What are WE COMPLAINING about?!?!? (WOW! Write On Wednesday! Read in 2 minutes)

 

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Do you know someone who doesn’t complain? It’s not me, and it’s few people I know.

Someone in my life seldom – if ever complains. He is happy with little; seldom requests extra things; is happy with whatever food is put in front of him (and eats it!) and with few exceptions ever even asks for much. He doesn’t worry about his clothes. He wears what he has – and it’s a slim wardrobe. That guy is our son Joey.

While he has special needs, I find it quite intriguing that he is (for the most part) really content with the very simple things in life. He doesn’t seem to notice what he doesn’t have, can’t do, or what others have or are doing. Sometimes when he must join me in going places I realize how much his life is “led” by me and in some ways how few choices he has; yet he doesn’t complain about it. He just seems to take life moment by moment without complaint about now or worry about tomorrow. What lessons we learn from him!

What I most notice is that he is content; content with little; content with life.

So what about us? What if we simply paid attention in the next 24 hours to see how much we complain? AND THEN, what if we stopped complaining for the next 24 hours?

What if we simply looked to the good, shared positive things, complimented (sincerely) others, thanked others for things they did for us, praised others for worthy things, praised God for the day and how he provided for us? Instead of complaining to or about a waitress or sales person – entered into uplifting and helpful conversation or perhaps in the midst of poor service asking, “How is your day going?” (And really caring to hear the answer.)

Want to join me in a 48 hour experiment? Take whatever 48 hours you choose between today and next Wednesday….and share with me (on my Cindi Ferrini – Author/Speaker Facebook page or here on my blog) just what happened in your 2 days that is different, new, and nice…and maybe life changing!


I’m in and I’m not complaining about it! Please join me!

 

Brain Groove – WOW! (Write On Wednesday!) Takes 2 minutes to read!

Visiting a dear elderly friend who has short term memory issues (likely dementia/Alzheimer’s) recently was a little challenging because I’m pretty sure she repeated the same thought and story in one way or another 50 times in our hour visit. I know her mind, her brain, is in a groove she can’t get out of. She doesn’t have a clue she’s repeated herself. I was totally fine with responding 50 times with the same (hopefully) tender response. I’m used to it. I have a son with special needs, and some days he just gets in his own groove and can’t get out of it. It might be the days of the week, or where he’s going with Aunt Susie, or some “idea” in his head I can’t even understand. I try very hard not to get frustrated, but it IS different when you live with the person who can’t get out of that brain groove versus only spending an hour with someone!

However, in true fashion, I caught myself saying something the other day….and I realized it was MY brain groove. It’s a particular issue that bothers me about dealings with people; but the difference is this: I know I say it, I know I’m repeating myself, and I know it must really irritate a few people! As a result, I’ve made it a point to limit my brain groove comments! I don’t need to keep repeating the same old thing….I need to make some changes. So my changes have become saying what I need to briefly or not at all, and only to people who either understand or care! I know my brain groove issue could also become a sin issue – especially if I attach a name to my frustrations and make sure everyone knows about it! If I can do something to make a change, then I should, otherwise it becomes an issue for which I’ll likely have regret.

How about you? What’s your brain groove issue? For some it’s gossip; thoughts; for others pornography; for others eating more than they should…it’s whatever we keep doing without even giving it much of a second thougth…it just happens because we let it. While we’re mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually able, we should get “hold” of that issue and make sure we’re not making it our brain groove.

That’s my story and I’m not going to keep repeating it!

 

 

 

 

My Idea of an ldeal Friend – WOW! (Write on Wednesday! takes < 2 min. to read!)

Ferrini Special Needs Cards 6My father-in-law used to say that if we end this life with just 5 (he’d hold his hand up and count on his fingers) friends, we’re most blessed. But in a day and age where we have hundreds and even thousands of “friends” on social media, we have to wonder what real friendship means to each of us.

Social media (for me) is so much fun. I love it! I feel connected to old and new friends and enjoy hearing what they’re doing! But there is nothing quite like a FACE TO FACE friendship. Consider what you want from a friend as I share what qualifies as “and ideal friend” for me:

  • Has a good sense of humor – laughing with me; not at me. Finds humor in everyday life – both in the struggles and victories.
  • Knows when to be serious and when to lighten things up.
  • Willing to listen to my day and ask questions about the routine and usual things, without getting weary.
  • One who will take the initiative to “draw me out” when I might find it is easier for me to hide.
  • Available when I have a “real” need. Shows up without being asked to meet a need and knows when to leave to give space.
  • Will walk with me through challenges and struggles not just fun times.
  • Helps me sort through goals and dreams – keeping me realistic without bursting my bubble.
  • Encourages me to succeed.
  • Sorrows with me when I fail or grieve.
  • Keeps me accountable in my walk with the Lord – willing to call me on things I’m not doing right…in a loving way confronts me when needed. Holds me to a biblical standard.
  • We bond spiritually – know, love, and serve Christ.
  • Enjoy the special-ness of our friendship but are not exclusive.
  • Prays for me and my family.
  • Understands that I want to be the same for them in all of the above ways, but that we will both fail at times…and that we’ll offer each other grace and forgiveness – as often as needed.

