Jesus Doesn’t Care About Middle-Class

I am being vacuumed slowly and painfully into the vortex of suburbia America.  This was one of my fears when deciding to move here. In Florida I lived in smaller town where I knew people and saw familiar faces. I was able to get to know my neighbors and the cashiers at the grocery store and the lady who worked the counter at the pizza joint.  I also intimately knew the lives of the teenagers, their struggles and their pain.  I prayed over them and dried their tears. Their lives kept me immersed in the realities of the world.

At one point I served as staff of a church who’s property backed up to a poor neighborhood.  Children would come out on Wednesday nights in search of some community.  I would walk nine year old girls home at ten o’clock at night when it was pitch dark out only to find their moms say things like, “I was wondering where you were.”  Those same kids would show up on Sunday, not feeling like they quite fit in, watching through the windows at the “churched” kids. Barefoot, dirty and unfed.

Now I”m back in the bubble of the city.  A bubble filled with children living with a narrow worldview, thinking their lives are difficult.  I’m living in a city where your attire is important, and everyone pays hundreds of dollars to get their hair done.  I’m surrounded by people who take regular expensive vacations and teenagers consider $150,000 houses the “ghetto”.

nice house

 

And all of this “lifestyle” is sucking the life out of me.  I find myself wishing I had more “things” and comparing myself to the trendy women who walk about with their babies ducktaped to their bodies.  I find the time and energy to reason with myself about buying clothes and shoes. I desire things now that I did not desire eight months ago.

shoppin

 

I completely understand that some people work hard to have nice things and own their homes and do their nails and spend $200 on their hair.  I get it.  But I don’t want to be that person if it costs me what matters most.

I see myself losing perspective.  I see myself allowing the world and my flesh to drown out the purpose of my life.  I feel myself allowing God to be at arms length because the suburban lifestyle is oh so comfortable.

Friends, it will suck you in.  And it’s strong…oh so strong.  Convincing you and enticing you.  The seductive dance of wanting and buying and needing skews the picture of the why Jesus came in the first place.  Your bubble- life you live without disturbance, focused on yourself and your own needs and wants, completely shelters you from the Kingdom of God.

Pop the bubble.

Take off the blinders.

Remove the night vision.

Change the way you look at things.

Alter how you think of your circumstances.

Most of us don’t have it that bad.  In fact, most of us have it pretty damn good.  Don’t let middle-class America determine your relationship with Christ, if it hasn’t already.

And I’m not talking about donating a few things to Goodwill, or helping load a food truck.

I’m talking, be sold out for Jesus instead of worrying about what’s on sale or how you’re going to get more of something you already have way too much of.

I’m talking, stop being in a hurry and start being still in His Presence.

I’m talking throw everything you think you know about your neighbors & all that gossip out the window and really listen and be a friend.

I’m talking stop just showing up to church on Sunday after going to the bar on Saturday.  Don’t go to the bar and serve, give, love.

Do more, be more.

Jesus doesn’t care much about your middle-class or upper-class or wealthy status.  Jesus cares about the condition of your heart, your intentions and the love you have for Him and His people.

 

LG|LP 

Tiff 

You Have A Silent Story

‘There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.’

I lived around the block from the cute boy in second grade with bright, sparkling blue eyes. He was super fun and over the years we became fantastic friends. You could find him at my house on any random day eating bowls of cereal from my pantry because my mom bought the “good kind.” As we got older we hung out in my front yard with our group, smoking cigarettes, dancing to the truck radio and staring at stars while we all lay in my driveway at 2am.

He had an older brother who wasn’t much like him and his parents were cordial and kind. His dad was a huge man with a bushy, Duck Dynasty-like beard. My friend often told me how much he hated his dad. I didn’t really know the feeling since I didn’t have a father. But we danced anyway, we smoked, we counted stars.

It wasn’t until years later that I found out that his dad hit him… pretty hard… pretty often. It wasn’t until we lost our friendship and moved on that I found out my friend’s silent story.

