The events in our nation recently have been disturbing. Chants have been chanted, videos have been played over and over and everyone from your neighbor to officials have either made their statements or have not. But now I believe its time to start healing, not because it justifies anything but on the other side its how we don't lose what we have gained. Its time to remind our children that there is more on the good side then on the bad. It is time to show that we are truly neighbors and love one another with more than just social media posts and news interviews. We must remember how far we have come and not let fear begin to separate us and divide us. That in itself is always the cause, when life is us versus them in any situation. No one can hear when we are angry and no one changes when stubborn pride comes in. It instills fear and confusion in the next generation, it brings up old wounds for some that were just starting to heal. We need to teach the next generation that while its OK to be different we can always find common ground. We cannot afford to lose ground in civil rights when so much has been gained and I honestly believe more Americans want to move forward than backwards. We need to let our kids especially know that, because when the loudest voices are the voice of anger and hate and division in the media and in the church and in the home that undermines the progress. The best way to move forward is to be successful and happy and help others around you no matter who they are do the same. Work hard, love others and help one another this is the formula to undue hate. In a multiracial household we have a front row seat to see that love is colorblind, loyalty is based on love and we have everything in common. Its time to start healing, its time to take our eyes off those who want to divide us and turn them to those around us and show the love. We will not lose the progress this country has made in the last 50 years, we will continue to move forward in love and show the next generation that keeping our eyes, thoughts and actions on good is more valuable then giving attention to things that are damaging. The words have been said, but the time has come for us to heal, to move forward with new perspective and grow from this.
Three years ago I got a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis that changed my life. I had mounting symptoms for years but it came on suddenly in a more severe form that year. Over the past few years I have learned that I have had to come to a time of acceptance (including 3 more autoimmune disorders that were added on in those years). Acceptance looked more like no longer pretending I am making up the symptoms and finding the line between acceptable pain and affecting too much pain, learning how to let others help and how to say no when it was too much. It was a roller coaster of research and new treatments and new ways of doing things like opening cans and jars and going out for a walk. Now I have accepted that I have a myriad of autoimmune disorders that affect my daily life and always will. I am a pro at giving myself injections and giving myself the day off on methotrexate Monday when the nausea kicks in.
The new place I am at is learning to live within where God has me. This has included major changes in my diet, going gluten and dairy free...because I love to eat.....and food has been the center of entertainment in our house. So I am learning to cook in a new ways. I am learning to make easier meals and spend quality time with the kids in the pool where there is no pressure on the joints and the heat isn't making me ill. I am learning to order in restaurants things that will not make me feel sick (although no gluten and dairy leaves like 2 things to choose from on a menu). Although with this I have also had to let go of the old me in a lot of ways. Its weird that people who have met me at this point in my life will never know the me I was before. I was very active, I loved to dance and play basketball. I mean not competitively or I wasn't even really good, but I liked to have fun! I have to face reality most days, if I choose to get coffee with friends like I did yesterday and the only chairs available are wooden, I will likely spend the rest of the day on the couch in pain or if I go play Top Golf there is a good chance my arms and hands will be useless for a day or 2. I even have to factor in a grocery shop, if it takes an hour I will likely need to come home and rest for a few hours to keep my hips from getting bursitis.
