Seasons Change

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So we’ve had like five nice days here in Michigan this year.Yesterday it got up in the 80s and I couldn’t believe how many people I heard complaining about the heat. Does nobody remember the seemingly endless piles of snow we just got done shoveling? Maybe I’m the only one driving a car that gets stuck at the end of the driveway if there’s any mention of snow. All I know is that I’m thankful for the heat, grateful for this change of season.

Isn’t it just like us to wish away a season though?

Because in the midst of every season, there is some sorta something that makes us unhappy. It’s too hot, too cold, too humid, too snowy, too sticky, too rainy, too dry. We’re never happy.

It’s like this in life too. We’re never happy in our season. Some other season always looks better and we want to be there. If I could just be in that other season, THEN I’d be happy.

I’ve always wanted to be a mom. I got married young, started my family…and almost immediately started wishing away that season. Babies were a lot of work, they always needed something. I couldn’t take a shower or go to the bathroom alone. There was always someone knocking or fingers under the door or somebody crying on the other side. I remember trying to take a bath one night, I had a book to read and candles lit and was ready for this much deserved break from my two tiny boys. And I remember starting to cry when they wouldn’t stop pounding on the door and crying and screaming and fighting. I thought to myself  I just want them to leave me alone. I can’t wait until they’re older. Now they’re 18 and 20 and what I wouldn’t give to have them beg me to read them one more bedtime story. But they’re all grown up and moving on and I wish that I had enjoyed that season a little more. I wish I’d have seen what a blessing it was to have little ones that couldn’t stand to leave this mama’s side.

I’ve had lots of seasons that couldn’t have gone fast enough. I’ve wished and willed and prayed them out of existence like it was my only job. Because every season has it’s struggles and when we’re in the midst of it, sometimes that’s the only thing we can see is the struggle. But that doesn’t mean that’s the only thing that’s there. I promise you that there is also a blessing…even though sometimes it’s a little tough to find. But it’s there because God doesn’t allow pain without a purpose.

I’ve recently endured some pretty rough seasons. Seasons full of ice and snow and lots of cold. Seasons that I didn’t know how I’d survive. Seasons of caring for my own kids, and other people’s kids, and loved ones and friends that needed help. And there was a season of caring for my dad and if you’ve cared for a cancer patient, you know. And if you haven’t, I hope you never know.  It was a season full of struggle and trust me when I say that I almost always focused on that and almost always missed out on the blessings. But there were times – quiet times in the hospital watching my dad sleep peacefully; visits with my kids when he was feeling up to playing rummy; even when I couldn’t sleep because he’d have “Little House On The Prairie” up as loud as the T.V. would go, but it reminded me of the days we watched it together when I was a little girl. The blessings…they were there in the season too, I just had a hard time finding them in the midst of the struggle.

You may not see the blessing in this season, but you’ll see it in the next. You may not be the first person to see it, someone may have to point it out to you, but you’ll see it eventually. You may not ever want to relive that painful season, but you’ll be able to use your experience to help someone else live through a similar one. And when you do that, it’ll give your pain a purpose and that season won’t seem so bad after all.

I recently read a brilliant quote that said “The days are long, but the years are short”. Isn’t that true? Some of my days are so long they feel as if  they’ll never end. But then I think back on the years that have flown by and I wonder where has the time gone? Where are my toddling children? How can it be that they are taking jobs in other states and flying far away from me? Didn’t I just finish wiping the spaghettios off their little faces?

What’s your season right now? A difficult job? A wayward child? An ailing parent? A scary diagnosis?  I hope you know that it is just that – a season. It’ll pass, as they always do. And although you may have a hard time seeing through the struggle in your season, work hard to find the blessing. It’s there. I promise.

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The Problem With Your Resolution

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January is the universal month that we spend much of our time going public with our desires to improve ourselves.  We want to be thinner, healthier, happier, richer, less stressed and more organized.  We want to start a new hobby, stop an old habit, say no to doing so much and say yes to finding some “me time”.

The problem with our New Year’s resolutions is that they never offer a real solution to our true desire.

At the core of all of our resolutions is the desire to improve ourselves, to be a better person.  And while all of those things are great ideas, not one of them can accomplish that.

Sure, you should lose a few pounds.  You should definitely quit smoking.  I’m a huge fan of being organized and learning new things.  But those are things you should just do because they’re good for you.  Those are not things that you need a new month or year to do.  And those are certainly not things that are going to make you any better than the person you are right at this very moment.

