Friday, October 17, 2014

Bullying Unaware

In today's hyper-sensitive awareness to bullying, it surprises me how much I see it happening daily.  I think we are all very aware of the bullying that occurs when words are used to tear each other down, or when actions are used to make someone feel bad about themselves.  The bullying I am talking about is that of absence - an absence of inclusion, an absence of caring, an absence of reaching out.

We've all been in situations where we feel excluded.  It may be as simple as being left out of a conversation, or feeling awkward in a room where everyone else seems to be in on something you are not, or even just feeling like you are present but everyone else seems to think you are invisible.  Putting it simply - It's not a good feeling!

What makes the difference in a circumstance like that?  All of us know, because all of us have been rescued by some sweet, caring soul who has reached out.  He/she took a moment to acknowledge our presence, to come say something/anything, to let us know that we were noticed and wanted. It sounds easy enough, yet it takes awareness.  It takes effort to notice someone feeling this way, and commit to making it different for them.

We often hear the story of the Good Samaritan and we wag our heads in disbelief.  How could that priest or the child of God, Levite walk by...completely ignoring, pretending not to see or have the time to help?  Yet, how many times have we sat in our seats, knowing there was someone who needed a "hello" or conversed in a room full of people and been too busy to reach out to the uncomfortable.  This omission of kindness should shame us.

I've been on both sides of this. I've been the one feeling ostracized and I've been the one too wrapped up in myself and my conversation to go out of the way for someone hurting.  I've also seen it happening to my own children.  I don't like it, and I'd love to rescue them from it, but it is true that character can be built and trained from uncomfortable circumstances such as this.  Instead of fueling their hurt and anxiety from being left out or uninvited, I try to encourage them to be that much more aware of others struggling with the same feelings and learn to reach out, to remember how it felt when they were the one and to make it their mission to rescue a kindred spirit.  If only we can take a second to look around a room, it is obvious who needs our attention.  It may not be in our comfort-zone to go sit with them, or invite them over, but every single bit helps and the more we do it, the more comfortable we will be with it.

Please take a moment to think of those who are looking over with longing eyes, reach out to them in even the tiniest of ways.  It won't only help them feel better, but you may make an amazing friendship you would have completely missed out on.  Yes, enjoy your friends, fellowship with your brothers and sisters, but welcome others (even if you don't think they want it); it can only do good.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Living in Fear

I'm obsessed with safety.  Ever since becoming a mom, I have developed this keen sense of awareness for anything that has potential to be dangerous.  Sharp objects, no railings, careless behavior, illnesses, and stranger-danger put me on high alert non-stop.  I strive for a good balance of not being overly parental but cautious....I don't put my kids in a bubble, although there are times I've been tempted.  I thank God every night that I am able to tuck those kiddoes into bed, and every morning I wake to their smiles.  Another day survived...success!

Though recently, it seems like every where I turn dangers are threatening.  We recently completed a series of camping trips where I was definitely on edge.  Admittedly, sleeping in the wild is a bit out of my comfort zone.   I feel like I have to detach from my brain to survive the trip, otherwise the only words out of my mouth are "Stay away from the fire.  Watch out for spiders, snakes, and scorpions.  Don't go too far; stay where I can see you," and the list goes on exponentially.  In spite of all my cautionary warnings, still someone ended up picking up a glowing rock that fell out of the fire, someone nearly stepped on a scorpion barefoot, and a pair of children's pants will forever be lost to cactus quills.  Even with all of the dangers out there, a good time was had by all and precious memories will be carried with them throughout their lives.

Now even back in my home-sweet-home, I am faced with constant warnings of danger.  All I see is Ebola, Paralyzing Eterovirus, and Child Predators.  It is freaking me out!  I want to go into hibernation mode, and take my family with me into hiding.  Yet, I know this is no way to live.

How do we balance being aware with living in fear?  Where is the line drawn between being careless and being wisely cautious?   Surely the answers can be found in the Good Book.

