About Me...

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In a nut shell : I'm a full time working mom, a Star Wars geek, comic book nerd, Disney enthusiast, hockey Mom, a breast cancer survivor of almost a decade and oh let's not forget such a happy, sassy, southern mess!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Real Sacrifice

What is sacrifice and how do we apply it in our lives? I was just asked this the other day and it really got me to thinking about how we lead without leaving those inside are communities hungry for unconditional love and mercy. This is a question I have been posing to my children a lot lately, especially during those times we feel in need ourselves. Why am I asking my children to give up and sacrifice anything now in the middle of our own struggle, well what better a time as this to be able to genuinely learn to serve and sacrifice, without anything in return, knowing it’s coming from a place of love and kindness rather than of duty and responsibility? So many times we tend to talk about giving up this or that, making grand plans, publicly stating our good intentions, yet fail after the first attempt? We really do want to make a difference, but how long does it truly last once we have to work at it?

It’s easier to work at something we see paying off in our own lives, losing weight, getting in shape, a bigger house, new shoes, a faster car, more friends, parties, positions of spotlight and the affection of those we want to be recognized by. These are the things we prize, yet what about the lives of those the world or even the church wrapped up in her programs has forgotten? Who will be Jesus to those needing His unyielding compassion and mercy? As we approach Easter, I have to ask a haunting question screaming out from inside my heart, as Christians, how we can stop trying to act like Christians and just simply be one? How do we stop getting caught up in emotional lip service and actually serve? We have so many resources at our fingertips yet we change nothing, because if it doesn’t involve shining a light on how we contribute, how our feelings are hurt or uplifted, we just keep the needs or the contributions of others hidden. Its equivalent to allowing our fire to burn out and hiding under a bush just like the childhood songs says. Why do we have to stand out or be recognized to do what’s right?

What about letting our lights truly shine because His light is in us and not just by the money we put in the bucket, the public fasting we do every twelve months or the spiritual campaigns we profess throughout the year? How about giving up our own comforts not just on a one time mission trip, but what about right in your own back yard, the neighbor out of work, the church member struggling to start over, a friend in the hospital or the child who’s lost a parent to cancer? My family and I have been all of those people, and because of our own struggle and at times being left to fend for ourselves, we have learned never to leave anyone alone on the road, beaten, bruised and thirsty. So many folks just need to know they have not been forgotten. In our home, even as we struggle ourselves, we are trying to teach our children to give everything, and not to just go through the mere motions of service. Our desire is to see our boys become men who give everything, take every hard road if that is what it takes to take up the passionate side of Christ’s love.

Why do we ignore our Father’s call to love, to sacrifice and to serve? I am saddened to say so many times I see an opportunity slip away because we as the body of Christ can’t leave behind our insecurities, and give Him the reigns instead of trying to control how He uses us. We seem to tell Him more often than not how He can work in our lives, and end up with regrets we can’t shake. Why is it letting His love, His sacrifice become our burning desire, and an all-consuming fire in our hearts is so hard to accept? In His death He saved us, took our sins and forgave them, never to remember them, so how are we being this kind of example to our children of God’s ultimate love and sacrifice for us? We have all fallen and we all have living testimonies but how often are we really living them out loud, instead of just talking them up loudly for others to hear? How do the lost truly get found, not by anything we do our own or even in His name, I can tell you that much. Lives are truly found and changed, not by what we expose and profess as His will but instead it’s by the sacrifices we are willing to make when no one is looking.

It is beyond my comprehension the infinite love Christ has for me, but unless I am willing to lay something down for someone else His love cannot bring fruit in my own life. If I am not offering compassion and being the hands of Jesus to others how am I anything like the Good Samaritan Jesus spoke of in the parable? It’s just that simple. We are called as a body to be the hands and feet of the One who laid down His life for us first. His life, laid down for you and me should remind us what life is really all about, not how tall we are above the crowd, or how many chairs we can fill at our next event. If we are truly saved by grace then we need to begin showing compassion again, not sideways, round-a-bout care and concern, giving our leftovers. Who cares about what the new special party this week or the gotta have trending piece of fashion everyone is wearing, no, our eyes need to be focused on the battle of the heart, not how we are seen through the world’s eyes! Sure we talk big, and we give those willing to talk the tallk with us the prized seat at our tables, but when do we actually offer those same seats to the folks who are tirelessly working, humbly giving up their own desires to make sure the needs we talk about meeting are truly met? We do not need to be the head, nor do we need to be the one who shines simply for the benefit of ourselves. No, real sacrifice is about selfless acts of kindness, surrendering, giving up our desires, for someone else’s good. 

