Archives For August 2013

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I knew the carnival had come to town even before I saw the rides.  Friends on Facebook announced it by posting comments about the influx of ex-cons and drug addicts with no teeth and filthy clothing.  I didn’t think too much about the comments and even laughed at a few.

When I took my kids to the carnival on opening night, I struck up a conversation with a woman carnie who wasn’t busy at the time.  She shared how she was a mom of three kids, one of which she delivered just four months earlier.

When asking if her kids were with her, she about burst into tears as she explained they were at home and she wouldn’t get to see them until carnival season ended 4 months later.  She didn’t feel the road was a good and stable place to raise kids so she left them with her parents during the busy carnival season.

While looking for a job, she had been rejected by corporations, gas stations, retail stores, restaurants, and on and on.  She was getting desperate as she worried how she would care for her children.  She then met some carnies who showed her love and acceptance and offered her a job.

She now found she was rejected by society as a whole because of the job she held.

As she opened her heart, shame filled my own.  The pain on her face was evident.  And I had added to her misery by participating (even silently) in the social media fodder and buying into the stereotype.

The fun we sometimes have at others expense is often greater than the concern for their heart.  Those “funny” comments hurt real people with genuine feelings.

Everyone has a story.  Everyone has needs.  Everyone needs love.

This woman was working hard to give her kids the best life possible on the limited means she had.  I felt for her as I watched her love on the other carnies’ kids who were traveling with the group, while missing her own so much.

I could relate to her because I had been rejected in different areas of my own life.

I’m sure you’ve also felt the sting of rejection.  When made to feel unwanted, unworthy, or unacceptable for one reason or another, it’s miserable.

So let’s no longer take part as others “tear down.”  Let’s counter that by “building up.”

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There are 2 simple ways to “build others up.”

First, we need to see everyone as God’s masterpiece.

People of all ages, races, social classes, well-educated, non-educated, agreeable, disagreeable, from all walks of life, each are made in God’s image.  Each has value and worth.

Second, we need to do something.

In Australia, there is a rocky cliff called, The Gap, that is a notorious suicide spot.  For nearly 50 years, Don Ritchie, who lived across the street, scanned the cliff each day.  If he saw anyone standing alone and too close to the edge, he hurried to their side.  He would give them a warm smile and ask if they would like to come in for a cup of tea.  He never counseled, advised, or pried.  He just offered a smile and an invitation.

Don is officially credited with saving 160 people but unofficially the number is closer to 600.  Many of the survivors said it was Don’s smile that made them want to live.

Don says, “Never be afraid to speak to those you feel are in need.  Always remember the power of the simple smile, a helping hand, a listening ear, and a kind word.  It’s pretty simple.”

What if we are the catalyst that helps someone feel accepted, loved, or cared for all because we were willing to engage them in conversation, offer a listening ear, or give a simple smile?

At the very least we will bring a boost to their day.  But we may just save a life in the process.

Who will you see, accept, value, and love today?

You may also like:

Feeling Bad About Yourself?

Should You be a “Yes” Parent?

My Kid Doesn’t Meet My Expectations

©2013 Connie Davis Johnson

 

 

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Does God Shop at Garage Sales?

©2013 Connie Davis Johnson

 

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“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart..” ~ Jeremiah 1:5a

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.  ~ Psalm 139:13-14

Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.  ~ Psalm 139:16

“God created you with a longing to know you are significant, accepted and secure – and then He met that need through Jesus. You are LOVED with measureless grace and affection.”  ~ Renee Swope A Confident Heart 

“The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.” ~ Steve Furtick

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!  ~ 1 John 3:1a

“The way we continually talk about our own inabilities is an insult to our Creator.” ~ Oswald Chambers

“Remember He is the artist and you are only the picture. You can’t see it. So quietly submit to be painted. i.e., keep fulfilling all the obvious duties of your station (you really know quite well enough what they are!), asking forgiveness for each failure and then leaving it alone. You are in the right way. Walk – don’t keep on looking at it.” ~ C. S. Lewis

