But What Can I Do?

I sit here tonight with spontaneous tears in my eyes. My usual night time routine of catching up on the daily news, scrolling through social media, and eventually settling down with some Bible study time, was interrupted by a news article that caught my attention. Let me warn you… some of the articles i came across had some disturbing images that broke my heart. If you have a tender heart and are easily weighed down by things, be careful.

I won’t attempt to go into the details of WHY Yemen is in famine because quite frankly, there are many reasons. I encourage you to find a reputable news source (you be the judge) and research what is happening. I for one do not understand all of it. I am doing my best to read up on articles so that I do, but simply put… war, the increased prices of food, no money, and the biggest one… a blockade. Saudi Arabia has a blockade that is currently keeping food and medical supplies from entering Yemen. There is a food shortage, there is an outbreak of cholera, and there are many civilian casualties because of this and because of war. One of the articles I was reading had videos and images of children… tiny little children who were starving to death. My heart just broke. They’re just little babies. They know nothing other than famine and war and some of these children are not 4 years old. The selfishness, pride, and hatred of other “leaders” has condemned these children to a life of pain and misery. The only thought that kept shouting in my head over and over again was this… He could be mine. That little child could be mine.

When I laid Selah down to bed tonight, I came back upstairs and was a little sad because, you see, Selah has figured out how to say the word “no.” So, of course, when I laid her down and walked away, she cried “no! No! No!” In a pitiful voice. She’s my child. She’s well-fed. She’s happy. She’s healthy. She almost walks. The worst pain she has known ever is probably teething or immunizations. I thank God that she doesn’t know what serious pain is like. This child is mine and I know she’s okay and yet it still breaks my heart when she cries for attention.

To see these poor, innocent children suffer the consequences for someone else’s decision kills me. That child could be mine. These children with tiny little bodies could be mine or yours. They could be the children in the nursery on Sunday morning. They could be the little babies that go to elementary school or pre-school every day. Their older siblings could be the ones I see in chorus every day. Those children don’t deserve this. Please, I know it’s hard to see these images and I know it’s painful to think about all the crap that is happening in the world, but we can’t distance ourselves from their pain just because they’re not ours or because we don’t know them or see them.

We are humans. They are humans. They deserve to know what a full belly feels like. They deserve to know what love and humanity is. If we do not take the time to show them, who will? It is our job as humans AND as Christians to show and give and demonstrate true love.

So, what can we do? Often times, I feel absolutely helpless in these situations. I feel like I’m just sitting here praying, crying, looking for an answer. I know that many of you will argue with me about prayer and how it’s actually not a last resort and I agree with you, but please understand that even though I’m praying I still want to physically DO something. I’m a Martha...remember? I came across THIS BBC Article. They listed things like:

Donating Money

Volunteering abroad

Volunteering at home

Sending goods

Click on the article link above to see the specifics. All of these are great suggestions and I hope you’ll find at LEAST one way to help where and how you can. It could be a thing that you do with your children this year for Christmas instead of buying Christmas presents or something in addition to presents?

Another article suggested contacting government. This suggestion always frustrates me because I feel like I’m the only one calling. Why in the world would they listen to one person? But what we have to remind ourselves of is this… if we ALL stand up against wrong doing… we will NOT be the only person calling. Call your representatives, whoever they may be. Local, state level, federal… ANYONE who will listen. Call and contact them. Let them know that your town, city, county, state, country, will NOT stand for this type of inhumanity and cruelty. This is not who we are and we must do better.

I go to bed tonight feeling heartbroken, sad, helpless, and just wanting pick Selah up out of her crib and hold her all night. The only comfort is knowing that the discomfort I’m feeling tonight is NOTHING compared to others. I know and must constantly and daily remind myself that God is in control, right? God is good. God is good. God is good. God is good. God is good. On days like today, saying that out loud is hard and I have to be honest in saying that. When i see a child in pain, by no fault of their own, that statement is hard for me to say, but I have to believe it’s true. So, i fall asleep tonight praying for protection for those dear children, praying for peace, praying for healing and praying that God is good.God is good. God is good.

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Power of Music (lame title, I know)

As I sit here listening to a group of 150+ middle and high schoolers sing together, I am reminded of why I love my job. A couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine (Peter) and his high school concert choir, my 8th grade choir, and the chamber choir from Wingate University and their director Kenney Potter, did a joint choir concert. It was such an amazing thing. I absolutely loved it and I hope that, at least Peter and I, do it every year. It was good for many reasons. The parents got to see the kids work hard. The middle school parents got to see the next step up from middle school choir. The high school parents got to see the next step up from high school choir. They ALL got to see that music can be and should be a continuing thing from middle school all the way to college.

After the concert, I was so moved that I wrote a message to Kenney Potter and asked him to share it with his chamber choir. In the spirit of transparency and honesty, I’m going to share it with you now…

__________________________________________________________________

When you are presented with something in your life that touches your soul, you have to give thanks, so thank you. Thank you, not only for your performance last night, but thank you for the influence you had on me, the audience, and my students. When you’re a middle school teacher, hearing changed male voices becomes a spiritual experience, no joke. It’s like the sky has opened up and you can see heaven! There is an end to the squeaky voices and the boys who refuse to sing up the octave and the boys who are still altos who desperately WANT to sing down the octave because they are under the WRONG impression that singing low makes you more manly. You healed my soul alone, just by singing on pitch. And your diction… holy cow. I had forgotten how nice it sounds to hear a “K” sound all at the same time. Middle school is a different world. Okay, but seriously…

Dr. Potter doesn’t know this, but for a few years after I graduated from Wingate, I could not come back to choir concerts. I tried the one year after graduating because Taylor (my husband; also a graduate from wingate music) begged me to go. I went and sat sobbing for the entire hour that the choir sang. Yes, they sounded amazing and yes, my heart was moved, but I sobbed because I missed it. Like many of you, I’m sure, I’ve been singing in choir since 3rd grade. I had never been without it since then. So, to graduate, and suddenly be without my coping mechanism, I was lost.

I was teaching in a great middle school and loved my job, but felt like I didn’t have a purpose. For the longest time, I avoided any type of choir concert because I didn’t want to be the crying girl in the back row, but… like any good partner should… Taylor reminded me that the main reason I enjoyed choir so much was because of the leadership I had in those choirs and that now I had the opportunity to become that for someone else. I have had two…. count them, one. two. choir directors my whole life. I had the same choir director from 3rd grade to my senior year and then I had Kenney (yes, when you graduate; you get to call him Kenney). They had a huge impact on my life in a way that they will never know. Dr. Potter will teach you MUCH more than just how to sing. Please pay attention to him. ESPECIALLY if you are planning to go into education. He is the model of what a teacher should be. As is his wife, I swear to you, she’s Mary Poppins. Don’t take him for granted.

