Rejection II.

“Hi Friends!
Anyone interested in a Holiday Gift exchange? I don’t care where you live – you are welcome to join. I need 6 (or more) ladies of any age to participate in a secret sister gift exchange. You only have to buy ONE gift valued at $10 or more and send it to one secret sister and you will receive 6-36 in return!
Let me know if you are interested and I will send you the information! Please don’t ask to participate if you are not willing to spend the $10.”

When I first read this post on a friend’s Facebook wall, I got very excited. I wanted to participate because: A.) I love Christmas and B.) I love making new friends!

So for two things I love to be combined into one activity I had to do it. At first I was very excited to be a part of a secret sister gift exchange (I’ve always wanted to do one), and then I got the message from the person doing it.

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Turns out, that this “gift exchange” was a chain status. One person shares it, then they share it with 3 people, and then those three people share it with 3 people and on and on. While I was still excited to be a part of it, I felt a little less excited. I had thought that the gift exchange was going to be more organized and intentional, being between ladies who wanted to share intentional gifts instead of a chain status.*

After learning that I had to share the status on my wall to be a part of the gifting, I started to get nervous. I began thinking: “What if no one wants to participate with me?” “What if people think this is a dumb idea?” “I am sure all of my friends are already doing one from another friend on Facebook, why would they want to do mine?”

Then it hit me. This is another fear to tackle:

Rejection.

So to face this fear head on,  I decided to create my own gift exchange.

I posted a message, similar to the chain one, on my Facebook wall and sat waiting for the inevitable rejection of no one wanting to participate.

The response I received was wonderful. 5-6 lovely ladies in my life all wanted to participate, and even got excited when I mentioned that it was a bit different.They all wanted to be in a gift exchange and were excited at the chance to make new friends!

I was so excited to be a part of this little group; but also because I had put myself out there.

While this may not seem like a big feat of bravery or courage, for me it was. Just to put myself out there for the possibility of being rejected is a major stepping stone to overcoming some social insecurities I have experienced since I was a child.

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As No Fear November comes to an end, I am very pleased with how this month has gone. It was so difficult to face many of my fears and insecurities head-on; and I still have many more to tackle. However, once I made the decision to consciously face them, I began to grow bold in my decision, made new friendships, and found new things I enjoyed. I learned that I loved going to yoga classes and really want to dive more into my personal practice.  I had the opportunity to create a circle of new friends and encouragement through gift-giving by facing the possibility of rejection. I even gained more of a tolerance to possible rejections by doing little things throughout the days to get rejected on purpose.

I learned so much about how much I can handle; that I am much stronger than I choose to give myself credit for.

I hope to do this series again in the future!

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*Disclaimer: I like this idea! I am not dogging this at all.  I think it is great for sharing love and Christmas cheer! I am just personally just drawn to more intimate/intentional situations. I prefer intentional gift exchanges between a group of friends or potential friends instead of sharing the same status over and over to receive lots of gifts. I am fine with one. (Insert Introvert cliche)

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The Truth About Being A Military Wife

Christina is a sweet woman and wonderful friend of my mother. She is such a light to anyone who meets her, and has so much joy it is contagious! Anyone who meets her truly knows something is different about her life because of her compassion and love for others.

“Are you my home?”

Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.

Colossians 3:2

I’m sure many of you are familiar with the children’s book Are You My Mother?  It follows a tiny bird as it searches for some semblance of a parent after tumbling carelessly out of his nest.  He meanders around, questioning anything from a dog to a crane if it’s his mother.  The pint-sized bird feels misplaced, away from familiar surroundings and he longs to be a welcomed by the warmth of the familiar.

This is a perfectly illustrated picture of my pilgrimage of being a military wife! (I use the word pilgrimage because I envision myself carrying loads of luggage, of which my husband can support as truth!)  I sometimes feel like that misplaced tiny bird; instead I go from house to house asking, “Are you my home?”

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I have been a military wife now for over twenty years and military child seventeen years prior to that.  I have moved every four to six years of my entire life. (Please don’t do the math to find my age!) Currently, God has called us to reside in Louisiana, this month we will have been living in the Bayou State for over five years!  

Midway through my military-wife-pilgrimage there was a small verse in Hebrews that completely transformed my life:

For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come.

Hebrews 13:14

Can’t you just hear the words jump off the page when the tiny bird shouts, sounding almost frustrated from his journey, “You are NOT my mother!” to the large crane he calls a SNORT.  Like that tiny bird I often look at these many dwelling places and shout, “You are NOT my home!”

This life is all I have ever known, but not all I have ever seen.  

I have seen aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews all squeezed on to a tiny group of bleachers, just to watch a t-ball game.  All the while I tried to remember how I got to the baseball field so can find my way back to my new home in the dark.  

I have sat through numerous church services, feeling insignificant because no one knew my name, and I in turn did not know theirs.   

