Please note that all posts are copyright. Do not reprint in whole or in part without permission of the author. You may refer to one of my posts in your own writing; simply include the link(s) so readers can be taken directly to my work. Thank you, and enjoy! ~Susan

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

6 Words

The last Wednesday of every month, Eli compiles a post inspired by Ernest Hemingway, who said any story can be told in six words. Eli asks bloggers, friends, strangers, and a few strange blogger friends to respond to a prompt. This month the prompt is "June is National Safety Month. Tell us about something you did decidedly unsafe...It could be from any time in your life." You can check out the responses (including mine, #18) here (shhh, don't tell my kids - or my mother!). Have a look, then let me know what your answer would be. In six words, of course.

Monday, 27 June 2016

Intentional Parenting, Part 3

Today I'm taking a departure from the format of the last couple of weeks on this subject and borrowing The Christian Parents' Pledge from V. Gilbert Beers. This is copyrighted material, but free to distribute in non-profit ways.

10 simple daily commitments that will revolutionize families and the world. Parenting is an "each day" activity - each day that is lost is lost forever, each day gained is forever too!


With God's help, and to the best of my abilities, motivated by joy and not guilt, I will seek to do each of the following.

1. EACH DAY, I will spend at least as much time with my child as I do with my TV.

2. EACH DAY, I will share at least one fun-filled learning experience with my child.

3. EACH DAY, I will affirm my child as a person.

4. EACH DAY, I will affirm my  mate (if I am married) or a significant other in my child's life (if I am not married) in the presence of my child.

5. EACH DAY, I will affirm my Lord (praise Him, thank Him, honor Him) in the presence of my child.

6. EACH DAY, I will say "I love you" to my child.

7. EACH DAY, I will make one truth from God's Word the delight of my child's life.

8. EACH DAY, I will pray for my child by name.

9. EACH DAY, I will read something to my child that will build his/her love for the Lord and the joy of reading.

10. EACH DAY, I will help my child feel the warmth of my personal presence - a hug, a kiss, sitting on my lap.

[For myself I have not done these perfectly each day, and perfection is not the goal, since that will inevitably lead to guilt. But I think these are great principles and worth striving for. As long as your children are at home, it's never too late to start! Why not post these somewhere to remind yourself often of your daily 'commitments'?] 

If you missed week one of Intentional Parenting, click here.
If you missed week two, click here.

Have a blessed week!

Friday, 24 June 2016

Flashback Friday

Proud great-grandpa to my daughter
Today we go back to October 18, 2010 for this post from my old blog. I thought it was appropriate in Father's Day month:
I've mentioned before that I try to keep my grandfather's memory alive by frequently incorporating his sayings into my speech, but this weekend I also found myself acting in ways that he would act. Yesterday our family took a Sunday drive to see some fall colour. We wound up at a conservation area where lots of other people had obviously had the same idea. And that's where it all started.

A group of people carrying coolers and picnic supplies walked down the path toward us. Further along, a man who was obviously one of their party, hurried along carrying a crock pot. "What's for lunch?" I sang out. After he recovered from my unexpected and startling question - how many strangers even speak to one another these days? - he laughed and went on.

We hadn't come entirely prepared for our drive - had stopped for lunch along the way, but had no liquid to take on our hike and were soon feeling parched. I asked a returning walker if she had a water bottle to spare as we headed out. She didn't, but offered us an apple juice box, which I accepted with thanks. I'd given to a stranger on the street the day before, so I didn't feel too badly about seeking assistance in staving off our own dehydration.

Later, as we huffed and puffed toward a scenic lookout, I saw a woman approach. She looked pained and strained from the effort of her exertion, but was holding a coffee cup. "Oh, good," I quipped as she drew near, "There's a Timmies at the end." Her expression changed for the better immediately as she laughed in response.

