We need Sage Seniors~

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Last night my husband and I led a marriage event at our local church. We were teaching couples in the “Art” of Active Listening.  I had imagined that the bulk of our attendance would be younger couples eager to tackle the challenges of  newer marriages.  Imagine my surprise when numerous mature couples began to fill the building.  I was very blessed to recognize that these older folks still wanted to work on their marriages! wow!  I can only imagine the example this set for our younger generation.  We need our sage seniors in our lives!

I was tickled that my own parents who have been married 60 years attended this event led by us, their own kids!  In talking with them they expressed sincerely that they felt the tool we were teaching would bring value to them as well.  The interesting twist here is this:  one of the couples at our table whose relationship has been a very difficult one, made the effort to come but had nowhere for their 4 month old baby.  My mother, sensing the need for this couple to have an opportunity to grow, asked to hold this little girl who fell asleep in her arms for 90 minutes, giving them a chance to focus on their relationship. The young mom cried tears of gratefulness for the love she had been shown.  We need sage seniors in our lives!

I am certain that God intended us to have impact far into our twilight years.  I believe our impact can only be richer, wiser, and more valuable.   For those of you who are presently Sage Seniors I ask that you continue to pour into our lives. Pray for us and speak wisdom into our life situations.  For those of us who are knocking on the door of our seniors years I ask that we keep looking for places to have impact, to mentor, to use the lessons we’ve learned to help others.  For the younger generation I would challenge you to seek out the wisdom of those seniors in your sphere of life.  In areas of finances, marriage, or faith, these sage seniors in your life can help you to miss some of the mistakes others have made.

Psalm 92:14

They will still yield fruit in old age; They shall be full of sap and very green.

Job 12:12

Wisdom is with aged people, With long life comes understanding.

Such a great reminder! 🙂

Celebration and Sensitivity on Mother’s Day~

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This Sunday is Mother’s Day; a special time for mothers.  However, not all women face Mother’s Day with anticipation, rather they enter the day with sadness, even dread.  It’s real important that we are reminded of this and remain sensitive to the fact that not every woman’s experience with motherhood had been successful; not every experience has been joy-filled.  I have been thinking about this over the past week and ran across a blog by Amy Young; The Time Warp Wife, that expresses everything that’s been playing over and over again in my heart.  So, I’m going to “steal” her thoughts for this blog.

 Mother’s Day

To those who are foster moms, mentor moms, and spiritual moms – we need you

To those who have warm and close relationships with your children – we celebrate with you

To those who have disappointment, heart ache, and distance with your children – we sit with you

To those who lost their mothers this year – we grieve with you

To those who lived through driving tests, medical tests, and the overall testing of motherhood – we are better for having you in our midst

To those who are single and long to be married and mothering your own children – we mourn that life has not turned out the way you longed for it to be

To those who have lost a child before their time – we acknowledge your broken heart.

To those who step-parent – we walk with you on these complex paths

To those who envisioned lavishing love on grandchildren -yet that dream is not to be, we grieve with you

To those who will have emptier nests in the upcoming year – we grieve and rejoice with you

To those who placed children up for adoption — we commend you for your selflessness and remember how you hold that child in your heart

And to those who are pregnant with new life, both expected and surprising –we anticipate with you

This Mother’s Day, we walk with you. Mothering is not for the faint of heart and we have real warriors in our midst.

We remember you all on this Mother’s Day.

Mimi~~

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This past week rocked my world.  A tiny child weighing 7.1lb swept my feet right out from under me.    I am changed by her arrival in many interesting ways.   I remember that overwhelming love that swept over me when I first looked into the eyes of my newborn sons.  I felt of mix of joy and also of pain; this new love was so huge that all my fears and anxieties of their safety, health, faith,and future crashed in on my “new mommy” heart.  Will I make mistakes?  Will I know how to love them well?   It was all so new.

This little angel caused some of that overwhelming love to come sweeping back through my heart! Such a big love!! But there was also a new emotion; watching my son becoming a daddy himself; seeing that overwhelming love Dave has for his little girl, causing him to literally feel sick at the very thought of not knowing how to best care for her.  Also watching him love his bride with such rich compassion; it has been astounding for me as a mother.

