Thursday, November 19, 2015

Whoever Said that "Sticks and Stones" thing... was an Idiot.

There's always that one person, right?

No matter where you go or what you do... there they are somehow always ready to pop your little bubble. There's always a snarky comment spoken, a face made, a look given. While it can be somewhat hurtful... it's mostly annoying to me.

I used to take everything so personally. Well, that got old real quick. I don't have time for drama anymore. I don't have the patience for it. I'm learning now to simply ignore any negativity people throw my way. Really. I have to. "The less you respond to negative people, the more peaceful your life will become." It is my decision whether or not to be offended, so I choose not to be... most of the time.

I lived the first 24 years of my life in such a fragile state. I walked on egg shells and carried chips on my shoulders from sun up to sun down. I cared about everyone's opinion and pleasing people was my idol. I didn't realize it for a long, long time. I never hurt others to get people's approval, I refused to lie or cheat, and it's just in me to give 110%, so I thought all was well with me. I couldn't understand why anyone would have a problem with that. But, some did... and some were not afraid to express that. Others just didn't understand me and misread my intentions. I couldn't figure out why my feelings were always hurting. Then one day, all of a sudden, I got smart. I learned that some people were just mean. They might not be unkind to everyone all the time... but there was still a mean bone in their body somewhere, and I was always going to get hit with it if I hung around.

So, I got even smarter... I found a new hang out.

I "unfollowed" people on social media, stopped calling them on my cell, and found kind ways to avoid them. As a Christian, that was rough to do at first. Because we want to be loving and good, and because we want to be a kind example, we sometimes convince ourselves that we have to endure damages. But, 95% of the time, that's absolutely untrue. 2 Timothy 3:1-5 even tells us to avoid certain people. This isn't meant to cause division or judgments... It's just telling you, for your own sake and your own peace, avoid people who are heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, etc. because they're only going to cause you unnecessary pain. Still, how often do we allow negativity to move into our thoughts without any notice to vacate?

Today has been one of those days. If I didn't have writing as such a needed outlet for me, I'd probably just be lying on the couch binging on Netflix and ice cream. Yep. That sounds fantastic right now. Sitting around, lazing in my pajamas, safe and secure in my comfort zone... That's what I want. I'm going to be painfully honest here; I've gotten to the point that I almost dread being around people. I can't help that in any way... it's just the truth. While a lot of them are wonderful, there are several that aren't, and they seem to find the path to my heart every time we get acquainted. I don't know if it's because I'm just too willing to invest everything I have into a relationship, or if maybe I'm too trusting? Could it be that I'm just too sentimental and long for close, unbreakable bonds with people I click with instantly? Am I lonely and longing for a tight-knit "family?" Honestly, I don't know. It could be a mixture of all three, and it could be none of the above. At this point, I just... I don't know.

Now, I am all for knowing who is in your circle and keeping the circle somewhat slim. But at the same time, I'm not sure total isolation is the best thing to doctor the situation. Actually, I know it's not. So how do we find that happy medium? If you're a teeny bit baffled by this question, no worries; It flusters me, too. As much as I've brooded on this and searched for the perfect answer, it's not yet been discovered. It's imperative that you know most of the time it's not because you need to change yourself. You don't need to morph into a hermit, either. So, how do you avoid these unpleasant obstacles? Brace yourself here. You can't.

As I said in the very first sentence of this post, there's always going to be that person. You just have to determine within yourself that they won't be able to stop you... not even for a moment. Say a prayer for them, give them a nice smile, and go on with your bad self. You have to look down deep within your heart. If it is longing to do right and help make a difference in this world, know that through Christ, you can do anything! (Philippians 4:13) Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Refuse to think less of yourself because of a few opinions. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139:14) Turn to the Lord and rely on Him to be your strength in distasteful circumstances. (Isaiah 26:3) Life is too short to waste a single second. Don't forget that any battles we face aren't really against other people per se, but against principalities and powers. Purpose within your heart that he will not win. When you encounter sordid people, understand that its just another tactic or scheme set in place to knock you off track. Stay the course! Be the person God created you to be, fulfill your destiny, and be the happiest you can be while doing so.

Don't hide your talents out of fear of others' responses. And don't abandon your abilities because of frustration either! I get that words can cut you in a way sticks and stones never could. These invisible knives propelled your way can cause you to feel a sense of loneliness or worthlessness more than any other weapon in the world. When a cross statement is made toward you or about you, it can be devastating and heartbreaking. Seriously, I feel like a little kid at Christmas who gets to open this big, bright, beautifully wrapped gift just to delve into an empty box. It far exceeds disappointing... and it's more likely to happen.

Prepare yourself for it. Let it be known that its just a part of life. But, it doesn't have to stay part of yours. Find those people that offer you encouragement and support. Cling to those who know how to offer you necessary guidance with the right motives and in the best spirit. Ignore the rest. Just do me and the rest of the world a huge favor...

While figuring out how to become confident, determined, and unaffected by insult... don't become that person. I'm working on that, too.

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Wednesday, November 11, 2015

When Infertility is the Twist in the Plot of Your Life...