So who is a “better person”? It’s someone who inspires others to be better people too. 

People that truly inspire others are people who don’t focus on changing themselves.  Instead, they look beyond themselves and they see the brokenness in the world around them…and then they do something about it.

Inspiration is the restaurant owner who doesn’t turn away the homeless, but offers them food.  It’s a community that raises money to support their neighbor who’s losing a battle with cancer.  We’re inspired by little kids who start lemonade stands to raise money for puppy shelters and teens who collect prom dresses for girls that can’t afford one.  People who use their voice to advocate for others and those that use their influence to bring attention to the problems and needs of others, they are the ones that inspire us.

Nobody’s ever been inspired by someone whose one accomplishment in life was to maintain their ideal body weight.

So now that we’re well in to January and our resolutions are probably broken anyhow, I have a suggestion.  Let’s spend some time figuring out how to be better people.  Let’s figure out what breaks our hearts and let’s start to fix the broken things around us.  I know that we will never be able to change the world, but we can change the world for one person.  And that’s inspirational. That, my friends, is a real-solution worth having.

 

It’s Been A Good Year

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I had the best conversation today.

It was with a young girl, 19 years old.  Beautiful as can be with one of the most radiant smiles I’ve ever seen.

As we chatted and shared stories, I knew I was going to love this girl. We talked about family, faith and friends.  We laughed about how we are both the only “normal” ones in our own families.  Her eyes looked sad when I talked about divorce and then mine returned that sadness as she shared about her own broken background.

It was a great reminder to me that we are all broken people.  I would have never guessed in a million years the things that this pretty little thing has been through in her short lifetime.  I’m embarrassed to admit that sometimes I get so caught up in my own circumstances that I forget that other people are hurting too.

Although we shared a lot of crazy, sad and terrible stories, it wasn’t like a pity party at all.  It was more like a celebration.  It was an “oh my gosh, your life sucks sometimes too!” party. It was fun and refreshing and I am thankful for this new friendship since I’ll be spending lots of time with her during her internship at Kensington.

During our talk, she made a comment about what a rough year this has been for me.  And without even thinking about it, I replied that this has been one of the best years of my life.

I COULD NOT BELIEVE THOSE WORDS CAME OUT OF MY MOUTH.

But in the silent seconds that followed, I realized that I meant it.  I mean it now.

This has been a year of struggle and discipline for me.  I have, at times, felt like I would drown.  But instead, I learned to be a better swimmer.  I’ve felt desperate and afraid.  But each time, God has revealed himself to me through things that are nothing short of miraculous.  Things that I may have missed if I’d have been able to do things on my own.  I’ve felt alone and abandoned, but God sent people to me.  Over and over again, phone calls, texts, offers of help, words of encouragement.  New friends and rekindled friendships.  I’ve been literally surrounded by people this year who have shown my family love and grace that could only have come from God.  The kids and I might have missed these things had it not been for our struggles…so they were worth it.  I mean that.

It has been worth every single struggle this year to see God at work in our lives.

Last year in July, I wrote this in my journal (disclaimer: yes, I tend to be a bit dramatic in my journal…but hey, it wasn’t intended to be shared, so give me a break:)

I don’t ever remember being so scared.  I’ve never been a worrier.  Now I can’t make myself stop. I feel constantly sick with worry and fear.  I dread what is to come.  I worry about money, my job, my kids, my sister, my nephew.  How will I ever be able to take care of things on my own?  How can I help my sister when my own life is falling apart?  I’m afraid that I am going to fail my kids and that I am going to lose everything. I have no control over anything.  God.  Where are you in this?  The Bible says that “The righteous cry out and the Lord delivers them from all their troubles.”  I am crying out. Am I not righteous enough?  Why am I not being delivered?

I have clung to that scripture all year. Psalm 34:17.  And then today, that very same verse was the scripture of the day in my Bible app.  Only this time, I read the entire thing:

17″The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles.  18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.  19 The righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all”

It’s taken me some time to see it. A year to be exact.  But he has been true to his word.  He has heard me.  He has been close to me while my heart was breaking.  He saved me when my spirit was crushed.  And yeah, I have had many troubles, but I believe that He is delivering me from them all.

 

You’re Quiet…What’s Wrong?

