Too Much to Gain to Lose

toomuchtogaintolose

A few months ago I had the brainchild of getting into couponing. Now, I know nothing about it, but have always wanted to learn, and since my daughter is a recent Ultra-Couponer, I hoped I could latch onto her and get some good ideas. So I decided to start with shopping deals at CVS.

My first week, I bought $11 worth of stuff, and got $10 worth of Extra Care Bucks back! Not bad, eh? But I had to wait until next week to use those bucks, and the next week there were no real deals. The same with the following weeks.

One day I looked at my ECB receipt and discovered that this day was the very last day to use it! No problem – even though it was a Sunday, I would go after church. So on the way home from church I stopped by the CVS only to discover that it had already closed the the day! Oh no! My ECBs were expired! All that money was wasted!

I let a wonderful opporunity slip through my hands.

It reminds me of a verse: “Therefore, we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have learned, lest at any time we should let them slip.”

God has been speaking to me through this verse. Sometimes it is a gentle rolling, a murmer in the background, and other times it is a shocking almost visible trumpet call.

Why? Because I struggle. I struggle with allowing precious things to slip through my hands. I struggle with maintaining a lazer focus on the true and right things, and often get distracted with the meaningless dribble of life. I struggle because my attention span is so very very short.

But God in His mercy continues to call, to pull. He gently murmers in the background, and loudly proclaims His truth right in my face. And these are the things He has been speaking to me about giving the More Earnest Heed to:

1) My God – Coming to grips with the reality of God’s constant presence is something I need to pay more earnest attention to. His presence brings a clarity to my daily routine, and draws me toward a right relationship with Him.

2) My marriage – I may have been married a long time, but there’s no time for vacation or coasting. I must always pay earnest attention to my spouse, otherwise, the parade of daily distractions will pull us apart.

3) My children – For me, I struggle with screen time. It helps to remember that every moment spent in front of the screen is one less moment I spend with my family. It’s something I must always be on guard against.

There’s too much to gain to lose.

Is there anything The Lord has been speaking to you about lately? Do you find yourself struggling with the meaningless dribble of life and not doing what you know you’re supposed to?

****************

On a personal note, you may have noticed I’ve been a bit quiet here lately. It’s because I’m allowing the Holy Spirit to guide my daily activities and schedule. There have been plenty of evenings I thought to myself, “Well, I’m not getting on the computer tonight. I wonder what I’ll do?” and before I knew it, one or the other of the young people pulled me aside and I spent the evening talking, or taking a walk, or something fun. It’s been a good thing to keep my computer turned off.

We’ve continued on our travels, and now we’re up in the northern states. It’s blissfully cool here, so I’ve been thoroughly enjoying the great running weather. My 5k times were good for August! Now we’re back south, and it’s more of a challenge.

We’ve been doing a lot of singing as a family, which I love. We got our new CD, “I Have Been Blessed,” and have also been learning new songs. If The Lord allows, I’m hoping to make a recording when we come back from this trip, so we will hopefully have another CD ready to put out before the year is up.

We got to visit with the grandkids last week, too! What a blessing it was to be there while Emily had her birthday!! I can’t believe she’s turning 6 years old already!!

Time flies! …and I’m constantly reminded as I look at my grandkids, “I have too much to gain to lose.” I don’t want to let any opportunity to glorify God slip through my hands!

Almost Ready!

If you’ve been following me for these past few weeks, you know we’re getting ready to head out on a two-month trip – a mini-furlough of sorts, designed to help us raise the support we’ve been losing over the past 2 years. Now we’re almost ready!

image

It’s been an extremely busy week, as we’ve been getting ready for our two-month trip! There are all the things that need done in the yard, to hopefully get the bushes, etc. ready for a 2 month break (does it help to trim them down within an inch of their life?? They won’t grow back soon….) Anything that needs done to the house had to be done this week, like cleaning out cabinets, etc. And then there’s school to plan.

