You are Worth It

CRAIG_0116Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
    you formed me in my mother’s womb.
I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking!
    Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
    I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
    you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
    how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
    all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
    before I’d even lived one day.  -Psalm 139:13-16 (The Message)

Today is the last day of school for both Jesse and Alex.  Both kids will be home by 1:15, and I plan to throw them in the car and take them down to the best ice cream place I know and celebrate.  We began our school year with a feast at Olive Garden (Alex’s choice, not Jesse’s).  We are smart enough to ask Alex to choose10528355_10202429507681346_1565649919558367719_o within reason because we’ll end up at Subway or McDonald’s, and we already frequent those places on a weekly basis.  Tonight, we are splurging on an end of the year celebration, and Alex has chosen Benihana.  It’s gonna be awesome. You can see how excited Jesse was at Olive Garden this past August.

Steve and I were invited to the awards ceremony at Alex’s school this morning.  It was our first time being asked to go.  Alex was given a certificate of achievement for Bible, and we were happy for her.  My daughter does not often receive awards.  She is the girl that is an average student but works her butt off.  She is not the best volleyball player, but loves to play.  She doesn’t stand out as the funniest or the most artistic, but indeed she has her parent’s sense of humor and can write and draw beautifully.  My daughter struggles with math, has some anxiety about not being good enough, and cries big tears when she feels like she’s let you down.  She is sensitive and caring, and she is very much in the phase of life where she is figuring things out.  She’s learning how to be a friend as she will soon be in her teen years, not only with her peers, but also with Jesus.

Alex has achieved things this year that could not be measured with a grade on a report card.  This year, Alex showed great strides in time management.  She worked ahead of schedule with homework and projects amid a hectic sports schedule.  Alex navigated some tough friendships; she cried for a few weeks trying to figure out the madness of middle school drama.  She also got up every day and courageously went to school, even when she didn’t want to.  She also found friendships outside of school this year, forming close relationships with girls on her volleyball team and Wyld Life Leaders.  She raised money to pay for a mission trip she will be serving on in a few weeks.  Alex is growing closer to her brother and learning to ignore the silly things a four year old boy often says, like “butt” and “fart.”  One of the coolest things I’ve experienced with Alex is her growing relationship with Christ.  She is engaging in conversation with Him and His Word on a very personal level.  She is seeing that Christ’s love is for everybody, mostly the people who don’t always act nice or look like they have it all together.  Christ’s love is growing deep and wide.

Our girl has also struggled.  She has not made all the right choices all the time and even felt despair.   She is discovering that especially then, God is ready to pour His love into her.  She is still growing in the principle that she doesn’t have to earn His love; that she is worth it…no matter what.  Steve and I will continue to tell her that.

I have to be honest with you, I didn’t know how to feel at that awards ceremony this morning.  I was excited for our girl to have this moment of recognition, and yet I was struggling from running down to her and pulling her out of the crowd to tell her that this is cool, but it’s not everything.  She was deemed worthy before she even took her first cry, and no award will come close to that.

Today, I want to say that you are worthy.  You don’t need a piece of paper to tell you that.  You have a God that is reaching out through people, places, experiences to throw His arms around you.  He has a purpose and plan for your life, and sometimes it may feel like you don’t and it’s all crap.  But it’s not.  He’s using the valleys, the difficult times too to work in us and around us.  Sometimes we mess up, and it’ s good to cry those big, ugly cries.  It’s good to feel pain to know that change is a good thing, and it starts with us.  When we can do that, we take away the shame and we can live, really live right where we are.  May we take risks, dare to even fail, to know and build faith that we can get back every time.  I pray this for Alex and anyone else needing that today.

May summer be a tall glass of lemonade on a hot day.  Let’s play, laugh, try new things, and offer lots of grace to ourselves and others.

Amen 🙂

More Thoughts from Junior High Kids

Continuing from the last post, here are more thoughts from our junior high friends.

Question:  Who is God to you?

  • God is a person that I can feel I can talk to at anytime.
  • God is my rock, my go to person if I’m going through trouble or sadness.  He’s my number one supporter.
  • God is my best friend, someone I can pray to vent to, and celebrate with.
  • God is someone I know I can trust and always look to no matter what, and he’ll always be there.
  • God is the reason I have salvation.
  • God is the father of all fathers.
  • God is my guide in life.
  • God is a listener.
  • God is the person who made the whole world.
  • God is my everything.
  • God is a loving, caring, and amazing person to me.  I’m inspired by how He loves everything.
  • He is the best of the best.
  • He is the best friend who sees me for who I am and knows my heart through all of my mistakes.
  • God is forgiving.

Question:  Think of the person who has been your greatest friend.  What do you love about the way they treat you?

  • They treat me like her family.
  • They are kind.
  • We don’t have to be around each other all the time.  We can pick up where we left off and continue to invest in each other.
  • They don’t give up on me and love me for who I am.
  • They were there for me when other kids tried to manipulate me.
  • They include me and share jokes with me.
  • They love me even though I have hurt them in the past.
  • They treat me with respect.
  • They are honest.
  • They build me up.
  • They make me feel special.
  • They don’t get mad at little things.
  • They are reliable.
  • They listen to me.
  • They bring me closer to God.
  • We just get along.
  • They make me laugh.

Question:  Besides grades and homework, what’s stressful about school that adults don’t realize?

