Teenage Tantrums

Do you have wise people around you? Do you listen to them?

One of the wise people around me said something in a short 5 minute conversation that made me sad, mad and glad.

I was talking about a tough week I had had with one of my teens. His reply was, “Huh. It is great to watch God having you go through this with one of your kids right now, as you are going through the same thing with God.”

Sad – Oh, NO! I do tend to get upset and say, “God, what are you doing?! Don’t you know what will make me happy?” And then wait fairly impatiently for God to do what I want Him too.

Mad – WHAT?!?! I don’t throw tantrums like that! Well, okay, maybe I do. BUT I trust God’s path for me, don’t I? I push and talk to God about what I want, but I do lean on His direction.

Glad – I do. I do lean on God as He moves me through situations that will grow and stretch me. I don’t mind being uncomfortable for HIM.

As it stands, I’m glad someone pointed out the similarities. It helped me remember that God, my Father, has His hands full with me. I do go to Him with my fears and worries, and though it might take me awhile sometimes, I do walk the path He is putting in front of me.

What I learned today…I feel a change is coming. I don’t know what it is, but I know who is directing it. Whether I like it or not, the whole point of my life is to do what God is asking me to do…and pray I like it. 🙂

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Teenagers…Always

I remember being one…but it wasn’t like it is now. I can’t begin to imagine the pressure our teens feel. Everything is at their fingertips. They truly have to guard their minds and hearts at all times.

Having a teenager is AWESOME. I currently have two and a “tweeny” (11yr old describes himself that way). They are fun, funny, active, caring, witty…just all around amazing. We were always told teens were difficult. No one told us how much fun they would be to hang out with!

That doesn’t mean we don’t have tough times. Through all the battles they go through, my heart breaks for them frequently. That doesn’t mean I will take the easy road. That would be difficult in the long run, for allll of us.

I was talking with one of them over a challenge he was facing. Now that he is getting older, he couldn’t understand why I won’t let him dictate his direction. It’s a bit negotiable, but I am still the mom.

This is how I described it to him…

When he was a toddler, he loved eating with his hands. He would giggle and get food everywhere. There came a point when I need him to start learning how to use a spoon and fork. That made him FURIOUS! He would scream and through the utensils, then scream and throw the food! His actions showed how made he was because I didn’t understand that he DIDN’T WANT TO follow my direction. It was so much easier to just use his hands!

Now, though he is old and wiser, there are times where he will still feel like he really knows the best way to go, the best choices for his future. I could let him do whatever he feels like, however there are times when, as a parent, we need to step in and provide direction. He will get VERY made and get frustrated and maybe even not like us in the moment. All I can do is pray and stay strong. I can remember that little boy that threw a tantrum when he couldn’t see the path ahead of him. He only knew what he wanted in the moment.

I am like that with God. I think I know what would be best for me, and pray and pray that God will answer my prayers. When He doesn’t, I throw a tantrum. I do. I get so frustrated and think he doesn’t understand that I REALLY wanted it!

I know I have to realize that He knows what is best for me. He sees all the things I can’t see. I have to trust in Him and though I don’t understand His direction, I have to know He truly wants the best for me.

Remember –

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not in your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your path straight. Prov 3:5-6

What I learned today…I love my teens so very much. I have to remember, to parent them, even when it is hard. Each day I need to spend thanking God for being patient with me and constantly showing me mercy and pray I can do the same to those I love.

 

Highs and Lows

I don’t know about you, when I have a REALLY good day, I forget that all things are temporary. On the same note, when I have a REALLY bad day, I forget the same thing.

This weekend was pretty amazing. Sitting down with someone I didn’t know who was able to take my life and remind me of the truth of how God made me. Coming off the high from the weekend, I forgot that I generally hit a low soon after.

Personally, I believe we can be such a positive force for good that evil has to throw a wrench in wherever he can. If I am loving how God made me, and sharing how knowing what you are built for puts you even closer to doing what God has for you, of COURSE there will be opposition. Today, it felt a bit overwhelming.

Now, I have a choice to crumble under the pressure of 3 things that happened today, that each on their own could be debilitating. I did take moments throughout the day to cry out to God. AND, to be honest, physically cry whether it be in my office, a stairway, or in my car. After each release and pause, I turned my face up, wiped away the tears, and carried on.

Though my day could have crushed me, I choose to be joyful and ask God to show me all the blessings around. He reminded me of what my husband shared in our small group, “If there is breath in our lungs, we have a chance to rejoice. God gave us another day and another breath”.