What’s the price of a pet canary? Some loose change, right? And God cares what happens to it even more than you do. He pays even greater attention to you, down to the last detail—even numbering the hairs on your head! So don’t be intimidated by all this bully talk. You’re worth more than a million canaries. ~ Matthew 10:29-31

“Too many people overvalue what they are not and undervalue what they are.”  ~ Malcolm Forbes, American magazine publisher

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  ~ Jeremiah 29:11

“Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. The fearful are caught as often as the bold.” ~ Helen Keller

The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing. ~ Zephaniah 3:17

“All your efforts to win God’s affection are unnecessary. All your fears of losing his affection are needless.” ~ Max Lucado

For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. ~ Philippians 2:13

“Every artist was first an amateur!” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.  ~ 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. ~ Psalm 34:18

“Don’t let people’s compliments go to your head, and don’t let their criticisms go to your heart. The degree to which you do either of these things is the degree to which you’ll be ruled by what other people think of you.” ~ Lysa TerKeurst

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?  He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?  ~ Romans 8:31-32

You may also like:

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This post is part of the Whimsical Wednesday Link up

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and the Woman to Woman Word Filled Wednesday Link Up

©2013 Connie Davis Johnson

“I can do it Grandpa, I promise!!”  My argument continued to fall on deaf ears as I tried to convince my grandpa I could indeed jump off the dock on the lake and not drown.  He continued to silently rock back and forth on the porch swing that hung from the big, shady oak tree by the lake.  This was one of his favorite spots on his property.  But I was destroying the peace he loved so much.

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Maybe he didn’t hear me.  “GRANDPA!!  I’M ABLE TO SWIM, I PROMISE!”  The desperation to take that coveted leap may have made me embellish my 1 lesson in the water that barely consisted of introductions and instructions to never talk your grandpa into allowing you to jump off a dock into a deep lake until all water education was completed.

However, I was a very busy 8-year old at the time!  I had rocks to skip, tadpoles to catch, trees to climb, grandparents to manipulate.  There was no time for this silly nonsense of actually learning before leaping.

Besides, my cousin, Shelley, 5 months my junior was always allowed to jump off the dock into the lake.  When my grandpa tried to explain Shelley had taken several months of swim lessons in the very lake by which we argued, he was met with a scoffing sound.  I looked around for the rude person who would have the nerve to be so disrespectful to my short-tempered grandfather.  Unfortunately, I realized I was that person.

My irritated and exasperated grandpa, tired of the fight, decided it was pointless to continue to argue with a stubborn child who insisted in learning things on her own.  “Go jump in the lake!” he yelled.

I bolted from the swing before he could change his mind, ran straight onto the dock, and splashed through the puddles left from the many flying leaps my cousin had already taken from the “stationary diving board.”

As soon as my toes touched the end of the platform, I jumped and sailed through the air, arms outstretched.  Feeling the wind in my hair, I closed my eyes and enjoyed my moment of victory and took pleasure that I was doing something my parents would surely incarcerate me in my room for later.  But right now, I was free and I was going to squeeze every bit of pleasure I could from this adventure.

Relishing the moment a bit too long, I forgot to take a breath before plunging into the dark, murky water.  Only taking into consideration how to get into the water, I had not given thought to how to get out.  It was then I realized the wisdom in the advice to learn to swim before leaping.

It seemed like minutes as I sank deeper and deeper underwater.  Wondering when I would stop, I suddenly felt my feet sink into the squishy, gooey mud at the bottom, leaving nothing hard in which to push off.  Already feeling as if my lungs were on fire, I began to flail my arms and legs in an attempt to reach the top that felt 100 feet above.

Disoriented, I could only wonder if I was traveling upwards toward that cool breath of fresh air or if I was just spinning in circles.  My lungs screamed for air.  I couldn’t hold out much longer before my body would instinctively gasp for air only to take in dirty lake water.

Realizing I couldn’t save myself, I knew I needed Jesus!  Nothing else mattered in that moment.  Schoolwork, the fight with my sister, my cousin being able to do things I only wished I could, all of it went away.

