Use My Voice

Speaking up about the issues I can't get out of my head or heart.

When Will I Get Over It?

“It’s time to move on.”

“We all have to come together now and work for the good of our country.”

“You have to respect the Office of The President regardless who holds it.”

‘When are you just going to get over it?”

I have been reading these words a lot in recent days (well actually they started the day after the election).  There is the obvious irony of people who have spent eight years showing an unprecedented level of disrespect to President Obama (whose administration is leaving the White Hose scandal free) now calling on everyone to show respect to Office of The President, but that’s not what I want to talk about. I want to try and answer the question, “When are you just going to get over it?” I have given it some thought and here is when I suppose I will “get over it”.

  • When I get the image of my  fourteen year old son’s face as he watched Trump mock a disabled man out of my head. You see my son has a very severe form of dyslexia and ADHD and sensory issues, so at times he struggles to find the right words or pick up on all the correct social cues, but he works really hard to overcome his disabilities. My son knew that Trump was mocking people like him. To get over that would be to tell my son that his disabilities are a joke that powerful people can use to get what they want. It would be telling my daughter that the boy in her class that said she should eat lunch at the “special needs table” because she can’t read and should not eat lunch with other first graders was right. Sorry, I have too much at stake to get over this one.
  • When I no longer hear him saying the words,  “Sometimes you just have to grab them by the pussy, you can do that when you are a star.” ringing in my ears. How women or men who have any respect for women voted for Trump after this I will never understand. Getting over these words  (or excusing them as locker room talk) would be telling my sons that they are acceptable and would be telling my daughter that her body is for any powerful man’s taking whenever he wants. No, sorry once again too much at stake here to be getting over this one.
  • When I feel confident that LGBTQ people fully have the same rights as I do. Much progress has been made in the last eight years and I will not sit by and watch their rights be take away. Also, let’s not forget in many states you can be fired from your job because of your sexual orientation.There is still too much at stake.
  • When the phrase Black Lives Matter is  not a devise one. If we do not acknowledge the continued effect of a nation built on slavery we will never end the systemic racism in our country. I have spent a lot of time listening to my black friends over the last few years and I still have so much to learn, so once again, there is too much at stake.
  • When I feel public education is respected and safe in this country. Yes, I home school two of my children but I will fight for quality public education every step of the way. This week we all saw how much respect public education is given by this administration and I think we should all be able to agree that there is way too much at stake if we lose quality public education.
  • When they finally pass a healthcare law that is better than the Affordable Care Act. The ACA has plenty of flaws and in my opinion does not do enough to reduce the economic burden of health care on out country. However, it does ensure that my children with pre-existing conditions (and millions of others) cannot be denied healthcare. It also ensures that your insurance cannot put a cap on how much they will spend on you. Oh yeah and it also offers insurance to millions of people who were not previously covered. Literally people’s lives are at stake with this one.

Finally, I suppose I will get over this with he actually starts acting presidential. When he stops paying attention to SNL, TV ratings and picking fights on Twitter with civil rights icons.He needs to stop calling people who do not support him or his agenda “losers” and “enemies”. This time tomorrow he will be President of the United States, it’s time he starts acting like it. He has to be the one to reach out to others, to listen and show that he actually wants to make our country a greater place for all of it’s people. So to answer the question I do not suppose I will be “getting over it” any time soon, there is just too much at stake.

 

 

 

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I’m Done With Summer, But…

So hey, I haven’t posted in for over a year, but summer is coming to a close and I have all the thoughts and all the feelings about our summer. To butcher a Keith Urban song it’s been a long hot summer and we’ve all been together. I have long ago freed myself from the notion that I need to “make the most of every minute” or that summer is going to be 100% magical. All summer’s present challenges (long days, limited fun money, heat) well this summer decided to up those challenges a bit for us. This summer we have replaced our air conditioner, a serpentine belt in a car, a microwave, and didn’t bother to replace the dishwasher that died, oh and it’s been the hottest summer Georgia has seen in forever. So here we are a week left in summer break and I am  D-O-N-E.  I don’t want anyone more friends over, I don’t want to come up with any more “fun free days”, and I don’t want to argue about screen time for one more minute (read that too say I’ve thrown in the towel).

