Do you see her? The girl with the outgoing crowd. The one laughing along with everyone, enjoying the conversation as much as anyone, but not chiming in that much. Why doesn’t she chime in? Well, for one: often she can’t get a word in edgewise with all the talkative people dominating the conversation. But just as often, she doesn’t really have anything she wants to say to the crowd. She just likes to be with her friends and enjoy those around her. Mostly, she’s observing…learning more about the people she’s with–discovering more about who they are through their actions and interactions as well as through their words–discerning who she could feel most comfortable with, who she could feel most safe to share her thoughts with. Unlike the extroverts she’s with, she doesn’t share every thought out loud. A lot of them she tucks deep inside, pondering them as she does, but not finding it necessary to bare her soul to everyone. When she does speak, it could sometimes be considered pretty profound, but she won’t speak just to be the center of attention, because that is not what she wants at all. Sometimes people will notice her, and at that point observe for everyone to hear, “Wow, you don’t have a lot to say.” Or, “Why aren’t you saying anything?” To which, the girl will think, “thank you. thank you for pointing out the obvious to everyone in the room and for making it weird.” (You see, the girl can be very sarcastic in her head, or in written form…and often out loud, when warranted). Then the time comes and the crowd parts ways, whether just until the next gathering or because some move away and they aren’t all able to get together again. Do you know what happens next? Many people forget the quiet girl in the middle of the noise…because they never took the time to notice her in the first place. They often form preconceived ideas about her because she is quiet. They may think she is unfriendly, even though she almost always greets you with a smile and hello, how are you? And you know what? When she says how are you? She usually really means it. She wants to know how you are and who you are, but it sometimes takes more energy to get to know her because she is more fond of one on one interactions with depth. Small talk is not a favorite past time of the quiet girl in the middle of the noise. Or they may think she is disengaged and disinterested, but usually the opposite is true. She’s very interested, but doesn’t always find the moment right to go deeper in the middle of the noise. Yes, sometimes she needs to be the one to engage others, to invite others to coffee, or to take the opportunity to ask more questions if the right moment presents itself. But sometimes, it’s so refreshing when someone takes the time to notice her, not in the “why aren’t you talking?” kind of way, but in the “I see you. You matter.” kind of way.
More life lessons from the football field.
(You can read where it all started here)
He was so excited to start his first year playing high school football…technically junior high, but he was finally going to get the much anticipated opportunity to play on that high school football field. First, a scrimmage at the other team’s practice field: he was looking good, blocking and tackling well from what I recall. He looked great to me…as his mom watching from the sideline anyway…Next play, as fullback, he carried the ball, gaining about 30 yards before the tackle. The game went on…a few minutes later I noticed he was on the sideline, moving his right shoulder around, under the watchful eye of a coach and the other team’s trainer. Most likely a sprained AC joint is what the trainer said. Ice it and try not to move it.
Fast forward two days and we’re in the orthopedist’s office. He’d been in constant pain since he went down and he couldn’t even lift his fork to his mouth at dinner that day. Diagnosis: broken collar bone. 4-6 weeks. Follow up with the team doc in a week. Of course, I then google to learn more about fractured clavicles and what it could mean for his season. What I found wasn’t promising. At the follow up the doctor said to come back in four weeks but a broken collarbone combined with the positions he plays means almost 100% chance of re-injury should he choose to go back to playing at all for the season. Fractured clavicles take 4-6 months to heal completely. Not exactly what any of us wanted to hear.
I was on my way home from being out of the country and had to board my flight when I got the news from his dad. All I wanted to do was get off that flight so I could be alone to cry! I, mostly unsuccessfully, tried to hold back the tears until we landed. I just wanted to hug my baby boy! I was just imagining what was going through his mind and how his heart must be breaking. By the time I got home he had talked through most of it with his dad and seemed to be in an okay place. Throughout the next four weeks he dealt with it with a very positive attitude. He went to every practice and spent time on the sideline as water boy and holder of the tee. He encouraged his teammates, all the while dying to be out on that field. When it came time for the follow up, the doctor cleared him for all activity but told him again, “if you hit or get hit, you will most definitely rebreak that bone.” You can do everything else…but those two things. Nothing like dangling that carrot right in front of the horse’s nose….then pulling it forcefully away again!
