In Which I Say a Bad Word

“!?&#! Hold my hand, baby!” My niece stretched her hand towards me agreeably and I boosted her up the rock slab, farther away from the precipice. She was tilting her face, totally oblivious to my racing heart or my visions of her receiving (not her first) broken bone. “Holy craft? What holy craft?”

I tried to keep my mouth very, very straight.

Pride: decapitated.

Using low-class language around children is something I cannot stand, so I was feeling about as important as an inchworm at that moment. A brown inchworm, at that, not even a cool lime-green one.

Time to apologise.

But then I lost my cool again, when the three exhausted little mountain climbers didn’t know how to manage their melting Italian ice. I waged a war with shame and sorrow for days, because of the impatient moments I had with those precious babies.

 

IMG_20180720_121842283_BURST001~2

I’m a messed-up person.

Are you messed up too? Do you ever think, “Self, how could you do that? How? You are a monster, and that’s a fact.”

Impatient moments are like indicators on a dashboard. A gift from God actually, like a dashboard warning light is a gift to those of us who don’t take time for routine car maintenance.

Low oil level! Time to visit the mechanic shop!

Low river-of-life levels! Time to stop flying solo! Time to go to Jesus and repent, learn, rest and receive.

“Ugh, bad timing. I have no time for a shop visit, Jesus.” I whined.

“If you want to have time for one, you do.”

So I didn’t do laundry, didn’t deposit my checks, didn’t go shopping, didn’t make dinner for my neighbor (I found out later her refrigerator was already packed. Thanks, Jesus!), didn’t clean, didn’t weed, didn’t trim the yard, didn’t shave my legs… Basically, didn’t do all the good things nice, responsible women Must Always Do.

Scandalous!

But…

I had time to feast. And I was starving.

Listen to these words the Lord gave his kiddos after miraculously making them a free nation:

I have removed your backbreaking burdens
   and have freed your hands from the hard labor and toil.
You called out to me in your time of trouble and I rescued you.
   I came down from the realm of the secret place of thunder,
   where mysteries hide.
   I came down to save you.
   I tested your hearts at the place where there was no water to drink,
   the place of your bitter argument with me.


Listen to me, my dear people.
   For I’m warning you, and you’d better listen well!
   For I hold something against you.

Don’t ever be guilty of worshiping any other god but me.
I am your only God, the living God.
   Wasn’t I the one who broke the strongholds over you
   and raised you up out of bondage?
   Open your mouth with a mighty decree;
   I will fulfill it now, you’ll see!
   The words that you speak, so shall it be!

 

But my people still wouldn’t listen;
   my princely people would not yield to me.
So I lifted my grace from off of their lives and I surrendered them
   to the stubbornness of their hearts.
   For they were living according to their own selfish fantasies.
O that my people would once and for all listen to me
   and walk faithfully in my footsteps, following my ways.
Then and only then will I conquer your every foe
   and tell every one of them, ‘You must go!’
Those who hate my ways will cringe before me
   and their punishment will be eternal.
But I will feed you with my spiritual bread.
   You will feast and be satisfied with me,
   feeding on my revelation-truth like honey
   dripping from the cliffs of the high place.”

You are not meant to single-handedly save the day, friend! You are designed to be a partner. A helper. You might not like the sound of this one, but you are meant to be a follower.

You know Esther, that 10/10 who married an unrighteous king and risked her head for her people? She followed her uncle’s advice. She was backed up by an entire nation’s prayers. She walked after God, in faith.

Deborah, that warrior-prophetess? She spoke God’s words. “The Eternal God of Israel commands you…” “The Eternal has decreed…”

Don’t be guilty of worshipping the gods of I Was Made For Hard Work So Grrr, Let’s Do This

or of I Have Got To Hustle My Act Together Before All Is Lost, heaven-warrior. Approval traps have 100 names, but they’re all bent on robbing your joy and sanity. You’ll find your heart saying far worse things than ‘holy craft’.

Truth is, Jesus has got what it takes to save the day without your help. Right now, he just wants to be with you. “Come to me!”- that’s what he is always saying.