It would be easy to read this and think I hated our summer and that it was terrible, nothing could be further from the truth. I’ve learned that I can be tired, and acknowledge things were difficult and still say things were great at times. So here’s a list of things that were truly great about out summer.

  • Swim Team- If you know me you knew this would be first. After two years of the boys swimming school year league we took the plunge and signed all three kids up for summer league. Best decision ever. Yes it meant being at the pool at 8:00 am five days a week and staying at meets until almost midnight once a week (one week twice) but we would not have traded it for anything. Not only did my kids improve greatly in their skills they developed a love for it that I have never seen before. Also, it is so much fun. No really, it is, I promise.
  • Running- Somewhere this spring I realized my kids were kicking my ass in what they were attempting physically. I also anticipated that at some point i was going to have to push them to get them to practice. So I made a deal that for everyday they practiced I would run. I had never run before this spring. Well summer league is over and I am still running four or five days a week. I love it and I hate it all at the same time, all I know is that everything feels more manageable after I run.
  • My Kids Pushing Themselves- All three of my kids have really pushed themselves this summer. I believe without a doubt this can be traced back to swim team. My oldest who struggles with sensory issues and learning disabilities, and therefore struggles socially, went to camp without knowing anyone this summer. Not just any camp but a camp that involved caving, ropes courses and white water rafting. The middle one is training for a triathlon at the end of the month. Yeah, you read that right my least competitive child who would be perfectly happy to sit at home and read everyday is attempting a triathlon.   Baby Girl has pushed herself so hard with swimming, she earned most improved in her age group. We’ve continued lessons since league has finished and I am amazed at how far she’s come.
  • Scarecrow And Mrs King- Yes, the 80’s tv series, it’s one of my all time favorite shows. One of the kids found my season one DVDs early in the summer and they all got hooked. I’ve since purchased two additional seasons and it’s become one of their favorites.
  • Hamilton- I had been listening to the soundtrack for awhile when one day I started playing it in the car.”What are we listening to?” the oldest asked. Well in about five minutes they were all hooked. It is about all they have wanted to listen to for the last month. It has led to some of the most incredible discussions and we have all researched the founding of our country a little more. The youngest has decided she’s going to be Angelica Schuyler for Halloween. Does Party City sell that costume?
  • Technology- For all the talk about how technology is ruining our kids, it has enhanced our summer so much. My oldest who is dyslexic got a membership to Learning Ally, a nonprofit organization that provides audio books at a low cost for people with disabilities. He has read ( we count ear reading as reading) 27 books since May. The same books his peers are reading. I am more grateful for this technology than I can express. Also, PokemonGo, hate on it all you want but it get us up and active and doesn’t cost a dime, that’s a winner in our book.

Summer is almost over and I’m living the tension of wanting structure and dreading the increased craziness of our schedule but for one more week we will swim, sing, and spend way too many hours in front of screens. What about you, what were the highs and lows of your summer? How are you finishing it out?

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My 30’s are almost over…What????

Tomorrow I start the last year of my 30’s. How is that even possible? Surely it is 29 right? No, it’s not. I will in fact be 39 years old tomorrow. Maybe this kind of blog would be better saved for next year when I turn 40 but I can’t help but find myself thinking back over how much my life has changed since I turned 29.

When I turned 29 I had one child, I had just started serving in my second ministry position and I thought nothing would ever be harder than working full time with a toddler and a husband who was working full time and going to school full time. Oh, and I had a plan. A plan, well you know the old saying if you want to hear God laugh tell him your plans. Yeah, I’m pretty sure God had a pretty good chuckle at 29 year old me. The plan? Scott would finish school get a better job, we would have another baby, I would eventually go to seminary. I would change the face of children’s ministry forever.I would do big important things for God.

I am glad that 29 year old me didn’t know what was coming because she would have probably never left her bed again. But it all came and as I enter the last year of my 30’s these are the things I am thinking about.

Marriage- I will forever be grateful for the fact that I fell head over heels madly in love with a person that I had known for a matter of weeks because it is the best thing that has ever happened to me. I could not imagine getting through this life without him. Is he my soul mate? Is he my best friend? I don’t know all I know is that he knows me in a way that nobody else does and loves me in a way that nobody else is capable of. There were times in the last decade that things could have torn us apart  but somehow they just kept shoving us closer together. I don’t know why we have this kind of grace in our relationship we just do. All I know is every time things started to crumble he and I were left standing. At 29 I thought he owed me so much because of how much time his school took. At 39 I know that we both owe each other far more than we could ever repay.