“Whatever brings you down will eventually make you stronger.” -Alex Morgan
Through it all he’s learning patience, and so are we. Through it all he’s discovering what’s important, and so are we. He’s learning that life has a way of throwing you for a loop and how you react to that is what will determine your outcome. Your reactions show your character and life doesn’t always go the perfect way you’ve planned it. He’s figuring out how he can do other things in the time until he can go back to football, all the while asking every day if he can go back, knowing full well it’s not safe to do so and that the adults who’ve got his best interests at heart are not going to allow him to return until it’s time.
I’ve said it before and I’ll probably say it forever: There is so much to be learned on the football field…and on the sideline…that can be applied to many parts of life, for the rest of one’s life.
It didn’t go how we planned this year, but he’s young and we’ve all grown through the challenges and are so grateful to be a part of a supportive and loving football family!
***This is a draft I wrote in May 2015 and never posted. But, after reading over it, I feel like it should be posted. I still struggle, but I have made some definite, though small, improvements in this area in the past 15 months.***
Lately I have found myself having a significant amount of down time due to my lack of connection where we currently live – in Texas. We made the decision to move here after a year in Nicaragua because our roles changed within Metanoia, the missions organization we work with, and it made more sense to move stateside, but we weren’t ready to, nor did we ever think we would, move back to PA. But…hahahahaha…joke’s on us. We didn’t really take the time to discuss the Texas decision with God, and here we are, 10 months after moving here, getting ready to move back to exactly where we came from 2 years ago. God has funny timing in opening our ears and eyes and minds to what He wants us to do only after we’ve done what we’ve decided we want to do. Anyway, I haven’t made any connections with people or with a church here, and I do believe that is part of God’s plan. He has had me on quite a journey of self-discovery and self-awareness after 30+ years of not living into who God made me to be.
I have known for many years now that I am a people-pleaser. I cannot stand confrontation and avoid it at all costs. And I am obsessive about needing people to like me, even though I don’t really think it is statistically possible to have every single person you encounter in life to understand where you are coming from and to like you for who you are. I also understand that people aren’t thinking about me nearly as often as I think they are, but I still obsess about what they “might” think about me. However, I haven’t really known how to change any of this. It has pretty much paralyzed me over the past several years, to the point where I have let friendships fade and haven’t tried to make new connections with people. Part of this is because sometimes I get tired of putting so much effort into relationships that I feel isn’t reciprocated (but that is a flaw…I mean, topic…for another blog post). Also, I am an extreme introvert, so that doesn’t make life easier…
The book Everything by Mary DeMuth is hitting me right between the eyes because she has struggled with similar issues. As I walk this path of discovery with Jesus, I am realizing that when I worry about what others think of me, I am making them more important than God and what He thinks of me. He has created me exactly as He wanted me and He loves me infinitely more than I can understand, flaws and all. Most of the time, the fullness of God’s love for me is extremely hard for me to wrap my head around, however. I struggle to put my confidence in Him, which is what He promises we have in His Word: “Such confidence we have through Christ toward God not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God” (2 Cor. 3:4-5 NASB). In Everything, Mary DeMuth says,
When people grow bigger than God in our lives, we can live in fear of others, never confronting. Or we can value someone’s opinion so much we lose our own. Ultimately when others have more power over us than God does, we shortchange our walk with Jesus. We fall into control or fear or despair. But no one has the ultimate power to separate us from God’s love and His purposes for our lives. Our high view of Him should color our view of people. (p. 43)
I am recognizing more each day how I look to people’s opinion of me much more often than I look to God. Years of doing that has led to insecurity and a low sense of self-worth. When I have those feelings (which are based on what I think are someone’s opinion of me and may not even be close to what they truly think), I am trying now to focus on what God says about me, which is fact based on what He says in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life” (ESV). This is probably one of the first verses that every new believer memorizes, and we know it so well that we often don’t even think about the depth of it, but really…who else has lived a perfect life and died for us even when they knew we would never be perfect, and would continue to hurt them? No one. Only Jesus. That is love and that is where I can…and should…and will…and do…find my worth.
