I am writing this from my grandmother’s kitchen table in McKenzie, TN. There’s a lot I love about this little town – so many great memories from my years visiting here as a child/teen, so much I notice when I drive down the street. But one thing I don’t notice that my kids always do is that the folks here speak with an accent. People around here take more time speaking, their words tend to have more syllables, and their vowels slide on the way out. It’s lovely.
My kids notice accents when we visit my father-in-law in Long Island, too. Their accent is VERY different from my friends and family in McKenzie, but it’s there. We love hearing people discuss “wada” and “cowafee,” hearing the “th” sound reduced to a “t”, the lilt that comes at the end of phrases.
People can open their mouths and, very often, we can tell where they’re from. At least generally — “you must be from the south/northeast/west coast/Michigan.”
People can tell more than just your heritage when you speak, though. Spend time with someone, and you’ll know what’s important to them by what comes out of their mouth.
So as I think about accents today, I am thinking less about WHAT I sound like than WHO I sound like. I want to open my mouth and, within minutes, have people know that I love Jesus, that I sound like Him.
I am asking myself these questions tudahyee (spoken in a true southern accent). Am I accented by Christ-like speech? Are my words ”seasoned with grace”? Do I demonstrate love, integrity, and holiness when I talk? Do I have a “Jesus accent”? If not, why not? And what do I need to do to change my accent so it has more ‘Jesus’ than ‘Krista’?
“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” I Timothy 4:12 (emphasis mine)
Communication. Of all the issues teen girls and their parents have, this, in my opinion, is the biggest. Why? Because when communication breaks down or disappears, everything else falls apart, as well. When we can’t talk about what’s going on, what concerns we have, what we should and shouldn’t do as mothers and daughters, then what?
As a mom of two teen girls, one of my greatest concerns is that my daughters won’t feel comfortable telling me what’s going on in their lives. I don’t expect to be my kids’ best friend. They have those, and those girls are awesome. I am the mom. But I do want to be a good mom, one who my girls can come to and share their fears, their joys, and their frustrations. In pursuit of that, over the years, I have surveyed dozens of moms who have raised daughters and whose relationships with those daughters are strong. Here are some tips I have learned from them:
Assume the best. Daughters, assume your mom loves you and wants to hear from you. Moms, assume your daughters want your encouragement and help.
Forgive past hurts. This is, by far, the biggest barrier to healthy relationships. Of course, our parents are going to hurt us. We are going to hurt our parents. We are sinful beings. If we refuse to have relationships with anyone who is imperfect, we will live a lonely life. So accept the imperfect person that is your mom or your daughter and lavish forgiveness on her. Think of all that we have been forgiven — by the Creator of the universe! There is great freedom in forgiveness, but bondage in unforgiveness.
Be honest. Tell your mom/daughter what you’re really thinking, what you’re struggling with. Life is complicated enough. Don’t make it more complicated by pretending you are something you’re not. There are people with whom you need to be guarded with your heart. But your mom/daughter isn’t one of them.
Make time for each other. I know about busy. Believe me! But we moms and daughters have to make time for each other. Often. Take a walk together, go to the grocery together. Sit on the couch together. Go out for dessert. Meaningful conversation doesn’t happen by accident. We have to be intentional about cultivating our relationships.
Now I want to hear from you. What are ways you have found to help your mother-daughter relationship flourish? What hindrances to that relationship have you seen in your own lives or others’? Do tell!
“Did you know Krista worked as an actress in England for two years?”
This story was circulated when I was in 11th grade. Not bad, as far as rumors go. In fact, I kind of wish it had been true — how cool would THAT be?? But it wasn’t. Not even close. When the story got back around to me, I laughed like Henry Higgins when he heard that Eliza Dolittle was mistaken for Hungarian nobility.
Here’s the real story: The year before, at my old school, I had played Cecily in “The Importance of Being Earnest”, and the director required us to to spend a full two weeks perfecting our English accents before we could even get onstage to begin rehearsals. So the “two” and the “England” and the “actress” were all right. But the story? All wrong.
Thankfully, that rumor didn’t do any harm. But that’s rare, isn’t it? Usually untruths, half-truths, and bold-faced lies do major damage to a person’s reputation. Why? Because we believe them!
How often do we listen to rumors about others and make judgments based on those rumors rather than getting to know the person for ourselves? How many people have we hurt simply by believing the worst about them? I am ashamed to think of how often I have been guilty of that.
So the next time you hear the whispering about so-and-so, walk away. Refuse to listen, refuse to believe. Get to know people yourself instead of allowing others’ sometimes erroneous opinions to shape yours.
