Not just a girl thing

11 Feb

My oldest son, (almost) 11 and in the fifth grade, was face timing with a friend (another 5th grade boy) a couple of nights ago.  I wasn’t eavesdropping but he walked into the kitchen to hand me something and because face time works like a speaker phone, I heard part of the conversation.

Friend: I have to ask you something but I want you to be honest.

My son: Ok

Friend: I mean it, be completely honest.

My Son: Ok, I will.

Friend: Who do you like more, ______ or me?

My Son: Um.

Friend: Honestly, I don’t care at all if you like ____ more, I just want to know.  Just tell the truth.

And then my son was back up the stairs and I didn’t hear how he handled the question.

My heart literally broke in half, and I started to be gripped with fear for my son. I wanted to interrupt and help him out, but I knew that wasn’t the best choice.

——

I’d like to share with you two stories from my childhood.  Both happened while I was in the sixth grade, and I assumed this was just a “girl” thing, because girls are nasty and mean.

Story One:

My best friend and I were coming into a rough stage in life because there was a popular group of girls in our grade and we really wanted to be part of it.

This popular group of girls pulled my best friend aside at some point and told her a bunch of things she was allowed to say about them to me to see if she could get me to talk bad about them.

So,my best friend desperate to fit in caused this situation to unfold. One day she says to me “how do you feel about those girls?” I say something casual and safe like “They’re ok. They can be nice.” So she started saying the ugly rehearsed things about them that they had approved as bait to trap me.  I took the bait thinking I was safe with my best friend.  I told the truth about how I thought they were mean and used people.

The next day, she told them.  And they confronted me like an army of a thousand – screaming, cussing (yes cussing in 6th grade) pushing me against the brick wall of the school. I was humiliated and left with absolutely no friends.

Story Two:

There was always one popular girl who really didn’t seem to me to be as nasty as the others.  She laughed and played along, but it was rare to hear her say much about people or be the one to instigate.

One night she called me on the phone.  She said “I wanted to apologize for the way so & so has been treating you. I don’t think it’s right and I should say something but she’ll just be nasty to me too. It has to really hurt your feelings doesn’t it?” After some more conversation I admit that yes, it has hurt my feelings and I think she’s a really mean person.

All at once, a whole room full of girls started laughing and screaming at me through the phone.

You see, it was a slumber party I wasn’t invited to and I was on speaker phone.

—-

So the other night when I heard the start of what I knew was the start of a horrible game being played on my son, I just wept.

The next night my husband and I spent some time talking to him about the situation and asking how he handled it.

Turns out, He said “I like you both the same.” And then admitted to us that everyone at school right now is playing this game of asking who you like best and then turning on each other and causing a lot of broken friendships and hurt feelings.

Satan’s tactics to destroy fellowship among God’s children are timeless and flawless.  He shows up like a wolf in sheep’s clothing and devours kids (and ADULTS) one person at a time.

I’m glad we were able to talk with our son about this before he has any major scars.  I’m so thankful God let me hear that conversation.  We explained to him that it shows a huge character flaw in someone to need assurance by claiming it over someone else.

You know that saying “When someone is talking about another person (even if it’s true) it says so much more about their character than it does the person they’re talking about.”

That’s the ultimate truth about gossip or triangle-trap friendship games, and most of us don’t take a step back to see that.  We either get caught up in the attention/rumors or we fear the backlash of not participating.

I don’t blame that little boy for asking my son what he did.  I really don’t.  He’s trying to figure out fifth grade, and see where he stands.  Does he have real friends, is he liked, does he have more to offer than someone else?

The problem is – playing those hurtful games isn’t the way to prove any of that true.

These boys all need help and guidance.

I feel even more assurance that this friendship study / monthly event / whatever it’s going to truly turn into is not only necessary for me – it’s necessary for my children. I’m going to plan a weekly study with my children this summer going through what it looks like to be a good friend to others, and what qualities they should be looking for in friends they can really trust.

