Lessons During Quarantine

My mom and I were talking the other day and our conversation of course turned to the quarantine. She told me her and dad had been talking about lessons learned during this time. So many people were talking about learning and growing so she thought maybe she was missing something.

She wanted to know; what was I learning? What was my dad learning?

This made me think. What lessons have I learned during this time? Anything? Everything? Nothing at all?

This is the short list I came up with:

Things can change in an instant. No, really. One day you can be dropping you kids off at school, heading to work with makeup on, and the next day you are all at home. All of you. Like everyone. All day long.

Your job is not that important. Unless it is. Most of our jobs can be done at home.

My kids never need me until I sit down. This is not an exaggeration. It’s almost like they can feel my bottom hit the chair.

It’s become evident that most of my kids will never move out. Ever. One of my kids ask me today what the purpose of her ear was so she could complete her science sheet. I told her for earrings. And she almost wrote it down.

One of my kids is a street smart ninja and she will be just fine. I’ve moved all my hopes to her. It only took her one day to figure out shortcuts for everything.

There have never been more people with an inside look into our lives until now. The Bible says money is the root of all evil, but I feel certain ZOOM would now be added to that list.

Tele-therapy is the funniest, most stressful thing I’ve ever done. No, really. It’s like I can see all my self respect slowly draining out of me as I jump like a bunny on our physical therapy calls. I see it happening, but am powerless to stop it. Even better….I’m typically jumping alone because my 2 year old has run out of the room.

The amount of people who act like hand washing is a new thing is mind-blowing. Truly. We aren’t an overly clean family, but at least I knew the importance of hand washing.

My husband has the ability to work in our bedroom and tune out everything happening around him. It’s like he thinks if he’s quiet enough we might not think he’s home. My favorite is when he shuts the door. As if that means anything with kids.

My kids suddenly think we are Little House on the Prairie. They act like game nights, movie nights, family walks, art projects are their birth right.

My whole family eats as if Kroger isn’t having a meat shortage. Me included. It’s like a snow day on crack.

Other people are reading books and I’m just praying my phone usage doesn’t triple when Sunday rolls around and I get the report.

On a serious note…I have loved slowing down. I really am thankful for this time together. However, it’s hard to enjoy it when so many people are truly hurting. Hopefully we will get back to a somewhat normal life soon. But maybe keep the family walks and movie nights. Just don’t tell the kids.

I’m Not a Special Needs Mom

I’ve never considered myself a special needs mom. I felt those titles were reserved for people doing far more than me. Or moms raising kids with physical disabilities. It almost felt like I was cheating other mothers by even thinking that way.

Now, here’s the thing. I will call myself a “trauma mama” all day long. Give me the t-shirt, the badge, the sticker, whatever you want to give me. That one I will acknowledge and tell anyone with pride. All my other foster/adoptive mamas can raise their glass to that and clink with an understanding that only few can understand. That much I can guarantee.

But special needs mom? That one felt reserved for those doing the really hard work. The moms who never get a break and sit by their children’s bed at night to make sure they are still breathing. The moms who have to get special vans to accommodate all the medical equipment.

I looked at them from afar, raised my glass, and toasted them with deepest admiration. But I would have never tried to put my own glass in the mix. Besides, we all know that one person. You know what I mean. You talk about your dog dying when you were 12, and they talk about watching their mom accidentally run over their dog when they were 5. You lose a loved one and they constantly remind you of their own pain from losing a loved one.

I didn’t want to be that mom.

Then, the Covid hit and it closed our developmental daycare that my 2 year old attends. And things got real.

You see, I am for ALL the therapies. Sign us up. Henry has attended a developmental daycare since he was 10 months old (outpatient since 2 months old) and there is no shame in that. I am not a mom in denial when it comes to medications or therapies.

But did I consider myself a mom to a special needs child? No.

Until this week.

