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?

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New Women’s Fiction – Understanding Kasey

Now available on amazon.com

Understanding Kasey

Kasey Hunter has lived a lifetime and she’s only 25 years old. She’s been caregiver to her mother with early-onset Alzheimer’s, she’s never known her father, and her only friends are her customers at the Rusty Anchor and her co-worker at Summer’s Coffee Shop. And then there’s the annoying older woman named Willow, who keeps trying to push her way into Kasey’s business.

When Kasey’s life is turned upside down, Willow may be the only one she can rely on to stand by her side, but Kasey’s not going to give in that easily.

Getting to know Kasey is a challenge under regular circumstances. But when she’s faced with an opportunity that changes everything she’s known about her past, Kasey will have to decide if it’s worth holding on to her bitterness or if she can leave her past and embrace whatever her future holds.

Available on amazon.com, kindle, smashwords and more!

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.

Getting Real – what real friendship is about

There we were, 12 women, sitting on the patio of a neighborhood coffee shop on a balmy summer evening as the sun set behind us. We saw each other nearly every weekend at church. We passed in the hallway, and waved or nodded “hello” as we dropped our kids off at Sunday school and then headed back to the sanctuary for service.

But as we sat on that patio and discussed our study, we began to realize that we were virtual strangers.

We shared the same beliefs, and were friendly enough to carry on small talk about school being over, and swim team starting up, but we never really got into the nitty-gritty of life. We never got messy, or shared the dirt of our lives. We kept that to ourselves, to guard like some dirty secret.

We never really got “real” with one another.

That’s what it’s like for so many women in this technological age. We communicate quickly, usually through a text, and in abbreviations. But we never really hold each other up and bear with one another under the weight of life.

How many times have you answered “Fine” when someone asked how things were going, when you wanted to scream the truth…that you really needed a friend and wanted to just sit and talk about life for a while?

But we say we’re busy…but are we really?

We can’t afford to be that busy. We can’t afford to be autonomous islands who can do ten things at once and still have dinner on the table at 6:00pm and the kids in bed by 9:00pm. And who really reaches that goal anyways?

If we would just be “real” with one another we’d know that there are no Jones’ to keep up with…they don’t exist. The Jones’ are a myth, an anomaly, that we created just to keep us feeling like we’ll never measure up.

So, there we were…12 women, sitting on the porch on a balmy summer eve, learning something about each other. But more importantly, learning something about ourselves. We aren’t so different from one another. I fail just like you do. I will never get the kids to bed by 9:00pm, and dinner might be on the table by 6:00pm, but you can bet it will be take-out picked up on the way home from soccer practice.

Therein lies the beauty of being a woman: we are flawed for a reason. We are flawed so that we can be empathetic and supportive to one another. We’re flawed so that we can hold each other up when life seems too big to stand alone. We weren’t meant to go it alone.

We were made flawed so that we can be “real,” not some fictional character that we can never reach.

Right there on that patio, we decided to be “real” from then on. We decided not to hide behind smiles, or schedules, or texts. We decided to be accountable to one another. To say how we really felt, even if it wasn’t fine. To ask for help if we needed it, and not be ashamed. And to laugh…I mean one of those laughs that starts at your toes and makes your eyes tear and your head hurt where you can’t catch your breath.

Because being “real” is so much better than pretending. Being “real” is the best part of having female friends.

What do you need to do to be “real” with your friends?

I Need a “Cause”

 

Some might say, “You’re a Mom, that’s your cause,” or “You have a house to maintain, that’s your cause,” and both of those statements are true.

But those causes go without saying. My children aren’t babies anymore, they’re in their teens. For the most part, they can take care of themselves…well, you know what I mean.

I’m talking something OUT of myself that I need.

I used to volunteer at my church, and at the pregnancy center around the corner, and various other causes that came around. But then we moved 2000 miles across the country, and I lost all those connections.

Since we’ve been here (5 years now), I have tried reaching out to find my “thing.” But it seems like every charitable door I’ve tried to open comes crashing closed. I know, it sounds crazy, right? Charities are ALWAYS looking for people.

I’ve tried the senior center right down the street. I had to take a class and everything, and then? Nothing. Not a peep. Most of the women in the volunteer meeting that I went to were senior citizens, so maybe they only want seniors to volunteer. I’m not really sure, but they didn’t want me.

We’re still looking for a church where we feel completely comfortable. In our area, there are mostly mega-churches, and it’s easy to get lost in the “corporation” of a big church. Not to mention, since I don’t drive, I’ve had a hard time finding one that I can get to on my own.

So, I’m looking for ideas. Any suggestion?

I’m fairly crafty. I can sew and knit, but I can’t crochet. I’d like to find something that I can be a part of, and not just send something off to once a month. Volunteering in a group is always more fulfilling.

I’m definitely more of a behind-the-scenes type of person rather than the one out in front of the crowd. I’m one of the “worker bees.”

So, what do you think? Does anyone have any good experiences with volunteering they’d like to share?

The End of the World?

If you haven’t already heard, the world may come to an end this coming weekend. If it does, I guess this may be my last post.

I’m not one to buy into prophesies and panics. I mean, remember the scare of New Year’s Eve 1999? Yeah, well, we all saw how that turned out. No computers crashed, or nuclear sites went rogue. We just partied like it was 1999, thanks to Prince.

Now there are plenty of religious teachers proclaiming this to be “the End,” and who am I to contradict them? I am not a Bible scholar by any means. I just finished reading a very well thought out argument for the planets aligning, and the world ending by a well-read Bible teacher. And it was convincing. But I do know that these teachers are “men” and not God, and only God knows the time and place.

But here’s my main point: I wouldn’t blame Him one bit if He did decide that this weekend is going to be the time and place.

I mean, look at what we’ve done to His plan.

From the beginning, we’ve done nothing but deny Him over and over. He’s got to be getting awfully tired of it.

And I’ve never been witness to so much hate within the human race in all my 48 years on this earth. It’s downright embarrassing what we’ve become. Brother against brother, sister against sister, parent against child.

We’ve made ourselves judge and jury, usually over things we know nothing about. The loudest voices are the ones that get heard the most, whether they are speaking Truth or not.

If the trumpets don’t blare, and the sun doesn’t turn dark this weekend, then maybe we should look at it as a second, third, fourth, or billionth, chance to start over, and thank God for this life that we have.

Maybe we should take this weekend to be introspective. And for those who are believers, then it’s time to look Up. Find out what God wants us to be doing with this life.

Spread some love where there is hate. Share some mercy where there is judgement. Speak the Truth where there are lies. Show some kindness when it isn’t deserved.

God bless, and best wishes. That’s just my two cents.