(Photo cred: Kirk Slusher. Love it, Kirk!)
This is a picture of my dad, David Harris, from a few weeks ago.
He took a couple of guys from his church (father and son, Kirk and Cody Slusher) to climb at Seneca Rocks, West Virginia. Dad texted me this picture that Kirk took and it warmed my heart.
When I was a teenager, my dad and his friend, Joel Harbarger, led a week-long trip to W.V. each summer to go rock climbing, rappelling, and white water rafting (the 3 R's trip). It was a trip for teenagers and young adults. I was forced to go as a (crabby, anxiety-ridden) 15 year old and somewhere in the midst of adventure and crushing on a kid I met on the trip, what I really fell in love with was those rocks and how they taught me to persevere.
I'm gonna say more on that, but can I get to the obvious point that when my dad took me to Seneca Rocks previously that he and I were MUCH, MUCH younger? He's been there since, but I probably haven't been there in at least 16 years. And I KNOW that I would not rock those rocks even remotely as well as my dad is rocking them in that picture. I'm really impressed with my Dad for being so healthy and strong, but also for how he continues to hang on to adventure year after year. I didn't ask, but I don't think he'd mind me saying that he's 65 years old. Talk about perseverance!
So, speaking of perseverance...
I've faced some challenges through my life- all of us have. Some of mine have been pretty major, but some have been mountains made out of molehills. When I was a freshman in college at Ohio Northern, I was having a really rough time with [insert college girl drama because I don't remember] and I went to my dad to help get me through it. He told me to "Hang on and keep climbing."
When you are rock climbing, it's very likely you'll get to a spot that seems like the end, even though you aren't at the top. There you are, clinging to the face of the rock. All you can see is what's in front of you. Your foot and hand holds start to feel smaller and smaller. Your hands start to sweat and you get "sewing machine leg" (you know how the needle goes up and down on the sewing machine really fast? it's like that). You start to doubt everything about yourself. "Why did I think I could do this? I'm not strong enough, brave enough, or skilled enough. I should give up."
The great thing about rock climbing is the belay line. There's an encouraging and patient person at the bottom of the rock, holding your ropes and keeping you from from falling to the ground if you happen to fall off the rock.
That person can also see things that you can't. "Hey, Rach, right to the left of your left knee there's a foot hold. You can't see it, but it's there. Trust me."
It's the story of every climbing trip. There's at least one person who thinks they can't make it, but they hang on and they push and they get there. And, when they reach the top, there's an overwhelming sense of relief, gratitude, and strength....and the view is beautiful.
This is life.
When my dad told me to hang on and keep climbing, I wrote those words on a little piece of paper and taped them to a picture of my dad and me at Seneca Rocks. I kept that picture in my room all through college. I can't find it now, but I do have a copy of it.
Here you go...
As you can see, since I'm still kickin at 36, I made it through the drama I faced that day in college. And, I've made it through all of the other dramas, too. So have you.
And, if you're in the midst of a challenge right now, hang on. Who is holding your belay line who can help you see something that you can't see on your own? Take a deep breath, try to calm your nerves, and hang on. When you're ready, make your next move. For me, God is my steadfast rock. Just like when I'm climbing, God is rock solid, doesn't move, will hold me.
This world is a crazy and unpredictable place. It seems like every day, and sometimes every hour, we are shocked by the headlines. Our concerns grow deeper, our hearts grow heavier...but we need to grow stronger.
When you start to hear those voices saying "Why did I think I could do this...I'm not strong enough, brave enough, or skilled enough...I should give up," tell them to get out of town! You and I both are created in God's image to do amazing works on this earth.
For me, I'm going to love my family and try to raise my kids right. I won't let go of God and I'm going to hang on and keep climbing.
"So then let's also run the race that is laid out in front of us, since we have such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us. Let's throw off any extra baggage, get rid of the sin that trips us up, and fix our eyes on Jesus, faith's pioneer and perfecter." (Hebrews 12:1-2a)
"Mom, were you bullied when you were a kid?"
I was asked that question last night and I wasn't prepared for it. I always want to be able to relate to my kids, but all of a sudden I was faced with a moment when I didn't think I could.
Bullying is a huge problem for all ages, but it can really hurt when you're a kid trying to find your place.