It took me becoming the therapist in my home and seeing how much he struggles to acknowledge it. And it was so hard. Not hard for me to admit. That I’m okay with it. But for me to acknowledge the things he will continue to have to overcome.

We’ve known for over a year that Henry struggles from the effects of alcohol during pregnancy. In fact, he’s one of the “lucky” ones in that he was diagnosed early and has all the physical features that make it easier to spot. We’ve also known he has medical issues that make him more susceptible to respiratory illness. We thicken his liquids, give him multiple inhalers daily, and see multiple specialists. He also has global developmental delays and major speech delays that qualify him for a developmental preschool and 300+ minutes of therapy per week.

But special needs mom? That title is only reserved for moms doing WAY more than me. That title is only reserved for moms caring for the needs of their child 24/7. Those moms are truly the heroes.

Then, this happened……

This week I was texting one of these hero moms about teletherapy. You see, we are both in the trenches right now trying to figure out how to make it work. Her child was struggling and she was beside herself trying to help him. The same was happening here so we were supporting each other over the phone and passing along tips and tricks.

Then, she ended our text with a fist in the air and the words “special needs mothers unite.”

And I paused. This hero mom was calling me a special needs mom? Me? That title is only reserved for people doing so much for their child. Those who eat, sleep, and breathe therapies and doctors appointments. Mom’s doing a way better job than me.

But, you know what? She was right.

I am a special needs mom. I’m raising a toddler who is not developing typically and it’s hard. I am up late at night googling FAS, CAS, chronic lung disease, etc. I’m balancing the difference in strong willed fits, and neurological damage and doing my best not to screw up.

I’m tired, I want a break, and I literally find myself consumed with Henry. Our plans are often altered for his schedule and keeping a routine is so important. My other kids have to sacrifice two parents attending their events because it’s too much for him. They have given up a lot and sometimes that guilt hits me like a ton of bricks.

So you know what……My name is Tamra and I’m a mom to a kid with special needs. I am a special needs mom.

Will He find us faithful?

There’s so much information about Covid-19 going around. You can find everything from government conspiracy, to we are all going to die. It can be pretty overwhelming and very bleak at times.

I’ll be honest, at first I couldn’t understand what the fuss was all about. We were still planning on going on our short Spring Break trip, and we knew others still planning to head out on cruises. The news from Italy was devastating but no measures were taking place over here.

Then, it all seemed to hit the fan. We saw how easily, and how quickly, this thing was spreading. It also didn’t seem to have any rhyme or reason on who it affected and how. Schools were starting to close, vacations cancelled, and people were panicking.

And as only Americans can do, we decided the treatment for not getting sick was: Food, alcohol, and 24/7 news.

I’ve done a lot of thinking during this time about what we should do as Christians. Now, I’m not meaning whether or not we should take this seriously. That part is a no brainer to me and I’m happy to listen to the professionals on this.

The one thing I can’t shake is this though: Will God find us faithful through this time?

When our church made the tough decision to cancel in person services, we all went into overdrive figuring it out. We made videos, put out information on our website, and assembled a team to help others. It almost felt like Easter week with the amount of work there was to do.

But then I started getting excited. Not for the “time off” (remember…more work than normal), but for the opportunities. For the first time, we are taking church into homes around the world. People who would never step foot into church have the opportunity to “attend.” People who have been burned by the church and hurt by leaders and Pastors, have a non threatening way to tune in. They can give it “one more shot” without worrying about darkening the doors of the church. They can watch from their couch or bed and see people on the other side also trying to figure this thing out.

What if we, as Christians, used this time to tell even more people about the love of Christ?

People are hurting. People are scared. And unfortunately, Christians are allowing this to be one more thing that divides us. We are either mad church is open or we are mad church is closed. We think Christians don’t have enough faith or Christians are being arrogant and not using common sense. We love the President’s decisions. We hate the President’s decisions. We think our state is full of idiots. We think our state is the best ever. Millenials are to blame. No, Gen Z is to blame. And so forth and so forth.

