A chronicle of our lives. One day, maybe a book...

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Our Response to the Broken

I saw a post on Facebook today that went something like this, "My heart is broken in two for my three year old son. Why? Because a teen-aged bully hated his hair. My precious son won't stop asking me why people hate him for his hair color. He's left so confused and upset."

I completely feel for this mom. She had no idea how to answer her son, and she expressed her empathy toward her son. Unfortunately, the mom's broken heart is misplaced. I'm not saying she should not feel empathy for her son. When our children hurt, we hurt. But ultimately, her heart should be broken for the teenager who is so cruel that he would make fun of a three year old little boy's hair. That's what's happening to God's heart. His heart is broken for the teenager. Of course God's heart hurts for us when we are hurt, too. But should we even be hurt by these words? We know that we will hurt in this life, because we live in a sinful world. God never said that we won't feel pain or affliction. John 16:33 says, "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." It's what we choose to do with the pain and affliction that comes our way that makes all the difference. In addition, we have to teach our children the appropriate response to darts that the enemy flings our way.

We have to stop being victims, and we have to stop teaching our children to be victims. By allowing our child to be hurt, frustrated and upset by a stranger's words is unwittingly teaching our children that we should allow other people's negative words to have profound effects on us. And that's not healthy or biblical. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 says, "Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing." If someone's words don't encourage me or build me up, then I have the power to reject their words. I don't have to accept those words spoken to me to have power over me. I don't have to choose to be hurt or upset. The old schoolyard retort, "I'm rubber; you're glue. Whatever you say bounces off of me and sticks to you," is aptly appropriate. Words spoken to me that are unbiblical can bounce right off of me, and never enter my heart. I am who I am because God says that's who I am. If someone tells me I'm anything other than that, then I know it's not from God, and it's not the truth. We should I cry over lies?

When my children overhear others being mean, or others are mean directly to them, we talk about how that person might not have Jesus in his or her heart. We talk about how Jesus can teach him or her to love. We pray for that person instead of turning to ourselves, feeling sorry for ourselves and wondering why someone could be so cruel. We know the answer to why someone can be so cruel--they are missing Jesus. Our response to the broken shouldn't be to be broken ourselves. Our response should be to love and show the broken who Jesus is.

Sometimes, even when people have Jesus, they themselves are still hurting. In our ever-growing, narcissistic, "but first let me take a selfie" world, it is imperative that we teach our children that it's not about me, me, me. People's hurtful words toward us are rarely about us. It's usually more about the person speaking those words.

I'm not saying that parents shouldn't show empathy for their children when confronted with cruelty. What I am saying is that we must measure our response in light of the Truth of God.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

You are a Treasure

My dearest loves, I want you to always know that you are a treasure. You are bought with a price--and that price was the shedding of Jesus' blood at Calvary. Giving up one's life for another's is the ultimate price to pay. People are only willing to pay an ultimate price if they value what they are getting in return.

It really all comes down to value. You have to know how much your value is, and you can never forget it. The value of any item is always dependent on how much someone is willing to pay for that item. If someone is willing to pay $100 for say, a baseball card, then the value of that baseball card is $100. So remember that Jesus paid the ultimate price--his life--for you. That's how much He thinks you are worth.

When I was your age, I knew all of this, as well. I had all the head-knowledge that I could have. I knew scriptures by memory, and everyone always wanted me on their team for Bible trivia. But I didn't understand in my heart what any of it truly meant. I didn't realize my value. I didn't realize that I am an heir to the Throne of Glory. Romans 8:17 says, "Now if we are children, then we are heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory." These aren't just words-they are actions. It means you are entitled to and have the right to everything God has if you choose to follow Him.

Following Christ is a daily decision. It takes every single day of your life choosing "to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me." We sometimes forget the "daily" part of Luke 9:23. Even when we don't feel like it, even when it hurts--Jesus will be there, and He will love you, because He already does, and He already proved that on the cross.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Testimony

God put it on my heart to give my testimony in chapel to the students at school. I thought I would post it here. I haven't made any changes, so it might be confusing at some points, but remember that I graduated from the school at which I now teach, and that I was speaking to high school students.

Dear Lord, I pray that you open ears and hearts. Speak into each and every student here today. I pray that you would show each person here today your love.

God never meant for us to learn by experience. He meant for us to learn by faith. We are supposed to hear a word from him, and believe and trust in Him that it is true. Take for instance the original sin. God told Adam & Eve not to eat the fruit. He wanted them to trust Him. But they had to learn from experience, and it had some pretty dire consequences. Here’s an example from our time. When your parents tell you to not run out into the middle of the street, they want you to learn through faith—believing what they tell you—instead of having to learn first-hand. Why do we think that matters of our heart are any different than learning with our physical bodies? That’s my heart for you today. I want you to learn through faith. Don’t shut this message out and think you have it all figured out, or that this message doesn’t apply to you. That’s a lie of the enemy who comes to kill, steal, and destroy you. I don’t want you to have to experience the pain that I have in order for it to bring you the joy of the Lord.

I am one of you. I have sat in your seat. I come from a great family. Many of you know my parents. They have attended church here since 1983, and my dad is a deacon. My mom taught here for years—she still comes around for Youth & Government, and she’s on the school board. To know my parents is to love my parents. Both of them are mighty in their faith. They are both pillars of this church, this school, and the kingdom of God.

My upbringing was probably similar to a lot of yours. I was in church every time those doors were open. Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night, potluck dinners, home fellowship groups, prayer meetings, you name it. I started Kindergarten right down the hall in the very classrooms some of you learned in with Cindy Lindstrom and Barbra Storie. My parents valued Christian education, and I never knew anything different. One day, someone brought a “Good News” tract and talked about it in chapel. It used a multi-colored glove to tell about God and how much He loves us. Each finger on the glove was a different color, and represented a different aspect of salvation. I took home this little tract, and I told my mom I wanted Jesus in my heart. My mom prayed with me, and that was that. A couple years later, in the baptistery right above me, my dad and Jesse McElreath baptized me.