You’ve got to be with Jesus if you want him to feed you. After you eat your fill, you’ll have the courage to follow his unpredictable ways. He’s not from this kingdom, so his reasoning takes some getting used to. But if you are his follower… then follow!

If he leads you away from your Good & Proper Things and towards his heart, just go with it.

The world will remember your words of life far longer than your 24-hour stubble.

Advertisements

Ellen’s Home

My church has a calendar of events, and I looked at it today. Tomorrow is Ellen’s Home.

Ellen’s Home is shady.

It is shaded by wide-spread elm trees, but it is also shady in the curious way. I met the proprietor when I was 7–old and wise enough to decide I could never trust him.  The owner of Ellen’s Home looked exactly like The Donut Man and I could not possibly comprehend, in my childish mind, why The Donut Man would be operating such a rustic facility, and why it was filled with the elderly instead of children. The Donut Man is supposed to be surrounded by donuts and children, both capable of song, but I saw neither at Ellen’s Home.

Consequently, no songs either.

Maybe that’s why it became my church’s job to bring them, and for the last 20 years we have faithfully sang at Ellen’s Home every second Sunday of the month. During this span of time I’ve learned that the owner isn’t the actual Donut Man. I’ve forgiven him for that fault.

On this particular Sunday, promptly at 1:03 pm, my church shuffled into formation in a corner of the Ellen’s Home entertainment room with typical lost-yak style. “Are there songbooks today?” someone asked. “No, we forgot to bring them.” Our choral director’s skin blanched subtly. Today was his first go-round at leading us. “Let’s begin with ‘How Firm a Foundation’.” We faltered through the first verse with very little success.

A new resident was cemented into a chair near the TV, and my money lies on the hunch that he was a former choir director. Strong bass notes resounded out of a mouth scantily clad with teeth, and he didn’t need a book. He knew the songs by heart…. mostly.  Our next attempt, ‘I’m Pressing On The Upward Way’, tugged our faltering memories back on track, but mostly because Mr. Choir cheerfully substituted any word that rhymed with ‘stay’ if he forgot the correct one, so if any of us forgot the words we just let him fill in.

Talk about teamwork!

By now the heat was getting to little Zach, so he pulled his dress shirt up to his chin, letting his belly catch the breeze from the air conditioner. Sochi and Anita stared at their shoes, lips twitching.

We were moving forward in tempo, and Mr. Choir was not subtle about his appreciation. As the energy in the room rose, so did his arms and legs. At the peak moments of feeling in ‘Standing on the Promises’ he appeared not only to be ready to stand on the promises, but to be ready to rocket to the moon on the promises, having three limbs raised perpendicular to the floor, as if a huge vacuum cleaner behind our group was trying to suck him in.

This was just his way of saying, “Amen!” but the youngsters gazed in wonder.

A slow stench took over the crowded corner near the window. I glanced at the woman beside me to see if her face would give a clue about who to blame as the culprit, but at the same moment another slow stench joined the first one, and I didn’t have to ask about the origin of this one. And then it just became a game, back and forth for a few dozen seconds, our own little kazoo band blending in with the song.

At that moment I knew our service would never recover.

oo

Our final song was ‘Bringing in the Sheaves” and by Mr. Choir’s ninth prophesy of bringing in sheep instead of sheaves, I had dissolved in unpardonable laughter. I would much rather bring in sheep instead of sheaves myself, and my laughter merely congratulated Mr. Choir for holding the same preference, and for being bold enough to say so.

Our smiles were wide as we bade our friends goodbye after the service. Travis and Jonathan kissed all the wrinkly cheeks that were hopefully directed at them, and out the door we marched.

Ellen’s Home is as much a part of my church as the church building itself, and we wouldn’t want it any other way.

 

Mad Hatter, Esq.

“I do so love your serving spoon for the rice!” the elder child chirped, “Could it be… a cheese slicer? Very clever. I’ve used that to slice cheese before, so I recognize it.”

We were having an oriental tea-less party, and voluptuous consumption of perfectly tender sweet and sour chicken, made solely by the hand of the 9-year-old, had catapulted us into the best of moods. Spurred on by her culinary success, said gentlewoman arose.

“Let ME serve dessert!” she announced, and bore the empty chicken platter away.