Am I ready to be back to normal? YES! I miss physically being in church with my friends and family. I miss my kids going to school. I miss not second guessing myself every time I cough. I am truly praying this ends soon.

But in the meantime, will God find us faithful? Will He find us serving Him in this time? Worshiping Him in this time? Or have we tied our identity up so much in our routine that we don’t even know how to worship outside of the church walls?

Why do I keep doing the very thing I don’t want to do?

I’ve been thinking a lot about why we do things we don’t want to do. For instance, I don’t have a deep desire to get so sucked into the Bachelor that my weeks revolve around Monday night. But yet it happens. I also don’t envision myself watching said show with a package of Oreos in my lap. But there they are.

I also don’t plan to yell at my kids, but before I know what’s happening I hear things like: “If you don’t pick up your clothes, you’re grounded for a month.” Let’s be real…..that’s never gonna happen. The picking up of clothes OR the grounding for a month. And we all know it.

But here I am…..doing and saying the same things over and over again. The things I say I won’t do again, I continue to do.

Paul had this same problem as well. You know, Paul from the Bible. That makes me feel a little better. Even Paul continued to do the very thing he didn’t want to do.

So, if we apply this to our own life, why are we so quick to judge this very thing in others. I’ve thought a lot about our birth parents navigating the system. Navigating a system that means well, but is hard for anyone to navigate, let alone someone battling addictions, poverty, and mental illness.

I was talking to Henry’s mom the other day and realized the massive hurdle she is facing finding a job when she’s released. I’ve been asking around and keep getting the same answer….”yes, we have a lot of programs that will hire unskilled labor. Things like sanitation, late night clean up after concerts, physical labor, and so forth.” Now, don’t get me wrong…these are good programs.

But, for someone already battling physical pain and addiction, it’s probably not the best idea for her to be in a labor type job. When I’m on my feet all day, the first thing I want when I get home is a stiff Tylenol and melatonin. These are my drugs of choice.

However, that looks very different when that’s not your drug of choice. It looks like relapsing and doing the very thing you don’t want to do. It looks like a statistic and we can’t figure out why they can’t break this habit, or remain clean.

As a Christian, it looks like me constantly asking for help to navigate the things in life that I can’t seem to give up. It looks like a support system, a church family, a loving husband, etc.

Peter (the disciple, not the bachelor) cried out for help with this very issue. Maybe we should realize that if he struggled with it, we are guaranteed to have a hard time. Perhaps it’s time to recognize the struggle. Call it out. Get some accountability. Open up your walls to those around you. Invite them to your table.

And for goodness sakes; quit putting certain expectations on people who are thrown back into the exact situation that got them there in the first place.

Who’s Your One…

I’ve written, and scrapped, two posts recently because I couldn’t figure out how to put my thoughts into words. The first one came out so vague that even I got bored reading it, and the second post was way too “holier than thou.”

However, I think I’ve finally been able to put it into words. I hope.

We recently had a series at church titled, “Who’s Your One?” It was about someone you know you need to connect with, all in the name of Christ. It may be someone that needs the hope of Jesus, it may be someone you need to make things right with, it may be someone in your family you need to minister to, etc. Someone that needs reached.

While I was sitting in church I knew who one of my people needed to be: Henry’s mom.

Several months ago, I asked our staff to pray with me about all our kids biological parents. I wanted them to pray about my role in their life and specifically for restoration with Henry’s mom. The dad and I have kept in contact, but not so much with mom. She was always in and out of treatment or jail and we never connected at all in court. There was this overwhelming sense that I was the bad guy, and that I worked with DHS to keep Henry. After all, I had all the advantage.

So, during this time I asked our staff to simply pray for her not to hate me. That was it. I continued to text dad and one day I felt prompted to ask him if she needed money or anything (she’s incarcerated). He told me a little money on her card would be great so I took it a step farther. I told him to please let her know she was welcome to reach out anytime.

