Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Gift That You Gave

Thank you Lord for the gift you gave.
My daughter, so precious, the one that you made.
She sings, she dances, she makes me smile.
She even draws once in a while.

I love her so much, to the end of the earth.
My companion she has been since her birth.
I’ve wiped her tears and made her laugh.
I’ve watched her grow and prepared her path.

Thank you, Lord, for the gift you gave.
My daughter, so precious, the one that you made.
You matched her with me, her mother to be.
Our love is so special since you gave her to me.  

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Single Mom Goes Camping

I’ve conquered yet one more thing from my bucket list of things I want to accomplish…goals I set out to reach.  I have wanted to go camping since when I was married.  Then, it was my husband who stopped me.  As a single mom, it was my own inadequacies stopping me.  I had never camped before and thought I needed to go with another family, so they could show me the ropes.  After 4 years single, it started to look like my camping trip would NEVER happen!  It was then, I made up my mind.  I wasn’t going to wait around anymore.  I decided Hannah and I were going camping on our own.  I can’t live my life waiting around for people to step up to help.  If I want to do something, I just have to do it myself.  This is what I’ve learned over the years.  So, I set out to buy my very own camping equipment.
Thank God for Facebook, where I put the question out there about how to camp?  Where to begin?  What I would need?  I have NEVER had so many responses on ANY post before!  My Facebook friends really came through for me!  They told me what to buy and how to do this camping thing.  I ended up being completely equipped and then some.  I had more than enough for our camping trip!  I bought the tent first.  I was told to buy Coleman and to get it a little on the bigger side.  It appears I went overboard, because I bought a tent that sleeps 8 people!  We called it our Wilderness Mansion!!!!  It was a lot of work to set up and take down, but I was able to do it myself, with a little help from Hannah.  It wasn’t that difficult to figure out, either.  I also decided we should bring bicycles!  Being that I didn’t own a bicycle, I started researching and bought a purple Mongoose bike for myself.  The problem was that it was mailed to me, which meant I had to put it together myself!  Bad idea!!!  I spent a whole night doing that and still didn’t feel it was right.  
Then in order to transport our bikes, I needed a bike rack on my van.  So, I did my research yet again and bought a trailer hitch and bike rack.  Friends helped me install that.  One thing I wanted to do in Key Largo, where we were camping, was to go kayaking.  Another friend suggested buying an inflatable kayak!  Sure enough, I did my research and found one for $130!!!  You pay about $20 every time you rent a kayak, so this seemed like a worthwhile investment, and now I can take it out anywhere I want!  Like the tent, the kayak folds up in a bag and is easy to store.  I didn’t even need to add any equipment to my van to tote it along.  

Hannah was so excited about our first camping trip and so was I!  We were to go for 2 nights in Key Largo at a higher end campground called Key Largo Kampground Camp & Marina.  We had a really nice site with electricity and water nearby.  So, we had electricity in our tent!  I was very glad to have a fan, as it was humid, even though somewhat cooler than usual for South FL.  I used a charcoal grill for the first time, too!  I grilled up burgers, hotdogs, and even pancakes!  We went out to dinner on our last night.  Hannah was “tired of smoked food”.  I think next time I’ll buy a little 2 burner portable stove to include more variety of foods without the smoked flavor.  The only problem we had was my extension cord didn’t work, so we had to buy a new one.  Fortunately, there was a K-mart right down the street!  
I let Hannah jump in the pool after our site was all set up, even though it was already getting dark.  Then I grilled the burgers in the dark, but I had purchased a really nice LED lantern that worked nicely!  We had to go for a little walk to the bathrooms, but it didn’t bother us.  The bathrooms were clean, which is always nice at a campsite!  That first night, our neighbor decided to watch a really loud movie on their flat screen TV in their tent!!!!  Who would have thought?  It was difficult to sleep that night.  Besides that, I went to take 3 Advil, knowing I would be sore from all the setting up camp…but instead I took Excedrin Migraine, which has caffeine in it!  Not good for sleeping!!!  It was dark.  What can I say?  
That first morning, we had to be up early to go on a snorkeling tour on the island.  It was very windy with rough surf.  So, visibility was really bad!  I have NEVER had such a bad snorkeling experience!  That was a wasted morning.  We came back and Hannah jumped in the pool while I showered.  She spent 2-3 hrs in the pool that day.  I found WiFi at the pool!  I grilled up hotdogs for lunch.  That evening we took out the kayak to watch the sunset.  The campgrounds were right on the water, so we had to carry the kayak down to the boat ramp.  Hannah was afraid it would sink!  It turned out to be my favorite thing on the whole trip!  It handled well and was easy to steer.  It was super comfortable!  I wish we could have stayed out longer, but the sun was setting.  We planned to go back out the next morning, but it rained.  So, I had to pack up everything, even the tent in the pouring rain!  That…was NOT fun!  After loading all up, we stopped by the bathrooms to take a shower and put on some dry clothes.  I couldn’t have been wetter had I jumped in the pool!  Then we drove back home, which took about 1 ½ hours.  I returned home completely and utterly exhausted!  But it was all well worth the effort.  I accomplished a big thing as a single mom!  I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me!  He did give me strength!  Next time, I’d like to stay longer.  It’s too much work for just 2 nights.  I can’t wait to take the kayak out again!  

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

You Never Marry the Right Person

JANUARY 5, 2012
How our culture misunderstands compatibility.

In generations past, there was far less talk about “compatibility” and finding the ideal soul-mate. Today we are looking for someone who accepts us as we are and fulfills our desires, and this creates an unrealistic set of expectations that frustrates both the searchers and the searched for.
In John Tierney’s classic humor article “Picky, Picky, Picky” he tries nobly to get us to laugh at the impossible situation our culture has put us in. He recounts many of the reasons his single friends told him they had given up on their recent relationships:
“She mispronounced ‘Goethe.’” “How could I take him seriously after seeing The Road Less Traveled on his bookshelf?” “If she would just lose seven pounds.” “Sure, he’s a partner, but it’s not a big firm. And he wears those short black socks.” “Well, it started out great ... beautiful face, great body, nice smile. Everything was going fine—until she turned around.” He paused ominously and shook his head. ”... She had dirty elbows.”
In other words, some people in our culture want too much out of a marriage partner. They do not see marriage as two flawed people coming together to create a space of stability, love and consolation, a “haven in a heartless world,” as Christopher Lasch describes it. Rather, they are looking for someone who will accept them as they are, complement their abilities and fulfill their sexual and emotional desires. This will indeed require a woman who is “a novelist/astronaut with a background in fashion modeling,” and the equivalent in a man. A marriage based not on self-denial but on self-fulfillment will require a low- or no-maintenance partner who meets your needs while making almost no claims on you. Simply put—today people are asking far too much in the marriage partner.
You never marry the right person

