Goodbye Comfort, Hello Character. . .

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Goodbye Comfort, Hello Character. . .

Hi friends!  I’m still here.  I’ve missed my little blog!

I thought I’d take a few minutes and share a bit about what we’ve been up to.

Each year for the past several years our family (minus Adam...he insists on working and supporting us) has packed up and gone camping for a week of Family Camp.  The first year we went I stayed in a tent with my 4 littles.  Cole was probably 12 about that time and my right hand guy in his dad’s absence. 

That was also the same year I vowed to never stay in a tent with my 4 littles at Family Camp again. ;)

The next year (if memory serves me correctly) I was on a mission to find a pop-up camper.  A pop-up feels like a palace after a week of camping in aleaky tent with 4 kids (at least one in diapers), and an even leakier air mattress.  I’ve heard that vows you make to yourself are the strongest vows ever. ;) That was certainly the case with me.  I was on a mission to find a pop- up camper and move up in the world of camping society.  

So I did what any sensible person would do.  I asked my friends on social media if they knew where I could rent a pop-up for a week. 

Does Facebook ever disappoint? ;) Sure enough I had a generous friend willing to rent her little camper to me and my tribe for a week.

Ah.

We were living the dream.

No leaky camper.

No leaky air mattresses AND no leaky diapers.

I thought “I’m in!”  This is the way to go.  We loved it.  It was spacious enough for everyone to sleep comfortably, had an air conditioner that made you wish you had brought a comforter (in July) and during the day the children could bring their friends in to sit at the miniature, adorable, pop-up camper sized table and play games and visit.

Problem solved.  

Rent the pop-up FOREVER! 

Sign me up for next year, friend! I already had set the money aside from my not-so little side gig that’s been blessing our socks off.  (That’s a whole different blog….) It was in the books.  We were set!

As life would have it, in its usual unpredictable way, it threw me a curveball.  My sweet husband came home from work one day and said, “I’ve got great news!”  

Now, if you’re married then you already understand this is a phrase that can mean different things to different people “great news”.   

This is what he told me.  “Dad was going to give his camper to Goodwill BUT he gave it to us instead!”  

Let that soak in for a minute.  

GOODWILL.  

Hold the phone!

My gears started turning, and they were turning fast. It was two weeks before Family Camp.  I just KNEW where this was going.  

Adam is a visionary.  He has a gift for seeing what things COULD be and I love him for it, usually. 

Me, not so much.  

I’m more of a I can see things for what they are RIGHT now kinda’ girl. It works.  We help balance each other out.

But then he said it. 

He said we wouldn’t need the pop-up anymore.  He explained that NOW we have our own FREE camper.  Save our money.  Spend what I was going to spend on the pop-up and put it in our new RV. 

Friends, he was genuinely excited.  He had ideas flying left and right.  He thought I’d be stoked too. 

I have a feeling you can tell where this story is going.  

I squashed it.  

I said:

“Unnh uhh!” 

“No can do!”

“We will NOT all fit!”

“Is that thing even reliable?”

Poor Adam.  He was genuinely sad, and a little bit mad. He probably couldn’t wait to see my face when he told me about it. 

Then another strange thing happened. 

 It doesn’t happen too often, but it did in this case.  He dug his heels in.  He wouldn’t hear anymore about the pop-up dream lol.  He insisted that we take the RV and make the best of it.

I guess this really leads me to the point of this little camping chronicle.

I had to make a choice.  Was I going to kick and scream and refuse to do what he was asking? Was I going to demand my own way (because I still felt like I was right!)?  Was I going to make life at home tense and unpleasant because I was getting overruled? 

I can tell you what I wanted to do.  I wanted to have a hissy fit.  I wanted to refuse.  I wanted to be nasty (and I kind of was at one point) and demand that he butt out and let me do what I had already planned AND arranged to do.  

There was an internal war being waged in my mind.  I want what I want just like every other wife (and human being).  Being told what to do is also not my favorite.  I was struggling to get my attitude in order.  I was tempted to be sarcastic and snippy. 

Anyone know what I mean? 

But then I just took an emotional step back.

What was the whole point of this trip?

I was getting ready to go spend a week listening to teaching and preaching.  I am constantly telling my children to consider others more important than themselves.  I preach kindness and love on the regular. I needed to take a page out of my own book.

Something flipped inside me. 

I wasn't mad anymore.  It became almost laughable to me.  I could already see us laughing about that RV trip years from now and cherishing those memories.  

I just chilled out.

Recalculated my perspective.

Got over myself. 

AND started making the best of it.  

Let me paint you a little picture with words and you’ll soon see the humor in this too.

This RV is not big enough for our family.  That part was (and is) true.  Adam engineered a bunk bed hammock system suspended from the ceiling of this thing.  Two kids in each hammock, no problem! ;) 

The air conditioner does not work when you’re driving it. 

The speedometer also does not work. 

The little arrow thing that tells you which gear you’re in.  Yep, you guessed it.  Nada.  

It has a small muffler issue, but a lot of heart lol!

  1. Sidenote:  I feel pretty confident it is not proper writing etiquette to say lol.  But, this is my blog and since you can’t hear the laughter in my voice. . . I don’t want you to miss the spirit of which it is written.

Back to the RV.

The first night Adam helped us set up and stayed with us.  He's a good guy! He and I slept on a queen sized mattress (that they took straight out of Cole’s room).  They folded this thing like a taco and crammed it down in the space between where the couch and table go.  

Night one:  Cole opted out.  He took a cot and slept in a friend’s tent.  He always was a quick learner. 

Cloe and Cilas slept TOGETHER (most of the night) in the top bunk hammock and Carter was on the lower level. 

Needless to say, NO ONE slept that first night.  Ci ended up in bed with us after he slung his leg over the side of his half of the hammock for the hundredth time.  I kept bolting straight up in bed  like a spaz because I was sure someone was going to fall out and get concussed.  All of my theatrics woke Adam up repeatedly.  Good times.

Carter without a care in the world in the top bunk. ;)

Carter without a care in the world in the top bunk. ;)

The next night Cloe went and slept in her besties luxurious and spacious camper for the rest of the week.  This mama ain’t raisin’ no dummy ;).  Carter?  He slept like a dream (according to him).  He wishes he could sleep in a hammock every night.

 

 

A few fun facts:

We got a flat tire on the way there. Luckily we pulled over at a Tire Discounter that had been closed for 30 minutes.  Irony. 

The local Wal-Mart tire guys (you know how I feel about having to go to Wal-Mart) told me they couldn't even get that size tire anymore due to a safety issue change.  Shocking.

My father in law told me he looked at the spare about 15-20 years ago.  Oh my goodness!  It's too much!

Cole zip tied the window wing open on my side so I could get some air.  He’s a good boy.

Cloe refused to be in our setting sail picture due to humiliation.  Wait until she’s a mom.  She has no idea what’s coming.

 

Cloe is here too.  She's just hiding on the taco mattress.

Cloe is here too.  She's just hiding on the taco mattress.

Cloe was also worried about not having any curtains on one side of the RV but that turned out to be a non-issue because the RV leaks (just a little according to Adam ;)) so we slept in it covered with a GIANT blue tarp.  ALL week.  Curtain problem solved.

On the way home the transmission acted like it was hacking to its death, BUT we made it!!!!!

Guys, as I write this I’m dying. 

It’s funny.

I have no regrets.  Well, besides some of those smores. . .

Character was built, and I don’t just mean in my children.

I am still working out the kinks in this wife and mom gig.

I do NOT always get it right. God is so faithful to help me be more gracious and show me when I'm not.  Adam is so faithful to put up with me and not just that.  He claims I’m great. <3

According to Cole the fact that we made it home in that RV proves without a doubt that miracles do still exist.

What fun are memories like “Remember when we rented that really nice pop-up and pulled it to camp, slept comfortably all week and nothing happened?”

 Nah.

The RV filled in all those boring details for us. 

 

Here she is!

Here she is!

I hope this brings  a chuckle to your day because it certainly did mine.

Let’s all agree to just try to relax a little more, love our people a little sweeter and laugh a whole bunch.  Someone remind me that I said this in a day or two. ;)

Thanks for sharing life.  <3

Susan

 

 

 

He will not let me have a normal photo.

He will not let me have a normal photo.

Loving the glow stick and streamer life.

Loving the glow stick and streamer life.

Me and my girl <3

Me and my girl <3

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What Do You Choose?

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What Do You Choose?

 

It’s been a minute or two since I’ve put pen to paper (fingers to keyboard sounds so much less romantic).  I always forget how much I need to write and love to write until I sit down to do it.  I see things every day that cause me to pause and consider, and sometimes they start to bubble over and must come out somewhere.  Now you know the very strategic method I use when deciding what to blog about here.  

The other day the children and I stormed, umm…. took an outing to the library in Oxford. Since we were in Oxford and we love good food that is also not funkified and GMO’ed up, we stopped in at the local Chipotle.  This is where it gets interesting.  The two little boys wanted to sit outside, and, since there were a zillion people eating at Chipotle, I gladly obliged.  We carried our food outside and parked it next to an adorable group of college girls enjoying their lunch. Carter wasn’t halfway through his man-sized burrito when a little old guy pulled up in front of us and began attempting to parallel park.  I say he attempted because it did not go well.  He pulled up beside the front van, and everything was fine. He cut his wheel and backed in between my car and the van in front.  He backed up too far and bumped my car.  It lurched a bit.  The girls beside us gasped. This is where it started to feel like a candid camera episode.  “Let’s watch this lady’s reaction as this person continually hits her car right in front of her.”  He pulled forward again, backed up again, and hit my car AGAIN.  By now the girls beside us were losing it.  I was like, “Oh, he hit it again.”  Third time’s a charm, right?  Not so much.  He pulled out, pulled back in again, hit my car for the THIRD time, and tapped the van in front this time.  Everyone was losing their minds, except me.  I found it almost comical.  Fourth attempt he nailed it, not my car, the parallel parking.  I should mention that his lovely wife was in the car with him the entire time, and I was watching her face as he was hitting every car in sight.  It did not register an ounce of surprise.  She was totally chill.  I should also mention that he had the strangest apparatus on the back bumper of his car (that was totally scratched and dented on both sides).  It looked like a metal detector or lightening rod of some sort.  Adam later explained to me that this is to help him gauge where his bumper is.  Ha!  So, he had FINALLY,  successfully parked. He walked around and opened the door for his little wife, she took his arm, and they happily crossed the street together.  

As I watched them merrily walk away, I thought, “How nice that he opened the door for his wife and she took his arm.  Adorable.”  

Next, I did what anyone else would do ;). I shared it on Facebook.  It never really occurred to me that I should be irate.  Should he have tried to find out whose car he had just hit three times?  Of course that is decent and right, but I wasn’t angry.  It just isn’t my default emotion, I suppose.  Now, I do get angry; but my car isn’t a trigger.  My Facebook friends had some funny responses.  A lot of people were surprised by my casual attitude about it.  Many said he was lucky that he hit me and not someone else.  This made me pause and think about why I didn’t get angry.  I mean, this guy did just hit my car three times and didn’t even apologize.  I think there are a few things that contributed to my lack of emotion.  First of all, I have hit so many curbs with that car that my sweet husband has it bolted together underneath.  I understand that accidents happen because I have accidentally “bumped” into a few things myself.  This guy obviously knows he has a problem hitting things (hence the contraption on his bumper).  I also know that I am far from perfect too.  It sort of reminded me of the time the 87-year-old woman hit my car, and all her children showed up (another story altogether). 

Accidents happen. 

I get it. 

I don’t think he left his house and thought, “I’ll just run down to Chipotle and see whose car I can hit repeatedly today.”  If there is one word that described my thought process it would be GRACE.  Things happen around me and sometimes to me, and I don’t get to choose; but I do get to choose how I respond to them.  I need grace.  Every. Single. Day.  Therefore, I choose to give it.

So this has been running on repeat through my mind lately, GRACE.  Specifically our seeming lack of grace for one another.  A couple of stories have plagued my thoughts since I first read them…

If you’re a local, or even if you’re not, chances are you've heard the story about the little boy who fell into the gorilla enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo.  The zoo made the very difficult and unpleasant decision to end the life of the gorilla for the sake of saving the life of the child.  The chaos, wrath, and fury of the resident cyber zoologists and perfect parents went into complete overdrive.  People were outraged, demanded justice for the gorilla and penalization for the mother they deemed negligent, and demanded there be consequences.  (Because your small child falling into a gorilla enclosure, being dragged around, traumatized, and nearly killed is not consequential enough I suppose….)

Here's the thing. I have four children.  I have been to the zoo with all four of them. I have had two children and one toddler while wearing a baby as we toured the exhibits.  The conclusion I have come to is simple: I could have been that mother.  I have a rambunctious little person who, from time to time, wanders where he ought not.  I know some of you are thinking, “Why is she bringing up this zoo thing again?  That’s old news.”  It is old news in the sense that we have the attention span and patience of a toddler who has eaten too much Red 40.  We have been conditioned to react (often overreact) and then move on to the next thing.  I’m not over it, and I guarantee it’s not over for that mother, father, and their children.  What continues to permeate my thoughts is grace.  Where is the grace?  People roasted those parents and wanted to see them suffer.  The comments that were made will forever echo through the mind of that mother.  Are you a parent?  Has your attention ever been diverted and almost ended disastrously?  Mine has.  I hate to say more than once.  I am human.  I cannot see all things at once. Sometimes I get distracted and it is my fault, and sometimes it isn’t.  

There is a time that haunts me when I think of it.  I had taken all of the children swimming at a friend’s pool, and it was time to go.  Right before we walked out of the gate toward the car, I took Carter’s life jacket off so it wouldn’t drip all over the car.  My mom asked me a question, I turned to look at her, and answered. Then I thought, “WHERE IS CARTER?!”  What I saw next will stick with me as long as I live.  I found him.  He was under water!  I saw his eyes wide open looking up at me.  I jumped over the steps into the pool (completely clothed) and scooped my baby up out of that water.  What if I had been distracted a little longer?  He wasn’t splashing. It wasn’t some dramatic thing.  He could have drowned with me three feet away.  Was I negligent?  Yes, I would have to say I was.  I took his lifejacket off.  I turned away to talk to someone.  Do you see what I’m saying???  Grace!  I need it, so I give it!  I’m sorry that that woman’s child fell into that enclosure.  I’m sorry that a 17-year-old gorilla died as a consequence.  It happened.  We don’t have to blame and hate.  I don’t know if that lady was being irresponsible with her children. I certainly hope not.  I’m not interested in speculating on what kind of mother she is.  Could I compare under the same microscope?  

I choose grace.

Did you all hear about the little boy that was attacked by an alligator at a Walt Disney World resort?  The little boy was wading in the water along the edge of the lagoon, and an alligator snatched him up and dragged him off.  The father jumped into the water and wrestled the alligator to try to rescue his child.  The mother went into the water searching for her son.  The little boy was found dead farther out in that lagoon.  Should he have been playing in that water?There are lots of opinions about that.  But let’s look at just the facts.  These parents took their child to Disney World. The father tried to wrestle an alligator to save his child!  The mother got in the water to search for her child when she knew there definitely was an alligator in there too.  Do you think they ever considered that they would be coming home with a casket instead of just memories and Mickey Mouse hats?  When you plan a trip to a Disney World resort, do you consider that an alligator may be lurking and carry off your toddler?  Of course not!  