One thing led to another, and the mom and I started communicating. Then, as the Lord often does, this sermon series started at church. So, I did what any good Christian would do….I decided I would pray harder for her. Maybe we could chat about church on the phone, but what else could be done? She’s incarcerated and I’m not. Our paths just wouldn’t cross. I could love her from afar, but should probably choose someone local to “witness” to.

Even as I type it, I realize how hypocritical this sounds. I had asked the staff to pray for our relationship, I was convinced she was “my one,” but I wasn’t willing to do anything hard.

So, one day I asked if she would like for me to visit. She was very honest that it made her extremely nervous and scared, but the answer was a resounding yes. I sent in my application to visit and added Henry to the list too. She was always too scared to ask me if I would bring him, but I knew she was hopeful. I think deep down she really never thought we would actually come.

My application was approved pretty quickly, and last Sunday I loaded Henry up for the 2 hour drive to visit. We went into the room and I really wanted to puke. So many questions were racing through my mind. Would she hate me? Would Henry willingly go to her? Would she judge me? And so on, and so on.

Instead, I walked in and there was just a mom sitting there. A mom who has had a terribly hard life. Made some terribly dumb choices. And walked a terribly different road. But still just a mom. She was desperate to hear all about Henry. She also wanted me to understand her past a little better. There’s a ton of regret and guilt about things that only time will be able to heal.

I’m not going to lie. I did not expect to leave the way I did. I went because I was convicted I needed to quit praying at arms length. I thought we would have a great visit, she would decide to totally lean on Jesus, and BOOM….life changed, dust off hands, walk out the door.

But, I’m the one that left completely different. I left LOVING this woman. I really did. I was sitting across from someone who’s life choices while pregnant are the reason Henry will have a lot of challenges. But the amazing thing is……I didn’t blame her one bit.

For 2 hours on a Sunday, I was able to catch a TINY glimpse of the love Christ has for me. There was no blame, no condemnation, no judging, nothing. Just grace, mercy, and forgiveness.

Will I continue the relationship? I hope so. It’s the healthiest thing I could do for Henry. Will there be a lot of responsibility on her when she’s released? Yes. It’s why I tried email contact with Anna and Grace’s parents but unfortunately had to stop.

There’s no perfect or easy solution. But I do know this. Sometimes God calls us to pray for people from our seat. And sometimes we have to do it while getting up and getting uncomfortable.

Pole Dancing….

I have a confession. The halftime show was on in my house and I didn’t turn it off.

Confession #2. I was looking forward to watching J.Lo because I like her. I used to watch the movie, Selena like it was my job and figured this would be a good performance.

However, I never expected her to come out in long pants and a long sleeve shirt and sit in a chair while singing. Never. In fact, it was exactly as I expected it to be. Was it strange and uncomfortable? Yes, at times. Did my kids watch it with me? No. Can I hold my full body weight sideways on a pole? Not even close.

That performance was exactly what I would expect from a secular sport, a secular arena, and coming from a secular mindset. There hasn’t been a Super Bowl performance in recent years that has been equal to a Sunday morning service by Kanye West. Unless I just missed it. Even the men people are yelling for to come back don’t have song lyrics I want my 6 year old singing.

It amazes me when Christians expect non-Christians to act the way we are called to act. Equally as amazing are the same people yelling about this performance, but overlooking this behavior in others.

Do I think these women have to flaunt their bodies this way to be successful? Well, to be quite honest, it appears they do. It got them what they wanted and a lot of money for doing it.

Would I want my body on display in the same way? NO. In fact, I’m getting uncomfortable just thinking about it. But…..I’m coming from a completely different mindset. I’m coming from the mindset of an outspoken, born again, Christ follower. My standard of approval is quite different.

Don’t misunderstand me. I’m raising two Hispanic girls and although I hope they have pride in who they are, I hope they do it with their clothes on. I hope they stand up for the marginalized, educate on the injustices of the world, be bold in their faith, etc. All while fully clothed.