The Bible explains why the quest for compatibility seems to be so impossible. As a pastor I have spoken to thousands of couples, some working on marriage-seeking, some working on marriage-sustaining and some working on marriage-saving. I’ve heard them say over and over, “Love shouldn’t be this hard, it should come naturally.” In response I always say something like: “Why believe that? Would someone who wants to play professional baseball say, ‘It shouldn’t be so hard to hit a fastball’? Would someone who wants to write the greatest American novel of her generation say, ‘It shouldn’t be hard to create believable characters and compelling narrative’?” The understandable retort is: “But this is not baseball or literature. This is love. Love should just come naturally if two people are compatible, if they are truly soul-mates. “

The Christian answer to this is that no two people are compatible. Duke University Ethics professor Stanley Hauerwas has famously made this point:
Destructive to marriage is the self-fulfillment ethic that assumes marriage and the family are primarily institutions of personal fulfillment, necessary for us to become "whole" and happy. The assumption is that there is someone just right for us to marry and that if we look closely enough we will find the right person. This moral assumption overlooks a crucial aspect to marriage. It fails to appreciate the fact that we always marry the wrong person. We never know whom we marry; we just think we do. Or even if we first marry the right person, just give it a while and he or she will change. For marriage, being [the enormous thing it is] means we are not the same person after we have entered it. The primary challenge of marriage is learning how to love and care for the stranger to whom you find yourself married.
Hauerwas gives us the first reason that no two people are compatible for marriage, namely, that marriage profoundly changes us. But there is another reason. Any two people who enter into marriage are spiritually broken by sin, which among other things means to be self-centered—living life incurvatus in se. As author Denis de Rougemont said, “Why should neurotic, selfish, immature people suddenly become angels when they fall in love ... ?” That is why a good marriage is more painfully hard to achieve than athletic or artistic prowess. Raw, natural talent does not enable you to play baseball as a pro or write great literature without enduring discipline and enormous work. Why would it be easy to live lovingly and well with another human being in light of what is profoundly wrong within our human nature? Indeed, many people who have mastered athletics and art have failed miserably at marriage. So the biblical doctrine of sin explains why marriage—more than anything else that is good and important in this fallen world—is so painful and hard.
No false choices
The reason that marriage is so painful and yet wonderful is because it is a reflection of the Gospel, which is painful and wonderful at once. The Gospel is—we are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared to believe, and at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope. This is the only kind of relationship that will really transform us. Love without truth is sentimentality; it supports and affirms us but keeps us in denial about our flaws. Truth without love is harshness; it gives us information but in such a way that we cannot really hear it. God’s saving love in Christ, however, is marked by both radical truthfulness about who we are and yet also radical, unconditional commitment to us. The merciful commitment strengthens us to see the truth about ourselves and repent. The conviction and repentance moves us to cling to and rest in God’s mercy and grace.
The hard times of marriage drive us to experience more of this transforming love of God. But a good marriage will also be a place where we experience more of this kind of transforming love at a human level.
Excerpt from THE MEANING OF MARRIAGE © 2011 by Timothy Keller with Kathy Keller.  Published by Dutton, A Member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc. Excerpted with permission from the publisher. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Hearing God...Are You Listening?

Acts 17:11 Bible Studies

Hearing God

Rev 3:22 (NIV) "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."

  • Sandy Gregory's Story Of The Remote Employee
  • Imagine you are hired to open up an office in Anchorage, Alaska. Your new boss gives you a high-tech looking two-way radio, a policy and procedure manual, and tells you that you will receive instructions once you arrive, and off you go. Upon arrival you hear your boss's voice over the radio, saying, "I will communicate to you through this radio unit. But take note: our competitors, our enemies, also have access to this channel. They will try to impersonate my voice with false messages to thwart our purposes." "Oh no!" you panic, "Then how will I know if it is you or the enemy giving me instructions?"
    Your boss's voice comes back over the radio: "Three ways. First, considering the situation, check every message supposedly from me against the policy and procedure manual. Since I wrote it, I'm not likely to ask you to violate it, right? Also, if I am not talking, don't focus in on the noise, pretending that I am. If I am not speaking, let the manual be your guide. Don't let any impersonating voice mislead you, or your own overactive imagination."
    "Second, since the Manual does not cover every situation, you will have to get to know my voice. I know, this will take time, and so I am not likely to ask you to do anything radical until we both have some low-risk successes under our belts. Remember, I understand the situation perfectly well, so I'll go slow at first. A time will come when I will be able to tell you to do the wildest things, and you will know it is me. In the short-term, you must be trained through low-risk experience."
    "Third, over time, my overall purpose for your work will begin to come into focus. You will begin to see the grand strategy in the policy and procedure manual, and the overall pattern of my true instructions. When this happens, you'll know instantly if what you hear through your unit is 'of me', just your imagination, or enemy misinformation. False instructions will begin to appear silly to you then. So take heart, and get to work."
    After reflecting on this a few moments, you hear your boss's voice again on the radio unit. "Take all of the money from petty cash and give it the next person that walks in, no questions asked." Hmmm... You look in the policy and procedure manual, and this is specifically forbidden. Besides, you know your boss wouldn't tell you to do something that risky right off. And also there was an certain "twang" to the voice, an appeal to something different within you, and a plan that was not in the long-term interests of the company. So, even though you are on a hostile channel, you are beginning to have hope that you can indeed do this job.

    Hearing Things...

  • God speaks to us through our minds and hearts. God occasionally speaks audibly to His children when He has placed them in situations that require great faith. Thus, the miraculous aspect of a physical voice coming from nowhere allows us to believe in situations that are beyond us.
  • John 12:28 (NIV) [Jesus prayed,] "Father, glorify your name!" Then a voice came from heaven, "I have glorified it, and will glorify it again." The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him. Jesus said, "This voice was for your benefit, not mine."
  • Why did Jesus go out of His way to point out that the voice was not for His benefit? Because He heard God all the time. He was in constant communion with the Father. But the disciples needed to hear it, so they could have faith to believe. Remember, Jesus was about to be rejected by the religious establishment, taunted and humiliated, and executed. So God spoke audibly. God knows when we need a sure word, and works around our lack of maturity in times of great need.
  • 2 Pet 1:16-19 (NIV) We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain. And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.