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Well, it’s been a while since I’ve posted.  I’ve written lots in the down time, but nothing post worthy.  Mostly pretty down, depressing, not-upward-at-all kind of stuff.

I continue to be shocked at how many people read my blog.  And humbled.  Really, really humbled actually.  And I am encouraged by how many of you contact me to let me know that you’re reading and that you miss it when I’m not writing. That baffles my mind.  But hey, whatever, I’m glad for it even if you are a little crazy.

So, everybody’s asking me why I’m quiet lately.  No joke, not a single day goes by that I don’t hear something like “You’re so quiet, what’s wrong? It’s not like you.”  Which makes me laugh because it’s confirmation that I do indeed have a big mouth.  Turns out that every teacher I’ve ever had was right and I don’t know how to shut up.  Oh well.

This blog was started for a few reasons.  First, I love to write.  I have a dozen or so journals going at any given time and I thought it would be cool to have a new kind of space.  I wanted to document the last year of my 30’s in a really fun, lighthearted way.  Partly because I’m a little nervous about turning 40, partly because I think it’s hilarious that I’m going to be 40 (I seriously feel like I just finished high school yesterday), and mostly because I had just come through kind of a crappy time and had determined that this year was going to be amazing and I wanted to share it with some of my favorite people (I didn’t realize that people I’ve never met would be even remotely interested in my rambling).  I was hoping that it would be an encouragement to others and that it would even, on occasion, give folks a little laugh.

So, what happened?  That crappy time that I thought I’d come through…turns out it wasn’t really over. Yep. I jumped the gun and made the mistake of thinking “Well, at least it can’t get any worse.”  Yeah, that’s the wrong attitude to have…because it can.

I’ve got to say, I hate it when people are cryptic about their problems.  And I hate it when people share their woes for attention.  So, I’m kinda stuck in that I don’t really know how to share this without doing either. Forgive me if you’re like me and hate this kind of thing.

So just as I was settling in to being divorced and raising my kids on my own…and then taking in my two year old nephew…my dad got sick.  Like, really sick. Stage 4 cancer kind of sick.  And he doesn’t really have anybody since he and my mom got divorced a few years ago.  So, he has moved up from Columbus, OH to stay with me during the next couple of months while he goes through radiation/chemotherapy treatments.

Yuck.  I hate putting that out there.  But lots of you are asking, and so there…that’s what’s wrong.  That’s why I’ve been quiet.  I just don’t have much to say at this point.  At least not much positive which is really all that I’d love to share.  Because one thing I know is that we all have our own junk to deal with, and you don’t need mine too!  I’m also learning that no matter how bad I think I have it, it could always be worse.

This past week, my dad was in the hospital and while he slept most of the time, his roommate was always awake and willing to chat.  So I got to know Rob pretty well.  What a cool guy and a great story teller.  He just turned 53 and has a very aggressive bone cancer.  He was diagnosed in January, two weeks after his wife had returned home from the hospital after having a brain aneurysm.  But he had the best attitude and the most amazing outlook on life.  Here’s this guy that has no idea if he’ll survive this, and he’s in the hospital for four days to go through a brutal chemo regimen…and he spent his time encouraging me to stay positive?

Last year, the first time I had to go to the court house for my divorce, as I walked away from the metal detector area, an attorney that was walking in behind me stopped me, handed me a business card and said “Here sweetie, in case you need anything.” It had a Bible verse on the back of it.  I was surprised by the sentiment because it was the same verse I had just written out THAT DAY on a white board at my desk at work.  And then, before he was released on Sunday, Rob wrote this down on a napkin for me “Psalm 34:18 – The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit”. The same verse. I don’t know why I’m always surprised by God’s reminders to me, but I am.

So, I’m going to try a little harder to continue to be positive. How could I not, when I get such clear reminders that I’m not alone in this. And honestly, aside from being quiet, I’m doing alright most of the time.  The kids and I are adjusting…again.  And I have no doubt that we’ll get through this.  We always do.

 

 

The Measure of a Mom

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I wonder if there is any greater pressure in life than to be a good mother.  As a mom, it can feel like pretty much everything you do is measured by how good, or bad, you are at this job.  And the standard of how good or bad you are…well that changes constantly and there are a million variables that go in to figuring that out.  But the measure seems to be mostly dependent on who is administering the test (aka judging you).  When you think about how many interactions you have in a single day, week, month…that’s a whole lotta judging going on.  And that means a whole lotta pressure to be good at, well, everything.

