“I Yike You”

I thought I’d share an interesting conversation I overheard the other morning between my two youngest while driving to the gym.  Jada turned to Josh and said in her most sincerest voice, “Josh, do you like me?” Josh replied heartily, “I yike you.” Jada, her little heart warmed, proudly proclaimed, “You like me Josh? Mom! Josh likes me!” I snickered as I thought of how similarly we act as adults; always striving to be liked, always wondering if we offer enough for people, whether we’re good enough for our family and friends or maybe too much at times, and wondering at times if we said or did the right thing or if maybe we missed the mark by not saying or doing anything at all.  It’s all these insecurities that constantly ask internally, “Am I liked? Am I pretty enough or good enough or nice enough for people to like me?”
I’m generally a confident person.  I have definitely had my insecure moments as does anyone, but I’m past the point of caring that deeply with most situations as I’ve come to a place through age and experiences that I can let most things run off my back pretty easily.   I try to be honest with myself and honest with others about who I am, who I am not, and how I am eternally grateful for Christ’s grace that fills in my many, many gaps of imperfection.  That being said, I started a pottery class the other day.  Learning the art of pottery has been not only a lifelong goal of mine but it also made it onto my bucket list not too long ago.  When an opportunity presented itself through our local community education my husband encouraged me to go for it.  He knew it would be good for the learner side of me and it would also be good for my mental health as a break away from the family for a few hours. So with my family’s blessing I entered this class full of anticipation and excitement.  I’m a crafty gal, and I figured this class would be a piece of cake. After a brief introduction about clay and what our objective would be, we all gathered comfortably around our pottery wheels as we began the art of attempting to center the clay.  I didn’t really understand exactly what the term “centering” meant, but I assumed it meant that you tried to get your clay centered on the wheel – I was wrong.  The other 15 students began to catch on pretty quickly, and I began to feel like the idiot student who didn’t have a clue!  I could not for the life of me figure out how to maneuver my long legs around that dang wheel nor how to get my large hands around this dainty little ball of clay all the while making sure that my clay and my hands remained wet. Not to mention, my elbows had to remain pressed firmly into my thighs, my left hand open yet pressed firmly upon  the clay while pushing it inward and my right hand draped on top of my left hand pressing firmly down upon the top of the clay while making sure the wheel continued spinning clock wise in a swift motion.  It was an exasperating experience, and I found myself apologizing continuously to the instructor for my lack of understanding even though it was a beginner’s class!  I thought “She’s going to get so annoyed with me because it is just not clicking in my brain.  Everyone else will be ready to move on and create beautiful masterpieces and I will be sitting here with my freakishly large hands that cannot (literally) get a grasp on this stupid piece of clay, and my masterpiece will look more like a mushed up pile of cow dung.” 
It was frustrating. I felt like I was holding up the class, and I was having a major “Do you yike me?” moment.  We all have them.  Some of us when we go out with our friends and we feel like we over step a boundary in the conversation and we leave thinking, “I wonder it that offended her.”  Or some of us as we gather with family over the holidays and having that ick feeling towards a particular family member for a wrong done in the past and neither one is able to move forward into a genuine, “I like you” moment.  Or a Facebook encounter where we write something in response to someone’s wall post and people take it out of context and we feel like the odd man out as no one comes to our rescue.  We will all have these moments because we live in a fallen world, but our identity cannot and should not ever be wrapped up in whether or not others “yike us.”  Our identity will only be true and noble and complete when we ask Christ what he thinks about us and his opinion of us never wavers for he never has any “I don’t like you” moments. Here are a few verses that I looked up that clarify exactly how Christ sees us.   

Colossians 2:13-14
When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross.
John 1:12-13
Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God- children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
Galatians 4:6-7
Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.
Colossians 3:12
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
Galatians 3:26-27
You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.
1 John 3:1
How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.
1 Corinthians 3:16
Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?
2 Corinthians 5:17-21
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
1 Peter 2:5
you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 2:6
And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.

As I dwelt on what these verses really say about me (yes me and you) my spirit lightened. We, who are in Christ are living stones, a royal priesthood, seated with Christ, (we, in our frail humanity are seated next to GOD because we have been raised up in Christ and we are acceptable in our humanness because of what Christ did for us at Calvary, that’s pretty cool), we are alive with Christ, children of God, sons, heirs, and chosen people of the Lord of the Universe, God’s temple, and a new creation and these are just a handful of scriptures that speak to what we are, not what we were, but what we ARE because of who we are in Christ Jesus. There’s nothing left to worry about in terms of who likes us, who doesn’t like us or who ignored us. Jesus liked us so much that he left His throne in Heaven and humbled himself in a manger all to show us how much he likes us and that’s something worth proudly celebrating as we enter this holiday season.  
Just keep livin!!