    God Will Do What He Says

    Rom 4:17 (NIV) As it is written: "I have made you a father of many nations." He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed--the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were.
    Gal 4:22-23,29 (NIV) For it is written that Abraham had two sons [Ishmael first, and then Isaac], one by the slave woman [Hagar] and the other by the free woman [Sarah]. His son by the slave woman was born in the ordinary way [the flesh]; but his son by the free woman was born as the result of a promise [the Spirit]... At that time the son born in the ordinary way persecuted the son born by the power of the Spirit. It is the same now.

  • You know the story. God promised Abraham a son in Gen 15:4. The problem came when after receiving this promise, Sarah suggested an idea to move ahead in the flesh and "assist" God. The "Ishmael" mistake of Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar is not uncommon. We are often deceived into thinking that God needs our help. What is praiseworthy of Abraham and Sarah is that after this false start, they remembered God's promise and got back to simple faith and obedience, believing that God would help them... and not vice-versa.
  • Num 23:19 (NIV) God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?
  • God calls Isaac "Abraham's only son" in Gen 22:2,12,16. From God's point of view, "the flesh counts for nothing" (John 6:63). God did not remember Abraham's sin, only his faith, which was credited to him as full righteousness before God (Rom 4:3). His mistakes were forgotten (Micah 7:19). Like Abraham, we need to enter into God's rest, knowing that what God says He will do. For he who enters into rest has ceased from his own works (Heb 4:10).
  • Isa 55:1-11 (NIV) "Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live..." Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon... "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it."

    Discerning God's Voice

    Isa 42:1-2 (NIV) "Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him and he will bring justice to the nations. He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets."
    Mat 17:5 (NIV) While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!"

  • Outside of miraculous visitations and audible voices, our general problem is one of hearing God's "still small voice". What would the Spirit have us do next? This leadership comes through "promptings" to our hearts or minds, which are generally low-risk until we mature. God tells us to call someone late at night; to give someone the money in our pocket; to offer to pray with someone about something very specific that we couldn't have known. Often, we'll go wrong, but if we humbly reflect on our errors we can gain confidence for future promptings.
  • Prov 14:15 (NIV) A simple man believes anything, but a prudent man gives thought to his steps.
  • The problem is that we are on a hostile channel. Our minds can be prompted by God, from our own carnal desires, or from unclean spirits. Some ignore this and naively believe that anything they think or feel is from God, without humility or reflection. This may seem a silly error, but it can become serious when such a person thinks God has told them to "go kill someone". Manson, who still claims to be a Christian, heard from his "god" in this fashion many times.
  • 2 Cor 11:3 (NIV) But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent's cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.2 Tim 3:13-17 (NIV) ...evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it... you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

  • Beyond demonic promptings, our routine problem is the flesh. We want to look spiritual, we covet something, we want to defend ourselves. These often get blamed on God, and acted upon. These seemingly silly errors can lead to as much spiritual mayhem and abuse as Manson's delusions did physically. We must learn to walk a straight line before attempting to tightrope across Niagara Falls. Our problem is lack of reflection on past performance.
  • Rom 7:21-23 (NIV) So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members.2 Cor 10:3-5 (NIV) For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

  • If we have learned to discern God's voice in small things by acting on God's low-risk promptings and finding them validated with fruit that lasts, then God may prompt us to "tell that person I am going to heal them". At this point of maturity, those practiced at knowing God's voice need not pretend or merely hope. They can speak with authority, conviction, and results (Rom. 12:2). They need not be double-minded or resort to psychological gymnastics (James 1:5-8). They can pray in real faith (James 5:15). For "faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Rom. 10:17).
  • Who's Not Listening Now?

    Jer 6:10 (NIV) "To whom can I speak and give warning? Who will listen to me? Their ears are closed so they cannot hear. The word of the Lord is offensive to them; they find no pleasure in it."
    Zech 7:11-13 (NIV) "But they refused to pay attention; stubbornly they turned their backs and stopped up their ears. They made their hearts as hard as flint and would not listen... So the Lord Almighty was very angry. "When I called, they did not listen; so when they called, I would not listen,' says the Lord Almighty."
    Mat 13:12-17 (NIV) "Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. This is why I speak to them in parables: [from Isa 6:9-11] 'Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand.' In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: 'You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. For this people's heart has become callused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.' But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. For I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it."

    Obeying The Father's Voice

  • Often we ask God to speak to us, only to hear back, "if you are so interested in what I think, then why didn't you do the last thing I told you?" Obedience is the response that keeps the dialog going. If we refuse to do what God tells us in the little things, we risk deafening our spiritual ear. If we refuse to do what God speaks in the big things, we risk his active rebuke.
  • 1 Sam 15:22 (NIV) ..."Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings much as in obeying the voice of the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice..." (Mat 21:28-31)
  • Imagine your own son coming to you in great earnestness and saying, "Father, please speak to me. What would you have me do?" You respond, "I would like you to clean your room." Thrilled at the sound of your voice, the child goes off elated, but does not clean the room. Later, he approaches again, "Father, please disclose your will to your humble child." You tell him again, "Go clean your room." Pleased, he withdraws himself again, but does not do what you asked. Yet again, your son comes to you, "Oh great father, I long to do your bidding! Grant me the favor of your wisdom and direction." What would you do at this point? Perhaps a stare would suffice... What does God do when we play this game with Him?
  • James 1:22 (NIV) Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.

    Orders From On High

    Isa 30:20-21 (NIV) Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them. Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it."
    John 10:2-5 (NIV) "The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger's voice."

    Extra Stuff on Hearing God | Acts 17:11 Home Page

    Sunday, September 1, 2013

    The Missing Piece

    I've been feeling some stress lately.  I've been a little tearful and down.  Yes, there have been some things going on.  But I think most of all, I miss sharing those things with Grandma.  Whenever something happens good or bad, the first person I want to call is Grandma!  Without her, I feel so alone.  I feel like a part of me is missing.  She and Grandpa were my mentors.  I looked up to them and they were role models for me.  They encouraged me as I lost hope in marriage, as I struggled through grad school as a single mom, as I felt the stress of having to let go of my little girl when she went away with her dad.  But now, I don't have that person to call, who always knows what to say, who has time for me and loves me like no other.  I have no one call for spiritual guidance.  As a few stressful events have occurred this last week, I found myself feeling very alone.  Even though I did share my heart with people, none could replace Grandma.  I am at a loss…  

    I know she is in a better place.  I know she get's to be with Grandpa again, and I know I will see her again one day in heaven.  But what about now?  What about those times when I really need her?  What shall I do without her to call upon?  There is a missing piece.

