Posts

Love: How Do You Give it? Are You Getting Enough?

How do you show love? Do you demonstrate love to strangers or reserve it for only those you know well? I believe love is impossible to truly give away in and of ourselves…without God putting it in us. God sees things through a uniquely filtered lens. He loves us with, in spite of, and sometimes because of our peculiar (even malodorous) flaws. By ourselves, we tend to have “loving feelings” toward those who are nice to us, look OK and don’t smell too bad. Fortunately for all of us, the Lord doesn’t have those prerequisites.

I don’t have a problem showing my family and loved ones how much they mean to me (most of the time). I make it a point to demonstrate love to strangers by noticing something special and then mentioning it to them. “You have such pretty eyes” or “what good insight you have.” I’m always a little stunned by how deeply most people are moved and how much it builds them up to hear a positive word from an unexpected source. How many times have you noticed something admirable in a stranger but didn’t voice it?

A friend recently told me she makes it a point to compliment at least one total stranger every day. That is such an easy goal, but one that can truly enhance someone’s life. A kind word, based on intentionally kind thinking, changes things for the giver as well as the receiver.

There is a movie produced about 20 years ago called “Pay it Forward.” The idea being that when someone does something nice for you (especially when it isn’t earned or deserved) that instead of paying back the kindness, you pay it forward to another unsuspecting/undeserving person. What a wonderful way to show love.

The hardest time for any of us to let the love flow is when it’s directed at someone we don’t really like too much. Yeah, yeah, that’s not very nice of me, but if we’re honest we all have those people in our lives. The most we can do in our own power is to tolerate, not love, in that circumstance. When we tap into God’s pure love and attempt to give that away, our actions transcend toleration and become sacrificial acts of honest love. Again—there is great reward for both the giver and receiver. And it’s not optional. 1st John 4:8 says, “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.”

Are you able to look for ways to show love? Do you wait for opportunities you happen on to or do you store it up and only lavish it on those that fit the emotional criteria? The way you give it is probably the way you receive it. So another way to measure this could be: Are you getting all the love you need in the fullest measure? Remember, it’s impossible to have contentment without love.

Christmas Frame of Mind

Reblogged from Words in High Def 

You might just say that I’m a Christmas junkie. My parents got me hooked as a toddler and my addiction never subsided. Growing up, our little home was decorated to the fullest extent of its capacity with shiny, colorful ornaments. The anticipation for The Big Day was perpetuated by my mom, who loved Christmas as much as any little kid.

Admittedly, there was probably more focus on the secular “fun” side of this holy day than there should have been, but we never forgot the significance or the reason all this was happening.

When I became a mom, my husband and I continued the thrill of the season with our own kids. (I will confess that he mostly goes-along-to–get-along and doesn’t get the holiday high that I do.) When our kids were five and two, we bought a commercial swing set (like they use in public parks). My husband assembled the slide in our little living room. It was corner-to-corner, floor to ceiling. The kids marveled that Santa magically got it in our house. (He had to take it down and re-assemble in the back yard later that day.) The moment was worth all his effort…at least to me!

One year we got a kitten. Keeping her quiet in our bathroom all night was quite a task. We opened all our gifts, then announced there was one more we’d forgotten. He ran in the bathroom and put her in a wrapped box. The kids were overjoyed!

We go caroling around the neighborhood, bake cookies, and have a party with friends and neighbors. We video record opening gifts in the morning, then watch old family videos each Christmas Eve after church to remember … These traditions are evolving with our grandkids.

Jesus is clearly the reason for the season and we always have the kids read the Christmas story in Luke then sing Happy Birthday to Jesus. Before we eat, we invite everyone to share the ways God has been working in their lives the past year.

Sometimes we allow over-spending, over-committing and over-indulging to increase our stress and rob us of the peace that everyone talks about at this time of year. Contentment at Christmas: The choice is yours.

Personally, I don’t have any problem at all with the “fun” of Christmas. Children and adults are reminded that miracles happen, that generosity feels good, that hope and dreams should be nurtured and that relationships are important.

If it were up to me, we’d keep a “Christmas frame of mind” all year long! Wishing you a Bold, Merry Christmas.

Listen to my show where CBS teaching director, Joni Corby and I will talk about Christmas traditions, avoiding stress and making it meaningful (top of page). Tell us about what stresses you out and how you try to keep the season significant.

*If you’d like a truly wonderful book to read to your kids at Christmastime, I highly recommend God’s Precious Gift in a Manger, by Rebecca Ann Lamb. Because this book (with beautiful illustrations) begins with the creation story and ends with the resurrection, it is truly a valuable tool for teaching. It makes a great gift to give to children of friends (especially those who don’t know the Gospel) and to use for corporal reading in children’s church.