This was an accident. 

Accidents have all sorts of variables, and isn’t hindsight so clear on the precautions we should have and could have taken?  How do you think people reacted to this news? With sympathy and compassion?  Some did, many did not.  People wanted to know what kind of parents let something like that happen.  I can tell you what kind--human beings. If there is a perfect parent reading this, I would suggest you take a closer look.  My parenting career has been speckled with mishaps and accidents.  Where is the grace???  

Not so very long ago, Cloe was swimming in the river. She came up out of the water with a deep, wide cut that required many stitches.  It was about three inches away from being life threatening.  She could have bled out and died if it had cut a little more to the left.  Should I never allow my children to swim in the river because that happened, or was it part of life and just a fluke accident?  

How about we start loving each other?  How about we drown out those loud, critical voices with softer, but firm, voices of compassion and empathy?

Do you see how insignificant a little old guy running into my car is?  Do you see how desperately we need to give grace in the small and large?  

Wouldn't this world be a different place if grace and love were our go-to responses.  I'm not talking about people who knowingly do terrible things.  I'm talking about accidents!

I am forgiven so much, surely I can forgive much.  I want to be the change in the world that I want to see, and I know it starts with me.  I challenge and invite you to look for opportunities to love, serve, and comfort one another.  When you look around through the lens of compassion, it changes everything.

Let's choose GRACE.

Thank you for sharing some of your day with me. 

SUSAN

 

If this blessed, challenged, or encouraged you, feel free to share it. <3

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Do You Hear the Music?

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Do You Hear the Music?

Hey, Friends!  I know it’s been a minute since I have blogged.  I am flattered and humbled that so many of you have asked me about my blog and sincerely honored that you would choose to spend some of your time reading my words.

Many things vie for my time, just as yours, but sometimes life compels me to write.

Today as my family stood in the pew to worship, the congregation was singing a song that wasn’t familiar to me.  Possibly I have heard it in the past and it didn’t strike the same chord as it did today.  Unfortunately, I can be dull and miss profound things more times than I care to count.

But not today.  Today the words sank in my soul as words will sometimes do. 

My mind flooded with many thoughts as the voices around me lifted up this song.

The words are so simple:

And all the hearts that are content

And all who feel unworthy

And all who hurt with nothing left

Will know that You are holy.

That’s everyone: Those who are content, those who feel unworthy, all who hurt with nothing left.  That’s pretty much every human being on the planet, satisfied, unsatisfied, EVERYONE.

But this.

Go on and scream it from the mountains

Go on and tell it to the masses

That he is God.

It's beautiful and if you'd like to hear it in its entirety:

https://youtu.be/lnFloiyGey4

I feel like if I have been a decent friend to you at all, then you know that I love Jesus.  You also know that I want you to have the same. 

Now we hear this Christian speak, I love Jesus, and it becomes monotone,  even meaningless (judging by my actions) at times. 

So let me say that again. 

Let it sink in.

I LOVE Jesus.

It’s not my hobby.  It’s not this thing I do when nothing else is going on.  It’s not a secret. 

It’s my life.

EVERY other decision that I make stems from that fact.  (Obviously, I don't always get it right.)

Let me also say this. If I claim to love you but I don’t plead for your soul, then love is not in me.

But that part that says:

                Go on and scream it from the mountains, go on and tell it to the masses, that He is God.

I was thinking this morning, before I even heard this song, about the masses. 

If you’ve ever seen the movie Titanic then maybe you recall two elements that have stuck with me over the years. 

First:  They knew the ship was sinking.  There was no hope that it would be recovered and the musicians (I can’t remember if they were instructed to do so) kept calmly playing their instruments.  They played as if everything was fine.  I think they also played because they knew they were going to die.  What better way to die for someone who has a love of music in their soul?  What I’m pointing to is this.  There was chaos all around them and they played on as if nothing was happening.

Secondly:  The ship had life boats.  People got on those boats and they were still clinging to their favorite companion, COMFORT.  They didn’t want to fill the life boats to capacity.  They didn’t want to be inconvenienced for the sake of others (destined to death others).

Friend, if you look around you, we are on the Titanic. I don’t say this to depress, but rather impress , on your heart (and mine). 

There are so many beautiful things to enjoy, and I do.   There is laughter, love, family. music and comfort.  There are too many other lovely things to list.

But the thing is, these are all temporary things.  They are passing and fleeting.

Look around! Look out your window.  Look around at the grocery store.  Talk to your neighbor. 

People are hurting. Children are abused.  The foster care system is busting at the seams without enough families to foster.  People are sick and dying.  There is pain and there is death all around us because this ship is sinking! 

This world is broken, polluted and bitter sweet.

I don’t know where you stand in relation to your faith, but I know this. 

These lives are short. 

They are laced with beauty, joy, pain and sorrow.  It is all part of the journey when you’re clothed in skin. 

But I also know this. You have a soul and it will live eternally, somewhere.

There is a life boat and you are welcome to get in!

 I am ashamed of all the times I have behaved like those people in that movie.  I have clung to my own comfort when suffering is all around me.  They were unwilling to scoot over, make room, and let as many people as possible squeeze in.  The boats pulled away less than half way full.

It makes me think about my own life, my own boat.

Have I shouted it from the mountains?  Have I told it to the masses? 

If I’m going to be honest then I have to say, No.  I haven’t always.

I had a friend visit my home and I knew that she did not have a relationship with Christ.  I had prayed for this friend to have people in her life that would point her toward Jesus and now here she was, on her way to our home.  The problem was I didn’t want to open my mouth.  I wanted to just sit on it.  I had an extra life jacket in my hand and didn’t want to extend it.  I knew it would make her feel uncomfortable.  I knew it would make me feel uncomfortable. 

Who’s really into having awkward conversations?  No one, right? 

But here’s the other problem, I had to.  So I just spilled it.  I simply told the truth,  “I cannot invite you to my home and act like I care about you and not know about your soul.” 

That’s just how it is.  Does that make me extreme?  Hardly.   

I can see it for what it is.  There is music playing.  It seems as if all is well, life is happening all around us and it’s distracting.  We get up each day just like the one before, and everything seems routine, normal.  But we all know how quickly life changes, in an instant, and forever.  I am not promised to grow old with Adam, although that is the deepest desire of my heart.  I love that man with my whole self and cannot imagine me without him.

 But I have this hope, and it is secure. 

Regardless of how long our lives are intertwined in this temporal life, they will be eternally joined one day.  It is our instinct, of course, to cling to these lives in these bodies, but everyone knows, believer or non-believer, that we are not promised tomorrow or the even the next hour.

I want to shout if from the mountains.  I want to tell it to the masses. 

He is God

In the end it is the only lasting thing.

The only thing of consequence.  Either you loved Jesus and accepted him, or you did not.

Do not let the sound of the music distract you.  This life, this ship, will sink. 

Lets make the time count.

If you are reading this and you claim Christ,  as I do, then reach out your hand and pull as many people as you can into that life boat with you!

I write this reminder more to myself than to anyone else. 

I need to get more uncomfortable for the sake of others.

I must love people, truly and genuinely, and to do that is to share Christ.

Go tell it to the masses.

Happy Sunday!

Until next time,

Susan

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I Saw Beauty. . .

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I Saw Beauty. . .

I saw beauty today.

It was simple and understated, and it overwhelmed my spirit. 

Our family was sitting in the very back of the church and those seats give you an uncommon view.  I had a lapful of wiggling boy and Adam was sitting beside me with the same.  It was time for communion to be served and I was encouraging my little one to sit quietly and be still (quite a task).   When I looked up I saw a teenage boy, tall and strong, bent over a bit uncomfortably to serve someone in the seat.  Something about his posture caught my attention and I wondered why he was reaching out so far to hand the tray.  I realized the boy wasn’t passing the tray, instead he was holding a cup to the man’s mouth so he could take it.  This man is not any man.  He is special in so many ways.  He is a gentle giant.  He loves with a genuine adoration and simplicity that is almost childlike.  I envy him in many ways.  His life is not easy.  He shakes very badly at times and I would imagine it is difficult for him to receive communion without spilling it on himself and his clothes.  Of course I knew he shakes, I have known him for many years and have seen it myself.  What struck me was the hopefulness in this little scene.  This young man full of life, strength and with a steady hand, bending down to hold the cup steady so his brother in Christ could receive it, believe me when I say, it was beautiful.

It made me weep. 

So many thoughts went through my mind. 

I have wanted to write for quite some time but haven’t made the time for it. But time is not the only thing that has hindered me.  When I write I want to encourage others.  I want to shine light and hope into dark places.   I wanted many times to pour out things I have seen that felt so heavy and hopeless, but yet I KNOW there is hope.  I wanted to write something light, but I’m afraid I’m not that kind of girl, not in the traditional sense of the word anyway. 

But this young man made me write. 

He brought me to tears, tears that just kept flowing, tears of thankfulness and joy.  He did not serve the other for my benefit.  Most likely he doesn’t even know I saw him.  He didn’t do it because he sought praise and recognition.  He did it because it is right.  He did it because it is love. 

My heart was overwhelmed in that moment and honestly, as I write this, it still is.  I cried because love in its simple and rawest form is worth my tears.  I cried because our children go to school and kill others they don’t even know.  I cried because others freely sacrifice their lives to protect people they’ve never met.  I cried for the Indian couple I begged not to end the life of their own child at the clinic as the mama sat next to their precious twin boys there in the back seat. I cried because families adopt unwanted children and love them like their own.  I cried because terrorists kill others in the name of religion.  I cried because others genuinely understand that true religion is loving and caring for those in need.  I cried because a man who is kind, gentle, and all things good, has it rough.  I cried because this same man just lost the father he loved.  I cried because that father he lost is not lost at all.  He is in heaven now. 

I cried because there is so much hate, but there is also so much love. 

I know that we live in a big, mean world but there is another side to that coin. 

There are people who are loving. 

Look for them. 

They are reaching out with a steady hand for those who are shaking.  They are loving behind the scenes, not for public approval, but because they love the God they serve. 

I want to be those people. 

I want to be the change I want to see. 

We have all heard this saying “You can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone.”  If I will just help someone, if I will dare to be inconvenienced for the sake of another’s well-being, if I will give, expecting nothing in return, if I will do what is right simply because it is right, then the little world I live in will be a better place.

 It is tempting to believe that the whole world has given up on kindness and love, but that is simply not the case.  If you will look for the workers, the givers, the servants, you will see them.

Beautiful things happen each and every day and I was fortunate enough to catch a glimpse of just one today.  Beauty and love are not compiled of a few large things, but rather a million small ones.  I was challenged today to love more.  I was challenged to serve more.

Let’s all agree to be the change we want to see. 

I know it starts with me.

Thanks for sharing life. 

Until next time,

Susan

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Don't Underestimate the Ordinary

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Don't Underestimate the Ordinary

My life is so very ordinary. 

But I’m convinced more and more that that is where the good stuff happens—right in the middle of ordinary. Our lives are not comprised of a few monumental things, but rather millions of seemingly inconsequential, ordinary things that together make a whole. 

I have had this voice playing on repeat in my mind. It whispers, “You were saved to save others.”

Those were the words of a great man who impacted the Kingdom much.

“You were saved to save others.”  

That is the first thing he would say to new believers as he raised them from the waters of baptism. 

I don’t know for sure how many people this particular man shared the gospel with. I do know that his life was very ORDINARY, just as mine is. 

I said he was a great man and rightly so.

He was not “great” in the eyes of the world. Honestly, from the world's view, he was not even noteworthy.

He had a humble but welcoming home. He led a humble life. You will not read his story in the records of the renowned (unless you were fortunate enough to have received and preserved his memoirs).

Now think of the people you love best. Think of the people who have invested in you heart and soul. Were they the most beautiful? Were they the most intelligent, the thinnest, the richest?   

I’m guessing, with confidence, that they were not all of those things and possibly not any of them. They are the ordinary people, the people just living their lives; but as they go, they love, they bless, they encourage. They restore your faith in humanity.

That’s the good stuff. It’s in the everyday doing.

In my run-of-the-mill life, I have many tasks that really must be taken care of (just as everyone else does). I know I need to do these things to care for my family, and I gladly (most of the time) do them. My life takes me to the most unremarkable places: the grocery store (a lot!), the gas station, swimming lessons, Latin class, coffee shops, department stores—all very average indeed.

Of course there is glitter and there is excitement, but I don’t want to talk about those places today. 

I’m finding all the more that the life-changing, soul-growing moments are wrapped in the simple grocery-bag-brown kind of paper. It’s not the eye-catching, overpriced, shiny kind of stuff we are all drawn to.

It’s the plain, unadorned, garden-variety things that change me.

I was at the gas station the other day with my daughter. Obviously we needed gas. She wanted to do the pumping, and I was walking her through it. We were at one of those new kinds of pumps that require your shopper’s card, zip code, date of birth, social security number, and all the other intimate details of your life.

It was taking a while to teach her how to complete this menial chore.

There was an anxious-looking girl right next to us. Her eyes were darting all around at everyone pumping gas. I was trying to ignore her. She was standing in front of a gas pump, but she wasn’t pumping. She was just standing, staring. 

Now, of course my immediate reaction was, “WEIRD. Why is this girl acting so weird?”

Finally, and amazingly, we completed our lesson on gas pumping; and we were getting back into the car. This desperate girl knew she had to speak up if she was going to get our attention before we left. She approached us with tears in her eyes and a shaking voice. The gist of it is that she had no money and she had no gas. She was looking around for the most approachable- looking person, I assume—or maybe just the closest. She quickly explained her situation and asked if I would buy her some gas.

You all know the stranger/danger, right? We have been programmed to assume everyone is trying to scam us, rob us, or hurt us. Unfortunately, that is too often the case. 

I didn’t have any cash (of course), so I had to go run my check card. I asked her if five dollars would get her where she was going, and she said yes. I ran my card. She pumped five measly bucks of gas and thanked me through her tears. When she thanked me, I didn’t know what to say; so I said, “We do try to love people.”

Now the weird-acting girl at the gas station is looking at me like I’m the weird-acting girl at the gas station.

As she drove away in her tattered car, I had one main emotion:

                        Regret.

Why didn’t I fill her tank up for her? What could I have sacrificed so I could have really blessed her instead of barely getting her by?

I tell her that we try to love people, and then I give her five bucks?! We are by no means well off, but come on—five bucks? 

All of these assumptions were running through my mind: 

            She’s probably just taking advantage of us.

            Maybe she does this all the time.

            Obviously she doesn’t make very good life choices if she’s crying at a gas station in a piece of junk car.

I hate that. I hate the fear of the “what ifs. . .” 

I hate it, but I do it. (I’m working on it.)