Since we’re starting school the last week of August, we need to take all the school books for my three studious students with us. THAT’s going to be a challenge! I’ve got everything ordered (and one book I had sent to one of the places we’ll be soon, because it won’t come before we leave,) and I copied all the tests they will need while we’re gone, since we won’t have a printer or copier – and I don’t want to run to Staples every day to copy a test for a kid!

One challenge, but also a blessing, is going to be our Heritage Studies. I decided that, instead of bookwork, we will take these next 2 months and learn everything we can about the states we pass through. The plan is to stop at every Welcome Center and gather information and make a scrap book of the trip. I am also going to have each student write a few paragraphs about what we’re learning, and include those in the scrap book as well. It sounds like a lot of fun!

While I’ve been looking for containers to carry food, school materials, and other necessary items, my husband has been busy building a utility trailer. We looked for one on Craigslist and online, but couldn’t find one in the budget, so he bought a trailer frame kit, built that, and went to Lowe’s and got a bunch of wood to make the box. These past few days has found him out in the garage sawing, measuring, and sweating! Our FB page has some pics of the progress we’ve made.

image

The van is as ready as it’s going to be, except that today it should get a good cleaning. We had the oil changed, the wheels aligned, and the tires rotated and balanced. One thing that concerns us is a loose CV joint, which we hope to get fixed at our trusted mechanic in PA…and we hope it doesn’t go out before that! If you could pray for us about that, I would appreciate it.

I also got several CD’s and books ready to take with us on the road: Lionproof, Keeping Your Children from the Claws of the Devil, and The Umbrella Story, as well as two CD’s – I’ll Say Yes, and a brand-new one, I Have Been Blessed! I’m especially excited about the new CD, because it was recorded while the guys were still with us, and it’s one of the very best we ever did!

image

I’m writing this on Friday, but when this posts, Monday, I’ll be just putting the finishing touches on the packing, and loading the trailer and cleaning the house. Before you know it, we be on our way!

As we go, I’ll keep you posted on events, meetings, and setbacks. I’ll try to take pics of as much as I can, and keep you up to date on our progress.

Please pray for us as we go, for safety, and that we would be a blessing to the churches we go to!

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

5 Things Faith Does

Driving our bus down a 2-lane highway in lower Michigan, my husband struggled to keep the rig on the road. There had been a violent storm the night before, and the weather was still quite finicky. The wind was gusting quite a bit, turning our bus-turned motorhome into a land-roving sail.

5thingsfaithdoes

While he wrestled with the steering wheel, we continued our normal daily routines. It was not long after lunch, and both the dishwasher and washing machine were humming, while the kids sat in various favorite spots enjoying a book or writing on the computer. I sat on the couch beside several kids, while one of the girls walked from the back bedroom toward the front, absolutely unaware that the course of our lives would change dramatically in the next few seconds.

I heard my husband shout, “Look out!” and the next instant felt the bus shudder. Time seemed to crawl as I looked up and saw that the windshield was shattering. For what seemed like an eternity, I could see leafy arms reaching toward my cowering daughter, as several branches came through the hole that was once the windshield. The noise created by splintering glass, kids shouting and my husband yelling filled the air. Within seconds, My Beloved pulled the bus to a stop, although he could hardly see the road.

Even before the bus was stopped, however, several of the children began crying and screaming, blood oozing from various places. It was an instant I will never forget.

In just a second of time, a tree had fallen right in the path of our bus, not even hitting the ground, but striking our windshield. At that moment, my life was totally out of my control.

Jochebed, Moses’ mother, had a similar life-changing situation. In Exodus 2, we see that the king, Pharoah, had already made his slaves’ lives very difficult, but now, in an effort to keep their numbers down, he ordered that all baby boys be thrown into the river to drown. Jochebed’s life, which had never really been easy, had suddenly been turned upside-down.

Have you ever felt that way? Maybe you’ve never had an accident, or maybe you’ve never experienced a life-changing moment, but I’m sure somewhere along the line, you’ve experienced times when you’ve felt that your life was totally out of your hands. Perhaps it was a financial situation, or sickness of a spouse or child, or perhaps something broke, and you had a difficult situation to deal with. We’ve all had times when the life we were living at the time took a sudden turn, and we were now completely in God’s Hands.

