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May
11

Science Fair Push-Back

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Brad Washburn, Do the Dad Thing bloggerTeaching our kids to be assertive is one of the most challenging tasks of being a dad.

 Having an assertive adult as an end result is great!  Raising an assertive kid . . . is not so great.

 First I probably need to clarify this word “assertive.”  I’ll do it, using the 3 Little Bears analogy (which is, one of the great analogies of all time):

 . . . And Goldilocks tried being Aggressive, means being hostile, exploitive, and coercive to get what you want – but that was too much and she drove people away.

Then Goldilocks tried being Passive, which means deferring to other people, even when you have strong opinions or desires, but that made her have low self-worth and low self-esteem.

She even tried being Passive/Aggressive, a technique that involves deferring to people (giving in) . . . but then finding some other way to get what you want. — usually through means that include being quietly hostile and exploitive.

But then she tried being Assertive.  It’s speaking directly and honestly about what you want and trying to get it by collaborating with people and communicating clearly.

And it was juuuust right.

 After that, the three bears came home and wondered why this blond girl was in their house debating active ego communicative strategies . . .

The point is that we’d obviously all love to have our kids grow up and be assertive.  We want them to strive to achieve without achievement being their identity, and to tell the truth they believe boldly, and to work toward solutions that include others.  Learning that process throughout childhood is rough on parents for several reasons:

Kids go to each extreme while they are trying to find the sweet spot of ‘assertive’

How do kids achieve the ‘balance’ of assertive?  They try out being aggressive.  Then they evaluate the effectiveness.  Then, they try being passive and evaluate the effectiveness.  Each one of their ‘tries’ results in a swing of both mood and communication.

Kids want to practice with you . . . at home

As a dad, you’re safe.  So, kids want to use your relationship as a ‘sandbox’ to try out different kinds of communication strategies.  If they work on you, then they try them on their friends.

Parents are not assertive themselves

Some parents never really adapted the ‘just right’ of being assertive.  So, knowing how to respond to a kid that is being aggressive, forthright, or passive creates an internal struggle.  Many parents that grew up in an abusive household react with anger or let their kids become the dominant force in the home.

Parents get offended by kid assertiveness

Some people, and I’m calling out ‘Boomers definitely,’ were raised with the idea that anything less than quiet docile obedience was wrong.  “Why in my day, I’d be slapped across the room if I said that I didn’t like castor oil.”

There are positive strategies to help your kids develop positive self-esteem and self-worth through practicing and learning assertiveness:

Reward their assertiveness

When your son/daughter hits that ‘just right’ area of assertiveness, point it out and praise them.   “Hey, I noticed that you told your friend that you didn’t like gummy worms even though all your other friends were saying they were good.  That’s good to speak up directly for what you like and don’t like.”

Model assertiveness

As a parent, do a self-check on how you interact with others, especially when they are demanding.  Practice being assertive with others and your kids will see you.

Have them practice assertiveness at school

This point is where the title of this article has been generated.  It involves a story . . .

One summer in Florida a turtle crawled out of the swamp and laid eggs in our front yard.  Right place/right time – we filmed it.  Then, to our horror, when we were taking the dog out in the evening, we caught a raccoon in the process of digging all the eggs up and eating them.  We chased the ‘coon’ off and rescued 4 eggs.

I came up with the idea, “Why don’t you incubate these eggs, two inside and two outside, and document it for this next year’s science fair?”

So that started the process of carefully incubating, measuring, and checking two sets of turtle eggs . . . for months.  Seriously, turtle eggs take 3 ½ months to hatch.  When fall came, my youngest son had an incredible biology-focused science fair project.

. . . . then, someone complained to someone, and someone went to the bureaucracy, then . . . someone from the School District called me.  The concern was that, in the future, kids might try to do experiments with animals and accidently hurt them.  So, my son would have to do a whole new Science Fair project because turtle hatch was not allowed.

My feelings were not assertive at that point.  Nor were they ‘passive.’  I immediately defaulted internally to Incredible Hulk mode.  However, I needed to model how to maintain composure, and thank God (thank you God) that He gave me the strength to clearly outline how punishing my son currently for a policy they were making for the future was inappropriate.  I had to ask to speak to the District Superintendent, and went through the whole thing again.  The Superintendent deferred to the local elementary school for how they would ‘enact this new policy.”