But, I feel like there’s a lot of people that need to hear this. The Super Bowl half-time show will not be family friendly next year. Go ahead and have a plan. Change the channel, turn it off, whatever you need to do. It will have lyrics that aren’t glorifying to the Lord, it will have dancing that is sexual, it will have men and women grabbing themselves. It just will.

And if that person on the stage is Beth Moore dancing like that….I will jump on the outraged bandwagon. But if it’s a secular performer, at a secular event, who is paid millions of dollars to entertain, I will turn off the tv.

Unless maybe if it’s Justin Timberlake.

Maybe you shouldn’t adopt….

If you’ve read any of my past posts, you know I’ve struggled with my view of adoption. I have ultimately concluded that God loves adoption, but it will never be perfect. It was not the original plan for the family. God’s original plan would mean addictions, systematic poverty, abuse and neglect all cease to exist.

But unfortunately, we don’t live in a world where that is the reality. So adoption must exist.

However, you can’t love your child fully without loving their biological family. I’m going to say that again slower. You can’t love your child fully without loving their biological family.

Let me clarify. In our house we have 3 sets of parents total. One of these sets parent daily (J.O. and I), and 2 sets are parenting from behind the scenes. Never present in person, but always lurking in spirit. Two sets of these parents are what we consider unstable. Lack of funds, lack of education, lack of ability to ever tell the truth, lack of common sense, NOT a lack of addictions, etc. They are a melting pot of a whole lot of hot mess. And I used to take a much different approach. My approach was….if you ignore them, they don’t exist.

This approach was snotty at best, and hypocritical for sure. Then, my almost 8 year old became more vocal. I will never forget last spring break we went on a cruise to Mexico. The second she stepped off the boat in Cozumel, she asked me if her parents were there. She is basically waiting on the day for me to introduce her to them. There is a hole you can almost see that will not start to be filled until she meets them.

We recently started a journey with Henry’s parents that is uncharted territory to me. It all started with a documentary I watched on Netflix about prison. One thing it talked about was the need for people to have money on their prison cards.

It was fascinating to me how corrupt the system is that we are sending people to, in hopes of helping them not to be corrupt. But that’s a post for another day.

Anyway, I put money on his mom’s card and that has led to some phone conversations and who knows what else.

Now, I understand I don’t owe these parents anything. But, the truth is….Henry’s dad never had a chance. The second Henry entered foster care, it was like climbing up a mountain backwards, naked and blindfolded. And I was climbing right beside him but I had a rope, proper clothes, and a guide. I could navigate the mountain, had plenty of food and water, and people to help me when I got tired. He couldn’t win and there was a child at stake.

Do you have to maintain a relationship with birth parents when you adopt? No. And a lot of times it’s best. We don’t have contact with the girls parents at this time and it’s the right choice. But, if you adopt do you need to love the other parents involved? YES.

Sometimes this love means the best choice is having a relationship. Will it be sticky? Of course? Will it be perfect? Of course not. But neither is adoption. Just don’t start this journey thinking you can completely keep your child oblivious to their past. If you think that…..adoption might not be for you.

Sometimes the only thing making a difference between my mountain climb and theirs, is a rope.

You are not that powerful….

I’m in the middle of some tough talks with our two older kids. The oldest one “knows” pretty much everything and the 10 year old is quickly learning. It has made for some very awkward conversations around my house. Unfortunately for me, I am actually the least awkward parent, so most of these conversations end up in my lap.

We were discussing something the other day and Addison asked if we should get dad. Trey quickly yelled, “no…he will just make it even more weird.” so I was left fending the hard questions. This is no surprise if you know both of us, but still. It can get brutal sometimes.

Recently, Addison and I were talking and she asked me what would happen if her and Trey did a certain something. She picked out a scenario and wanted to know if we would still love them. It shocked me that she would even consider that and I said, “of course.” I told her there was nothing she could do that would take away our love. I told her we may not agree with decisions, etc but we would always be there for her.