I don’t care if she makes bad choices and that’s what's landed her in that position. Well, that’s not true. I DO care, but not for the wrong reasons. 

There was a girl crying at the gas station, and I had a chance to offer abundant compassion; I failed. I’m not saying that I’m obligated to do more, but I want to.

I just dropped a boat load of cash at the grocery store and wasn’t feeling overly wealthy (or generous). I was caught off guard. I live in this serene little town where people don’t normally approach me to solicit money.  

See? I have all the right excuses. 

Sigh.

If I could go back to that moment, to that gas station, to that girl (I can’t even remember what she looked like), I would do things differently. 

I would fill her car to the brim with gas. We would do without eating out or some other thing that means nothing in the long run.

I would ask her if she knew her Savior. 

I would listen to her story AND take the time to really care.

I always say ,“Love is in the doing,” but I seem to be a slow learner in the implementation department. 

That begging girl at the gas station impacted my life much more than I impacted hers. 

I am thankful to her for that. 

I still feel the lingering regret of a missed opportunity. 

I want my eyes to be opened to hurting people, and I want to back up my convictions with more than words. 

“You were saved to save others.”

I’m not saying I could have “saved” this random girl, but I sure do wish I would have tried. 

I want to be bold—not for my own sake, but for the sake of others. 

I want to really grasp (and hold onto) the fact that I have what a hurting world needs. It wasn’t a full tank of gas that would have changed her life. Her car would have just run out of gas again, all too soon. What she needed most were words of encouragement, words founded in truth—a  hope that tomorrow would be better. She needed the gospel that is close to the broken hearted.

I want to use my ordinary life to do great things for the Kingdom of God. 

I want to love as I go. I want to leave my little world a bit more hopeful than it was before. 

I am thankful for the ordinary. 

I am thankful for the lesson learned at a gas pump and hopeful that it was not taught in vain.

That poor girl thinks I did her a favor. The fact is, she did more for me than I did for her.

If you are reading this, go out and love people. Look around for the broken hearted. They are easy to find. Give of yourself, expecting nothing in return. 

I know that when I remember to be intentional in doing these things, the blessing is all mine.

I was saved to save others.

Thanks for reading my heart,

Susan

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It's Not All Gloom and Doom

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It's Not All Gloom and Doom

The last time I wrote, I wrote about abortion. It zapped me. I can’t just put the words on paper and walk away from them. Nothing has drastically changed since then. Today, just like yesterday and the day before that, thousands of little babies’ lives were taken. Things don’t immediately change because I blog about it.

It wears on me. I want to do more. I want to be more. But there is also this other side of the coin. There is laughter, there are friends, there is family, and there is blessed joy when I remember to let it flow. 

A wise friend once told me, “It’s okay to be happy in a sin-sick world.” Those words have snowballed in my mind and are beginning to form a solid understanding.

In our lives there are going to be hurts to be had—too many I’m afraid. But in this life there are also going to be joys—uncountable joys. 

Horrendous things ARE still happening. I will still go to the abortion mill on the dates I mentioned (I hope some of you will join us). As the days approach, I dread it all the more; but, just the same, I will go.

In the meantime, there is beauty all around me. I have been looking for it. I didn’t even know my heart was searching it out, but I am beginning to understand. I see it all around. It is in the most unexpected places and brings me to tears. 

Tears of thankfulness. 

I am not a person who cries at the drop of a hat. I know and love so many women who do. If you cry, they cry. They feel it, they love you, they cry with you. It is beautiful. 

I haven’t felt like writing. I haven’t felt like cheering anyone else on, because I have been struggling to cheer myself on; but God is faithful to remind me to refocus. 

Our oldest son went to a dance (for the food, according to him). I was helping to serve the meal that evening, and after the kids had all eaten and the actual dancing part began, I had time to sit and take it all in. (I had forgotten the awkward teen years of trying to figure out what that all looks like. :)

There was a young lady sitting next to me who is a bit delayed due to various health issues. She is slow and gentle in speech, always has a smile, and LOVES to dance. She was taking a break from dancing and watching the others. Her brother was on the dance floor, and it was him she was really watching. He is her younger brother, a picture of health. He is tall, handsome, strong—a textbook perfect young man. 

You know what this girl thought and said as she sat there watching her brother, the brother who could do so many things she couldn’t? She said, “Oh, I’m so glad to see my brother dancing. He must be happy.” 

I cried. 

Right there at the homeschool prom. 

Tears of joy flowed because of the genuine, selfless love that this girl had for her brother. She who has so many reasons to grump and complain, but smiles instead. This girl whose body doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do in some ways, but does so much more than mine in others.

It was love. It was obvious, genuine, no-thought-to-self-but-only-the-one-she-loved LOVE. 

It made me cry.  

I thanked God for softening my heart enough to see it.

I learned from her.

There is joy in the mess. It’s okay to be happy in a broken world. 

I took my children to a flea market (the Sale Barn for you local people) with a friend. We were just wandering around, enjoying all the randomness that is the American flea market. We bought a pocket knife, a butter dish, peaches, strawberries, and some Matchbox cars. It was a successful morning. On our way out, we stopped for my friend to talk to her brother. You know, in small towns someone is always running into someone they are related to. I don’t know her brother, but I know his story because his sister is my friend. He is not exactly a young man. He isn’t old either, but his children are raised and gone. You know who was accompanying him at the Sale Barn that day? A stroller full-up of little children—four children, ages four and under!

He wasn’t babysitting them for the morning. He is raising them. 

Their parents got into drugs and everything that goes with that, and their children became collateral damage in the war with addiction that consumes. Mom and Dad have to go to jail or wherever they are now. What about the children? Either someone takes them, or they go into the system. Can you imagine the challenges and difficulties that come with taking in one child that has been living in the turmoil they were living in daily? Now imagine taking in four children in the same situation. These things do not instantaneously take care of themselves; there are emotional issues, behavioral issues, a long list of consequences. It can’t be easy. It is sacrifice—your money, your home, your energy, your time, YOURSELF. It is messy and complicated, but so beautiful. He is giving those children a chance. He loves them more than himself. 

I cried. 

I just cried standing right by the fruit stand with everyone and their brother (literally) standing there. Thank you, God, for showing me the beauty in the midst of the mess.

Fast forward a week to a funeral. So many things I could say about this one day, but I will mention only one that stood out to me. There is a man in our family with a son who is severely disabled. This son was born with so many birth defects that I cannot name them all. He is in a wheelchair. He cannot talk, walk, or go to the bathroom like we do. He is 25 years old. I don’t know where his mother is, but I do know that in the 15 years I have known this man and his son, I have never seen her.  It is always the two of them. This dad has to pick his son up out of his wheelchair to set him in a chair beside him. He has to feed him bite by bite, change his diaper, dress him, and brush his teeth each and every day. 

You know what else he does?

He loves him to the fullest capacity.

He rubs his back when he is sitting next to him. His son leans his face right up next to his dad’s. He speaks softly and comfortingly to him. He doesn’t wallow in the unfairness of what life didn’t give him.  He embraces what it did.

I cried watching this man love his son.

He inspires me to love my children better. 

It is all around me, and it is all around you. We just have to open our eyes—our heart’s eyes—and see what is really happening. Terrible and heavy things are happening for sure; but also beautiful, selfless, humanity is all around us. 

I want to be softened. I want to care for people in a real way. I want to learn from these people who have touched my life and don’t even know it. I want to touch someone else’s for the sake of the God I love.

I want to cry with those who cry and laugh with those who laugh.

It is going to be okay.

It really is okay to be happy in a hurting, sin-sick world. 

Life is still worth the living, and there is much joy to be had if only we will allow it.

I’m going to take my children to the ice cream shop for no reason. 

I’m going to try to be more intentional about playing, laughing, and enjoying the small beauties in the everyday ordinary.

Look around you, friend. Look for the beauty in the mess.

Thanks for sharing life,

Susan

Photo Credit:

https://www.facebook.com/Julia.D.Designs.Photography

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Have We Been Distracted, Deceived?

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Have We Been Distracted, Deceived?

Have We Been Distracted and Deceived?

I think we have been tricked. 

Actually, I know we have. 

Well-meaning, good-intentioned, wouldn’t-harm-anyone, live-and-let-live kind of folks have been indoctrinated. We have bought into this lie of not confronting things and not calling things by their right names for what they are. We wrap the hard stuff up in flowery words. 

Sometimes I wish I could be light and airy, pleasant, non-confrontational, passive, even; but then I remember that this is not about me or what I want. This is not about my comfort, my popularity, my like-ability. I have a platform to speak truth, and I must. 

I have noticed a certain theme in social media—an animal rights type of theme. You all have seen it, too.  People share pictures of dogs standing in the freezing cold, ice on their faces. We see animals that have been horribly abused, bloody, skinny, and pitiful looking. People will post shelter animals that are destined for euthanasia. We will plead for intervention before it’s too late.

I saw an article the other day dedicated to scolding states that do not have laws in place to protect dogs from hot cars. People are appalled that only sixteen states have laws in place to protect dogs in hot cars and to persecute their owners. People care enough about animals to lobby for their defense in matters such as these. Part of the article read, “Come on, Indiana! Get with it!” because Indiana is not one of the sixteen states that have laws in place. I thought the same thing, “Come on, Indiana! Come on America!” but for different reasons.

One of the first thoughts that came to my mind was seemingly simple, “Wow! Sixteen states have laws protecting dogs in hot cars! That is sixteen more states than have laws protecting our unborn babies in this country.“

Oh, great—here we go, right?

This is about to get heavy. You’re right about that, my friend. Well, partially right—it's not about to get heavy. It is heavy. It’s been heavy for a LONG time. Forty-two-years kind of heavy. We have collectively killed MORE THAN fifty-six million babies in this great country. Can you wrap your mind around that? 

I can’t. 

Marinate in that number for a bit—FIFTY-SIX MILLION.                    

I do not enjoy pointing out these facts. The truth is, it sickens me, it burdens my soul (as it should), I want to avoid it and focus on the positive. When I avoid these things that make me uncomfortable, it then becomes about me—and this is not about me. 

This is about truth—God's truth. 

My truth is futile. It is relevant and likely to change according to my feelings and ever-changing mood because I am petty and human. 

God’s truth is a different deal altogether. He is the same, always the same. 

Eighty-three percent of Americans identify themselves as Christians. 

Eighty-three percent. I think we can all agree that that is more than the majority of Americans, right?  Where am I going with all of this? 

Either we ARE in fact Christians or we ARE NOT Christians. There is no neutrality in Christianity. If you are a Christian, then I am assuming you believe what your Christian God tells you in His Word. He plainly tells us: Do not murder. 

Why then are more than 3,700 babies being killed each day?! Oh, I mean aborted. That’s the sterile little phrase, isn’t it? 

Abortion (n.): the spontaneous or induced termination of a pregnancy after, accompanied by, resulting in, or closely followed by the death of the embryo or fetus.

Abortion—someone dies. 

That’s what we have learned to do—talk about these things in language that does not convict or offend: abort, embryo, fetus.

Let’s look at that for a second. 

Embryo (n.):  a living thing in its earliest stages of development. 

So the embryo is a living thing (according to the dictionary and the BIBLE). 

An embryo is a baby, plain and simple. A baby in its earliest stages of life—its most vulnerable stage—where it needs the most protection but gets the least!

Fetus. We love to call the babies fetuses when we are talking about taking their lives. It is a lot easier to swallow that word, fetus, than that other word, baby. 

Have you ever asked a pregnant lady when her fetus was going to be born? 

No? Me neither.

Fetus (n.):  an unborn offspring of a mammal, in particular an unborn human baby more than eight weeks after conception. 

If you have never seen an aborted baby, I encourage you to look. I challenge you to look. It will horrify you, as it should. It will make you ashamed of us all. It will turn your stomach and make your blood boil. 

Abortion is not the sterile, detached thing that we portray it as. It is human. It is real life blood and guts. It is a tiny and helpless infant being ripped apart limb-by-limb and reassembled on a stainless steel tray. There is blood and there is death.

When you abort your baby, you are still a mother; but your baby is dead. There was a living, eternal soul in your womb. That soul cannot be made un-eternal to make our lives more convenient. 

Abortion takes two lives: the unborn baby's and its mother's. Talk to any post-abortion woman, and she will tell you it broke something deep inside. There is irreparable, irreversible, life-long following hurt.

But, yet, each and every day, without fail, babies—not embryos, not fetuses, but BABIES—at different stages of life, are being exterminated. 

Why? Lots of reasons: circumstance, finances, CONVENIENCE. 

I have heard various arguments about this modern holocaust we like to sugar up and call pro-choice. 

What about rape, incest, the  mother’s life being in danger? These are terrible circumstances to find yourself in. Terrible is not big enough. My limited vocabulary cannot paint the anguish of those situations, but that does not change the truth of those situations.

Killing the child conceived in rape does not erase that crime. It creates another one. 

There are thousands upon thousands of people just waiting, hoping, praying even to adopt a baby as you read this. There are other options, always. 

NEVER is it okay for us to decide which babies live and which ones die. But what if they will be unloved, abused? Isn’t it better that they would die in the womb than suffer their whole lives through? Are we God? Is it for us to decide who will live and who will not? 

Are we Christians?

Wake up, church! Wake up, Susan! 

Is there an abortion mill near you? Is there a church presence outside its gates? Are we praying, are we speaking in love to these hurt and lost girls going in? Are we willing to beg for the lives of their unborn children? Are we willing to stand in the gap with our own children and be hated for the sake of the gospel? If we are Christians, then we ought to be. 

If there was a puppy mill around, it would be shouted from the Facebook roofs. What do you read in your newsfeed about the local abortion mill? Nothing, most likely. It doesn’t get a lot of “likes” I can assure you. 

We must care. 

We must stop this as individuals. 

We must abandon the old, “I would never have an abortion, BUT I can’t tell others what they should do.”  If you call yourself a Christian, then, yes, you must, for the sake of the One you serve, tell people it is not okay to kill their children—ever. 

We are having conversations at the Supreme Court level about when and how it’s acceptable to murder our children. 

This needs to stop! Banning abortion after twenty weeks is not a victory that the pro-life movement should be celebrating. The partial-birth abortion ban did not save one life. It just rerouted the methods used to kill the unborn. Just as slavery was eventually abolished, so will human abortion be abolished. 

Have you watched this? If not, you should! It parallels the Jewish holocaust to the American holocaust.  ---> 180 Movie

We have to choose whether we will play a role in bringing it to an end. I have to choose to be the presence for the helpless. At least the slave had a chance to run. Yes, he or she probably would have been killed trying; but still there was a chance to run. The baby has nowhere to go. Babies cannot escape the sterile and precise instruments in the hand of the “physician” being paid to end its life. A baby has no voice except you and me. Be that voice. Reject the lies, the flowery words, the distractions, the transparent arguments. Stand for truth. 

The God that 83% of us claim to follow cannot bless a nation with the blood of fifty-six million babies on its hands. 

Abortion does not start at the mill—it starts in the pews. We must shake ourselves awake and act now. 

What can I do? That is what I think sometimes. It’s so big, and I am so small. I already have so many responsibilities at home tending to my own affairs.