That’s when my son was suddenly on the front lines with having to be clear and forthright to his teacher.  He had to stick to the work that he did.  He had to clearly say that he wasn’t doing a ‘whole new’ experiment, and he had to boldly, but kindly, defer any teachers to talk to me.

Then we both had to go and meet with the Principal.

Two points to this:  Never do a science fair with turtles!  And the other point:  I’m SO GLAD that he practiced being firm and forthright with someone else rather than me.  I was with my kid almost every day telling me “I don’t want” and trying to negotiate a change in my decisions, and giving up on speaking up with kids and his brother.  I was elated that he was doing all this practicing with someone else for a change.

I’d rather the school personnel, that I pay, deal with my kids learning assertiveness – that way I can

  • Back my kids up
  • Advise them from the sidelines

Advising from the sidelines could be another whole topic in itself.  This is going to need at least a follow-up article.  I can see many of the dads that read this column plunging into the realm of Assertiveness totally unprepared.  Which, is actually the main idea with ‘practicing’ assertiveness.   Once again, let me know how it goes with your kids.  The comments are open; assertiveness is a project just like a science fair.

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Apr
27

Opposite Logic

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Brad Washburn, Do the Dad Thing bloggerToday’s article is up for you, the reading audience, to ratify.  It’s all based on logic I learned from the 90’s sitcom, Seinfeld.

Jerry Seinfeld : If every instinct you have is wrong, then the opposite would have to be right.

George Costanza : Yes, I will do the opposite. I used to sit here and do nothing, and regret it for the rest of the day, so now I will do the opposite, and I will do something!

 

I thought of this when I was switching roles with one of my counseling clients.  Dads do certain things.  Moms do certain things.  If a mom comes in and has a hard time getting a grasp on the dad perspective, I ask us to pretend and switch roles.

It’s a helpful technique if a mom is singly raising kids, because she has to routinely act in the role as both dad AND mom.

. . . I even have a ladies’ wig I put on during session to do the play acting.  — Yes, I’m a riot.

Anyway, I hear a lot of women say that their instinct and role is to be “the caregiver” — the one that keeps the kids safe and protects them.

So, using the Seinfeld logic, the Dad role would most likely be the opposite of the caregiver:  letting kids be independent and having them experience dangerous and unsafe situations.

It’s just a working theory at this point.  I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments or e-mail me.  But let’s look at how such logic would flesh out for Dads (or dad-figures) . . .

 

Kid:  Wants to learn to skateboard

Motherly instinct:  Protect child at all cost!  Skateboards = death.  Child should instead pursue quilting.

Dad:  Do it!  Bones heal and chicks dig scars.

___

Kid:  gets a role in the school play

Motherly instinct:  Help them rehearse their lines and help them make a costume

Dad:  “Break a leg.”   I will come to the play and film the whole thing.

____

 

Kid:  another kid is teasing them on the bus.

Motherly instinct:  Let’s call the school and arrange a meeting to work on a strategy to keep you safe.  Better yet, I’ll drive you to school the rest of the year.

Dad:  Stand up to them!  If you fight and get suspended, I’ll let you play Xbox all week . . .

 

. . .  I’m so far noticing that this might be a workable theory.  I’m also thinking that good Dad role responses probably fall into three categories:

 

  • Give a sense of autonomy (which will help build self-esteem)
  • Figure things out

One thing that combines both of the roles of Dad and Mom is to share the emotions.  Guys sometimes instinctively do this different than ladies, but the idea is still good.  If you look at kids like a cup filled with emotion, many kids have emotion running over and spilling out everywhere.  If Dads or Moms . . . or moms/dads acting as both mom and dad, can prompt kids to share their emotional experience, then the cup doesn’t spill everywhere; instead it ‘pours’ where you want it.

Kid:  Wants to learn how to skateboard

Mother:  Oh, tell me about that, how does skateboarding make you feel?

Dad:  Let’s go look at skateboarding videos and you can tell me all about it.

 

Dads and Moms have different methods, and that’s ok.  When it comes to opposite logic, both protectful caregivers and dangerous risk takers can agree on hearing and understanding the emotions of our kids.