When I was in elementary school, I would doodle things like, “I love Jesus,” “I hate the devil,” and “God is good” next to crosses, flowers, and kittens. I read my Bible when I was supposed to, and I always knew I was a Christian. The older I got, the more scriptures I memorized for Bible class. I could tell you any Bible story. I could answer the trivia, and I would beat anyone in a sword drill. I had a long list of “I will nevers”. I will never drink alcohol. I will never do drugs. I will never smoke cigarettes. I will never have sex before marriage. I was the “good kid” I was supposed to be.

Growing up in church, I heard message after message about God, about living right, about making right choices, about doing the right thing. I heard how important all these things were, and if I didn’t do all of these things, I felt somehow that I was less of a Christian. I looked at all of the Christians around me, and I would place each of them on a totem pole according to their “goodness.” Jennifer was a good Christian because she goes to youth group on Wednesday night. Tyler must be a good Christian because he raises his hands in chapel. Katie is a bad Christian because she made out with her boyfriend. I learned through my experiences that Christianity was about appearances. If you acted right on the outside, then for one, you could fool people into believing you were a good person. For two, you obviously didn’t care that you were being two-faced, so I guessed most Christians were probably like that. Every Christian I knew never really talked about their day-to-day struggles. They never talked about how they had to bring their hurt and brokenness before the Lord daily – or even if they did. They didn’t even talk about the fact they WERE broken. It affected me in a way that I’m not sure I was aware of at the time, and I would have never been able to put into words.

And the older I got, the more serious chapels became. There would be several people each year who would come and share their “testimony”. These were people who had been alcoholics, drug addicts, people addicted to pornography, the worst of the worst, and God had redeemed them. These were powerful stories that would really move the audience. But yet, there was an aspect with them that I couldn’t identify with. I’d always say, “That’s not me.” Of course God would redeem these horrible people who had done horrible things. But I wasn’t a horrible person. I was a good person. I didn’t drink; I didn’t smoke; I didn’t have sex; I didn’t do anything that bad. “That’s not me.”

The problem was that none of those stories were even remotely close to who I was in high school. My struggles weren’t about extremes. My struggles were about who I was. I wanted to be accepted. I wanted people to like me. I wanted boys to like me. I wanted my parents to understand me. I didn’t want to be controlled. I felt everyone was trying to control me and my behavior. My parents tried to control me by taking the car or other privileges from me if I didn’t conform to their rules. My teachers were trying to control me by giving me bad grades if I didn’t do my homework the way they wanted. My coaches were trying to control me by making me run suicides if I didn’t perform in practices or games to their standard. God was trying to control me by sending me to hell if I didn’t conform to what the Bible says. I felt I lived my life for everyone else, and if I didn’t, I would suffer the consequences. I saw no one else truly struggling like I was, so I figured I was the only one. God didn’t work for me. He didn’t come rescue me, and He wasn’t showing me grace. I thought, “Well, I guess God isn’t what everyone says He really is.”

By the time I went to college, God still had never been real to me—despite all of the head-knowledge I had. I decided in my heart that I wasn’t going to live for anyone else any more, and I wasn't going to let anyone control me. If no one was going to control me, that meant I could do whatever I wanted. So I drank for the first time. Nothing bad happened. My life had been a lie! All those people telling me that alcohol was bad were lying! It was fun! I liked it, and I wanted to do it again! So, I started drinking—a lot. It eventually came to me partying just about every night, and I figured out how to get the boys’ attention.

It was all in an attempt to assert my individuality and how no one could control me. I made horrible decisions for myself, my body, and my life. All the while, I was attending a Christian university, and completed my degrees. On the outside, I still looked like the same Lindsey to friends and family, but on the inside, I was dying.

My junior year, I wanted to quit it all. I wanted to quit college; I wanted to get away from my “friends” who would influence me to drink and party. I started to go to church, and I prayed a lot. It lasted for a while, but old habits die hard. I eventually started drinking again and hanging out with the same friends.

In my senior year of college, I had a boyfriend named Matt. We dated for about two years, and we talked about marriage quite a bit. After college, I moved in with my best friend Courtney in Arlington. We had a large group of friends who all lived in the same area, and we hung out all the time. I thought I was in love with Matt, and that I would marry him. I was the perfect situation. We had the same circle of friends, and he came from a good family. God was not at the center of our lives, but he was raised in a Christian home, and he was a Christian, so in my mind, we were all good. I started getting this strange feeling though. We were watching a movie one night, and in the movie, a bride-to-be stood in the mirror and had second thoughts. I thought to myself, “That can’t be me.” I told Matt that I thought we needed a break. He left my apartment, and I broke down in tears. I thought I had made the biggest mistake of my life. I went to tell my roommate Courtney about it, but instead of comforting me, her response was, “We need to talk.” She proceeded to tell me that Matt had cheated on me—with her! My entire world crashed down on me. I not only lost my boyfriend, but now I lost my best friend! How was this possible? I ran to the only place I knew for comfort—God. After lots of prayer and healing, I was ok. I was able to function again. It wasn’t easy, but I did it. I realized then that it could have saved me a lot of heartache had I done it His way instead of my own. After a while, though, I started slipping back into old habits. God didn’t answer my prayers how I wanted him to. My trust in God faded a little. He didn’t move as quickly as I thought he should, so I “helped him along.” I started making decisions for myself again. I started doing what I wanted to do.

Then came Adam. Again, I knew what I was doing. God was taking too long to bring me a husband, so I was going to find him myself. He came from a good family, he was a Christian. Neither of us were really living what most people would call a “Christian lifestyle.” Then one day, I didn’t feel right. Something was going on with me that I couldn’t explain. Later that day, a positive pregnancy test explained it. And there I was. 26 years old. Pregnant and not married. How in the world was I going to ever going to tell my parents? What would all my friends think about me? I was ashamed. I was embarrassed. I was mortified. I would literally be carrying my sin in my belly around for nine months.

