Tag Archives: Encouragement

I refuse to be Bullied

I wrote this post a couple weeks ago, but couldn’t quite hit the publish button. It is hard to share when I feel vulnerable. After I tucked this post away, the topic of cyberbullying started popping up all over, both in my real life and cyber life. I realized I needed to share because people need to know it is okay to say no, to delete that comment, to walk away from that conversation.

I am generally a quiet, patient person. But lately what I have seen on both social media and online games has made me cringe. It would seem people no longer care about their words. They fling them out across cyberspace like darts, hitting anyone that comes by. They belittle, demean, and use sarcasm as a way to get their point across. People are using words as a weapon. And unlike a real weapon, words leave deep wounds that people may never see.

Usually I let people comment on facebook and on my own website. I am open to people disagreeing with me. And the majority of the time the people I interact with know how to disagree in a respectful way. Then one day someone left a comment on a topic I shared on Facebook. I let it sit there. After all, they have the right to disagree with me. But the way they said it was not nice and not at all respectful. Finally, I removed the comment, the first one I have ever removed.  Why? Because this person wasn’t simply disagreeing with me. They were using their words to belittle me. That’s when I said no more. I refuse to be used that way. I refuse to allow someone to tear me down in order to build up their own idea.

I refuse to be bullied.

And I refuse to watch others be bullied.

As a writer, I understand the power of words. One word can shatter a person’s soul. It can lodge inside a person’s heart and mind until the day he or she dies. Yet on the internet we have no problem saying things that I doubt many of us would ever say if we were face to face with that person. Or if we did, we would immediately see the hurt we had inflicted.

I no longer remain silent when I see people ganging up on another person in cyberspace. I carefully choose my words and say something. I stick up for the person being beat over the head with words. Because if I don’t, then who will?

And I will no longer allow comments to remain on my Facebook page or website that tear either myself or other people down. I will not bully others, nor will I participate by remaining quietly on the sidelines.  It stops here, with me.

My friends, do not let other people tear you down. There is a respectful way to disagree with people, and then there is simple bullying to get you to join their side. You can delete the comment. You can leave the conversation. You can close the account. You are not what other people say about you. Let me say that again: You are not what other people say about  you. You are not stupid. You are not a whore. You are not ugly. You are not lazy. You are not a noob.

You are a unique person, created in the image of God who loves you. Your soul matters so much more than your body. You have the potential to change the world simply by allowing God to transform you from the inside out.

You do not need to let other people stomp all over you with their words. You have the power to walk away.

The moment I realized this a couple weeks ago, I found freedom. I was not chained to that comment. And neither are you.

I refuse to be bullied. How about you?

Why Do I Write?

Ink and quillToday I was encouraged by post by my friend Mike Duran titled Your Reason to Keep Writing. This post came at a time where I was once again wrestling with the question, “Why I do I write?”

I struggle with this question at least once a month. I’m not wildly successful, at the top of the charts, or have thousands of reviews, the measurement stick of how the world would define my success as an author. So why put in all this effort, all this time, if the pay out for writing is peanuts?

But as I was talking to Dan this morning, I realized I write because I have stories burning inside my heart, stories about God. I have to write. If I didn’t, I think the words inside me would overflow.

I get discouraged sometimes, or afraid that I won’t finish the rough draft of my latest story, or secretly wonder if I would be more productive if I chose something else to fill my writing time, like a job. But I keep coming back to writing. Everytime.

I write the stories in my heart. I must. And when my story touches the heart of another, even better.

How about you? Why do you write? What keeps you going when you just want to give up?


Encouragement for Parents

I am a mother of four kids, all of them surprises. Philip came along while Dan was going through seminary. We didn’t plan on starting a family until Dan was done, but there he was. Katie came shortly after.

A year later we debated having more kids. We already had two: a boy and a girl. Perfect, right? But it felt like our family wasn’t quite complete. I wanted one more. Dan finally agreed. I should have known another would sneak in. Instead of one, we got two. Twins!

So now I had four kids under the age of four. Philip had just potty trained, but that left a toddler and two newborns. This meant 25 diapers a day. No way to leave the house without another adult (they don’t make carts that can carry 3 children). No breaks, no sleep, no clean house.

I understand the life of a young mother. I was one. It is a hard job, one done behind the scenes, where no one sees what you are doing. No one thanks you, except maybe once a year on Mother’s Day. No one gives you a raise or pats you on the back. There are no strokes, no immediate rewards, and no bonuses.

As I like to tell people, “It’s the toughest job you’ll ever love.” (Slogan stolen from the Peace Corp).

So let me encourage you mothers (and fathers) out there:

-You may not be paid in money, but you receive an abundance of kisses and hugs. My youngest daughter we nicknamed Makissers (her real name is Makayla) because she loves to give out kisses. My youngest son likes to randomly grab my hand and hold it. Lots of hugs, tickles, and giggles happen around our house.