Arguing Can Be Relationship Power Tool

Most people don’t think arguing is a great relationship component, but I disagree. Arguing can actually lead to contentment! How’s that again? In fact, I think arguments can be one of the most powerful tools we have to keep our relationships healthy. Having a good exchange of opposing ideas (with the goals of mutual respect and compromise) can be tremendously helpful. Of course there is a big difference between fighting and productive arguing. Lawyers do it every day.

Unfortunately, we don’t have the training and discipline lawyers do. Most of us let an issue go and grow before we address it. Then we have bad feelings backing up the “issue” giving it a twist. Instead of a useful argument we launch an attack. While the goals may vary from being right to punishment, they are far from helpful.

We all know by now, as revealed in books like Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus and Men are Like Waffles, Women are Like Spaghetti that the two genders have a gap in communicating styles. I’d like to write a book called Men are Meatheads and Women are Puddin’ Pies. Traditionally men are all about the meat; the solid substance, while women are more about the sweet, feel-good stuff. Not always, but that’s what science tells us. That’s why we have a hard time pursuing and surviving an argument with the opposite gender. When you throw deep emotional connection into the mix, it’s all the more challenging.

Arguing with style, grace and purpose can be like poking holes in a microwave dinner before you cook it. It releases the steam so there isn’t a messy explosion. Most people know some of the “rules” of healthy arguing but I’m offering my version as a reminder.

  • Never engage in name-calling (like meathead or puddin’ pie)
  • Don’t bring up past or unrelated issues (…you’re discussing his spending habits and sneak in a comment about what he DIDN’T buy you last Christmas)
  • Use “I” messages because your feelings are what validates the point (but don’t say “I think you’re a meathead” *see first item on list)
  • Keep your voice under control (the neighbors would rather not know)
  • Put the discussion on hold if you are angry or irrational
  • Seek to find common ground, not to win
  • Initiate and practice healthy arguing so that it becomes second nature and not unusual or difficult
  • Always hug it out at the end!

If you have a legendary argument story, dish it here! Also tips to add to the ones above.
Diane Markins

Rest is a Bold Choice

Reblogged from Words in High Def

The last few weeks have been so busy my head is buzzing and I’m pooped out. My mantra of Bold Living was starting to sound a little too ambitious, even for me. Then it occurred to me that bold doesn’t equate to busy. One of the essential components of making bold choices—and a chapter in my first book—focuses on Me Time. That can mean something different on any given day and certainly to each individual.

Sometimes the biggest challenge I have in grabbing some Me Time is determining what fun thing I want to do. Do I want to curl up with a good book while I pet my dog? Do I want to break a sweat at the gym? Do I want to watch a football game (Go Cardinals!) or see what my friends are up to on Facebook?

But if I’m truly honest, the most difficult and boldest choice for me is to simply be still and rest. Author Joan C. Webb reminds us that feeling guilty and not being productive only adds to the exhaustion and burnout we may be facing. And author Keri W. Kent writes about the importance of taking Sabbath rest.

If I’m going to continue sharing my Bold Living and Contentment messages, I’d better do it from a place of practice. It wouldn’t represent authenticity or integrity if I ask (tell) other people to live boldly but am not doing it myself.

So, to keep it real, I’m confessing my struggle here and will promise to be intentional about having more Me Time…and incorporating simple R &R in the mix.

Most people shove Me Time—especially resting—to the bottom of the list. Where is it on yours? Do you need to rearrange your priorities to include it? What’s ahead of it that you could bump down? Share your thoughts to encourage others battling this issue.

Bold Blessings,
Diane

Why It’s Impossible to Always be Nice

My five grandchildren are nearly perfect. They are polite and kind. They listen to me and knock off the arguing when I give them the look. They don’t complain and pick up after themselves. For me.

I often see/hear a different side of them with their parents. They’re still fantastic little monkeys but the bickering, griping and whining ramp up dramatically on occasion.

Being good for grandma is easy. Layla (they call me Layla -short for Abuela) doesn’t demand or expect too much. Layla plans in advance to make things special and fun. Layla isn’t spread thin, rushing or preoccupied.

Because Layla only has them for short bursts of time, of which they are the total center of my universe.

It wasn’t like that with my own kids. (Forgive me kids.) I was always on the go, busy and often tired. Parenting them was lumped in to all the rest of what was going on in any given day, it wasn’t the sole action item to accomplish. That’s real life.