This morning I had to drop my car off at the shop. I was either going to have to ask the mechanic for a drive home, which he's given me before, or hoof it back myself. It was a nippy morning, so I didn't really look forward to walking, especially through the industrial area. A woman and her husband were dropping their car off at the same time, so I asked if they'd mind my hitching a ride partway back with them. I could easily walk the rest of the way from the main intersection. No problem, they said. I never do that, but they looked like nice people, so I took the chance. We had an enjoyable conversation en route and they ended up driving me all the way home.

That's the kind of thing my grandfather would do all the time - engage people, speak to random strangers, make them laugh, ask for and offer help. And in doing it myself, I can see the benefits - not just for others, but for oneself. It's fun, it often doesn't cost any money, and everyone feels better in the end. In lieu of having my grandfather here, I'm glad to see that he hasn't entirely "left the building." In fact, the people you love are never gone as long as you remember them and live their best qualities. So I am happy to be, in some small way, my own grandpa. 

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Interlibrary Loan

Like many libraries, if not most, ours offers an interlibrary loan service for those books we don’t own. That is, if a customer wants a book that is at least one year old, and we don’t keep it in our system, we will search for a copy to borrow from a location outside our area.

One customer clearly didn’t quite understand how it worked. I received this call:

Customer: Hello, I’d like to borrow x title through interlibrary loan. It’s available at y library (he named a mega system).

After checking the title to make sure it wasn’t in our collection, I looked at the interlibrary loan database for an owning location. The only one listed was the one he’d identified, but their copy was reference – for use in library only.

Me: I’m sorry; I don’t know if we’ll be able to get that for you. It’s reference. Even if they send it to us, you’ll have to use it in the library here.

Customer: I need to be able to take it home with me.

Me: It’s not possible. It’s for in library use only.

Customer: I know they won’t let me take it out from y library, but if they send it to you, I’ll come and get it.

Me: (Huh?) That’s what I’m saying. Reference material can’t leave the library, no matter which library has possession of it. Where are you calling from?

The customer identified himself as a resident of the city in which y library was located.

Me: Do you attend school in our area? Do you have one of our library cards?

Customer: No.

Oy, vey!! Take two get-with-it pills and don’t call me in the morning!

The customer gives even this little girl a headache!!

Monday, 20 June 2016

Intentional Parenting, 2

Today I share part two of a multi-post series on parenting. Feel free to use whatever seems appropriate for you and your family. And I’ll reiterate: no guarantees for perfect results are assumed or offered. Sometimes parents do ‘everything’ right and still run into problems; sometimes they make a mess of things and still wind up with pretty decent ‘kids.’ There are so many variables, it would be impossible to list them all. But I still believe there’s value in being intentional, so that at least you do the best you possibly can. Remember, if you aim for nothing, you’ll hit it every time.
In case you missed the comments of reader TamaraNarayan last week, I’m going to expand on a couple of points she made. She said:

If I could go back and do things over, I would start the habit of chores early when cleaning and sorting is fun... I'd also not buy them iPad minis. They spend too much time staring at these screens or the TV. I'd encourage more physical activities as well.

Amen to those points!
1. Do not be afraid to start your children on chores from the get-go, doing what they are capable of at particular ages and stages. This will develop good habits in them, and all benefit from being given responsibility. It seems today that we expect very little from our kids, and therefore we get very little. Show your children that you believe in them and they will surprise you with what they can do.

Some may think that you are being too hard on your children by ‘demanding’ work from them, that you are in some way robbing them of their childhood. The fact is, you are giving your children a good work ethic that will stand them in good stead all their days, and you are enabling the family to have more quality time together. I mean, the work has to get done, and if you and your spouse have to spend all your time doing chores and picking up, not just after yourselves but everyone else, the opportunities for fun outings/activities that bond family members together will shrivel up.

People say that house cleaning will always be there, enjoy your kids while they’re still young and under your roof, and there’s some truth to that, but let’s face it, if nothing else, you need clean clothes to wear and clean dishes to eat off of. There are certain aspects of even these basic chores that your children can do. 