Lastly, I want to say thank you for my students. It is SO good for them to see the big picture. They get stuck in looking at choir as a class to get to the next concert. When they can see the next step (high school) and even the next step after that (college); it really changes their viewpoint on choir as an “elective.” I know that not all of them will continue to do choir in high school and very very few will do it in college, BUT even if just one of them goes on to do it in college, it is worth it. Even if NONE of them go on to do it, it will still be worth it because one day, they will look back and think … wow, last night was a really amazing experience and I was so lucky to be there.

Thank you for allowing my students to see a future in music. Thank you for showing parents how music really can change and lead their kids lives and that it IS a viable future. Thank you for healing my soul and reminding me of my purpose and revitalizing me as a teacher. You are so important to this world. Please, keep sharing your gift with the people around you. Whenever you are tired and worn down, please remind yourselves that there is a girl in the back row whose heart needs to hear you.

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I am now sitting on the floor of a school auditorium listening to 150 kids sing and it’s amazing. These kids have been up since 6am, some earlier, at school, working their brains to death and now it’s 6pm and they are STILL willing to work their brains and voices and bodies. Singing is a full body activity and not only am I moved at how they sound (because it’s heavenly), but I am moved because they are HERE. They are spending their Friday night singing and working their butts off… and most of them still have smiles on their faces. Don’t you ever tell me that this generation is lost. They are found and they are making a difference. Some of us just choose not to see it. Some of us choose not to see HOW they choose to make a difference. Some of us choose not to recognize how amazing these kids are.

Those of you that are reading this… please, if you ever have the opportunity to support music in any way, even if it’s just attending a concert at church or school, please go. Music will move you, if you let it. Sometimes it will move you, even if you don’t want it to.

Time for Honesty 

Oh man. 2 posts in a week??!! What is happening? 

Before I start on this week, a friend of mine commented on the last post I made about self-care. He reminded me of the scriptures that talk about Jesus going away by himself to pray. What a perfect example!! Jesus is modeling self-care. He is stepping away from all the people and doing something that fills and heals his heart. Awesome. 

Okay, here we go:

Hi. My name is Sarah… and I’m a Martha. There. I’ve said it. I like to do things. I like to stay active. I like to feel accomplished at the end of the day. It’s where I find my value. I like to do everything (because I enjoy it) and then silently hold it over people in my head. After things have been done, I’m the one sitting in the corner thinking, “I did literally EVERYTHING today and you’re complaining about (insert thing here).” It’s a horrible character trait and I want to change it. 

However, I don’t want to change being a Martha. Marthas are planners. We are movers. We keep the world running. We are the people in your staff meeting that are ready to say, “okay. I’ve heard the problem. Let’s sit down and start planning and get to it. Let’s fix this problem to make this work more efficiently.” Marthas rarely go to their bosses with problems that they don’t already have a fix for and IF … big IF they go at all, they go because it’s their last resort. Marthas dislike complainers. Stop complaining about it and DO something. If you’re not willing to do something, then you have no right to complain. (Not saying it’s right… just putting my thoughts down.”)

It’s that way for me at least. I don’t like coming across as a complainer so if I go to someone with a problem… I probably have an answer, too… because I want you to know that I’ve already figured it out, or that I’ve tried and I’m not just coming to you with a problem. It’s pride. It’s selfish. It’s low-confidence at its core. It’s needing validation through people. And it’s wrong. 

I often find myself bitter about all the things I’ve done in a day… like I’m mad because I think I’m the only one that has worked hard? My train of thought is something like … if I get all these things done, then at the end of the day I’ll truly be able to sit down and relax. I’ll be able to enjoy time with friends and family. I’ll be able to enjoy worship on Sunday because I can come home to a clean house. I’ll be able to really just breathe because I can’t turn my brain off unless these things are finished. I won’t be able to see the beauty of my life UNTIL I have checked all the boxes. That. Is. A. Lie. And I know exactly where/who that’s coming from. 

That is a lie, a non-truth, bull, twisted words, that has been planted in my soul that I have to struggle DAILY to dig out. It is SO HARD for me to do that, but it’s worth it. How could I possibly believe that my life will be more relaxing, more worth-living, more beautiful if all of the chores are done? I mean… have you seen this face … 


Luke 10:38-42 (NIV) says that Martha was DISTRACTED and wanting VALIDATION. (Oh, hello me.) She asked Jesus… are you kidding me? I’m in here doing all of this by myself. Can you PLEASE tell Mary to come here? And what does Jesus say? (Obviously a paraphrase) 
“Martha, Martha. You are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed-or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better and it will not be taken away from her.”

Dang. First the double name. I usually dislike when people put a tone on Jesus’ words or a facial expression, but sometimes it just pops into your head and you can’t shake it. For me, I hear a small smile and a gentle shake of the head when Jesus says, “Martha, Martha.” Then he says that Mary has chosen the more important thing and says this phrase … “it will not be taken away from her.” 

Let me tell you what I think of every time I read that phrase. At night before I go to bed, I try to wash dishes and put Selah’s toys away. Doesn’t always happen, but I try. I get up the next morning and leave the house, come back home and what has happened? The sink is full and Baby Girl’s toys are out. AGAIN. How did that happen?!? 

That sense of calm and importance and validation (there’s that word again) is completely gone and I have to clean it all up again. When I read “it will not be taken away from her” I am reminded of the scripture of the woman at the well and Jesus telling her that HIS water will quench her thirst forever. That she is searching for her worth and for satisfaction all in the wrong places. I am reminded that when I search for my worth in anyone or anything other than Jesus, then any satisfaction I have received from that will be taken from me. It will disappear because the source is not an eternal source. It will disappear and I will have to keep working to get it back again. 

I pray that, as a Martha, I will be able to see those moments, hours, and days of worship that Jesus has laid out for me. That I will learn to use my drive to get things done for the benefit of others and not myself. That I will learn to let Jesus control that drive. And, finally, when I feel something or someone tugging on my heart, that I will have the strength… or maybe submission… to put down the toys or dishes and turn and open my eyes, ears and heart to them.

Love and Peace. 

