Teaching my kids about identity through blue hair

This morning, I was looking through pictures from the last year on my instagram account, laughing at the silly ones and smiling at the memories. To be perfectly honest, I was going back to look at photos from last February because I couldn’t for the life of me remember what in the world we did for my eldest’s birthday last year. oops. Does anyone else use social media as a memory organizer? In my defense, it’s been a year and she couldn’t remember either!

As I was scrolling through the ones from last summer, I saw several of me when I had blue streaks in my hair. I stopped and looked at them, because I feel like I have had so many conversations lately about me putting blue in my hair and how crazy it seems to most people…since I am a 30 year old mother of three, heh. But, for one, it sounds more extreme than it actually was, just look. You could barely see it unless my hair moved just right, or I had it up.

But also? I loved it. I think it was super neat looking and if it didn’t cost me an arm and a leg AND take up a whole saturday of bleaching and dying and washing, I’d totally keep it done. But mostly? It was not about what I thought of it…or anyone else above the age of seven, actually. It was done with a very intentional purpose.

You see, there are three young people living in my house who have HUGE jobs of kingdom work to do one day, and I needed to send them a clear message.

We live in a lovely part of a lovely city. We really do love living here. But, it cannot be denied that it’s definitely a more affluent, white-raced area. It doesn’t mean the people here aren’t awesome. It doesn’t mean the people around us don’t need Jesus and love and friendship. It just means that most of the people around here look like us. And after living here less than a year, I began noticing the way my children noticed people who didn’t look just like us. Suddenly, people who weren’t dressed nice or who looked eclectic in taste or flat out down on their luck seemed not as approachable to them as people who stepped out of an suv wearing chacos. And, Disney and their marketing and princesses hasn’t helped matters, even though we love Disney.

I am grateful we live on a safe street. I’m grateful we live in an area with a good school zone (yeaahh we homeschool, but you never know ;)). But, that’s just where we live. It’s not our identity. And I really needed to drive that fact home with my girls. Talk after talk didn’t work, because? it’s just talk. So, I decided to try something I’ve wanted to do for years and been too afraid of what some might think. I dyed my hair. (honestly, it was between that or a nose stud, but I figured the metal detectors at the prison would make that one an issue.)

My girls thought it was weird, and then they thought I looked like a mermaid. (do mermaids have blue hair?) And several of my friends posted heart eyed emojis to my pics of it, and it was cute. But I remember the first look I got of disgust in front of my girls. My oldest especially noticed, and asked why a woman gave me such a weird look. I laughed and explained that she didn’t seem to care for my hair, and had actually even said something about it. But, I told her that it really didn’t bother me. That it’s just hair, and there will never be a way to make everyone happy, and you never should even try when it comes to appearances, or anything else for that matter! Plus, that it’s truly crazy for someone to care about what another person’s hair looks like. crazy.

I told her we ask ourselves if what someone says about us is true, then if we’ve been selfish or hurtful. If so, we apologize and repent. If not, we shake it off and remember that God made us uniquely, He made me to love crazy color in my hair and others not to. She smiled and said, “like how I like to dress in sweats or comfy clothes, and other girls like to dress up?” Exactly, baby. You. Be. YOU.

Something I did notice? I noticed how disarming being myself was to some. I got compliments from cashiers and women working in restaurants. I had something to talk about when the women in the prison noticed it, and talked about wishing they were out and had the freedom to do something fun in their hair, or just cover their roots!

When we ignore the fear of what others might think of how we look, we can embrace the opportunity to love others no matter how they might look.

Because? I have a seven year old who loves to wear whatever is comfy. She is my wild bird of a girl, and she hates to be constricted by anything. What if she is called to live in a third world country? What if she’s called to marry a boy who will live out his life serving God in a meaningful work that builds up treasure in heaven but not so much money in the bank here? What if she never marries and that’s her purpose?? Good. Great! But I don’t want her held back in fear of what she looks like.

Because? I have a six year old who doesn’t understand why a tiara isn’t an everyday accessory for everyone. She has four she wears interchangeably, depending on the outfit. And that’s great! That is just so her. But, does that mean that she should always look like that? That when she sees people who aren’t dressed up in whatever the adult equivalent of a tutu, tiara, and fairy wings are, that she’ll view them as not as great as her? Should it be the gateway of pride in her life? heck. no. She’s a warrior. She has passion and an eye for detail. That girl can sit for hours focusing on one piece of work, losing track of the time. The rest of the time, she can’t sit still! She’s got to go and move and live! God has great work for her to do, and if she wears a tiara while doing it? well, He and I both won’t be surprised at all.

and Because? WHO. KNOWS. what that little one will do. a mixture of storm and quiet all balled up in one. I pray that she uses her passion to fight for those who can’t fight for themselves, and she uses that quiet to love and speak words that bring life.

