proper language and not words which are polarizing, degrading or downright tasteless.

Today, I want to be aware of my God Family; that I make sure I do not do anything that would embarrass my Father or take ‘customers’ away from His Business. What a wonderful world we would have if we all just tried to make our family proud.

In Today’s World, Where do I fit in?

The election is done! The inauguration has happened and yet, people are still wailing and moaning and decrying that ‘This is not my president!’

This past weekend, the women’s march continued to separate our nation. If you didn’t support the march, you’re a Trump supporter (not meant to be a compliment), or against human rights, or uninformed.

Words which, at one time, were derogatory, are now a badge of honor. What has happened to us? What does our future hold when people are fighting so hard to show that they know more than you, or worse, that you know nothing?

Not that a college degree necessarily conveys intelligence, but I have a college degree, many life experiences, common sense and yet, I have had people speak AT me as if I had not a brain in my head. And generally, the people who speak that way to me are of a different political affiliation. Because I chose not to support Hillary Clinton, I am treated as if I am ignorant.

For the record, I am a strong woman, intelligent, well-informed about many things and I chose to not support Hillary Clinton because I viewed her as weak. I chose to not support Hillary Clinton because I believe she gave the sacrament of marriage a bad name when she chose to turn her head to her husband’s continued philandering. I chose not to support her because she supported a man who abused his authority and denied having sex with a White House intern.

I think there was a recent incident where a television CEO stepped down for sexual harassment, not sexual activity, but words! I am not condoning what this CEO did (it was very wrong) but he received a much harsher punishment than Bill Clinton. Some may say, ‘Well, that was years ago!’ You are correct, but Hillary Clinton remained married and publicly supported her husband when allegations were purported and his affairs continued.

I also chose not to support Hillary Clinton because I feared government would continue to brainwash people by offering them ‘the fish’, instead of teaching them to fish.

I believe government has worked to make people dependent on government support.

I believe that people should work hard to be independent of government handouts.

I believe the premise of smaller government.

I believe, that while we need immigration in this country, we need to know who is coming into the country and immigrants should be documented. AND, if you are in the country without going through the proper channels, you are illegal.

I lock my doors at night so people I don’t want in my home, don’t enter without my knowledge. And if you lock the doors to your home or your car, then you too, should want to know who enters our country. If you can honestly say you don’t mind who comes and goes from your home without regard, then maybe you can truthfully say you don’t mind not knowing who comes and goes from our borders.Think about it people!

But where do I fit in to this world? And this is maybe why people don’t think I have a brain in my head…my lifelong dream is to be the best mom, best wife, best housewife that I can be. While my life is not defined by these things, these are very important to me. And that seems to be a rare dream these days.

When I went off to college, my dad said to me, ‘I don’t care if you are going to college to get your MRS degree; one of the big reasons for college is to learn to be independent in a protected atmosphere.’ My mom said to me that it is fine if I want to be a wife and mother but I need an education to fall back on if something should happen and I never marry or my husband dies at a young age.

I met sexual harassment in my younger years when I didn’t get a promotion because I wouldn’t date the boss. I felt the stab of harassment when inappropriate comments were made about my breastfeeding by a superior. I felt betrayed when a supervisor looked at his superiors and blamed me for something that was not my fault. In private, he apologized and in his apology, he told me he wasn’t willing to take the heat, so he threw me under the bus. I left that meeting, called a friend and had another job in a different state before my lunch was over. Did I really want to work for someone like that?

So don’t think that I am uninformed or sheltered. What did I think about these experiences? First of all, I thought the men were idiots! Secondly, I was not scarred for life. I still think these men are idiots but I know that I am in control of my attitude and ultimately, I control my destiny.

