Category Archives: One Minute Wisdoms

Stopping to Enjoy Life!

Yeah, yeah, I know it’s pretty trite saying isn’t it “Stop and smell the roses?!”  But today, that’s what I’m doing.  I’m stopping to think about all that’s right about my world.  Are there troubles?  Of course.  Are there frustrations?  Duuuuhhhh!  But all in all, life is GOOD.

It’s too busy, but a lot of that is my fault and how I choose to prioritize my work.  I’m working on that one.  Working really hard on that one and making some significant progress. Some times you have to work harder and longer in order to work less — but if you have a plan you can get there.

Why is life good?  My family loves me and I adore them.  We have FUN together, not just tolerate each other 🙂  We actually get along with each other.  We love to play together, whether it’s playing a new board game, watching a movie (if we can stay awake long enough to catch the ending).  We like to 4 wheel together, at least those of us with backs strong enough to take the pounding.  We’re going camping together next week in one of the most beautiful places on God’s green earth and it’s in our own backyard so to speak.  I’ll take some pic with my new DROID phone and see if I can figure out how to post them.  Isn’t that the key?  LIFE is really about the PEOPLE we share it with.

I’m just writing to remind each of you.  Stop and think.  What’s GOOD about your life?  Who is good in your life?  Have you told them that?  What’s AMAZING about your life?  What are the things that God is teaching you out of the tough times in your life?  It’s all a matter of perspective, even tough times can be incredible blessings.

Would you please share with us what’s good in your life and share your blessings in the comments section so that we can remind each other about how wonderful life really is?  Remember, there’s one week left in this month’s blog contest.  Each comment is an entry into the contest.  Feel free to post those comments away.  Any day of this month is eligible.  You will win your choice of any of my Etsy store $4.95 digital kits. Notice on the right hand side of the blog is a new “Pocket Shop” provided from the wonderful website “Craftcult.” Thanks to them for making ways for those of us who hand craft to get the word out about what we do.

LIFE IS GOOD!  Take time to remind yourself.  Like the picture below says “RELAX!”  Have a cup of tea with someone you love.  Enjoy the sunset.  Pamper yourself or someone you love.  Enjoy life…

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Deja’ Brew Paper Pack New in Store

ajro1-227-aa-1This paper pack coordinates with my new Deja’ Brew Digital Clip Art Kit, but with its contemporary color palette it can be used for much more than coffee-oriented designs.

There are 12, 12″ digital papers included in this kit for $2.98.  There is a third kit in this series that I will have out in another couple of days (hopefully!)  That kit is “Deja’ Brew Holidays” and has fall and winter art with a coffee theme.  All three kits color coordinate for your use.

ajro1-229-aaAlso, I have a FREEBIE bookmark and gift tag set that is available at this link:  LINK TO FREEBIE IN AIMEE ASHER STORE

LINK TO KIT IN THE STORE

SCRIPTURE OF THE DAY:  1 Thess 5:16-18  Be joyful always; pray continually;  give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.  NIV

COMMENTS:  I’ve been watching people for many years.  I am fascinated by watching how people weather the storms in their lives.  It seems that the same storm that swamps one person and begins to send them underwater elevates another person to a new place in their walk with Christ.  What makes the difference?  What makes one person  bitter and other better?

I’m not sure what the entire answer is but here are a few things I’ve observed over the years.  ATTITUDE IS EVERYTHING.  Circumstances come and circumstances go — God’s will as expressed in the scripture above isn’t about the circumstances — it’s about our response to them.

An attitude of gratitude carries us to victory especially over difficult circumstances.  When faced with terrible struggles, those who lead a joyful life find their proper perspective by looking first to God.  They recount what He has done in their lives in the past and begin to expect Him to bring them through the current situation as He has many, many times before.  They express gratitude.  They look for the good that can be brought out of difficulties.  They ask God to use their current circumstances to touch others.  They ARE NOT “ME” CENTERED, but are others and God-centered.

So far in my life, I have not yet met a continually depressed person whose life is characterized by a spirit of gratefulness and thanksgiving.  For those that struggle with depression, I know that it can be a physical issue, a mental issue and a spiritual issue.  Without discounting the physical aspect, there are ways that you can take control of your thoughts and choose to express gratitude for what you have and look up to God to make a way out of the darkness you feel trapped in.  Your focus and attitude can change your feelings.

This scripture is a command.  Notice it doesn’t say “Feel joyful.  Feel prayerful.  Feel grateful?”  Instead it says “Be joyful always.”  What’s the difference?  Choice, pure and simple.  I can choose to be joyful.  I can choose my attitude and usually the feelings follow.  If I wait for the feelings to take the steps toward the action I’m usually waiting and waiting and waiting….

When dreary thoughts come, try this exercise.  Think about what God has done for you in the past week, month, or year and thank Him for His faithfulness.  When you feel overwhelmed and depressed or perhaps feel that no one cares for you — ask God to show you someone who you can make a difference in their life today.  Turn your thoughts outward rather than inward.

If you wish someone would call to cheer you up, find someone to call and cheer up!  Be joyful!  Spread joy!  Be thankful!  Spread thanksgiving to others.  Find someone who is doing a great job and tell them so!  Do you wish someone would take notice about what you are doing for them?  Do you feel unappreciated?  Trust me we ALL have to admit to feeling this on a regular basis, LOL!  Look for someone else that is doing kind things and express your appreciation.  These actions can go a long way to lifting your depression and blahs.

Joy is contagious!  Gratefulness is contagious!  Living in an attitude of thanksgiving produces great joy and satisfaction in our lives — without our circumstances changing one bit and if they do change?!  Whoo hooo hoooo!  IT’S PARTY TIME!

PRAYER:  Lord, sometimes I find my eyes become downcast and I become so focused on my own needs that I can’t break loose of depression and heaviness of heart.  Show me how to be joyful.  Help me to learn that joy is an action not a feeling.  Teach me the attitude of joy and gratefulness.

Remind me of all you’ve done for me in the past that I might express my heart of thanksgiving towards you in a new way.  Let thanksgiving fill my heart and my mouth so that I can be filled with your presence and joy.  Show me others who are in need of the joy of the Lord today and help me to be bring a ray of light to their dark and dreary world.