In her absence, we guzzled fizzy age-appropriate drinks with very little flair, but mine missed my mouth and threw a wave of vanilla-y stickiness across my face and plate.

“I feel like I just went down a waterslide,” I gurgled through the trickles, and elder niece laughed and coughed.

The younger gentlewomen returned with a 5-pound masterpiece she’d baked from start to finish, and precariously unloaded it onto the center of the table with a thunk.

“You know,” said maiden chirped as she casually hacked the tiered mocha cake into eight wobbling sectors, “Medieval people used only a dagger at meal times. They had a whole pig.”

The daggar-esq knife in her hand, still mired in frosting, provided a non-too-subtle illustration for how those times may have been. She flopped the final slab of cake onto her plate, where it lay encircled in a pool of sweet-and-sour sauce.

Not the least concerned by the sauce’s spicy influence on the cake’s mocha flavor, she dug in. “Mmmmmm.” with a sigh. “This is the BEST cake I’ve ever had.”

To be sure, both additional companions agreed, and one of the best parties as well.

And so, my friends, the moral of this story (quite a true one, you may be interested to know), is that fringed napkins—tea itself, for that matter—do not a tea party make, but instead the quantity of laugher.

 

The 8 Easiest (& Cheapest) Christmas Presents Ever

One of the things I’ve learned about Christmas giving is that Christmas is about loving, not making sure the retail value of the presents you give match the retail value of the ones you receive. Come on, that’s just craziness!

Here are some of my favorite simple Christmas presents.

1. WRITE A CARD.

2013-11-30_14-00-30_999

Adults usually have the means to buy more or less whatever they want, but sometimes love isn’t so easy to come by.

The very simplest present you can give is to write a honest blessing to someone. Make a list of what you appreciate about them! Tell them you love them! If it’s someone you don’t know (or…. quite honestly, cannot stand….) write a blessing for them from scripture. An honest word endures forever.

2. ARTWORK

If you have kids, have them draw pictures for their grandparents, aunts and uncles, or family friends. To take things up a notch, mount their painting behind a frame (yes, those dusty old frames from the attic can be painted, stained and/or sparkled and re-used). Or, attach their tiny masterpieces to a magnet!

If your kids are too young to actually draw something, go modern-artsy with paint! Grab an old canvas (re-paint it a solid color) and let them smear and sprinkle to their heart’s content.

paint

Got lots of broken crayons? Google melted crayon art for fun ideas of how to use them up!

crayon art

Or mount a piece of your child’s origami….

3. FOOD

Guys like food. Girls do too. You really cant go wrong! And even though we all know they could afford to make or buy their own, admit it…. everyone gets tired of the same old same old. AND you are saving them grocery store/cooking time!

For families: homemade bread.

Kids: cereal bars (mix their favorite cereal with melted marshmallows, form into bars, let cool, decorate and package festively.)

Health nuts: Make your own trail mix and package it in pretty single-serve bags.

Athletes: Cliff bars, fruit leather or fruit.

Office friends: Chocolate covered pretzels (white chocolate w/ crushed candy canes  sprinkled on top, milk chocolate with peanut-butter chip drizzle, dark chocolate w/ craisins…. the flavor combos are endless.)

4. A PLANT

Pothos

We don’t want to think about it now but…. (winter is gonna get dreary and depressing at some point.) Who can help but smile at the sight of a little cactus on the windowsill?

You can score tiny plants for less than $5.00 at most greenhouses.

Tip: Read the tags. Plants that tolerate dry soil and low light, and succulent plants like aloe or burro’s tail will survive the caretaking attempts of those less-green-thumbed among us the best.

5. EXPERIENCES

My nieces are very young, but when they receive a coupon for an adventure with their aunt, they are thrilled! I think that’s because memories are timeless gifts.

So go ahead, think it through, then write out that Adventure Coupon. Plan a slumber party with the grand-kids, teach your co-worker to snowboard, sign your sister up to join a cooking club, take your uncle to see that museum he always talks about or help your friend overcome their fear of water.

2014-05-20_09-29-01_962

TIP: to be sure it actually happens, set a date!