Thankful for my Boring Life

In a lifetime not too long ago I muttered these words to anyone who would listen, “Don’t ever take a boring life for granted.” The meaning behind those words was this idea of don’t ever take the good times for granted; when your family is healthy, when you have enough to meet all of your needs financially, when you and your spouse are in a sweet spot and clicking on all levels, when your kids are emotionally happy and stable – don’t take these times for granted because you never know when life might flip you upside down.  Last night I had a reality check as my husband turned to me and said, “You seem down lately and stressed, do you need a break?”  I, of course, got defensive and said, “What are you talking about, I feel fine.”  To which he replied, “You’re just short and don’t seem to have a lot of patience lately.” The irony of that statement hit me in the face seeing that this is the “most wonderful time of the year” or at least it’s supposed to be, right?  I thought on this for a few minutes and decided, I do have this undercurrent of stress and anger right now, what is it about?  I have felt pulled in every direction as I struggle to maintain a large house, 4 loads of laundry a day, feeding a family of nine day in and day out, maintaining 5 kids school schedules and that includes what needs to be bought for whose holiday party, how much money each child needs sent for hot lunch, the Christmas drive next Tuesday, the diaper drive at church, this kid’s teacher’s birthday on the 15th and of course Christmas presents for family, extended family, other extended family, bus drivers, teachers, students, friends, and neighbors.  On top of it all I’ve felt a lack of any sort of personal time with the holidays approaching and all of my coveted “me” time going to shopping for gifts, making Christmas cards, finding recipes, figuring out a theme for the tree this year (yes, a theme, and wrapping so many presents for so many people.  I miss reading and I miss writing, and I miss taking a bath just for the sake of relaxation. But in saying all of this, is this an excuse to be crabby and short with my family? They are all healthy, thank you Lord, we are financially stable, my husband and I are in that sweet spot, still, (love that man) and the kids are all doing so remarkably well, not even with common catch phrase attached to them  – “considering what they’ve been through in life,” – they are all just doing remarkably well as kids!  I am blessed to be a part of a great community, a great church, and a great school district.  Yes, there’s a TON of laundry, yes, the house is never clean and never will be with so many kids, and yes, I will probably miss an obligation or two at school, but life is good.  This life is not boring in the sense that we never have anything going on, but it is boring in the sense that there are no life or death decisions sitting at our doorstep and when I stop and reprioritize my thought process, I do have so much to be thankful for during this holiday season. I admonish everyone, the stay at home moms going through the same route motions day in and day out without any sort of appreciation, or the working moms going through the work week grind and coming home exhausted and unfilled, or the young married couple or the retired couple, whoever you may be at whatever stage of life you’re in, if you are living a boring life in terms of not having any major life decisions thrown your way, thank the Lord for boring lives during this season of thanksgiving, and when you are finished thanking him for that, reach out of your comfort zone and seek  out someone who could use a helping hand because of their lack of boring in this season of life due to some unforeseen circumstance thrown their way. In the meantime, Just keep livin, you never know when your boring will be thrown in the blink of an eye and you’ll be back to wishing for the route mundane you once upon a time took for granted. Oh, and yes, I will be taking that break very soon that my husband suggested I take. 

Confessions From a Missionary

Ryan’s taking over my blog tonight.  I have had a case of writer’s block lately – I have the ideas but the thoughts are just not coming together coherently.  Maybe the Lord is shutting my brain off because my husband hasn’t felt a need or a desire to write in a long time and lately he’s had a few thoughts on his heart that he feels he wants to share.  So, I’ll bow out now and let him share…

