Category Archives: Relationships

A Letter to My Teenage Niece on Unhealthy Friendships

A Letter to My Teenage Niece on Unhealthy Friendships

A Letter to My Teenage Niece on Unhealthy Friendships

Why are teen and preteen friendships so hard sometimes? Especially with girls. I know young girls who insist on remaining in unhealthy friendships that aren’t good for them. They stay friends with people who hurt them on a regular basis, over and over. Hey, I’ve BEEN that girl! Sadly, this wasn’t just as a teen either!

I currently know a few young girls who are struggling with healthy boundaries in friendships. My precious niece has given me permission to publish a letter of advice and perspective to her in hopes that others may benefit in their own friendships as well.

Dear sweet niece,

I’m so sorry that you’ve been having a hard time in some of your friendships lately. It breaks my heart to see you get hurt. Sometimes I wish I could let a few of those girls have a piece of my mind. On the other hand, there are times when I want to scream at you too for letting them treat you this way! Then I remember that I’ve been where you stand, even in my adult years. So, I get it.

But why do we continue to endure these harm-inflicting relationships? It’s because we don’t want to be alone. We’d rather be with people who, deep inside, we know aren’t good for us, than to fathom the pangs of loneliness. The problem is…we’re still lonely.

I mentioned a quote in a blog post that I wrote a while back… “There’s only one thing worse than being single and lonely.  It’s being married and lonely.” The quote referenced being married versus being single. However, this can pertain to unhealthy friendships too. Just like marriage doesn’t exempt us from feelings of loneliness, neither do friendships. Booker T. Washington once said, “Associate yourself with people of good quality, for it is better to be alone than in bad company.” 

I’d like to give you a little bit of advice from my perspective about what I’ve learned and what God has shown me about some unhealthy friendships.

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It’s OK to Have Doubts and Questions About the Christian Faith

It’s OK to Have Doubts and Questions About the Christian Faith

It’s OK to Have Doubts and Questions About the Christian Faith

This past weekend I had the opportunity to have a conversation with a couple of teenagers about issues of faith. To be completely honest, I had some pretty mixed emotions about our conversation. You see these teens had some pretty tough questions, and at points during the conversation they seemed to be questioning some of the most basic and important principles of the Christian faith.

Surprise

One emotion I experienced was that of surprise. These two teens had grown up in church and had been raised in a Christian home. Were they bringing into question everything that they have been taught all of their lives? Were they questioning the validity of the bible? How did they get to this point?

Then I almost talked myself out of the feelings of surprise as I reminded myself of the environment and culture that these teens and other teens are growing up in. The voices of the world are becoming louder and louder. They are surrounded on all sides and bombarded with attacks against Christian faith through culture in general, media, school systems, and even peer groups. How could they NOT have questions?

In the Bible, even the people in Berea were commended for questioning the teachings of Paul and Silas to make sure they were true. Their questioning did not surprise nor offend Paul.

“And the people of Berea were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul’s message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth. As a result, many Jews believed, as did many of the prominent Greek women and men.” Acts 17:11-12 (NLT)

Fear and concern

Another emotion that arose was one of fear and concern. Questions began to flood my mind. If they are Christians and they have these questions, what must kids that weren’t raised in a Christian environment believe? If they were raised in church and in a Christian home, do all kids raised in a Christian environment have similar doubts and questions? Will my own kids have doubts and questions about their faith too? Am I equipped as a parent to raise kids who won’t have doubts? Is our future doomed if this is the common belief system of the current generation?

Then, as He always does, God started to ease my fears and concerns. Continue reading

Gathering Different Kinds of Souvenirs

Gathering Different Kinds of Souvenirs

Gathering Different Kinds of Souvenirs

I recently took a short trip out to Charleston, South Carolina to spend some time with a couple of my best college friends. Charleston is GORGEOUS! Honestly, traveling is one of my most favorite things to do in the world. This is especially true when traveling to places saturated with rich history and culture. I love going and doing and seeing and learning.

Gathering souvenirs

Kiawah Island

This visit was a bit more casual, which was nice and refreshing. Oh, we still did a couple of touristy things, but for the most part we just took it easy. We walked along the beach one afternoon and chatted. We spent a day doing some antique shopping, convinced that antiques in Charleston SURELY must be older and cooler than those in Oklahoma! 😉 Then we also visited a plantation taking our time learning about the history of the area. However, most of my time was spent just visiting and catching up with my friends of 20+ years.

