Home business, home education and health challenges: what makes us tic?

Posts tagged ‘trust’

Friends and being the change

Kuzco says, "No judgey!"

Kuzco says, “No judgey!”

I have a pact with my best girlfriends, and it goes something like this: you can unload on me. Any time. Any place. Any subject. (Well, okay, not ANY place. If I’m in a meeting, homeschooling my kids, or reconnecting with my husband, I’m not taking your call … unless it’s urgent. Or involves chocolate coffee. I totally meant coffee).

I digress. (Me? No! Surely not).

Anyhoo, the pact is that you can unload on me about any subject. I will listen. I will invest. I will care and I will do whatever it takes to understand. I will not evaluate. I will not judge.

If at all possible (and only if you ask me to), I will try to help you put the pieces back together of whatever has fallen apart. No guarantees, although so far my track record is pretty good.

And I imagine yours is, too.

And if you sort things out with your fella or decide to stay at the job you just said you hated or turn down the opportunity of a lifetime or jump on a boat to Bali, I’ll be there, supporting you. Believing in you. Truly wanting what’ll make you happy.

Why?

Well, it’s really simple: I need to believe in a world where I can safely unload, be heard and understood (not judged), and then be supported when it’s all better. That world starts with me, I guess, or I have no right to wish for it.

10 steps to keeping your promises (and why it REALLY matters)

Integrity. It’s a word that is losing it’s meaning and significance as our so-called culture does what it calls evolving. A brief, informal poll among my nearest and dearest reveals that less than half even know what the word really means.

So, what does integrity MEAN?

The internet, that wealth of wisdom and worthy truth (ha ha), says this:

in·teg·ri·ty
inˈtegritē/
noun
  1. the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness.
    “he is known to be a man of integrity”
    synonyms: honestyprobityrectitudehonor, good character, principle(s), ethics,morals, righteousnessmoralityvirtuedecency, fairness,scrupulousness, sinceritytruthfulness, trustworthiness More
  2. the state of being whole and undivided.
    “upholding territorial integrity and national sovereignty”
So, integrity means a state of being honest and moral. It means being whole and undivided. It’s not enough simply to tell the truth when pressed. We need to live lives that exude honesty on every level. That means not only not lying about past events. It means not lying about future commitments.
In other words, integrity means keeping our promises.

Sometimes, keeping promises is just plain HARD

We’re all busy. Our lives race by in a blur of meetings and deadlines and deliverables and social engagements and prior commitments. It’s not unusual to blink and find that two or three months have gone by. We barely have time to register loose teeth before the Tooth Fairy is called up for duty. First locks are trimmed, and before they’ve been safely secreted in a precious locket, the child is old enough to tie her own shoes. In this whirlwind of busyness, it can be hard to remember even those commitments that mean the difference between gainful employment and a life on the streets. It’s no wonder, then, that we make fleeting suggestions to our kids and don’t even realise that, in their innocent minds, we’ve made a firm contract.
I often tell my kids:
“Your word is your bond, and a Christian person’s word is exactly the same as a promise. So if you don’t intend to do something, don’t say that you will do it. If you say you’ll do it, do it. Not doing what you’ve said you’d do is breaking a promise, whether you’ve said, ‘I promise’ or not.”
We also fail utterly to realise the significance of breaking that bond.
What results is pain, disappointment, anger and mistrust. Slowly but surely, these tiny seeds take root, germinate, and grow into a hedge between us and our children. This is a cost too high to pay. We must find ways to cherish the sacred trust invested in us by these young treasures.

10 ways to keep your promises

1. Don’t make promises you can’t keep

This may seem obvious but based on evidence, it’s not. If there is any possibility whatsoever that you won’t be able to do what you’ve said you’d do, do not promise to do it. In fact, it’s almost always better not to say anything at all. Do the thing you’re hoping to do for or with someone else, and share their excitement and pleasure at having a wonderful surprise. This is infinitely better than causing their disappointment at having a hope deferred.

