Why Small Talk is Important

We may dislike small talk, but conversations about the weather, the garden, or dirty diapers are tremendously valuable while we build relationships.

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“Adam? A-dam! Where are you?” God’s voice called through the lush green foliage. His Creation was huddled behind a bush, wishing he could simply disappear. Doesn’t God know where I am? Adam wondered.

God knew exactly where Adam was. His question was designed for a response, not for information.

Doesn’t it astound you that God wants a relationship with us? It does me. The thought that the Almighty God wants to commune with me is incredible.

Communication is the heartbeat of a relationship, and according to my young people, one of the best ways to grow communication is through small talk.

I asked my teens the other day whether they thought small talk was important, and their answers were amazing:

“Yes – it’s not the most important, but it’s also important. it gets you away from talking about the deep stuff all the time. It’s a time to talk about the small things in life. I think it’s really important as a family to get to know each other without having to get into the deep stuff.”
Another one said, “Just like with your friends, it’s easy to get edgy with the people you love, but if you talk a lot of small talk to get to know each other. When you talk to your friends, it’s not always “how are you doing in this relationship?” or some other deep question, but when you talk small talk with them, you get to know likes and dislikes and it helps to keep the relationship alive.

Here are some thoughts I have about why small talk is important:

1. Small talk is a free-flowing discussion of whatever comes to your mind. Everyone enjoys being able to speak freely, and not feel stupid. Small talk accomplishes that, in addition to the excitement of exploring new ground.

2. Small talk is a great way to learn new things. We can learn a lot about each other’s likes and dislikes, about space, plants, and dead cockroaches. Even live ones! Small talk with others, even our young people, is a great way to expand our knowledge!

3. Small talk helps your family develop self-confidence. When they’re able to hold their own in a conversation, they’re more likely to be comfortable in almost any situation, and that’s a good thing. People tend to like people who are confident enough to engage them in a conversation.

4. Small talk helps us to “be present.” Small talk makes us put our smart phones aside and engage another person, and in the family, that’s big. It tell the person that they’re valuable to you – valuable enough for you to take some of your attention and time to talk to them and reveal some things about yourself to them.

For me, small talk doesn’t come easily. I prefer deep conversations, so swapping birth stories and discussions of dirty diapers are not things I truly enjoy. But I’ve been thinking lately of how The Lord has helped build bridges with my older children, and I remember it started with small talk.

Something that I’ve found recently that helped me with conversation with my family has been  FAMILY TALK“> a set of cards with questions I can choose to ask at any time, of any person. I found it at Hobby Lobby, but you can also get them from Amazon by clicking  FAMILY TALK“>. It has a clip, which I clipped onto my purse strap, so I’ll always have it with me. While we’re out as a family, I can pull out a few questions to get some conversation going. It’s been great!

imageMost of the questions are small-talk questions, but some of them are deeper. None of them, however, are threatening in any way, and it makes it fun for my young people to share their thoughts.

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If you’re like me,  FAMILY TALK“> can be a big help to you; after all, the best way to grow in communication is through small talk!

 

 
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Linking up with: Monday: Moms the Word, and A Mama’s Story Tuesday: Titus Two Tuesdays, The TimeWarp Wife, Messy Marriage Wednesday: To Love Honor and Vacuum

5 Step Pattern for Personal Growth

Today, I want to take a few minutes away from the spinning world of laundry, diapers, and school, and concentrate on personal growth.

 

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It was on one of my runs that I saw it. I was layered in 3 shirts and a jacket, and had a band around my head to keep my ears warm and my gloves on. The wind chill was somewhere around 20 degrees, which is cold for this part of the country. But I saw it nonetheless. It was a brave patch of daffodils.

Their brave green stems pushing out of the cold snow told me that spring was coming.

Another day I saw geese, headed north again after their winter down south. With every honk, they said that spring was coming, too.

Still later, on a warmer day, I could smell that warm green scent which you smell when the grass begins to grow again. Again, the fresh scent told me that spring was coming.

All around are signs of new growth, despite the persistent cold. I’m excited about the new growth, because it means things are alive.

