Monday, March 28, 2016

It's All About You

We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.  Romans 8:28.  That's what the Bible tells us in the book of Romans.  This morning I listened to the testimony of a gentleman in my church, who also happens to be one of my son's teachers.  Heartbreaking.  Gut wrenching. Horrifying that any person would have to live through...and yet God not only brought him through, He gave him new life beyond.

To meet this mild mannered fellow, one would never guess that his beginning came through rape--his mother chose to keep the baby.  As he put it,
"I experienced God's mercy before I was even born."
Wow!  Even though it would have been acceptable, and even condoned by some, to have an abortion, his mother chose life for the child within her.  But the story didn't end there.  He went on to tell of abusive boyfriends that continued to plague his home for most of his early years until his mother met and married the man that would become his father when Kyle was 8-years-old.  His father adopted him and they were officially a family, but that doesn't mean that life was all sunshine and roses.  He later went on to experience alcohol and drugs, in a futile attempt to fill the God-shaped hole in his heart that just wouldn't be filled with anything other than God. It wasn't a preacher, or sermon, or a door to door evangelist that eventually brought him to a relationship with the Lord Jesus.  It was truly the Holy Spirit wooing him, as only the Holy Spirit can.

While it wasn't the typical Easter story that one hears on Easter morning, it was a beautiful picture of why Jesus came in the first place.  He shared a story that was, and I'm guessing continues to be at times, painful.  Then he shared the grace...the beautiful grace that covers us.  Kyle has accepted the grace that Jesus offers.  He now pours into kids on a daily basis.  He teaches, encourages, and supports.

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Get your "Christ the Lord" expression here.

I share with you this story not to be preachy, friends, but to encourage you.  Know that Jesus loves you.  He went through an excruciatingly painful death...for you.  If you were the only person on this planet, Jesus still would have died for you.  He loves you.  But here's the really good news.  He came back to life and the penalty for your sins has been paid.  He is risen!

Here is the link for Kyle's story, in his words.  Check it out.

I pray you had a beautiful Easter celebration.  He lives!

If you have questions about this, feel free to comment below, or pass it on via your favorite social media channel if it was encouraging to you. Sharing is caring.  Follow me on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook: @JensWallsTalk.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Plan To Fail

It's inevitable.  We will fail at some point, at something.  It's funny the things we remember in life. Those little moments that stick with us and define how we think.  We were on a family skiing trip.  I must have been 12 or 13-years-old.  I was bragging about how many times I hadn't fallen...probably not at all by that point.  After all, I like to do things perfectly.  My little inner perfectionist nerd didn't like to fall.  Then my dad said to me,
"You have to fall or you're only skiing within your ability.  You aren't stretching yourself if you don't fall sometimes."
He wasn't being mean.  He was simply making an observation.  When I failed my Brown 2 test at karate twice before I passed it, it's not that I wasn't capable. (Yes.  I had to take that test 3 times.) I did have to learn some other lessons about tenacity and self-confidence, though.  I only would have failed if I hadn't gone back and studied differently and learned more and tried again.

Everything in life is the same.  If we only do things that are safe, we will never fail.  We will never be tested.  We will never truly succeed.  We will never grow.  If I try a business and fail, I was pushing myself beyond my ability.  Ask for help and do it again.  If I go to church, but never really pursue a personal relationship with Christ, I never risk having a deep, life changing faith.  If I never leave my house and meet people, I may never get hurt by people, but I won't find loving, fun relationships, either.  We just have to fail sometimes.

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Get your "What if" expression here.

It's truly ok to fail.  Plan on it.  Then learn, grow, ask for help and go again.  Life is not safe.  Even if we live in a bubble, things will happen to us.  Plan to fail sometimes.  Then plan to stretch and grow.  Live into your potential.  How many dozens  or hundreds of times did you fall before you learned to walk?  See.  You don't even remember.  You've failed and succeeded before.  Now take that precedent and move forward.  Fail.  Learn.  Grow. Accomplish.  Fail.  Grow.  Fail.  Accomplish.  Repeat.  You get the idea.

Make it a beautiful day, friends.

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Monday, March 21, 2016

On Living With Sick

I almost thought I wanted to be sick once. You get a lot of attention and while the cuddles and hugs I get from my kids when they are sick are cherished, I really don't like it when they are not feeling well. When someone is sick--chronically ill--they get a lot of attention...and that can make other not so sick kids feel left out. 