If that’s not enough,  you’re also judged on the behavior of your kids and how good they are at everything.  If your child has a tantrum at the grocery store, that’s a forgivable offense for them, but you’re docked double points in the mom category, because first of all why is your child such a little monster? And second, why can’t you control them when they decide to have a melt down in aisle five?

As a pretty imperfect mom myself, I’d love to say that I’m not guilty of this unfair judging.  But that would be a lie.  When I see a child misbehaving, I have perfected “the look” that I give to my own kids as we walk past the uncontrollable brat.  And after many years of this look, I don’t even need to say a word, the kids say it for  me. “I know, you would kill us if we ever did that.” Yep.  I sure would.  Because I have enough trouble earning good mom points on my own, I don’t need you lowering my score.

I don’t really want to measured by whether or not I attend every baseball game or PTO meeting.  I don’t want to be scored by how well behaved my children are, how smart they are or how old they are when they started walking/talking/potty training…etc.  What level they read at when they’re 6 years old shouldn’t be a factor and it shouldn’t matter how many activities or sports they participate in.

I can’t imagine any other area in life where we are judged almost solely based on someone else’s performance.  Besides, I know some really great moms whose kids just aren’t there yet and may never be. What I’ve realized as my kids have grown into adulthood is that I can only do what I can do,  but ultimately their choices are up to them. And truly,  their behavior isn’t necessarily a reflection of how well I’ve done as a mom.

So what is the measure of a mom? How do I know if I’ve done my job and done it well?  I’ve decided on these few things as a measuring stick for myself.  This list might change or be added to over the years, and it might not be a standard for anyone else, but this is how I’ll be measuring myself.

  • Do my kids know that I love them? Now, I’ve learned that just loving a kid doesn’t necessarily make you a good mom, even really bad moms often love their kids.  I want my kids to know that I love them with the kind of unconditional,  selfless, I’d do anything for you…but your “happiness” is not my main concern…kind of love.
  • Do my kids know that God loves them even more than I do?  For me this is a big one.  Because I will fail my kids.  Often.  And I want them to know and to understand that I am not their ultimate authority.  Only by understanding the depth of God’s love, will they be able to extend the same kind of love to others.  And for me, that’ll be a big win.
  • Do my kids know that there are consequences to their actions?  As a mom, our natural response to our kids getting in trouble is to bail them out.  This often means that when our kids do something really stupid that deserves to be punished, we rush to their defense and don’t let them face the consequences that they’ve got coming to them.  If my kids realize that good choices equal good consequences and bad choices equal bad consequences, and that sometimes those bad consequences really hurt, I’ll be doing alright.
  • Do my kids understand the value of working hard?  My kids don’t own their own computer or ipad, they were never given a car and I’ve never paid for a spring break trip.  Why?  Because that stuff is expensive and they can’t afford it.  I supply my kids with their basic necessities.  If they want the extras, they have to work for it.  Giving them a handout now does not teach them the importance of hard work, which they will eventually have to learn. ( Unless of course, you plan to allow them to live in your basement and play video games their whole life, in which case, better you than me.)  I want my kids to know the value of a dollar and to realize that dollars don’t grow on trees.  I also want them to experience the satisfaction that comes with working for something and then obtaining it.  They will never get the same sense of satisfaction from a handout.  

And maybe most importantly,

  • Do my kids know the importance of character?  I’m a huge fan of good old honest Abe, who once said “Reputation is the shadow, character is the tree”.  I want my kids to know that their character will reflect who they are.  And that who they are, especially when nobody’s looking, is really important.  And I want them to know that things like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control are always admirable traits to have. 

 

 

 

 

 

Doughnut Bottoms and Muffin Tops

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I had the rare opportunity this morning to stop at the mall with no children in tow.  I could barely contain my excitement as I was walking in.  Actually, I might have frightened the little old lady walking out who decided to hold the door for me.  “OH MY GOSH!!! Door service, THANK YOU SO MUCH!  WOW, THIS DAY JUST KEEPS GETTING BETTER.  That was so nice of you to hold the door for me, really, you didn’t need to do that, but thank you!  You have a great day now!”  I probably should’ve just said thanks, she looked pretty confused and a little afraid.

