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Sunday, February 22, 2015

What Needs To Die?

What needs to die in you? 

For you to truly grow
and regenerate
and live fully
and live bravely?

Is it time for you to regenerate?

Is it time to create?
Is it time to regenerate your spirit?
Is it time for you to restore to a better state?
Is it time for you to feel worthy?

What is missing in your life?  Do you even know what's missing?  Do you feel lost and frustrated?

Like a seed ready to germinate, it first must die.

A fire across the land will bring the flowers and grass back lusher than before. 

In order to grow and flourish and live fully alive, sometimes something must first die.

What needs to die in you?

Is it your anger?
Or your worry?
Or your secrets?

What do you need to shed in order to live fully alive?

Are you living in a vicious loop of frustration?  Waiting for something to change?

Maybe it is you that must change.  Maybe it is something that must first die in you.

Maybe today is the day that you just say a small timid prayer and ask for change, ask to be regenerated, ask to be changed.

Maybe today you decide to leave the anger and the worry and your secrets behind and today you just quietly pray.  Nothing fancy.  Just ask. Be humble, be ready, be open. 

Isn't it time to flourish and grow and bloom?  He's ready.  Just ask.

 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. John 12:24




Saturday, February 21, 2015

Compassion for Teens

I was invited to participate in a wonderful event called 1000 Voices for Compassion.  I took one look at the outline and immediately clicked accept.  Because this world can use about 5 million tons more compassion.

I accepted this invitation more than a week ago and I've been noodling my thoughts about compassion. Watching for it, looking for opportunities where compassion immediately comes to mind.  The blogger who invited us to participate in this movement tagged the invite with this:

Compassion begins at home and there are so many ways to teach our children to be compassionate, so many ways to show compassion toward one another.
I go to a large church with many outreach groups that serve those in need; orphans, addicts, homeless, lots of places to place your compassion far and wide.  That's the easy place to muster up compassion isn't it?  We expect to feel compassion for those that have been marginalized. It's the "right thing to do". 

Aren't there other places that could use some compassion?  Aren't there places inside our own homes and schools and grocery stores that could use some compassion?  The place I felt called to write about most is with our teens.  This teen group cries out for compassion and somehow we just give them higher expectations in the name of good parenting.  Study more, practice harder, don't wear that, don't eat that, why are you screaming at me, why are you screaming at your sister?

Maybe they're screaming for some compassion.

I find it completely ironic that a pregnant woman evokes such compassion.  We say things like, Oh those hormones make things so difficult and aren't you just exhausted, it's so hard when your body is changing and you just can't explain your moods"  If you really think about it, isn't it the same for our teens?  Hormones surging, exhausted, bodies changing.  Yet instead of asking them to put their feet up and get some rest, we rattle them out of bed with chores and expectations to do more and be more.

What if they just need a nap.  What if they just need someone to put an arm around their crabby selves and say, "Maybe you should just chill out for awhile and rest."  And allow them to rest without guilt and a lecture about grades or their next soccer match.


The Boston Globe ran an article in July 2014 sharing the results of a survey of 10,000 middle and high school students conducted by Harvard's Graduate School of Education.  

The students ranked compassion or caring for others below achievement and happiness.  This should concern you.  As we push our students to achieve more and more guess where they now find value..... yep..... in achievement.  While we're busy making sure they study hard and get into all the right classes and get the right grades, and get picked for the right teams, we've sent the message loud and clear that their grades and achievement are more important than caring for others.

I'm quite sure we didn't mean to make this shift in the culture of our children, but we darned well better find a way to change it.  Listen around your house this week. What  are the messages we are sending to our kids?  What do we ask about, what do we praise, what do we encourage?

It might be time to give the kids a rest and a healthy dose of compassion for this hormonal exhausting time in their lives.  Teach them love and compassion by extending it to them.  If we extend them more compassion, maybe they'll learn to extend it to each other. Maybe that's what's really wrong with the kids these days.  Maybe they've learned to be hard on each other because that's what we've accidentally taught them at home.  Maybe we've bought into the lie that if you work really hard and get really good grades and get into the best schools, you'll get the best job, and find the best spouse, and live in the best house, and have the best kids and go on the best vacations. When the truth is, you'll wake up some day exhausted and miserable from always trying to be the best.  Maybe our definition of best is all a huge crock and that's what is really wrong with our kids these days.

So in the name of #1000speak for compassion, I'm going to work harder to praise these beautiful teenagers for their loving hearts and their beautiful souls.  And I'm going to remember they are a raging ball of emotions and hormones and sometimes they just need a hug and a free pass to rest.


Saturday, December 6, 2014

Our Mess is Blessed

After four days on the road I return home to the nest.  It's trying to be Christmas in my tiny piece of this world.  The lights are all strung from the gutters with care but it's rain that pours down and cloudy skies everywhere.  It's trying to be Christmas.

I come home with a suitcase full of dirty clothes and an aching back from carrying my pack.  The tree is lit and tries to be Christmas,  but .......broken light strands and boxes of ornaments litter the room.  Not quite.  We're trying.  Because our family is fragmented trying to figure out the future.  We're trying to be Christmas. 

And in the midst of the trying we're growing and thriving and the man boy takes his drivers test in the worst of conditions and passes with a high five and a declaration that in the midst of the rain and the mess he will be King of the Castle for tonight.  And we declare it to be so.  Our mess being blessed.

And the young girl's plans fizzle and fade and together we bring bread and meat and cheese wrapped in paper into our little cocoon and hover over the crumbs while Taylor Swift brings us home on every station and we fade in and out of the crabby and the blessed.  And the lights they swing in the wind pounded by the rain, trying to be Christmas.

And we gather in our home, we center our hearts and we decide to be all that we can be.  We decide to be blessed in our mess.

And the movie is sad and the tears pour like the rain and I am cleansed knowing that we have what we have always had, we have the hope and the promise and the choice and we are blessed in this mess.

And the girl looks up at the tree of lights still scant on bulbs but high on intent and she sighs with anticipation, "I can't wait for Christmas."  And in that moment the hope swells and we know that we are blessed in this mess. And our mess is someone's else's blessing and while the future is unknown and the mind runs wild. We are blessed in our mess.