Adam and I quickly got married, because I was terrified to be a single mom. Our marriage was not built on God’s Word—we didn’t even pray together. I knew that I always planned on going back to church and getting back to God, and I was confident that we could come back to God together. As soon as Mikayla was born, I knew I had to get to church. I knew I had to renew my relationship with God. The closer I got to God, the further I got from my husband. To make a long story short, Adam decided he didn’t want to be married any more, and he definitely didn’t want to be married to a Christian. He made a lot of bad choices that hurt me very deeply. I’m not going to go into all of those, because you might meet him one day. Once again, my world came crashing down. This time, it was my family. It was my future – my kids.

When Adam left, I was devastated. The only place I knew to turn was up. God used this horrible, awful, heartbreaking experience to nudge me back to His plan for my life. So many times, we think that God’s plan for our life is scripted out. That we have to make all of the “right decisions.” I don’t believe that at all. I believe that God’s plan for our lives is to have an intimate relationship with Him. Everything else is just details.

God’s perfect plan for me was never for me to go through a divorce. His perfect plan for my life was to have an intimate relationship with Him. His perfect plan was for me to follow Him, put Him first in my life, and to never allow anything to come between our relationship.

Through my divorce, God revealed Himself to me in such a real and tangible way. He scooped me up and held me in His arms. He healed my heart beyond anything I ever thought possible. He taught me that my true love story has nothing to do with a man here on earth. He showed me that my true love story is written in the Bible. My love story is Jesus.

My whole life had been a series of ups and downs. I wanted to follow God, but I just couldn’t keep going after a couple months. As Jesus tells Peter in Matthew 26:41, “The spirit is willing, but my flesh is weak.”

But this time it was different. I finally “got it.” And here it is—I surrendered my soul to God.

Galatians 2:20 says “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

All those other times that I was trying to get my life straight, I was still holding on. I still refused to give over complete control to God. I wanted the relationship. I wanted God to be in the car with me, but I wanted to drive. What I failed to see was that’s not how God works. If you invite him into your car, you either allow Him to drive, or He will get out at the next stop sign. He doesn’t work that way. He’ll be waiting there to get back in, but He wants to drive. He HAS to drive. Allowing God that control in my life was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, because it’s scary. And remember, I vowed years ago that I would never let anyone control me, and now I have to give God control of my life? Plus, I didn’t even really know *how* to give God control.

It started with Luke 9:23: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”

That means I have to decide—every day—decide to follow Jesus every day. It means that I have to choose to deny myself and what I want to do in order to do what God wants me to do. That’s hard. But it gets easier the more you do it. But when you love God, it gets really easy.

Mark 12:30 says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”

Except that I didn’t even know *how* to love God. All my Christian upbringing and schooling, and here I was: I don’t know how to love God. Because here’s the question: how can I love God when I don’t always feel it? It’s because love is a choice. Love is an action. You choose to love. You choose to be thankful and rejoice.

I Thessalonians 5: 16-18 says, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

It doesn’t tell us to do it just when we *feel* like it. Action always comes before the feeling. You choose to love, obey, honor, and glorify God. The feeling comes afterward. The feeling follows after your attitude. If we wait until we *feel* like it to praise and honor God, we’ll be waiting a long time.

Not only did I have to learn how to love God, I had to learn how to be loved *by* God. If I was going to give God control of my life, I sure needed to make sure He was going to love me through it.

I John 4:8 tells us that “God is love.”

It's what He is. It's His state of being. How awesome is it that I am loved by Love Itself?

When God looks at me, His heart smiles. I make him exceedingly joyful. He beams with pride when He looks upon my face. He melts from the inside when he thinks about my name. ME! He feels this for ME! When I think about how much He loves me, how can I not help but fall in love with Him?

When we look at God this way, it makes it much easier to rest in Him and trust in Him that He is in control of my life. It makes it easier to believe that the things He tells me to give up - that I really want - aren't always what He wants for me.

Now say it to yourself:

When God looks at me, His heart smiles.

I make him exceedingly joyful.

He beams with pride when He looks upon my face.

He melts from the inside when he thinks about my name.

ME! He feels this for ME!

If that doesn’t make you smile, I don’t know what will.

If you are a Christian, then you have to believe the Bible—all of it—not just parts of it. That’s what the Word of God says about every one of you. Don’t you dare believe the lie of the devil who is whispering to you, “That’s not me.” The king of lies and the king of darkness will tell you that right now. Which one are you going to believe? The Word of God, or the word of Satan? It’s your choice right now.

Dear Lord, I pray for each one of these students right now. I pray that you would rest upon each person right now. Allow your Spirit to speak to them, and let them know that you love them more than they could ever imagine. I pray that those who are struggling with giving up control to you would be empowered to do so right now. “I give you control of my life, Lord.” Say it right now. You don’t have to say it out loud—just in your heart. If you mean it, say it. “I give you control of my life, Lord.” Lord, speak to your children. Let them know how precious they are in your sight. Let them know that they are safe and secure in your arms. Let them learn by faith and not by experience. I pray that you would pour out your spirit upon these students like you never have before.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Mikayla's Answers

Childs Name: Mikayla Vei Mercer
Age: 8 years 2 months

1. What is something Mommy always says to you?
I love you

2. What makes Mommy happy?
Me massaging her

3. What makes Mommy sad?
When we disobey

4. How does Mommy make you laugh?
By tickling me

5. What was Mommy like as a child?
A christian

6. How old is Mommy?
35, about to be 36

7. How tall is Mommy?
I don’t know that!

8. What is Mommy's favorite thing to do?
Cuddle on me!

9. What does Mommy do when you're not here?
She usually goes to school.

10. If Mommy becomes famous what will it be for?
Being pretty! And being sweet.

11. What is Mommy really good at?
Schoolwork

12. What is Mommy not very good at?
Hmmm…She’s not good with passwords.

13. What is Mommy's job?
Being a teacher

14. What makes you proud of Mommy?
When she says,”WooWho! WooWho!”

15. What is Mommy's favorite food?
Red Velvet Cake

16. What do you & Mommy do together?
We usually swim and cuddle together

17. How are you & Mommy the same?
We have the same blood

18. If your Mommy was a cartoon character who would she be?
Wonder Woman

19. How are you & Mommy different?
Different shoe sizes

20. How do you know Mommy loves you?
She says it all the time. And she hugs and kisses me all the time, and she comforts me.

