Thursday, June 30, 2016

Mr Honesty

The last day of school is always chaotic. This year was no exception. Sam's 8th grade awards assembly and B's end of year party overlapped. Ryan could be at awards but needed to leave as soon as it was over for a meeting. Thankfully, Zac's 6th grade awards had been earlier in the week. 

I have learned that B needs someone with him at parties or special events. One year I didn't line anyone up for Grandparent's lunch. He didn't say anything that day but a month later, I heard about it. And the next year on Grandparent's lunch day, I heard about how no one came to Grandparent's lunch. The dude has an incredible memory.

So, I hatched a plan. 

Mr. Honesty on the last day of 1st grade
My neighbor, Lori, also has a daughter in B's grade. She came to the middle school, signed Zac out and took him to the elementary school to be at the party with B. After Sam's awards, I ran over to the elementary school. 

By the time I got there, the teacher had given out awards. I started to take B's picture with his award when Zac said "I already took his picture." Well then! Thanks, Zac!

B had been presented with the Honesty Award.  So right on!  Don't ask that boy a question you don't want a real answer to.  I was so touched that B's teacher had chosen to highlight that particular portion of his personality.  She took something that could be a deficit and rewarded him for it.

A couple of weeks ago B spent the night with his aunt and uncle.  His uncle made chocolate chip cookies after dinner.  B loves him some chocolate!  The next morning his aunt was in the kitchen and B was coming downstairs.  She asked him what he was doing.

"I went up to check on the boys."

"OK" she said.

Suddenly, B dropped his head "OK, OK! I'll tell you the truth.  I ate the last two cookies!"

He can't help but be honest!

Why is honesty tricky for us?

Because people confuse bluntness with honesty.  They think to be honest you also have to be rude.  But that's not true.  You can tell the truth in love.  We need to be telling each other the truth in love.  What kind of relationships do we have if we aren't telling each other the truth in love?  Superficial ones.

Most of the time, B does tell the truth in love.  Just the other night he asked Ryan if he could lay on his stomach.  "I love your big old soft belly" Without love, this is B telling Ryan he weighs too much.  In B's loving world, he's telling Ryan "I love being close to you."

It's easy to be blunt and rude.  Some people think it's fun.  They want to be rude to your face and laugh it off, "That's just who I am. Deal with it."  No thank you.  I don't want to deal with it.  I want people to be real and tell me the truth in love.  It's what God has called us to.  Real relationship with Him and each other.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Bigs

The Bigs.  My collective name for my older sons, Sam and Zac.  Sometimes that name also includes their cousins who are their same ages.  I try not to write too much about them. They are teenagers (well Zac has about another 3 weeks to go but really....).  They are creating their own digital footprint.  I don't want to embarrass them.

Having a brother with autism isn't easy.  But these two have handled it beautifully.  When B was first diagnosed we offered to find them a sibling support group.  They were not interested.  What was the big deal? We talked to them about people who want to cure autism and why we disagreed with that.  Zac brought me to tears with his response, "Then B wouldn't be B. Autism is a part of who is he is."

They love their brother deeply.  They are patient and kind to him.  But they bust on him too.  They get frustrated with him.  I suspect they don't have invite many people over because B thinks everyone is his friend.  B has been known to wake up their friends at 5 am and ask them to play with him.  One morning B woke me up and asked me to write a note that said "It's been a little while"  Zac's friend had told him he'd wake up and play with him "in a little while".

They know that having both parents at a game or program depends on how B's day went.  Or if mom and dad are both there, Nene (my momma) probably isn't because she's home with B.  They give up their time to watch B when I have a meeting or have to work during the summer because they know that's easier for B.

Vacations have been sticky with B.  He doesn't like to be away from home for long.  Sleeping is hard for him so sleeping in a hotel can been torturous.  Two summers ago we went to Chicago.  Chicago is Sam's favorite city.  B was a champ but we just could not be gone too long.  So there were things we didn't get to do. Sam took it in stride.

Last Spring Break, we went to Universal Studios to go to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  We were able to get B a disability pass so we didn't have to wait in long lines.  My favorite quote from that trip was "finally autism pays off" on our way to the front of the Gringotts line.  It kind of seems insensitive but it's true.  My boys deal with the hard parts of autism all the time and this was a simple thing that seemed to make it better.

Last week we went on a cruise with a whole herd of our friends.  We made the tough decision to leave B with Nene.  We knew a 7 day cruise would be a hard sale for B. It's hot and there's no wifi.  When he found out those two things, B wasn't interested in going.  We wanted the boys to have a week to do what they wanted without worrying about how it would effect B-man.  They had a great time with their buddies!