What we do after we hear those emotions? . . .  Well, that might be a topic for another day with a better sitcom analogy.  Hmmm, were there any words of wisdom in The Office . . .?

 

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Mar
23

Please Don’t Mess with My Peanut Butter

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Rev. James Snyder, Out to Pastor bloggerNormally, I’m a rather calm, cool and collected person. Actually, my creditors trying to collect things from me, mostly money, are responsible for this and I have been officially collected. If I could only collect my thoughts, but the pieces are too small and too few.

Anybody who knows me knows I am not easily rattled by anything. I let the chips fall where they may because I know from whence they came. I am not susceptible to the various rumors making their way around on a regular basis.

All the debate about global warming, for example, has not in the least disturbed my personal serenity. Some say the earth is getting warmer while others insist it is getting cooler. Who in the world are you to believe? One scientist frantically reported that if we do not do something quickly in 1500 years, the earth is going to get 10° warmer than it is right now. One can only hope he was not a Rhodes Scholar.

Then there was the hullabaloo about how harmful chocolate was to a person only to be discovered later that it has marvelous health benefits. Pass me another bonbon.

Others took potshots at coffee. Again, it was found that a morning cup of Joe is just the thing to get a person on the go.

I took all of these things in the good-natured way that is typical of Yours Truly. I try not to let anything get my dander up. In fact, I am quite proud of the humble way in which I respond to all of these negativities, usually, with a cup of coffee in one hand and a bonbon in the other.

All was going well until one morning, the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage rattled my cage. She takes great pleasure in doing something like this.

“Have you seen the trouble they are having with peanut butter?”

This caught me by surprise because I had not heard any such thing. My wife went on to explain that, in some cases, they were recalling certain peanut products. Personally, I know a few nuts that need to be recalled.

I do not mind if they fool around with global warming, and recall every car on the planet. I care not what they say about chocolate and coffee, but I go by one simple rule; do not mess with my peanut butter.

My underlying philosophy is, man shall not live by bread alone, he needs a little bit of peanut butter to hold it all together.

I am not sure who invented peanut butter, it might have been God himself; all I know it is the food of the gods. According to Wikipedia, there has never been a time in history when there was not some form of peanut butter.

It is one of the few essential items in this world that nobody can get along without. I can hardly imagine a world without this marvelous concoction, either creamy or crunchy.

There are many things I can get along without, but I cannot get along without my daily ration of peanut butter.

Some people have chocolate as comfort food. Some people’s comfort food of choice is a bag of salty potato chips. Others pamper their comfort with ice cream. And I say, to each one his own. My comfort food is simply peanut butter, preferably crunchy.

The thing about peanut butter that is so amazing is it can be used in a variety of ways. I would guess that the list is all but limitless. Hardly a month goes by that I do not discover a new way to enjoy peanut butter.

There, of course, is the traditional peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Every thoughtful and loving mother starts her young brood off on nutritious and delicious peanut butter and jelly sandwichs. If your mother was quite like my mother, she affectionately trimmed the edges, which made the peanut butter all the more delightful.

Need I mention Peanut Butter Cookies, Peanut Butter Fudge, Southern Peanut Butter Soup with Pepper Jelly, Peanut Butter Cheesecake, Peanut Butter Candy, and a Peanut Butter and Chocolate Sundae?

I’m not alone in this appreciation. “To me, peanut butter is the breakfast of champions!” opined Greg Louganis, Olympic Diver. And if anybody should know what a champion eats for breakfast, he should.

Peanut butter can be used for breakfast, lunch and supper. And for all those snacks in between.

Those who know the history of our country will remember that two Presidents of the United States were peanut farmers [Jefferson and Carter]. I am not sure of this, but I think it helped them deal with the nuts at Washington.

Of all the ways to enjoy peanut butter, there is one I prefer above all else. That is simply a nice tablespoon of peanut butter right out of the jar. If a tablespoon is not handy, several fingers will do the trick admirably.

Really, there is no wrong way to enjoy the marvelous taste of peanut butter.

Speaking of comfort food, the Bible has the perfect recipe. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” (Psalms 23:4).