It was Mother's Day this year when I felt it again- that sting that came from somewhere inside and brought unease to my entire being. I had to shift around in my seat due to the discomfort, until the numbness that I had forgotten introduced himself again. Years of built-up acceptance seemingly vanished at the sight of one ornery little boy.

I woke up that morning with a genuine smile resting on my face. Music blaring, dancing around the kitchen as I whipped up a small breakfast, singing loud and proud... You know. It was another glorious day. I loved my life- every single moment- including this one. The ride to church was just as pleasant. Aaron and I shared some thoughts... some laughs... No negativity at all. I was basking in my blessings.

Until I saw that little boy. 

There we were "ooh-ing and aww-ing" at the adorable, well-put-together program our youth directors had planned for the mothers. Those adorable tiny little humans were singing and doing the motions so sweetly. Then, it's like we all saw him at the same time. Chuckles began rolling across the congregation and even escaped my lips. I could feel Aaron shaking with laughter as that little guy was in a world of his own. Arms flailing about, making faces that had well exceeded master status, and air guitar-ing it up like a boss. By this time, I could hardly breathe I was laughing so hard. I'm not even sure the little fellow realized what was going on. He was just living it up. 

I looked at my husband and laughed even harder. Aaron's a character, too

"Babe, that's our child. Seriously!" Aaron turned and joined in my laughter. But as I looked back at the stage, I literally felt the joy being ripped away.

But, that's not our child.

Our child is nowhere on that stage! Our child is nowhere on this earth! "Our" child doesn't exist!

And just like that, I felt the pangs of infertility again. How they managed to take up residence so quickly, I don't know. Nevertheless, there they were, settled down deep, all nice and comfy-cozy. 

The laughter was still going on, but I had somehow zoned it out. I was having a discussion with God, although I was refusing to let Him speak. The tears on my cheeks got Aaron's attention, and he immediately recognized this unwelcome guest, that I had years before banished, back at my door. He grabbed my hand and asked me if I was alright.

Of course, I'm alright. I've been alright. This makes no sense. This is immature. This is flat out ridiculous. 

I nodded my head.

Should I go to the bathroom? 
No... That'll make everyone pity you. 
Well, if I stay here and can't quit crying, what's that gonna do?

By this time, my "discussion" with God had turned into an argument with my inner self. Why was I being so weak? Why was there a sudden lack of faith and trust? I thought I had victory over this!

If you can at all relate, I want to let you in on a little secret before we go any further. If you have been unable to have children, a moment of "weakness" is never something you'll experience. Hear me now. It took a long time for me to understand that. You are strong, and you are shielded. The pangs of loss or confusion- sometimes even betrayal- only prove this. Those feelings are being aimed directly at you every second of every day. When you feel what you think are those arrows piercing your heart, it's not because God let His shield down to hurt you. No, He removed your shield that kept you from being honest with Him. 

It's okay to miss someone you've never met. It's not a selfish thing to long for a legacy of your own. It is okay when you see a mommy kissing a booboo and you feel a slight twinge of jealousy. It is okay when you drive by a yard and see a daddy throwing a ball with his boy, and you ask God, "Why?" And when those things become a little too much, it is okay to cry. 

I had bought into the lie that if I showed any kind of longing for any part of my life to be different, then I was saying I wasn't content with what I had now. I thought if I felt sadness about anything beyond my control, I wasn't a good Christian. So, I did what we all do... I built my own little wall as a way to protect myself. But I had to tear it down! God shields me from things that are planted to destroy me. That's not on me. The barriers we put up keep us from feeling all of God's love and grace. He already knows our hearts. He understands when we feel like things are unfair. He gets it when we become angry with His plan. Be honest about it with Him and yourself, and you'll see how quickly He applies a healing balm to those hurting places. 

He will never put on us more than we can bear, right? If you believe that, then you have to know that He must think you're pretty strong. He sees your end from the beginning, so He knows this will not defeat you.

Be encouraged today! Sure, there are opportunities that won't be ours to experience without children. We won't "fit in" with all the "families" that we're surrounded by. Certain types of joy will not be understood by us, if we don't have a child in our life. I get that. But, I've had 9 amazing years with my husband so far. I have friends on the same page as me, and others who write a place just for me in the chapter they're in. My life truly is incredible. I laugh a whole lot more than I cry. But, that only started when I was okay to be me... I mean, really be me. That includes angry me, selfish me, dorky me, confused me, agitated me, every last bit of me. When the walls come down, there's nothing standing in your way of the freedom to genuinely experience untold peace. So, if you've not been given the responsibility of raising a tiny human, use your freedom for something you're passionate about... and have fun!  Obviously, there's a grand task or purpose God wants you to find, that a busy-parent-you couldn't fulfill. 

Aaron and I took in my little brother when he needed us most. After nearly 4 years, he's about to venture out on his own. I'm beyond thankful that we had the time and space to dedicate to someone we love dearly.

We made some life-altering changes within the last few years. We made moves, cut ties, ventured out into new realms... We didn't have kids in the equation, so it made those hard decisions a lot easier to make. I can honestly say that I am thrilled to have the life and answers we have- especially knowing that when we are raising children with questions, we will know just how to respond. 

