If you feel a burden to have to prove who you are to another person, it’s possible that other person has already proven themselves to you.

 

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reaping benefit

Last night our church held a youth talent show and silent auction to raise money for our kids to go to camp this summer. To say it was amazing really just doesn’t do it justice. The items donated were premier, the desserts for the auction decadent and beautifully crafted, and the vocalists simply moving.

Notable to myself, were my son Ayosgi and stepdaughter, Larissa. Both surprised and humbled me.

Larissa had never sung publicly before and aside from a few quiet notes in the car and distorted melodies from the downstairs bathroom, I really had never heard her sing. When she opened her mouth last night with such a unique quality and tone, even in its untrained state, I was blown away. The authentic and raw gift that she has been given is absolutely beautiful and I couldn’t have been more proud of her for courageously sharing her talent with us!

My oldest, Ayosgi, sings and plays guitar on a regular basis for both youth and adult services at our church, but last night I got to watch him sing from behind a piano (self-taught!) while playing the tambourine with his foot. I was so impressed with his desire to try something new – he never stops pushing himself to grow.

What moved me the most about the evening was watching these amazing kids, and reveling in the realization that I have been appointed and blessed to be a part of their journey. It’s such a tremendous honor to be a parent, a stepparent, or even an “adopted parent” to the youth in our churches and communities.

If you have the opportunity today to encourage or edify a child or a teen, please do it. If you see exemplary attitude or work ethic, a positive decision or a notable talent, let them know you SEE them. The rewards of sowing into the next generation are plentiful and worthy of your effort. The person who will reap the most benefit will be you.

snowballs of anger

Driving home in sweet solitude from the high school this morning, I meditated on the things that have taken up residency in my mental space recently. I have begun to struggle with some anger and frustration that I am not quite sure what to do with. As with all people facing seasons of trial, we operate in either fight or flight mode. I’m really effective in the midst of crisis, but seem to fizzle out and fall apart after its resolution.

It’s important to address those things in us that aren’t beneficial – like a negative outlook or quick temper. No matter how justified it might be, we can tend to add unrelated circumstances and relationship struggles to our current frustration – a little like the snowball affect. Before we know it, our lives have spiraled into a much bigger mess than where we started.

And it’s mostly in our heads.

Guys are really great at compartmentalizing – a blessing and a curse, to be sure. But women tend to blend everything together and can struggle with separating and analyzing objectively. I think it’s why so many of us struggle with feelings of depression or being overwhelmed – we let our thoughts and emotions roll into one big ball of frustration and overtake our clear thinking.

Two scriptures come to mind –

2 Timothy 1:7 – For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 – For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war in the flesh: For the weapons of our warfare (struggle) are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds. Casting down imaginations and every high thinking that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ (His love, grace, peace, power, authority). *Notes in parenthesis mine*

People and situations aren’t our enemy – we are. Our own thoughts, perceptions, misinterpreations, pride, insecurities, fears and failures… We can rarely change those around us, and seldom do much more than modify our situations, but we can always work on ourselves.

Today I am working on my self control – taming my thoughts and focusing on what I should.

Christ.

 

handing them a fish without a fishing pole

It’s always a good idea to grow, in every area. To be honest, I have not been super diligent to read other people’s blogs – especially if they are long. I have short bursts of time online and I “get in and get out, ” for the most part.

Today, however, I read a fabulous blog on parenting and I was truly inspired.

So very often we can choose who we are going to be, design a plan that supports those ideals, and then fall right back into what is easiest or what we’ve always known. This morning, I realized I have fallen back.

Badly.

I have realized that I truly am not instilling into my children the work ethic I desire for them. We talk a lot about it, and they do contribute, but I have been really soft in consequences and consistency. They have an awful lot with very little effort.

Of course, compared to their friends, they are not spoiled at all, which of course brings up my other weakness – keeping up with the Jones’s. While this is not my own personal ideal and I strive to stay away from such comparisons, my own struggles with lack push my heart to give as much to my kids as I possibly can.

However, am I giving my kids all I can if I am merely handing them fish without a fishing pole??

We are on a new schedule as of right now. The big kids don’t know it yet as they are not here, but life is already visibly changing for my 8 and 4-year-olds. It’s time…

 

conflicting elephants

I walked in on the end of one of my kids’ shows recently and there was a recap of the word, “perception.” Of course, you know it caught my attention because I write about it all the time. It actually might be one of the most important words in my personal reality. In the show, an elephant had walked through a dark room and each person had a completely different perspective on what it was.