Is any of this possible if they think a woman looks less because she has blue in her hair? probably not. Sure, they can still serve and love, but I am putting all my eggs in three baskets. I am loving Jesus and chasing Him and hoping so hard that they catch the same bug and chase after Him. and? it’s just hair. It’s just shoes. it’s just stuff. it’s just right now….but oh, eternity.  and? I hope all my hair is blue there 😉

Why I’m deleting all my facebook friends-and it’s not why you might think..

So, yeah…like the title of this post says, I’m deleting all of my facebook friends as this new year begins. My choice has nothing to do with: time management, elections, annoying posts, privacy, person opinion, or any of those sort of things.

So why am I doing it? So I can be a better friend in person.

Facebook is great! It’s sooo useful. I love how it connects people! But, this year, I want to strive so badly to make one on one connections with others, even if through email, text, or instant messages if I have to settle for that, but not in mass statuses and likes. I don’t want to assume I know you because I’ve seen your posts. I want to ASK you questions because I haven’t seen them! Because when I ask? You give me more than a post, you give me just a tiny piece of you…your opinions, fears, delights, life. And I want to be trusted enough to hold that dear and care for it. But, I can’t do that if I stay status distance away.

So, why not just deactivate facebook? Good question. First of all, deactivating means nothing…it’s just a hard log out. All I have to do to return everything just like it was is to log back in just like I did before. PLUS, I need facebook! ha! I need the pages to know when consignment sales or food festivals are happening! I need to see posts in a neighborhood facebook group that is kind of insane in how active it is…seriously. you should watch it. I also need it to contact people when I don’t have their number or email. Facebook is useful! So, I’ll still have it and the ability to check all those things. I’ll even be able to instant message people as long as they have it set to allow others to do that. But, I won’t see statuses or anything.

Will I miss it? Heck. Yes. I’ll miss the cute pictures, the hilarious posts, the ability to ask the entire facebook world a question and get so many trusted opinions. And I don’t know how long it’ll last, but I just kind of need to do this for my own personal social experiment on myself.

I’m not making this long post because I think missing my posts of food or crazy antics of my third child will impact your life at all, haha! I just wanted to throw this post out so that no one may be hurt if they notice that my name is no longer on their friends list…or, for those who have special software additions that tell you when someone unfriends you…oh it’s real. don’t get it. trust me. ha!

And do not panic, grandparents of my children and extended family, I’ll still have instagram to supply the social media world with those lovely food and children photos 😉 and hopefully, I’ll be on here more this year as well as my other facebook page for posts.

So, wish me luck! I’m terrified! ha! But, I love having a word of the year. Love it so darn much. Last year? it was hope. and I learned sooo much. This year I have had sooo many issues finding the word to encompass what I know God wants me to focus on. I made lists and lists of possible words but none seemed to cover it. Until I came upon one in the Greek (those greeks are so smart). Phileo. This word is different than agape, because agape is a choice. True Godly love that chooses to love no matter what. Phileo means you actually feel that love. It’s a desire to be friends. To pursue them, encourage them, go through things with them, and genuinely enjoy them.

Yes. That is my 2017 mission. To be a good friend who is a good friend because I want to be there for you, not just because it’s the right thing to do.

What about you? any word of the years coming up yet? Any plans for 2017? I’d love to hear them!

A life prepared

In what is, arguably, the busiest season of the year, I find myself in the middle of a time-use overhaul. In the last several months, I found myself painfully overstretched in my time, and somehow even in the leftover moments, I was still floundering with it. I have lamented over the hours flying by to God, to my friends, and my husband, a lot…bless his heart. But no matter how I tried, I felt like I was walking through a life wasted.

Do you ever feel like that? Like your entire body can be present and at work in good, and even meaningful!, things, but your heart and mind are so distracted and absent, that you feel like you missed it? I have sat across from inmates in prison and wasted it. I’ve had coffee with a woman aching from a hard situation in her life and wasted it. I’ve gone on a rare date night with my husband, and yet, wasted it. I don’t mean wasted as in, not worth it, I mean wasted because I walked away wishing it had gone different, desperate for another chance to encourage and be there for them. The primary cause of my wasted opportunities was because I wasn’t prepared for it all. I didn’t ready my heart to make the most of my words and their time.