Different kinds of souvenirs

Typically I love picking up souvenirs along the way from my travels, just little things to commemorate my trip. This trip my short list of tangible souvenirs included a few shells and sand dollars picked up on the beach, a print of the Angel Oak Tree from a local artist, a skeleton key given to me by a lady in an antique shop, and some spices purchased at The Tomato Shed Café so I could recreate the amazing Tomato Shed Shrimp at home.

A souvenir is a thing that is kept as a reminder of a person, place, or event. It is French for “to remember” or “to come to mind”. So I guess technically souvenirs don’t necessarily have to be physical items. They just have to be something that serves as a reminder. For this trip then, I received a different kind of souvenir. My most precious souvenirs are my memories…those of quality time spent with my friends, but also those of some of the interesting people I met along the way.

Frank, the Angel Oak artist Continue reading

So WHY do we celebrate Valentine’s Day?

So why do we celebrate Valentine’s Day ??

So WHY do we celebrate Valentine’s Day?

Well, since our Tuesday post fell on Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d take the opportunity to talk about a bit of the history of the day. Then we can also discuss why so many people might celebrate this holiday. According to my husband, and probably a multitude of others out there, Valentine’s Day is pointless. For me, however, it’s both an opportunity and a reminder…to love and be loved.

Those crazy ancient Romans

Historians aren’t completely sure of the accurate origins of Valentine’s Day, but they have some speculations as to some of the beginnings.

Celebrations on or around February 14th-15th were originally rooted in a pagan Roman festival called Lupercalia. Not surprisingly, these pagan celebrations were pretty crazy. Lots of nudity (amongst other immoral acts I’m sure). Lots of drinking. Animal sacrifices. Then, the weirdest part of this particular celebration included taking strips of the animal hide from the sacrifices and then whipping the women with them. They believed this would make them fertile. I told you…weird.

Now, my grandma was pretty fertile. She had 13 kids. However, I DEFINITELY don’t think she EVER ran around naked letting men whip her with bloody animal hides. Nope. Not my grandma. In fact, she’d probably pass out at just the mention of it! But I digress…

Put your clothes back on, and stop beating women with dead animals!

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Who is on Your “Cabinet” of Advisers?

Who is on Your Cabinet of Advisers? Do you have people you go to for advice, counsel, prayer, etc.? We all need reliable, honest people on our team to call on when we need.

Who is on Your “Cabinet” of Advisers?

We are starting a new era with a new President this week in the United States. The role of President is a pretty powerful role. However, to think that one possesses all of the knowledge, wisdom and power in oneself to live and make decisions without relying on the wisdom and help of others is foolish. This is one of the reasons why the U.S. President uses a Cabinet, a special group of advisers.

Article II, Section 2 of the U. S. Constitution states that the President “may require the opinion, in writing, of the principal officer in each of the executive departments, upon any subject relating to the duties of their respective offices” (https://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/articleii). To build the Cabinet, the President nominates heads of federal executive departments such as Secretary of State, Secretary of Treasury, Secretary of Defense, Attorney General, etc. Nominees are approved or confirmed by the Senate.

We need a Cabinet too

Just like it would be unwise for the President to think he needs no one, it would be foolish for us to try to do life alone. Especially when making big decisions, it’s always a good idea to consult others. Therefore, similar to the President, we too need a Cabinet of advisers. We need people in our lives that we can go to for their opinion on certain matters.

It’s not good to do life alone

God designed us as relational beings—we were NOT meant to do life alone!

The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him. (Genesis 2:18 NIV)

Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 NLT)

Jesus was led alone to the wilderness to be tempted (Matthew 4:1). We are tempted more when alone. 

It’s wise to seek advice

When we don’t know what to do, Continue reading

Tips for Spending Time With God

Tips for spending time with God

Tips for Spending Time With God

On occasion readers post comments on different blog posts that I feel deserve more attention than just a reply at the bottom of a post. This week is one of those occasions. A reader recently posted a comment with some questions on my post “How to Overcome Feeling Unloved or Unwanted”. I’d like to take some time to answer her questions and provide some additional resources that I think might be helpful for her and others struggling with spending time with God.

This might also be a timely message for others too since the start of the year is a common time to evaluate spiritual growth and set some goals to grow stronger and spend more time with God. You might find some good tips within the post or other resources to help you kick start and/or maintain some of your spiritual New Year’s resolutions.  You can also check out Tips to Start Reading the Bible on a Regular Basis for some extra help and encouragement too.

A comment from Tina

“As great as this article is, I still can’t grasp the concept that “God” loves me…I know partly this is due to me not spending enough time in his word, but for me I never really got much of a true understanding of the Bible and his Word 1. How do I know what to read? 2. What is enough time to spend with God?