I watched my dad as he wasn't well. He actually died when he was 57.  That's not very old, really, but it's 13 years ago now.  It's easy for me to remember how long ago it was because my son was just 3 months old when he died. My son is now 13.  My kids didn't know him.  They'll never know where I get my geeky side from.  The man I now call dad is not the same as my biological dad was, but my kids love Granddad and he loves them.  

My kids don't know what is like to live with someone that is chronically ill.  I'm thankful for that, but at the same time...there are a good many lessons to be learned, if one is willing. I can be compassionate. I don't know that I was always compassionate or patient when we were living through it, but in hindsight, I know that he didn't choose to be sick. I know that being sick sucks, and I don't have to be sick to know that. I know that just because he was sick, I don't have to be. I don't have to feel guilty for being healthy, either.  

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Get your "serenity prayer" here

Being chronically ill shapes us and those around us.  I've come to understand, though, that I don't have to be ill to identify with and have compassion or empathy for another hurting person. 

Choose to make it a beautiful day, friends. 

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Friday, March 18, 2016

How Quickly We Forget

Last year my son went on a trip with his school.  It was across the country, to Washington, D.C. and New York City...without his parents. He was 12-years-old at the time and the trip cost him $2,000. We didn't pay for his trip.  He earned it--as in, he worked for it.  He mowed what must have felt like 5 million lawns to earn enough money to go, but he did it.  He even came home and told us it was amazing and awesome and it was worth it (his words, not mine, and not solicited). So I was a bit surprised when I found out he hadn't even told me about the meeting for the next trip scheduled for next year.

At first he tried to reason his way out of it by telling me it was a more science based trip and he is more of a history guy.  Okay...true, but it's still going to be an amazing trip to the Florida Keys.  (I want to go!)  Then it was the,"I don't know," routine that usually means, "I'm not really ready to say yet, Mom." So I dropped it again, but in true woman fashion, I couldn't leave it alone.

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Get your "I think I can" expression here

Turns out my little man is a future looking little dude, after all.  He has started saving again (actually, he doesn't spend much because he's such a good saver)...for a car.  The discussion from last week went something along the lines of this:

Me: You know, buddy, if you don't pick up the pace on saving for your car, you'll be driving mommy's blue minivan.
Him: Um, no.  I'll ride my bike.
Me: So you'll have your driver's license, but you'll still ride around town on your bike?
Him: Yep.

Laugh out loud!  I believe he'd do it, too.  Here's the thing: he got stuck in a box in his head.  He got to thinking that he couldn't go on the trip because he needs to save money for his car.  We didn't tell him that, but that's where his mind went.  He forgot that as an 11 to 12-year-old kid, he had already broken the barrier of normal.  He had forgotten that he had already done something extraordinary. He didn't need to say no to the trip so he could say yes to the car.  He needed to find a different way to make money.

We're still working it out, and I'm sure I'll let you know how it goes.  But I want to remind you to look back at something you've succeeded at.  Maybe it's been a while ago, and maybe it was last week. It doesn't even have to be anything big, but your next success builds on your last one.  Maybe this is the first time.  Remember it, then move forward again.

Make it a beautiful day, friends.

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Monday, March 14, 2016

Embrace Your Inner Weirdo

Since I posted this post a few weeks ago, I keep hearing this phrase at my house:
"That's because I'm your daughter, Mom, right?" and other variations of that phrase.
As in, "Hey, Mom.  I just did something goofy that perhaps made me stand out, so that must mean I'm weird like you, right?" Yep.  That's my kiddo.  Why be normal?  It's as if I gave my girl permission to be a herself again.  She's the girl that is goofy and silly and adorable and confident. 

She's always been funny, but somewhere along the way, one of her peers told her she wasn't funny...and she believed it.  Some other girl literally told her, "B, you're not funny." As much as I wanted to go mamma bear on that girl, I knew that wouldn't be helpful in the long run.  We can't attack everyone that says something negative or hurtful to us.  At some point we have to develop a thicker skin and not take stock in what a hater says.  I get that not everyone understands my "highly developed sense of humor"...a.k.a. super dry humor.  But it's part of who I am, so I'm not planning to change it anytime soon.  It's part of my inner weirdo.

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Order your "Train Up" expression here.

We all feel like a weirdo at times, if we're being honest, but that doesn't mean it's wrong.  Be who God created you to be...not who the world tells you that you should be--the world is more confused than you are and the world certainly doesn't know who you should be.

Go be you.  Be the you God created you to be.  Make it a beautiful day, friends.