“The gossip of bad people gets them in trouble;
the conversation of good people keeps them out of it.”
~Proverbs 12:13 (MSG)
Some of you may remember that, a couple months ago, this happened:
Today, it looks like this:
And, because, even though I am middle-aged, my vanity remains, it often looks like this:
It really is barely noticeable. Just a tiny little scar. But it didn’t start out like that. First it was a gaping wound (you’re welcome for not putting THAT picture up!). It was deep and bloody and nasty looking. Even my doctor did a little “oh, that’s ugly!” gasp when he saw it. And I’ll be honest – I was nervous I’d end up looking like a cross between Harry Potter and Frankenstein when it was all over. And, for a while, the scar looked pretty nasty. I used the heavy-duty scar reducer ointment as well as my friend’s homeade oil ointment, but the scar stayed angry and red-looking, mocking me everytime I looked in the mirror. But now, two months later, it’s really no big deal at all.
Because I look at everything as potential blog post topics now, I thought of how our physical scars are a lot like our emotional scars. When we are wounded, that wound is ugly, messy, and painful. Maybe it’s a major wound, like losing a loved one. Maybe it’s more minor – cruel words from someone you thought was a friend. But wounds are wounds, and they hurt. And when they are fresh, we sometimes think they’re going to hurt forever. Healing seems impossible. The pain is too deep.
But, with the right care, we can heal. With physical wounds, like mine, I needed to see an expert, someone who could stitch me back together. With spiritual wounds, we sometimes need the help of experts, as well. Maybe that someone is a pastor or youth leader, maybe a professional counselor. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you are hurting. There ARE people out there who want to help you heal.
And, hopefully this doesn’t stretch the metaphor too far (bear with me if it does!), just like healing ointments helped reduce my physical scar, the daily application of God’s word to our hearts brings healing like nothing else can.
And just like my physical scar – the reminder of wounds often remain with us. But they can heal, they can fade. They make us who we are, but they don’t need to define us. I am not the woman with the scar over her eye. I am God’s child. Clumsy. A tad iron-deficient. Vain. But God loves me, anyway. And He loves you, too. Scars and all.
Last June marked 20 years since I graduated from high school.
Yes, I am THAT old.
But let me just tell you — these 20 years have gone by fast. Really fast.
Those of my generation (and older) reading this are nodding their heads in agreement. Time DOES fly by! But you guys who are still in high school…graduation seems eons away. I get it. I teach high school students, and this time of year, especially, we teachers know that grades start dropping, students get more antsy than usual. The “drama” tends to get more pronounced. Everything seems worse. Frustrations that have gone on all year aren’t ending. Classmates who make you crazy are not stopping. Teachers who you are sure hate you make life in their classroom even more miserable. The year is going on FOREVER and you just want out! Graduation Day seems like it will never get here.
If you’re reading this and you’re there, in that “March Madness” of your academic life, take some advice from someone with two plus decades on you: some things that seem super-important, life-or-death right now, really aren’t.
Here’s what I don’t remember from 20 years ago:
- My grade in Chemistry
- My senior research paper topic
- My Trigonometry teacher’s name
- Our Homecoming theme
- Our prom theme
- The score of any sport played my entire senior year
- The most popular girl/boy in school
- How much I weighed
- The most popular song/movie/dance of 1993
- Reasons for getting mad at my parents/friends/teachers
- My SAT or ACT scores
I could go on, but you get the point. My “March Madness” issues from high school? Completely forgotten.
So today, focus on what really matters: the parts of you that reflect Christ and are being shaped into someone who resembles him more and more each day. Do your best in school, in sports, in your extracurricular activities, but don’t let yourself be defined by any of those. As my friend Laura tells her students, “You are not the grade you receive.” You are a beloved child of God. A child of God who may struggle with math, with some extra weight, with low self-esteem, with parents who are divorcing, with friends who have hurt you…but those aren’t who you are. You are God’s precious daughter. And all that other stuff…?
Being in love is a state heralded by poets, songwriters, and authors. Hollywood makes hundreds of movies a year about being in love. There are websites dedicated to finding your true love and books detailing how to find love, keep love, and restore love.
Love is a many splendored thing. All you need is love. What the world needs now is love sweet love. Can’t help falling in love….I could go on. So could you, I’m sure.
We love love. And we should. It IS a wonderful state. The state of being in love is one of the wonderful gifts God gives us humans, one of the great joys we get to experience this side of heaven.