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A Graduation Freebie Bookmark

smajr-bookmark-blue-butterfly-collage1I promised that I would do a freebie for those of you that were so patient during my loooooong break in posting.  I also got a request for a butterfly bookmark for a Women’s retreat so I decided to combine their request with the upcoming graduation season and provide a bookmark for you to include as a package topper, or to add inside your graduation card envelope.

You can print them on card stock and laminate as a basic bookmark or cut out the butterflies that are included and make them 3 dimensional.  Use foam double stick tape to attach your butterflies and perhaps a little glitter or jewels and you will have a very special little gift!

LINK TO FREEBIE DOWNLOAD HERE

This is made out of the Winged Jewels Clip Art Kits which I am going to be uploading this weekend to this site.

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More CHA Show Goodies, Jewelry Making Edition

(NOTE: Click on images to enlarge for better viewing)  I bet a lot of you don’t know that I got my start as a professional artist in the medium of Stained Glass.  My sister had been in business for a couple of years and taught me the basics.  My career took off from there.  I did craft shows, custom design work and even helped her in a custom commission for turret windows in the rebuilding of a Victorian Mansion in Ventura County.  The mansion had burned to the ground during restoration work.  The Historical Society was able to pull together the best crafts people of the modern age and recreate the home, it was amazing to see.

One of the things that convinced me to give up doing stained glass work was the poisonous nature of the materials involved.  Lead and other dangerous compounds were in almost every supply I used on a daily basis.  I valued my health too much to compromise my life-expectancy for art.

Fast forward to the CHA show and I discovered some wonderful soldering products that can be used for creating jewelry and are entirely lead free.  Simply Swank has a delightful range of products for making very fun and contemporary charms and other jewelry pieces both easily and safely.

In the picture above, There is a delightful contraption that holds your piece so that your hands are free and don’t get near the extremely hot liquid metal.  This is quite helpful especially in soldering tiny charms.  This item can be used for many other projects than making jewelry.  It literally is your “third hand!”

HERE’S THE LINK TO THE SIMPLY SWANK WEBSITE

Think of all the uses that this jewelry craft can make of the digital art you probably already own.  Think of the heart-touching jewelry you could make with your treasured family vintage photos.  The look can vary from Victorian to contemporary to very feminine!  I’m hoping to get my daughter, Jennifer (the jewelry making daughter) started in this so she can make me some fun jewelry pieces.

You can also use copper foil and solder to create magnets, sun-catchers, wind chimes and dozens of other crafts.  HERE’S ANOTHER LINK TO SOLDERED ORNAMENTS FOR IDEAS.

Later I’ll share a company that produces a microwave kiln for producing fused glass!  Talk about AWESOME, wow that looked like so much fun.

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Contemporary Classic Christmas and Christmas Reading #4

LINK TO CONTEMPORARY CLASSIC CHRISTMAS IN STORE

Just a reminder that there are a lot of Christmas digital clip art, crafting, card making and paper pack kits available in the store and all of them are on sale only through December 15th, 2008!

THE CHRISTMAS STORY: Luke 1:38-56
Mary Visits Elizabeth

39 A few days later Mary hurried to the hill country of Judea, to the town 40 where Zechariah lived. She entered the house and greeted Elizabeth. 41 At the sound of Mary’s greeting, Elizabeth’s child leaped within her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.

42 Elizabeth gave a glad cry and exclaimed to Mary, “You are blessed by God above all other women, and your child is blessed. 43 What an honor this is, that the mother of my Lord should visit me! 44 When you came in and greeted me, my baby jumped for joy the instant I heard your voice! 45 You are blessed, because you believed that the Lord would do what he said.”

The Magnificat: Mary’s Song of Praise
46 Mary responded, “Oh, how I praise the Lord.  47 How I rejoice in God my Savior!  48 For he took notice of his lowly servant girl, and now generation after generation will call me blessed.  49 For he, the Mighty One, is holy, and he has done great things for me. 50 His mercy goes on from generation to generation, to all who fear him.  51 His mighty arm does tremendous things!  How he scatters the proud and haughty ones!  52 He has taken princes from their thrones and exalted the lowly.  53 He has satisfied the hungry with good things
and sent the rich away with empty hands.  54 And how he has helped his servant Israel!  He has not forgotten his promise to be merciful.  55 For he promised our ancestors–Abraham and his children–
to be merciful to them forever.”

56 Mary stayed with Elizabeth about three months and then went back to her own home.  NLT

COMMENTS:  Can you imagine how encouraging this must have been for Mary?  A girl in a condition of great “shame” to those not understanding what had happened, visits her aunt who without being told a thing CONFIRMS exactly what the angel of God had told Mary.  It was no small thing to be found pregnant without being married in the time and culture.  This was to be a “shame” Mary would be subject to in many eyes for the rest of her life — but within her family they accepted, embraced and affirmed her.  They recognized what God had done and encouraged her faith.  This is an important role for us to play in each other’s lives as family!

PRAYER:  Lord, what a beautiful thing it was that you spoke to Mary’s heart through the prophet utterance of her Aunt.  You confirmed the very things that You had told Mary and encouraged her in what was a very difficult time for Mary in so many ways.  Help me to be encouraging to my family members in any way I can.  Speak through me that which will encourage each heart, build faith and express unconditional love to each member of my family.  Where relationships are difficult give me the grace and strength to lead toward reconciliation and restoration.  Where they are wonderful, continue to built them year-by-year.  Bless my family through me.   AMEN

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Cookie Exchange & Recipe Card Gift Packaging Crafting Kit and Christmas Story #3

LINK TO KIT IN STORE

Specially priced only until December 15th at $3.98, this fun craft kit is so easy to print and assemble.  It’s the perfect size to fit up to a dozen cookies to give away for your yearly cookie exchange.  The kit includes a Chinese take-out style box (4″ x 4″ x 4″) with 3D accents, matching gift tag card, two additional tags and two versions of a recipe card to print with the cookie recipe that you’ve used.

There are many, many gingerbread kits that I have created which are available in the store.  These kits can be used to make additional items to match with this box and create a truly custom Christmas Gift Basket.

This is a brand new kit never before offered for sale.  Art & kit Copyright Audrey Jeanne Roberts

THE CHRISTMAS STORY: Luke 1:26-38

26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, 27 to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. 28 Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!”

29 Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. 30 “Don’t be frightened, Mary,” the angel told her, “for God has decided to bless you! 31 You will become pregnant and have a son, and you are to name him Jesus. 32 He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. 33 And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!”