Even though she was in a awful situation, Jochebed chose to live by faith. She put her life into God’s Hands…and her faith altered the entired course of history.

What happens when we choose to live by faith?

When we choose to live by faith, we choose to place our lives in God’s control. Jochebed understood that there is no better place to be than in the center of God’s Will; no stronger Hands to be held by the the Hands that made the Universe.

We choose action over passivity. Like Jochebed, whose faith moved her to make a little boat for her baby boy, I could not just sit around after the accident. Within seconds, I popped one child in the shower to rinse off his glass, while someone else began brushing off another child. Still a third started sweeping up all the glass.

We choose the Word of God over our emotions. Jochebed had the promise that God’s people would someday be delivered from bondage and go to the Promised Land. Her emotions probably told her that her efforts were worthless, but God’s Word never changes. “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee…

We choose miracles over the mundane. While every other Israelite mother was throwing their baby boys in the river, Jochobed chose a very unusual route. Her results were miraculous – her boy not only lived, but she was PAID to take care of him!

We choose to live a life of significance, rather than to fade into the obscure. All of the peole in the Hall of Faith, Hebrews 11 (including Jochebed) were people of significance – not because they were powerful people, but because they were people who exercised faith.

God took care of us that day along the side of the road. Amazingly, only the Rocket Boy had to go to the ER to have glass removed! Two months later, the bus was all fixed up and ready to go, and we were able to continue our journey. God is good!

Personally, I want to live a life of significance, to make the world a better place because I’ve been in it. It can only happen as I live a life, like Jochebed, of faith.

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

The Truth About Building Relationships

Building relationships is like opening Dad’s workroom. Messy? Oh, yeah. But as a kid, all I could see were possibilities!

building relationships

building relationships

When I was a kid, there was a room in the basement which always drew my attention. One day I was wandering around without anything to do (I could NEVER imagine that now!) and I happened to open the door to my Dad’s workroom.

Opening the door just a crack revealed a glorious mess, and the brown smell of wood shavings mixed with the musty smell of damp cinderblock walls. I glanced around the room and my eyes beheld many wondrous things: tools of all shapes and sizes – hammers, saws, chisels, files, and many electric tools as well, stacks of planks, 2x4s, and smaller blocks of wood, and on the ceiling were baby food jars holding various screws, nails, and bolts of every type. The two worktables were strewn with various projects in different stages of done-ness – a fan that had been taken apart because the switch didn’t work, a vacuum cleaner that needed its belt replaced, and several broken toys waited for my Dad’s attention.

I slowly entered the room and flicked on the light, making the whole mess appear even more awesome. Soon, I was pulling a plank out of the woodstack, and I cleared myself a spot on the worktable and began to make my very own creation.

Building relationships is a little like opening up Dad’s old workroom. Everything looks scattered, broken, and messy – complete with sawdust and wood shavings! But, oh, the potential that is there in that workroom! As a young person, I could easily envision the many wonderful things I could build. Birdhouses, go-carts, tables, and shelves were among my ideas, and some of them even made it to fruition. But none would have been built at all without me opening up the door, seeing the awesome room, and getting to work.

Building Relationships takes time. I never built a go-cart overnight, although I tried really hard. Well, I take it back – I DID build a go-cart in just a few hours once, but it only got about 100 feet down the road before it collapsed. (Lesson #453: what goes together quickly comes apart even quicklier!) But building relationships takes time. Whether you want to reach out to a co-worker, or have a better marriage, or build a bridge to your children, it takes time. A truly good go-cart never gets built in a day, and neither will a good marriage or relationship.

Building Relationships take work. Of course, when I was building go-carts, my work was so mixed with play that it was hard to tell the difference. Perhaps that’s the key. Perhaps there should be so much play mixed in with our relationship building, that it hardly seems like work at all. We attack the project with so much gusto and enjoy the process that it is thoroughly enjoyable.