I have been culturally confused more times than I care to know;  I speak too fast for the south and too slow for the north!

I have gotten lost too many times to count and I have had a driver’s license in five states and one foreign country.   

The pilgrimage has been long and trying, but truth be told, I wouldn’t change a thing!  I know just how blessed I am to be able to see new places and experience diverse cultures.  However, in the midst of my military life journey I realize just how much I struggle with connection.  

I find it easy to keep my mind on things above, it’s the connections on earth I struggle with.  It’s simple; staying disengaged from deep relationships keeps me safe from the distress of leaving a friend behind.  However, I know that is not what God desires for my life!

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!  

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10  

Two things I have concluded from my struggle:  God created relationship and it’s really not about me.  It’s not about me finding a friend it’s about me being a friend and an encourager, even if it’s only for a season.

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Moving tags; attached to every piece of furniture in my home.

Let’s revisit that pint sized bird again and his quest to find his mother.  The crane, which he chastised for not being his mother, is the very object that elevated him to his perch.  Could it be that my perpetual temporary state is the very thing God will use as an open door for a ministry of encouragement?  

God desires for me to be involved in other’s lives, to be a blessing.  I am inspired by Barnabas, in Acts who was known as the son of encouragement, and everywhere he journeyed he was an encouragement to others.  God has opened the door for friendships in every location I have lived in and I have grown in my spiritual walk with every move.  Sometimes I was the encourager, and other times I was the recipient of encouragement; meeting many strong godly women along the way.  

My faith in Jesus has carried me to the place where I am secure in the knowledge that I have a home waiting for me that is permanent and unshakeable.

My reliance in Christ has allowed me to reach out to others wholeheartedly and cultivate friendships for the glory of His kingdom, even if for just a brief time!

My pilgrimage as a military wife, while at times unpredictable, I can see has lined up perfectly with the necessary growth in my faith journey, and for that I am truly blessed!

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Christina is an Air Force wife and a stay-at-home mom to two school age children, with a college age son now living away from home. She loves to study biblical history, and is never far from a vanilla latte. She is currently serving as the Women’s Ministry Leader at First Baptist Church in Haughton, Louisiana, where she has the privilege of exploring creative ways for women to grow in their spiritual walk! In her free time she loves to write, in hopes of one day fulfilling my dream of becoming a published author of Christian fiction!

Apathy.

Loss. Destruction. Hurt. Fear. Agony. Distrust.

These are just a few of the emotions and realities that have come the past few days.

But fortunately for us Americans, we can soon forget all these things. There will be no one to remind us of these horrible events. The media will soon move forward, social media will spin into Christmas mode, and the thought of all of these events will be less than memories in our hyper, fast-paced, American minds.

We won’t have to worry about the Syrian refugees walking onto our soil in masses in search of help and care like European countries.

We won’t need to rebuild our cities and public entertainment centers destroyed by a suicide bomber.

We won’t have to try to rebuild thousands of years of history because of a massive earthquake literally ripping our culture from its foundation.

Our reality, as Americans, is that we will be more worried about cooking our huge meals for our families, finding the perfect gift for our loved ones, and we will continue to fight about who is the loudest candidate running for President. We will fall back into our habit of picking apart each other’s opinions, Facebook status’, and outward appearances. We will return to being jealous when a friend does well on a project, being angry about immigrants coming to our country, and looking down on those living in poverty. We will continue to fight each other to be the best, fastest, or most liked.

How can we claim a life of love, and yet give none of it- How can we claim a life of limitless opportunity, and not allow everyone the chance to experience it-

While we definitely have problems of our own, abandoning the plights of others seems incredibly selfish and small-minded. We see the struggles, fears, and life-threatening circumstances of those in other places everyday on the news, and yet can find a way to justify our forgetfulness and apathy. We want to help, as long as it doesn’t affect us. We think that the refugees need homes, but are unwilling to give them our own. We feel the sadness of the attacks in Paris, but the next day decide to fight about Facebook pictures.

How can we claim a life of love, and yet give none of it? How can we claim a life of limitless opportunity, and not allow people the chance to experience it?

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I feel turmoil and anguish writing these words. Not out of fear, but of great sadness. The loss is so great; and yet all we can seem to muster is a Tweet that hopes those in need will find somewhere else to go.

But I am asking, if not to us, then where?

Why not us?

Friends who claim lives of love and peace in Jesus Christ: why are we so unwilling to help the helpless? Excluding our “rights” to freedom, liberty, and saving our economic system, is there a justifiable reason? Who are we to turn away the needy? Are we not instructed to give freely, even at the risk of our own safety?

Please know that I write these words with love and not judgement or anger. I write this blog to be a light in an ever-dark cyberspace. Sometimes that light comes out as encouragement. Other times that light must be truth. We must be aware of our fellow man in hurt and agony. We must show compassion and love to those in need.

