Archives for August 2014

Lessons I Learned On Vacation Part 2: People Are People

Lessons I Learned From Vacation Part 2: People Are People

I want to apologize for another posting lapse.  We really aren’t forgetting about this blog and you our readers, it seems life has just taken over these past few weeks.  I recently returned to full-time work and am adjusting to this change of schedule.  Thank you for your patience with us!

On our trip to Europe this year, we had the opportunity to visit a few different countries and we learned many new things about the culture in each place.  For a girl who doesn’t like change or the unknown, this was quite a challenge for me.  From navigating our way through winding roads and tiny German villages to riding the metro or trains in Paris and Venice, it kept us constantly challenged in just figuring things out.

In each country we made an attempt to speak the language and honor the customs of the area.  At one point though after visiting a few countries back to back, I struggled with what I was even saying in attempting a hello at the bakery one morning-bonjour, hallo, ciao?  Sometimes I just reverted to a good old nod and smile which is a universal language!

Which leads me to the Lesson # 2 of our vacation.  As we traveled and experienced so many new sights, sounds and tastes,  I sometimes found myself just overwhelmed with the language barrier and the extreme foreignness of our surroundings.  It was during these moments that I took a breath, looked around and realized it wasn’t all that different from what I know.  People are people no matter what the language, food or customs.  They are all beloved sons and daughters of our Creator and that was very familiar to me.  I saw people smiling and frowning, annoyed and joyous in every country.  Some looked like they had the weight of the world on their shoulders, some like they didn’t have a care in the world.  I heard kids whining to their parents in French, Italian, German and English!  So when I felt overwhelmed I reminded myself of these things and found comfort  and familiarity in the “normal people behaviors” I saw all around me.  It is wonderful that God created us all so uniquely, but yet with many commonalities.

When we find ourselves judging other cultures or ways different from ours, it is good to step back and remember that we are not all that different.  Most people love and want to be loved, feel sad, happy and a myriad of other emotions.  They love their families, friends, children and most love gelato!  I know we do!  It is finding this common ground that we begin to build bridges of respect and understanding of each other ,which leads to peace and harmony.

Here are a few photos of people being people from our  vacation!

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Who doesn’t enjoy a beautiful sunny day in a garden. (Luxembourg Gardens, Paris)

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This group of fine Frenchman freed us from a broken parking garage!

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Do you think this woman finds joy in handing out chocolate samples from the giant chocolate fountain behind her?


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This is the Mister and me-who can resist a cut-out board!

IMG_2002A stranger helping my daughter with the last step of a steep climb on Mount Zugspitze, Germany’s highest mountain peak.

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Here is the view of the top of this mountain-hands down the most beautiful place I have ever seen!

Blessings,

Jen

Dancing in the Sky

There is a great sadness in our community tonight as a wonderful, sweet, loving women lost a short battle with cancer. I’ve know her and her parents since I married my husband 39 years ago. She was their only daughter and they are good and kind people. My heart is filled with sorrow for them. They have great faith though, and I know God will help move them through this grieving. Someone posted this on Facebook and thought it a very good song. I listened to it and decided to share it with all of our faithful followers. I think we all know what it is like to lose someone we love. Seems lately there has just been too many gone too soon. I hope you enjoy this song, and if you have lost someone, maybe it will touch your too.

In God’s faith and love,

Julie

Lessons From Vacation Part 1-Enjoying the Detour

You may have noticed the blog posts have been few and far between this summer.  Jules has been down for the count with pneumonia and I have been out of the country for five weeks!  I am home now and Jules has thankfully made a full recovery so hopefully we will be posting more regularly.  The girls and I had the opportunity to travel with my husband to Germany this summer.  We have had so many amazing adventures and created so many special family memories.  I won’t share all 1,200 of my vacation photos with you 🙂 , but I will show you a few of my favorites.  I have been in awe and amazement over and over on this trip with the absolute beauty in this world!
I titled this post “Lessons From Vacation” because on this extended stay out of the country,  I learned some things about myself, my family and people in general that I wanted to share with you.  I have been inspired to live my life a little differently and I hope this series of posts inspires you too.