2. Think before you speak

When we speak, our words have power. To a very large extent, we create our realities by what comes out of our mouths. This is not an esoteric or eccentric view. Just think about it for a moment. If you tell yourself something over and over, it becomes true – even if it’s just true in your perception of the situation. I’ll give you an example. If I wake up every day and tell myself my husband is lazy, it seems to become true. When I wake up everyday and tell myself my husband is generous and kind, that, too, becomes true. If I can twist my reality to this extent, how much more can the words I say affect my children’s reality?
Remember that when you say something, whether it’s flippant or in passing or even a joke, the people in your life will believe you. You need to take this very seriously. Remember this:
“But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.” (Matt. 12:36)

3. Establish boundaries

Say not to the goodKeeping commitments is as much about saying no as it is about saying yes. For us to give the very best of ourselves, we need to give ourselves the time and space required to be our best. That means using wisdom and discernment in the commitments we make and accept. No one can do it all. Trying to fit everything in will deplete us and leave nothing for those who need us most. Decide at the outset what matters to you most. Then base all of your choices on these priorities, remembering that sometimes we have to say no to the good in favour of the best. It is worth waiting, recharging and choosing wisely. When in doubt: say no.

4. Move heaven and earth to keep the promises you’ve made

If you have committed to something in any way, do whatever it takes to keep that commitment. If that means not accepting a business meeting because it conflicts with your son’s sports day, or turning down coffee with a friend to play scrabble with your daughter, do that. Your word is your bond and it should mean as much to you as a contract signed in your own blood using a magic quill that hunts you down if you don’t fulfill your part of the bargain.

5. Don’t cancel

We worked with a missionary family once who were exemplary in every way. Absolutely gorgeous from eldest to youngest, they’re also supremely talented in every sphere (particularly music), highly intelligent, kind, generous and wise. However, none of those traits was what set them apart for me. What distinguished this family in my mind (and formed the basis of their success, after their faith), was their family motto. It’s very simple: don’t cancel. That was it. You could always count on them to be wherever they said they’d be. They would simply never let you down. Part of this was knowing when to say no (see point 3). But my point is that we establish ourselves as people of integrity when we make a firm commitment not to let people down – both by not taking on more than we can, and by not reneging on the commitments we have made. Don’t cancel. Ever.

6. Be clear

Make sure that you say what you mean. Don’t leave grey areas in your communication. Take responsibility for the words you say and take ownership of the outcome. For instance, if you have a meeting and you feel a course of action is required, say so. Don’t suggest that “perhaps someone should consider implementing something that could possibly take us closer to what we’re alluding to”. That’s vague, open-ended and a recipe for disappointment and frustration. Spell it out. Say: “Jo, please call IT and have them install a new network framework to connect us with London. We need it done by Wednesday. Please email me if this can’t be done.” No vagueness there, and a clear course of action for dealing with potential problems.
In the same way, if your children ask about going on a picnic during the holidays, don’t say “Hmm, that sounds like an idea …”. Say, “What a great plan! Let’s go to the park on Wednesday for lunch. We’ll invite Aunty Jane and the kids.” And do it! That way, there’s no room for doubt. Moreover, you develop a reputation for clarity, so that people will be less inclined to misconstrue your vague musings as firm commitments.

7. Keep communication flowing

Sometimes, the disappointment we cause in others’ lives is inadvertent, the result of their misunderstanding rather than our miscommunication. Even so, we are responsible to some degree for the way people interpret our words and actions. If you have any sense that the person you’re dealing with hasn’t understood you clearly, or expects more from you than you’re willing to commit to, first clarify exactly what you meant and be sure that they fully understand that. It can be tricky with little people, but patience will be your greatest ally in communicating clearly and kindly what you’re willing to do.

8. Be there

Once you’ve made a commitment, show up. Be there – not just physically but mentally and emotionally, as well. Fully engage with the people you’re with. Share with them. Interact. Give of yourself. As I said in no. 3, don’t commit to something you can’t or don’t want to commit to. But if you have committed to something that’s just what you need to be: committed. You can never build trust or integrity on a half-hearted foundation. So make sure you get your sleep, exercise, me time – whatever it is that you need to enable you to be fully present in the moment, and then wring every possible ounce of joy out of that moment. Make the most of it.

Children are great imitators so give them something great to imitate9. Model integrity

In number 4 I said that you should skip coffee with a friend to keep a playdate with your child. However, if you made the commitment to your friend first, keep that. We teach our children integrity as much by what we do as by what we say. More, in fact. Make sure that you always follow through on your commitments, and that your actions always support your statements. Those impressionable young eyes are watching your every move, so give them something worthwhile to feast their eyes on.