It was just me and Jesus.

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I prayed for Jesus to save me.  It was in that moment my hands escaped the pressure of the water and felt the freedom of fresh air.  Finally my mouth and nose broke through the surface and I was able to gasp for air.  I choked and sputtered while thrashing around, trying not to be swallowed by the water again.

Suddenly, I felt strong hands grab me under my arms and pull me to the safety of the dock.  My grandpa stood looking down at my face as I lay on the dock, sucking in as much air as humanly possible.  We stared at each other too shocked to say anything for a full minute.  When I finally stopped choking up water, he said, “I told you!” and walked away.  Gotta love a softhearted man.

Do you feel as if you’re drowning because of choices you’ve made?  Are you flailing trying to save yourself knowing it’s futile?  Call on Jesus!  He can bring you back to the surface and provide a breath of fresh air.  Give Him your mistakes.  He’s the Master at taking our ashes and turning them into something beautiful.  Ignore the “I told you’s.”

Nothing else matters at this moment.  It’s you and Jesus.  Call on Him.  He’ll save you.

“…..He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted…. to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes….” ~ Isaiah 61:1,3

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Perfect Mom? Hardly!

©2013 Connie Davis Johnson

 

Hateful words spewed from my “friend’s” mouth.  I had worked hard in my volunteer position only to have her cut me down and question my motives.  At first, I was defensive.  Then my heart began to agree I was a terrible person.  My mind raced wondering who else may think the same of me.  Finally, I determined not to open myself to anyone ever again and was tempted to quit the position.

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Have your thoughts ever spiraled out of control leading you down a destructive path after receiving an unfair criticism?  We’re tempted to believe all criticism is true.

When trying to determine if criticism is constructive or unfair, consider the following:

  • Is the criticism meant to help me change in order to grow?  Or are the chosen words meant to cut me down and doubt my abilities?
    If someone is interested in seeing you succeed and proceed to the next level, their words should be considered.  However, if the person’s words are not constructive and are destructive then reject their opinion.
  • Is the person acting as a caring friend or is jealousy coloring their words?
    My “friend” was not being caring.  Her credibility was damaged when it became apparent she was jealous and desired to assume the position I held.
  • Is the person criticizing me in an open forum such as social media or are they using proper channels to speak with me privately either through a private message or phone call?
    Social media allows people to speak in haste.  It allows us to depersonalize others giving us permission to say whatever we feel without regard to how it will be received.  Most of these harsh comments can be disregarded.
  • Did the person share their thoughts anonymously or did they use their real name?
    As soon as a letter is received through the mail, I immediately glance at the end to find a signature.  If it is unsigned or is signed, “Anonymous,” it gets thrown in the garbage.  Anyone who is not brave enough to use their name has nothing of value to say.

After deciding the criticism is from a credible source and is meant to help you grow, it’s time to determine if it’s valid.

  • Take time to pray, look through scripture to determine if there is truth in his/her words, and read your affirmation file.  An affirmation file is a file to keep all complimentary notes received, quotes that add to self-worth, verses from the bible that reveal how God feels about you, and even verbal compliments received that have been written down and filed.
  • After seeking God on the matter, reading the bible, and looking at the affirmation file, you will be able to see things clearly.  Thoughts crowded with false, accusing, negative self talk are replaced with truth.  You’ll be able to see if there is room for growth.
  • Decide if the comments are to be disregarded or considered.  If the person’s words disagree with God’s and the comments in the affirmation file, they can probably be disregarded. However, if God uses the person’s words to reveal truth to you through convicting scripture and if there is nothing in the affirmation file to disagree, then their words should be considered.

Once you’ve determined the words are valid, make a plan of action.

  • Pray and commit to making the changes needed.
  • Take time to write down how the changes will impact your effectiveness.  This can be used as an ongoing motivational tool.
  • Determine if help is needed in making positive changes.  Will counseling or additional training improve your chances of succeeding?
  • Enlist accountability partners who will be honest with you about your progress.
  • Write down the positive impact when following through on the changes you’ve made.
  • Thank God for helping you make positive changes to your life.  And thank the person who set you on the path of growth through their constructive criticism.