In true 10 year old fashion, that completely satisfied her and she went on about her business of listening to Harry Potter. But, I kept thinking about it. And while what I said was completely true, do we really act like it’s the truth?

Stick with me. It’s hard not to wrap our self worth up completely in our kids. How they act, how they dress, how they talk, etc. Just last night, we bought 3 of our kids Wicked tickets and they acted like the ungrateful kids they can be. And it really irritated me. I found myself embarrassed and completely regretting my decision to buy a couple of them a ticket.

But, when the show began, they acted amazed and enthralled like I knew they would. All was right in the world. Their behavior matched my expectations and mama was happy.

But, what happens when that behavior doesn’t match our expectations? When things look so differently for our kids than we thought they would? I was talking to someone one time and she said something I will never forget. This mom had to grieve the life she thought her child would have. And that is okay to do.

If my life rises and falls on my children, I am in for a rough ride. If my self worth comes from the behavior of my children, I will be depressed a lot. If I spend my time obsessing over my children and what their future looks like, I will get little else done.

I was talking to a mom one time, and she was obsessing over messing something up. Without really thinking, I told her, “you are not that powerful.” And it’s the truth. We really aren’t. These kids are entrusted to us, and we have to do the best we can. We surround them in love, teach them how to care, and point everything they do back to Christ.

But there comes a point when you realize life may not turn out how you thought it would. I never dreamed J.O. and I would alternate sleeping with a child every night (and their biology can only be blamed on us), yet here we are. Living the dream.

Teach your kids the hard things. Answer the hard questions. But, love the way you’ve been loved in Christ. Praise God He doesn’t walk away from us when we embarrass Him. Or act differently than He would like. Or make terrible choices. Or I would be alone. A lot.

$1 Because Jesus Loves You….

We recently headed to Texas over Christmas break to see J.O.’s sister and spend some time with family. It was a bit stressful to head out the day after Christmas, but I ended up being thrilled we went. It was fun to watch the kids together and we always enjoy catching up with his sister and brother in law.

On the way home, we stopped at Jason’s Deli to eat lunch. Now, you should know something about us when we travel. We don’t mess around. We are always trying to get home for something. This time, it was to pick up Henry, and our dogs. We left very early that morning and our attire and tired faces reflected that. We looked less than stellar. So our stop at lunch was interesting to say the least. We probably should’ve eaten somewhere like McDonalds, but Jason’s Deli is somewhere we all agree on. The kids ONLY eat there for the free ice cream, but that still makes it a favorite.

We headed into this small town Jason’s and everyone in there had church clothes on. I mean everyone. And they all knew each other and we stood out like a sore thumb. It didn’t bother me at all, I just noticed it immediately. And obviously so did others. Towards the end of our meal, an older lady came over and gave the kids $1 and told them Jesus loves them. Our girls didn’t miss a beat and got super excited for the money, and Addison immediately said back….”well, Jesus loves you too.”

After she left, it hit Addison. She said….”oh, is this because we look like we haven’t been to church.” It surprised me that she picked up on that, but I just said maybe and went on eating my meal. I started thinking about it later. No doubt, this is something she has been encouraged to do. How do I know this? Because if you grew up in the church at all, you have been told to do the same. I will never forget doing this as a part of my youth group challenge. I gave $1 to the Sonic carhop and told her “Jesus loved her.”

Can this be an effective evangelistic tool? Maybe. But, it certainly can’t be our main “go to”. In fact, in certain situations I would argue this causes more harm than good. Refraim it a bit….basically, I am going to give you money to show you Christ’s love. Sucks to be you, but I’ve got $5/$10 to spare and don’t think twice about giving it out. Now, obviously this is exaggerated. Small acts of kindness are awesome and can often go a long way. But, why do we feel the need to make ourselves feel better about telling of Christ’s love by attaching money to it.