10. Start today

If you haven’t been living a life of complete integrity (and I know I usually get it wrong), it’s never too late to start. Start today, now, this instant. Make the world better by being better. From this very second, commit to choose your commitments wisely, be clear about your intentions, be present in your interactions, and always keep your word. And if you still mess up after this (as we’re all sure to do sometimes), learn to say sorry with grace. More on that to come.
How about you? Have you made a personal commitment to integrity? I’d love to hear about how that’s working for you practically? Or have you been hurt or disappointed by someone else’s lack of integrity and broken promises? This is the place to start working on those hurts, and achieving closure. Let me know what you think.
With love,

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart.

Yesterday, my “Slaying Dragons” exercise did not get off to a good start. Around midnight last night, it dawned on me that I had tried to do it in my own strength, without so much as a word of prayer. How foolish! I found this on Facebook today and thought it a fitting reminder to get me back on track.

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine understanding

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine understanding

Sinking feeling.

This week we’ve been studying boats. There are different kinds, serving different purposes, and reflecting different levels of civilisation and technology. Using a boat for any purpose requires trust that the boat will do its intended function. The boat, therefore, needs to be trustworthy.

As I’ve mentioned before, we’re studying the unit on TRUST, so this stuff is relevant.

Finally, to wrap up the bit about boats, I set the girls a project. I gave them a simple brief (preparing them for projects now and ad agencies later):

Make a poster that displays different kinds of boats, then write a bit about each boat. Make the poster colourful and beautiful, but more importantly: make it accurate, informative and descriptive. This is NOT an art project.

The result was a very colourful collage featuring something they assure me is a canoe (even though it has a keel); a sailing ship (I am encouraged to see bright red sails, not bright red balloons, despite the shape and colour), and of course that most important of all ships: a Pirate Ship. This last, at least, bore some resemblance to the ships in story books.

By way of text, two clouds were cut out and pasted into the sky, one for each type of boat in the picture. The cloud about canoes says:

Canoes.

are made buy islanders.

Made with:

tree trunks

lether leather

somestimes leafs

The cloud about sailing ships says:

sail
boats

Are much the same.

But bigger and more
sails and made everyone.

When I pointed out that perhaps more data could have been helpful, and after all the project was intended to educate the viewer about what boats are, how they look, and what they do, I was met with bewildered silence. “But – it’s beautiful!” (this is true). “And – there are mermaids!” (So there are. When, pray tell, did we cover this in our studies?)

Later, as they were putting the final touches on their project, secure in the knowledge that I could not hear them as I was “working, I overheard this gem from nearly-7-year-old DD#2:

“But WE make boats that are from our IMAGINATION. Mom just likes us to do boring boats that someone else thought of before”

So there you have it. Clearly I’m doing something wrong, though what exactly that may be eludes me. Or perhaps it’s something so right it’s gone all the way around and just looks wrong because we’re seeing it from the other side. Here’s hoping …

Lesson #4: Trust

I have a trust issue. It’s hard for me to believe what people say, especially when it’s nice. I find it difficult to rely on people. I know I’m not unique in this, many people share the same hang ups, and we all need to find a way to deal with them.

When we went to Oikos to work out what we were doing wrong, somehow this issue managed to wriggle its way into the open, and our home education mentors wisely recommended that we move from the unit on Attentiveness to the unit on Trust. It was a good move and has led to some lively discussion around the dinner table and school room desk (usually the same place!).

I’ve seen growth in all of our lives in the area of Trust, and perhaps most of all in my own, as I learn to give my fears and concerns to God. He really can handle it!

He is faithful to save and forgive:

Psalm 86:5 For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee.

He meets our physical needs:

Matthew 6:25 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?

He loves and cares for us:

1 Peter 5:7 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

It seems almost trite to list it like this, but that doesn’t make it any less true: He cares for us, loves us,  and meets our needs.

Storms, calms, highs, lows, deep breaths and stepping back.

After my last post, I took a little time for reflection. It seems necessary in this life to step back and gain some perspective, and some of us need to do this more often than others.

