Friday, February 26, 2010

Getting Into Character: The Intuitive

Thanks for stopping by. It’s Friday so you know what that means—time for Getting Into Character. Today we will focus on the flip-side of our discussion from last week which was Sensors. Remember we are looking at how people handle all that information around them. We are inundated with facts, news, data, and information and our brains seek out ways to deal with it  in a way we can understand. The Sensors do that through their five senses.

If you are not a Sensor, then you should find yourself in today’s discussion on Intuitives. Intuitives are often described as insightful, innovative, or creative. They value creativity and what is unseen. Intuitives take in information through a “sixth sense” web of hunches, analogies, and connections. They often surprise those around them with their use of new or unusual approaches to information. They might know the rules, but they often come up with their own version of them. While Sensors see “what is”, Intuitives see “what could be”.

Teachers and parents of Intuitives may describe them as “strong-willed” or “difficult” because they will stick with the rules only until they find a “better” way. They look for ways to change the status quo and make things better, instead of relying on what has worked in the past or on tradition.

Intuitives may appear distracted or scattered because they don’t approach information in a methodical way but rather skip around and may hone in onthings that are new or seem of more importance first.

If you see yourself in this description, rejoice because you often see what is below the surface and learn things about situations and people that the Sensors miss. Your creativity and innovation amaze and excite (and might scare!) those who have a more practical mind. You enjoy careers that allow you to make changes as necessary and the focus is on possibility and innovation.

If you are a Sensor, you may have a significant other that is an Intuitive. If so, don’t discount their opinion—they see things differently, not wrong. You may find freedom in the break from rules that no longer work or in new and unusual approaches to common things. They may find your need for the process frustrating, so you will need to find a balance.

If you see your child in this description, you will need to help them succeed in school since traditional education is, well, traditional and Intuitives aren’t. Help him/her develop the innate sense of understanding people and listen when they say they “just feel funny” or “something doesn’t seem right”.

If you see yourself in this description, but not your other family members, you will need to be patient with their methodical approach to information. You can help them see your point when you explain the practical benefits of your innovative approach. Be patient with them when they balk at giving up long-standing rules.

When Jewel was younger, she would frequently "zone out" on us with these wild, creative "other" personas. Sometimes she would be "Toni" the big sister or "Alex" the dog. On occasion she would even be inanimate objects like tape recorders. One day when she was about 3, we had the following conversation. This clinched in my mind that she was, indeed, an Intuitive.

“Jewel, it is time for nap.”

“I’m not Jewel. I’m a tape recorder.”

“Okay, tape recorder, it is time to turn off and take a nap.”

“Do you want to hear a song?” (Clearly stalling.)

“Yes. How about ‘Jesus Loves Me’?”

“Oh. That one needs rewound…”(blubblubblub—sound effect of tape rewinding)

“Jewel, do you have things that go on inside your head all the time?”

“Uh-huh,” she says and smiles.

“Even when no one is talking to you?”

Her eyes get big and she nods her head.

“What is it like up there?”

She pauses and her eyes flit toward the ceiling, her mind thinking. Finally recognition dawns on her face and she says, “It’s a circus!”

Do you recognize anyone you know in this post? How can you use this information to better your relationships?

Next week we will look at the third pairing and learn how you make decisions.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Raspberry Rewards

Ok, Friends, today we are doing a little something different. On Friday, February 26, my very first (and possibly only) radio script will air on The WBCL Radio network ( on the segment entitled "Fresh Perspectives". It is a short lesson that points out that often there are things in life that are difficult, but if you persevere, you might see the rewards. The devotion centered on ministry, but really it applies to anything in life that is sometimes difficult: parenting, marriage, working toward a career or personal goal, exercise--you name it. The saying goes, "You get what you pay for." That is true with a lot of things. If you are willing to put forth the effort, often you will be encouraged by the results. So, read on!

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: “But you, take courage! Do not let your hands be weak, for your work shall be rewarded.” 2 Chronicles 15:7 (ESV)

The blood; the sweat; the tears. Picking raspberries is not one of my favorite things to do. The bugs, the heat, and the thorns all combine to make one question the sanity of it all. However, fresh raspberry cream pie makes a mighty fine reward.