My point is not to complain, but more the realization to not take anything for granted and to realize that life changes, yet still goes on, good and bad. Nothing is stagnant in life, we have choices on how we face new trials. It may be the only way God opens a door in our life to something he has for us. I have through this learned that my husband is a rock star, he will work a full day come out help with dinner, pick up the kids from work, carry things for me and do as much as he can to take stuff off my plate. This is so hard to accept sometimes because I feel like I can't give back as much as he gives, but God has also made me realize that I can be his partner in other ways, I have prayed more for him at this point in our marriage then I have in our entire marriage, I have taken those times I feel good to really try to make the moments count, thinking of what he would like and putting that in the front of my mind. We have created some time for us to sit outside alone and talk about our days. It has forced a certain simplicity to our routines. Another way I have learned this lesson is with new friendships. I have had the fortune of making some wonderful friends in this area, which in past places has eluded me usually due to the sheer amount of toddlers and preschools that circled my feet for the last 10 years.... The old me would have said yes to EVERYTHING even to stuff I didn't want to do, creating resentment and ultimately avoiding long enough to quit (which I am wonderful at). Now I simply have to say no because I cannot and though in that acceptance phase I struggled with the feeling that people would reject my friendship thinking I am lazy or not a good enough friend, I have opened up myself to the things I can do and have found wonderful support from the ladies around me. I am more blessed now in that area then I was when I was "healthy".
Which brings me to the final point, what is healthy.....after 38 years of all sorts of healthy times and unhealthy times I am starting to figure out healthy is when you rely on God for your daily needs and have the support around you who love you for you. If times are good rejoice and if they are awful cry and let it out, but either way remember its all temporary.
At this point in my life I have 5 teenagers, 2 almost teenagers and one rowdy 10 year old..... So go ahead stop and take a minute to pray for me and my husbands sanity....seriously.....
Anyone who has had, known, seen, been around teenagers knows that they are definitely unique in their point of view. They are in the cosmic struggle between life as a carefree kid and life with adult freedom and responsibility. They often feel like they have figured it out, and as I am sure we all felt when we were teens, that other people just don't understand.... I experience this daily, hourly, every few minutes of every day... Things I hear daily, "I forgot" "why are you making such a big deal about this" "you make things seem so dramatic" "I am bored" "You don't understand" ....or my favorite, bring me a problem and then ask for my opinion, hear my opinion and then argue why their opinion that they already preformed is correct and mine is not....
So this morning after thinking on this I went back to the place that I always do when I think about those teen years... I have often equated my relationship with God as a teen like relationship. I am often saying these things in words or more likely in actions in my life. For example, one thing about parenting teens that I find ironic is this idea that I don't understand, even though I have not only lived through being a teenager myself but have known and dealt with a lot of teenagers in my life. Yet, Jesus who experienced temptation far greater than me and has known every man and woman throughout history hears from me that he might have made a mistake, he might have walked me down a path that has no purpose. As though I know more than he does! I tell my kids often that unless they trust I have their best interests at heart they will not understand or take my advice. As soon as they think they know better or think I don't have their best interests they will do contrary to what I tell them. (which is often) They always have their excuse or reason ready when something doesn't work out.....I didn't think I would get caught, I didn't realize this other thing would happen, I didn't mean for this person to get mad, I didn't think I would feel this way..... Then many times they blame comes back on the parents, well if you did or didn't.... Ohhhh how I do this at times...God if you had just let this happen or not let that happen...then I wouldn't be here. Reality is I did it for the approval of man and not the approval of God. The desire to be accepted trumped the desire to please my father, the want of my plans to work out was the cause of my disobedience. Yet like a good father, he is always there because he knows how my warped view of life will lead me weak and vulnerable and he knows that I will need to call out to him and though it might take longer than he would like and it hurts him to know how much pain I will allow myself, he never gives up.