Maybe those of us celebrating Easter and His resurrection this year, myself included, need to give the gift our of time, and be willing to step outside our comfort zone in order to be the hands and feet of the One we proclaim to serve. If nothing can separate us, why are we so consumed with every man for himself as we journey to the other side of the river? Where has our compassion as children of God gone? What if He had been too busy to break bread with the poor or those in need of compassion? We desperately need to remember what grace is and how to apply it not only in our lives but to those in need of kindness. I am not going to say it’s not difficult because there is nothing easy about self- sacrifice, giving up my day or that extra cash to grab coffee with the girls in order to give my time away and invest in someone else who needs me to listen. I may never receive a thank you or my name may never come up when the praise is passed around but isn’t that the point of sacrifice? 

This is exactly the lesson I pray our boys take away with them as they enter the world. I want both of them to let Him do the talking in their lives instead of talking for Him. I don’t want our boys to become good men with good intentions allowing their good deeds to be preceded by pride in a job well done. Many times those out in the trenches get forgotten, only coming to mind when a need surfaces. Sure, we all know we need to stop and offer a hand, or sit down and simply ask how we can help instead of shaking our heads up and own while tuning our ears off, but that is exactly the trap we tend to fall into while we rush around doing good deeds. Somehow as the body of Christ we have forgotten, closing our doors, avoiding the parts of our own family with dirt or bruises because they don’t fit our idea of trendy. Other times, we tend to pass them up because we are just overwhelmed by the idea of diving in. Talents are many times over looked because those in the trenches are not as polished, washed up or blend in with the crowd. How long do we leave the injured part of our body behind? Do we just forget how Jesus loved the least of us, how He sat and broke bread with the tax collector and the prostitute? We tend to forget our hearts were once just as bruised and battered so today I am challenging those who are willing, to stop covering up, backing up out of our uncomfortable zones and begin living true sacrifice out loud. If we are going to lead then we must do so by example, and not become stagnant in our testimonies of God’s love, grace and mercy. We are humbly made, so let’s begin humbly giving our selves away.


Monday, February 18, 2013

When Life Goes Off Course

Sometimes life just goes off course, and I don’t mean by a little bit. No, I mean the kind of day when you land in the under construction zone, skid into the ditch, have a blown tire because you failed to see the curb or take the wrong exit all because you missed yours three signs back kind of bad day. Not a flat tire, take a U-turn, get back on the highway kind of day, nope I mean, a total collision, ejection, skidding on the pavement, followed by your gas tank exploding kind of day. These are the kind of days, maybe even months when you know you have been completely thrown off course, your break lines cut, careening full throttle towards a brick wall. These are the times you smack your head with both hands because you have no control of your approaching and seemingly impending doomed future. This wall of distress, doubt and dread seems impossible to get around, without an escape route anywhere in sight, and all we can do is watch the agony and suffering continue to push full speed ahead into our lives.

I will admit I know this feeling all too well. For the past five months my family has been living this very same kind of day, almost like a sadistic ground hog day to be honest. None of us thought we would land here, or that we would have to face such painful affliction and grief but the truth is here we are. If I have learned anything from this journey we all our on, it is this: to endure. We have no certainty, no promise of another day, but we do have faith and hope. Despite the turmoil, the worries and the deep dark pits of terror and screams of panic echoing around us, we can trust, having confidence and conviction in the One who has known us since before we were born, counting each and every hair on our heads, (and yes even when I had no hair He counted the ones ready to sprout). Even in the middle of such conflict, our small, but not dim flashlights are never diminished, instead they allow light to shine through our alarm and dread.

