Pragmatic Compendium

inspiring the pragmatic practice of intimacy with Christ

if you can’t change your circumstances, change your expectations.

Kristen at We Are THAT Family has invited her Works for Me Wednesday weekly linkers to post a different kind of tip this week:

If you could tell people just ONE THING. What would it be?” (I invite you to read Kristen’s post, When Jesus Isn’t Enough.)

After a purely faith-based post, the next thought that came to mind was this: “If you can’t change your circumstance, change your expectations.”

Don’t get me wrong, when presented with a problem, I’ve been called “tenacious” in my efforts to find a solution. (I took it as a compliment.) But sometimes, I’ll admit, a circumstance is beyond my influence, much less my control. Sometimes, I can’t change my circumstances. Sometimes, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt, reasonably or not, that I shouldn’t even attempt to change my circumstances. (and ya know I hate it when that happens.)

So often, our frustration results from unmet expectations. That frustration often leads to anger, sometimes to sadness and frequently, to a boatload of behaviors we regret, words we wish we could take back, and hurts we would inflict upon ourselves if only it meant we could spare those whom we caused pain.

One thing I consistently strive to do is to adapt my expectations to whatever circumstances I face. Rather than trying to force things to go the way I think they should, or to manipulate situations to be the way I want them to be, or (what I desperately, vehemently, REFUSE to do) to scream at people I love or have never met before, complain to anyone I can trap, or constantly mumble in discontent, making everyone around me uncomfortable, I try to figure out how God can be glorified by the fact that I’m smack in the middle of those circumstances.

Why did God allow me to be here? What does He want me to do?

One blessing God gave me is a daughter who is what my counselor has called “undamaged Julie.” Maybe so. But what that ultimately means to me is that my daughter is very much different from me. Her behaviors and emotions are SOOO different than mine. She lives out loud and wears her emotions all over every body part, not just her sleeves. I’m . . . reserved.

So how do I handle that?

I have a totally different set of expectations for PinkGirl than I would for “my daughter.” And there is a difference. I don’t define PinkGirl from my own frame of reference. I don’t see her as an extension of myself, but rather as her own person. I provide encouragement and tangible support and instruction for her dreams and goals and I CAN NOT wait to find out what she will do next. And no. I do not find this response intuitive. It’s a determined choice I make, not because I’m a great mother, but because I’m damaged. And no, I don’t want to talk about it. I’m reserved, remember?

(This was originally written when she was 7 years old, still so very relevant today.)

Fathers, do not provoke or irritate or fret your children [do not be hard on them or harass them], lest they become discouraged and sullen and morose and feel inferior and frustrated. [Do not break their spirit.]
Colossians 3:21 The Amplified Bible

My daughter is a free spirit.

She sings. Loud. She sings Disney princess songs and hymns. Praise songs and jingles. She sings her own personal compositions. Sometimes they rhyme, sometimes not. Her own songs are l-o- n-g. She sings about everything. Love. Jesus. Her Heart. Disney. Sometimes she throws in a line about gross bodily functions before cracking herself up because it is SO hysterically funny. (She’s 7.) She sings in the car and doesn’t care who stares. She will climb to the top of a playground structure and sing her songs to an audience in the sky. She doesn’t care if people can hear her. She wants people to hear her.

Please don’t tell her to be quiet.

She dances. She twirls. She vogues. She bounces. She skips. She runs when and where there is open space. She swings. HIGH. She calls out “Watch me!” and wants me to take her picture. This is what happy looks like.

Please don’t tell her to sit still.

She loves to dress up. She can’t watch “Annie” without pausing the DVD player for multiple costume changes. She “invents” outfits and hairstyles. She wears prints with stripes, pink with orange and mismatched socks for “flair.” She loves lipstick and jewelry. She loves pink. Not pastel pink. PEPTO pink! BOLD pink.

Please don’t “correct” her wardrobe selections.

She loves to perform. The fireplace hearth is her stage. She wrote a play when she was in pre-kindergarten. She sat in a chair for hours on a Friday night, writing on one piece of paper after another. When it was all said and done, written on each piece of paper were the lines of each character in her play. When I typed it up for her later, she knew immediately which paper to read from next as she dictated the dialog for me. The spelling was creative, but the play was complete with a hero, a villain, a quest, and lots of songs to sing.

Please don’t tell her to “act like the other kids.”

She finds wonder in so many things. A lizard hiding in the grass. A crushed acorn. The shape of a cloud. She can’t go for a walk around the block without stopping every few feet to pick up a leaf, pet a neighbor’s cat or point out something interesting. She wants to see everything and go everywhere. And she wants to tell you all about it. Because it’s made such an imprint on her, she believes she should share it.

Please don’t make absentminded comments when she’s talking to you. She’s smart. She knows.