34 Mary asked the angel, “But how can I have a baby? I am a virgin.”

35 The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby born to you will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God. 36 What’s more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she’s already in her sixth month. 37 For nothing is impossible with God.”

38 Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant, and I am willing to accept whatever he wants. May everything you have said come true.” And then the angel left. NLT

COMMENTS:  Mary was very young, many experts believe she was around 13 or so.  She had been raised in a faith that taught their young women that they could one day become the mother of the messiah.  She would have known many of the scriptures and yet like us, would never have believed that she could actually be “the one.”  Her response shows humility, willingness and a complete submission to God’s highest purposes.  Her willingness to say, “Yes” to God is an incredible example to us who follow her.  Have you said “Yes, God.  What ever you will in my life?”

Mary’s saying “Yes” would lead to great and soaring highs and terrible lows.  She would be blessed to kiss the face of God, she would be heartbroken as she saw her son, the Lord of the Universe, hanging on a cross dieing for something she didn’t quite understand at that point.  She would see her son rise from the dead and know that he sat at the right hand of the Father.  But as a mere child of thirteen she couldn’t yet comprehend the impact her saying “Yes” would have, instead she simply trusted God.   So should we.  “Yes, Lord” should be our constant answer — it’s mine, can you make it yours today?

PRAYER:  Lord, I can’t even imagine what you might be desiring to do with my “oh so ordinary” life.  I certainly can’t imagine an angel appearing to me like Mary, and my being able to so instantly and so trustingly say “Yes” to your plan.

But my desire is to always be willing to say, “Yes” to you.  Help me overcome any reluctance or fear and give me the strength and willingness that I need to be useful to your purposes in this world.  Lord, this day I say “Yes” to your will in my life.  AMEN

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Whew! It’s been a BUSY week.

digital scrapbooking, card crafting, scrapbook watercolor digital art, water lily, water lillies, paisley

This "Butterfly Garden" paper pack is available this morning at www.daisiecompany.com.  You can go to the kit by clicking on the picture to the left and a window will pop up that will take you there.

Deb D wrote me a comment this morning that I must be really busy because I’m falling behind in my blogging.  She’s so right!  I spent my week working out a new fabric line for a new license I’m doing.  The line will be available in quilt shops across the nation once it hits the stores in September and will be shown at Quilt Market in October.  The work involved designing the patterns for 9 fabrics and 2 color ways.  I can’t tell you yet what it is, but I’m very pleased with it and with the fabric company’s art direction for it.  I think it’s going to be both very fun and yet elegant and contemporary all together.

When I get a large project like that, everything else in my life seems to grind to a halt and back up.  Can you identify?  So what do I do?  I take on another challenge… you’ve got to wonder sometimes about my sanity, LOL! 

This challenge will ultimately help me though and maybe you too.  I’ve been working with Abigail Scott DESIGN Studio on a new day planner they approached me about.  They’re using my hummingbird art and asked if I would help them design the function of the day planner.  It has really helped me to think about how I work and how I can work better.  I’ve been thinking a lot about working my priorities into each day, not just the urgent tasks that need to be done.  I’m using the first version right now to test its functionality and when we’re comfortable with it, they’ll polish it up and get it into the store.  I think those of you that are overwhelmed and disorganized at times (like me) will enjoy this set.  Having beautiful art to look at makes the task of organizing myself a little more tolerable, LOL!

Last night, my youngest daughter, Jacqui came and chatted with me about feeling overwhelmed and unsure that she’s getting anywhere in her goals on life.  I think that these concerns plague all of us, from the young to the old.  How do I know that what I do today is important, not just urgent?  How do I get everything done that needs to be done and still have time for me?  What would I do if I had "me" time?!  Most of us don’t have a clue!!!

paisley, plaid, large checked, striped digital paper pack, crafting, card making, scrapbookingIn the Day Planner, I’ve set up project planning pages which I’m using for everything from garage/shop clean up to redesigning my framed print line and getting my web site up (the most important project that is still lagging behind)  Using these have helped me to get my thoughts down on paper and filed where I can locate them again.  In a way, it’s taken the load off of my brain because I don’t have to "remember" the information anymore, it’s written down. 

Part of the process is writing down the steps to accomplishing the goal.  I just do a brain dump not worrying about if the steps are in order or not, I can look the list over and tackle the project a step at a time and then check that step off the list.  It’s amazing how doing a few little steps on several nagging projects has made me feel more accomplished and even rested this week.  I was shocked at how little time it actually took once I had written it down and purposed just to do a little. It seems like I’m keeping my life more in balance this way, tackling projects from every area of my life a little at a time.  Usually I tend to go intensely into one area and neglect the rest 🙂

Here’s my thought for the day:  ONE CHOICE AT A TIME… get control of your life one small area at a time.  Don’t worry about yesterday or tomorrow, just determine to make the next choice you make the right choice.  (Audrey Jeanne Roberts)

THE SCRIPTURE OF THE DAY: Ps 65:3-5 When we were overwhelmed by sins, you forgave our transgressions.   Blessed are those you choose and bring near to live in your courts!  We are filled with the good things of your house, of your holy temple. You answer us with awesome deeds of righteousness, O God our Savior, NIV

The word "sin" is a word picture of missing the mark as an archer shooting at a target.  Most of us are perfectionists at heart, but when we aim at perfection, we all "miss the mark."  It is not possible to achieve here on earth, but the heavenly standard is perfection.  We all sin.  We all are "sinners."  Only Jesus lived a perfect, sinless life.  He doesn’t hold that over our heads, he offers instead to live his perfection out in us.  He gives us the power and the strength to live a more perfect life (never achieving perfection but coming closer and closer to hitting the mark) the more we trust and abide in him.

PRAYER:  Lord, I am overwhelmed at times by how far I am from living the life I imagine I should be.  I try and try to get life under control and only feel all the more overwhelmed at my inability to do so.  Bring me close to you and help me to live my life "in your courts" in your presence, power and through the perfection of Jesus’ life lived in me. 

Remind me of all your blessings, the good things you have done and will continue to work out in me.  You truly do answer my cries for help with awesome deeds of righteousness and you are My God and My Savior!  Jesus, come into my life and begin living your life of perfection out in my humble heart.  AMEN

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Feeling Overwhelmed? Try Digging Out One Step at a Time

I know that there are those among my readers who simply will not relate to this post at all (your house is in order, you love neatness and orderliness and can’t imagine EVER letting things go so long that you’re going to feel this overwhelmed!)  You have permission to stop reading and go play in your craft room.  This post is for the rest of us that would categorize ourselves somewhere between "slightly messy" and "total slob."

