…And Especially Your Children

“Let your kindness be known to all people.”  – Philippians 4:5

This passage is where Pastor had us first open our Bibles this morning to begin our “Back to School Prayer” message.   He continued…

“and especially your children.”

 

So, let your kindness be known to all people, but, most importantly, your children.  As a teacher, this spoke to me greatly.  Whether or not you have your own children, we are  surrounded by their little faces, within our circle of family and friends, in outside activities, in our workplaces, we are constantly in contact.   We are always being watched, and we are actively shaping the minds of our future leaders and world changers.

Pastor spoke of that tired story we tend to hear a lot these days within the school system, “well, we can’t do that because they have removed God, or prayer from our schools.”  He quickly shot that down with the reminder that we, as teachers and faculty, cannot have that taken away from us.   We have the power and authority to pray for our students without any consent forms.  And we should be doing it, daily.

He broke this all down into some specific prayers that we can easily pray each day, and I felt compelled to share those with you.

Number one:  Prayer of Protection.   “No harm, no evil, no damage can come near myself or these children.”    This prayer pertains not only to our students while they are at school, but, as they are riding the bus to and from, as they are home with their families, and so on.

Number two: Prayer of Comprehension.  “Thank you that these kids have the mind of Christ, therefore they can comprehend and make wonderful choices.”

Number three: Prayer for Favor.   “God, I pray that my kids will excel in all their studies, that their scores will be higher than all the others.  I pray that they are circled with friends, and that they are highly favored.”

We could pray these three simple prayers as soon as our eyes open in the morning, while we are brushing our teeth, or driving to work, or the moment we walk into our classroom.  And not only over the kids, but over ourselves.

Our students live in a scary world.  We have children who are scared to come to school because they feel unsafe, or unpopular, or uneducated.  Maybe they are lacking the support system of someone constantly encouraging them.  “You are smart, you are capable, you are noticed.”   It can be so simple, and so life changing.

We as teachers, and educators, have to do better.  Be better.  And make sure that prayer is never truly taken away from our kids.   These kiddos we spend our days with are not a coincidence, but are in our lives due to divine purpose.

Today as my church took out the extra time to pray these prayers for all of our kids, and our teachers, my heart and my eyes swelled.   Someone standing behind me approached me afterwards and said, “as I touched you today during prayer, I felt a spark and an energy so intense I almost had to move my hand, you are truly blessed and were made for this.”    Talk about the water works.

Life is hard sometimes, and we let a lot of ugly get in the way.    But, the future of the world is in our hands, with these kids.  Let us never forget to nurture and take care of them, starting with prayer.

 

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“God, I Feel Like a Phony”

Do you know the definition of phony?

Not genuine.  Fraudulent.  

That’s where I’m standing right now, front and center in the spotlight.   Trust God, have healthy habits, healthy relationships, recognize, grow, change, embrace.  I speak it to you in every blog.  But, it all feels so fraudulent.  Good intent, but bullsh!t.  (Sorry about that foul word, but, if honesty is what we’re working towards here, sometimes I need a little soap wash in the mouth.)

You know, I have friends and family members come to me quite often for advice.  After we’re done, they always tell me I’m good at it.  I’m so educated.  I have it together.  I get it. “It must be nice,” they wish they could see it that way.  I keep on the sunny side, even in the darkness.  I had a conversation tonight, and when it was over, they said, “Dang, you should be a counselor, maybe think about that for a summer job.”   And when they left, I thought, “God, I feel like a phony.”

Don’t get me wrong,  all of my advice does come from a place of knowledge based upon studies of scripture, self-help books and podcasts, motivational music, and general skills gained from  living life, and the “been there, lived through that” scenarios.  And, in all honesty, helping other people is a way of helping myself.  In saying it that way, it sounds kind of selfish, but, I do it with a good heart, because, I want us all to be happy.  I want a happy world, with fewer of us living in fear, or with anxieties that allow the devil to overtake our spirits.   It’s almost like a “dear diary” to myself, but,  I want you to find it under my pillow and take a peek, because maybe you aren’t brave enough to talk yourself through it yet.

