Ninja Turtle Backpack

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Our twins start middle school in one week. When we were discussing the school supplies to be purchased, I asked whether their backpacks were still in good shape from last year. Tanner’s mind reeled and then his eyes widened and he said, “No way! I need a new backpack.” I was perplexed by what appeared to be a look of mortification and asked him, “Why? What’s wrong with your old one?” And then I remembered…. Last year in the 5th grade, he selected a teenage mutant ninja turtle backpack that resembled a turtle shell. 

He loved that backpack when he picked it out. He even convinced me it was worth the extra buck$ to buy it for him. And now one year later, not even in middle school yet, he intuitively knows that a turtle shell backpack is too “childish” for middle school. 

As a mom, I am both happy and sad. Happy that my young man understands what it is to mature and embrace new seasons in his life. After all, it would be odd to see a 35-yr old business man wearing a turtle shell backpack to work. A man needs to let go of things like that at some point in his life. So in that regard, I am proud of him and the young man that he is becoming. But as I stand here in happiness and pride, I also feel the tug of motherly lament. His season of little boyhood is dwindling. This puts a knot in my throat. 

Every mother knows the feeling. It’s simply beyond words. It’s hard to keep the tears from welling up in my eyes as this season in life begins to turn. But in the tears, there is also joy and admiration. I pray he continues to mature and move through life in a healthy way as every strong and successful man should. 

I joked with him and said,”Your backpack is in perfectly good shape. You really should use it.” We all giggled and imagined what that would look like on the first day of middle school. I guess that scared him a bit, because when I walked by the backpack hooks in the utility room, I noticed the space was void where that turtle shell backpack had hung all summer. I guess he hid it for fear I might not have been joking. 

To all the moms this new school year, whether it be kindergarten, college, or something in between… You’re not alone. Look up and thank God for the healthy development of your child and know that we are all shedding a few tears of mixed emotions with you.

God’s Umbrella

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In our home, we teach our children that there’s covering and blessing under God’s umbrella. It serves as a great metaphore. Think about it…

An umbrella does not act like a locked corralle where one is imprisoned in a covered bullpen. Rather, an umbrella is light and can travel with you wherever you go or you can choose to leave it at home. And you can hold an umbrella for cover from harsh wind, sun or rain. Or you can choose to lay it down and walk alone freely in the elements. 

God has no desire to enslave you. He loves you enough to let you decide whether you want to live under the covering of His umbrella or dance outside of His umbrella. One note of caution: Dancing outside of the umbrella might appear fun at times, but the elements can quickly turn harsh out there.  And it can be quite difficult to manage the consequences alone.  

Here is the good news. You may choose to live beyond the reach of God’s protective umbrella, but you can never live beyond the reach of God’s love for you. 

God is always eagerly waiting with open arms for you to return and pick up the umbrella He has unconditionally reserved for you. No questions asked. Just a loving Father delighted to see His child find security under His covering. 

Freedom of Religion

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At the risk of intimidation, fear of hateful posts and threats of violence…. I’m going to go ahead and say it. I have a concern regarding same-sex marriage being promoted as a constitutional right.  My concern has nothing to do with my personal beliefs about same-sex marriage. I simply feel strongly that every American needs to understand the legal argument before the U.S. Supreme Court. 

Our founding forefathers courageously fought for our freedom of religion. The First Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits the making of any law, that among other things, impedes the free exercise of religion. 

Whether you are for or against same-sex marriage, many Americans think, “Live and let live.”  But from a legal standpoint, the U.S. Supreme Court is not being asked to create a world where we live and let live without interference with each other. It’s actually quite the opposite. 

The Supreme Court is being asked to create a civil right for all Americans (me, you, and your neighbors too) to enter into a same-sex marriage if we choose to do so and to recognize that such a choice will forever be protected by the U.S. Constitution; and such a constitutional right shall not be violated. 

But you can’t stop there. You must think through the implications of such a constitutional right. All civil rights must be upheld and protected at ALL costs. In fact, to speak against such a right, is legally deemed hate speech. 

Wikipedia: “In law, hate speech is any speech, gesture or conduct, writing, or display which is forbidden because it may incite… prejudicial action against or by a PROTECTED individual or group, or because it disparages or intimidates a PROTECTED individual or group.”

Think about what makes up hate speech today. One example is the horrific hateful propaganda of a white supremisct or a distasteful joke about the disabled; disgusting and hateful thoughts and activities directed towards individuals or groups PROTECTED by the constitution. 

So here is the crux of my concern. If same-sex marriage is deemed a constitutional right, then ANY religion or written religious authority (like a bible), that promotes marriage between a man and a woman or that identifies same-sex marriage as a sin condemned by their God, will be deemed to promote hate speech. Religions, books and persons whose God deems marriage to be between a man and woman will be in the same bucket as a vocal white supremisct.

In fact, if you promote such ideals in your home with your children, you will be encouraging hateful sentiments contrary to a civil right. Telling your child that marriage should be between a man and a woman will be no different than teaching them to draw a swaticka and hate Jewish people. 

Or what about children adopted by same-sex married couples who experience confusion in their circumstances and want to express this as they age?  Such expressions will be discouraged and identified as hateful, therefore they will suppress their own personal experience out of fear for how they will be viewed. 

When a pastor, priest, elder, or bishop of any religion does not want to marry a same-sex couple because it violates his or her religious practice….  Or a religious baker doesn’t want to bake a cake for a same-sex couple…. He or she can be sued, penalized, and possibly even criminalized if they choose to honor their religious principles. 