BUT (you knew that was coming, right?) love makes people crazy. Seriously. There are even scientific studies behind it – something to do with chemicals in the brain. We can’t stop thinking about that special someone, can’t stop talking about him. Everything about him is wonderful – the way he smiles, the way he laughs, his scent…You could be with him forever and never get tired of gazing into his eyes and speaking tender words of love. You are, as Flower says in “Bambi”, ‘twitterpated.’
And it’s perfectly fine to be ‘twitterpated.’ God gave us those chemicals, created those feelings. But we need to be careful not to go blindly into love. Solomon, in his Song, says, several times, “Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires.”
When we are falling in love with the guy God has chosen for us, it is beautiful, exciting. I look back on the two years Dave and I dated with great fondness. I was a crazy fool, and it was awesome.
But when we allow ourselves to fall in love with anyone other than God’s choice for us, there is no end but heartache. And the road leading to that heartache is filled with decisions we regret, friends we lose, parents and teachers we ignore. It is filled with a whole bunch of incredibly destructive crazy.
So how do we make sure we choose God’s man? We must first fall crazy in love with Jesus. I’m talking want-to-spend-all-your-time-with-him, can’t-get-enough, I-want-to-tell-the-whole-world INSANE about the Savior. Your relationship with Him should be strong, solid, growing and maturing. THEN you are ready to consider allowing a young man into your heart and life.
As my pastor’s wife says, “You just keep running hard after Jesus. As you’re running, look to your right and left. The man who’s running beside you or ahead of you – that’s the one for you.”
I hate saying I’m wrong.
I rather take a semester of Calculus than say I’m wrong. I’d rather eat a bucket full of broccoli than say I’m wrong. I’d rather have a mouse run across my foot than say I’m wrong.
I wish this were one of those posts where I follow that up with something wonderful and mature, a life lesson that turned me around and made me joyful when given the opportunity to admit my mistakes.
Sorry. Not gonna happen. Not yet, anyway. This is one of those posts where I admit I am still growing and falling and struggling. Do I think I am never wrong? No. I know I make mistakes. But saying it out loud? Ouch. That is so difficult. I’d rather act like the wrong never happened. Or, even better, justify why my wrong wasn’t nearly as bad as other people’s. I’m really good at that. I make excuses for my wrongs, I sugar coat them, I do anything – anything – rather than admitting them.
But – and here’s the lesson that God keeps trying to teach me and I keep remaining too hard-headed to totally learn – I am miserable when I refuse to admit I’m wrong. Making excuses and justifications, ignoring or blaming, those do not bring satisfaction. Being right all the time is exhausting! And it distances me from the One who knows the truth.
On those rare occasions that I actually do admit I’m wrong, it feels good. After I say it. Before I say it, my stomach is in knots, my tongue is tied. I have beautiful, long debates with myself about whether or not it’s really necessary – and, to be perfectly honest, the “you don’t need to say it” argument wins most of those.
Maybe other people don’t struggle with this. Maybe you’re reading this thinking I am crazy. You can say “Sorry” all day and not be bothered at all. Well, good for you. I bet you like broccoli, too, don’t you?
But this is where I am. Not finished, still in process. Still struggling with things that a two-year-old struggles with.
I am thankful for a God who doesn’t give up on people as pig-headed as me. I am thankful for a God who doesn’t just say, “Do whatever you want. It’s fine.” Because it isn’t fine! But a God who says, “You ARE wrong, but I love you enough to help make you right.”
The summer after I graduated high school, I worked for an insurance company. I got daily use of a company car, a Polaroid camera, and $7.50 an hour (pretty cushy stuff for 1993!). My job was, basically, to drive around, look at houses, and note problem areas: tree branches hanging over roofs (a storm could knock branches into the house), bushes in front of windows (able to hide would-be burglers), that kind of thing. The company wanted to make sure the houses they were insuring weren’t in imminent danger. They knew that little things like trimming trees and bushes could save big money down the road. And since that summer was just a few months after one of the worst hurricanes to ever hit our state (Hurricane Andrew), all the insurance companies in the country were looking for ways to save money.
I’ve had several friends in the last decade or so make some Hurricane Andrew-like choices. Choices that devastated everyone around them. Nasty, ugly, painful decisions that left nasty, ugly, painful scars. Some have healed. Many have not. But unlike Hurricane Andrew – a storm whose destruction no amount of tree-trimming could have prevented – my friends’ decisions could have been avoided.
How could they have been avoided?
By trimming the trees!!
Just like I can protect my house by making sure no big heavy branch hangs above it (OK, that’s not actually my house. But if you’d buy some more of my books, maybe…!), I can protect myself by making sure no big heavy temptation is hanging above me. One of the choices Dave and I made even before we got married was that neither of us would ever be alone with a person of the opposite sex. Not even for a minute. No exceptions. No one plans to have an extramarital – or premarital – affair. “It just happens.” And it’s a huge mistake. But that huge mistake is almost aways preceded by lots of smaller ones. Protection from the small mistakes keep you far away from the big ones.