Building Relationships is a process. It takes time to build a go-cart that will take you flying down the hill to the envy of your friends, and it takes work to do it. But the whole process can be enjoyable, not just the end result. Which brings me to my next point:
Relationship building is actually the goal. If we take the time and work on our relationships, playing and enjoying the relationships as we build them, we will find that the process is the goal. We may never reach the goal – having the coolest go-cart in the neighborhood, because your friends down the street may be building one at the same time. And in my case, my friends always had better raw materials to work with, because our large family never allowed for really nice stuff. But in reality, it didn’t matter if I had the best go-cart or not – I had a lot of fun (and learned a lot) in the process. Enjoy the process of building relationships, because the process really is the goal.

Building Relationships is a continuing process. Once I had my beloved go-cart “finished,” there were always little tweaks that needed done – oiling the wheels, re-tying the ropes when they come off (remember those ropes you would tie onto a 2×4 that would steer? Lesson #454: Always make sure your knots are tied TIGHT before you ride down the steep hill!) and perhaps even painting the name “Cruiser” on the side! That just means that the fun just keeps on going! In relationship building, there are always little things we can do to improve, both ourselves and out relationships. The fun just goes on and on.

I had seen the potential, when I opened the door to Dad’s workroom. I had hammered, sawed, and bled in that workroom for my creation. After days and days of work, I finally closed the door to Dad’s workroom, lugging my newest g-cart up the basement steps carefully. I was thrilled. Oh yeah, I was smiling. And when I rode down the hill on my very own go-cart, the wind never felt so good.

Question: Can you think of something you build when you were young? How did you feel after you built it?

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

Choose to be Real

The choices we make in our lives impact our future happiness. One of the most important choice, the choice to be real, is by far the most far-reaching decision we can make, impacting generations to come. In a world of pretenders, let’s choose to be real.

The ancient tradition of the Olympic Flame became the longest and most popular relay in the world in the early 1900’s. Lit from a concave mirror in Olympia, Greece, the flame is carried to the host city and is used to light the Olympic Caldron. The final torchbearer, who often sumbolizes Olympic ideals, is kept a secret until the very last minute. Bt the time the flame reaches the stadium, excitement and fervor has reached a fever pitch. But in the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne, Australia, something very supriseing occurred.

On its way from Cairnes to Melbourne, the torch had already gone through several mishaps. Runners battled heat exheaustion, thunderous downpours, and a finicky flame. But it was in Sydney that the flame made Olympic history.

Harry Dillon, a cross-country titleholder, was suppposed to take the flame to the mayor, Pat Hills, who was prepared to make a speech before passing the torch along to its next runner. Excitement ran high in Sydney, with 30,000 people lining the streets waiting for the torch to arrive. Police escorts, reporters, and multitudes of anxious onlookers fidgeted in the tense moments.

Finally the runner emerged, carrying his flame with a proud, light step. Applause and cheers rippled through the crowd as they surged forward with cameras blazing to catch this momentous event. In an effort to protect the runner, the police surrounded him and escorted him as he lightly ran through the streets.

With the confidence of an athlete, the runner bounded up the steps and handed the flame to the waiting mayor. Mr. Hills smiled, thanked the runner and turned toward the rowd, clearning his throat to make his speech. Before he could oen his mouth, however, someonw stepped up to him and whispered something startling:

“That’s not the torch!”

The mayor looked startled and stared at the object in his hand. Suddenly it dawned on him that what he was holding was nothing but a chair leg topped with a plum-pudding can, with the “mighty Olympic flame” coming from a pair of kerosene-soaked underwear!

What everyone thought was the real thing, was NOT the real thing. As a matter of fact, the prankster was so concinceing that the police, the crowd, and even the mayor were all fooled!