    Friday, August 30, 2013

    The Long Weekend Apart

    Hannah left Thursday night with her dad to return Sunday, his girlfriend and her mom to Orlando for 3 nights.  She tells me he is taking her to Blizzard Beach, Epcot and Cirque du Soliel's La Nuba show.  She has been very excited!  But me?  Not so much.  It is very hard for me to be away from Hannah for 3 nights.  That is very rare!  The longest I've ever parted from her was for 5 days when I went to Kansas to visit my aging grandmother by myself.  It was difficult, but I am so thankful to have had that special time with her, since she passed this year.  I miss her so much, but that's a different blog.  LOL!  

    Missing her isn't my only issue.  There is also that fact that he is teaching her that it's OK for people to spend the night with their significant other before marriage.  I hope he will sleep in a separate room from his girlfriend!!!  But if he doesn't, there is nothing I can do.  He has allowed Hannah to spend the night at his girlfriend's house with him before.  When I found out, I flipped out!  I called and told him how I felt, in vain.  I had to work very hard to remain calm, as I was pretty angry on the inside.  I think he knew I was upset, but I didn't yell.  My voice was probably pretty shaky, if anything.  I told him how I felt it was inappropriate for Hannah to spend the night with him and his girlfriend.  I told him how it is not Biblical.  He simply said that he disagreed with me and will do what he chooses.  He didn't see any wrong in it.  I pleaded with him, begged him!!!  She is my daughter, and I don't approve!  Out of respect for the mother of his daughter he should submit, but he still wouldn't budge.  

    This is the hardest part, accepting what I can not change.  Legally, I have no grounds to fight this.  As long as they aren't having sex in front of her, they can do what they want.  So, this is just one more time that I had to give up my little girl into God's loving hands.  I have to let it go.  I'm not happy about it, but there is nothing I can do.  I have to trust that God will protect my little girl, in spite of her father's choices.  

    So, as my sweet girl is vacationing with her dad and his girlfriend, I give her up into God's care.  I pray for her safety and that she'll have a fantastic time.  As I think of her constantly, I refrain from calling too much, because I don't want her to worry about Mommy left home missing her, which I know she does.  She worries about me.  I want her to focus on having fun with her dad, something that is very important for a little girl.  He doesn't do a whole lot of fun outings with Hannah, maybe catching a movie here or there.  So, this is an important trip for her.  She needs this.  I want her to value her father, because I know how important that is for a little girl.  How she views her father will affect how she chooses and treats her spouse later in life.  

    As of now, she doesn't think very highly of her dad.  She talks very bad about him and often doesn't want to go with him on his nights.  I try to encourage her and build him up in her eyes.  As you can imagine, this is NOT an easy task for me after all that he's done to me.  If it was up to me, I'd never see or hear from this man again!  If it wasn't for me, she would not want any relationship at all with him.  She's already on the verge of that.  But I am constantly encouraging her to give him a chance and bringing up the positive aspects he has.  

    So, here I am, missing my baby, knowing she's so far away.  It's good for me to have this time to myself.  It's good for her to be separated from Mommy for a few days.  That doesn't make it easy.  I will have to go to church without her on Sunday, which is the hardest part.  I really don't like going to church without her!  She is my family.  I feel so alone.  But thankfully, I have friends who allow me into their family when I'm there alone.  I hope to start forming more deeper relationship with the women in the church now that I'm out of school  I hope to get more involved.  A season has ended and a new season has begun.

    Wednesday, August 28, 2013

    Breaking Up Is Hard to Do

    God allowed me to see what it's like to be in a relationship again.  He gave me a glimpse of what a good man looks like, that they are still out there.  I have no regrets.  We knew each other for 6 months before it had to end.  A friend introduced us, which was really nice.  We were friends for 3 months before taking the next step.  For 4 months, I had a real boyfriend.  I believe he was in my life to help me to heal in a way I could never do by myself.  I was able to learn to trust a man again.  I allowed myself to be vulnerable.  He was there to protect me and take care of me.  He was my companion for a time.

    Sadly, it had to end, not due to either of us, but due to his ex.  She was persistent on making his life miserable by hurting those around him.  In the process, she hurt her own daughter worse of all and continues to do so.  It is more than I can bare to take on someone else's ex drama.  The Lord knows I have enough of my own!  

    I'm thankful, though, for the strength God gave us to remain pure during our relationship.  This made a break up much more bearable.  I can see how that emotional bond could make a couple stay together for the wrong reasons.  I also learned that a man CAN wait, as he has.  Now I know for a fact if someone pushes me, they aren't worthy of me.  

    I'm left wondering now, as I sit alone, will I ever meet that special someone who God has for me?  Will I meet him in time to be able to have a family with him?  I guess those are questions that can not be answered.  I just have to trust that God's plan is the best possible plan.  I also wonder if I could possibly find a man with little to no baggage at this age.  I figure, I'll have to wait for a widower, sadly.  The options I see are, they have never been married, which makes me wonder…what's wrong with him???  Or they are divorced, which means either they have issues or their ex does, both of which would affect me.  There will likely be other kids involved, which also causes complications with the blended family situation.  

    But…that's all in the future.  One step at a time.  For now, I'm alone and single once again.  I became good at it, so I can do it again.  I will miss the companionship of having "someone".  I will miss all that he did for me…mowing, trimming, washing, cooking, any hard work that needed to be done.  He never wanted me to over exert myself.  Now, I'll be back to doing it all.  But I can do it, as I've done before.  

    The funny thing, is my relationship fell, but I'm OK.  I feel peace.  I know the Lord is protecting me.  I have prayed that God would give me clarity to know where to go with this relationship.  I prayed for Him to lead me to do all things His way, and not my own.  Well, God made it clear that this season has ended.  It was clear that there is no future for us, as I can no longer be around his daughter.  I told him if he has to choose between me or her, he must choose her.  I wouldn't have it any other way.  Being a parent is the most important job God can possibly give a person, I believe.  He must fight for his child.  I feel bad, because I can escape this woman's wrath, but he's trapped.  She will not stop till she hurts him and everyone he cares about.  I feel sorry for the innocent child, who is being brainwashed and taught to lie and who knows what else.  