Most of the time I would classify myself just to the right of "slightly messy" but right now?  There’s only one problem with taking a vacation when you work for yourself, the elves quit working when you’re gone and absolutely everything piles up waiting for your return!    As I am looking at my disastrous studio, a bedroom still filled with luggage to empty and stow and a house that might have gotten a little bit away from us BEFORE we left and hasn’t gotten any better since our return, I thought I would share some of the things I’ve learned about how to proceed to wrestle life back into order when all is in chaos and disarray.

When life gets a little out of control most of us "messies" have coping mechanisms that enable us to wrestle it back in line, but when it’s REALLY out of control it’s so easy to just want to sit down and throw a pity party!  When no matter how hard you work TODAY it won’t look much different it’s hard to get motivated to get moving.  But the Lord has taught me a couple of things that have been so helpful over the years because this is a battle I face often.

Being a creative person, I work in insane spurts.  I’m either "full on" or "full off" and when I’m working full speed ahead, I often let other areas of my life go a little bit unattended (okay, must be honest as husband reads my blog — A LOT unattended!)  Then when my energy is spent and I can’t take another step I look up and see chaos and feel utterly overwhelmed.  The truth is, virtually every top level artist or crafter that I know has exactly the same pattern and struggle.  And since many of you are also creatives here’s some of my tips for digging out:

  1. Don’t look at the big picture or you’ll just quit before you start!  Look at the overall picture just enough to decide what is the MOST IMPORTANT thing you must attend to and do it.  If you have no clothes to wear it’s probably to attack the mountain of laundry!  Is there a stack of bills on the kitchen counter?  If you want electricity to operate your computer you’d better handle it.
  2. Once the most imporant, life-impacting things are attended to, look for the tasks that you can do the most easily and quickly.  Why?  Because when you can see improvement you start to feel better and build momentum to finish the rest of the tasks.  During the winter we often end up with 4 quilts strewn around the living room.  It’s amazing how much better the room looks when those simple items are folded and put away.
  3. Be realistic.  It’s better to have one room (or area of your life) totally cleaned each day than scatter gun your efforts in such a way that you don’t see any improvement at all.  Start with the most visible or used areas (leave the guest room alone until you’re going to have guests!)
  4. Get your room/house into okay shape before you attempt the super-detailed cleaning projects like washing windows or dusting the china cabinet.  Don’t get bogged down in extreme cleaning a single area.
  5. Make it a game.  I’m really good at playing head games with myself!  I set a timer and race to see what I can get accomplished in 15 minutes.  It’s really amazing how much difference you can make this way.  I also will mix rewards in so if I’m reading a really great book I’ll tell myself that I can read a chapter if….  After a while, I don’t even want to read the book anymore because I get on a roll.
  6. An empty trash can is an invitation to quick cleaning!  I love to bring in a giant trash can and start filliing it with the left over papers, magazines or stuff that builds up in my studio.  It really motivates me to deal with things realistically.  If I am not likely to ever need it again and it has no value to the Goodwill, it’s gone!
  7. Set a reasonable amount of time a day you can devote to the project and do it.  Then stop when that time is done.  If it’s 1/2 an hour a day in a week you might see huge results, but if you do an explosive evening’s work that tires you out for the week, you’ll just end up being in a worse place.  It’s really amazing what small consistent bursts of energy can accomplish and it’s one of the worst areas for those of us who are creative to master.
  8. Know that no matter how good you clean and organize, realisticaly it’s going to fall apart again.  Just work at stretching the times between the falling apart and how badly you allow it to fall apart and you might just discover that you actually like keeping on top of it more than you thought you would!

Unfortunately,I’m not going to be able to implement my strategy to take control over my house today as I still have work projects to deal with, but I’m getting myself psyched up to do it and might tackle an hour or two later today!  Good luck to those of you that will be able to do so. 

THE SCRIPTURE OF THE DAY: Ps 65:1-4  Praise awaits you, O God, in Zion; to you our vows will be fulfilled.  O you who hear prayer, to you all men will come.  When we were overwhelmed by sins, you forgave our transgressions.   Blessed are those you choose and bring near to live in your courts!  We are filled with the good things of your house, of your holy temple.  NIV

PRAYER:  Lord, over and over I have "vowed" to make changes in my life and yet find myself right back in the same place, battling the same sense of being overwhelmed again and again.  It doesn’t surprise you, and I know you don’t want me to run away and hide.  I know you want me to come to you again and again if I must, to gather the strength and wisdom to make changes in my life. 

Remind me that You want to bring me near to you to live in your courts, not chasten me and drive me away.  Give me the ability to make the changes that I need to make in my life and the strength to continue in them.  AMEN

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I Woke Up With a Story on my Mind…

and had the sense that someone needed to hear it today for an important reason.  The story is about prayer and a question I had for God.

My question was "God, why do you need a lot of people to pray?  Isn’t the prayer of a single person as important to you as the prayer of many?  Why do we need to ask a lot of people to pray when there’s a crisis?"  The answer to that question/prayer came a few days later.

I had a couple of friends that had waited a long time and were finally pregnant.  Billy was in his mid-forties and this baby was to be his first.  He was so excited that he just beamed every time I saw him at the yogurt shop he owned near my home.  Watching Robin’s tummy grow was such a joy and soon the day of delivery was getting close.

Billy and Robin were a really sweet Christian couple.  Billy was new to the faith.  He had come to the Lord late in life and had married Robin a few years earlier.  At the time I was the California State Prayer Coordinator for a National Ministry, so they knew that I loved to pray.  We had prayed frequently for their business and personal issues that arose.  I was invited to speak at the ministries National Conference in Washington DC that year and they had generously used their shop to help me raise the funds necessary to go.  I had grown to love them both very much.

One morning, I was awakened by an urgent phone call.  It was Billy letting me know that Robin had gone into labor over night and that her water had broken at the hospital.  When it did, the doctors noted that it was badly meconium-stained (meaning that the baby had had a bowel movement in the amniotic fluid, which is often a sign of distress).  They were rushing her in for an emergency C-section.  There was great concern about the baby’s lungs and the possibility of infection.  Babies lungs "inhale" the amniotic fluid as a practice for breathing and to develop their lungs, so if fecal material were inhaled infection was strongly likely to follow.

