Thank you

One of the predictable patterns my family practices is to have thankful time at dinner. This gives each of us a chance to express something we are thankful for today.  

Having three small ones around the table usually means:

1. I forgot to clean and sweep the remains of yesterday’s meal off the table and floor

2. Someone has already pushed another out of their chair. Because yes, you can own a uniform dining room chair. 

3. I am grumpy-tired and have already had to apologize for griping. 

It seems like pausing to tell someone thank you would be off key with the tune of complaints gripes and worries. 

I heard someone say “thankfulness and anxiety cannot occupy the same space”. One will have to yeild as the other moves into your mind. In the past I told God thank you for something because I

1. Didn’t want to appear ungrateful 

2. Wanted to keep good things coming at me. Ha, because God’s love language is words of affirmation. 

3. … I don’t know. What if I’m not sincerely thankful?

Here’s the big idea. Thankfulness when expressed to me usually helps me understand what is appreciated from my actions. And honestly, people forgot to say thank you all the time but I won’t stop doing good. It feels good to receive thanks. However, God telling us to “be thankful always” is not because he needs to know what we appreciate-it is to help us. Thankfulness will displace anxiety! Try it!

Pause now and express what you are thankful for. Imagine thankfulness as away of preventing worries. It is the being thankful that helps. Regardless of where to to whom it is directed. It benefits the giver more than the receiver. 

Now that is something to be thankful for. 

Insight from without 

When you can’t find within what you need, realize this is a lesson in trust. Reach out. Someone has something you need to hear because God is moving us from isolation into trust. 

Here are some morsels of wisdom i needed to hear over the last week, where I encountered a situation where my fears slowly rose over my head. If you have ever had to breathe in fear, you know the quickest place you want to get to is Relief. 
However, I have learned to move in the direction of my fears. Jesus calls from the other side of them. Even though, I can receive help along the way to winning the game. 

Some much needed solace from friends. 

-I’ve been there many times…and I’ve had to resolve to be broken to receive the blessing. –
-He has been Giving you what you need up until this point. Even though you’ve taken a wrong turn here and there it’s never been to complete and utter destruction and he has taught you lessons through it-

-Thanks for being honest and sharing all of that. Since we’re being honest I’ve been wondering and questioning why…-

-Truth sets you free-

-Beware of posing as a profound person: even God became a baby-

-You have what it takes because God’s Spirit is in you.-

Stands with a Fist

standswithafist

Welcome to my first guest blogger, my wife Ellen. Enjoy her thoughts!

I may not be the best writer but I want to be an honest writer

specially when conveying my thoughts on a particular topic that is dear to my heart. My hope is that this is a testament to how marriage can work even when things are stacked against you. When my husband and I started dating, we dated for merely two weeks and then decided to get married and then was engaged for six months and then married. After we were married for a couple of years, our pastor had made a comment saying that he didn’t think we would last because I am so black-and-white and my husband Jon is so flowery and emotional. We were given advice on how I need to become softer and how he needed to step up and be more masculine (whatever that means).

Well, I know what that meant. You see, my experience in the Christian world taught me that women are  like a wine glass or a champagne glass – very delicate and fragile – and men are supposed to be more like a beer mug, sturdy and useful. With that kind of imagery, I want you to understand that my goal is to be truthful and honest. I have lost many friends in my life due to my abrasive and blunt responses. My lack of sensitivity has gotten me into a lot of trouble. But if one were talking to me, they would never describe me as a fragile wine glass. I am one who knows my shortcomings and I tried so hard to fit into this Christian mold of a housewife who is always constantly supporting her husband and being his “helpmate”.

After having kids I admit that I have softened a little and learned  to grace my words with gentleness — some. However, inside I could never feel right.

I felt constant tension between my cultural Christian surroundings and the depression I was sinking into, knowing I could never live up to the social pressure of being a ministry wife.

I was told by leadership in the church that I should not hinder my husband’s calling in life and be supportive. He was juggling a 60 hour work week, worship team and youth group. I was left at home with the kids with nap times and feedings and all of the stuff that comes along with raising children. Don’t get me wrong, it was having children that saved my me. They gave me something to do and wake up for in the morning, or at least they woke me up in the morning. It’s safe to say though, if I had not had them, I would have left my marriage being bored of sitting on the sidelines and watching my husband fulfill his dreams. Then I would’ve gone to some jungle with a machete, collecting fruit with the natives or some other crazy adventure.