This year we started our journey with foster care and adoption. We just got our approval letter a few days ago. Any day now we could get a call saying that we're needed to change a child's life forever. Now that we're this close to this new chapter in our life, I can't conjure up words to even remotely describe the confidence that I have about this being God's plan for us. When we started the classes, I was bitter, scared, and sad- but now- I feel so honored to be able to do this with my life. 

I went back to school while living in another state and have plans to sign up again. I took on a new career. I even started a blog! to some may only be a name they see floating across their newfeed, but to me... It's the newest chapter I'm writing for my life. I refused to let any moment get past me without knowing I used it first to do something I loved. My dreams are bigger than ever before. My passion is more vibrant than I've ever known it to be. My hope for an amazing future is no longer in vain. 

The rest of your life is in front of you. You've been given a map, and at this point, can go anywhere you choose. You may one day have a child, but where do you want to be when they arrive? Who do you want to be? Stay focused on the awesomeness that is your life. I understand that infertility can feel fatal. When it first sneaks up on you, it's easy to live in the "what-if's" and "if only's." All the dreaming you did up to this point did no good, so you stop. Your happily-ever-after ending needed a few things to happen first that didn't, so you assume you're just not going to get one. But, don't let this place in your story be where you quit writing. This is where it can get good! When infertility is the twist in the plot of your life, go with it! This is the moment no one was expecting and now your story can take any turn at all it wants. Foster, adopt, mentor, travel, go back to school... You get to dream another dream! And who knows, it may even one day collide with the original one. You have a best seller literally waiting at your fingertips. Experience newness, vigor, and anticipation again. Write about those moments! 

Every single moment of your life is worth reading... but it can only be read if you pick up the pen... and start writing again.

This post was featured on The Way We Do Life!

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Monday, November 9, 2015

The Red Cup Issue Should be Black and White

Okay, so you had to know a blog post was coming for this one, right? I can't help it! I mean, my cover photo warns you that I'm somewhat opinionated, so it came with fair warning. That means, when you opened this link, you were hoping to read something blunt, huh? Well, it will be, but my cover photo also insists that I'm a nice gal, so don't get your hopes up too high.

It's after 8:00. By now everyone has had time to recoup from work or school and catch up on the daily news(feed) from Facebook. I wonder how many pretty little red cups you've seen floating around? Well, after about 27 crossed my path, curiosity got the best of me. I opened a few links to see some of the drama these innocent little disposable utensils had caused. Needless to say, anything that was said was needless.

I mean, really people? Who threw the fit about some missing snowflakes? Seriously... I just want to have a short conversation with them to try to somewhat understand their reasoning. I'm over here all confused, but others are declaring war on Starbucks because Christmas will never be the same! How can we go on when only plain red cups hold the deliciousness that is our beloved coffee? It's an outrage!

Or so some have said. I get that last year was a huge deal for Starbucks because of their refusal to say "Merry Christmas." As a Christian American I feel a twinge of "Whaaat?" come over me when I hear that, but I don't feel like I need to prepare for battle. I'm going to be spiritual about this for just a couple seconds, but that's it. Because, honestly, this subject doesn't offer much spiritual material, despite the tiny droplets some have sucked from it.

Fellow Christians, know that I love you. I pray for you. I support you. We are family. But, even my family members can't always get my 100% approval, just like I won't always have theirs. With that disclaimer out there, let me say... Please understand that non-Christians will not, (I repeat... WILL NOT) hold dear the same things we do. You have to let that sink in. Unless they learn about Jesus and get to know Him personally, things that are sensitive to us will never be understood by them. You have to let that be okay.

I have some incredible friends that absolutely love Star Wars... Thrilled only barely summarizes their emotion when the new toys came out. They have Star Wars movie marathons, like, I don't know, every other weekend. They speak Galactic Basic and Ewokese better than English. That's great for them, really. I love them all the more for it. But me? Sorry... I just can't get into it. I could care less about any of it. They honestly don't understand that... it's such a big part of their life. Even still, it truly means absolutely nothing to me.

Now, while Christianity cannot be compared to the fiction that is Star Wars, I hope you see my point. I do not feel that we should let everything that we hold dear be walked on. No. I don't suggest that at all. Still, we have to figure out what is worth the fight. All this petty stuff has to stop. All this expecting everyone to feel like you do needs to quit. And, pushing your beliefs off on the rest of the world... well, it's not right. Christ gives people a choice... so don't take that away from them. And before anyone screams back at me that we are supposed to preach to them... let me stop you. We are supposed to declare the GOSPEL... not our opinions, not our convictions. For some, when they learn who Jesus really is, that'll be enough to win them over. They'll experience Him for themselves and then He will lead them. For others, they will never reach for Him. Still, that's up to them. You will have to learn to love them, live with them peaceably, and go on about your life as they do the same. The Bible is plain that we will be peculiar... Embrace that and go about your day. Goodness, even Jesus sat and ate with people who didn't understand Him... He realized that even though different, they were all worth loving and getting to know. Stop picking apart everyone different than you. Just... stop.

