A world without hate

My daughter was working on a project for the anti-defamation league for school. She had to create a work of art that for her represented  a world without hate. 

She wanted to start with something we say often, “the most important thing is that we love each other.” We talked about what that looks like. She talked about treating people the right way. She talked about being kind to one another. We gave her free range to create a representation of what a world full of love would look like to her. 

She created this:


We asked her to tell us about the pictures drawn on each heart. 

The pink one: Shane and I on the beach. 

The red one: was jus a picture of Shane and I. 

The silver one: was Shane and I in the desert.

The blue one: was Shane and I having a dinner date. 

My husband looked and me with a smile on his gorgeous face and said, “I love that her interpretation of what it looks like to love one another is us.”

I agreed and to be honest I love that too. I love it for several reasons. A few of those reasons being: 

It tells me that we are doing a good job of loving one another well. 

We are setting an example of what it looks like to love well and our kids will follow that lead. 

Our children will have a healthy view of love and marriage. 

Our children feel safe and loved because of the way we love not only each other but them. 

Anyone who knows mine and Shane’s story knows it is one of grace, redemption, forgiveness, hope and love. We had all odds against us in the beginning but we fought hard to get to wher we are today and to know our hard work is evident speaks volumes. 

Her assignment was to imagine a world without hate and create something to represent that. 

I am not an artist in the sense that I don’t draw so I won’t create a picture but I will use my words to share what I imagine a world without hate to look like. 

I imagaine a world where the most important thing is that we love one another. 

I imagine a world where we learn to put the needs of others before our own needs.

I imagine a world where we speak truth in love.

I imagine a world where we can disagree with one another and still remain kind. 

I imagine a world where we learn to value life over death. 

I imagine a world where we show and do the work. 

I imagine a world where we truly see one another and we can all take of the masks and be vulnerable.

I imagine a world where we value humans rather than devaluing them for our own desires. 

I imagine a world where we are free from slavery. 

I imagaine a world where we are free from racism. 

I imagine a world where we are free from hate and full of love.

We may never see this kind of world this side of Heaven a we live in a fallen and broken world. I cannot change or control people or this world, but I can control the way I love and I can continue to demonstrate that kind of love and live out my life without hate. 

What to you envision a world without hate to look like? How do you demonstrate love in a world full of hate? Join in and share what your world without hate looks like. I’d love to see pictures,  videos, written words etc from you. 

Advertisements

Seasons

We are officially into the Fall season. The leaves are changing and the weather has begun to cool down. Fortunately for me I live in a place where I get to truly experience all 4 seasons.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this new season and the changes that come with it: colder weather, leaves changing, plants withering, etc.; but more than that the parallel seasons have to our own lives. We all experience different seasons of life and just like the changing seasons bring change so do our personal seasons bring about change.

I have found myself in a hard and challenging season as of late and so I am ready to welcome in a new changing season. It’s been a hard season. A waiting season. My season has been full of physical pain and exhaustion. Full of anxiety and fear of the unknown. I’ve been in and out of the doctor office, have had many labs drawn, injections had and new medications started. One positive test led to a specialist, which led to more tests and more waiting. The waiting season is the hardest season.

However, I have learned a few things in my waiting season.

I have learned a bit about grace. I have learned how to accept grace and extend grace, mostly extending and accepting grace within myself. I have learned that I cannot give to others what I haven’t already accepted for myself. So until I give myself grace, I cannot extend grace to others. There is grace in the moments I can’t be present, there is grace in the mound of laundry, there is grace in the nap taken, there is grace is the dirty dishes, there is grace in meal that didn’t get cooked. There is grace abounding. It is grace on top of grace already given. In that I have learned to both extend and accept grace.

I have learned about rest. What it really means to rest. Rest is not something that comes easy for us Americans and especially to mothers of young children. We are taught from a very young age that we should always be doing, always be moving. I have believed that lie. I have believed that if for one second I stopped to rest I had failed. During this season I’ve learned that it is in fact okay to rest, and that actually resting is necessary. Time management and knowing my boundaries has proven beneficial in a season requiring rest. I have to know my priorities and know my boundaries within my priorities and with that comes grace.

