Use My Voice

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

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 Won’t Be Shopping on Thanksgiving

So, our “Why Wednesday” series is getting started a day late, but hey the idea is still the same. Remember I am looking for all of you to help with this series. If you have a “why” you would like to answer let me know. Why are you passionate about something, why have you made a life choice that you sometimes feel the need to explain, or any other why you might think of.

So today I will be telling you why I won’t be shopping on Thanksgiving.  Let me tell you first I am not someone who says all Christmas related activities must wait until after Thanksgiving. Christmas music and all things peppermint started November 1st in my house. The kids spotted a Christmas tree in a neighbor’s house last night and couldn’t understand why we don’t have one up yet (because they aren’t selling fresh cut ones yet). We love us some Christmas in the Baker house.

The fact that I won’t be shopping at 6:00 Thanksgiving afternoon has nothing to do with my love for Christmas. It has everything to do with my love for others. My husband worked retail for a lot of years (he now works in the food and beverage industry that is very simmillar). Let’s just say he worked for what would generally be considered the nicer of the ‘big box” stores (you know the one where you can get your mocha and shop). This store will be opening at 8:00 on Thanks giving night (which is later than some). I asked him what time he would have had to be in if he was still working. He said 4:00 for a day like that.

When my husband use to work retail he loved Thanks giving and truly tried to soak up every last moment of the calm before the storm.  He new that the next 4-6 weeks would mean working 60 hours a week (he was a salaried level position so no overtime) , cranky customers, and never ending craziness.  Christmas Eve would be pent working up until the very last minute. The day after Christmas through New Years get ready for the returns. But at least he had Thanksgiving.  Calm, quiet (we only had one child then), family focused Thanksgiving. Now people working retail do not have that.

I have heard a couple of arguments for why it is not a big deal fro retail employees to work on Thanksgiving. The first one is , “Well, if police, and doctors, and fire fighters have to work on Thanksgiving why shouldn’t other people.” Come on really? I greatly appreciate the sacrifice people in serving professions make (15 years in ministry remember I know that one). However, I think we all agree it is necessary to have some of these people working on holidays for all of our safety. We do not need to be able to buy discounted toys and electronics to be safe. The other is, “Well if they don’t like it they should get another job”. Again I say really? Have you tried finding a job lately? I have and with a college degree I was able to land a holiday job at a children’s clothing store. Retail jobs are now the number one job in America. Not tech, not manufacturing, not service jobs, retail. Low paying retail jobs at that. So no, just going to find another job is not always a realistic option.

My best friend and I will keep our tradition going and go out in the way early morning hours of Friday before I have to go to work. We will laugh at how silly we are for doing, knowing we could just do it all on line. Where is the fun in that though? Now, I am sure there are some deals that I will miss out on. We have a very limited Christmas budget so people might get a little less because of it but that’s OK. Nobody is going to go without.  I do not need to take other people’s family time so that the members of my family can each have one more present or so that I can have something to do. I will respect the hard working retail employees more than that even if their companies do not.

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Why Wednesdays

I have an idea for my first series here. One of my favorite things about blogs are hearing people’s stories. I want to know why they think and feel the way they do. One of my biggest emotional needs is to feel like I am understood and I think I’m not the only one that is that way. I also think the more we know each other’s stories, the more we know “why” people are who they are, the closer we will become. It is hard to really look down on people or judge them when you know their story. When you know why they are in the position that they are in or why they are passionate about the things they are passionate about. Sharing stories breaks down walls. They are not always easy to share or to hear but they are important. If we want to work together. If we want to make this world a better place and if those of us call ourselves Christians want to really show his love we have to be willing to share our stories and listen to the stories of others.

With all of that being said I don’t want to just feature my stories here. That would get really boring really fast and limit the point of the series. I want as many voices as I can to help contribute to this. I would love to hear your “why”. Why you got a divorce, are a vegan, have no kids or have six kids. I want to know why you are passionate about adoption, education, or equality. If I know you IRL I will probably be asking you to share something. Your “why” doesn’t have to be faith based or even serious. If you want to tell us why your team is the best, or why you love a book, let us hear it. . I just ask that they don’t become commercials for anything and that they are written with respect.

If you are interested in submitting please leave a comment. I will be starting with one of my “Whys” next week with why I won’t be shopping on Thanksgiving.