The very next day, we sat down, zoomed through all our school work with no hassles of any kind, and the girls spent the rest of the day exploring their best friend’s wonderful new house and riding bicycles. It was idyllic for them and gave me a chance to evaluate things. I realised that I had expected far too much: we’d already done 30 minutes of maths when we had our altercation, and that was after reading, language, writing and Bible studies. Without a break. No one can be expected to stay focused for that long, especially when the work at hand is boring and repetitive.

I don’t think I was wrong to reiterate the value and importance of focus and concentration, but I do think I pushed too hard. I’m grateful for gracious daughters who forgive and understand (as much as they can) that their parents are human.

We all know the idiom “Calm before the Storm”, but I’d like to introduce (or revisit) “the Low after the High”. This weekend and the few weeks leading up to it have been full of energy and achievement. We’ve had wonderful family devotions, learnt valuable lessons, applied those lessons and seen the fruit of our labours. We have been deeply aware of God’s blessing in our lives on every level, and the activity seemed to culminate in DH preaching one of his most successful sermons on Sunday.

Since then, not so much. There seems to be a slump hanging over the whole family. Moods are low, health is quivering and tempers are short. I was listening to a sermon on the radio recently where the pastor described this very scenario. He gave some Biblical examples of it, too: Peter acknowledges Christ’s deity and messiahship, then denies Him three times! Elijah defeats and destroys 450 prophets of Baal in one of the Bible’s coolest demonstrations of divine power, then runs and hides in the desert from a single (albeit powerful) woman.

It’s comforting to know that we’re not alone in these experiences. Even heroes from the Hall of Faith share them with us, and received their due reward.

It was also interesting to be reminded of Elijah’s trials, since we’re studying this prophet’s life in Konos at the moment. In fact, we’ve just covered that very bit about the prophets of Baal being destroyed and we’re heading towards Elijah’s flight to the desert. When all the messages from all the channels say the same thing, you can be sure God’s got a lesson in there for you. What is this one? Well, I suppose it’s trust.

As I was trying to get through the appropriate amount of educational material today, while juggling some perilously late deadlines, I began to spin into my panic-mode: we’re only studying Elijah. We’re not doing any contemporary history, geography, science … I’m not giving my kids what they need! I’m a terrible mother – and everything else. AAaarrghh!

I took a step back.

I returned to the Konos resource material and saw that we’re about to start a unit full of geography, history and science. I remembered that this week the girls presented some of their own parables: allegories for Christian living today. The metaphors were rich, detailed, accurate and full of scripture. What a blessing! Who really even needs history or geography when you have a living relationship with the One who made and owns the mountains, who was there for all the history?

When I have a chance, I’ll transcribe and share their beautiful parables, but just for today I take comfort in the fact that they are getting what they need: they’re getting Life.

Science this week.

"Waterfall" - M.C. Escher

"Waterfall" - M.C. Escher

Well, we’re still working through Trust. Today we were concentrating on optical illusions (which we also touched on in the “Eyesight” section of Attentiveness). We studied the works of Escher and Salvador Dali, which are so mind boggling and fascinating. I love being able to share these great works of art with the girls, and I love having access to the Internet, which makes it so easy to achieve this sharing of knowledge.

We also created a thaumatrope. Ever heard of one? It’s pretty interesting, and at first it completely failed (as my science experiments tend to do), which was disappointing. However, once again the Internet came to the rescue. I found this website, which gave us an explanation of thaumatropes that we could understand, some simple experiments, and a shorty video tutorial.

We also found this website, with a list of animated GIFs, which perform the same illusion as the hard copy thaumatropes we made, but with fewer human errors. 🙂 . Random Motion was very useful in its definition and experiments, which even I managed eventually.

Thaumatrope demonstration

Thaumatrope demonstration

Thaumatrope: n.

The thaumatrope was invented in the 1820s and it proved the phenomena of persistence of vision. The word “thaumatrope” has Greek roots. “Thauma” means magic in Greek and “trope” refers to something that turns. The thaumatrope is somewhat magical because it creates illusions dependent on persistence of vision.

And finally, DH came home and did his Daddy-trick, in which he just looks at a science-y thing and it works. So all of our thaumatropes worked and the girls had a good idea of how easily the eyes can be deceived. A good day for science and discernment, methinks.

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