Why Ditching Gifts to Make Memories is A NO Brainer!
People ask, “How do you create and maintain strong family ties?” “How can you bond and stay connected to your kids at every age?” “How do you draw closer to your spouse rather than drift away?” “How do you keep a friendship fresh?”

Let’s do an experiment which will give us some answers to keeping your family unit and friendships strong. Get out a piece of paper and write down all of the Christmas and birthday gifts that you received as a child up until you moved out of the house. Take all the time you need, no pressure!

How many did you come up with? Now, grab another piece of paper and write down all of your favorite memories of vacations or times spent together as a family or time spent with friends, when you were a kid. Again, take your time. I’ll be right here when you are done.

Ok. Now, I bet this list was longer wasn’t it? Which list? The list of memories made. Yep, we have just proved what is most valuable to us. Memories made, trump gifts given. So with that in mind, why do we go crazy trying to get our kids, loved ones, and friends the latest and greatest gifts at Christmas or for their birthdays when it really doesn’t hold a candle to just hanging out together? And why do we work overtime for extra cash to buy something for someone who would rather just be with us?

But wait, spend time with me, you say? You mean the people in my life would rather just be with me? Yep. That may take a little convincing, huh? You’re probably thinking they’d rather have the stuff. Don’t believe it! See, somewhere along the way we bought into the idea that we are not good enough to spend time with. Come on, how many times have you wondered, Would my best friend prefer a Christmas gift or the gift of being together? Does my teenager really want to go to a game with me? Would she really prefer going to a movie with me over buying her a new pair of jeans? Does my five year old really dig reading a bedtime story with me instead of playing one more round of Mario Cart?

I bet your parents had the same questions. And they may have had the same thoughts. Go back to your list. Do the math. There’s your answer. Investing time in relationships rather than investing money in gifts draws you closer to the ones you love. Your return on investment will close the gaps you may have opened with gifts. It will also give your family and friends some great memories that will last a lifetime longer than the stuff you could buy them.

Ways to find something you can do together:

1.  Find an activity that you both enjoy.

2.  If you can’t find one you BOTH enjoy, then find one that you kinda both enjoy!

3.  If you can’t find an activity that you kinda both enjoy, then try an activity that’s new to both of you that you might come to enjoy!

Your time: It’s cheaper, better, and longer lasting. No brainer. Ditch the gifts and make the memories.

Remember when… 😉


If You Want to Feel Better – Go Ahead, Cry! Feel the Pain!
If You Want to Feel Better – Go Ahead, Cry! Feel the Pain!
by Linda Travelute, Ph.D.

“Do I have to be strong when I hurt so much?” This is a common question when someone has endured a traumatic situation or has just lost a loved one.

Finding the courage to be strong when your world has been blown apart seems like a great idea. There’s such a temptation to be a rock and hold back the tears. That’s the noble, nice thing to do. After all, it would make it easier on your family and loved ones. They wouldn’t see you in pain and then they wouldn’t feel as bad as they try to sympathize and comfort you. Actually, it seems like a grand idea to just ignore the sting of hurt or loss hoping it just might go away. Wrong! You can push away the pain and pretend it doesn’t hurt but doing so will endanger your health and your emotional well-being.

God was so smart creating us with the ability to cry. Crying is a valve that releases pain. When tears flow harmful toxins in our bodies are able to escape. Have you noticed that after a good cry you feel so much better? That’s because you’ve let some of the junk seep out. Yes, you may feel tired and drained from sobbing and weeping but no doubt you feel relieved.

Think back. Maybe as a kid, you had a crying spell and a parent or grown up looked at you and said: “Stop crying!” Yes, they meant well, but that’s why there are people who do not know how to release their emotions. Those words come back to haunt them the moment they feel a tear form in the corner of their eye. They shut it down. And as result, shut down a way that God gave us to heal the pain.

I say…”Go ahead and cry!” When I officiate a funeral one of the first things I do is gather the grieving family and loved ones together and let them know it’s ok to cry.  I even ask them to give each other permission to cry. When people in my office start to cry I don’t rush to hand them a tissue. Some may think this is rude, but usually when you hand someone a tissue, they take it as a signal to stop crying. I’ll let people get a good sob going before I hand them a tissue to wipe their face. I want them to cry and feel the tears trickle down their cheeks.

