Monday, August 27, 2012

Nick's Chaplain Blog - "Attitude of Gratitude"

Here is another installment of Nick's weekly chaplain blog for work.  :)

Click on the previous posts:
"Little Things"
"Really...Kansas?!"

August 6, 2012 ~ “Attitude of Gratitude” 
CHAPLAIN NICK BRASCHLER 
"Gratitude as a discipline involves a conscious choice. I can choose to be grateful even when my emotions and feelings are still steeped in hurt and resentment. It is amazing how many occasions present themselves in which I can choose gratitude instead of a complaint. " 
~ Henri J. M. Nouwen 

This last week, my 1 year old learned how to say “Thank you.”. It’s probably the sweetest thing I’ve ever heard, as he says it with a high pitched, “Tate Ooo.” Valerie and I had been working with Caleb ever since he learned “Please,” but for some reason “Thank you” was a challenge. The funny thing about it is…now he wont stop! Every 30 seconds he’s telling us “Tate Ooo” for something!! And by something, I mean EVERYTHING!
Friday night, he did something to warrant a few minutes in a time-out chair. I sat him down and explained why he was being disciplined and then walked around the corner…For the next minute (because it was all I could handle…) I heard him yelling, “TATE OOO, DADA! DADDY…TATE OOO!” It’s hard to discipline and laugh at the same time! I went back in the room, trying to conceal my laughter, and gave him a hug…and told him “You’re welcome son.” Haha! I hope this carries over to his teenage years! I can hear him saying, "Dad, I really appreciate your discipline and I am grateful for the punishment I am about to receive." I'm thinking I should probably just enjoy these moments right now - cause that's not gonna happen! 
Anyways, this got me to reflect on gratitude, and how much like my son, Caleb, I can be so quick to ask for things, yet it takes me a lot longer to be thankful. 
I can remember a time in my life where I was worn out and stressed out, things were not going like I had planned, and I was border-line depressed about my situation. I had spent months asking God to change my circumstances and complaining when they stayed the same.
I came home from work late one night, after a horrendous 15 hour shift (you know, one of those days as a manager when anything that could go wrong - does go wrong), and sat in my living room and grabbed a sheet of notebook paper…at the top of the blank page I wrote “Things I Am Thankful For...” I don’t know why I did this because, honestly, it had been a long time since being grateful had even been on my radar. Before even writing anything down, I began to realize what God was doing in that moment. I had been so focused on the things I wished were different…I was missing out on the ways God was trying to bless my life.
I wrote down everything I could think of, from little things like my hunting dog "Boone", to big things like a loving and supportive family, the ability to work, and a roof over my head. I easily filled up the page and just about the time I was running out of room I was overwhelmed with God’s grace and His love - all from a taking five minutes to be thankful.
I wonder if you’ve ever found yourself in a similar situation? Maybe you are there right now? My challenge to you today is to recognize and be reminded of the things in your life that deserve your gratitude.
Reflection:
- Take a moment today, and on a blank sheet of paper I want you to write at the top, Things I Am Thankful For…” Write down anything that comes to mind that you can be thankful for.
- Were you surprised at how many things made your list?
- This week, in your conversations and in your thoughts, when you are tempted to complain – intentionally have an attitude of gratitude.



"Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.
And be thankful."
~ Colossians 3:15 (NIV)

Friday, August 24, 2012

Camping at Big Hill Lake

This past weekend we went camping at Big Hill Lake with my parents.  We met them at the lake, which is in southeast Kansas, because it is almost exactly halfway for us.  This is one of my family's favorite places to camp.  It has some of the cleanest water of any Kansas lake, great hiking trails, awesome swimming beach, lots of deer and good camping sites.  We had an absolute blast.  The weather was perfect - cool in the mornings and evenings and warm for swimming during the day.  

When we first got there Friday evening, we set up camp and headed to check out the beach - just to look at it and before we knew it, Caleb had already headed into the water and plopped down, ready to play.  We sat by the campfire, made s'mores, had delicious camping food - including probably the best steak I've ever had, played cards, went swimming, took the boat out, and made lots of fun memories.  We had three raccoon visitors during both nights - they helped themselves to some of Boone's dog food.  They woke us up about 4:30 am each morning about three feet from Nick's head outside the tent.  

Unfortunately we couldn't find the camera before the trip, so we didn't get many pictures except on cell phones. Overall, it was such a nice, relaxing time in the outdoors with family.  I am glad this has been a tradition and hope it continues throughout the years.  :)  Can't wait for next year!





Here's the post from our trip last year.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Nick's Chaplain Blog: "Little Things"

Here is another installment from Nick's Chaplain blog for work.  Click here to see his first one.  I'll keep adding them every so often. 

July 30, 2012 – “Little Things” 
CHAPLAIN NICK BRASCHLER 

Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!” 
~ Matthew 25:21 (NLT)


Acts 10:13 reads, “And there came a voice to him, ‘Rise, Peter; kill and eat.’” My family has always taken this verse very seriously. My uncle bought me the first gun I ever owned– on my first birthday! 

