Life

I’m wearing my damn shirt.

My kids and I all watch the debates and follow elections closely. We discuss and Anthony and I never impose our views onto them. I love hearing their fresh take on who they are supporting this election and why. We have a mix in the household, always have. Anthony and I caucused in the 2016 Republican nominee election, he for Cruz, myself for Rubio.

Things have changed in 4 years for me personally. However, we still show love in this house. We don’t call names to others who don’t have the same opinion. What we do stay away from are the bullies. Calling others names, intimidation, ignorant comments are forms of bullying. You don’t have to attack those who have opposing beliefs. You can coexist. However, I cannot coexist with bullies.

I left my high school my junior year because of bullying. Said goodbye to Sanford High because of bullies. There were rumors that I was pregnant and that’s why I left. No. I was told to kill myself. To not show my face in public again. I would come to town and my car would be blocked in and I would have to call the police. Hard to do in 1999 without a cell phone and in your car. There were other rumors of course, but nobody ever asked me about them directly. So, my supportive parents quietly packed us up and moved me to Milton. A high school junior in a world with people I didn’t know.

I don’t tolerate bullying.

So when Aiden said, “Mom, you cannot wear that shirt! You will be bullied and mobbed.”

I said, “Aiden, I love you. I’m not going to be afraid to have an opinion, just like I won’t degrade others who think differently than I do.”

And then he hugged me.

Your children hear you. Don’t teach them to be a bully. Teach them love and acceptance. Teach them to stand up for their beliefs and share their reasoning without having to yell or name call.

What’s on your list of political must haves, may not be on mine. And that’s ok.

This year I’m voting for my friends who are scared. Scared that their LGBTQ marriages are at risk. I’m voting for my Vietnam Veteran father who would lose it all just to put my mom who has dementia into a nursing home. I’m voting for BLM protesters who are telling us there is systematic racism in this country that so many are ignorant to. I’m voting for prison reform and for the homeless. I’m voting for those who peacefully practice their religions, but are called terrorists because it looks different to the privileged. I’m voting for families like ours who have two working parents, trying to give their kids a better life. I’m voting for peace. I’m voting for love.

And, I’m wearing my damn shirt. 💙

Blog · forgive · God · Life · live · love · new · opinion · religion · Wordpress · write

70 x 7 – Forgive them.

21616214_10213766919624567_978677452513638588_n

It’s inevitable in life that we are going to be hurt at some point. Whether intentionally or not, it happens.  It starts out at a young age, maybe someone on the Kindergarten playground wouldn’t share.  After some tears and a talk with your teacher, sorries were exchanged and you probably continued playing without a grudge.  If only that were the case as a grown up!

Kids are much more resilient and forgiving than we are as adults. In some cases, you may get hurt over and over and over again by the same person.  How do we presently handle these situations?  How should we handle them?  Do we fight back knowing that they won’t listen to our words anyway?  Do we plea with them to hear our side of the story?  Do we update our Facebook status vocalizing our side for the world to see, just to have some validation from somebody?

I’m starting to learn how to handle these things with God’s grace.  It is hard.  It is so incredibly hard.  And sometimes I fail at it.  When people attack you or your loved ones, who wouldn’t want to fight back!  Sometimes  I hit reply faster than my hands can type.   Why should I allow lies to be spread?  I should say something!  I should fight back!  They don’t even know us!  Let’s end the rumors, tell our side!

I should…. lower myself to their level?

For who? To continue fighting back and forth with somebody that doesn’t understand is almost as bad as them spreading lies to begin with.  It’s fueling the fire.  The fire that you need to put out.  If you don’t, you’ll never feel at peace.

The thing is, people are always going to be there to remind you of mistakes that you made in your past. True or false, some people love to bring these things all back up to the surface.  It’s hard sometimes to be reminded of the hurt and pain.  Regardless, you still need to forgive them.   If not for them, for God and for yourself.

As hard as it may be, you hold your head up high, bite your tongue, and let them believe what they wish. It was never between you and them anyway. It’s always been and always will be between you and the Lord.  Put up your shield and repel their hateful words and thoughts.

Matthew 18:21-22 says, “Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”  Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy times seven!”

That’s a lot of forgiveness. That’s a lot of pride and ego set aside.  That’s a lot of letting go of hurt without validation.  But, it’s possible.  If Jesus can forgive all of those who have sinned against Him, we can forgive those who sin against us.  It’s hard.  So very difficult to do.  But, the good news is we are not alone.  God is with us every step of the way and He knows the truth.  When you hit your knees and you cannot take any more of their painful words, look up.  He’ll hold you and help you back up to your feet.

Get back up, dust yourself off.  Look up, forgive them, forgive yourself, let it go and keep moving forward!

“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.”

– Lewis B Smedes

Blog · forgive · God · Life · live · love · new · opinion · Uncategorized · Wordpress · write

Take down your walls!