Growing as a person is a challenge for me, especially as a busy homeschooling mom. I don’t always grow as fast and as steadily as I’d like, but I’ve found that if I make sure I impliment all 5 of these steps to growth, life will be much more exciting, and I find myself improving in the areas I think are important.

1. Read – First, your Bible, and then other encouraging and good books. My suggestion is to avoid vain or negative things like forums and facebook pages where people specialize in flaming others.

2. Listen – Good uplifting music, Bible being read, or encouraging podcasts. I love listening to good podcasts while I exercise or work around the house, because they keep my brain going while the body is busy.

3. Think – about what you’ve been reading and listening to. This, I think, is the missing element. We rush through our days without taking even a moment to consider the material we’ve been listening to and reading. (Of course, if all you’ve been reading is garbage, all you’ll think about is garbage.)

4. Pray – and ask God to help you apply the things you’re learning. It’s one thing to get some help, but it’s another altogether to be able to apply it to your life so you can live differently.

5. Repeat! Keep reading, keep listening, keep thinking and keep praying! As you sow, you shall reap. If you plant good things in your mind, you will reap good things. Just keep it up!!

Maybe one of these steps is missing, or maybe the stuff you’ve been filling your head with have been less than desirable. You may grow, but not as quickly and not as well as if you had all these elements in place.

Why not make it a habit to put good things in your life, starting today? You’ll be glad you did!

Linking up with: Monday: Moms the Word, and A Mama’s Story Tuesday: Titus Two Tuesdays, The TimeWarp Wife, Messy Marriage Wednesday: To Love Honor and Vacuum href=”http://www.growinginhisglory.com”>Growing in His Glory

Let’s Think a Thought or Two – Communication

I’ve been thinking and praying for a long time about sharing some thoughts in a format of short videos, and I finally got the gumption to do it!! This is my very first attempt, so video quality is pretty horrible, and I stumble over a few words, but the message is important enough to share with you all.

 

What are your thoughts? Do you have any suggestions about the video? I’ll be toying around with video quality next time, for sure!

If you like it, share it!

Goals for 2014: The Messy Middle

Goals Check-up Time!

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My most recent long run was a run of 7 miles. I had run that distance before, but it had been about a year. This time, I’ve been working myself up to running longer distances over the past few months, so I had run 6 miles on my previous long run. It was time to up my milage and continue to stretch my wings – I mean, legs – by running 7 miles again!

Everything went fine for the first couple of miles. The weather was perfect – about 50 degrees with a slight breeze. After awhile, however, my legs began to feel like they were made of heavy iron. I know it didn’t help that I was running at a park, doing 0.6 mile circles. How boring is that? All that energy going out, and I was really going nowhere. The only thing worse is a treadmill! 😉

Somehow, I’m still not sure how, I survived (couln’t guess, right?;) I can tell you that it’s a lot better to be on the other side of that run – the DONE part – than to be in the middle! Oh, how good it is to be done! But I learned a very important lesson here.

Many of us have written down goals for 2014. It felt so good to get down on paper the things that we want to accomplish, by God’s grace, over the next year. But let’s face it – it’s mid-March, and a lot of us have lost contact with our goals already.

Here are some thoughts I have about How to survive the messy middle:

1. Keep moving. In a race, especially a half-marathon or marathon, the goal is merely to keep moving toward the finish line. There is only 1 winner in a race, but that doesn’t mean that the rest of us have to give up; we can still put one foot in front of the other and reach our goal just fine.

2. Fuel up! When I get a few miles into a long run, it’s time to break out the fuel, or the long run becomes a short run! When it comes to the Messy Middle of the year, it’s important to fuel our hearts with the Word of God and good, encouraging words. If God is the original source of your goals, then staying in touch with Him will be your source of inspiration.

3. Concentrate on the end. When I was running, I watched the cars driving by and thought, “how nice it must be to sit down – even in a car!” I worked on concentrating on the “joy set before me” – a wonderful yummy smoothie when I got back home! With our 2014 goals, it’s important to remember the end result we’re trying to acheive, and why we want to achieve it.That can go a long way to pushing us forward!