21. What does Mommy like best about Daddy?
Massages

22. Where is Mommy's favorite place to go?
Church

23. How old was Mommy when she had you?
27

Monday, May 11, 2015

Best. Cat. Names. Ever.

Because you love cats so much, and I'm an English teacher, I have put together a list of some of the best literature-related cat names. I will add to the list as I come up with new ones. When you get older, and read more, you will come to appreciate these much more. :)

Inigo Meowntoya
Jay Catsby
Romeow
Cat of Monte Cristo
Edmeownd Dantes
Cat Dracula
Hucklepurry Finn
Catticus Finch
Hester Purryn
Puurl
Meowpold Bloom
Purrcutio
Purrlock Holmes
Purr Lancelot
Meowll Flanders
Anna Katrenina
Tomcat Ripley
Catman

Thursday, March 5, 2015

It's Snow Fun to Poke Fun of Texas!


Ok, so northerners laugh at us Texans when the weather turns cold. We seemingly panic and shut down schools, churches and businesses. While I’ll agree many Texans panic when the mercury drops anywhere below 60 degrees (where’s my jacket?), there are some things northerners and non-native Texans need to understand about Texas when it snows and ices.

First of all, you have to understand the sheer massiveness of our state and our metro area. To show comparisons, I will stick with three major metropolitan areas that are traditionally cold-weather, Chicago, New York, and Boston. The DFW Metroplex covers more than 9,200 square miles. By comparison, the Chicago metro area is about 7,212 square miles. The New York City metro area is about 6,700 square miles, while Manhattan is a measly 22 square miles, 4 square miles smaller than our airport. Boston, well – the entire state of Massachusetts – is 7,800 square miles, Boston being only about 3,200.

When the land size of the DFW Metroplex is taken into consideration, coupled with the fact that there is virtually no mass/public transportation, there is an inordinate amount of drivers on the roads. Dallas has the DART bus and light rail system, but once you leave the city center of Dallas, the routes are sparse and so spread out; one would most likely need another mode of transportation to arrive at his or her actual destination. Dart “bus services moves more than 220,000 passengers per day across our 700-square-mile service area.” The Trinity Rail Express is another mass transit light rail service that transports 51,000 passengers per week, make that about 7,200 per day.

Chicago has the Chicago Transit Authority, and their website states, “The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) operates the nation’s second largest public transportation system. On an average weekday, 1.7 million rides are taken on CTA. The CTA is a regional transit system that serves 35 suburbs, in addition to the City of Chicago, and provides 83 percent of the public transit trips in the six-county Chicago metropolitan area either with direct service or connecting service to Metra and Pace.”

Compare both of those with New York’s Metropolitan Transit Authority, the nation’s largest mass transit system, which moves 7.3 million people per day. According to the MTA’s website, four of every five rush-hour commuters to New York City's central business districts avoid traffic congestion by taking transit service.

In Boston, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, according to their website, transports nearly 1.3 million passengers per day.

So, Dallas transports 227,000 passengers daily to Chicago’s 1.7 million, New York’s 7.3 million, and Boston’s 1.3 million. When compared to population, see the table below.

It shows that only 3.5% of the DFW metroplex’s population rides mass transit. That means the rest most likely drive. That’s a substantial amount of more drivers on the roads than other cold-weather metropolitan areas.

 
Mass Transit Passengers
Population
Percent of the population that uses Mass Transit Daily
DFW
227,000
6,500,000
3.5%
Chicago
1,700,000
9,520,000
17.9%
New York
7,300,000
19,900,000
36.7%
Boston
1,300,000
4,500,000
28.9%

 

Next, the infrastructure of the DFW Metroplex needs to be examined. There are eight interstates through DFW. In addition to the interstates, six US routes go through the metroplex, eight state highways, seven loops, and five major tollways. That makes 34 major highways in the DFW metroplex for more than 6 million people to drive every day.

In order for most people to travel from one place to another in the DFW metroplex, it is necessary to use the highways. There are rarely backroads or less dangerous or congested routes to take to get to work or school. Most backroads or side roads are not thoroughfares; interstates and highways are.

It is important also to note that the majority of these highways do not contain traffic lights. They are non-stop, three-to-four lane (sometimes six-to-seven lane) freeways that must intersect at some point. At these intersections, enormous mixmasters are erected with the primary purpose of keeping the traffic moving without interruption. Some of the bridges over interstates are 100 feet in the air. For example, the “High Five” is a five-level stack bridge interchange system where Interstate 635, and US 75 converge. According to Wikipedia, “the interchange is as high as a 12-story building and includes 37 bridges spread across five levels, 710 support tiers, and 60 miles of additional highway. The highest ramps are 120 feet (37 m) above ground.”

While the High Five is the largest of these mixmasters, it is indicative of the type of infrastructure the DFW metroplex has across its 9,200 square miles. There are close to 40-50 mixmaster bridge systems in the DFW metroplex where the 34 major highways intersect one another. Many of these bridges are high in the air, as well as some bridges being nearly .25 miles to .5 miles long.

When the extensive infrastructure of DFW was designed, it was not designed to withstand the freezing temperatures that only visit down here maybe once or twice a year. It was designed to handle the heavy flow of traffic the other 363 days of the year.

Not only are the roads built to suit the 363 days a year of warm/hot weather, so is all the equipment the people own. The cities are not equipped with large numbers of sand/salt trucks. We don’t own snow shovels, snow blowers, or roof brooms. Most of us only own one set of tires for our cars, and they don’t leave the car, and we certainly don’t have chains. It would not be economically wise to spend that kind of money to snow-proof our vehicles for something that *might* only happen once or twice a year for a day or two at a time. It would equate to a northerner purchasing an outdoor pool for $25,000 if he could only use it once or twice a year for one or two days at a time.