IMG_1754

I can’t remember what show it was, but years ago I remember hearing someone refer to their best friend as, “their person.”  Their person is the one who they tell all secrets to, go to for all advice.  They can call them any time of any day to head to the mall or just walk into the front door without knocking.  This person knows all of your secrets, fears, hopes, dreams, kid’s birthdays, and then some.  More and more of people I know have somebody like this in their life.  Seeing this has made me wonder, geez, why don’t I have a person!?

I’ve always had a lot of friends (acquaintances may be a better word), but never really anybody quite this close (aside from my fantastic husband).  I always have wanted this type of friendship, who wouldn’t, but could never figure out what I was doing wrong? Why didn’t people like me enough to call like they do others?  Then it hit me, it’s completely my fault.  I’m doing it all wrong!  My problem is my wall.

I have a ginormous wall up.  It’s there, it has barbwire, an electric fence, guards with tasers, attack dogs, anything you can think of to keep people out, this wall has it!  Everyone’s a little different, but in my case the reason is all trust.  You can only be hurt so many times until eventually this wall just shows up.  You may not even realize it’s happening, but it does.  There are two things that go hand and hand when this occurs, 1) People may want to be your friend, but they may not understand why you keep pushing them away.  This will probably make them stop trying eventually and 2) when you trust God and learn how to forgive others, you will find it easier to let people in!

There it is, that’s what I had to do! Trust God and forgive!  Oh, but forgiveness is so hard, isn’t it?  There have been a lot of people in my life who hurt me.  A lot.  Some I don’t speak to and probably will never speak to again.  However, I made the decision to forgive.  I promise you, when I finally did this, there was a weight that was lifted from my shoulders!  All of these years of holding a grudge and being unforgiving probably had no impact at all on these people. You know who it hurt the most?  Me.

I was sabotaging my own happiness!

Did the person (which could be “your person”) reaching out to you hurt you?  Nope, probably not.  Are you being unfair in keeping them away and not being the same friend to them as they want to be to you?  YES, yes you are!  And, you probably don’t even realize it because you cannot see over that wall!

Forgive and knock those walls down!  If you’re having a hard time with this, ask God to give you the strength to forgive.  It’s not easy, at all.  But, it’ll get you a step closer to finding your person, that is if you want one.  Maybe you’re a one-man wolf-pack, if so, forgiveness will free you from the burden of hate!  Who wouldn’t want that?

This doesn’t mean you need to keep allowing the same people to hurt you over and over continuously. This just means you are no longer hurting yourself.

Forgiveness really is a beautiful thing.

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

– Ephesians 4:31-32

 

Blog · God · Life · live · love · new · opinion · religion · Uncategorized · write

Religious, Churchy, Jesus Freak.

19748911_10213129082839046_5238352573335098387_n

Religious, Churchy, Jesus Freak.  Just a few of the names I have heard describe me since becoming a new Christian over one year ago.  I am amazed how my faith could push some people away.  I’m not scary, although I try to be when it comes to reprimanding my children (doesn’t work well).  I’m a pretty nice person, although I have a terrible tendency to laugh when people fall.  It’s a terrible habit, most likely some type of coping mechanism that I haven’t been able to shake for at least 25 of my 30-something years (this did not work out well in my summer camp counselor days).  But, still I wonder why my new-found faith pushes people away?

One thing that comes to mind is what many Christians are portrayed as in the media. Most of the time we hear the bad things that happen, over the good.  I have heard people describe Christians as having holier than thou, judgmental personalities.  Same with other religions.  As unfair as it is, there are still folks in the world who associate Muslims with terrorism.  That’s not an accurate comparison.  You do not damn an entire religion due to a few very evil seeds.  Same for Democrats, Republicans, different races, males, females, etc!  It is not truth, nor fact.  Yet it still happens.

It’s not my job to fight to make people believe in the same faith as I do.  It’s not my job to judge or look down on someone who does not believe in God (I married a man who did not believe).  It’s also not my job to preach my beliefs for the sole purpose of proving your belief wrong.   That’s not who I am and in my heart I do not believe that is who Jesus would have wanted me to be.

It is my job to be a light to the world, to accept everyone as they are.  I tend to observe and internalize my opinions, rather than putting it out on social media for the world to see.  You’ll find numerous amounts of family photos and silly kiddo quotes on my page, but you are not going to see me attacking other religions, political parties, or anyone. That is not Christianity to me.

I support gay rights.  I have several friends who are in the LGBT community and I love them all.  The thought of judging them all because I love Jesus and read the Bible does not even cross my mind.  While I know people who are incredibly vocal about their hatred for those that are gay, that is not me.  That is not the Christianity I practice.  Again, that is not what loving Jesus and believing in God means to me.

