Assessment Power

Do you remember those bar graphs in school? We all had to learn different ways to monitor progress for a variety of items. I liked the pie charts and bar graphs because they were colorful and made more sense to me. I should say again that they were colorful. Any time I could bring in some creative, artistic stuff into school work, I was great with that!

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Many of you that use WordPress know that there is a bar graph showing how many people visit your site. (I guess they are people, I’m hoping they are people!) There is also a cute little map showing where the people are from. I find this highly addicting. Every day I’m drawn to see what the bar graph is showing and what parts of the country have made a visit. “Wow! Someone in Ireland checked out my blog!” That is very exciting for me and a real honor. I always think it’s pretty neat when someone reads something I’ve written. I guess I’m just new enough to this that it still thrills me.

But unfortunately, I’m still human as well. And I notice that when I don’t post for a few days, those cute, little, blue bars get shorter and shorter. And that’s depressing.

We all know and understand that marketing and promoting is very difficult in any area. So difficult that some people have gone to school just for that and they are hired at companies to do only that job. And some make a lot of money doing it. So when you’re trying to market and promote yourself, it’s like racing across a frozen lake in April, just trying to stay ahead of the breaking, disintegrating ice.

Why do we as humans focus so much on what people think? Why are we constantly striving for that reward, acknowledgement, or tall blue line? A friend of mine commented the other night while we were giving a book talk in our little town. She was referring to Facebook and what a draw it it to see who has liked something, or commented. She said it was like receiving candy. And it is! It’s another boost to our over-sugared egos. And we want more and more.

Do we function in such a manner because of our feelings of inadequacy? Is any little positive comment, or pat on our back a reason to celebrate and change the course of our day? And then the reverse be true if someone kicks us in the gut, or tears us down verbally? I would hope not, but I know it to be a fact in my own life. As I’ve aged, the jabs don’t hurt as much as they once did. My skin is a little tougher. But the positive feedback means even more to me.

We are human, and we were created with a soul and emotions. We were designed to be loved and needed. The mean words and actions from others cut deeply. The rewards and encouraging words do make our day, and I’m glad for it. There was a time in my life when those feelings were numb, and I don’t want to go through life in that manner. I want to feel the highs and the lows, the crushing hurt and the exhilaration. It’s what makes this life exciting. The hard times make us appreciate the easy ones. Just as a runner would enjoy a cool drink, a shower and a soft chair after a race, we revel in a time of peace and happiness.

So, I’ll continue to check the little, blue bars on here. I’ll be excited when I see another country check in that I haven’t heard from yet. If the bars are low, it will encourage me to post again. It’s just another way to evaluate my progress and see what I need to be doing. What do you think? (Because I really need to know if you liked this post!)

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Another Anniversary

When I was young, a wedding was a happy celebration for me. It was a day to dress up in a beautiful gown, have flowers overflowing every surface, and you walked down the aisle to your handsome husband-to-be. It was the most tremendous of happenings in a young girl’s life. And I looked forward to my wedding day with great expectation.

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When our first daughter was married almost eight years ago, it wasn’t a happy day for me. Yes, I know that is a rather blunt way to put it, and it seems a bit selfish, but that was the way I felt. I was losing my oldest daughter, and all the attributes she brought to our family circle…and I was depressed. That tiny baby I held at birth, and cherished, was no longer mine, she belonged to someone else.

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As I look at my husband in this picture, I see sadness on his face. And I know he was feeling many of the same emotions I was.

Fast forward a few years to our second daughter’s wedding. No, I wasn’t any more happy about it. I was sad and depressed. Again, a part of our family was once again changing, and it would never be the same. She was leaving us by choice, and that hurt.img_0539

I think the most difficult part of each wedding ceremony for me was watching my husband walk our daughters down the aisle, and then kiss her goodbye. It really symbolizes the ending of one way of life and the beginning of another.

Our third daughter is celebrating her first wedding anniversary today. Her wedding, one year ago was just as hard on the emotions. Even more poignant was the fact that she wore my wedding dress and veil. It was an honor, but flooded my mind with so many memories of my own wedding day. All those years shuffled away under the load of babies, jobs, bills, and responsibilities. Where had they all gone is such a hurry?

When I was young, I never thought of weddings as being a sad day. I pretty much thought people were shedding tears of happiness. I didn’t understand all that was behind those tears…just as our daughters do not understand right now. And that’s how it should be.

Our three daughters, (we have one more to go), have all married wonderful young men. They have lives of their own now. Yes, it’s been very difficult to let go of each one, and I know I’m not successful at it most of the time. Those girls were MY babies not many years ago. I fed them, rocked them, and sang them to sleep at night. I dressed them up in matching clothes, and fixed their hair every morning. I was frustrated with them as teenagers, hoping they would leave home very quickly on many days over the years. But now they are no longer mine as they once were, and in reality, they never were really mine.

