7 Reasons to Write

One of my friends on social media asked a question the other day.  The question was, “What do you like most about being an author?” A number of answers followed.  I thought about it for a few seconds.  And then I answered.  My answer? Having a voice that will live forever and knowing it will still be making a difference when I’m in heaven.  The following are 7 reasons why I think it’s important to write:

1. You’ll live on
All of us will leave this earth at some point. My Grandma was a wise woman and she loved teaching.  I always hoped that one day she would write a book.  I know she desired to, but she never got around to doing it. I wish I could hear her tell her stories.  Sure, I remember some.  But there are so many details that are missing from the ones I remember.  And it bothers me sometimes that she’s not around to ask.

When she passed, I went digging for some of the cards I knew I had saved that she had given to me on special occasions.  And there I found more than just cards.  I found her voice.
It was like I was hearing her speak from her heart all over again.

Writing is a way of making your voice live forever.  You and I have a voice that makes our voice unique.  Writing brings it to the platform no matter where you’re from or what you’re doing.

2. To encourage without having to say a word
Ever have one of those moments when you’re listening to your child, a friend, or loved one and you feel like you have tons of pearls of wisdom to share, but you can’t get a word in?

Writing provides that opportunity. When you write, you don’t have to wait for someone to finish talking.  You don’t have to even wonder if they’re listening.  Writing allows your children to listen to you even when they don’t want to admit it.

3. You can help make a difference
A couple of the children’s books I’ve published have a piece of my past. I took some of life’s messes and turned them into messages.  What better way to help others than to use your story to do it?

We all have a story.  Maybe you were rich and grew up having everything you ever wanted or maybe you were poor and didn’t have a thing. Whatever the story, you are you and no one can tell your story or the lessons you’ve learned better than you.

4. Creative flow
Like any talent or gift in life, the more you write the more you may be able to write. It’s like cooking or baking or painting.  Creativity comes from within.
And it’s important to start somewhere.  The more you write, the better you’ll become at it.  And the better the flow.

5. It may help treasure the memories
I know life can throw us some hard balls, but it’s also full of so many treasures.  From special friendships to happy occasions to your children’s funny made up words.

I have a friend who shared on social media a page from her Grandma’s journal.  In it was a memory about a homemade pie which was brought to her by her daughter. If we take the time to write those special memories, we can relive those moments.  And one day they can be reminders to our loved ones of how much they are loved.

6. It can be a stress reliever
Believe it or not, taking the time to write might help relieve stress. It can feel therapeutic in many ways.  If you’re like me, you’ll know that there’s just something about making lists.  Once I make a list of to do’s I somewhat feel relieved of the tasks that were once crowding my thoughts.

I heard someone say once that in his quiet time of meditation or prayer, he once found himself trying to fight distracting thoughts.  And he said one of the things that helped him train himself to get through it was to make a note of every thought as it came. He did this until he had no more distracting thoughts and he was able to focus.

7. It can be a form of discipline
Making a decision to write might help you embrace discipline.
I’ve noticed that the more I become disciplined in one area, the easier it is to become disciplined in other areas.

Whether it’s writing the names of our offenders to forgive, writing chores, writing words of wisdom or creative stories, writing can benefit us and others in so many ways.

What and why will you choose to write today?

 

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A Call from HOPE

Cinderella.  Who doesn’t know the story, right?  A regular girl.  Someone hidden from the outside world.

She gets mistreated by her stepmom and sisters.  Then right when she thinks there’s no hope for her to get to the ball, a fairy pops up out of nowhere and Cinderella gets a make over.

It gets better.  She has the night of her dreams.  All eyes are on her, including the eyes of a young handsome prince.  I know.  It’s just a fairy tale.

But something got me thinking about that fairy tale recently. I got a call at work.  The woman’s name was Cinderella.  I thought that was pretty cool.  It definitely made me smile.

And then I thought about Cinderella and her glass slipper.  After having the night of her life, she lost a glass slipper.  And when the clock struck midnight, she became her regular self.