I have learned about humility. I am a strong-willed, independent, stubborn woman. I have been that way for as long as I can remember. With that also means I don’t ask for help. This season of life has left me with no other option than to humble myself and ask for help. On the days when the pain is so intense I have to ask my husband to help me get dressed, to open the jar, to cut the apple, etc.. I have had to lean on my sisters and ask for help. I have humbled myself enough to accept meals prepared by my sisters, so that I could use that little bit I had in me to focus on my husband and my children. Humility does not come easy for me, but I am learning that it really is the only way.

I have learned about marriage. I recently joked with my husband about how this is what they must have meant when they said, “in sickness and in health.” That was not a joke, it is truth. My husband has loved me so well through it all. He steps in when I need to step out. He loves me even when the house is a mess, he hasn’t had a home cooked meal in a week, the kids are all whacked out and I’m in his arms weeping. Marriage is a partnership. My husband carries a little extra weight on his strong shoulders these days and he does it without complaint. We have learned new ways of connecting intimately and deeply. And we have learned to love each other well and that is the most important thing.

I have learned a bit about surrender. Surrendering my ideas and visions for my life and instead just being in each moment/day. Surrendering my life and my health to God, knowing and trusting that He has a plan regardless of the test results. He is bigger than whatever is attacking my body.

I have learned to appreciate the good days and rest through the hard ones.

 

 

Security Blanket

The other day my husband and I were in the kitchen cooking a meal when he grabbed me and begun to dance with me. We slow danced in the kitchen to whatever was playing on Pandora. I glanced over and caught a glimpse of our daughter– she had the biggest smile I had ever seen come across her 4 year old face as she watched her parents dance with one another.

A few days later my husband wrapped me in his arms and kissed me. I then caught a glimpse of our son intently watching us. His face displayed pure happiness and security. My husband held me while we looked at his sweet face and I wept.

I wept for my own grief of not having that with my own parents. I also wept tears of joy and thankfulness that my children will only know that kind of love and security.

I longed and desired to find some security in my parents, their marriage and in love. I never saw it. I saw instead pain, anger, sadness and no sign of love. My parents loved my siblings and I… but deep down I knew that their marriage was never going to last. I ached for it too. I longed to have parents who set an example of a loving, strong marriage. One I could look up to when the time came for me to get married. That never happened. I had friends whose parents loved each other with a love so fierce. I longed for that.

My parents eventually divorced and I was devastated. I was thankful for the fighting to end. I wouldn’t wish for them to still be unhappy and married. However I believed that love looked like my parents and I refused to ever submit myself to that.

I wanted passionate, fierce love. I wanted authentic, raw and honest love.

I found that kind of love. I have that kind of love with my amazing husband. We had to fight for what we have now and I would do it all again to have what we have now. I am thankful for him and his love everyday and I am thankful that our children can rest in the security that their parents love and respect each other!

 

#dayofthegirl

image

“Adolescent girls have the right to a safe, educated, and healthy life, not only during these critical formative years, but also as they mature into women. If effectively supported during the adolescent years, girls have the potential to change the world – both as the empowered girls of today and as tomorrow’s workers, mothers, entrepreneurs, mentors, household heads, and political leaders. An investment in realising the power of adolescent girls upholds their rights today and promises a more equitable and prosperous future, one in which half of humanity is an equal partner in solving the problems of climate change, political conflict, economic growth, disease prevention, and global sustainability.”(http://www.un.org/en/events/girlchild/).

On December 19, 2011 the United Nations declared that October 11 would become National Day of The Girl. The point? To recognize girls rights and the challenges they face.

We’ve come a long way in the way of Women’s rights, but still have a long way to go. While it’s important that we are still fighting for our reproductive rights, the wage gap, being discriminated in the workplace, continuing to fight for fairness in our voting rights, an increase in incarceration among women and maternity leave rights– to name a few. We are missing the bigger battle.