Practical Application:

Do you have any unforgettable stories from your childhood while navigating friendships?

What topic would you include if you were writing a study on friendship?

By which you see all things.

9 Feb

Tragedy has a way of changing the way you see everything.  Not just your current circumstances, but the past, the present, and even the future too.

Sometimes you’re strolling along after tragedy like nothing ever happened and then BAM! out of what seems like no where – you’re bombarded with memories, thoughts, and emotions.

I had a really good week last week. (Hence the crazy excitement in my last post about starting a new ministry and using my terrible, no good, rotten, awful, painful year last year to the glory of God.)

And then, yesterday.

I was just trying to make this collage, what I hoped would fulfill this vision my husband had of a keepsake he wanted, and everything fell apart.  All the progress I made. All the good changes I was making.  All the forward thinking, never looking back, use it for the strengthening of others just crumbled in a pile of tears and I lay on the floor in a worthless heap sobbing.

(Side note, this idea was really good that my husband had – though I didn’t put it together the way he really envisioned it, I think it’ll work none-the-less.  We took the entire family to our first MSU basketball game all together, and my husband wanted a keepsake of the program, tickets, photos and so I came up with this.)

collage.jpg

When I print photos, I usually dump my phone of a few months and then print some off and keep them in albums we can go through.  The more technology advances, the less photos make it to the albums, but still – I try to get some printed off a couple times a year.  The kids love these albums, and up until yesterday, I really did too.

As I worked on that collage, and then flipped through 14 years of photos – I was overwhelmed with thoughts.

You see, the thing about tragedy is it gives you a timeline you never wanted.

For example :

This was “Before” such and such.

This was “During” such and such.

This was “After” such and such.

And mine looks a little like this.  As I flipped through those pages all I could do was chase around fleeting phrases that half formed sentences I didn’t want to own.

These little boys, the birth of that sweet girl, the look on our faces, the love in that moment, the touch of that hand, the joy of that experience….

all ended in this one phrase.  “This was all before 2015 when the bottom fell out.”

And then I looked at the ones I just printed from last year.  “The Durings.”  Every smile looked fake, tainted, broken, and I knew they weren’t the same people from the first 13 years. Every thing looked tarnished.

I almost chucked that new collage in the burn pit and lit it on fire. I was tempted to rip down every photo in the house and smash them into a million pieces.

I don’t want before pictures.  And I SURELY don’t want after pictures.  I don’t want to “never be the same again.”

I’ve heard and read countless depictions about haunting memories.

People usually pick one side or the other.

  • They’re Satan’s way of beating you down, holding you in defeat, making you feel helpless, broken, unworthy, unable to move on. They serve no purpose but to destroy – you have to refuse to entertain them.
  • They’re God’s way of never letting you forget.  He forgives and He heals, but He never lets you forget where you’ve been, so you never go back. He wants you to use that pain and brokenness to show His power in your weakness and fuel your testimony in Him.

I’ve felt like both are true.

And honestly, sometimes I just feel numb to either. I don’t want to accept remembering. It destroys me every time. And then it takes days to get up again.

Practical Application:

Have you ever experienced something that became your time line? Death, Sin, An accident?

What do you do with remembering? Resist it and ask the devil to flee?  Run after it and Thank God for sustaining your future?

 

I could use your thoughts friends!

4 Feb

As per the last post, this theme of genuine friendship has been racing in my mind for about six weeks.

When I first came back to writing, I talked about Peter and how it totally BLEW MY MIND that Jesus changed his name and told him he would be the rock on which he built his church, warned him he was going to deny him, told him Satan asked permission and He allowed it (KNOWING he would fail!) and then commissioned him with “when you turn back, strengthen your brothers.”

I’m not going to write on that again – but you guys, WOW! That’s absolutely HUGE!