    I believe that God has a purpose even in this.  We just have to have faith and trust in His will.  We need to be still and wait upon Him to show us our path.  It's just that our paths are now separate.  So, once again, I'm alone and single.  I'm sad, but OK.  I trust that God has a plan for me still.  I will wait for it!  

    Tuesday, July 23, 2013

    Colorado Trip 2013

    Day 1 at the Cabin 

    I took this summer off and planned to spend a lot of time traveling.  The longest trip was to Colorado.  We were going to drive, but when Grandma passed away we had no reason to drive through Kansas.  So, we decided to shorten the trip from 5 weeks to 3 and fly to Colorado Springs.  It turned out that my parents, George and Elaine Moeller and my nephew, Tristan (13) were going to meet us out there.  In fact, they flew from Orlando and we flew from Ft. Lauderdale and we were to meet in Dallas for our connecting flight to Colorado Springs.  The problem arose when our flight arrived late to Dallas due to lightning in Ft. Lauderdale, and we missed our connecting flight in Dallas.  The family ended up arriving in Colorado and having to wait for us, while we were stuck in Dallas until the next flight, which wasn't until 3 hours later.  And then we were on the stand-by list on that flight.  Fortunately, they got us on that flight.  The next flight wasn't until 2 hours after that one.  

    Fortunately, Hannah and I met a single mom with an 8 year old daughter at the Ft. Lauderdale airport that were on the same first flight.  Hannah and Abby clicked immediately!  They were from Wisconsin and were visiting Abby's father in Miami.  They had a layover in Dallas, so we were able to hang out with them while we waited.  The girls shopped in the airport stores and had ice cream cones.  

    When we finally made it to Colorado Springs on the earlier flight, we got stuck on the plane yet again due to lightning.  It had been a long day by the time we finally saw the family.  We rented a small SUV to fit all our luggage, and we were off.  We had about a 2 hour drive.  Midway, I realized no one had brought a cabin key!!!  We decided we'd better find a motel for the night.  We found a Days Inn between Pueblo and Walsenburg, which had a really nice breakfast with waffles, scrambled eggs, sausage, etc.  

    That morning, we got up and were ready to head to the cabin!  We stopped in Walsenburg for some food essentials and continued on.  Jeanne Briggs said there was a cabin key under their porch step, which we used to get in.  To our surprise, the cabin stunk so bad from what was left in the fridge when Dan Peter's family was here 2 weeks before.  They were evacuated from a fire on the east peak and had to leave all their food.  The fridge was turned off!  It was awful to the point of a puddle leaking on the floor and maggots inside the fridge.  DISGUSTING!!!  While Mom cleaned out the fridge, I cleaned the rest of the cabin.  That's what we did our first day.  

    Cabin Day 2 - The Bear

    On our first morning in the cabin, July 7, Tristan went outside around 8 am and ran right into a brown bear!!!  He came running in after about one second shaking and gasping.  I said to him, "See, I told you it was cold."  He gasped as he said, "There's a bear!"  I didn't believe him until I looked out the window and saw the tail end of a brown bear walking up the side of the mountain.  I couldn't believe my eyes!!!  The whole cabin woke up to hear our tale.  The big brown bear had been hanging out right by the back table when Tristan walked out the back door.  They were face to face!  Both ran in the opposite directions.  What a morning!

    Later, Dad, Tristan, Hannah and I climbed the boulders.  Hannah was scared, but climbed up pretty high.  Tristan and Dad went on up ahead of us.  Tristan and Dad went up a different way from us, via the stairs.  We climbed up the forest side.  In the beginning, we actually were up higher than they were.  But Hannah didn't want to go higher, and they eventually passed us.  

    That evening, the kids were playing hide and go seek, while we cooked dinner.  Just after they came in, Mom spotted the bear again in front of the cabin!  Dad and I ran out to get a closer look.  Of course I brought my camera, not being able to get a very good shot.  Before running up, he stood on his hind legs up against a tree, front paws up the tree and looked right at me before running up the side of the mountain.


    We bought peanuts in the shell for my dad, but started feeding the squirrels with them.  The squirrels LOVED them so much, that they would do just about anything to get them.  It was amazing how they would crawl right up on our laps and even sit on my shoulder to get a nut.  These were big mountain gray squirrels!  They were the size of rabbits, more than squirrels.  These big squirrels would chase off the smaller ground squirrels.  There were 2 of these gray squirrels.  Their behavior with each other was so funny to watch.  They would also chase each other away.  One was more gray than the other.  That was Chester.  The other had a red tint.  I called him Big Red.  Chester often chased off Big Red, even though Big Red looked a little bigger.  They would do these funny dances with their tails up and their fur fluffed.  They would also rub themselves on things like cats.  When feeding the squirrels, I enjoyed trying to pet them.  They would sometimes let me for a short time before running off to stuff the nut in their mouths.  They would fill their cheeks so full of nuts!  Chester was more brave than Big Red.  He was like my pet…until one day, he BIT me!  I had filled Big Red's cheeks full of nuts, and went back out to feed Chester.  After giving him one nut he came back.  I was about to give him another nut, and he bit my thumb HARD and wouldn't let go!  I had to hit him to get him to release my thumb!!!  It broke the skin and bled.  We were afraid I would need to get a shot of some kind to ward off disease.  I was NOT happy with Mr. Chester!!!  Later, Mom and I drove into town to Google treatment for squirrel bite.  Turns out, you treat it like a cat bite.  Rodents are very unlikely to carry disease.  Thank God I didn't have to go to the ER that night!!!  

    Mesa Surprise

    One evening, Mom and I decided to hike toward the Mesa to get some exercise.  We ended up going all the way up!  We decided this was a much harder hike than to the Meadow, but maybe not as far.  It is all uphill.  We took short breaks just to catch our breath on the way up.  But once at the top on the rocks, the view was breathtaking!  We could see a lightning storm over Baldy (Gpa).  I'm so thankful that I bring my camera everywhere I go!  We stayed up there for a while just to take in the view, but decided to head back, as it was nearing 7pm, and the family hadn't eaten!  Besides, that's the time the bear is usually seen in the canyon.  The hike back is MUCH easier down hill, but we tended to watch our feet instead of the scene around us, since it was rocky and steep.  All of a sudden, a large brown animal darted out from behind a tree right next to us!  I quickly glanced toward it only seeing a brown rear end about 5 feet from us!I immediately assumed it was the bear!!!  But the fact that it was so close made me go into panic mode.  I gasped and grabbed Mom at the shoulders.  She casually looked up and said, "Oh, a deer."  What a relief!  It took me a long time to calm down after my adrenalin started pumping!  The hair on my arms was standing straight up covered in goose bumps.  My legs were shaking so much, I had to take a break and couldn't walk again right away.  I was really freaked out!  I guess that deer was probably as freaked out as I was.  It seems, he heard us coming and just froze behind some brush.  Since we were looking at our feet, we didn't even notice him.  But when we got too close, he made a run for it!  