I wanted to wander the store aimlessly, possibly trying on one of everything in my size.  But I was on a mission and since I’m pretty much broke, I decided that I’d better get in and get out.  I needed to pick up a new pair of shoes for Little B who has decided that his tennis shoes make a great set of brakes while he’s riding his scooter.  I got the shoes and headed out…well, started to head out at least. But I decided that I’d better check out the new styles for summer before I left.

Now, admittedly, it’s been a while since I’ve shopped.  But I did not realize how out of the loop I am on today’s fashion.

What the heck are these?

doughnut pants

They look to be pants covered in doughnuts, right?  (For those of you that don’t have a sweet tooth, they also have cheeseburgers and pizza print available.)

Please tell me I’m missing something and that these pants are not really trending.  Or better yet, if you see someone wearing these…please send me a picture, it would really make my day.

Guess I no longer need to be embarrassed about being a child of the 80’s.  Our style’s got nothing on doughnut print leggings.

 

 

Excuse me ma’am…but those shorts don’t fit you

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I try pretty hard not to complain. But some things just irk me and today I was feeling especially irritable.  I would usually just vent about this to a select few people, certainly not in a public space…but I can’t help it today, so here it goes.

In Michigan, I get that it feels like summer is here when the sun comes out for a few days in a row.  Or when the temperatures hit a certain high…like 50 degrees or so. But you can always tell that summer is really near when all of the moms start trying to squeeze their 40 year old rear ends into their 12 year old daughters size 2 booty shorts. As I sat at my son’s little league baseball game today I saw more than my share of these moms and it got me thinking that there are some things that us moms  just shouldn’t wear.  I think most of these could be for any time, but we’ll just call this little league etiquette.  I compiled a list in my head at the game…as I sat there wearing my winter coat and wrapped in a wool blanket watching those other moms pretend that they weren’t freezing.

The first and most obvious one based on my observations today is booty shorts.  I know you must’ve been roasting in that 52 degree weather, but come on ladies, there is no need to show the world your cheeks.  I don’t care if you’re a size 2 or size 22, there is no need for all of us other parents to have to look at your ass hanging out all over the place…we just want to watch our kids play ball.

Shorts/Pants with words on the butt.  You are not a “cutie” or “sweet” and it’s just plain stupid for your butt to say “pink”.  I’m a firm believer that a woman’s butt is not meant to be a surface for reading material.  (I especially think this is true for your daughters…there is no reason in the world to draw attention to your child’s behind…but that’s for another time.)

Pajamas.  Nothing says “I don’t give a crap about my appearance” like wearing your pjs out in public.  My son’s game was at 1:00 this afternoon.  Why in the world are you in your pajamas?  You’re a freaking grown up!  Didn’t you have any responsibilities to fulfill today before the game that required you to get dressed?  Grocery shopping, yard work, anything?  Maybe you should’ve gotten dressed to go into 7-11 and get that Big Gulp of Mountain Dew that you’re letting your toddler drink.

Yoga pants/leggings.  Call them what you want, they’re tights. And they’re not appropriate outerwear attire, ever.  Not for you.  Not for your daughter.  Not for anyone.  Unless of course they are worn underneath something, then they’re acceptable.  But not alone…do you not look in a mirror?  Do you not see what we see, which is basically everything?

Tiny Tees.  Are you trying to cut costs by buying children’s size clothing?  Listen, I am one of you.  I know firsthand that my belly just isn’t as flat as it used to be pre-little darlings.  But why accentuate it by wearing a shirt that clings to every roll?

Tanks with built-in-bras.  It may not say it on the tag, but these are not meant for us moms.  We all know that the girls lose their perkiness once we’re graced with a little one.  They’ve had their time to shine, and it was years ago. There is no amount of building-in that will help us.  You need a bra, a bra is your friend.

Hey, I’m not being judgmental.  I’m really not.  I couldn’t care less how you dress most of the time.  But spare your child the embarrassment on the field. And for the sake of all of us other parents who really just want to watch our kids play ball, it would just be really nice if you could wear clothes…that actually fit you…for the remainder of the season.

 

 

 

Broken Parts

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Several years ago I took up running for the first time.  I’ve given it up and taken it up again three times since then.  But my first attempt at running was thwarted by a pretty serious injury, a stress fracture of my knee.  And even though I’ve had surgery to repair it, it still gives me trouble to this day.