However, what has me catching these feels is the realization that I’m not currently listening to any of it.   For instance, in my last blog I talked about the importance of finding comfort in silence, yet, I’m living so loud.  I’m scared of being quiet and being forgotten.  I constantly say “quit living with the fear of being rejected,” yet that is my biggest fear.  I preach moving on and change, but I am so stuck.  I know it’s a process, but, at what point do I stop and ask myself, “Okay, am I making progress in the process, or am I now just being disobedient to God?”

That’s a tough one to swallow.  If I’m being completely honest, I’ve confused myself with the “voices” I’m allowing to speak lately.   I’ve created a scenario in my head in which  I’ve all but convinced myself that the reason why I am stuck here is because God is telling me to keep pushing it, because it’s worth fighting for.   It’s caused such an internal struggle that somewhere in the midst of it, I’ve allowed an attack on my spirit, and I don’t know who or what is pulling me every which way.

Have ya’ll heard of the whole FOMO thing?  I guess I’m old, and only recently was familiarized with this term.  “FOMO” is the fear of missing out. I’ve found myself there a lot too. What if the choices I’ve made have led me down a road of missed opportunity.  Missed connections.  Missed moments.  What if my life isn’t going to be what it was supposed to because of that choice.  It’s exhausting.   Fear is a liar they say, they sing, I preach.

Fear is the devil, yet, here I am sharing a table for 3…me, fear, and Satan.  It sounds so harsh, but, “raise a glass” they say, lets wallow.

I was conversing with a gal pal today and I said,  “It’s all unnecessary anyway, I don’t know what my deal is.”

Her response?

“Don’t do that.  Don’t invalidate your feelings.  They are true and honest.   It may be irrational, but it’s what you’ve got.  All you need to do is find an outlet for your feelings.  You’re going to have them regardless, you just need to figure out what to do with them.”

That spoke to me.

I do feel like a phony.  But, I also feel like a girl that’s really trying.  Some days more, some days less.   Some days I succeed, and some days I just make it through crawling.  But, I think it’s okay to struggle.

I want us all to be happy, but, sometimes it takes being sad…or lonely…or confused to get there.  We all need outlets.  We all need each other.

All I ever want to be is honest, and today, this is all I’ve got.

Easy Silence

A friend recently gifted me The Simple Faith of Mister Rogers and I have found so much inspiration within the first two chapters.

“I just feel like there isn’t enough silence, you know, and I’m always asking people if they can just give some silence. And we’re in a medium that gives so little of that.”  – Mister Rogers

Of course the medium he is referring to here is television, but, don’t you think it relates to our world today?  Social media. Freedom of Speech. Of politics. Of self.  We’re in this place that tells us we have to be loud to be heard.  To make sure someone is listening to us, and seeing us.  Making sure everyone knows our every thought, every move, every position we take.  In being so loud, we’ve become so fearful of being silent. Silent in every realm, in every relationship.

What if we shut up and everyone just forgets about us?

We have lost complete comfort in silence.  In sitting with a person in the still of the morning, a cup of coffee in hand, enjoying a book or newspaper, yet still feeling together.   Feeling connected just in their presence. Feeling contentment in the silence.  A look, a smile, a touch of a hand has been replaced with words and noise, as we have somehow transported ourselves to a place where quiet is covered by chaos.

We have created this culture in which in the silence all we are able to find is fear.  Fear of what our partner is thinking about.  Worry, anxiety, and made up scenarios in our head have flooded and drowned the comfort in the quiet.  The idea that two who can be quiet together can conquer anything.  To understand that the silence speaks volumes in regards to faith, trust, and understanding of each other.