doing nothing…that’s cowardice. thinking the problem is too large for you to make a difference, so you don’t look for ways to be a part of the answer to the problem…that’s cowardice.
talking about your opinion of the problem and not educating yourself on all sides of the issue…that’s cowardice. posting click bait articles on social media outlets because they support your biases and not checking to see if they are the least bit true…that’s cowardice.
telling the lady at the checkout at the grocery store that you are baking cookies to, um, give to your neighbors because she is biracial and you don’t want to tell her that you are actually baking them for your local police departments…that’s cowardice.
That last one…yeah, I did that. Today, I did that. She saw the flour, baking soda, and powdered sugar I was purchasing so she commented that it looked like I was going to be baking. I told her I was. She asked what I was going to bake. I told her cookies. She asked what kind. I told her sugar cookies. I said, “my daughters are going to bake cookies to…” (then I realized what I was about to say could cause…I don’t know what…could cause something unpleasant to happen, I guess)…so I said they were baking cookies to give to our neighbors, instead of telling her what they are really baking them for, which is to give to our local police departments to show our appreciation for them. I was immediately ashamed, but I didn’t know what to do in that moment. I didn’t want to start a discussion in the checkout line and I didn’t want her to think I only side with the police on the issues that have sparked such debate and hate and misunderstanding in the past week and months and years. I felt paralyzed because my heart’s desire is to educate myself on all sides of these issues, but right now I don’t know her side well. I’m only just starting to open my eyes and my heart and my mind to the things I was so ignorantly unaware of until just days ago, because I had never taken the time to think about them or educate myself on them before. And that annoys me to no end. I mean, I lived in another country and I embrace that culture and love those people, for goodness’ sake, so why have I not been better about understanding and embracing the cultures within my own country??
So right now I am doing all that I know to do, which is to reach out to the police to show our support (a no-brainer and an easy thing to do, being that my husband is a retired state trooper and that’s the narrative I know well) and to educate myself on the African American culture, their history, and their daily reality. But sadly, my resources in that area are much more limited at the moment. That’s why I am researching. That’s why I’ve started following people like Latasha Morrison, the founder of Be the Bridge, so I can become more educated and find out what my next steps need to be. I want to know everything I can know about all sides of the issues in order to be a bridge builder so that I personally, and hopefully we as a country, can cross this cavernous racial divide. It’s too late in the game to stand by and do nothing. It’s too important to talk about only on social media. This country needs bridge builders. It needs people who refuse to take the cowardly way out.
And I need people to come alongside me and walk with me. I need people to educate me…both black people and police officers and anyone else who is ahead of where I am in this discussion. So, please, if you can be helpful, I would love for you to add a comment and point me in the directions I need to go. Where can I help? How can I help in my community? What resources can I tap to educate myself? I know there are so many more avenues than the ones I have begun to look at in the last few days, but it IS overwhelming from where I stand in this moment. I want to not be afraid to engage the woman at the checkout in an honest conversation, should the opportunity present itself. I want to have this conversation with friends and with new people I meet. I want this country to be a place where we can all feel heard and where we can all feel accepted and understood.
Let’s refuse to be cowards.
…quit giving up my time to wasteful activities, that is. I have made some worthy goals for myself this year, but my follow through has been derailed because of some time wasters I’ve identified and I’m done…done not reaching goals because I can sometimes be undisciplined in the use of the valuable minutes in the days gifted to me.
One huge time waster for me has been Facebook. While it started out (years ago) as a way to keep in touch with many friends and contacts I’ve made throughout the years, it has turned into something for me to turn to when I have an idle moment. Those idle moments can easily turn into idle half hours and whole hours and before I know it I have wasted who knows how many hours per week in an activity that really has no bearing on my life–it doesn’t help me get closer to reaching my goals, it doesn’t enhance my relationships, it only serves as a distraction from actually doing something productive for myself or for others.