I Should Be Asleep, But…

It’s close to 11pm and I should definitely be asleep. Most of the time, my mornings start at 5:15am. My alarm goes off, I literally tuck and roll out of bed, open the door SO SO slowly, tiptoe past a sleeping baby and creep upstairs. I have workout clothes already upstairs. I change my clothes, I put headphones in, turn on a podcast and start my workout. This morning’s workout had a bunch of jumping-type things…plank jacks (a jumping jack on the floor in plank position), high knee skips, half burpees (… a half of a burpee?), more more high knee skips, alternating side lunges, again, high knee skips, and frog jumps (kill me). So, every time I would land back down on the floor I honestly was basically trying to be cat woman and not making a sound since baby and husband were still asleep right below me.

I finished the workout, emptied and re-loaded the dishwasher, went back downstairs, got a shower, got dressed, minimal makeup, went back upstairs, fixed a bottle for baby girl, came down to get her at 7am, told hubby I was leaving in 15 minutes so I needed to him to at least come lay on the couch with one eye open while baby girl played, took said baby upstairs, gave her a bottle and half a banana, packed my own lunch, hubby came upstairs, I kissed both hubby and baby and literally ran out the door. Somewhere in all that is a post-workout drink that is AMAZING (thank you Ashley S!!).

The day did not stop there. Today was non-stop rehearsing. Middle school kids have a concert in about a week so we are learning how to stand on risers and keep our hands to ourselves. It’s a LOT harder than it sounds. In fact, I’m pretty sure most adults couldn’t do that for an hour and half… which is what my students did today. They BLEW ME OUT OF THE WATER. They did soooo well and it was so encouraging to know that they were listening. Now… by next Tuesday, who knows what they’ll be doing, BUT they did it today and that’s a victory, right??!!

This week will not stop after today. Tonight I had a musicianship class that I teach in Charlotte, tomorrow after school is a meeting, Wednesday is a football duty and church choir, Thursday is parent/teacher conferences until 7pm. It’s just going to be one of those weeks. Every time this happens, the song “Mama Said” by the Shirelles pops in my head. You know the one…

“Mama said there’ll be days like this, there’ll be days like this Mama said…”

So, what did I do this afternoon after having only been at home for 1 1/2 hours only to leave again? I called my mom on my way to Charlotte and cried over the phone. She patiently and calmly listened, as she always does, and said… “If I could change it I would. I’m so sorry.” That’s all I needed, but I decided to call my BFF anyways. She did the same. She empathized, calmly listened, said “that sucks” after everything which immediately validated me. (Good friends will do that, even when you’re complaining about stupid things). And then she did something so important… She reminded me about Self-Care. I’ll say it again y’all cuz it needs to be said… Self. Care. She said… do something fun this weekend, but something that isn’t going to be difficult. Even if you’re going out to a “thing” that “thing” can become just one more thing you’ve got to check off your list. Have a movie day at home. Go get some coffee with baby. Do something simple and relaxing.

During my morning workouts, I listen to podcasts. Sometimes it’s the news, sometimes it’s this podcast called “Lore.” It’s creepy folklore type stories and I absolutely love it. This morning, however, I was listening to a podcast called “Risen Motherhood.” (Thanks again Ashley S!!). It’s just two moms, sitting down, talking about how life is tough sometimes being a mom, but how we need to continue to remind ourself what being a “Godly” mother actually means. Where do we find our worth as moms, females, wives, human beings? Do we find our worth in how many things we can accomplish in each day? In the amount of time we spend with our child(ren) OR… do we find our worth ALONE in Jesus Christ? The two podcasts I listened to this morning were talking about postpartum bodies(a different post for another day) and confidence AND… you guessed it… Self-Care. You don’t have to be a Mama to get this, so hang with me…

They were discussing how Self-Care can be perceived one of two ways. The first one is some people look at other people who talk about self-care and they immediately think that that person is being selfish. That they are ONLY looking out for themselves. That they are taking time away from their day to do something that only they want to do. The second way, and, according to the women in this podcast, the better way, of looking at and acting out self care is to do it as a way of “refilling your cup.” Do we do self-care as a way of saying, “I’ve had a crappy day… I deserve a glass of wine. I deserve to sit on the couch and watch my show. I deserve to devote the rest of today to myself.” OR… Do we do self-care as a way to say, “I’m tired. I’m giving what I’ve got left in my life, but it’s not great. I’m giving 50% where I should be giving 80%. I have no energy left to even enjoy playing with my dog or my kids. I have no energy left to cook dinner or to have a conversation with my loved one or to check in on my best friend.” I’m not saying that coming home from a long day and plopping down in your favorite chair with a glass of wine is bad. No way. I’m saying… what is the motivation behind it? Is it because you’ve had a crappy day or is it because you’ve had a crappy day AND you want to have a minute to recharge so that tomorrow you can go back out there and give your 100% again?

As Christians, I think a couple things need to happen when it comes to self-care.

First, I think we need to understand our motivations behind why we do it. I get up early, I work full-time, I go get my hair done, I teach a musicianship class once a week, I do face masks 2x a week BECAUSE… I think it makes me a better mom. It makes me feel human. It makes me feel energized. It makes me feel calm and prepared. When I feel those things, I have more energy, more patience, more compassion, more confidence to be a better mom, teacher, wife, and friend. If we are doing these things selfishly, then I think it will eventually drain our energy from those areas. If I were doing it to ONLY make myself feel better, I would be a worse mom, an impatient teacher, a less-loving wife, and a needy friend.

Second, I think we need to remind ourselves of the Christian aspect of self-care. We were put on this earth to be servants, right? To take care of those in need, to clothe the naked, feed the hungry, love the unloved. If we are putting so much of our energy into other areas that we have NONE left for the people that need it, then how can we be servants? If we are serving the wrong people, the wrong motivations, the wrong energy, we will have no energy left for the people that need it. When we are servants to others, we should be energetic, passionate, compassionate, prepared, calm, patient, loving, (insert your own adjective here), servants. If we are constantly drained and have not taken the time to recharge our own batteries, how will we serve others? How can we share love and patience if we have none left?

Self-care is NOT selfish. Are you recharging so that you can continue to make the world a better place? Are you recharging so that you can be a better person for your friends, family, community, co-workers? Are you recharging so that you can feel closer to God? Are you recharging so that you can start with a fresh slate tomorrow? Are you recharging so that you can feel more relaxed, less worried, and less stressed out about life and the world? I urge you to think about that in the coming weeks… especially when holiday season is approaching. Take time for yourself, ABSOLUTELY. It’s so important! Take time to clear your heart so that there’s room for more love to give. Take time to clear your head so that there is space for clear thoughts and kind words. Take time to clear your life so that you can give more of it to others while making this world a better place and sharing the love that is so desperately needed.