If you want to go to war for the benefit of America... find some hungry people and feed them something good. Look for a sweet homeless guy and give him some nice things that he could find useful. Open up your home to a child who needs you. Put together a resume for someone who has recently lost a job. Donate some time or money to anyone who may be having a hard time. Offer support to a girl affected by teen pregnancy. Let a drug addict know someone is there to help them live a better life. Show love and a belief in people who've attempted suicide. Comfort someone who lost someone they love. Pray.

Forget about the cups!

I realize I don't have tons of wisdom flowing through me. I understand that I have a lot to learn. There's a lot I don't know. But, on this issue, I'm pretty sure I got it.

Live your life. Love like Jesus.

Drink some coffee.

And in honor of Christmas and Star Trek... this is a MUST watch video.

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Daylight Danced. (a poem)

Night lied in wait watching the day
Contemplating its moment of seizure
Daylight danced and fiddled about
Relaxed in this moment of leisure

Dusk tiptoed around the sun for hours
Careful not to reveal its secret
Oh! But for no reason was it reserved
For the dawn would never have seen it

See, the light was always thinking ahead
Soaking in the warmth of the sun
While the night pondered every morning
How day took back what night thought it had won

It threw on a blanket and tried once more
To hide what daytime brought
But after only a few measly hours
All its work had been for naught

Here came the day backed by the sun
Shining in all its glory
Night had to surrender again, but
It shouted "I'll regain my territory!"

Daylight only chuckled and called right back,
"Yes, it's true indeed, my friend.
But just as sure, I guarantee,
You'll see my face again."

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Sunday, November 8, 2015

Serenity and Madness. (a poem)

The grass was cotton beneath her feet.
Each step sent her senses to a haven
where serenity and madness meet.
that she remained so peaceful and calm.
Though her thoughts were clothed in constant chaos,
Her racing mind was also a balm.
at times she fancied living simply;
No ambitions or dreams to run after...
Oh, but for her that would never be.
Yes, fine it was to surrender to
all that her remaining days could offer.
She would not relent, only pursue.
this handed to her such big passion.
In this rested all that she ever was,
and she was more than she'd imagined.
by a gentle breeze that touched her skin.
The only thing she had found she loved more
was this hope in her where fear had been.
confusing she'd stay to most she knew.
But there were other souls that knew her well,
for they had a far off dream in view.
Her mind would never allow lazy.
It never ceased its constant wandering,
but it made clear what once was hazy.
So high was this dream for which she'd aim.
This adventure would drive her crazy, yes,
but it would also keep her sane.

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Meet My Crew

Hi there!

These are my main squeezes...
My husband, Aaron, and my pups, Aubrey.

They're both extremely spoiled, but they won't admit it.

Still, the joy they bring to my life is worth more than any special treatment they receive!

Aaron pulled out the sanguine in this melancholy gal... He's all in all the time and makes life worth living!

There's never a day that goes by that he doesn't make me do something that pulls me out of my zone... and I love that!

He truly does make me feel alive...

She is the definition of "those puppy dog eyes..."

Yep... You guessed it. That psycho thing photobombing my pic is my little sis, Chelsea.

I love her and the craziness she adds to my world!


And this handsome guy on the right is our brother, Justin.

We've always been close and I intend for it to stay that way!

Apart we're somewhat normal... but together...
flat out insane! And that's the way (uh-huh uh-huh) we like it.

And this beauty is my other sister... Not by blood, but the bond is just as thick.

Jessica is my oldest and dearest friend. We've lived on other sides of town, the state, the country, and even the world for a time, and the distance meant nothing!

She is my go-to-boo... for, like, ever.

Because of these amazing people, my life is freakin' incredible.

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The Name. (a poem)

If you don't believe in my dreams
there's a door to your left
If I were you I'd open it
Yeah, I highly suggest

you go on and exit
Close the door on your way out
See, I'm so full of hope
I have no room for your doubt

I know things take time
Yes, I'm well aware
it might take years
but one day I plan to get there

I love what I'm doing
I'll give it my best until
I learn tons more about literature 
and natural talent blends with skill

So say what you will
Think what you must
Laugh me to scorn
All I ask is that you just

not holler my name
if you see me pass by
I'm sure I'm in a hurry
trying to make pigs fly

But one day down the road
I hope I'm there to see
your expression when the name 
on your book belongs to me.

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Saturday, November 7, 2015

Stuck. (a poem)

like a tree whose roots have sunk deeply
into the earth where it stood-
Unaffected by the gentle push of the wind,
who daily stopped by
to say its greetings.
How it longed to go, too, like the wind-
roaming freely about,
with no one to doubt
its reason.

How absurd a scene to watch a tree blow by,
or how fearful a sight
to see it float in the sky.
Ridiculous for it to fly.

So, it remains,

Unable to move from the very spot it was planted.
All around it things changed.
People grew... cities, too.
It heard the laughter of children, 
cries of the needy,
the screeching tires of people in a hurry
to move, to go-

How it longed to go, too.
Speeding past the norm,
from the view that had bored it.
How foolish a thought... a tree to drive down the road,
how ridiculous an idea to see it pick up and go,
wherever it chose.

