Thursday, May 30, 2013

Child-Like Faith

Some times adults just screw up evangelism!  We make it too hard.  We overthink it and mess up the opportunities that we're given. 

While I was away one evening recently our daughter asked if she could talk to her father.  She came in our room and shut the door.  She needed advice.  Her friend was upset at school that day and she didn't know what to do.  After a little bit of discussion, here is where she landed...

Simple and true. 

Matthew 19:14  Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

My Village

It seems only reasonable that if I am leading an I Am Second study in our Sunday School class and challenge the class that I should also participate.  The first challenge was to consider who is in your village and make a list of 50 people. 

I don't mean your geographic vicinity--those who you impact and influence on a regular basis.  Unless you are really a hermit, we all have countless interactions every day.  The real question is of all those people who we contact each day, how many of them really know us?  I am not an open person, preferring to keep my secrets to myself.  I have missed opportunities for companionship and assistance because I won't open up and in many instances don't trust people to be genuine. 

Over the last few years my village has shrunk.  If you aren't found between my house, work, or church I haven't likely seen you often.  Even so, there is still a wide group of people that I see regularly.

My Village includes:
  • Brandon
  • Aubrey, Caroline, & Isaiah
  • My Dad and Stepmom
  • My Sisters and their Families
  • Nan and Pap
  • Uncle Doug
  • Our Friends
  • Our Employees
  • Customers in our Business
  • Business Associates within the company
  • Business Associates from outside companies
  • The Children and Families we work with through church
Go beyond yourself, how many divine appointments have you missed because you didn't intentionally engage in your village?  We were asked to consider how many people on our list really know why we are second.  They may see me and Isaiah pray at lunch.  They know we go to church.  But do they know why?  Do they know my story?  Do they know my mess and how even I can be saved?

Not really.  Some people only see glimpses.  A few people know my beliefs.  Even less know some of my back story.  Less than one handful really know me.

That's my challenge--how and when to share my story.  How to discern who can appreciate the different parts of my story and when to share? 

Who is in your village and do they know your story?

Friday, May 24, 2013

Raising Kids to Be Losers

Today was the end of year Field Day at my daughters' school.  It was a chilly, blustery day of games and activities.  They came home with painted faces, grass stains, and lots of stories. 

I can remember Field Day at the same school as a child.  During the morning the whole school would fill the bleachers at the neighboring high school and watch different races on the track.  There were contests between the classes in each grade.  We would sign up for the events we wanted to participate in and then cheer wildly for our friends.  There was pride for the kids in the event and pride as a class.

At some point between the Field Day that I remember and the time my daughters entered school, our world decided that competition should slowly be eliminated from young children's activities.  Today there was an obstacle course, but it wasn't a race, just one at a time through the course.  When they play kickball at school, they don't keep score.  The school has decided that everyone needs to be a winner at all times.  It's not just at school either, trophies abound from every youth event. 

Competition isn't the worst situation for our children.  Contrary to popular belief, losing alone won't break our fragile children's self esteem into a million irreplaceable pieces.  Our children are never taught how to lose.  They don't understand that they're not perfect and won't win every game.  When they do lose they feel like a failure, like they've disappointed everyone.  If we never allow our children to experience loss, failure, and disappointment how will they function as independent adults? Will they be the twenty-somethings who have their mothers call their boss?

If it was acceptable for our children to lose a game, would the stands at a high school games be different.  Would we as parents be able to truly appreciate the efforts of all of the children on the field or court?  Remember, they are still children! 

I want my kids to be losers during their childhood when we're still here to help guide them and support them.  I want them to understand that they won't win everything.  There will be other kids who are better than them.  I don't expect them to be perfect but I do expect them to try.  There is value in losing and there is value in trying things even when they're hard.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

If I Go to Sleep Now, Can Mother's Day Be Over?

Over the past few days, I have received beautiful plants and handwritten notes.  I even had an unplanned scavenger hunt last night thanks to my oldest daughter.  As I got into bed my pillow case was filled with books and a clue instead of a pillow.  At the end of the hunt I found "The Top 10 Reasons I Love My Mom."  I'm not sure what her teacher thought of "#3:  I know my mom is smart because she knows how to shoot a gun."  After lunch today I received a 5 foot sign with all the reasons that my children love me.  Even without the official holiday, my husband and children are good at making sure that I know they love me. 

I understand that people mean well with their celebration of Mother's Day but for some of us, we'd rather just skip it.  Even though I love my family and they do so much to show their love for me, this holiday is a painful reminder about loss in my life.  It's hard to sit in church and see so many people happily chat about their plans for the day.  Even harder are the well-meaning people who I thought knew better but asked anyway if I was spending the day with our mothers.

Even at 32, there is still at times the desire to have a mother--that person who is always there, is excited about your achievements in life, and understands you.  When that space is void in your life, there aren't very many people that will meet that need.  Other people don't have the depth of childhood experiences.  Friends have their own families and caring for yet another person's emotional needs is more than can be expected.  God knew what would happen in my life before I had the first clue.  He gave me a husband who is steadfast and supportive of me.  He is the one who is always here and has me on the top of his list. 

