The Twelfth Day of Christmas-12 Krispy Kremes

The Twelfth Day of Christmas: 12 Krispy Kreme Donuts

               Have you ever gone to one of the Krispy Kreme donut locations? The locations where they actually bake the Krispy Kremes right there? The aromas of vanilla mingled with warm sugar that tickle the nose and tantalize the taste buds. Are you salivating yet? I had a friend that went and bought one dozen glazed Krispy Kremes one morning. She thought she’d have just one on her drive home, or maybe two. But, before she knew it she had consumed ten of the glazed yum yums that had previously occupied that coveted Krispy Kremes box. Horrified, and afraid her husband would never let her live it down, she decided that it would be best to finish the final two and be rid of the evidence.  Eating the final two was not as easy as the first ten—she had a sick feeling in her stomach. She could feel the bile rising up in her throat. The insulin rush in her body went to her cheeks and made her flush. She had to force down the last two Krispy Kremes. It was an act of will to get and keep them down.  A task of mind over matter.

That story reminds me of getting revenge. Revenge smells so good as we plot it. It tastes oh so sweet as we begin to think through our plot. But, after awhile, nausea sets in. We begin to feel the consequences of our actions.  We tell ourselves that we will feel better but in the end, we only feel worse. Why do you think that is? In the same way God created our stomachs to be repulsed after gorging ourselves on a dozen Krispy Kremes, God created our souls to be repulsed by revenge. In Romans 12:19, God says ‘vengeance is mine.’ God will take care of making sure His children are protected and cared for. Does that mean every time that someone does you wrong that God will strike them dead? We might wish it were so on some days, but, no, the promise is that God will do what HE knows is best. Perhaps vindication will happen later in their life—perhaps it won’t ever happen in your lifetime. Part of trusting our heavenly Father is taking Him at His word and trusting He knows what is best. Does it make it easy? No. But, I can tell you from experience—it is always the best route to take in life.

Tomorrow–11 Great Expectations!

The 12 Days of Conflict, er, I mean 12 Days of Christmas

The last several years I’ve noticed I’ve really started to dislike the Christmas season. Not just dislike or disdain, but really loathe the season … like the Grinch. It used to be my favorite holiday. My Christmas newsletter would be put together and mailed by December 1st. Christmas shopping? Often done by November. What happened? What happened that makes me cringe when the month of December approaches? As an analytical thinker, I decided to research what was going on in my heart and head and see if I could come up with a logical answer. My findings might surprise you.

Wanting to really enjoy this Christmas season, and enjoy it for the right reasons, I decided to write about the 12 Days of Conflict, I mean The Twelve Days of Christmas. Not just conflict with family members during the holiday but also conflict that is stirring within me because of my humanness. I am not perfect—I cannot please everyone, or make all the right decisions. How do I deal with the inner conflict within myself? As I journey, what can I do to assuage the grief that comes with my imperfections as they arise, and can I minimize the effect on those around me that I love?

Over the next twelve days, I will be visiting the many issues that seem to come up during the holiday seasons. Getting even—expectations—tender relationships—verbal fights—judging others—forgiving someone—and that filter between the brain and mouth that occasionally doesn’t work, just to name a few. I discovered there are exactly 12 issues…okay, there are probably a few more, but in the interest of history, I will keep it to the 12 Days of Conflict, I mean the 12 Days of Christmas.

Join me as I think through issues in my life. I don’t know you personally, but I suspect we are all a lot more alike than we are different. Feel free to let me know how your journey is progressing.

I can’t wait to get started! Tomorrow, 12 Krispy Kremes….

Holiday Family Gathering Conundrum

     I have started hearing it when I walk through the stores, stand in line for groceries, and talk to co-workers. It may be said differently, expressed in a plethora of ways by all, but has the same meaning and connotation no matter how it is communicated. It doesn’t matter where you live, who you are, or how much money you earn, it is universally felt. If you have family, and you celebrate the holidays, you are about to enter a season of life that may include groaning, crying, screaming, grinding of your teeth at night or simply medicating yourself to cope.