This trip was different from any I have ever taken.  The Mister was responsible for most of the arrangements and it was very last minute.  I did not have months and months to plan and overthink things.  We basically packed up and left for five weeks without many set plans of what we were going to do.

My first stop when we got here was the local library to check-out some travel books.  We had an idea of the places we wanted to go, so I spent some time a couple of days before we left for the trip and researched the area and made a tentative list of things we might want to see and do. Normally, when we travel, I have planned it out weeks in advance and we have a tight schedule of all the things we want to do and see.  We did hit many of the “hot tourist spots” and I really enjoyed them, but I found some of my most memorable and happy moments of the trip were during the unexpected “detours” or last minute plans.

Below is a picture of the girls during one of our spontaneous stops on our way to another bigger destination.  We found this parking area near the Black Forest and we got out to explore.  We had so much fun running around the forest looking for the “Big Bad Wolf” and taking silly pictures.

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Here is another unplanned outing.  We intended to go an Alpine slide area that afternoon and it was closed because of rain.  We saw this Palace (King Ludwig’s Linderhof Palace) on our way back and decided to stop and check it out.  It was a fabulously beautiful discovery as you can see.  We made it in time for the last tour of the day and there were no crowds because of the late hour and rain.  We had so much fun running around the garden area taking pictures and just having fun!  We didn’t let the rain dampen our spirits.

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(King Ludwig had this grotto built behind the castle, it is a man-made cave hidden at the back of the estate.)

We had visited a lot of castles and climbed a lot of stairs and the girls decided they needed a break so at the last minute we decided to tour this chocolate factory in Cologne, Germany.  We had a blast trying samples from the giant chocolate fountain and learning the history of chocolate and how it is made.

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These are just a few examples of the “detours” we took on this vacation.  Had we been so intent on following a schedule or being a stickler for “the plan”, we would have missed out on these fun, family times.  In fact, I think our family was the happiest and most content during these detours because there were no pre-existing expectations.  We just jumped in and had fun!

I am a planner, organizer and list maker and living this way was so freeing! I definitely want to take this experience from vacation and apply it to my daily life.  It is okay to have plans, but when they don’t work out or there is an opportunity for a detour, I want to embrace it, instead of feeling stressed or disappointed. Who knows what fun could be around the corner.  I want to be more open to the plans God has for my life, which may be very different than my plan.  

How about you?  Are you a planner or do you just see where the road takes you?  I would love to hear how you spend your vacations!

I hope you are all having a wonderful summer!


~Blessings,
Jen

Are You a Helper??

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Are you a helper?? You know what I mean right? You are the one that is always there for those in need. You selflessly give your time and energy to your family, your friends or anyone you see in need! That’s a good thing right? Helping can help us feel good about ourselves. It makes us feel needed, wanted, loved. While all these things are true, and I often tell people the best way to feel better about your problems is to go help someone, just being a helper is not always a good thing.

Recently it seems I keep encountering (mainly women) who are such great helpers, that they can’t seem to stop to let people help them, even when they really need it. I’m here to tell you, it is OKAY to let others help you, even if you are a helper. As a reformed “helper only” I learned this lesson a long time ago from a good friend. You see, I too never wanted to let anyone help me. It didn’t matter if I was sick, overwhelmed, or just plain needed something. I was the fixer, the helper, the “needed one!” My friend asked me this question one day. “Do you know how good you feel helping others?” “Yes,” I replied, wondering just what she was getting at. “Well, she said. Every time you DON’T let someone help you, you are robbing them of the joy of the feeling of helping others.” Hmmm…wow. Now that was something to ponder. Over the years I have gotten a lot better at it. I can admit when I’m in over my head and I need help. It is not a weakness to need help!

As a mental health therapist I am coming across this a lot. People with debilitating illnesses that feel guilty that they have to ask their families for help. People who will just shut down and suffer because they don’t feel they have the right to ask for help. They are helpers, not helpless, which is how a lot of people feel when they have to ask for help. So I would like you to ponder on this. Are you only a helper? Or do you also let people have the joy of helping you? By all means, being helpful is a wonderful thing, but it is equally as important to let people help you when you need it with no strings attached! People help out of love. Don’t forget that sometimes you just need to let others do the loving!

Have a great weekend!

Julie