That is why I’m awake right now at 11:29pm on a Monday night. I am PAINFULLY aware of the alarm clock I have set for tomorrow morning, BUT I also know, that by getting this out of my head, through my fingers and onto the screen in front of me, I have emptied my head, heart, and life, and gotten rid of something that was weighing me down. Now, I can wake up tomorrow feeling clear, calm, and ready to serve my family, students, co-workers, friends, and anyone else that may cross my path AND I can greet them in love because I’ve made room for it tonight.

Love and Peace.

Table of Love

Well, school is fully back in swing and taking over everything. The first couple of weeks weren’t too bad as far as time management goes. The last 2 weeks have been nuts. I’m doing my best to keep home life and work life balanced and by balanced I mean 70% home and 30% work. 80/20 would be perfect, but that rarely happens. I’ve had this thought process in my head about what life should be like and I’m pretty sure that it’s not being a workaholic. I want to give my best to my kids at school while also giving my absolute best to my family. It’s a constant adjustment, so we’ll see how it goes.

With the world the way it is today the main thought that’s been on my brain is just love. If you’ve seen the movie “Mean Girls” I’m the one asking the rest of the school to just get along and share cupcakes and rainbows or whatever it is. I understand that we disagree on a lot of things, I really do get that. Does that mean, in turn, that we have to be rude about it? I’m sure there’s a quote somewhere that says something like… no opinions were ever changed by arguing about something. Hubby and I have discussed recently the difference between being a voice and presence of love and change vs. being a “clanging cymbal.” When we get into disagreements are we just shouting at each other because we don’t want to be wrong or are we having calm, respectful conversations in love? And by “in love” I don’t mean when we say, “look, I love you, BUT…” I mean, do we ACTUALLY love each other?

“Come to the table of love, Come to the table of love. This is God’s table, it’s not yours or mine. Come to the table of love.”

We sang that this morning in church. That verse in particular stuck with me. I’d like to think that if we approached life the same way that we approach communion on Sundays, that we’d be treating each other a bit better. When we sit down with someone to have a conversation (not an argument over a computer)… Do we say to ourselves, I’m going to have this conversation in love. This is a conversation that I want to have Godly wisdom while having. This is a person that I truly care about, not even just because they are a special person to me, but because they are a human being and it is my job to care about human beings. So, when I sit down with this person, I need to commit to having this conversation in love, while also being open-minded that I could be wrong and that listening to someone might improve my relationship with them OR even improve my point of view or understanding of a situation.

I’m okay with us disagreeing, but so often it is done out of pride for not wanting to be “wrong.” When I look at Selah, I see someone who is innocent and curious. She is smart and hard-headed. She smiles at almost anyone. She is a beautiful little thing and I can’t stay mad at her… even when she wakes us up at 2am (which isn’t often because she’s an angel). I say all of this because… children just don’t care. They are curious about the world. They WANT to learn more about it and sometimes I feel like the older we get, the more close-minded we become. Instead of looking at a situation, judging it, and making our own opinion… maybe we should be a bit more like children. Look at a situation, become curious about it, truly ask questions and LISTEN to the answers… rather than assuming we know everything about it and not listening to anyone else when they give their 2 cents.

People are human beings with lives, feelings, emotions, situations that we know nothing about it. Let us try to come to the table with a little more love. It can’t hurt.

Breathe

If you read this and think… those sentences are short. She sounds kind of done… you’d be right.

The past week has been a little tiring. We were on vacation with family at the beach for part of the week and then the second half of the week, Taylor and I went to the beach. Just me, him, and Selah. All of it was fun and it was so so nice to be around family. Taking Selah to the beach is exciting, even though she can’t last very long in the sun and water. Just seeing her stick her fingers in the sand and squeeze as a smile spreads across her face. It’s something simple, but it’s sweet and rewarding watching her experience something so small like that for the very first time.

Before we left for the beach, I worked super hard to get the house put together so that we could come back to a clean house. We’ve been trying to do this ever since we were married. I don’t know why it’s so difficult, but it’s like… there’s always something that stops us from reaching the unachievable goal. There’s a load of laundry needing to be washed, or there are dirty dishes, or …SOMETHING. So, this time I was determined. I ran around the house like a crazy person, throwing clothes all over the place, making lists, sweeping, taking out the trash. Selah just sat in the floor staring at me and chasing after my feet and giggling. I’m sure she thought I was playing a game with her.

Traveling in the car with Selah is, at best, tolerable. She’s not a car baby. Never has been. It’s chance. Some days she’s okay, other days she screams until you pull the car over and get her out of the car seat. Mostly, I just want to pull my hair out. She’s been slightly better lately, but she still has her moments. When we do get her to go to sleep, we end up sitting in silence or with her sound machine on or whispering with the music down really low. This is a little frustrating for me since, ever since we were friends, one of the things Taylor and I do best and really enjoy doing is having great conversations in the car. That has been put on hold recently because of the monster in the back seat.

Getting Selah from the beach house to the beach is not really difficult… just a handful. She also had (and still does a little bit) a horrible diaper rash while we were there and keeping a wet diaper on does not help that at all. She was only happy for as long as she was in the water. It was cool and relieving I think. She crawls and gets the sand everywhere. She just wants to feel it. She looks at it with such wonder and it makes the trips worth it. Taylor and I are not really beach people. I like sitting in a chair with water at my feet, but that is where my love for the beach stops. The heat is crazy. The sand is of the devil. I’ve always hated the ocean. It scares me. I can’t see what’s at my feet and I also can’t control its ebb and flow. I have a need to control things so… there’s that. A great thing about the beach is that Selah would take super long afternoon naps. It was wonderful to be able to lay on the couch, fall asleep, and actually not wake up 30 minutes later.

We are back home now and struggling still a bit with the diaper rash, although Selah doesn’t seem bothered by it. On our way back on Saturday, she cried for basically the last hour in the car. There’s nothing you can do about it either. We tried giving her a bottle, feeding her, putting on her favorite song (yes, she has a favorite song), but she was just DONE. She wanted out and she wanted out YESTERDAY. Little did we know, that was just the start. We got home, Taylor went out to run an errand, and I laid Selah down for a nap since she hadn’t slept in the car. She slept for about 10 minutes and woke back up and refused to lay back down. I did everything we usually do. I let her cry it out, I rocked her, I sang her song… nothing. She was sobbing and I began to feel guilty, of course. I brought her back upstairs, tried to start playing with her, but she kept crying. I texted Taylor and said, “please tell me you’re almost home.” Taylor got home and helped to keep her happy until bedtime. We gave her a bath to calm her down, fed her, did the whole normal bedtime routine with a little bit more love and compassion. By this point, we realized something was wrong. She was just not herself. Our baby is happy and giggly and rarely ever ACTUALLY gets upset at something. She has always been consolable, but not yesterday. I volunteered to get comfy in the recliner in the nursery so that if she woke up I wouldn’t have to keep going up and down the stairs. She woke up once, maybe twice, between 8pm-10pm.