I have found that although Facebook is supposed to be a way to connect with others, it has actually caused me (and I’m sure countless others) to not actually have to be involved in others’ lives. I can see what people are doing at any moment of the day and therefore it’s not really as necessary to pick up a phone to check up on someone, or schedule a lunch date to catch up, or any other number of things that would cause me to be more actively engaged in other people’s lives. For an introvert like me, that’s the way it is anyway. It’s so easy to just “like” someone’s status or provide a comment, but I find that, for me, that’s not really connecting. And, as an introvert, I’ve used Facebook as a cop out at times, when I actually need to make myself connect with people face to face, or voice to voice, or text to text. For me, there’s just something much more personal about even a phone number to phone number text than a comment just posted among the many others. I need to disengage from Facebook in order to re-engage with the people who are important to me.
However, Facebook is also a way to stay informed. I follow many organizations that I want to keep up with and some areas I’m involved in use Facebook to advertise the latest happenings, so I don’t think I am going to go the route of deactivating my account…that would make it easier for me to stay off Facebook, but maybe it’s better that I work on my self-control. The last several weeks it hasn’t been an issue for me anyway. The desire to peruse my feed really isn’t there anymore.
I started the year with a goal to focus on joy in the every day by documenting daily moments of joy on social media, but I found myself not wanting to post every day, so I’ve decided to journal them (and maybe blog some) instead. The moments of joy are really for me to personally place my focus on, and hopefully I can share the highlights of what I’ve learned, rather than focusing on feeling like I’ve obligated myself to share daily posts.
I do love me some Instagram though. I find that I don’t get lost in an abyss there. It’s simply scroll through and look at a few photos …it’s harder to overshare on Instagram and I find that most of the people I follow, and who follow me, are actually interested in my life, as I am in theirs. And I save my stupidity for my very few friends on Snapchat (mainly my fam), because sometimes I like to be silly, but not everyone appreciates my silliness, and my family basically has no choice but to put up with it.
So here’s to reading that book per week in 2016, working on my blog (the publicizing of which is another way that Facebook is actually helpful), and engaging more purposefully in important relationships.
I recently stumbled upon an ingenious campaign started by Eat United Nicaragua to raise awareness and funds to eliminate food poverty and food waste at the same time! They’ve decided to combine two favorite pastimes of many people: eating and taking selfies and created the #SnapYourSnack campaign. The next time you grab a snack, follow these steps to let the world…or at least your social media sphere of influence…know that everyone can help eliminate food poverty & food waste in the time it takes to snap a selfie with your favorite snack:
They have 14 days left to raise the $10,000 goal they’ve made. Let’s help ’em out! Find out more here.
- grab a snack & take a selfie
- make a $5 donation here
- take a screenshot of the email confirming your donation
- post the selfie & the screenshot to any and all of your social media accounts
- add the hashtag #SnapYourSnack
- tag 3 friends to challenge them to do the same
I did it!
*Disclaimer* I did not tag anyone on social media, because I don’t like to be called out on something when I am not led to give, so I don’t want to that to anyone else. If you feel led to give, go for it. There are many great organizations and people around the world who need help, so just give to somebody!
I’m careening head first into 40 (less than 9 months to go) and I’ve been kicking and screaming the whole way. There is no way I can be so close! It’s like I never saw it coming. I did not prepare myself for this moment of my life. I guess I expected to always be young…like, it happens to everyone else, but it’s not going to happen to me. I have spent 39 years in denial of the approaching decade. At 24, I was dreading 25 because I thought it was scarily close to 30. At 29, I thought my life was just about over because 30 always seemed ancient to me. I still wasn’t ready to adult! Some days, I still don’t think I am ready to adult, but here I am 9+ years past 30 and staring 40 in it’s face. And you know what? I’m actually starting to believe it can be beautiful. I realize now that I have learned a lot in the first half my life (much of it within the past decade) that I’d like to go back and clue my 30 year old self in on, including:
- Not everyone will like you and that is actually okay. I am a recovering people pleaser so this has been a particularly difficult one to grapple with, but I think I am there most days. Whether it’s because of a misunderstanding, or clashing personalities, or just plain jealousy, not everyone thinks you’re amazing. But the important people do, and that’s all that matters.