I immediately began to make calls to people I knew all around the country from my ministry network.  I not only asked them to pray, but each time we stopped and prayed together over the phone.  The people I called were all volunteers in the ministry and had wide-ranging careers, educational levels and maturity in following Christ, but one thing they shared and that was that they all knew how to pray fervently.  I prayed with a farmer in the midwest, an east-coast lawyer, Pastors, stay-at-home-moms like me and even a doctor.  During the course of that day, not one, but two prayers were answered — the desperate need of my friend’s baby and my need to understand why a volume of prayer is as important to God as the cry of a single heart.

You see, I probably prayed with about 25-30 different people over the course of that day and not one of those people prayed the same thing!  Each had a little different understanding of the situation and prayed for a different portion of the need.  The doctor and the farmer both understood birth and prayed about different aspects of the baby’s health and recovery.  The stay-at-home-mom wept for the mother’s anxiety and fear.  She identified with the emotions she was probably experiencing.as a Mom and prayed for her special needs in the midst of the crisis.  Each prayed for something that I hadn’t even thought to pray. 

It was as though I was listening to an intricate symphony of prayer that came together in a powerful crescendo that was far greater than the sum of its parts.  It was as though in the voices of the many came a completeness that I as one individual could never have prayed.

Billy, Robin and their baby girl felt loved and supported in a way that they had never experienced before, Billy’s faith grew in a special way and their baby recovered miraculously.  She suffered no infection and was able to come home from the hospital just a few days later. 

At the end of that amazing day of prayer, I learned a very important lesson — one that 25 years later I am sharing with you.  God cares enough to answer a single cry of a desperate heart, but He also cares enough to know that we need each other’s love and support even as we seek Him for answers to our crisis and dilemmas.  In the whole body of Christ is found completion, and that completion also happens as the whole body of Christ joins together to pray.   

If you have a special need for prayer, please don’t hesitate to call your local church prayer chain or a couple of special friends to join with you in seeking God’s intervention.  God hears the cry of a single heart, but sometimes WE need to hear the comfort of a loving human voice, feel the hugs of human arms and be touched by the caring of a human heart as we seek Him together.

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A New Year, a New Start, Where do you Want to go this Year?

When you get to my age, you’ve pretty much given up on "New Year’s Resolutions!"    They just aren’t very effective and you often find yourself making the same ones year after year after year LOL!  Yet if you’re like me and want to change important areas of your life, it’s actually important that we think about this a little bit more at this time of the year.  But how can we make change that lasts rather than resolutions that fade into oblivion?

When I look back just one year at how much I’ve been changed it never seems like very much.  But if I look back twenty years and see the amazingly different person I am today versus who I was then, I’m encouraged to keep moving forward.  Like interest in a savings account, change happens over long periods of time in small increments that can greatly add up.  Change happens when we begin to THINK differently and then begin to APPLY those changed thoughts in a way that CHANGES OUR ACTIONS.  Permanent change happens when our hearts and/or our minds have been changed significantly enough to impact our actions.

The way the Lord has helped me to make lasting changes in my own life, is to ask Him to change me by praying for His help.  I have learned that admitting I am helpless on my own is the first and most important step.  Sometimes, to be honest, I don’t even really want to change I just know that I should.  Sometimes I even have to ask Him to help me to be willing, to be made willing to change!  I’ve learned to ask Him for  His insights, His instructions and then the courage to obey what He directs me to do.  It sure isn’t very glamorous, but it’s been pretty amazingly effective over the years.  Have you ever asked for God’s answers to your problems rather than just telling Him what you think the answer should be?  It’s a very different concept and one that is a powerful change agent.

I have one more very important question for you.  How do you know the direction that you want to take your life in is the correct one?  Change can be for good or for bad — it’s not enough to merely want to change, but to change in a way that will be a blessing to your life and the lives of those you love.  People often bank on the newest fad to direct their lives, but can you think of a fad or two that have passed by and seem pretty silly in retrospect?  I sure can!  I want to invest the years I have left to live, on a direction that I won’t regret at their end.  For me, the only reliable, never changing, always effective direction for my life comes out of what I believe to be the word of God, otherwise known as the bible.

So, this year, I am going to do something a little differently.  I find that there are two simple practices that have hugely changed my life, reading/studying and then PRAYING God’s word into my life.  So at the end of each day’s post instead of a simple scripture of the day, I’m going to add a prayer that applies that scripture to my own life.  I trust that I will change in new and fresh ways and that those of you who also walk this path of faith will come along and share the journey with me.

Rom 12:2  Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is-his good, pleasing and perfect will. NIV

PRAYER:  Lord, I am not as good as I would like to be at discerning what truths are good, what are useless and what will ultimately  turn out badly if I apply them to my life.  Please give me your wisdom, insights, and understanding of the areas I need to be changed and then give me the courage to act on those insights. 

I admit that I’m powerless to make lasting change.  I’ve tried over and over again with little success.  Remind me daily that you LOVE to transform my life!  I really do want your good, pleasing and perfect will made real in my life.  Please help me to find it and then to be willing to let you make the changes in my heart and my thinking that can bring it to pass.  Amen.

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Thoughtful orThoughtless?

I bet if I ask you, "Do you know someone who is thoughtless in your life?"  Instantly a face or two will pop to the front of your mind.  Likewise if I asked you "Is there someone who comes to mind that is thoughtful?"  There wil be one or two people that will come to mind who have touched your life and your heart by this very special trait.   I’ve been thinking about the difference between the two and how I can become more and more thoughtful as the years go by.

Some of the traits that thoughtful people have are these:  Thoughtful people have full lives, but there’s still always room in their life for you.  They are busy, but not too busy to make a call to see how you’re doing or if they can help when you’re in need.  Thoughtful people do little things that show they care… they put themselves in your shoes and think what would be helpful, encouraging or in some small way make your life brighter or easier. 

Thoughtless people aren’t usually "bad" people, they just don’t think.  They don’t put themselves in anyone else’s shoes and think how their behavior affects anyone else in their lives.  Thoughtless people are often consumed by their own lives.  They are busy.  They are overwhelmed, and often are in chaos.  Most often they just aren’t even aware that other people around them have needs.  If they think about doing something, they rarely actually take a tangible step to follow through.