Lastly, we rarely get snow here. It’s usually ice. Snow is drivable, and snow can be cleared from the roadway. It compacts, and there is traction between the snow and the tires of the car. In Texas, we get ice. When it sleets, it clings to the roadways, especially bridges, and the roads get slick. Sometimes the ice is inches thick. No amount of training or experience in snow driving can keep control of a car sliding on ice. Think about trying to drive a car on an ice rink. That’s what the Texas roads are like when it sleets and we get snow days.

When considering the number of people on the roads of DFW, the number of roads in DFW, and the infrastructure, it makes much more sense why Texas “shuts down and freaks out” when there is cold weather. It can be extremely dangerous on the bridges, as well as the roads. So please keep these things in mind the next time you want to make fun of Texans when we get a snow day.

 

Sources:

I know; I’m an English teacher, and it should be in APA format, but it’s just a blog. Sorry. Deal with it.

Wikipedia, mta.com, tre.com, dart.com, cta.com, bmta.com, and google.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Lies From the Devil We Have to Stop Telling our Daughters

For some time now, I have been asking the Lord about some roots that have taken place in my life. I've been trying to figure out why I behave in certain ways, and why I think the way I think. Some of those roots are quite unhealthy, namely my not-so-stellar track record in the dating/relationship department. All of the men I have been in serious relationships with have had one thing in common. They would tell me they loved me, cared about me, didn't want to hurt me, etc., but then they would act in ways that were definitely not loving, and sometimes not even kind. I stuck around in each relationship far beyond what any emotionally healthy person would or should. I would get hurt by their actions, confront them, then they would apologize, profess their love, and we would make up. I believed their words, and I refused to believe their actions. Obviously, I was the common denominator in these relationships, but in the two years since my divorce, I've been searching for the root of why I would stick around in these unhealthy relationships.

The other day while I was talking to Mikayla, God seriously hit me up the side of the head with a truth so real that I was left speechless.

"Mommy?" Mikayla's sweet voice asked as we drove in the car.
"Yes, my love?" I responded.
"Dylan is really mean to me," she confided in me.
"Oh, honey! I am so sorry he is mean to you. What does he say to you that is mean?"
"He tells me that I'm ugly and no one wants to be my friend," her sadness was evident as tears welled up in her eyes.
"Oh, honey, You know that you're not ugly, and did you know that most boys say mean things to girls because they secretly like them?" I comforted her.

And there is was. I was stopped in my tracks. That - right there - was the lie I believed my entire life: Boys who are mean to you secretly like you.

My mind raced as I thought about all the boys who were mean to me since I was five years old. Every time I would come home crying because some boy made fun of me or teased me or pulled my pony tail, my mom would comfort me and tell me that it was because they thought I was beautiful, or they had a crush on me, or they liked me and didn't know how to show their true feelings. Obviously, I release my mother from any responsibility, because she was doing what any mother would do: comfort her crying and hurt daughter the best way she knows how. And she wasn't the only one who unwittingly helped perpetuate this lie of the enemy. Teachers, school administrators, youth pastors, friends all have told me very similar things about boys who were mean to me growing up. I was even telling my own daughter the same thing.

But it's a lie! Boys are mean to girls because they don't know how to treat a girl. And perhaps they are just jerks. That's the bottom line. Boys aren't mean to girls because they like them, and they aren't mean to girls because they think they are pretty.

After realizing all of this, I thought about how this seemingly small "comforting" line that mothers across the globe tell their daughters is creating a foothold for the enemy to set up young girls for a string of failed relationships. Then I thought about how it applied to my life.

I believed the lie. I believed that a boy's actions don't matter. I believed that if a boy was mean to me, that meant he secretly liked me; he just didn't know how to express his true feelings. And it suddenly all made sense. It made sense why I stuck around. It made sense why I continually forgave and forgot their transgressions against me. It made sense why it was a continuous cycle. It made sense why I kept repeating the same mistake in each relationship. I thought their actions didn't matter. But they do.

"You know what, Honey?" I started to correct myself. "Some boys are just mean to girls, because they haven't been taught how to treat girls."
"Yeah," is all Mikayla replied.
"How do you think you could show Dylan some kindness tomorrow?"




Friday, January 2, 2015

Preparing You for the Path

One of my favorite parenting and teaching questions is, "Are you preparing your child for the path, or are you preparing the path for your child?" When I first heard this question, I envisioned this path through a thick jungle that is full of rocks, tree branches, and tree trunks fallen over onto the dirt path. As it winds through the dense mass of trees and vines, I see parents stopping their children every few steps and picking up a boulder and tossing off the path for their child. Or maybe the parent has a machete in their hand, and the parent quickly cuts the branches away from the path, so that when the child walks the path, it is free and clear of any obstacle.

Will this create a happy child? Most definitely. A child with a cleared path can frolic and play to his heart's content along that path. However, he will also grow up with the belief that the path should always be cleared for him. He will believe that life is easy, and that it isn't his responsibility to clear his own path. And when the path isn't clear for him, it will be confusing and upsetting. Clearing that path for your child will create a miserable and frustrated teen and adult. Life simply is not a free and clear path. There are bumps, and rocks, and logs, and sometimes there are lakes we have to swim. And sometimes, there is no path at all.

We only have 18 years to teach our children, then that's it. Our reach on them is over. Once they are an adult, they are theoretically on their own. But many parents (the path-clearing ones) usually find that their children are poorly equipped to enter the world as adults.

Why is it so hard to teach our children to clear their own path? Because we hate to see the struggle. It's heartbreaking to watch my precious daughter drop that huge boulder she's trying so hard to clear out of her path. I know that I can just go over there and grab it for her. It would be so easy for me to clear the path for her. It's not that big of a rock to me. But does God do that for us? Does he take away our struggles and just “fix it” for us? Sometimes, yes—God gives us miracles. But the vast majority of the time, there is a reason for our struggles.