And what will our public education system promote? Chapter 1: promotion of integration of African Americans and the courage of all those that contributed to steps of creating equality amongst the races (And let me reiterate, I greatly honor and respect those before me that made such strides).  Chapter 2: the creation of a civil right for same-sex couples and praise for those that forced churches and certain religious individuals to abandon their hateful beliefs about traditional marriage to embrace same-sex marriage. THINK about what this message teaches your children about you, your religion, and your God, if in deed your religion promotes a traditional marriage between a man and a woman. 

Let’s be very clear here. Creating a civil right to same-sex marriage directly rubs up against the free practice of some religions. 

Perhaps you believe anyone who is against same-sex marriage is hateful (not true, but that’s another writing for another day), but for others, it’s been engrained in their religion for 1000’s of years or perhaps since creation. You might say, “Well, then it’s time to make a change to some religions.” But what about the tantamount protection of the free practice of religion? What about creating a country that allows us to love one another and live next to one another without forcing our beliefs on one another? And can’t we like each other even if we don’t approve of some of the things other people do?

Don’t get me wrong, no one should incite violence or openly threaten anyone for living a lifestyle contrary to their religion (never, ever, should this happen). But one should not be forced to abandon a fundamental principle of their religion because of someone else’s marital desires. Let’s not “throw the baby out with the bath water.”

Every American (me, you, and your neighbors too) should be able to freely practice their religion without intimidation or fear or interference or penalty. 

At the end of the day, whether one supports same-sex marriage or whether one believes same-sex marriage is a sin under their religion, everyone needs to understand, the same-sex marriage request before the Supreme Court is NOT a “live and let live” request. This is about promoting same-sex marriage at the expense of suppressing the freedom of some people freely practicing their religion. 

If opening the door to same-sex marriage requires closing the door on freedom of religion regarding the sanctity of marriage, then the request as presented should be denied. 

Do You Feel Loved?

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One of the most important questions you can ask your spouse or your child is, “Do you feel loved?” 

Feelings come and go.
Love is not a feeling.
Love is a decision.
Love is not given for good behavior.
Love is not withheld as punishment.
Love is given whether or not it is deserved.

You know you truly love someone when the act of loving that person is more important to you than how that person makes you feel.

Do you want to live a real love story? Select a mate that knows how to love you beyond their self. And pick someone you are willing to love for a lifetime, no matter what. And when you have children, share that same kind of unconditional and secure love with them.

If real love sounds hard, look at Jesus Christ. He loved us so much that he willingly gave his life and died for us – even for those that did not believe in him, that betrayed him, and that spit on him. He gave his life for the undeserved because he loved them even though they gave him nothing in return. Jesus’ love is perfect love.

Some people say they would die for their spouse or for their child, but yet they live every day selfishly for themselves. How do you compare?

Christian Life Coach
http://www.NicieLee.com

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UNSUBSCRIBE!

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Every New Year I unsubscribe to anything and everything that inundates my email inbox unnecessarily. If it’s not about God, family or work…. I unsubscribe. Goodbye Khol’s, Walgreen’s, Fox News, CNN, Southwest Airlines, Wine Country Gifts, Sherries Berries, etc. Thank you for your services, but please stop trying to monopolize my life! The advertisements, promotional ads, and junk news that are cluttering up my email and newsfeeds…. Bye-Bye! I’m saving what little extra time and energy I have available in my day for what truly matters in my life. Our email and our newsfeeds act as a window for what we allow into our lives and a lens for how we see the world. Do you have the courage to UNSUBSCRIBE? Just do it!

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will. -Romans 12:2

Nicie Lee
Christian Life Coach
http://www.NicieLee.com

Wubbled Your Wubble Bubble?

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If you’re a parent, you know what it is to hear great commotion accompanied with hysterical laughter in a nearby room. Whatever was happening, my kids were having a fabulous time. And then all of a sudden… deafening dead silence. So I drew in a deep breath and waited. My daughter entered the room where I was standing. Her eyes were cast downward and she held her hand to her mouth. I guess she was elected by her two brothers to deliver the “good news” or maybe she drew the short straw. She cautiously approached and says, “Momma?” Why is my name always presented in the form of an uncertain question when trouble lurks? “Ummm…. I think we wubbled the wubble bubble a little too hard because it kind of hit the kitchen light and it fell and the light might have broken a little.” Her description of wubbling the wubble bubble too hard softened the blow. I had to smile and remember one of my New Year’s resolutions to pick my battles and respond rather than react. Don’t we all have days when we’re just cruising along in life and suddenly realize we unintentionally wubbled our wubble bubble too hard?

Pick Your Battles

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Do you have a relationship in your life that is strained and driving you nuts? Maybe a spouse, child, co-worker or sibling is grating on your last nerve and just about everything they do is inconsiderate, wrong or incompetent. Do you find yourself being constantly critical of their words and actions? Do you watch them closely for the next screw-up?

One of the biggest mistakes we tend to make is making a big deal out of things that should remain small things. I guess it’s human nature to stand for what we think is “right” regardless of its significance (or insignificance) to the overall health and wellness of the relationship. In the wise words of Dr. Phil, “Do you want to be right or do you want to be happy?”

The solution: Be wise and selective about the issues you’re willing to fight for. If they are going to advance or protect the relationship, by all means, take a stand. On the other hand if you’re merely trying to protect your ego, follow the advice of Queen Elsa from Frozen and “Let it go!”

Everyone needs positive affirmations. So if it truly is someone you love or it is an important relationship in your life, be sure to dole out a positive and encouraging word for every criticism you dole out. No relationship can survive on constant criticism alone.

You reap what you sew in relationships. You can choose to speak affirmation and respect or you can be critical and constantly ready to pounce. But one will return a bountiful harvest of loving affections and the other will simply kill the crop.

Pick your battles!

Nicie Lee
Christian Life Coach
http://www.NicieLee.com