Taylor came down at 10 and we went to bed. For those of you who don’t know, our room is right next to the nursery. Like… 3 steps close. Since Taylor has to work on Sundays, I said I would get up if she woke up again. And she did. The first time I remember is 12:15am. After that it’s blurry. 3am, 4:30am, 5am, 6:15am and a few more in there that I don’t remember. This may be normal for a lot of people with 9 month olds, but I’ll tell you something…we have been incredibly blessed with a good sleeper. Since about… 8-10 weeks she was sleeping a full 12 hours through the night so anytime she wakes up, we know something isn’t right. At 6:45am, I decided to just get up so I got her a bottle and we went upstairs to start the day. I won’t bore you with all the details, but know that the rest of the day was basically the same. Random crying in the middle of playing, crawling towards me and clinging to my clothes, crying if I wasn’t within reach, crying if I fed her, crying if I didn’t, etc… She took a good morning nap (thank you Lord) but completely skipped the afternoon nap, again. She’s drooling, has a runny nose, won’t let me anywhere near her mouth, can’t breathe when you lay her down because her nose is congested… She doesn’t have a fever so I’m almost positive she’s teething. Taylor got home from church and helped to try to lay her down, but she screamed and screamed. We both are feeling bad that she feels bad, but we’re also both at our limit. Then…

I feel it. The tick on my wrist that, lately, has snapped me back into reality. I’m going to lose some of you at this point, but just… stay with me. Throughout the school year last year whenever a kid was getting on my nerves, my watch would buzz my wrist. When I feel like I’m about to pull my hair out with Selah, my watch buzzes. When I’m done with the car, when the house is messy, when I’m overwhelmed with my lists, when I’m about to wash the sand out of Selah’s pants for the 100th time that day… my watch buzzes. For those of you that don’t know, the Apple Watch has this thing that reminds you to breathe. It’s supposed to promote intentional breathing or something, idk. It’s probably on a timer and just goes off every 2 hours, but I promise you… my watch has evolved. It reads my heart rate or just knows by the temperature of my skin or the grumbling sound I’m making that it’s time to remind me. It buzzes my wrist, I look down at it and it says… “Breathe.” I know what it’s there for, but for me it’s become a way of putting my life into perspective. It reminds me to chill out and focus on what’s happening. It tells me to take a few seconds, regroup and try again with more patience. I can tell on the days when I really need that reminder because the watch will buzz, I’ll look down, take a deep breath and tears will get caught in my throat.

All of these moments I’ve talked about have happened in the past 2 weeks. I was running around the house getting it cleaned and there is nothing wrong with that. However, there was a beautiful child at my feet giggling at mommy running around and maybe I should have actually played a game with her while I cleaned or just given up on the cleaning until she was asleep (or have foregone the cleaning all together). I needed to take a breath in the car and be thankful that I have a healthy child who likes to move… that I have a husband that I love to talk to about anything… that, hey… you know what? She’s a baby and she can’t help it. Keep talking to her. Keep singing to her. It won’t be so simple later on. Take a breath and enjoy the time you’ve got with family on vacation, because family won’t always be there when you need them or want them. Breathe in and look at this crying, helpless child and realize that she just needs to be snuggled a little harder, kissed a little more, sung to a little louder, to go outside and take a breather herself. She’s more tired, more sick, more frustrated than you are. (Sorry, talking to myself now.)

May I have the wherewithal, patience, and wisdom to take a breath and really dig my fingers into the sand.

Tomorrow Will Be Kinder

“Stay with us, Lord Jesus, stay with us.  

Stay with us, it soon is evening.

Stay with us, Lord Jesus, stay with us, it soon is evening and night is falling.”

I tend to think in song lyrics sometimes.  I guess it’s part of being a musician.  I have songs from when I was a kid all the way to now stuck somewhere in my head.  When something reminds me of a song, the lyrics pop in my head and are there all day.  Most of the time it’s just simple songs.  Lately, it’s been kids songs since that’s all I sing with Selah.  On certain days, however, my heart takes over and reaches for songs like “E’en So, Lord Jesus, Quickly Come” or “Nearer, My God, to Thee.”  Recently, the song that’s been in my head has been one that we sang in Sanctuary Choir at church.  The lyrics come from Luke 24:29, “But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.”  Somedays, all I can think over and over again is “stay with me, please stay with me.”  The days when my Dad was really sick and the months after he died, I begged… Please, night is coming and I need You here.  Please, stay.  After Selah was born and I struggled with breastfeeding… please stay with me.  Every time I hear of a new tragedy that has happened around the world, when I think of children who have been separated from their families through war, when I become burdened with the darkness in this world… The list could go on… Please, Lord, stay with us.  

 When I was younger, I did my best to put myself in others’ shoes.  For whatever reason, the older I got the more emotional I became over other people’s burdens.  Part of it is growing up and having my world-view widened, I suppose.  As we grow up we, hopefully, become more aware of what’s going on and in turn, our hearts are opened up to the needs of those around us.  I believe the other part is teaching and motherhood.  Ever since I started teaching, I’ve tried to put myself in the shoes of my students.  Some of these kids have lives and struggles that I’ve never seen or experienced.  Before Selah was born, Taylor and I used to watch crime shows like Criminal Minds.  It was one of my absolute favorites.  The closer I got to the third trimester the less I wanted to watch them.  I would start to cry and feel anxious anytime there was an episode involving children or families.  

Now, the news comes on and there’s another story about some tragedy and my heart just breaks.  I just don’t understand how we can be so cruel to each other… how can there be so much suffering… how can families be separated, children be bullied, people be persecuted for any reason someone else can find?  I often become so overwhelmed with these feelings that all I can do is repeat these song lyrics over and over again.  

Stay with us, Lord Jesus.  I plead over and over again, please, stay with us.  I know we make mistakes.  I know we are cruel to each other.  I know we are not taking care of Your world, of Your children, of our brothers and sisters… but please.  Please, stay with us.

I search for hope in everything.  A song I’ve been singing this week is called “Tomorrow Will Be Kinder” by the Secret Sisters.

“Black clouds are behind me, I now can see ahead
Often I wonder why I try hoping for an end
Sorrow weighs my shoulders down
And trouble haunts my mind
But I know the present will not last
And tomorrow will be kinder
Tomorrow will be kinder
It’s true, I’ve seen it before
A brighter day is coming my way
Yes, tomorrow will be kinder.”