One reason we don’t like to see people cry is because it makes us feel bad. One day my youngest child, Tiffany, was boo hooing over a situation. She was really going at it, holding nothing back. My oldest child, Tyler, tried to comfort her. Yet he secretly had an ulterior motive. His desire was for her to stop her tears. I said, “Tyler, it’s ok for her to cry; she feels bad right now.” He responded, “I don’t like it when she cries because it makes me sad.” There it is! That’s why we don’t want people crying in our presence. Because it causes us discomfort. We would rather cheer people up and brighten their day and ours. What this does though, is deny the hurt person the opportunity to feel and get over their pain. That’s why the Bible says, “Don’t sing songs to a heavy heart.” Forget trying to cheer them up; it won’t make the pain go away. Contrary to what we believe, it can cause them to bury it. God wants them to release their tears which will help restore their torn lives.

No, you don’t have to be strong when you’re in pain. Neither do I. Let’s get comfortable allowing people to cry in our presence and even get to the place where we will allow ourselves to cry in the presence of others. It’s a great gift we can give ourselves and those we love. Let’s go ahead and cry. It will do our bodies good!


Are You Weird in a Good Way?
As a kid, I thought I was kind of uncool. Looking at the people around me I thought, “I am just not normal!” Since then I’ve learned that just about everyone on the planet has felt that way too. Glad I’m not alone! Yeah, you too? 🙂 Little secret…I still think I’m weird. But weird in a good way. I walk differently, I talk differently, and I do life differently from most people. But that’s ok. I put honey in my coffee, I hate watching TV, I prefer listening over talking, and I wake up at 4:30 in the morning by choice. I was in a store not long ago and the clerk looked at me and said, “Lady, you’ve got crazy hair!” I didn’t know whether to thank him or slap him! Yep, I’ve got weird hair, go figure. I will say though, that one of the greatest moments of my life was the day I realized, “I am different and it’s a good thing!” I’m weird – but weird in a good way!

One time I took my kids and my cousin, ages then ranging from age from 7 to 14, on a little adventure. We were making waffles late at night and we needed more syrup. We were all dressed comfy in our pajamas and none of us felt like changing so I had this crazy idea – let’s just go to Super Target in our pajamas and bedroom slippers! They were shocked but grinning from ear to ear screaming, “really?!” So there we were going down the isles at Target singing, “It’s Pajama Day at Targét!” How whacked is that? Yes, we got some looks and overheard some comments like, “Can you believe THAT Mom?” “Do they always go out in public in their nightwear?” Guess what? I didn’t give a flip. We were having a blast! It’s a moment my kids and younger cousin will always remember! It was worth every smirk and smart remark!

In my world, there’s “weird”, and then there’s “weird in a good way”. There’s even weird in a God sort of way…so how does one get there? How about by realizing that what you’ve got ought to be so unique and different that you stand out. Cause it’s just you. You being odd, but odd in a good way. I think we shy away from being oddly ourselves when we begin to compare.

Comparing is when we place someone beside someone else for the purpose of emphasizing the differences or showing the likenesses. We tend to compare ourselves with others and we tend to compare others with others. What for? When we compare ourselves with others, one of two things happen: 1) we get smug and a false sense of worth from estimating that our strengths outweigh theirs or 2) we feel insecure and unequal because we think they have what we don’t. Then we mistakenly think they are better than us. What a lie. We think we don’t measure up.

Why not come to total acceptance of who we are? Accept ourselves, people, places, and things EXACTLY as they are? That would be maturity. And how about this – accepting people’s differences and uniqueness-es as enthusiastically as God forgives our wrongs. When love flows, acceptance grows. Then they can be weird, we can be weird, and then weird is OK.


It Doesn’t Matter How Deep the Water is if You Know How to Swim
Do you remember your first time experiencing the deep end of the pool? Yeah, this is where your feet don’t touch and if you’re not an experienced swimmer, you might think, “Whoa, I’m in over my head here.”

I taught my daughter, Tiffany, when she was just 3-years-old to swim in the deep end of the pool.  I told her that if she could swim in the shallow end without her feet touching she could also swim in the deep end. There’s no difference.

Can you swim in a 6-8 foot swimming pool? Just wondering, because, if I took you to the middle of the ocean and dropped you in depths of a few hundred feet – I betcha you could still swim! There’s no difference. It doesn’t matter how deep the water is – if you know how to swim.