Often, that’s how it is with ministry. Crying babies, cantankerous teenagers, or ungrateful adult Sunday school members cause us to wonder why we give up our time, treasure or talent to minister to those around us. But then come the rewards. The young mother praying at the altar while you rock her crying baby down the hall. Awestruck teenagers reporting on the life-changing missions trip made possible by your donation. The struggling class member who, with tears in his eyes, thanks you for taking the time to prepare and teach a lesson that was just what he needed to hear. God will always reward our faithful service to others. And sometimes he even lets us glimpse it while we’re still here on earth.

Join me on Friday when we explore Getting Into Character by looking at The Intuitive.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Pig Latin Ponderings

Ix-Nay on the Upid-Stay”. That’s what I heard coming from the backseat as we drove to town the other night. No, I didn’t have a foreign exchange student back there. Nor have I enrolled my kids in a Rosetta Stone class. They were quoting lines of dialogue from the movie The Lion King. Do you remember it now? Yep, pig Latin.

I still remember when I learned to speak pig Latin. Riding the bus home from elementary school, the spring sun shining in the windows and warming the vinyl seats so they emitted that funky, chemical smell. I turned sideways in my seat and faced my “tutor”, a sixth grader who seemed so ultra-cool at the time. He raised his voice to be heard over the rumble composed of the bus tires against the road and kids high on the effects of a sunny, spring afternoon. I caught on quickly and by the time my mom doled out after-school cookies, I was a fluent conversationalist in pig Latin.

So, imagine the treat for me when, last week, I translated the phrase for them (“Nix on the Stupid”), then taught my three characters to speak pig Latin. They practiced the rest of the way to town, all through Walmart, and back home again, laughing and entertaining each other and the fellow shoppers who caught on to what they were doing. I remember them learning to speak as toddlers too, but this was fun in a new way—they all learned at the same time.

That got me thinking about language and more specifically the language of our family. I learned that our family has its own language and I have a huge role in what it will be. Do you know that every family has its own “language”? I know, if you are reading this, you speak English, but I’m talking about the language of your home. Some homes speak the language of love. Others the language of laughter. Some speak sarcasm in a witty, clever way, while others also speak sarcasm but in a cutting and cruel style.

So ask yourself the questions: What language am I teaching my kids? What language do I use with my spouse? my co-workers? my parents? myself? Do you spew negativity or speak words of encouragement? Do you pour forth words of gratitude, patience, and peace like in the book of Job where it says, “They waited for me as for showers and drank in my words as the spring rain.” Or rather do you drown others with your words of complaint, guilt, or pride like it says later in Job, “How long will you torment me and crush me with words?”

Ask yourself a few questions today. What is the language of my family? Is that the legacy I want to leave? If so, how can I continue reflecting that in my speech? If not, what can I do today to change it? Then go and teach someone pig Latin.

See you on Wednesday when we will do something a little different. But you won't want to miss what you can learn in a raspberry patch.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Getting Into Character: The Sensor's Friday and that means we are going to take a look at another facet of personality. The last two weeks we looked at the first of four "couples". I should tell you that these come from the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator or MBTI. I'll talk more about the test and its history later.

You should have been able to pick yourself, your spouse and possibly your children out of one of the descriptions. And for my writer friends, you can do this for your characters. Now you can assign yourself (or someone you know well) a letter--E for Extravert or I for Introvert. The population is split roughly 50/50 between Extraverts and Introverts. If you are still not sure if you are an E or an I, look at how you approach homework or big work projects. If you are an Extravert you will enjoy working with others and seeing what everyone is contributing. You may schedule group work times that tend to have a party atmosphere with talking, laughing, brainstorming, and snacks. If you are an Introvert, you will prefer having time alone to work on your individual part of the project and may not need or want any input until it is time to put all the parts together. You will find yourself longing to finish group time so you can process, concentrate, and construct on your own.