In the different jobs I have had, there has not been the opportunity for me to experience unequal pay.Well, maybe, I don’t know, but I have never been unhappy with what I was paid. If I was unhappy, I took my complaint to my superior and presented my case for needing a higher salary. I feel like if you are happy with what you make, what difference does it matter, what other people make? If you were happy with your salary and then found out that someone else makes more, then all of a sudden your aren’t happy? If you were happy before you knew what someone else makes, why does knowing make you unhappy? (I know I am repeating myself. I am confused. If you feel valued and feel your salary is fair then that’s that. If you don’t feel you are getting paid what you deserve, then deal with that. What someone else makes shouldn’t matter. These days, it is pretty easy to find what the going salary is for any given career.)

I spoke with my husband about unequal pay and he has never seen that either, in his career. His career with the state and then in private manufacturing for 20+ years, had both men and women with equal pay for equal qualifications. So I am curious as to what careers, when qualifications are equal-equal, have men making more than women? In this, I can claim inexperience, because I have never seen it.

Remember…my family and home are the most important for me. So I don’t want to be married to my job. I want to look at my supervisor and tell him that my child needs me and I need to leave and take care of my child.

I need to have the flexibility, in my job, to take care of things which can only be done during regular business hours. I am the manager of my home and family. Even though my children are in college, I still schedule their doctor visits; I manage calendars, bill-paying and home cleaning. I am the one who generally handles getting vehicle maintenance done.  I manage the house and manage the family.

You can either pay someone to do those things because you are married to your job, or you have a career which offers flexibility. This may also may mean, you don’t make as much money! That is a trade-off which I am willing to have.

Remember…my family and home are the most important for me. I am married and so my situation may be different from others. I believe that, as a couple, decisions need to be made as to the roles in the home. As a couple, this is the role in which we have agreed; my husband is (kind of) married to his career, which means I take on almost all of the home responsibilities.

That meant that I was the one who stayed up with the kids when they were ill because I did not have to go to the office in the morning. It was my responsibility to get the kids to the bus stop. It was my job to do the grocery and clothing shopping. I was the children’s taxi, not my husband. His job was to make the money, so the home could run smoothly. I took over mowing the lawn until a riding lawn mower was purchased and the kids got old enough to mow. But, when I went to work full-time, outside the home, my husband started helping with household chores. That is what happens when you are married, you work together for the betterment of the family.

I do not believe I have experienced discrimination as a female, to the extent that I feel mistreated, dehumanized and/or devalued. Do I have the intelligence, stamina and ability to become a successful career person? ABSOLUTELY! Is that a goal in my life-ABSOLUTELY NOT!

I am ME! Don’t put me into some generic category and label me because you think you know who I am. I had a man tell me that, as a Republican, I did not believe in the welfare system or environmental causes and that I was all about what I could do for me! When I told him that I volunteered in the schools, and the community, and my church and that I donated money and items to numerous organizations (including my church) and that I recycled and have lived in an energy-efficient home since 1991, his only come back was that churches were awful places (with many expletives in his comments). He could only cuss at me because I was doing more to help my world than he could imagine doing himself. He was all talk and very little action.

You know, in the scheme of things, it doesn’t make much difference how I fit in this world or how other people view my life. Yes, I get frustrated when people try to peg me into their square hole, or don’t try to understand who I am. Yes, I get furious when I see people trying to see around the log in their eye to pluck out the splinter in my eye.

I try to be a good person and as I have gotten older, I have been trying to be more understanding of others and less judgmental. I think sometimes, I am more understanding and more accepting than some people who are trying to get that splinter out of my eye. (I know, that is being judgmental!)

But here is the deal, I only have to justify myself to God, not to my neighbor, the person down the street, or anyone on Facebook. I live my life as honestly and godly as I can and people are just going to have to accept it. If I don’t fit well in this world, maybe it is because I am trying to work towards an eternal life after this one is over, where we will all get along and there will be no need for protests, marches or presidential elections.

 

This one is for me!

2016 was not a bad year. Our daughter graduated high school and began a new adventure at college. Our son found his mojo at college and is now working towards the responsibilities of getting ready to graduate in 2018. My husband and I both stayed employed, volunteered and gave back to the community. We took a wonderful family vacation to New Mexico and we stayed healthy.