It’s easy to be nice and patient and sweet to people who are bending over backwards to make us happy. But people typically are trying to load 29 hours of crap into a 24-hour day. They don’t pause and smile just because it’s YOU. They don’t quit what they’re doing so they can meet your needs and make your day a little better.

As purposeful women, it’s essential that we plan for delays and expect rudeness to come our way. The bakery will lose the order for your kid’s birthday cake. The hotel won’t have a record of your reservation. Your boss will forget to thank you. A neighbor will get ticked off because your sprinklers are watering their gravel.

The question is, are you prepared to respond with kindness and dignity? Or are you only able to be nice when things are going your way? I can cough up a few reasons for why it’s impossible to always be nice.

I’ll confess I struggle with this, especially in the business world. When I have to wait 45 minutes for a wedge salad or my cable company doesn’t seem to give a rip that the service isn’t working, I sometimes forget that grace and kindness should be applied as I respond. The selfish, whiney, arrogant part of me emerges in living color. Yuck.

Being a woman that God is pleased with can be really hard when you’re as imperfect as I am. Fortunately, He is much more concerned that I’m aware and care about it when I flop.

It’s easy to be good for Grandma, or anyone who makes your life easier and better. It’s a lot tougher to “be good” during the course of another hectic day. But I think a little attention and prayer of preparedness to start the day can make a big difference and help you with contentment in the rough spots.

What causes you to lose your cool and not “be good” to people?

Blessed Indignity of Modern Medicine

Reblogged from Words in High Def

Whether you squeeze it in before the new year or do it in January, the dreaded annual physical is a necessary indignity. We live in a time and place where health care is, by and large, accessible and scientifically advanced. Can you imagine living during a period in history when there was no cure for the common cold—wait, there’s still no cure for that—but maybe before they discovered aspirin for fever or headaches,or antibiotics for simple infections? We are truly blessed.

Yet when I embark on my annual journey of medical maintenance “blessed” contentment is not the first word that comes to mind. First, there is the visit to the dermatologist for my cancer screening. I get naked, lie on a table and let this woman look slowly over every inch of my flesh WITH A MAGNIFYING GLASS. She makes little noises indicating that things are OK, until the occasional, “hmmm” which usually results in a precise stream of sub-freezing nitrogen being shot onto various tiny areas from head to toe. She follows that with a few remarks about what a lousy job I’ve done of protecting my sun-damaged skin. I leave with a blistered face and a bruised ego.

Next I have my blood drawn. This has to be done while fasting, so I don’t eat. I read a magazine in the waiting room— stomach gurgling loudly, for three and a half hours (or maybe it was 15 minutes), then sit at a little desk where the nice lady ties a giant rubber band around my arm and inserts a needle. She wiggles the needle and shoves it sideways. I ask hopefully, “Almost done?” To which she always replies, “You have these veins that roll. I never get it on the first try with you!” She pokes many more times, my arm has now been tenderized like a piece of cheap meat, and she announces loudly that she needs “someone else to give it a shot.”

The mammogram is truly almost my favorite. Topless, I stand in a room kept at a comfortable 33 degrees Fahrenheit. The 22-year-old Yoga instructor smiles at me and tells me to step forward, hunch my back, point my toes toward the wall behind me, lift my chin and hold my breath while she molests me. (Maybe these contortions would be easier if I did more Yoga?) With both her permafrost hands she tugs, squeezes and stuffs my breast between two pieces of hard plastic boards. She moves away and begins pushing buttons that clamp it tighter and tighter and tighter…then she releases it and we do it all over again. About 60 times.

Naked once again, except for that awesome patient gown, I sit waiting for my gynecologist. He walks in and we exchange a few friendly comments before he sits on a stool in front of me. Suddenly: Go-Go-Gadget-Chair (anyone remember Inspector Gadget cartoon?)…the chair has converted into a table and I’m flat on my back with feet in the air. He keeps chatting about his recent vacation while he’s seeing stuff that I don’t even want to think about him seeing. My eyes are squeezed shut, teeth and knees clenched. The first two don’t affect this examination, but unless I unlock my knees we’ll be here all day, so with great effort I do and soon it’s over. I’m sitting up again, only to have a repeat of the aforementioned molestation above the waist.

My distance vision is 20/20 but not only do I need reading glasses, I am told to get bifocals. The top part for viewing the computer screen and the lower half with more magnification for reading print. Yay! Now I will truly look like someone’s granny.

