Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Things that Don’t Work If You Have Small Kids

I see a lot out there that seems like a good idea until I put it up against my life, then it just seems foolish.  Here are a few of my recent favorite things that just don’t work with my young kiddos.

1. KonMari Method of Tidying Up 

    I love Marie Kondo and her books on tidying up.  I’ve read them both and I have found her ideas very insightful.  I’ve been able to get more shirts into a drawer with her folding method, and able to get rid of things I was holding onto for the wrong reasons; but to do her method as laid out in her books, just doesn't work with small children.  

If I have to get everything out at once, there just isn't time to sort before my youngest has grabbed an item or ten or and thrown them about the house.  This proves especially irritating once I’ve gotten a drawer of clothing properly folded and then she ceremoniously dumps the drawer of clothes onto the floor.  There is an hour I’m not getting back!  So for now, the “shove it in the right drawer” method is a must for my own sanity. 

2. Capsule Collection 

I have a hard time deciding what to wear and I do believe having less clothing would alleviate some of those issues but while 36 items that you can mix and match for a variety of outfits sounds magical, it doesn't work for mothers of preschoolers.  What do I wear the second day my entire wardrobe has been demolished by the food spills, dirty hands and miscellaneous messes that dictate at least 5 outfits a day, minimum!  I need a lot of clothes to wear because I have to change A LOT!  Great idea for another stage in life, just not this one.  

3. Items That Aren’t Washable 

My daughter has the Stella Doll.  It is amazing and she loves it.  All the accessories with their magnets make for fun play time, but that doll gets dirty and a cloth wipe down isn't taking away the stains of life.  It's not just her Stella doll either, my son's car seat had cloth fabric that was not removable.  Yeah right! So when your kid throws up you are just supposed to hope you can get it out with a wet rag?  Really?   Our latest carseat is fully washable and all of it comes off and can go into the washing machine.  That is a necessity if you actually plan to put a child in it.   Do the people who make these toys and baby items have children or even met one for that matter? Attention manufacturers: if you are making something for a baby or toddler or child, it must be washable!  Thanks!!!

4. Anything White 

I love a cute white rug in my living room or a nice white dress for a summer outing, but when you put white against kids, kids win every time!! While we are on the subject of white, why are we making so many white clothes for kids?   When will someone start making clothes for actual kids, not just small people.  Heck, where are the disposable clothes?  Sign me up for that mail order club!  

5. A Conversation 

Before my kid days, I got annoyed when I would call a friend and they were constantly interrupted by kiddos.  I just didn't get what was going on on the other side of the phone.  Now it is my reality and I want to yell at the younger version of myself.  If little kids are present, we are not having an in-depth conversation.  It will be constantly interrupted and plan to hear me repeat "What was I saying?" A LOT!!!  If you want me to meet you out for conversation it needs to be without kids or at my house during nap, otherwise: 

1 I’m not having any fun 
2 I didn't hear half of what you said
3 It’s not personal, just not possible

  I have a few other gems I could add to the list, but I will  just give them honorable mention: Dinner out, a movie, paying more for better quality clothing (its gonna get ruined so who cares).  

What would you add to the list?  I’d love to hear it!!! Comment below with your best list addition.  

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

By The Time You Get It, You Won't Want It

Who has wronged you?
  Who has stolen your money, your sexuality, your spirit, your years, your joy?  Who tarnished your reputation or turned their back on you?  The level of wronged varies between us but I would guess most of us, if not all, have been, in fact, wronged.  

Its one thing to know the Bible and quote a verse that acts as a bandaid to a wound, its quite another to walk it out.  To say, “love your enemy,” sounds poetic and beautiful and looks nicely on a note to a friend, but to actually love the man who cheated on you and left you for another model, is much harder.  To care for a person who stole your life savings or raped your virginity right from you, that is a different story.  Its not as pretty in the fleshly, day-to-day life.  