4. Finally, you’re only one step away from heading the right direction. If you find yourself doing NOTHING that you had planned, it’s ok. It does you no good to beat yourself up over lost time. The only thing you really need to do is Turn Around. In other words, just look at your list, find one thing that you need/want to do, and think of your next action item for that thing. Do that one action, and it will help you get moving in the right direction.

How are your goals coming along? Mine are moving along slowly, but surely. But with God’s help and some “running inspiration,” I know I can get through the Messy Middle.

Linking up with: Monday: Moms the Word, and A Mama’s Story Tuesday: Titus Two Tuesdays, The TimeWarp Wife, Messy Marriage Wednesday: To Love Honor and Vacuum href=”http://www.growinginhisglory.com”>Growing in His Glory

5 Lessons I’ve Learned from Farmer Boy

A few days ago, we lost a beloved pet, my daughter’s gerbil who outlived practically every other living thing in this home. It was an emotional time for folks, and it was important for me to be tender and understanding of high emotions during these times.

The night after the little guy died, I was reading out loud to the Rocket Boy, and these words from Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Farmer Boy seemed to just leap off the page…maybe it will speak to you as well.

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“Every Saturday morning he (Almanzo) spent in the barnyard, teaching Star and Bright… He knew you could never teach an animal anything if you struck it, or even shouted at it angrily. He must always be gentle, and quiet, and patient, even when they made mistakes. Star and Bright must like him and trust him and know he would never hurt them, for if they were once afraid of him they would never be good willing, hard-working oxen.”

Maybe you’re like me, and have wondered sometimes what I was missing in my relationship to my children. As a parent, there are so many roles to fill – teacher, cook, laundress, etc. But how can we gain our children’s heart and trust?

While Farmer Boy is no replacement for the child training principles found in the Scriptures (the Bible does teach the need for occasional loving correction,) there is a lot we can learn from a 10 year old boy trying to break his calves:

  • Be gentle – Gentleness is that elusive quality of speaking softly, with no rash moves or words. Having been a “self-made individual,” I can tell you that growing up I was known as very forthright and frank, and gentleness was nowhere in my vocabulary or actions. Without the Holy Spirit of God, the ideal is truly impossible, but “with God, all things are possible.”
  • Be patient – The Devil tells us, “don’t pray for patience, all you’ll end up with is troubles.” But never forget that we have troubles anyway – we might as well have patience to deal with them.
  • Be knowable – i.e, transparent. Allow our children to actually get to know us, the real us. Let’s not hide under a façade of Supermom, but let the kids see us when we spill milk, or shed a tear over our own losses, or accidently cut ourselves with a kitchen knife. Share with them your love of beautiful things, and don’t be afraid to share with them your fears and how you deal with them – it’s very likely that they will draw strength from yours.
  • Be likeable – Play games with them, tell them jokes, or be goofy with them.

Put on silly hats and having screaming contests into your pillows. Make each day a playful adventure, even if you see nothing but mounds of laundry and piles of dirty dishes.

  • Always work for their good, not your own comfort.

Every week I go to the store and get a small box of 85% chocolate, otherwise known as “bitter chocolate.” There are 5 pieces of chocolate in the box, and there are 2 other girls who are doing Trim Healthy Mama with me. How do I divide the chocolate? I give each of them 2, and I have 1. Could I use more chocolate? Sure! But I want them to know that I am willing to inconvenience myself so they can have more.

I’m not perfect by any stretch, but by God’s grace, I want to grow in these areas.

This struck home especially because of our recent loss of a beloved animal in our house – a gerbil who outlived any gerbil’s life expectancy and who was held, pampered, loved, cared for and gave in return many hours of entertainment as we watched him scamper about his cage, run in his wheel, and chew on his toilet paper tubes.

Did the girls cry? Oh yes. Some more than others, but definitely they mourned the loss of their friend. But although I didn’t personally shed a tear, I didn’t coldly tell the girls, “Oh, come on now! He’s just a gerbil! Get over it!” it would have been unkind of me to say such things. And the girls would have understandably been upset, not just about their pet’s death, but also my callousness.

Personally, it seems to me that gentleness and kindness go a long way with our children.

Perhaps you’ve been the recipient of harsh words and rough treatment. How did it make you feel? Now that you’re a parent yourself, how do you rise above the way you were raised?

