Everyone Has Something…

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(This post was originally posted in 2016)

As a society, we’ve become masters at “labeling.” We know all our disabilities, all our flaws. We’ve given them names and can diagnose them earlier and earlier. But I’m not so sure that’s always a good thing. Sure, early diagnosis can help, even save, a large amount of people. But sometimes giving it a label predestines a person to limit themselves, to limit their life in ways that they may have pushed through had they not been labeled. Because here’s the thing: Everyone has something. Everyone!

Next time you’re in a crowd, even a small crowd, look around. Statistically speaking, EVERY SINGLE PERSON in that crowd has something in their life that they find challenging. A limitation. Sometimes they wear their challenge on the outside and it’s easy to spot. But more often than that, it’s hidden. It’s under their clothes, it’s under their skin, it’s in their brain. And it’s unique to each person.

Even the people that appear to have it all together, they too have something bubbling just under the surface. No one is immune.

One of the most valuable lessons we can give to our peers is to learn to push through challenges. No matter what life has dealt you, you can use that experience to build or to tear down. And everyone has something.

I think our beauty comes from those “flaws,” from those experiences, and from those challenges.

I think it’s our job, as parents, as teachers, as mentors, to help our children and those around us, with our flaws and our challenges, but don’t stop there. It’s our RESPONSIBILITY to show them how we push through our challenges and don’t let them limit us. To show them that even though we have a disease, disorder, or disability, it doesn’t have us.

People watch our every move, our every reaction, especially our children. They look to us for examples of how to handle the stuff that makes up life, both the good and the bad. A parent with a challenge has to shine through their disability, and show their children that it’s not something to stop them from doing what they want in life.

Even when we think our challenge is too big to get over, we can still show our kids what it means to HOPE. But hope isn’t necessarily proactive. Being hopeful can change your state of mind. The lesson is in how we ACT on that hope.

Think about some of our most inspiring people. Why do they inspire us? Usually it’s because they’ve achieved something IN SPITE OF or even BECAUSE OF a limitation. They’ve overcome and made things better for themselves or for those around them.

Everyone HAS something, but not everyone will DO something. How are you going to use your limitation to inspire those around you?

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The Noise of the World

When the world gets noisy, listen for that still, small voice that makes sense.

For me, that “voice” is Jesus.

I wish I would listen for that voice all the time. But, sadly, I can get sucked up into the mayhem as easily as the next guy.

I find myself searching for answers, asking for advice when all I really need to do is get down on my knees and listen. The answers are there, I just can’t hear them for the noise.

Sometimes the noise is internal, but most often the noise comes in the form of distractions. The roof is falling in, the bills are overwhelming, the kids aren’t cooperating, the car is broken down, the toilet’s over-flowing…whatever it is, I get caught up in the “crisis” instead of the solution.

Watching the news will do that to me too. If the media had their way, I would be convinced that the world was falling apart, coming to an end, or banging down my front door.

But if I turn off the “noise” then I can hear. If I look around, then I can see. If I take a walk, and breathe in deep, then I can feel. The loving warmth of Jesus is just waiting patiently for me to settle down, to stop spinning my wheels, to stop running in circles. He never left, I just wasn’t seeking.

The world sets traps, and I get caught in its snare.

And after struggling, it finally hits me, usually like a brick in the head, to just stop the noise and be quiet…and listen.

What noise distracts you from your peace?

I Choose Hope

I posted this graphic to my Instagram yesterday. I’m not sure why.

I’ve been avoiding the news like the plague lately. It seems it’s never anything good.

I’ve tried to steer clear of the debacle that’s happening in Washington right now (not that today is any different than any other day in Washington).

And when I looked at Facebook today and saw New York’s heartbreaking decision that caused them to light up the Empire State Building in pink, I wanted to cry.

Add to that the Covington students’ controversy, and I just can’t stomach it any more. Any of it.

It isn’t healthy, and I feel powerless to change any of it. Truly, I do.

The only recourse I have for my own well-being, and that of my family’s, is to hope and to pray for something better.

As a human race, I know we can do better. I know we have it in us to reach out instead of push back.

There is so much to hope for, so much good in the world that goes un-noticed because we’re too busy screaming at one another and standing our ground. Forgiveness has been thrown out the window completely.

So, here’s a list if you’d like to join me with some good news for a change:

  1. Watch an episode of Mike Rowe’s Returning the Favor on Facebook. There’s a new episode every Tuesday and it will lift your heart and give you back some hope for humanity.
  2. Forgive someone who doesn’t deserve it.
  3. Pick up that piece of trash on the sidewalk that’s been there for the last three days.
  4. Say “thank you” to the salesperson who may be having a bad day.
  5. Hold the door open for the person behind you.
  6. Pay it forward – pay for the cup of coffee or fast food of the person in the drive-thru line behind you.
  7. Turn off the news when you feel yourself getting angry…especially if your kids are in the room. If it angers you, think of what it does to them.
  8. Put down your phone and be present with the person you’re with.
  9. Call your friend instead of sending a text.
  10. Look around and see what you can do to make a difference in someone else’s life, even if it’s a small thing.