What can I do? 

I can abolitionize as I go, and you can too. 

Get yourself some drop cards, some tracts, make something. As you grocery shop, like we all do, stroll down the “family planning” aisle and find the condoms. Right next to them, see if they are selling Plan B. This is the earliest chemical form of ending the lives of our children. If the store carries it, ask them to remove it. Whether they will or not, leave something next to the product for the girls (or guys) coming to buy it. 

Leave an image—a real image—of an aborted baby. 

People need to know. 

We need to see it for what it is. We need to learn to call things what they are! 

If they do not sell Plan B, take a minute to thank God; and leave something by the pregnancy tests. If someone is buying pregnancy tests, they have a choice to make. Four out of ten unintended pregnancies end in abortion. Four out of ten! It costs you very little to leave something for the person coming in, but it could save someone's life!

Don’t be afraid to talk about the hard stuff. Dogs are great. Animals are great. We should take good care of our pets, of course. There are sixteen states with laws in place for animal protection.

In our enthusiasm to protect animals, we have forgotten to protect something much more valuable—human life!

There are ZERO states with laws in place to protect babies from being ripped apart in their mother’s wombs, a place that should be the safest but has become the most dangerous.

Join me and my children outside the abortion “clinic” in Indianapolis on June 15 and June 29.  It is something you can never “un-see.” Your eyes will be opened; your heart will be broken. A fire will be lit in your soul for this every-day tragedy. I will just tell you the truth. I don’t want to go either. Don’t let that stop you. Do what is right, even when you don’t feel like it.

Thank you for taking the time to read, but don’t just read. Do SOMETHING, ANYTHING. Use whatever you have to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves.

Let’s talk about the things that matter most.

With love,

Susan

Watch the 180 movie here:




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What's Your Message?

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What's Your Message?

While running to grocery the other day to grab a “few” things, I thought, “I’ll just pop into Goodwill to see if there is anything my life is missing, and I didn’t even know it.”

Well, if you frequent Goodwill stores (and I’m sure you do if you’re reading my blog), or any stores for that matter, then you already realize there is never a shortage of interesting people about. 

The first person I see as soon as I walk into the store is a man wearing a t-shirt that says, “Will trade wife for tractor.” This, apparently, is John Deere humor. So you know how you can have many thoughts in a matter of seconds?  Well, many thoughts were going through my mind. 

“Wow, I bet his wife feels highly favored and loved.”

“Oh, lighten up, Susan! It’s just a joke. I really am becoming a fun-sucker!”

“I wouldn’t want Adam to wear a shirt implying he’d rather have a piece of farm equipment than me.  Ugh.”

Now, you must understand—this all happened very quickly. I wasn’t standing at the Goodwill entrance with my mouth agape, staring at this apparent lover of John Deere. This all took place in less than ten seconds.

So, who do you think I see next? 

I couldn’t make this stuff up!

That’s right—his wife! Can you guess what his lovely wife’s shirt read?! (Hers was pink, by the way.) It read, “Will trade husband for tractor.” 

I won’t itemize every thought this generated in my mind. You can probably imagine fairly easily. 

I moved on, doing my typical fast and furious thrift store browsing, and found a few items we simply had to have, right? 

I checked out and headed to my real destination—the grocery store.  Remember, that’s where I was going in the first place?

I pull into Kroger, having quickly forgotten about the devoted couple at Goodwill; and what is the first thing I see?

A woman wearing a t-shirt and walking out of the store.

Her t-shirt read, “Think Positive.” 

Please do not misunderstand. Of course I believe that there are many benefits in “thinking positive,” aka a can-do attitude. The reality is that you can think as positively as you can, and sometimes things do not turn out the way you would like. 

This made me think about all of these messages bombarding our minds. 

Just in going to the regular everyday life kind of places, you see (and hear) all kinds of messages—like it or not. 

Since you’ve already guessed, I was in a pondering kind of mood. Nothing new there.

I started thinking on all of these messages constantly going into my mind and the minds of my family.  Some of the messages enter intentionally, but many by mere chance.

My next line of thought was, “Yes, obviously lots of messages are going in; but how about what’s coming out?”

What kind of messages am I sending?

What about in my home when I’m busy trying to check the million and one things off my daily to-do agenda? 

What messages am I sending my husband, my children? It doesn’t have to be printed on a t-shirt for people to read it. My actions are my life’s t-shirt. What does it read?

                I love you, and I want good things for you?

                How we treat each other inside the walls of our own home is important?

                Learning to be a hard worker will, in the long run, be a good thing for you?

                I am committed to loving you through all of life?

These are the messages I want to send, but I know that some (probably many) things are lost in translation.

Does my attitude, my sighs, my frustration over the continual messes and the continual redirection and correction of children send a message opposite of what I’m trying to communicate?

What is my message?!

In my heart I want them to hear: 

                We are loved. 

                We extend love and grace to others. 

                We are a family that stands together.

                The world is going to be tough, but we are on the same side of the fight!

                We ARE a team, working for the good of everyone.

I know that love is intricately laced through the fabric of the small stuff, the seemingly minor things.

The love and grace that I want my children and husband to extend to me, I all too often fall short of extending myself. Sometimes I know my message is as clear as mud.

I get physically tired.

I’m talking bone weary, drooling on my pillow, want to sleep for three days tired.

I get emotionally tired.

Are the children never going to get the life lessons we are trying to teach?

This world is S-A-D!

Horrible things are happening!

Babies are being aborted, children are being orphaned, wives and husbands are being widowed; and it makes me tired on the inside.

I get spiritually tired.

You know?

Pouring my heart out to my God, heavy hearted variety kind of tired? Everyone does. I am not the exception but the rule.

I don’t have some easy e-book, fix-it solution (although I wish I did). 

The fact is that we live in a broken, sinful, and hurting world. We are people that do what is wrong even though we know what is right.

I have knowledge, but sometimes I lack wisdom.

I am so thankful that that is not the end of it. There is still hope!

The Bible is my compass, my road map, the user’s manual to humanity.

 I will cling to it unapologetically, and I hope you do, too!

James (who would have had a much sweeter blog than mine) said in James 1:5:

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”

Boy, this is encouragement for this girl!

I need His wisdom, and He promises to give it to me! More of Him and less of me sounds like a pretty nice upgrade. That is the stuff I want to fuel the details of my life!

We are all sending out messages, and I am not talking about on our t-shirts. 

People are watching you; people are watching me.

They want to know if we are the real deal. 

Christianity has been watered down, polluted, and all sorts of things we wish it hadn’t been. The problem is that Christ’s ambassadors are all human.

I know that our God is merciful and good, and He can (and does) fill in my many, many gaps.

Let your message matter!

Let your life be your t-shirt for the whole world to read AND benefit from. 

Ask God to give you wisdom (and ask Him for me, too, if you think of me) so these things will be possible.

Love each other through the good stuff (and the not-so-good stuff).

Forgive when needed, and ask to be forgiven the same (I cannot tell you the number of times I have had to ask my husband and children to forgive me). My children live under my very imperfect authority (for now), and I do try to do right by them. I don’t always make the perfect call, but I am what they’ve got. 

Thankfully God’s authority is not like mine!

Remember, your life is not a sprint; it is a marathon. It’s an every day, choice by choice, run in the right direction, toward Christ marathon. Why do you think everyone doesn’t run marathons? It’s hard.

Sometimes we are running  faster than others. Sometimes we look like I did that ONE time I jogged with 70 lbs. of little boys in my stroller. It wasn’t pretty. It was a struggle. It took everything I had to just keep moving forward!

I have a message, and so do you!

Let’s let our message be truth and hope to the hurting! 

Let your message be love.

Let’s run this race together!

Thanks for spending some time at The Modern Mayflower Blog! I would love if you would stick around!  Please be sure to “subscribe” to keep in touch!

I’ll be seeing you,

Susan

 

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Mom. . . It is a Really Long Name

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Mom. . . It is a Really Long Name

As Mother’s Day approaches the virtual carpet for motherhood has been rolled out.  Buy your mom this!  Don’t forget mom on Mother’s Day!  I have scrolled past many, many tributes to the ladies known as “mom”.

As I am preparing to celebrate Mother’s Day with the mothers I love best, it makes me contemplate (just a bit).  You don’t have to think too long or hard to realize why mothers are so important.  I could write pages about my own mom and I bet you all could too.  Her influence has stretched into all areas of my life; and now speaks to me as I am a mother to my own children.  My mom would be the first to tell you she did a lot of things wrong.  But I will tell you, she also did a lot of things right.  She taught me more with her actions than her words. She sacrificed for me day in and day out, and I didn’t even realize it.  I certainly didn’t say “thank you”, at the time.   I used to call my mom at work to complain if we were out of milk or some other necessity I felt should be awaiting me when I got off the school bus.  The woman was at work!  She was juggling so many things!  I remember being irritated with her because she forgot to get the things I needed.  Obviously, I was a horrid child.  ;)  I had a lot to learn, and still do, about what it is to be a mom. 

 If you want to be educated, humbled, and in awe of a love stronger than any you have experienced on this earth, then become a mother! 

I was listening to a conversation between two friends the other day.  One was explaining to the other how she hadn’t been feeling well, her children had various health issues, she wasn’t sleeping, etc.  The other sweet mama listened and her reply was simple, but so powerful.

She said, “You’re a mom.  It’s a really long name.”

It is a really long name!  She gets it.  It doesn’t fit in any time slot, clean cut package.  It’s all day, every day.  So many roles are wrapped into those three simple letters:  M.O.M.

Isn’t MOM the shortest, longest name you have ever heard?

I know that you mamas are tired.  I know that a lot of you have several children yourselves,  and right now are planning how to honor your own mothers and mother-in-laws tomorrow.

Let me tell you, sweet friend, good for you!  It is right that we would honor these women who have laid the foundations of motherhood we are standing on.

Let me tell you something else, this mothering gig is tough!

I know there is a mom reading this right now that spent last night sleeping sitting straight up with a sick child on her chest. 

I know the nights when the coughing just won’t stop. 

I have sat in the shower with the steam running at 2:30 a.m. trying to keep us both from drowning in our semi-sleep. 

I have bounced off the door frame because my eyes were still closed while heading to a child wailing, “Moooooom!” in the middle of the night.

I have cleaned the vomit out of our carpet, and my hair, and my purse! 

I have washed the sheets again for the bazillionth time.

I have driven that semi-truck version of a grocery cart at Kroger with its obnoxious horn, dirty steering wheel, and combative children inside it.  (Life changing advice:  You can say no to that.  It is okay!  They do not have to be constantly entertained every second of their lives.)

I have brushed my teeth in the shower because it saves time, and we only have one bathroom.

I have known with certainty that my children were going to do great things for this world and the kingdom of God.

I have also been 99% sure all of them are going to be completely unable to function as adults, and 100% sure it will be all my fault!

Mother’s Day could be called “I Will Sacrifice Anything for Anyone Day”.

I have played the “What If . . .?” game more than I care to admit!

Do you know the rules to the “What If” game?  (I do not recommend it!)

The rules are, there are NO rules. 

Whatever illogical scenario you can come up with at the time, preferably while you’re in a total emotional upheaval, will do best.  It pretty much always goes the same way though.  It ends something like:  These children are obviously never going to make it!

Some examples:

What if my expectations are unrealistic and they all grow up thinking their mom is impossible to please?

What if they never learn to be tidy and organized?  Oh, their spouses are going to be so unhappy!

What if my daughter never embraces the domestic chores that she loathes now?  Am I failing her as a future wife and mom?

What if they are all unable to get out of bed and go to work all because I didn’t have more of a bedtime routine?

What if they can’t spell well enough, read well enough, score well enough?   I should do more!

What if they can’t obey God because I never taught them to consistently obey me?

I told you this game STINKS.

Am I the only one playing it?

I hope so, but I know I’m not! 

Being a mother is hard!  It weighs on your soul. 

Your SOUL, people!

 Every mother out there wants only good things for her children, and we are willing to wear ourselves to a complete frazzle trying to give them.

 The thing is, it’s just not possible.  There is no humanly way in the world one woman can fill the shoes of the perfect (and fictitious) mother we create in our own minds!

I’m not saying give it up, it’s hopeless.  What I am saying is, you are never going to be enough, neither am I--AND --we don’t have to be! 

By all means, keep up the good deeds.  Serve your families in love, but also cut yourself some slack.  The destiny of the whole world is not in your hands.

You are going to teach your children so many valuable things that will make their lives better, but you are also going to leave many gaps, and that’s alright. Our children are individual people and they are going to have to figure some things out without us.

Let your children make choices.  Let them reap the consequences (both good and bad) for the choices they made.  Resist the urge (and I know it’s real) to rush ahead of them, clearing their path so all they know is success.  That is not real life.  They don’t need us to create some fake world where everything they touch turns to gold.  They need to scrape their knees (both literally and figuratively) to learn to discern between good and bad choices. 

I have one boy in particular who just has to feel it for himself to believe it.  You know that old saying “Seeing is believing”?  That is his story.  He has always been this way.  As a toddler standing near a wood stove I would tell him, (as any mother would), “The stove is hot.  If you touch it, it WILL burn you.”  I watched that adorable, mischievous little one back closer and closer to that stove with his hands out behind him.  Of course my impulse was to rush in and save him from the possible dangers of a burn.  This certain boy happened to be my third child and I have gotten a (tiny) bit better at holding back.  He did not get burnt, but he went way closer than he should have. He wanted to find out if it was REALLY hot.  I wanted to clear the path, but I didn’t.  I don't want any of my children to feel any pain, but I also know that isn't realistic.

This same boy just rode his bike down a grassy hill at the park, and he wrecked.  I thought it was a pretty good wreck as far as wrecks go.  He landed in the grass, not on his head; there was no blood, not even a tear.  That’s a pretty good wreck in my book.  Now there was a lady walking by at the very time he wiped out at the bottom and she was quite unimpressed, disgusted even, with my mothering techniques or lack of.  She said (and I quote), “He is going to break every bone in his body!”  She thought I should have raced to him the second he came off his little bicycle to confirm that he was uninjured (I could plainly see he was more than fine).  She thought I should have prevented him from riding down the hill to begin with.  I did think about it.  But you see there are times that you can let your children figure out how things work on their own, under the safety and protection of your watchful eye.  He knows now that you cannot rush down any steep hill you like without first giving it some serious thought.  When he learns lessons for himself, when he feels it for himself, he doesn’t forget it.

My point is, there is no fail proof method of being a mother.  I can’t save my children from every possible situation in their lives. 

I do have some advice that I know to be true; that I cling to for dear life on most days. 

Okay, every day.

Teach your children who God is, and who they are in comparison.  Let them know (like they don’t already) that you are not a perfect person or mother, but you know the only ONE who is, and they can too.  There will be hard times because we live in a broken, messed up world.  The only sure thing you can do for your children is point them to Christ EVERY single day.  Read them His Word and try to live it the best you can. 

Train up your children in the way they should go and when they are old they will not depart from it.  I am banking on these words!

M.O.M.