When criticism is unfair, we need to ignore it and ask God to remove it from our minds and hearts.  When criticism is truly constructive, it can help grow our effectiveness and impact.

“Whoever heeds life-giving correction
will be at home among the wise.”  Proverbs 15:31 (NIV)

This post is part of a blog link up at 

http://rachelwojo.com/replacing-negative-inside-chatter-with-praise/ 

and

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And We’re Waiting….And Waiting…..And Waiting……

©2013 Connie Davis Johnson

The request came at a point in my day when I was exhausted.  “Mom, will you come outside and watch for meteors with us?”  The request materialized a couple of hours ago at 10 PM.  One of the nights of the Perseid Meteor Shower.  Not only was I physically drained but I still needed to make a grocery list and write a blog post.

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“Mom, over here!”  On a beautiful and cool night we had been invited to a friend’s house for a party.  I had just filled my plate with food and was heading to sit by the pool with some friends when I heard my son call to me.  I noticed he was sitting alone and my heart evoked the pain of having nobody to talk to when everyone else is having a great time visiting with each other.  So I quickly diverted my path from the table filled with friends laughing and having fun to sit with my little boy.

“Mom, will you play volleyball with me in the yard?”  Although, my body was tired from already doing a hard workout and looking at a daunting to-do list, my daughter’s request could not be ignored.  She was working hard to expand her skills in the sport she loved most.  I mustered the little bit of energy I had left and used it to bump the ball, run after serves, and dive for kills.

With three kids, the requests for Mom seem unending.  Unfortunately, my task list and schedule also seem endless.

When my kids asked if I would join them on the deck for the meteor shower, I was tempted to say, “Not tonight.”  But then I thought back to the days when they were smaller and the many bedtime stories I would read to them.  Scheming against going to sleep, there was always, “Just one more, Mom.”

Now I searched my memory for when the very last request for a bedtime story came.  I could not remember that night and I was left to question, did I end with a, “Not tonight,” or a “You bet we can read one more.”

Our kids only grow up once.  Someone wise once said in describing raising kids, “The days are long but the years are short.”  The long days often tempt us with a “no” answer.  There is always something else competing for our time on a daily basis.

But as our kids grow, it’s important to remember there will be a last time for certain requests.

  • “Mom, will you hold me?”
  • “Mom, will you play a game with me?”
  • “Mom, will you read me a book?”
  • “Mom, can I make cookies with you?”
  • “Mom, can we do something special together today?”

The thought of not knowing when the last request will come encourages me to say, “yes” more than I say, “no.”

After considering my children’s fleeting requests, I donned a sweatshirt and sweatpants and headed outside with my two excited children to watch for meteors.

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Without computers, phones, video games, iPods, and other distracting influences, we began a lovely and focused conversation.

  • We contemplated if bugs sleep.
  • We questioned God’s choice of sound for certain animals upon hearing an owl hooting.
  • I answered questions about the bible.
  • We discussed the upcoming school year and all the fear and excitement it’s generating.
  • We oohed and awed over each meteor we saw and took a tally of how many each saw.
  • We saw a bat.  A BAT???  Okay, I’ll admit the bat sighting made me ponder if my love for my children really needed to supersede my grocery list.  But I planted myself in my seat and proceeded to fling my arms in a frenzy when a moth would pass by fearing it was the bat.  I soon became the entertaining headliner eclipsing the meteor shower

Although my grocery list sits blank on the kitchen counter and I’m working on this blog post at midnight, I feel good about my decision.

Grocery lists will await me the rest of my life.  The opportunity to write will most likely continue long after my kids have grown and moved on with their own lives.  However, the time I have with my children at home is fading fast.  I want to make the most of it while I have the opportunity.

Are you in the midst of busy days while raising kids?  Are you inundated with your kid’s requests?  Which ones will you miss most someday?  Will you begin to say, “yes” more than, “no”?