The other day, (that one day of spring that we had here in Michigan), when the sun came out,  I was so anxious to get outside and run.  I can’t even believe I’m saying that because most days I hate running.  But anyhow, I couldn’t wait to get out and so off I went.  Now, mind you, I haven’t really ran much at all since my marathon last October.   Six full months ago.  But being that the last time I ran I finished 26.2 miles, I was feeling pretty ambitious. So I got out my earbuds, put on my (now too tight) running clothes and took off.  I was feeling pretty good for a mile and even the second mile wasn’t awful.  But my knee started bugging me and I was smart enough to turn around then.  Mile three was tolerable but that fourth mile, well that one was no fun at all.  My knee was killing me.  That injury from almost twelve stupid years ago showed up to haunt me, and I hate it.

As I hobbled my way homeward, cursing my knee and the stupid reminder of something broken so long ago, I had this weird thought.  (Ok, it’s a stretch but just track with me for a minute, I think this might make sense in the end.)

I was wondering how an injury from practically ages ago, that I thought had been dealt with, could still show up in my life now and then.  Unwelcome, uninvited…but it shows up nonetheless.  And that led me to wonder if the same thing isn’t true about broken relationships.  Are all of the things that hurt me, all the broken parts, going to show up for my whole life?  Following me around and haunting me at inopportune moments?  Am I gonna be constantly limping my way through every relationship in my future?  Because I can’t even imagine how terrible that would be.

I sometimes use my old injury as an excuse to not run.  “Hey do you wanna meet up and do three miles?” “Oh, I’d love to, but ya know…my knee.  I just can’t.” And I can totally see myself using old injuries in my relationships to keep people away if I’m not careful. I’ve never really been one to be guarded. I’ve always been open about pretty much everything with just about everyone. But I’ve noticed changes in myself recently that I don’t like, I’ve been a little more reserved with people.  Giving short answers and not sharing things that I normally would.  I have not isolated myself at all, but I’ve certainly disengaged a little bit with some people that I love.  I don’t want to live my life like that. I’ll have to figure out how to fix that broken part.

One thing that I really hate is when people excuse away their own bad behavior.  “I can’t help it that I’m always accusing you of doing things…but you know I have trust issues from my last boyfriend.” Or “You know I get defensive easily, I can’t help it. My ex-husband was always pointing out my flaws.” Whatever.  If I become like that, somebody please punch me.  I don’t EVER want to use my past hurts to excuse my future bad behavior.  I’ll have to figure out how to fix that broken part too.

It’s frustrating to think that a bad relationship can have such an effect on future relationships.  How can I expect to ever have a healthy relationship if I have all of these broken parts that are likely to start hurting if they get triggered by the slightest thing?

My hope is that this early self-diagnosis is going to be healthy for me.  My doctor gave me a bunch of exercises and stretches to do to help out with my knee.  He told me that it would never be 100% but that if I really work on it, it could be close.  I’m hoping that a knee and a heart aren’t really all that different.

 

 

 

Thirsty for Change

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Growing up,  my only real life reference of global problems was my mom telling me to finish my food because “there are children starving in Africa”.  And that sentiment never once kept me from throwing food away.

Then for a very long time, I lived my life kinda knowing but not knowing that there were some really big problems in the world.  I’d see things on the news that would make me shake my head and think “oh, that’s too bad”.  I was thankful to have been born in America, but didn’t really have any idea what it meant to be truly thankful for that.

And then I went to Africa.  And my heart was broken and filled.

??????????

I want to write about Africa but I don’t have the words for it.  There are not enough and there are none that can do it justice.  Maybe someday, not today.

But today is World Water Day.  You’ve probably never even heard of it although it’s been observed on 3/22 for more than 10 years. It’s a day to bring awareness to the global water crisis.  And since I’ve experienced this crisis firsthand, I wanted to weigh in.  So here’s my two cents worth. The crisis isn’t a crisis because there is a lack of water.  It’s a crisis because there is water that the people can’t access.

But the people have to have to water, and so they walk to find it.  Miles and miles and hours and hours they walk to find water.  And when they get to it, it’s dirty but they don’t care.  They don’t care because they are thirsty and their children are thirsty and they are going to die without water so they drink it. They let their children drink it. And the water that they drink sustains them while slowly killing them.

dirty water

They are killing themselves and their children by drinking dirty water.  Not because there isn’t clean water around them…but because they can’t get to it.  The ground is too dry and too hard, they have no equipment and the water is too far down for them to dig to it with their handmade shovels.

