No gifts will be returned in this house.


Thanks to Derek Mansker for his post:   No gifts will be returned in this house..  He discusses why it’s important for his children (and others) to learn to be grateful for what they get instead of trading it in for money or something else they like better after Christmas is over.  Stop on over and read the rest.  Leave a comment if you like.

That’s nice, but I want. . . 

I appreciate Derek’s post very much because it is something I see so often in our world today.  The store is busier after Christmas than before.  Why? Because people are returning all those gifts they received for cash or in exchange for something else they wanted and didn’t get.

I have to get what I want

Why do people do this?  Do they not recognize that the giver thought long and hard about the gift before giving it?  So what if it isn’t exactly what you wanted? Why do we disrepect the giver by returning the gifts?

Why it matters

Every year, I usually fight depression as the Christmas season approaches.  There are several reasons for this, but one of them is fear that I won’t be able to buy the right gifts and make everyone happy.  This is my issue, for sure, but the issue has been fed by others who did not accept gifts graciously.  As a child, I often thought my parents would ‘know’ what I wanted.  They often didn’t, but I still appreciated the thought they put into their selections.  Another person in my life has a hard time receiving gifts from others.  This person likes to be the giver.  One year I spent quite a bit of time and money planning the perfect gift.  His reception was less than stellar, and I ended up in tears.  This person has since tried to undo what was done, but the damage was deep.

Returns tell the tale

Most people at least fake that they like the gift, but the number of returns after Christmas tells a tale.  Many of us have lists of what we’d like to have for gifts.  We don’t leave it up to chance because we want what we want.  How selfish and self-serving is that?  No wonder Christmas has become so commercial and often cold.

Rejecting the best gift

More than 2000 years ago, God gave mankind a gift in the form of a baby, our Savior, Christ the Lord.  That gift would stay on earth for 33 years, teaching and showing Himself as fully God and fully man.  Then, he gave the ultimate sacrifice:  His life.  He was crucified, and all our sin was laid on Him.  He rose from the dead to complete the gift:  salvation for anyone who would accept it.  This gift was given out of a love so deep we couldn’t possibly fathom it.  It was thought out, planned and executed with us in mind.  God knew we could not work out our own salvation, so He worked it out for us and handed it to us, anticipating our delight in accepting this best gift ever.

That’s nice, but I want. . .

And how many said, no thank you to this gift?  Some rejected it outright.  Others tried to say, I’ll take it, but I have to do something to get it.  But God knows exactly what it feels like to offer the perfect gift and have it thrown back at Him.

Have you rejected a gift by returning it for what you ‘really’ wanted?

Has someone else rejected a gift you gave and hurt your feelings?

How can we teach our children to appreciate the gifts they are given when we return our own gifts?

Do you feel that returning gifts is fine, or do you see it as a sign of ungratefulness in our society?

What about God’s gift?  Did you remember to honor the best Gift ever on Christmas Day, or did you snub your nose at Him and celebrate yourself or your family or something else in stead?

via No gifts will be returned in this house..


The Family and Communicating – To Be or Not To Be?


Family is a funny thing, especially when it comes to ‘communication’ issues.  Wouldn’t you think people who live with one another would have some kind of sixth sense about communication?  It never fails to make me shake my head in wonder when I have a seemingly straightforward with one of my own only to find out actual communication never happened.                                                                                                                                        

Selective hearing? 

Image by clarita at http://mrg.bz/gyKDsp

My daughter, who I love dearly by the way, tends to hear one set of instructions.  So if I want her to do something (will I ever learn!?) I need to break it down into bite-sized chunks and/or write it down.  Sometimes, even writing it down is not enough. ::sigh::

I recently sent my daughter to the store for ice cream and chips.  I wrote down the instructions and then carefully went over them.  I wanted a small bag of chips; that she got.  The ice cream is what got her, though. I said I do not want the teeny tiny portion (5 oz) and I do not want a half-gallon.  Using my fingers, I showed her about what size I wanted to have.  All went well up to this point.  Head is nodding; message understood.