Choose hope instead of despair, love instead of hate, words that lift up instead of tear down.

It starts with the person in the mirror. I know we can do it, because we are better than the media wants us to think we are.

Best wishes and blessings to you all.

What are you going to do today to make this world a better place?

When Your Teen Doesn’t Share Your Beliefs Anymore

 

The following post is a reminder to myself in this season of my life and my teen’s life. But I thought someone else might benefit from it as well. I hope you can find some comfort in the following words if you’re experiencing growing pains of your own.

My child’s “unbelief” was pre-ordained. It’s only a surprise to me, not to God. He knew this was coming, and He knows the outcome.

It’s not my job to “convert” my child. It’s my job to guide and let God do the “converting.”

Forgive myself. It’s nothing I did wrong. Sometimes when your child is coming to their own conclusions, it means they are acting on their own. They are doing exactly what you taught them – to think on their own. They are maturing and thinking about what life means to them.

Don’t take it personally. Sometimes their unbelief is out of rebellion, but more often it’s out of discovery. Sometimes I think it can even be out of sheer laziness – they don’t want to be accountable to God, so they are taking the easy way out. It’s the “because I don’t want to” reasoning.

It’s a growing pain. Both my teen’s and my own. Just like growing out of dolls or playing with legos, they’re maturing and deciding what works for them. For me, it means learning to let go. They’re getting closer to adulthood, and my belief will not always be their belief.

The best thing I can do in this time of their life is to love them. It should be a time of “show” and not “tell.” Lecturing will only push them away. They need to know I love them. They need to know that my love for them doesn’t come with conditions like sharing a belief in God.

Let them experience Grace – mine and God’s. Forgive when they don’t deserve it, be kind to them just because. Really show them God’s love with how I respond to them.

Most importantly, this is God’s battle, not mine. I don’t have the ammunition or the army or the stamina to run the race with them, but God does. He’ll be there when they choose Him. And even if they don’t choose Him, God will love them in spite of themselves.

God tumbled down the walls of Jericho by having men walk around, time and time again He brought people out of despair and raised them up when they didn’t even know He existed. He waited while his followers groaned and walked through the wilderness for 40 years, and He was there every step of the way.

What makes me think He will not do the same for my child?

Take a breath and say a prayer and love your child. There is a time for everything under the sun. And now is a time to wait.

The Pastor is Not the Church

I’ve mentioned in past posts, that we have visited a number of churches in the past five years since we relocated, trying to find the right fit.

One of the reasons we’re still searching, besides the fact that we can’t seem to make any good personal connections, is that several of the churches seem to put a tremendous amount of faith in their Pastor…when it should be in God.

Now, I’m not saying that as church members, we shouldn’t regard our Pastor’s words as true. But what I am saying, is that we’ve found that many churches seem to put too much emphasis in what the Pastor says rather than what scripture says.

Think about it. Have you ever been to a church or a Bible study, or around members of the same church, and you hear quite often, “Well, Pastor So-and-So says that this is true, or that is frowned upon?”

My husband and I keep running into that, and it makes our discerning ears perk up.

The Pastor is NOT the leader of THE church…God is.

What people should be saying is, “Pastor So-and-So said this, NOW LET’S SEE IF SCRIPTURE BACKS IT UP.”

But most of us are too lazy to do the work ourselves. Just like our news and entertainment, we want our religion spoon-fed to us too, and that’s NOT okay.

In fact, it’s downright frightening.

That puts WAY TOO MUCH POWER in the hands of the Pastor. We should hold our Pastor’s accountable, and they should remind us to check it out for ourselves. They have an enormous responsibility to lead their flock, but their flock needs to be held accountable too. If we sit back and let the Pastor do all the work, then we aren’t giving our all to God.

Pastors are only human. They make mistakes. We need to look to the Bible for our answers.

Which leads me to another point: Too many Pastors are teaching out of Christian books and not The Book…the Bible. Too many are relying on other’s commentaries and, as such, their messages are a watered-down version of what Jesus taught.

They have managed to skew the Message to fit the masses to bring people in the doors instead of bringing people in the doors to hear the Message. There’s a big difference, and I hope it changes soon.

The Bible tells us that WE are the church…not the building, not the Pastor, but Jesus’ followers.

Have you run into this before?

Take your kids to church when they are young

This post comes with a disclaimer: It is directed at my fellow Christians, though I suppose it could apply to those of other faiths as well. It is not intended as a criticism or judgement call. It’s just my experience that I’d like to pass along. And if you aren’t a “religious” person, then please don’t feel obligated to read any further on this post.