Our Christian life can be a lot like that false Olympic torch. We can have lots of people convinced that we are really Christians, at least for a time. We may have cameras clicking, the applause of the crowd, and even a police escort, but someday SOMEONE will realize that we don’t have the real thing. Time reveals the truth. (excerpt from Lionproof: Keeping Your Children from the Claws of the Devil)

Being a real live authentic Christian is the first and foremost way to pass down our faith to our children.

What are some of the marks of a true Christian?

1. Righteous Living (See Acts 4:34-35, Acts 5:1-10)
2. A Heart for Souls (see Mark 16:15)
3. An Abiding Walk (see John 15:1-8)
4. A Loving Spirit (see John 13:34,35, John 15:12)

One day I listened as Joanne, a 23-year old graduate from home school, told me, “My parents were REAL. Christianity was their life, and more than anything else that stood out to me.”

Herein lies perhsp one of the greatest challenges of parenting: that of really, truly, honestly believing what we say we believe as parents. If we are to change the world, it must begin at home. If we are to bring up young people who are passionate about living daily in the presence of the Almighty God, then we mst ourselves experience that same burnign passion.

It is realness, it is true transparency, and it is life.

In a world full of pretenders, let’s choose realness – let’s choose life.

What are some other marks of a Christian you can think of?

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

Use What You’ve Got

Becoming All God Wants You to Be

God is doing some tremendous things in my life lately, and some of that overflow is going to end up on this blog. While it’s very easy to become mired in the cancer of “can’t, sir,” it takes a special courage to use what you’ve got and watch God make it into something wonderful. I pray we all have even just a little ember of that courage.

usewhatyou'vegot

One day, God gave a huge responsability to a very reluctant man. “Go and speak to my people,” He told the him. The man was confused. “What if they won’t listen to me? What if they don’t believe me?” he questioned. God’s response is absolutely striking: “What is that in thing hand?” Moses looked in his hand and saw nothing unusual, nothing worth mentioning. But God saw differently. He saw something He could use, if only Moses would use it. Moses’ simple staff became his mighty tool throughout the decades as he led the Israelites out of slavery and to the brink of the Promised Land. His common staff – that weathered, worn, piece of wood – became the centerpiece of the miracles of God.

It’s easy to neglect what we have and concentrate on what we DON’T have. How do I know? I’ve been there, done that. Sometimes I even think I write the blog about it!

But life is full of opportunities, and people are full of needs. How can we help folks? How can we be everything God want us to be? Even more, how can we help our own families?

By using what we have.

Right now, I have 3 teenage girls at home (and of course the Rocket Boy is 10) and I want to find ways for them to earn money, especially without having to go get a job. Funny thing…I’ve been telling them for years that they need to find something they love to do and start their own business, and I’ve been praying for The Lord to open some doors.

Well, I realized the other day that I need to put some feet to those prayers and help them.

I thought to myself, How can I help my girls so they can earn some money? I wondered what I had that could inspire them to launch out to start getting business on their own. I may not have much, I reasoned, but I do have time, and I can get behind them so that they will feel confident in trying. It may not be much, but at least it’s something.

So the other day we sat down last week at Starbucks and had a brainstorming session. It wasn’t long, but it was long enough and encouraging enough for one of my girls to go ahead and courageously post her new photography business online. And wouldn’t you know, she’s been swamped with requests! Now she’s got folks booked for the next few weeks, and she’ll be busy doing something she loves, making money at the same time. Isn’t God good?

The moral of the story? If we just use what we have, and work with our own assets, we can be what God wants us to be, and bless our families tremendously.

Using what we have means that we don’t waste the talent God has given us. Have you ever given someone a Christmas present, only to find out later that they stuck it in their closet and never even used it once? Your thought is, Well, that didn’t go over well. Guess they don’t care. And sometimes we’re tempted to think, Apparently they don’t think very much of ME. God has given us many tremendous gifts, and it shows our gratefulness to Him when we use what He has given us.