Today we'll move on to the first part of the second pair--Sensors. This pair deals with how we perceive the world and all the information around us. How do you gather information? What do you pay attention to while sorting through all the data that bombards us daily? For the Sensor, you will pay attention to actual facts and details. You gather information through your five senses. What can you hear? What do you see? How does it taste? What do you feel? How does it smell?

The Sensor is concerned with the practical, common sense information they can gain from observation and first-hand experience. They value accuracy and what can be seen and proven. A Sensor will be able to tell you "what is". They are methodical and proceed in a step-by-step fashion. Sensors like rules and they value tradition, often looking at what has worked in the past to attack a problem or situation today.

Sensors will stick with a project until it is done. They are the people who will finish reading a book they can't stand or complete a movie not to their liking because they don't like to leave things undone o they might miss something important.

If you see yourself in this description, rejoice because you are most likely a master at seeing things for what they are and sensing practical methods of dealing with the information in your life. You behave practically and keep tradition and the common alive for those close to you. You are most likely a good communicator because you see and can present facts and details; you are orderly in your presentation of information and tend to be straightforward.

If you don't see yourself here, there is a high probability that you see your honey. If so, you may find yourself asking why s/he always does things the same way. Or you may wonder why s/he can't break the rules and look at the whole picture--not just the facts. You will need to deliver information in a more concrete manner than the way you deal with it. And don't try to win an argument--if s/he says it was this way, you can be assured the information if accurate. Be thankful that your significant other will have a plan and work at it until completion.

If you see your child in this description, they are going to want things explained in facts and details. S/he will need your help to "think outside the box" or to let loose with a little creativity. Fact-based subjects in school will come more easily for him/her than subjects like art, literature, philosophy, or drama. S/he may also have trouble with theology or religion because they want "proof" and "facts".

If you see yourself in this description, but not your child or spouse, you will need to beware of treating their opinions as less simply because they are not based on things you can see or prove. You will be wise if you learn to add your penchant for the facts to their ease at seeing what lies beneath the surface.

This one is a little more difficult to call out in others because so much of the processing takes place beneath the surface. I am a Sensor and so is Justice. My husband is not and neither is Jewel. Jot has tendencies for both, but seems to lean more toward the Sensor as well. A classic example of Justice's Sensor-ness is if I tell them it is 7:30 and time to go to the bus. He refuses to take my word for it and will look (taking in info. through senses) at the clock himself. If the time is actually 7:29, he will be sure to correct me (accuracy). And Jot, as a kindergartner, went through the "Too Good for Bullying" program from the school guidance counselor. She told them, "You are the boss of your body. No one else can tell you what you have to do with your body." Well, the next time I told him to clean up the toys in his room, this statement was parroted back to me (accuracy and sticking to the rules). It took a phone call from me and a personal visit to her office to convince him that parents also have a say in what your body can be expected to do (as long as they are not asking you to do something wrong, of course).

Who do you see in your life that is a Sensor and how might this information help your relationship?

Next week we will look at the flip-side of Sensor--the Intuitive.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

They Can't Walk a Mile in Your Shoes

“You wouldn’t want to walk a mile in her shoes.” You’ve heard that expression, right? Well, last night it occurred to me that while I know that saying is not to be taken literally, you really can’t walk in someone else’s shoes.

On Tuesday nights, Justice practices basketball from 5-6:30. That is too early for us to eat dinner before he goes, so often we all go with him. My husband watches practice and talks to the other dads, Jewel and Jot play with the siblings of other players, and I walk the halls with a couple friends. Most weeks we only see Janitor Bill, but last night a varsity boys’ basketball game in the high school gym brought many others to the school. As we walked our circuit, four different people yelled out to us, “Walk a few laps for me!” We joked and told them that sure, we’d add their burden to ours and do a few laps for them, too. So off we went; among the darkened hallways of the elementary school, past the board meeting in session, through the high school gym teeming with people and enthusiasm, and around the wrestling team preparing for regionals. While we walked, those that had asked to “walk some for me” chatted with friends, read a book, sold tickets to the game, or just relaxed after a day at work.