    This reminds me of a time 2 years ago that Hannah and I hiked to the Mesa with my dad.  On our way back, Dad had gone up ahead of us, out of sight.  As we were walking down the path in the same way, I heard a sound like a bear growling behind a tree about 20 feet from us and heard branches cracking as if it was coming toward us.  Even though we hadn't seen bears that year, I assumed that's what it was.  All I knew, is it was coming toward us from behind that tree!  I then grabbed my little 5 year old by the hand and ran, dragging her behind me!  She had NO idea why I was in a panic.  I was screaming and Hannah was crying.  Then my dad came out from behind the tree.  Not a funny joke!!!!  I was so upset with him.  He had no idea I would react like that!  At least this time, it was a wild animal doing the scaring.  Mom and I both wished we had seen the deer sooner.  

    Starting Week 2

    After 8 days with my family at the cabin, it was time for them to catch a plane home.  We had rented a small SUV truck to fit 5 people and all their luggage for the first week.  The plan was to drop them at the airport and rent an economy car for the next 2 wks to save money.  As it turned out, after dropping my family off at the airport, we found that none of the rental companies had cars of ANY size available to rent!!!  So, our only option was to keep the SUV and pay the extra.  If I had rented an economy car for 3 weeks in the beginning as planned, I would have paid around $1000 for the 3 weeks!  Instead, the SUV for 3 weeks was $1700!!!  Fortunately, Mom paid for $400 from the first week.  This is like a 2 month car payment for my van!  OUCH!!!  At least driving in the mountains in as SUV will be very comfortable.  It is a nice vehicle with a review camera and parking sensors.  

    Having my family here for the 1st week was nice and gave me a sense of security on arrival at the cabin.  But I sure am looking forward to having some time out here alone with Hannah.  I have a lot of cleaning and laundry to do now!  Then I can get settled into my own routine.  

    The Flood

    It had rained every day a little since our arrival, but this time, the rain came down all day and night.  By morning, the stream was flooded more so than I've ever seen!  We didn't have water running for 4 days!  Thankfully, I had filled the canisters with drinking water, so we were fine.  The Tonn's arrived just before my family left.  So, we took Arlyn to the Meadow.  We had to drive up to the top of the canyon for him to make it.  The path was covered in water in many places, which made our hike especially difficult.  I had to help Arlyn a lot and walk very slowly, while Hannah hiked on ahead of us.  She made it to the meadow long before we did.  Thank God for walkie talkies!!!  

    The next day, I went into town to do lot's of laundry.  I left Hannah with the Tonn's to play Monopoly.  I had Dan's and my family's laundry to do in addition to ours.  It was a lot!!!  I was glad to be able to leave Hannah with the Tonn's.  She would have been so bored!  She had a great day with them!  She even won 2 games!

    Hike to the Mesa

    On another day we hiked to the Mesa.  We found that this hike is a more strenuous hike, even though not as far as the meadow.  On our way up, I ran into another deer, but this time I calmed myself down remembering the last scare when I thought it was a bear.  It is all uphill!  With Hannah, we had to move very slowly and take lot's of breaks, but we made it!  We brought a picnic lunch with us to eat when we got to the flat rock.  I noticed many  more flowers in the pasture now that we've had rain.  The view from the top is very worth the effort getting there!  We stayed up there for hours just enjoying the view and collecting rock treasures.  We also enjoy hearing our echos when we make loud sounds.  

    Sand Dunes

    We made the drive to the Great Sand Dunes, which are about 1 1/2 hours away.  We stopped at a little family owned Mexican Restaurant on our way there in Blanca.  It was a bright and sunny day till much later in the evening.  I found that we should always plan this trip early in the morning to have plenty of time and to not arrive back after dark.  A guy at the restaurant told us to make sure to visit Zapata Falls, which is on our way to the Dunes.  We stopped into the Visitor's Center first, where Hannah bought a book about kids lost in a cave and a poster of a bobcat kitten.  Then we trekked on to the Great Sand Dunes.  It costed us $3 to get into the National Park.  Not bad at all!  We found the stream of water was very low.  Hannah was disappointed, although, she had forgotten her swimsuit anyway.  We could feel the sun burning against our skin.  Even though it was probably in the 70's, it felt really hot.  Next time, we need to dress in shorts!  Hannah was reluctant to climb the dunes and unimpressed.  We didn't stay too long.  On our way back, we drove up to Zapata Falls.  We had no idea what to expect!  It was a long rough rocky ride getting up there.  Then we had to hike 1/2 mile to get to the stream.  Then we had to walk through the stream into a cave to actually see the falls.  Hannah was already worn out from the Dunes, so it was difficult to gain her interest to make all this effort now.  But she did it, not happily, but she did it.  Thankfully, she had on Crocks, so she could walk through the water with no problem.  That, she liked!  I finally gave up and walked back from the falls with my tennis shoes on.  That is some COLD water!  It was a fun experience.  Hannah was in a better mood after getting a little wet.  It was cool back there, too!  We even fed the ground squirrels there.  We got back at almost dark.  

    Lover's Leap

    Hannah just loves to visit the Tonn's at their cabin!  On this morning, she wanted to visit them at 10am.  I wouldn't allow her to go till at least noon.  They tend to get up and moving late.  Sure enough, it was perfect timing when she arrived.  I packed up a picnic lunch and headed over to collect her for a hike up to Lover's Leap.  As we were about to leave, we met a family down at the water fall.  It was a lady, Yolonda, with her 2 grandkids, John (4) & Elizabeth (9).  Hannah and Elizabeth really hit it off!  They decided to hike with us to Lover's Leap to eat lunch.  They live locally, so we exchanged contact info to possibly see them next year.  On our way back, Hannah went to visit the Tonn's again, and they played Spinner.  After a while, I went to collect her before dark.  

