Why Cliques Don’t Disappear After High School

cluelessI hated high school. Dude, did I hate it. So much,  that the moment I discovered I could drop out, get my GED and go straight to college, I ran as fast as I could to sign up. I was an emotional mess and high school was daunting for me. My school educated approximately 3,600 students, 980 of which were in my future graduating class. I hated  feeling lost, I wasn’t challenged in my studies, and spent most of my time utterly confused.

What was hardest on me was the cliques. I was tall, awkward and to say I lacked confidence is a severe understatement. I constantly compared myself to other girls, tried my hardest to find my place, but I only found myself even more misplaced. The girls were ruthless, and loved only those who loved them. Those girls who were my friends in middle school found other places and spaces and boyfriends and activities. I simply roamed the halls, skipped classes, and felt alone.

Ironically, one of my favorite no-brainer movies is Mean Girls. It’s a story of a girl who moves to public education aftspartaner being homeschooled by her missionary parents in Africa. She discovers the hatred & the treachery of the realities of the clique. Oh and then there is Clueless…and of course our favorite SNL Skit with Will Ferrell….

And then there is the Breakfast Club. The absolute quintessential high school movie about cliques, and how at the end of the day…the end of a day at Saturday detention, we are all pretty much the same. This whole idea of exclusion is a universal struggle among all people. I felt like the poster child.

High school was tough and I thought by escaping the hallways, I would escape what I hated the most about them.  One of my Besties and I have had several conversations in the last few weeks about how our problems follow us no matter which state we attempt to escape to….or which school we try and ditch, or job we quit. I remember my first job in corporate America. I discovered rather quickly that high schoomean girlsl antics don’t go away after high school, they simply follow us. The haunting of the clique just seems to never go away…not even in the church.

It’s interesting to me how the entire ministry of Jesus was centered around abolishing the cliques, destroying the idea of exclusivity and challenging people to open their hearts to the least, the confused, the emotional mess. In the Kingdom of God, everyone has a place and it is one of honor. Yet within the Christian community, I witness these groups of people that sometimes seem impenetrable. The same women attend the same Bible studies, the same recovery people attend their groups. There are those who belong to this small group and those who belong to that volunteer group. And everyone has the same group of people they say hi to every week. We tend to only talk to those select neighbors, and those select friends. Seems we have missed the point completely!

We just don’t have time for everyone.

It’s just so uncomfortable.

We want church to be ours.

We want our evenings to be relaxing.

Three or four friends are enough.

We are afraid.

We are too worried about ourselves.

The reasons, the excuses, the rationale, all of it convince us that the safety of our clique is justified, because we are Christians doing life with other Christians.  It’s convoluted, and it’s not Biblical.

We must love everyone, and we must do it intentionally. We must go out of our way. Jesus went out of His way to love me, to give me a place to belong. After years of feeling alone, and even times now when it seems I have no place, I find a place in Him.  There are so many–lots of people–who need for once to NOT feel as if they are outside of the clique. It has to start with us. When Jesus called us to love others, it wasn’t intended to be from a distance. That command was so that we can love others in a way that make us uncomfortable, that forces us to depend on Him, that requires much of us.

Go to a different Bible Study.

Go outside after dinner and take a walk, and talk to your neighbors.

Invite your co-worker to sit with you at lunch.

Say hello to the lady at the grocery store.

We can never have enough friends.

Have that family over for dinner.

Everyone wants to be included.

Why do we love Facebook? Because anyone and everyone is there. Why do we want our kids to play for the YMCA? Everyone gets to play and everyone gets a trophy, everyone is included.

The cliques won’t disappear, but you can choose to not be a part of them anymore. You can choose to include and accept everyone. You can offer the love of Christ to every. single. person. within your reach. You have absolutely no idea who just might need it…it might be me, it might, in fact, be you.

LG|LP

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Why Baltimore Is Important To Your Ministry & Your Faith.

It started at 6 a.m. I was avoiding my day, and told myself I could scroll through Facebook and Twitter for 9 minutes, until my alarm went off again. Nine minutes turned into twenty as I went from story to story, opinion to opinion, and tweet to tweet about the horrific happenings in Baltimore. It wasn’t simply the reports that made my stomach turn, but I found myself holding my breath and outright angry at people’s perspectives–more precisely those of the Y Generation (people born between early 80’s &  the year 2000.