So, I’m wrestling with how God wants me to use my past (sins, mistakes, failures, lessons, victories – all of it!) for His glory to strengthen others.

And the truth is – the resounding theme of every failure in my life is always the same.  Either I was experiencing a lack of friendship (I was lonely, isolated, and unconnected) OR I was investing in the wrong friendships (being deceived, led astray, and desensitized to truth).

I know I’m not the only one.

God DESIGNED us for fellowship.  Authentic, real, totally known, loved, accepted and genuine fellowship.  We all have a hole inside of us that deeply desires intimacy in relationships.  And truthfully – many of us never find it.  Or we find it in the wrong places.  Or maybe even worse yet, we find it and we hoard it instead of share it.  We get in clicks or routines in which we stop seeing anyone else and only invest in a small handful of people.  And how can we bring anyone to Christ if we can’t reach out our hand?

I once heard that 90% of people come to Christ because of a friendship.

It’s not because they attended a church service or retreat alone.  It might happen at one of those places, but it’s because someone invested in a FRIENDSHIP with them (be it a relative or a stranger) and modeled Christ in a way that drew them to the cross themselves.

Think back on who led you to Christ?  And then give your deepest praise to the God who gave them the time, courage, energy and commitment to invest!

So….. I am pretty certain God’s drawing together a ministry opportunity for me to bring in women, love on them deeply, and discuss what I’m learning about friendship with them.

I’m thinking supper, a painting, devotion time – this is SO in the beginning brainstorm stage and could be overhauled entirely!

However – I’m calling on you – I really NEED and would LOVE your thoughts. I want to hear from everyone in all stages of life and experiences.  If you’ve never commented before – do it this time!  Or if you’ve shared your heart here before – PLEASE do it again!  I want to hear from all of you!

What kind of an invite could be offered that would draw you to come to a one time event or monthly event like this?

What activity/event would be safe enough to try but sound fun enough that you wouldn’t want to miss it?

What type of study/devotion time would be most beneficial? Hearing someone’s testimony? Teachings on friendships? Just having the chance to share yourself?

And – if you’re up for it – I would sure covet your prayers on this.  I want to do this God’s way.  Not Kayla’s way.  I want clarity and direction that only comes from the Holy Spirit. This is His-story -making beauty from ashes from My – history.

Covers who exactly?

1 Feb

Did you know that genuine friendships are really hard to come by? People have this deep desire to be known intimately and then accepted and loved fully in spite of their weaknesses, faults and failures; but we struggle to attain that because we as humans, are too prone to condemnation and judgment in what is best known as self preservation.

Do you know how many friendships dissipate because someone sinned against someone else and thus started the spiral of downward condemnation? Something hurts our feelings and then we start assuming the worst about this person in every area.  We look back at things we didn’t make a big deal of before and over analyze every last action and word by the guilty party and become bitter and hard toward them.

At this point, we often discuss the situation with a third party to find support.  Sadly, we typically do not recall the great qualities about this person or the very things that made the friendship thrive in the first place.  We have eyes only for the negative.

And because of this, our story sounds highly unfair, unjust and heart-breaking.  It’s no wonder the third party chimes in with words of “You don’t deserve that. You need to cut your ties.  Friends are seasonal, and that season is up.  Life is short, you should be happy.”

But what does the Bible have to say about this?

My greatest sin in life (which I JUST realized this weekend, because I wouldn’t have answered this way before yesterday) is not allowing what Scripture has to say to be right, just, and the model I follow.

Instead, I’ve followed my feelings, (anger, sadness, bitterness, self-preservation) the counsel of the world, the self-help theologies and the third party advice given on quarter truths exaggerated by feelings instead of by fair assessment of both sides of the coin.

James 5:20 says “Remember this, Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.”

And I Peter 4:8 says “Above all, love each other deeply because love covers over a multitude of sins.”

This is not the same covering as described by Jesus blood.  Our love for each other is not a substitute for salvation found only in the blood of Christ.