It is the holiday season—a time of year when families that have been brought together by no fault of their own, not of their choosing, but simply because of DNA, are guilted into spending time with people they may purposely avoid the rest of the year. Don’t get me wrong. I KNOW there are families that actually like one another. But, that seems to be the exception, not the rule.

The longer I live, the more I become aware of the baggage that continues to build the longer a family has known each other. The first few years are like the honeymoon stage. Apologies are quickly given and forgiveness easily extended. But what happens if true forgiveness is not extended? Eventually, a mound of bitterness, that has been hidden in the dark festers, bubbling up and eventually erupts out of nowhere like a volcano. Whether you are the eruptor or the eruptee, the fallout is not pretty.

So, how can we make these holiday season interactions different from the previous ones?

  1. Our first option is to move far away and ignore anyone that might possibly set us off or be set off by us. Not being much of a people person, this option is my favorite. But we were designed to be social beings, so I’m not sure this is a very viable option.
  2. Our second option is to keep short accounts with our relatives. We need to not only make sure we are letting people know when they’ve hurt us-in a tactful loving kind of way, but to make sure when we extend forgiveness to others for hurting us that we have truly forgiven. Let me preface by saying forgiving does not mean forgetting. Forgiving means not bringing it up again…to the offender, to others or even ruminating it over and over silently in our own minds.
  3. Our third option is to remember the proverb, ‘even a fool is considered wise when he keeps silent.’

What if the hurt and pain feels like a lump of coal deep down inside of me and I’m not sure I can ‘play nice’ this year at the family gathering? It seems that every couple of years I receive an email bomb in the mail from one particular relative and each year it gets more and more difficult to diffuse. This year, not even the best SWAT team could have saved me from this blast. Therefore, our family has decided collectively that perhaps it’s best to sit this holiday gathering season out for a change. The great thing about coal is that under pressure, heat and stress it transforms into a beautiful diamond…but the transformation takes time. If there is a person in your life that you need to take a time out from—take the time. There is nothing heroic about being pummeled over and over again each year. Don’t be afraid to say, “You know what, this year it’s just not going to work for us to come over. But thank you for the invitation.” Getting into the proverbial ring with them and duking it out will not help anyone. You might feel better for the moment but once the interaction is over and done with, the wounds that have been given and received will leave permanent emotional scars.

What about you? Are you a diamond in the rough? Or are you the doing the roughing up? What will you do today to make this holiday season different from last season?

 

Are Your Holiday Family Gatherings More Prickly than Polite?

Have you ever played the word association game?  Lets try~I say chocolate, saliva develops as you sternly bark….’get me some!’ Or, I say ‘fruitcake’ and you say, ‘that wouldn’t even make my dog drool. Move on.’  What if I say, “family holiday gathering?” Be honest. Do you start perspiring even though it’s 65 degrees? Your eyes start to glaze over as you painfully realize Christmas is just around the corner. You are about to spend hours with people who don’t really like you. In fact, the family tree may be the only reason they gather with you at all.

 

At Christmas we ponder Jesus as light of the world.  But, Matthew 5 states that we, Jesus’ followers, are the light of the world. Is it possible to be the ‘light of the world’ while spending time with family members?  Yesterday while I was shopping,  I gave the lady behind me in line 2 of my extra coupons.  You would have thought I had given her a $20 bill. She was elated. That was easy. Why is it easier to be a light for Christ with a stranger? What happens to that thoughtful spirit in me when I get around my relatives?  What is there about us that can be so stubborn about demanding our way when we are with family? Do I demand more from my relatives? Am I a poor communicator? Do my actions corroborate my words or discredit me?