It is the longest and shortest name I know.  That’s what all the chatter is surrounding Mother’s Day!  The whole world knows.  Everyone sees the importance of the work of the mother. 

It’s a big deal.

But the big deal that is Mother’s Day is made up of a whole bunch of little deals.  The everyday doing that no one sees except you and God.

Every day is Mother’s Day.

Keep it up, mamas.  Keep it up!

The days ARE long but the years ARE short. 

It is not always going to be a no thanks job! Your children WILL grow up and realize their mom was (and is) A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!  So wait for it!  Do not grow too weary in the daily tending of the character of your children.  Remember that the One who loaned them to you knows and cares.

In the mean time, love with your whole heart, and don’t forget the universe is not counting on you to hold it together!

It’s not ALL up to you.

Pray for your people, and then pray for yourself as their mom!

You have permission to give yourself grace when needed and revel in the joys and trials of motherhood!

Let's celebrate what we are as  mothers, and take the day off from sweating what we're not!

Happy Mother’s Day, friend!

It really is a long name!

Thank you for hanging out with me on The Modern Mayflower!

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Susan

 

 

 

 

 

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I Don't Know You, but I Ought to Care.......

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I Don't Know You, but I Ought to Care.......

I DON'T KNOW YOU, BUT I OUGHT TO CARE......

The sun is shining—really shining! 

It is pouring in through all the windows and under the door cracks. Under the door cracks?! Yep. We live in a fixer-upper that still needs quite a bit of fixin'-up. 

Don’t you just love the sunshine? 

It’s Vitamin D, and it’s free! 

The light pouring in our home certainly is beautiful. It casts its cheerful rays everywhere I look. 

You know what else it does? It illuminates all of my housekeeping fails.  You can see every small hand print on the picture window and doors. If there are cobwebs (and there are), you will see them when the sun shines in. The dust on the furniture and the turkeys (don’t ask) is painfully evident.  (Someday I may write a book. I will call it And There Was a Turkey on the Table. I don’t know who in the world will read it!) 

I’m getting distracted. I really am just like my children—or they are just like me.

As I am looking all around this place and noting my many obvious, and not so obvious, domestic shortcomings, it takes me somewhere else.

You thought  I was going to say, “Whew! I’ve got to do some spring cleaning, and STAT!”  didn’t you? 

Nope, I’m afraid not. ;)

Although, that would be a really good idea!

This dusty, dirty, and somewhat neglected house reminds me a bit of my own heart.

It takes my mind to a place of what happens when God is working on my heart, when His sunshine is pouring into the secret places of me. When I stay close to God and understand His character—really understand—man, it lights up the dark and dusty places in me!

Believe me, there are plenty of them still loitering around.

Just like one of my favorite Miss Bennets, I am not afflicted with false modesty.  (I know who I am.  I also know who I was, and, more importantly, I know who I want to be.) There are still layers of film and grime from my life before I really understood Christ. Thankfully I am no longer tied to those layers. The old has gone, the new has come.

But let’s be real. We develop all sorts of personality traits, character flaws, learned behaviors (whatever you want to call them); and then we spend the rest of our lives trying to work them out. There are things that come naturally to me, and then there is everything else!

I don’t know about you all, but when I go out I notice people. I try to anyway. I try to slow down and actually engage in life with the other human beings living on the same planet as me. 

I was at the grocery store the other day. Shocking, right? We have four children. The grocery store is our life story; it’s kind of our place.

Anyway, I was at the end of the store, turning the corner to the dairy section. That’s like the homestretch for marathon Kroger shoppers. 

Now, I used to have this horse. It was a terrible horse. (Or so I thought at the time. I realized later in life that, in fact, I was a terrible rider; and she was probably just a regular horse.) Anyhow, this particular horse would always run when the barn was in sight. She saw the finish line, and she nearly cropped my head off (I thought) many times. 

I’m trying to paint you a picture of what was going on with me in the grocery store. I just rounded the dairy corner, and I’m doing that thing I do in my head: “Okay, get the butter, cream cheese, and water; and get out of here! That’s it—three items. Get the last three items and do NOT even look at those accursed Krispy Kremes as you walk by.”

I’m not kidding.

I have this grocery detail down to a science. 

I told you I have four children, and Kroger is kind of my place. ;)

My little monologue was suddenly interrupted. There was a young–ish lady standing in my way, contemplating what kind of coffee creamer to buy. I had to stop and wait.

As I was standing there trying not to stare, I noticed she had all sorts of tubes coming out of her arm.

My mind started bouncing around. 

Here is the slightly condensed version:

“I wonder what’s wrong with her.”

“I wonder how old she is; she doesn’t even look like she’s as old as I am.”

“I bet she has children. Oh, that would be so terribly hard—to be sick and have children.”

“I bet she has cancer. It seems like everyone is getting cancer.  I hate cancer.”

“Maybe it’s not cancer. Maybe she has something contagious. Maybe she has something she’s going to give me. What if she starts coughing suddenly, and I breathe in her germs? Didn’t I just read somewhere about germs in the air? Was it three hours or three days that they linger?” (Just being real.)

“I wish I could do something for her.”

You know what I said?

Prepare to be un-amazed.

I said, “Um, excuse me. Can I squeeze by you?”

Yep. That’s it. I’m practically Aristotle, right? 

I kept on trucking.

I was already trying to gauge how much over my grocery budget I was this time. 

I headed to the checkout lane and started chucking all of our organic fare up on the belt. I was going through my usual routine of how it stinks that Spaghettios and Ding Dongs are so much cheaper than real food. I was lamenting all the injustices of the world: taxes, rising grocery costs, etc.

I would like to add here, as someone pointed out to me in the comments section of my blog about children, that I am SO over privileged. I don’t know if she was aiming to offend or convict, but I am not offended. 

I agree. I am SO over privileged.

I am also SO thankful to drive to Kroger and buy whatever (pretty much) kind of food my family needs and, a lot of times, wants. 

I do not take that lightly.

Do not misunderstand me with my crazy Kroger-ing shenanigans. I have so much more than I deserve. I am GRATEFUL!

So, I pay for our stuff and head to the car still trying to remember if the organic fruit starts with an 8 or 9 digit code (and wondering if it all really makes a difference). I start throwing, um... gently placing, all our “new food,” as the children call it, into the back seat.

I get up front, put on my seat belt, and start the car. 

Do you all love a play-by-play? No?

I know I have one faithful reader who does. She knows who she is. ;)

I am getting ready to put the car in drive, and I remember her—the young lady with the ports coming out of her arm. 

Why didn’t I stop and encourage her?

Why didn’t I just ask her straight out if she knows Jesus? 

I’m serious. I don’t care. In fact, I want to be that girl that asks everyone if they know Jesus. Nothing else is going to matter! Either you do, or you don’t!

She has ports in her arm—at the grocery store! She is fighting something, something that may claim her life sooner than later; and what words do I leave with her?

“Um, excuse me. Could I squeeze by you?”

I have tracts in my purse about heaven and hell. Do you want some?  If so, go HERE:  These are great!

Yes, I am that lady now.  :)

Did I give her one? 

NO.

I didn’t even remember I had them.  SIGH.

So now I’m thinking, “Well, maybe she’s still in there. I could go back. It’s not like I bought chicken or something. What about that one chatty cashier? I bet she knows everyone who shops in here. I could just ask her.”

I didn’t. I put my car in drive. I drove home.

I missed an opportunity to speak truth, hope, and life into that young lady at the grocery store. 

What kept me from speaking?

Fear of rejection? 

Was I afraid I would say the wrong things?

Remember those cobwebs in my heart? Is pride one of them? Do I care more about what people think of me than what they think of God?

Was I too busy and consumed with myself and my life to REALLY care about her?

What if I had bought chicken?  Big deal!  Is her soul not worth my pack of hypothetical chicken?!

Was I too worried about what she might give me instead of what I might give her?

Is fearfulness one of the many layers of grime on my heart?

You see, when you understand who God is, it shines a light on what you are not.

Please don’t start feeling all sorry for me and wondering if I have low self-esteem. ;)

I don’t. In fact, most of the time, I probably think too much of myself (and think too much about myself).

I regret not speaking to that girl in depth. I regret not hearing her story, because now I have to imagine it. Her face is still with me, and so are the tubes projecting from her arm.

Had I spoken to her, asked her to accept Christ, and she said, “No,” what would it have cost me?

Really?  It costs me nothing.

Is her soul not worth an awkward conversation? 

If I believe in Heaven (and I do, with my whole heart), then I also believe in Hell. 

If I claim to love people and I’m unsure of their salvation, WHAT excuses me from speaking? 

Nothing.  Nothing excuses me!

My hope and prayer is that God will keep shining a light into my heart, and I know He will if I allow Him to. 

I want to see the dust. 

I want to know the dark places, where fear is lurking within me.

I want to acknowledge the internal cobwebs and knock them down.

I want my little world to be better—not because of who I am, but because of the One I serve.

I want to be brave—not for the sake of people thinking I am courageous (for I assure you, I am not), but for the sake of hurting and dying people everywhere I turn. 

People shouldn’t have to have tubes coming out of their bodies for me to stop and care. 

This person is under constant renovation, and I hope to always be!

Even if I don’t know you, I ought to care; and I want to!

Thank you for reading and sharing my blog. 

Let’s love one another!

Susan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Response to Why Marriages Just Don’t Work Anymore...

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Response to Why Marriages Just Don’t Work Anymore...

I read an article last week, (me and millions of other people), titled “5 Reasons Marriages Just Don’t Work Any More.” It was written by a gentlemen by the name of Anthony D’Ambrosio. He is 29 years old, was married approximately 3 years, divorced, and is now apparently what some consider an authority on why marriage doesn't work for an entire generation?  If you would like to read it for yourself in its entirety, by all means, do.  Here is the link.

The top of his article features a lovely black and white photo of he and his new wife (at the time), sharing a kiss on their wedding day. I believe what motivated him to share that picture is the fact that he feels like marriage is some fairy tale beginning, with a not-so-happily-ever-after ending.

Now, I do not claim to have some degree in marriage counseling, or anything of the kind. My credentials are pretty simple. Real life. I am married (15 years, today, in fact :).) I have 4 children. I am not living in a fantasy world where the whole population is 1.  Whether or not this qualifies me to speak about marriage, I will leave up to you.  Take it or leave it, here it is.

Anthony starts off by saying “Our great- grandparents did it, our grandparents did it, our parents did it. Why the h*ll can’t we?”

He goes on to say that a lot of people who haven’t failed at marriage (I’m assuming he means divorced), only stay in their miserable relationships, and live completely phony lives. Now, I have to disagree with this right off the bat. My marriage is anything but miserable, and our life together is also many things, but phony is not one of them. I have never loved (or been loved) more completely, by a human being in my life, than I have within the enclosure of our marriage!

OF COURSE, he then uses the old judgmental card! That’s our new mantra, isn’t it? Don’t judge me!   Whatever you do, don’t judge anyone for anything!  Don’t make any judgments about my life or actions, regardless of whether my choices affect you or not.

This is bogus.

I am so weary of hearing it, and you should be, too!

Everyone judges. That is what the human mind does. We are constantly making judgement calls about everything.

Should I cross the street? No. There is a car coming, I will get killed.

That is making a judgement.

What to wear.

What to eat.

How to behave, and not behave.

We are constantly making judgments about ourselves and others. I am so exhausted with this! There is a drastic difference in judging and condemning!

Anyway, moving on.

Next, this guy starts whining about technology, and how he has had to learn the dating scene all over again because of texting, and social media?

Seriously?

Millions of people don’t have clean water, healthcare, a home, and we are reading about how hard this guys dating life is due to social media?! Is this perplexing to anyone else?

This fellow lists several reasons why marriages are failing. Here are a few:

1.) Sex becomes almost non-existent.
It becomes a chore, it’s all about trying to conceive, he says. Instead of looking forward to being intimate with your spouse, you dread it. Not only are you bored with your marital sex life, but also everywhere you look you see half dressed people that look better than your wife.

Do you see a running theme in this? Does he ever once reference the way his wife feels, what she needs?

NO.

It’s all about him. What he wants. How he feels. What he sees. No where does he talk about meeting the needs and wants of the person he promised to love and care for until separated by death.  It’s not too hard to understand why things are not going too well there, is it?

2.) Finances cripple us.
Education costs too much, a new home costs too much, cost of living is so much higher and more stressful now than it used to be, Mr. D’Ambrosia reports.
Well, have we considered actually buying what we can afford? Perhaps, even doing without the new homes, new vehicles, new clothes? He talks about not being able to afford vacations and eating at his favorite restaurants. He says that life is for living, and he can’t do what everyone else is doing,  it makes him feel bad, AND that puts too much stress on his marriage.

When I am always looking to my left and right, comparing my life to everyone around me, yes, I too, feel dissatisfied and discontent.

Here’s the deal with that, their life is not mine.

Their finances are not my affair.

It is not my business if my friends have a 4,000 square foot home,and could I possibly even dare to  be HAPPY for them?Instead of moping about what I don’t have, could I even stretch to celebrate the successes of others, people I claim are my friends?

I told you we have been married for 15 years.  A lot of things fluctuate in that amount of time.  There are 5,475 days in 15 years (I didn’t even count leap years ;))!  We have been through financial feasts and famines.  Was it stressful and uncomfortable when the money was tight and almost non-existent?  You bet it was.  Did we get divorced?  Obviously, not.  We can not buy everything we want, whenever we want, and honestly, we probably wouldn’t even if we could.

In our home we try to live by this motto, “Use stuff, Love people.”  We don’t always get it right (by any stretch of the imagination), but we do keep on keeping on.

3.) Our desire for attention outweighs our desire to be loved.
What?!  He talks about Marilyn Monroe, and celebrities, and social media, selfies, and attention seeking through any possible facet.

WHO cares?
Really, who cares?
No one.
If social media is a stumbling block for you, cut back on it. Get rid of it. Isn’t your marriage more valuable than “relationships” on the internet with people you probably couldn’t carry a conversation with in real life?

Facebook doesn't matter. Marriage does.

You think marriage doesn’t matter?

Look what is happening to our society, our families, because we don’t stay together.

Any sort of attention you receive on the internet means precisely NOTHING if your home life is falling apart. If your children can’t see you love one another– selflessly, completely, and through all situations, how in the world are they supposed to figure out love and marriage?

I will not list every one of his preposterous theories on why people can’t be married (successfully) anymore.

But seriously, is anyone buying THIS garbage?
Well, apparently, a lot of people are. His article went viral.

Millions of people read it, shared it, affirmed it with: “OMG,” “YES,” “AMEN,” “EXACTLY,” and so on……

You know why marriage doesn’t work? Because it is hard, and we quit!  Marriage isn’t the problem, people are.   It is hard to love someone more than yourself! It is hard to continually sacrifice for the sake of your husband or wife. It is hard to raise up children, who are imperfect like their parents. It is work! We have been taught to avoid work. We have been taught to take the path of least resistance.

You know what else? It’s easier (in the short term), to be tied to no one, to be accountable to no one. Isn’t it a breeze to only meet your own desires, without thought or consequence of how that affects other people?