The good news is that my hearing is perfect and I didn’t have to endure pain or humiliation to find that out. I am relieved to know that I have a clean bill of health, until next year when blessed indignity of modern medicine starts all over again.
Share your favorite doctor visit, medical test stories.
Diane Markins

*On a serious note, after being in parts of Africa where people don’t even know some of these tests exist, it fills me with joy and gratiitude that I live in a country where modern medicine is a given.

Get Ready to Rumble with “Prayer Warrior” Stormie Omartian

Reblogged from Words in High Def

Words like “supernatural” and “spirit realm” can be frightening or off-putting, but for believers that should not be the case. If you believe what God’s word says, there is no doubt that there is an unseen enemy at work in our lives. The magnificent news? We have the power to win the battle….with one condition: We have to engage in warfare.

Get Ready to Rumble
Stormie Omartian

I loved doing a recent interview with Diane Markins. We were talking about my book PRAYER WARRIOR and during the conversation I clearly recognized that she is a powerful prayer warrior herself. She understands the power of prayer to resist the enemy’s attempts to work his evil plans in our life. We both know that the enemy comes to destroy our marriages, health, children, finances, mind, and to get us off the path God has for us. And we know how to resist him in prayer so that the plans of God will succeed in our lives.

It has been my goal in writing this book to take the scary out of spiritual warfare. We are all in this spiritual war whether we recognize it or not. And many of us are getting wounded by enemy fire without realizing it because we don’t understand how to protect ourselves with the spiritual armor God has given us, nor do we understand what our spiritual weapons are and how to do battle in prayer. Too many of us think that because we win one battle the war is over. But the truth is that the war is never over. Yes Jesus defeated the enemy, but the enemy is still here. And God wants us to learn how to oppose his evil plans in prayer. Prayer is how God works on earth. Our spiritual warfare is waged in prayer.

There are too many good things that won’t happen if we are not praying. And there are also terrible things that will happen if we don’t pray. I wrote this book because I saw too many people being destroyed for lack of knowledge about this subject. And that is why I am so grateful to Diane for asking me to be on her radio program and share this with her listeners. Thank you, Diane. It is a pleasure to be with someone who understands the importance of spiritual warfare, especially considering the times we are now in.

Supernatural or Super Normal?

Reblogged from Words in High Def

There is a deluge of information and entertainment surrounding the paranormal. Ghost hunters on reality TV, vampire books and demon movies are tremendously popular. That’s one of the reasons I devoted a chapter to this topic in my first book, Women in High Def. 

As a believer of the God of the Universe, this is simply a part of life. There is nothing new about the spirit realm. It’s been a part of the Bible since the words were written. We know that there are unseen activities going on around us.

The devil and his minion demons exist. They are up to no-good all the time. The mission: “to kill, steal and destroy like a roaring lion.” That sounds about as scary as any horror movie, especially when applied to your own life and loved ones, right?

The up-side is that it isn’t just “us against them” like in the movies. The good guys (Jehovah God and His army of angels) are standing in front of and behind us so that the enemy doesn’t go too far. God doesn’t give us a spirit of fear, but He does want us to be aware of the battle and on alert. Fear and contentment can’t co-exist.

We don’t have to carry a big silver cross or walk around sprinkling holy water to be protected but we do need to engage in the brawl simply by putting on our armor every day (Ephesians 6:10-20).

  • Mostly this involves reading God’s word so we know His character, will, power and authority…read, memorize and believe it.
  • Secondly we need to be in communication with God so He can direct us away from bad choices the enemy would love us to make.
  • Third, we need to acknowledge the Lord in all parts of our life. He is in control and bigger than the worst circumstances or even the enemy of our soul. He is able and that’s the end of the sentence.

Another brilliant aspect of the supernatural for Christ-followers is expecting miracles and experiencing undeniable answered prayer. Prayers for provision, peace, wisdom, healing, courage and strength are fulfilled by God’s hand routinely.

I’ve had some close calls with unseen evil but I’d rather focus on the constant presence of the Spirit of God in my life and the protective attention of His legion of warrior angels. Both are real. Both are supernatural. But I’d prefer to call it super-normal.

Have you had any undeniable dealings with the devil or absolute answers to prayer? What super-normal experiences could you share in a comment below? Everyone loves a good angel story!

Give Me a Break!

*Reblogged from Words in High Def

Some Thoughts on West and Wewaxation (as Elmer Fudd would say)

As a child my models for being a wife and mom (my mother and grandmother) were servants first. They met every need the family had, served in church and took care of extended family as well as neighbors in need. They prepared meals others enjoyed (no thought to their own preferences), took the drumstick instead of the breast, and often insisted their family rest and leave chores to them.