I find comfort in being around others… amongst other things, but I want to find comfort in God. 2016 was a very very hard year for me. For the past 4 or 5 months I have felt so UNLOVED, lonely, and rejected…I have prayed countless times for God to just take me away, because the pain I feel on most days has become the norm.

It hurts the most when the one person you love, says one thing but acts different….the same person that I once was all he ever wanted and because I have felt so unloved my entire life, once the triggers started happening it made me become clingy and probably push him away (although he never said it)…My point is not to get advice on the above, but instead I feel the most unloved when things like this happen.

I wish I had the belief, peace, joy, and faith, but honestly it is hard for me to fathom that there is a God…I am very skeptical, logical, and need to be in control and those 3 things are disastrous to truly believing. I get so discouraged about this. I have prayed endless prayers to stop my unbelief and doubt, to prayers about understanding, etc.

I can’t take any more on my own the stress, sadness, and heartache is making me sick. It is so hard to see and understand God when you feel like everything is against you. I truly wish I was stronger, more confidence, and self-esteem. I wish someone (outside of God) would love me like I love. I am so genuine and all that’s brought me is heartache. I sit in my room or in my car with just with tears flowing wondering what I could have done in my life to feel like this. I am hurting and can only hope that I can find happiness and joy inside of me.”

Dear Tina…

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My Addiction to Hallmark Christmas Movies

My addiction to Hallmark Christmas movies...

My Addiction to Hallmark Christmas Movies

When I asked Eric what I should write about recently, he said “your addiction to Hallmark Christmas movies”. Did you sense some sarcasm in that? Me too. Actually, it’s not a bad idea though. I’ve got to be honest. I really am addicted to Hallmark Christmas movies! Sadly, he’s not lying. I admit it. I’m a full-blown Hallmark junkie.

I’m a huge fan of the Hallmark channel and their original movies, albeit cheesy and predictable as they sometimes are. Maybe it’s the predictability that I like? I always know they will tug at my heart strings. Even if they have some sad parts, I can also always count on a happy ending. Real life doesn’t always have happy endings, so the certainty of watching one can be enticing.

Maybe the movies are an escape too? That might be where the “addiction” comes in. Addictions are often an escape from something else aren’t they? Hallmark Christmas movies can offer an escape from an often stress-ridden and drama-filled holiday season. In the movies, we can see the picture-perfect holiday season, traditions, memories and romance.

Where conviction and moderation come in

Many years ago I discovered that I was developing unrealistic expectations and discontentment in my marriage due to my obsession with romantic movies and books. I felt a strong conviction that I needed to overcome this struggle (that I previously didn’t even know I had). To overcome this, I had to start watching my intake of “romance”. When I started noticing discontentment, I knew I needed to limit how much I was reading and watching. I had to start practicing moderation (or sometimes even eliminate them completely for a while).

If I’m not careful, I can do the same thing with these Hallmark Christmas movies. It can be easy to develop unrealistic expectations of what a Christmas holiday should look like. Real life might start to pale in comparison to fictional films if I fixate on them constantly. I might start to think, “Man, my Christmas stinks compared to the picturesque traditions and moments they have.” Without caution, I might forget that…THEY AREN’T REAL!!!

My conviction may not be yours

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Why Christians Get Offended When Jesus Gets Attacked

This past week, I tried to convey to one of my classes why Christians get offended sometimes, at least from my perspective. I wanted to share a little insight about why this might get so heated from a Christian perspective...

Why Christians Get Offended When Jesus Gets Attacked

Recently in my college classes we discussed diversity issues and how they can affect us in college and in life. One of the exercises we do in class is called “Examining Your Own Prejudices”. It involves each student taking an index card and anonymously writing a couple of sentences about a group of people that they have the most difficulty with. I then read each of the cards aloud, and we have a class discussion about them. We talk about where these prejudices come from, how to prevent stereotyping an entire group based on them, how to work with groups with which we have difficulties, and so on.

It’s usually a pretty controversial, yet enlightening exercise. It never fails…in each class I’ve taught there is usually a card mentioning a problem that someone has with Atheists (or non-Christians). There’s also a card or two listing Christians as the problem group. These two types of cards have a tendency to bring on the most discussion, sometimes heated. It’s often because Christians get offended and hurt by some of what’s said.

This past week, I tried to convey to one of my classes why Christians get offended sometimes, at least from my perspective. I wanted to share a little insight about why this might get so heated from a Christian perspective, and why we get so hurt when people speak badly of Jesus. I shared with them a note I had typed into my phone a while back.

Imagine a friend showing up at the worst time of your life

Imagine that you go through the hardest time of your life. You end up meeting this friend, Continue reading