In all honesty it doesn’t take that much time to be thoughtful.  Small consistent gestures make a big impact in friendships and relationships.  Email has given us an almost instant and very quick way to let friends and family know that we’re thinking of them.  A quick note, one or two minutes even spent writing a paragraph or two can make someone’s day! 

Thoughtful people have developed the ability to "have the thought"… they notice others, they aren’t wrapped up in their own world. They’ve discovered the incredible joy of being a blessing to others and most thoughtful people couldn’t imagine living any other way.  The thoughtless person is handicapped in that the "thought" doesn’t occur to them so it’s impossible to be "thoughful."  

Thoughtfulness is a learned behavior that can be taught.  If you have children or grandchildren, this is an area that takes time and persistence to develop, but makes so much difference in a family.  Asking children questions such as "How do you think Mrs. Smith feels since her husband died and what do you think she would like us to do for her to make her feel a little better?"  "Susie broke her arm and can’t go play in the snow with all the neighbor kids, do you have any ideas of how we can make a special play day with her?"  I’ve learned that when I asked my children and made them think through what a good answer would be, they remembered the lesson better than when I just told them what to do.  Also, I found that when I emphasized a character trait over and over they began to understand and apply it in their lives.  As a mom, I tried to spend more time teaching them good behaviors than just getting on them for bad behaviors over and over.

The holidays are a great time to exercise the "thoughtfulness" muscle (in ourselves and in our children!)  Take a moment and think about someone in your life that a thoughtful gesture might really encourage.  Is there someone who has lost a loved one this year?  Is there someone that is experiencing depression or struggling financially?  What about a family member who might be struggling with a too-busy schedule?

One great thing about thoughfulness is that it often takes no money at all to be thoughtful!  If there’s a young mother, maybe even a young single mother in your community perhaps you can call and offer to watch her children for her one day this Thanksgiving or Christmas season to let her have a day to shop all alone.  Perhaps an older person that you know might not have the energy to prepare a Thanksgiving dinner, but would love to be included in your family’s celebration.  Is there a military wife that could use some help around the house with maintenance?

The most thoughtful gestures of all are totally unexpected and not even tied to a particular date or occasion, they’re "Just because I thought of you…"  Those of you that create your own greeting cards have an incredible resource at your fingertips!  Play with your graphics and make cards and envelopes in advance, so that they are as easy as an email to send off.  Buy a book of stamps and when you think of someone over the next few weeks take that thought one step further to THOUGHTFULNESS and take five minutes to write a personal note. 

If you wrestle with depression, developing your thoughtfulness muscles can become a powerful weapon to destroy the stronghold that depression can have in your life.  Depressed people have a hard time thinking about others at times, but people who think of and connect with other are rarely depressed in a debilitating way.  Even if you don’t "feel" cheerful, you can write a cheerful message to someone you know is struggling more than you are.  You would be amazed how an act of kindness can make your own heart soar!   How strong is your "thoughtfulness" muscle?  Mine needs some more regular workouts 🙂

THE SCRIPTURE OF THE DAY:  Col 3:12-14  Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.  NIV

COMMENT:  I love the imagery "clothe yourself."  It’s an action and a choice.  Put on patience like you put on a warm scarf when it’s going to be cold.  Decide to be gentle like you put on rubber boots when you go out into the rain!  God gives us the "clothes" but we need to choose to put them on!

 

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After the Crisis, What Happens Next?

For those of you that don’t know, my family survived the 2003 Cedar fire in San Diego, which came 1200 ft from our historic property in Valley Center, CA.  We awoke at 3 AM to the intense smell of smoke and (2) 50 ft high walls of fire heading rapidly towards us.  The Santa Ana winds in that fire were 1/2 the speed of this week’s fire and had they been as stiff, we might easily have perished, as the fire came up so quickly there was no warning at all given.  We evacuated our place with just a few things in our van and no idea if we would ever see our 125 year old adobe farmhouse again.  We were the blessed ones, we came home to a lot of smoke and soot damage, but nothing destroyed.

However, our little community had more homes lost per capita than any other area in So. California that year.  We lost 265 homes and two lives.  A dear friend of my high school daughter’s died and her sister was burned so badly she was in the hospital for an enitre year.  We lived through the paralysis that comes after the adrenaline subsides and we saw very intimately what happens AFTER the TV crews go home and the next news story fills the airwaves. 

I wanted to let you know a little of what will be coming ahead for the fire victims, their families and their communities so you can be praying and if possible can send a donation to help them get back onto their feet. If you’ve watched the news, you’ve seen families standing in front of their homes seeming shaken and yet unexpectedly strong and thankful.  They are strong for the moment, drawing strength from the fact that they have each other, but in reality they are in shock.  In a few days, that shock will begin to wear off and the enormity of everything that has happened will begin to set in. 

Right now, most are thinking about the loss of their personal treasures and a lifetime’s accumulation of memories.  They’re thinking about what could have happened to their families and how they could have lost their lives.  There’s a certain amount of joy and relief in those thoughts, but also there can be some torment as well, the "what if" scenarios often play through the mind without ceasing and a good night’s sleep is a long way away.  What most haven’t yet had time to really think much about is "How do I make a new start?  How do I go about rebuilding?  Where do I even start with my insurance company?" 

There will be 2-3 years of battles ahead of them before they find a new normal.  They will have to fill out reams of paperwork, potentially have to  fight an insurance company if there’s no pictures of what was in their home, find a reputable contractor if they are going to rebuild, design their home and go through the permit process etc.  Many of them will sit in the assistance centers later this week with eyes glazed over and unable to make the simplest of decisions.

This is where agencies like the Red Cross and The Salvation Army are absolutely amazing.  They not only meet the most immediate needs by providing safety, shelter, food, and comfort, they provide for their long-term emotional needs as well.  They have trained crisis counselors that have been dispatched to the area to help these families face their loss and deal with their grief.   If you can spare a little bit out of your budget right now, I would love to encourage you to send it to either the Salvation Army or The Red Cross.  They will make sure your $ goes a long way to bring comfort and hope to families in a place so heavy and overwhelming most of us cannot even come close to imagining it. The web sites are: http://www.redcross.org/ and http://www1.usw.salvationarmy.org/usw/www_usw.nsf   KFMB TV and Radio believes in the Salvation Army’s work so much after the fires of 2003, that they are working to raise donations to send to them.  In 24 hours they have raised over $335,000.

Many of  you have visited San Diego and seen the beautiful side of the city.  There are many amazingly beautiful homes and people who have very adequate resources to handle their losses, but there is a more ordinary part of this city where familes struggle to make ends meet living where the cost of living is very high and the wages relatively low.  There are many poor that were burned out in this fire and many families that were renting will not have any insurance to collect from.  FEMA will provide a modest grant to these families, but it will be no where near what they will need to get back to where they once were.

Pray for these families.  Ask the Lord to remind you to pray in a couple weeks, a month from now, several months from now… this will be a very long recovery process and they need us to stand with them as they walk the long, difficult path.  Stop and pray for those who are still recovering two years later, from hurricane Katrina.  Especially those outside of New Orleans, who have received much less attention and yet whose needs are still great.  Thank you for reading, caring and praying.

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A Busy Woman’s Approach to Scrapbooking Family Memories by Audrey Jeanne Roberts

If I asked each of you, "Is it important to capture the wonderful moments of your family, document the history of those you have known and loved and share a little bit of your heart with those who will come after you?"  I believe I would hear a giant, resounding "YES!"  If I asked a follow up question and said, "Are you actively doing that in any way?"  I would probably hear a deep sigh and a guilty-sounding "No… I should but I just don’t have the time."

Instant mini album 6" scrapbookI am in exactly your same position as a wife and mother.  As an artist, I have a leg up on you in that I can go to my computer and access close to 1,000 gigabytes of artwork to scrap with, but do I?  Not as often as I would like.  I’ve done more this year than last year and I hope that I will do more yet in 2008.  I’m MAKING TIME (because FINDING time hasn’t seemed to work very well) a little here and a little there.  I’m choosing to take a day that I might go spend in the garden endlessly weeding a patch that will only be filled again with more weeds, to do something instead that will be permanent and even possibly last beyond my lifetime. 

Every day we make choices.  Do we clean the cupboards, mop the floors, weed the garden or do something that has some permanence to it?  All of these activities are of course important, but they are not timeless and permanent.  Perhaps we can let our houses go slightly untended for a day so that we can tend to our heritage.  If we stop and think in those terms, perhaps the task will take on a new meaning.

Instant Scrapbook Album for girlsThe second issue that I always hear about scrapbooking is that "I get overwhelmed even thinking about it!"  Do you go into a scrapbooking store and have your eyes glaze in about 30 seconds?  Do you look at all the choices and freeze?  Do you look at a scrapbooking magazine and see fantastic layouts executed by graphic designer geniuses that you know in your heart you could never duplicate and just decide never to start? 

I spend a lot of time thinking about who my audience is and what her life looks like.  Most of you are warm, wonderful, extremely busy people with wonderful families, more creativity than the average person (but you don’t think that you’re very creativeat all!) and you love to touch the lives of those around you with tenderness, emotional warmth and beauty.  You make a gift with your hands as a way of showing how much you care and how deeply you love. 

My goal in creating each art kit, craft project or scrapbook album is to make it as easy as possible to achieve those goals.  My new "Instant Albums" are designed to make the only thing you have to think about what pictures and occasions you want to document in your scrapbooks.  I’m working at creating kits that work together without necessarily being "matchy-matchy" in look and feel.  When I put them together for you, I want it to be so easy that it’s impossible for you to do a "bad" page!  And I want to do it at a price that is so affordable that you just don’t have any excuse not to get started doing a little at a time!!! 

If you’ve never made a scrapbook and given it to someone, you’ve missed one of the most wonderful feelings in the world.  When I made the scrapbook that I gave to Jacqui on her 21st birthday at the beginning of this month, her face lit up with such excitement and joy that I realized I need to do it much more often.  The most interesting thing was that I didn’t put any pictures in it, I just made the album and am having her put the pictures that are most important to her and write her thoughts about that special day.  You know what I discovered?  It was FUN!!!  It wasn’t a burden and it went so fast I couldn’t believe it… maybe if you start a little project like that you’ll discover the special joy of scrapbooking and just might join me in the ranks of the addicted 🙂

 

 

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The Treasure Found in “Old” (Oops I mean “Lifelong”) Friends :-)

I just finished a conversation with a very dear, very long time friend named Joan Fitzgerald.  We have drifted a little apart in the last few years due to life circumstances and time stresses, but are still and always joined at the heart.  Conversing with her this morning made me think of a few things that I want to share with each of you.

There’s something really deeply vital in sharing the deepest needs, concerns of your heart and joys with a dear friend.  God didn’t mean for us to live our lives and struggles alone.  He designed us to carry one another’s burdens and to laugh together.  We’re stronger when we’re bound together in love, than any of us can be on our own. 

There’s also another wonderful side benefit of having shared many years with a longtime friend… when you forget something she remembers!  Joan shared some stories with my husband and daughters today that I hat TOTALLY forgotten about.  Two memories are much better than one 🙂 especially as we age!  Joan and I have had some amazing adventures over the years.  She’s known me since BEFORE I became an artist.  She’s seen my really, really, really BBBBAAADDDDD first attempts at creating stained glass windows and watched me grow experience by experience. 

She was a recipient of one of my very first attempts at calligraphy in 1983 and still has it today.  The Lord taught me to practice my calligraphy by picking a scripture and hand lettering it and then carrying it with me during my day and finding someone to give it away to.  Many of those scriptures ended up being virtually prophetic in how they touched people’s lives and of course I was the most blessed of all in giving them away.  If you are an artist or a crafter, consider doing something similar with your talents.  You can never lose when you give of your heart — especially if you give away a gift that God gave you in a way that honors Him.  He loves to bless us back.  The entire career I have today began with giving those little scriptures away, one-by-one.

If you have a lifelong friend, call her (or him) today and remind them just how much you love them and tell them how glad you are that they share your life.  If you don’t have a deep friend to turn to, I’m praying that God will send one your way and begin to build those powerful and lasting bonds of friendship that give so much more meaning to our days.

One of the ways I’ve developed two of the deepest friendships in my life was by becoming "prayer partners" with them first.  That’s how Joan and I became friends and my other dear friend Sally.  Because we had a purpose for our friendship and we were sharing deep needs and concerns, we quickly got past the surface and built our relationship on who we really were.  There’s something deeply connecting about praying together regularly with someone  Sally and I had our children together and would pray on my living room floor with our babies crawling all over us and with one eye closed and the other watching out for who was heading for the electrical outlet.  We prayed for our children, their lives and struggles, our husbands, for our own struggles of identity "Who am I and why am I here on this earth?"  God met us in that living room and changed our lives and the lives of others through our friendship.