So it’s easy to look at this as a crisis and think “oh that’s too bad”.  But what we should be doing is looking at this and asking how we can help them.  These are not “problems” for us in America.  We have the resources, equipment and finances to gain access  to clean water pretty much anywhere in the world.  We are rich with resources.  But we can be really bad at sharing.

The water crisis isn’t a crisis of water at all, it’s a crisis of ignorance and greed.  It’s a crisis that is at worst, manageable and at best solvable  with a little education and generosity.

pumping water

So in honor of World Water Day,  I would encourage you to do something, it doesn’t matter what, to bring awareness to this crisis.  Maybe for you it’s just not wasting the water in your house, turn off the faucet when you’re brushing your teeth, don’t let the shower “warm up” for 10 minutes.  Maybe it’s just having a conversation with your kids about what a privilege it is to be able to turn on a faucet inside your home to get water.  Or maybe it’s making a donation to an organization that is doing the hard work of getting to clean water somewhere else in the world.  Whatever it is, I completely believe that together our small things can bring great change.

at the well

 

The Bad Thing About Being a Christian

Standard

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what other people would say if asked to describe me.  I’ve never been one to really care what others think and to be totally honest, I still really don’t care all that much, which I guess makes it strange that I’ve been giving it so much thought. But recently, I’ve heard so many negative things about Christians that I’ve begun to wonder what people in my life would say about me.

Because I know one thing for certain. If you ask anybody I know to describe me, whether they’ve known me for hours or years, they would say I am a Christian. Hopefully they’d say some other stuff too…but that’s the only one I’m sure of. You see, I work at a church which, by societal standards, pretty much propels me into Superchristian status. Of course I do other typical Christian things too, I go on mission trips and send my kids to Christian camps. They’ve been a part of every type of Christian club around and have played on Christian sports teams. We’ve gone to Christian concerts and I read Christian books.  My older kids have volunteered, interned for and worked at the church, and one of them is now looking into attending a Christian college. Yep, everyone who knows me, would say I am a Christian.  

So with all of the bad publicity surrounding Christians, what does that mean about how people view me? Because if I just listened to what’s being said, I would think that we are all terrible, greedy monsters that want to keep our money to ourselves and don’t want healthcare to be accessible to the poor.  We want those poor to keep having babies, although we don’t want to give them any public assistance. But if they decide to have an abortion,  we’ll be waiting outside to shoot the doctor or bomb the clinic. We hate gays and lesbians, Muslims, Jews and atheists and love protesting pretty much anything but especially funerals for fallen soldiers.  We don’t drink, swear or do anything fun and we only associate with others that share our view points. In our free time, we love to sit around thumping our Bibles and judging others for doing all of the things that we are far to holy to do.

So I’m having trouble getting my mind around the fact that I am one of them.

I try hard to follow Jesus.  I want to be like him and for my life to look like his did. He was always loving and kind.  He purposefully hung out with the people that nobody else wanted anything to do with.  He called out the religious people and told them that they needed to be taking care of the poor and the oppressed.  He told them that they should be helping the widows and the orphans.  He said that it wasn’t their place to judge people and that they should love others more than they love themselves.

I try to be like him, but I find myself slipping back into old habits and ways, being judgmental and critical. Being unkind, and not showing love to people who just irritate me.  I can get gossipy and I’ve been rude to people just because I wasn’t in the mood to deal with whatever was going on at the time. Jesus wouldn’t do those things.

And although some days are better than others, even on my best day I am a pretty poor representation of Jesus. But I don’t think I look anything like the picture that society paints of a Christian either.

The bad thing about being a Christian is that people are basing their opinion of Jesus on my behavior,  and I am never going to be a true reflection of him.

I can’t change the way that society as a whole views Christians.  But I hope that the people around me see my life and know that I’m trying, and that when they see all of those other negative things about Christians, they realize that those people aren’t a reflection of Jesus either. I hope that in me they see an example, however pitiful it is, of someone who is kind and generous and someone who loves others.  Not because I want people to be impressed with me but because I want people to catch a glimpse of a God that is loving and gracious and good all the time.  A God that is nothing like us Christians.