Our wise all-knowing Parent sends us reminders:
- "Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul."
- "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind."
- "He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

His list of warnings and comforts goes on and on.  Although I still long for health and safety for these precious ones bestowed to my care, I know that He has us all in his hands.  Even though I'm not leaving home without our hand-cleaner and Thieves oil,  I trust Him.  He knows the end of the matter, and He promises that all will be well in the end, if we are true and faithful.  I pray He helps me remember the big picture and thank Him for his amazing grace.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Morning Moodiness

    Starting your day off with negativity is miserable!  How do you wash clean of that and feel fresh and ready to go on with a good day?  We've all woken up on the wrong side of the bed, and often things go wrong without our permission (i.e. waking to a pot of coffee all over the counter and floor due to a clogged filter), but does this give us the right to bring others down with us?
    I remember those days of driving to work in downtown Atlanta and how a traffic jam could sour my day, or a rude driver's impatient honk could put me on edge for another hour or so.  I greatly admire those positive people who can smile when frowned at, can turn the other cheek when slapped, and can bless someone when spit upon.  I, sadly, struggle with this.  I am a people-pleaser and when people aren't pleased with me, I tend to obsess and dwell on it until it absorbs me completely. My poor family has endured many of my morning-moodiness, but they know I definitely try to take a break, a breath, and start fresh.  Even though my children insist upon a wake-up call at 7 am day or weekend, early turn in or late night, I know that the way I greet them each morning will set the tone for their day.  So this not-so-early-morning-person puts on a happy face, and gladly greets them so that the first words they hear are, "I love you!"  Our morning coffees and milks during Bible lesson are a calming soothing start to our day, plus give me a few quiet minutes to wake up to the right priorities.  Yet, often in a family of 6, someone did not wake up on the right side of the bed and the mood spreads through us all, like an illness weeding its way into all of our hearts.  This is when the Preachy side of Mom comes out and I remind them of how we "should" behave, or how we "should" forgive and move on (often I've been known to even lecture myself on this).  You know what?!  Those crazy kids CAN.  They let it go, and within minutes are humming along their merry way.  How can an "I'm sorry" or a shared smile solve their grievances?
    I pray the Lord teach me to be as a child, to forgive, to forget, to not take personally the trials of the day, but to bless others and spread His love instead of the gloom that threatens to blacken my moods and hang over the blessings that I might miss.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Little Hand Pats of Wisdom

     It's hard as a parent to see our children's hopes dashed and the disappointment fill their eyes.  From canceled playdates, to moving friends, to loss of loved ones, to even rained out events - it's never easy, but it is part of life.
     I've tried to let them have their disappointments and griefs, but also try to teach them to find a brightness, help them to put their trust in Him, even when it's tough.  Things don't always go our way, but He knows where they are going and we can count on His love.
    Yesterday, my long awaited plans to go to Sam's Club (yes, this is an excitement for me...don't judge :-), came crashing down around me in the form of a rare and unexpected rain storm in our dry little city. 
My kids sensed my disappointment (maybe the loud sighs and groans gave them an inkling of a hint).  Instead of jumping for joy for having once again dodged the trip, those sweeties rubbed my back.  Suddenly, I heard little voices repeating my words back to me.
"Maybe God had a different plan."
"Think of a good thing - now you can rest on the couch, and watch me play this game."
"At least it's good that we're getting rain."
"It's okay.  We love you!"
     I love that they have learned not only how to deal with let downs, but also how to comfort someone else when they see it needed.  Thanks be to God for these little blessings who so often are the ones teaching and reminding me to keep my eyes on Him.

Friday, September 19, 2014

The Worst Place to Be

     One of the kids' favorite pastimes is to ask favorites and worsts.  What is your favorite restaurant? What is the worst smell?  It's fun to hear how their opinions are so much alike and also so totally opposite.
     Recently, the question arose, "What is the worst place to be?"  The girls answered things like, "being sick with the stomach bug" or "being in a tornado."  But Little Mister trumped them all with his emphatic announcement, "Wrong!  The worst place to be is stuck in the middle of a giant broccoli!"
     Ha!  That is a rather difficult situation to find one's self....especially if you despise broccoli as much as my little guy. :-)

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Multi-Tasking: Talent or Flaw?