The special thing about the lost glass slipper was that it led the prince to the Cinderella in plain simple clothes. She wasn’t dressed in fancy clothes.  She probably didn’t even know how to get her makeup as perfect as it was when the fairy visited her.  But that didn’t matter.  Why? Because the prince had fallen in love. He knew what he was looking for and had found her.

I read somewhere that the moral of the story is about fighting for what you want and keeping a pure heart in the midst of it.  But maybe there’s more to it.

Maybe it was a story about identity.
Maybe it was about a girl who discovered her beauty in response to negativity.  Someone who discovered a happy ending to a messy start.  Maybe it was about a girl who saw that losing a glass slipper didn’t take anything away from her.  Losing it was what led her prince to someone she always was–HERSELF.  Maybe it was about HOPE.

I got a call from someone at work today. She said, “Jennifer, this is HOPE.”  It was the right call at the right time.  A reminder that hope was available.

It’s easy to forget sometimes.  I know. We can get so focused on what’s not happening that we forget what IS happening. It’s in those moments that we need to see with different eyes.

I looked at the word FEAR the other day.  And I noticed something I hadn’t noticed before. There was an EAR in fEAR.  And then I thought, what would happen if we took the time to look beyond the surface? Beyond the surface of others. Even beyond the surface of ourselves.  What if we looked beyond our circumstances?  What if for a minute we imagined getting a phone call from HOPE?  And what if HOPE said everything we needed to hear?  If HOPE had a voice, what would hope say to you?

“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

Feelings, You Are Not the Boss of Me!

Ever have one of those days when your feelings are trying to get the best of you?

When my boys were little, sometimes they would argue.  Two of the biggest insults were, “Baby Face” and “You are Not the Boss of Me!”  It made my husband and me giggle every time we heard it.

We have choices.  We can give up on what we’re doing and give into feelings of defeat or we can use the feelings of defeat to fuel our motivation to keep going.  In doing the latter, we are making a statement, “Feelings, You Are Not the Boss of Me!”

Feelings, you don’t determine who I forgive.  I choose to forgive because forgiveness is an action and not a feeling.

Feelings, you don’t count when I feel like sitting down after looking at a scale that won’t budge.  I choose to keep going because I am a winner.  I am not a quitter.

The  Bible tells us that Jesus was hungry when Satan tempted him.  The devil’s first two questions began with, “If you are the Son of God.”

Jesus didn’t respond to him with feelings that may have been attached to his hunger. The truth is that before going into the wilderness, the Bible tells us that the Spirit descended upon Jesus and a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17)

It’s like the words of Jesus’ father were what kept Jesus focused. Truth weighs more than feelings.

He knew he was the Son of God and God, the Father knew exactly what to tell him before he was tempted.

I’m not saying that feelings should be ignored.  Thank God for feelings.  I wouldn’t trade the feelings I felt when I gave birth to my children.

But I am saying this. I believe what we know about ourselves will determine how we respond to the temptation of negative feelings. Sometimes feelings need to be told what the plan is and that’s when we take the lead.

I remember one day many years ago when I believed the lie that I had blasphemed against the Holy Spirit. Feelings of doom were attached to that lie. I felt hopeless.

While feeling hopeless and freaked out over that lie, my phone rang. It was my brother who was in high school. He called me from a pay phone.  There were no cell phones at the time.  He had just surrendered his life to the Lord and was on cloud 9.  I said, “Hello.”  He said, “Jenny?”  I said, “Yes.”  He went on to say, “I was in Math class feeling bored.  And I asked the Lord who to pray for.  And He said, ‘Pray for your sister because she’s being tormented and tell her that I have her name written in the palm of my hand.'”

The truth that came through that phone call was exactly what I needed to hear. I was distracted because I believed a lie. I had allowed my feelings to keep me down based on that lie. The truth is that nothing can separate us from the love of God.  Daddy God had reached out to me with a word of truth to comfort me.

John 10:28: I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.

2 Corinthians 1:22: and he has identified us as his own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first installment that guarantees everything he has promised us.