- Not everyone will understand you and that, too, is okay. Whether it’s because you’re an introvert (which I am and sometimes people have jumped to the conclusion that I am unfriendly because of this) or it’s because you make a decision that some people don’t agree with or can’t comprehend (like marry a divorced man with kids, or leave the US to live in a third world country, or return from that country because your gifts/talents are better utilized for that country at home….oh, I could go on), people will not always understand you. And really they don’t need to. You do you and let them do them and move on. It makes life much more chill for you.
- You find out who you are and you like it, but you also know you are still becoming. At 25, I had no idea who I was. I was still searching for my identity. Not anymore. I can look back and see that a career didn’t define me (that’s a good thing, because I never really had one!). Becoming a wife didn’t define me. Adding the title of mom to my life’s resume didn’t define me either. The bad choices I made didn’t make me who I am. The good choices didn’t either. The journey I’ve walked and the paths I’ve taken, the people I’ve met and the friends I’ve made, the experiences I’ve had and even those I didn’t have, all of these things together play a part in making me who I am. But as long as I am on this side of Heaven, I will never stop growing, never stop becoming. I continue to learn more about myself and who I was created to be every day.
- Enjoy the adventure. There have been many times in my life when I have fallen prey to the “ifs and whens” of life…when I get married, then life begins; when I have kids, then it will be even better; if we can make more money, then life will really be exciting; if I could move away, life would be more fun. Nope, nope, nope to all of it! Marriage and children have definitely made life an interesting adventure, but I didn’t suddenly “arrive” when those events happened. I moved away and “fun” was only a small part of that particular journey (that’s a different blog topic entirely!). And money…ha! We’re still not rolling in it, but guess what?! It doesn’t matter. I’ve learned to enjoy each moment (and money can’t buy the best moments)..and even the more difficult ones I can see as important (maybe not in the moment, but often when I look back) because they are all part of the bigger plan for my life, and I’m starting to get it.
- You are beautiful. You always have been, you just were comparing yourself to a standard that doesn’t exist in reality. You are you and there’s not one single person on the face of this earth exactly like you, so there’s nothing to compare “you” to. Your perceived flaws are part of what make you, you and are what make you real. It’s hard to get close to someone who is always trying to be someone else. The important people in your life want you to be the real you and like you for who you really are.
- Life won’t end when you begin the next decade. As long as God keeps you on this earth, there is more to do…more kind words to speak, more blessings to give and to receive by reaching out, more people to love.
So, BRING IT ON, 40! You (almost) don’t scare me anymore!
I am an introvert and introverts by nature do a lot of deep thinking and observation.
Sometimes Often, I need to process my thoughts in other ways than mulling them over in my head. Sometimes I talk about them, but since I am mostly a stay-at-home mom and my husband works from home, the only person I often have to talk to is him, and, I love him, but let’s be honest, sometimes he just can’t listen like I need him to and he certainly doesn’t have the capacity to always hear and understand my musings. So I have come to love to write as another way to process. And sometimes I find that my writings resonate with others. Sometimes others can identify with what I am thinking and feeling and that is rewarding. Also, at times I gain a different perspective after I have written things out and it helps me to look at those thoughts in a new way.
So I write…to process these thoughts in my head and to connect with others and to gain a new perspective, or expand upon my original one.
I’m a football mom. And a pretty proud one at that.
My 13 year old son is finishing up his 6th football season and in my years of being on the sidelines, I have observed that the football field is a fantastic place to learn some important life lessons. There are many takeaways from the game that my son can carry throughout life – both onto future football fields and off into other areas of his life.