A friend recently was sharing her heart with me about her own wrong.  She said she wanted God to take revenge on this person and she waited for that day.  My response?  When you finally get it, you won’t want it anymore.  Then I shared a story from my own life.  

About five years after my parents divorce, my mom rekindled the flame with a high school boyfriend.  The two were married and we relocated to a neighboring state to start our new life, but unfortunately this man wasn’t transparent about the state of his soul.  He had in fact lied to my mom about his spiritual connection with God.  He was not a Christian and he had grown up with some challenges that stayed with him through out his life.  He was an abusive alcoholic.  Our world changed and the years of abuse took a toll on my mom and my sister and I.  He and my mom divorced about five years later.  

The pain I carried led me to some really bad choices in the next few years.  I hit some hard times and while in college began to surrender the hurt God.  He worked in my heart and led me to a place where I could confront my former step father.  So I did.  Something happened - in our conversation, a piece of paper I wrote out ahead of time and read to him as we sat on his couch, I saw the pain he carried.  He was hurting.  It was as if God opened my heart and took my anger and replaced it with compassion.   I then told him he was forgiven.  I told him God loved him and he needed to turn to God.  His actions did not dictate his value and he needed to get right with God so that one day he could join his Savior in heaven.  

I left that day changed, but it wasn’t the end of the story.  Fast-forward to my 30’s.  This same man was dying of cancer.  I no longer lived close by and I was processing his pending death.  It hit me: I realized that the worst days of my life, were the best days of his.  I realized that he knew God because of his time with us.  In that moment, giving him that gift felt worth all the pain I had suffered.  I was no longer the hurting girl, but the woman God had brought me too.  I could have gotten revenge but instead I felt love and even better, compassion, in my heart to the hurting soul inside the man that was now going to meet his maker.  

If, and that is a BIG if, you are seeking God with your pain, then by the time you get your revenge you won’t want it.  Be assured, I am NOT a saint!  The story I just shared was all an act of God.  The best thing you can do is surrender your pain to God and trust him.  It won’t make sense in the midst of the pain.  Please notice my gracious epiphany came 25 plus years later. Distance allowed perspective.  

Now its your turn: What pain are you holding onto (maybe even collecting) that you need to surrender? Comment your thoughts below, I'd love to have you join the conversation.  

But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!  Matthew 5:44 (New Living Translation) 

Monday, February 6, 2017

Benefit of Brokenness

Today, I was scrolling through Facebook and came across a post from a childhood friend.  Like me, she has been through her own trauma in life.  She now gives back to her community in her daily employment.  Reading her post about a new realization about herself as she researched how people process trauma in life, got me thinking as well.  

I will be the first to tell you.  I am a hot mess.  I am a sweet, loving woman with a big heart and a good head on her shoulders, but I also battle anxiety daily as a result of some of the experiences I have walked through.  I struggle with anger and yelling and keeping my cool in areas of personal and societal injustice.  i am at times overly empathetic and can face depression when I look too deep into the hearts of the hurting.  I am also resilient.  When I fall, I get back up and keep going.  

I have also come a long way.  I have never been one to shy away from personal betterment and have sought to face my inner turmoil instead of hide from it.  I believe in a big God and often invite him into my mess to help me overcome one more of my issues.  I’ve slowly learned to trust and jump into life in spite of the fear.  I have allowed my heart to heal from pain its felt along the path of life.  

Despite my imperfections, I am better because I was broken.  

Its like the bubble of a “good life” leaves this protective shell over us.  That shell keeps us safe but it also leaves us self-focused and generally unimpacted by what is happening around us.  

When I was broken, I was hurt.  With intentional focus, counseling, prayer, Bible study, support groups and a great community of friends and family, my broken places have been mended, but in the process my shell was shattered.  I am now gifted with an ability to empathize with people in the midst of hardship or their own pain.  I am able to walk with people in genuine relationship and offer real love to a world that needs it.  Jesus is my Savior and the ultimate example in love and sacrifice.  He has shown me how a walk through hell can bring a bit of heaven to others.  

