Friday, November 20, 2015

In Defense of Teens

Photo Credit: Diverbo Idiomas

A common refrain throughout the ages is, "Kids these days." We are constantly concerned for the future because we doubt the ability of these kids. For those of you that feel this way, let me assure you that your fears are in vain. I work with teens professionally and personally, so I see a lot of them. These stories are what I have seen in the last two days.

Our church is packing a bunch of Operation Christmas Child boxes. Our teens were not only prepared to help sort and pack the hundreds of items collected this year into shoe boxes, they were also prepared to help teach the younger kids how to do it. My son came home telling me about the youth that he chose to help him. He told me a few more times about that youth as well. He was proud of himself and his 'friend' who helped him out. Ben and I were discussing it later and he mentioned that youth and a couple more who watch over him and make sure he knows how to do various things, that he knows where to be at what time, and that play with him. These youth watch out for the little ones and help them out. Watching out for the next generation and teaching them the right things to do sounds like a pretty good quality

We went to our local community college which is the home of our early college high school. The students were waiting on their bus as I was walking through the quad with my kids. A few of my former students called to me and we discussed their current school life and such. That was encouraging for me, but not the heart of the story. My son wasn't interested in the conversation. He wanted to find a wall, so he could play with his wrestling figures. He walked about 10 feet in front of me. There were several other teens gathered around the short wall that surrounded a tower in the center of the quad. He places himself between a few of them, introduced himself, and then narrated for them the match his figurines were performing. They asked him questions and feigned understanding of the match. They were interested in him and who he was even if they weren't interested in the topic of his conversation. They were conversing with him even though they had only met him a few moments before. Talking amiably with people of all ages about a range of topics sounds like a pretty good quality.  

After our visit to the local community college and a family dinner, we returned to my workplace for a womanless pageant. The money raised for this goes to a local battered women's shelter. There were a dozen young men who put on dresses, make-up, jewelry, and high heels. They strutted their stuff, shared their talent, and interviewed well in the name of protecting women. They donated their time, put aside their pride, and never doubted their masculinity. Those are generally things that can cause young men and old men some concern. There was no concern amongst these young men. They were putting themselves aside to do good for other people. Less self, more others sounds like a pretty good quality.

So there is no need to fear for the future. Our teens are good people. They might make some stupid decisions sometimes, but so do we. They might get lazy sometimes, but so do we. They might get an attitude from time to time, but so do we. Let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Teens are people and they are pretty good people. We will be okay.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

This isn't failure.

November started 4 days ago and I started my NaNoWriMo journey all over again. Here on day 4, I find that I am already a day behind. I'm already dreading turning on my computer and trying to find words. I know writing is hard work. I know the sitting down to make yourself do it is so much of the battle. I know that is why there is a NaNoWriMo. But knowing all of this isn't helping me.

I already have so much going on, two kids, a husband, church work, a full time job that is extra busy this year, 2 in-laws fighting cancer. I have tried to add NaNoWriMo on top of that. I'm even somewhat excited about the story, but I just can't do it. For two days now, I've thought about quitting. I just don't think I can do it this year. More than can, I don't think I want to do it this year. It was kind of making me feel like a failure as a writer. How can I call myself a writer if I can't even sit down and write 1000 words a day? How can I call myself a writer when I can't develop characters or a plot?

Then I read this. NaNoReadMo! This I can do. This I want to do!

Photo Credit: Moyan Brenn

Sometimes I trap myself into these little boxes of 'success'.  If I can't finish this self imposed deadline that fits into a self imposed box of success, then I must be a failure. We all get that way from time to time and we all know that it isn't really true, but good luck convincing our heart of that. So even though this is my first blog post in a month. And even though I'm quitting NaNoWriMo on day 4. This is not failure. I am still a writer. I am still a blogger. I may not be producing a lot of posts or even a lot of stories, but I am a writer and a blogger. I'm also a reader. And that is what I'm going to celebrate this month.