Do you know of anyone who chooses to end life alone, to die alone? Of course not. We all want to be surrounded by those we  love, our family.

For me, my husband, (and the children that came from our union as one), these are the people I want to be surrounded by not only upon my death, but in my life!

I am so tired of the different forms of attack on marriage. Like marriage is this ancient institution that has no place in modern day culture.

Friend, do not believe those lies.

When the family breaks down, the whole culture will soon follow.

Ever heard of the foster care system? Do you think those children are coming from mostly married homes? No. They are not. Most of them were conceived outside of marriage to begin with. Of course there are many other issues contributing to the crisis with children being in foster care, (I’m guessing drug abuse is playing a huge role), but even so, when parents stick together, their  children ARE emotionally healthier.

When your children see you care so deeply, consistently, and unconditionally for their dad or mom, they get it.

They see what love looks like.  They see the value of marriage.

I am not pretending being married is easy. Of course it isn’t. It is probably one of the hardest things you can do as a Christian, a human.

Does that mean it doesn’t work? Absolutely not!

It is proven to work, if I  will do the work on my end.

Love each other!

Forgive one another!

Realize you are married to an imperfect person (and so is your spouse),  and give them the grace you would like to receive.

Revel in the joys that your marriage brings, instead of wallowing in the “buts” of what it doesn’t.

Choose what you chose!

Remind yourself of the reasons you got married to begin with.

Be unwilling to quit!

Fight for it.

Marriage has, and does work, if you are willing to love your spouse more than yourself!

Do not buy into this cultural war on marriage. Cling to your marriage! Love your people!

That is about all I have to say about that   Thank you for reading (and sharing) my blog.  I am completely awed by the amount of people who have come along with me.  Let’s challenge people, together, to THINK!

If you haven’t already, PLEASE be sure to “subscribe” to follow The Modern Mayflower Blog. 

Stick around!

Susan

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Why are We Sexing Up our Children?

Every year we go shopping for clothes to wear for Resurrection Sunday, also known as Easter:)

I mean shopping, at a real life, brick and mortar, department store.

It’s kind of a big deal for our daughter.

Usually, we just wait on someone we know to pass us a whole bag full of clothes someone at their house has outgrown.  But Easter Sunday is different.

We go buy something.

 We pay retail.

We get ripped off.

We try to semi coordinate, and it’s fun for the girls in the house.

(The boys of course, don’t care much. Color coordinated is not even in their vocabularies.)

Every year though there is a running theme in our shopping trips:

DISAPPOINTMENT.

You see our daughter is not quite 12 years old yet. That means she is 11.

Eleven years old!

Now , if you have a daughter  who is not a little girl (and not quite a big girl yet)  you probably understand the challenge of choosing age appropriate (and stylish clothes) that you both feel good about.

Actually, if you have a daughter at all, you understand this dilemma.

This was not the first time I encountered this culture shock while shopping in the “girl's” section. I started noticing the difference about 4 years ago, when we had to move out of the little girls section to the in-between-girl's section (that's what I call it).

It’s always the same.

"This is too short."

“This is too tight.”

“This is too low.”

She has even suggested sewing things at home to make them more appropriate.

Can you imagine?

First you pay overpriced, retail prices, AND then have to take it home and alter it to make it wearable.

I don’t think so!

This always sends my mind whirling! What is going on with these stores; with our culture?

The department stores are only exhibiting symptoms of the disease our society is infested with.

Sexing up the people, but especially our children!

We have all witnessed this  firsthand.   A little girl (or not so little girl) at the park running around with sweats on that read “juicy” on the bottom, or “dancer” or “cheer” or some other message.

                       

Photo Credit:  blogging with class

Photo Credit:  blogging with class

Whatever they say, the end result is the same. It is drawing the attention of every man, woman, and child at the place.

Our brains see words, they read them.

You are doing it right now.

The written word is one of our main forms of communication.

WHY IN THE WORLD are we attracting attention to the rear ends of our children?

 What good can come possibly come of this?!

It does not stop there, just like it did not begin there.

Shorts so short the pockets hang out, and they cost more! Ugh…

How about underwear for tweens and teens that read, “Flirt”,  “Fun”,  or “Party"?

 I have passed EVERY one of these  while shopping with my daughter.

It is beyond me how we became so numb to what is happening to our children!

What message are we giving our girls by buying them underwear (of all things!) with these words printed on them?

To say this is a BAD idea, is a drastic understatement!

Do you know why stores are selling this overpriced

They are making money.

It is profitable.

That’s how commerce works.

They sell what we buy!

When we buy these things for our girls it’s the equivalent of shooting them an email that says:

Hey, we’re okay with you stripping the innocence of our daughters. Please, keep putting out clothing that does not cover what needs covering, draws attention to all the WRONG places, AND we’ll keep buying it!

It is not only our girls who are being targeted. Our boys, after all, live in the same world as the girls.

It is a struggle (to say the least) for teenage boys/young men to control their thought lives.

 Hormones are a real thing.

 I can see how it is nearly impossible for boys not to view girls in a sexual way from an early age.   Boys are already trying to swim the waters of puberty and adolescence, and everywhere they turn is SEX.   It’s all over the television and computer screens. 

 TV shows and the internet are full of pornography.

It is difficult to have exact data on porn because so much of it is digital; free online. There was an estimation in 2012 that 8 billion dollars a year is being generated by the porn industry in the United States alone.  This also happens to be the same amount being spent on bottled water in the U.S., 8 billion dollars.

Interesting, huh?

We need food, water, and....umm...porn?!

We have Victoria’s Secret models on prime time television, Super bowl halftime shows with so little clothing that body parts are popping out (that’s the last Super bowl halftime show I’ve seen).

16 and Pregnant.

Teen Mom.

It goes on and on.

WHY?!

Why do we allow this?

Why are we acting like it doesn’t matter what we watch or wear?

It obviously matters!

We have some serious sex issues in our society!

There are websites dedicated to helping you know if your neighbor is a sex offender. We are not living in the days of “I wonder what kind of pie I could bake for my new neighbor?”

No.  Now its like, “I wonder if I should Google my neighbor to see if they are a sex offender.”

This is not normal!

HERE  is one of those websites. 

If you want to be depressed, check it out.   I warn you, don’t be surprised to find a map lit up like a Christmas tree with known offenders in your neighborhood. 

You see what I’m getting at? 

You don’t send your daughter around with “juicy” on her bum when you know there are CONVICTED sex offenders all around you.

They are convicted; they obviously struggle with preying on children. There are A LOT of predators in this world.  They don’t need the added temptation of seeing young girls dressed this way.

We are always hearing about something damaging to us. We are alerted to the dangers of too much fat in our food, too much cholesterol, stay off the sugar you’ll get diabetes, get off the caffeine. They may as well label aspartame with skulls and cross bones !   (You know that stuff will kill you, right?)

WHAT do we hear about the dangers of sexualizing our children (and adults)?

NOTHING!

Instead,  we celebrate it.

We pay for it in the form of clothing.

We exploit it in the name of entertainment.

Remember that little box office hit, 50 Shades of Grey? It was one of the most pirated movies of ALL time! That wasn’t even DVD quality. It was a copy made by someone with a shaky camcorder at the movie theatre!

We are obsessed with sex, or more accurately, what the media has told us sex is.

Harmless?

Well, that seems to be a flawed theory.

Sex is very dangerous when it is taken out of the context of a monogamous, dare I even say it, marital relationship?

I don’t know about where you stand in your belief in God.  I will tell you plainly where I’m at.  I am sold out!  100% standing on the Word of God.  He gives us good advice in His Word, the Bible.

Even if you are not living your life by God’s standards, surely you must still acknowledge the many consequences that come of  sex outside of a faithful marriage.

A few not so fun facts:

In 2009 an estimated 8,300 young people (young people being people between the ages of 13 and 24) reported to the CDC that they had been diagnosed with HIV.

Nearly fifty percent of the 19 MILLION new STDs each year are among young people between the ages of 15 and 24.  

Chlamydia and gonorrhea cases are highest in Americans between 15 and 24.

Does talking about this stuff make you uncomfortable?

Me too!

Uncomfortable, sad, nervous for my children (they have to marry someone), angry…..

The CDC also reports that in 2013 there were 273,105 births to teens between the ages of 15 and 19 years old, and those rates are down.

I wonder how many teen pregnancies are ending in abortion, chemically and surgically.

An estimated total of 35% of pregnant teens have an abortion. Those are the ones that are actually reported. Abortion not only KILLS a child, it damages these young mothers for the rest of their lives. Yes, I called them mothers. They are mothers, their babies just happen to be dead (and they have to live with the knowledge that they helped kill them for the rest of their lives.)

Post abortion statistics are NOT pretty. 

Abortion doesn’t only end one life, it forever changes another. 

I have stood outside an abortion "clinic” on a day the “doctor” was “terminating” pregnancies. The parking lot became so full at one point that the girls had to park on the street and walk in.

Does THIS indicate we may have a sex problem?

But after all,  we do live in the land of “Don’t be so judgmental.”  I can already hear the "Don't judge me!" comments.

We will forewarn people that McDonald’s French fries have 17 ingredients in them and the dangers of aspartame, BUT we mustn't talk of things that are killing us mentally, emotionally, and spiritually; that would be too judgmental.

If we are going to warn people of the dangers of diabetes , (to the point that we ban sugary drinks in our public schools) should we not also warn them of the dangers of sexing up our society, our children,  and teens?

What does it say about us as a society, that we celebrate and profit off of these behaviors?  Behaviors that are proven to rob people, especially young people, of their innocence, health, and happiness.

This is not love.

If you are standing on a train track with a train rushing at you, but I don’t tell you to step off the track, do I love you?

                                            OR

Am I judging you for standing on the track in the first place?

We have become so afraid of offending anyone that we will not speak truth.

I don’t know about you, but I will NOT be buying any clothes for my girl that tote words on the seat of the pants; nor will her underclothing have inappropriate and ridiculous messages written on them.

We will NOT be watching the soft porn that is everywhere on the TV screen for many of the same reasons we don’t drink out of our toilet.

It is dirty and will make you ill.

Whew!

I feel (a bit) better getting that out.

Let’s protect our children.  Let's protect their bodies, and their minds. 

Once it’s in there, you don’t get to take it out.  I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “Garbage in, garbage out.”  It is so applicable.

As for us, we better stick with shopping at the thrift stores ;)

I appreciate you taking the time to read The Modern Mayflower Blog.  We are all living this life together.  Please pass my words along, if you feel they are worth sharing.

I'd love for you to stick around.  If you'd like to, please "subscribe" to follow along via email!

Thanks for reading,

Susan

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This is Worthy, This is Living in the Spirit…

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This is Worthy, This is Living in the Spirit…

There’s a phrase that has  been ping-ponging around in my mind.

Living in the Spirit.

What does it mean to live in the Spirit of God?

What does that look like in my life, and the lives of those around me?

Who do I know who is living in the Spirit?

This is going to look the same, and  different, for each person. I realize same and different are contradictory.

This is my thought. People all look basically the same, right?  I mean anatomically. We all have certain common characteristics: 2 eyes, ears, one nose, etc. At first glance it seems we are almost all similarities. If you look closely (and especially when you really get to know someone) there are definite (and easily identified) differences.

All of my children strongly resemble one another, and also us—BUT if you look at them more closely, out of 4 children, we have 3 different eye colors-brown, green & blue.

If you have ever known a set of twins, at first it is very difficult to tell them apart. I believe living the Spirit is like this. It is going to look the same, but also different.

God tells us that you will know whether people are living in the Spirit by the fruit they bear.

Matthew 7:16 reads, by their fruit you will recognize them.

In Galatians Chapter 5 we read, but the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness & self-control.

So if we are living in the Spirit, there are going to be definite similarities in the way our lives work, and look to those around us. We should all be bearing these fruits of the spirit, but the way these traits are carried out in our own lives are going to look the same, but also different.

For some people, most people, the majority of this is going to take place in their own homes.

The mama with a newborn, nursing every 20 minutes, running on very little sleep; she has so many demands on her time and energy.  There are other children still heavily relying on her to meet their physical and emotional needs, all the while gently, but consistently, steering them all toward Christ. This is worthy! This is what living in the Spirit looks like for her.

The one whose life has been gripped with grief, and loss of loved ones too soon, and too many times; yet she smiles through the tears. She clothes herself in the Word. She loves with her whole heart those she has left, and longs for the time she will be reunited with those who have gone ahead. She turns her grief into a testimony of God’s goodness, mercy and love. She uses her life’s hurts to comfort others suffering through the same thing. This is worthy. This is what living in the Spirit looks like for her.

The mama whose children are now taller than her (and mostly grown),  they are trying to forge their own life story in this world. She is that reassuring voice that keeps bringing them back to the plan God has for them. She has gone from their authority, to their friend, and adviser. She is still holding hands , that aren’t so small now, but still need held from time to time, just the same as when they were. This is worthy! This is living in the Spirit.

The one whose children have all grown up and moved out, but she doesn’t throw up her hands and call it quits. She is a Titus 2 woman. She is there with meals for that mama with the newborn. She is there to care for other people’s children when they need a bit of help. She is available to serve where she sees she can meet a need. She will remind you that life with young children can be intense and exhausting, but so worth the living. She will help you get your perspective back in order. If you need her, she will come, because she loves the Lord and His people. This is worthy, this is what living in the Spirit looks like for her.

The mom who is stretched so thin already , but spends her nights at her dying grandfather’s bedside. She will sing him hymns, pray with him, for him,  and over him. She pleads with him to accept Christ, while there is still time. She smiles even though the tears will not stop flowing. She loves  this scared man until his last breath. This is worthy, this is living in the Spirit!

The woman who stands outside the darkest of places, it calls itself a clinic.  She stands (with her children), holding signs, and praying for the girls going in.  She pleads, in love , with those girls to choose life for their little one. She pleads  with them to choose real life for themselves, in Christ! She teaches  her children that the church MUST GO, to these dark places. She teaches her children what faith and love looks like in word, AND action. She doesn’t go because she wants to, she goes because she has to! This is worthy; this is what living in the Spirit looks like for her.

She will take a meal to an elderly couple of the church, and stay to linger a while.  She will be patient with their slow speech, and even slower movements, because she knows that there is much to be gleaned in the presence of the slow and steady.  She is living in the spirit, and this too, is most worthy!

These are just a few of the women I get to call “friend”.

My point is this: If we are living in the Spirit then we are going to bear the fruits of His Spirit, but that doesn’t mean it’s all going to be the same variety.

It’s going to look the same, but the situations will look different.

I want my story to be that of one who is living in the Spirit, and I know you all do too.

The things that seem so small and unimportant, are in fact, the game changers!

Do what YOU can, where You’re  at!

Love the people that cross your path.

Don’t underestimate the difference your contribution can and does make!

Get in His Word!

Know Him so well that you just can’t stop trying to be more like Him AND don’t stop there!

Tell EVERYONE who will listen that Christ is the way, the truth, and the life. This is worthy; this is living in the Spirit!!