I do believe I have a “handful” of these friends. They are treasures to me. I hope you can name 5 friends that you can count on and that can count on YOU!

 

STOP TALKING-START COMMUNICATING (Cross the Track!)–(WOW! Writing on Wednesday:@ 3.5 min. to read)

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I love social media – connecting with others…but that is at one level.

At another level, I miss out on real “face to face” encounters. Even in the “face to face” moments, though very important, I’m seeing that most people still miss a very important ingredient. I call that the “cross the track” ingredient.

Let me explain by way of an example conversation:

Person A: “I just got back from Italy.”

Person B: “I went to Italy in 2000. It was amazing.”

A: “I loved Sorrento.”

B: “I went through all of the country and loved Naples.”

A: “We had so much rain but it still was lovely.”

B: “We hope to go back and stay for a month in Tuscany someday.”

 

Did you notice anything? If you didn’t, go back and read it one more time. Then come back and read on…..

Both people were talking about their trips to Italy; they were on their own track talking about the same thing but but neither crossed the track to learn or care about what the other was sharing – they just wanted to share their thoughts, their ideas, their remembrances, their own information; but neither entered into or inquired about the thoughts, ideas, or information the other shared. They just talked about themselves and from their perspective. They never “crossed the tracks” to learn about, care, or show interest in the other person. If we were to continue listening in on this conversation it would most likely be more evident at how selfish it is. It’s a parallel conversation; same topic, moving forward, but never engaging or entering in to what the other person was expressing.

Perhaps you’re asking, “So how would one ‘cross the track’? I don’t see anything wrong with this conversation!” We cross the track by letting the person share and then asking them questions to enter in to their idea, to learn about them, to care about their life and story not just our own. They may or may not ever cross the track to our side, but here is how it might look:

Person A: “I just got back from Italy.”

Person B: “I loved Italy. What was it that you liked?”

A: “I loved Sorrento.”

B: “What was your highlight in Sorrento?”

A: “Definitely the lemon groves.”

And if Person A is at all considerate, at some point they’ll “cross the track” and here is how that might look:
A: “So, you’ve been to Italy, too? When did you go? What was your highlight?”

Do you see it? If we pay attention to our next conversation, we’ll soon and easily see who is caring and considerate (and wants to learn about us) by whether or not they ever cross the track. But we can start it. We don’t have to wait for them. Just remember that it isn’t until we “cross the track” that we really begin communicating (transferring or exchanging information).

FOLLOW UP if you’d like to read more:

A few months ago Joe and I were enjoying a meal with another couple for the first time. As we  finished, the other couple looked at each other and then to us and said, “This was so refreshing!” We said, “We feel the same!” And then I added, “And I know why! I’ll bet you are seldom engaged in real conversation…that you ask the questions but seldom get asked questions.” She said, “That’s exactly it! We seem to engage with others by asking them questions and before you know it the evening is over!” I likened it to “interviewing” rather than conversing with others!

What made that conversation refreshing is that everyone around the table took interest, cared, and sincerely wanted to hear more from the other person – not just sharing their own information. We all didn’t just listen, but got to share, too! It was, indeed REFRESHING to stop talking and really communicate by crossing the tracks.  Try it – it’s a lot of fun!

(Cross the Tracks with me on Facebook @ #Cindi Ferrini where I post a CONVERSATION STARTER questions @ 9:00 a.m [most] weekdays. After you read and answer it, you can use the question to stimulate conversation with others and engage with them! I’d love to have you join in the fun!)

Photo and manuscript ©Cindi Ferrini

“GOD JUST WANTS ME TO BE HAPPY” (WOW! Write On Wednesday takes @ 2 minutes to read)

166702_552665164755356_828459902_nIf we’ve heard this phrase once, we’ve heard it a million times. Usually it’s a husband or wife who wants out of their marriage. We have, however, heard it from people not happy in their jobs, their family, their church, their neighborhood, etc. You get the picture.

Joe and I have read the bible a number of times, and have yet to find where God talks about making us happy and/or where He even says it’s His responsibility to make us happy.

The only verse that comes close to something about God making us happy I found in Job 5:17, “Therefore happy is the man whom God corrects, so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.” If you’re so inclined, reading to the end of that chapter is quite eye-opening. What this is telling me is that it’s through God’s correction and discipline that we will be “happy” (i.e. find happiness.)