Feelings are nothing but feelings.  How we respond to them will tell us who is in charge. Our feelings or us.

Hebrews 4:14-16 New International Version (NIV) 14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven,[a] Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

 

Finding “YOU” in SolUtion will help your reSOLUTION

It’s the New Year.

The gyms are full.

Promises are being made.

Goals are being set.

I have been trying to lose weight for as long as I can remember. I look at pictures of when I was much younger and thinner and I think, “What was I thinking?”

When I was pregnant with my second son, I had major gall bladder attacks throughout my entire pregnancy beginning at six weeks. Because of it, I had to go on a strict fat free diet. I remember asking the doctor, what can’t I eat.  And he said something like, “Pretty much, stay away from anything that tastes good.”  At first I felt miserable.  I was pregnant, and I had to say no to many cravings. It got to the point that one potato chip could trigger another attack.

My choices then became actions of love for myself because they were choices that kept me from suffering.  I weighed 197 on my first visit.  And 190 at my last visit.  I lost 40 pounds in nine months.

This blog isn’t about a fat free diet.  It’s not about any other kind of diet either.  It’s not about making anyone think they are far from perfect. I believe that the first step to healing and to taking care of ourselves is to realize our worth.

About one or two years ago while again trying to lose weight during an afternoon walk, I had a word repeat in my thoughts.  It was the word, “gluttony.”  I knew what gluttony meant. At least that’s what I thought. But the thought of it made me want to look it up.  And I did.

I learned that gluttony means habitual greed.

And that’s when it hit me.  I thought to myself, “Greed?”  That’s not me.  It’s not who I am.  I am a generous person.  Greed sounded selfish.

It sounded hurtful.

And then I realized that losing weight for me wasn’t about becoming someone who I am not. Eating healthy is what I do because of who I am. And losing weight in the process is just a bonus to being who I already am.  

And so today, I will not make another promise to myself or to anyone else.  Today, I choose to say, “I’m sorry” to the person closest to me. Me. Before I can love others, I need to learn to love myself. And when I start loving myself, I can make better choices for my body.

Loving myself starts with saying I’m sorry and meaning it.  The following apology was made with YOU in mind. If you’re dreading another resolution and the stress and weight that comes along with it, maybe you can start with me by starting the year with an apology.

Dear Body, I’m sorry.

I read somewhere that cancer and other diseases have a lot to do with obesity.  I’m sorry for putting you at risk.

I’m sorry for eating like a glutton.  You are a generous person. Gluttony is not who you are.

I’m sorry for the insults.  I’m sorry for the times I’ve looked at you in the mirror and thought you looked awful.  I’m sorry for pointing out the areas  that looked imperfect and for saying cruel things that hurt.

I’m sorry for the negative words like “sick and tired.”  They are not true.

I’m sorry for listening to others who put you down as if their words mattered more. And I’m sorry for believing them.

I’m sorry for standing too long and not resting.  That hurt your feet and legs, didn’t it?

I’m sorry for complaining about you.

I’m sorry for the extra weight.  It’s hard to carry, isn’t it?

I’m sorry for comparing you to others. I realize you are unique and made in the image of God.

I’m sorry for the parts that define my gender that I’ve disrespected.  They are perfect.

I’m sorry for at times looking at stretchmarks as a defect instead of as an honor. Stretch marks are signs of accelerated growth.  I’m sorry for not seeing them as the tools that made room for me to hold life.

I’m sorry for the name calling. I know you are not fat.  You are not a pig.  You are not ugly. You are not a mess.

I’m sorry for criticizing you.

I’m sorry for eating when I’m full and making you feel sick.

I’m sorry for entertaining the thoughts of starvation even if they weren’t my own.

I’m sorry for choosing sugar over better choices like vegetables and fruit.

I’m sorry for blaming you.

Today, I want to fall in love with you just the way you are.  In doing that, I can treat you like you deserve to be treated.

The passion is in the process, and I LOVE YOU. I LOVE ME.