So forgive me if you don't understand or if I've offended you but it's just harder for some of us.  As for me, I would be just as happy if we could skip today and pick up tomorrow where I left off yesterday.  I have spent years trying to reconcile that part of my life, my faults, and my loss and I just don't want an official reminder. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

5th Graders Shouldn't Date!

Elementary school children are pretty easy to read--happy, mad, sad, or annoyed.  With just one glance I could tell that she was mad.  What I didn't know was that this seething anger revolved around the break up with her boyfriend.  Her day was marred by people spreading rumors, her boyfriend breaking up with her, and then the public humiliation of crying in class. 

I've learned over the past few years that eventually she will share what is bothering her, I really just need to wait.  The story sounded like an adult drama--a guy she had liked for "a while" had finally asked her out.  Then after dating for "a while" (a week and a half) some friends were spreading rumors about them--they were cheating on each other.  Today he broke up with her.  Then we flash back to the reality of childhood--she was devastated and crying in class. 

I can't fully understand why dating is so important to her.  She's not the only one though.  Every couple nights I hear a story at supper about someone who is dating or has a crush at elementary school.  I know that she is trying to find love and attention to fill a void. Her story is the same one that so many young girls live.  They crave attention and love so they will do anything to find that love.  I am so afraid that she will become another statistic.  If she is "dating" now, what will happen in middle school? 

I wish that in the few hours I spend with her each week I could impart a different view about childhood and relationships. 
  1. Stay a Child As Long As Possible!  Before you know it you will be an adult.  You will be involved in the responsibilities of life.  Have fun and stop trying to grow up so fast.
  2. Learn to Love Yourself!  God made you just the way you are.  I wish that you could love yourself and know that you are beautiful.  I wish that you would smile more.  We are proud of you and know that you can do amazing things.
  3. Decide Who You Want to Be!  You aren't anyone else.  If you want to be different, let's do it.  If you have a dream, let's work towards it.  You can be different.  I want to help.  Don't believe that you have to follow only one path.   
  4. Don't Date Until You're Old Enough to be Looking for a Husband!  Dating is hard.  Marriage is harder.  When you have figured out where your adult life is headed, then you can start looking for someone to fit your future.  You don't need the emotional stress that boys bring to your young life.
  5. Don't Let a Man (or Boy) Determine Your Worth!  Don't make decisions because a boy wants you to do something.  If you don't want to do something--Don't Do It!
  6. Build Friendships Now!  Instead of worrying about having a boyfriend focus on having friends.  You need to find a group of friends, boy or girl, who you can just have fun with.  Enjoy life.
I don't want you to grow up so fast.  Let's just master being a happy kid!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

It Could Have Been Me

It's easy to ignore the hard issues in this world when they happen to someone else.  If we don't know someone with "that problem" we don't have to think about it.  Yesterday I wrote about my struggle with the world's view of abortion

The truth is that I could have been one of those babies.  Based on the world's view about pregnancy, I was an inconvenience.  I wasn't planned or expected.  I disrupted a senior year of high school.  Teen pregnancy wasn't glorified on a highly rated reality show then.  Two families were forced to question themselves and their beliefs.  How would they embrace this new family?  Plans were turned upside down.  Nothing would ever be the same.  Everyone's life would change.

So many times I have heard people call my birth a mistake.  If they were lucky, they were not within earshot of my dad.  He was always quick to correct people.  He said I was a "surprise" not a mistake--a surprise is something you didn't know you wanted until you had it. 

I owe everything to the courage of my parents--to face their fears and start a family.  I've never asked about that time in their lives because I don't think I could handle the truth about their fear. 

What could have been.....

Friday, May 3, 2013

Are Some Lives Worth More Than Others?

On the same day last week I read one article about a group's concern for the welfare of the suspect from the Boston bombing during his detention and then a second article about an abortion doctor who is being prosecuted for the deaths of a mother and several babies.  Something is amiss in this world.  We have allowed the life of one person to be more important than others.  We have legislated that unborn babies are not people whose lives are valuable. 

I don't believe in torture even though I know that sometimes interrogation can lead to valuable information.  I struggle with the idea of the death penalty even for heinous crimes.  So I understand that the bombing suspect should be treated with a level of decency.  Even with decency though, he should be prosecuted fully and his punishment should be serious.  This man certainly had no concern for the lives of those who were killed or injured when his bombs detonated.  What are we if we torture in the justice? 

Matthew 5:44 "But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you"

What I can't fathom is how anyone could kill a baby.  This doctor is accused of performing late term abortions in a dirty clinic without concern for the mothers or babies.  Allegedly women were left for hours waiting on their procedures.  Abortions were supposedly performed after 24 weeks.  At just 17 weeks, I felt my oldest daughter move in my belly for the first time.  At 19 weeks, I got to see her on the sonogram, my little girl with 10 fingers and 10 toes.  Former clinic employees allege that some babies were born alive and then had their spinal cords "snipped" to insure their demise.   

Psalm 139:13 "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb."

Why isn't everyone in this country demanding justice for the most innocent lives?  Why aren't we doing more to help these desperate mothers whose last resort was a dirty clinic?  Is a terrorist really more valuable than a beautiful baby or a scared mother?