I won’t tell you we haven’t asked God where He was when the bullying started over a year ago, or when the blow to my son’s head came to meet us face to face on campus this last September changing our lives forever. I won’t say I haven’t cried myself to sleep wondering why so much ignorance seems to have conquered the reasoning of our local school district nor can I honestly say I haven’t had days when I feel we have been abandoned and lost to the abuse, the breach of confidence and the crime of injustice in the handling of our son’s case. Today is the first time since September 14, 2012, just 9 days following our son’s assault since I shared on my blog. It has been a very long and harsh process as we have moved him toward recovery, and while many times I have longed to sit down and write, I have been emotionally void of making sense of my thoughts here for you my friends.
Through the years you have listened as I shared how Johnny and I have always taught our boys to forgive, to turn the other cheek and to move past bitterness. Has it been easy, no not at all, but despite the circumstances we have always tried to allow mercy to prevail. Yet, not all parents or even administrators in our schools have the ability to rise above pettiness. Unfortunately, most choose to take a heartless stance and trample over those they feel can be aggressively targeted and silenced, despite the damage they cause. These injuries to our children, physically, emotionally and mentally on a daily basis at the hands of both administrators and our children’s peers is beyond what my mind can comprehend. The ease our school districts accept and welcome the grievances, inequality and indignity of such deceitful, deceptive environments our children are subjected to should alarm us. Instead because we either fear retaliation ourselves against our children or we judge these parents as pests, exaggerating the real circumstances, most add to the oppression and persecution of these families standing up to Goliath. Sadly, most of these practices go unchecked, allowing for the continued victimization of our children while in the care of our public school system. 

Our story, has been covered up, our voices been silenced as our son has endured isolation and devastation all while the school has known about each complete life altering, changing and unbearable injury our son has and is facing. So far our son has undergone one surgery for his nose with a spinal tap this week and another surgery to align his eyes in the coming months. Since September 5, 2012, the day our son was assaulted on his high school campus, where he should have been protected and safe, we have tried to get to the bottom of what happened in the locker room but over and over again we have been dismissed by our son’s high school and their administrators. We have been looked at and treated as an annoyance, a blight and a blister on their perfect record, as they have done their best to conceal, camouflage, and put up a smokescreen while covering-up the evidence and the advance of dangerous, but deadly and formidable bullies inside their own campus. Katy ISD calls themselves a destination school district yet they have failed to protect, shelter, shield, guard, and defend their students as crimes are disregarded, glossed over, hidden, neglected, and overlooked leaving those not inside the privileged circles vulnerable to abuse, neglect and physical assault time and time again. 

Our son’s injuries have been life altering since he took a surprise blow to his head while changing in the locker room resulting in seizures, debilitating, incapacitating headaches, tremors, depression, expressive and receptive delays, and vision issues that now require surgery. His septum was so severely deviated during the attack his septum was literally forced to the front of his nose. The Katy ISD police department and the campus have no suspect to charge nor have they done a proper investigation into the assault or the known bullies who were already harassing, stalking and threatening to attack our son for over a year. We had to fight for a police report and even with that it took the campus over 4 months to finally speak with witnesses and we have yet to be given due process since we filed a complaint with the district on January 16,2013. If you are a rational person, then you are left as we are with a palm to the face, realizing we have an epidemic in our country watching our school systems go very bad.

So yes, we could be bitter as life has gone off course, jumped a few tracks, missed several exits, blown a few tires all at once and been twisted around a tree, only after first rapidly accelerating through a solidly built brick wall. I can’t tell you how many times we have had to come as a family before our Father, asking Him to remind us of who we are to Him, being reassured we are loved and not forsaken. It’s not been an easy road at all, cancer took as much as she could, but God restored our lives, brought us closer to not only one another but to Him in the process. Who knew cancer was just a stepping stone to this? Cancer taught us so much about fortitude and might; it was truly the beginning of the foundation of our strength. Now with this new path we have been placed upon as a family, totally in a different direction from where we thought we were headed, we can see courage and durability emerging.  

Again, I ask, why are we so afraid, haven’t we seen His grace and mercy prevail time and time again? Sure we can wait for tomorrow all we want but we still have to get through today right? So we could be bitter, we could be angry, blaming God for all this pain and suffering, but if we are to overcome any of this turmoil we must be willing to grab His hands reaching down not only to  save us but to restore our lives as well. Even in the middle of such hostility the lesson we relentlessly want to leave our boys is this: Don’t hide who you really are, don’t allow the darkness others try to fill your life with captivate you or the light inside your heart. When those who come to destroy and spoil your joy with bitterness, grief, misery, sorrow and unhappiness remember our Father makes beautiful things out of our brokenness. He crafts us into beautiful stained glass windows despite the reasons why we were broken into pieces to begin with. No matter who or what comes out of the darkness to stand against us, we are not alone, ever. Our experiences build us; create in us stories that speak of our bravery and His faithfulness and while they jar us off the course we set for ourselves, they seldom take us in a direction God hadn’t already shed a light on first!

~ Christina