Is it scarier out there? Yes. Darker? Yes. But, it doesn’t matter how deep the water is if you know how to swim.

Maybe you are going through some deep issues in life.  Tough stuff, bigger than you’ve ever gone through before. As you read this you might have this overwhelming sinking feeling that you are in way too deep. Be encouraged and remember: It doesn’t matter how deep the water is if you know how to swim.

There’s a cool scripture in Isaiah 43:2 (NLT) that goes like this:

“When you go through deep waters, I will be with you.  When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown.”

I’ve heard people say, “I don’t know if I could ever handle the death of one of my children or being diagnosed with an incurable disease or walking into the house to find my spouse hanging from a noose.  I don’t think I could handle…this or that. Yes, you could handle it, because it doesn’t matter how deep the water is if you know how to swim.

A child stood in front of his classroom to make a speech entitled, “What I want to be when I grow up.” He said, “I’m going to be a lion tamer in the circus.  I will have lots of fierce lions. I will walk into the cage and they will roar! I will use the whip to control them.” He paused for a moment, thinking through what he had just said.  And then added, “But of course, I’ll have my daddy with me!”

That’s the key. You CAN swim IF your heavenly Father is with you. Just reach out. Haven’t done that in a while? Forgotten how? Little timid? Go ahead, ask for his help.

The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name. When they call on me, I will answer: I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them. I will reward them with a long life and give them my salvation.” Psalm 91:14-16. (NLT)

You’ll find he’s right there in the deep end with ya. Don’t let the depth of the water scare you. You can handle a lot more than you think you can. It doesn’t matter how deep the water is if you know how to swim.

 

When my daughter was a wee little girl I was looking for a way to explain the amount of love I had in my heart for her. Tucking her into bed one night I whispered, “Tiff, do you know how much I love you?” She said, “How much mommy?” Wrapping my arms around her I said, “Listen, I love you to the moon and back.” Her little eyes brightened and she said, “Really? That’s a lot of love!” So as the years passed I would occasionally ask her, “Tiff, do you know how much I love you?” Always smiling, she’d say, “to the moon and back.” Then I’d add: “to the moon and back – and back – and back!!!” She would say, “Wow Mom, that’s sooo much love”!

It was the coolest thing knowing that my daughter would go off to sleep savoring that nugget of truth. She’d be thinking about it and mulling it over in her little girl’s mind. And when I’d go out of town on business, I’d call her right before bedtime and before we’d hang up I’d always ask: “Tiff, do you know how much I love you?” She’d say so confidently: “you love me to the moon – and back – and back – and back!”

Amazed that she was wrapped so securely in my love, I once asked, “Well, how do you know that I love you that much?” She said, “because I heard you say it mom, and I know -that I know – that I know – that you love me that much.”

How is it that my now, adolescent daughter is so confident and secure in her Mom’s love? Because from the first time she heard me say it, she LISTENED with her ears wide open. She TOOK it in. She RECIEVED it. She’d THINK about it. She’d REVISIT it. She’d SAY it. She’d REPEAT it until she had great trust and BELIEF in it.

It dawned on me that there was a formula here in learning how to believe in something. I found it confirmed in God’s Word. Reading from Prov. 22:17 (AMP), the steps go like this:
“Listen (consent and submit) to the words of the wise, and apply your mind to my knowledge; For it will be pleasant if you keep them in your mind [believing them]; your lips will be accustomed to [confessing] them. So that your trust (belief, reliance, support, and confidence) may be in the Lord…”

If we break it down, look at how this formula unfolds.
1. Listen (hear what God says about you.)
2. Think about his words of wisdom (turn it over and over again in your mind).
3. Then you will begin to believe.
4. At last, you speak them (your lips get accustomed to confessing them – speaking them out loud.)
5. Wallah! You begin to trust what God says about you and your life. You grow more and more confident in what He says about you.

Listen, God’s whispering: “I love you so much, I sent my son to die for you and give you eternal life. I came that you might have life and have it more abundantly. I, (God) take great delight in you. Come away with me and read all about it. I wrote it all down just for you. The love letter is waiting to be opened and read and received by you. I love you to the moon and back!”

My advice to you, READ it, SPEAK it, BELIEVE it!