Romans 5:8 - But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

There is always a flip side to every trial we face.  Often the benefits aren’t realized until we have some distance between us and the trial faced. It is too much to ask someone in the midst of a storm to see the rainbow.  In the midst of a storm you must stay safe and protected not look out at the rainbow coming.  

But if you, like me have walked through a few storms in life, and are now living outside of that past experience; it may be time to see just how special you are as a result of surviving.  You may need to face some pain and allow those wounds to heal, but once that has taken place - see how that trial has transformed you into a crucial solution to the agony people around you undergo.  

What has your broken bubble given you in a perspective that can touch someone else in a real way?  What is your next step?  Be intentional with your life, don’t just roam aimlessly with the remaining years you have on this earth.  

I would love to hear from you, what is next?  What unique perspective do you offer this world?  

Its worth it, I promise!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Youth Ministry Reflections

Today was my anniversary, but not the one with my husband.  Instead it was with my job, well really, my ministry.  I moved here 14 years ago to start as the youth pastor at First Christian Church in Visalia.  It was on the heels of a year-long ministry working with teens in a residential care facility.  

I never intended to spend my adulthood working with teenagers, but God had other plans.  The pre-teen and teen years was a very tumultuous period in my life.  In those years I walked through the pain of an abusive step-parent, sexual abuse, emotional pain and the faced the results of poor choices that my angry heart made.  As I walked into the college years and into adulthood I began to process the pain and seek the healing I needed to not only survive, but thrive.  

At the close of my college experience as I looked at the possibilities of what was next, God reminded me of a simple sentence I spoke to him during those tough years: 

“If I have to go through it, you better use it!”  

God answered, with a “I hope you meant that!”  That started my journey to Colorado to work with teens in the midst of turmoil.  It softened my heart to that age where your life can go out of control as you transition from child to adult.  That is what led me to Visalia.  I honestly didn’t want to come.  I loved my life and support in Colorado and went to bed with every intention of turning down the job at First Christian.  

My wise mother told me, “Don’t give your answer until the morning; sleep on it first.”  Those were wise words and the morning light helped me see I was to go.  So I loaded up my 1988 Chevy Caprice Classic and caravanned to California through the winter mountains with my dad who had flown out to get me.  

I came with a thought that this would be a temporary station in life as I found my true path, but here I am in an industry that has faster turn over rates than flips of a pancake in any IHOP around the country, still going strong.  

Working with teens for over 15 years and 14 years in the same church and community has given me some great perspective on life and ministry.  Here are three perspectives that I’d love to share today: 

 Teenagers are WONDERFUL!  - Teens often get a bad wrap as the rough life-stage to work with and yet I have grown to love this stage.  Teenagers are wonderful people who add color and humor to life.  They hold beautiful ideas of the world and their future and share some great insight if you listen.

Relationships Last A Lifetime - Doing this for so long has allowed me to get to know girls and walk with them into womanhood.  Its given me the ability to get to know adolescent boys with their pranks and antics then get to see them chose a wife and have children as honorable men.  I love that still being here provides stability for some when life gives them questions and they know they can come to me in the years into their 20’s and beyond.  

Community Morphs More Than It Changes - Tonight I was speaking with a current fellow youth pastor who moved here from another state for the job but as we spoke, several of the staff at their church used to be teens I worked with years ago and other pastors were once youth pastors like me.  As I look at the Christian community it is full of new faces, but it is also full of faces that are still there working hard in new churches or positions.  There is something beautiful about that fact.  It speaks highly of this community that even in the changes in life, people still want to be here.  I love that story, that is often not told and I have the longevity to tell it.  

It is wonderful to have these opportunities to reflect and celebrate the days, years and lessons along the way.  Thank you for sharing in this with me and it leads me to ask you, “what does your life perspective teaching you?”