 

Twas the night after…

The countdown. The holiday lights. The décor. The shopping. The cooking. The baking. The laughter. The fun. The gifts. The family. The children. The end.

I sat there listening to two people talk about it.  They were not related to me nor were they  my friends. They were having an open discussion in my presence. Statements like, “Christmas was boring. It’s for the children. My children weren’t with me. The food at my in-laws tasted awful. What was he thinking when he gave me that? I’m not sentimental.” The list went on.

Those statements were followed by more complaints about gifts and their opinions on what they should have received and why what they received wasn’t good enough. Every year I think I hear the worst until another year comes around.  And it turns me off completely.

Is this what the holidays have become?  Is Christmas about people who hate each other getting together for a holiday party that they don’t even want to attend? Is Christmas about spending the same amount of money on others just because others are spending that on us?

Is it about feeling obligated and carrying an extra gift in our trunks just to show we didn’t forget someone when we actually did? Is that what it’s about?  Is Christmas about saying no to the gift exchange because the gifts we received were always too cheap for us to appreciate and we would rather not be insulted?

Is Christmas about holding grudges over the little things we heard at the dinner table which we misinterpreted and chose to get offended over?

I was standing in line at a store recently with my 17-year old son when he told me that he noticed the madness. People grabbing gifts and standing on line with piles of stuff. All for one day. There’s nothing wrong with buying for our loved ones.  I know that.  But everything about it that day just seemed wrong.  People were rushed. The atmosphere felt cold.

He expressed his heart and what he saw before him.  I wondered if it was an epiphany. Or was it something that was quite obvious. I agreed and told him his heart was in the right place.  It was a proud Mommy moment.

Maybe the “disappointments” are all just signs that we need to grow in love.  Maybe it’s a sign we’re craving for attention.

Maybe that’s why we say and hear that Christmas is about the children.  Maybe it’s because we see something in them that we fail to see about ourselves sometimes. We see a genuine love and appreciation.
A love that is a sincere expression of who they are.  Maybe it’s because they can’t hide their feelings.  Or because their smiles light up every room they enter.

Have you ever seen children at a park? I recently watched my girls play with a girl they didn’t know. It didn’t take much warming up. I saw them laugh and play.  They even held hands as they sat on a swing.  It wasn’t the first time I had seen this happen. Children are humble.  They’re not afraid to express to each other the need they have for one another.

Children are quick to forgive. They don’t judge.  They don’t see color.  Maybe they do, but they definitely don’t treat others different because of it.  And they don’t see age.  They can sit for a while talking to the elderly.

Children don’t see prices either.  Have you ever noticed how a young child responds to a coloring book and a bottle of bubbles?

Children find joy in the little things. They are gentle and kind.  When they hurt, they cry and don’t hold back.  They don’t worry about what people are saying or thinking about them.  They laugh out loud.  They run freely without worries.  If they’re young enough, they’ll run around naked, too.  It’s called innocence.

Children love to give.  They get excited about handmade cards.  They write freely from the heart about what makes them happy. And they make it all about us.

Sometime before Christmas, my 5 year old heard a commercial on the radio about dying children. She was shocked to hear it and asked me about it.  I tried to explain to her that there are starving children, but that’s why we need to send them food. She thought that the Christmas cookies we were baking were for them.
It made me laugh, but it also made me think.  I wondered what it would be like if we started baking for starving children around the world instead of for ourselves.

If Christmas is just for children like people say, then why don’t we all act like children? I’m not talking about running around naked. Please don’t do that. I just think the world would be a better place if we take the time to think the best of each other and love without limits.

How to Turn Writer’s Block into a Detour

The blog.  We started it.  And we were very excited about it until we hit the wall.

Writer’s block.  That moment where you sit at the computer because you know you haven’t posted a new blog, and you feel like you have nothing to write about.  One draft becomes two drafts.  Two become four.  And now there are eight half written posts sitting in the draft folder.

Why does it happen?  Is it because we’ve run out of words?  Impossible.  Is it fear?  Possibly.  Let’s face it.  We have a blog, and we want it to be interesting.  Any thought about it not being good can stop us from writing. Maybe we’re too focused on aiming to please?

