Wednesday, April 29, 2015

What Values Are You Passing on to Your Children?

A couple of years ago I read an article in the New York Times called Stories That Bind Us by Bruce Feiler. Strong families have a strong narrative. Did your parents and grandparents tell you their stories? What are your family tales of struggle, success, and fun? Do you share them with your children? We can find our way along the path of life if we know what's happened on the road in the past.

My great great grandfather came to the United States from Denmark. He was a wealthy dairyman who sold his possessions to emigrate. The story is told of his generosity in helping others come to this country who couldn't afford the passage.

My great grandmother married and settled in a small town in rural Idaho. She became a midwife and helped mothers all over the county give birth.

My grandmother was widowed at a young age. She found employment as a social worker even before such government agencies became well established.


My mother was also widowed when I was a small child. She went back to school, earned a PhD, and taught at a university, helping many of her students find a better life and launch their own careers.

After our children were all in school, I became licensed as  Marriage and Family Therapist, establishing a large practice in Las Vegas. I worked with families of all shapes and sizes.
Each of our children has followed a different career path: a math teacher, a baker, a kindergarten teacher, a librarian, a salesman, and an artist.
But all their paths contain the gift of service to others. This way was firmly established for all of us by our great great grandfather, and has come down through the ages as a mantra for all of us because of our family stories.
What are your family stories?

Talk about the strengths, the struggles, and the triumphs you and your family have experienced. Stories are your path to wholeness. If you see your stories as tales of failure, look more closely and find the courage and hidden valor of your ancestors. They are there.

Happy story telling!

Here's a link to the entire New York Times article.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Roses, an Expression of Love

Roses, a Connection to the Past, an Expression of Love, and a Conduit to the Future.

Springtime always reminds me of my grandmother. I can see her pruning and spading the rose garden. She loved to plant little annuals to highlight the roses along the edge of the flowerbed. My mother had care of the roses after my grandmother was gone.  She spent hours, making sure the mulch and fertilizer were perfect for producing large blooms. Now it's my turn to nurture the rose bed.

I feel a bond with the past as I turn over the rich black soil. It's as if I know my place in the world—I'm a link in the chain to my past.

My children and grandchildren love the rose garden. When they visit, we take time to examine each flower and admire the shape, color, and smell. 

The families that live close keeps fresh roses from the garden in their homes all summer long, whether early or late in the season.

Who will care for the roses in the future? That's still up in the air, but it will happen the way it's supposed to happen. Another link will add itself to the chain.

In our family roses are a connection to the past, an expression of love, and a conduit to the future. 

What outward extension of love do you have in your family that creates the generational chain?

Friday, March 20, 2015


Learning to trust is one of life's most difficult tasks. Isaac Watts

Trust of Self

How many times a day do I doubt my abilities? I stop my negative thinking and put a positive statement in my head, and then a short time later an unwanted negative slips in and I have to repeat the process all over again.

Each time I face myself, I grow stronger.

 Trust of Others

I trust some of my family and some of my friends.  If they have good things to say about others, they will be positive about me. Those are the people I can share with.

I have learned to teach others how to earn my trust. If I feel hurt or betrayed by someone, we talk it over. If they listen and respect my boundaries, we will build trust in each other.

 Each time I face others, I grow stronger.

Trust in God

Sometimes I pray in desperation for blessings from my Father in Heaven. As time goes by, my desperation is replaced by the faith that I had forgotten for the moment. I know God  will bless me.

Proverbs 3: 5 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
6  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

 Each time I face God, I grow stronger.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Be Grateful for Small Daily Miracles

Sometimes I go rushing around through life, exasperated that I have so much to do and so little time to do it. At the end of the day I'm irritable, exhausted, and feeling depressed.

What to do about it?
How do I improve my quality of life?

Every morning when I get out of bed, I take a few minutes to give thanks the small miracles of my life.

Health: I breathe in and out, and I'm grateful for healthy lungs.

Light: I feel the warmth of the sun streaming in my bedroom window, and I'm grateful for light.

Service: A dear friend—an older lady—passed away. I knew and loved her for many years. The person from our church who usually made arrangements for the funeral luncheons was out of town, and I was asked to take care of the details. God knew how much I loved this dear departed friend, so He allowed me to serve her this one last time at her passing.

Friendship: A lady came up to me at a book signing last week and said I looked familiar. I recognized her as a co-worker from twenty years ago. We rekindled our friendship and enjoyed getting reacquainted. The blessings of friendship are all around us if we look.

Love from the past: I received an old letter yesterday saved by a family member. It was written by my grandmother at the time of my father's death over sixty years ago. I was a small child at the time of his passing so I was grateful to receive the details of the events surrounding his death. I'm thankful that my grandmother took time to write the details so many years ago.

Love from the present: My granddaughter sat on the grass and read a book yesterday.

Find the small miracles in your life. Give thanks for them. 

Daily gratitude enhances and enriches all our lives.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Give Your Kids the Gift of Love

February is the month of Love. Valentine's Day can last all month if we let it. Love in the family can be the greatest. Joy comes as we watch our children grow and develop. 

Let's look at our family and refocus our lives to set goals to help our family become a little better than we are now—to become our very best.

1.                  As parents, plan what you want to teach your children.
2.                  Set a goal to help each of them become their best.
3.                  Plan activities to accomplish your objectives
4.                  Hold family meetings to create an atmosphere of open communication.
5.                  Highlight the good in your children at these family meetings.

Here are some fun ideas that will help your kids know they are awesome.

1.         Create a "Guess Who" game for your family night. Post clues around the house during the week to keep everyone excited. Give little known facts about the person—good things they have done and service they have rendered. At the end of the week at your family meeting, share the things everyone knows about the person being highlighted. Fix their favorite dessert and play a game of their choice. Plant a tree or some flowers in honor of this family member. Have several "Guess Who" nights until you have highlighted everyone and have a garden that includes the entire family—even the family pets if you wish.

2.         Hold a "Secret Pal" activity for the week. Put everyone's name in a hat and draw names.

Each person must keep the name they draw a secret and do special things for them. During the week they can:
            Make little surprises
            Perform an act of service
            Do one of their family chores
            Be extra nice to them
            Anything they choose

At the end of the week hold a family party, give your Secret Pal a small gift, and play some games. It's also fun to ask each family member what they learned during the week and what their favorite part of the activity was.
3.         Give a family night lesson on service to others. Plan a "Caught You Being Good" activity for the week.

 Make up your own rules. For instance, everyone can put a post-it note in a jar when they see someone doing a kindness of another family member. At the end of the week hold an activity of your choice. Talk about what service means to each person and what they learned during the week.

Create your own games and learning activities. Choose what is best for your family. 

There are more ideas in Family Talk, How to Organize Family Meeting to Solve Problems and Strengthen Relationships by Christy Monson.
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