Wednesday, May 28, 2014

What's Your Grid?

How do you deal with confrontation? Do you get your feelings hurt easily, or do most things people say and do, good or bad, sort of roll off you like water off a duck's back? Do you prefer plenty of social interaction, or is your preference to have plenty of solitude? Do you enjoy a good argument and feel empowered and refreshed by it, or do you avoid conflict at all costs? Do you process verbally, or internally? Do you like to work alone or in a group? For some people, these questions can be answered with a black and white yes or no, but for others the answer lies somewhere in the balance.

I find the study of personality types fascinating. I love to learn about what makes people tick. There are so many differences in each individual. Each of us is unique and although we may share similarities, interests and talents with some people, our perception of life and they way we process experiences and communicate may be very different.

I recently took a personality test that actually pegged me better than any I've taken before. It's the Meyers Briggs test. I was impressed with the outcome. I tend to be drawn to very strong, dominate, take charge, thick skinned, highly competitive personality types.....which is the opposite of the way I am wired. For example, I'll meet someone and find out they write, or sing, or are into health and fitness, cooking, home schooling or photography and I'll think it's awesome that we have interests/talents in common and I visualize us possibly combining our talents and enjoying the commonality. Later on down the road, I'll find out they think I am competing with them when in my mind I was simply relating to them on a common level. Suddenly their actions toward me change and it becomes apparent that they view me as a threat and I'm left scratching my head trying to figure out what happened.

Somebody once told me I am emotionally fragile and the way it was communicated was not in a positive sense, but rather like an attack on my character. The more I study personality types, the less I am bothered by accusations such as this because what she actually observed is a difference in our personalities, rather than a fatal flaw in my character. Some personality types struggle to understand a different personality grid and just don't get that differences are not necessarily negative. They're just different. In fact, criticism of others who are different is very destructive. A more factual, thick skinned, less sensitive personality may feel frustrated by someone who is sensitive, tender and compassionate because they don't know what to do with all that emotion and need for depth in relationships, while a sensitive individual often feels unsafe and unable to communicate the important stuff with the more dominate wiring. Thicker skinned personalities are often very factual and verbally aggressive. They can annihilate their more sensitive counterparts in seconds and shut them down, but they don't necessarily realize their strengths are also their weaknesses since this aggression can be very destructive to relationships. On the other hand the more tender, feeling oriented personality's strength of compassion and sensitivity can also be their weakness. Consequently they can benefit from learning to take things less seriously when communicated by their thick skinned opposites. They can learn to ask questions, rather than internalize the messages that can be so damaging to them and possibly help the less sensitive learn to become a little more thoughtful and careful. The unperceiving aspect to the factual personality can be their biggest weakness in relationships. This personality type needs to learn how to watch for signs and body language as they can be considered by many to be blunt, merciless, unperceiving, unfeeling, unreasoning and offend many without even being aware. Every personality type has weaknesses and strengths and no personality test is perfect, but by taking some of these tests and applying honesty when examining your own temperament, you may find an increased ability to relate to others in a healthier way.

"Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person." Colossians 4:6

The greatest commandment in the Bible is to love one another. Since love is a command, it is both an action and a feeling. Sometimes we need to take action by showing care to people we don't understand even though it's difficult to do. Seeking to understand others takes work. It takes good listening skills. It takes time. It involves asking lots of questions in order to really gain that understanding. It means lowering our defenses, getting rid of criticism and creating a safe, loving, gentle environment. it also means keeping in mind that we are not perfect and we are capable of hurting others, so we have no business criticizing or condemning others who are different than us. It's easy during conflict to lose all sense compassion, especially when we are hurt, but that's when it's most important to slow down and be careful with our words and body language.

So, I took the personality test and INFJ was the result. This stands for: Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Judging. If you would like to know more about what that means, you can read about it here.

Below is a basic overview of each personality type from this particular test.

 

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My factual friend perceived the feeling aspect of my personality as a negative thing by saying I am emotionally fragile. She missed the positive quality God created me with because we are wired so very differently and it's difficult to bridge that gap. It is actually both a strength and a weakness for me. In light of this,I found this particular part of my personality description rather interesting:

"INFJs are deeply concerned about their relations with individuals as well as the state of humanity at large. They are, in fact, sometimes mistaken for extroverts because they appear so outgoing and are so genuinely interested in people -- a product of the Feeling function they most readily show to the world. On the contrary, INFJs are true introverts, who can only be emotionally intimate and fulfilled with a chosen few from among their long-term friends, family, or obvious "soul mates." While instinctively courting the personal and organizational demands continually made upon them by others, at intervals INFJs will suddenly withdraw into themselves, sometimes shutting out even their intimates. This apparent paradox is a necessary escape valve for them, providing both time to rebuild their depleted resources and a filter to prevent the emotional overload to which they are so susceptible as inherent "givers." As a pattern of behavior, it is perhaps the most confusing aspect of the enigmatic INFJ character to outsiders, and hence the most often misunderstood -- particularly by those who have little experience with this rare type."