6. HELP

While we’re on the subject of coupons, why not write one out for a night of babysitting, or to fix your neighbor’s gutter, or to help your grandfather split that humongous pile of firewood he’s always working at? Trust me, they will most definitely cash it in!

7. REFURBISH IT!

If you’re at the bottom of your piggy bank, and still want to surprise someone with an extraordinary gift, why not re-make a thrift store find, or something you already own?

For gals: If you can sew it into a scarf or dip it in chalkboard paint, it’s sure to be a success. Also, anything of organizational use.

For guys: Four words: Wood, metal & window panes. If it has at least one of those ingredients, you can paint, stain, weather, sand or re-arrange it into contemporary trendiness.

You can also find some amazing furniture steals online and through local thrift shops if you know what to look for! My favorite haunt is our local Re-Store, a partner with Habitat for Humanity.

8. VISIT

Even if you only have 10 minutes, one of the very best gifts you can give is your time! Drop a latte off at your friend’s workplace, actually schedule that Skype call, and make the trip to your great-aunt’s house that you’ve been promising her all year. You won’t regret it!

 

You’ll NEVER regret giving the gift of love.

HAPPY GIFTING!

 

What I learned about Jesus from the Ironman Triathlon

Think about what it means to be strong in the Lord, and tell me what you see.

I always knew better in my mind, but when push came to shove I used to believe that God wanted macho, 6-pack body-builders of the faith. The ones who overcame all odds by pure determination.

Somehow, I switched out the word faith for the word strong, and lived my life that way. My hope relied on “My strength is made perfect in weakness”—but in a moment of trial, I added on to the promise with, “But since I don’t believe God is strong enough to be my strength, I’ll just help him out by being stronger.”

Ouch.

You know Samson, that 7-braided, rock-solid Jew of the Old Testament? Samson was strong. Crazily enough, he was also filled with the Holy Spirit, and didn’t even know it. Somewhere along the way, he threw away the fact that his physical strength was a gift from God meant to accomplish a specific work in the Heavenly Kingdom. He’d always had it, right? So why not rationalize that it was a part…. of him? He could do anything he set his mind to.

“Go ahead, woman! Cut off my hair… I’ll be fine.”

But he wasn’t. He spent the next age of his life building physical muscles in the mill. Now he knew what purely physical strength felt like, but it was too late.

There was once a young man whose body was trapped by cerebral palsy… but not his heart. His heart, he discovered, loved to race. Racing made him feel alive.

His heart also had the capacity to trust his father’s love for him. He spoke his desire to compete to his father…. and despite everything the world tried to tell him about who he was and what he could do, ended up competing in the Ironman Triathlon… the toughest one there is.

What if being a child of God made no earthly sense at all?

What if Jesus wants to literally BE our strength?

What if all we need to do is tell him our greatest desires, and he would accomplish them for us… but we got to go along for the ride?

What if we didn’t need to be strong…. we just needed to learn how to RECIEVE THE FATHER’S LOVE?

Jesus was homeless, too.

I don’t live in the city anymore, but when I did, I never once gave money to sign-holders. I’ve never dropped even so much as a quarter in a Salvation Army bucket. That’s a shame.

No, it’s more than that. It’s a complete disgrace.

I met a homeless man named Richard LeMieux last week, and if I would have judged him by his looks and name alone, I would have laughed and said, “It’s all a game. People with high-class, French-sounding names aren’t homeless. Look at him! He has a dog! Homeless people don’t have dogs. And he has a van. What a lazy bum.”

But then I saw the dejection in his eyes, and the humiliation, and the hopelessness. I knew, even before I had heard five minutes of his story.

This man really is homeless. But that’s not the reason for the pain in his eyes. His heart is shattered because he is alone, scorned and rejected. 

Richard LeMieux was depressed.

Depression is a taskmaster who steers the wheels of many, many….. FAR too many lives. No one sees these lives, because they are too ugly—too unpredictable to look at. Yet denying their existence does not cause them or their problems to disappear, and so they exist, and careen farther and farther into the ever more arid desert of un-lovedness. Richard is one, and it didn’t happen by choice. He didn’t start out homeless.

It wasn’t the choice of the 30 men and woman eating ham around me at the Catholic nunnary, the people who had nowhere to go on Christmas morning.