There’s so much more I want to write on this subject – other precautions, a reminder that it’s the heart, not the external actions, that really matter. That kind of thing. But I need to save that for later. This is a blog, not a novel. And bloggers are told to “keep it short” and “stick to one point.”
So here you go: Avoid disasters long before they have the power to come near you. Put barriers in place to protect yourself and others. Whether it’s with the opposite sex, with movies or music, the internet, whatever…Trim those trees!
I am, and always have been, “artsy.” Growing up, I was pitiful at athletics and academics, but I excelled at drama and music. Songs speak to me. Standing on stage is fun. Standing on stage with people watching is really, really fun.
There are great benefits to being artsy: I’ve never been nervous going into a job interview. I love being asked to speak to a group of people, and I am fairly adept at speaking extemporaneously. I am confident (most of the time), and it takes a whole lot to embarrass me.
But there are also negatives: I spent a lot of years allowing other people’s opinions of me to determine my opinion of myself. So there were times I thought I was the greatest person on the planet and other times when I thought I was worthless. I also spent a lot of years comparing myself to others, and feeling incredibly antagonistic toward people who were better than I was.
In my late teens/early twenties, as I began to get really serious about my relationship with God, I began to be convicted of that sin of pride in my life. But rather than blaming my own sinful thoughts, I blamed the arts. So I stopped doing much of what I loved. Stopped acting, stopped singing anywhere but in church. And, when I did sing in church, I often chose songs out of my range, so I wouldn’t sound very good, thinking that “proved” my humility.
As I grew to know God better, I began to see myself more clearly. God revealed that my pride in my abilities wasn’t gone. It just transferred to pride in my refusal to use those abilities. The sin was still there, waiting to be dealt with.
When I finally dealt with that, God began to show me that those gifts I had were from him. He gave them to me to use. God is a creator. THE creator. Rather than being opposed to the creative arts, He is the author of them. When I learned to recognize that, to give Him the glory for the gifts he has given me, I found incredible freedom. Freedom to use my gifts to the best of my abilities, and freedom to recognize the abilities He has given others. Rather than feeling competitive, I can feel grateful for those whose abilities exceed mine. Talk about freeing!
If you’re artsy, own it! Know your gifts are from God. KNOW your gifts are from God. Know your gifts are from GOD. Allow yourself to experience His pleasure in you when you use them. Make your art an act of worship. Encourage other artsy people – be a community, not competitors.
“Sing to him a new song;
play skillfully, and shout for joy.”
Seven years ago this month, our family moved from Spain back to the states. Of all the moves we’ve made — and we’ve made several — that was the most difficult. Because it wasn’t just belongings packed in those suitcases. My dreams were in there.
The short version of this very long story is that our family spent three years preparing for a lifetime of ministry in Spain that ended up lasting only ten months. And when we left, I felt like a complete and utter failure. I had our story all planned out. It began with us moving to Madrid and ended with us being buried there, sixty years later, after leaving the legacy of a lifetime of fruitful ministry and deep friendships.
Right after we arrived back in the USA, our family attended a “debriefing” at a missionary training center in Colorado. The people there loved on us and helped us through the process of adjusting to our shattered dream. I am so grateful for their ministry. One of the facilitators shared what has become an unforgettable analogy:
She compared our life to a vase. When a candle is placed inside a vase, the light comes out of the top. But imagine that vase is broken. It breaks into dozens of pieces. And imagine that someone comes in and glues it all back together, piece by piece. What happens when you put the candle in now?
The light shines through all the broken places.
And that’s exactly what has happened. God has used our brokenness to help us shine even brighter for Him. I have compassion where I never used to have compassion. I have been humbled. I have been reminded that this world is not our home. I know that God is in control of everything and His ways don’t always make sense, but they are always good.
And lots of good has come from that move. I could fill pages and pages with the incredible ways God has lavished His grace on us in the past seven years. But nothing compares to knowing Him. And it is through those very difficult times that we grow to know Him the best, when we depend on Him the most. And when He brings us through those times, we are better equipped to serve others and to help them through their difficult times.
So to those of you reading this who may be in the “broken” stage right now: Hang on. Let God take those peices and put them back together. Let Him shine through you in ways you never imagined. Let Him comfort you, help you, and heal you.
“If your heart is broken, you’ll find God right there; if you’re kicked in the gut, he’ll help you catch your breath.” Ps. 34:18 MSG