So, I’m just curious. If we took out the word HAPPY and inserted the word HOLY to our various scenarios, sentences, and conversations, I wonder how it would sound. Gary Thomas, one of my favorite authors, has suggested in his writings that God’s real desire for us is to be holy. Holy doesn’t always equate to happiness, but it can lead to joy; joy in knowing that we are living well, serving well, acting well, etc.

So let’s try it and see how it sounds: Instead of “God wants me to be happy in life;” we would say, “God wants me to be holy in life.” “God wants me to be holy in my marriage.”  “God wants me to be holy at my workplace.” Wow! That sounds different! And how different our lives could be if we started doing this!

Perhaps we’ll all try this exercise the next time we feel we deserve something more, better, and/or exciting. Perhaps we’ll please God (make HIM happy!) by doing so!

 

MY EVIL TWIN (WOW! Write On Wednesday! Takes <2.5 minutes to read)

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Personally, I have only wonderful, happy, kind, sweet, lovely, and thoughtful words that make their way from my head and heart to my mouth. It’s my evil twin who seems to have some difficulties! Sometimes she says things she regrets; sometimes things just slip out – things she says she didn’t mean, and sometimes she wants to blame it on someone else for making her say things.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could all blame someone else (like an evil twin) for saying the wrong things in the wrong way at the wrong time? I wish I had only happy, kind, and wonderful thoughts that then came out of my mouth, but the truth is I don’t, and I have no one to blame but myself when “those” words come out.

Shouldn’t it just be OK to “let it out” whenever we want to; just say what’s on our mind; give everyone a piece of what we’re thinking? While the bible says we can’t tame the tongue (James 3:8-9) it does matter what we say because when we put the shoe on the other foot and are at the end of harsh words, we don’t like it.

There is a solution! I’ve learned that:

  • The process of words coming out of my mouth start long before they actually make their way out
  • There’s a very short time from my thoughts to what is said!
  • In that short time from head and heart to mouth…God can and will work to get me to think, act, and talk in the right way.

God can use those few seconds (or milliseconds) for me to come to the right conclusion of what I need to say in a right way. But it takes practice. Here’s the drill I try to practice to “Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned as it were, with salt, so that you may know how you should respond to each person.” (Col 4:6):

  • Take every thought captive. II Cor. 10:5b. “…and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” What does He want us to think about? Are these thoughts really what we should be dwelling on?
  •  Let the mind dwell on good and right things. (read Phil. 4:8)
  • Slow it down: thinking, acting and responding: “Let everyone be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger.” James 1:19
  • Take our walk with the Lord seriously. James 1: 22, “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.” Don’t blame others; take responsibility.
  •  Don’t get even; make things right. 1 Peter 3: 9, “To sum up, let all be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit not returning evil for evil, or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing.”
  • And when we mess up, confess it, and ask for forgiveness according to I John 1:8-9, “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

It takes practice, but the more I practice, the less of my evil twin I see!

WHAT GETS FED – WILL GROW (WOW! Write On Wednesday: Takes < 2 min.to read.)

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These flowers are from my garden. I grew them. I watered them. And for a short time, they bloomed and yielded beautiful flowers to personally enjoy and give to others. I don’t have a particularly green thumb; admittedly it rained more than I watered them, but none the less, they got the nourishment they needed to grow.

On the other hand, I’ve been given indoor plants. They’ve died. I’ve been told they need to be watered. Real flowers and plants (as opposed to dried or artificial) take a lot of work. Bottom line: if I don’t feed them, they don’t grow. Feed them; they grow.

Similarly:

  • If I read my Bible, I will learn.
  • If I obey what I read in the Bible, I will grow in that wisdom.
  • If I eat too much I will gain weight.
  • If I constantly complain I will grow into a sour old woman.
  • If I feed the sin “that so easily entangles” (Hebrews 12:1) it will grow.

The converse is true. What I don’t feed, won’t grow.

As Joe and I have the privilege to mentor others, we see a trend. Not necessarily a good trend. We see young (and old) married couples ending their marriages because they refuse to feed their relationship with healthy doses of caring, respect, and honesty. (These are the 3 ingredients that make a marriage healthy according to author/counselor/speaker Leslie Vernick.)  We see singles choosing (intentionally) to act upon their desires and lusts feeding the wrong things – emotions, physical pleasure, etc. Some even say, “God will use my sin someday to teach others.” Why not start now and become the learner who does what pleases God?

It sounds so simple and easy; but it’s not. It’s hard. We all have the tendencies to feed our sin, our desires, etc. but it takes purposeful decisions to feed the right things that will yield a flower garden rather than weeds. Still, some insist they’d rather grow, pick, and keep growing weeds; which like sin grows out of control and takes over if left unattended.