Another emotion that erupted in my heart was joy in watching my daughter in law ( and friend) make every effort to birth a healthy child~ she worked extremely hard.  I was reminded of my first days as a mommy as I watched Azlan love on her precious little girl, so attentive and kind;she is a very special mommy, I’m very proud of her.

They chose the name Mimi for me; a banner which I will proudly wear. I will honor my responsibility to this little life in every way I can.  And after kissing her sweet cheeks hundreds of times I will tickle her, snuggle her, sing to her, whisper loving thoughts to her, pray constantly for her, and love her parents.

Scout Jubilee Salciccioli, I adore you.

 

Sometimes I Think Facebook Gets a BUM Rap!

 

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In college, when wanting to make a phone call, I had to stand in line behind 3-5 other students in order to use the pay phone in the hall of my dormitory.  If I desired to share photos that I loved with people I would need to go get my film developed, make doubles of those pictures, and then send them in the mail, waiting at least a week for them to arrive at their destination.  Since there were no “personal phones” available I would need to write a letter expressing anything fun, amazing, or challenging that I was experiencing, and mail it off hoping to get a return letter in response to what I had taken the time to share.

At the tail end of my college experience I spent 90 days in Calcutta, India. Far, far from home.  In that time period, I was able to schedule one phone call with a local phone company to connect with my family; outside of that, letters were sent from one country to the other. Some letters arrived, many did not.

WHAT IF I had been able to enjoy the value of Facebook during those years? What if I could have stayed in touch with my family in “real time” while overseas; sharing stories, pictures, and videos of all the amazing experiences I was having?

WHAT IF I had been able to send messages or text back and forth over Facebook while in college; staying in touch with friends and family during my course of study?  What If…………………..

Sometimes I think Facebook gets a bum rap!

I wonder if we get a little spoiled with the freedom Facebook has given us that we are blinded to it’s value, I wonder.  Some say Facebook causes us to create false community; I wholeheartedly disagree! I have found that Facebook allows me to remain connected with those that are dear to me whether it be in sending small encouragements, sharing an inspiring story, responding to something they are experiencing in their lives, setting up coffee dates and even using Facebook to create group events and invitations with real ease!

Using Facebook, I have been able to become aware of challenges others are facing; I have been able to pray on their behalf.  I have, also, gotten to enjoy hearing of the fun or victories people have experienced and have been able to rejoice with them!

Perhaps it’s time to see Facebook with fresh eyes.  Use it well.  Encourage, connect, celebrate, include, and care for your “friends” through this tool.  Be thankful you aren’t left standing in line waiting for a free phone, or waiting for the mail to arrive before you can connect with someone you care about!!

🙂  FRIEND

4 Keys for a Joy-Filled Life~~

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Life is unpredictable.  Life has challenges.  Life can sometimes steal our joy; let’s just be honest about that.  We cannot control everything that comes our way, even if we wish we could! This is why we should be compelled to maintain some key elements in our lives that will help us keep our balance and joy even when faced with uncertainties.

Here are 4 keys that I believe to be essential to maintain a joy-filled life:

1.  LAUGHTER:   There’s just nothing like laughter to release the tension that builds up in our daily lives. A good belly laugh can turn our day completely around! Kathryn Hepburn was quoted as saying  “I love people who make me laugh. I honestly think it’s the thing I like most, to laugh. It cures a multitude of ills. It’s probably the most important thing in a person.”  I have to agree! Laughter takes our minds off our “to do” list, our sadness, or our anxieties and allows us to catch our breath!  Ignoring the need for laughter will cause us all to become very serious and introspective.  So plan to lighten up a couple of times a day~~LAUGH!

2.  FORGIVENESS: Martin Luther King said; Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude.” This means forgiveness is a choice.  I “choose” to be unoffendable yet when I am offended I will seek to walk in forgiveness as a gift to myself! Walking in unforgiveness can change us.  Walking in unforgiveness is draining. Walking in unforgiveness steals our joy.  In an article written by Charles Stanly he said that  “It’s probably not surprising to hear that resentment impacts the mind and spirit, but you may not have realized what a physical toll it can also take on us. An attitude of bitterness ratchets up tension and anxiety, which can affect everything from muscles to chemical balance in the brain. Over time, that kind of mayhem weakens the body.”
Therefore If we seek reconciliation when we can and choose forgiveness always, we will stand a greater chance of experiencing a consistent joy-filled life.