So, it stood,

Firmly rooted in this place,
longing to be where it wasn't... anywhere it wasn't.
Some land where the hills were rolling,
where the mountains were showing.
A country whose culture it had yet to see...
Foods not yet smelled...
To be on a sea listening to an exaggerated seaman's tale.

How impossible a wish!
It could never be.
There's only ever one spot, just one spot, 
for a tree.

So, it stood,

It watched the sunrise and viewed the moon
take ownership of the sky.
Stars would glisten and sometimes fall.
Clouds would form and slowly pass by.
Birds would land, nest, then fly away.
Time taught them when to leave, 
and when it was time, they'd go.

How it longed to go, too.
It would return, but oh!
to see an uncharted territory,
a place not found in a memory.
To hear the sound of Amazon rain!
But, insane
it is to think such a thought.

A tree cannot travel. A tree cannot search.
A tree has big purpose, 
but only few can it serve.
It will remain in one place, rooted in the ground,
unless someone comes and cuts it down.
Its dependence rests on others around.
Unable to choose a course for itself, 
a path picked by another is all its allowed.
Anytime it moves it relies on a crowd
to get it where its going.
No thought for itself.

It must remain,

Unless another deems it convenient to move it.
No changing, lest someone else sees fit.

So, it waits,

Needing someone else to come and deliver...
someone else to free...

You blink your eyes twice to awaken from this daydream.
Then let out a sigh when you picture your reality.
Still in this season, no difference to claim.
This place that you're in is unhappy and bleak,
and its where you'll remain.
Life rolls past you, opportunities kiss your cheek.
You feel a slight rush, you feel your excitement peak.
Fear holds you back, tightly in place,
unable to move or create your own way.

Waiting for assurance from those who will never give it,
You live it...
This life with such limits.
You must know! Open your eyes and see...

You, my friend.
You are not a tree.

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The Gift. (a poem)

In that moment, life stepped in.
A gift given to her.
One that belonged to only her.
He took her hand, like a guiding aid
and led her steps forward.
Out the doors, into new light,
face lit up by the sun...
Engulfed in warmth by the sun.
She squeezed his hand like a little child
and felt the innocent expectancy of one.
They danced through raindrops.
They being the symphony...
the most beautiful symphony,
shared by a magnificent orchestra...
Each note played with perfect harmony.
This newfound exuberance,
expressed through her eyes...
Reflecting beautifully in her eyes...
Mirrored the moonlight on the ocean wave
rippling with each tide.
Nothing was so lovely... so true,
as this gift given to her,
One that belonged to only her.
He was waiting to be embraced and caressed,
and held onto for forever.
He had much to offer,
more than she'd ever know.
She would keep him close,
kiss him long, and never let him go.

 photo http___signatures.mylivesignature.com_54493_149_74B4BA3EDF05595B4757904AA65EEE8C_zpsgtx9jcgj.png

Friday, November 6, 2015

Unseen. (a poem)

She was tired.
Not just from over exertion or lack of sleep...
Her muscles ached. Her steps were heavy.
Her head was spinning.
She was weary of searching.
She was shadowed by aimlessness.
Not the free, inspiring, drifting balloon kind.
Not like that at all.

Her mind was nothing more than a lost red scarf,
snagged on a tree limb,
hurled around by blizzard winds,
flung this way and that...
but stuck in this place.
This same place...
somehow inept of the ability to claim freedom.
She needed someone to walk this trail that led to her.

With this forest of emotion frozen over with white,
she should be easily seen, should she not?
The vibrancy she offered should entice them to reach for her,
to set her free from this place she long lingered.
Still beauty is not cherished if it is unseen.

While the distant wave of voices reached her ears,
while the faint sound of laughter was clearly heard,
she was too far.
She was out of their sight.
The weight of hopelessness was too much to bear.
The little strength she had left was just enough to breathe,
so she would remain here.
Right here...
in this secluded forest she'd been in for so long.
Long enough to see seasons come and then excuse themselves to leave.
Still she clung to her limb. 

No wind was strong enough to shake her loose.
No soul was close enough to rescue her from this snare. 
Sun would set, moon would take lead,
flowers would bloom, leaves would fall.
She would stay here while life would go on...

On to experience newness and vigor.
A gift she thought was beyond her realm.
Fear held her down.
Doubt tied her tight.
The thought of loosening her grip...
The possibility of what unraveling could mean?
No. Just... no.
This was familiar. 
This is where she would stay.

She would stay right here until someone reached over...
Anyone could reach over and offer release.
Anyone at all... 
No one else was coming to free her.
No wind of change would be enough to offer deliverance.
Still, all the world would be hers to claim

if she'd just let go.

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Thursday, November 5, 2015

Faith in (My) Humanity Restored

This pretty little picture didn't need any editing, in my opinion. It's one of the best photos I've taken in a long time. I feel like I could frame it at this current moment.

Ok, so I really do get that it's not gorgeous... but the act behind the picture? Beautiful.