Don’t get me wrong. She’s not wild and undisciplined. She understands that she should whisper in a library, sit quietly attentive and respectfully listen to her teachers in class, and wear her uniform to school. She understands that sometimes she needs to follow directions instead of direct her own elaborate scripts. She knows to share and to take something she finds to lost and found. She knows that if we forget to pay for the case of soda under the grocery cart, that we are going back inside the store to make it right. She knows proper manners for the using the phone, how to handle a laptop computer and how to carry scissors. She understands that she can’t break out of line at school to chase a lizard or twirl. She knows not to run in a parking lot and to look both ways before she crosses the street. She knows to wear shorts under her skirts so no one can see “London” and that she can’t wear makeup to school and church. She even knows the only time her belly button should show in public is when she is wearing a bathing suit.

What she doesn’t know yet is that someday she may be too embarrassed to express herself “out loud” like she does now. She hasn’t spent time with “that” person. You know, the person who will try to convince her that her free and confident self-expression is inappropriate or wrong. The person who will introduce doubt and self-consciousness.

I pray that when faced with that person – that criticism – she is confident enough to stand strong and be herself. I refuse to silence her just because of what other people might think. I refuse to force her to wear what I think she should or tell her that she should only wear two braids, instead of six. I refuse to make her sit down when there’s no reason she can’t run. I refuse to squelch her spirit – just because it’s different than mine.

Sometimes it looks like she is dancing without music. She’s not. The music is in her heart. We can hear it if we just listen.

Not allowing your children to do innocent but different things is the logical outgrowth of a belief system that emphasizes the symbols of faith rather than it’s substance. This shallow religion measures success more by the image than by genuine authenticity.
Dr. Tim Kimmel
Grace Based Parenting

This devotional, entitled “freedom to be different.” was originally posted on Pragmatic Communion on February 19, 2008. It was inspired by the book, Grace-Based Parenting by Tim Kimmel and this little girl.

December 30, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

the evolution of my WORD.

I wrote a few days ago that I was pondering my “Word” for 2011. The last few years, instead of creating a list of things I will fail to accomplish in the upcoming year, I’ve been selecting a WORD of the year and applying it (or attempting to apply it) to multiple aspects of my life. (click here to see my previous selections)

This year, the thought that continued to roll around in my mind was that I need to “step outside my comfort zone.”

that’s not a word. that is a phrase.

So I began the process of finding a word that best embodies the concept of stepping outside my comfort zone. The first word that came to mind was “push.” The idea was that I would push myself out of my comfort zone.

But for me, the word “push” implies that I’m resisting some force. For some reason, two photos came to my mind. They were taken on my wedding day. The groomsmen were having a little fun with my LastFiance. Check it out:

In the first photo, the groomsmen were trying to push him into the chapel and he’s resisting. That’s “push” to me. Forced against my will. The free online dictionary reads: “To apply pressure against for the purpose of moving and To move (an object) by exerting force against it; thrust or shove.”

Not what I’m going for.

Looking at the second photo, the word “reach” comes to mind. LastFiance is trying to get in the chapel while the groomsmen are trying to keep him out. He’s reaching for the door, but he’s got a firm hold. Not a lot of effort there.

Again, not what I’m going for. I can reach my coffee cup from my loveseat easily. But my loveseat is still pretty comfortable.

And then I thought about yoga. Somebody recently asked me if yoga was hard. Well. It depends. It’s possible to go to a yoga class and not experience any muscle soreness the next day. It’s possible to participate in a yoga class and not need to change clothes after.

Me? Most of the time, I need to change clothes after yoga. and shower. And I almost ALWAYS feel muscle soreness the next day. The difference is directly related to how much effort I put into it. My thought has always been that if I’m taking the time to exercise, I’m going to give it 110%. I’m THERE. I’m going to make the most of the time.

When I began yoga, I wondered if it would be enough for me. After three years of strength training two to three hours a week, I wondered if yoga would challenge me enough.

That’s a big YES.

So have you figured out my 2011 Word of the Year?

push. reach. STRETCH.

Still thinking and drafting my next blog post about how I want to STRETCH in different aspects of my life, so check back.

And you are officially invited to join me in adopting your own 2011 Word of the Year. Link up in a comment to your own post or just share your word and some thoughts in the comment itself.

December 30, 2010 Posted by | intentional living | , , | 5 Comments


I wonder if John Ortberg has a permanent indentation on the side of his head from where his wife smacks him.

I’m reading his book, “When the Game Is Over, It All Goes Back in the Box” and as usual, he wrote something that produced an eye roll and a sigh:

“A small girl, probably two years old, was sitting behind me kicking her legs rhythmically into my seat. I started to get irritated. She was one of three small children traveling with their parents. Her six-month old brother was screaming. I wanted to ask the flight attendant if they could play outside.