When it comes to regulating something, I am very much like a horse in need of blinders on. I am strong-willed and very much like the dog on the movie Up who is always snapping back to thoughts of squirrels, no matter what important moment is happening. So, I’ve gotten a bit drastic in my time management lately, and asking my husband to hold me accountable to my attempts to form new habits.

It may seem like an overhaul is drastic especially this time of the year, but sometimes drastic is what is needed. At least when you’re as hard headed as me, it is. But why SO rigid on my time and determined in my efforts? Because reading through the story of Jesus’ birth, there are two words my eyes rest upon. I stare at them, willing them to be untrue but seeing myself in them despite my desires: no room.

I am the innkeeper.

I talk a big talk as the season approaches, and I have such desires of where my  heart focus will be, but once Christmas is upon us, I look around and realize that my time and choices said there was no room for Him. No extra room, at least. No room for His birth. No room for the prophesies leading up to that moment. No room in my heart to look through all the Christmas glimmer to see Him standing there on the other side of it, looking at me with calm, patient eyes, willing me to  drop it all and walk away with Him for a moment.

He has gone ahead of us and is busy preparing a place for us, and yet, I don’t do the same so often for those He has placed in my life. I live out a life that believes the lie that there’s no room. No room in my time, no room in my head, no room in my heart, my home, my budget….

And to be honest? I’m pretty sick and tired of the lies. Because when I step outside of it a minute, I see the truth. But inside of it? As hard as I try, and as much as I care, I find myself rushing and rushing to check off lists and squeeze things in. I want to spend time with people, but often I feel like they need me as if I’m what stands between them and collapse. But I am no savior and I have no healing powers.

But, there is something I do have to offer up with open palms: a heart prepared. A heart that has readied for time with others so I can sit across from them over coffee, dinner, or the ever-watching gaze of a guard and listen instead talk. I can look into their eyes and know that the only One who can save them is One who was born and placed in a manger, but grew into a man and changed the entire world. I can remind them of His promises and love for them, and that will be so much more than enough.

I have a great desire to leave the presence of others almost bursting with all the words unsaid, so that I may pour them out to Him instead. I want to ask questions that cause true reflection and help me to know them. I want to walk away empty, because I have filled them up. But what I have found, is that the catalyst for all of that starts way back down the line in time before that moment. It can only happen when I have been so intentional with my time and gifts, that I may not be great and as boastworthy as an inn on a dark night, but I am as welcoming and warm as a stable.

Normally, this is a New Year’s sort of thing, but the people in my life are there now. Max Lucado says that you change your life when you change your heart, and that is so, so badly what I want for Christmas. So Merry Christmas, and may your gatherings this year be full of the light and warmth of a stable, even if they aren’t as done up and fancy as an inn.

What are you close to dropping your arms on?

 

Yesterday morning while sitting in church, we sang the song Lion and the Lamb. (Here’s a link to my favorite version of it if you haven’t heard it yet and want to know what I’m even talking about) The lyrics are beautiful, and the part that jumped out most to me in that particular worship was, “Our God is the lion, the lion of Judah, He’s roaring with power, and fighting our battles.” Especially that last part, fighting our battles…

As we sang through it and my mind was rolling that line over and over in my head. I imagined God fighting my battles and thinking of what that looks like, on my part and His both. We know that God will fight for us, but we also know He is often waiting for us to recognize our need and request that help too. And yet, we often don’t turn to Him or fail to stay consistent in our prayers. Also? if you’re like me, you may often fail to even recognize your struggle or hurt or worry as a battle. You may imagine battles as “big” issues other people deal with. I mean, look how blessed you are, what right do you have to act like this issue is some big battle and you’re in need of some giant victory and rescue?? …but..aren’t you? aren’t I?

So as I was mulling this over, one visual stuck out to me the most. It’s a story God included in His word from Exodus 17.

Then Amalek came and fought with Israel at Rephidim. So Moses said to Joshua, “Choose for us men, and go out and fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.” So Joshua did as Moses told him, and fought with Amalek, while Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. Whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed, and whenever he lowered his hand, Amalek prevailed. But Moses’ hands grew weary, so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it, while Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side. So his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. And Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the sword.