I had my own secrets. I’m sure everyone wondered why I was jealous and geeky. Or why I wore the same jeans everyday. Or why I was an outcast who skipped school and eventually dropped out. I’m currently working on a book that will reveal all the shame I lived in –shame covered in addiction and domestic violence. Soon my own silenced story will be revealed.

I think of all of this now, today, this month. It’s child abuse awareness month.

CA Awareness ribbon

Kids all over the community, in every zip code, every single neighborhood–even yours- have secret stories. Their stories affect their desire to fit in, their need to bully, their feelings of not being enough. And my guess is that you have a secret story too –a story that people just may not believe. A secret that doesn’t even begin to align with the person the world thought you were. A story that affects your desire to fit in, or your feeling of not being enough.

I wonder sometimes about the other kids I grew up with.

Why did they cry to sleep at night?

What were they trying to hide from their friends?

What did they need that they never got from the ones that were suppose to care for them?

Now that I have gained knowledge and a pinky-full of wisdom, I know that lots of them covered up their pain just to make it through, just like me. I couldn’t have been the only one.

I’m sure you have you have a story to tell, and I’m inviting you to tell it.

untold story

So, tell me your story.

Write it, and send it to me.

Tell me who everyone thought you were and what your secret struggle was.

Get it off your chest.

Share your shame.

Share all that you were afraid to tell when you were a kid.

Send me your silenced story.

One line, one paragraph, a million pages. Whatever it takes.

And if you send me your story, I can make you a few promises:

  • I promise to keep them confidential.
  • I promise to not judge you.
  • I promise to weep with you.
  • I promise to pray for you.

Email them to: SilencedStories@yahoo.com

Let God heal you…
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3

LG|LP
Tiff

The People Who Make A Difference

It has been one week since my grandfather passed away. I had the honor of speaking at his funeral and wanted to share with you what a great man he was… Sow seeds into the lives of others, it is what you are remembered for in your death that creates a legacy… It is what makes a difference.

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I love the story about my grandfather’s name. I can only imagine the endless conversations when my great-grandmother was pregnant with him…In german, I’m certain. His daddy was adamant about his name being Edwin William Franke Jr. And obviously he won. But my great-grandma didn’t care what was on the birth certificate. She wanted to name him Robert, so Bobby he was. My grandpa was called Edwin, Bobby, EW, daddy, and to me and so many others… poppy. My grandmother called him our garbage disposal because he always was in charge of eating anything on our plates that we didn’t finish. Appropriately he always said, “You can call me whatever you want, just don’t call me late to dinner.”

His dinner one evening was on the stove. It was a gravy, meat-filled stew. He came in and gobbled it up. My grandmother walked in the kitchen and said, “bobby! What are you doing?”
He replied, with a mouthful, “This is good mama!” To which she had to confess…”That’s dog food!”

My grandfather, my poppy, lived a life of service. No matter what the call was, he served with humility. I guess He honestly didn’t have much of a choice being married to my grandmother. He gives credit to the success of his marriage to two words- YES, DEAR. But in all actuality, this was his very character. No matter what we asked or needed, he was there for us. He may not have had much to say, but he was there.

He took boys hunting, and taught them how to make birdhouses.

He pitched 100s of tennis balls for at-home batting practice.

He bought a farmhouse in Minnesota so he could be closer to his family.

He read to toddlers, and rocked babies.

He teased us, calling us things like “snaggle tooth” when we would show him our latest toothless smile. He was always picking on us, or cracking jokes. The night before he passed, he was laying in bed, and Trey, my brother, went to say goodbye. Trey says, “Poppy, I need to go.” Poppy replied, “Well if you need to go there is a bathroom right there.” And then he smiled.

He would dig deep in his pocket when we showed him our report cards, handing us maybe a dollar or two or five.

He taught us dominoes and poker.

He paid us to sweep up the grass after he mowed.

He washed dishes.

He was my personal chauffeur–because I had no desire to drive as a teenager. Probably because once while in Minnesota he was giving me a driving lesson and fell asleep before he taught me how to make a turn. I knocked that mailbox clear to the barn. He picked us up from practices and wherever we were, with whoever we were with.