But I failed! I did not blog, which is funny because my passion is writing. I did not take time to quilt (another passion) and even though I work at a church camp, I did not do a good job in growing in my relationship with God. I also got out of touch with people who mean a whole lot to me. I created empty places in my life. In 2017, I need to change that.

In 2015, I decided I was too heavy and worked hard to lose 25% of my body weight. I was so proud when a year ago, I reached my goal. I had not felt that great in years. In 2016, I did not exercise as regularly as I should and I found weight coming back on. While I can still wear 99% of the new clothes I had to purchase, there are two skirts which are too tight. (They are one size smaller than the majority of my wardrobe.) I justified things because I could still fit in all but two things. But when will it end!

I don’t like to think I make New Year’s resolutions. But I decided before Christmas that I needed to get back on track. I started two days ago by getting up and walking in the morning. I have set out my yoga mat to work on toning exercises so I can get back into those two skirts.

But it is really not about those two skirts, it’s about filling the voids which were created in 2016. I need to start a faith study to do daily, more than praying because I have not stopped doing that. I need to make sure that I am working to keep fit and healthy because I am not getting any younger. I need to do the best in my job but not make my job my life. I need to become better organized and efficient in what I do. While I don’t want to tie these thoughts into a resolution for the New Year, 2017 is the best time to start afresh.

This may sound silly because my blog following is so small, but I am writing this to help make myself accountable for the goals which I want to set in 2017. I have already started walking , I am having dinner with a friend tonight , today I will look for a faith study (I have quite a few somewhere in my home)  and yesterday, I started cleaning up my office area and ordered some desk organizers to help me at work . I am writing this right now which will hopefully continue with more substantive topics in the future. And lastly, I started getting my fabric ready for quilting again.

Every year, I say I am going to write more and I have great intentions but intentions get you nowhere without follow through. And I honestly think that one of the reasons I have let things drop is because many of the things I do take me to another part of the house, away from my husband. Even if we are different rooms, I feel closer to him if we are on the same level. I need to make sure that I take time to be with my husband and still feel I can do things which I would like to accomplish, even if we are in different areas of the house.

I was feeling badly about the things that have slipped. As I write this, I realize that I have already begun to make my 2017 a better year. I have started making small strides to accomplish the things which are missing from my life. It wasn’t that hard! I now think of what else I could achieve! I will keep you updated and work towards being all I want to be. I know I can do it.

As I wrote before, this writing is really all about me. I don’t care about SEO or attracting a large crowd; that will be for later blogs.

Your goals are achievable! My goals are achievable! Bring on 2017, I think I am prepared!

Political Correctness-Political Reality-the Real World Part One

As a person with a background in journalism, I have always tried to write in an unbiased way when it came to NEWS. I make no bones about it when I am expressing an opinion, but in trying to report the facts, I try to do just that.

In this day and age, when reporting the news is more about who can be the first to disseminate the information, facts are sometimes secondary; you can always submit a retraction! OR, the other thing that is done, is reporting half the news because it fits your agenda; only share half the quote, present facts that are not relevant to this day and time. I have had this blog rolling around in my head for a long time. I could never have it gel into a readable prose so I opted to let it keep spinning and spinning and spinning. It just didn’t seem that I would ever be able to put my thoughts down-until today! This may still become a rambling but I hope you will bear with me as I try to help us make sense of this insane world. And I will try to do my best to stay on topic. (That is the nice thing about blogging, I can always edit and let it sit before I publish. But it will be my words and I will research facts. The best of both worlds, news and editorials!)

Even is this world of social media, worldwide connections and instant news, people in the United States are still pretty naive about other countries. Today I blog about immigration, the law and the reality.

My research showed that the United States has some of the most lax laws when it comes to immigration. For example:

In Mexico, you must  speak Spanish and must be a professional who is useful to the Mexican society.  All government publications are done in English. If you are a foreign business, you must pay your workers higher than a Mexican based company. (Article 32). If one wants to live in Mexico, proof must be shown that there are enough necessary funds to support themselves and their dependents.