If you would like to celebrate with me, check out details here.

You can check in on my progress, here on Instagram or here on Twitter.

And the last thing I posted, said to allow yourself to fail. So even if my heart wants to term this a failure, I'm okay with that too.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Allow Yourself to Fail

Photo Credit: Gareth Williams
Allow yourself to fail.

I have said those words multiple times in the last week. To myself and to others. It seems that there are several of us trying new things whether by force of circumstance or our own choice. New things are not easy. In fact the opposite is true. Doing a new thing is hard and there are so many times that you want to give up. But don't give up! 

Keep trying. Keep moving forward. And even if you fail, you will have started trying. No one ever gets it right the first time. The first time we do something we are breaking new ground. There will be many failures, but there will be done success too. Build on that success! Without that first time of trying you never would have found that success. So even though you will fail, be okay with that. Failure means you tried something new. And that is something to be proud of.

Not only that, but be proud of your failures. You found another way that it didn't work, but you had that idea to do it that way and you saw it through to the end. If you are trying something new, then you care about it. You care about the people you are serving with this new thing. You won't let them down because you hold yourself to a high standard. I know because you are doing a new thing even though it is hard. You are trying new things and thinking of new ideas all the time. You aren't just putting this in a box and hiding it waiting for some miracle to fix it. You have it out of the box working on it. You are growing it and tending it. You aren't waiting on a miracle. Your are the miracle! You are making it happen. Move forward with this new thing. Allow yourself to fail because at least then you are trying.

"You have brains in your head and shoes on your feet. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose." So choose greatness even if there is a little failure along the way.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

A Pretty Focus

So it seems as if I write a post every two weeks. I would really like it to be more, but it seems difficult to do more. I have had many thoughts of what to write, but sitting down to write it seems very difficult. Today I find myself with a snippet of time and no real ideas. A couple weeks ago it was my birthday and I had all kinds of deep thoughts about turning 35. Now all of those thoughts are gone or at least the timely-ness of the thoughts has gone. That post now feels stale and pointless. So what can I share today?

I'm tired of pain. I'm tired of hurt. I'm tired of ugliness in the world. So I'm going to focus on happier things. I'm not going to deny the hurt, pain, and ugliness, but I don't have to wallow in it either. I don't have to take into my heart and let it take root. I can feel the pain, share the hurt, and accept that there is ugliness. But I'm going to try to find happy things. I'm going to try to see pretty things. I'm going to see the blessings that are all around me.

So happy, pretty, and blessings...

I am in the middle of reading The Night Circus. It is a gorgeous novel. The writing makes you see the circus, smell the scents, and feel the wonder. I'm enjoying every page of this fabulous book. I don't want to read it too fast because I'm not ready to leave the circus just yet. I'm also in the middle of reading two cozy mysteries, Pain in the Tuchis and Death Before Decaf. I'm enjoying spending some time with Mrs. Kaplan in the Julius and Rebecca Cohen Home for Jewish Seniors. Java Jive is new to me, but it seems cozy and Juliet Langley is interesting as well. Reading has always been a great escape for me and right now it is no different. The 10 or 20 minutes a day that I can lose myself in a book are magical.

I've also been enjoying the time that I have with my family. Walking down the street, doing homework, and playing in the yard have all taken on a new shine and a new luster. Those moments with my husband and my kids are special. We all know that time goes too fast and kids get big before we know it. So I'm taking the time to slow down and focus on the moment I am in. There are still days when they are both fussy and I wish away an hour or two. But more often than not I'm realizing how very special these times really are.

My brother in law cleaned out some old boxes and my little family got some awesome new books, including one of my all time favorites, The House on Hackman's Hill. I reread it a couple weeks ago and it scared me all over again. It is good to know that some things never change. We also got some new bedding and DVD's. Free stuff is good, but good free stuff is better.