3.  Quality Relationships:  Quality relationships are those that bring energy to you as a person.  I’m talking about the deep, unreserved relationships you have within the circle of family and friends that you have. Who are the people who know you and have weathered storms and joys alongside you?  Who are the people who love you unconditionally and call just to see how you’re doing?  Who are those who would never indict you but would have your back in any situation? Isolation is a joy stealer, we all need a handful of people who will lift our spirits when we are down, laugh with us when we need to unwind, and celebrate with us when we are experiencing even a small victory! These are the relationships that deserve to be placed on your calendar and nurtured!  Friendship is the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person, having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words.
George Eliot

4.  Times of Solitude:  Unplug.  Turn of your phone. Back away from the computer. Breathe.   Take some time to be silent.  To read or reflect. Take time to pray or journal.  Don’t see this as a waste of time, but as an integral part of your day. We all need periods of solitude, although temperamentally we probably differ in the amount of solitude we need. However, some solitude is essential; It gives us time to explore who we are and how we feel. Solitude gives us a chance to regain perspective. It renews us for the challenges of life. It allows us to get (back) into the position of driving our own lives, rather than having them run by schedules and demands from without. Times of solitude are also a time to connect with God, giving you time to listen to what He may be saying to you. Making times of solitude a priority in your life will help you to find joy; even in the midst of a busy, or challenging season of life.

Begin to practice these 4 Keys on a regular basis and you will begin to see how valuable they are right away!  I want you to live a life that is Joy-filled. THAT is my hope for you! 🙂

It’s About Making Time, Not Having Time~

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Life is busy.  Our days are filled with many meaningful activities.  Our time is divided between the needs in our homes, our children, places of employment,churches, community organizations, and IF we can fit it in, some time to exercise and care for ourselves.

We are daily, even hourly, connected to our computers or Smart phones; logging onto our mail, Facebook, Pinterest, news, or games throughout the entire day which eats up even more of our daily time spent.

So, what about taking time with friends and family members? How well do we fit in key times of connection to maintain on-going relationships with those that mean the world to us?  Do we tell ourselves we are too busy to make the time? Do we assume we’ll grab time when we can?  Think about this:

Just spending a little time with someone shows that you care, shows that they are important enough that you’ve chosen — out of all the things to do on your busy schedule — to find the time for them. And if you go beyond that, and truly connect with them, through good conversation, that says even more. Many times its our actions, not just our words, that really speak what our hearts feel. Taking the time speaks volumes!

Are you saying ” I’d love to but I really am too busy!”

  • Have five minutes? Send an email. It doesn’t take long to send an email to someone you care about, asking them how they are, wishing them a good day. And that little gesture could go a long way, especially if you follow it up over time with regular emails.
  • Have 10 minutes? Call them up. A phone call is an easy way to connect with someone. It’s conversation, without having to even get in the car!
  • Have 30 minutes? You might not get the chance to do this every day, but at least once a week, take 30 minutes to drop in and say Hello to someone you care about and just visit.(No Smart phone allowed)  It’ll be some of the best 30 minutes you’ll spend this week.
  • Have a couple hours? Grab coffee or go to lunch with a friend or loved one. Who among us doesn’t have a couple of free hours each month? Weekends, or evenings, there’s got to be a time that you spend in front of the TV or computer that could be better spent building rich relationships with those that matter to you.

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                                        Make it a priority to build rich relational connections into your schedule. Enrich your life while bringing value to those you love as well.  Don’t put it off assuming they will always be there. 🙂

Musings on Marriage~

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I am enjoying the privilege of leading a bible study with 6 precious young wives on the subject of marriage.  I am the leader of the study, yet I am a constant learner along with each one of them.  After almost 30 years of marriage I recognize that you never arrive at a PERFECT relationship.  Marriage is a process of growing and stretching through the many different seasons and changes in our lives.  Marriage is a committment to being a good friend~no matter what.

“Happily ever after is not a fairy tale. It’s a choice.”