Or maybe it’s because we feel we have nothing to write about.  Think about it.  Can that be true?  No.  It can’t.  All of us have something to write about.

Ask anyone who has written in a diary if they’ve ever experienced writer’s block.  My guess is all would say no.  Why?  Because when one writes in a diary or journal, he/she writes like no one is looking. It reminds me of that expression, “Dance like nobody’s watching.”  There’s freedom in doing things when we know what we’re doing isn’t for anyone else but for ourselves.

I’ve decided that I can’t be intimidated by writer’s block.  Just like I can’t be intimidated by the scale. If I’m exercising and the scale won’t budge, that’s not a time for me to cry and give up on exercising.  Trust me, I’m there right now. It’s a time for me to discover new ways that will help me reach my goal.

It’s the same thing when it comes to writing.  Moving past the block is like hitting a detour. I can sit in front of the sign and not move.  Or I can take another route and keep moving.

Questions that can help get through writer’s block:

What happened today?
If you ask yourself this question, it might help you find the topic of the day.  Maybe it was a phone call. Or maybe it was a personal problem.  How did it make you feel?  Did you learn anything from it? What can you do to encourage others through that same experience?

What inspires you?
Is it sitting in the backyard or is it putting on your cozy robe with a hot cup of coffee or tea at your desk?  If it’s a song, play it.  If it’s looking out the window, pull up the shades.  If it’s a candle, light it.

Who inspires you?
God? Yourself? A teacher? A mentor? A stranger?  Talk!

Just the other day I got a phone call from a little old lady.  When she told me her husband’s age and told me that they were married for 63 years, I asked her to tell me something about those 63 years.  And I could tell she was smiling as she told me about the first day they met. Her story inspired me to write about love and wisdom.

Think Outside the Box
I met someone the other day. She was a teacher and she told me she wanted to write, but she didn’t have the time and desired to do it after she retired.  I encouraged her and asked if she ever thought about recording herself.  With wide open eyes, she thanked me.

A couple of months later, we ran into each other at a store.  She hugged me as if we were old friends. She thought she didn’t have a way of doing what her heart desired, but thinking outside the box was exactly what she needed.

Nothing really is Something
Nothing means “not a thing.” The simple solution to breaking through writer’s block is to write about something even if it’s nothing because if you have nothing to write about, you have something.  You might need to read that again.  Go right ahead.  See.  Right now, I’m writing about something when it’s nothing at all.

And that, my friend, is what gets me through. It’s knowing that the block isn’t the end.  It’s the beginning of a different route to get me where I’m going.

Working Moms and Socks

I remember growing up and digging into a laundry basket of unmatched socks.  We were a big family, and I guess my Mom used to leave that as the last item on her to do list.  I don’t blame her. I was convinced I would never have a laundry basket full of unmatched socks when I had a family.

And then it happened.  I had children.  And recently I found myself staring at a pile of unmatched socks.  I was taking my time trying to find the pairs.  After several long minutes (which felt more like hours) of trying to match them and wondering where the matching socks were, I gave up.  It was my day off.  The last thing this working mom wanted to do on her day off was match socks. Guess what I did.  I grabbed a plastic shopping bag and filled it up with all the single socks.  And then I tied a knot, and threw them out.

I can’t describe how liberating that felt.  Some of you might be thinking, “Come on, a bag of socks?”  Yes, a bag of socks.

I’m sure there are plenty of crafty moms who might read this and wonder why I didn’t save them for sock puppet projects on a winter day.  Believe me.  I thought of it.  And there are others who are probably thinking that no one really wears matching socks anymore.  I thought of that, too.  But they had to go.

I realized something that day.  I realized that no one was going to cry over missing socks. I realized that there was no “mom guilt” attached to throwing out socks.  And there are plenty of more socks out there.