Friendship- One of the best things to come out of my 30’s are my friendships. All through high school, college and even my 20’s I wanted to be part of “the group”. I wanted to be liked and be a part of what everyone was doing. Here’s the problem with that. I’m not a very good follower and I am not good at keeping my thoughts to myself. That doesn’t work well when you want to be part of a group. In my 30’s I finally accepted the fact that a few friends that you could count on are far more important than being part of a group. I have some amazing friends. Outside of my husband I have a handful of people I know that I can count on at anytime. These  women bring different things into my life and my life would not be complete without any of them.

Parenting- At 29 with one child I knew a lot at 39 with three children I know far less. Here’s what I know, parenting is hard but it’s not hard because you are doing it wrong. It is hard because you are doing it right. I also know it is without a doubt the most amazing thing that I have done with my life, and it is the big important thing that I am suppose to be doing for God.

Faith- Much like parenting I thought I knew everything I needed to know about my faith at 29. There is noting in my life that has been challenged and stretched as much in the last 10 years as my faith has. More than once in the last 10 years I have told God that I was done with him. I have told him that he was cruel and that his people were even more cruel. Fortunately, God isn’t cruel and I have learned how to separate what some of his followers do from who he is. I have learned to embrace my questions and sit in my doubt. I have also learned that I am not alone in my beliefs and views. The internet age has been great for introducing me to people like Rachel Held Evans, Sarah Bessey, Glennon Melton, and Jen Hatmaker. Church is still hard for me and I think I am learning it might always be. Much like Paul’s thorn in the flesh church being hard helps me from being to comfortable. It helps me to always be aware of those who are outside of the circle.

Myself- Let me say this,my 39 year old self is a lot better off than my 29 year old self. Not financially necessarily (Hello three kids) but as a person I am so much better off. I think, we spend our teen years learning who we are, then we spend our 20’s learning who the world wants us to be. Then in our 30’s we get to combine those two things. In my 30’s I have come to accept parts of myself that I had pushed away for most of my 20’s but I have also learned that there are better ways to show those parts of myself to the world. I have learned that listening before speaking is almost always best. I have learned to use my voice to speak up for the passions God has put inside of me.

To those of you who have been on this crazy ride of my 30’s thank you! Thank you for standing beside me in hard times and partying with me in the good times. Thank you for loving me enough to allow me to grow and change.

I have no doubt that at 49 I will look back on this post and have a good laugh. I hope that I learn more in the next 10 years than I did in the last. I hope that I am still crazy in love with my husband and that my friendships are even stronger.I will be watching my children turn into adults and praying we did it right. I hope that 10 years from now God still allows me to see and care for those who are being left out. For now I’m going to embrace this last year of my 30’s and be grateful for this crazy bruitful  (as Glennon Melton would say) life that i have. epcot

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A Thank You to My Daughter’s Preschool

My Baby Girl graduated from Pre K tonight. She has two days left and then she is no longer a preschooler. There is a mix of emotions that I am feeling tonight. Sure there is some sadness that she is growing up so quickly. I feel so much excitement for her as I think about the life that is ahead of her. There is some fear as I think about her leaving a place that has been so safe for a place that is so big and unknown. The biggest thing that I feel though is gratitude.

I trusted my girl to you when she was not even two and a half years old. I knew nothing of your school other than it just felt right.I didn’t know what teacher to ask for or even how many days I should put her in. Shannon,the assistant director suggested three days and I decided that sounded good. I thank God I made that decision because just like the next two years would be it was the perfect place for her. She met friends that year that she would travel though the next three years with. Her teachers that year were more than I could have ever asked for. That was the worst of the asthma years. She missed school more than she was there. Eventually we made the heartbreaking decision to pull her out in order to try and keep her healthy.So what did her teachers do? They still included her in Valentines exchanges, Easter egg hunts, and end of the year baskets, They didn’t have to do that but they did because that’s just who they are,

In her three year old class Maggie learned that Jesus loved her and that she was suppose to love other people. I could have asked nothing more. She was allowed to dance, twirl, and sing her way through that year. The atmosphere in that class was  magical as each child’s personality was allowed to shine through.