My Bigs aren't perfect.  They are flawed like all of us. They mess up plenty.  But I am so proud of the men they are becoming. They are learning to give of themselves for someone else.  They are learning it's ok to be different.  They are learning to love, warts and all.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Get Start on Amazon

Over the last month, I have had several very sweet and encouraging comments about my blog.  I appreciate them so much.  In early May, I wrote about starting to write more. My awesome friend, Laci recommended that I read Jon Acuff's book Start. I devoured it.  Acuff is easy to read and very insightful.  Plus, he's funny and funny wins the day in my life.

In Start, Acuff asserts that if you want to do something but can't devote 15 minutes a day to it, you really don't want to do it.  This hit home.

For as long as I can remember, I've wanted to be a writer.  I can remember winning a poetry contest in elementary school.  The poem was about my dog making my smile.  "He makes me smile for a mile.  He makes me grin till I am ten. I love my dog."  I did not have a dog.

I set up a little office in our garage that I would write in.  In this little office I wrote about the future of school to enter a Stuart Hall writing contest.  I mailed off my entry without thinking to keep a copy or even telling anyone I was entering.  A million years later, or maybe just 3 months, a box of school supplies arrived at my door along with a letter stating that I had received Honorable Mention in the contest.  My momma asked me what I wrote about and I couldn't remember.

Somewhere at my momma's house there's a series of stories about boy and girl twins, Fred and Rita.  Rita tried out for cheerleader.  They went to Hawaii.  They had all kinds of adventures.

I have never felt confident about my writing.  I wanted people to read it but I really didn't want them to read it.  I was afraid someone wouldn't like it.  Or that I'd have grammar mistakes.  Or I'd get corrected in some other way.  It's hard to be a perfectionist and offer your creations to the world.  So, I haven't really but much effort into my writing.  You know that ploy.  I didn't fail at writing, I just never put much effort into it to succeed.

Yet, God would not let that dream die.  He kept prompting.  He keeps bringing people to encourage me.  Laci's comments and Jon Acuff's book were just the beginning.  Ryan is so supportive.  I've received texts, emails and comments from several people encouraging me to keep going.

After reading Start, I decided I would start writing again and stick to it.  I amended my morning routine.  I started getting up 30 minutes earlier.  I make coffee, do my Bible Study then I write for 30 minutes.  I'm an overachiever.  If Acuff suggests 15 minutes, I figure I can double that!  I also set a goal of 3 blog posts a week.  Every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday a post goes up.  Last week we were on vacation so I wrote the posts ahead of time and scheduled the posts to go up without me.

It's been so enjoyable.  God has blessed that time commitment.  I was afraid I wouldn't have anything to write about everyday for 30 minutes.  I've had plenty of ideas.  I've enjoyed exploring new web tools to add to my blog.  Up there on the top left hand side, you can click those buttons to automatically share my posts to Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest.  I also added a subscription service.  You can click the envelope to enter your email to join my mailing list.  Then you'll receive my posts in your inbox every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.  I love using Canva to create graphics for posts.  You can pin and share those too.

My prayer is that my writing makes you laugh and makes you think.  I pray that I'm able to reach moms and help them know that they are not alone.  Especially moms who have kids with special needs.  Maybe I've encouraged you to do something you love.  I still dream of seeing my name on the front of a book.  But that part is up to God.  I'm just gonna keep getting up early, writing and sharing.  Thank you for reading, sharing and supporting.  You have no idea who much I appreciate it.

What goals or dreams are in your heart?  What step can you take today towards that goal?  How can I help you?

Thursday, June 23, 2016

He ate what?

Last week, B wanted to go to our neighborhood pool. He loves the pool but only wants to go if there are other people there.  He's a social butterfly.  On this day, a young lady was there with a school aged girl and a baby boy. He started playing with the girl and talking to the baby (he loves babies) and I started talking to the young lady, who turned out to the be their aunt.

We were talking about the excellence of our local elementary school and I put in my two cents about the excellence of the school and the special education department.  I explained that B was autistic and who wonderful everyone has been for him.  The aunt asked me how B was diagnosed, if the school had identified him or if we had done outside testing.  As I answered, I was reminded of the interesting journey we had towards B's diagnosis.

B's been receiving therapy for speech and behavior since he was 2 from ECI (early childhood intervention).  When he turned 3 he graduated from ECI and was handed off the local school district. We lived in Forney at the time but I worked in Sunnyvale.  B was eligible to attend Sunnyvale because I worked there. Once school started he continued to receive speech therapy and social skills help during class.  All this to say, we knew something was amiss but we weren't completely sure he was autistic.