At the end of the hour and a half, Christy and I had logged over three and a half miles. Our leg muscles were tight and warmed up. Our hearts had gotten a workout. We felt good about what we had accomplished. But the others? They probably also felt good about how they had spent their time, but they didn’t receive any of the benefits of our exercise bout. They really couldn’t walk a mile (or three) in our shoes.

That reminds me of the race we all run called LIFE. As much as might want to, I can’t run (or walk) that race for my kids, just like our friends couldn’t reap the benefits of our hallway hike. I’ve learned time after time that I have to let my kids walk their own journey.

The journey to adulthood has two different tracks and our kids must walk them both if they are to be responsible, mature adults. The first track is the cross-country race of doing hard things. Our kids are going to experience difficult circumstances and relationships that they must forge through on their own. We can offer advice, give encouragement, and support them in prayer, but if they are going to reap the benefits, they must fight their own way to the finish line. Some lessons in this category include working through relation problems with friends, coaches, and teachers; learning to stand up for what they believe in; taking responsibility for their things, spaces, and activities.

The other track is the steeplechase of bad situations of their own making. Our kids are going to get themselves into trouble or uncomfortable situations and they must learn to leap the hurdles and jump the water hazards by themselves. Again, we can lead, guide and direct them, but we can’t bail them out—not if we want them to be lessons learned. Some of these lessons include letting them pay the price when they are careless or forgetful; allowing natural consequences to come to pass; or allowing discipline to run its course.

Our natural instinct is to come to our kids’ rescue, and there will be times when my intervention is needed and warranted. But if I want my kids to be the kind of adults I say I want them to be, I can’t run the race for them—but I can be there at the finish line with a Gatorade and a hug.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Hail to the Chief

If you’ve ever run the gauntlet of potty training, you know that, for a time, all things revolve around the bathroom. That sets the scene for today’s President’s Day post.

In early 2005, the whole household attempted to advance Jot from his diaper-clad derriere to a Hanes-covered heiney. Jewel (aged 4) and Justice (aged 8) tried bribery by candy and books, teasing, impromptu demonstrations, cheerleading, and sticker charts. All was for naught—Jot knew what to do and how to do it, but just wasn’t interested in joining the ranks of those wearing “big boy britches.”

Then Jewel got an idea—she would appeal to the innate sense we all have for wanting to belong. She declared that all of us in the family—except Jot—were members of the Pee & Poop Club. I found this rather amusing. Justice found it down-right hilarious. My husband, when he heard about it, inquired as to whether the Disney princesses were also part of the club. “No,” said Jewel, “they are not. Princesses don’t belong to clubs like that.” Jot didn’t care whether he was part of any club or not. He liked his droppy drawers just fine, thank-you-very-much.

That evening when I talked on the phone with my mom, I filled her in on the new club forming in our home. Jewel said to tell Grandma “hi” and that she was invited to be part of our club whenever she visited. I wondered if I would be expected to come up with snacks and keep track of minutes for our club meetings. I reasoned that I didn’t have time for that. I was, after all, in the middle of potty training!

I sought to pass the buck. “Who is the president of the Pee & Poop Club?” I wondered aloud.

No answer. (Some things on TV cause children to be unable to hear the high pitched sound of their mother’s voice.)

“Who is the president of the club?”


“Jewel! Who is the president?”

“Huh? Oh. George Dubbya.”

That day I learned two important lessons from Jewel. The first is that we all want to belong. No matter our age or what we have accomplished, we all want to be part of a group of people who accept us. That can be a strong motivator—either positive or negative—in my life and the life of my kids.

The other lesson I learned is that our kids are listening. Whether we think they are or not. Whether we think they understand or not. When I talk on the phone to a friend while they color at the table—they hear. When I whisper to my husband in the front seat of the car—they take it in. When I watch TV or listen to the radio—they absorb what’s playing. When I speak to the cashier at the store—they are registering too. Are the things they are hearing and seeing beneficial to them? Will those things make them into the adults I pray they’ll be? Or are they learning to judge or to gossip or to disrespect authority by my words and actions? I must do everything I can to point them to the greatest Commander in Chief.