It has been a long few months in my life, from last July until Jan. I have had either a personal health or family difficulty every month and some months every week. I kept pouring out my cup a little at a time, and eventually my cup ran dry. I am speaking of spiritually. I knew I wasn't myself, I was inside my own head, question everything, letting old fears and insecurities to crawl in, slowly and slowly as my cup emptied into my circumstances and was being refilled with insecurities and fear. I didn't realize it but I was slowly letting myself slide away from my first love, God. I didn't even see it coming until I found myself ready to go back to life before I agreed to walk in his Love. The scary part is, it was making sense....it had seemed like circumstance after circumstance just kept being a reminder that maybe God called the wrong person, or the wrong time, or I heard the wrong callings... I mistook weakness in myself as a weakness in God. Then a week ago or so I see that my husband had put on the calendar, make no plans this weekend. He just said he was working on something. Come to find out he had got a hotel room at a local hotel, he made a mini retreat for me to reconnect with my first love. He prepared a set of videos and music for me to watch and listen and praise with. He knows I recharge with quiet. I just needed sometime to sit with my Savior, I need to put away the noise of the circumstance and let the lies slip away just long enough to remind who I am. I am NOT the insecure, fearful woman I used to be, I am a child of the King, I am a princess, I am the bride of Christ. I have a job to do that circumstance does not dictate, it is only dictated to me by my King and Father... I mistakenly believed for awhile that suffering was a sign of trouble or that I was doing it wrong, but reality I learned and was reminded that suffering is often how God gets our attention. Trouble is often something we have earned because it will strengthen and make me stronger in running the race of life. Jesus's circumstance did not dictate his value or his purpose, so therefore it does not mine. So now with more than 24 hours of doing nothing more than soaking in the word, it has reminded who is my hope, my peace, my song, my life. I was reminded that fear is nothing but "faith in the enemy". It is OK to grow weary, because sometimes that is our reminder that we cannot do this in our own strength, as long as we remember to plug into the Word of God and draw in new strength. I am so grateful for husband who will not selfishly keep me as his bride, but lovingly tends to my relationships with my God. My cup is full, and I can now more effectively pour out to those I encounter.
As a woman, sister of 3 other sisters, mom to 5 girls, I am a bit of an expert in the matter of what a girl wants in a boy.... I was cooking today and listening to music and realized if boys are trying to figure out what a girl looks for in a boy...listen to a couple of country songs...even if you HATE that type of music and think its cheesy...just listen. The theme is pretty consistent girls want to have someone who enjoys being with them and will fight for them. I can speak from experience, there is nothing more disappointing to a girl than being in a relationship with a boy and realize that they have gone from the butterfly first date to the 3rd or 4th most important thing in their day. The boy must be vocal regularly about the little thing that makes her stand out. As a girl it is so easy to get lost in the world, no matter how confident we seem, there is something magical that happens inside when someone notices things about us, that do have to do with something that will not change, our laugh, the sparkle in our eye, our spirit, our grit whatever it is that caught his eye, he must tell her often and not because he wants to get something in return, but because he truly feels alive around her. A girl just wants to know that the best thing about his day is seeing her. I knew my husband was the one I could spend the rest of my life with because he was my other half, we didn't have to see each other day but we wanted to. Bad day or good day, we knew it would end with the other person being their for them. Even if we were exhausted after work, we just sat together and watched tv, or drove around and listened to music just because we simply wanted to sit next to each other.
The second thing is fight for her. I don't care what a girl claims, a quick way to lose the girl is to just let her walk away or walk away yourself and show her you are fine without her. If you are having problems don't ask her to fix it all and don't ignore the problem. Be honest and let her know often that you love and miss her. Be as cheesy as a country song if you must. Romance is actually a lot more than flowers and candy, its hearing that he does know your favorite singer is Kenny Rogers and though he despises country music....he takes you to the concert and you laugh and he even sings along. He even tells his girl that he secretly loves a few country songs because the lyrics remind him of you and he listens to them even 20 years later. Its showing her that secret letter you wrote him that he saved because it spoke to his heart.
This isn't just for the dating crews...for a happy engagement or marriage it is the same. Dance with her in the kitchen even if you can't dance, take the car and fill it up with gas, even though she can. Tell her often she is your favorite person and share private jokes. Catch her eye in the crowd and smile just for her.
Trust me....I am surrounded by girls :). If you want to keep her ......enjoy her and fight for her.