When my family lived in Spain, we found that some of those same rules applied. I do not know if the laws have been amended, but when we were there, a foreigner had to show proof of funds to live and could not be in the country to work in a job that could be filled by a native. One of the cooks at the restaurant where we frequented was actually a doctor from Russia. She told us that it was better for her to cook (her husband owned the bar) than to practice in the Barcelona area. In Cataluna, you were required to be sufficient in Catalan, as you needed to be able to treat natives in their native tongue. She said that the requirements were too strict for her, as an immigrant, to practice medicine. (It was lucky that the company for which my husband worked was a worldwide country, so he could do business in English. He did learn Catalan and I learned Spanish though.)

The Guardian, a newspaper of England, in 2015, reported that a law will go into effect that…’Non-EU migrants who have spent more than five years working in the country will be required to earn £35,000 per year or else face deportation, according to a policy that comes into effect in April next year.’ That is over $49,300 a year in American dollars.

To immigrate to Canada, there is a point system. You get points based on your work experience, your education, your language, age and adaptability to Canadian life (Yes, that is on the point structure) “The Canadian government also takes adaptability into account when evaluating any applicant. The adaptability category addresses a potential applicant’s perceived ability to adapt quickly to life in Canada. The Canadian Government will award any applicant who has relatives in Canada or has spent time in Canada working or studying.”
Read more at http://www.canadavisa.com/canadian-immigration-requirements.html#kFxD70dGg7AwKJTo.99 http://www.canadavisa.com/canadian-immigration-requirements.html The United States does not have an adaptability requirement that I could find.

Speaking English is not a requirement to apply for a Visa to live and work in the United States. In Mexico and Canada, you need to speak their language (for Canada it is English and/or French) Whether that actually happens, I do not know, but that is their law.

The United States requires that proof be shown that the new immigrant will not live in poverty. But it states that if the sponsoring company or family cannot provide proper documentation for income, the sponsoring entity can go to other sources and have them provide supporting documentation and it can include property, bank accounts, assets that can be liquidated within the year. So the US is bending over backwards to help people meet the financial requirement. (I mean can you imagine a sponsoring families extended family selling their home to provide you income, say a cousin of the sponsor? That cousin could be one an additional sponsor and use their home as proof of necessary funds) https://www.uscis.gov/green-card/green-card-processes-and-procedures/affidavit-support

There are those who want our borders opened for all. Really? We don’t want to know who is coming into our land? We don’t want to weed out the thieves, murderers, mortally ill, those dependent on their native governments for assistance (which means when they come here, they are dependent on our government). Do we want un-skilled laborers who will need government assistance to live here? It doesn’t make sense to me that there are people out there who don’t care about those things.

I pay my taxes; I donate my time to non-profit organizations; I donate to our food bank and give clothes (new and gently worn) to our local business, run  by our ministerial association. (It is the equivalent to the Goodwill or Salvation Army.) But I have limited resources. Believe it or not, our country has limited resources.

If you are looking at me cross-eyed now and think that I am insane, let’s take this home, literally! Think of your home, would you leave your doors wide open for anyone to walk into your home? What if you have a one-bedroom apartment, would you want 4 or 5 living with you? Are you willing to pay for all of their expenses because as a sponsor, you are supposed to guarantee it. Yes, the majority of the time, you might be okay and safe. But we have locks on our doors, to keep our loved ones safe from harm. We have security passwords for our bank and credit card accounts to ensure that our finances are safe from dishonest people.

That is all I ask, that we look at what we can do, and do it, but realize that there is a reason for vetting immigrants. It is for the safety of our country; it is for the safety of our loved ones. I was an immigrant in a foreign country. It was not an easy process, but we went through all of the steps because that is what was required. And look outside our borders when people become so judgmental of our process; every country has immigration policies and many are stricter that the United States.