But the best lesson learned that day was about letting go.  Letting go of a pile of unmatched socks is just as important as letting go of the silly things that sometimes weigh us down.  Worrying isn’t going to solve anything.  But thinking outside the box sometimes will.  And in this case, thinking outside the box meant throwing out a pile of socks.

Moms, here’s a sock tip.  If you have more than one child, try buying different designs for each child.  Somehow, it makes laundry moments less stressful.

The Fair One Speaks

I debated on whether or not I should tell her, but I did. I told her I disagreed with how something was handled. I held my peace the best I could. We ended the conversation because in both of our eyes, it was going nowhere. I spoke to someone about it. She did, too.

Shortly after that I heard a familiar song and bible verse repeating in my thoughts–“He makes all things work together for my good.” It was comforting, and I believed it. I wondered how, but I didn’t think much about it after that.

The following day she walked into the room, and we greeted one another. Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect. I figured I would just continue to respect her and forget about it.

Two minutes later she said, “I owe you an apology. You were 100% right.” I looked at her and wondered where this was going. It wasn’t the first time I had heard an apology from this individual. She had disrespected me several times after that. But I listened.

This time was a little different. She went on to say that she had a dream.

She explained the dream to me. She felt as if she was reliving the moment we had in the dream. Her friend (who was our coworker) in the dream had stopped her from speaking in the dream. She said it was as if she knew her thoughts before she could speak, and she told her that she was not responding to me the same way she was responding to her for the same reason.

I listened and thought about it. I knew there was more to it. So I looked up the meaning of our coworker’s name. It meant, “Fair, favored one. Son of the fair man.” I knew that the person whose name represented fair one wasn’t about her at all.

There was so much more to it. As I meditated on it, I realized this person represented my Savior, my advocate. He’s fair. And I realized that the message behind it was the importance of treating me like the “fair one; favored one. Son of the favored one.” Why? Because it is who I AM in him.

It reminded me of when Saul persecuted Steven, snd Jesus asked him why he was persecuting him (Jesus).

I had seen God touch someone’s heart through a dream. And it really encouraged me. I’ve had moments when I’ve praised and prayed myself through difficult situations. And there have definitely been moments when I’ve said to the Lord how unfair things have seemed in different situations throughout the years. I’m sure we’ve all had those moments. But even in the midst of all that, I’ve trusted in His faithfulness knowing that He’s not blind to any of it.

She said she felt like God was telling her not to mess with one of his. But I tried to explain to her he was simply opening her eyes to see things differently.

I didn’t go home worrying about a thing when it happened. There was nothing for me to worry about. Yes, I was upset. Righteously upset. But I let it go and moved on. When I heard the dream, it was like music to my ears.

Each experience teaches us something, and this one taught me that the fair one speaks for me. He fights my battles. They are his. His tenderness and his love leads men to repentance.

When you have a moment when you feel as though you need someone to speak on your behalf, remember the fair one speaks. His name is Jesus.

Parenthood

Parenthood. When they’re little, you feel like you’re their biggest hero. You give advice, and they take it with their eyes wide opened.

Then your babies grow and become more independent. And you wonder if they find you interesting in those few minutes of conversation at the dinner table or as they head out the door. It happens.

Sometimes we need a reminder that we’re doing a good job. I think every parent needs a pat on the back at one moment or another.

It was Saturday morning and my son had an appointment with the photographer for his Senior yearbook pictures. He showered. When I saw him about to dry his hair, I tried to stop him because he told me his hair product was like clay and stiffened quickly. It didn’t make sense that he would apply something like that to his dry hair. He said the barber had dried his hair before applying his hair product, and he wanted to do the same. My husband looked at him and said, “Your Mom has experience with this for years. Maybe you should take her advice.” He insisted on doing it his way.

When he was done, he came out with his hair flattened. I didn’t laugh. I just smiled, and I looked at him and asked if he wanted me to help him. He accepted. Then I smiled and said, “Don’t you love it when your Mom is right?”

He smiled and went with it. I told him to wet his hair, and we started over. As I styled it, he took out his phone to record it and post to his social media. At that moment, I really didn’t care how I looked. I was touched that he wanted to record it and post a message on social media which read, “Mom is always there when I need her.”