B has always put things in his mouth.  I have a pair of his pants, size 6 months, with a big hole.  His baby sitter had put him in his rear facing car seat and gone to the bank. When they returned home, he had a hole in his pants.  We assume he ate the fabric.  He loved those cheap flannel receiving blankets, he would put them in his mouth then pull them out, like a dog wrestling you for a blanket.  Speaking of dogs, his baby bed looks like I boarded a dog in there.  The spindles are gnawed on! During naptime at school, he would chew on his socks.  His teacher finally had to start carrying his socks in her pocket to keep them out of his mouth.

One Thursday morning, he began throwing up.  I stayed home with him, figuring he had a virus.  We had an appointment the next day to talk to our family doctor about him eating stuff and putting things in his mouth.  Thursday he acted like he didn't feel good.  On Friday he was back to his cheerful self but we went on to the doctor.  Our is awesome, very thorough.  She wondered if he had eaten something and had something stuck in his esophagus or stomach that was causing him to vomit.  She took an x-ray and sent us to the Children's ER.

At Children's the doctor barely looked at the x-ray but declared confidently that 'something was going around'.  She gave B anti-nausea medicine and gatorade and said he could keep it down, he could go home.  He did so we left.  We even stopped for burgers on the way home.

The next few days were a blur.  B would play and eat all day but then wake up in the middle of the night vomiting. Except it was not normal vomit.  His food appeared to be undigested. It looked almost the same as when he had eaten it.  For three days this continued and he under went a new test every day.  Most of the tests were at different places.  But one thing remained the same.  The people running the test would always say "Are you sure he doesn't have any other diagnosis'?"  I quickly figured out that they were asking if he was autistic.  I would answer no, he's not autistic but he does have some developmental delays.

On Thursday we landed in the office of Dr. An a pediatric GI doctor.  He had no idea what was going on with B but he did know it wasn't normal.  He told us that kids if kids are going to throw up at night, they are going to do it within the first 15 minutes after they laid down.   He suggested we do a stomach scope to see what was going on. We agreed.  He had an opening the next morning in Frisco.

Ryan and I were waiting when Dr. An came out to see us.  B was still in the OR but he wanted to asks us a question.  Could he have eaten a candle?  There was a long green string and white waxy material in his stomach.  Nope, no candles at home, only Scentsys and none of those were white. The green string had to be from his blanket.

So Dr. An pushed some of the waxy stuff through so B would pass it, brought some up for testing and biopsied spots in his stomach and esophagus to see if his body was making it.  After the surgery B felt better almost immediately.  We waited on pins and needles the next few days waiting for the test results.  The results finally came back that the white waxy substance was inorganic.  His body wasn't making it, it was something he ate.

The next week, I went to the elementary school and walked his classroom with his teacher and principal.  We were trying to see what he might have eaten.  We opened his supply box and found our answer - an empty glue stick.

We figure he must have eaten it a little bit at a time.  Then that first Thursday, he did actually have a virus and the vomiting made the pile of glue move to cover the exit of his stomach.  From then on he ate until his body physically couldn't hold anymore and since it could digest the food, he threw it up.

The result of all this is that we were referred to occupational therapy which started us on the path to his eventual diagnosis.  Those were stressful days wondering what was wrong with my B boy. But I'm so thankful for the path they put us on.  We were able to get him some very helpful therapy. And although it is frustrating at times, I'm thankful for Brennan's autism.  His mind is so unique.  We tell him all the time, Autism makes  you AU-some!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Sorry, Not Sorry

A doctor once told us that B was 'too social to be autistic'.  That was the last time we visited that doctor.  Autism encompasses so many things.  One of my favorite autism quote is "Once you've met one autistic person, you've met one autistic person."  Autism effects everyone differently.  B wants to be social, he just doesn't always know how to do it appropriately.

He is super friendly.  He loves to talk to people in public.  That's always an anxious moment for me. How will the other person respond to him? Will they be nice or look at him like he's a weirdo? This anxiety used to lead me to apologize for him, "Sorry, he's autistic."

But I'm not sorry he's autistic.  I think it's awesome.  I love that quirky little brain.  It produces so many interesting ideas and questions.  And I don't want him to be sorry he's autistic.  I want him to be proud of who he is.

Last week B, Ryan and I were in Target.  B said hello to a person passing by.  Ryan apologized.  Then it hit me! "We need to stop apologizing to strangers for him. He's being nice.  Let's let him be nice."  Ryan immediately agreed.

I do realize that sometimes we will need to explain B to people.  I actually love helping people understand him better.  But I'm not going to be sorry anymore.  Sorry is for when you hurt someone.  B isn't hurting anyone with his friendliness.