23"Everything is permissible"—but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible"—but not everything is constructive. 31So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 32Do not cause anyone to stumble…33For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved. 1 Corinthians 10: 23, 31-33.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Getting Into Character: The Introvert

It's Friday, so I want to talk a bit about personality. This applies to all of us and is useful if you are a parent, a spouse, a friend, or if you are a fellow writer and want to cast a particular character.

We each are born with specific traits that add up to make our personality. There are a whole lot of other areas--learning style, love language, gifts--that also weave together to make us the uniqe tapestry we are, but those are for other discussions. Today let's look at the "Introvert", the flip-side of what we talked about last week, the "Extravert". This is the way a person is energized. Remember, Extraverts get their energy from outside themselves--through their encounters and activities with others. Like not all Extraverts are loud and boisterous, not all Introverts are shy and quiet. Some very out-going people are also Introverts. It is all about how they charge and re-charge.

Introverts get their energy from inside themselves--their ideas, emotions, impressions, and thoughts. They process things internally and therefore often keep their ideas and thoughts to themselves, at least until they have had a chance to ponder them sufficiently. They will require time to process before sharing in a group and will often pull away to be alone after spending time with others.

Introverts might be described as reflective, quiet, and think-before-speaking people. Others might say the Introvert is focused, reserved or a loner. They often like to concentrate their time and effort on only one activity at a time. They are distracted by interruptions and are more likely to step aside and let others lead. They can be protective or their thoughts, their time, and their relationships. Others may feel the Introvert is aloof or lazy because of their lack of sharing and action.

You may see yourself in this description and, if so, rejoice in the fact that you seldom regret things you've done or said in haste. You are content in spending time alone and don't often get bored. You also need to be aware that those around you--your family, co-workers, and friends--might feel abandoned by you if you don't intentionally take time to connect with them. People might view you as snobby or stand-offish if you always keep your thougths to yourself or don't make it a priority to share with others. It is also important to remember that you can spend too much time thinking, planning, and processing and never get anything accomplished.

Remember that opposites attract, so if you are not an Introvert, there is a good chance your significant other is one. Now you can understand why she needs time alone after work or why he seems distant after an evening with friends. Your Introvert honey will benefit from times of quiet reflection especially after you have been in a group or when there is a situation that needs action. You will make her day if you take the kids so she can have an afternoon alone or if you chat on the phone in another room and let him read his novel or tinker with the computer in silence.

If you see your child in this description, you might need to light a fire under your child's...well, rump. The Introvert child will likely spend a good deal of time playing alone, reading or writing. Your child will need your help to develop friendships and activities outside himself or herself. S/he will also require time alone. Respect the boundaries s/he sets and be open to talk or listen after s/he has processed thoughts and ideas. If you are not an Introvert, remind yourself that silence doesn't always mean something is wrong.

If you see yourself in this description, but not your spouse or your child, you will need to balance your need for quiet reflection and their need for talking things through or spending time together. If you need time to process, let your spouse or child know when you will be ready to talk. This will go a long way in heading off hurt feelings.

I am a classic Introvert and so is Justice. His desire to play sports and be with his friends can make for a very grumpy young man unless I schedule times of quiet in his day. It is not uncommon for him to experience major meltdowns after returning from overnighters with friends. When the kids were small and all home during the day (or even now, during summer break) I required at least an hour of each day be spent alone. They could listen to books on tape, nap, read, color or play quietly. I needed the time alone and so did Justice. After their time apart, they always played together better. Justice was happy because he felt re-charged and Jewel and Jot were happy to once again have playmates. Both Extravert and Introvert children will be likely to share at bedtime, but for different reasons. The Extraverts will try to keep you in the room longer so they have company. The Introvert will have had sufficient time to process and will now be ready to share.

Who do you know that fits this description and how does this information help you in your relationship with him/her?