In discussions about marriage some key issues continually come up:  communication, expectations, and forgiveness.  These areas can be where hurt and disconnect can be found. So, in light of this I wanted to offer a few thoughts that might serve to encourage you as you commit to building a rich, thriving marriage.

*   Active Listening:  taking the time to truly listen to your loved one, repeating back to them to see if you truly understood what they are trying to say, and them expressing how you imagine they might feel can bring clarity and empathy even if you don’t fully agree.  Everyone needs to have the freedom to express themselves; to be heard.  Practicing this kind of intentional listening will help build better communication and cause you to feel a greater connection to one another.

Balancing Expectations:  Have you ever thought through all the elements you may expect in your marriage?

  • To be able to talk everything through & find resolution
  • That we & our partner should never argue, fight or withdraw, always take care of each other & agree on everything
  • A wonderful sexual relationship, full of sexual passion
  • Each other to take their own responsibility for their own feelings, able to share love, rather than expect our partner to fill us up with their love
  • To have a lot of fun & easily laugh together
  • To have similar interests
  • Our partner to financially contribute
  • A certain level of contribution towards the household & childcare
  • Respect, admiration & deep trust
  • A relationship full of affection, holding, cuddling & kissing
  • To find each other infinitely interesting, look forward to being together & sharing ideas
  • Companionship
  • The same religious beliefs
  • Shared, common spiritual values

These elements are all good; however these areas can grow over time as the marriage matures, listening increases, and each individual grows deeper in their relationship with the Lord. Keep them as good goals but don’t expect perfection all the time.

“A great marriage is not when the ‘perfect couple’ comes together. It is when an imperfect couple learns to enjoy their differences.”

Forgiveness:   We all need forgiveness.  We all have a bad day, make mistakes, and respond improperly.  In my early years of marriage I would hold onto those things that hurt or frustrated me.  When I would do this I could easily find myself irritated by the smallest things simply because I had a stockpile of things I’d not yet forgiven. The older I get the more I recognize the huge value in keeping a short record of unforgivenes.  Fact is, I need to be forgiven often too.

“A happy marriage is the union of two good forgivers.”

As you celebrate Valentine’s Day this next week may you embark on the richest year of marriage ever!

The impact of Nanny and Eva~

My office is filled with decorations, games, gifts, and baby items as I prepare  to give my precious Daughter in Law, Azlan, a baby shower.  Not at any moment do I actually forget that I will be a grandma soon, but these items do serve as a daily reminder to me.

When I think about the kind of Grandma I want to be I find myself thinking about the Grandmothers that impacted my life; they set the bar pretty high for me.

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My Nanny was musical; she played the Organ in her home beautifully. I always remember lots of home-cooked food; she liked to make jello salads! I remember sitting in front of her silver Christmas tree watching the wheel of color changing hues, thus changing the color of the tree.  I also remember an old picture that showed Jesus standing at a door welcoming all those who would willing enter.  The verse at the bottom said “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”  My Nanny loved flowers.  I can remember many times playing dolls in her backyard filled with sunshine and the smell of roses. I remember how my Nanny used to send me letters in her sweet handwriting.   I remember all these things.  One thing I do not remember, ever, was my Nanny being angry or harsh with me.  I can’t recall her ever raising her voice to me at any time.  I deeply appreciate that about her. I want to be that kind of grandma.

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My grandma Eva had a contagious smile, she was a joyful person.  I remember taking walks with her to feed the donkeys down the street, Irish music playing in her home, and the three-pronged tiny stool where I would sit in her living room and listen to her engage in interesting conversations.  I remember picking figs and chasing squirrels in her backyard, and I remember that I always ended up with a “Pixie” haircut by the time I would head home after “my week” with grandma!  I remember all these things.
What I do not remember, ever, was my Grandma Eva ever being too busy to talk to me.  Eva never made me feel like I was in the way or a bother to her, just the opposite, she made me feel incredibly valuable and loved.  I deeply appreciate that about her.  I want to be that kind of Grandma.

The bar has been set high for me. However, because of my grandmothers’ impact on my life I believe I will be mindful to make my grandchildren feel as I did!