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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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Stuff To Walk Through

Yesterday I read a blog entry from one of my favorite authors Sarah Bessey. In which she declared she was no longer afraid.http://sarahbessey.com/youre-afraid/. If you know me IRL or have read many of my post you will understand why I found this writing so powerful. It truly caused me to weep. I wanted to stand with Sarah and let our voices tremble together as we spoke what God was saying to us.

I was blessed as a young woman out of college to be hired as a children’s pastor in a United Methodist Church and had the pleasure to serve in three of them over the next 14 years and currently attend a fourth one. Early in these years someone gave me a copy of Ruth Tucker’s Women In The Maze https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/818668.Women_in_the_Maze. With that one book all of my questions and doubts about women in leadership vanished. That and serving in a church and denomination that fully ordained women and recognized them as 100% equal with men in every way including their ability to lead. However, I will never forget there are women and girls who hear everyday that God will never call them to lead simply because they are female.

I reposted Sarah’s blog yesterday on Facebook. A friend of mine commented that Sarah and I obviously has some heavy stuff to walk through and how she was blessed to never have experienced anyone being bothered with her leading just because she was a woman. I responded to her that my point was not simply about women being left out of leadership but about how it feels to be a Christian who often finds herself on the opposite side of issues of most Believers.

As I was chatting with another friend about it last night she pointed out the the things that I am passionate are “heavy stuff to walk through” and she was right. I have spent years ( and still do) spend a lot of time trying to figure out the heart that God has given me. I struggle with how a church says all are welcome but make little jokes about groups not like them. I struggle greatly with the idea that as a Christian I am not suppose to want the government to help people. How as a Christian I am suppose to more concerned with my government keeping my homosexual friends from marrying than I am with people having healthcare. I struggle with huge thoughts that I really could be getting it all wrong. How could I see things one way when so many people I truly respect and that I know love Jesus see things so differently . That is one question that I don’t have an answer for. All I know is that for me the closer I walk with Jesus the more secure I feel in my beliefs.

As long as I am walking with Jesus on this earth I will be walking through this “heavy stuff”. As long as there is injustice and hurting and I feel that burning inside of me that I know comes from God I will be walking though it. Walking through this “heavy stuff” is precisely what Christ called me to do when he told me to take up my cross and follow him.

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What a TV Wedding Can Remind You Of

I have a confession to make. I am a TV junkie. I have been as long as I can remember and at this point in my life I’m pretty sure that’s not going to change. I love good characters in shows. I think maybe’ it’s where my personality that straddles the border of introverted and extroverted finds a happy place. People to get to know and follow along with but I can do it in my PJ’s and turn them off when I want.  I know they aren’t real (however you will NEVER convince me the Mullder and Scully aren’t living on an island with William somewhere) but whatever.

So tonight is a pretty big night in the TV world. That is if you watch Bones (and if you don’t you really should). Bones and Booth are FINALLY getting married.  It only took them eight full seasons!  Bones is a show that holds a special place for me. (Not just because Bones and Booth are one of the best TV couples ever). I started watching Bones while I was on maternity leave with my second child. My leave with him however wasn’t calm and relaxing like it was with my first. My leave with him involved six-day ins the cardiac care unit of CHOA at Egleston and my entire world being turned upside down.  At two weeks old he was diagnosed with supraventricular tachycardia (SVT). In other words a crazy high rapid heart beat. People ask me how fast his heart would beat ans my answer is, “Well I can tell you a pediatric heart monitor cuts off at 399 beats per minute.”

It was during our stay at CHOA that my dad (who I get my TV junkie ways from) brought me season 1 of Bones on DVD. Well, to be perfectly honest there is not a lot to do when you are in the CCU with a newborn.  So I watched Bones and I was hooked. The next several months we spent too much time at doctor’s offices and in the ER. We learned to carry a stethoscope with us wherever we went. How to stop and episode with a bag of frozen peas or by taking a rectal temperature.  We learned my body could not produce enough calories to keep up with what he was burning off (imagine being on a treadmill all day long) so we had to supplement my breast milk and add extra calories to it. During these long winter months I would snuggle my baby to me and he would nurse and sleep and I would watch Bones. They became a brief escape from the worry and fear. I could just snuggle my baby and watch them.

Now almost seven years later they are getting married (and have a baby!). And my middle child? He is a strong and healthy first grader. He is a risk taker and a charmer. He is strong-willed and independent. He is spiritually sensitive.  So tonight when my husband and I watch Bones I will probably tear up a little (OK, I’m going to cry). I will also be reminded of how far that little baby has come. I will be reminded how much God has blessed us in the last seven years. I will be reminded to give thanks. I will pray for the Mammas and Daddies who are rocking their baby’s in a hospital tonight.