Romans 12:12 tells us, “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” We are refined and made whole through our struggles. God never promises us a clear or easy path. He actually says in Zechariah 13:9, “This third I will put into the fire; I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. They will call on my name and I will answer them; I will say, ‘They are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The LORD is our God.’”

Sometimes those struggles bring us to a place in life that is more joyous than we could ever imagine—precisely because of those struggles. Removing struggles from our kids’ lives isn’t the answer, because how can we possibly teach our children who God is, if we don’t model how God is?

Preparing your child for the path is a completely different concept. I walk the path with my child. As a boulder comes up in her path, I'm there with her, but I empower her to move it herself. "Wow. That's a big rock in your path. What do you think you could do to get it out of your way?" The responsibility is now hers. She can respond how she sees fit. Maybe I know her suggestion won't work. But I still let her try. "That didn't work well, did it? What's another option you could use?" I'm not giving her answers, nor am I clearing the path for her. The next time she encounters a similar boulder, she will know what to do without having to ask me.

This is not unlike God in our lives. He gave us free will—and He will let us fail again and again. God is ok with us choosing the wrong path. It grieves His heart, but He knows He is still God. Do we do the same thing when giving our children choices? Are we truly ok with them making the wrong decision? Or do we intervene with a mandate or ultimatum? Again, how can we teach our children about who God is, if we aren’t ok with them making the wrong choice? I’m not saying we condone the bad choices, and I’m definitely not saying there shouldn’t be consequences for wrong or bad choices. But what I am saying is that I have to be ok with who I am and who my child is—and allow her the freedom to make those choices on her own, then deal with the consequences—or blessings—of those choices.

Obviously, there will be times where the tree trunk in her path will be entirely too big for her to move out of her path on her own. I will be there to partner with her. She will come up with the plan; I will help, and we will clear it together. Similarly, God tells us He will “never leave us or forsake us,” Deuteronomy 31:6. He never tells us we won’t have troubles.

All too often in teaching, I see students whose parents have been clearing the path for their child their whole life. When confronted with boulders or tree trunks in their path, the students are clueless as to how to clear the path. They look at me as their teacher, and they get upset with me for placing a boulder in their path. They get frustrated that I don't clear it for them. It breaks my heart that some of these kids are so helpless and powerless to forge their own way.

It takes more time; it takes more patience, and it takes more grace to allow your child to clear his or her own path. But in the end, it's undoubtedly the most loving thing to do.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Robin Williams

My dearest girls, you are not old enough to know who Robin Williams is, or even understand right now what suicide is. Robin Williams was an actor and comedian who recently killed himself. He was in many movies that I watched as a child and into adulthood. The news and social media have covered his death extensively, and countless articles about his death and his life have been written in the past few days. He had battled depression his entire life, and few who were close to him were surprised that he took his own life.

Depression is defined as a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. Also called major depression, major depressive disorder or clinical depression, it affects how you feel, think and behave and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems. You may have trouble doing normal day-to-day activities, and depression may make you feel as if life isn't worth living.

Yearly, 40,000 Americans kill themselves. Most have been diagnosed as depressed, and doctors and experts say that it is a chemical imbalance in the brain. Some blame it on biological differences, hormone imbalance or inherited traits. Pharmaceutical companies make billions of dollars every year on anti-depressant drugs. Many people who are depressed take these drugs, or they turn to alcohol or illicit drugs to help them manage the symptoms of sadness, loss, and disinterest. When depression takes over someone's mind, it can lead not only to drug abuse, but more drastic measures such as suicide.

Suicide is never the answer. Jesus is. I know that seems so simple, or that I am over-simplifying life. I know that there are times where life is hard, and everything seems to be going wrong. It seems like everyone is against you, and that you can't do anything right. There will always be difficult seasons in life. And even in the easier, more jubilant seasons, there are dark days.

Depression is simply this: a loss of identity. Someone who is depressed does not know or does not believe who they are or - more importantly - Whose they are.

If you are a Christian, then you believe what the Bible says. You can't pick and choose what you believe about the Bible. God says some wonderful things about YOU. The statements below are true of you.

I am accepted
John 1:12 - I am God’s child.
John 15:15 - As a disciple, I am a friend of Jesus Christ.
Romans 5:1 - I have been justified.
1 Corinthians 6:17 - I am united with the Lord, and I am one with Him in spirit.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 - I have been bought with a price and I belong to God.
1 Corinthians 12:27 - I am a member of Christ’s body.
Ephesians 1:3-8 - I have been chosen by God and adopted as His child.
Colossians 1:13-14 - I have been redeemed and forgiven of all my sins.
Colossians 2:9-10 - I am complete in Christ.
Hebrews 4:14-16 - I have direct access to the throne of grace through Jesus Christ.

I am secure
Romans 8:1-2 - I am free from condemnation.
Romans 8:28 - I am assured that God works for my good in all circumstances.
Romans 8:31-39 - I am free from any condemnation brought against me and I cannot be separated from the love of God.
2 Corinthians 1:21-22 - I have been established, anointed and sealed by God.
Colossians 3:1-4 - I am hidden with Christ in God.
Philippians 1:6 - I am confident that God will complete the good work He started in me.
Philippians 3:20 - I am a citizen of heaven.
2 Timothy 1:7 - I have not been given a spirit of fear but of power, love and a sound mind.
1 John 5:18 - I am born of God and the evil one cannot touch me.

I am significant
John 15:5 - I am a branch of Jesus Christ, the true vine, and a channel of His life.
John 15:16 - I have been chosen and appointed to bear fruit.
1 Corinthians 3:16 - I am God’s temple.
2 Corinthians 5:17-21 - I am a minister of reconciliation for God.
Ephesians 2:6 - I am seated with Jesus Christ in the heavenly realm.
Ephesians 2:10 - I am God’s workmanship.
Ephesians 3:12 - I may approach God with freedom and confidence.
Philippians 4:13 - I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.

