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Posts Tagged ‘debbye graafsma’


You read it right, friends.  Believe it or not, it is the name of magazine: “Garden and Gun; Soul of the New South.”  As I sat waiting at a friend’s house this week, I picked it up to read. Fascinating.  I wasn’t born in the south, but I wish I was.  I’ve been eating grits, rice and gravy, okra, catfish and ribs for as long as I can remember.  Our family has gone through a gallon of sweet tea a day since Bill and I married back in the 70’s…. Am I telling my age?  Oh well.

The article that tickled my fancy in this particular issue, was called “Fetch Daddy a Drink,” by P.J. O’Rourke (I find myself wondering whether that is a man’s real name — but whatever — this is the south)….. It was the sub-title that caught my attention — “How to apply gun-dog training methods to your children.”  I was hooked.  Was Mr. O’Rourke calling my children animals? (Not that I hadn’t thought it quietly to myself once or twice when they were smaller — but to put such a thing in print?  Really now…)

In a nutshell, Mr. O’Rourke had taken the instructions of famous dog-trainer, Richard Wolters, in the book “Gun Dog” and translated them into parenting lingo.  While the hilarious outcome of his discussion was entertaining, I found several things I agree with, that I can’t resist sharing with you; logging them away here in cyberspace.

Three Rules To Train A Good Dog

1. Start ’em young — Don’t wait to train a pup until he is a year old.  Begin early.  Make solid imprintings that leave a legacy of behavior patterns. (I stopped to think; manners, habits, making the bed, even prayer….. okay.) O’Rourke says puppies who begin training at one year see a success rate of 20%, while puppies who begin such training at  5 weeks see a rate of 90%.  (In people years, that would mean waiting until my child was 7 to expect him/her to make their bed….. and looking back… potty training definitely had to happen earlier than seven…. Continue O’Rourke… I’m listening.)

2. Repetition, repetition, repetition. Keep repeating the lesson until the pup learns it, Mr O’Rourke says. (My years as a children’s pastor tell me this is true as well — I always had to remember the One Minute Window Rule.  That’s the rule that says I get one minute of undivided attention from a child for every year of their emotional development….. Hmm…. are we on to something?)

3.  Keep things concise.  “Don’t clutter a pup’s brain with useless nonsense,” quotes the author.  “Keep your commands short.” (I agreed with him up til now, so I read on…. ) The basic commands are SIT, STAY, COME, and WHOA. According to O’Rourke, his son will need to learn those rules if he wants to experience a happy marriage….

I put the magazine down.  I found myself smiling — and at the same time wondering whether the author didn’t have a good point in the midst of his bizarre approach to child rearing. 

In the 1920’s, algebra and geometry were college courses, as were foreign languages, and the lab sciences.  Back then, long division was introduced in the freshman year of high school. Music, the arts, and hands-on classes were part of the learning experience; education utilized all of the learning styles.  Now, in the twenty-first century, our schools are aimed for the 7% of the population who are visual learners. We are harried, hassled, and time compressed.  And now? Five times the amount of information the children of the 20’s and 50’s were expected to absorb, is now on the plates of our children who attend school.  We have become obsessed as a nation with seeking to make sure our children know more, do more, make more and become more than any generation before them…..

Additionally, our children’s health conditions show the results of that approach to preparing them for adult life.  They struggle with ADHD, ADD, childhood depression, behavioral disorders, OCD, obesity, anxiety, sleep disorders, to name a few.  Just last week, I read a news article about a middle schooler who had tried to end his life.  Presently, in my own counseling practice, I regularly see at least five children under the age of 12, with big-people sized problems.

What’s gone wrong with our plan?

Which brings me back to Mr. O’Rourke. There are two major elements underlying the author’s entire “gun-dog” approach to parenting; elements we all really should adhere to if we desire success in raising our children — or our grandchildren — or our employees, even, for that matter.  They are elements applying on any level of leading — whether coaching, counseling,  mentoring, teaching or parenting. 