My husband and I both manage a property somewhere in this incredible state of Kentucky. He does all the hard stuff, and I take care of all the paperwork and rents. While I can honestly say that we thoroughly enjoy what we do, sometimes it feels like it lacks purpose. I mean, people get mad when you want them to pay. When things break, it's our responsibility to fix it. And, let's not even talk about how much I hate having to file for eviction. Some days I turn off the computer, shut off the lights, lock the door, and pause before walking to the car. A heavy sigh escapes my lips and my mind starts doing somersaults. It bounces everywhere it can... Hits the angry spots, the discontented areas, the sorrowful side... Tries its hardest to convince me that there's something better out there for us. I'm not going to lie... for a few moments it sometimes succeeds.

I grew up in the church, went to a Christian school when I became a freshman, and even attended a Bible college. I won't disguise how much I love God and how important my faith in Jesus Christ really is. But, sometimes I wish some of the things I was told to focus on could just disappear. I'm truly thankful for my foundation and upbringing, but as I've grown into my faith... As I've developed a truly personal relationship with God... I've noticed how necessary it is for me to daily wake up and erase my mind of a lot of the things I deemed priority throughout my younger years.

My heart's desire is to help people. The longing to bring a smile to someone's face I carry inside is as natural as the sun bringing light to the world. That part of me has never changed. However, I now understand that there are a gazillion ways to make those things happen. Ministry looks so much different than what I was used to believing. Today confirmed that.

I admire people who teach Sunday School classes, lead choirs, and work in Christian schools. I highly respect people who have been given the opportunity to pastor a church, run a college, and head up a youth program. We've had our hands in some of the mentioned activities, and they were indeed rewarding. But, as a property manager, I feel like I've touched more lives than ever before. Sometimes I forget that. I mean, working a normal 40 hour job... that's not ministry, is it? Working 8:30-5:00 at a secular career can't change lives for the better, can it? If you just sit behind a desk and fill out papers, or answer phone calls, drive a truck, or take care of maintenance issues, you're just doing what's expected to pay your bills, right? You're not really dedicated to helping those around you or changing someone's world for the better, are you?

Well, that's exactly what I used to think. I remember actually being told that "a family couldn't truly be in God's perfect will unless the man worked a ministerial job and the wife stayed home and took care of the household." Sounds ludicrous now... but I fell for it then. I wasted years of ministry opportunities at the bank I worked at, because I convinced myself that I wasn't in a place that would allow me to change lives. I mean, I was a teller. I took people's money or I gave it to them. Simple. No ministry, life-changing, smile-bringing events were going to happen there...

How wrong I was! You can find a way to shine your light anywhere you are. The world has gotten pretty dark as of late. There's so much anger and disgust... So much fear and judgment... So much hate and greed. We need people to smile and compliment as they walk down the grocery aisle. That little act can seriously change a person. I promise. Just take another look at my picture.

What do you see there? 2 honey buns? 2 yogurts? A spoon? I see gratitude, appreciation, and friendship. Why?

I was doing an annual recertification with a gentleman at our property today. Just a normal part of my day. Print out some papers, go over the requirements, scribble my name. Well, that's how it usually goes. Today, some random conversations were had about the property and its improvement since our transfer. Then, as I'm fully locked into the form I'm preparing on my computer, he says, "I have to pay you a compliment."

Of course, I look up. I'm pretty proud of the progress Aaron and I have made over the last 6 weeks, so I was waiting to see what he had noticed. I can't wait to hear this.

"You know, we've went through several managers and maintenance men during the 7 years that I've lived here."

I nodded.

"Well, they've all acted like they were way up here (he raised his hand high over his head.) But, y'all haven't done that. You've always been very kind and understanding. I feel very comfortable approaching y'all about things, because I know you're not going to make me feel like less of a man. I really appreciate that."

Oh, my. I'm holding back a few tears at this point. "Well, Mr. __________, you never have to worry about that. We are no better than anyone else on this earth. I'm glad you've noticed that we feel that way."

"I have. A lot of us have. You've made this property a happier place... a lighter place."

Thank you, God. Help that love shine through me all the time.

My day was already made. I already felt like I'd made a difference. But then, 2 hours later, the door opens and in comes Mr. ___________ with some treats just for me and Aaron. Knowing his income and other areas of his life, I know just how much of a sacrifice this was for him. And it made me feel like I had just received a thousand dollars.

"Mr. _____________! How nice of you! Thank you so much. You've just made my day. I appreciate this! Oh! And you even brought us a spoon!"

He chuckled. "Yeah. Wasn't sure if y'all would have one."

I smiled.

"I just wanted to show you how much I really am glad y'all are here." With that, he tipped his hat and walked back to his apartment.

I closed the door and immediately grabbed my phone for a picture. This is something I must never forget. No matter where you are in your life... People are watching you. People need you.

Did I have any idea before today that we had touched his heart? Not at all. I was just feeling like the lady who takes people's money this time of the month. But, to so many, I'm much more than that. It really encouraged my spirit today. Ministry comes in many shapes and colors and positions. It doesn't look a thing like I'd been taught to believe. Every single day my faith in Jesus grows... My love for Him grows... because my eyes are opened a little more each morning with just how much He loves us. Our whole purpose of existence is to serve Him by serving others.

Smile as you walk in the office. High five a kid on your street before getting in your car. Give someone your cart as you're leaving the grocery store. Hold open the door, buy someone's drive-thru meal, take a homeless guy some socks and a blanket. No matter where you are... No matter what you do... our faith in humanity can be restored a little at a time by the acts we choose to carry out.