It wasn’t their choice that EVERY single one of their friends disowned them.

It wasn’t their choice that their business went bankrupt and the bank took all they owned.

It wasn’t their choice to be a victim of abuse, and to live life on the move from city to city, hiding for their life.

And the ugliest part of their reality is that almost nobody takes the time to understand them–and that fact alone is the most undeniable proof that they are unwanted and unloved.

Richard and his friend C–two real people with beating hearts just like yours and mine–sat down together one day, having just seen their homeless friend Adrian being dragged behind a car in retaliation for a drug deal gone bad. This is what they said.


 

“You know who the most famous homeless man in history was, don’t you Richard?”

“No.”

“Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head, Jesus said.”

“I should have known that.”

“You, Richard, are in good company.”

“People were afraid of Jesus.”

“Yes, and people are afraid of the homeless today. And they are disgusted when they see a person digging through a garbage can or a dumpster. They’re frightened when someone unclean talks to them—afraid they might ask for money, afraid they will steal their car or rob their house or stab them.

teen

But it isn’t the homeless they should fear.

It’s the people who have jobs and money—like that truck painter, Gary Ridgeway, aka the Green River Killer. Did you know he admitted to killing forty-eight women in Washington State? He’s the deadliest killer in the United States to date.”

“Yes, I did read that.”

“Can you imagine that one Christmas Eve, Ridgeway got off work early, cashed his Christmas bonus check, went to the mall, bought some presents on his MasterCard, had dinner at home with the wife, and then went out and killed a young woman and dumped her body along the road?

She was one of those disgusting, homeless prostitutes people fear.

H—, maybe the %$@# did her a favor! She would probably have had to sell her body over and over again for ten, maybe fifteen years just to pay for a three-hundred-dollar-a-month apartment, electric and water, and a run-down car!

People should REALLY be afraid of guys like the Tacoma police chief who shot his wife to death in the parking lot at the mall. Or the son of the director of the Department of Corrections for Washington state who raped a two-year-old. He pleaded guilty and got a whole six months! If a homeless guy had done that, he’d get life in prison!

You know, the big thing that sets the homeless apart is that they usually only commit crimes out of desperation. Those with homes and jobs commit crimes out of boredom or hatred or greed.

‘You are not needed anywhere, not wanted anywhere. Nobody cares what you do.’ And you know, unless people have been there—lost, alone, rejected, feeling worthless and unwanted— they just can’t know the numb feeling that drags you down. All the dreams are gone, gone forever. You’re just hoping for some force to end the nightmare peacefully.

Whatever happened to Emma Lazarus’s sonnet on the Statue of Liberty? ‘Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!’

Homelessness in this great country of the United States is an abomination!

But the great masses—who are only one paycheck or one stroke of luck better off themselves— even THEY repeat the same great lies about the homeless: ‘They are lazy. They don’t want to work. They are drunks, bums, drug-using, worthless scum.’

If you tell the same lie over and over again about the homeless, eventually it becomes the truth. You tell your wife the lie, then you tell your children the lie. Rush Limbaugh and Mike Savage then broadcast the lie, and politicians who want your vote politicize the lie. The lie just grows and grows.

The homeless are human beings. Okay, so they are people with problems—some greater than others. But there is no problem that can’t be overcome with love, patience and kindness. Given help and a sense of direction, most will help themselves and even help others.”

-Dialoge between C and Richard, Breakfast at Sally’s by Richard LeMieux


Homelessness in America is an abomination! But even worse? My response.

So, what am I going to do about it?

 Love. Not fear.

 

 

 

 

Don’t eat in the shower, kids.

If you had an awkward week, let me tell you about mine.

Maybe it will make you feel better.

I had to practice my swimming this week, and this is how it went.

meow

I didn’t make my week’s goal.

I had to call someone I’d never called before, and I didn’t know his voicemail only lasts 15 seconds. It’s awkward to have your info chopped off in the middle.

“Hi, this is Kara and I’m calling to register for–BEEP.”—*Confused pause. Switches to Brian Regan accent.*—“For that class! You know, the one that most people named Kara like to register for! Just send me a smoke signal and we can communicate that way.”