If you are so adamant about immigration but would not be willing to sponsor an immigrant to this country and guarantee the 125% funds that are required to secure an immigrant, then you are just words. I believe in controlled immigration.

I am grateful, as a third generation American, that my great grandparents came to this country. I am grateful that they went through the proper channels that I am a U.S. citizen.

I will continue on this venue. I will write next on how things have changed and we can’t treat immigrants in 2016 like our ancestors were treated. I will relate a communication that spurned me to write.

I have failed!?!?! Finding the truth in failure

I had set in my mind that I would start blogging again on Ash Wednesday. And here it is Thursday, February 11 and there was no blog posted yesterday. I failed! But did I?

What was the purpose of my wanting to start blogging again? Was it to share a recipe, share my insights on life? Or was it to get in the habit of writing again? I did sit down yesterday and start writing. I did take photos to post 20160210_173220with my blog. But my writing was all over the place. I began writing about nostalgia; my actual intention was to write concerning the lack of class/manners/respect that there seems to be these days in comparison to time before 1960. I actually had written “the more things change the more they stay the same…” because it seems that every generation says that a previous generation was better.

I was not in a very good location to concentrate. It was a public place. It was a wine tasting and tap-room in my community. Even though I was sitting in a quiet location in the back of the tasting room an20160210_172514d facing away from the entrance I could not concentrate. There was only a small group of people there, so it was hard to block out conversations.

I learned how to make the perfect gin and tonic and then they started talking about key limes being the better tasting lime. WELL…I have a story about a key lime tree and so I had to join in on the conversation. (It is a darn good story that deals with a legally purchased, but illegally acquired tree, the USDA and the demise of all of the Midwestern citrus orchards. Look for a blog about this!)

By then, my friend arrived to share in a glass of wine before I needed to head to Ash Wednesday service. I arrived at church 7 minutes late and the sermon was almost over! But, I felt God would 20160210_172607understand, as this person has become an important part of my life and we have wonderful God discussions.

I received a text from my daughter while at service saying she was very hungry and would I have food ready for her when she got home after five hours of dancing. SO…when I got home, I needed to make food for my daughter. You can see where I had problems writing; I wasn’t committed to a topic; there was nothing passionate on my heart in which to share; I had a commitment to spending time with a friend, with my church family and taking care of the needs of my own family. (Plus add to it my last parent-teacher conference in Blair, NE)

I ask myself, Did I fail? I met with my daughter’s teachers for the last time, which was important to my daughter, plus she needed me to make her food. (And I need to tell you it is rare that she asks me to make her food. She is very good at taking care of meals when she is on her crazy schedule). I met with a friend, who also attended her last parent-teacher conference. I attended service and had a chance to sit in my sanctuary and take time to be in relation with other believers. I finished a work project, worked my Girl Scout Cookie Cupboard by filling cookie orders for local troops. I also directed the practice for my churches children’s handchime choir and youth handbell choir. It was a busy day and I accomplished so much.

I know this blog is all over the place, but that was my day yesterday. And I did not fail. Sometimes, you need to do things, just to do things, like exercising, eating and sleeping. But there are times when your reasoning for a goal makes no sense. You need to evaluate what your plans for the day, or your life are and determine whether it is need or a want. God taught me yesterday that there were many needs yesterday but the one WANT I had, just wasn’t necessary. I knew there would come a time and I would write.

With the beginning of Lent yesterday and a chance to reflect on why I am on this earth, I learned that I need to re-evaluate my goals and wishes. I generally keep my Lenten reflections, fasting and denial to myself but with yesterday’s activities, I learned that what I was planning to do, was not necessary; I was planning to get into the habit of blogging daily. With my resuming to blog during Lent, I would tie my writing to my Christian faith and therefore making me a better person as I reflect on my life and the life of Jesus the Christ.