Today had it’s highs and lows. I am CHOOSING to take a moment and pray about the lows, asking for direction, guidance, support and wisdom. I am choosing to put another step forward and rejoice, thanking God for always being faithful.

Today I learned…I cannot control my families thoughts or actions. I can pray and keep praying. I have to remind myself that God loves my family even more than I do, though I can’t understand that!

1 Thessalonians 5:17 “Pray without ceasing”

How Informal Are You

We had a staff meeting about Informality. It is one of the Values we have here at my church that we hold dear.

At one point the moderator asked everyone who is naturally informal to raise their hand and around 80% of the staff did. Then he asked for those who struggle to make sure they are informal to raise their hands. I raise my hand for the later. When I did that, I saw multiple faces show shock.

In my current work place I am very informal 80% of the time. It is a struggle, which does surprise most people. By nature, I am fairly uptight about the workplace. My mom taught me an extremely strong work ethic, so time spent chit-chatting has been something I have had to learn over the last 4 years. It hasn’t been easy.

As I have learned a fruitful life is less about production and protocol and more about people and relationships. Again, I have LEARNED and continue learning as when I have a lot going on and a ton to do, it is still difficult for me to stop for conversation. However, Jesus modeled that some of the best Ministry comes out of interruptions.

What I learned today…

I will continue to work on being present and informal so as to set people at ease, help the feel comfortable and truly be engaged in relationships.

I will continue to spend time intentionally being loud and goofy, when I can, remembering it is more relatable.

I will also fight the urge not to be “all business” as I don’t work in a setting where it is all business.

I will work through the pull of my head to be stern in circumstances, and be more understanding.

I will pray for God to give me the wisdom to know the right and wrong times for informality and that I don’t come off too strong, but as a very loving, hard working, leader.

Seminary Starts Back Up Today

I am one who THIRSTS for knowledge. I love learning from others, hearing opinions, reading how others have made things work, or how they haven’t. I rarely feel “filled” to the brim with all I would like to know. The only time I truly feel like my brain will explode is when I read the Bible. There is so much to learn.

Each time I read it, I learn something completely new, or it reminds me of something I have forgotten. Even if it’s a verse I have read 100 times, I’ll get something new from it and once again be in awe of how I see something new, depending on the season I’m in.

All of that being said, I am not built for being educated in a traditional way. It is very frustrating for me to have to cross t’s and dot i’s as I’m built for a fast, fluid and flexible mentality. There are a LOT of you who are built for education and that is FANTASTIC. I am just not one of them.

As I jump in to this next class on the Old Testament, I hope to be able to share with you all that God is showing me. Not because I HAVE to be in the class, but because I am choosing to.

Would LOVE your prayers!

What I learned today…it is OKAY for me to not like school. Some people aren’t built to.

You Need a Plan for Your Life

I just finished a weekend with my first Life Planner. You might wonder why I decided to take the time and money to spend on getting a Life Planner as it’s a lot of what I do in my job. My goal in doing it was to affirm and confirm my current trajectory.

As I battle with consistently feeling inadequate in life, it was just amazing to me to see the way God made me laid out on 19 separate HUGE pages, lined across the walls.

My facilitator was wonderful. She shared my joys and pains as we walked through my life realizing that the first part of my life was used to build my strengths, the second part of my life (so far) was in me using and really owning my strengths, and this latest part of my life is in relying on God’s strengths.

There were a couple of difficult parts for me. They weren’t difficult because they were a surprise, but difficult actually speaking them out loud. I am GREAT at pointing out the amazing ways others are created, but it’s difficult for me to “promote” myself and it was a weekend of doing just that.

If you have the chance, I would HIGHLY suggest either heading to your closest Purpose Driven Church and taking CLASS 301 then meeting with a SHAPE Guide or contacting a Life Planner (I used a facilitator from The Paterson Center) to help you realize who YOU are built to be.

What I learned today… God has me on an intentional path and is giving me the skills to continue to be able to help more and more people realize their value and motivate them to be mobilized in to action!!

When You Are Down

So, we know I battle with feelings of inadequacy and go through waves of depression. One of the things I have found that helps me is to save the positive and affirming things that can lift me up. It could be a verse, a picture, a note, any number of things.

As I found a LOT of people battle with insecurity, our team decided to do something about it. First we became the team that encourages. We found that 8 out of 10 people enjoy being encourage and it’s lightens their day. When we have seen their responses, it then cause us to feel joyful.