Romans 8:13

For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.

Thank you so much for stopping by The Modern Mayflower Blog.  This is the NEW site for The Modern Mayflower Blog so be sure to SUSBSCRIBE VIA EMAIL to follow along!

I will keep the previous site up for a bit until everyone gets a chance to transfer over to the new page.

Sharing is Caring!  Please pass the Modern Mayflower Blog posts along to your social media friends:)
See you soon,
Susan

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When Did We Stop Liking Children?

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When Did We Stop Liking Children?

When did we stop liking children? Seriously? Can anyone put their finger on it?

When did our nation adopt this perfect boy-girl, 1.9, family dogma?

I have 4 children.

That’s it.

Four.

We aren’t exactly running an orphanage. In a lot of circles having only four children would be considered a small family.

If you have more than 2 children you have probably had someone say one, or all, of these things to you (especially at the grocery store):

Are those ALL your kids?

Now, if I had a dollar every time I have heard this, we could pay off our house! Really.

I like to answer this seemingly obvious question in different ways (depending on my mood that day).

Usually I say, “Well, they do seem to be following me around calling me “Mom.” 

But sometimes I like to say, “Nope, I had to run to the store to buy these 377 items you see in my cart, and I thought I bet this would be whole lot easier with a bunch of random kids that aren’t mine.’

When we were expecting number two, people would always ask me “Is it a boy or a girl?” We already had one boy SO it just made perfect American sense that we should make #2 a girl, THEN we could call it quits.

Perfect.

Finito.

Right?

Everyone can have everything they want, our parent to child ratio will equate perfectly! (Obviously, I’m not buying it ;))

How about this one?

Are you going to have any MORE?

Let’s pretend for a second that is okay for complete strangers to assume they are entitled to any input on the number of children I, or anyone else has is okay.

Okay? Okay.

Not okay!!

This is RUDE. People with {what some may consider} a large family, find this comment offensive. My reply is always pretty consistent with this one.

“Only if we want to.”

That usually zips that line of conversation up pretty quickly. 

Now this one, in my humble opinion, is way over used.

I just don’t know HOW you do it.

Hmmmm. Is this a compliment? A question? A statement? You would think I would have a default script prepared for this one, but as of yet, I don’t think I’ve ever responded the same way twice.

How about this one? I know you poor expecting mamas have heard it more than you care to.

You know what CAUSES that, right?

I think (if there ever is a next time) I will say, with a straight face, “No, could YOU please explain what causes that?”

My personal favorite?

How can you AFFORD all those kids?

The short answer is, we can’t. We sacrifice. We wear second hand clothes. We pass on things that we don’t have the money for. We’d have to take out a second mortgage to go see the latest movie at the theatre, so we don’t go (not much of a sacrifice in my book). We try to be content. We make do with what we have, which by the way, is like 95% more than the rest of the world. We make it work!

Now, wait for it. It’s coming. It always does!

What about COLLEGE?

I have to admit this makes me smile. I realize education is important, I really do—BUT—I will not bow down to the altar of the education god we have come to worship in this country. This may be shocking and scandalous, but here it is. Not EVERYONE has to go to college. I said it. I mean it. College is not for everyone. I do have at least one child who plans to go to college. He knows that he must study hard now, test well later, dig for scholarships, and after all that, pay his own way. His dad and I cannot afford it. We love him more than our own lives, this he knows. That does not change because we cannot foot his college education. We will help him every step of the way, but in the end, his education is, and will be, his responsibility. He will have to work for it, just like any of our other children that want to pursue a college degree.

If you have several children you KNOW what I am talking about.

You KNOW what it’s like to walk into a public place with your little waddling duck parade trailing behind you.

You KNOW most of the people in the restaurant just secretly prayed your family wouldn’t be seated by them.

You have had your children counted as they filed in, like people work for the citizen’s census committee or something.

I get it.

We don’t see a lot of large families these days, but WHY? Have we asked ourselves why? Why do we cringe when the children walk in? Why do the moms on Facebook want to plow a path for the bus after their children have had a couple snow days?  How does this make our children feel?  Unwanted?  In the way?

Why do even elderly people, who used to adore little ones, now turn their noses up at the children? Why do people try to talk you out of having any more?

I have some theories on these WHYS. We have been served this ideology that children are to be taken care of by “experts.” We have been fed this thought that diapers can be changed, and noses can be wiped by anyone. Why would a capable and intelligent woman forfeit her potential to stay home and do the mundane, the ordinary, the grunt work? How can we as women be satisfied in being ONLY a wife and mom? I mean any woman can do that, right? That’s what we have daycares for.

You may be asking yourself, how are these things related? What does people not liking children have to do with whether or not you stay at home or have a career?

What I KNOW is this. Children require A LOT; a lot of care, a lot of life training, a lot of correction, a lot of compassion, A LOT of time. Obviously, a lot of children are falling through the cracks. They are not being held morally accountable.   They are being more influenced by their peers than their parents. They do not know how to behave properly. It has left a bad taste in the mouths of people. People expect my children to behave badly (and sometimes they do, because after all, they are children). They think they are going to wreck the place, be rude, rowdy, and a nuisance. I get it. I tell my own all the time, “Here’s a chance to make grown-ups like children again, don’t waste it. Be courteous and kind. Be engaged. Act like a civilized person.”

You may think I’m getting a little carried away here. Saying we don’t like children as a whole, sounds a bit harsh.

I’m not talking about meeting their material needs. Oh, as a society, we are all over that one. Most children have nicer clothes, shoes, and devices than full-time working adults. I’m talking about meeting their needs of morality. Teaching them right from wrong, and insisting they comply. Teaching them to respect themselves, and others. Teaching them how to behave in a grocery store and a restaurant so people will once again embrace children and large families.

We are so consumed and busy with stuff , it has blinded us. Work more, buy more.

I have always jokingly said, “Instead of having lots of money, we chose to have lots of children, and you can’t usually have both.”

I think people associate a large family with poverty, exhaustion, doing without. Absolutely, that is part of it, but it is not one dimensional!

We serve one another in love. We don’t have as many material things as a smaller family, and that’s okay. We have to put the needs,(and sometimes wants) of other people ahead of our own.

It is not all sacrifice though! There is joy, uncountable joy that comes with a large crew!

You are NOT hearing me say that everyone has to have a bunch of children because we did. What I am saying is, we have bought into this idea that large families are a burden to us all. They are not!

I have even heard people say it is “irresponsible” to have more than two children. WHAT?!

My response to that nonsense?

Is it easy having four children? OF COURSE NOT– HOW COULD IT BE?

Is it tiring? YES.

Is it expensive? ABSOLUTELY (Do you know how much food an almost 14 year old boy alone, eats? ;))

Is my home Pinterest perfect? HA!

Is it beautiful and fulfilling? WITHOUT A DOUBT.

The reality of a family photo shoot.

The next time you see some mama in the store with a passel of little people behind her in the middle of the day, take a moment to thank her for investing in the future. Thank her for sticking with it when we all know it is expensive, exhausting and underappreciated. Do not discourage her with meaningless questions and ridiculous assumptions.

Look for the good in the children, you will find it. Let’s all learn to love hanging out with our own people again!

Thanks for stopping by the Modern Mayflower.

Do you know some mama with a bunch of little ones that needs some encouragement? Please share the love!

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See you soon,

Susan

P.S.  There are big changes coming to The Modern Mayflower Blog site, please stick around 

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Are You Stuck in February?

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Are You Stuck in February?

I’m sitting on my couch this morning and there are two dominant sounds reaching my ears;  the constant chatter of the birds outside, and the constant chatter of my little one playing on the floor. (He has complete conversations with himself, he’s cool like that)

The sun is shining in the picture window, the birds are singing, the furnace is NOT running.  Doesn’t that speak hope and renewal into your heart?  Things are coming alive right before our eyes and ears.  Everything that has been sleeping and trudging through the long winter is celebrating SPRING!

Isn’t perspective a crazy thing? The beginning of spring and this dandelion is so lovely! Before long we will be going to extreme Pinterest measures to void our yard, and the whole planet of dandelions.  Same dandelion, different perspective.

Isn’t perspective a crazy thing? The beginning of spring and this dandelion is so lovely! Before long we will be going to extreme Pinterest measures to void our yard, and the whole planet of dandelions.  Same dandelion, different perspective.

Now, I know it has officially been spring since March 20 ( I just googled it ;)), but this morning looks like spring andsmells like spring.  The grass is soft, the sun is shining, the birds are singing, it REALLY is going to be warm.  Today is the last day of March and I am reminded of something I wrote on the last day of February.

Everything changes, doesn’t it?  It’s so hard, sometimes, to remember that it will not always be the same.  The sun is going to shine again.  The birds are going to sing.  Life is going to be lighter.  Nothing is forever (even the things we wish could be).

                                                                Not Always February

You know what my favorite part of February is?

It’s short!!

February is a struggle for me, and I bet I’m not the only one.  The high today is 12 degrees!   12 degrees, but sunny, ha.

It starts to become difficult to recall the real, warming sunshine.  The kind that works its way through your whole body and makes things seem lighter and more hopeful.  Everything is a chore when it is cold and snow covered.  Everyday tasks wear on me; it’s easy to forget that spring is coming– BUT–I won’t forget.  Spring will come again!

Sometimes life can start to feel like it’s always going to be February.  You feel like your heart and spirit are trapped in a frozen tundra.  You can’t remember the last time the sun was shining, on the inside.

This life is full of icy seasons, for sure.

Everyone has walked through, is walking through or is going to walk through their own personal February in life.

There are things that make it hard to recall the sunny days.  Things happen that are completely out of our control—loved ones die, babies get cancer, mamas are in car wrecks, dads lose jobs that are providing for everyone.

It gets cold, not only outside, but in our hearts.  We start to feel like it’s always going to be a spiritual and emotional February.

It can be overwhelming.

There will be tears.

We live in these temporary, fragile bodies (and minds).  It is easy to forget that this is just the beginning for us, not the end.

This flesh is weak, and I will be glad when I don’t have to fight it anymore.  I am also glad that our God knows our struggles.  He did not leave us here without hope and instruction.

I’m guessing every person reading this owns the greatest resource available to us.  It is much more precious than gold, silver, copper or oil.

It is a supernatural resource.

It is the resource that created the resources.

Unfortunately, it is not being tapped into like it should be.  God’s Word!

We own different translations; study Bibles, Children’s Bibles, Teen Bibles, language comparison Bibles, but do we read them?  I mean really read them?  Drink it up until we are so full that it must spill out in our words, actions and lives.

John Quincy Adams in his wisdom and eloquence left us this:

“I speak as a man of the world to men of the world, and I say to you, Search the Scriptures!  The Bible is the book of all others, to be read at all ages, and in all conditions of human life; not to be read once or twice or thrice through, and then laid outside, but to be read in small portions by one or two chapters every day, and never to be intermitted, unless by some overruling necessity.”

John Quincy Adams was wise in his perspective of reading the Word.  God gave us His Word for us, for our sake, but He doesn’t make anyone read it.  But if you will read it, consistently, its beauty and hope will be what warms your heart on those days that the spiritual temperature is a high of 12 degrees.  Let God remind you that you are His, that He never forgets his own—that the sun-shiney days will come again.  That these heartbreaking things are not forever, for those who belong to Him.

He  tells us in John 14:1 “Do not let your hearts be troubled.  Trust in God; trust also in me.”

In John 14:27 he says, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

I know that things happen in this life that can be overwhelming!

We see these storms on the horizon.  We see the waves of circumstance that look like they will surely consume us.

I remember being out in the ocean as a child.  I was standing in water (comfortably) up to my chest, but then a little ways out I could see a wave forming, and it got bigger and bigger.  I was starting to panic inside, so I ducked under the water where it is calm and quiet. I knew that the waves were breaking all around me up top, but they couldn’t get to me under the surface. This is what God’s Word will do for your soul.  The waves of life will come!  They will get bigger and bigger until you’re sure you will be overtaken, BUT you can duck under, into His Word.  It will be a quiet and calm place for your soul;  even though the storms of this life rage on.

When you feel like February is all there is or will ever be, let Jesus remind you again.  Let his Word unthaw your heart.  I leave you with Christ’s words.

John 16:33

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.”

Now, here it is the last day of March!  You see?  Nothing stays the same!  I want to learn to enjoy every season, don’t you?  Don’t the hard times make the easy times so much sweeter?  Doesn’t the icy, cold winter make the spring so much more beautiful? Today I will drink up what today is.  We only get to live this day once, no refunds!

Thank you for taking time to stop by The Modern Mayflower!  I am trying to build my reader base and appreciate so much all the people who have shared my blog!  Would you be willing to pass it along on YOUR social media outlets? 

ENJOY THE SUN-SHINEY DAYS!!

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Wanna Be Free? (Me too!)

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Wanna Be Free? (Me too!)

I opened my Bible this morning, looking for Proverbs chapter 12. I actually opened up to Proverbs 23 instead. Now, this is my BIBLE. You know my Bible, Bible. I have many Bibles, as most people do, but this one is special.  This is my thick and thin Bible. This is the one that has been my continuous companion. I bought this Bible shortly after being immersed in the waters of baptism, and now I strive to be daily immersed in its words.

At heart I’m a word nerd (or scholar) depending on how you view it. I enjoy looking up definitions for a deeper understanding of what is being read and communicated.

If you’ve been a Christian long, chances are you’ve heard that word, immersed, more than once.  It doesn’t seem to come up too often in casual conversation though 

So, without further adieu:

Immerse (v.)

  1. Dip or submerge in a liquid
  2. Involve oneself deeply in a particular activity or interest

Synonyms: absorb in, engross in, occupy by/with, involve in and my personal favorite-lose oneself in!

Get it? See why I want to immerse myself DAILY in God’s Word? I want to lose myself in it!

Back to Proverbs….When I flipped open to Proverbs 23 the first thing that caught my eye was the upside down postal stamp stuck (forever) upside down, right in the middle of the page.

Just like a domino, this stamp triggered many thoughts. My mind’s eye immediately transported me to the moment that stamp took up its permanent residence in my Bible.

You see, I've got this little boy, so clever and cute, but also so very impulsive.

One morning I was sitting at the kitchen table reading my Bible and this little one (about 2 or 3 years old at the time) toddled in. He sat down beside me, quietly, for about 10 whole seconds. Then the fidgeting began. I was reading, he was touching everything on the table and asking 100 rapid fired questions.

He saw a book of stamps.

He picked one off.

He perfectly placed it upside down right in the middle of the page I was reading, you know, in my Bible.

My Bible, Bible.

I got upset.

Why did you do that?” I demanded.

“These pages are thin; it will rip if I try to pull it off!”

“That is going to be stuck there now, for good!”

Of course his little lip came out and he said, “I’m sorry, Mommy.”

I can see that face perfectly even now.

Do you know what that upside down postage stamp happens to say? It says: “Freedom.”

It was a “forever” stamp that reads “Freedom.”