That missing element is Relationship; personal contact and consistent communication.  To put it in “gun-dog” lingo: When an owner trains a pup, he is personally involved, on every level, for each stage.  He learns to anticipate what the pup will do. He spends time observing; learning how his dog thinks.  It’s how obedience happens.  It’s how loyalty is nurtured.

With personal time.

As parents, we teach our children not only by what we say, but by what they see us doing; day in and day out.  Our actions and attitudes do more to teach than any lecture.  Thank you Mr. O’Rourke for your insight, and your humor….

I know I needed your advice. And the laughs.

But I don’t think I will ever be able to look at one of my children with a palm raised like a stop sign and utter, “Sit and stay.”  (I’d like to raise their personal value level a little higher than that, I think.)

(C)2010 DG– awakenedtogrow.com

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About a year ago, I was working on materials for a retreat.  The theme was “The Value of A Woman.”  In the process of preparing materials, I kept coming across references that described God’s attitude towards us as His children.  As I personalized them, the following list emerged.  I hope it will encourage you as much as it did me. 

  • I look on the heart. I know your heart.    
  • I am kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving.            
  • I am the God who sees you.                 
  • I am rich in mercy.                
  • I made you alive, when you were dead.       
  • I have forgiven you for your past life and mistakes
  • I want you to sit with me in heavenly places
  • I want to pull you up to see things like I see them.
  • I want to show you the exceeding riches of my  grace and my kindness.
  • You can’t earn this. Its my gift to you.
  • I have prepared good things for you.
  • I have prepared a good path for you to walk on
  • I have a design in mind for your life.
  • I am your refuge.
  • I want you to pour your heart out to me.
  • I hear you when you call me.
  • I am leaning over with my hand behind my ear so  I can hear you
  • I am full of grace. 
  • I do the right thing.
  • When you are in your lowest place, I will save you.
  • I will deal bountifully with you.
  • You are mine.
  • I save your tears in a bottle.
  • I want to wipe them from your eyes.
  • Your tears are precious to me.
  • I want to help you walk well in your life.
  • I want to deliver you from anything that would take life from you in any area.
  • I have only good news for you
  • I want to heal every place where your heart is broken.
  • I want to set you free in every place where you are all tied up.
  • I will show you the things you can’t see.
  • I will heal your blind-spots
  • If you can’t see, I will give you the ability to see.
  • I am the one who takes oppression off of you.
  • I want you to be free.
  • I want to bind up your wounds so you can heal.
  • I like to talk to you. 
  • I want to help your reasoning powers to understand how I can wash you.
  • I am watching over you, to protect you, all the time.
  • I will never leave you alone. 
  • I know that you believe in me. 
  • You are my friend.
  • I have always loved you.
  • My love for you will never end.
  • I pour out kindnesses on you, in order to draw you close to me. 
  • I love spending time with you.
  • I search your heart. 
  • I understand the motives of what you feel.
  • I know you inside and out. 
  • I planned you before I planned the earth.
  • I designed you. 
  • I want you to be here – at this time – in this generation.
  • I have knit you together — with skill and purpose.
  • I have put gifts in you. 
  • I have placed calling on you. 
  • I have given you dignity.
  • You can stand up and not be afraid, because I am with you. 
  • I go before you, and I’ve got your back.
  • You are in the middle of an inner circle with me.  You are my Beloved. 
  • You are accepted.
  • I like you. You are my treasure.
  • I do not deal with you based on your mistakes.
  • I don’t look at your tendencies to sin.
  • I want to heal you.
  • I don’t keep record of your failings.
  • When you bring your mistakes and your failings to me, I put them so far from each other, they will never even see each other again.
  • When you call me, I will come to you
  • When you are overwhelmed, I will come to you
  • I will rescue you
  • I will ride the wind, and come in smoke and fire.  I will thunder at the enemy who wants to destroy you.
  • I will draw you to myself, to a safe place. 
  • I will hold you there.
  • I will support you. 
  • I will breathe life into you.
  • I will put you in a broad place.
  • I delight in you.
  • I dance over you.
  • I sing over you.
  • I have placed a banner over you called “loved one.”  That’s my label on your life – “Loved one.”
  •  I am never too busy to spend time with you.
  • I have given you a new name
  • I want you to know what I am doing in your life.
  • You are not my slave, or my servant. You are my friend.
  • I have laid down my life for you.
  • I love you. You are precious to me.
  • I chose you before the foundation of the world.
  • You are holy and blameless when I look at you.
  • You are mine. No one can steal you from me. 
  • There is no one more powerful than me.
  • I have blessed you with every spiritual blessing in Jesus.
  • You are my treasure.
  • Your value has been determined by the price paid.
  • I paid it all.  ALL.
  • You are mine.
  • I want you to be with me forever.
  • I want you to have a good life.
  • I have good plans for you.
  • You are mine.
  • You are my favorite.
  • You are mine.