All day my thoughts simmered as my frustration slowly turned into anger. I knew I needed to write it out, because, that’s what I do. But my ideas were scattered, and the queen knows we don’t need to add another already spoken opinion, except to say this.

Your ministry is important. 

What you do every week when you serve kids or teenagers, or the parents raising kids and teenagers, is the absolute most important thing you can do for our culture, for our community, for our future. No matter the race, ethnicity, social status of where your church is or where you outreach, your calling and obedience to that call is what will begin to spread the only message that can actually redeem us from these situations.

I conversed with myself wondering if we are surrounded by one of the most ignorant generations ever. And I think, no, we are not. Riots aren’t new… lack of understanding, education and empathy…lack of peace…have destroyed corners of our country for centuries. What is different, however, is how wide and quickly anger and hatred is spread. And how people accept all they see at face value. That fire of negative spreads, and we can only change it by quenching it with love, true love.

In order for our world to change, we who have been called must stand in the gap with prayer in fasting. We must pour into teaching love more than creating games. We must grieve over the possibility that the children and teens we teach may never know experience true justice or peace. For the sake of the next generation, we must stand firm in truth, and teach Jesus.

The President is not the answer. 

The Mayor is not the answer. 

Donald Trump is not the answer. 

Some of these people could help provide temporary solutions, but what we see…the looting, the burning, the cursing, the hatred… is not because America had slaves, or really even that a community has been neglected with no government funding….what we see is a heart issue. A heart issue in people who are crying out for answers, who are alone and hurting, who feel purposeless and disconnected, who have been abandoned and need to be redeemed. The black, the white, the poor, the police, the leaders, All of them, as chaotic in their souls as they are creating in the streets.

baltimore

We have such a privilege to be able to speak into these broken hearts before they are so shattered all they see is hate. Our purpose is to show the world that there is absolutely, at the end of the day, after all the injustice, a better way. Our purpose  is to speak into the heart of that Police Officer who abuses his power, or the government officials who pad their pockets at the expense of the poverty stricken, or the child who is lost, or the store owner who is victimized, or the mother who is addicted, or the father who is bitter…they are in your church, in your pews, drinking your coffee, shaking your hand. In your hallways, your workplaces, your classrooms.

You living out your faith is important. Wherever you are, whoever you are. If you have a relationship with Jesus, now, now, now is the time. 

The power to raise the dead is in us. We are commissioned. We have our banner, we must wave it high. It is not just unity, or love, or peace. Those are good things. But we have the mystery, the key, they secret. We have the answer.  We have Jesus. Sharing that matters! Never give up. Let the hatred you see not bring fear or discouragement, but rather a charge to press on and press into the only one who can save us.

Jesus.

LG|LP

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Encourage someone, and share!

How PROM Can Destroy our Daughters

It’s prom season. I don’t even know people. My mind has been flipping around thoughts, that happen to run into my emotions and then I find myself confused and disgusted and convicted all at once.  The Prom, which is another fancy and loaded word for High School dance, is a time where students spend now on the average of $1100 to go hang out with the same friends they see all the time, every day. Yes, $1100.  A house payment.

Now before I go on I have a few things to say :

1. I never went to my prom, and to this day I have no regrets about that. I didn’t keep in touch with friends from high school ,really. Most of my friends were upper classman, so I don’t feel I really missed anything .  I went to the prom after parties with my older friends, so that’s honestly all I really cared about at the time–the after party!

2. I don’t think the idea of Prom is horrible or evil. I love the idea of my kids hanging with their friends, doing life, making memories.

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What I do have a problem with is the cost of this high school dance, the pressure on girls, and the obligation of parents. I posted my frustration on my Facebook Status today and found that I am not alone. Girls are spending anywhere between $400-$600 on average on their dresses. Then add the cost of shoes and accessories, Make up and hair-dos are approximately $200-300. Then there is the limo service and the fancy dinner. Parents are selling kidneys to make sure their girls get what they want.