However, it IS a very real and tangible example of what Christ blood does for us.

When we love each other deeply, we free the sinner from bondage of self-hate, guilt, remorse and shame.  But more than that, we are COVERING and PROTECTING our OWN SELF from committing sin.

I have two people in my life who have modeled this with flawlessness in the last few years and I would like nothing more than to honor them.

First and foremost, my husband.  He has no idea how his Christ-like love and forgiveness has not only redeemed me in my sins for 14 years, but given him a testimony of purification of his own sin and restraint to commit sin that has changed me forever.  I am in awe of this miracle that can’t be done or performed in human strength, but only through the love of Christ living in him. Sacrificial love does not excuse sin, it comes along side to rescue the sinner from a fiery death and allow them grace to be healed.

And secondly, my best friend Stephanie.  Instead of running when I sin in my own life or even sin against her, she presses into the friendship with unmeasurable love. She isn’t afraid to confront my sin but at the very same time, she knows when to allow love to speak louder to be a covering for me and for her.  Love stands beside your friend and says, “I see your flaws, but don’t run away- get back over here in my embrace and we’ll get through this together. Even if you step on my toes a little in the process.” Her friendship has forever changed me and I am so thankful she loves God with all her heart so she can truly love me too.

The power to cover over a multitude of sins is not just about overlooking when we’re sinned against.  Love doesn’t mean excuse sin. It doesn’t mean become an enabler or door mat for the sinner. It means, cover sin.  Bury it quickly with mercy instead of letting it fester inside of you. Be willing to free the sinner with forgiveness from a sentence you were never given the authority by God to administer, so you also remain free instead of trapped in a prison of unforgiveness, bitterness, and judgment.

Practical Application:

Look back over your life.  How many times has your own lack of quick forgiveness led you into sin?  Maybe even years of sin?

How do I feel about covering sin? Do I struggle with the thought that it allows the other person to get away with things? Does that mean I have to allow myself to keep getting hurt? Is it possible that my unloving actions further pushed others away from God and into more sin where the forgiveness, mercy and grace afforded to them quickly by me may have brought greater conviction?

These are just some things I’ve been meditating on and searching the scriptures to understand better.  You’re welcome to share your insights as well!

Heroes

27 Jan

We just got a new pastor at church and he’s fantastic.

He’s really into the use of social media, which I’ve never experienced in this capacity before but I think I like it a lot.

We just started a new sermon series on Sunday called Heroes.

At the end of the message he challenged us to post who our hero was on Facebook and tag our church with #mynhcc so we could all see them in one place.

I took this challenge and posted on Facebook.

This morning while picking up my daughter at preschool another mom said “I wanted to thank you for your post about your heroes (choking back tears at this point) it was really good.”

I was blown away.

She then went on to say “You should write a blog.”

HA! “Well, actually I do.”

“I need to subscribe.” Then turning to my daughter “Your mom is very inspirational.”

Ok, now I’m overwhelmed.

If she had ANY idea the week I’ve had or especially the break down of a night I had last night, she would be floored.

I am not sure my blog is or ever will be what it once was.  Honestly, I don’t know if I am or will ever be what *I* once was.  Last year broke me.  And now more than ever I realize how wretched I really am as a human.  I feel like anything I’ve ever offered to God or done in the name of Jesus Christ has been nothing more than filthy rags.

Inspirational is so far from a word I would use it isn’t even on my radar. Actually, I could see myself saying something more like “You know those inspirational people – now picture the opposite. Bingo! Bango! That’s me.”

I wanted to say “Oh honey, if you saw something good in me, it was probably fake.  Or at very best, (my real hope) is that it was Jesus.”

But I think I mumbled something like this “Oh my goodness. Now you’re going too far.  Thank you. That’s very kind.”

And then I cried all the way home.

Just for the heck of it – here’s what I posted on Facebook.  God bless these readers and let them see Jesus.