The next time you feel distance in your relationship with Abba Father, read this list to yourself — perhaps out loud.  I promise, it will lift your heart. 

(c) 2009 DG — awakenedtogrow.com — No duplication without permission

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Don’t you just love the AT&T commercials about the mother who wants her family to realize the value of their rollover minutes?  I think my favorite part of the whole thing is watching the facial expressions of those around her; her sons, her husband…. Body language says it all, friends.

(If you haven’t seen the series, I include a youtube link here.)  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NFepU_hcZ0s&feature=PlayList&p=23F1FDE8BDDDEBA1&index=3 

Which brings me to yesterday’s funny moment. Believe it or not, a lot of them happen in counseling…. Anyway, one of the couples I see in Inner Life Development, was sitting in my office. The three of us are in the midst of discovering how they can best communciate with each other.  Even though they have been married awhile, this man and his wife can go days without indepth touch or connection.  Some days they don’t even speak to each other. 

They never learned how…. How can you do something you never were taught to do, or even saw occur? 

You can’t. It’s impossible to give away what we haven’t received…..

Sadly, each of us have areas in our lives where that question could be applied… Each of us must discover our own need for conflict and change.  And by change, I mean growth. 

The element to lift us from our melee? A healthy response. Our response when we become personally aware of our ignorance;  that response is telling in our development of character.  It is the key to the Holy-Spirit-provided door to unlock our Personhood. Most especially, our response shows our capacity for relationship; not only with others, but with God as well.  How do we respond?  Do we become angry? Withdraw? Defend ourselves?  Or, do we open our lives to others, ask a question, apply the answer, and continue towards emotional health; then spiritual maturity?

One cannot happen without the other.

Currently, I see four couples; each of whom has developed discontenment with the normal “non-talk” in their day-to-day.  Rather, they have chosen to live on a learning curve; bravely stepping into the unknown; learning to speak a new language; to invest themselves; to leap with their eyes open.  As such, they are in the 8% of those in our culture who are willing to actively seek healthy change and pursue it. 

These couples are learning to bond in their marriages where they have not been vulnerable to anyone else before; ever.  And, as they make discoveries, I am gaining  fresh understanding as well.  As we go, we are creating Learning Steps for the process of bonding.  The steps eventually will come in the form of worksheets; then a workbook I hope to make available on a larger scale; “Bonding: How To Do Relationships.”   As we go, each of the couples has agreed to let me share parts of their stories as part of the learning process we will make available for others.

Which brings me back to yesterday, (with permission, of course.)

At the end of our session, this precious couple was discussing with me, the week’s realizations.  I was explaining the worksheet packet they were taking away as part of their homework for the next week.  I said, “I would like you to set aside time to speak with each other for ten minutes each day.  This needs to be purposeful time. You are going to share your hopes, your experiences and your fears. You can even talk about what you are learning as you work through the worksheets I have given you. The time you share together has to go deeper than just the facts of the day. Please sit at a table together to talk. Don’t be distracted when you share. Set a timer, if you have to.  Here is the rule: You don’t stop communicating until the timer goes off, but if you go past the ten minutes; that’s a good thing.”