I am reminded of a Dixie Chicks song, (far from Mister Rogers, but relevant all the same,)

“And anger plays on every station, answers only make more questions, I need something to believe in, breathe in the sanctuary in the easy silence that you make for me, it’s okay when there’s nothing more to say to me.”  – Easy  Silence

If you look up sanctuary, you’ll find the meaning to be “a place of refuge or safety.”  It’s this woman’s cry to her partner that in a loud world full of wreckage, she finds safety and comfort in his silence.  That there is power in quiet, for when there is nothing left to say, we must be able to find comfort in being there, yet saying nothing.  Easy silence, with no uncertainty is where our peace is found.

This concept isn’t in relation to romantic partnerships alone, but every kind we may encounter.  What if we shut it all off?  Shut it all down.  What if we retrained ourselves to be quiet, yet still feel heard?

Maybe changing the world isn’t being loud and angry.  Making signs to make arguments.  Making noise to make statements.  Maybe the only way to truly get to know each other is to lose of the fear of losing ourselves to the silence.  Because really, I think that might be where the answers are found.

“Just think.  Just be quiet and think.  I think it’d make all the difference in the world.” -Mister Rogers

 

Embrace The Change

I started this blog two years ago.  It was something that had been in development for quite some time, but, never really came into it’s own.  I’d constantly had people telling me what I should do with it, what “selling points” and “marketing strategies” I needed to use.  I became quickly over consumed with it all, and had thrown something together that just was not fun, not me, and not going to be a relaxing outlet.   Then, I went through a break up.  A few days later, I packed up and headed to the beach.  Within those first few days of absorbing the sun, listening to the waves crash into the sand, and convincing myself of my own worth, Everyday a Hollyday was born.  Although still in its toddler stage, it’s become something I like to nurture.  Today I’m back here in Gulf Shores, Alabama, going through some growing pains of my own and both overthinking and trying to forget some changes going on back at home.  But alas, the sun is still shining, and the waves are still crashing.

Yesterday I got a bad sunburn.   There was a breeze that felt so nice that I never even  noticed the heat coloring my skin.  This sunburn reminds me of change in life.  You think about how things are going,  life feels breezy, you’re kind of floating by, and then all of a sudden an unexpected burn pushes you back and leaves a tinge.  You know that it’s going to hurt for awhile, but also keep in my mind that the end result will be more beautiful than when you started.   Often times we sit back and sulk in the burn rather than moving forward and keeping our eyes on the beauty that is to come.  We look in the mirror and see ugly rather than seeing the potential.  We forgot that sometimes change is necessary.   The caterpillar.  The ugly duckling.  The tadpole.  Every one of those poor little guys would grow up scared to look in the mirror if they only saw the ugly and not the beauty ahead.   Sometimes we think it would be easier just to stay in the same stage that we are in, we find ourselves just content enough to stay the way we are as to avoid the pain and the burn of the change.   When we do that, we become butterflies living as caterpillars because we never took the moment to embrace the change, to look in the mirror and see what we have become.

We must quit rejecting change.  Quit living in contentment of just okay when there is a world of wonderful just down the road.   You see, the caterpillar is really pretty in her own right, and during that stage she should embrace it.  But, when it comes time to wear the new coat, put it on proudly.  Don’t fear what you’re leaving behind, because all of those memories are stories to tell.  We should never sulk in what we are, and we should never be afraid of what we are to become.

Fly high my beauties.

Love yourself.  Embrace yourself.  Treat yourself.   You are so special, never deny yourself of the luxuries you deserve, even if someone else, or the someone in the mirror convinces you otherwise.

Better Than Okay

You see them, falling to the ground, kneeling in the gravel. And there’s noise all around, but the ringing is somehow breathtakingly silent. The people around you that are the strongest become the weakest. You don’t realize it fully in that moment, but, they can’t take care of you anymore, it’s your turn now to take care of them. You never imagined it to come so soon. And like this.