I believe that God speaks to me in my everyday life. I believe that God was telling me to redirect my ambitions. I believe that God was telling me that I am not a failure, but I am flawed as I am human and a sinner. I think that God was telling me “the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry” from writer Robert Burns. 

I so thought that my Ash Wednesday blog was not going to be towards my Christian faith. I think God had different intentions. Have a wonderful day and remember, you are not a failure but you may be flawed. We all have the chance to learn, grow and improve!

Parenting 101: the facts, as learned by me

I don’t have a degree in child psychology or education. My “facts” come from the wisdom of others and on-the-job training. This blog will share the opinions and experiences from me, a Midwestern conservative Christian. I will not necessarily bring in my faith except that our life is based on our Christian life. BUT…what I write could be followed by any person of any faith or someone without faith.

First of all, children should be conceived out of love, not lust, PERIOD! If a child is brought into this world because of lust, there may not be the commitment by both parents to see that their child is raised in a loving and giving family. Now, I am not saying that a child will not be loved when it is conceived due to lust (a one night stand, an oops on a vulnerable night, or a rape) but a child has a definite advantage being wanted, even before conception.

Even before the child is conceived, make sure the person you are with today, is the person you want to be with tomorrow, five years from now, 30 or 50 years from now. This means being truly committed, even during the difficult times. Our society is a throw away society but we need to realize that people are not things; people are not meant to be used, but loved and cherished. I know it is hard, but if you can’t see yourself with that person 15 years from now, maybe you should not be having a child with them. I have taught my children from the time they could understand, that marriage comes first and then children.

So you are now married and want to have children. Don’t forget that you were a couple first. My mom always told me to remember to be a good wife; Take time to be with your spouse. If you aren’t a good spouse, you can’t be a good parent. I know that your life revolves around your children for many years but they will grow up and leave the nest. If you do not stay connected with your spouse, then when they leave, your marriage will suffer. Your children are there because of the love you had for your spouse. That loves need to grow and continue throughout the growing up of your children.

Let your children know that your spouse is really number 1. Once, when my son was being disrespectful to me, my husband said, ‘Do not speak to my wife that way!’ Sometimes, the children forget that you are more than a mom (or dad). It goes back to remembering that before children, there was a different dynamic in your relationship and it needs to continue to grow and develop.

Wisdom from my grandpa, ‘Your life revolves around your child the first two years and then their life needs to revolve around you.’ What he was telling me, in my opinion, was that your child cannot take over your life. They need to learn that a child is not the controller of life but it is the parent who decides what will and will not happen. That doesn’t mean that you don’t go to the soccer games or dance lessons; it means that the parent is in charge, not the child.

Stand firm in your parenting. Say what you believe and believe what you say. As I said above, I have told my children from day one that you marry, then have children. I have not changed my stance. What my children decide to do is their choice, but I cannot change my morals and values because they are no longer five. In addition, I have told them if they are not mature enough to walk into Walgreens and purchase condoms, they are not ready to have sex. Purchasing condoms is easy, compared to raising a child.

Many years ago, my husband gave me a radar detector for Christmas. At the time, I was driving 1,000 miles a month for my job and he thought I might need one. Well, I was driving with him and speeding. He said to me, ‘Why are you speeding?’ I said, ‘You gave me a radar detector. If you gave it to me, I would only need it if I was to speed, so…’ That is why I will never purchase condoms, or put my daughter on the pill. It is an easy excuse to have sex before marriage.

I do not like the comment ‘I am not your friend, I am your parent.’ I am first a parent but that does not mean that I don’t want to be friendly with my children. Even though my daughter is 17, she is someone with whom I am most close. But I am still her parent and will always be a parent first. I am there to be the guide and role model for my son and daughter. I expect them to speak with me respectfully. While they may use language that is a little more loose than I would use with my mother (like saying crap and sucks), I do not allow them to swear in front of me or use any type of derogatory language.