The husband looked at me.  For a moment, he was quiet. Bear in mind, he is learning the value of communicating and vulnerability.  He asked, “If we go over our ten minutes on one day, can we count those minutes on the assignment for the next day?”

After a few seconds of silence, I laughed out loud.  I couldn’t help it.  “No,” I answered. “That doesn’t work! We don’t rollover minutes on communication!”

It opened an entirely new door of learning.  Right then.

Which makes me think once again of the AT&T mom — and I wonder … How many couples out there are holding bowls of unused minutes, saving them for later? 

After all, leftovers never are quite as good……

(C)2010 DG — awakenedtogrow.com

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She’s only five.  Just. She has short blond hair, and dancing eyes that look right through me, especially when we are drawing pictures together; especially when she plays with the knights and ladies and horses… but most of all when she is standing next to my desk, asking for yet another heart-shaped lollipop. 

Yesterday, she came in with her mother. 

Yesterday.  It was snowing in our city — in the month of March– much too late for icy weather in the south.  Drive slowly on black ice, folks.  You don’t see it coming. Yesterday. The child couldn’t stay inside during our session.  So, she and her mother created a ten inch snowman ornament for the hood of my little car.  Wish I had taken a picture — he was formidable. He endured the drive home, and was still frozen to my car’s hood, pointing forward, this morning at 6am. She makes me giggle.

Yesterday.

It wasn’t long ago this little one first came in to see me.  We had to get to know each other, you see. She was having trouble letting go in the morning. No one knew why. She wouldn’t talk —  In my own humble opinion, the child holds too gracious of a spirit to burden the adults around her.

So we played together — drawing pictures, punching play-doh, jousting knights and ladies, with puppets, …and with the dollhouse.  When the focus of her fear finally surfaced, she crawled into a fetal position; she substituted grunts for words; she quietly pulled away and wept; she tried to climb into the five-inch opening between my desk and wall cabinet.  It was her attempt to find a safe place to hide; a cave; a womb.   It was time for a rescue.

Did you know that a child will show their trust by speaking to you? Such a feat requires time and safety….

Her abuser denies any wrongdoing. 

We are slowly working through her perceptions about herself, and about men in general. Much too soon she will be confronted with the much larger outside world.  Can we help her steady her feet before it appears?  Dear Jesus, I pray so. 

How does this happen to a five year old? I have seen many such children over the years, and yet it still confounds me —

The pervasiveness of evil in the world around us? On a small level, perhaps — but in reality that entity is nothing, but a loud bully on the playground.  What confounds my heart and mind is this — The infiniteness of the love of Father God; deeper than any evil, any fear, any abandonment, any pain; wider than any blockage, any accusation, any broken place.  He reaches into our humanity, and restores identity; greater than any loss, any abuse, any difficulty — and it is eternal. Eternally mine, because I belong to Him

Do you belong to Him?  Then, it is yours as well. And He will move heaven and earth to redeem, to rebuild, to restore, to repair and to re-create what the false gods and philosophies of this world have stolen from you. 

He  is God.  No substitutions, no additives. Just God.

It’s been several months now, since my dollhouse tow-head came to visit for the first time.  Her mother can’t pay, so my cheeks receive my fee in sticky kisses (lollipop derived); as her mother is trying to rebuild her life.  We came up with a business name and made flyers and business cards last week — we can’t wait to see what Jesus will do for her.

I have long said — “People who need help and counsel can’t afford it; when people have money for help and counsel they don’t want it. They become distracted with all the things they think will heal their pain.”

My husband suggested that I invite those who are taking this newest adventure of blogging with me, into my own journey. He said you should know what it is I do these days…..

Many of my clients are just like these two precious souls — like butterflies emerging from a long and hard winter; getting ready to unfold their wings and become.