Then momma made a mistake.  I said, “I want you to keep it as cheap as possible as well.”  Did that negate the size factor?  Yes, it did.  She came in after her trip to the store and handed me one of the teeny tiny portions of ice cream. (Not enough for a good bite!)  After brief, um, ‘discussion’, it turned out that she heard cheap, blah, blah, blah.

If that wasn’t enough for one of those ‘shaking the head’ moments, she proceeds to pull out a container of ice cream she bought for herself – the size I wanted!  Unfortunately, it was a different kind, but still!  Why would I send her to the store with my money to buy me a cheap portion of something and herself a larger one?  Sadly, this is the story of my life.  She hones in on one thing and the rest is just Mom idly flapping her gums.

Mind-reading – on the defensive?  

Then the other day, after watching her hunched over her cell phone when she was supposed to be keeping an eye on the kids, I asked, “Who is he?”  You would have thought I asked to see her internal organs or something judging by her reaction.  “I always have to defend myself” and “I’ll just never have any friends” are two of the phrases that came out of her mouth.  Defensive much?  Will she ever learn that the instant attitude gives ol’ Mom a huge clue?

So in the space of a portion of a second, she read my mind.  I said, “Who is he?” but my mind must have said something like, “What in the world are you talking to that boy for – you’re never going to learn.”

Common to Mankind?

I apologize to my daughter (24 btw) for using her for an example here, but she provides such great fodder.  We all have a tendency to do this, especially in families.  We have remembered ‘slights’ or other things that filter our reactions (and our ability to actually listen) to others in our family.  No wonder families sometimes have drama and communication issues.

So what experiences have you had with family member communication?  We all have them.  We’ve all done it.  I bet a few of my readers can top my stories, so feel free to share.

Communication Busters: You should do for me what I do for you!


“I did __________ for you.  Why won’t you do ____________ for me.”

Have you ever known someone who does things for you and then says, “Well, I did that for you, so you should do it for me?”

Word to the Wise.

People have a tendency to do (give, etc.) for others what we like to have done for us.  If we like something, of course everyone else should like it too!  Right?  Uh, NOT!  I once had a person in my life who would bring me clothing.  She loved the clothes and always commented that they were ‘huge’ so they should fit me.

  1. They were exactly what she would wear.
  2. They were exactly what I would NEVER wear.
  3. I usually couldn’t get them over my ankle, much less the rest of my body.

I could have responded in any one of several ways (and I’m sure my readers have a few comments they can call to their imaginations).  All of them would have brought me momentary satisfaction, but they would have hurt someone I cared enough to have a relationship with.  However, I tried to remember that she thought she was doing me a big favor, so I said thank you and gave them back as a bad fit.

Why we do it.

It’s a common human failing.  We all do it.  Hopefully, we grow up, wise up, and learn to listen and watch for what other people like.  If we like something, we think others should like it to.  This goes back to the previous communication busters posted here.  1) It’s NOT all about me and 2) My ‘way’ is not the only way or even always the best way for others.  We don’t mean to do it, but we do it none-the-less until we become aware of the issue.  Some of us tend to do it much more than others.

A back pat for the hubs.

I have to give my husband credit.  He is really good at seeing what others like and offering them things, doing things for them, …, that they like.  He doesn’t just do things to get things, he is genuine and a good listener (most of the time).  Me?  I tend to forget, even after asking what someone’s favorite…. is.  I tried writing it down only to lose the lists.  My family understands, but…

Where the rubber meets the road.

When it comes to things, this isn’t really such a big deal.  Where the major problem comes in is when a person does something for another person and then gets angry if the other person doesn’t do it back.  Why?  Because this person gives what he/she would like to have from the other person (sometimes in the hopes that person will do it back).  This could be as simple as a pat on the back or as complicated as trying to get others to love him/her through, well, let’s call a spade a spade:  manipulation.

Example number two.

