Wednesday, November 28, 2018

TEACH SOMEONE

"One of life's greatest assets at any age is a good teacher."
 Ann Zwemer in But Wait!...There's More (2018 WestBow Press)

Who taught you to...
  • Tie your shoes or brush your teeth
  • Write in cursive
  • Read
  • Clean a kitchen
  • Cook
  • Sew
  • Do wood-working
  • drive a car

? ? ? ? ?


I think about important people in my life when I make spaghetti sauce, set a lovely table, knit something, use word-processing on the computer, cook using certain recipes, edit my website, etc.

Whom do I think about? The friends and teachers who shared their expertise with me. Think about it:

If you teach someone something, you're in their head forever! 

Scary.

It's usually positive, but not always:
  • My 7th grade Home Economics teacher (a witchy old woman!) comes to mind when I thread my sewing machine or set a dinner table, making sure the fork is on the left.
  • My mother's voice runs through my head if I forget to wipe off the kitchen counters or use a safety pin to hold up a torn hem.

Thankfully, it is mostly positive:
  • I remember the lovely friend (now 94) who shared her world-famous spaghetti sauce recipe with me and taught me how to make Banket, a Dutch pastry.
  • I hear my sister's voice from when she taught me how to knit during my holiday break from college
  • I'll never forget my department head at school who first introduced me to computers and all their mysteries. (Remember the old Apple II with floppy disks?)
  • More recently, I'm learning from my daughter who helps me update my website. (Visit my Website)

Think about it: Teach someone something and you've left a legacy.

This holiday season, consider sharing an instructional event with loved ones instead of a physical gift. It might not be possible, but it's something to consider. You'll have left a legacy.

Teach someone and you're in their head forever!

😏

 (Note to a special friend: I think of you when I'm writing and I misuse the "&" or "etc." or forget to place a comma in a sentence with two clauses! You're in my head, P.G.!!!!)
 
 

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

PERFECTION IS OVER-RATED

 In honor of the upcoming holiday season, I am re-running a post from last year's Thanksgiving event with my family. Perhaps it will encourage you to lighten up on yourself when celebrations don't go as planned!


Do you secretly try to re-enact a Better Homes & Gardens Christmas? You know, one with all the beautiful decorations, delicious food, elegant parties, and smiling families gathered around a shimmering tree.

It's easy to succumb to the pressure of making the holidays perfect, when often they're anything but.


Pictured here is the Dutch pastry, Banket (bahn-ket). It consists of a delicious buttery crust wrapped around an almond-paste filling. I salivate just thinking about it. Next to my husband, it's my favorite thing about the Dutch.

I finally learned how to make Banket. It is labor-intensive--two days of work, resulting in a kitchen dusted in flour and a sink full of baking dishes. Worth all the effort.

My family loves it, so I make it every year to take to our Thanksgiving celebration. This year I baked early and gently wrapped nine pastry rolls in aluminum foil and put them in the freezer with ominous "keep out" signs on them.

Travel day came. I placed the Banket rolls in a cushioned carrying bag and admonished my husband to carefully place it on top of the suitcases. We handled them like newborn babes.

Wednesday evening before Thanksgiving was the big reveal. Children and grandchildren gathered around the table as I proudly pulled out three of the rolls. The family oohed and ahhed, much to my prideful delight. I cut pieces for everyone and glowed, watching them enjoy this time-honored treat from their Dutch ancestry.

Suddenly, I jumped up from my chair and shouted, "I just sat on the Banket!" I had placed the carrying case on my chair and inadvertently sat on them. Had been sitting on them for about five minutes!

Oh, the hoots and hollers and laughter. The kids went crazy and the grandkids thought it was the funniest thing they'd ever seen from Grandma. One videotaped the whole disaster of me alternately crying and laughing.

The Banket? Flat as a pancake. So pitifully thin. All that hard work to make them light and fluffy. All that effort to transport them from Arizona to California. All wasted.

So much for a perfect Better Homes & Gardens Christmas. I'm guessing all my readers have similar instances of disastrous attempts at perfection. (I'd love to hear some of them in the Comments section.)

Perfection vs. Reality.