Child washing dishes = YES!
2. Okay, moving on to technology. I agree. Even though we live in an increasingly technologically-based world, the iPads, the mobile phones, the video games, etc., are changing – in positive and negative ways - how people think and interact. There are complete volumes devoted to this topic (just visit your local library or go on Good Reads), so I hope not to write a book here. 

Involve your children in physical activities, whether it’s team sports that teach things like how to work together on a common goal (pun intended), individual sports like golf and judo that focus on personal growth and build discipline, or family-oriented activities that build memories and provide opportunities for meaningful conversations (e.g. hiking, fishing, etc.). If I had it back, there would be no Nintendo or X-Box, and the only screen would be the TV for watching movies as a family, with lively discussion afterwards. 

Child glued to screen does not equal pretty picture
I know, kids will whine if they don’t have access to the same sorts of things their friends have, but you know what is best for your children and for your relationship with them. It’s easier to give in, but don’t. Just breathe, grit your teeth (if you have to) and say calmly, “in our family, we put the priority on face-to-face interactions,’ or however you care to phrase it. The outcome will be its own reward, though you may have to wait!

3. I’ll likely bring up prayer in every one of these posts because I feel it is so foundational to successful living, not just parenting. I know the Bible talks about going into your prayer closet and being alone with God, but your children should also see you praying and not just hear you talking about it. This models the prayer life for them and gives them an idea of the kinds of things they can talk to God about (everything!). Let them see that prayer is not like putting a coin in a vending machine and asking God for things, but that in addition to making your requests known, you use prayer to praise God for who He is, to thank Him for what He has done and is doing, and to confess your sins and mistakes, with an attitude of repentance. Encourage them in their own daily prayers, and let them know that any time is a good time to go to God. He wants to hear from us.

Ixnay on the vending machine approach!

The best picture! A praying child. Courtesy of Steve Evans from Citizen of the World

Friday, 17 June 2016

Dear Friday

It's been a while since I've posted on the subject of gratitude. Not because I haven't had much to be thankful for, but because I took so long to get through the A-Z Blogging Challenge
So, with due respect to Arlee (LOL), I'm first of all thankful that this year's A-Z is behind me! 

I'm also thankful that my mom's Echo cardiogram and EKG tests showed no damage to her valves or heart function. She still has to have a stress (treadmill) test this Friday, but if the results of that are confirming, it should put her mind (and heart!) at ease.

I am going through some personal stuff, so I am majorly grateful that God never leaves me and walks alongside me, both on the mountaintop and in the valley. He is faithful and gives me the strength I need. He comforts me and gives me peace when I would otherwise be stressed and anxious. These are not easy days, but because of our relationship, I have hope, knowing that He will complete the good work He began (Philippians 1:6), and that He is working all things together for good (Romans 8:28). Without His presence and promises I don't know how I would get through life.

Sometimes we can take friends for granted, but when we're faced with trials, we learn just how much we need them. I so appreciate the circle of people I can count on to pray with and for me. Their prayers are kept in golden bowls in Heaven  (Revelation 5:8) and treasured in my heart.

And God knows exactly what we need - whether it's the prayers of a friend or a message from His Word or to be blessed by a song. I didn't know it at the time, but the studies we did in our life group this year were preparing me for right now. So grateful for my life group leader's sensitivity to the direction of the Holy Spirit when she chooses the lessons we'll be learning. It was in this way that I was introduced to Jim Cymbala's books on prayer and faith, which have touched and grown me these last few months.

May God bless you today, as I know He is blessing me. In the challenges of life, He strengthens trust and faith. There are things we need to learn, sometimes hard things, but He never leaves us on our own.