At church this morning we were challenged to think about our hero and then post about him/her on fb.

My first instinct was to say my husband, my parents, youth Sunday school teachers and so on. And those people ARE heroes to me.

But then I spent more time meditating on this and thought, what really do I find heroic?

* Friends who show up even though their life is busy.

* People willing to open their homes and hearts to new people instead of just sticking to their already familiar group.

* Those who hear gossip and stop to pray for those involved instead of judging, participating, or sharing it.

* Anyone who has the courage to share real struggles either current or past to minister to someone else who is hurting instead of portraying perfection.

* Having the courage to stick to your convictions even when the world says you’re wrong.

* Those who forgive the unforgivable because they understand God has forgiven the unforgivable in them.

* Keeping a baby when you’re scared you’re not ready.

* Trusting God to follow a dream when it doesn’t financially make sense.

* Owning your mistakes when you know you’ve done wrong.

* Sharing your faith when you know it may not be accepted.

* Providing for your family

* Mentoring a child who has little influence at home.

* Taking care of your home day after day when you don’t think anyone notices.

* Meeting a need for someone knowing you won’t receive any credit.

There are so many people in my life who are heroes and they don’t even realize it. But I feel challenged. I want to be this kind of a hero to my kids, church and community.

Practical Application:

If you have kind words to say to someone – SAY THEM! She will never know what it felt like to believe you’re of no use in the kingdom right now and to see her tear up because Jesus still does His work regardless of us.

 

Sit back and cast those stones

21 Jan

Someone posted something on Facebook the other day and I was instantly angry.  I wanted with everything inside of me to fire off a comment, but I didn’t for two reasons.

One, this person was too spiritually immature to know better (obviously, since they posted it in the first place) and two, I DO NOT like Facebook controversy.  I try to avoid it at all cost.  I feel like someone is always, ALWAYS going to hear you better when you first attempt to understand them and talk in private, not publicly disagree with them.  And as of now, I don’t have a relationship with this person to be the one to confront them.

But! I don’t really want to remain silent on this topic, so… yay for my blog outlet right? (We’ll see if you’re saying that after I finish this post! Eek!)

This is what they posted.

faithful

That’s a lie. Period.  And I will explain why in just a second.

First let me say, we use this EXACT SAME “logic, reasoning, judgment, condemnation” whatever you want to call it, when we don’t like something that other people do.

“If you cared about me, you just wouldn’t take one more drink / cigarette / chew / drug.  You just STOP buying it.  You don’t put yourself in a situation where it will be present.” As if the saying above were changed to “You won’t have an addiction if you really care about someone.”

Or try this one on for size.  “If you really aren’t happy with your looks, you’ll just lose weight.” Stop eating. Get up and exercise. Care about your health. Take some pride in your looks.

How about something like this “If you don’t like being talked about, you’ll never talk about another person again.”

Ha. That one almost makes me laugh.

What are we assuming with each of these?

First, we’re assuming that NOT SINNING is easy.  As if we should all just be conquers of all sins because someone else “says” it’s as easy as some fly statement they make. I mean, Just don’t.

It’s amazing how sins we aren’t struggling with are just so black and white and they require little grace or understanding.  You just wouldn’t do it if you possess love. THE END.

(Notice I did not say that it is not “possible” to refrain from sin.  But it is NOT easy.  Otherwise, we wouldn’t need to rely on the power of the spirit, and we’d all just be sinless.)

Secondly, we’re assuming THESE specific things.

An adulterer doesn’t truly have love for their spouse.

An addict is incapable of caring for others.

An overweight person is lazy.

A gossip has never experienced being talked about OR has no feelings for others.

Let me put it this way.

I LOVE God.  With all my heart, soul, and mind, I am so indebted to His sacrifice on the cross for my soul.