I was allowed a very short number of years in their life in my role as their mother. Yes, I’m still ‘Mom’ but not in the same way. It’s hard to let go, and it’s sad. I think I cry each time one of them celebrates another anniversary. But I am happy for them, proud of them, and thankful that they still choose to include me in their lives, sometimes almost on a daily basis. And someday they will understand. I pray that by the time that day arrives, I will have matured enough to hold them, and give comfort. That I will be able to tell them there is happiness in watching their children grow as men and women, husbands and wives, and fathers and mothers.

And that’s just as it should be.

Happy First Anniversary, Mitchel and Alyssa Lynn! You are loved!

My View is Not Your View

This photograph speaks to me on many different levels. Each time I look at it, I try to figure out all the reasons why. I’m going to list my thoughts, and please share yours on what this photograph does for you.

The sunlight coming in gives hope and a feeling of happiness, but the darker surroundings, and the bare bushes create a sense of loss or sadness.

The neat and tidy bricks, clean and glowing in the sunlight appeal to my joy of order in life. The metal banister on each side contributes to boundaries and almost gives you tunnel vision, causing you to focus on the person.

The person, definitely a man in my opinion. Because of the bold stance, one hand in the pocket. If you look very closely, there may be another person standing to the right. That is something I just now noticed after viewing this several times over the past few weeks.

Now for the part that causes confusion for me. Does that walkway extend into the water, almost fading to the edge of the horizon?  Is it a seawall of sorts? Notice the calm waves to the left and the more turbulent water on the right. And if it’s a seawall, it must be high-tide.

Does this photograph give you a sense of happiness or doom? Is it hope, or hopelessness that you feel when you look at it?

When I view this, and I have many, many times, I feel as though I have been on a long, tightly controlled journey. At the end of that uniform, brick walkway, I stand and the options are open to me. There is a vast array of choices.Some of them are a bit chaotic, but there is hope, and a definite feeling of joy as I look at the brilliant rays trailing over the water. I have come from the darkness surrounding me, the gloom, and I have survived. For me, that partially submerged walkway means that there is direction and all I have to do is keep walking toward the welcoming light.

I know that many will look at this and think, “Yeah, it’s a person enjoying the sunset, nothing more.” That same person will think that the glass is half-empty.

For me, life is so much more enjoyable because of our abilities to see, hear, taste and smell. I know it is for most of us. But do we really use those senses as we should? Do we take full advantage of them on a daily basis? Probably not. Use your senses as you study this photograph. Hear the ocean waves, smell and taste the salt water in the air and on your tongue. Feel the breeze.

I love photographs and pictures that speak to me. I like to try to find the hidden meaning, or what the photographer or artist were thinking at the time that the work was produced. I like to ‘get’ what they were communicating.

This photograph is so much more than what you see. After all, my view is not your view. I think this scene could capture our Christian journey here on this earth. So much of our lives are a struggle, clouded in darkness and the daily trials and tribulations. But if your hope is in Heaven, you follow that brick walkway and the future is open and brilliant at the end of your journey. It can still be a little chaotic as you travel, but the path is there, and all you have to do is follow. The Son is beckoning.

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Peace of Life

Hello…is anybody out there? Some days, you just feel…alone. It seems as though no matter what you say, it’s taken wrong. That you only have friends and family if you agree and support them. If the tables were turned…you’d be flopping on a beach, struggling for air.

Some days…we have those kind of days. Sometimes I wonder, if I just said what I wanted to, like others do to me, would I still have a friend or family member? If I expressed myself, did what I wanted, when I wanted…would people still speak to me…as I’m expected to when dealing with them?

There are days when I want to go far, far away, and forget all the troubles. I don’t want to worry about money, if the house is clean, the yard is mowed, the weeds are pulled. I don’t want to navigate the finances for a new furnace and overhaul on the house. I would like to only take care of my job at work, and have people help me as I always try to do. I don’t want to answer the phone for one more telemarketer or political call. Are the dishes done, the laundry clean, the oil changed in the car? Is the cat in or out…and is she up-to-date on her rabies shot if she’s out. Will the dog be sad and lonely if left too long? After all, he needs to be happy too.

Philippians 4:6 (NASB)

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

At times, this verse is hard to grasp. It floats beyond my reach, my thoughts of all the above crowding and littering my mind…until all I see is the miserable, selfish part of my life.

Be anxious for nothing. Instead of wanting to escape to a beach in Maine, far north where it’s too cold for others…I need to stop the quicksand of life in this world today. I need to stop and pray, thank God for everything that He has allowed in my life…good and bad. For He has allowed it for a purpose. Then I need to ask Him to help me with my day, my thoughts…and give me peace.

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In my mind, I can be on that beach. Listening to the waves roll in, the salty wind upon my face. I can watch the sunset and know there will be another day…and it may go better than the one I’m dealing with right now. And it may not, but I can have peace and contentment.

There are not too many of us that can change what is going on in our world today. We can’t put better, different people in office, we can’t make our neighbor live how we want them to. Unless you’re the boss, your co-workers don’t answer to you. We can’t use our rights to trample over everyone else’s. And no, we can’t even really control our own little world of family and friends. But we can choose to be at peace and live with contentment. Make a decision today to change your little world…and the rest of the world might not be so difficult to deal with. Have a great Monday!