On the days that I’m particularly bogged down, I try to sing this song.  It gives me a hope.  Some people are good at recalling Bible verses and I do wish I was better at it, but I am thankful that songs come to mind first.  Singing these lyrics over and over again assure me that there is hope for tomorrow.  There will always be hope for change in this world, for improvement, for love, and for compassion for others.  

It is too easy to become burdened, weighed down, and saddened in this world.  This is not necessarily a bad thing.  I think allowing ourselves to feel for others makes us better human beings.  It becomes a problem when the sadness takes over and keeps us from action.  I pray that we are able to find something to hold onto each day, whether it’s Scripture, a song, a saying, a picture, a memory, or a simple hope that allows to look forward to the future and to know that even in the nighttime, Jesus stays with us.  

The Reason I Hate “Kids These Days”

I apologize for the clickbait title, but I couldn’t help myself.  I’ve been working on this post for a while now.  Editing it, reading it over and over, and basically just trying to decide whether or not I sound too judgmental or like I’m coming down on one group of people.  At this point, I can’t read it again and if someone is offended by it, then I think they’ve missed the point. So, here we go…

Okay, I know some of you are thinking “you hate kids?? You are definitely in the wrong profession!” but hold on… let me explain.  I absolutely hate when I hear people say “kids these days…” This statement is usually followed by one of the following or something similar:

  • they are so rude and disrespectful.
  • they are always on their phones.
  • they are growing up faster.
  • they know too much for their age.
  • they only care about themselves.
  • they don’t know how to use their imagination.

and on and on and on…

I hear stuff like this ALL.  THE.  TIME.  Maybe it’s part of being a teacher, idk. While I agree with many of these statements, the tone behind them is what irritates the hec out of me.  Sometimes people say these things like it’s all the kids’ fault, as if they were just born that way, but let’s look at these and break them down.

The one I hear the most is:  “Kids these days are so disrespectful.  They are so rude and negative towards any authority figure.  They can’t even look me in the eye when I’m talking to them.”  Well, let me tell you something… I don’t know about you, but I didn’t come out of my mother’s womb knowing how to do those things.  I wasn’t born with perfect social manners.  i wasn’t born with the ability to be a great conversationalist or to say “yes, ma’am” or “no, sir.”  I was taught those things.   I was told by my parents that I needed to be respectful.  I was taught how to do this and why it was important.  They first taught me to “honor your father and mother.”  Then through respecting my parents I learned that it’s just as important to respect other adults.  They taught me through verbal instruction AND modeling for me how I was supposed to behave.  If a kid doesn’t have a parent, mentor, guide, older sibling, leader, etc… to show them how to do this and to teach them that it’s the right thing, then how will they know to do this?  If they watch their parent, guide, mentor, etc. be disrespectful to those around them, how else will they know?

Another one I hear a lot is: “Kids these days only care about themselves.”  Once again, while many people are born with a gift for caring for others, we still learn by watching the examples that are given in life.  I was taught to care about others.  I was shown how to care for someone else, first and foremost, by watching how my mom and dad cared for each other, then by watching how they cared for me and my sister.  I watched them care for the youth at church.  I watched Dad pack a box for a homeless man near his work almost every winter.  I watched both parents and my older sister go on missions trips.  My parents, teachers, pastor, and friends showed me how important it was and why it was important to care about others needs.  If kids are never shown how or told why, how else will they know?

“Kids these days are always on their phones.  They have no imagination because they never get outside and play or read books or, etc…”  I’m just gonna come right out and say… I see more adults texting and driving than I do teens.  Kids learn by watching someone else.  Yes, kids are on their phones, but more and more SO ARE ADULTS.  If you don’t want your kid to be on their phone, take it away and put yours away too!  Technology has opened up so many social avenues and I think it’s amazing!  Kids are able to connect with each other in so many ways.  Maybe it’s my age, but I don’t think these avenues are inherently bad.  I use social media to keep in contact with a friend in Prague, to send pictures and messages to friends from college, to talk to my sister in the Dominican Republic, to send my husband texts during the day, to get pictures of my child when I miss her at work, etc.  The point is, there is a right and wrong way to use social media.  There is a right and wrong time to use social media.  In fear of belaboring the point… this.  has.  to.  be.  taught.  Just like everything I’ve said above, behaviors are learned.  If you don’t think church is the time to have the phone out, teach the kid that.  If they shouldn’t have it at the dinner table, then teach them that.  If they’re in a social situation and they haven’t looked up in 30 seconds to look at someone else in the room, then let them know that it’s time to put the phone away.  These behaviors are taught.

Lastly, “kids are growing up faster these days.  They know too much, too fast.”  Just take a second and think about what has changed the most during the past 50 years?  Our access to knowledge.  We have technology at our fingertips, constantly.  There are phones, ipads, computers, internet, along with every other resource we had before.  I’ve never realized how many restaurants have TV’s before we started trying to keep Selah away from screens.  They are EVERYWHERE.  Even in my own house.  Kids are using technology at home AND at school.  They are exposed to so much information all the time.  This is great in so many ways, especially in education.  The downside is that this makes it more difficult to monitor what they can be exposed to.  Even if, as parents/mentors/teachers, we are diligent about vetting what kids watch or see, there are some things we just can’t stop them from hearing or seeing.  Whether it be through friends, music on the radio, in books they read, etc… they will hear or see something.  Just the other night we were watching March Madness and a commercial came on that (in the words of a facebook friend) was more like a sex ed class than a car commercial.  The point is that March Madness is a family thing.  Plenty of kids stay up to watch it.  I sure did when I was little.  If a child picks up on what is happening, then the parent is forced to have a conversation before they or even their child is ready.  The parents have to make a decision between talking to them before either is prepared vs. letting their kids find out through a friend at school.  Most of the time, these friends have wrong information or tells more than they need to.  I could go on and on about this one, but I’ll stop for now.  Technology and media are at the root of this problem.

I hate the phrase “kids these days” because “kids these days” are bombarded with all sorts of issues that I never had to deal with, much less my parents, or grandparents generation.  They are smothered in body image issues everywhere they look; sexual innuendos in every song, commercial, or tv show; bullying; social media problems; so many activities that demand their time… and parents, teachers, mentors, that NEVER had these problems and are trying to guide these children through all of it.  We cannot pretend like they have it just as easy as we did.  They are exposed to so much and if they don’t have guidance and love, they are bound to get lost.