One of my first hunting memories was my dad letting me carry around an empty BB gun when I was 6 years old. I may have been young, but I kind of figured that ammo was fairly important to shooting a gun (I was a child genius…haha). I wanted to be able to actually hunt so bad - I could hardly stand it. I didn’t understand why he left the bullets in the truck. 

Trying to keep up with my then short legs, I was told that I had one little task for this whole day, and that was to keep that gun barrel pointed only at things I intended to shoot. The first time my dad looked over and he was staring down the barrel…that gun was taken away. 


Dad asked the guys he was hunting with to stop. He knelt down right in the middle of that field and explained the consequences of my action if that gun had been loaded. “What if you had tripped and the gun somehow went off”…I was bawling at this point...he continued, “I can’t wait for the day you and I can make some awesome memories out here hunting, but until I can trust you to with this little thing, you will get to walk around with that empty BB gun.” 


That wasn’t the last time that gun was taken away – slow learner I guess. There was very little that I felt I could accomplish, nor was I in any danger to anyone holding that empty BB gun. But I began to understand just how important the “little things” really were. 

Today, the same desire to do the BIG things is still there for me. I want to do extraordinary things in my work, in my home, and most importantly, for God. It’s the little things, as important as they may be, that have always seemed to get in the way. 

    I believe that those little things are as vital as any BIG thing could ever be. 

You may say, “I want to accomplish extraordinary success in my career.” You need to ask – Am I faithful with the menial tasks I am being asked to do now? Are you giving the little things the efforts that they need? You may feel like you’re trying to hunt with an empty gun, but I want to encourage you to be faithful with what little you have been given. 

You may say, “I want to do extraordinary things for God!” You may think it would be an incredibly rich experience to be a missionary in another country and impact the lives of so many that have never had a relationship with God! We hear of stories of people who are doing incredibly BIG things for God…and I want to be a part of that. But I think you need to ask, “Am I being faithful with the little things I have already put in front of me? Am I having that kind of impact in my home, in my neighborhood, with the people I work with every day?" Until you are able to say, “Yes,” why should we be disappointed when we are not asked to do BIG things?  




See, those little things mean a whole lot more than we think. 

In keeping with Braschler tradition, my brothers and dad bought my son, Caleb, a .410 shotgun for his first birthday. I plan to take him out just like my dad did for me - empty BB gun in his hand, wondering why we left the bullets in the truck…Little things.



"Sometimes when I consider what tremendous consequences come from little things… 
I am tempted to think there are no little things."

Bruce Barton

Reflection: 
What are the little things that you are extremely faithful with? 
What are some little things in your life that need some attention and effort this week? 

Friday, August 17, 2012

A Month Off

I know I bragged on my husband in my last post, but I have more to say.  At the end of July, we were in the kitchen one night and he said, "You know Val, I think I want to give you the month of August off - you know, from cooking dinner and grocery shopping."  I stopped right in my tracks and said, "Wait, what??"  And he explained how he knew it was wearing on me to have to come home from work and decide what was for dinner and make it and go grocery shopping on my lunch break, etc.  All you cooks in the household understand how huge this act was.  I asked him if he really understood what he was offering and he said he'd like to give it a try and take over all the dinners and grocery shopping for the month of August.  I was blown away.  What a striking and practical example of servant-minded love for a husband to have (and show!) for his wife! 

So, we are now a little over 2 weeks in and he has been doing awesome.  At the beginning of the month, he went through all the cabinets, the fridge and the freezer and took inventory of what we had.  Then, he made a list of all kinds of potential meal ideas for the month, then planned them all out - writing them on the calendar.  Next he made a whole shopping list and got just about everything he needed.  He has done a really great job with his meals, making them well-rounded and tasty too!  I think he has done a much better job at meal planning than me (I am terrible), and I can see how that helps so much because he already knows what he's making and knows that he has all the ingredients, which can sometimes be the hardest/most stressful part. 

This month was just what this momma and wife needed to get a fresh appreciation for cooking and meal planning!  I realize that I am extremely blessed to have a husband who recognizes ways to best love me and then acts on that!  He knows me so well that he can tell just what I need (noticing that cooking was becoming more of a burden than a joy).  And I have been able to work on other projects around the house that I've been putting off because as most of you understand, once you come home, cook dinner, clean up and put Caleb to bed, there's not much more energy to tackle the other "projects" like organizing papers to file and sorting through Caleb's too-small clothes and cleaning up "junk" areas, etc.  I also get to spend more time with Caleb when I get home, which has been good because boy, has he been clingy to me for the past 2 weeks! 