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©2013 Connie Davis Johnson

 

Are You Insignificant?

August 7, 2013 — 10 Comments

“Connie, you’re just a slut and I have no doubt you will be pregnant before you’re 18.”  Those were the words of my “Christian” Vice Principal at my private school after he learned I sneaked out of my house the night before.  He presumed upon what I had done (and was wrong by the way) and chose the most hurtful words possible.  Words I found devastating!

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The news reached the other teachers and each, with the exception of one, treated me as if I wore a scarlet letter.  I was a disappointment.  I was someone who failed at life before I had even reached the age of 16.  I better marry rich because I would never amount to anything in life.

They had me convinced.  If they, being Christians, thought so ill of me, I couldn’t imagine what God thought of me.  So by the end of the day, I decided I was done with Christians.  I was done with church.  I was done with God.

Have you ever been belittled?  It can be through biting sarcasm or serious insults.  Have you ever ached to have that all-important person in your life believe in you only to have them ignore your greatest accomplishments?  Has anyone made you feel as though you would amount to nothing in life?

Take heart, there are others also.

David, in the bible, is also among the rejected.

David is the youngest of 8 boys.  The runt of the family.  When Samuel, the prophet, shows up at the door to anoint a new King (per God’s instruction) among one of the brothers, David was not even invited to the feast.  He was told to keep the sheep while David’s dad paraded each of his brothers in front of Samuel.

After each son is rejected by God, Samuel has to ask if there are any other boys.  Only then, did David’s dad mention his existence.  David had killed bears and lions to protect the sheep but those accomplishments did not impress his dad.  He thought of him as the least.  The hobbit.  The one who would probably never advance above the lowly position of shepherd.

When people we admire don’t believe in us, their negativity can seep into our conscious and breed insecurity.  It’s not long before we are repeating their words to ourselves, convinced of their validity.

But David did not buy into the belief he was insignificant.  How did he escape the prison of insecurity?

He believed in the person God said he was more than the person his dad and brothers said he was.

Can we drown the voices of the world?  The loud voices telling us we’re not good enough?  That we’ve made too many mistakes?  That we will never do anything of importance?

Is it possible to listen to the voice of God telling us we are valued?  We are worthy?  We are significant?

Yes!

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Thankfully, the day I walked away from God on that dark day in High School was the day He pursued me.

When I came home, my mom could tell something was wrong.  Even though I didn’t want to tell her knowing she would be mortified from the embarrassment I caused her at school, she would not leave me alone.  I had to tell her.  I told her word for word what the Vice Principal had said.  Her face became red and little veins popped out in her forehead.  I knew it was a mistake to tell her and braced for the punishment to come.

Instead, she turned, grabbed her keys, and walked out the door.  I had never pushed her so far that she had to escape from my presence so now I was terrified.

Later, I learned she drove across town, marched into that Vice Principals office and made him wish he had wandered into a Mother Bear’s den.

That was the day I realized my mom was on my side.  She saw something in me that deserved to be defended.  She believed in me.  She knew I was capable of being great and that I could do something significant with my life.   And she didn’t appreciate anyone telling me differently.

My mom taught me imperfect Christians who make frightful mistakes is no reason to give up on a perfect God.  People cannot do what God has already done.  God is the One who gifted me, assigned my value, and wrote a perfect plan for my life.

If you are struggling with insecurity, I encourage you;

  • Look past the bad others think of you and the mistakes you’ve made.  God forgives and redeems.
  • See the value God assigned and the beauty He gave you.
  • Rather than walking in the plan others presume on your life, walk in the perfect plan God already wrote for your life.  Remember, He even took into consideration all the mistakes you would ever make as He made your life plan.

You are significant, worthy, beautiful, important, gifted, and have value.  He believes in you!

“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.  My frame was not hidden from you when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.”  ~ Psalm 139:13-15

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  ~ Jeremiah 29:11

 

You may also like:

When Someone Refuses to Forgive You

Perfect Mom?  Hardly!

Are You Noticeable?

©2013 Connie Davis Johnson