Those $4.00 spent on us this morning... Well, they made me feel like a million bucks.

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Wednesday, November 4, 2015

So, umm... You Should Vote.

"Voting is our commitment to ourselves, one another, this country, and this world." - Sharon Salzberg

It's no secret that I insist on voting. Yesterday I was spazzing, because I wasn't sure if I was going to get to! I was literally sick to my stomach. I thought for sure I would get to leave early from work, but we had a huge review yesterday afternoon. There was no way for me to just excuse myself and leave. I made it just in the nick of time. Seriously... there were only like 7 minutes to spare...  I had to get in there and do my part! My vote may not be the one that takes my preferred candidate over the line of victory, but, hey... it might! With that being said, why wouldn't I practice the amazing privilege I have to express my opinion in what goes on in my state or country? I honestly just don't get people who refuse to vote. I found myself filled with irritation while reading a report that showed 78% of Kentuckians didn't show up at the polls yesterday. That's thousands of people! Thousands and thousands. I can't get over that. Even after I found out my choice guy claimed victory, I still couldn't shake the unsettling feeling resulting from such a lack of concern.

I've heard several different things this week...
1) "It's having to pick between the lesser of two evils, so I don't like it." 2) "God will appoint whomever He chooses anyway." 3) "Voting is not practicing my rights but surrendering them, in my opinion..."

I understand the basic point behind each comment above... I think. Still, I just can't nonchalantly go about my day refusing to do everything in my power to act upon what I feel is important... especially knowing that on voting day, people actually want to know what I think.

But, in all honesty, I think that's the whole issue here. People don't really care anymore. Oh, sure, they'll complain all day long... but when it's time for them to try and find a solution they run back home and gripe about how things are. Nothing is ever going to get accomplished this way. Although I love my generation immensely, there's a deep frustration that rises up in me when I talk to a peer who shows absolutely no concern or need to learn about the issues of our day. They've already made up in their mind that they hate things, abhor people, and the world is only going to get worse from here.

Take time to learn about your community! Understand the issues that are being weighed in the balance, and know where you're going to stand. Don't listen to the ads on TV. We all know the media is the most fraudulent source of accurate information there is. Do some research. You don't have to study for days... Just find out what the candidates stand for and vote according to your conscience. Our generation is so spoiled. Really. I don't know how to say it any other way. Many act like things are so unfair and so hard... We have no idea what unfair and hard really mean today. All this attacking the police, suing for anything we can think of, claiming everything to be hate crimes and bigotry... Ugh. I can't handle it. It's embarrassing. So many young people want to march, scream, harass, and destroy other humans to get their way... but they won't color in a few circles on a ballot.

People died so we could vote. Read that again and let that sink in. Issues like that aren't present in our day. The biggest problems of today seem to be resolved with enough money or fame. Pretty big deals, huh? Do you care enough about anything at stake that you could honestly say you would be willing to give your life for it? Well, people before us felt that strongly about voting.

Although America proclaimed independence in 1776, liberty wasn't handed to everyone. At this time, voting was only permitted for white, property-owning, Protestant men. It took 52 years before they removed religious barriers from the white men. It was 1856 before they removed their property requirements. Finally, in 1869, all men were given the right to vote, regardless of race, religion, or "class." Women weren't given the right until August 26, 1920 when they passed the 19th amendment. People were beaten, thrown in jail, and even killed just for practicing peaceful protests... They saw how invaluable and precious voting really was... is.

Take some pride in your nation. Realize that the only way change will occur is if we do the changing. While it may make us feel better to vent about how ridiculous the government is, it's not making a difference. So, when you get the chance to make a difference... take it!

"Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote, except the American people themselves, and the only way to do that is by not voting." - Franklin D. Roosevelt
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Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Don't Give that up to be a King - Poem

Who are we to think and suspect, that we can deserve, demand, or expect-
Others to give their respect
to us, "the elect"
when we walk around with heads held high because of the way "our" ministries grow-
yet our expectation for the humble hearts is most times lower than low?

Yes, God will exalt whom He chooses,
but time after time as a leader refuses
to give an opportunity, or never uses-
a young heart full of desire to do something with purpose, set the world on fire...

It affects their mind, destroys the zeal,
hurts, confuses, and distracts until,
A- the world gives them a shot at what they disguise as success,
or B- they cry and pray, try to find some way to do what they love
and maybe, just maybe, finally impress.

Of course, by this time, if they go with A,
it'll take a miracle to change them, for they
have been convinced that their best wasn't good
by the ones who should've encouraged (but never would,)
their potential...
and not just by telling them they had it, but by helping them find it.

And if they are one of the determined that chose B,
daily, they question constantly,
what their best really is- because deep down they know it's not like hers or his.
The ones that seem to have it made and always got it right,
in the sight of the ones that shine the spotlight.

Why is it the one who have trouble at home,
the ones with no confidence, who feel hurt and alone,
are the ones who come to church and only hear what they should change-
the "If you had done it like this, as I must insist, maybe your ideas wouldn't be dismissed."
And once again they feel they've failed...
they'll never be right, they'll never prevail.