Next Friday in Getting Into Character, we will look at another facet of personality--how you perceive and take in information.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

You Are So Beautiful To Me

In honor of Valentine's Day, let's talk about love. I have a boyfriend, but don't tell my husband. My boyfriend is handsome and charming, funny and sweet. He has gorgeous blue eyes and a dimple. He also is only 4-feet tall and has a lisp. Oh, and don't worry; hubby knows that Jot is my "boyfriend".

A few weeks ago, as I stood folding laundry in the basement, I could hear someone messing around in the kitchen directly over my head. I heard the metalic clink of the utensils as someone rooted around in the drawer. I heard the cabinet doors open and shut. I heard the thud of a glass bowl on the counter.

I went to the stairway and shouted up, "Whoever is in the kitchen needs to get out. Snack time's over." Silence. Back to the laundry.

A few minutes later, I heard it again. Either I have really big rats or someone is not listening to me. I went to the stairway once more. "I will be coming up in a few minutes and if I find anyone in the kitchen, they will be in trouble." This time I heard frenzied whispering and the pounding of size-4 feet. A moment later, Jot appeared around the corner. He stood with his scrawny, 7-year old arms stretched between the edges of the door jamb. Crossing one foot over the other and tilting his head, he grinned at me.

"What are you doing?" I asked.


"So when I go up to the kitchen, I'm going to see 'nothing'?"

Jot just grinned and winked, made that click-click noise out of the side of his mouth that you expect from constructions workers with a roving eye. I figured it was high time I checked out exactly what was going on in my kitchen and attempted to by-pass Jot. He stood firm.

"Wait", he said and planted his feet.


Jot wrapped his little arms around my middle, gazed up at me with fluttering lashes and asked, "Mom, have I ever told you how beautiful you are?"

Now I could have bought into this charming micro-Cassanova, but I know the truth of Proverbs 26:23: Smooth talk from an evil heart is like glaze on cracked pottery. I've been around enough to know not to listen to empty words from my kids. Sometimes they speak genuine words of praise or thanks. Occasionally they will slip an give an honest compliment. But more often than not, if their words are too flowery, I can be sure that something's rotten in Denmark--or that there's a mess in my kitchen. My kids have taught me that empty words of praise are as useless as a pretty shine on a broken pot.

Do you ever find yourself praying the words you hope that God wants to hear so you can have your request answered in your favor? Do you ever let your mind wander while singing praises on Sunday morning and find you have no idea what you've sung for the last five minutes? Do you ever say a prayer, read your Bible, or quote Scripture from rote but not really feel it in your heart? Do you ever praise God with your mouth while your heart, mind and body wade through sin? Just like we don't like being patronized, neither does God.

The Lord says: "These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men." Isaiah 29:13

Just in case you wondered, Jot and Jewel were making homemade grapefruit juice, complete with several cups of sugar. They cleaned it up and apologized--sincerely.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Special Delivery

It should come as no surprise that Jewel loves to write stories. You see, her life started as a story of what one tiny baby could teach her mama, even before she was born. It contained all the makings of a good story, too-- conflict, angst, a gripping climax, and a happy ending. Read on to learn what God taught me during my pregnancy with Jewel.

Sweat slicked my forehead and mingled with the wetness squeezing from eyes closed tightly against the glare of the fluorescent lights. Late July sun poured through the large window to my right, adding to the piercing artificial light. The room was stuffy. The metallic scent of blood mixed with antiseptic hospital smells and made my stomach swim. Gritting my teeth against the pain, I struggled as each new wave crashed over me.

“Just a few more pushes and your baby will be here,” coaxed a nurse. I knew the pain was necessary to bring this baby into the world, but I also knew her connection to my body might be the only thing keeping my daughter alive. Upon her entrance into the bright, stuffy room she would either split the air with the lusty wail of a healthy newborn or pierce my heart with the mewling cry of a terminally ill infant. While my body struggled to bring forth life, my heart fought to keep death at bay.

The ordeal was culminating on July 30, 2000, but it had begun months before. In March, we first glimpsed our tiny baby. Arms and legs waved and her profile revealed a sweet, turned-up nose. She kicked and wiggled, oblivious to the cartwheels her acrobatics caused in our hearts. The doctor called a few days later. In reviewing the ultrasound images, he had discovered a problem.