He bought us candy bars and sodas.

He didn’t mind when we ate all the pecans he just spent hours cracking and shelling.

And ever so often he would pat our leg or shoulder, or hug a neck and say I love you baby or I love you bud.

Never too many words. But definitely never a complaint. He was always there.

And if he wasn’t there, like sometimes on Sunday morning when we were at church, he was home barbecuing. Or he was working, because even after he retired he was wise enough to know he needed to be out of the house for at least a few hours every day if he was going to keep his sanity.

Then there were the times he was simply “resting his eyes.” which was code for I’m napping.

Throughout my life I watched him. How he moved, what he said. I studied his hands. I remember once I stood at the side of the dining room table watching him eat cheese, crackers and dried sausage. I just looked at him, and he would cut me a piece and scoot it over to me with his finger. Never saying a word…One for him and then one for me.

I spent the night at my grandparents house often, and I would snuggle between the two of them. My grandmother would rub my tummy to help me sleep. When her arm would get tired, she would reach over to him and put his hand on my tummy. After a few seconds I would push his hand off…his rough hand filled with callouses…and go to find my grandmothers. My poppy was a hard worker.

I remember once, going into the bathroom and pulling out his razor and shaving…or should I say cutting up…my face because of the mornings I would sit on the toilet seat while watching him shave.

I watched him.

I watched him love my grandmother. In fact, Omie and Poppy were sort of one word And no matter how angry she made him, or how many hours he spent in his workshop paying his penance for some silly argument they had, he always forgave her.

I remember him sitting in the car at some store parking lot, countless hours, reading his paper and just waiting. Because he would drive my grandmother wherever she wanted to go. Then later I would watch him kiss her when he left, probably for the store to pick up the things she forget because she was too busy talking to everyone

My brother and my cousin and I have decided that he was pretty much the most patient person on the face of this earth.

I can only recall seeing him angry, maybe once or twice, and it was only because of someone he loved being hurt.

He was kind to everyone he met, and ushered in a spirit of acceptance with his smile. His infectious, toothy smile, that lit up his blue eyes and and touched your heart, making you feel important and loved. In fact just few weeks ago, my daughters best friend was visiting from out of town…I introduced her to him and said, “Poppy this is Sally, she came all the way from florida…” He responded, “just to see me?” and then flashed his grin.

His kindness, his patience, his love. His peaceful spirit, his servant spirit, his generosity his ability to forgive, his humility…His entire way of life was an example of Christ.

And specifically for me, he fulfilled the scripture in Psalm 68:5 A father for the fatherless.

He may have been my grandfather. But he was the only father I knew. I’m grateful for the love he poured into my life. I’m grateful for the joy he brought to this life, I’m grateful to have seen him in his final hours as he sang worship songs and talked with Jesus, slipping peacefully into his eternal life with Christ. Jesus was glorified in poppy’s life and his death. I pray to only be as privileged.

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Getting Over It With Tortillas & Big Red

It’s a Christmas miracle.  I started working out.  If you know me at all you know that I am not one that enjoys working out.  I don’t get a high from it, I don’t get satisfaction from it, I don’t get it. I do understand I have to stay healthy, and that is my only goal.

But you runners…you’re crazy.

And you cross-fitters, I don’t even claim to begin to understand you.

Oh and you that go to the gym and then post pics of your cupcakes and donuts… let me just

Shake.

       My. 

          Head.  

But I did, I started doing some walking.  I have to. Because I am faced with the swimsuit + the reality that I haven’t worked out in the 8 months I’ve been in Texas.  It’s amazing what a little grief and depression can do to you. I have done nothing but eat the tortillas and drink the big red, and sulk on the couch.

 

Today I saw a friend I haven’t seen since I’ve been back.  She asked why it took me so long to come see her.  Seeking sympathy, I told her about the trap door of deep, dark depression I’ve been hiding behind. She looked at me and scrunched up her face and told me to

Get over it!