In the early days of caring for my own home and family I applied these same methods. I remember one day, when I was pregnant with my second child, waking up face-down on my bed in a pile of clean laundry—one sock still in my hand. I had simply collapsed from exhaustion. Give me a break!

Fortunately, my husband had a different kind of role model and (with on-going battles) he helped me learn that caring for everyone-all-the-time wasn’t in my job description; that my loved ones were capable and needed to take more responsibility.

I was admittedly a slow learner, and a bit stubborn, but as time went on I learned there was much freedom and peace for all of us when I let people do their own jobs. Letting go of guilt as I rested and watched others labor was tough initially, but each time I saw their satisfied faces when they had accomplished something on their own, it became a little easier.

True contentment doesn’t come from working yourself into an early grave. It comes from loving God, loving others and loving yourself.

Following is an excerpt from Joan C. Webb’s book It’s a Wonderful (Imperfect) Life: Devotional Readings for Women Who Strive Too Hard to Make it Just Right (Regal, 2009).

Diane Markins

 

Rest Regardless

He restores my soul. Psalm 23:3

“Whenever I say I need to rest or take a nap, I get dirty looks from my family,” said a coaching client. “This pushes my button and keeps me moving. Lately I’ve realized I let their reactions control me. Should I stop to rest even if they don’t like it?”

This reminded me of a conversation I had with an executive friend who said, “God has specifically told me to take care of myself this year and stop doing for everybody else what they can do for themselves or what someone other than me can do to help. He assured me he doesn’t want me to work so hard that my health is negatively affected. I will obey him and include space and rest into my life. But here’s the rub: Others don’t appreciate that I’ve changed my modus operandi. I’m getting flack.”

I understand. Some of us have taught others that we’re super-women—willing, skilled and available to make life easier for them. When this is the case, it is unlikely they’ll suggest we relax, or be pleased if we choose to take time off. But here’s what my client and the executive—and I—have learned: We don’t have to wait until someone else notices our exhaustion and suggests we take a break. God grants us permission to take responsibility for ourselves. He loves to replenish our souls, and we can cooperate with Him regardless of what others say or do.

Lord, I want a balanced life of doing, trusting and resting.

 

Working with a Giving Attitude

Reblogged from Words in High Def

Working with a Giving Attitude

We’ve all heard that, “it’s better to give than to receive.” The bible says that we’re to give our best (first fruits) to God. But is there a limit to giving? Are we required to serve without compensation in order to please God? I don’t think so.

I do believe we’re all called to give freely, of our “time, treasures and talents.” When we have a choice about how to spend some down time, invest our money or use our skills, there’s no doubt that we should look for ways to pour into the needs around us… without monetary compensation. Serving freely almost always adds to your contentment.

However, I don’t see that the Bible makes a distinction between “voluntary” service and “paid” service. Everything we do should glorify God. Whether we are the elephant pooper-scoopers at the circus for minimum wage, volunteering Saturday nights at a homeless shelter or a surgeon removing a brain tumor…it’s all for Him.

There is never room for giving less than our best if we’re doing what God tells us. That includes complaining about the job or boss, showing up late, goofing off or giving minimal effort. This applies equally to paid and unpaid commitments.

It’s really challenging to keep paid employees satisfied (I’m speaking as a co-owner of a business). No matter what benefits, perks and pay are provided; it seems that a lot of employees feel like it’s not enough. Managing volunteers is even more challenging. They sometimes have an attitude that, “I’m doing you a big favor for just showing up,” so anything more than that is a bonus. This attitude doesn’t reflect anything God talks about when work is discussed in the Bible.

On the flip side, it’s easy to be taken advantage of because misguided (and sometimes desperate) people will take and take and take if we keep giving. I believe that pastors are almost always under-paid for the jobs they do. I also believe that it should be the goal/plan of every church to work toward making women’s, children’s and youth ministry directors paid positions. Even if they are part-time, they need to be treated with respect and given fair compensation for the long hours, creativity and dedication these jobs demand.

I happen to believe this is true of writing and speaking as well. I spend hours each week doing both…and much more of it is done for free than for any payment. I love serving God and it thrills me to bring hope, encouragement or even a smile to people, but there is a stewardship issue to consider. I owe it to God and my husband to find a good balance of how much I give away for free and how much I expect to be compensated for to meet physical needs. Each of us must find this equilibrium in our work.

Have you ever felt taken advantage of as an employee or volunteer? Have you seen employees that give a minimal effort? Share below.

Diane Markins