My kids were raised in church. My husband and I started going to church together before they were even born. I sang with the worship team, the choir at Christmas, my husband was a youth leader and even held a position on the Elder board for a time. My kids heard worship music while they were still in my belly. As soon as they were old enough, they participated in the Christmas musicals, Vacation Bible School, and were members of AWANA. Church was a big part of our life.

When I sang in the worship team, it was my husband’s responsibility to get the kids dressed and ready for church since I had to be there an hour early for sound checks. I can’t tell you the number of times my daughter (when she was still an infant) came to church with her dress on backwards because my husband didn’t realize the buttons went up the back of the dress and not the front. But he did it. And so did I.

And for those of you with little ones, I’m not going to lie to you. It was hard. There were mornings when the little ones didn’t want to get dressed or when getting them into the car seat was an exhausting fight or when we had been up all night with a teething baby. And, sure, we missed sometimes here and there. But, in hindsight, now that they are teens, getting them to church back then was so much easier than it is now that they’re older.

When they were little, their belief was our belief. Their religion was our religion. They went with us, partly because they had fun, and church was a time of crafts and play with their friends, but mostly because they didn’t have a choice. They went where we went. They weren’t old enough to stay at home alone.

Now that they are teens, getting to church on a regular basis is much harder.

Now that they’re older, church isn’t all fun and games. Their friends show up sporadically, so there are days when there may be absolutely no one they know in their Sunday school class. Let’s be honest: they would much rather be home on the computer or sleeping in, than having to get up early and shower and get cleaned up just to go and sit and listen to a message that they may feel does or does not apply to them. It can be really boring at times.

Add to that their friends, who may not be believers, and their influence on them. At this age, they need to own their faith. We can model for them as much as we want, but it’s up to them to choose their faith. Sure, you can make them go to church, telling them that it’s for their own good, and believe me, there are days that we do that. But doing that can turn into a fight, and who knows if anything is getting through to them?

So, my advice to you if you have littles and you’re a church-goer, it’s worth the fight to get there. It’s worth showing up to church with your toddler’s clothes on backwards, or with your hair pulled back in a messy ponytail, or with baby food smeared across your dress. Your fellow moms will understand.

Plant as many seeds as you can when they’re young, and hopefully, as they get older, even if they wander in the wilderness for a while, those seeds will have taken root and will always pull at them as they make their own choices in life (even the bad choices).

Parenting is hard, whether your kids are younger or older. Your going to need a lot of love and a lot of patience. Get started early.

That’s just my two cents.

The Fear of Dr. Phil

I’m home from work today because I pulled a muscle in my back. Because of that, I’m also stuck on the couch, and, while I should be working in my current WIP, I’ve been binge watching Dr. Phil.

I know, I should be ashamed to admit it. But if people can admit they binge watch whole seasons of shows in one weekend, then I’m woman enough to admit to watching Dr. Phil.

Besides, I owe Dr. Phil and Oprah a little something.

Years ago (we’re talking a whole lifetime ago), when I was in a relationship I had no business being in for longer then a day, it was the fear of being qualified to be a guest on Dr. Phil that got me out of that relationship.

Without going into too much detail, I was in a dead-end relationship that was on a fast road to nowhere. And as I lay on the couch one day wallowing in my own misery and having a grand old pity party, Dr. Phil came on the Oprah show.

I don’t remember what the topic was that day, but it suddenly occurred to me that I never wanted to be in a relationship that would ever qualify me to be a Dr. Phil guest. I never wanted to be that screwed up.

The thought of bearing my dirty laundry in front of millions of viewers terrified me. I remember changing the channel because the thought shook me so much. Of course, when I changed the channel, a music video channel was on (I’m not sure if it was MTV – I can’t remember), but Garth Brooks’ The Thunder Rolls was on.

It was a sign. It was time to find my inner strength and move on. And I did as soon as I could, and I never looked back.

It’s funny how our brains work: how one second, we can be headed on one path and in the next second, we can make a decision that can completely change our life…for the good. And, in a weird way, I have Dr. Phil to thank for that. Well, Dr. Phil and God. I mean, I’m sure God used Dr. Phil to get my attention.

Besides, I have to tell you, Dr. Phil provides some great inspiration for character development. You can’t imagine better characters than what Dr. Phil serves.

So, the next time someone says they’re binge watching something like Dr. Phil, don’t laugh…they may be on the road to changing their life. Or writing a book. Either way, it’s a plus.

And if you are currently going through a relationship struggle in your life, know that it doesn’t have to be a life sentence. Get the help you needs and surround yourself with trusted friends and family. You don’t have to be alone.

Have a blessed day!