    Bear Break-in

    Hannah and I were hiking around eating wild raspberries when we found a bunch around the Moody's cabin.  As we came upon the front door, we saw that it had been bashed in.  There was a large hole right in the middle of the door.  Now, that was a scary sight!  This cabin is a close neighbor of ours.  There hadn't been anyone there since the first couple of days of our trip.  As we looked closer, it was obvious what had happened.  There were scratch marks and large paw prints around the hole.  It was a bear!  The first week of our trip, we had seen that bear many times.  Once, he appeared to eve be coming from the Moody's cabin.  I wonder that's when the crime took place.  That would mean that hole had been there nearly 2 weeks!  We hadn't seen the bear in a week at this time, so I assumed it happened when he was around, or at least I hoped.  I looked inside through the hole and saw what looked like flour all over the floor and more bear tracks around the cabin.  But it didn't seem there was much other damage.  We ran to tell the Tonn's.  Arlyn had Burt, from down the street, board up the door temporarily, so no other wild animals could get in.  Needless to say, I didn't sleep much that night.  

    Saturday, June 1, 2013

    The Death of My Beloved Grandmother

    Not long after graduation, my grandmother passed away.  She never even told me she wasn’t feeling well.  Grandma lost her husband of 70 years 1 ½ years prior.  The family was amazed how well she coped with living life without him.  She stayed incredibly healthy until about a week before her death, when she started telling people at the retirement home that she was ready to die and it would be soon.  I wish she had told me.  She used to tell me that I was the grandchild that called her the most often.  Right after Grandpa’s death, I tried to call her every day.  As time went by, my calls were more like once or twice per week, as my life became busier with school and internship.  The week of her death, I tried calling twice, only to get her voice mail.  This is very unusual.  Come to find out, she wasn’t well.  
    She went to the hospital with a bleeding ulcer.  Jeanne drove up to be with her.  It was expected she would be away from home for a while.  I didn’t know how serious this was until the night before her death when I got a call from my dad saying that Grandma was dying, and it looked like it would be soon.  At this time, Grandma’s kids all went to be with her.  Mom was the only one not already close buy.  She had to take a flight from Florida to Kansas, a 5 hour flight!  As it turned out, Grandma breathed her last breath within 30 minutes of my mother’s arrival at her bedside.  Mom was able to tell Grandma that we were all there with her, as they decided the grands and great grands shouldn’t see her in this state.  She passed away at 5 pm Kansas time.  She was pretty much comatose at the time, so they just waited for her heart to stop beating.  But it was as if she was waiting for my mom to get there, even though she appeared completely unaware.  
    My grandma has been an incredible influence on my life!  I have depended on her so much over the last 3 years especially.  I also wonder if she waited for me to graduate, knowing I still needed her.  She was the one I called when I needed prayer.  She was always there to provide a listening ear when no one else was.  Grandma would tell me that I was the grandkid that was the most like her.  We look alike and even think alike.  Grandma was a faithful woman of God living a life of service.  
    I’m so thankful that Hannah had the opportunity to get to know both Grandma and Grandpa while they were alive.  I was truly blessed to have such amazing grandparents!  I have so many wonderful memories of time spent with them on the farm and at the cabin.  They used to come visit us in Florida for Thanksgiving every year and sometimes Christmas.  They stopped traveling several years ago, including no more trips to the cabin, which I thought would be really hard for them.  
    I can’t quite imagine my family without my grandparents.  Grandma, especially, was the knot that held everyone together.  With her gone, I imagine the family will not see much of each other anymore.  I feel like I’m losing so much more than just her.  To me, Grandma was not only just my grandma, but a friend, mother-figure, and prayer partner.  I would call her for advice constantly.  She always told me how proud she was of me.  She never ended a phone call without the words, “I love you.”  When we were kids, she would say, “I love you” and we would say, “And don’t you ever forget it.”  She would also say, “We’re in your pocket,” which meant that she was praying for us.  I believe she will always be in my pocket…from heaven.
    I know how much Grandma missed having Grandpa by her side.  I know she couldn’t wait to see him again.  I can imagine them now reuniting in heaven with a great big HUG!  I can also imagine the many crowns they’ve earned from their service here on earth.  Grandpa was a Methodist minister, and Grandma served by his side.  Even after retirement, they continued lives in service of others.  Their lives were an example for others to follow.  They were married 70 years, and still held hands.  They were the cutest little old couple ever.  I can only dream of having a marriage like theirs one day!  
    I used to spend summers with them in Kansas on the farm and Colorado at the cabin.  What amazing summer memories I have!  The farm and cabin, both, were a place where the grandkids could be free to explore and play.  I’m thankful that Hannah can still enjoy the cabin.  In 2009, I was able to take Hannah to Fredonia to visit the Grands for the first time, where she got to see the farm and the rest of Fredonia.  I’m so thankful we made this trip when we did, as the Grands moved a year later to the retirement home in Ottawa, Ks.  Hannah’s favorite part of Fredonia was visiting the farm cats.  I showed her the pond, where we used to fish with Grandpa.  I took her up on the mound to the playground on the top.  She got to pick vegetables from Grandpa’s garden, which he still kept up at 91 years old.  I got some priceless video footage of the Grands with Hannah during that trip.  This was right before Grandpa started getting sick.  
    Saying good-bye to my grandparents is no easy task.  I guess I was fortunate to have had them as long as I did.  Grandpa passed at 95 and Grandma at 91.  The grands like to say that Grandpa left the cabin as his legacy and Grandma’s project was the “From Roots to Branches” book of our geneology.  Of course, their biggest legacy was the family they started…4 kids, 9 grandkids, and 14 great grandkids.  This doesn’t include spouses.  So, the grands live on in all of us.

    Wednesday, May 15, 2013

    My Master's Degree

    The past 3 years of my life have been the most difficult of my life.  But this chapter of student-hood has finally come to an end.  I now have my Masters in Mental Health Counseling!  I have earned letters after my name, MACP.  Three years ago, I had just gotten divorced after finding out the unimaginable about my then husband.  I had to start my life over as a single mom in a complicated world.  The first thing I did for me was start grad school.  It was very trying going from a stay-at-home mom to a single mom trying to take classes, mostly at night, and do homework, yet still be there for my daughter.  In the beginning, I saw no end to my time as a student.  But low and behold, after 3 years, I am a graduate!  In fact, I graduated Cum de laude (High Honors) with a 3.88 GPA as of Dec 2012. Not too bad for a single mom! 