We are failing to fight for the rights of little girls all over the world. Little girls are being denied education. Little girls are sold and treated as mere objects, used for sex. Little girls are being forced to marry and have children at the onset of puberty. Little girls are treated as invaluable and weak.

Each and every little girl has in them the potential to change the world. It’s our responsibility as older women to reach out and encourage those little girls. It’s our responsibility to remind them of truth. It’s our responsibility to equip them and support them. It’s our responsibility to fight for them. We are called to be the voice for the voiceless. We are called to help the widows and the orphans. We are called to be the hands and feet.

So in honor of National Day of The Girl, I encourage each and every one of you stand up and fight for our dear sisters all over the world. To pray for them. To encourage them. To speak truth to them. To educate yourselves on the issues at hand. To love them.

Peaks and Valley’s

Call it bias but I live in the most beautiful place on earth. My view day in and day out is breath-taking. I get to stare at the beautiful Rocky Mountains. I am blessed that I can drive 20 minutes to be completely engulfed by their presence. It is not a sight I ever take for granted.
I escape to those mountains often, especially when my heart is heavy. They are a safe place. They serve to remind me of truth, of who I am and who I am meant to be. They remind me that there is more to this life than what’s in front of me.

Recently my family and I decided to go spend a cooler summer day in the mountains to hike and bask in the beauty that surrounded us. I took in the beauty, I breathed in the fresh mountain air, I silently listened to the sound of the rushing river below and I let it all consume me. It was a healing moment. It was a majestic moment. It was a moment that reminded me of part of my own story.

The mountains do all those things because when I was a lost, hurting, scared, lonely, heavyhearted teenage girl I spent a week backpacking in those mountains and my life was forever changed.

I showed up over-packed and naive. Truthfully I thought it would be a cake walk. I didn’t realize I would have to carry a heavy pack with all my things, plus food up a mountain and back down. I didn’t realize I would have to sleep outside in a sleeping bag vulnerable to anything wild that lived there. The trip was suppose to be a week of escaping my ugliness not facing it head on.

As we hiked along the trail I remember saying to my trail guide that, “ it was really cool when you can actually see how far you’ve come and can actually see you’re going up.” My guide made a comment following that, that has stuck with me ever since; she said, “ yeah it’s kind of like life we can’t see where we are going until we get to the top and then we can see how far we’ve come.” That very conversation is why the mountains will always be my go to place when my heart is heavy. Sometimes when we are in the valley it’s hard to see where we are going. We feel like we are doing all this work and nothing is changing, we aren’t going anywhere. Truthfully it’s like that when climbing to the top of the mountain as well. There are so many moments when you feel like you have made no progress and you’ll never reach the top. Life is much the same way. We gotta hike through the valley to get to the top of the mountain. We can sit and relish in that beauty for a moment. We can see how far we have come and then we begin to make our descent back down the mountain.

That’s where I struggle. I so often want to stay on the mountain top where life is quiet and peaceful. I don’t want to have to climb back through the valley just to go back up to the top of the next mountain. Then I am humbly and graciously reminded that life is meant to be lived in both the valley and the mountain tops. It’s a beautiful and wonderful mixture of both.

So here’s to living in the peaks and the valley’s because both are equally as beautiful, breath-taking and exhilarating as the other.

Fighting the Good Fight

I was reminded of Theodore’s words in his speech often referred to as The Man in the Arena this morning.
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
–Citizenship in a Republic, Theodore Roosevelt
Oh what a true and powerful statement and one that is oh so fitting for my current stage of life. My passion and calling are coming alive before my eyes and I am sometimes holding on for dear life wondering what the hell I am doing. I am in the arena right now and in some moments I feel like I am getting my face marred and at moments I am failing. My failure may not be seen by those on the sidelines watching. But my opponent sees and he relishes in that. He knows where to hit to knock me down and he knows which words to speak to weaken me. He is cunning. He is a master of the arts. He knows how to fight. He is ruthless. But I’ll let you in on a little secret… He is weak. He has no power, unless I relinquish control to him.