Wake up! What are we doing to God's precious ones?!
Do we not see we're hurting, confusing,
and even at times just downright abusing,
those precious young hearts,
who so desperately long for someone to reach out,
to help them along?
Someone who truly wants to see them succeed,
reach their goals, live their dreams.
People that won't even think to compare
them to that boy or girl over there.

When will we realize they weren't made the same?
They all have talents, as different as their names!
Find out what they are... Then encourage them,
push them, help them go far!
God has a plan for each young life-
You don't know it... So, please, don't try
to pull them your way, stop or delay,
what God may be  doing inside them today.

Why do you feel it's just fine to shun or ignore them?
Why are you so slow to love, but so quick to condemn?
God, help us ALL show as much true compassion
as Jesus did- and is still daily asking
that we do the same...
especially us who bear His name.

There's a smile waiting behind every frown.
A wall built inside that's begging to come down.
There's an Apostle Paul, in every single Saul.
Please don't hinder! Help them fulfill their call!

Whether that be preaching, or singing, or teaching a class,
writing songs or a book, making people laugh,
ministering to the hungry across the wide seas,
or praying for others on bent knees...
Maybe making clothes, cooking food, cleaning a house,
any kind of Christ-like service - isn't that what it's about?

So if they speak in front of ministers, or teach a child to tie its shoes,
realize not all are called to do just what you're thinking they should do.
God's ways are high... much higher than ours.
His thoughts and plans for our lives...
Oh! So much awesome power-
in the crazy things that lie in store,
outside every door,
and even still... so much more!

So, if one doesn't sing, or an instrument play,
don't even think for one second that they
won't do something mighty and magnificent still.
If God has His way, I promise they will.

They might act out a play or design coloring books.
They may mentor a child, or tie on fish hooks.
Maybe they'll babysit on date nights or teach in a school.
Poems might be their thing, or possibly working with tools.
They might encourage good health, weight loss, strength build.
They may paint or draw, or throw a football across a field.
Will they teach karate? Could they be an RN?
Yes!!! They can change the world as a garbage man!!!!
What will they do? Where is their passion?
Only they know that- so let them do the asking!

I don't know... I don't care!
I just know potential is there!
It's in every single heart, and no doubts it'll be grand...
when that heart is in the center of God's hands.

So whether they sing or preach, or just know how to be a friend,
realize it's great! Greater than we comprehend.
And before I quit writing, remember this thing...
If God called you to be a humble missionary...
Don't dare give that up to be a king!

-Written by a very young me several years ago
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Monday, November 2, 2015

Our Journey into Foster Care: Part 2

So, we're an "open" house now. Everything has been turned in, checked out, locked up, or whatever else needed to be done in order to get approval. Now... we wait.

You'd think after nearly 9 years of no kiddos I'd be tired of waiting, right? Well... here comes this stage of the process... Do we really want to give up our freedom? Is that selfish?

Some would be quick to say "yes," while I know others would chuckle and say "No! Girl, that's just normal!" Either way, I can't deny that those thoughts have indeed entered my mind. Does that mean I don't want kids? Absolutely not. It just means that I really like my life...

That makes me giggle and shake my head a bit... How often do we always look forward to the next chapter when we haven't fully read into the one we're in today? I think even the most content person will dream of future things at times. Totally acceptable, right? How will you ever achieve more or accomplish your dreams if you never plan for things to come? But, if we're not careful, we can dream our life away. A few years back, I did that. I was so upset that I wasn't a mom... I would forget that I was a young wife. I was a big sister, a daughter... I was a girl full of ambition and passion and a few abilities that I could have really put to use.

Thanks be to God above that He opened my eyes before too much time passed me by! He truly does give the life He sees fit to give. And He knows you better than you know yourself. Whenever you take time to find out who you are, you'll be singing praises continually to Him for directing your path to line up with this new found you.

One day in the near future, we will get a phone call, give an answer, and welcome some sweet little humans into our lives. We will play games, read books, do everything we can to inspire this tiny creature to be the greatest whatever it is that they want to be. That is going to be a blast! There is so much purpose in a life like that. No one doubts that being a parent is an amazing blessing! But, let me assure you childless people... being a free individual is beyond amazing, too.

My point is short tonight, but it's still strong. Whatever stage of life you're in... ENJOY it. See it for the good that it is. Make a list of pros and cons if you have to! Don't ever fall to the lie that you have to be like those around you to make a difference or have a purpose. There is something out there that is waiting for your input... your touch... your personality. Find it and be happy. It pretty much boils down to that. It's your choice on how you feel.

If I would've told myself four years ago that I would possibly be just days away from having a child in my care, doubting how sure I was that I was ready for one... Well, I wouldn't have told myself that, because I never would have believed it. Don't be me four years ago! No matter how bad you wish things were different, when change sneaks up on you, there'll be a twinge of uncertainty. That's okay. Uncertainty is always there at the door of the unknown. It'll pass with experience. Getting rid of regret? That never goes away. Take your life for what it is and live it with the utmost vigor! Life is such a gift... and you get to open it up and discover something new every single day.

What's still waiting in yours?

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