Linking up with: Monday: Moms the Word, and A Mama’s Story Tuesday: Titus Two Tuesdays, The TimeWarp Wife, Messy Marriage Wednesday: To Love Honor and Vacuum

Is Sports Illustrated Aiding Human Trafficking?

Human Trafficking (otherwise known as slavery for sex) has been around for many many years, but my recent (unwanted) encounter with the 50th Anniversary Issue of the Sports Illustrated magazine brought this sad practice to light in a whole new way for me.

Sports Illustrated & Human Trafficking

Up until recently, I didn’t believe there was such a thing as Human Trafficking. What I had heard was the equivalent of modern slavery, and wasn’t slavery abolished long ago? This may happen in other countries, but not here, not in free United States….right? It’s probably just a bandwagon that folks are on right now, and it’s probably a way that someone’s making money. That’s it.

Then my daughter pointed out a huge sting operation that the FBI carried out during the Super Bowl. During that time, more than a dozen teen “workers” were rescued from their captivity and more than 45 people were arrested.

Fast forward a few weeks. My family stopped at a Walgreen’s after a family day of shopping and exploring our local town. My husband and I run into the store to pick up a snack and a soda. What we saw at the checkout thoroughly disgusted us – the current 50th Anniversary Issue of Sports Illustrated, complete with all its nudity, right next to the cast register. In fact, it was positioned in such a way that the front of the magazine could be seen from any angle. It’s actually pornography at its lowest – right out front for every man, woman, and child to see.

Am I the only one that feels like this is a crazy world we’re living in? When people are being used and body parts sold in the name of free speech?

What I think is incredibly odd is that this is considered normal. In fact, it’s used quite often in advertizing. If you say it often enough and long enough, people believe it’s true. This was also one of Hitler’s ways of convincing the German people of “The New Normal.” So, while Jews were being herded in cattle cars to extermination camps, the people of Germany stood idly by – good people – and felt it was perfectly normal.

Doesn’t anyone else see this as dangerous, or am I alone here?

When we brought our concerns to the manager of Walgreens, she looked at us, raised an eyebrow and gave a slight smile, like we were the ones slightly demented. Apparently it’s not normal to want to protect women from being considered as objects to be bought and sold, used like cattle.

I should think the feminists of the world would be completely up in arms over the cover of Sports Illustrated. After all, women are NOT sex objects to drool over, nor are they things to be used as money-makers.

I wonder to myself – what will the future bring if we keep on in our current pathway? Have you ever had those thoughts?

Here are a few of mine:

1. Human trafficking is real and it is on the rise. For a long time, I didn’t believe that Human Trafficking even existed, but I realize now that it’s a huge danger to our families, our children, and our nation. Is there a direct link between Sports Illustrated and Human Trafficking? I doubt we would ever find one, but one lust feeds another…

2. Magazines like Sports Illustrated, porn videos, and the Human Trafficking industry are turning women into sex objects. Objects to be used and discarded, like an old magazine, rather than to be loved and cherished for who they are.

This is totally contrary to what the Feminist movement has been trying to teach us for so many years. If we were truly “free to be me,” then we are not objects to be lusted after, but people who have much more use to society than to feed the lust of base men. I’m really surprised the feminists aren’t standing up and screaming about this.

I am not a sex object. I know you could look me up and down and say, “You’re right, honey, you’re not!” and I would laugh along with you. But no human being should ever be sold, and no human being should ever be used by others to make money. This is called slavery, and the United States has been opposed to slavery for well over 140 years.

3. The entire porn industry is feeding the lusts of base men (and women!) It’s a well-known fact that pornography alters the brain to think of women as objects, rather than people. Isn’t that what slave owners think? “This is my property, I can do with it what I want.” I know by saying all these things I’m opening myself up for a ton of criticism, but I do think it’s important for us to speak out for those who cannot, or will not, speak for themselves.

Question: Do you think there’s a connection between pornography – or even swimsuit catalogs – and Human Trafficking? What do you think the average person can do about it?

Linking up with: Monday: Moms the Word, and A Mama’s Story Tuesday: Titus Two Tuesdays, The TimeWarp Wife, Messy Marriage Wednesday: To Love Honor and Vacuum