This past week, Trey had someone join his friends group chat that started cursing them out. No doubt it was for the shock factor of a new kid trying to shake things up. He was quickly removed from the group and they all started trying to figure out who it was. I actually found out from another parent and told Trey. Trey told me he wasn’t going to tell the kids in the chat, because he didn’t want them mad at this boy or judging him. He indicated the kid had some problems at another school, but Trey had never heard him curse like this. He wanted to give him a chance and thought he was likely just showing out.

Now, Trey could’ve immediately gone back to the chat and ratted this kid out and it would’ve been justified. He was being very rude and the kids had a right to know. But he didn’t. I don’t know where this kid will be long term, but to me that goes a lot further than handing someone a dollar and walking off. Be kind in a restaurant, sure. Open doors, pay for a coffee, pull out a chair, give someone money when prompted, and by all means tell people Jesus loves them.

But, when Jesus becomes something we think we have to bribe others to hear about, we probably need to rethink our motives.

From Duty to Delight

How many of you have seen the news about John Crist? I have to admit, I LOVED John Crist. I thought he was funny, I could relate to 99.9999% of what he said, and I could play the videos with children around. It was the best of both worlds. I’m not trying to be rude, but it’s usually rare for a Christian comedian to be as funny as a secular one. John Crist seemed to have that down.

Then the allegations broke about his sexual misconduct. And then we found out that women had been accusing him of inappropriate behavior for years, but no one listened. Shocker. Honestly, he wasn’t even trying to hide this stuff. Drinking a ton, sexting tons of women, sending graphic videos, and so forth. Truthfully, this man just hid behind the Christian culture and assumed he wouldn’t get caught.

But here’s where I’m having trouble. I’m definitely not one who idolizes Christians and thinks they are immune. In fact, some of the people responsible for hurting those I love most have been “Christians.” But, at what point do we have a responsibility to change the narrative among sexual abuse in the Christian setting? Was John Crist a pastor? No. Was he a spiritual leader? No. Did he use Christianity as an outlet to make a ton of money? Yes.

For those of us who grew up deep in the purity culture, hopefully this will make sense. How many of you remember your youth group meetings going something like this:

Girls: “Remain PURE until marriage.”, “SAVE yourself for your husband.”, “Don’t DEFILE your wedding day.”

Boys: “Once you have sex, you won’t be able to stop.” “Girls will tempt you, so don’t put yourself in a situation you will regret.”

The narrative from an early age was this……girls, don’t make yourself unclean before marriage and guys, don’t do something you can’t stop. It gave the impression for a girl that once she messed up, it was over. She was damaged. Boys were given the impression that they just couldn’t control themselves. After all, they are men for goodness sakes. Boys will be boys.

Do you remember when Paul told people to follow him, because he was following Christ so closely? He felt confident enough to tell people that if they follow him, they would essentially be following Christ. Paul followed Christ out of pure delight.

What if we followed Christ, not out of a sense of obligation, but because He had the very best for us. Because we knew His way would lead us to absolute abundance. It wouldn’t mean things would be easy, or we would be rich, or never get sick, or never experience tragedy, but simply that we would be delighting in the things of Christ.

I’ve mentioned before that I love the story of the woman at the well. I love the idea of someone feeling so discouraged and broken, but leaving with so much hope and amazement. She leaves ready to tell anyone who will listen. To me, that is the picture of pure delight. Whatever law had been imposed on her before, she had clearly not followed. She was sleeping around, living with a man, and had a terrible reputation. And yet, when she decided to follow Christ, things changed. She no longer worried about following this long list of rules and obligations. She simply followed Him.

Our Pastor said something recently that I love. He said he’s praying for us to move from duty to delight.

How amazing would it be as Christians, if our duty turned to delight. Maybe our sons wouldn’t objectify women, because Christ would NEVER objectify women. Maybe our girls wouldn’t feel pressured by society, because Christ sees them as amazing as they are. Maybe Christians would truly be transformed by delighting in Christ. And maybe, just maybe, this narrative of abuse would stop.