Using what we have means we’re willing to obey. How many of us are tempted to think, Well, because I don’t have such-and-such a talent, I can’t do anything useful. I’ll just sit here like a lump. It’s easy to get into that mindset, especially when we’re not stellar in an area, we’re more like Average Janes. But if God wanted us to use out talents, would we? Would we be willing to obey, even if we’re not the best? Our simple obedience is more important to The Lord than blasting fireworks.

Using what we have guarentees that we’ll have more! It’s almost as though The Lord says, If you’re going to use what I give you, I’ll go ahead and bless you even more! In fact, He even says in His Word, “Thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will put thee over many things!”

We’ve seen that work in our lives. As a family, we’re working on getting out of debt. It’s no small task, and especially requires diligence in even the smallest expenditures. It’s been difficult to sometimes say No when we’d much rather say Yes, but I’ve noticed that as we’ve been faithful with our pennies, we’ve been blessed with little bits more here and there. What a blessing!

I could give many examples of this: we’re not a talented family, but we love to sing together. As we sing more and more, it sounds better and better, and, though we’ll never be “rich and famous” (who wants that?!?) we can glorify The Lord with the voices He’s given us.

Today, God is asking you and me a question, “What is that in thine hand?” Is it just an ordinary staff? Is it a common everyday piece of equipment? God can use it as a mighty tool in His Hand, if we’re willing to let it be used.

So, I’m going to work more on using what I have, even here on this blog. I enjoy writing, and I enjoy research, so I can use what I have and do what I love, and bless others at the same time.

Question: What has God given you that you can use for His glory? Or, have you ever seen The Lord bless you in a special way because you used a talent He has given you?

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

Making Excellent Choices

I prepared for a Military Wives’ Bible study on this topic, and, although we had to cancel it due to sickness, I still think it’s important to learn how to make excellent choices. Today’s post (and the Bible study) is based on the book by Terry Chappell, The Choice is Yours. It’s an excellent resource! …and, no, that’s not a paid advertisement, I just love their stuff!

 

First, let me congratulate the winner of my giveaway: Kerry!! I’ll be in touch with you in the next few days to get your address! Congrats!!

Making Excellent Choices

 

Our family doesn’t often go to Burger King, but when we did a few months ago, we were astonished at the new soda machine they got not long before. After placing my order and getting my cup, I walked up to this “one machine makes all” sort of machine, and stared at it for awhile. Finally, I began timidly pressing buttons, and it wasn’t long before I got what I wanted – Diet Mellow Yellow! I know, it’s not quite as good as Diet Mountain Dew, but it’s the best they had.

We live in a culture that caters to our choices. Baskin Robbins has its 31 flavors, Burger King tells us to “Have it Your Way,” and even the new Coca-Cola Freestyle machine has over 100 drink choices! I checked the Sonic website, and according to them, they have 1,063,953 fountain and slush choices!! (Not like I will go there and spend about $3,000,000 to try each one of them!)

We need to understand that the choices we make today affect our happiness tomorrow.

The POWER of Accumulated Choices

When I was 16, my Dad bought an old mail Jeep which had the steering wheel put back into its proper location. But the inside of the jeep was just a boring steely gray, and one day I had the bright idea that I would paint it a nice sparkly blue. I went to KMart, and with my own money, bought one can of blue spray paint. Excitedly, I came home and began spraying the inside. It looked great…until I ran out of spray paint about 1/4 of the way through! Paint was a bit too expensive for my measly income, and I was not at all prepared for how hard painting really was….so it remained 1/4 painted until the day it was sold.

Just as each ignorant or foolish choice in a project leads to an undesired outcome, so each choice in our lives leads us in a direction. In the end, our lives will reflect the series of choices we make.

The GUIDES to Excellent Choices

The GPS is a sort of guide as we travel, but we’ve had our share of mishaps with those guidance systems. Once all 9 of us were in the 15-passenger van, driving through Texas, when we realized the road was getting a little rough. It eventually turned into a dirt road, and then two tracks through a bumpy field, and finally no pathway at all! We found ourselves following the GPS right into the middle of a ranch!