This year was the big time PreK. Suddenly the stakes seemed higher. You hear so much talk about “getting kids ready for kindergarten” that I was nervous. But guess what, I never heard those words once this year, No, instead my daughter’s teachers taught her to try her best. They pushed her to do better but never discouraged her. The thought and creativity that they put into every single day completely amazes me.

So to Grayson United Methodist Preschool (GUMP), I say thank you. Thank you for still believing that preschoolers should sing and play and create instead of working on worksheets. Thank helping to teach my little girl that Jesus loves her. Thank you for teaching her how to be a good friend.Thank you for hiring the best teachers on the planet. Most of all thank you for letting Maggie be Maggie and the other 200+ children you have be themselves too. We have loved every day of the last three years and are so very grateful to you.

maggieheather maggielarissa maggieterry graduation2

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If You Give A Baker Child a Bag of Pop Rocks….

We just finished an amazing vacation to visit family and friends in Sonoma County California. (I will try to write more about that later) while going through the last of the bags today I discovered a pack of Pop Rocks my kids had bought at one of the many candy stores they found on our trip ( It’s hard to say no we aren’t going to another candy store when you are wine tasting for the third day in a row). I decided to be fun mom and hand them each a bag. Now some kids would just eat the Pop Rocks and maybe giggle a bit about the noise they made or how they felt in their mouth…not my kids. So I give you (with all apologizes to Luara Numeroff for butchering her work)

If You Give A Baker Child A Bag of Pop Rocks

If you give a Baker child a bag of Pop Rocks they will not be sure what to make of them…

They will need a greater understanding of how they work

They will need to drop some into your Diet Coke

Then they will need to drop some into a cup of water as a control

Watching them pop in the Diet Coke will remind them of their all time favorite activity…

volcano building…

They will find the baking soda, vinegar, and a empty bottle and head outside

When they run out of baking soda, vinegar they will begin to search for other household objects that might explode (cat litter, ketchup, dish soap,)

When you say no to more chemical reactions they will decide that they need to clean up, so they will turn on the hose …

Then they will remember their second favorite activity mud making.

They will create a large mud pit in the backyard and have a mud fight

All of this creative work will cause them to be ravishingly hungry and they will want to know if you have anymore Pop Rocks.

The moral to this story…all candy bought on vacation  must be consumed on vacation.mud mud2All because of Pop Rocks….

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Sometimes I Wish I Didn’t Feel So Much

So here we are again. This song and dance is getting so old and I am so tired of it. The events with World Vision that have occurred over the last 48 hours have left me emotionally and spiritually exhausted. I wish I knew why I cared so much. I wish I knew why I felt things so strongly. All I know is that God made me a feeler a big deep feeler. Tonight was one of those nights that I actually asked him to take that away from me. I told him I didn’t want to feel things so deeply anymore. I don’t want to grieve for the thousands of children who lost their sponsors. I don’t want to feel the shame for my fellow believers who said this week they would rather let children starve to death than same sex couples be employed by a Christian ministry. I don’t want to cry hot angry tears over my laptop when they win. I think this week was especially hard because it involved all the issues I care about the most poverty, equality, children, and Jesus.  It just feels like to much, like a battle that we will be trapped in forever and will never get anywhere. It feels like my heart will break every week. For a few minutes I just wanted to not care anymore.

Since, I’m a mom and life goes on even when I’m caught up in all of the feelings of injustice, I had a girl to give a breathing treatment and get to bed in the middle of all of it. What a blessing that was. As I lay in the bed with her and she fell asleep I felt God speak to my heart, ” What do you want most for her?”  The answer in my heart was immediate, I want her to care. I want her to love deeply. I want her to live passionately (if you know my girl you know she already does this well). I want her to  love Jesus and to live out Micah 6:8

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
    And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
    and to walk humbly[a] with your God.

 

So tonight as I lay next to her I prayed for her my boys, my husband and myself. I prayed that God would never let our hearts be hard. That he would never let us stop caring no matter how much it hurt. Then I remembered this from Mathew 5:

3 Blessed are the poor in spirit,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
    for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
    for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
    for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you,

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To Evangelical Leaders

I have never before written an “Open Letter” but the feelings on my heart are strong and they are strongly addressed to one group of people specifically. Those people are the leaders of the Evangelical Christian community.