To me, loving Jesus means come as you are.  We all sin.  Every single one of us.  Myself, my husband, my kids, every single one of you, even those who hate.  Just because you hate strongly does not make you free of sin.  I feel that you can be gay and love Jesus.  I also think you can be gay and not believe in Jesus, but guess what?  I’ll still love you just the same.  This is the Christian that I am.  The funny thing is that while I like to call myself an Independent when it comes to politics, I always tend to lean more to the right. Again, not all Republicans (or Democrats) are the same.

I will testify all day long about the impact that loving God has had on my life in the last year and half.  I will tell you stories of God providing for us in a time where I didn’t think it was possible.   I’ll talk to you about what it means to tithe in our church and what that has done for our family.  But, I will not talk to you about why you should believe in all the same things that I do.   I also don’t want you to talk to me about why my beliefs are ridiculous.  It’s called being respectful, a characteristic  that I truly wish more would practice.  Differing opinions should not give you or I the right to be disrespectful to another human beings.  It’s not ok, even if you justify it with your own hatred.

I’ll continue shining my light into the world.  I’ll also promise to be a safe place and a voice for anyone feeling like they are shamed, scared, alone, or persecuted, Christian or non-Christian!  I am here for you and you are loved by me as a brother or sister.   Please do not let the darkness that some pour into the world impact your own light and spirit.  Keep pushing and keep fighting and know that I have your back!

It’s ok if you contact me regarding my opinions.  I’d love to have a conversation, as long as there’s a mutual respect involved.  It’s ok for you to disagree with me!  It’s also ok if you continue calling me a Religious, Churchy, Jesus Freak.  I’ll take it, I will own it and I will continue practicing being the loving, accepting, caring, non-judgmental, Jesus-loving Christian that I am.  Because that is what being a Christian means to me.

“Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” – Matthew 5:16

beach · Blog · Body · Life · live · mom · opinion · summer · Uncategorized · woman · write

Get your swimsuit on, mama.

19437547_10212969637813020_1504097648367862831_n

Sandy toes, crashing waves, and seagulls flying above.  The sun’s warmth is blanketing your skin.  It’s 90 degrees and you’re sitting in your beach chair, toes in the sand.  You peek over your sunglasses at all the beach goers, waist deep in the water.   Why are you still in the sand when you could be cooling down in the crisp, Atlantic water?

Swimsuits.  That’s why.   The person above was me.

I cannot tell you how many years I was envious over people brave enough to throw a bathing suit on.  They really didn’t care what anyone thought, they were just enjoying their beach days.  I was too busy sweltering, in my capris and t-shirt, more than likely with a towel draped over my lap concealing myself.  It wasn’t that I didn’t like swimming, I did!  It was because I was petrified that everyone would be staring at me.

First of all, I’m not that important that the world would feel the need to stare.  However, many of us women have this mental image of ourselves being 10 ft tall in the middle of the beach with a Superbowl sized audience watching our next move.  Here’s a newsflash, it doesn’t happen.  Most people are just people watching like you were earlier.  They probably aren’t judging you.  There’s a little negative voice inside of you that likes to show itself and tell you otherwise.  We’ll call that voice the enemy.  The enemy can go find a great white shark to hang with.  We need to learn to silence it.

Back to swimsuits.  Why are we covering ourselves up because we don’t have a perfect body?  Baby weight, cellulite, bingo wings, pale skin, freckles, whatever it is we are trying to cover up, is it worth it?  Is it worth feeling the freedom of swimming in the ocean, a lake, or a pool?  Chances are it’s not.

I was that girl.  I was that girl in high school when I was the smallest I have ever been.  I was that girl after my first child was born and again after my second.  I started to continue being her after my third child was born and something clicked.  This life we have?  Well, it’s pretty darn short.  Why in the world am I covering myself up over what people will think of my body.  MY body!  It’s mine!  I worked hard and earned every scar, every ounce of weight I gained probably has a story.  A memory that I or my children will carry with them forever!  Do I want one of those memories to be of mommy refusing to wear a bathing suit to swim with them?  Nope.  It’s not happening anymore.  I won’t do it to myself, but most of all I don’t want to damage them!

Going back to the people who may judge you or make a comment, there’s one thing to remember:  Their problem is not with your cellulite.  It’s not with your lack of muscles.  It’s not with your extra weight.  Their real problem is their inability to love their own self.  I guarantee you that people who are truly comfortable in their own skin, who don’t criticize every detail of their body, I guarantee they will not make a comment about another person’s body.  They’ll see you for who you are, not for what your body looks like.

Don’t lose memories focusing on not having that thigh gap or six pack.  Make memories, mama.  Go get that swimsuit on and get in the water!

Gentleman, this goes for you too!  Get in there!

Find me on Facebook, facebook.com/slowpaceandgrace/