-They will be potty trained someday. It may take a long time, and through lots of messes (all my kids were over 3 before they finally caught on, and one in particular liked to play in her stuff, what a mess!). But we are finally out of that phase, and you will be too.

-You will have a clean house. Well, not really. I saw this on facebook: “Please excuse the mess, my children are making memories.” I should have that framed and placed on my door. A clean house is good, and I try to clean each room once a week. And with older kids, I can now assign rooms for them to clean too.

But I never wanted my children growing up thinking a clean house was more important than them. There will always be laundry to do, dishes to wash, and floors to vacuum, but my kids will be gone someday. I want to spend time with them now. For example, we cleaned the living room last night. Then we watched a movie and drew pictures. There are now pictures of unicorns, pegasus, and guinea pigs hanging around my living room. Is it clean? No. Is it fun? Yes. Will my kids remember it? Yes.

-You are not alone. It may seem like that, when you are the only one in a house full of babies and toddlers and no adult conversation for eight or more hours a day. When you live far away from family and can’t leave the house to visit friends. When you want to go to a Bible study, but there is no childcare. I know, I was there.

But God is still with you. It was hard for me to figure out how to stay connected to God with my sporadic and time intensive lifestyle. You would think a mom could find a moment to read her bible, but it seems kids know when you are sitting down with a plan to do something quiet. It would frustrate me. Until one day, I realized God understood.

He knows I’m a mother and that I will have interruptions. A weight lifted from my shoulders. When a kid would come to me with a question while I was reading my Bible, instead of feeling stressed and upset because my quiet time had been interrupted, I would ask God to excuse me.

Sounds weird, but it actually made my relationship with God feel more like a relationship. After all, when I have friends over and need to take care of my kids, I ask them to excuse me for a moment.

Also, long prayers went out the window. Kids just know if you are quiet for too long. But I found out what praying without ceasing really meant. I prayed all day long. Granted, many times my prayers were desperate pleas for patience and wisdom :). But I would also send up quick prayers for people who I knew were struggling, for the church my husband was serving at, thanks for what I had, and awe for the beauty God gives all around me.

I had never prayed like that before. Prayer had become a conversation from my heart, flowing throughout the day, rather than an item to check off my list of Christian duties.

Being a mother changed my relationship with God. I came to understand God’s love for me, because I love my children.

I am still a mother, but my children are older now. I do not have the same struggles and time constraints that I once did. They can actually hold a conversation now, sit for hours in a car, and go to the bathroom by themselves (hurrah!).

Take courage, my friends. The days are long (boy are they ever!), but the years are short. God will grant you patience and love during this time of diaper changing, snot wiping, and mess cleaning. You will survive, and actually come out a better person.

I know I did.


Working Mother

The last six months have taught me a lot about a world that, before Dan lost his job, I knew very little of personally. You see, I have been blessed to be able to stay at home and raise my little ones. Sure, I worked a couple months after Philip was born, but it wasn’t the same. When I entered the workforce six months ago, I had four kids close in age and no end in sight when I would be home again. I was officially a working mom.

Here are some things I learned while living in the world of the working mother:

1)   It’s hard! You feel this pull inside of you: you want to be home with your children but you also know that what you are doing helps your family stay afloat during financial hard times. I didn’t meet one working mom who didn’t wish she could be home with her kids.

2)   Balance. You have to learn to balance work, family, and husband. You learn to put aside anything that takes away from those because you simply do not have the time to do anything else. It was during those months that I finally and completely gave my writing over to God. I was willing to walk away from my dream in order to help my family. However, in the fullness of time, God had other plans.

3)   Most women work because they have to. I found in this depressed economy, whichever spouse could find a job, that was the one who worked. I want to bring this up because a misconception I ran into was most women who work do it to have the second car or nicer house or more spending money. Not true. Almost every woman I worked with did it because she had to.

4)   If a woman is working, her husband is a bum. Another misconception out there. Yes, there are bums for husbands, but most are either going back to school because they could not find a job in their current field, or the wife was able to find a good paying job faster than the husband could. Is it ideal? Perhaps. I have seen families work quite well with the husband home.

5)   We need to support working mothers. They need encouragement. They already feel bad about leaving their families without the added pressure from their peers. Instead, take a working mother out for lunch. Give her a note or a hug. Watch her kids so she can have a date with her husband. Remind her God loves her and through Him, she can get through this time.

I love being home again. But I am also glad I worked. I was able to help my family out during a difficult time. I realized how many missed opportunities I had with my children before I went back to work. I met some amazing women. I learned what their world is like. And I learned to rely on God for strength to make it each day.