One day we looked at each other and decided it was time to get out, so we moved to Virginia. To some people, it may have seemed very whimsical, but to us it was what saved us. We took all of our problems with us and I took all of my struggles with being a wife, a mom and a Christian woman with me. But what moving did was help us slow down to really learn and understand each other. Jon, being very supportive great man that he is, took the time to research and try to understand about personality in order to help me.

I was in a very deep depression over the last few years. I never had needed medication, however I was starting to develop many physical ailments that go along with depression and it was beginning to complicate our marriage. We had stopped everything when we move to Virginia meaning all of the extra things, all of the church things that we were doing. In his searching for answers, Jon found typology and discovered that I am an ISTP. Now,  I’m not going to go into what that means but I will tell you that only about 2.5% of the population in the world is an ISTP female. I lead with a very strong thinking process and where all of my feelings in the backseat which would account for why I’m perceived as so abrasive and black and white about things. What encouraged me the most was Jon’s willingness to learn about me so that he could help.

After we made this discovery, we slowly have been adjusting our lifestyle to accommodate less what culturally is OK for Christian women and started to take in account who we are as people. My duties as a woman moved out of the home and in to the workforce. Even though I’m still discovering where my gifting and strengths lie, I know that this has made me a healthier person. Without a willingness to discover new things and discover answers to old problems, we would’ve stayed stuck on a path that neither of us was enjoying. My encouragement is to take the time to learn who your spouse is. Do not just follow the superficial cultural norms of marriage. To me that is just the easy way out, but to sit down and have a discovery talk with your spouse. Learn each other. There is no template just raw human individuals that need to be discovered and loved.

What do you think? In what new ways have you answered old problems? Are you feeling stuck? Tell me how you are enjoying your life today.

 

Going in circles?


Reminder for this week, life can seem off balance if you are. Email me at jonathan.hardin.82@gmail.com for a educational session on how your mind works.
45 minute phone call with me and I can show you how to use your minds best tools at learning information and making decisions. It’s good for understanding yourself and how you relate to the world around you. 

You will be satisfied when you learn something about yourself. Have a good day!

Murky waters


I hope you have had the experience of fishing for Crayfish, also known as crawfish, crawdads, freshwater lobsters, mountain lobsters, or mudbugs. If not, then know that it’s a wonderful experience, especially with little ones rooting for you to fight away the pinchers and collect the prize.

The hunt all started with my family stream walking, dipping our feet in a cool riverbed in the middle of summer. It wasn’t long before I sensed some curious pinches grasping for my toes. Soon, all of the kids were gathered around the shore to spot the little monster lobsters darting around underneath the glassy pool.

One thing we learned quickly is that it is impossible to catch crawfish with your hands unless the water is clear. It would go like this, we would spot one, slowly gain ground towards it, reach in and snatch them up. (No, we didn’t eat them, but later returned them to their home). Although, I totally can dig into Louisiana style boiled crawfish, shrimp, potatoes, corn on the cob with a couple ice cold beers holding out in the cooler. That’s summertime.

This is what I learned. We could never see the little critters unless we waited for the muddy water to rest and become clear. The restful period of waiting was important and if we got impatient and stirred the waters too early, only murky water could we reach into blindly.

 

 

The rest. The active anticipation. The calm. All of it made the successful catch possible. And it was the stirring and the hunt which created the opportunity for rest possible. 

 

We live between the balance between work and rest, activity and stillness, sabbath and toil. Both are required to produce things we long for; peace, contentment and joy.

What about you? Are you experiencing clarity? Then go for it! Reach into the cold spring waters and succeed! Are you attempting to peer through murky waters? Rest. Allow the clarity to come as you remain still. Nothing else needs to be done but wait patiently for the murky waters to become clear.

I’m currently enjoying a good read:

The Sabbath by Wayne Muller. 

 

Seasons

Photo cred: Calie Garret
Lately I have been thinking a lot about seasons and their purpose. When we talk about seasons, we refer to the leaves blooming flowers, changing color, and falling off, leaving their home to rest into the dirt beneath. 