Takeaway #1: You have never won a game all by yourself and you have never lost a game all by yourself. And you never will. My husband has stressed this with our son this year. He had the opportunity to score on several occasions, but he doesn’t let that go to his head. When he makes a mistake on the field, however, he is very hard on himself. But on the football field, you can’t do any of it alone. Both the successes and the failures are the result of how the team works as a whole. If each offensive player doesn’t understand and carry out his role on the field, the play will fail. If each defensive player doesn’t fulfill the responsibilities of his position, the opposing team can very easily make big and fast gains. You are only as strong as your weakest link. This saying applies to so many areas of life – in any situation where there is more than one person working toward a goal.
Takeaway #2: The success and the demeanor of a team is a direct reflection of its leadership. I believe this is one of the strongest lessons that my son has learned thus far. If the coaches work together and stress teamwork and brotherhood, hard work and commitment, respect and dedication, the team will emulate those things. If the coaching staff is divided and doesn’t teach respect or demonstrate how to respect others, and if the coaches don’t stress teamwork and brotherhood, it is directly reflected by the team as well. My son will tell you: It is so much more enjoyable to go to practice and to play in games with the first group of coaches leading your team. It is so much more fun and rewarding to play with a team that has been encouraged and led to become brothers. And I can tell you: this applies to all of life. It is so much more rewarding to work for, or to be in any type of relationship with, people who are encouraging, who demonstrate respect, who are willing to work together, who are equally dedicated to the project or relationship.
Takeaway #3: You can’t pick your coaches and you can’t pick your teammates, but you can pick what your attitude will be. There will be seasons when you will have a difficult coach or a teammate who is hard to get along with, but how you handle it will speak volumes about your character. If you show respect and patience, it will pay huge dividends in the end. Others will see who you are in the attitude you portray and how you carry yourself in difficult situations. If you get mad and throw a temper tantrum, it will be hard to overcome the negative reflection that has on your character. If you show honor to others even when they aren’t honoring you, you can be sure that people won’t forget that either. How do you want people to remember you?
I think it’s pretty obvious how this can be applied to every other area of life as well.
I love football. I am so glad my son loves football. I am so grateful that my son has had the opportunity to play for some coaches who have nurtured his love for football and who have helped him grow and develop through the game. This will carry over throughout his football “career,” but more importantly it will carry over in some way into the rest of his life.
I am writing to beg for your forgiveness. I am sorry for not appreciating what we had together for so many years. I am sorry that I wanted to leave you because I thought there were more exciting places out there to live. (Well, I actually left you because God called us elsewhere for a season, but I wanted to leave you before then). Oh, there are exciting places out there…and they are beautiful, lovely, fun to spend time with. But there is no place I’d rather LIVE than with you. And to be honest, it’s not really about you. It’s about the people within your borders–MY people. It’s also about the lifetime of memories I have with(in) you. It’s also because you are breathtakingly beautiful. Your luscious, rolling green hills in the springtime, your brilliantly hued trees of the fall, and yes, even to some extent, the magical white of your winter (although, I’d gladly take one glimpse of this per year than 5 months of it, but I’ll try my best not to complain). Yes, your seasons. I’ve missed your seasons the past 2 years that I’ve been away and I can’t wait to get back to experience them with you again. I had taken you for granted for so many years because you are all I’d ever known.
But you need to know that you share part of my heart with someplace else now. Nicaragua. Some small roots had begun to grow there thanks to the beautiful people I met and fell in love with and the unique experiences I had. The saying is so very true. Home is most certainly where your heart is. But your heart can be in more than one place. On earth, mine is in two places, with you and with Nica.
So I’m coming back to you soon! I’m coming back to be with my people and to make new memories. But I’m coming back different. I’m coming back knowing more about who I am after experiencing life in a new way and spending much focused time with Jesus. I have a lot more to learn and I don’t want to get comfortable again, but I believe that for me, I function best with the support of my people, my community. God can use me however He chooses, of course, but He created me as I am and He knew exactly what I needed. He knew He needed to take me out of my “home” to experience some of the world, so I could be changed and come back to my “home” to share those experiences and that growth with my community. I’m excited to be with you again! I am excited to be with my people again! I’m excited to share the future of my family and of Metanoia with you! I’M COMING HOME!