Since most people would peg me as an extrovert, this is another interesting aspect to my personality that I found to resonate with what I know to be true about me:

"Usually self-expression comes more easily to INFJs on paper, as they tend to have strong writing skills. Since in addition they often possess a strong personal charisma, INFJs are generally well-suited to the "inspirational" professions such as teaching (especially in higher education) and religious leadership. Psychology and counseling are other obvious choices, but overall, INFJs can be exceptionally difficult to pigeonhole by their career paths. Perhaps the best example of this occurs in the technical fields. Many INFJs perceive themselves at a disadvantage when dealing with the mystique and formality of "hard logic", and in academic terms this may cause a tendency to gravitate towards the liberal arts rather than the sciences. However, the significant minority of INFJs who do pursue studies and careers in the latter areas tend to be as successful as their T counterparts, as it is *iNtuition* -- the dominant function for the INFJ type -- which governs the ability to understand abstract theory and implement it creatively."

I was astounded while reading the details to the INFJ personality type because it helped me realize I am an introvert....not an extrovert and it explains so well why communication with certain people is very difficult for me, while with others who are soft and gentle and accepting in their expression unlock my ability to articulate well verbally. It also explains why I do not aspire to become a public speaker, although I would be willing to rise to the occasion, should an opportunity present itself to communicate something I have a passion for and feel compelled to address. I definitely communicate much better in writing than in person as it takes time for me to process and examine what is being said. I initially respond on feeling and it takes time to turn it around and connect it to fact. Therefore, my initial responses are usually what my daughter refers to as a "rough draft" and I don't do well in conflict with aggressive, verbal, critical and insensitive communicators. I can't count the times I have been cut off in the middle of expressing something difficult, by a more aggressive communicator who thinks they already know what I'm trying to say and react harshly as a result. They missed the point completely in those moments and shut down my ability to express what I was really trying to convey.

For personalities that are  less sensitive, heavier on the judging scale and more take charge, the sensitive nature of someone who is more feeling oriented could be very irritating and difficult to understand, just as the opposite is true for a sensitive personality. Communicating with a different personality grid can feel impossible if there is no understanding of and allowance for the differences in each individual.

Understanding your personality type and studying the various other personality types is beneficial as it can help bring understanding to relationships that otherwise might seem impossible. It can help us better love one another and care for each other in a way that may not come naturally. It is an excellent tool in marriage, as well as parenting, teaching, grandparenting and in the work place. As a home schooling mom, understanding and embracing the various personalities in our home helps me know how to approach each child effectively and in my marriage, it allows me to understand how best to communicate with my husband and express care on a level that means the most to him.

I leave you with a couple of visuals about the different personality types that I find rather interesting.

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Friday, May 23, 2014

From Winter To Spring

We're deep into the season of spring and my favorite tree is changing again.

The last time my camera captured it's beauty, it was standing tall and naked, on a cold winter day. Each winter, that tree seems to stand more tall and more sure in the security of its root system than the season before.

 

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There was a beauty in it's cold nakedness as it stood stark, tall and proud against a brilliant blue sky.

And I thought of those wintery seasons in my life. Those seasons of loss, pain and turmoil. My ability to identify with that naked winter tree is vivid. There have been numerous wintery trials over the years during which the torrid winds of life have seemed to strip my soul of every shred of security, leaving me cold, bare and empty.

I have observed changes....significant depth and strength.....after the winds have died down and a gentle calm cloaks the new morning. A deep beauty emerges from the terrifying turbulence of the winter season. It's in those pitch black, blustery seasons of shrieking winds, that strength and courage are born. Trust emerges as the desire to control the tempest is forfeited, in exchange for faith....faith in the Creator....the One who has actually been in control all along. The idea of controlling "my" life has been a deceptive veil, covering my eyes with blindness to this reality and robbing me of peace and faith and joy. My blindness compelled me to reach out, frantically searching for fulfillment, yet fear and turmoil were the only fruits of my frenzied grasping at the illusive power I sought to gain over this short life on earth.