Now is the time.

Much love. Much grace.

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“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless,tempest-tossed to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

-Statue of Liberty

Failure.

The first week of No Fear November was much harder than I expected. For some reason I thought that overcoming my fears and insecurities would be easy, but the whole reason why my fears and insecurities even exist is because they are hard to overcome.

These past couple of weeks I have been trying to tackle the biggest fear I have:

 Failure.

I have been wanting to try a yoga class in our local area for sometime now months, but I never could get the motivation to go.

I always thought I was just being lazy, since this class starts at 6 am and goes for a full hour. As the day drew near to go, I became anxious and began dreading my decision to go.

“What if I am not as good as everyone else there?”

“What if I can’t do even the basic moves?”

“What if I fall over or hurt myself?”

“What if I find out that I just can’t do yoga at all?”

So on the day of the class I woke up at 5:15 am… and promptly decided I would not be going to the yoga class.

Later that week, I began to realize that I was not being lazy, or just making excuses, I was genuinely scared of looking silly in front of others. During a class I had never taken. For an activity that I have been trying to do on my own for months, but know I need help with. 

This fear caused me to go a full week and a half without trying the yoga class. I couldn’t seem to get the courage to go.

I began thinking about what I was missing out on. The opportunity to hone or learn my skill, possible new friendships, and making the choice to be healthy by taking care of my body. I was missing out on all of these wonderful things, just for a few “What if’s” that honestly don’t matter.

So what if I am not as good as everyone else? I am just beginning the class and it has been happening for about a month and a half.

So what if I can’t do the basic moves? If I can’t do the basic ones, then I have been learning the wrong way to do them and need to learn the right way so I don’t injure myself.

Really? Falling over? Come on girl.

If I find out I am actually not good at yoga, then that frees up my time to find a different health activity that I can do.

While these were all valid questions in my head, asking them out loud and then actually answering them gave me the power to overcome, at the very least, these questions. 

By not even trying the yoga class, I had already failed. I did yoga at home that morning when I skipped the class, but was still unsure of certain poses and it was only for a quick 10 minutes, like every morning. By skipping the class, I was missing so much and causing myself to fail. I was creating my own cycle of fear.

I was missing so much and causing myself to fail. I was creating my own cycle of fear.

The first week of November went by, and I had yet to try a yoga class; until I found a studio in my area that had a community class during the evening. I chose this class because there was no longer the excuse of needing sleep or being in a rush. I could go at 7pm and enjoy the class; without excuse.

So this past Tuesday I went to the class! Can I just say that it was the best decision ever? Because it was definitely wonderful.

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Everyone was so kind and excited to be there doing yoga. Since this class was a “Community Class” there were people who were of all levels and ages, even some who had never even attempted yoga before.

I was able to get the help I needed for certain poses, have a focused yoga practice for a full hour (instead of a mild practice at home), and I met different people who I would love to know better.

Each one of my worries that built this fear was utterly debunked. I now know that I enjoyed yoga in a studio and can’t wait to go again. Not only that, but I conquered my fear. I tried every pose, even if I had never attempted it before, and did the best that I could. Even with the risk of failure, I still participated in the full class; and had such fun in doing so.

I am so proud of myself for doing this! Little baby steps are leading me down a path with less fear and worries. By turning over these little things to God and allowing change to overcome these fears, it makes the bigger things seem less intimidating.

Are there any fears you are overcoming this month? How are you accomplishing your goal?

Much love. Much grace.

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Rejection I.

The fear of the first week during #NoFearNovember15 is one that I struggle with greatly.

Rejection.

This is a “fear” of mine that is based on insecurities in myself and how I think others view me, and I am ready to take that fear down. In fact, I struggle with this so much, that my intended post for this week is moved back to be a few days later all because I am somewhat scared of being rejected.

Maybe you have had that feeling. That tiny little gut feeling that you shouldn’t do or say something because people might think of you in a negative way. Maybe you are afraid of not coming across as sincere or having a weird sense of humor or just being misunderstood. If so, you definitely aren’t alone. Manypeople feel these things; especially in our American culture. I am one of the many people who have allowed the fear of rejection to climb into my life; and at times allowed it prevent me from doing things I want to do.

the dismissing or refusing of a proposal, idea, etc

In order to reduce my sensitivity to rejection, I am participating in a weekly challenge.

About 2 times each week I am subjecting myself to different forms of rejection. This can be anything from simply asking for a free refill on a Starbucks order to asking for money from a stranger.

This project was actually the brain-child of a man named Jia Jang. (You can view his finished project on his website.) He created the rejection project, but he did it everyday for 100 days.

As I complete various acts of placing myself ready to accept rejection, I will write a post to share with you. I may not share each one, due to time constraints and the Holidays approaching, but I will share what I can.

Wish me luck and bravery as I go through this month of having no fear!

Much love. Much grace.

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