Pray for us.  Pray for me.  And, if it occurs to you, and you would like to support our ministry at Awakened to Grow, you can do so through my website; awakenedtogrow.com. And I promise, any gift you give will be used to provide care for those who cannot afford to pay for themselves.

(C) 2010 DG — awakenedtogrow.com

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What is it about Facebook that draws me in?  I’ll go on to just catch up with my long distance friends, and find myself an hour (or more!) later, wondering where the time went….. it’s like a black hole in a Time Management Suspense Movie…. how does the time disappear?

I teach piano and voice — have done so for the past thirty years or so.  Never meant to. Never even thought I was qualified to do so. Somehow, it just showed up in my resume.  Things got financially challenging during the early years of pastoring, and Bill suggested I try it.  Now, here I am years later, still doing it.  Am I addicted, or just stubborn?  I can’t tell.  We have gone through seasons with it — from 5 students to 60 students — from 1 recital a year, to competitions, 2 recitals and senior projects — Now I have 9.  I love them all; perhaps it’s the relationships…

It’s a sense of teaching people how to speak a new language.  Admittedly, I enjoy the sour notes students play; I get to help them fix their conjugation; accent; prononciation. It’s a great feeling when a student learns to emode through their fingers ; letting feeling flow into the music, giving it expression…

I was reminded this morning of an experience I had during a student’s lesson years ago.  This former student is now a friend;  now married (to another former student).  He is a young minister, band leader and musicman.  Of late, we have been posting back and forth on facebook. I am watching his life, listening to his comments, and find myself  anticipating how the Holy Spirit will be using him in the next few years to reach his generation.

While on this reminiscence pathway, I found myself smiling.  He will get there in spite of his piano/voice instructor’s inabilities. The specific picture that came to mind was clear. Chad was in a level of learning where he was deciphering the lydian, dorian and jazz scales. His assignment was to play each of the scales in each key.  There are twelve keys. The amazing boy had to play each scale  four octaves, and also play the two minor scales.  The process took about 15 minutes and served as a solid warmup for the harder pieces he was working on at the time.  His scales always had a concrete metronome rhythm; and as such could lull a person into “blank slate” mode.  As the metronome ticked on, I fell asleep. Sound. 

While I won’t blame the student, I will say it wasn’t really my fault (denial, you say?).  Bill and I had had a late night at the church we pastor the night before . So I dozed — sorry. But the boy was focused, intent on his assignment.  I was startled awake from my “power nap” by a loud silence. Opening my eyes, I saw him gazing at me.  I still have no idea how long it had been since the final note had been played.  

“Mrs. Graafsma?” he inquired, always polite (which I credit to his parents, by the way). “Are you okay?” 

Flustered, I looked back at him.  “Were you happy with how they sounded?” I asked.

He didn’t say anything at first.  He just got that funny sideways grin, and his eyes twinkled. At that moment, I realized he knew.  I was busted. “The scales?” he asked.  For a moment, I thought he might be playing with me — had he played a piece as well?  I checked his music on the music stand.  No, it wasn’t open yet.   “Yeah,” he continued, “they were okay.”

I took a breath.  “Good.”  I replied. “I thought so too.”  We went on with the lesson.

Let me digress a little at this point. In the last 30 years, I have discovered there are three types of piano students.  Sadly;  the primary type is peppered in-between the latter two types. These are students who have no real inclination to learn, or discover, but have been convinced, bribed, or threatened by their parents to “try” music and see if they like it.  It takes time and a developing of trust to help these students to admit it is okay to speak up and ask to do something else, please.

The latter two types are divided equally.  First, there are those who have a degree of talent; who love music, want to learn, and can’t wait to discover something new, but realize they will have to work hard to get to the finish line. These are the tortoises. Then there are those who hold a degree of giftedness, who love music, want to learn, can’t wait to discover something new, but are handicapped by the fact that everything they do has come easily.  These are the hares. 