  • Friends are complicated.
  • Being accepted by friends and teachers.
  • Not feeling like you have enough time for you mental and physical health.
  • When friends are mad at me.
  • All the drama that goes on.
  • Coming to school with family problems.
  • The depression that students have.
  • A lot of people get bullied, but many people don’t see it.
  • The questions I have.
  • Sports.
  • Cheer.
  • It’s really hard to find and make friends.
  • The pressure of fitting in and finding yourself at the same time.
  • Peer pressure.
  • Time management.
  • Some people at school can be mean and hateful, and you don’t know how to react.
  • Standardized tests and college admission.
  • I feel like I always need to impress others.
  • Adults don’t realize the bad things kids are doing over text and online.
  • Meeting expectations.  Balancing extra curricular stuff while also being ears to people fighting depression and suicidal thoughts.
  • Adults don’t realize that friends can turn on your back in a second.
  • What you look like for guys and girls.  Fitting in is important.

Reading these responses in kids’ own handwriting was like getting a view into their souls…their darkness, joy, fear.  And yet, on many levels, I could relate as an adult.  More to come…

What’s the difference between you & jr. high kids? Not much.

IMG_5417 IMG_5424IMG_5428IMG_5442 Many of you know that I spend a great deal of time with junior high students.  Many adults look back at junior high and say, “Never again.  That was the most ___________ time of my life.”  (I’ve heard those spaces filled with words such as:  crazy, scary, tumultuous, confusing, etc…).  I think many of us adults think that we don’t have much in common with our junior high sons and daughters, and yet I have discovered that it’s quite the opposite.

Our kids are fearing, wanting, and hoping for many of the same things we want.  Recently, at a campaigners session, we asked kids to anonymously answer some big questions for us.  Over the next few posts, I’d like to share some of those real thoughts from our kids here with you.

Question #1:  What are you proud of?

  • I’m proud of my family and friends because they always influence me to make the best decisions.
  • I’m proud of the person I am today, even though I do make mistakes, I try to fix them and become a better person.
  • I am proud of how hard I work for things.
  • I’m proud that I sit with kids who are alone at lunch.
  • I’m proud that I am continually growing in my faith in Christ.
  • I’m proud of myself for being ridiculously patient with people.
  • I’m proud to have my personality.
  • I’m proud to have made the golf team.
  • I’m proud of sticking up for myself and what I believe in.

 

Question 2:  What’s a question you would like to ask Jesus?

  • Why is there hate in the world?
  • How is it possible that I am alive?
  • Why do we have to die?
  • What is heaven like?
  • What is your plan for me?
  • How can I love all the people in the world, especially the hard ones to like?
  • What do you look like?
  • What happened to the last colony of Roanoke?
  • Who am I going to marry?
  • Why do you let us make mistakes?
  • How did the dinosaurs die if all of your other creatures survived?
  • What is my purpose here on earth?
  • Am I on the right track?
  • Why do you love me so much, especially since I’ve messed up so much?
  • Why do we have to experience suffering?
  • Why are there so many religions?
  • Why am I the way I am?
  • How can I be close to you while I’m here on earth?

Question #3:  What’s your favorite part of your week?

  • My favorite part of the week is Friday with my friends because it makes me happy.
  • My favorite part of the week is Thursday; it’s the day I get to hang out with my big sister.
  • The weekends because I get to play baseball.
  • The weekends because I get to be home for once.
  • My favorite part of the week is going to Wyld Life and church.
  • My favorite part of the week is when I get to go to dance class.
  • Any day that I don’t have homework.

I can’t wait to share more of our kids’ responses with you.  They are profound and real.  In fact, I would say that these are things that many of us (adults) would say when asked these questions.

Stay tuned, friends.

Shiny Things

I have a friend who recently said to me, “I get distracted by shiny things.”  At first, I thought maybe she meant literal shiny things or something pretty, and then I realized it was anything that brought her focus away from her purpose.

I get it.  And then I realized that I get caught up with a different kind of shiny thing:  how things look.  The next epiphany happened when I discovered that I’ve been sitting at a kitchen table with my chin in my hand frustratingly attempting to click away to create a shiny package for this blog.  Me, not having great technical skill, was frustrated at what I was able to create.  It wasn’t shiny enough; it didn’t exactly express who I am and what I wanted to say in a visual sense.  And then last night I was brought back to the powerful section of The Velveteen Rabbit:

http://voicelessonsfortoday.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/68ad80a6b0a7eb148eb109f132eed353(pp_w380_h539).jpg

 

I started this blog to “package” my thoughts in a pretty rectangle.  In the process, I got distracted on the realness of what I want to do:  to express, explore, and be vulnerable in a space that others could connect with.  All along, I’ve wanted to share stories and thoughts that are not always shiny and soft, but nonetheless something that makes a connection to someone else’s realness.

Brene Brown says that when we bring words to the things that scare us, the fear begins to lose power.  I don’t just want this for myself, but I want this for anyone who dares to venture to their realness; the part of themselves that isn’t very shiny to the world, but is, at its core, love and truth.

For a month now, I haven’t written a blog post because I was so caught up in the shiny layers of what I wanted to present to everyone.  In reality, this is where I am…  a blank slate.  No, I’m not awesome at graphics and codes.  I’ve decided to wait to purchase a shinier theme in order to fix the air conditioning (#truth).  But what gets me most is that I was wrapped up in a presentation for you rather than daring to just write and be in this place.  I held myself back from writing in order to make a pretty package and not be real.  I’m owning up.

How many of us are walking around in the prison of shiny things?  My experience was frustration and stifling.  I’m thankful for the breakdown/breakthrough of this wall I had to decide jump over, but this is truth.

My prayer is that we walk with a little less “shiny” today; that we allow the glitter to wear and fall off in all the ways that love requires.  May we walk with the assuredness that at our core, without all the layers of fur and stuffing, that we are enough.  In fact, we are beautiful.

In Him,

Kathy