Really, it’s the cycle that we are taking about. There are a lot of effective ways to communicate life using circles. One of my favorite is the circle of continuous breakthrough referenced in Mike Breen’s book Choosing to Learn from Life 

What I like about this model is that we can learn from our moments, in almost a post game Conferance sort of way, where we can observe, reflect, discuss our actions in order to learn from them. 

Of course, this means we have to be willing for the next opportunity before we can choose to grow. Rather than simply correcting a mistake, error, or undesirable I observe, life requires patience from me as I wait for that moment, or season to come around again so I can arrive with a new skill set, alternate mindset to change my behavior. 

Train stations, harvest time, full moons, meteor showers, hunting deer, open enrollment, most of our life involves taking the opportunity to better yourself or to wait until the next opportunity comes around. 

Patience and understanding yourself brings the preparation necessary for me to grow into a better version of myself, all the while I am waiting for the season to arrive. 

And I think that’s what we can become more skilled in doing: waiting actively. Waiting, not in an idle way, but purposeful, intentional, understanding this: that the universe operates in seasons and so should we. 

So, here’s to your season! 

Motivational Wednesday 

Check out Zach Anner!

I watched the video (see below) with my 3 kids, 6 5 & 2 years old. 
Some of the comments they made, 

Wow, he talks a lot” (the video is spliced “vine style”. 

Why can’t he stand?” (he has muscular dystrophy)

I can do that on the monkey bars!“(Zach performed pull ups in the video)

Of course, immediately after this I set up my pull up bar and my son goes to work on his pull ups. 

What I notice in watching this video with my kids is that they are not afraid to ask awkward questions, and they really aren’t afraid to upset anyone with their comments. 

We watched a video of Zach Anner climbing steps in a blue shirt. Zach mentioned something about “the white guy” and my son commented, “and he’s the blue guy”, referring to the most distinguishing point about a guy with muscular dystrophy climbing stairs — his t shirt color. 

I’m not sure if this incriminates me as a parent, but hey, I’m just along for the ride. I love hearing my kids unfiltered comments to the world around them, and they provide for me a refreshing sense of wonder. 

Don’t quit!

When life keeps you stuck in a rut, when you can’t move forward, when you’re cramped in the inferior, when time and space get you down, do what you do best:
Make it authentic

Make it harmonious 

Make it effective

Make it logical
Shift your perspective

Redefine your memories 

Be sensational

Keep exploring

Friends let friends be themselves

imageI would have to say that today I’m thankful for the friends in my life who give me space to be myself.

I notice that the things I’m the most insecure about in myself particularly my ability to get things done on time, is where I need someone to hold space and give grace.

Being myself, in the case, would mean that when making decisions, I allow myself the slow process of filtering through my values until I know, deep in my core, what is the right thing to do.

The picture I get in my mind is tracing a group of tangled cables all the way back to a power source. At this point, I can reassure myself that if I make a decision (pull the plug) that it is not going to shut power down to a vital motivation in my heart.

Does this sound complicated? It is! But along with mastering this decision making process comes some of the most beautiful art and expression of humanity since it is so in touch with the core values of the person.

How do you make decisions? What process do you go through? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Process and the Outcome

I have been making honey mead, the ancient honey wine, referenced in The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkein;

“They sat long at the table with their wooden drinking-bowls filled with mead. The dark night came on outside.
 ♦♦♦ ♦♦♦
At last Gandalf pushed away his plate and jug – he had eaten two whole loaves (with masses of butter and honey and clotted cream) and drunk at least a quart of mead – and he took out his pipe. “I will answer the second question first,” he said “- but bless me! This is a splendid place for smoke rings!”

There is so much information on how to make honey mead, something simple enough to make in simpler times, oldest records suggesting 4000 BC. However, after wading through so much information, I realized that I simply wanted to make something ancient, yet useful for modern drink. My value that I wanted to honor was creativity. We as humans, are created to create, and simply buying alcohol wasn’t enough to satisfy my need for creativity. 

So, I relaxed from the data long enough to get into creative flow. I made plenty of mistakes and had to throw away two batches and one broken glass carboy, but 3 months later, I succeeded in enjoying the sweet nectar of the gods-honey mead. Creativity and success was allowed to happen once I began the process, riddled woth lessons and mistakes along the way. The outcome became not nearly as important as the process. 

Of course, all of this outcome tastes amazing, thanks to the process!