I had a friend who made a sad face and said ‘awwww’ in a sad voice when there was something going on in my life — a  kind of friendly pity party type thing.  What does it do for me?  Um, get off me!  I don’t like it at all, so guess what?  I don’t do it back, even though I am well aware that’s what this person really needs from me.  Well, I try to do it some because I know it’s needed, but ….

Love Languages

The problem with this, and how it is detrimental to communication, is that it involves speaking different languages.  We all have different ways we show love, and these are the ways we understand love as well.  So when we show our love to someone who speaks a different love language (friendship language, etc.) it is like a person who speaks only English trying to communicate with someone who speaks only Russian.  It really sets the table for a mess of miscommunication.  This idea is not original to me.  Gary Chapman wrote a book or two about it.


The above examples show how people do this inadvertently.  Sometimes, however, a person can become controling and manipulative in their attempt to give love to get love.  It doesn’t work.  The smart person realizes that she will get the love she’s wanted when she learns to speak other love languages besides her own.  This must be geniune, however, or it still falls under manipulation.  The people in this category often lose friends and have no idea why.  They give and give and give with no return, or so they think.  The problem is with their thinking.  In many ways, they tend to be more needy than those that are obvious about it.

Love is…

The thing is that when we care about another person, we want that person to feel our love/like/care.  Misunderstandings are frequent when we don’t tune in to their likes and needs instead of offering them our own.  Real love, real communication happens when we listen to others, understand them, and seek to meet their needs in a genuine way.  It’s not about us.  If they love us back, that’s great, but we shouldn’t ‘love’, ‘care for’, etc., them expecting them to do back what we do to/for them.  When we do for others with expectations of return, we are not really doing for others. We are doing for “me”.

Communication Buster: My Way is the Best (Only) Way


Backseat drivers, Monday morning quarterbacks and critical people all slip into the niggling habit of criticizing others. It’s easy to do. We look at our others and wonder why they do what they do. After all, we’d never do it that way. . .       Dr. David B. Hawkins

Anyone who has been married knows that one of the biggest clashes of the early years involves the melding of two cultures.  We have a tendency to think that what we think or do is the correct way to do something.  When we wake up to someone who has a different view of what’s correct (his or her way) it can be a rude awakening!

My marriage has not excaped this wondrous communication buster.  My husband’s grandmother was very rigid in her ways, one of those ‘my way or the highway’ kind of gals.  When I began to understand this, it helped me understand some of my husband’s less than stellar (in my opinion) habits.  When my husband began to understand that I was raised in a very non-structured home that centered on people not things, he began to understand some of my less stellar habits (his opinion of course).

What’s Wrong With You?

In the beginning, we fell into the judgment trap.  “What’s wrong with you?”  Why don’t you get this?”  “Why are you being so mean to me?”  The interpretation of that last statement is this:  why do you expect me to conform to your expectations?  Unfortunately, we don’t recognize the underlying causes of our pain.

One of absolutely huge issues was . . . laundry.  I am a take a day and do it all kind of gal.  My husband is always putting a load in.  I’m sometimes surprised we survived this one! What happened in the end was that Brian got to do the laundry.  This is one of the negative side-effects of being rigid in how you think things should be done – you get to do it.

Believe me, there are things I get to do for the same reasons!

It’s Not About Me!

To overcome this tendency to judge everyone else’s choices and more by our own  heritage and culture, we have to go back to communication buster 1 and recognize that “it’s not about me.”  Ultimately, there are many ways to do something. Some may work better than others, but all (or most) are still going to get the job done.

Breaking the Habit

This habit is so ingrained that it is difficult to recognize it, much less fix it.  Again self-awareness comes to the rescue.  When communication issues arise, and they will, ask yourself these questions:

  • Am I judging based on the truth or based on my own biases and filter?
  • If I let the other person do things his/her way, will it get done?
  • If I DON’T let the other person do things his/her way, will the world come to an end?
  • Is this an issue that’s worth fighting over?
  • Do I want to be right, or happy?
  • Am I viewing this issue through the filter of my own upbringing or through divine moral law?
  • Have I become judgmental and critical?