B loves babies.  We are teaching him how to behave around babies.  I was thrilled when he asked a mom at the pool, "Can he be tickled?" before tickling her baby boy.   His 1st grade teacher recently had a baby and we saw them at church.  B was very excited to meet the baby and offer advice on TV shows the baby could watch.  When my niece had a baby, my mom took B to the hospital to meet the new baby.  B made up a song on the spot.

Those are sweet, loving things that I don't want to squash.  So sorry, not sorry peoples of the world.  B man is on the loose.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016


Y'all for realz, I love Jen Hatmaker!  She posted this awesome status on Facebook last Thursday (click see more to read the whole thing).

I was reminded of how my parents handled me as a young adult who thought she needed everything right this minute.  I was living in Commerce, attending East Texas State University (now Texas A&M University - Commerce).  I loved Commerce and ETSU.  But one of my sorority sisters was transferring to Texas Tech.  I had never been to Lubbock but I thought it sounded fun.  So, I called home and declared my intention to move 6 hours away sight unseen.  Very calmly my momma said, "Ok, but you need to remember that the bank of Gheen does not have a Lubbock branch."  WHAT!?! Lubbock did not sound fun enough to pay my own way.  I stayed put, finished my degree and loved every minute of it.

After ETSU, I set out for graduate school at Texas A&M University in College Station.  Ryan stayed in the Dallas area to finish his degree.  He was scheduled to graduate in December before I graduated in May. We had the great idea for Ryan to move to College Station and we would get married.  Once again, I call my momma and deliver my awesome idea.  Once again her reply was straightforward, "OK, how are you going to pay for your last semester? I only pay for degrees that have my name on them." Alrighty then.  Once again, my idea is not exciting enough to foot the bill.  We married the following year after I graduated.

We live next door to some of our best friends.  Ryan and I are friends with the parents.  Our boys are friends with their kids.  Their little girl and B are in the same grade at school and get along very well.  Yesterday I wrote about B being a social butterfly and said that we are teaching him how to interact with people.  We had to do some heavy duty work when we moved next door to our friends.  B wanted to have his friend over to play.  But he didn't want her to play with his stuff.  I've always let him have a couple of special toys that he doesn't have to share.  That day everything was special.  Nope, that's not going to work, buddy.

B packed a box and declares that he's moving.  He brings the box outside to my friend and I.   I decide to take a page from my momma's play book.

"Oh, ok.  Where are you moving to?"
"I'll figure it out."
"Ok.  You can't cook. How are you going to eat at your new place?"
"You have to teach me to cook."
"I can't do that right now, I'm visiting with Ms. Lori.  Also, you can't drive. How are you doing to get to your new place."
"Oh, alright! This is not a good plan.  I'll just stay here."

You can't always parent this way but sometimes it's fun.  Don't say no, just let them know the consequences of their actions and back away.

Adulting is hard.  Try to infuse some fun.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

But first...

B man has big ideas.  He wants to build things and create things.  He has awesome ideas.  He doesn't always know how to carry out his awesome ideas.  So he comes to me "Momma, can you help me build a cart?"  Yikes! I don't know how to build anything.  I mainly follow directions.  Plus, I have a million and a half things to do so my answer is usually, "Yes, but first let me finish dinner." or "Yes, but let me send these few little emails."

But first... Have you ever had this problem? Someone needs your help but first you've got to clear your plate?  I feel like I can't give my full attention until my to do list is done.

Early Christians had the same problem, sort of.  The Jews had been under the law of Moses for a loooong time.  The Jewish leaders were super good at the law.  They took the rules God gave Moses and drilled down on them.  They had a rule for everything.  Every.Thing.

As some Jews were coming to faith in Christ, they brought their rule following ways with them.  And they wanted the non-Jewish people, Gentiles, to follow their rules too.  After all, Jesus was Jewish so why not continue to follow the Jewish rules?

In Acts 15, Paul and Barnabas are in Antioch preaching the Good News of Jesus Christ.  Some men arrive from Judea and began telling the new Gentile believers that they have to follow the law of Moses and be circumcised as required by the law.  Paul and Barnabas, and some of the newly converted men I'm sure, vehemently disagreed with these men.

The Bible doesn't say how long the conflict lasted but it does say that "Finally" the church decided to send a delegation to the Jerusalem to the apostles and elders to get an answer on the matter once and for all!

The council meets and decides that the Gentiles do not have to convert to Judaism first to become a Christian.  The council affirms that we are only saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.  James speaks about the matter and in verse 19 says this;

"And so my judgement is that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God." Acts 15:19 NLT

The LORD tapped on my heart.  Am I making my own faith in God too difficult? Am I setting up hurdles that must be jumped before I can fully commit to His will in my life.

Yes, of course I am.  I'm human.  If I set up hurdles before I can play with B, why wouldn't I set up hurdles in my relationship with God?