    I feel this huge burden lifted from my shoulders.  I am finally able to start a new chapter in my life, my career.  I look forward to spending the summer having Mommy Camp with Hannah one last time, as I had to work the summer prior.  I plan to enjoy some much needed rest and time off.  We are making travel plans for a month long road trip.  This is going to be a fabulous summer!!!!  Life is good!

    Tuesday, May 14, 2013

    The Biblical Design for Marriage

    The Biblical Design for Marriage

    Dating exists not for mating; it exists for collecting data.   The biblical design for dating is friendship, courtship, engagement, and then marriage.  Friendship is two people walking together in agreement and accountability, learning and growing together.  Courtship follows the mutual agreement to commit to one another exclusively--it is the phase where the couple forms a romantic, loving relationship to further get to know each other possibly leading toward marriage.  Engagement is the decisive turning toward the agreed-upon goal of the marriage altar.  It is a period of laying a foundation and preparing your life together after marriage.  Marriage is where sex is shared between husband and wife.  This act of intimacy is the ultimate gift you can give to your spouse.  It is as close as you can possibly be with another person, and meant only to be experienced within marriage.

    She Should Be Herself, Not Perfect

    one thing your daughter doesn’t need you to say

    Taken From:
    In the middle of a radio interview I did last week, the host decided to take calls from listeners. This happens during longer live interviews – the host greets the caller and then hands the reins of the conversation over to me. Might I pause here to point out how this practice evokes equal amounts of panic and excitement into my bones.
    I panic because I have absolutely no way to prepare for what a caller might say. This isn’t a problem in normal conversation but on the radio it gets a little tricky. Because after exactly 15 seconds of listening I will be expected to have some kind of “expert” answer which stands in direct opposition to both my personality and the natural way I believe a conversation is suppose to work.
    I gag. Still, I realize this is the nature of interviews like this and I accept it as part of the process while I work desperately to avoid ever trying to sound like Dr. Phil by refusing to say statements like “How’s that workin’ for ya?” and “Do you wanna be right or do you wanna be happy?”
    Still, there is also something exciting about having people call in. It’s true, there is no way to prepare for what someone might say, but that’s kind of the fun part. There is no way to prepare for what someone might say!
    In a way, this takes the pressure off and frees me up to be myself.
    So last week when the host opened it up to callers, I got that familiar ache in my knees I always get when I am anxious and also excited. One of the first callers was a girl, a junior in high school.
    After two minutes of listening to her story, it was obvious she was a good girl – dedicated student, obedient daughter, sweet disposition, high anxiety, unrealistic expectations of herself. Her main concern was being a Christian in high school and wanting to be a good example for her friends.
    But it was hard, she said, to always be a consistent one.
    Then the host turned it over to me.
    I made a few observations, told a story about how I could relate – I don’t think anything I said added much to the conversation in that moment, which was fine. This is the downfall of handing over the reins of conversation to an INFJ on a live call – I can usually asses the situation fairly accurately but it takes a lot of time for my observations to reach my mouth.
    I tend to just want to ask a question or say, “Hmm, that’s so interesting!”
    Which is decidedly not interesting on the radio.
    Lucky for me, this particular radio host was deeply invested in the conversation and responded to her in an appropriate way – he told her the worst thing she could do is to try to have it all together in front of her friends.
    Instead of trying so hard to be an example, just be honest. “If you struggle,” he said, “say so. If you hurt someone, apologize. Then they really will get to know you and they won’t have reason to call you a hypocrite.”
    Brav. O.
    When the interview was over, I sat in my room and thought for a few more minutes about the conversation. I kept rolling her words around in my head: “I want to be an example to my friends, but sometimes it’s so hard to be a good one.”
    The more I thought about her struggle, the more frustrated I got. I paced my room, made my bed with the excess energy. I thought about what the host said to her and began to think how I would put his response in my own words.
    Here’s what I came up with: She isn’t supposed to be an example. Her friends don’t need an example, they need a friend. A real one. An honest one. A touchable one. They  need a friend who doesn’t think she’s better than everyone, but one who knows she isn’t. They need a friend who knows she needs Jesus.
    So what about being a leader and setting the example? Isn’t that a good thing? Isn’t that what parents and youth leaders tell students all the time?
    The more I think about it, the more I believe this well-meaning statement is not only a manipulative way to try to control our daughters’ behavior, but can also be dangerous to their spiritual health. When we tell her to be an example, we may as well just hand her a mask right there – Here. Hide behind this. Don’t let them see you struggle.
    I know that’s not what we mean. I know. But it doesn’t matter so much what we mean, it matters what she hears.
    And when she hears adults tell her to be an example, she thinks that means she can never mess up, can never have problems, can never just be a teenager with struggles like everyone else.
    She might then mature into a woman who believes being a Christian means having it all together, saying all the “right” things, staying a few steps above everyone else.
    She may become a person people look up to, but she will never be someone they can relate to.
    She may be successful at managing her behavior, but she will always struggle to manage people’s opinions.
    She may have a great reputation, but her character will be clouded with bitterness and anger.
    She may be a good church-goer, but she will not know how to be a good friend.
    This may keep her out of trouble, but it will suffocate her soul.
    But what about holiness?!  I can hear the protests now. Don’t we want her to be a light in a dark place?
    Yes. But telling her to be an example won’t let her shine, it will just cause her to shrink.
    She already is a light in a dark place, but here is the part most of us forget when we’re telling our teenagers to be an example:
    Her light comes from Jesus, not from her awesome behavior.
    Do you believe Christ himself has taken up residence within her? Do you trust him with her life – her decisions, her emotions, her relationships? Do you truly believe he goes with her wherever she goes?
    If so, then instead of telling her to be an example, how about encouraging her to be herself?
    When she is hurt, she can deeply feel it. When she messes up, she can own it. When she hurts someone, she can apologize. When she has doubts, she can voice them. And when she is joyful, it will be from a real place inside her, not a manufactured mask she puts on for show.
    If you have a daughter graduating in a few weeks, don’t be afraid. As she packs her bags for her summer trip or her college dorm, encourage her to leave the mask behind.
    Believe Christ is in her. Believe she already has everything she needs. And for the love, don’t tell her to be an example. Free her up to be herself.
    Need a resource or a gift for the high school or college girl in your life? (Or, let’s face it, for your 54-year-old self?) Consider one of the two books written by this author on this very topic: Grace for the Good Girl or Graceful (For Young Women)Both books encourage women of all ages to let go of the try hard life.