This is who you are. If you choose to believe this about yourself, then how could you be depressed at the same time? You can't. That doesn't mean you won't have bad days. It doesn't mean you won't cry because that boy broke your heart, that girl was so mean to you, you didn't make the team, or your effort just wasn't good enough. Those things will happen. Your heart will be broken, and you will cry. You will be sad, angry, depressed, or upset at times. But those desperate times do not define who you are, and you can't let it.

When you go back and look at the "reasons" for depression: chemical imbalance, biological differences, hormone imbalance, or inherited traits, you will see that all of those are impossible when you look at who God says you are. God created you in His image. God did not create you with a chemical or hormone imbalance. Re-read how He did create you. He didn't create you to be depressed or to believe the lies of Satan or the world. The world has searched for answers as to why people feel the way they do. None of the answers take into account who we are. Can Christians be depressed? Absolutely. But it's when we allow those feelings (and the Enemy) to overtake our hearts and minds that it becomes dangerous.

My dearest loves, always remember who you are and Whose you are. The Bible tells you these things. Believe them - not only in your mind, but also in your heart. There will you find Him. There you will find rest, and there you will find peace.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

God is Love

Both girls' birthdays have already passed, and it's hard to believe it's already so far into the year. For Macey's birthday, we had a family dinner at "Chick-Way" as she calls Chick-Fil-A, then we went down to The Woodlands to see La-La and her family. On Macey's actual birthday, we went to the Houston Zoo. We rode the train, and we got to feed the giraffes. The kids thought it was pretty cool. While we were down there, we went to the Houston Rodeo. For Mikayla's birthday, she chose to get an iPad instead of a party. I told her that if she really wanted an iPad for her birthday, I wouldn't be able to afford a party for her. I let her decide. At first, she was pretty upset at the thought of not having a birthday party. After much thought, she said, "Well, an iPad will last forever, but a party will only last for one day. So I want the iPad." I said ok. I ended up spending about the same amount on the iPad as I would have for a present, party, cake and favors. In addition, the stress-relief of not having a party was well worth it.

I've been going through a pretty dry season with my walk with the Lord. I have felt distant from Him, and I know it is from sin in my life. I haven't been obeying what he has been telling me. I have been stubborn, and I've been trying to do things on my own. Even though I know that God's way is the only way. Even after He rescued me after my divorce. I still want to do what I want to do. It has been the biggest struggle in my life. I've had to give up something that I really wanted. I knew that it wasn't God's best for me, but I wanted it so badly. I finally surrendered to God, and it has still been so hard. I've had to once again learn how to rely solely on God. He has to be my comfort and strength. He has to be my source of happiness and security.

I have to learn how to be loved by God. All my life, I've heard that God loves me. I've read about it in scripture. I've repeated it millions of times to Mikayla and Macey. What I've never been able to do, though, is really receive God's love. I don't even know how to receive God's love. In Mark 12:30, it tells us to "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength." I'm not even sure how to do that. How can I love Him, when sometimes I don't feel it?

I've come to realize the answer is in allowing God to love me. When God looks at me, His heart smiles. I make him exceedingly joyful. He beams with pride when He looks upon my face. He melts from the inside when he thinks about my name. ME! He feels this for ME! When I think about how much He loves me, how can I not help but fall in love with Him?

I John 4:8 tells us that God is love. It's what He is. It's His state of being. How awesome is it that I am loved by Love Itself?

When I look at God this way, it makes it much easier to rest in Him and trust in Him that He is in control of my life. It makes it easier to believe that the things He tells me to give up - that I really want - aren't always what He wants for me.

God’s perfect plan for me was never for me to go through a divorce. His perfect plan for my life was to have an intimate relationship with Him. His perfect plan was for me to follow Him, put Him first in my life, and to never allow anything to come between our relationship.

Up until last year, I didn’t have that same plan. I had my own plan. I wanted to get married, have babies, and live the American dream. I was a Christian, but I was far from where God wanted me. I didn’t have much of a real relationship with Him.

When Adam left, I was devastated. The only place I knew to turn was up. God used this horrible, awful, heartbreaking experience to nudge me back to His plan for my life. So many times, we think that God’s plan for our life is scripted out. That we have to make all of the “right decisions.” I don’t believe that at all. I believe that God’s plan for our lives is to have an intimate relationship with Him. Everything else is just details.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Time is Tickin'

I know I usually begin most of my posts with something about how quickly time has passed. This time however, it's 2014. For real? How in the world is it already 2014?

Around Thanksgiving, Mikayla figured out the truth about Santa. It began in the beginning of November when Mikayla asked me about the Tooth Fairy, "So is the Tooth Fairy like Tinkerbell?"

The side of my mouth went up, and I cocked my head to the side, "Well..." I drew it out. "Not exactly."

My hesitation told Mikayla exactly what she needed to know. "So, it's really the mommies and daddies who leave the money under the pillow, isn't it?"

I nodded to confirm, hesitant she might be upset. She shrugged her shoulders and nonchalantly said, "Ok."

A few weeks later, the Santa conversation came.

"So, the Tooth Fairy isn't real. So what about Santa?" Mikayla inquired.

I gave her the same look as when she asked about the Tooth Fairy. I could see the wheels turning in her head. This was an epic moment that could shape how she views Christmas for years to come. I knew I had to delicately handle this question. One misstep could cause a flood of tears and absolute heartbreak in my precious 6-year-old.

"Well, Honey, Santa is as real as you want him to be," I said. I watched her as her nose scrunched up and she tilted her head. Her eyes shifted as she was figuring out what I meant.

"So..." she started. "Is he real?" I didn't audibly answer, but she could read the look on my face. "So, the mommies and daddies bring the presents?"

I studied her face, and innocent understanding washed over her face, almost a surprise curiosity could be seen behind her eyes. I nodded, then she said, "Oh."

She wasn't heartbroken, nor upset, nor even really fazed. I reminded her that, "As long as you believe in Santa, he will still bring you presents." She gave me a half-smile, squinted her eyes, and nodded knowingly.