He tried last night to knock me out of the arena. He tried to convince me I couldn’t do it. He was right. I couldn’t do it without my trainer. It’s my trainers knowledge and strength I draw from. When I wanted to be selfish and enjoy my night my opponent fed that. He almost had me for a moment. Until my trainer reminded me that this was what I was built for. This is what I had been training for. He put on my gear and sent me into the arena. When I struggled with what move to make next he gently reminded me. When I was up against the ropes he gave me a little extra push off so I could regain my composure and keep pressing on.

My place will never be with the cold and timid soul because that’s where my opponent rests. Even if I loose a few I will not fail. I have a trainer who always wins out. The victory belongs to him and to him be the credit, because after all it really isn’t about me.

Beauty

As a mother of a beautiful  daughter it is my  responsibility to speak truth  to her and to help nurture  and build her self-esteem.  This means I in turn also  have to build my own self- esteem and be sure to not  speak any negative things  about myself in front of my  daughter. I refuse to ever  look in a mirror and call  myself fat— even on the days  when I feel like a whale. Why?  Because I don’t want my  daughter to overhear that  and think that her worth and beauty are ever defined by  her outward appearance. The  outside world will soon  enough tell her otherwise,  but by the time that happens  I hope that our work inside  the home will have a firm  foundation that will not be  easily shaken by the things  and people of this world.

My child dresses herself (and  usually doesn’t match) and  sometimes refuses to brush  her hair because she likes  messy hair. Yes, I let her  leave the house looking like  a hot mess. The reason? One  day soon enough she won’t  leave the house because her  clothes won’t be what the “ cool kids” are wearing and  one day she will refuse to  leave the house with messy  hair and that will be the  start of “bad hair days.”  I  look forward to those days. I  look forward to them because  they will be teachable  moments. They will be moments  I can use to remind her of who she  really is and where her  beauty and worth come from.

I am sitting here writing  this after I received a text message from a dear friend that read, “It’s always a good  start to my day when my mom  calls me fat.” When did it  ever become okay for us to  tell our children they are  fat!?!?! It is absolutely  unacceptable. We are suppose  to be a safe place for our  children to land. A place  they come to for truth and  reassurance. A place to be  reminded that what the world  has to say about us and our  bodies doesn’t matter. I am  blown away. I am enraged. I  think about my friend who by  the way is the most beautiful  person I have ever known and  is not overweight by any  means, but mostly I think  about my daughter. I think  about my daughter because I  can’t imagine being a mother  who speaks those words or any  hurtful words that tear my  child down. Our words have a profound effect on our children.

We have a little conversation that happens anytime we are going to play with our friends whether they are new friends or old friends. I adopted this from my dear friend because I love the simple reminder that it teaches our children.The conversation goes like this:

Me: Okay love, look at my eyeballs (so I know that she is listening)– what is the most important thing?

Emma: That we love each other mommy!

Me: And how do we do that honey?

Emma: We use kind hands and kind words.

I love the simplicity of the conversation, but mostly I love that it teaches my daughter to be mindful with her words and her hands because they have just as much impact in a persons life as mine and my husbands words have on her. It also teaches my daughter the importance of being kind and loving to herself. We’ve all heard the saying, “do unto others as you’d have them do unto you.” If my daughter can learn that if she wants to be treated kindly and loved well she has to treat others that same way, oh what a difference that will make.

She is a beautiful soul and her love for life is contagious. She radiates beauty inside and out and I am quick to remind her of that daily.

I have had several important people in my life who have been torn down and belittled by the most important people in their lives– their parents. And the problem is not just with our daughters but with our sons as well. Their self confidence and self love are just as important as our daughters. And I for one refuse to ever belittle or tear down my children. They are perfectly imperfect and I wouldn’t want them any other way. I will love my children regardless of what they look like, who they become and the choices they make. I will be one to remind them of their beauty and worth and where that truly comes from, because after all they are fearfully and wonderfully made.

So let’s start loving one another and using kind words to build our children up so that they in turn can be individuals who use their words to build others up. Let’s learn to love ourselves and let that self love radiate onto others. And for those of you with kiddos whether they be itty bitty or full grown– start speaking kindly to them. Let your voice echo truth when others try to drown them in the lies.