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Red

Over the last several months I have fallen in love with Lisa-Jo Baker’s blog. http://lisajobaker.com/ She writes about marriage and motherhood in a way that is both honest and inspiring. I like her work because she encourages to embrace motherhood for all of it’s glory while not denying that so much of it can be so exhausting and repetitive. I mean how many ways can you cook chicken?

Every Friday she has Five Minute Fridays where she encourages you to write on a topic for five minutes without editing or over thinking it. I know it’s Saturday but hey, better late than never. This week’s topic: Red.

Red

It’s the blood of angry men, sorry that was truly the first thing that came to my mind. It didn’t take long for something else to come to mind though. It is September, it is Saturday, I live in the south so red means one thing. It is game day. Red some will put on a darker less flattering shade with white. In my family we put our red with black and silver and there is only one acceptable shade, Bulldog Red.

I will get dressed in my red and go to the grocery store and the other members of Bulldog nation will smile and nod. The true fans won’t hesitate to yell “Go Dawgs” or “Sic ’em”. Girls will be in cheerleader costumes and dresses. Boys will be in t -shirts and jerseys. There will be other colors worn today but none as beautiful as Bulldog Red.

Bulldog Red is the color of :
Sugar falling from the sky
Run Lindsay Run
My God he ran right over two men…My God a freshman
A Hobnail Boot

It is the color of glory and of heartbreak. It is the color of five more yards. It is the color of maybe this year…..

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My Thoughts on Miley

So I finally broke down and watched the video. My first thought is, “That is six and a half minutes of my life I will never get back”. My next thoughts are too numerous to count. There are plenty on blogs out there addressed to Miley and and her poor decision to show us she is a grown up by acting like a child acting like a grown up. This isn’t for her,It is for all the rest of us (myself included) that helped her get to this point. When as a society are we going to learn that taking children and making them famous, giving them money, a spotlight and very few (if any) boundaries is rarely a good idea.  Come on now we have been watching the “child star falls” movie for way too long now. I can remember being in middle school and reading a magazine article about how Drew Barrymore was getting out of rehab. She was only a couple of years older than me. This is not a new problem as long as there are child stars there will be this problem. I don’t know how we avoided. I don’t think we can realistically boycott all entertainment with minors. As a mom I like for my kids to have kid friendly things to watch and listen to. But what is the cost?

My other thought is, “why are people surprised”. The VMA’s have a reputation for outlandish sexually provocative numbers. We all remember Madonna and Brittney. Well. when you take a child at 12 years old and start her on the path to pop stardom who is she going to watch? She’s not watching other Disney Channel stars, She is watching the “grown ups”. Miley probably spent the last 8 years watching how the “grown ups” in her field behaved and preformed. This is what was the example set for her. And we all know in the entertainment industry you must be bigger and grab more headlines than the person before you. Well, she did that.

Now, I’m not trying to excuse her behavior. She is ultimately responsible for her actions. However when I watched the video I tried to watch her face, her eyes. Those eyes were hollow and empty. They were the eye of a young woman playing a part because she still had no idea who she really is.

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Unexpected Highlight of the Summer

I can not believe how quickly summer is going. We have had what I would call a very relaxed summer this year. We’ve balance our summer with “off weeks” where we have had nothing big planed and weeks with VBS, camps, and of course 4th of July. The one thing I wanted to do this summer was get the kids and I serving somewhere. Our church partners with a local ministry to provide sack lunches to kids who would normally receive free or reduced school lunch. I signed the kids and I up to deliver once a week. I was also asked to help coordinate a week of “camp” for the neighborhood we would be delivering to. I was excited for both opportunities. My kids wake up every Tuesday looking or their “lunch shirts” and it has been such a blessing for me to watch them building relationships with the kids we deliver to. We had to miss one week because of camp schedules and they were worried about how the kids would get their lunches that day. My kids are developing a heart to serve and nothing could make me happier as a mother.

This week was my week to lead Next Door Kids Camp. I have to admit I wasn’t completely sure how the week would go. For all of my children’s ministry experience I had never done anything like this. Our program was pretty old school, parachute games, tag, freeze pops, simple short Bible lessons. No glitz, no videos, no game systems. I wondered how it would go over. Would they be bored?