Next, we all have “Happy Boxes” that we keep near our desks. Whenever someone leaves a quick note, sends a letter, emails a thank you, we put it in our Happy Box. When we are feeling a bit blue or feel like we aren’t making a difference, or not being used, or not effective…I could go on and on…we open our “Happy Box” and remember that God has us right where we are for a reason. We might not see it at the moment, but we have been loved, effective, used, etc…20160224_101933

If you don’t have one, start today. If you don’t feel like you are encouraged much, look harder. Save birthday and holiday cards. Even if the relationship has gone sour, you can remember better times. Save encouraging posts, verses, pictures. If someone says something positive about you on Social Media, copy and paste then print it and add it to your collection.

Most importantly, remember that you are never alone. That you are loved by the Most High. You are His son/daughter who He cherishes.

God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.  ~ Augustine

God is love. He didn’t need us. But he wanted us. And that is the most amazing thing.  ~ Rick Warren

God’s unfailing love for us is an objective fact affirmed over and over in the Scriptures. It is true whether we believe it or not. Our doubts do not destroy God’s love, nor does our faith create it. It originates in the very nature of God, who is love, and it flows to us through our union with His beloved Son.  ~ Jerry Bridges

One of the greatest evidences of God’s love to those that love him is, to send them afflictions, with grace to bear them.  ~ John Wesley

 

Ephesians 3:14-21

A Prayer for the Ephesians

14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family[a]in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

What I learned today…We all need a little pick me up every now and then. I am so thankful for all the notes left on my desk and encouraging emails. They bring me more joy than the writers will ever know.

Social Media and Jesus

I’ll never forget my first time…the first time I started to act like a Jesus follower on social media. Before that point, my posts generally contained a cuss word or what bordered on being a cuss word. Most pointed to crude humor, alcohol, sex or all three.

It’s who I was. I wanted everyone to see I was fun, edgy, had money, had friends, still looked good, etc…

Then something changed. Me. I started to learn more about the Bible and the way God wants me to behave and slowly but surely, I started to change my behavior.

As I grew in my relationship with God, I started to drink less, party less and read more. I was filling more of my time with people who were on the same spiritual journey with me. During this period, I remember going down to the beach for an all day party/bbq/bonfire.

When it started to get a bit later, and the alcohol started REALLY flowing, I said it was time to leave. We wanted to get to church in time. You would have thought I had said I was going to board a spaceship with my family. The incredulous looks we received were priceless. As we said our goodbyes, it was a bit awkward. Not on our part, but our friends could NOT believe that we were leaving a fun party with THEM to go to CHURCH!!!

As we got in the car, I started laughing with my husband. There was a time, not to long before that point, where we would have made fun of someone leaving a party to head to church. How LAME.

We had changed. Our priorities had changed. We still liked to hang out with our friends, but one of the values we have is to make sure we attend services on the weekends. When we don’t, we can feel the loss throughout our week!

That evening’s service included Luke 12:8-9 “I tell you, whoever publicly acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man will also acknowledge before the angels of God. But whoever disowns me before others will be disowned before the angels of God.”

After seeing the reactions of my friends at the beach, I realized my social media life wasn’t reflecting the changes going on in my life. They were shocked that I’d stop and go to church, which meant I wasn’t representing the changes going on in my life for all to see.

I wanted to make sure I started publicly acknowledging Jesus. The easiest way for me to do that was on all of my social media channels. It might sound like no big deal to you, but to post something “Christian-y” was BIG for me.

As soon as I did it, I didn’t get disowned by friends. There were a couple of snarky comments (remember, I had changed a LOT by then), but the biggest response was others were excited for me, and thankful to see me standing up for what I believed in.

It has snowballed from there! I have never seen my self as much of an evangelist, but the amount of emails I have gotten since I took that leap of faith and started posting about my walk with Jesus, has been remarkable! Everything from, “I started going to church because of your posts”, to “I never read the Bible before, but the verses you post have made me start” and “I am getting baptized today and I want you to be there because your posts have changed my life”.

WHAT?!?!?!? Me? My posts on Social Media? Have done all that?!?!?! Generally I just post verses that I need to hear in that moment. I post encouragements that I need. I don’t post to impress or sway, I post when I am learning or God speaks to me through something I am reading.

What would it look like for you to post less “crude” and more about your walk with Jesus?

What would it look like to post an encouraging picture instead of one that would make your Grandma blush?

Who do you think you are connected to, that would change knowing you aren’t the perfect picture that you have been sharing on your pages?