Unfortunately the phone just stared at me blankly, unimpressed.

Shucks.

I went to work, and 30 minutes after I arrived the chef walked out. For good. One of the waitresses didn’t show up because she didn’t realize it was her night to work. So I and the other waitress each needed to do two people’s tasks.

When I got home in the dark of night, exhausted and FILTHY, I ran upstairs eating a snack. You know those Ritz cracker things that have chocolate and caramel in between? They are awesome, by the way, so if you’ve never tried them you should. Well, I jumped into the shower, still trying to chew the caramel and somehow I choked.

In. The shower.

Like, a much-worse-than-gagging-on-a-wayfaring-grape feeling. More like somebody-save-me-my-windpipe-is-98%-blocked.

Which is much better than if it had been 100% blocked.

Grabbing a towel and making LOUD gasping sounds like I imagine the ostrich doing when it swallowed Curious George’s bugle, I stumbled to my sister’s room.

She, her near-asleep stupor quickly switched to first-aid-instinct, stared in horror, and asked “Kara! Are you choking?? Are you choking?” while preparing to crush my ribs in a mighty Heimlich hug. Thankfully, by that time I had the presence of mind to bend over, and the wad of caramel-y cracker partially dislodged itself.

The frightful wheezes turned to coughing.

My mother appeared, and stared in horror. “WHAT is going on?” But what she really meant was, “Why is my daughter dripping wet, clothed like a roman statue, and gasping at the head of the stairs at this unrighteous hour of the night??!”

By this time I was laughing sheepishly between the coughs.

I could imagine trying to explain this one to an EMT. “Well yes, it actually is my common practice to eat crackers in highly humid environments, but I’ve never CHOKED before….”

“I think I’ll resume my shower now,” I said, and so I did, leaving my personal first responders to stand there shaking their heads.

Did you think life with adult children was gonna be calm and easy?

Ohhh, no.

It’s nothing like calm around here.

But at least the dog has finally stopped howling at the moon.

Stick-Hopping {and other winter adventures}

My adventurous friend and I tented out in the snow last night.

2014-02-08_14-48-57_907

We wore fleece, filled our Nalgene waterbottles with hot water and tucked them at our feet, burrowed under our sleepingbags and fell asleep to the sound of Harley’s snoring

ioho

and the loud whine the neighborhood snowmobilers whizzing through our front yard.

My friend said that her little sister was jealous of our adventure. She said, “When I get older, I hope I can have an adventurous friend!”

When I was younger, I was blessed to have an adventurous friend right within my family. She was Laura, my sister.

Slender and spunky as all get out, she was the one I was most likely to cajole into playing with me. And I was the one she could convince to aide her with her latest brainstorm. Between the two of us, we came up with many grand schemes.

In the winter, we would zip into our neon full-body snowsuits, and swish down the lane with the dog at our heels, all three of us looking for an adventure. One side of our lane sloped into the marsh, and had a steep tree-lined bank.

2014-02-23_14-55-07_558

We sat down at the top of this bank, and slid bumpily down on our bottoms, right into the marsh. In that frozen marsh, below eye-level of most of our property, we created adventures in our own little world.

Our first step was to each find a strong, tall branch.

This was our “hopping stick” and we used it to swing ourselves across expanses of mud or parts of the stream that were too wide to jump. Pretty impressive, our stick-hopping was, now that I actually think about it. And a pretty funny sight we must have made, two little neon dwarves swinging through the “wilderness”–for that’s what it was to us–on our tall sticks.

We loved to wander across the swamp, exploring the flora and fauna of a world we never ventured into in the summer.

171492_197095856968892_4426825_o[1]

Tall brown reeds rattled in the wind, teasel swayed against the deep blue of the sky and tiny green things did their best to grow by the gurgling stream.

Dry grasses bent under their weight of snow to make little mouse hide-outs that the dog loved to shove her nose into. She always brought it back out snowy and looking incredibly mischievous, panting with pride because we were laughing at her.

The snow and ice made cool curvy ledges along the stream, and we loved to see how close we could get before the ledge broke, plunged into the water, and swooshed swiftly on, out of our sight.