God has a marvelous way of taking our attention away from the trials of this world and focus our thoughts on Him.

Dr. James L. Snyder is pastor of the Family of God Fellowship, 1471 Pine Road, Ocala, FL 34472. He lives with his wife in Silver Springs Shores. Call him at 352-687-4240 or e-mail jamessnyder2@att.net. The church web site is www.whatafellowship.com.

SHORT VERSION = 550 WORDS

Please Don’t Mess with My Peanut Butter
Dr. James L. Snyder

Normally, I’m a rather calm, cool and collected person. Actually, my creditors trying to collect things from me, mostly money, are responsible for this and I have been officially collected. If I could only collect my thoughts, but the pieces are too small and too few.

All was going well until one morning the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage rattled my cage. She takes great pleasure in doing something like this.

“Have you seen the trouble they are having with peanut butter?”

This caught me by surprise because I had not heard any such thing. My wife went on to explain that, in some cases, they were recalling certain peanut products. Personally, I know a few nuts that need to be recalled.

My underlying philosophy is, man shall not live by bread alone, he needs a little bit of peanut butter to hold it all together.

It is one of the few essential items in this world that nobody can get along without. I can hardly imagine a world without this marvelous concoction, either creamy or crunchy.

There are many things I can get along without, but I cannot get along without my daily ration of peanut butter.

Some people have chocolate as comfort food. Some people’s comfort food of choice is a bag of salty potato chips. Others pamper their comfort with ice cream. And I say, to each one his own. My comfort food is simply peanut butter, preferably crunchy.

The thing about peanut butter that is so amazing is it can be used in a variety of ways. I would guess that the list is all but limitless. Hardly a month goes by that I do not discover a new way to enjoy peanut butter.

There, of course, is the traditional peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Every thoughtful and loving mother starts her young brood off on nutritious and delicious peanut butter and jelly sandwich. If your mother was quite like my mother, she affectionately trimmed the edges, which made the peanut butter all the more delightful.

Need I mention Peanut Butter Cookies, Peanut Butter Fudge, Southern Peanut Butter Soup with Pepper Jelly, Peanut Butter Cheesecake, Peanut Butter Candy, and a Peanut Butter and Chocolate Sundae?

Peanut butter can be used for breakfast, lunch and supper. And for all those snacks in between.

Those who know the history of our country will remember that two Presidents of the United States were peanut farmers [Jefferson and Carter]. I am not sure of this, but I think it helped them deal with the nuts at Washington.

Of all the ways to enjoy peanut butter, there is one I prefer above all else. That is simply a nice tablespoon of peanut butter right out of the jar. If a tablespoon is not handy, several fingers will do the trick admirably.

Really, there is no wrong way to enjoy the marvelous taste of peanut butter.

Speaking of comfort food, the Bible has the perfect recipe. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” (Psalms 23:4).

God has a marvelous way of taking our attention away from the trials of this world and focus our thoughts on Him.

Dr. James L. Snyder is pastor of the Family of God Fellowship, 1471 Pine Road, Ocala, FL 34472. He lives with his wife in Silver Springs Shores. Contact him at jamessnyder2@att.net. The church web site is www.whatafellowship.com.

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Sep
23

It’s Hard for Me to Conceal a Giggle

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Rev. James Snyder, Out to Pastor bloggerThroughout life, I have discovered many challenges. Some I have handled fairly well and others have handled me pretty badly.

Smile Post-itThat is what makes life so interesting. Every day there is a challenge to face and every day there is a victory to win.

Recently, the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage and I celebrated our 48th wedding anniversary. I would not be truthful if I did not admit that those 48 years have been rather challenging. Not so much in a negative way, but each challenge carried with it a life lesson.

At the end of these 48 years, I must confess my wife knows more about me then I know about myself, or her for that matter. How she has come to these conclusions, I do not know.

But, to be honest I do not know very much about myself compared to what she knows.

Not wasting those 48 years, I never contradict my wife on anything. Even, if I think she may be wrong about something.

There are spouses that try to correct their spouse when talking to other people. I am so thankful that while I am speaking to someone my wife will correct me so the person I am talking to has the facts.

After all, she knows more about me and my experiences than I do. I am not contesting that one iota. Why should I?