Navigating through life can be a challenge. But thankfully, God has given us two infallible guides:

          GOD’s WORD

                    Our own reasoning can often be based on our emotions, and can often lead us astray. (see Jeremiah 17:9)

          The HOLY SPIRIT

John 14:26 “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”

When we obey the Spirit with the things we say, it can be very helpful. For me, it’s so tempting to say, “I told you so!” but holding my tongue is better than that feeling of being right.

The best planning begins with the end in mind. Think of your future, and what you would like it to hold. A strong walk with God? A fulfilling marriage? A happy family? It all begins as we choose today to be guided by the Word of God and His Holy Spirit!

What are some other guides God has given us? If you have some ideas to share, leave a comment!

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

Small Talk 101: No-No’s

Last week I wrote about some of the benefits of Small Talk, and this week I want to focus on some of the Small Talk mistakes. Believe me, I’ve made a pile of them!

smalltalk101

Ronnie was a nice boy that lived up the street from me, and who eventually worked his way into my sister’s heart. Somehow he survived the “orientation” we gave every boyfriend or girlfriend of the family to be big sis’s boyfriend for almost a year – one of the longest relationships on record at our home.

Although Ronnie was finally accepted into our group, he had some serious social flaws, and unfortunately we laugh about his odd ways to this day.

He would walk up to people, and after a few seconds of awkward silence, he would stammer a greeting of some sort, and then, to get conversation going, ask some obscure question like, “Was this stereo in the car, or did you put it in?” (Never mind that there was no such thing as aftermarket stereos in that day) or “So how much does your car weigh?” He tried so hard to be friendly that people actually walked away rolling their eyes.

Poor Ronnie. He was eventually dumped by my sister and replaced by some other victem of our “orientation.”

As for me, I didn’t start out life being shy. In fact, as the youngest of 5 children, I was the family’s “entertainment,” perpetually goofing off, saying silly things, and basically enjoying life. But something happened in my early adult life, and I discovered that I was a social dunderhead, and I figured it was safer to sit down and shut up. So for the past 25 years or so, I’ve been a fairly shy person.

For me to reach out to people is not in my comfort zone. I can be goofy if I feel comfortable, but to make small talk to engage someone in a conversation is pretty difficult for me. Perhaps it’s my odd sense of humor that prevents me from connecting with normal people, but I have a hard time with small talk.

But as a Pastor’s wife I can’t spend my time hoping I never have to talk to anyone. I’ve realized that I need to work on engaging people in small talk, so eventually we can move onto deeper subjects.

It’s something I’ve been working on, and I’ve learned a few things along the way.

Here are some Small Talk No-Nos:

1. Politics – This is not a comfortable subject, so it’s best to avoid politics until you get to know the individual better. In fact, I try to let them steer the conversation, and eventually bring it up if they want to talk about it.

2. “Religion” – Notice the quotes! Generally speaking, people dislike the topic of religion, unless they feel comfortable with you. Starting with small talk before telling them what Jesus has done for me works very well.

3. Weight/Defects, etc – Children are famous for this! One of my kids, when they were very little, pointed out a large wart on a church member’s nose and exclaimed, “Ball!” This may be funny for little kids, but it’s not smart for big people.

4. Deep, probing questions – I love deep, heart-to-heart discussions, and so I will tend to get right into feelings or deep thoughts I have about subjects. I’ve been working on trying to engage people in normal topics for awhile first.

5. Questions about previous relationships, or relationship status – We may want to hear the latest scoop on Katrina’s courtship, but we could be in for a surprise if Katrina bursts into tears at the mention of her former fiance.

Ronnie was a great guy, but his awkward questions had a way of making people think, “What’s the matter with this guy?” That’s NOT what I want people to think of me!

Question: Can you think of any other things we need to avoid as we talk to people we meet?

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

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.

WhySmallTalkIsImportantBlogButton

“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.

image

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!

 

 
This post contains affiliate links, which means I get a small commission on the products you buy from this site. I use and thoroughly recommend these products!

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

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!