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Friday, March 11, 2016

Hard Conversations

Some people call it an elephant in the room.  I call it that thing that's hanging out there.  Either way, it needs to be dealt know what I'm talking about.  Someone has offended you, or worse yet, you've offended someone.  I've done it about a bajillion times by this point in my life.  Here's what I've learned:

 1. I need to fix it.  If I offended, then I need to own up and apologize.

 2. I need to fix it--even when I don't know I've hurt you. I can't tell you how many times I've offended someone and not known it.  Often it's unintentional, but I can't apologize or make it right with you if I don't know you're upset with me.

 3. Yes.  It's hard to apologize sincerely, but it's better to have the hard conversation and fix the situation than to drift apart from a friend or loved one.  Even though this person has hurt you, remember they are dear to you...or have been in the past.

 4. Just do it.  This phrase applies to hustles, jobs, dreams...and hard conversations.  Don't linger and dwell on the hurt.  Just have the conversation.  Rip the band-aid off. You'll be glad on the other side of it.  

I tell you these ideas not because I'm an expert, but from personal experience.  Now go.  Fix it. You'll be glad you did.

I will add this final note: sometimes you just need to let it go, too.  Sometimes you've asked for forgiveness and the other person is not ready to accept it.  Sometimes.  Sometimes they don't see that there is or was a problem.  Apologize anyway.

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Get your "Kind Word" expression here.

Life is too short to stay mad forever.  Okay.  I'm done being Dr. Phil for today.  I have been a jerk more than I like, or really care to admit.  But the conversations I'm talking about are not with bullies, haters, or any other type of random, malicious persons.  They are another deal entirely.

Choose to make it a beautiful day.

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Monday, March 7, 2016

Babies Don't Keep

Cleaning and scrubbing can wait till tomorrow
for babies grow up we've learned to our sorrow.
So quiet down cobwebs and dust go to sleep.
I'm rocking my baby and babies don't keep.
I don't know who to give credit to for authoring that poem, but I remember reading it on my mom's wall a bazillion times growing up.  It was one of those cutesy yarn pictures that I'm sure must have been popular in the 70's, but the message is still relevant today: our kids grow up too fast.

Our culture is putting more and more pressure on our kids to make them feel like they need to grow up and be mature and sexy and everything that a kid shouldn't really have to worry about, too soon. There are a ton of books on it now in both the secular and religious realms, and, on this topic anyway, they seem to agree.  It's not good.  

We were invited to a movie night at some friends' house this past weekend to watch a kid type movie (The Good Dinosaur to be exact--which was good and sweet and had some hard topics, but I'm not a movie review blog, so I'll let you watch it on your own.) with some other kids.  The trick was that most of the other kids were at least 4-5 years younger than my youngest, which was the one available to attend the gathering.  While she values these friendships because she gets to feel like the big sister, and they are good family friends, I wasn't sure she would want to attend this time because she is almost officially a pre-teen.  To my surprise, she was more than excited to go when I asked her.

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Get your "cuddles" expression here.

As I watched her hang out with her "little" friends, it was really cool because it didn't take long for her to shed her "babysitter" mentality and just settle in with hanging out.  It was no pressure.  It was just fun and just getting to be silly with some other kids.  It's not that I want her to always be just a kid because someday she will have to "adult" on her own, but I'm glad we took time to just play and hang and be silly.  Even within her own group of peers, we are already starting to see the jockeying for position and one-upmanship.  Yuck.  Play, sweet girl.

What times do you recall being glad you just stopped and played?  Do you still do that as an adult?  I readily admit I don't do it often enough, but I'm always glad when I do.

Make it a beautiful day, friends!

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Friday, March 4, 2016

The Problem with Being Good at Stuff

The problem with being good at a lot of things is that you're good at a lot of things...but probably not great at any. I can honestly do a lot things to much beyond a satisfactory level, but that doesn't mean that's what I'm supposed to be doing.

I believe that's why I struggled with figuring out what I'm supposed to do with my life. I could do a lot of things.  I'm 39-years-old. You've heard me say it before, but I really haven't started to come into my own until very recently.  School was fairly easy.  I'm a good worker, so getting a job is not a problem.  I'm intelligent and can relate to a lot of different people.  I say these things not to be arrogant, but to offer that if you are someone that is like me, you might have to dig a little deeper to find who you really are.

There comes a time when you either choose to continue being a Jack-of-all-trades-but-master-of-none, OR begin the journey of digging deeper to really figure out who you were intended to be.

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Get your own confident expression here.

What's it going to be? I would encourage you to grow.  Yes, growth can be painful and difficult, but it can also be eye opening, exciting, beautiful, and confidence giving. Make your choice. Now go do it knowing full well that is what you chose.

MAKE it a beautiful day, friends.

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