The biggest secret to a successful marriage is going along rather than being confrontational. It does not matter to me if she corrects me; I’ve come to appreciate that.

After all, I get so many things wrong these days. I cannot remember birthdays, anniversaries or special occasions. It’s not because I’m getting older because when I was younger, I had the same problem.

If I were not married, I probably would not remember my own birthday.

Thinking about this the other day a thought danced into my mind. If I wanted to be right all the time, why in the world did I get married? A married couple is to work together and it seems that we have the ideal connection in this regard.

I remember when I wore a younger man’s suit; I nonchalantly corrected my wife about a certain thing that happened when she got the day of the week wrong.

“Don’t you remember, Honey,” I interrupted her, “it was on a Wednesday not a Thursday.”

She gave me one of “those looks” and said, “Maybe it was a Thursday.”

That look alone was enough to graduate me from being the corrector of her conversation to being the quiet agreeable guy. Through the years, I discovered being agreeable is a great deal of blessings and I enjoyed each one of those blessings.

One thing I have a real difficulty and that is, not giggling.

I may be affected with giggle-itis, which is far as I know has no cure. Of course, when I start giggling it is very difficult for me to stop.

The only temporary cure I have found is when I start to giggle, I take a deep breath and then think of broccoli. If anything sobers me up and even makes me a little bit angry it is this vegetable. Read More→

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Aug
26

Whatever Happened to the Simple Things in Life?

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Rev. James Snyder, Out to Pastor bloggerI’m not a very complicated person. I like simple things; things nice and easy. Occasionally I will do a crossword puzzle, but beside that, I enjoy the simple life.

On the other side, the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage is very complicated. Just when I have everything figured out, I find another side of her that I did not know was there.

I suppose that is what married life is all about; year-by-year discovering new aspects of your spouse.

I am very simple minded when it comes to going out to eat.

When we go to a restaurant, for example, I’m very simple in what I order. Most of the time I order the same thing because I enjoy what I am eating at the time.

My wife is not quite like that. Ordering her supper is quite a complicated thing. It takes several minutes to go through the menu and then several minutes to think about what she wants to eat.

Me, I tell the waitress, “I’ll have a cheeseburger, French fries and a Diet Coke.” And that’s that.

“You had that,” my wife will say, “yesterday. Why don’t you pick something different for tonight?”

I remember one time I made a drastic mistake which I will never repeat. I said to my wife, “Okay, why don’t you choose my supper for tonight?”

Boy, did she have a time ordering for me. I do not even know what she ordered, but it was a lot. I saw more on my plate than I could possibly eat. Some things on my plate I did not know exactly what they were. I was very careful that none of it resembled broccoli.

I have not made that mistake ever again. However, she often asks me, “Would you like me to choose your supper for tonight?”

Since that time, I have reverted to the simple things, especially when it comes to eating out at a restaurant.

Once I had to buy some new shirts along with some new ties. For some reason I went shopping by myself, which in itself is good.

When I came home that night from my shopping spree, my wife looked at all the shirts and ties I bought.

“You bought these shirts?”

She looked at the shirts and then at me with both hands on her hips and said, “These shirts are the same shirts you have in your closet. Why didn’t you get something different?”

My assumption is, a shirt is a shirt and if I am going to get a new shirt, I should get a new shirt that replaces the old shirt. Simple!

In my simple way of life, I only wear white shirts. I can buy these shirts and not even have to think about what I am buying. A shirt is a shirt and what is wrong with white?

The next time my wife took me shopping. It was the worst shopping experience I have ever had.

We went to the men’s clothing store and then the simplicity of life ended in a crash. My wife spent all afternoon looking at all kinds of shirts in all kinds of colors and then trying to find ties that would match. I did not know so many colors existed in the world. I do not even think the rainbow has as many colors.

My idea is that a white shirt never draws attention. A shirt of any color always draws attention to itself. I like to slip in and slip out without notice; it is the simple way of doing things.

When it comes to work, I am rather simple. I start a task and keep at it and to its finished, then I move on to the next task. I do not like to confuse things and so I do everything simply.

My wife is not like that. She is one of those “Multitaskers” that you hear about.