What are you feeding? What gets fed – will grow.

 

I SURRENDER vs. I QUIT (WOW! Write.On.Wednesday! Takes < 2 minutes to read.)

“You are like an oak but God is making you into a willow.” Not the words a young wife and mom would welcome hearing from their mother-in-law. But indeed, my mother-in-law (whom I loved) was right.

I have a strong constitution; I know what I believe and I stand firm in it, and I know in whom I believe. I have a clear sense of right and wrong/true and false, strong convictions, and deep love and devotion to family and friends with whom I share healthy relationships (mutually caring, honest and respectful). But I’m also very not perfect. My mother-in-law, others, and I recognize my strengths and limitations.

It’s easy to be strong, confident, bold, and firm when life is going the way you think it should or want it to, but when the hard and cold winds of life blow, it will be the oak branch most likely to snap. The willow will bend and bow.

In the process of “life” (embracing a son with special needs: cerebral palsy, mental challenges, epilepsy and who’ll always be with us, the death of 5 family members within 10 years, and various “life” situations) were stormy winds to help me learn to bow instead of break. I learned, in the midst of many life challenges that I needed to become more like the willow if I wanted to survive the storms. The willow surrenders to the wind; the oak gives up and quits.

Most people I’ve talked to don’t particularly like the storms of life, but seem to be thankful for them. Lessons learned get us through (not necessarily “over”) the challenges and heartache. It takes time, but we learn it’s better to bend and bow in surrender to the Lord than to snap and quit. And the interesting thing: we’re always being tested to see if we’ll surrender or quit.

Are you more like the oak or the willow?

 

 

HYPOCRITES (WOW! Write.On.Wednesday! takes < 2 minutes to read)

None of us is perfect; and I suppose to some extent we’re all hypocrites. If we had to be perfect to go to church, churches would be empty. Yet what keeps the Christians from being hypocritical is admitting our sin and then doing something about it. Doing something about it is called repentance – turning away from sin. The prodigal son in Luke 15 realized his wayward path, came home to ask his father’s forgiveness and changed his ways, even saying he’d serve the father as a hired hand. He was repentant, broken, sorry, and wanted to make things right.

Yet there are many sitting in the church pews week after week, who walk out the doors of church and away from God Monday through Saturday. When we recognize (whether we hear it from the pastor, a friend, a relative, or hearing God’s voice through His word) our sin, we need to seek the Lord for how to stop our sinful ways. To sit in church and listen to excellent teaching about how to follow Christ, the importance of being an example to others by doing what He’s asked, and then to put on a show of piety and holiness one day of the week before we go back to our blatant sin, is making a mockery of God. He is not pleased.

I know He forgives each of us, but when we ignore His word, when we ignore the instruction of others in our lives who care about us enough to confront us of our sin, when we continue in that sin, we become haughty hypocrites. It seems we think we can fool or hide from Him. We individually need to seek Him for the right way of living, the power to live an abundant and fruitful life being directed and empowered by the Holy Spirit of God. We should put aside missions, soup kitchens, serving the poor, teaching Sunday School, and even sitting in church if we are doing these things to look holy to those around us, but have “another life” outside the church. Shame on us for thinking He won’t notice. Shame on us for thinking others won’t notice. Shame on us for thinking we can act one way and live in blatant sin. We need to ask Him to break our hearts so we will want to be restored to our Lord.

We don’t have to be hypocrites…we have a choice.

IS IT ABOUT MY SIN OR YOUR OPINION? (WOW! Write.On.Wednesday! Takes < 2 min. to read)

Not everyone agrees with everything we do. I’ve come to take things people say and put it through the filter of: “Is what they are saying to me about my sin or are they sharing their opinion?” That keeps me focused. I hear what they say and pray about it; if it’s a sin that I didn’t recognize or own up to then I need to do so. If it’s their opinion I seek the Lord for whether I need to heed their advice (perhaps they are His instrument to show me something I need to consider) or move on in what God has for me….then I rest. I can’t be burdened by others opinions – I’d be all over the place and not where I believe God wants me.

As unfortunate as it is, when we step out to do what God created us to do, we might be met with criticism – sadly sometimes from fellow Christians.  In our heart we set out to serve God by using the gifts He’s given and while there are many who will commend us there will be a handful of people who didn’t like something because it wasn’t their style, or preference, or the way they would do it.

I remember once writing someone a letter of encouragement to which the recipient said, “I didn’t think you were sincere in your letter.” It made me recognize and realize that we’re not called to serve God in a win or lose situation, but to use the gifts and talents He’s given whether we’re commended or criticized.

We can appreciate the opinions of others most of the time, but we must to remember that we can’t let everyone sway us with them.

Those are just my opinions…and now you can filter them.