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The image of Moses with hands held high in surrender to God is what I kept seeing. Moses knew this battle was up to God, but in something as small as his aching, tired arms lowering, the battle would fall. This wasn’t because there was power in Moses arms, it was because God wanted Moses and everyone else to remember who was really fighting that battle, and that their dependence and surrender to Him was of utmost importance.

Then you have Aaron and Hurr beside him. First, they put a rock under him so he could sit down. Then, they held up his arms until the battle was won. I love it. I love it so much. You know they got tired too. Have you ever had to hold your arms above your head for any length of time? Try it. It’s no picnic. I have painted ceilings and it’s horrible work…and that’s with lots of rest breaks because I’m a total wimp!

They didn’t have to be the ones. They could have taken turns. They could have called on someone else. They could have brought up an entire tribe to take turns! But they didn’t. It was their job and he was their friend.

I was thinking of all of this, and thinking of a raging battle in my own heart lately. I thought of how I have tried fighting the battle on my own so often through “fixing” things here and there. I’m a tweaker. If this isn’t working, I’ll tweak something and try that, and so on and so on. I have taken this battle to the Lord, sure, but then I always put my arms back down and start trying it on my own again because the Lord was giving me a battle to watch Him win and not an instant victory. And then, I thought of how I have kept this battle to myself, when I have so many people in my life who would run up that hill and help. Even more, I have one or two who are my Aaron and Hurr, and I am theirs. They would gladly place a solid rock beneath me and stand with me until I could no longer stand alone. They would hold up my arms in a battle when I am hurting, and tired, and hopeless, and ready to give it all up.

What is your battle? What are you ready to drop your arms to, or maybe you already have? What do you need to take before the Lord in prayer day after day, and you know that you can’t do it alone? and who is it for you? Who are those one or two people, not a whole tribe, who will come together with you and give you a solid rock foundation, lifting their arms with you and helping to support you throughout this battle until you see victory at the end?

This morning before my kids were even up, I was on the phone with a friend, pouring out what God had shown me through that song. I told her my battle and asked her to pray, but first, I asked her what her own battle was and listened with completely open ears and heart as she cried and shared her own heart with me. We can hold up each other’s arms! We only have to take the first step in sharing our hearts <3

To the mother of the seven year old “mean girl” we met today

Hi. We don’t know each other, in fact, we haven’t even met. You weren’t there today. What I gather is that your daughter came to the city with a couple of friends before school starts. Fortunately, they weren’t homeschoolers from our area like we thought at first. I’ll fill you in on the details that you missed. The trampoline park was full of kids today. I have a feeling that the parents who brought their kiddos and your daughter weren’t expecting it, since schools here went back to school today, but the homeschoolers decided today was just the day to celebrate back to school with a trampoline day.

My girls were there, excited and anxious. They’ve wanted to go to the trampoline park since they first saw it when we moved here a year ago. They were also excited to meet some other homeschoolers, since they moved away from all their friends last year. When we got there, my youngest was scared of all the kids running crazy and literally jumping off the walls. My middle was struggling deeply with the great desire to play freely and join in, but terrified to speak to strangers or have too much attention put on her…she’s always been the introvert. Then, there was my oldest. She’s 7 and a half and the definition of “social butterfly.” We only went there today because of her. The other two and I are happy as clams to stay home and make our own fun, or only go to parks when we have it to ourselves. But, London needs interaction like she needs air. So..we went. Plus, she truly desires friends in a way I’ll never understand.

Right from the start, London spotted a group of three little girls her age. Your daughter was one of them. She instantly looked at me and said, “mom, can I go play with them? what do I say? how do I start a conversation with them?” I smiled and coached her gently telling her that they looked like they are in gymnastics. I told her to ask them if they are, and tell them she is starting gymnastics herself this week, but doesn’t know much yet. And see if it goes from there. Maybe they’ll even teach her some! I thought humbling herself would be the best fit, because who wouldn’t want to talk to a sweet girl approaching you about your hobby, and acknowledging already that you are superior to her.

So, she went over and started talking. And, I’m not going to lie, the girl can be awkward. She is pure of heart in a way I never have been. She does not read social clues well, because she always thinks the best of others, ESPECIALLY kids, which means she didn’t catch the vibes your daughter was sending immediately. However, the two sisters instantly welcomed her, even giving grace to her three year old sister who kept jumping in on the lane when it was their turn, waiting and laughing patiently as I hauled her off again. But, I could tell from the start that your daughter was a “mean girl”. I hate to say that, truly. Because, I love women. I don’t even say that lightly, I LOVE women. I have laid down my time, resources, and all of my energy at times to teach, lead, serve, and encourage women from little girls to women much older than me to women inside prison. And I am raising girls who will do the same, even if they don’t know it yet. So, when I see a mean girl, it breaks my heart. And from the start, your daughter undermined my daughters. She ignored London repeatedly, pushing for the other two to leave her and go play elsewhere. She cut in front of my smiling three year old who had no idea how rude it was. She cut in front of my five year old who knew exactly how rude it was, but felt helpless to do anything about it.