Think about the first Christmas. Mary and Joseph probably wanted to welcome their baby, God's own Son, in a perfect setting surrounded by loving family. It was not to be. Jesus was born in a lowly stable, far from home and surrounded by animals. God's plan for perfection differed from mankind's.


When--not if--things go awry this holiday, try to see God's working and remember to keep your priorities in line with the Messiah coming to save the world.

For me, my Banket fiasco was a reminder to tone down the pride and the desire for perfection.

By the way, the kids said from now on, it will be called, "Butt-ket." Our Dutch ancestors are rolling over in their graves. Sigh.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

GOODNESS ENGAGEMENT SPECIALIST

Yes, there is such a person as a Goodness Engagement Specialist!


The large corporation my husband retired from matches donations to approved charitable causes. In some instances, they also "gift" for hours served volunteering.

Many large businesses will match your philanthropic donations.

What a great way to support organizations that serve our communities. Look into your employer's policies and see if any of these benefits apply. It magnifies your gifts to causes you believe in.

The helpful man who recently led us through the on-line process of donating gave clear directions. What struck me, however, was the title in his email signature: "Goodness Engagement Specialist." 

Wow, I thought. What a great title! Goodness Engagement Specialist. Shouldn't we ALL strive to be one of those? I surely need to be one of those.

We're not getting much goodness from people in the public eye, so how can we search for it and spread it in everyday life?

Here are some "goodnesses" I've noticed recently:
  • A local school district employs a Wellness Director to support staff, parents, and students in living healthier, more productive lives. They just held a Wellness Fair that gave free flu shots, measured BMI, promoted healthy lifestyles and products, etc. Great insight from a large district.
  • I just learned from a Jewish friend that all Jewish children are instructed to perform a mitzvah, a good deed, on a regular basis.
  • Another friend makes it her goal every day to make at least two people happy.
  • Pay it Forward is a terrific practice that has caught fire in recent years.
  • How about if we decide to "share" only positive, uplifting social media posts?
  • Many years ago, my teenage daughter scolded me for being curt to a cashier at a store:
"Mom," she said. "Maybe her puppy died!"
(I think of that wise admonition frequently when I'm tempted to snap at lousy customer service. Thank you, sweet daughter.)


What it comes down to is this:  We must respect all others as worthwhile human beings, made in the image of God the Creator and loved by Him.


Challenge: Let's work to become Goodness Engagement Specialists. 

In the process, maybe we can turn our communities and country around.

😍 😍 😍







Sunday, April 22, 2018

TO ALL PARENTS:

Never underestimate the importance of what you do for your children.


In the midst of parenting, it's easy to think kids don't appreciate your efforts to teach, encourage, support, build self-esteem, create memories, etc.

When I was in 5th grade, our class planned a special program. We invited our mothers to come watch. I don't remember what it was, just that it was important.

I invited my mom, of course, but knew she couldn't come. School was a mile and a-half from home and my mother had no car. Even if she did, she didn't know how to drive. So, I accepted that she wouldn't be there.

The big day came and we were about to begin the festivities. In through the door walked my mom! I gasped and ran to give her a big hug.

To this day I remember how she looked. She wore a gray, nubby-weave car-coat. Her hair was held back on the sides by clips, leaving a cluster of curls in the back. She wore make-up and high heels--heels because that's how women dressed for important events in those days. I smiled and thought she was the most beautiful mom in the room. It was a good day.

Later I learned she had walked the distance over gravely, uneven country roads in heels! (These were the days before women actively exercised or wore sensible sport shoes.) Years later, it dawned on me how her feet must have hurt from the long walk.

The fact I remember this event with warmth so many years later tells me how impressionable children are.

Message to parents:  keep making those efforts--big and small--to show your children:

"What's important to YOU is important to me!"

 
My Mom & Dad - Bill & Marge Faris   




(Postscript: Mom was well into her 40s when she learned how to drive--and swim! Gutsy woman.)

 

Sunday, December 3, 2017

FLIGHT INTO EGYPT



The Flight into Egypt…is depicted in these unique figurines from our Nativity Set. They are elegant, simple, and not what you see in a traditional Christmas display. They trigger emotions, both loving and disturbing.


Loving, because they show a mother and father doing everything humanly possible to save their baby from evil King Herod.

