The True Test of Your Character

Since my target audience on this blog is young women, and I know many of you are sisters-as I am one- I have been thinking recently of different ideas for becoming better, kinder, happier sisters.

Our siblings see and know our true character better than anyone else. 

It’s easy to put on a “sweet front” for outside friends, coworkers, or a boyfriend, but our siblings are the ones who know the person we really are.

If you are interested in finding out who you really are, ask the people who see you at your worst.

For a “character test” to gauge where you are in some crucial areas of your character, I encourage you to do the following:

With blank paper and pen, jot down some character qualities you are wondering how you rate in. It could be areas you know you stink in, or some you think you’re doing pretty well in. Whatever the case, write down 4-6 (or all:) of these. An example would be some of the following:

  1. Kindness 
  2. Patience 
  3. Flexibility 
  4. Sweet words
  5. Selflessness 
  6. Love
  7. Happiness 
  8. Grace
  9. Smiling 
  10. Being calm when things go wrong
  11. Respecting parents 
  12. Diligence 
  13. Optimism/being positive 
  14. Speaking well of others

Write your qualities of choice on a small piece of paper, and make one such paper for each of your siblings that are old enough to write and understand (my 9 year old sister would definitely get this). If you want, you can even print them out with explanations underneath for the younger siblings that might not be sure what something like “diligence” means.

Explain to your siblings (together or individually) that you want to be a better sister, and that they can help you do this by telling you the areas you need to get better in. Then give them each a paper and ask them to rate you, on a scale of 1-10 (1 being you do an awful job in said are, and 10 being you do terrific at consistently being ___), for each of the character qualities. (I suggest keeping the papers anonymous so that no one will feel bad for giving you a bad rating!)

Ask them to return the papers to a certain spot when they’re finished (like your room). 

This is going to take some humility, girls! But I promise it will be worth it! And remember, the Lord promises to reward those who humble themselves.

I am planning to do this, too, and will be doing a post next month in follow up. I am hoping lots of you will join me and that together, we will humble ourselves, realize our weaknesses, and ask Jesus to help us be more like Him.

I love you girls!

-Allison

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Making Time for People When You Don’t Have Time

Just popping in this evening with a few thoughts on relationships and people in the midst of life that can be so full. (By the way, the picture is dinner with some of my sweet Mexico friends during the time I was living there. I felt like it went with what I’m talking about here, and I miss them, so that’s why!)

Do you ever feel like you just don’t have time for something? One concept has been revolutionizing my world this week:

Sometimes we simply need to do the very things we have the least time for.

Like going swimming with my little siblings today. I didn’t “feel” like I had time. But I was able to get off work, and rearrange my schedule to make the other days this week fuller (yay!), and just go do it!

Sometimes it’s gotta be people over whatever else is screaming to be done. I’m not talking about neglecting one’s responsibilities. There are times when I say “no” to people because of responsibilities or commitments and you will have to as well. But as much as possible I want people to be priority in my life.

I want to prioritize the important as well as the urgent.

And it is a balancing act! But I believe it is possible. Is prioritizing hard? Yes! Messy? Often. But it’s part of life, so those of you that are young (like me)……we may as well practice now and learn to do work AND relationships well- to be dependable employees (or business owners) AND the there-for-you kind of friend and sister/brother/whatever!

Cheers to you all! I’m off to get some sleep and get up early for another day of the balancing act! What could be more exciting?

-Allison

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The Gathering Place

Today for some reason I am thinking of the beauty and blessing of the Dinner Table.  Maybe it’s because several days lately I ate a cold salad by myself in my vehicle in between running errands and arriving at work.  Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind eating alone.  In fact, being alone, and even eating alone, is something I enjoy.  But the older I get, the more I value coming together with family, community, friends, at the table.

The Table is a gathering place.  A place to connect, feel accepted, be nourished.

The nourishing of a good table goes beyond delicious food, and extends to the nourishments of soul and spirit along with food.  And it is priceless.

So what can we do to create a good Gathering Place…..a place where family and friends feel loved, accepted, nourished?  There seem to be a variety of factors that contribute to a truly nourishing gathering around the dinner table, a place where hearts are blessed, bodies refreshed, and spirits rested.  A few things I’ve observed as I’ve been blessed to be part of hundreds of excellent, joyous meal times all around the US, Canada, and Mexico:

  • The atmosphere is warm.  There is acceptance + love.  It is a place to relax, to be yourself, to feel “at home”.

  • The food can be simple or lavish, served on paper or china, but it is thoughtful, and served with love.

  • Enriching words, healing laughter, and (sometimes heated:) discussion flows.  It’s not always all peace and calm, at least not at my family’s table. But it is sharing.  It is community.

And now I would love to hear from you!  What special touches do you enjoy adding to the Table?  In your mind, what makes a mealtime special and refreshing?

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Nurturing Your Brothers’ Manhood

This post is especially for you sisters out there!  Why is Nurturing Our Brothers’ Manhood important?  Our brothers need us to stand up and stop treating them as less than the men that they are becoming.  They NEED us to nurture their manhood.

Let me tell you gals, if we aren’t nurturing our brothers’ manhood, we ARE squelching it.  There is no neutral ground.  We either build up their manhood or we tear it down.  We may look back someday and wish our brothers were real men, that they had backbone, were decisive, etc.  Guess what?  Maybe if they are weak, spineless men, it is in part because they are so used to big sisters who always tell them what to do, correcting their grammar and posture and driving and body noises and messy habits.

I will be honest here- I fail sometimes, but I am learning, and I am trying, oh I am TRYING, to nurture my brothers’ manhood.  There is so much at stake and I don’t want to mess it up.

Just today, one of my sweet brothers was my chauffeur.  At one point, he had just stopped the vehicle at a stop sign, and was turning onto the main highway and accelerating.  Only, he wasn’t just accelerating.  He was MASHING THE GAS PEDAL!!!  A lecture was on the tip of my tongue.  “Um, brother dear, did you realize it is extremely hard on the engine to accelerate that fast?  You should speed up slowly instead of mashing it!”.  Thankfully, I bit my tongue and refrained from the lecture.  He doesn’t need me to tell him how to drive. He needs me to NOT tell him how to drive.  If I would have told him what he was doing wrong, I would have been crushing his manhood and stepping into the position of teacher and leader.  

What I am not saying is that we can never give our brothers advice or tell them the truth (in love) about something they are doing wrong.  There will be times when we, as their sister and friend, give them some helpful criticism or advice.  My brothers and I do that for one another often.  The point isn’t that every word we say to them is only about how awesome they are, because that isn’t being a true friend.  They need to hear the hard things from us, too, but it needs to be done in love, and outnumbered by words of kindness and encouragement.  When we have that sweet relationship already, our words of correction can be said kindly, and in a way that is not demeaning.

My challenge to you is this: would your brothers be able to wholeheartedly say that you are their biggest fan, a huge encouragement in their life, and a beloved chum?

Another thing, girls: be a lady, and your brothers are more likely to behave like gentlemen.  Speak softly, ask their opinion, let them drive the car, talk well of them.  Trust me, they will begin to live up to your expectations and treatment of them.  The opposite is true- if you nag + criticize, they may either become spineless puppets, or they will decide that they don’t need you and stop listening to you altogether.  If you expect them to be selfish, messy cavemen, they just might be.  Pray, speak a little less at times (if you’re like me:), and decide that you will draw out the best in them and be their biggest cheerleader.

I love you girls, and I’m right with you, biting my tongue, trying to choose love, and desperately wanting to be a good sister!  Know that I’m cheering you on!!!  I’d love to hear your thoughts or questions.

xoxo,

Allison

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