A few weeks ago we also bought two new chairs, so our dining room table is in use every day! We eat dinner together as a family at the table instead of on the couch. We are also getting a new garage door and new carpet for the basement. We are making some great improvements to our house. We are taking more time for us and our family. We are saying no to some stuff in order to say yes to better things.

There might be tough things going on all over, but there are good things going on too.

 Riding a 4wheeler

 Eating apple in the tub

Playing baseball

Pizza charm (b-day present)

 Fairtrade ice cream (b-day present)

  Free frappe and the one I paid for. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

I don't understand

I suppose the silence of a couple weeks should indicate that I have been busy. I am super busy at school, but it is a good busy. I'm getting things accomplished and mostly staying on top of it. I'm finding time to read and getting books off my TBR list. I'm getting to spend time playing and hanging out with my family.

But I can't really say that things are going well.

I see so many people around me suffering the loss of a loved one. A sister, a daughter, a father, a grandpa, a couple great-grandmas, a couple stepdads, and a son. I see so many suffering with cancer, a mother, a father, a sister, a grandma, a granddaughter, a dear friend.


I just don't understand this all. How do we keep going forward with our lives when so many are hurting? Some of these are people I see every day. I go to church with some of them. They are friends of mine and I see them hurting. I don't know what to do. I don't know what to say.

So I sit here on my computer with my heart hurting for all of these people. I try to cry out to God, but words fail me. I get out a phrase. If I'm lucky almost a sentence and then I get lost. I don't know what to pray for. I don't know how to pray for those in so much pain and doubt.

Why? Help.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Saturday Meanderings

I have been thinking of several different blog posts I could make. However, none of those got written down. So this is going to be an abbreviated version of some of these ideas.

I think fantasy novels are on the rise and over the next few years we will find several fantasy novels entering the canon of modern literature.

I was reminded this week why second, third, or fourth hand information isn't accurate and shouldn't be trusted.

I do not trust easily. I expect people to let me down, so I hold them at a distance. Consequently, I don't make friends easily. I'm not sure if I should do anything about that or not.

My to be read list just keeps getting bigger. I can't seem to find enough time to read. This is a regular problem for me, but recently it has become a dire problem. I might start skimming some books to finish them and move on. Oh! The struggles of a bookworm.

The church as whole seems to be doing an epically bad job of loving people. Not just the general population, but the people within their buildings. We know the church is made up of people and therefore it is flawed. I know that, but it really doesn't excuse the selfishness that comes out so often. We can't keep getting this wrong.

Social media can be used for good or for bad. With filters and unfollowing, we would be able to arrange our accounts to help us be encouraged and to encourage others.

I might be back with a more elaborate post next week. Cross your fingers.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Ten days later.. I can do this

Several days ago I wrote about my cholesterol news, so I thought I would write a follow up.

I did have an appointment with the doctor and he was so encouraging! This is why I love our doctor.  He is encouraging and wants the best health for the whole family both physically and emotionally. I shared some of my food ideas and he thought they were good ideas. He thought my age was in my favor. He days he thought that if I corrected one meal a day my numbers should be fixed by next year. And that is the time he wanted to give me to fix it. He didn't want to give me medicine right away. Those were all the things I wanted to hear!

When I have been at home, I have been more careful about what I eat. I have been reading labels. Eating better carbs and better fats. Eating less processed foods and less in general. Drinking more water and less calories. We did go visit my family in Illinois and eating on the road isn't easy. I also didn't worry about it. I have a year to fix this, so I'm not going to let one or two meals stress me out.

This morning I am back to my oatmeal, honey, and fresh fruit for breakfast and Greek yogurt with honey and fresh fruit as a snack. Quinoa and black beans for lunch and an egg. I am glad to get back to eating this because they genuinely sound good to me.

So less fast food and more slow food. Less sitting on the couch and watching hours of Netflix. More walking around the neighborhood. Less wasting time and more enjoying time. I am still nervous about failing with food or Bible reading or any of the other things I have to do, but this is a good change. I can do this.