A man I grew up with posted something on facebook today that really hit home for me. I have always struggled with the subject that will follow but never knew the right way to handle it. I still don’t but maybe some of you readers can set me straight:) The post basically called out a “Christian man” for wronging him and his son by lying to them. My friend was obviously upset with his brother but I think it was worse because his brother confesses to be a Christian. Now, I don’t think the fact that he was a Christian should hold him to a different standard…or should it? That’s the big question. Our actions, for those of us that profess to be of a Christian belief, are held to a higher standard and our sins often convince non-believers that we have nothing better to offer than what they are currently living. Our sins, especially those that are displayed in the public eye, are a huge topic of interest and we can say it’s not fair that we are put on a pedestal. We are held to a different standard and we do deserve it. We, and that includes me, have a persona of perfection and walk around in public as if we have no problems and nothing bothers us because God is good all the time. When was the last time you said something real or more important, honestly, in response to “how are you?” We nod our head, put on a big smile and say “life couldn’t be better”, or “I am so blessed”, or “God is good.” We aren’t allowed in our society, our Christian non-judgmental society?? to have problems because we must view everything as a blessing from God. It’s all in the big plan, right? Isn’t that how we feel? I know I said that a lot especially in my most recent history, but I have to admit, I often didn’t mean it. What I wanted to say was “my life sucks right now and I really don’t trust God right now”. Would you have been inspired if I wrote that? Sometimes real won’t reach other Christians because we have hardened our hearts to a standard that we have created that we are not allowed to have a negative approach to anything that comes our way or we aren’t living by faith. I am one of the worst but it has eaten at me my whole life. I want to be real and I find that the more real I am the more people that are touched by my words. When I talk about my failures, I reach the lost. I might offend the biggest percentage of my fellow Christians, but my duty as a “Christian man” is to reach the lost and if you are offended, maybe it’s conviction? The first example of this for me is when I served as a volunteer missionary and had the persona of perfection. It was a persona and I will share more on that later but one day I had been beat down and was doing my duty as the perfect Christian. Every Sunday afternoon I rented a small soccer arena and played with some of the local boys from our church and a few from the neighborhood. On this particular day, my competitiveness overcame my Christian demeanor and I lost my cool in the middle of a game. It is funny to look back on now as I tried to relay my disgust with these young men who understood about 5 words in English so they had to watch me fumble with words and complain in a language I had not yet overcome. So, needless to say, I would have been cussing them out without using profanity of course (I was a missionary), ok a foul word or two probably would have slipped out despite my best intentions. They just looked at me, most of them shocked but as I look back I think they finally saw the real me. I did later apologize for my behavior to each and every one of them but as I found out later, that was a defining moment. They had never seen a “missionary” act like that and actually seem human. I earned more respect in that moment than in the first year that I had tried so hard to be the missionary I thought I was supposed to be. They would often remind me of that moment and laugh hysterically as they would reenact my actions and gibberish that spewed from my mouth. They were able to connect with me on a whole new level from that moment on and they opened up to me deeper than I could have ever imagined. Without that imperfect and down right embarrassing moment, I would have failed to connect with them and show them that “Christian” does not mean perfect. Jesus is the only perfect man who walked this earth and no one should be held nor hold himself to that standard. But, don’t be afraid to share your imperfections and tear down those walls that might just be holding you back. I don’t condone what my friend’s brother did but I also can’t say I know the whole story. I think an apology is in order even if the brother isn’t in the wrong because that is our duty. Not to be perfect, but to ask forgiveness and be the bigger man even when we aren’t at fault. I’m not sure if I would always be the bigger man but I hope one of you would remind me of the right thing to do. We must hold each other to a high standard (not perfection) but also expect that we will all fail from time to time. I have struggled with how to wrap up this post because I have so much more to say about the subject matter but I’ll finish with this: Tell your story whatever it is, the good, the bad and the ugly because sometimes it’s the ugly that opens the door where there couldn’t have been one before and try your best not to judge others by the mistakes they make because you will be judged on a much higher playing field in their eyes.

Just keep livin!  

Ryan’s take on Marijuana

I’ve been tired lately and lacking coherent thoughts so I asked my husband to write something to which he happily obliged (he’s such a trooper) Hopefully inspiration returns soon!
Jess decided to post a somewhat controversial subject on facebook the other day in regards to how the election played out and more specifically how people voted on some of the proposals out there. Here’s what she said –
“All I have to say regarding the election is that legalizing recreational marijuana is NOT in the same category as legalizing medical marijuana. To my conservative friends, medical marijuana as an option to someone who is in intense pain due to a terminal illness or otherwise can be a huge blessing when there are no more options. There, that’s my two cents for the day.” – Jessica Ronne
This actually stirred up a conversation between the two of us as we were getting ready for bed, and although we don’t necessarily see eye to eye on the legalization of marijuana the conversation is worth writing about. I would have to agree with her that the legalization of marijuana for terminally ill patients should be feasible but that is where my argument begins in the opposite direction. It should be feasible but in our nation we have proven that we don’t follow the rules very well and often, actually almost always, we take the extreme worst case scenario and make it worse. I don’t know for sure but I believe tobacco was originally used by Native Americans for medicinal purposes as was alcohol and we all know how well we as a nation have turned both of those things into lethal killers. My thought about the legalization of a now illegal drug will turn just as ugly as prescription drugs because again when the decision is left in our hands, we have proven as a majority that we will abuse our rights. We as Americans don’t do much in moderation which Jess and I definitely agree on from the regular things that come to mind but not limited to the things like smoking, drugs and alcohol. Fast food is probably one the leading killers in our overweight nation and I have to admit I indulge in this one despite my wife’s efforts to cure me of anything processed:). If we occasionally had a double cheeseburger or chocolate shake or even an M&M brownie fudge sundae, it wouldn’t be a problem. If we could go have a couple of beers with the guys during Monday Night Football or a glass of wine with our spouse at the end of a tough day, it wouldn’t be a problem. If only our terminally ill could smoke a joint for a brief amount of much needed pain relief without their caregiver or son’s friend or 3rdcousin’s wife’s sister-in-law’s new boyfriend taking advantage of a dire situation, I would agree with the legalization. But, as a nation, we have proven ourselves over and again that we will over-indulge, misuse and abuse any and every opportunity that comes our way to get what we want good or bad. That’s my 2 cents:)
Just keep livin…