Dear Leaders of The Evangelical Community,

It is Sunday morning and I know you are busy. You are focusing, praying, teaching, preaching, and singing. You are doing your very best to share the love of Jesus with the world. I know you do this everyday not just on Sundays but Sunday is the big day. I know you all well. You were my world growing up, in college, and for the first part of my adult life. I keep trying to give up on you because of the areas that I disagree with you on. Yet, in the deepest part of who I am I still want to be able to claim you as my own. I want to be able to stand with you and say, “These are my people.” I want to love Jesus by serving this world with you. I want to worship with you and study with you. I want to argue with and learn from you, and maybe for you to learn from me a little too. See, I never expect us to agree on  everything. God’s world is to big and complex for that. However, there is one thing that we can not disagree on because it is perhaps the most clear thing in scripture:

Mathew 22:36-40

36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

We are to love God and we are to love people. We aren’t just to tolerate people. We are to love them the way we love ourselves. We are to want for them what we want for ourselves. I think we can all agree on this.

This brings me to the point of my letter. There is a new round of laws and proposed laws making their ways through different states. These laws are called “Religious Liberty Acts”. They are laws that say it is OK for any person or business to refuse to serve or work with people or groups that would cause them to “go against their religious principals”. Well, at first that sounds alright I guess. I mean nobody wants to go against their religious beliefs.  (The Arizona Bill can be found here here:http://azleg.gov/DocumentsForBill.asp?Bill_Number=1062&Session_Id=112&image.x=0&image.y=0) Under these new law  a restaurant could refuse to serve a same sex couple (or indivdual) , a taxi cab driver could refuse to give them a ride, and yes medical processionals could refuse to treat them, they in fact voted down an amendment that would prohibit this.

So here is my question, if the second greatest commandment is to love our neighbor as we love ourselves, can we honestly do this and say that these bill are acceptable? I am not saying we have to agree on if homosexuality is a sin or on marriage equality, there is a lot of space between these laws and those issues. Evangelicals are big on saying “Hate the sin, love the Sinner” . Well, can you honestly saying these laws do this? Is it truly loving someone to tell them, “I think you are sinful so therefore you can not eat here?” What if a business owner witnessed me being selfish towards my husband should he be able to tell me he wouldn’t let me shop in his store? If I am heard gossiping at the local coffee shop should they tell me I am no longer welcome there?  Where do we draw the line? How are we showing the radical, transforming love of Jesus if we are saying, “We are so much better than you that you can not even be here.”

I know most Christians would probably say, “I wouldn’t do that but it’s not my place to tell someone else what to do.” Well, I’m sorry that’s what we do all the time. We are always telling people what we think (or what we say God thinks) they should do. We just don’t want to come into conflict with our Brothers and Sister in Christ over this. We don’t want to be seen as “forsaking God’s word”. And maybe for Evangelical leaders, you don’t want to risk losing your influence.

I am asking for Christians in general but especially leaders in the Evangelical community to speak out against these laws. Say that they are not right. Say that your people can hold to their beliefs and still truly love their neighbor. I applaud Andy Stanley (who leads the second largest Evangelical church in the country) for saying, ” “Serving people we don’t see eye to eye with is the essence of Christianity. Jesus died for a world with which he didn’t see eye to eye. If a bakery doesn’t want to sell its products to a gay couple, it’s their business. Literally. But leave Jesus out of it.”( He also tweeted some comments on the bill but later deleted them).

Finally in deciding if this is an issue we should stand up on I think we should read some other words of Jesus in Mathew 25:

Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fireprepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

I started this letter by saying that I still want to be a part of the Evangelical world and I mean that. Evangelical Christians have done some mighty things throughout history. The best of these have come when we have stood up against injustice in the world. Let these be one of those times. Let us be on the right side of history. Let us show that we their is no separation in loving God and loving our neighbor.

Because of Jesus,

Ashley

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What I Hope My Kids ( and all of us) Learn From Frozen

First, Happy New Year! I hope all of your holidays were wonderful. Second, I’m writing on fours hours of sleep that was divided into two hour stretches between breathing treatments for my youngest so if this post makes no sense we will just blame it on that.