Thursday, 16 June 2016

Friendship Thursday

Since I'm just getting back into the swing of my usual blog schedule, I'll keep today's post relatively short and share a couple of friendship-related sites I've recently discovered. Please note that I have no personal experience with any of the associated programs, so you will have to do your own due diligence.

1. The Friendship Force - bringing "diverse people together to share one-of-a-kind experiences not available to regular tourists." 

2. The Friendship Page -  "devoted to celebrating friendship and peace."

And here's a site I'm more familiar with:

3. Meet-up -  "neighbors getting together to learn something, do something, share something." My husband and I actually met and are building a friendship with another couple through a local hiking meet-up. Yay!

Are there any friendship sites you'd like to let us know about? 

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

One-Off Wednesday

We lend energy 'kits' at our library, which allow customers to monitor energy usage in their homes and assess where savings may be found. Recently I had a customer ask about the whereabouts of one of these kits, and showed her where she could find it on our shelves.

Now, you need to understand that the kits consist of several parts: two energy meters, a power cost monitor set (all three in their own boxes), a CD, brochure, and folder with various documents. These are all contained within a larger Rubbermaid-type tote. 

The customer went off with the tote to look over the contents and returned a little while later, looking quite satisfied. "I managed to get everything into my backpack," she said. "What do you want me to do with the container?"

Um, "you can't take the stuff out of the tote; you have to take everything with you when you sign it out," I explained, quickly wiping the pleased expression from her face.

"I can't carry the whole thing!" she said. "I'm on a bicycle!"

It's a shame her bike didn't have one of these:


Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Book Review: The Girl in the Song

Author: Chrissy Cymbala Toledo
Publisher: Tyndale, 2015
Genre: memoir, Christian

First Lines:

From the prologue:

I didn’t want to look in the mirror – I loathed the person who stared back. She was selfish and ungrateful and had blown it over and over again. Her decisions over these past years had created a deep crevasse between her and the people who loved her.
Will there ever peace between us again? I wondered.

Goodreads Description

Chrissy grew up surrounded by the beauty of love and the ugliness of pain. The daughter of a pastor whose church was located in a rough-and-tumble area of Brooklyn, she witnessed the ravaging effects of the streets on the lives of the most desperate—drug addicts, derelicts, and other destitute people. Yet her own home was a haven of warmth, filled with affection and love.

Then something happened that tore her away from it. With the flip of a switch, Chrissy fell deeper and deeper into deception where haunting images and songs pointed to one thing—perfection. Longing to be the girl in the song, she became entangled in an obsessive relationship. Before long, secret after secret led her down the path to becoming someone she didn’t even recognize. Locked in to an impossible life, Chrissy found release from a surprising direction.

Girl in the Song tells the gripping, true story of a young woman whose choices led her to despair and incredible triumph. More than the story of one lost girl, Chrissy’s experience points to the power of hope to lead us away from destructive relationships and into a life that just might end happily ever after.

My Review:

After reading several of Jim Cymbala’s books this year and doing one of his DVD teaching series, I was interested in knowing more about the story of his daughter, Chrissy. In what way had she turned her back on faith and family, and what form had her rebellion taken? More importantly, what was the story of her journey back to God after years of being separated from Him?

Girl in the Song tells Chrissy’s story in her own words and is powerful demonstration of God’s redeeming grace in a person’s life. As Chrissy shares what led her down the wrong path, many will be able to relate: the desire to be seen as beautiful, to be wanted, to belong are powerful drives. Coupled with the harbouring of secret thoughts and actions, these desires can be dangerous, destructive and deadly. As Chrissy engaged in repeated habitual sins, there were times when I wanted to shake her. Other times I recognized the futility we shared.

Chrissy was blessed to be part of a loving, caring family and to have supports waiting for her when she finally decided she was ready to change. Today she lives an amazing life as a wife, mother, and choir director. She hopes that sharing her story here will help other girls who may feel as she did.

Highly recommended for both teens and parents of teens/young adults, especially those who are Christian.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars