Tuesday, February 21, 2017

What Was Your Favorite Toy?

I'm doing a bit of research for a message I'm giving at two different writers conferences, and your answers to these simple questions will help make my talk more interesting:

When you were a kid, what was your favorite toy? And why did you like it so well? 

Thanks for your help! Have a splendid week!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

How Expecting Less of Others Keeps Us Happy

Today is my 42nd anniversary (I was a child bride, of course). If there's one thing I am still learning after four+ decades with a very caring, godly man, it's that I can't expect him to meet all my needs. Or even most of them. It's not even his job.

My friend Cecil Murphey says, “If I expect certain behavior that I don’t get, I can become angry. Or I can change my expectations.”

I might spend half a days’ wages to buy a gift for someone, expecting them to rave about it and display it in a prominent place in their home. When they give it to a neighbor or simply don’t praise it as much as I want, do I tell them how much they've hurt me, and secretly vow to never give them another gift?
I can create a lovely meal, expecting my husband to “ummm” and “ahhhh” while he eats it. If he barely says a word, do I pout or accuse him of not caring about me?

If I work my hiney off on a project at work, expecting my boss to praise me and he doesn't even notice, do I shrug it off and realize that I’m working for Jesus’ praise, or do I draw attention to my labors?

This is a lesson I’m still learning, after more than six decades on this globe. If we have certain expectations of others that only God can fulfill, we set ourselves up for trouble.  People can help God fill up our emotional gas tanks. But if we look to people instead of God, we will always be disappointed. Read that again.

Only God can make dreams come true. That’s why I need to look to him to fill me up, make me feel special, and meet all my needs. Because He can. He’s the only one who can. 

Have you learned the secret of asking Jesus to fill up your emotional gas tank in his own ways, so you won't expect too much of people?

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

How to Manage Your Anger by Letting Go

Everyone has it, from the time they're forced out of their cozy, warm home of the womb into a fierce, unfriendly world. I'm referring to anger, a very natural emotion, built into us by the Creator for special purposes.  

How we manage our anger is a key to our emotional health and freedom from frustration. Please don’t ask me how I know this.   

In Every Woman’s Guide to ManagingAnger (Revell, 2009), authors Gregory Lanz, PhD and Ann McMurray suggest letting go of unrealistic expectations as a way to manage anger. Their insights helped me so much, I wanted to share a portion of the Letting Go list with you.  
TO LET GO .  .   . 

©      Isn’t to cut myself off; it’s the realization that I can’t control another. 

©      Is to admit powerlessness, which means the outcome is not in my hands. 

©      Is not to fix, but to be supportive. 

©      Is not to be in the middle arranging all of the outcomes but to allow others to affect their own destinies. 
©      Isn’t to nag, scold, or argue, but instead to search out my own shortcoming and correct them. 

©      Isn’t to adjust everything to my desires, but to take each day as it comes, and cherish myself in it.  

©      Is to fear less and love more.  

Are there people, situations, and outcomes you need to let go of, to manage your anger in a healthier way?  

What other methods have you found helpful in managing your anger?

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Can Preachers Have Sex on Sundays? A Chapter from My First Book

  When our son, Ron was in his preteen “girls are gross” stage, the word breast embarrassed him. For several months, I accommodated him by calling chicken breasts “chicken chests” when I served them. In my opinion, using a different name drew attention to them, but I was trying to respect his modesty.
                A few people are not so respectful of intimate issues. As we were leaving a party one Saturday night, someone asked me what we were going to do the next day. 
                “Oh, the usual,” I replied. What do preachers usually do on Sundays? I thought.
The wannabe comedian then asked, “Can preachers have sex on Sundays?”
                 “Sure,” I said, “as long as it’s with their spouse.” And if the kids aren't home.
                  When our kids were toddlers, the friends in Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood made great babysitters from time to time. On rare occasions, we saved up for a special night in a nearby motel. Relatives kept the kids overnight, and we felt like honeymooners. When Esther and Ron were old enough to stay alone a few hours, we’d sneak off for a drive at dusk, then park somewhere to sit and talk. And other stuff.
                   One night we were not doing any other stuff, simply visiting. I was on my side of the seat, leaned against the passenger door, facing my husband. We’d chosen a quiet, industrial neighborhood to park in, so few cars passed.
                    Suddenly, a police officer stood at Kevin’s window, his flashlight targeting our faces. Kevin’s hand trembled as he rolled down the window.
                     “Yes?” he managed to croak.
                      “I saw you sitting here, and thought I’d check to see that everything is all right.” The officer leaned down,  making eye contact with me. “You okay, ma’am?”
                       “Yes, I’m fine. We were only talking.” I said.
                        “Okay, just wanted to be certain. No problems? You sure?” His gaze held mine, his eyes serious but kind.
                         Hoping he didn't notice my face turning the same color as the light on his patrol car, I nodded and smiled. That seemed to satisfy him, and off he roared.     
            The following day, I called the L. A. Police Department, thanking them for their diligence. I explained how protected I felt the previous night. The sergeant in charge was shocked.
            “Most people resent it when a patrolman checks on them, and they call to complain about the invasion of privacy.”
            “Well, we were parked in an industrial district. That’s not exactly private. And the officer who questioned us didn’t know we were married, and just needed to get away from our kids for a while!”                               
He chuckled appreciatively. I’ll bet he had kids of his own. After we hung up, I grinned in satisfaction and thought, I enjoy making someone’s day. Maybe I’ll invite him and his wife over for dinner one night. I’ll serve them my special recipe of chicken chests

(Excerpted from Two Scoops of Grace with Chuckles on Top , which recently passed the 3,000 mark in sales)

An editor once told me that I should title my book with the same title as this chapter, but I didn't want to give the impression that the entire book was about sex--because it's not. It's about grace, and how God has rescued me from my myriad problems and pickles!

Have you ever read a book that purported to be about one topic, then you found out it was not what you'd thought?

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

3 Ways Blogging Helps You Become a Better Friend

If you've blogged for awhile, you may have
noticed three important factors in a good blog post that will help you become a better friend.

1.      1. The more concise your post, the more readers you attract.  Most bloggers visit dozens of blogs. They don't have time to read and comment on long posts.

As you exercise self-control in writing tight, short posts, this discipline slips into your conversations. You find yourself getting to the point in fewer words, leaving room for others to chat, showing them the respect they need.

2.      2. Asking questions at the end of each post engages your reader, and makes them feel important. You can blather on about your vacation to Colorado and bore your reader for 500 words, or give us a 200-word run-down, then ask, “Where have you vacationed that you’d love to return to?”

If you ask questions of friends while talking with them, you make them feel important. They are important. But now they want to hang out with you because you showed an interest in them.

     3. You learn more by listening than talking. When you visit others’ blogs, you pick up trends and tips that help you, whether it’s a new recipe for chicken chests, a better way to parent, or a link to help you market your book.

So it is with conversations. You already know everything you know. So, the more you listen, the more you learn. And grow. And become a more interesting person. 

Did I leave anything out? How has blogging helped you become a better friend?