"I'll give when we have extra money."
"I'll serve when things settle down."
"I'll invite her to church when she seems to have it together a little more."
"I would post that verse to social media, not everyone I know is a believer"

Sometimes I read about the law of Moses in the Old Testament and think "Man, how did they deal with all those rules?" Then I remember, I'm pretty good at rules.

God doesn't want us to be separated from him by rules.  He wants us to come to Him just as we are.  We don't have to get everything right and lined up before we come to Him.  He'll help us get all our junk in order.  Just bring your rules and junk before the LORD.  He can handle them.  He loves us and wants us to be close to him.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

EPIC parenting

I am a podcast junkie.  My podcast subscriptions cover a wide range of topics.  2 economic podcasts, 4 leadership podcasts, 1 daily devotional podcast, 1 social science podcast, 1 internet podcast, 1 business podcast and 1 podcast devoted to Hey Arnold! I even support two of these podcasts financially.

One of the leadership podcasts I listen to is EntreLeadership.  EntreLeadership is a Dave Ramsey product.  It's geared towards entrepreneurs.  I'm not an entrepreneur and I don't know why I started listening but I'm glad I did.

I want to share episode 149 with you today.  In the first half of the episode, Dr. Tim Elmore discusses Millennials.  It was fascinating.  Of course, it was mostly geared towards employers who will be hiring Millennials.  I loved that Dr. Elmore is very positive about Millennials.  He recognized that they do have some struggles (they are risk adverse) but he does a great job of highlighting the positives (confidence, enthusiastic).  But something he said has stayed with me.  He quoted Dr. Leonard Sweet saying that Millennials are EPIC

Experiential - they want to learn through doing
Participatory - they support what they help create
Image Rich - they love pictures
Connected - they yearn to discuss with others what they are learning

This has awesome implications for teachers but I want to think about how we can apply these EPIC principles to parenting.

Experiential - I love to talk.  I love public speaking.  But my boys are not going to learn as much from my words as they are from their own actions.  I have to let them fail and then walk them through what they can learn from their mistakes.  This doesn't mean that Ryan and I aren't providing rules and guidelines.  It simply means that I'm not trying to engineer everything to go in their favor.  They get to experiment.

Participatory - On the podcast Dr. Elmore reminds us that kids are used to being a part of the outcome.  Reality TV has them voting for who wins.   How can we incorporate this as parents? Let them participate in setting family rules.  "What days should we reserve for family dinners?"  "I'm good with either 10:30 or 11 pm as your curfew.  You can decide which one." This does not mean we are letting the inmates run the prison (and really, do you want your home to feel like a prison?).  We are getting their input but the bottom line decision makers are mom and dad.

Image Rich - Ain't it the truth? Instagram and Snapchat are their preferred social networks of the moment.  What do those platforms have in common? They're both image based.  I love to send the boys pictures of inspiring quotes or Bible verses.  What pictures could you use to remind them of your family's values?

Connected - Back to social's their playground, their after school hang out.  They want to be connected to their friends.  In middle school and high school, kids are trying to figure out who they are.  They need feedback from their friends during this process.  They need you to lead them well in this area.  Check their social media and text messages.  Give them explicit instructions on what's acceptable and unacceptable. Model appropriate social media use for them.  Don't be afraid to set limits and stick to them.  If you institute a no cell phone policy at dinner, you have to stick to it too. That one has been hard for me.  I have instituted a no headphones rule in the car because I want to use that time to talk to and connect with the boys.  That means the onus is on me to start a conversation. Sounds easy enough, right? But many, many times, I'm lost in my own thoughts and I realize we are all just sitting there in silence.

What do you think?  What are some ways that we can parent these EPIC kids well?

You can subscribe to the EntreLeadership podcast here.
Dr. Elmore also has a podcast called Growing Leaders. You can subscribe to it here.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016


Last Saturday, Sam and I got up early.  Early early.  On a Saturday.  The first Saturday of the summer.  For what?  For a football camp.  We are a football family. The boys play other sports but football is their passion.  And, lucky for us, football is king here in Texas.  I enjoy watching my boys play.  I love the work ethic they are learning.  I love their teammates. I love the way they are learning to encourage their teammates and push everyone to be their best.  I love watching Ryan coach them.  I love football!

So I was not that cranky about getting up early to go football camp at SMU.  And, as an added bonus, I didn't have to drive.  My nephew also attended camp so my brother-in-law drove.  Score!

I watched Sam work hard during the offensive line drills.  As much as I love football, I'm not well versed on the complexities of the game so I can not analyze Sam's performance.  He looked like he was hustling and holding his own.