Speaking of language, I have always told them that they should not tell stories or write things that they would not tell their pastor. I know that there are people who do not have a pastor, priest, rabbi, etc…so the point is to be careful what you say or post so it does not come back and bite you later in life. Because what you do as a teenager could affect opportunities when you are in your 30’s or 40’s. (That is another post about how my college grades came back to haunt me 29 years after I graduated!)

If you have the opportunity, take your children to museums. What they learn at a museum is sometimes more important that what they learn in the classroom. We had the privilege of taking our children to the Omaha Children’s Museum, the Lincoln Children’s Museum, the Henry Doorly Zoo, the Durham Museum, the Omaha Symphony and the Rose Theater on a regular basis. We gave our children a variety of experiences which have allowed them to communicate in a mature manner with adults. It also taught them how to behave in public.

Make them eat their vegetables. My daughter called herself a ‘Meataterian’! She hated fruits and vegetables. We would sit with her at the kitchen table while she refused to eat. My husband and I got to the point that we would do the ‘one for one’ game. We would get a spoonful (or forkful) of fruit or vegetables and we would eat one for one with her. While it may seem cruel, it is important that our children have the proper nutrients through food. It cannot be achieved through junk food. I would always tell her that I felt sorry for her children because they would have such a limited diet if she only fixed the food she liked. She now eats all kinds of fruits and vegetables. If we did not make her try a variety of foods, who knows what she would be eating now. I had to tell her that there is an in-between love and hate. I would say that if the food would not make her throw up, she needed to eat it.

Teach your children how to live in the world. We homeschooled for six years but kept them involved in the community. I always said that we needed to teach them to be strong, confident and faithful to survive in a world that will challenge them daily to compromise their morals and values. While it would be nice to have a compound for our family where we could protect them, the reality is, they need to live in the world.

Teach your children to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’. I know it is old-school but boys should open the doors for a young lady or an older woman. Both men and women should have a firm handshake and be confident enough to have eye contact when speaking.

At least when they are young, limit their exposure to electronics. When we were homeschooling, unless they were doing school work, anything that had to do with electricity (except lights) were off-limits until 4:00. And that only was in place a few days a week because we had many activities which took us out of the home for educational purposes.

Teach them that there are consequences to their actions. Whether it is as simple as not following simple instructions to breaking the law, let them know that they need to own their actions and be willing to pay the price for their error(s).

It is important for your children to know that the world is bigger than they are. They need to learn that their community and world is only as good as what they put into it. Volunteering and giving service is very important. Giving to those who are less fortunate humbles a person to appreciate what God has given them.

Always be grateful for what they have. They may not have the nicest home, or the current fashion, but you need to teach your children to be thankful every day for what they do have. It may not be much, but to even have life is a miracle and something to be thankful.

Be an example for your children. Show them that working hard and being the best you can be will be a prize in itself. You may not be a millionaire, but being proud of what you have and what you do to contribute to the family and society is worth more than anything. Not everyone can be a millionaire. Not everyone can be the valedictorian but that does not mean that you shouldn’t be proud of what you do or what you have. Work hard to own what you have. It is probably the best feeling in the world to know that you are not beholden to anyone; that you do not live off of the government but you help others when they are struggling.

There is so much more I could write about being a good parent. I feel I have hit the top ‘facts’ for parenting. By far, the most important thing is to love. Loving is giving your children rules and sticking to them. It is giving them expectations and helping them reach their goals. Provide them all of the opportunities you can, while you can and be there when they struggle. Be a good parent and part of that is being a loving a forgiving spouse.

My children are still growing and I am still evolving as a parent. But I will tell you that my children are intelligent, respectful, courteous, kind, educated and a joy to be around. While there are many things that may have not gone as planned, there is so much more that has gone according to plan. What you put into your children is what will help be their future. Don’t you want their future to be bright?

Don’t think that parenting is simple. I had pretty good parents and I am sure they wanted better for me. Well the same goes for me. I think I am a pretty decent parent but I want more for my children. I want them to learn from my mistakes and my rules, lessons and life experiences to be a beacon in this world. I think their future is bright!