“The images show a cyst in the baby’s brain. It’s in an area that doesn’t necessarily cause a problem, but there is a high incidence of this type of cyst being linked to a fatal disorder,” he explained. We later learned that the disorder was nearly always fatal within the first week after birth, that it affected girls more than boys, that our child had one other trait that seemed to link her to the sickness, and that there was no treatment or cure for it.

One morning, as I prayed my way through the day’s chores, I grew frustrated. God, you and I both know you have a plan in this. You’re going to do what you want to do. There’s no magic prayer that I can say that will take this all away. Why should I bother? No sooner had the thought flown through my mind when a voice thundered in my heart, hitting me so forcefully that my body jolted with the shock: I don’t ask you to pray so THINGS will change; I ask you to pray so YOU will change.

The remainder of my pregnancy passed with the normal struggles of swollen ankles, backaches, and insomnia, followed by thirty-six hours of labor. But I no longer struggled to pray. I knew God was using my prayers to prepare me for the journey ahead.

When I gave birth to our daughter, red and squalling that Sunday morning in July, the doctor placed her on my stomach saying, “It’s a girl. And she’s healthy.” All those months of praying and waiting were over. We could now move into a new life with the tiny girl with the button nose. But the lesson God taught me about prayer has continued to live and grow within me.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Getting Into Character--The Extravert

Today I want to talk a bit about personality. This applies to all of us and is useful if you are a parent, a spouse, a friend, or if you are a fellow writer and want to cast a particular character.

We each are born with specific traits that add up to make our personality. There are a whole lot of other areas--learning style, love language, gifts--that also weave together to make us the uniqe tapestry we are, but those are for other discussions. Today let's look at the "Extravert". This is the way a person is energized. Don't confuse Extrovert with Extravert. Extraverts can be loud or quiet, boisterous or studious. But what we are concerned with is where do they get their energy--from outside themself (extra) or from inside (intro).

Extraverts are people who like action, interaction and activity. They like to have a lot going on at any one time. They love to be around people and get energized by their encounters with others. They will be the person who is pumped after being at a party or with friends and may want you to listen as they verbally process the whole affair. They love being a part of a team or a group and will enjoy being part of a team sport as much for the company as for the competition.

They might be described as outgoing, bossy, busy, talkative, persuasive, impulsive. They enjoy interruptions and look at them as opportunities. They often act first and think it through later. That is also true about their conversations. They are foot-in-the-mouth people because they talk first and say exactly what they are thinking. They can appear bossy because they have a tendancy to take over, especially if no one else steps up.

Maybe you see yourself in this description. If so, rejoice in the fact that you know lots of people, have a broad spectrum of knowledge and get things done. You also need to be aware that you can run over people with your energy, your mouth, and your attitude. You may need to rein yourself in at times. You are also going to be happiest if at least part of your day involves other people, preferably face to face. You will enjoy careers and volunteer opportunities that allow you to interact with people.

If you see your spouse in this description, you now know why he acts the way he does or why she is so wound up when you come home from being with friends. Chances are if your spouse is an Extravert, you are not. Opposites attract. Now you know your spouse will be happiest if she has time in each day to be around people or that he will gladly tackle your "honey-do" list for the promise of some group activity later.

If you see your child in this description, you are going to be one tired parent! Okay, seriously, they are going to want to join every club and sports team but they will need your help to learn how to rest and spend time alone too. They will likely respond to rewards that involve spending time with friends. They will need your guidance in not saying everything that comes to mind and to learn to think about how something will affect the person who hears it. Don't plan on listening to that new CD when you pick them up at school, because your child will want to recap and relive the day for you.

If you see yourself in this description, but not your child or spouse, you will need to balance your need for people time and their need for quiet and personal processing.

Both Jewel and Jot are Extraverts and they can talk forever. There have been times when they cornered some poor, unsuspecting grocery clerk and, even though the person was backing away, they wouldn't stop talking. They are not nearly as competitive as Justice, but they both enjoy being part of a sports team and you will hear them talk about the people they will see at the game rather than the hope for a win.