Both of these dear women (and many others) walked me through the darkest days of my life when my first husband was diagnosed and ultimately passed away from Melanoma, skin cancer.  They held my hand, dried my tears and pointed me in the direction where my only hope was to be found — in God alone.  Because both Sally and Joan are older than I, they have also generously shared their wisdom and counsel and the occasional swift kick in the rear that I as a youngster often required!

A word of wisdom here.  While the internet is wonderful for developing acquaintances that you might never have made in real life, it cannot and should not replace face-to-face encounters and human hugs.  If you are lacking in the later, it takes some effort and at times requires getting out of your comfort zone to go meet people.  I know it’s scary.  It causes us to run the risk of rejection if our overtures of friendship are not responded to, but don’t let a few moments of fear and discomfort rob you of a potential of a lifetime of joy!

Prov 27:9  Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of one’s friend springs from his earnest counsel.  NIV

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Making Adjustments… Keeping Flexible as we Age

I’m a pretty flexible sort of a girl… which comes with the territory of being an artist in a lot of ways.  Have you ever noticed that there are certain sets of traits that seem to come as a package deal?  My traits tend towards: artistic, flexible, easily think of new ideas, have a hard time following through on the old ideas, disorganized, free to experiment, and a disdain for routine.  Hmmm do you think they just might be a pretty common set of artist’s personality characteristics?!

Each of us has a series of traits that are a strength in one way and a weakness in another.  Any and every strength pushed too far becomes a weakness.  But be forewarned… when we grow inordinately proud of our strengths they are almost certain to become weaknesses.  One example would be the organized wife who can run her household efficiently can very easily become stiff, unyielding, emotionally distant and domineering.  The loving doting father who loves to play with his son or daughter, but is so playful he isn’t consistent disciplining them is another example of a strength that can become a weakness. 

It is common for the culture and world around to tend to value one set of traits over another.  We appreciate the person who is always on time, who’s life’s schedule is in perfect order, and accomplishes all the tasks they set out to do in a day, but ofTen don’t realize how the relationships in their life are strained because of their perfectionistic bent.  They can easily become arrogant and proud because they measure up so well to the character traits that are easily measured, while missing the importance of the immeasurable traits of kindness, gentleness and self-control.

As a culture we dislike the indivdual who has the trait of running late, missing deadlines and forgetting appointments, but rarely honor the fact that they tend to be some of the kindest, most loving and approachable people who will set aside their agenda to meet your needs.  God made all of these personality traits and delights in the uniqueness He created in each of us, but He also wants us to develop in EVERY SINGLE AREA of our life, developing sound character and a disciplined life.

Each strength in our life needs to be in balance and to do that we need to work towards strengthening those areas of our personality that we find to be weak.  The easily organized, scheduled, list-driven achiever needs to work especially hard to be willing to lay aside her accomplishment of the day’s tasks to meet the immediate emotional needs of her family.   The spontaneous, fun-loving wife who hates to plan anything, needs to work harder to develop a family schedule that keeps a sense of balance and order or she will not help her children succeed in life.  If we want our relationships to grow deeper in love and harmony we don’t get to say, "That’s just who I am and you have to get used to it." 

"Wild and crazy," "open to experimentation" and "banker" aren’t usually associated with each other are they?!  A banker or accountant will tend towards a rigidity and love of routine that makes what they need to do much easier for them to accomplish.  Yet while those characteristice can be fabulous in the CPA that does your books they might be quite difficult to live with if you’re their 13 year old daughter or their artist/creative/craft-loving wife!  Perhaps this individual needs to work at developing their playful side (they might never do it spontaneously but they CAN plan some play time!!!)

Once we figure out a little bit more of who we are, we need to be willing to adjust who we are to fit with those we share our lives.  What do you love the most about them?  What character trait is at the root of it?  What is the "flip-side" of that character trait and does it drive you nuts?!  If you think through your family and friend’s character traits enough to see the benefits of each personality AND remind yourself frequently of why you love them, it gets so much easier!  If you simply react to the fact that they are different from you without valuing those differences you’re probably headed for some very unhappy and strained interactions.

Some women I really enjoy were discussing their recently retired husbands.  They both love their husbands dearly and are happily married, yet the change was making them change their routines perhaps a little more than they were comfortable with.  They were both irritated, frustrated and hating the change.  Having a retired husband at home when they were still working meant that their "domain" was being taken over in their abscence!!!  The kitchen that each needs to be organized HER way, pretty much had no pattern by the time she arrived home.  You could tell they were really struggling with the adjustment because of the natural inflexibility that tends to come with age.

After listening to them for a while I gently broke in with this reply, "I was widowed at 36 years old and discovered the hard way that the very things that most drove me nuts, were some of the things I MISSED the most when my husband was gone.  A perfectly clean home that is empty is not a very joyful place."  I could tell that these wonderful women really heard what I had to say… sometimes we just don’t think beyond our immediate irritation or frustration to what it is about our mates or our children that we delight in so much.

When I value my characteristics more than yours, I can tend to become inflexible and hard to live with.   When I take the time to list what it is I love about you and then see how the flip-side of those character traits might be a little frustrating,  they become a little easier to make adjustments for. 

"Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape!"  Relationships take flexibility and that flexibility has to be worked at a little harder as the years go by as we tend to become more inflexible naturally.  Perhaps this prayer would be helpful if you struggle in this area:

"Lord, I really do love my family, but I am finding myself getting irritated, frustrated and forgetting WHY I love them.  Please help me to see their good characteristics and perhaps even write them down to remind myself. when I need to  Show me what their strengths and weaknesses are and how to adjust my expectations accordingly. 

Show me where I am proud, unyielding or inflexible because of my strengths and show me what I might be blind to as to my own weaknesses.  Fill my heart with grace for the weaknesses of others instead of a critical spirit.  Help me to grow where I am weak and learn to control strengths that tend to get out of balance.  I can’t do it without your help!  AMEN"

THE SCRIPTUREOF THE DAY:  2 Cor 12:7-10
To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.  Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.  But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
NIV

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