War and Dance

War and Dance

Do you recall where you were on January 16, 1991? I do. I was in a dance class at Palmer’s School of Dance. Ms. Patsy, the owner at the time, was instructing my class as Ms. Sandra managed the sound system for her. I’m not sure how Ms. Sandra heard the news, but after calling Ms. Patsy over, my dance teacher went over to speak to the parents. It was not uncommon for most parents to stay while their daughters danced in the one room studio, which was only a few miles from where I grew up. Being that it was small, despite the fact that Ms. Patsy was not speaking to us elementary school girls, we heard the news…the President had announced the launch of Operation Desert Storm.

Many years later, my sister gave birth to a baby boy on another January 16th. He is now the same age I was on that Wednesday in 1991 when I learned the news that America was at war. Before that day, I had no knowledge of world events or politics. While we had learned some state history, which included the Civil War, in 3rd grade, I didn’t know much about the current state of affairs. Alas, things have changed, and my nephew and his peers have learned a lot more a lot earlier, despite the best efforts of the adults in their lives, about the landscape of our nation during this past election cycle than I was even remotely aware of at 9 years old.

For many children, hearing bits and pieces about the presidential candidates and their positions led to confusion, questions, and fear. Too young to be given much information on topics ranging from abortion to war, there wasn’t much that could be done to assuage these concerns, other than to remind the kids that the adults are working hard to take care of them. But, as adults well know, being told not to be worry is easier said than done. While children should be given age appropriate information, adults should be cautious about what they share with their children and what they show them (or allow them to see) via media (especially social media, where misinformation and fear mongering is rampant). Parents should listen to their children in order to get a grasp on what they may be afraid of, in particular since anxiety is on the rise among children (google it for results from numerous research studies). These fears should be addressed and attempts made to ensure children feel safe and secure. Thankfully, my sister does this well. When I was in 4th grade, the same grade that my nephew is in now, it never even occurred to me that I might not be safe and secure. It’s saddening to know that many children of today don’t feel safe and secure at home or school…or dance.

That dance studio I loved was sold and closed a few years ago. Ms. Patsy has passed away. I’m sorry to say that I’m not sure what happened to Ms. Sandra. Yet, the memory of my first foray into adult matters lives on. I believe my childhood was good, in part, because I was allowed, and encouraged, to be a kid. I’d like to see a return to that, but it takes all of us. Maybe that’s part of how we can make America great again.

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When Enough is Never Enough: Three Tips for Decreasing Desires and Generating Gratitude

When Enough is Never Enough: Three Tips for Decreasing Desires and Generating Gratitude

familyAnother Thanksgiving has come and gone, and I’m left thinking about how blessed I am…and how little gratitude I show. If I were really thankful., I wouldn’t spend more time thinking about what I don’t have than I do being grateful for what I do have. I’m not necessarily referring to “stuff”…for me, it’s more about what I want to do that I haven’t yet done and what I am lacking in life (for me, it’s motherhood; perhaps it’s something different for you). If I’m honest, it’s also about feeling insecure. While I usually don’t feel jealous (because I truly rejoice with those who rejoice), I allow myself to play the comparison game which leads to this whole issue of enough never being enough…and not being content or satisfied what where I am now (despite knowing that the Lord has my entire future planned out for me and based on the past I know how faithful He is.) So, this Thanksgiving, I began to think about how I can decrease my desire for more and generate more gratitude for what I have. And while your desires may be different than mine, perhaps you can relate…and maybe these three tips will help you too.

1) Count your blessings. Consider your shelter (regardless of the size of your home), your clothing (regardless of the brands), and your transportation (regardless of the mode). Consider your health and healthcare. Consider your achievements (and don’t let the world define them for you…what have you accomplished that you wanted to?) Consider your education (no one can take it away…and this doesn’t only refer to degrees) and employment if you’re working (or retirement, opportunity to stay home with children full time, etc.) Consider your freedom and safety. Consider your community. Consider your family and friends. Consider your church and faith!

2) Help others. While we should not play the comparison game in reverse by helping those less fortunate so that we feel better about ourselves, one way to get beyond our own lives is to help other people. I have been amazed at times I have spoken with people, while “helping” them, who may have less “stuff” or “accomplishments” than I do but seem so much more grateful. Really, I wasn’t helping them…they were helping me! Spend some time volunteering. There is always a need, and I guarantee you will be blessed in return. God can fill those empty spaces in our hearts when we serve others in His name!

3) Pray for a thankful heart and thank God for your blessings. Not only do I ask the Lord to take away desires that are not from Him, I also pray for more humility and gratefulness. Being thankful is a choice…a state of the heart and mind. I can make the decision to be grateful for all things and in all things rather than constantly wonder “what’s next?” or “when’s it going to happen?” Spending time in prayer calms and comforts my heart when it’s feeling blue with desire. Praying generates gratitude for my many blessings!

Instead of thinking about what I haven’t done, instead of spending energy on being discouraged over what I don’t have, and instead of comparing myself to others, I can count my blessings, help others, and pray for a thankful heart. I can, should, and vow to thank God for my blessings more! I hope you’ll join me.

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The One Thing We’ve GOT to Stop Throwing Away

The One Thing We’ve GOT to Stop Throwing Away

Disposable Diapers. They should definitely be thrown away after use. I’m pretty sure many a mother found these guys to be a game changer when they first came out. Now, most parents in America can’t imagine not using them. This is one disposable item that has proven itself to be incredibly helpful. Many disposable items are: Cotton balls, bottled waters, and microwave food packages to mention a few. (And, of course, we should “reduce, re-use, and recycle” when we can!)

But this blog isn’t about these types of things that add value to our lives that we may casually place in a trash can or blue bin. Rather, it’s about the one thing we all too often throw away when we shouldn’t. It’s something that has far more value and carries way more weight than any of these disposable items could ever contain.

I’m talking about people.

In our society, we treat people as if they are disposable. Marriages are ended without much thought. Babies are aborted because of a temporary crisis. The elderly sit lonely in their homes and nursing facilities. Children are abused. Friendships are forgotten about. Neighbors are ignored.

Clearly, not everyone falls into the camp of throwing away other people. Well, not as plainly as having an abortion or abusing a child. But, is it possible we all throw people away in other circumstances? When we fight with someone, do we decide they’re not worth fighting for? When we get busy, is the first thing we cut out of lives our friendships? Husband and wife not getting along…claim they’ve fallen out of love…wish they had married someone else? Do we view this as “no problem” and decide on a “no fault” divorce?

The reality is the throw away society is the fault of all of us. We have so greatly minimized the value of people that until they are born they are not even human. When they are disabled or can no longer contribute to society (based on how we define “contribute”), we can’t see their worth. Divorce is such a societal norm that it’s taboo to speak against it. And while there may be Biblical reasoning for divorce (just as there are for ending other relationships), certainly far more people get divorced than meet this criterion. We’re just so used to throwing people away.

The truth of the Bible is that God loves us all. Before He even created us, He knew us. He created us in His own image, and He certainly doesn’t view us as disposable. So, we shouldn’t view each other that way either. Instead, we should be looking at each other as image bearers of God…choosing life for the unborn, fighting for our marriages, visiting the home bound. We should also walk alongside those who are struggling as we work to reverse the course that our throw away society has chartered. Perhaps together, we can recognize the dignity and worth of all people and stop disposing people as if they are trash.

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