Forgive my being bold and blunt, but I confess, I am THE  Multi-Tasking Queen.  As a homeschooling momma of four, I pretty much have to be.   It's not unusual to find me cooking dinner, folding laundry, answering messages, and giving a Spelling Test all at the same time.  It's a talent.  It's a necessity.  It's also a terrible flaw!
     Recently, I had my children take a Love Language Test.  I was a bit surprised when all four of my little darlings' primary love language came back "Quality Time."  I'm with them pretty much all day, every day, all year, every year.  I would think they get more than enough time with me, but how awesome is that that my kids actually want to spend time with me?!  May it be that way forever!!! 
     How mistaken I was in thinking, "Kudos to me for giving them exactly what they want and need!"  After much reflection and listening to their feedback, it came to my attention that it's not so much that they want to spend time with me like we do constantly, but that they want my undivided focused-time.  They don't want to share their important conversations with the dinner-making or the laundry-folding.  They want my single-tasked focused time.  In trying to do it all, I was missing out on giving them this main desired gift of feeling loved.
     I was given a special treat last night.  Little Mister was having trouble sleeping and I offered to lay with him for a bit.  Normally, I would use this downtime laying there in the dark to check my phone texts, emails, Facebook, news updates, read my chapter, etc.  BUT all I could bring myself to do was stare at that precious boy lying there in the dark wanting me to just be nearby.  I felt so much love when I focused without distractions.  I wanted desperately for those feelings of love and assurance to pour out comfort into him.  Then it hit me...when is the last time I set aside everything else and purely focused my multi-tasking time?  Not only was it a perfect gift to him who needed me, but the calm and joy I felt was worth so much more to my soul than checking off items on my to-do list.
     No wonder, throughout His message, our Father begs us to meditate, pray, read, focus daily on Him, leaving everything else aside to follow Him.  He knows that the "Quality Time" He desires from us is not solely for His own benefit, but is so filling and healing to us, as well.
    Of course we are busy people.  Of course the demands on our time are constantly getting checked off an ever-growing list.  But if we only take the time to focus fully on the ones we love and those who love us, we will heal their hearts, give them what they need, and feel the benefit of our own love-tanks refueled.  Sometimes getting it all done just isn't getting the real job done.  Yes, I have a talent and flaw for Multi-Tasking to the extreme, but my true gift is the ability to give what is needed to those I love... and THAT is a talent that blesses us all.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014


Have you ever tried to avoid the inevitable?  You know that dreaded thing that needs to be done, but you just keep putting it off until later...or perhaps that illness going around that you are trying with all of your might to flee from, but sooner or later it's gonna come knocking on your door...even the decision that has been weighing on your mind for countless moments, that must be decided once and for all.

Growing up, these moments seem to come along more and more often.  I'm trying to look at them as growing experiences.  Hoping that I will find a renewed strength or even wisdom from doing, facing, and deciding.  That brilliant light has not yet come.  I thought once a resolution was found, everything would be clear and crystal.  As a child, it seemed that once the inevitable occurred, peace was restored.  But as an adult, it seems that is not so much the case!

Perhaps the lyrics of Frozen's 'Let It Go!' will play out.
"It's funny how some distance,
makes everything seem small.
And the fears that once controlled me, can't get to me at all"

But until then, I find comfort in the fact that I'm not alone in these perpetual wrestlings.  I'm not the only one who wishes it was just easier.   Even Paul struggled, "...but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?
Right?! When do these things get easier?
His conclusion is that this light and peace is not fact, it's not even necessarily on this earth.   "Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!"

This is where faith kicks in.  Without it, these times seem pointless.  With Him, these times seem like stepping stones getting us closer to our goal.  Thanks be to God, that He listens and takes our hand throughout!"