 

Recently I had to answer these questions when I received a email from a family member that left me shaking. Angry. Hurt. Angry. Disgruntled. Angry. Hopeless. Did I mention ANGRY?  It, however, was not a righteous anger. I had to ask myself why the letter caused so much anger within me. Perhaps it was because some of the things in the email were painfully true.  Initially, I chose denial fervently building a case for myself of all the things in the letter that were not true. Not a good plan. Fortunately, after much prayer and seeking counsel, I snapped out of denial mode.

 

Many of the things in the email were not necessarily true, but the result of poor communication. But, regretfully, some of the things were true. My pride did not want to see where I was not being Christ like.  Baggage from past interactions prevented me from loving as Christ calls me to love. But when I sought counsel and realized my actions were causing pain in the life of someone, I discovered that I needed to confess those things to God and ask His forgiveness. More importantly, I needed to ask my relative for forgiveness. That, my friend, was not an easy task. If I hear the word apologize the first thought that comes to my mind is, “Gulp, how do you eat an elephant?”  Well, as I tell my girls, “you eat an elephant one bite at a time.”  What do the first bites look like? Let me suggest the following.

 

  • Read Scripture. Perspective is everything and nothing provides perspective like God’s word. We need perspective when asking if there is something I have done to cause conflict in this relationship.
  • Go to the Person.  No emails. No texts. Communication is 90% non-verbal and only 10% verbal. If distance prevents a face to face interaction, make a phone call.
  • Listen. Listen. Listen. Did I say listen? Our tendency is to defend ourselves. Resist this temptation. God is your defender and protector.
  • Admit Wrong. I had to say, “You are right. I have___, would you please forgive me?”
  • Make a Commitment. Tell the person you will try and not commit the offense again and take the necessary steps to back up your words. For me, the culprit was poor communication. I made a commitment to call in the future and not rely on others to communicate for me.

 

Does it work? A few weeks after our interaction, our families had the chance to get together. Instead of dreading the interaction, I went with hope that things would go better than they have in the past. I felt God’s peace and joy in doing what He has called me to do. Was it easy? No. Were there times I needed a breather and needed to be alone? Yes. But, I can honestly say I had a great time and am not dreading our next family get together.

 

What about you? Do you need to go to someone before that family holiday gathering and make things right? If so, here may be some utensils to help you eat that elephant one bite at a time~

◦        Read scripture

◦        Go to the person

◦        Listen. Listen. Listen

◦        Admit wrong

◦        Make a commitment

 

I would love to know how your ‘meal’ went over the holidays. Please comment or email and let me know!

 

 

There Are Only Two Kinds of Fair

My husband always says there are only two kinds of fair in the world; the State Fair and the County Fair. Either way, I love BOTH of those kinds of fairs. For the past ten years, my daughters and I have entered our art work in the county fair. It all started when the elementary school they attended began entering their art work in kindergarten. They would win a ribbon and prize money so I would frame the art and the cash and hang it proudly in our home. My laundry room is currently brimming with artwork they have done over the years. This year was no different.

My eldest daughter has a penchant for cooking and quilting, while the younger enjoys painting. They both obsess over photography and enjoy coming up with creative ways to capture that unusual vantage point. Competitive at heart, they both relish Friday morning at the fair when the judges have spoken and ribbons are displayed. The great thing is they get to bring their masterpieces home and add them to their collection. As we brought our masterpieces home, I got to thinking about those who raise cattle to be auctioned off at the fair. What about their ‘masterpieces’ they’ve worked so hard on?

I spoke with a mother whose son had raised cattle for the fair from the time he was 8 years old. They purchased the calf and her son was responsible for its complete care. Feeding, grooming, cleaning, and the list goes on. I would imagine that after a year of spending an enormous amount of time caring for this animal that he would become very attached. His mom went on to explain that the first year he entered his calf was the most difficult. Once it had been auctioned off, the reality of the situation began to sink it. His beloved pet was about to be no more, except a steak divvied up at market… I imagine the boy’s eyes brimming with tears as the high bidder bridled the prize he had named Buddy and began to load it into his trailer.