For the rest of the Christmas season, it was like Santa was our little secret. We had to keep it secret from her friends, her sister and any other kids. Any time we would talk about Santa, or when we saw a mall-Santa, Mikayla would look at me sideways and put the back of her hand next to her mouth as if she were telling me a secret, then she would nod at me. She was wordlessly telling me that she knew the "secret" about Santa.

Since Mikayla found out Santa wasn't real, the next step was to realize that the Elf on the Shelf was indeed not real, either. I kept forgetting to move the Elf. I blamed it one morning on the fact Peppermint Angel didn't feel safe traveling in the icy weather. Mikayla put her fists on her hips, turned her head sideways, raised her eyebrows and said, "Um, it's because you forgot to move her."

There is never a shortage of funny and memorable things that Mikayla says. Headed home on Christmas Day, we notice there aren't many Christmas lights on the houses in our neighborhood. Mikayla says to me, "Mommy, to have the Christmas spirit, you need joy, faith, love, and a ladder: to put up Christmas lights!"

There's also no shortage of precious moments from MayMay. The other day, she grabs my face and cups it in her hands and says, "I love you, Momma." She absolutely melts my heart. When she cuddles on me, I tell her, "You have my heart." She will then respond, "You have my heart, too, Momma."

This winter, we've had some severe weather. We missed three days of school at the beginning of December because it iced over so badly. The wintry mix started on Thursday, Dec. 5. By the next day, there were several inches of solid ice covering everything. Temperatures were in the teens, and didn't get above freezing for several days. There was no way we could even get out of the house until Monday, and even then, it was still treacherous. We didn't return to school until Wednesday, and there was still ice on the roadways in the back yard. We also had more extremely cold temperatures this past weekend, when temperatures were in the teens and stayed around 25-27 during the day.

On Monday, the temperatures weren't supposed to get above 30, so I left the water dripping in each of the sinks. When I got home from school, I pulled up to the house and there was water seeping out of the garage. My first thought was that the hot water heater had busted. When I went in the garage, there was water everywhere, and as I walked in the house, water was covering the floor in the house. The sink in the girls' bathroom was on full-blast, and the water was overflowing on to the floor. I turned the water off and surveyed the damage. I took the girls across the street. Almost the entire house was flooded with at least an inch or more of water. The girls' rooms were soaked, the living room, dining room, kitchen, my bathroom, and my bedroom were soaked. The only room not affected was the front bedroom.

Obviously I was panicked. I called my parents, who came out immediately to help. The plumber came out right away, and he said it was a phenomenon known as "Hammer Pipe." He said that the pipe freezing and contracting caused pressure to build up and cause the faucet to come on full force. Add to that the fact the drain wasn't completely clear, it was a recipe for disaster. The guy who came out to remove the water said he estimated about 800 gallons of water were removed from the house. He had to pull all the padding from the carpet out, and then he placed industrial fans around the house to dry out the carpet. It took roughly five hours to remove the water and padding from the house.

The carpet guy brought over more fans for a total of 13, along with two industrial dehumidifiers. They had to run for a total of three days. I'm not looking forward to the water bill or electric bill this month!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Marriage

While at the gym today, a talk show played on the TV above my treadmill. The title for the segment was, "Is Marriage Outdated?" I couldn't hear the audio, but I read along with the captioning. Several guests were on the stage with various beliefs on the institution of marriage. One woman said that she does not believe in marriage. She said she believed that couples don't have to be married to raise children effectively. The man sitting in the middle explained that he and the mother of his daughter always try to behave in an appropriate manner when they are around his daughter. He said he doesn't want her to grow up thinking relationships are bad. He even said at one point, "I don't want my daughter to date men like me."

The other lady said that she believed in marriage, but she wasn't sure how she could stand in front of someone and promise that she would feel the same way about him that she does at this precise moment. They went on to talk about how marriage today is a contract, and that marriage can mean financial security. As the segment went on, audience participants started sharing their feelings. One lady said that she and her boyfriend have a one year old son, and they were planning on getting married, but they were going to wait until the time was right. Another woman stood up and talked about how she and her husband got married so her child and she would all have the same last name.

The entire time, my heart was grieved. Recently divorced, I know how hard marriage is. I also know marriage is not about anything these people are talking about. No wonder these people aren't married, or they haven't been able to make a relationship work. Every single one of these people view marriage selfishly. It's all about them. Not one of them ever said anything about the other person in the relationship. Marriage isn't - and can't be - about yourself. We live in the "me" generation, and it is all too evident in marriages today.

The guy who said he doesn't want his daughter to date men like him exemplifies this selfishness. If he doesn't want her to date men like him, then why is that not enough for him to change himself? He should be the types of man that he does want his daughter to date. But he is too wrapped up in doing what he wants to do to change himself to be an example to his daughter. He refuses to give her a solid, positive example of what a relationship should be like, much less a marriage.

Marriage is about two people. It's about a relationship with the other person. It's about love and choosing that person. It's about a commitment to that person forever. How can someone stand in front of God, friends and family, and swear that he or she will feel the same way in 10 years? It's through God, and it's by choosing to put that person's needs and desires ahead of your own. That's what love is in the first place. It's not the warm, fuzzy feelings when you get around that person. It's not the euphoria you feel when near that person.

Marriage is a covenant - not a contract. A contract is you get a certain percentage, and I get a certain percentage. A contract is selfish. I'm in it for me, and you are in it for you. Therefore, I have to protect my investment. How can that ever lead to a meaningful and fulfilling relationship? Conversely, a covenant says that I give you 100 percent, and you give me 100 percent. I'm in it for you, and you are in it for me. Therefore, I protect you, and you protect me. That's how marriage was designed, and that's how God always meant for it to be.

When two people are in a covenant marriage where God is at the helm, then there's no way that it can fail. It's not always going to be easy, but when your eyes are turned away from self, and they are permanently affixed to God, then marriage works.