I’ll finish with this:  The students I have had in school are self-conscious, kind, loyal, pleading for attention, eager to please, courageous, funny, talented, good kids.  Some are troubled and misunderstood and desperately need love.  Next time you see a kid on their phone, don’t assume that they are wasting their time.  They could be speaking with a friend or reading a book.  Next time a kid doesn’t look you in the eye, don’t assume that they are being rude.  Maybe they have learned by experience to not look adults in the eye.  Have some compassion, try to understand the world they are growing up in, teach them in love, and always give them a second chance.

A Letter to Selah About Commitment

Just something I’ve been dealing with and thinking about lately…

Selah,

I know at this point in your life, you haven’t made any commitments, but one day I want you to understand how strongly your Dad and I look at commitments.  The definition of commitment is “the state of being dedicated to a cause; and engagement that restricts freedom of action.”  I assume that when you read this I will still be teaching choir (hopefully in a middle school), but who knows… I could get tired of dealing with commitment issues and choose another career path.  Being a choir teacher gives me a different outlook on commitment.  I feel like I’m constantly begging kids to commit to something.  “Be a part of the choir! Please come to the concert!  Please wear the right clothes!  Please sing out more!  You committed to this class back in August and you signed a contract saying that you would be at this concert! Don’t give up on me now!” If I ever seem a little frustrated after a day at work, it’s most likely not you that I’m irritated with.  I’m most likely tired of trying to win kids over.  I’m tired of trying to get them in my class.  I’m tired of trying to motivate them to do something just for the fun and excitement of it rather than doing it out of the fear of getting a bad grade.  I cannot tell you how many times in a year I hear… “is this for a grade?”  “what happens if I don’t show up to the concert?”  “Do I HAVE to be there? Or is this like… an optional thing?” I want to sit down with them and say… “Look, you’ve been working on this stuff since August.  Does that not make you feel like you’ve wasted all this time if you don’t go to the concert?  What was the point of all that work?”  I’ve even gone so far as to say things like, “If you don’t show up to the concert, that would be like skipping on end-of-year tests or going to all the practices for your sport and then not showing up for the game.  What is the point of class if you’re not going to show up for the concert?  If you abandon your teammate on a football field, the WHOLE team suffers.  It’s the same with choir!  If I’m missing 4 altos on the night of the concert, the choir simply will not sound as good as it could.”

Dearest Selah… to be quite frank.  I am sick and tired of having to compare choir (or any other art for that matter) to a sport in order for it to get the respect it deserves.  I’m going to stop myself there because that’s a different letter for a different day.  Here is the point that I am trying to make… In your life, when you make a commitment to something… HOLD THAT COMMITMENT.  I don’t care what it is that you’ve committed to.  If you’ve promised to meet someone for lunch, do it.  If you’ve said you’ll be there at soccer practice, do it.  If you’ve said you were going to help someone out with homework, do it.  For the first 18 years of your life, my dear, you will not have a choice.  Your Dad and I will be making that decision for you.  You can be mad at that (and I’m sure at some point in your life you will), but I think it is going to teach you a valuable lesson; a lesson that my parents taught me and I am so grateful for that.  

Academics come first.  If you are in a class and there is a test, field trip, choir competition, science fair, etc… you WILL complete it.  I don’t care if the choir concert is the night of your best friend’s 16th birthday.  You are not going to that party until AFTER the concert.  (Also, side note… what are you doing have a best friend who isn’t in choir???) I don’t care if the basketball championship game is the same night of the science fair that you entered in months before you tried out for the basketball team… you WILL compete in the science fair and then I will do my best to rush you over to the game.  I was an athlete in high school.  I get it.  I loved having sports as an outlet, but what my parents taught me was academics came before extracurriculars.  Always.

Church comes before academics.  I know, I know.  I said academics come first.  My brain was tired, it’s Friday.  If it’s Sunday, we’re at church.  If it’s Wednesday night, we are at church.  Even if your Dad wasn’t a music minister… we would be there.  You would be going to youth choir, Bible study, Sunday school, etc… This isn’t a choice.  It wasn’t a choice for me for 18 years and I loved it.  I loved going to church.  The minute I started struggling with church was the first Sunday I chose not to go in college.  Some parents may not like the fact that I force you to go to these things, but as my parents told me… They’re not your parents.  I am.  If you decide to play sports or be a part of a club or band in school and they have practice/rehearsal/meetings on a Wednesday night or Sunday afternoon, you will just have to miss it.  I won’t apologize for that.

I understand that there are always circumstances beyond your control.  I understand that last minute emergencies happen.  I understand that sometimes people get sick.  I understand that some days… you will just have a poopy day.  You won’t feel like coming home from school and then leaving again to go to church on Wednesday night.  You won’t feel like going to soccer practice when it’s 40 degrees outside and raining.  You won’t feel like spending an hour running around a gym after you’ve been up since 6am in a classroom doing work.  You won’t feel like spending an hour in a choir rehearsal and then coming back that night in a nice dress and standing up in front of people to do it again.  I get it.  Everyone has their days, but as long as you are healthy… you will be there.   You wanna know why?  Because you SAID you would.  If you join WHATEVER club or extracurricular activity, you will do it knowing that if it conflicts with church, you’ll miss it that day.  If it conflicts with an academic event, you’ll miss it that day.  You will join knowing that if your grades start to slip and your performance in school is falling, you will quit.

Your commitment to things is good practice for your commitment to relationships.  Will you always be there for your best friend?  Will you always support your significant other? Or… will you, the moment its tough, back out and say, “Do I have to do this?”  and I hope I will always be there in your head asking, “Did you say you would be?”

Here’s the deal, my girl… I came home tired today.  I drove home thinking about how frustrating it is to listen to students say, “I can’t go to this because I have (insert sports event here) that night.”  I drove home thinking about how I wanted a student to do something simply BECAUSE they committed and they cared… not because they were going to get a bad grade.  I drove home thinking about how I didn’t want my child to be like that to her teachers.  I drove home thinking about how I wanted you to understand how much teachers and other adults who lead students commit to those students’ lives and how disheartening it is to hear students say that they basically don’t care.  I came home thinking about how I wanted you to be a student and eventually an adult who commits to things…who gives their word and people believe them.  I want you to be a person who other people trust when they commit to something.  I want you to be dependable.  I want you to be honest.  I want you to be dedicated.  And if I have to make you mad along the way, I’ll do that for you.  