This scenario made me think of another story I’ve heard many, many times. It’s the one of Eve chatting with the serpent in the Garden of Eden. Have you ever asked yourself what on earth she was doing chatting it up with a snake???

Before the fall of man, Adam and Eve not only walked with God in the cool of the Garden, but with the animals, as well. I love they could apparently they could talk with the animals! This is MY ideal paradise. I love animals—well, minus snakes—are they really even considered animals anyway? I imagine having the best of both worlds—not only having some of the most amazing creatures as your very own pet but being able to communicate with them, as well. Having them outside is just another added bonus, but, I digress.

Adam and Eve loved these animals. They were like family pets. So, when God took the skin of one of these beloved pets to cloth Adam and Eve after they both sinned, they each felt a particular sting as the fur of caressed their skin each day. The consequence went deeper than just seeing that one of the animals had to be slaughtered for their disobedience. Each and every day they were reminded of what happens when we sin…we are not the only ones affected. Others around us are affected, as well.

If you have family pets, as you begin your day, imagine the pain you would feel if they had to lose their life because of your disobedience to God. Then make your decision: Choose today, to obey!

Perspective + Circumstance = Emotion

Emotions are a funny thing. They evoke pleasure, they evoke pain. Happiness and sadness. Anger and indifference. Three weeks ago I was frustrated every time I looked out the window and saw that our cat had mots-ed up the windows again with his nose prints, just a little reminder of his presence. If only he’d not rub up against the window while looking out it, I wouldn’t have to waste my time washing those windows over and over again. Today, those same nose prints are there and I’m saddened by them. I long to leave them there. It was just a week ago that our poor kitty was diagnosed with liver cancer and we made that heart wrenching decision to put him to sleep.

Perspective feeds emotion—my perspective from a week ago has changed. My circumstances caused me to look differently at those nose prints and evoked an entirely different feeling. This caused me to wonder about other circumstances in my life. What other things am I looking at with the wrong perspective? Circumstances that are causing negative emotion and feedback in my life? Can I stop, take a moment to breath and look at both sides of the fence? When I look at ‘the green grass looks better over there’ view do I have the ability to step back and say, ‘but ah, this side of the fence allows for this and this and that?’

What about you? What circumstances in your life are causing you to look at life negatively? Can you change your thinking to look at the glass as half full? Try it and see if your perspective doesn’t just shift enough to stir your emotions to a healthier level.

E-Discipleship-Would the Apostle Paul be a fan?

When you think of online social networking what comes to mind? Many of the older generation feel Facebook and other social networking sites are a waste of time and detrimental to relationships. In some ways, they are right… I’ve had more miscommunication with my family members through text messaging and emails than I care to remember. But, what about those people who you don’t know very well or you know well enough that they won’t take what you say out of context without the non verbal communication?

My husband and I have been apart of youth ministry for over 10 years. Facebook and text messaging has become an integral part of our communication with these students–those who are still in high school and especially keeping up with the ones who have graduated and are in college or now married. More often than not, when a former student needs advise they do not pick up the phone and call. Instead, they send a text or message us through Facebook. Last week, this whole phenomenon got my husband thinking about the aspects of this kind of communication. It sparked a thought in him and got us both thinking about e-discipleship.

If the apostle Paul were alive in 2011, how would he communicate with his followers and how would it be different from how he communicated to those in the first century. I think if we talked to Paul today, he would say that one on one communication is best. But in the first century, he could not have one on one communication with every person at every church he started. So he did the next best thing given the technology available – He wrote letters. When you compare his communication then–letters to his followers, to now, how would it differ? Would he still write letters? Would he send out an email, a text, or a Facebook message?

Don’t get me wrong. I still believe face to face communication is the best. But when you can’t communicate face to face, or even on the phone, isn’t a text message or a quick message on Facebook better than nothing at all? Food for thought.

Disclaimer (my husband is an attorney, so he will like this part) – If confusion or conflict becomes escalated in your e-communication, stop what you are doing and go to that person IN PERSON. The relationship is far too important to let miscommunication destroy it.