I was looking at this week through the eyes of someone with 15 years of experience in middle class and upper middle class churches. Our constant challenge was competing with everything else the kids in our churches had and did. Church needed to be more fun than Chuck E Cheese. Well guess what I realized this week. These kids don’t go to Chuck E Cheese. They don’t have Friday nights all summer long that involve swimming, snow cones, and glow sticks like my kids do. These kids stay home all summer. They either stay home by themselves or with a parent or grandparent with no car (the one car in the family is at work) and no money to take them anywhere.
I had multiple parents and grandparents tell me how this was the only special thing they had gotten to do this summer. These five nights less than 10 hours were the highlight of these kids’ summer.

Our summer is ending quickly. We only have three weeks left of lunch delivery. I am going to miss these kids. I think my kids and I will pack our lunches and eat with them the next couple of weeks. I worry about what they will do during the weeks before school starts. I know that many kids share the lunches with their parents. I know some of them haven’t had breakfast when we show up with the lunches. I think this opportunity has probably been the highlight of my summer too.

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No This Week Was Not Equal to Hitler

What a week it has been in the political and social world. Depending on your views on different subjects parts of this week probably left you feeling devastated while others left you elated. I am still greatly concerned about the implications of parts the voting rights act being struck down. I am happy for all of the families who were able to take a huge step forward in equality this week. Even though abortion is an issue that I find myself conflicted on (more on that later) I was proud to see a woman stand for 11 hours to fight for the women in her state and I was proud to see the people in her state join with her. That is how the system is suppose to work.

My reading this week has been full of some of the most thoughtful pieces ever. However it has also contained some of the most hateful. Now, I will admit I am a sensitive person, both to my own feelings and those of others. I do not shy away from conflict but I try to respect people’s feelings in the process. I am learning how to be a peacemaker without being a people pleaser. However, I do think we need to be sensitive to the feelings of others at times and I believe most subjects can be handled without name calling or ugly comparisons.

It is one of those comparisons that I saw multiple times this week that I am just really over. Comparing people or movements that you don’t like to Hitler and the Nazis. When people do this they are insulting both the group they talking about and all of the victims of the Holocaust. Maybe everyone needs a history lesson (I’ll leave that to my history major husband) on just how Hitler and the Nazi movement worked. On just how evil they were and how they set out to torture and eliminate entire groups of people they didn’t like. I think most people would agree that Hitler was one of if not the most evil people to ever live.

I can think of nothing going on in our country this week that comes close to comparing to this horrible period in history. However, I saw it multiple times directed at two different groups. The first place I saw it was addressing the LGBT community in reaction to the Supreme Court rulings. I have to say this is the one that puzzles me the most. You might not agree with marriage equality but really you think it is equal to killing 11 million people? I don’t think so.

The second group of people that I see frequently targeted with this label are people who believe that abortion should be safe and legal. Now, I see what people are going for on this one. They want to say that allowing abortion is no different than creating our own Holocaust. They want to say that we are trying to eliminate babies that are unwanted or might not be perfect. I have never agreed with this comparison but was reminded this week how incredibly hurtful it is to one group in particular. When you compare the pro-choice movement to Hitler and The Nazis you are saying that every woman that has sat there and made that impossibly hard decision is equal to one of the most evil people to ever walk the earth. This woman for whatever reason felt that she had no other way out is she really evil? The 17 year old who was raped at a party? The mother of two other children who had to face the choice abort the baby and live to raise her other children or carry the baby to term but risk her own life? Was that a choice that was evil? The one who learned that her child would not live outside the womb? The woman in an abusive relationship who still hasn’t figured out how to leave but is scared for her very life? Are these the women the faces of evil that would seek to systematically torture and kill millions of people. I know what you are thinking, “I’m not comparing them to Hitler. I’m just comparing the movement as a whole”. Well I’m telling you now that is not what these women hear. They hear “You are evil for what you did. Your choice ranks up there with the most horrible acts our world has ever known”. A friend of mine had this leveled at her this week on Facebook in a conversation that I started and I hate the pain that know it caused her.

I am not saying that if you are committed to the pro-life movement you need to stop fighting for it. If you firmly believe that life begins at conception then it is your right to speak up and explain your beliefs and to vote for people who share them. I am just asking you to think about your choice of words. Think about what results you want when you say them. Are you trying to shame women into your movement or do you really want change hearts and minds? if it is the second that I would suggest acting in love. Getting to know the women that have made the decisions find out their hurt and pain and why they made the decisions that they did. Maybe by having these conversations we might find out things that could help other women down the road who are facing the same choice. We might even stop more abortions because we took time to love others instead of labeling them as evil.

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