The Thing About Anger…

I promise that this isn’t a musical review.  It’s going to seem that way for the first 2 paragraphs, but I promise it’s not.  Just… get through it 🙂

Anyone who knows me knows that I absolutely LOVE musicals.  I grew up watching them with my sister and my best friend.  Anytime there’s a new musical, my BFF seems to have a heads up on it before anyone else.  She’ll text me and say “OH MY GOODNESS! Have you HEARD the soundtrack to the new musical _____??!!! You’re going to LOVE it.”  And sure enough, she’s right every time.  I do love it.  We basically just find bootlegs of musicals on Youtube, watch them and then text each other what we think.  I have recently been listening to a musical called “Waitress.”  I found a bootleg of this musical on YouTube because I neither have the time nor the money to fly to New York to see all the greatest shows 🙂   The music was written by Sara Bareilles and you can definitely tell.  It sounds just like her music.  Simply put, the story is about these three women who work at a diner together and help each other through life.  The main character, Jenna, has a husband who … how shall we put it… he drinks too much and gets angry.  He takes her tips away from her at the end of each day.  He won’t let her have a car because he doesn’t think she needs to go anywhere by herself and while it is never actually shown, it is insinuated that he could become physically aggressive.

The tricky thing about Waitress is that it starts out fun and inviting and the songs are catchy.  While one of the first songs has a bit of profanity in it, I decided to give it 5 more minutes.  (I really can’t stand a bunch of profanity.  It makes me a little irritated.)  I loved the characters immediately, the humor was great, the music was perfect.  They get you settled into a world where one of the worst problems is one of the girls is making an online dating profile.  However, for Jenna, life is not so simple.  She is pregnant and does not want to be.  At this point in the show, you haven’t met her husband yet so you don’t understand her fear and hesitation.  They have lulled you into a bright and shiny world and then all of a sudden, her husband walks in.  He is tall and intimidating and controlling and I immediately got the chills.  He takes her tips and degrades her in front of her friends.  When she gets home, he’s been drinking and is angry.  He threatens her and to protect herself she tells him that she’s pregnant.  As I was watching this, I actually felt fear.  Part of this is the acting.  It was spot on, but the other part of this is something I’ve been realizing about myself over the past several years.  I am terrified of anger.

Now, I’m not talking about someone being “mad.”  That is something completely different.  If you are mad, you are upset at something or someone.  You need to vent, you need to work it out, you need to sleep it off, etc… Anger is something else.  I’m about to get all science-y on you.  Google says that…

“When someone is experiencing and expressing anger, he or she is not using the thinking (cortex) part of the brain, but primarily, the limbic center of the brain. Within the limbic system is a small structure called the amygdala, a storehouse for emotional memories.” (lakesideconnect.com)

When you are angry, you, literally, are not using your thinker.  Your emotions are controlling everything about you.  Anger is something that sinks its claws into your heart.  It makes you burn from the inside out.  It is wild and uncontrollable and unpredictable.  It is often paired with hatred.  Those two together are a dangerous combination.  I feel fear every time I watch a movie with a person who is unrighteously angry.  I am mildly fearful when I hear someone being angry.  I felt chill bumps and fear watching this fictional character on a YouTube video.  Even when the character wasn’t being “angry” I was afraid and thinking ahead of things that could happen that would make him explode.

I’m not saying all this to get sympathy.  I’m saying it because this is what I’ve realized: In movies, TV, musicals, etc… we watch people act out certain emotions.  Love, hatred, sympathy, anger, sadness, happiness, etc…  Sometimes their acting is not quite right and we don’t believe it.  Sometimes the chemistry is off between actors and we don’t believe they’re in love.  Sometimes, they cry and it makes us wonder whether or not they are actually sad.  Sometimes it’s just bad acting.  They don’t bring us into their story.  BUT… Rarely, have I seen someone get anger wrong.  Anger is one of the emotions that is almost always believable.  I honestly think that this is because anger is so easy.  It’s easy for us to tap into.  There’s a reason that Corinthians says, “Love is not easily angered.”  Anger is easy.  Ecclesiastes 7:9 says,

“Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools.”  

Not to be too poetic, but I think anger just sits and waits for us to open a door, window, a crack somewhere, so that it can burst in.  It is, unfortunately, a part of who we are as imperfect humans.

Sometimes, after a bad week at work, or a busy week at home, I feel irritable.  I just want to sit down for 10 minutes and the baby wants me to walk.  I just want to watch a movie with Taylor, but there’s laundry to be done.  The list could go on and on.  Instead of voicing my irritation, or going for a run, or praying about it, I let that irritation sit and over the course of a few days it turns to anger.  It’s like Irritation is the fingernail of Anger.  Anger has put its sharp fingernail in the crack that I’ve opened up and it is slowly prying away so that it can come into my life.  I have a very vivid image in my head of what this looks like, but as I am no artist… think about the “Pain & Panic” characters from Disney’s Hercules.  I’d totally post a picture of them, but you know… copyright.  What I’m thinking of is like Pain, but creepier looking.

I end up exploding over something small.  People will say “don’t let your anger get the best of you”, but if it were up to me alone, that anger would best me every time.  It is so important for me to remember James 1:19-20,

“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this:  Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.”  

I have to repeat that to myself over and over again.  Ultimately, I think I become angry because I do not seek GOD above all things.  I seek acknowledgement for everything that I do.  I seek praise or personal satisfaction or sympathy, rather than seeking GOD.  James 4:1-3 says,

“What causes fights and quarrels among you?  Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?  You desire, but do not have so you kill.  You covet, but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight.  You do not have because you do not ask God.  When you ask, you do not receive because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”  

Or in the Message version:

“Where do you think all these appalling wars and quarrels come from?  Do you think they just happen?  Think again.  They come about because you want your own way and fight for it deep inside yourselves.  You lust for what you don’t have and are willing to kill to get it.  You want what isn’t yours and will risk violence to get your hands on it.”  

Whoa!  This makes it so obvious where anger can become dangerous.  When anger does get the best of us, we become violent, pushing anything and everything aside JUST to get what we want.  James continues,

“You wouldn’t think of just asking God for it, would you?  And why not?  Because you know you’d be asking for what you have no right to.  You’re spoiled children, each wanting your own way.”   

This makes it very clear to me.  When I am angry, I am acting like a spoiled child.  I do not have the logic to ask God to help me because I am not using my thinker.  I am so caught up in my emotions that I have forgotten that GOD has also given me a brain and the ability to be patient and calm.  I want what I want, when I want it, and I am not afraid of hurting anyone in the process.  This is a dangerous mindset to have and one that I want to stay far away from.

I am challenging myself to be more patient and calm over the next few weeks.  The closer we get to Lent, the more I want to give up anger, and with it irritation, impatience, bitterness, and pettiness.  It is going to take a lot of prayer and practice.  I hope that by saying it here, that the people around me will keep me accountable for this.  I want to live in a constant relationship of love, peace, and kindness with the world and if there is anger in any part of me, that is impossible.

“Therefore, as GOD’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” – Colossians 3:12.