Last month for my newly turned seven year old’s birthday we all went to see the Disney movie Frozen. To say we all enjoyed it would be a massive understatement. Seven of us from the ages 3-37 (including preteens and one teenager) all said it was one of the best movies we had seen in a long time (the last movie I saw before this was Free Birds and trust me I didn’t say that then). The movie felt like a great piece of musical theater mixed with stunning animation. The soundtrack has been on constant play in our home for weeks.

If you haven’t seen it yet let me give you some background (spoilers). The movie centers around two princess sisters named Elsa (the older) and Anna (the younger). Elsa has been born with the power (disability?) that when her emotions are strong she turns things to ice. As a result she spends her entire life in isolation learning to “conceal not feel”. Well as you can imagine that can only work so long and eventually things go horribly wrong. Leading Elsa to decide to “Let It Go”and that she must embrace who she is but live alone. Here is the amazing song for that part of the movie :http://video.disney.com/watch/disney-s-frozen-let-it-go-sequence-performed-by-idina-menzel-4ecd3e729706a16e5090f1de

As I was listening to this song at 3:00 this morning (breathing treatments remember )I realized that so many of us have lived like Elsa. We have been given the message over and over that what makes us special is wrong, bad, and should be concealed. If we show who we really are we will be alone. I know I fight this constantly and have to be intentionally vulnerable. Ultimately the only thing that can save Elsa is her sister who has wanted a relationship with her for years knowing her secret and loving her with an unending love. Isn’t that what saves us all? When we finally break down one of our walls and someone accepts us still. When the person we love doesn’t run but stands besides us and loves us more.

This is what I pray my children take from this move. I want them to know that what makes them different is what makes them powerful.I don’t want my children to conceal who they are. I want them to experience loving, strong, vulnerable relationships with people who accept them for who they are. I want that for all of us.

Here is a great Ted Talk on the subject my sister sent me (not knowing I was thinking about this already).
http://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability.html

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Your Introverted Child and The Holiday Season

I am an extrovert….just barely. I mean it, I score usually about 10% higher on any extrovert /introvert scale. I come from a family of introverts and most all of my close friends are introverts. In fact my husband is the only extrovert I can think of that I have ever had a really close relationship with . So in my years of having close relationships with introverts I have learned a few things. Which is good because I have known for a long time that my oldest child is an introvert but now I’m beginning to realize my middle one is too (the youngest well she’s ALL extrovert) .

So how is it I am beginning to realize my middle one is more introverted than I thought? I began to realize it last year when he would come home from kindergarten and go to his room to play by himself for an hour or so everyday.  At first I was really bothered, didn’t he want to be with us? I mean he was gone all day (I’m the extrovert remember?). Then after awhile he would come out of his room happy and ready to be with us, he needed to recharge. This past week was Thanksgiving. Which meant family all day one day, going to see Santa and a tree lighting the next, then the next day getting our tree and then… his birthday party.  His party was at the bowling alley and I think he might have bowled a grand total of 5 frames. He was very content to sit back watch everyone and just hang out. He talked to people. He was  thrilled with his presents and because even though he’s an introvert he is a serious ham he even pretended to pass out from excitement. He just had no interest in being in with all the action. He loved his party, in his own introverted way. As an extrovert I would have liked to him to be out more. I worried he wasn’t being outgoing enough or having fun. Later though as I thought about all of the other introverts in my life I realized that was exactly how they would have acted.

A couple of things to keep in mind about introverts:

  • They aren’t always quiet (nobody has ever called my kids quiet)
  • They highly value close realtionships
  • They want to be listened to
  • They can get people and stimulation overload quickly
  • They need to recharge by themselves

For all people the holiday season can be stressful. For introverts the holiday season can be one giant anxiety attack waiting to happen. People, parties, company, shopping. school plays..oh yes and the normal day to day life that must still be lived.  So how do you help your introverted child through this crazy season? Here are a few thoughts:

  • What do they HAVE to go to?  There are some things they are going to have to do and some that they will really want to do. Pick those things and skip the rest. Get a babysitter if you have more events than your child can handle. Just remember as you are scheduling all of the special event that things like school, church, and other activities are still going on.
  • Let them have an escape.  It is ok to allow your child to bring a book or a device with them to most events.  Now, obviously you don’t want your child stuck in a book or on a game all night so agree before you go on when they can have it and for how long. Also, help coach them on how to respond when someone tries to interact with them when they are “escaping”.
  • Find them a quiet space. This goes with the one above but when you get somewhere help them find a place that is good for them to have a little quiet space. It doesn’t have to be a room to themselves it can be a chair in a corner or just a spot out of the way.
  • Let them bring a friend.  Introverts often feel awkward in a crowd. They don’t like to mingle on their own or walk up to a group and ask if they can join in. Sometimes having a buddy with them can make them feel more comfortable.
  • Most importantly….let them recharge. The biggest thing I have learned is that introverts must recharge by themselves. When you get home give them some space. This can be tricky if your introverts share a room like mine do but find a way to give them some space. My oldest will go out and jump on the trampoline when he needs to recharge. My middle one will sit on is bed with books or Legos . However they recharge give them their space to do it.

How do you help the introvert in your life cope with the holiday season?

Also, on a holiday note we have a two part “Why Wednesday” coming up one form me on  why my family “does” Santa and one from a good friend on why her family does not.

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Why I am Jesus Feminist

I am super excited to be taking part in Sarah Bessey’s synchroblog today celebrating the release of her book Jesus Feminist. I am sure just the title of her book is enough to start a wild fire of controversy. The whole idea that Jesus might be a feminist? I mean aren’t feminist man hating, family hating, Bible hating women? Well, no, they are not. Well, some might be, in the some way some Christians are homophobic, sexist, or hypocrites. Some, not all, probably not even most. So then what is a feminist and how could Jesus have been one?  A feminist simply put is someone who believes men and women are equal and should have equal rights, opportunities, and protections. If that is the case then I am pretty sure Jesus would be the first to sign up for the title.

Let me back up for a minute. I would not have always identified myself as a feminist. I would have even told you for a long time that God did not allow women to lead in  some ways (OK most ways).  I was taught in church  growing up that men were to lead and women were to teach children and prepare food.  Well, I really didn’t challenge this too much because I love to teach children and can fake my way through preparing food.

It wasn’t until college that this idea began to be challenged. Yes, I went to a very conservative Christian college and this idea for the most part still was the undercurrent of thought. We all took Bible classes taught by men and I don’t remember any women I knew taking pastoral or preaching classes. We were all Christian Ed or Mission Majors. My junior year I took the class “Women in Ministry” taught by our campus pastor’s wife. In class she towed the line that men were too be the head of the church but always in a way that left me questioning if she really believed it. One day over lunch in her home she asked me what I thought about women in leadership in the church. I stammered and muttered and gave her the same tired line I had heard my whole life, “It’s not that God didn’t create us equal he just called us to different things.” She looked at me and asked, “If that is true then what do you do with Galatians 3:28”

Galatians 3:28, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

I didn’t have an answer and all she said was, “I think if God has gifted you to  lead you should lead”. It was a profound moment in my life and to this day I am grateful for her wise and gentle words.

I have written before about how after college I was blessed to serve in The United Methodist Church where this is not even a debate. Women serve along side men in every role. I had someone once tell me, “I could never raise my daughter in a church that told her there were things she couldn’t do for God simply because she was a woman”. I had never thought about it that way before and from that moment on I became a Jesus Feminist.

I am a feminist because Jesus was a feminist. There is no way you can read the Bible and not come away with that. read each encounter he had with a woman. Never did he say, “you are equal to my disciples but you there are some things you can not do”. No,in fact at his resurrection, it was women that he trusted to proclaim the good news (Mathew 28) . Did you catch that he sent women out to preach before he did the men. He could have appeared to Peter or John but he chose two women.

I am also a feminist because when we take away the fact that we are equal before God we open our world to a host of problems. We are saying that they are worth less, that they do not matter as much, that it is acceptable to treat them as second rate. Now, I know that most people (including some of my very dearest friends) wold say that this is not true. That just because the church teaches that women can’t lead that it does not mean they are less valuable, I disagree.I think we are reinforcing the idea that women and girls are worth less than men and boys. We plant the thought that it is OK to treat them with less respect and deference than we  might a boy or a man.

Finally, I am a feminist because I have a daughter, sons, nieces and nephews, and I have ministered to hundreds of children. I have looked into their eye and told them, “God has made each of you unique and and has gifted you to serve him”. I have looked into the eyes of both boys and girls and known that God has called them to lead.

 

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