Governments change, countries rise and fall…the church remains. Why waste time posting about something that won’t stand the test of time?

Why not spend your time fighting for JESUS? He is ETERNAL!

What would it look like to take over a media outlet with positive, inspiring, Biblical ways to live life?

It. Would. Be. Awesome.

What I learned today…We can all influence others by living our lives authentically. We all have a story, it takes huevos to share them, but if it means helping one more meet Jesus, we need to DO IT!!!!

I Am Fat

I am. I get it. Now, some will say, I’m not fat as they are bigger and others will say, yep, you are because they are much thinner.

In the past, I had gained weight with the kiddos and then lost it right away. It was easy as I was a VERY vain person, plus I saw the benefits of feeling healthy after exercising and eating right.

Now, to my “issues” I am working on. Back when I was thin…was before I started working at a church. I have actually gained over 55 lbs in the last 4 years. Why?

What I have been working on is realizing it’s because of my brokenness. In the world, to get ahead you either had to be a “wench” or “loose” to get anywhere. (I am being creative with my wording). I was an absolute wench, and I’d use my sexuality to get what I wanted.

Starting at a church, I thought I didn’t want to be noticed in any way. I started to observe that bigger people are over-looked and under-estimated. It’s true! Kind of like the different ways people treat you when you are driving a new Mercedes vs a 1994 Taurus. I realized recently, that I have been adding the pounds, to hide any part of the old me that could come through. I am now a MUCH nicer person, so no one could say I was succeeding because of my “wenchi-ness”, and with weight on, not to mention working at a church, no one could say I was using sensuality.

This is not an okay way to live! I realized as I looked in the mirror, enough is enough. I don’t even know what I’ll look like with less weight now. It’s been 4 years! Will I have more wrinkles? Probably. Will I be saggy? Probably. (Sorry, TMI). That doesn’t mean I should continue on this unhealthy path.

I am tired. At this point I can’t keep up with my boys. That SUCKS.

What I learned today…I need to start getting back in to a healthier lifestyle. I need to pray about my insecurities and get help. I need to remember, I have a God who loves me unconditionally. A God who is guarding and guiding me. I have a husband that has loved me through thick and thin (get it? BWHAHAHAHAH) and will be with me regardless.

What I learned today is I need to start to get back on track, today. Not next week. Today.

Will it be easy? No. Somehow I feel like I have aged more in the last 4 years than in the last 10 years! I miss looking in the mirror and liking what I see. I have let myself go in so many ways. I can’t wait to see how God can help me with this! I am putting it in to His hands.

 

Chad vs Julie

Okay, so my husband and I are both very competitive. What helps? HUMOR.

Back when I was doing everything I could to work on our relationship, I read a book called The Five Love Languages.

It basically talks about how we all have a different view of what love looks like. Some feel loved by affirmation, some by receiving gifts, physical touch, time spent, and acts of service.

I talked about it with Chad, way back when, and realized, his love language is absolutely physical touch. That mixed with time spent. UGH. Mine are the opposite. I’m more of an affirmation and gifts type of person.

When I realized how different we are, and how I was doing to him what I like, I realized I needed to make a change. I started touching him more. Yes, I did hope that meant he’d start working on showing me he loved me the way I feel it, but that isn’t how it works.

I started touching his back more. Grabbing his hand. Holding his arm. Sitting close. It wasn’t something I was used to doing, it was something I was made aware he needed.

As I started to purposefully touch him more when I was around him…and be around him more, I noticed, he became happier! Isn’t that funny how it works.

He wasn’t even aware I was purposefully doing it, until a funny interaction happened today.

The conversation went like this…

I walked by while he was shaving and I started scratching his back lightly.

He said, “Thank you. I love when you do that.”

I said, “I know. I do it purposefully.  You told me you liked it so I do it.”

He said, “That is so nice!”

I said, “I had to learn to do it…kinda like I was hoping you’d learn to affirm me and give me gifts. Ha Ha”.

He responded with, “Wow. That must mean I’m a much better teacher”.

BWHAHAHAHAH

I couldn’t stuck on what I wasn’t getting, but look at that humor. I love the man. It could’ve gone south, but his response was perfect!

What is something you do for your roommate, sibling, parent, spouse, etc… that you do because you know they like it, not because you get something out of it?

What I learned today…Remember what makes my people happy and do it. The joy I can find in their happiness is priceless. AND continue to remind them what makes me happy. Especially if they aren’t natural inclined to do it.