*This isn't a post requesting sympathy or even well-wishes for my kid. We are handling the situation and getting help to resolve it. This post is to bring this type of bullying to light.*
Bullying hasn't been an ongoing issue for my kids. It's fairly recent and (so far) it's not at school or at social events, it's on the iPad.
So, in response to the above question, I thought for a second and responded something like, "You know, I don't think I really was bullied as a kid. But, if we had the devices that kids today have, I probably would have been." We went on to talk about it more, of course, and we continue talking about it.
The type of bullying that is happening is through a texting app that we set up so the kids could text their friends when they have WiFi and also through the app "musical.ly." We all have experience with seeing adults bully each other online. It happens all the time! Hiding behind a screen makes it incredibly easy for people to say/type things that they would never say to someone's face. However, the words still sting and, unfortunately, remain on the screen for us to read over and over- unless we delete them.
PARENTS/CAREGIVERS, I encourage you to check your child's devices regularly without warning that you will be doing so. Yes, this does invade privacy. But, in my opinion, it's better to be safe than sorry. My kids are welcome to express themselves privately in a journal and I won't touch it. But, if my kid is having conversations that are hurtful to themselves or others, I need to know about it. I would like to think that my own kids are innocent and wouldn't say/type hurtful things, but that's been proven wrong.
When someone says hurtful things to another person, online/text/face to face, it's easy for the recipient to begin believing that the things that were said are true, even if it was completely untrue. I'm trying to keep this in mind while we deal with this bullying situation-that just because it isn't currently happening anymore (thank you, app developers, for the option to block people) it doesn't mean that the words aren't still swirling in your mind feeling more and more true each moment.
Parenting is hard!
I'm about to make this long post even longer, but I really want to tell you about our topic last night at Crossroads (the youth group I lead at our church). We just started a 4 week series about school and last night's focus was on belonging. We talked about how everyone wants to belong and that we put a lot of time and energy into trying to belong- even those people who seem to "wake up like this" or whatever....they put effort into it, too. We looked at how during Jesus's ministry on earth, he accepted and loved absolutely everyone, even people with terrible pasts and people with terrible intentions. Jesus was an example to us that our goal should be to love and accept people. If we took the time and energy we put into trying to make ourselves belong and, instead, made efforts to look around us and help other people belong and feel loved and accepted, how amazing would our schools (workplaces, etc) be?
1 Corinthians 13: 4-7 says "Love is patient, love is kind, it isn’t jealous, it doesn’t brag, it isn’t arrogant, it isn’t rude, it doesn’t seek its own advantage, it isn’t irritable, it doesn’t keep a record of complaints, it isn’t happy with injustice, but it is happy with the truth. Love puts up with all things, trusts in all things, hopes for all things, endures all things."
I'd like to point out that little bit near the beginning "it doesn't seek its own advantage."
That's what I'm talking about...instead of seeking our own advantage, how can we show others this kind of authentic love and acceptance? I think it's contagious and if we each tried, the world would be a better place.
Last night's lesson was from the Groove series of youth Bible studies. www.youthministrypartners.com/studies/groove
Please let me know how you are showing love and acceptance to others!
Did you know that chicken nuggets are vegetables touched by God?
When she finished her breakfast, Lilly sneezed and screamed, "Mom! I sneezed with my eyes open!"
Everyday miracles, here at the Burns house.
Hey, friends! I've been inspired to write again and one of those inspirations was my daughter. She wrote a really cute story a couple of nights ago and asked to read it to me as I was chatting with a friend about blogging. Coincidence? God-incident?
It seems like this is a great place to share her cute story. If you know me, you'll catch how similar we are through her writing. I think we both need to pick something up. Lilly, the paper (& more). Me, I think it's writing. I need this creative outlet. Oh, and I could also maybe pick up the pile of clothes on my floor. Maybe.
What do you need to pick up? A cup of coffee with a friend? A good book? A hobby?
So, here it is, a story from Lilly, who is 10 years old and couldn't sleep...
Sometimes I'm up at night (like now), writing stories (like this one), but then I have to throw something away. But, since I'm in a loft bed, I crumble it up into a mini ball and throw it.
Now, everytime I walk in I see it and think, "Should I pick that up?...Nah." Then, usually I'll just leave it there until my mom or dad tells me "No IPad until your room is clean."
The last thing I pick up is the little paper balls all over my floor.