And then the morning sunrise illuminated the truth. God didn't remove me from the storms of the seasons, but rather He protected me through them. He allowed them in my life to build a root system of faith and trust in Him. He revealed His glory through the trial. He didn't stop the winds that beat at me, but He gave me the grace to endure. He has used every stormy trial to build my trust in Him, to remind me that He is God and He is faithful....always. God is good, all the time. This is the root system so necessary to gain the inner peace that comes from faith. When God gives and blesses and when He takes away, He is good.

And said: "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised." Job 1:21

"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28

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Through one of those wintery trials, this song was born.

Just Rest In Me

Verse 1: Steam rising up from the coffee in my cup. Tears falling down in little tiny drops. My burdens are heavy, my cross seems too great to bear. I ask the Lord for mercy and relief from all my cares.

Chorus: He answers: Just rest in me. I'll help you through the storm. you'll feel it beating all about but you will not be harmed. Will you trust me totally? I'll make you stronger through it. Will you put your hand in mine and let me walk you through it?

Verse 2: I take a sip of coffee as I think about my pain. I wonder why this storm has come and what there is to gain. Oh Lord, why me, I cry? What good can come from this? I'm weary and I'm worn, this I must confess. (chorus)

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Bridge: As I meditate on him and read his Holy Word, I feel his presence in the room, his comfort strong and sure. I know he wants the best for me. He understands my heart.

 He knows what storms I must go through and that each one plays a part.......in making me more like him; a good work he's begun. He'll bring it to completion as I look to his Son.

Verse 3/Revised chorus: I answer, yes I'll rest in you. You'll help me through the storm. I'll feel it beating all about and I know I won't be harmed. I will trust you totally. You'll make me stronger through it. I'll put my hand in your big hand and let you walk me through it.

I'll put my hand in your big hand.......and let......you.....walk me through it.

Jana Taft

 

 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Spring Piano Recital

This year's spring piano recital was really fun and such a special night. There were two graduating seniors (sniff, sniff). After watching them play for so many years and enjoying their amazing talents, I am really sad that we won't be able to see them at piano recitals anymore.

Everyone did a great job and the evening consisted of ensembles, rather than solo pieces, although there were some solos played by the seniors and a couple of younger students.

I got some still shots and video of all of our kids' performances. You can click on the highlighted words to view the videos.

Our oldest son and youngest daughter played a duet together called Jalapeno Hop.

 

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Our youngest daughter also played a trio entitled Chromatic Waltz with her piano teacher and another student.

 

 

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Our third born daughter played a duet with the piano teacher entitled Halle, Halle, Hallelujah

 

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The girls took part in a group Rhythmic Fugue with their teacher. This was the first time I was acquainted with a rhythmic fugue. It was pretty neat!

 

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Our annual tradition after the spring recital is for the parents to engage in a full blown photo shoot. I have pictures over the years, of many of these kids from the time they were new students at seven or eight years old until they graduate as seniors. They are priceless to us.

 

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Goofing off and enjoying friends after the recital.

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For some solo pieces by each of the kids, you can read this post and view them.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Is Going Gluten-Free Really Just a Fad?

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Since our family began our gluten free journey a few years ago, the way people respond to this information has been varied.

Many people tell me they are so glad they don't have issues with gluten. Others say they choose not to ingest it simply because they want to lose weight. Still others insist it's just a fad and that it's dangerous to go gluten-free because you won't get all the nutrients your body needs without it.

I understand that wrapping your mind around a big change in the diet is tough. In a society packed with everything convenient, the idea of going gluten-free is really overwhelming. I mean, how do you go on a picnic without using bread for sandwiches? What about pizza, spaghetti, desserts?  Don't foods without gluten taste like cardboard?

First of all, I want to say that I really do understand all of those concerns and I would be lying to you if I told you the journey has always been easy. However, I want to encourage you to get informed about gluten. EVEN if you think you don't have any issues with it, you won't regret taking the time to learn more about it. Most people really are uneducated regarding this subject and my desire is to raise awareness and hopefully help the people I care about possibly avoid serious illness and/or at least attain a better quality of life by simply getting informed. Sometimes being a gluten free family is really challenging but for the most part, it honestly is not that hard. There are lots of foods that do not contain gluten, are delicious, and satisfying and they are not difficult to prepare. I post recipes often and you can find them by clicking on the recipe tab at the top of this site. My recipes are all gluten free and you may be surprised to learn that many of them are foods you are already eating and enjoying.

For those of you who really don't understand what the big deal about gluten is all about, please listen to this very educational recording of an interview with Dr. Peter Osborn. He is a leading expert on the subject. He is a medical doctor, chiropractor, fitness trainer and much more. He has treated thousands of patients with great success. You can learn more about all of that on this recording.