So I guess it’s time for me to get over it. We do this thing, us humans, where we submit to our feelings more than we trust in Jesus.  It’s okay for us to feel, God made us that way.  It’s okay for you to be disappointed you didn’t get the job.  It’s okay that you are angry that she wronged you.  It’s okay for you to be joyful when he isn’t. I love that God created us to live the abundant life.

Some think abundance means the materialism, or everything we ever want.  To me abundance is the fullness of life, the good with the bad.  The pretty and the ugly.  The roses and the thorns.  God gives it all to us, at His discretion.  It’s when we don’t trust in that, more so, it’s when we don’t trust in the character and integrity of this Great God, that we eat tortillas and gain 10 pounds. It’s then we have to start exercising.

Whatever it is for you that you need to get over, take a step. (A positive, non-alcoholic, drug free step). Do something to help you get over it.  It might be exercise, it might be talking to a friend, it might be just admitting that you have something to get over.  But it will always be Jesus.

Always Jesus. 

 

tortillas

It’s Time to Break Up–When Mom’s Need To Let It Go

What’s for dinner?

What’s for dinner?

What’s for dinner? 

This question makes me want to poke my eye out with a fork.  A dull, dirty fork.  I stay at home, and work here and there doing some speaking/consulting/counseling.  But the hardest job I have is feeding my kids.  I am trying not to break the bank with eating out, at least during the week.  I’m not a great cook, but I’m not the worst.  I don’t have the budget nor the interest in fancy, hour-long-preparation dinners. My kids would be satisfied with 89 cent bean and cheese at least 3 nights a week, but I just can’t bring myself to do it.  #ThanksPinterest

And before you comment: Pinterest DOES NOT HELP!  I repeat Pinterest DOES NOT HELP!

Why?

Because I have a child who does not eat pasta–unless it’s Ramen.  That eliminates 99% of the cheap and easy recipes I’ve pinned to my board.

I’ve tried the–if you don’t like it, don’t eat it-approach, but then I spend at least 20 whole minutes in the kitchen, no one eats it, and then I get pissed.

I’ve tried the – YOU cook dinner then-approach.  My kids will eat Ramen, or chicken soup and then be hungry at midnight and scarf an entire box of cereal before bed.

I’ve tried the-FYOF (Feed your own face)-approach and then I get complaints that they had Ramen the night before, and then the night before that.

I stare in the pantry, open the fridge a few hundred times, make some rubber chicken and then store at least 3 containers full of food so I can throw it away on Friday.  As I face this horrible monster–dinner, not my children–I have to simply apologize and say, “it’s not you, it’s me.” As if we are breaking up, and perhaps that’s exactly what needs to happen.

The reality is, I want to be a Pinterest Pioneer Woman who not only makes the best most nutritious food but loves every single minute of it, even the washing dishes after part.  But the realty is, I’m the –drive through, you wanna bean and cheese taco and a coke?– kinda mom.  It’s who I am.  It’s nothing personal, it’s just who I am.  In reality, I’m the only person who puts this dinner-pressure on myself.  My husband doesn’t, my kids could care less.

So as of this moment I”m breaking up with dinner.

And chances are you have something you need to break up with, too.   You have some shortcoming in your parenting, or your marriage, or your life that may be a “shortcoming” according to the world of Pinterest and compared to the super-duper at home moms who can balance it all and still look fabulous at 6:30 (oh and post Bible verses on their Instagram and constant words of encouragement about loving every moment of life)… not me sister, me with greasy hair and mascara running down my face, ready to pass out to the latest episode of iCarly my child has watched at least six times.  Just know that shortcomings are relative, and if it doesn’t bother anyone else, you are officially released from all guilt and all attempts to be something that you aren’t. (Ding!) <—-that is the sound of absolution.

magic wand

Let the laundry pile up, you will wash the undies when you need to.  (Ding)

Let the dog go one more day without a bath, he’ll be alright. (Ding)

Let your hair be greasy and the mascara run. (Ding)

Let them eat Ramen! (Ding)

Can #BanBossy Make a Difference

One of the things I was called often as a little girl was “BOSSY”. Whenever I played teacher or soccer I was the little girl who told everyone what to do. When I played Barbie, I told everyone what Barbie and her friends said to each other.