Disturbing, because Mary and Joseph again find their lives interrupted with instructions from God. They are on another perilous journey to a distant land—frightened but obedient. They also know the horrible tragedy taking place in Bethlehem, the town they left.

This young couple knew interruption:  the announcement of a Holy conception and a virgin birth, and travel to a far off land to welcome God’s Son in less than ideal circumstances.

Though we cannot begin to compare our struggles with those of the Holy Family, we do have our burdens. Sometimes life gets interrupted in the most inconvenient way. Can you relate?

·   Why the health issues?
·     What’s with this broken relationship?
·      Why the career snag?
·      When will money not be a problem?
·       Why this loss and how will I deal with it?
·        Why illness, tragedy, abuse, evil?

Mary and Joseph didn’t see the big picture, but they obeyed anyway—they trusted. That’s what we’re called to do—listen to God’s direction and obey.

Whatever interruption to life you’re experiencing this Christmas season, may you see God’s leading and feel his love. He’s with you on the perilous journey.

Christmas blessings.

Monday, November 20, 2017

GRIEF & THE HOLIDAYS

My mother died the day after Thanksgiving many years ago. I still remember the devastation. She was 55, too young to die. I was 28, too young to lose a mom.

How do you face the holidays in the midst of fresh grief?
  
Everything about the season seems poised to magnify your sadness: the music, the ads, the parties, the decorations, etc.

A week after my mother's memorial service in Ohio, I returned home to Phoenix to my husband and four young children. Bob's mother had coincidentally (a God-thing, for sure) been there on her way to California from her home in Chicago, and was able to care for my busy family during my absence. I am grateful, even today so many years later.

Before my mother-in-law left to continue her trip, she insisted she and I go shopping to buy the children's Christmas gifts. She wanted my help in selecting them and wanted to avoid having to ship a large parcel.

The LAST thing I wanted to do was go to the mall, but I respected her and realized she had held my family together for a week. No easy task.

On our trek to the noisy mall, I felt numb. I hated the blaring holiday music, I hated the shopping, I hated seeing the long line of children waiting to see a jovial Santa. I even hated when we stopped for a coffee break.

I wanted to stay home and cry and wallow in my sadness. Instead, this wise woman knew I needed to get back to doing "life," no matter how painful.

Looking back, I see it was the best thing for me. The hurt never goes away (even today), but the act of putting one foot in front of the other helped me re-enter life.

Are you grieving this year?

Is there an overall sadness that envelops you as you encounter all the holiday hoopla in the air? 

Take heart. You will re-enter life again, though it might be with a new sense of "normal." In time, the hurt will be less painful. Let positive memories of your loved one ease your pain.

Two verses I find comforting:

Psalm 16:
"I have set the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken."

Romans 8:26:
"...the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express."

Mom & Dad - Bill & Marge Faris, circa 1969




Sunday, October 29, 2017

SERVICE

We've all heard the old saying:

Service is Love in Working Clothes

I saw an example of that this week. A friend suffered the tragedy of the death of her adult son. The heartache is immeasurable. This mother walked through the agony of her week in a fog of grief. There were hundreds of details to tend to: a service to plan, photos to gather, family and friends to notify, etc.

A good friend of hers called and said, "I'm bringing over the woman who cleans my house. She and I are coming to do yours." And, they did, making it ready for out-of-town family.

Service is Love in Working Clothes

A similar thing occurred many years ago. A dear friend of mine, an accomplished musician and worship leader in several churches, went to the home of a church member who was dying of cancer. She cleaned the bathrooms, allowing the man's wife to take a little break and to return to sparkling bathrooms.

Before she left, she asked him if he wanted her to sing. He had spent his life serving God and she knew he loved the old hymns of the church. Of course, he was delighted....and so she sang.

I wasn't there, but this is the image I have: there she stands at the foot of his bed, dressed in comfy old cleaning clothes, perhaps still wearing her rubber gloves and holding the scrub bucket. She sings several of his favorites. Her beautiful soprano voice echoes throughout the sickroom and home, bringing a bit of God's grace to a sad situation.

Service is Love in Working Clothes


 "Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ." (Galatians 6:2)


 "What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds?...Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, 'Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,' but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead."(James 2: 14-17)


Let's look around and see where we can express our love and the love of God through our service to those who are hurting.

Let's get to work!