If you have Fibromyalgia, muscle and joint aches, short term memory loss or even struggle to remember simple words and phrases at times, or if you have chronic fatigue, diarrhea or constipation or struggle with both, or if you have been diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome, you will want to listen to this. Autoimmune diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, Multiple Sclerosis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and skin rashes and/or conditions such as psoriasis and eczema, infertility or miscarriages, you will definitely want to take the time to get informed. Some of these symptoms are not discussed in this particular recording, but Dr. Osborn has successfully treated many people who suffered from infertility and/or miscarriages and you can find plenty of information regarding this on his site.

This recording is about 40 minutes long, I believe and well worth listening too. It's not boring, and it is packed with very interesting information.
I wrote my own story regarding my health journey and I think you will find it very interesting after you listen to this recording.

Please take the time to get informed on this subject. It could save your life or the life of someone you love and at the very least, it may help bring back the quality of life you desire to enjoy.

 

 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Mother's Day Musings

Mother's Day

Somehow it brings feelings of expectation and I don't know about other moms, but I fight it every year. This year, I really felt convicted that my focus needs to change. It's not really about me....it's about celebrating my Mom and the beautiful children and grandchildren God has given me. I knew I wouldn't hear from my oldest daughter yesterday, so I was prepared for that, but I wasn't prepared to be assaulted by an invitation to my own personal pity party. It showed up in the afternoon, after church and in the form of emptiness. We had enjoyed a quick lunch and after the hustle and bustle of the morning had passed, I was sitting in the sun when hot tears showed up, uninvited. It happened during a quiet moment after I saw all the sweet things people were saying about their mothers on social media......and there were no messages for me. My other grown daughter honors me on a daily basis and we share a very special friendship. She is a very busy mother to five children of her own and an excellent one, at that. I really had no expectations at all regarding hearing from her on Mother's Day, but sincerely  hoped she would be honored and blessed by her family. I really didn't want her to have to worry about "me" on Mother's Day, but to enjoy her husband and her children. She had wished me a happy Mother's Day in a text earlier in the day, but somehow, unexpectedly,  I felt a stinging stab of disappointment that there was nothing more. No special mother's day dinner, or visit from grandchildren, or anything out of the ordinary, really. Yeah....I know, pretty pathetic. A few minutes earlier, the kids had been fighting over who "had" to clean the kitchen after lunch while I was busy trying to get all the food prepared for the afternoon meal, ahead of time, so we could maybe go for a walk or something without having to rush. I had visualized all of us working together in the kitchen, prepping the meal, but instead, the kitchen was a mess and the kids were fighting. As I sat in the sun, feeling the warmth of it on my face, my littlest guy came out and plopped himself down next to me, chattering away. He told me he loved me. He climbed up in my lap for a snuggle, all the while talking about whatever came to his mind and peppering the conversation with "I love you, Mommy" and "Happy Mother's Day." His rosy cheeks and happy grin were so bright and alive with the joy of life. My husband came out, sat down behind me and began massaging my neck and shoulders. He wanted to know what I would like to do for the rest of the day and if there was any particular movie I might want to watch with the family later. God was the only one who was aware of my pity party and He met me right there through my husband and my little boy. I suddenly felt rather foolish for the selfishness that had invaded my thoughts a few minutes before and I knew my focus had once again, gotten way off track. As I sat there with my head on my sweet man's lap, feeling the comfort of his strong hands massaging away the stress that had settled in my shoulders, I felt so loved and cherished. Between his sweet thoughtfulness and Levi's innocent chatter and cuddles, all that I have to be thankful for was illuminated. We decided to take the kids and our dogs to our favorite place to walk/jog/hike, as a family and enjoy the beautiful, warm, sunshine. I jumped up, feeling rejuvenated and headed in to get ready. When I entered my bathroom, there they were.......the missing mother's day messages I had been quietly grieving over a few minutes prior.  Taped to my bathroom mirror were the most beautiful, yellow sticky notes I had ever seen! Each one filled with sweet, simple, messages from the kids and there were more on my jewelry box. Noah made me a sweet gift during Sunday School and presented it to me. I was once again reminded that these are the reasons I celebrate Mother's Day. It's not about whether or not they notice anything I do for them. It's not about them celebrating me. It's not about being fulfilled by them, but rather being grateful FOR them. It really is the simple things that get to my heart. The little acts of kindness, the simple gifts and the gentle hugs, all served their purpose in humbling me and reminding me of where I need to focus. My focus needs to be on God, the Giver of all gifts and not on myself or the gifts themselves. I felt foolish for the few minutes I entertained selfish thoughts as guests at a pity party I really never wanted. It's amazing how quickly our thoughts can deceive us into feeling sorry for ourselves when we have so much to be grateful for.

"Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. "I Thessalonians 5:18

The rest of the day was wonderful. We walked, jogged, laughed, played and I enjoyed capturing the moments and all the beauty in them, through the lens of my camera.

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I am a country girl at heart....born and raised in a very small town, surrounded by farm land. I spent many happy childhood days on dairy farms and as I have mentioned before, I can't resist barns and old outbuildings. They hold a certain beauty for me that I can't even explain.

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One of the reasons I love this trail is because of the old buildings and the horses with their riders that often share the trail with us.

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Toward the end of our hike, we climbed the little hill, rounded a corner, and the kids could hear the creek. Woops of excitement filled the air. Every single one of them, teens included, let go of all their usual inhibitions and played in the creek like they were six years old again. It was the most beautiful scene and the air was filled with the treasured sounds of my children's voices laughing and squealing and loving life. This will be one of the sweetest Mother's Day memories for me. I know that there are only a few more years left with all five of these kids in our home and days like this Mother's Day are to be treasured and cherished. Watching them play was like drinking an ice cold glass of water on a hot summer day. It filled my cup to overflowing.

 

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Nobody's hair was combed. Everyone was scrubbed out in comfy, old clothes and nobody cared.

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Our beautiful Golden Girls had a great time chasing sticks and playing in the water. Water for them, is like heaven for us.

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My Treasures and me. :)

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Natalie took a few pics of her Daddy and me. I'm sporting my "big hair" look...evidence of a the wind playing hairdresser. When the wind finishes it's work, the end product is something similar to Bozo the Clown. This is part of who I am and although it's not my favorite look, it is the look of a carefree and fun day, so I am going with it. :)

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After a simply lovely day in the fresh air and sunshine, we grilled up some delicious, organic cheeseburgers and ate them with sautéed mushrooms and apples, home made guacamole, and a delicious pesto Caprese salad.

My Mother's Day gifts

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When I woke up the next morning, my daughter, Brandi had posted this photo collage with me holding her as a little toddler, me with her daughter, Hailee and a picture of all of my kids together a few years ago. She posted it along with the most beautiful words written to me, and her mothers-in-law (she has been blessed with two of them). I was and am, completely humbled.

Brandi's mother's day tribute

"I've been so afraid of wishing my mothers a public happy Mother's Day in fear I wouldn't be able to stop writing! But here it goes anyway, so bear with me All 3 of these women have been single moms at one point or another, endured abuse of different sorts, worked jobs they hated in order to provide for their children, made painful sacrifices, pushed through counseling, and rose above it all. Mom, you have went above and beyond the call of motherhood. You have not been perfect, but you have been a constant... You have been unwavering in your faith, in your friendship, and your hospitality. Your relationship with Jesus and how you poured His love into us as children is the reason I am still married today. It is a part of the reason I have 5 beautiful children and one of the reminders to me to "Rise, and shine, and give God the glory" every morning, even when circumstances and society tells me I should be depressed, fearful, insecure, etc. I love you just doesn't do it justice- I literally have eternal life because of your example of faith, perseverance, and of what a Godly woman looks like. I love that we can hash out the past, even when it is so painful, and grow stronger in Christ together because of the ability to be honest and humble with one another as Christ is so gracious with us. Betti- people's jaws drop when I tell them you live with us and "it's a good thing," because apparently having a good relationship with your mother in law is rare. I remember the very first moment I met you, and how welcoming you were. You have a gift in making people feel safe and comfortable around you. I can't thank you enough for your support in the marriage to your son, and all the hours you spent on the phone with me when we were struggling and you lived states away. You are a fantastic Oma and a pretty dang good roommate... And when you're not, we can duke it out over a good yell, cry, and laugh, bahahahaha! Cindy, you astound me. I can't really describe the love I feel towards you. The lady I first met is not the lady I know today. I am sad that the circumstances that brought us closer together were what they were, but I'm thankful for the relationship that bloomed because of it all. I relate to you on so many levels and have greatly enjoyed our long conversations over the years. Divorce sucks, but I gained one extra kiss a** mother in law because of it;) a diamond in the rough;) I feel a bit spoiled to have 3 wonderful mother figures that I can HONESTLY & truly call my friends."

"Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal" Matt 6:19

I did not deserve such sweet and loving words from my daughter. I can't tell you how humbled I really am by such a gift from her. I am truly blessed to have the honor of being the mother of seven beautiful blessings.

I leave you with this song about counting your blessings. I love the words.

 

 

Counting my blessings and preaching the Gospel to myself daily.....helps keep my mind and heart in the right place.