Everywhere we met them, the two sisters interacted, smiled, played with us. And your daughter usually left and went to pout elsewhere, even though my girls and I continuously tried involving her. Finally, I was jumping with the three year old on a tumbling lane. The five year old was off doing her own thing, just as she liked it. And London was playing with the other girls, but when I looked over, I saw her crumpled on the ground and crying. I instantly panicked thinking she had broken an ankle or something. She was crying so hard, but silently (which, you know as another mama means a much more intense pain than when they’re screaming and carrying on). I practically dragged the preschooler along, trying to get to London who was now alone. “What’s wrong?! ARE YOU HURT?!?” I couldn’t get there fast enough. I scanned the area to spot the five year old, thinking I’d need to call her in and get London to a doctor pronto.

I got to her, and dropped down beside her. “What’s wrong?!?!” And what I heard broke me in places I’ve never been broken before. London gasped between sobs, “She said they hate me.” Hate. Just like that, your daughter introduced hate to my daughter. She’d known hatred of the stories of people killing our police officers. She knew of hatred of people hating African Americans simply because of their skin color. She even knew of hatred of human trafficking, kidnapping, and other crimes, but this was her first personal connection. I couldn’t even process. I was so mad. So, so so mad. WHAT? She said WHAT? London cried, “she said they hate me and they don’t want to play with me. I tried to hold it in. I tried to get away, but she chased me and said it again. said that they all hated me. and she said that I was a cry baby when I couldn’t hold it in anymore.”

At the time, I didn’t want to even speak to your daughter. I couldn’t think of anything to say or do that didn’t include something I would do if I had ever heard my own daughter speak to another person that way, and that’s just illegal and frowned upon. I needed to be away to breathe, and I needed London away from prying eyes to process. I told London that we were leaving. I called in the other two saying that we were going. The three other girls knew instantly that they were caught, one for being the meanest thing I’ve ever met, the other two for allowing it. They ran over, the oldest sister asking what happened, as if she hadn’t been standing right there. I told her and the other two flat out what your daughter did, that it was NOT okay, that it was mean, and that we were leaving because we don’t play with mean girls. What did your daughter say? Did she apologize? Feel guilty for being caught in her hatefulness? No. She pointed a finger at one of the sisters and said, “SHE CALLED HER A CRY BABY!” And just like that, your daughter threw her friend under the bus. We left. The other parents came over as we were leaving and heard, but didn’t make a motion to right the wrong. We left with them all playing and laughing. Their lives will probably never be effected, but my seven year old’s world will never be the same again.

And yet, I do not wish for this to be reversed. Because, even though I wish your daughter hadn’t been so unkind, and I wish you had been there for me to speak to, I don’t wish the roles had been changed and your daughter had been spoken to as such. Hopefully, some where deep down, her heart took a snapshot of my daughter crumpled on the ground in tears, cut deep from the words your daughter spit out. I pray that the Holy Spirit uses this for God’s Glory, and she’ll be changed forever. It was our first day of school, first day of trying to make new friends, but we learned new lessons instead. I pray that you don’t brush this off if you hear of it like the other parents did, thinking of it only as something that happens with kids, particularly girls. Because your daughter is embedded in our memories. She will be spoken of for years, living eternally as a lesson of what not to be. My girls will hear mention of hatefulness, and instantly think, “right, like that girl at the trampoline park.” Because kindness and unkindness lasts forever to the recipients. And who in the world would want that for their child?

But, we are praying for you. We are praying that your family is safe and happy, and that you are blessed. We pray that the girls have a great start to school and that they do great this year in their gymnastics they’ve been working on for three years, as they said. mostly, we’re praying you know Jesus and that His amazing love warms the parts of your hearts that thinks so little of words and hurt. Because I’m not going to lie, today, your daughter was mean, but she is gifted with boldness…we can’t deny that for sure. She is made in the image of God, and contains His thumbprint in that boldness. With His love replacing her jealousy, she will be an amazing witness of His grace speaking truth to all, no matter the environment, audience, or expectations around her.