Who has impacted the person you are?  Who set the bar high for you? Take time to remember and appreciate those that poured into your life; honor their impact on your  life by returning the favor to those around you.

How’s your EQ?

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We are all familiar with the term IQ, right?  This term IQ (Intelligence Quotient) is a score derived from one of several standardized tests designed to access intelligence, a persons cognitive ability as compared to the general population.  The term “genius” is often used when talking about someone with a really high IQ. We might assume that someone with a high IQ would naturally become a success in all that they do, however there is another HUGE factor beyond IQ that can have a profound impact on success; personal or professional.  That factor is your EQ!

The term EQ (Emotional Intelligence) is the ability to identify, understand, and manage emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathize with others, overcome challenges, and diffuse conflict. The level of your EQ impacts many different aspects of our daily lives in both our homes and places of work.

Think about these 4 questions:

1.  How self-aware are you?   Do you recognize your own emotions and how they affect your thoughts and behaviours, your self-confidence, or your responses? Can you see how your emotions affect those around you?

2.  How well do you manage your emotions?  Are you able to control your impulsive feelings or behaviours, manage your emotions in a healthy way, take good initiative when needed, and follow through on your commitments?

3.  How high is your social awareness?  Can you understand the emotions, needs, and concerns of other people? Are you able to pick up emotional cues, and recognize key dynamics in a group or organization?  How well do you filter how you act or what you say?

4.  How well do you manage your relationships?  Do you know how to develop and maintain good relationships, communicate clearly, inspire and influence others, work well in a team, and manage team conflict? How about your personal relationships? Do you recognize the need for reciprocity or crucial conversations in order to maintain their health?

These questions are a really powerful filter to access your personal EQ.

So why is this even important?

We’ve all seen incredibly intelligent people fail miserably at life and relationships; we are often confounded by this because it would appear that their genius would almost solidify their success in every area….but it doesn’t!  It’s really not the smartest people who are the most successful or the most fulfilled in life.  A high IQ might help getting into a quality college but it will be a high EQ that will determine how someone manages dorm life, exams, and friendships!

To strengthen your EQ there are 5 things we can all intentionally participate in:

1. reducing stress ( guarding reactions) in the moment in a variety of personal and professional settings.

2.  paying attention to our emotions and finding creative outlets in an effort to keep them from overwhelming us.

3.  staying connected relationally and emotionally with others; asking for sincere feedback.

4.  allowing ourselves to use our sense of humor and creativity when faced with challenging situations.

5.  seeking to make intentional efforts to resolve conflicts positively and with confidence. Agreeing to disagree, compromise, and active listening.

“Emotional competence is the single most important personal quality that each of us must develop and assess to experience a breakthrough.  Only through managing our emotions can we access our intellect and our technical competence. An emotionally competent person performs better under pressure.” 

–Dave Lennick, Executive VP, American Express Financial Advisers

“What really matters for success, character, happiness and life long achievements is a definite set of emotional skills – your EQ – not just purely cognitive abilities that are measured by conventional IQ tests.” 

–Daniel Goleman, Ph.D.

In 2014~Let’s have the highest EQ in the room! 🙂

Our Little Girl~

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I’ve only known for a month, only a month, and yet my heart melts knowing she is on her way.  I imagine her little nose and a sweet mix of her parents features; this make me smile. She will change our family forever.  Our first grandchild. 🙂

My heart longs for her life to be full of joy, peace, laughter, and safety. Yet, I know she will experience challenges and sadness as she grows into the amazing woman God has designed her to be. Because of this, I will bathe her life in prayer and along with her parents, reminding her again and again that she was designed by a God for a meaningful purpose.

………and then……….I will spoil her, play with her, read to her, cook with her, play Hide n Seek with her, pray with her, dance with her, sing with her, count stars with her, color with her, play make believe with her, ride bikes with her, and attempt to kiss away every tear!

Most of all, I will trust God for her sweet little life because I know He is the one who created her, knows every hair on her sweet little head, and loves her, already, more than I can even fathom!

So, sweet little one~ we await your arrival.  🙂

“Strawberry creams and wonderful dreams,

Ladylike airs and teddy bears,

Fairy tales and wedding veils,

That’s what granddaughters are made of.”