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Monday, September 26, 2011

The Church Doesn’t Like Me!

Did you ever feel like you don’t fit in the church?  Like you can’t find anything in common with the people around you?  Maybe you’ve tried, but you just can’t seem to connect.

You’re not alone.

An old friend I’ll call “Kate” stopped over last weekend.  I could tell she was upset.  Things at home were going well, her practice was booming, and she looked great.  So, what was the problem?

“No one in my church likes me!” she exclaimed.  “I just don’t fit in.”

Kate is a brilliant physician.  Like me, she has three young kids and a husband who frequently holds down the fort.  Like me, she probably works too much.  And like me, she’s had a hard time figuring out her place in the church. 

Kate doesn’t have time for weekly Bible studies.  She’s not involved in after-school activities.  She doesn’t help with carpool or put together prayer chains.  And she feels like her peers in the church have written her off – that she doesn’t have anything to contribute.

But Kate has much to contribute.

She spearheads cutting-edge medical research.  She interacts with the public and influences families regarding their health care choices.  She loves Jesus, and she’s raising her children to do the same.  She just needs some help in the process.  She needs people who will come along side her, accept her for who she is, and welcome her into community.

Don’t give up on the church Kate!  The church needs you.  And you need the church.

Maybe you know a Kate.  Maybe you’re like Kate. 

Have you ever felt out of place in the church?   You may think you have nothing to contribute when, in fact, you’re needed.  Desperately.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Are You Ready For A One-Star Review?

It’s no fun getting a one-star review on Amazon.  What’s worse?  Having your 10-year-old son read it in front of you.
When Nick looked up, he was fighting the tears.  Trying to stay strong.  Trying to act like it didn’t matter.
Then he gave his own critique.
“You know, Mom, some of this is probably true.  But, you know what really upsets me?  She didn’t criticize your book.  She criticized you.  And she doesn’t even know you.”
[To continue reading, join me here at the Wordserve Water Cooler.]

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

I’m Not The Room Parent!

It’s Working Mommy Wednesday.  The school year is in full swing.  And I can barely keep up.  Parent homework.  Forms. Packing lunches. Juggling schedules. School fundraisers. Snack duty. More forms. 

Not to mention my kids’ multiple after-school activities.  It’s simply exhausting.

Remember when we were kids – and we actually did our own homework?  Today, it’s impossible for parents to keep up. 

I know, I know.  It’s good for parents to be involved.  But let’s think about life when we were kids.
  • My parents never had to check my homework every night or sign a “homework log.”  I had to do it myself. 
  • My parents never got involved in school fundraisers.  I went door to door and sold candy bars (ok, maybe they bought a few bars from me). 
  • My parents didn’t drop me off in front of the school or walk me to my classroom.  I took the bus.  
  • My parents never volunteered in my classroom.  (No, my mom wasn’t the room mother.)
And I wasn’t neglected a bit.  I had more love at home than I could have asked for.  But school was school.  And home was home.

What happened to those lines?

Parents, are you a bit overwhelmed by the demands of school?  Do you think our kids would be more independent if we were less involved?  Or am I just over-reacting a bit?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Worried About What People Think?

Sometimes, I worry too much what people think.

As a working mom, I worry that other moms will think I'm too career-oriented.  That I'm not focused enough on my family.

As a lawyer, I worry that if I talk too much about my kids (and constantly showcase my darling pictures and stories) business-minded folks won't think I'm a top-notch lawyer.  Instead, they'll associate me with "mommy" brain.

Case in point, I've recently wondered whether driving my mommy mobile is a career limiting gesture.  My wagon is scratched, worn, and dented (I’ve never pretended to be a skilled driver), but it has also survived the stains, pains, and drains of three small children. 

Which has recently caused me some embarassment.

I was visiting a high-profile client at his office.  After the meeting he asked, “Hey, I hope it isn’t a bother, but I was hoping you could give me a ride to the dealer.”

My heart sank.

Did I mention that I also use my car as a second office?  Since the passenger side is usually empty, I always have papers and trash sitting next to me.  And I always spill my coffee, which is why there are multiple stains in the front seat and carpet.

“Of course you can have a ride," I replied. 

He got into the front seat, and I just couldn’t find the right words.

Please excuse the stains, I can assure you they are old and don’t contain live bacteria. 

Despite the dents on the passengers’ side, I’ve never hit another car – just my garage and inanimate objects.

I’m really a much better lawyer than driver.

I’m due for a new car, but I just haven’t make up my mind.  There are too many options.

Nothing sounded quite right.

And I don’t know what bothered me more – the fact that he was riding in my mommy mobile, or the fact that I was so worried about it. 

Do you ever get caught up worrying about what people think?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Have The Sunday Night Blues?

Do you get the Sunday night blues?  The weekend is over.  The laundry still isn't done.  The alarm clock will be screaming tomorrow at an hour too early.

This Sunday, I was starting to feel pretty sorry for myself.  I had just come off a funeral and the tenth anniversary of 9/11 haunted me all day.  Especially since I’m heading to New York in the morning.

The last thing I want to do is jump on a flight, Lord. 
As I put the girls to bed, they hugged me extra tight.

“Why do you have to leave in the morning?  Why can’t you stay home with us?”