The Forever Stamps were created by the US Postal Service in ’07. They are non-denominational First Class postage, which means that they can be used to mail anything at anytime for the rate that was paid when they were bought. The price can’t go up. Hence the name, Forever Stamp.

I was initially upset by the impulsiveness and immaturity that caused that stamp to be forever stuck right in the middle of my Bible, but that has changed.

I am no longer upset, I am thankful.

He placed a profound reminder right in the middle of God’s words to me.

It is so symbolic of what Christ did for us on the cross. That stamp that reads Freedom in my Bible is upside down, and rightly so. Just like it IS upside down that Jesus should die for me, for you. That the only ONE who is perfect would forfeit His life for all that are imperfect.

Our freedoms are under attack and we should stand up and fight to protect them,  but there is one freedom that is unchanging!

It is unaffected by legislature.

NO amount of persecution that can take this freedom back.

It is bought.

It is done.

It is forever, for those who choose it.

That “forever” stamp is not really going to last FOREVER!   Nothing in this world lasts forever. I don’t think we can even fully comprehend what “forever” is, at least I know I can’t. But there is ONE who is not of this world that does. He is forever. The beginning and end.

Isaiah 40:8 reads, the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.

1 Chronicles 16:34 says Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.

Do we really understand the freedom we have been given? Are we living like free people? Do you (like me) keep putting yourself back into the slavery of Enough. Sweet friend, you are never going to be able to do enough, be enough. Never able to take care of everything and everyone!  So why do we wear ourselves to a frazzle trying?

Our freedom has already been paid for with the blood of Christ. The rate will not go up with the changing times of the world. The price was paid once and is good forever after.

Do we realize what this means? This is real freedom!

Freedom from myself!  

Freedom from my fears of what life will bring.

 Freedom from anxiousness about how my children will grow up. 

Freedom from teaching them EVERYTHING they need to know, which is not even possible.

Freedom from the fear of death.

 Freedom from the broken and suffering world we live in.

                                                          Freedom from doing enough, being enough. 

That little postage stamp reminder, left there by that precious little child, Carter, is so telling of what the Bible imparts: Freedom!

Even though those forever stamps are still valid, if I went back to the post office today and bought another book, they would cost more!  There was a stamp price increase since then. Isn’t’ that the way the world works?!  Always demanding more.   More money, more education, more production, more achievement, more, more, more! Until we feel like we have absolutely NO MORE to give!

Do not let the world lie to you. I am never going to be enough, and neither are you.   We don’t have to be enough!  We just have to keep going to the One who is. He does not raise the price for His freedom. It really is a Forever deal!

My anger has transitioned to thankfulness for Carter’s little token. I almost weep when I see it. The little boy will grow into a man, God willing. He will no longer do whatever impulsive thing that enters his mind. I will cherish the sweet reminder that his small hand has left for his mama.

Every time I open to the book of Proverbs I will thank God for that little hand that was placed in my care. But most importantly, I will treasure the truths that lie in that one, perfectly placed, upside down, postage stamp.

Freedom!

I am free in Christ.

You are free in Christ!

It is upside down and out of place in my human and narrow mind that He should care for me, let alone die for me, but that is exactly the case! We have nothing to fear. There is nothing big enough or scary enough to take that freedom.

Lord, let me today (and everyday) be thankful for the Freedom you bought for me. Remind me, again,  that the battle is already won. All I have to do is stand on Your Word.

Freedom never comes free, except in the case of your love and mercy. Free for me, not for you.

2 Corinthians 3:17

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

Galatians 5:1

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

Galatians 5:13

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge in the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.

He’s our Carter!

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Friend or Foe?

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Friend or Foe?

I heard a song on the radio the other day. It wasn’t the first time I have ever heard it. In fact I’ve heard it many times; but this time the words resonated deeper than the surface layers. It struck a chord in my mind and my heart. That’s when exciting things start to happen—when it goes from your head to your heart. I remind myself (and my children, just ask them) of this often.

Knowledge is good, no doubt. There used to be this catchy education logo “Knowledge is Power.” I can see what they were trying to do with that BUT knowledge will never be enough if you lack the wisdom to apply it. I have known a lot of knowledgeable people, much more intelligent than myself, but they have missed the boat. They have knowledge.  They lack wisdom! Wisdom is knowledge applied. Application in real life ways. Taking what you know from your head to your heart. Naturally, what is in your head and your heart is going to find an outlet, your mouth! This brings me back to the song. You may have heard it yourselves.

Words” by Hawk Nelson

They’ve made me feel like a prisoner

They’ve made me feel set free

They’ve made me feel like a criminal

Made me feel like a king

They’ve lifted my heart

To places I’d never been

And they’ve dragged me down again

Back to where I began

Words can build you up

Words can break you down

Start a fire in your heart or

Put it out

Let my words be life

Let my words be truth

I don’t wanna say a word

Unless it points the world back to you

You can heal the heartache

Speak over the fear

God, Your voice is the only thing

We need to hear

Let the words I say

Be the sound of your grace

I don’t wanna say a word

Unless it points the world back to you

I wanna speak your love

Not just another noise

Oh, I wanna be your light

I wanna be your voice

This is beautiful in so many ways.  Most of us spend the majority of our days with other people. People we know, people we love. How do we communicate?  Words, of course. I find myself saying things like this in our home.

How we treat each other matters.” (Because it does!)

“It’s usually better to be nice than to be right.”

“Speak love.”

“Are you speaking peace?”

“Are you about to build someone up?

I’m sure you all are hearing and saying some of these same things in your homes too.

We use A LOT of words in just one day.

I was curious just how many words are coming out of MY MOUTH any given day. Google (you know Google is always right, right?) claims on average women speak 20,000 words a day (men weighed in at only 7,000 words, not shocking data;)) 20,000 words?!  In one day!! That is a whole bunch of chances to build others up or tear them down.

I want to speak His voice; not just another noise with all those words!

I know this is going to be astonishing to some of you (sarcasm), but I don’t always follow my own advice.

I want to!

I try to!

The problem is I have this nagging enemy that shadows my every move, my thoughts even. I unaffectionately call her, SELF.  UGH…. My carnal, sinful self is always right there with me. This self that longs to have control of my words and actions. Self that feels justified  when I don’t speak peace, but irritation. Disappointing Self that instead of imparting love with these many spoken words, imparts the language of annoyance and imposition.

The Apostle Paul addresses this in Romans 7:18

I know that nothing good lives in me, that is in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.
— Romans 7:18

He continues in Romans 7:21

So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me.
— Romans 7:21

I feel this same war raging in me, don’t you?

I hear this woman; everyone in my house hears and sees her too. She is short, irritated, annoyed and dismayed. I despise her voice and her ways.

But there is this other lady, too. She is gentle, patient and kind. She forces herself to slow down, to look in people’s eyes when they are speaking, and to really hear what they are saying. She speaks love and peace.

Now,  I wish I could  say that she is my constant companion, but I have lived long enough in this body to know that she is not the only one there. I must be on guard, or mySELF, my petty, tired, irritated, and sometimes overwhelmed self,  will squash her gentle and quiet voice.

I know these things. I have the knowledge. The real deal is applying what I know in my mind to my words and actions. That is the wisdom I desire. That is the transformation from head to heart.

God gave us mouths to speak, and words to use.

Words are powerful, they matter

If we sincerely want to use our words to be life and truth—to heal the heartache–to speak over the fear, then we must read His words to teach us how.

These bodies and minds are amazing but they are nothing compared to the mind and ways of our God. I challenge you (and me) with these words from the book of James.

James 3:5-6

Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.

But don’t despair! He goes on to offer hope, because our God is in the business of hope!

James 3:17-18

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.

Lord, Let me be a woman of carefully chosen words!

Wouldn’t  our world look a lot different if we all chose our words with care?  It’s exciting to think about!

Sharing is Caring   Please share!

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Ain’t Nobody Can Save Me…

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Ain’t Nobody Can Save Me…

I have had this growing spark in my gut.  I don’t know when it exactly started. I have loved the Lord for a long time; I have also tried to love His people. Loving people exactly like me isn’t that difficult of a task. I’ve begun to really ask myself “What about everyone else?”  What about the desperately hopeless and broken people? We are commanded to share the gospel with these people. What about the ones who are screaming mess and destruction? They are made of hard times, poor choices, and lots of consequences. It’s not quite so easy to love those dirty and visibly stained people, is it?

I met a man on the streets of Jackson, Mississippi.  We met quite accidentally. I was there, (along with my dear friend and our children) to pray outside of the last abortion “clinic” in that state. That day has been burned into my mind, but mostly my soul. I could write pages about standing in the darkness that enveloped that pink building of death, perhaps another time I will.

We were looking for missionary opportunities to serve, with the children, as we were visiting our friends in neighboring Brandon, Ms. Everyone likes to take their children to the ghetto on vacation, right? I didn't know what to expect taking the children into Jackson, outside of an abortion mill of all places. How can you anticipate what a day of standing on the street pleading for the unborn and the pitiful mothers going inside will look like? You cannot. I don’t think it could ever look exactly the same way twice.

As it was, we had just left the sidewalk of the clinic and were walking back to the van. There was another man, a young man, Keith, who was there that day (and many other days before) Keith was praying, pleading, and street preaching. As we were leaving we caught up with him on the street, but he wasn't alone.  Keith was talking with another man– a homeless, strung-out-looking man.  A man carrying everything he owned in a not –even- close- to full Kroger bag.

This is where an interesting conversation took place.  It has stuck with me these many months later; caused me to recall that day again and again.  This homeless man, Mark, was speaking to the young man I mentioned. They knew each other.  They had spoken before on the streets of Jackson.

Mark was immediately likeable–soft, gentle and southern in speech. I don’t know how long he has been living on the streets, but I’m guessing quite some time. We struck up a conversation.

You see, you would think what in the world could we have in common–Mark and me? He, alone, a homeless drug addict with all his worldly possessions in a grocery sack, living on the streets of Mississippi; and I, a married, homeschooling, suburban driving, comfy living mama from Indiana. I can tell you exactly what we have in common. Humanity. We both live in the same great big, messed up world.

My friend who was with me told Mark that my dad (who came to live with us at one time) had also been homeless. (A story for a different day).

Mark couldn’t believe that I was old enough to have a child as grown as Cole. I’m sure he doesn’t spend a lot of time with ladies who have had life quite as easy as I have. I don’t say that braggingly. I just realize my life has been easy, comparatively, and I am grateful.  Believe me I am not looking unusually youthful these days;)  Whatever the reason; I had Mark’s attention. You see Mark was upset with the young man, Keith ( the street preaching, baby advocate.) Mark said, “I confided stuff in him, and he told his preacher, and I was getting money from that preacher.” So I asked him, “Well, what were you doing with that preacher’s money?” Do you think Mark lied? No, he didn’t. He said, “Yeah, yeah I know.” Mark didn’t try to justify what he was doing. He didn’t try to pretend he wasn’t manipulating people for money to support his drug and/or alcohol problems.

We went on talking for a while. Keith was trying to help him; he had a guy willing to take Mark in, give him a safe place to live, probably help him find a job. The problem was, Mark wouldn’t go. He didn’t want to go where he didn’t know anyone. He didn’t want to go where he would be held accountable for his actions. He would rather sleep on the streets.   Mark and I went on talking. He said, “You wouldn’t believe the stuff that’s happened to me on these streets. I’ve been beat, stabbed, shot…..You wouldn’t believe the things I’ve seen on these streets.” He didn’t say any of this loudly or even dramatically; just matter-of-factly. That is the world Mark lives in, by choice even. I said, “Mark, have you ever considered the reason you survived all of these crazy things you’re talking about? Do you think God, in His mercy, has spared you, hoping that you will turn your life to him? You are not dead, yet. You still have time to choose Christ.” This is when he said something that was profound to me. You see Mark has heard the gospel. He has had opportunities to turn away from the life he lives. He even knows there is a better way to live life. The problem is his flesh. He will not deny what his flesh wants. His flesh wants to do drugs. His flesh wants the carnal satisfaction that comes with it. I do not underestimate the hold of addiction, nor do I pretend to understand that demon first hand. I do, however, understand the battle of the flesh and the sinful nature of man (and woman of course)   This is is what Mark said to me. “Ain’t nobody can save me, but me. I gotta want it, in my heart. No preacher can do it for me. Ain’t nobody can do it, but me.” Oh, how accidently deep a statement that is, and oh so true. How much I wanted to save Mark’s soul right there on the sidewalk in downtown Jackson, Mississippi! How many times, including today, I have prayed for Mark to understand who Christ really is and have the strength to choose Him.

But, the truth remains. I cannot save Mark, or anyone else for that matter. He has to choose it.

The bottom line is simple: Jesus died, for all of us; but not all of us are going to accept the gift He is offering. Just the same, whether we choose it or not, He died.

We are all slaves to our own selfish flesh, Christians and non-Christians alike. The only thing that will control that struggle is the living Spirit of God. God is not going to force me, or anyone else to choose Him. That’s not the way He works. He does not send us to hell; we send ourselves with our sins and choice not to accept His grace. He created a way for EVERYONE to be saved from the condemnation that is coming.

We think living a lifestyle of drugs/alcoholism/homelessness leads to undesirable consequences?   We have not even begun to understand undesirable consequences!

I should be broken hearted for the lost! I should be grieved and pleading for their souls. If people I love are going to go to hell it should be with my arms wrapped around their legs begging them to choose Christ until the second they leave. I should care about my friend, Mark. My soul is not worth more than his because I have clean clothes, nice shoes and an SUV. None of those things amount to a hill of beans in the Kingdom of Christ. Mark’s soul was purchased for the exact same price as mine; and shame on me for forgetting to care!

I know that I cannot save people in my own strength. I am so very weak, but that doesn’t mean I should stop trying. Why am I living at all if not to love people and point them to hope and life in Christ?!

I bet Mark could tell us a thing or two about what this world has to offer from the view he has. This world does not have the answers. It is my duty (and my desire) to love every Mark that I meet. I want to care for the souls of everyone who crosses my path. I want to sound the alarm; regardless of the reaction. The watch guard’s job is to sound the alarm. If we sound it and the people to do not respond, their blood is not on our hands. But, oh, what if we don’t sound it? How many chances have I already missed?! What keeps my mouth from speaking the warning?   What prevents the words of life, healing and hope from forming?

I want to see the opportunities to speak, and seize them. I need boldness and courage.

I will keep reading His Word and let Him make me brave again. I will keep praying for Mark. I will keep praying for the young man, Keith, who goes where so many won’t. Keith goes into the dark places. He is sounding the alarm. He is offering hope and peace and life, and sometimes, (a lot of times) people hate him for it.

Lord, put urgency in the hearts of the church to speak. Put urgency in my heart to speak! This world is dying, and fast. Look around. You don’t have to go to the ghetto in Jackson to see it. Step outside of your house.

Mark was right in a way when he said, ‘Ain’t nobody can save me but me.’ What Mark has failed to realize though is this. He has already been saved by the only one who could. If only he weren’t too poor, weak and blind to accept it.

Lord, give us eyes so we can see. Break our hearts for what breaks yoursLet us sound the alarm! Let us love the Marks. 

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