At the end of camp there was a tour and recruitment information.  It was all very well done and I was super impressed with Chad Morris and his coaches.  Something he said has stuck with me.

There are 1460 days in 4 years. 

He went on to talk about how many days a kid can play football in college - 60 - and that you should choose a college based on the other 1400 days and not solely on the 60.

My eyes glazed over.  Sam is about to start his freshman year.  He has 4 years of high school left to live in our house full time.  1460 days.  Mini panic attack! I'm running out of time.  There are so many things I need to make sure he knows in these 1460 days.  And I'm not even talking about all the academic stuff he'll learn in high school.

I need him to know how to seek after God, even when it's not cool.
I need him to know how to be a gentleman, even when it's not fun.
I need him to know how to cook his own food and wash his own dishes. Oh, and his clothes! He has to take care of his clothes.
I need him to know when to stick with something even when it's hard.
I need him to know that you don't have to stick with everything. You can change your mind sometimes.
I need him to know how much we love him.

I could go on and on like this, there's so much I need to do in these 1460 days.  But I'm going to stop before I go into a full on panic attack.  I mean, for real, I'm tearing up.

I can calm down that because I know the One who holds those 1460 days.  I can give those days to the Lord.  He'll guide me.  He'll guide Ryan.  He'll guide Sam.  I'm sure those days are not going to be all fun and games, God never promised that.  But he does promise to never leave me or forget me.

So, instead of panicking about my measly 1460 days, I'm going to but them in God's hands. I'm going to be intentional about teaching all three of my boys what they need to know and let God handle the rest.  I'm going to be present and enjoy all 1460 of those days.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

What love requires, part 2

Loving someone that you are in a relationship with requires many, many things.  But this week I'm thinking about loving someone you don't necessarily know. Loving strangers. Loving people who are different from you.  Loving people who annoy you.  What choices do we need to make to love these people well? 

Loving strangers requires empathy.
Loving strangers requires acceptance.

After you empathize with a someone else's point of view, you can begin to accept them.  What does it mean to accept someone?

Acceptance involves meeting someone where they are, letting them be who they are and loving them anyway.  Acceptance means that we don't just tolerate someone's differences, we celebrate them.  We are thankful that we are all different.  How boring would it be if everyone were the same?

But that's contrary to our human sin nature.  We want everyone to be the same.  We fear differences.  So how do we begin to accept people who are different from us or who disagree with us or just flat out annoy us?

First, we remember that we are all created in God's own image.  You are.  I am.  That person who really irritates you? Them too.

Next,  we remember that ALL have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.  I'm a part of that ALL, as are you and every person you meet.

Finally, we follow Jesus' example.  What did Jesus do when he encountered people who were different that him?  Well, since he is God in human flesh, we were/are all different from him.  Jesus loved.  He loved well.  The Bible does not record one instance of Jesus arguing anyone into relationship with Him.  He loves them into relationship.

Take the woman at the well.  She was a Samaritan woman.  Someone Jesus should not have been talking to according to Jewish customs of the day.  But he does it anyway.  The woman had had a few husbands and was not living with a man who was not her husband.  Did Jesus launch into a lecture about the sanctity of marriage?  No, he offered her the greatest gift she could ever receive.
Believe me, I am not good at this! I am really good at loving the people who love me.  But I fall woefully short of loving the people who disagree with me or who annoy me.  Annoying is really my sticking point.  I'm awful at loving people who annoy me.  But when I remember that we are all children of the most high God, it gets a little easier.  And I'm working on it!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

What love requires, part 1

In my post yesterday, I talked about hate. Why is it so easy? It's easy because love is hard.  Love requires us to look inside ourselves.  Love requires empathy.

What is empathy?

We practice empathy when we feel the feelings of another person.  Often, sympathy and empathy are confused.  Sympathy involves showing compassion for the the other person but not necessarily feeling the same feelings.  Both words have the same root word 'pathy' which means suffering or feeling.  It's the prefixes that set them apart.  'Sym' means with or together while 'Em' means within. (reference)

Empathy involves going within our selves to find the same feelings inside ourselves that the other person is having.  We can not have empathy without putting ourselves in the other person's position.

A strange thing happens when we put ourselves in someone else's shoes.  Our toes get pinched.  It's a little uncomfortable.  We can start to understand why the other person made the decisions they've made.  And then, uh oh, we can see that we aren't really very different from them.

It's difficult to hate someone who is like you.  When you hate someone who is like you, you hate yourself.  And that, my friends, is an awful place to be.

Thankfully, we have a Savior who can empathize with us.  He came to earth and lived as a human.  He fully understands the human condition.  He doesn't sit on high with no knowledge of what it's like to struggle in this life.  He has first hand knowledge.