2014-02-23_14-55-52_810

We found a clay bank, and took some home, but were too lazy to make anything out of it. Later, I went back to the spot with my neighbor friend, and we painted our faces to look like Indians.

One of our favorite games to play was Snowball Racing. We each made a snowball of the same size, packed it as solidly as we could, and put it in the stream at the same spot. The goal was to see whose snowball would travel the farthest downstream before it melted. We could each poke our snowball 5 times with our trusty stick, if it happened to meet up with a stick, or got stuck, or just needed a helping hand. My sister usually won.

When we got cold and hungry, we clambered back up the path towards home, washing the mud off of our swishy suits with mitten-fulls of snow.

Those were the best of times.

Is there another snow storm headed your way? Don’t despair! Capture winter’s last fling in the most memorable way you can. Live a little!

Drink tea and make plans for spring if you can’t go out. Spring WILL come.

It always does.

If you can go out, DO! Make a desperate snowman. Watch the snowflakes sift over the trees. Actually look at your surroundings. What you find may surprise you.

2014-01-09_11-33-25_354

Like these frost-flowers I found on one bitter outing this winter. If I’d have come an hour later…..

they’d have been gone.

5 Things That Make People ‘Likeable’

At work last night, I realized that I’m just going through the motions, so now I’m trying to figure it out. How can I make a big impact in a short amount of time?

9

What makes a person stand out in the crowd, and be the one whose words people remember?

People keep quitting at my job, and as new people come in, I’m observing that it doesn’t take long at all for people to decide whether a stranger is a friend or foe. Trustworthy, or an opponent. Likeable, or disliked.

As I watch people navigate life, I see certain people who have mastered skills that endear them to others. And these are five of the skills I see them practicing.

They Are Willing to Learn New Things

Likeable people aren’t proud, and are always eager to try their hand at something new… even if they make a total fool of themselves in the process. They are interested in the interests of others. And showing interest in what other people are saying/doing is a sure-fire way to win people’s hearts.

They Genuinely Like ALL People

Likeable people are friendly to strangers, kids, seniors…… everyone. They focus on the good in others instead of the bad. They add value to people by acknowledging them, remembering things from previous conversations and having a sincere interest in what matters to them.

They Respect Themselves And Others

Likeable people have respect for themselves. They don’t put themselves down or allow people to trample or use them. Because they treat themselves and others with respect, people respect them in return, and also trust them to a much higher degree.

They Make Their Purpose Known

Likeable people steadfastly follow their beliefs. They have a purpose for what they do, and share their ideas and vision with others. They know that people trust someone they understand.

They Don’t Take Themselves Too Seriously

oo

They laugh at themselves, and enjoy the irony of their own mistakes instead of letting their mistakes define them.

I was in a class the other day, and a teacher I’d never had before got up to speak. My immediate reaction to his appearance was, “Ugh, this class is gonna be a monotonous BORE.”

Boy, was I wrong!

This teacher’s words over-rode his appearance in the first 5 minutes, and my assessment of him switched from “he doesn’t care” to “this man knows who he is and what he has to offer the world.” He made his beliefs known in a respectful way right from the get-go, but also knew how to laugh at his own shortcomings. I cared about what he had to say, and remember it to this day.

I want people to remember what I say just like that.

So, if you’ll excuse me, I have a list of things I need to go add to my “Work On This In Order To Become A World-Changer” list.

My Best Addiction

Now that you all know I’m addicted to gummy bears….. (and oh happy day, I got a whole 1-lb bag of them for my birthday) I gotta tell ya’ll about my FAVORITE addiction.

hd

The one I plug into when I get upset at my boss.

Or when I’m preparing to teach.

Or when I’m bored by a mindless task.

Or when I’m driving, sitting, chewing, moping, running, or staring for hours at a blank computer screen.

Pretty much, I plug in all the time. My father loves it. Tiny kiddos love it. Basically, a win no matter who you are.

Am I gonna tell you what it is? Ohhhh no. Watch it on YouTube HERE.

And join the stampede of audio/visual learners!

We’re happy to have you 🙂

(Oh yeah…. and it’s available on Audible for free, with a one-month free trial subscription. You’re welcome.)