Grief, something you have never known before somehow becomes something you will know like the back of your hand for the rest of your life. It becomes a look on your family members face that you can recognize instantly. A drooping mouth, or far-away gaze lets you know that they’re thinking about him.

Depression, it’s a hollowness  you know all too well, because you too have experienced it.  You’ve seen those features in your own mirror, in the bathroom, in the car, in the middle of a night out when something reminds you of him, and you thought you were okay, but you’re not okay. But you have to be, right? For them. For the ones that you have to take care of now. That you have to be strong for. For the little girl who was three at the time, but just celebrated her first double digit birthday. For the grandparents that have and will be your favorite people on the planet, forever. And for your mom, who you know is playing the same strong game, but, has lost every ounce of faith, and can’t quit asking God why.

Seven years, that’s how long it’s been since the ringing. The call. The moment we all changed. “It gets easier with time,” that’s the way the saying goes. But, I don’t know. It seems to intensify for me. We move on, sure, because we have to. But as the years pass, as I age, my responsibility to take care of everyone, it grows. The understanding of hurt, it’s become clearer, and therefore, I go through the process of it, again and again, with some hope that this time I’ll find the answer for us all. But, there is no answer, and that’s what keeps us here, stuck. There has to be a lesson, or a purpose, something.

I’m laying here in bed at 5am, thinking not only about this day 7 years ago, losing my uncle, but also about my friends suffering loss in present time. The sting of grief is fresh for them. The ringing just started. Suddenly I’m their counselor, their stability, their late night message for help. I have to be strong for them too.

Grief, it’s a vicious cycle.  It’s a daily reminder that we just have to be here for each other.  Even when times are tough.  Even when we don’t think we can.  It asks us the question, were we there for them enough? Those that we’ve lost. Suddenly the memories start flying, conversations arise, stories are told, and we remember how great they were. Those are the things we have to remember, so we can survive.

Again, we have to be there for each other, no matter what. We have to say I love you, I miss you, I need you, I hear you, I see you, any time we think or feel it.

The day he left, I vividly remember him walking out the door, I remember the urge I had to hug him and tell him I loved him. We aren’t really the hugging, affectionate type of family, so, that would just be weird. I actually remember thinking that, that it would be weird, to hug my uncle goodbye. I wish I would have.  That I would have known it’d be my last chance.  Maybe it would have saved him.  But, I also know that he knew I loved him, our bond was strong, and that’s the part I have to hang on to. That’s the part I have to remind my struggling friends and family of. When the regrets or things we didn’t do, words we didn’t say become too strong, we have to shut them down and cover them with all the things we did say and do, the laughs and good times. That’s what keeps us going.

Grief and depression, they can sneak in and steal us if we are not careful. But, we have to be strong, not just for all of those that we want and need to take care of, but for ourselves.

We can’t cover hurt with hurt and expect a better outcome. Find someone to talk to. Find someone to be there for you. Talk to someone, be there for someone. For the love and life of this world, let’s take care of each other. Let’s stop being afraid to love each other. Love hard and without apology, out loud.

Let’s be better than okay.

Too Much, Never Enough

I’m finding myself caught in a web of too much and never enough.  Although complete opposites, I always seem to be standing smack dab in the middle of one of them.  You know when you’re at a party in which you really don’t know many of the guests, but, you don’t want to seem like a fuddy duddy so you start telling really bad jokes or stories, and all of a sudden everyone is looking at you like, “who invited that chick?”   It’s kind of like that.  You walk in feeling not enough, like the uninvited guest, so the only logical solution is to be a little too much, that way people at least know you are. The problem is, I’m not feeling that way at a party with a bunch of  strangers, I’m feeling that way in the midst of my very own life.

The devil has a funny way of grabbing hold of our weaknesses and running with them. In my case, that weakness is anxiety.  Something not many like to talk about, or understand to be a serious monster.  But for me, once he takes off running, I see that flaming torch in his hand, and I have to start chasing.  And there I am in a whirlwind of self wallow, insecurity, and state of feeling too much and never enough.  One little problem turns into a million big worries.  A bad joke at the party spirals into never being invited again.  It’s exhausting.