In John 11, we learn about Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead.  At the beginning of the chapter, John lets us know that Lazarus was Jesus' friend but when Jesus gets the word that Lazarus is sick, Jesus does not go to him right away.  During this delay, Lazarus dies.  When Jesus arrives, Lazarus has been in his grave four days.  Lazarus' sister Martha runs out to greet Jesus.  I love their conversation.

Martha displays her trust in her Lord in this conversation.  She is open to the will of God.  Next, Jesus goes to comfort Lazarus' other sister, Mary.  Mary is straightforward with Jesus, "Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died".  She knows that Jesus could have saved Lazarus but it has not occurred to her that Jesus could still act.  John tells us that Jesus was 'deeply troubled' after this exchange with Mary.  He asks to be taken to Lazarus.

Then comes the verse that all good Southern Baptist children choose when asked to memorize a verse of the Bible, the shortest verse in the Bible.

Jesus wept.  He empathized with Mary and Martha.  He grieved their loss with them.  Even though he is the Son of the Most High God.  Even though he had already told his disciples and Martha that he would raise Lazarus from the dead (John 11:4, John 11:23).  Knowing the plan did not keep Jesus from feeling the grief of his friends.  How amazing!

When you are able to feel what the other person is feeling, you are able to see their motives more clearly.  You are able to see that, in the words of Maya Angelou, we are more alike than we are unalike.  And that starts us on the path to loving one another.

Join me tomorrow to find out what else love requires!

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Why is hate so easy?

Why is it so easy to hate?

Take a stroll through Facebook and you'd think that hate is our national pastime, not baseball. Our political system thrives on hate.  Candidates aren't trying to convince you to like them, they're trying to get you to hate the other person more than you hate them.

The only person people seem to be uniting together to not hate is the Chewbacca mask lady.  I mean, for real, how cute is she?! But I'm sure there's someone out there pecking out a blog post about how awful she is.

Sadly, this is not a new phenomena. We like to think it is. We lament that our country is 'going to hell in a handbasket'.  I personally have called it the TMZ-ing of America.  But it's not new.

Jesus' crucifixion was driven by hate.  The Jewish leaders hated that He claimed to be the Messiah.  He didn't fit their expectation of what a Messiah should be.  Immediately after His death, the apostles were so fearful of that hate that they huddled up together.  It was only after He appeared to them and they received the Holy Spirt to help them did they become bold.

That didn't stop the hate.  Stephan was martyred because of that same hate.

But still, the question remains, why is hate so easy?

It seems like a lot of mental energy to hate someone or something.  You have to keep thinking about it.  You have to keep coming up with reasons that you and that person or things are at odds with one another.

Love seems so easy.  But it requires a lot of us.  It requires us to see the other person as God sees them.  It requires us to look past our differences and see our similarities.  Love requires that we remember that not only have I sinned and fallen short of the glory of God and been forgiven but so has the other person.

One of the verses my Grandpa Mays wanted read at his funeral was "Blessed are the peacemakers; for they will be called children of God." Matthew 5:9.  I think Grandpa wanted to remind us to be at peace with one another.

Love is hard. It does require a lot from us.  Thankfully, we have a Savior who set a wonderful example of love for us.  That's what we'll explore in the next 2 blog posts: What does love require? Use the button on the left to subscribe so you don't miss a post!

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Football Camp

We're a sporty family. Ryan played sports his entire life.  I have watched sports my entire life (I do not play any sports, that's a story for another day).  Sambo and Zac have played sports their entire lives.  One of the things we had to come to terms with was that B might not play any sports.

B with his camp football & tshirt
A physical therapist told us once that team sports would not be in the cards for B. She said soccer would be torturous for him.  She suggested and individual sport such as gymnastics or karate.  Last summer B went to karate camp at the Sensable Gym in Garland and loved it.  We signed up for Karate class in the fall.  B loved the idea of karate but the actual follow through was lacking. He loved his teacher.  But each class led to a meltdown.  He couldn't always make his body do what it needed to do and it was frustrating.  Not to mention the fact that he had a whole different idea of karate.  He wanted to be a ninja but he didn't want to learn to be a ninja.  He thought it should just happen.

Imagine our surprise when, after being hauled around to several games in a row, B asked Ryan "When is my game? When do I get to be on a team?"

"You want to be on a team? What kind of team?"

"A football team!"

Alrighty then.  We'll get right on that.  It seems as though football season never ends in Texas (thank you sweet Jesus) but it would be awhile before B could play football.  However, the high school puts on a football camp every spring.  Ryan talked to Coach Settle (our head football coach and athletic director) about it and he agreed that B should try it out.  Ryan would be nearby, just in case.