When you begin to see a problem, you can begin to change.  It again involves

Self-awareness  (study your reactions and judgments)

STOP!                 (take a moment to re-evaluate and change course)

Start again with your new-found knowledge/understanding.

Stay the course over the long haul.

This habit is deeply ingrained, and won’t be overcome in a day.  But, one step at a time, you can change this thought process that leads to actions that shut down your ability to effectively communicate with others.

Share Time:

Have you done this?

Are you aware of this tendency?

What’s the funniest story you have to share about a time when this happened to you?  (or by you)

Communication Buster: It’s not about you


"What about me?"

Guess What?  It’s Not About You


Continuing on a communication theme for the moment, let’s talk about something that blocks communication, regardless of the intent of the communicator.  This is something I have engaged in and seen quite a lot of, recently in the children and teens in my life.  This one thing is responsible for a lot of self-inflicted pain and bitterness.


What Is It?


We could call it covetousness or pride.  Either of those words works.  But this is how it works.  Mom tells daughter A, “Your hair looks wonderful today!”  Beautiful compliment, right?  Yes and nothing is wrong with that.  Mom and daughter A have no problem and go on about their business.  The problem starts in the heart of daughter B.  She hears the compliment, and her first thought is, “What about me?”


Daughter A heard, “Your hair looks nice.”  Daughter B heard, “Why doesn’t your hair look as nice as daughter A?” or “My mother must think my hair does not look wonderful.”  She has turned something that wasn’t about her at all into something that was all about her.


It’s Everywhere!


Similar scenarios play out all the time.  We tend to focus more on ourselves than others anyway, but when we make assumptions about communication that really has nothing to do with us, we plant a seed of bitterness and envy in our hearts.  If we continue to do this, it will grow until our bitterness colors our entire life.  We’ve all known people who just feel sorry for themselves all the time.  This happens because of what they tell themselves about the events in their lives. This particular communication blocker tends to color everything in the heart and mind of the one who does it.


Does He Love Me?


On a personal note, I used to do this a lot.  I think it’s part of that “foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child;” (Proverbs 22:15) and starts early.  [Part of a parent’s job is to confront the lies children believe with the truth].  One pain I brought on myself for many years involved my Grandfather.  For his entire life, I thought he favored my sister.  Maybe he did, but the reason I thought so was a lie straight from hell and common to mankind.


I was one of those ‘hide in the corner,’ bashful kids.  My sister was not.  She was engaging and knew how to get away with murder by being ‘cute’ in her orneriness.  That set the stage.  In later years, every time I visited my Grandfather, the topic of conversation was the sister.  It hurt.  What I heard was “Linda, Linda, Linda.”  I gave myself unnecessary pain for so long because of this.


Then, toward the end of my Grandfather’s life, I realized something:  It wasn’t about me!  Guess what?  I was the one who visited; my sister was not.  So of course you’re going to talk about the one you don’t see, it’s only natural.  I’m there; he doesn’t need to talk about me!  This was the beginning of God shining the light of truth into the darkness of the lies I believed.  Once you begin to see how you’ve done this, you will be amazed at how often you do it.


Over-aware Of Me?


A while back, I overheard some teens talking.  One was complaining that her brother ‘gets everything.’  Sadly, I see the hurt in her eyes and how it’s affecting her.  What she is not seeing is that she is several years younger than the brother (about 4).  If you’re going to compare, you have to compare apples to apples.  A 16 year old and a 12 year old are not comparable.  The older one gets to do things first.  If the 12 year old becomes 16 and realizes she’s not getting the same things as her brother did, then she might have something to worry about.


It’s Not About You!


I see this all the time and have to watch it closely in my own life.


The lie:  It’s all about me.

The truth:  Most of the time IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU!


What to do?


Our perceptions color everything.  Changing our thoughts involves introspection and awareness.  When you catch yourself assuming or making a statement about you that’s not about you at all, STOP!  Sometimes this writer even says STOP! out loud.  The thought train is heading in one direction, and you must stop it and turn it around to change things.  Give it a try; you’ll be surprised how much happier you are when you don’t get sucked into this communication blocker.

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