Who do you now that fits this description and how does this information help you in our relationship with him/her?

Next Friday we will look at the flip-side, the Introvert.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Dog Ate My...Retainer?

I bought another orthodontics office today. Well, I don't actually own any, but our orthodontist just opened his third office and I'm pretty sure he was able to do that through our generous "donations". That and the uncanny ability of Justice to ruin his retainers.

His first retainer went AWOL during a Fourth of July celebration a couple years ago. Of course we found it riding in the cup holder of a folding lawn chair a couple weeks later--right after we paid to have a second one made. The replacement model lasted a few weeks into football season when Justice forgot to remove it for practice and kept it "safe" by sticking it in his cleat. (Sigh.)

He tranisitioned to only wearing the metal monster at nights, so I thought we were home free. We made it over a year with the same appliance, until over Christmas break he neglected to remove it when he got up, placed it on the floor beside him while he played PlayStation, and the dog mistook it for her chew toy. (And no, that doesn't have anything to do with the last post.)

So the cycle goes: He demolishes the retainer which he hates, but is for his own good. I replace the retainer, because much too much time, money and effort have gone into his mouth to give up now. (And in case you wondered, he is footing the bill for this one.) It makes me wonder why I spend so much time, money and effort on things that don't seem to last. Why do I make my kids go to church when they don't want to? Why do I require them to write thank you notes for their birthday and Christmas gifts? Why do I limit their TV time and time on the computer? Why do I sneak veggies into their food any chance I get? Because it is what they need. Because it is good for them. Because I'm the mom.

My trip to the orthodontist today reminded me of a quote from Mother Teresa: God does not call us to be successful; He calls us to be obedient. So I keep getting them up on Sunday mornings. I keep requiring thank yous to be written (I did allow Justice to send his friends' via Facebook this year). I keep track of their time on the screens and puree the cauliflower for mashed potatoes. Why? Because I'm the MOM and it what's best for them. And because I happen to believe that MY obedience will lead to THEIR success.

What about you? What do you need to persevere at today?

Monday, February 1, 2010

Bird Flu...Swine Flu...Dog Flu?

*Warning: The "ewww" factor on this post is between 6 & 8 depending on if you have kids, own dogs, or both.* 

 Do dogs get the flu? We have owned a dog most of the sixteen years we've been married and currently own two sweet puggles. (Okay, one really sweet one and one that makes me want to pull my hair out because she won't stay out of the trash.) Last week, Stella, our beauty with the caramel fur and black mask was sick all day. I mean really sick. Up-chucking. Vomitting. Blowing chunks. Puking. Whatever you want to call it, she was doing it. I confined her and her mess to the kitchen and separated her from Dulcie, the trash-eater.

If you have ever observed a sick dog, you know that the proverb is true. "As a dog returns to its vomit..." Dogs have the innate sense to clean up after themselves when they puke. (I know...I wish kids did, too.) Experts reason it is a throw-back to when they were wild and they avoided leaving evidence of their weakened state for their enemies. And without the convenience of Bounty and a little anti-bacterial spray, they resort to the only resource they have--they eat it. (Sorry. I warned you!)

The complete verse says, "As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his folly" (Proverbs 26:11). That is sure true at my house. If I told my kids one times, I've told them a hundred, "Don't jump on the furniture." Almost daily I hear myself repeat, "Keep your hands to yourself." Or if only I had a nickel for the times I've implored, "If you can't say something nice, then don't say anything at all." But just like my sick puppy returned to her...uhh...mess, my kids return to their folly. Through my consistent training (okay, sometimes pleading) of them, God reminded me that His children repeat their folly regularly too.

How many times has God whispered to me, "Don't jump all over your husband when he fails." His word tells me daily to "Live at peace" with those around me. Does He wish He had a nickel for everytime He implored, "If you can't say something nice, then don't say anything at all"? (Better known as 'Do unto others...')

Wouldn't it be nice if their mother could learn that lesson before my kids did? And isn't it nice that just like I will go on repeating myself and loving them, God will do the same for me?