While funny to the kids, I was again struck by the reality of how very different each of us can relate to the very same thing/situation. Being right is never something we should strive for, nor should we assume that our position is correct merely because of how passionate we feel about it.

Even today, I am in the midst of an ongoing conversation where each person’s version of the actual conflict is different and it’s an effort to hear where one another is coming from. While a lot of work, it’s worth it to sort through the emotions and find the root. At the end of the day, it all comes down to how much we value our relationships.

The bible says not to let the sun go down on your anger. God said a lot of things, but if He says it, it means it’s of value to Him. Since we are hand-crafted by Him, it would be wisdom to value what He holds dear. Dive in, listen, receive and forgive. Sometimes that elephant isn’t an elephant at all…

a common experience

A while back, I used a friend’s comment as a jumping block off which to start a blog post. The actual musings weren’t about her, but about the statement itself and where some people take it. And, where others don’t. She asked me about it, thinking that I believed some of the attributes I wrote about to be possessed by her.

Later, a close friend and I talked about it – I was concerned about ever writing something that someone might think was about them specifically. Or that I would offend someone. She told me that if I was always so worried about offending someone, I would never write anything. Blogging is writing about what we see, hear, think and experience, and our responses to such. It is what it is.

Over the years, I have found so many of us to be on the same journey. There’s no way to count the number of times a post has moved another person to either comment, or to private message me, how my words have met them right where they are at.

Sometimes, I think it’s God-timing – He does that, you know – encourages us through the words and shared experiences of others. But more often than not, I think we are just all human – we all face such similar struggles and life challenges, hopes, doubts, fears and frustrations.

Let what you’ve learned bless others – share your life – your successes and failures. Somewhere out there, perhaps closer than you know, needs to hear about your common experience…

 

hypocrisy

To a large extent, I choose to see things from a wide perspective – there are few “rights” and “wrongs” and shades of grey tinge in nearly every situation. My way is not yours, yours is not mine, and neither of us can get it God’s way 100% of the time. However, when my ¬†husband and I had an argument last night, I was quite certain I was right.

Point #1 – Just because you are extremely passionate about your position does not make you correct, and absolutely does not mean the other person is subsequently wrong.

After considerable dialogue, and once I decided to truly allow myself to listen, I discovered that not only did my husband have an extremely good point, but really, I was dead wrong. And, I was choosing to take a stance that was in direct opposition to my value system.

Point #2 – Sometimes, our emotions and filters can keep us in a cycle that can only be broken by confrontation.

At the end of it all, I grew. And, my Chris loved me enough to grace me in my weakness.

Point #3 – There is rarely change without conflict, either external or internal.

Never forget to embrace the journey – even the bumps in the road – if you aren’t occasionally ¬†conflicted, you will never get where you’re going…

“Only when we choose a lifestyle of choices that violate our stated values, do we live a life of hypocrisy. When we make sporadic decisions that oppose our core beliefs, we are merely human. And, sadly, when we choose to point a crooked finger at another’s “hypocrisy,” we only bring upon our own souls the very condemnation we say we oppose. Self-awareness is the first & most vital step to harmony.”

speak and what is spoken

Trying to call my little brother today, I began to think about what it might have been like before phones and computers and modern technology like Skype. What it would have felt like to only receive a letter from a far-away loved one only once a month… or less… How very precious ever letter, every squiggle, would be to the recipient.

Even when I was in school, a note from a friend (or an admirer) was so very cherished. So much so that I carried a box of such memories for many years after I graduated.

I am not certain words mean as much anymore… and even more tragic, I believe that words of negativity are more easily thrown at those we don’t agree with, and that a language of love isn’t heard nearly as loudly (or as often). We’ve become careless. And callous. Our culture moves fast, and our desire to disregard personal responsibility for our accusations and assumptions shifts even more quickly.

Our texts may be disposable, but sometimes we forget that people aren’t, and once words are spoken, they can’t be taken back.

Today I am choosing to slow down, be deliberate, and value what I speak and what is spoken above all other things. I am going to savor every moment spent in conversation of any form, with others. And I am going to try and call my brother back again – I miss him.

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