This afternoon I saw my oldest daughter off on a trip to the Czech Republic..many miles away! From the time this child was 3 she was very aware of her Savior, even before her father or I were. She was mesmerized by Sunday school and Christian music. She would ask every Sunday for me to take her to church and eventually was the driving force for her dad to join us. In those churches is where we heard the gospel message and truly gave our lives to the Lord. In Kindergarten, the teachers had nicknamed her little Mother Theresa because she was so compassionate. I remember one day when she was 5 we lived in New Hampshire and she informed me that she wanted to go to the end of the drive way and spread out her arms and sing one of her favorite Christian songs so everyone would know God. In my infancy of being a Christian, I remember being slightly mortified at the thought of our neighbors thinking we were culty or weird.... Many times we would have the talk before we left somewhere, sometimes people don't want to talk about Jesus so lets not talk about religion when we are there OK? and she would look at me with these big eyes and look utterly confused by my double standards. Luckily she was spiritually more mature than me and my misguided attempts never squelched this girl's love for the Lord. Now 13 years later she is going very far away to share who God has made her and I couldn't be more proud. It has not been easy for her to get to that point, she has struggled with anxiety her whole life and a trip with a friend that far away would have seemed impossible a few years ago, but she has grown so much.
As I watched her and her sweet friend load up their suitcases full of their lives to go and share with others, it made me think about our heavenly father and how he must feel similar as he watches his creation go and take on the world. Its hard to let them be who they are meant to be when you know the world is full of things designed to discourage, hurt or disappoint them. That instinct is to protect but you also know they cannot fulfill their purpose unless you let go. They have to choose it for themselves if it is to become precious to them. Something so loving cannot be forced, it must always be chosen. Those times I have wondered, why did God let me wind up in this place, or when I look at my past and wish I had chosen differently I can now see God was walking alongside the entire time and allowing those moments so that I could fully choose, so I could become what he designed. Just like watching my beautiful daughter and her beautiful friend step out and choose what they love and choose to share it.
She was God's long before she was mine and someday someone lucky will have her as his too. A true gift she is to me!! I can just imagine how God must feel for each us, he is our gift and if we chose we are his!
Are we being honest? I mean really honest? I was thinking today about churches....I have attended many different types but one thing in all has remained the same....who are we fooling? We are a bunch of broken people coming together a perfect God. God is really clear in the Bible none of us are good, not one. Yet put us imperfect people together and we end up standing there trying our best to look the perfect part. Attend church services or functions or prayer groups or Bible studies and you will quickly understand the idea of the awkward silence.... Usually when someone is asked to share prayer requests or praises or asked to come forward to pray with pastors or elders. Its funny because today I was thinking about all those moments and thought who are we fooling, anyone who truly can walk through a week and say they can't think of any problem or issue in life that they need prayer in should most definitely have a praise to report! Yet we are silent and awkward and that familiar junior high sweaty feeling starts creeping up the neck...we are afraid to be seen as what we are, imperfect. We are fearful that it will sound too dramatic to ask for prayer in this, or weak to need help with that. Yet if that is true if that many of us do not need prayer and we don't feel comfortable praying for others, what is the draw to corporate worship, why not leave it at home in the private corners. I am learning its because deep down we are seeking it, we want to be around those with the courage to speak up and be real and honest. All you have to do in group of people is break the ice about something that is real and suddenly everyone is piping in almost in relief and in unison. You feel this human connection with someone that you used to hold in this holier than thou place in your mind. Suddenly people are starting to be honest. Yes, this is my once a week make up...and in an hour I am going to go put on my real clothes....Yes, my favorite hobby is watching TV at night.....Yes my child is making me crazy and no I don't think I will miss this stage..... My point is we have too many programs and too many things going on without people feeling comfortable being real. Its why we secretly love that tv show or blog or whatever gives us that breath of ohhh good its not just me..... I am totally part of this culture so I understand the uncomfortableness but I am also starting to see how it has a negative impact on sharing our faith. People who need to see us living real life with real problems and real community to lean on are instead seeing a lot of people who seem to have it all under control and are not interested. So I am challenging myself to be more real and honest....as I can hear my children shudder....they already think I am way to honest at home :)