I was watching on television a man juggling four balls in the air at the same time. In the middle of his act, I stopped, looked at my wife and said, “That’s you. You have too many balls in the air.”

It is true. She can juggle four tasks at the same time and get them all done perfectly.

Don’t get me wrong here. I respect and can appreciate that kind of work ethic. I cheer her on and encourage her. There’s only one small problem.

Because my wife is a Multitasker, she expects the person who said, “I do,” at the wedding altar to have the same work ethic. I’ve tried to explain this, but by the time I finished explaining it, she is already on to the next topic. I cannot possibly keep up.

Even when we take a few vacation days, she cannot sit still and enjoy the simple life.

She does more on a two-day vacation spree than I do all year long. I cannot keep up with her. I discovered if I let her do “her thing,” I will have the opportunity to do “my thing,” which is just enjoying the simple things of life. Read More→

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Aug
12

And Then the Thunder Roared

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Rev. James Snyder, Out to Pastor bloggerlight through cloudsIn our house, thunder has a variety of meanings. Some not as good as others, but that is another story. Either way, I am not a fan of thunder.

Recently, some heavy thunder visited our area along with rain and lightning. I was beginning to understand how Noah felt during his first night in that Ark. Some of the thunder was so loud it seemed like it was inside our house.

Thankfully, I lost my heebie-jeebies a long time ago.

All week long the rain came and with the rain was lightning and of course, thunder. What in the world would a rainstorm be without thunder?

One night the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage and I decided to stay inside and enjoy listening to the thunder on the outside. Nothing is more cozy than listening to it rain and thunder while drinking a nice hot cup of coffee. It is even better when an Apple fritter comes with that coffee, but that would create a different kind of thunder on the inside.

I must point out during this time, young people were breaking into cars, rummaging through them and stealing whatever they could find. Even locked cars were broken into and I wished I knew how they did that. I have locked myself out of my car several times. If only I had the skills of a car thief, I would not worry so much nor call AAA.

I had my vehicle broken into once and they rummaged all through it. Unfortunately, for them, I had nothing of value to steal, except several Bibles and a dozen gospel tracts. Not one of my Bibles or one of my tracts was stolen. All that work and they found nothing to steal. I had considered putting an offering plate on my seat with a sign that said, “Your tithe goes here.”

When it comes to robbing vehicles, I have no experience. If I were going to rob a car the best time to do it is doing a heavy thunderstorm when nobody wants to come outside.

If I was going to invest time in stealing, which I am not, I would not focus on cars, especially in my neighborhood. People keep the dumbest things in cars.

While listening to the storm, it suddenly got quiet. Both my wife and I took a deep breath and she said, “I think the storm’s over. I’m going to go out and check my car.”

I really never gave it much thought. I went back to the book I was reading and then I heard it. The thunder roared again like I have never heard it roar before. I was waiting for the lightning to flash, but again the thunder roared. Read More→

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Jun
19

Eating Out Of My Comfort Zone

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Rev. James Snyder, Out to Pastor bloggerwoman laughingOne pleasure the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage and myself enjoy is going out for a quiet dinner together. It does not happen often, at least not often enough. When it does, it is always a delightful time and we try to take advantage of it.

The delight on my wife’s side is that she does not have to cook the meal and then clean up afterwards. I have offered to help clean up, but only once and I am now forbidden to get anywhere near the dishwasher. And, for good reason.

Once in the early days of our marriage, I decided to surprise her by cooking supper for her. She spent the afternoon shopping with some friends and so I thought it was the proper time for me to do this.

Up until that time, I did not know how difficult cooking was. I’ve seen my grandmother do it and my mother and now my wife, so I thought it was a rather easy thing to do.

I must confess I have never studied these ladies while they were preparing the meal. I enjoyed the meal when it was done and that satisfied me.

I spent all afternoon that day preparing a very romantic dinner for us to enjoy together. The kids were at camp or somewhere so we had the house to ourselves. I worked very hard doing what I thought was cooking a nice meal.

As soon as my wife walked in the door, she stopped and said, “What is that awful smell? What are you burning?”

I must confess that the kitchen was filled with smoke and I am not sure the source. What I was cooking that night escapes me at this point, but I thought I put enough time, thought, and it to do it properly.