The thing of it is, trying to be everything for everyone while at the same time being nothing to yourself is not a healthy habit.   I like to be the “go-to” girl.  The one everyone trusts with all their problems, or their kids, or their money.   But, sometimes, you have to be your own “go-to” girl, and if she’s telling you that you need to slow down, make time, take a breath…well, I’m sorry sister, but your going to have to do it.  Or you’re going to be stuck there too, in the too much, never enough web.

It’s hard when we start growing up, and our seasons people are changing.  We start feeling hurt, or left out, but, in reality, the leaves are just blowing to their new homes, and our branches aren’t needed to hold them anymore.  I’m the type that keeps running trying to catch them all, in hopes that my super glue will hold them on forever, but, sometimes it just doesn’t work that way.

The truth of it is, you should never be too much or never enough to anyone, including yourself.   So, when you start feeling that way, pray about it, talk about it, but, do not be overcome by it.    Drop the hot glue, or you’ll only end up getting yourself stuck in the web.

You deserve the very best.  And, rest assured, when you find it, there will be lots of laughs at your bad jokes and pointless stories.  Receive it.

A State of Ugly

I have recently found myself in a state of ugly.  I say recently as if it is a new thing, although, really what I mean is that I have finally started to see it.  The ugly within myself.  That may sound harsh, it probably is.  But, wouldn’t you want those closest to tell you if you were being unpleasant?  This is me looking in the mirror, telling myself.  I’ve spoken briefly before about the mentality of a rejecter. The refusal of accepting things to be good when they are good.  The refusal of accepting love, even when it’s freely given.  The refusal mostly of just seeing things and believing them.  This mentality puts me in a state of not feeling like myself, or not feeling okay, with no real reason.  I’ve felt it creeping back around.  And it is so detrimental to living a healthy, happy life. You see, whenever you are the victim of the rejecter mentality, you form a habit of being just that…the victim.  But, I’m not.  Or, I shouldn’t be.

What I’ve noticed lately is how bad my insecurities are fogging my vision of other people.  How they are playing the devil on my shoulder, whispering in my ear that I’m not good enough, and it must be someone else’s fault.  People I don’t even know have become “threats” to me.  These insecurities are creating scenarios in my head that are being absolutely destructive to already existent, and future possible relationships.  It’s so ugly.

Ugly.  That’s the word I used to explain to a second grader the way she was acting.  “That’s ugly, and no one wants to be ugly.”  Yet, here I am, preaching to the choir while drinking from the jug in the back row.  It’s so unpleasant.

          Joyce Meyer said, “if you ever find yourself victim of someone’s bitterness, smallness, or insecurity, just remember, it could be worse, you could be that person.”  

How terrifying to think that someone could be thanking their lucky stars that they are not me in a situation.  That they could feel as though my ugliness was spread towards them because of an insecurity, and that they would never want to possess those traits.

I don’t know what it is.  I can honestly say that immediately after ugliness or bitterness in most situations, I feel horrible.  I want to apologize to the people I have acted ugly towards, or even thought ugly thoughts about.   I so often advertise the importance of being good to each other.  Of empowering all of our fellow women in their strengths and weaknesses.  Picking each other up when we fall.  Telling all of our stories because we all have so much to learn from each other, and such an opportunity to grow.

I guess I’m saying this all because I almost feel guilty.  Like a false advertisement.  Here I am advertising all of this stuff about self-love and loving one another, all the while I am full of bitterness, jealousy, and resentment.  I’m saying this all to say that if we allow it, all of these things will steal our joy, our happiness, and the promises we have laid out for us.  It’s a hard sting, but, it’s time to open it up, air it out and let the healing happen.

“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”  – Ephesians 4: 31-32