BUT, I’m unfaithful to him Every. Single. Day when I sin. I cheat on him with my false and fake idols that I find more important than Him at times.  I do things in His word that I KNOW He detests.  I fail to love others like He’s taught me to do. 

Do I really not love Him because I don’t remain perfectly faithful?  Or might I just be a sinner?

I DEEPLY care about my husband and children.  But my selfish addictions (that seems like nothing *in light of heinous addictions like alcohol and drugs, eh hem, excuse me while I choke on my pride* my phone, TV, relaxation, reading) come before them all the time and sometimes really hurt them.

Do I actually NOT care about them because I have a really hard time dying to myself?  Or do I have a habitual addiction that causes me to misunderstand, justify and even overlook their feelings completely?

I am a REAL go-getter at many things in life.  But I have a HUGE sugar addiction and I never stay away from it for long.  Am I just lazy because I don’t walk away from it for good? Or might there be some deeply rooted inner struggle or maybe even a medical issue going on that prevents me from cutting the tie and changing?

I have been DEVASTATED by gossip.  But I’ve still been guilty of spreading it anyway. Am I a heartless person? Or is the deception of gossip so minimized and justifiable that it really shouldn’t even be included with a list like ADULTERY and ADDICTION.  Shame on me for drawing a comparison. Gasp!

Practical Application:

Oh God forgive me for ever judging someone as if they were just a horrible person because they struggled with black and white things that were EASY to just not do in my immature opinion.

Forgive me and all the others out there who are destroying the chance of sinners finding repentance because they devastate them with statements like the above as they talk from ignorance and judgment about something they don’t truly understand at all.

We have no idea what we’re doing here.  We need Your wisdom.

Why do we cast stones – like we’re sinless? Or less guilty sinners?

 

 

Lying to myself

15 Jan

Here is one of the closing paragraphs from my last post.

“I want my kids to feel loved because Mom is accessible to them. Anytime.  Because they are more important than anything else I’ll leave behind in this world. They are my treasure.”

The truth is, that’s a lie. BUT! I actually WANT it to be the truth.  That’s why it’s easy to lie to myself about it and even claim it IS true, when it really isn’t…. yet.

How do I know this isn’t true?

Because of this:

Actions

actions 2

I can tell myself and my kids I love them.  But my selfish actions prove that the truth is, I love ME.

When they ask something of me, I don’t first think of them.  I don’t ask questions like

“What would this mean to them?”

“How much are they desperate for my attention?”

“What would this convey to them if I help?”

“What love language are they begging to hear and feel?”

“How much courage did it take to ask me?” (Especially knowing they would likely be told no or wait.)

“How empty do they feel to be ignored?”

“What message are they really trying to convey by the way they’re acting?”

Nope… those are rarely ever my first thoughts.

My thoughts are this:

“I don’t want to do that.”

“That sounds miserable.”

“Why can’t they just do it themselves?”

“I want to do “this” instead.”

“Why can’t anyone serve me?”

“This is so annoying.”

“It’s too hot outside.”

“It’s too cold outside.”

“How about you ask your brother/sister to do it instead?”

“That’s uncomfortable for me to do.”

“I don’t want to learn to do that, it doesn’t interest me at all.”

 

THAT! That proves who I really love.  I LOVE ME.  My treasure is ME! I care about MY feelings.  I care about what it costs ME.  I care about what is requires of ME.  I want to make sure I’M happy first.  I want to be sure I don’t have to be inconvenienced.

Sometimes it breaks my heart that my kids were stuck with me, not blessed with me.

Don’t get me wrong – I don’t fail every time. But I’m very much aware that my words mean nothing without action.  My true treasure, even though I’ve said otherwise and honestly WANTED otherwise, has really always been ME.

Practical Application:

I’m meditating still on what actions need to fully change so I can adjust where my treasure actually rests, and make the truth line up with what I strongly desire it to be.

I’m beginning to pause and hush my own screaming emotions to actually think about my kids’ feelings, emotions and desires first.

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