You pretend to ring the doorbell, and then I will say “Hey, come on in.” and then you will say, “It's so good to see you, I brought you a present.” And you have to bring me a present, like that little kitty over there.

Or something like that.

Even now as an adult, I'm pretty Bossy. And the surprising thing is, I'm not offended by it…not then, not now. Because it's true. I'm bossy.

The real problem begins when we tell our kids that they should be offended by something because of our own insecurities and our own failures or our own fears. That's what Beyonce and other famous women are doing with the #BanBossy campaign. I never gave a second thought to the word bossy because no grown up ever told me it was a bad thing.

But now….Now we have an entire, well-funded campaign to help girls to unnecessaritly form negative opnions. The #BanBossy campaign tells little girls that the word Bossy is bad but the word Boss is good. It tells adults to not use the word Bossy about little girls anymore so that girls can 'take charge'. The campaign barks that we should use the word “leader” instead. The website claims the word bossy lowers the self-esteem of little girls (without any data to back it up, I'd like to mention). But like one tweet I read said: No one over the age of 10 says that word.

It's going to take more than changing a word to change the future for little girls.

A word is not the problem.

A label is not the problem.

The problem is that little girls don't know their worth…and not their worth according to the world.

Tonight I got the perfect example of what the world thinks of girls, and the lies these girls believe. I attended the yearly mandatory high school cheer meeting. All the other moms and I grabbed our “packets” when we walked in the door, and were asked to hand a $300 down payment on the way out.

I support my daughter in cheer because 1. I love her 2. I love her and 3. I love her. She's a gifted encourager, loves to dance and looks cute with her hair in a bow.


Besides that, I hate everything American Cheer represents…the excessive, unnecessary spending/buying, the jealousy, gossip, backstabbing and hatefulness of “the team”, and demanding coaches who try to convince me that three new uniforms are necessary for five district games.

I witnessed all of these things at this 45 minute introductory meeting and said to myself, “Tiff–this is what is wrong with girls.”

The cost of the camp-week uniforms cost more than camp itself. We were told, “All camp wear is necessity.”

All 5 bows…Every pair of $20 shorts. What these girls are really being told is that how you look is more valuable than what you learn.

When the coach announced that every single cheerleader is eligible to be cheer captain without any prerequisite, the squeals erupted–and not squeals of excitement. Hands went up with questions, “why coach?” “you can't do that coach.” When the coach stood her ground and stood by her decision, the insecure-filled gossip flew through the room.

These girls are believing that every other girl around them is a threat.

These girls are believing that they can disrespect authority behind their back after falsely respecting authority to their face.

These girls are believing that it's not fair to be “bossed” around by someone you don't like or agree with.

These girls don't like the word Boss as much as #BanBossy claims they don't like the word Bossy.

The lies don't just saturate the cheerleaders. The volleyball players believe their own set of lies. The artists have theirs. The thespians believe theirs and the uninvolved have theirs.

And these lies are not going to disappear because we stop using the word bossy.

The only way to replace a lie is with the truth.

The truth:

Every little girl is so worthy because there is a man who not only was willing to die for them, but he actually did. And he did this because He wants to know and love them unconditionally. So what this really means is that :

It doesn't matter what you wear to cheer camp.

It doesn't matter who is the cheer captain.

It doesn't matter how you look in your volleyball spandex.

it doesn't matter that you could care less about school activities.

It doesn't matter if you are the boss

It doesn't matter if someone calls you bossy.

#BanBossy is simply a band-aid. It's a seeming solution but the problem is rooted so deeply, no celebrity, no removal of a word can solve the future problems our girls face. You can take away every word in the dictionary, it won't matter.

All that matters is that every girl is worthy and valuable simply because we are all created and are unique in looks, personality, gifts. Our girls need stop being fed that a simple observation of them, that a word can determine their future. #BanBossy is another way for girls to learn to depend on themselves…and human nature always disappoints. Instead, let's teach our girls that a word has no power over the realities of what was done on the cross. Now THAT is a message that can make a difference.