I just need more time with them, Lord.  It’s so hard to leave.

I fought back tears as we opened our devotional together. 

And God spoke.

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.  Matthew 6:34

The words cut to my heart. 

Sometimes, God does that.  He speaks to me loud and clear.  His words are like healing balm to my fresh wounds, and I’m thankful for today.  For tonight.  For this moment.  And this moment is so lovely that I have to stop and catch my breath.

In the midst of my revelation my 5-year-old bellowed, "You're going to be alright, Mom.  You've got to face your fears!"

Where the heck did that come from?

It's all part of the grace of this moment.

Tomorrow?  Well, as Mark Twain once said, “I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.” 

Do you find yourself preoccupied with tomorrow instead of embracing this moment?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

What Ruins Your Day?

My cell phone died an unexpected death.  Yesterday.  I won’t give you the gory details, but let’s just say it’s lying on a highway somewhere along Route 315.

And it really upset me.  I mean it really ruined my day. 

I was grumpy.  I was irritable.  I felt lost and disconnected.

All because of a stupid phone that can be replaced!

But that was yesterday.

Today, I’m headed out of town for a funeral.   Three young boys don’t have a mother anymore.  It’s unexpected.  It’s tragic.  It’s unexplainable.

A mother can’t be replaced.

So I’ve had a bit of a paradigm shift.  You see, I have much to be thankful for – including three beautiful children I can hold tonight – and I really don’t care anymore about my cell phone.  And I’m pretty embarrassed that I let it ruin my day.  (Yeah, I even had to apologize to my kids this morning.)

What silly things have you let ruin your day lately?

Monday, September 5, 2011

Has God Forgotten About Your Resume?

Do you wish you had a different job?  Do you think you are uniquely qualified – maybe even called by God! – to do something else?  

You’re not alone. 

I know, lots of people feel this way.  What’s the big deal?

Here’s the big deal.  Did you know that the Apostle Paul – arguably the most effective New Testament figure – likely had these same thoughts?

Check this out.

In Acts Chapter 22, Paul tells how he first responded when God told him he was going to be sent away to the Gentiles.

God:  "Leave Jerusalem immediately, because the people here will not accept your testimony about me."

Paul:  "These people know that I went from one synagogue to another to imprison and beat those who believe in you. And when the blood of your martyr Stephen was shed, I stood there giving my approval and guarding the clothes of those who were killing him."

Paul was probably thinking to himself:  Wait a minute, I’m uniquely cut out to work in Jerusalem, remember? After all, I have been an insider.  I know the ropes.  I understand the culture.  I have even walked in the shoes of those who persecute Christians.  I can make a difference right here!  I’m the guy to do it.

God's response?  "Go; I will send you far away to the Gentiles."

Did God forget about Paul's resume? 

After all, why would God send a highly-qualified insider out of his home territory to a place where he has nothing in common with the culture, geography, or religion of the people?

It’s like sending someone who has worked his way up Wall Street to run a soda pop stand in Ohio.

It's like sending a Republican to Berkley. 

It’s like sending a surfer dude to the desert.

It’s like sending Pastor Eric from the Ivy League to North Dakota (and then to Ohio!)

You get the point.

Maybe you've even told God, “Hey, you must have made a mistake here.  I'm meant to do something much more important.  What about my resume?”

I've even wondered, does God just like to mess with us?  Does he like to pull a fish out of water? 

Or, like Paul, could it be that he has something bigger – maybe something even BETTER – for our futures? 

[This post was inspired by Pastor Eric’s 8/28/11 sermon at Upper Arlington Lutheran Church.  You can download it here.]

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Too Busy (Not!) To Read With Your Kids

Let’s face it, we have to work hard (and use some creativity) to maintain strong relationships with our children.  Especially as they grow older.  What was “cool” last year might not maintain their interests this year.

And here’s our greatest challenge.  Time.  If you’re like me, you have plenty of ideas, but you’re weak on execution.  You have plenty of distractions.  Plenty of excuses.  Many of these excuses are even legitimate (like your day job!).

One answer to this dilemma?  Books.

Nick (my 10-year-old son) and I both love to read.  So I told him to pick out some books for me this summer.  His choice.

Now, before you give me the “I don’t have time” lecture, please save it.  You have time to read.  Really.  You can read when your kids are sleeping, when you can’t sleep, when the rest of your family is zoned out in front of the TV, or even in the bathroom.  Been there. Done that.  It’s doable. 

This summer, I started with Gregor the Overlander (one of Nick’s favorites) and was quite taken with Suzanne Collins so I wanted to see what The Hunger Games was all about.  (I loved it, by the way, but decided Nick can wait to read it until he’s a bit older.)

Then, following Nick’s lead, I read The Hobbit and The Fellowship of the Ring.  Little did I know, I would become a J.R.R. Tolkien groupie (I’m waiting to read The Two Towers as soon as Nick finishes).

The good news?  Nick and I have uniquely bonded.  (So what if the rest of the family thinks we’re crazy when we talk about magic rings, hobbits, elves, and journeys to Mordor.) 

It’s about establishing a new connection.  Getting in their world.  Starting a dialogue. 

How do you nurture that connection with your growing children while a million other things are competing for your time and energy?

Have you tried reading lately?