Then the thought occurred to me: I’m reading a book on Christian heroism, about missionaries and martyrs, and I’m bitter because of a two-year-old. I turned to the mom, “You know, it wasn’t all that long ago that my wife and I had three children your kids’ ages. I remember how hard that was. If there’s anything my wife can do for you on this flight…” It will take some time for me to live on mission.” (emphasis added)


December 27, 2010 Posted by | books, christian living, laugh! | 1 Comment

what’s your word?

For the last few years, I’ve been selecting a “Word of the Year” – kind of a “theme of the year” instead of compiling a typical list of resolutions.

With just a few more days until January 1st, I’ve been pondering. I might have it, but I want to think about it a few more days.

Meanwhile, I invite you to join me. What word would sum up your focus – your goals – for the coming year and in what aspects of your life will you apply that focus?

Here are some of my previous Word of the Year posts:
2010 – Partnering
2009 – Action
2008 – Closure

In the next few days, I’ll be posting a final decision on my 2011 Word of the Year and maybe even an honest self-examination on how I did with my word this year (not so good, in my opinion).

December 26, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Wassail. revised.

(I originally posted this back in December of 2008, but I’ve made a revision since then. I used to float cloves in a coffee filter, sealed with a twist tie. Not very Martha of me, I know. But I’m reformed. Check out the photo below.)

When I was in high school and college, I sang at a few madrigal dinners. If you’re unfamiliar with madrigal dinners, here’s a sampling. (and no, I’m not in this video).

Wassail Song

One thing was a constant in every madrigal dinner – Wassail. It’s a kind of warm cider drink my choral director would make every year. I’ve made it on Christmas Eve for years. It’s a family favorite and a longstanding tradition. It only takes about 5 minutes to prepare, but allow it to simmer for a couple of hours in the pot if you really want the flavors to blend together.


1/2 gallon apple juice
2 cups pineapple juice
2 cups orange juice
2 cinnamon sticks
2 teaspoons whole cloves
1 orange (optional)

Pour all juices in a pot or crockpot.
Float Cinnamon sticks in the pot.

Here’s the update:
Take an awl and poke holes in an orange in any pattern that strikes you. Then insert the stems of whole cloves in the holes. Float the cloved orange in the pot while simmering.

When it the smell starts to waft, you know it’s gonna be GOOD.


For a print friendly version CLICK HERE.

December 22, 2010 Posted by | 5 minutes, food, holidays, recipes, youtube | , , , , | 2 Comments

crazy woman singing in the van singing what? “Glory in the Highest”

LOVE the new praise song this week! Glory in the Highest by Shane and Shane. That’s some freakishly high singing for a guy. Really love the harmony on the second verse, but it’s definitely a commitment. I either need to go for it or stay quiet – no middle ground.

(the song begins at the 1:40 mark)

For more beautiful music, check out Then Sings My Soul Saturday every Saturday hosted by Amy at Signs, Miracles and Wonders.

December 18, 2010 Posted by | christian living, music, praise team music, youtube | , , , | 1 Comment

I Heart Florida.

(Thanks to Tina at MultipleMom for sharing this with me today.)

Need a few more chuckles today? Check out Friday Funnies hosted by Homesteaders Heart!

If you’ve got time to hang out for a few minutes, check out what else makes me laugh: Pragmatic Compendium’s “laugh!” category.

December 17, 2010 Posted by | laugh!, youtube | , | 2 Comments

well, you see officer . . .

So, the festive Christmas lights FirstHusband zip tied to the entire length of the luggage rack of my van work GREAT.

The low beams on the headlights, however, do not work at all. If I can’t get them fixed tomorrow, I either don’t drive at night or annoy everyone by driving with the high beams on.

Or I could duck tape Maglites to the front of the van and just go Christmas shopping.

December 16, 2010 Posted by | holidays, laugh!, poor me some whine | , , | 1 Comment

seat warmer solidarity? nope.

PinkGirl: “It’s not FAIR!”

Me: “I know honey, I’m sorry.”

PinkGirl: “Well?”

Me: “What?”

FavoriteSon: “She wants you to turn off your seat warmer because she doesn’t have one.”

Me: “oh, honey, I’m sorry. That’s really not gonna happen.”

PinkGirl: “MO – OM!”

Me: “nope.”

December 16, 2010 Posted by | family, laugh! | , , , | 2 Comments

fighting twitter spam.

I got hit by 15 spam followers today, so after reporting each and every one of them, I’ve protected my tweets for a few days in an effort to fall off the “spam radar.” When I make my tweets public again, I’ll blog it.

UPDATE: After 3 days of protected tweets, I opened my twitter page back up!

December 11, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment


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