There is even a boutique at a local mall that will record which dress you purchase and which school you attend to insure that no other girl will have your dress.

I want all three of my daughters to feel beautiful and magical. I want all of my daughters to love dressing up, and to embrace the fun of womanhood.   I want my daughters to appreciate the uniqueness of being a woman, and growing into sophisticated and loving red lipstick.

But, the pressure people.  The pressure is real.

We are a fairly minimal family. We don’t have a lot of “things”. We buy what we need when we need it. We stretch our times between haircuts and buy the groceries we are going to eat. My husband is in social services, I am in ministry. We have learned over the last 10 years of our lives that there are more important things in life than things.

Even if I had hundreds of thousands in the bank, I would not spend $600 on a dress for my daughter to wear. I love her, but no.

I can’t help but think of the long term, detrimental character flaws we are encouraging in this generation of girls. I see women in the store wearing $2 t-shirts, $5 sunglasses, and carrying Michael Kors $300 purses. We, too, are guilty of overpriced and overpaid for cell phones. (I’m not perfect, people!) We all are throwing water and  are creating little Gremlins.

Our baby girl-gremlins, who think that $500 for a dress isn’t “that bad.” Or paying $90 to have someone put mascara on you is normal.  We are creating environments where each of these girls are pitted against each other, wondering if money really CAN make you look better….even worse…if money CAN really make you FEEL better.

Will the girl in the $600 dress FEEL more beautiful than the girl in the $100 dress?

The answer: It depends on YOU.

It depends on how YOU raise your daughter.

Are you raising her to reflect the beauty of her spirit? Are you challenging her to see that kindness is more beautiful than MAC makeup? Are you helping her to develop the glitter in her smile, and the sparkle in her eye because her actions and words are based on love? Are you teaching her biblical truth about jealousy and envy, and the importance of building people up and not tearing people down?

It matters.

Yes, it’s just a dance.

But it matters.

It matters that your daughter doesn’t just look beautiful or even feel beautiful.  It matters if your daughter KNOWS she is beautiful because she is created by a God who took the time to fashion her every curve, the lines of her smile, and the crescents of her eyes. Your daughter needs to know that our physical beauty is fleeting, but the beauty of our souls, the love of our hearts is what truly defines us.

Even the most “Christian” girl, in the most loving environment can struggle to embrace the truth of who she is in Christ. It is our jobs as moms to help them fight these battles, to not stand down to the enemy who seeks to destroy our daughter’s self worth. Every exultation from other girls about money spent, and things acquired can threaten the truth deep in our girls spirits.

Fight for your girls! Tell them that they are perfect, just as they are. Hug them and love them and prepare them for the difficulties that come. At midnight, when it’s all over, and the dress goes back on the hanger to never be worn again, we want our girls to have character, and class and truly reflect God’s glory.

What is your favorite PROM memory? Comment and Share

LG|LP

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Why the New Coke Machines Will Be the Death of Us

I walk into a restaurant and see this:

coke machine

and I cringe. I hate this machine. As a coke (a cola) addict, the source and purity of my frosty beverage is of utmost importance. I absolutely HATE the taste of the drinks that come out of this machine. My kids claim there isn’t a difference. They try and convince me that the choices make it cool, they try and persuade me to “just try” the cherry vanilla flavor. It’s all a lie.

I’m assuming those who drank Cokes out of this machine understand my lament:

vintage coke machine

We can ALL agree that a Coke out of a bottle is golden, even royal. We can taste the difference, I can taste the difference.And I’m sending this out as a PSA to save yourselves from the destruction of the American Institution of convenience and the right to choices and do not conform or utter a word about how the new Coke machines “aren’t that bad.”  BLASPHEMY.

This is typical of our society and even our lives. We allow slow, seemingly insignificant changes to seep into our worlds. We shrug, we even taste the difference, but we convince ourselves that it isn’t horrible so it must be good. Sins, lies, behaviors, small interruptions that frustrate us but not enough to actually do anything about it.

Marriages, slowly fading, with lack of connection, sitting on opposite ends of the couch on Facebook.