And then it hit me. All those doubts that sometimes ring in my ears about being a great mom were drowned out by 15 minutes of being there for my son.

Today, don’t focus on all the mistakes. Don’t compare yourself to the other moms and dads. We can do that at times. Just live the moment. There will be plenty of “Rescue” moments when we can just open our arms and show the love that never changes. That’s when they’ll be ready to accept it. And we can stand tall and know we’ve done a heck of a job.

FOR WHOSE SAKE?

I was asked to speak to a group of teens.  It was my first time doing that at this place. Sure, I had spoken to teens before.  But that was about God to the youth at church.  I think that’s easier.  Maybe because it’s where they want to be.  But this was different.

I was going to talk about my children’s books and about self-esteem.  I was excited, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized I needed to stay focused.  Let’s be honest.  Teens don’t always seem interested.  At least that’s what we think.handmade-791693_1920

I was in a hurry.  Right before heading out the door, my five year old daughter handed me a book.  It was a  book I never read.  I didn’t even realized we still had it.  The title of it was, “For the Children’s Sake.”  That title was exactly what I needed to keep me focused.

When I arrived, there was no platform.  There was no microphone.  There were approximately 20 to 30 teenagers sitting at round tables.  Some were louder than others.  The oldest one (let’s call him Dwayne) I think was about 16.  He stood out to me.  He was a little slouched in his seat. He seemed somewhat uninterested. Dwayne had a hoodie on and earphones in his ears.  One of the leaders had to call his name out a couple of times.

Dwayne ended up winning one of my books. I asked if it was anyone’s birthday, and he said it was his younger sister’s birthday. I learned quickly that the last thing you want to do is give out a free book to a teen in a group before starting your speech. So.  I asked for it and told him I would sign it and give it to him at the end of the class.

I tried my best to keep them interested.  One kid started to tell me his dream out of nowhere.  Coincidentally, it went with what I needed to say, and I interpreted it for him.  It was funny.  Dwayne ended up pretty impressed with the interpretation and how it backed up my speech.  And honestly, I was blown away myself, but I didn’t tell them that.

When I was done with my 30 minute speech which at some point felt like it would last forever, I gave the book back to Dwayne.  I asked how his sister’s name was spelled.  And I dedicated it to her.  But then something happened.  Dwayne asked me to dedicate it to him, too.

It really caught me by surprise.  I Love Me: Building Self-Esteem and Happy Hearts was my second children’s book.  It was illustrated by my 8 year old daughter and me.  I didn’t think that he would be interested in it.  Elementary children?  Yes.  Middle school children?  Yes.  But Dwayne?  Nope.  It’s not what I expected.penny-may-i-love-me-cover-best-one-with-exclamation-point-joe-edit-2

And then I realized something.  Inside Dwayne was a heart that needed to be encouraged. He seemed cool on the outside, but he was a little boy on the inside looking for attention.  And that day he got it.  When I asked him about his dream, his response changed from “I think so” to “yes.”  I told him it was possible.  And I told him he would succeed.

I had volunteered my time. Sure I didn’t get paid.  Sure I felt challenged and uncomfortable at times.  Teens have that effect on us at times. I have two of my own. They’re great children, but they sure can make you feel like you’re not a part of their world sometimes.

But underneath those faces, there were hungry hearts.  I saw it in their eyes.  I saw it in their expressions.  I saw it in Dwayne. That day was a special day.  And there was a lesson in it for me.  The lesson had to do with my why.

My focus wasn’t on what I was getting.  My focus wasn’t on sales.  I didn’t have any that day. My focus was the answer to my why.  And the answer to why I was doing what I was doing  was for the Children’s Sake.   They are our future.  And that made it all worth it.

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If you ever feel like quitting, just think about the reason why you started doing what you’re doing.  And let that be your fuel.  If it’s for one, it’s worth it.   There are plenty of Dwayne’s out there that need us to keep moving forward.