The whole meal that night was a complete and perfect disaster. I know there is nothing perfect, but this came as close to perfect as I have ever seen.

I must confess there was a nice balance to that meal. Some was undercooked and some overcooked. If you balance them together, maybe something comes out right, I am not sure. Nothing, however, met the standard that my wife upholds in the culinary department. All the appliances in the kitchen were shocked by a disaster they had never seen before. And, never since, because I am banned from cooking in the kitchen.

The only thing I can do in the morning his turn the coffee pot on, that is the limit to my kitchen activities.

As we were sitting at our table at the restaurant, I was smiling. My wife looked at me and said, “Okay, what are you smiling about?” Read More→

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Jun
05

And Then It Was Friday

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Rev. James Snyder, Out to Pastor bloggerLike many people, I try planning and arranging my week so I can accomplish as much as possible.

For example, the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage on Monday morning hands me her “honey-do-list” to complete by the end of the week. When she hands it to me, I smile and underneath that list I have concealed from her my “to-do-list.”

It is not that I ignore her list… well, maybe I do. But, I don’t do it on purpose… well, maybe I do.

I have a priority with my “to-do-list” and most times forget about hers.

Through the years, I have become an expert at making excuses about why her “honey-do-list” has not been fully completed by me on time. If there is an excuse to be found anywhere in the room, I have it in my pocket.

Most of the time I get away with it. I am not bragging here, although I lean slightly in that direction. But I have my own things I need to do for the week.

If I do not write down my “to-do-list,” I will never remember what I am supposed to be doing. I have a good memory, but I am saving it for when I am older and I will need more memory. Of course, by that time I will forget everything I have remembered.

When it comes to memory, my wife beats the band. She remembers everything that has ever happened. Even those things that, from my opinion, never happened.

Quite often, she starts a conversation by saying, “Do you remember when…”

Then she goes on with a story that for the life of me I cannot remember. Instead of embarrassing myself, I go along with it and tell her, “Oh, yes I remember that.”

It is easier to go along than to cause any kind of friction. I have no advantage in contradicting any story that she might be telling. So far, I’ve gotten away with it, I’m happy to say.

That is, until once when telling a story she said, “Do you remember the name of that person?”

At the time, I did not know if it was a trick question to see if I am really paying attention or if she did not remember. I am going with the former because of all the years I have known her I cannot remember anything that she has ever forgotten.

Forgetting at times can be a blessing. If someone does something against you and hurts your feelings, the best thing to do is to move ahead and forget it. Read More→

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May
29

Finding “Good” In Our World Is Challenging

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Rev. James Snyder, Out to Pastor bloggerSmile Post-itIn our world today, it is difficult to find anything good, let alone anything good to say about anything or anyone.

One thing I like about the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage is that she can find some good in just about everything. Sometimes it just rubs me the wrong way.

I, on the other hand, have a hard time finding good in anything even though I try so hard. That just demonstrates the difference between us. They say opposites attract, and so we have a very strong attraction here.

For the most part, I go along with her evaluation of “Good” because she has been right more times than wrong. Don’t ask me when she has been wrong, for that would be a very delicate subject and I am not a very delicate person.

One area of life I have a very difficult time finding anything good is politics. I stay completely away from politics as much as possible. Oh yes, there have been those times that I greedily rubbed my hands and wanted to jump into that cesspool. Thankfully, I do have a little bit of common sense still lurking around in my head and refrain.

The question I ponder quite often is, if you put all the politicians together in one room could you find one little gray cell active? Perhaps the cost of being a politician is to give up all those tiny little gray cells that make the rest of us operate in a world of sanity.

I try not to go any further than that, because I cannot trust myself once I get started on the trail. As a young boy, I had a beagle I used to hunt rabbits. You’ve heard of the old rabbit trail. Once “Sparky” got on a rabbit trail he was never going to give up. There were times when I lost him for several hours while he was running that rabbit trail. He did not know how to give up.

I do not want to get involved in that kind of activity. If I do not start it, I do not have the compulsion to end it. It is like me and potato chips. If I eat one chip, I can’t stop until all are gone. If I do not eat one, I do not have any problem.

So, as much as is humanly possible, I stay away from politics.