B went football camp last week.  Just like always, I was nervous.  Camp was from 3:30 - 6:30 after school.  That's a long time.  But he loved it!

Coach Beard helps with
the penny
The coaches give out football cards to keep the kids motivated.  B was so happy to get 3 cards the first day.  Coach Gomez gave him a card for being the shortest in a group.  Another boy walked up and said "I'm shorter".  Gomez told the little guy he was out of cards and would get him one tomorrow.  B gave the kid his card and said "He's right, he's shorter" WHAT!?! Who is that kid sharing and giving up something he wants for someone else?!?

I watched one drill the first day where the kids were learning to make a pocket to receive a hand off.  B listened so well. He made and kept his pocket until it was his turn.  Then he kept his pocket while he was at the end of the line waiting for his next turn. And when they lined up for the next drill, B still had his pocket.

Coach Beard talking to B about
returning to the game
At the end of each day, they separate into teams and play short games of touch football. For B's age group, high school players are all time quarterbacks.  The first day after about 4 plays, B stormed off the field.  I wasn't that surprised. It was 6 pm.  He'd had a long day.  I thought he was done.  But then Coach Beard followed him to the track and talked him into coming back to the game.  Twice!

On the second day, B told me that football camp was life changing.  I believed him, it was for me.  I saw what he could do when he worked hard.  He tackled with a primal scream.  On defense, he knew what to do, stayed on his man and said "Not on my watch!".  It seems like his sensory seeking tendencies might come in handy in football.

The second day was my favorite because Sambo stayed with his brother's group and helped B. From the stands, I could see Sam's love and concern for his brother.  He might have even enjoyed sharing his favorite sport with his little brother.  But Sam's really good at being 15 right now so I may not get confirmation of that for a while.
Getting some encouragement
from Coach Settle

Camp had to be cut short because of weather but I am thankful for the high school players and coaches who made football camp a great experience for B. And I'm thankful for a lesson that God seems to be teaching me over and over: don't underestimate our B-man.  He might not be on the world's schedule but he's on God's schedule.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Life Well Led

My boys with Grandpa Mays at his favorite place - Wendy's
What are the hallmarks of a life well led?




My Grandpa Mays certainly embodied all these things.  But to him, the hallmark of a life well led was the life led for Christ.

When I was a little girl, I loved spending time with Grandpa Mays and Grandmomma Joyce on the farm.  I would get up on Saturday morning and set up a stand at the edge of the road selling cantaloupes.  After I'd sold them all, I'd run back into the house and sit in the kitchen with Grandpa.  He'd help me count the money.  Without fail, he'd say "10% for Jesus, the rest is for you."

Grandpa never missed an opportunity to talk about his blessed savior.

After his stroke, my momma took B to see him.  Grandpa and B were good friends.  B tried to teach Grandpa to play Angry Birds that day.  But Grandpa was worried about something bigger, "Does B know Jesus?"  B must have been hyper focused on Angry Birds because he didn't answer Grandpa right away. Grandpa asked again.  B said "Yes! Jesus was the Son of God who died for our sins!" I can't imagine anything making Grandpa Mays any prouder.

That was his deepest desire for all of us.  That we would know and love Jesus the way he did.  Grandpa sought after Jesus.  He was enthralled by him.

Sunday afternoon after he had passed, we were waiting with him for the funeral home personnel.  I opened his Bible.  It was a sea of red underlining.  In true Grandpa style, it looked like he had used a ruler to underline.  He was precise!

But it wasn't the underlining that caught my attention.  It was his distinctive handwriting.  Peppered through out the scriptures are his notes.  Simple, wonderful notes.  "Thank you!" Over and over "Thank you!".   With an occasional "Wow!"  He never stopped being thankful for the the love Jesus had shown him.

That is his legacy.  His love of Jesus Christ.  His service to Jesus Christ.  His generosity to share that love with us.  Because of his obedience to share the Good News, an entire family has been impacted.  I have been impacted.  My boys have been impacted.

Because Grandpa loved Jesus, he could love us more fully.  He pointed us to the love of Jesus Christ. And now we have the opportunity to continue his work.  By sharing the Good News with those around us.  By falling in love with Jesus.

Right now, I am studying Acts.  Tuesday morning I studies Acts 5.  Jesus had been crucified and resurrected.  The apostles had been given the Holy Spirit to help them continue Jesus' work.  They were preaching and stirring anger in the hearts of the Jewish leaders.  They had been arrested, tried, flogged and released.  And yet, the pressed on.  The last verse of that chapter applies beautifully to Grandpa Mays.

I am so grateful that I was able to share these words at Grandpa Mays' funeral on 
Wednesday, June 1, 2016.