Chad, songwriter and philosopher that he has become — was a hare — who learned to become a tortoise.  He is an example of a gifted boy who confronted his desire to “sprint ahead,” and took the time to address the “next step” in a disciplined manner. He was willing to work hard — deciphering the nitty gritty, and taking away what was useful. Those abilities will take him far, because that is a life lesson we all need to apply in every area of our lives.

Because of that developed character, I am convinced he will make a difference; no matter where God places him.  Thanks for listening, Chad — and for being willing to let the Holy Spirit use you.  Watching how you learned, helped me to make discoveries about teaching. 

See you on Facebook.

(C)2010 DG — awakenedtogrow.com

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So, I’ve been told it’s time to begin a blog — never heard of the word until my children described it to me — and even then, it has taken much too long to begin the process. As it has been explained to me — this is an environment where we journal — the old word that I’m familiar with — but blogging seems to be the public method; on display; open for comment — perhaps guidance? (I need as much of the latter as I can get my mind around these days….)  It seems the older you become, the less you really know…. how does that work again?

Like this morning.  I’ve made a pot of coffee must be a million times. I’ve even been told I make good coffee — but we added a twist to the mix….. we have a new coffeepot.  In the words of my oldest child, (and former Starbucks Barista), “How can you screw up coffee?” Well, let me tell you — it’s simple.  You do what you’ve done a million times before, and don’t think about it — until the pot is spouting steam, water is dancing on the burner in tiny droplets, and brown flecks of portfolio-priced beans are leaking all over your kitchen counter.  When such an occurrance happens it is then, and only then, one notices that this particular appliance requires the basket be put in a certain way — it seems there is a little notch on the basket that must be “just so” — It was then I realized how stuck into old habits and views I had become in my relationship to my old coffee pot — Did anyone else buy this model?

Which brings me to my first blog subject. 

I ministered at a dear friend’s church yesterday; much larger than my husband’s and mine.  We met at 6:00am for prayer and worship — I got to lead the worship segment — it was wonderful. It was more wonderful because the morning began with failure. Early planner/detailer that I am, I had set my alarm for 4:30, giving myself time to get ready and drive the 25-40 minutes to her door from my home.  Anticipating the early morning, I found I couldn’t sleep the night before.  Well, as you might guess, my alarm didn’t go off — don’t even know why — perhaps its getting older like me. I awoke with a start at 5:20am — soundcheck was supposed to happen at 5:30am — not happening today folks….

She called me at 5:32 — “Are you okay?” (Yes, I said, as I was rushing around — pulling on my dress pants — I’ll be there…this really is important to me…. ) She couldn’t have been kinder.

Long story short, they prayed without me til 6:15, when I walked in the door. No one panicked, or was in a hurry. In fact, I was hugged and greeted.  When I walked into the sanctuary, my friend hugged me, and said “Relax — just go up there and let God use you.”  (Did I tell you she was a dear friend?)   Her assistant took the time to pour bottled water into a goblet… they acted as if it was part of the program for the worship leader to arrive after the meeting had begun… I went right to the piano, and then looked out. (They had more intercessors gathered than Bill and I have in our congregation — at 6:00AM!– and all of those wonderful people had probably been early to the meeting!)

The Lord met us — Our time extended, and I stayed at the piano. Afterwards, my friend and I went out for breakfast — and then, at her invitation, we came back and spent some time in her office together, – meeting a publications representative, and talking about the differences in our ministries.  We live in two completely different worlds — my friend and I — serving the same Lord, and the same family.  Her church runs several thousand. Ours runs 100 or so (I say the “or so” because we are growing, ever so slowly). Her church ministers to the urban community and has two campuses.  Ours ministers to the suburban culture and has two buildings.

As I looked around her office, I gained an insight and an education about her world.  I am gaining new understanding on my eternal family.  Her African-American culture has a beautiful and painful history.  The images on her walls hold more color than those on my walls.  There is a different understanding about the world’s ways that is part of her environment….. Things I thought I knew….  I have so far to go — How badly I want to be effective in all of the cultures around me…

It’s kind of like working with a new coffeepot.

(C)2010 DG — awakenedtogrow.com

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