One evening this past week my wife and I were watching the news and the whole thing was about politics. As for me, when they say Washington is broken, I know they really mean that the politicians are broken. In fact, they are broken beyond repair.

However, as we were watching the news I was getting a little ticked. I was grumbling about everything I was hearing, knowing a politician will say one thing today and the complete opposite tomorrow. That is because there is nothing in their brain cavity to create stability.

For some reason, I started grouching out loud. It is one thing to grouch and not express it out loud. It’s a whole other ball game when I grouch out loud because my wife can hear me. As I was groaning and gritting my teeth my wife said, “You know, you ought to be very grateful about those politicians.”

Oh boy, here we go. I crossed a line somewhere and was not sure how to get back home.

My wife is not afraid to express her opinion about anything. That includes politics and politicians. I was trying to process this idea of being grateful about politicians. I could not come up with one idea that would lead me to a point of being grateful about politicians.

I knew I needed to keep my mouth shut at this point. If I would express any ideas along this line, I know my wife, as usual, would have the last word. Read More→

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May
24

Lazy Does Have Its Advantages

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Rev. James Snyder, Out to Pastor bloggerAs a young boy, my father tried drilling into my brain that laziness was not acceptable in his house. If I wanted to be lazy, I had to go outside. He provided a wonderful role model for me because if my father was anything, he was not lazy. He tried to encourage me not to be lazy.

Laziness, according to him, was an attack on common decency and energy. After all these years, I have tried to live up to his standard. And yet, I must confess that I have found that laziness may have an advantage or two. I’m leaning towards the two.

It was my fortune to marry a young lady who did not have an inkling of laziness in any of her bones. I thought when I first married her; she was trying to impress me with how active she was and how much she could get done. I have discovered, however, that that certainly was not the case. Laziness and she have never met as far as I understand it.

I have tried not to be lazy and to a certain extent, I have succeeded. However, as I get older I begin to appreciate the opportunity of laziness. It does not have the bad connotation I was taught down through the years.

Everything has its good side and its bad side. The great joy of life is trying to find the good side in everything. This includes laziness. Anybody can point out the bad side to laziness, but it takes a genius to discover the good side of laziness. I am not pretending to be that genius, but I can say that I have discovered a good side to laziness.

The good side of laziness occurred to me recently. My wife loves to put together “Honey-Do-Lists” for her husband. That would be me, of course.

Let me say that just because it’s called a “Honey-Do-Lists” does not mean that there is any sweetness to it. In fact, from my own personal experience I have yet to find any sweetness in that activity. I call it an activity because I am supposed to actively do everything on that list.

It was a Monday morning and as usual, the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage handed to me her weekly “Honey-Do-List.” As usual, the list was quite long and in great detail.

“Make sure,” she said rather seriously, “that you do everything on that list as soon as possible.”

One of the things I have often wanted to ask my wife is what is her meaning of “as soon as possible”? It seems that I have not the faintest idea of what it really means. As a well-seasoned husband, I smile most graciously as she hands me that list and say, “Yes, dear.” Her list comes as close to a novel as anything she does.

It takes several days for me to read that list and try to understand what I am supposed to do with it. But, with my experience, I do the best I can and there have been several times, not many, that I have finished her list to the last point.

It was about Thursday when I was going over the list and saw several things that had not been checked off. I sighed very deeply, and with determination planned to get back in the saddle again. I find it very hard to juggle what I want to do with her “Honey-Do-List.” It is always a struggle because I know I have to do her list, but in my mind, I really want to do my list.

I was drinking some coffee and looking over this list to see what my next assignment was. At that time, the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage came into the room and said, “Did you do the 12th item on my list?”

At the time, I was a little startled because I did not know what she was getting at. I did not know if this was a quiz or if I was being evaluated by my work. I was a little concerned because there were some little nuggets of lazy that had peppered my week up to this point.

Looking at her I said, “No, I haven’t got to number 12 yet. I’m still working on number 10.”

She sighed such a deep sigh of relief that it frightened me a little. I was afraid if I said I had not accomplished number 12 I would be in serious trouble. After all, it was on the list and I was supposed to do everything on the list.

“I’m so glad you didn’t do that. It was my mistake and I would’ve been in serious trouble had you done it.” Read More→

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