Since we are a family with two full-time-working-outside-the-home-parents, we are learning more and more how to help each other and share the loads - and that goes both ways.  I want to find ways to serve and encourage him as well.  I am so thankful the Lord gave me Nick as a husband.  He knew exactly what I needed.  No surprise there.  :)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Nick's Chaplain Blog

Nick created an awesome website for the Chaplain services team as a resource to all the employees they serve at Simmons.  He included community resources and organizations for each location where there is plant, all life topics and helpful verses and quotes relating to each one, information for how the chaplains can help, a place for prayer requests, etc.  Part of the site includes a weekly blog devotional post written by the chaplains.  July and August are Nick's months and I thought I'd share them here on the ol' family blog too. 

July 23, 2012 - "Really?...Kansas...Are you serious?" 
CHAPLAIN NICK BRASCHLER

"Life is a series of experiences, each one of which makes us bigger, even though sometimes it is hard to realize this. For the world was built to develop character, and we must learn that the setbacks and griefs which we endure help us in our marching onward." ~ Henry Ford 


The memory and feelings of this day are as real to me today as they were then. 

I can vividly recall sitting on the bank at Glendo Reservoir in Wyoming as my dad informed me we were packing up and he was moving us from our home at the base of the Casper Mountain to Wichita, KS…Not only did he just ruin my camping trip, but I was certain my life was over too. And as a 10 year old kid who spent most of his waking hours fishing, hunting and exploring in those mountains, it certainly appeared to be. It didn’t make any sense to me and I was angry at my parents – and at God. Why on earth would we leave the beauty of this place for a flat, boring place like Kansas?

It wasn’t funny at the time, but I can smile about it now. I am so thankful for their decision and that experience for many reasons. First, that move taught me how to build new relationships with people, which is something that I appreciated even more as I have started getting to know over 5000 employees and their families. Second, I met my smokin'-hot wife, Valerie, while we lived in Wichita! Two incredible blessings I would have missed out on if we would have remained in Casper. 

In the midst of that change and perceived difficulty, I could only see the negative effects on my life. Now looking back, I can’t imagine what my life would be like without Valerie and to be anywhere else but Simmons - pursuing my passion of caring for people in need. God was certainly faithful in bringing my family to Kansas for both of those reasons (and it so happens that there was plenty of hunting and fishing to keep me occupied!).

Being able to reflect on that time in my life has altered how I view challenging circumstances in my life, and they happen in my life just like they do yours – though each of us has our own story to tell. This is certainly not the most difficult experience in my life – boy, wouldn't that be nice! – but it’s a pivotal part of my story. During times when things work out differently than I had planned, I think back to that day as a 10 year old boy. And I trust that whatever the outcome, it is certainly for a greater purpose than I can currently comprehend.
Reflection:
If you were to tell your story, 
what were some setbacks to your plans that you experienced?   
How have those experiences impacted who or where you are today? 
If you were to prepare your heart and attitude for the next challenge you might face, how might you do that? 

"We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation." ~ Romans 5:3-4 (NLT)

Monday, August 13, 2012

Confessions

This is a somewhat embarrassing, humbling post for me to write, but I want this blog to be a document of our journey as a family and for me personally and this is a real part of it.  I love food.  Love it.  Like too much.  I think about it all the time like an addict.  I truly have an appreciation for the way food tastes, the way recipes come together, for cooking and baking and for all the goods that my mouth can experience.  I think there is a time and a place to enjoy food, but it should not consume my life or my body or my thoughts.  The Lord has been molding me and teaching me through this passage in 1 Corinthians chapter 6:19-20:

"Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies."

I need to dwell on heavenly things and not things of this earth.  I was bought at a price.  

I am really good at turning my own head during meal times or snack times and giving in to temptation and then feeling really bad afterward.  It's like my guilty pleasure - literally.  Food should not consume my thoughts.  I shouldn't always be thinking about the next time I'm going to eat.  I need to fill my spiritual hunger with the Bread of Life rather than filling up on empty calories that satisfy for a few minutes.  My body is a temple of the Holy Spirit.  Back in 1 Kings Solomon builds this amazingly beautiful temple and spends ten years and countless resources to make an exquisite house for the Ark of the Covenant, God's dwelling-place.   Before Jesus conquered death and was called up to heaven, God required a physical dwelling place here on the earth but now he has sent his Spirit to dwell in our hearts.  

How irreverant of me to take such poor care of the Holy Spirit's dwelling place in me.  I am so blessed to have a fully functioning, healthy body with both hands and feet and no disabilities and I fill it full of junk.  Taking away energy, motivation, self-esteem/confidence and overall health.  I am not setting a good example to my family.  Scripture says everything is permissible but not everything beneficial.  I am called to a higher standard.  I am to let nothing master me.  

I know that God is teaching me and working on my heart in this area.  This is one major thing that I feel like I am having trouble letting out of my grasp.  Like I'm holding on to food so tight and am struggling to let go.  Just as other people struggle with giving up their personal addictions, I am struggling to give up mine.  

By God's grace I can overcome it.  I am learning more each day and working on this area of my life and my heart.  Praise God for his endless patience with me and for never giving up on me.  Although I fail a thousand times, His love still remains.