Parents, writing off that their kid is just a teenager and all teenagers spend all their time in their bedrooms, refusing to step into their world because, well, their favorite episode is on.

Friendships, clouded by tinges of jealousy that obviously are justified because you are such a good person and do such good things, and it’s all just not fair.

Work, church, neighbors–we make allowances for tiny white lies, changes in ourselves and others, and then before you know it, Coke isn’t using real cane sugar anymore and no one notices. We are told, we are warned, we see the difference in packaging, but we choose to ignore.

I have learned that we do have a lot of choices, according to the new coke machine, 100+, yes PLUS. But having more options doesn’t mean that we are any more equipped to make the right choice, nor does it ensure that we will focus on the choices that matter.

The only assurance we have is rooted in a relationship with Christ. One that clearly spells out that we have a choice this day of life or death, blessing or curse. It doesn’t matter what we drink with our burger and fries, or which machine it comes out of. What matters are things of eternal value, and we are daily to examine our choices, to fill the cracks and choose life, found only in Him. Like choosing what to eat 3 times a day, it’s a moment by moment decision, and one that will last eternally longer than this trendy new Coke machine.

Where in your life have you allowed tiny things to seep in, things that seem like they aren’t a big deal, but eventually will numb you to the truth that you are swimming in sin ??? Comment and Share.

LG|LP

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How To Build Relationship with Kids to Change the Faith of Families.

I live in a large, interconnected neighborhood. In order to save money on school bus service, schools tend to be plopped down right in the middle or our community. At the end of the day bell, the streets are flooded with kids. First elementary school, then half an hour later the middle-schoolers.

Tons of kids, even more families, just waiting for us–the church.

ms

That’s all I saw that day, a bunch of teenagers who needed Jesus. I wondered how many of them went to church. I wondered how many of these kids who went to church ever invited other kids. I thought of how Christians are pulling their kids out of schools, pulling Jesus out of schools, and I was saddened at the thought. (But that’s a post for another time.)

When  I lived in Florida, one day I drove into our gated community at the same time the bus was dropping kids off. I counted them. Fifteen. There were 15 kids, and I knew their stories. I could have invited them to church, but they wouldn’t have come. Instead, I brought church to them. The first week I ordered pizza, twelve kids showed up to eat the free food and hear about Jesus. The next week we grew, and the next and the next. There were nights I had 40 kids piled on top of each other in my living room, just dying to hear, dying for community, dying for connection.

I find that kids, including teens are willing to take responsibility for their own faith apart from their parents. We need to find ways to connect with kids even if parents aren’t willing to come to church. In fact, we can change the entire trajectory of faith in Jesus in families through kids and their faith. It isn’t going to happen with a single event, or with flyers on doorknobs. People need real connection, real relationship and that takes time.

Here are some ways to minister to families through kids:

1. SCHOOL INVOLVEMENT: whether you are in PTA, or just show up to a class party, getting to know kids and begin building friendship with them is a great start.

2. OUTSIDE TIME: When you see a group of kids outside, or you have a park near your house, get off your couch and go play some basketball.  One of the things I try and do as much as possible is walk to pick up my 4th grader. I talk to his classmates, give fist bumps and high fives. Sometimes I even end up with groups of kids around me as we walk and talk together. Not only am I getting to know them,  most of these kids are going home alone and I can offer a sense of security for their walk home.

3. GAMES: Go to local highschool or middle school games and get to know kids names and start conversations with parents.

4. BLOCK PARTY: throw a block party with hot dogs and juice boxes in your front yard. Have a few games out or a football. It’s a great way to get to know the kids in your hood.

And I wish I didn’t have to say this, but have some boundaries when hanging out with kids. Don’t friend them on Facebook, or ever be alone with any of them. As you begin to build friendships, make sure other kids and adults are around as you spend time with them.

The reality is, not every child or family will come to church with just an invite, but we can always bring Jesus to them, through our kindness and acts of love, and showing them how much we care.

What are some ways you have or you can start building relationships with kids in your neighborhood? Comment and  share your ideas. 

And LIKE my FACEBOOK PAGE somewhere over there —-> for daily updates, encouragement and crazy talk!

LG|LP

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