Today I had the opportunity to encourage about 150 ten-year-old students. The annual 'turkey trot" was underway at the school and I signed up to be a lap counter. As each child ran, walked or yes, one even crawled by me with some charismatic drama, I would mark their sweaty little hands with a dot so they could keep track of the laps they were running.
Some children were fast, running in groups with friends. Some were fast and alone. Some were slow and with friends, but the ones that got to me the most were the ones that were not only slow, but alone.
I was encouraging and cheerful to all of them but this mamma and coaches heart couldn't help but be even more encouraging and cheerful to the ones that were alone.
"I am so proud of you." "You are doing a great job."
I wanted to be their cheerleader and hold them tight and tell them that they weren't truly alone. I wanted to tell them how much they mattered and how important they were.
For just a moment as they each passed by one by one and lap by lap, I grasped their hands tightly as I marked them and I hope I made an impact on them by the words I said.
If only we knew just how special we are. Wouldn't you just run up and join whatever group you wanted? Run as fast as you could with endurance and pride? Hold your head up a little bit higher?
What I didn't witness until the end was something beautiful that I want to leave you with today..
Those kids that were fast and surrounded by friends.. do you know what I saw at least ten do today? As they stopped for me to mark their hands they waited, right next to me and said, as the slow, alone ones approached..
"I am waiting on my friend."
Suddenly those that seemed so alone and forgotten were being waited on by someone who noticed.
And that is what it's all about!
Those of you that have been my clients, my family and my friends, know that I don't often let you get by with too many excuses.
My youngest step son is about to turn TEN. I've raised him as my own since he was three. He has some health issues that require daily medication and he's been taking it in liquid form for two years. Let's just say that we had reasons to motivate him to move to a "big boy" pill (one of them being a significant savings in cost)!!
I knew this morning was going to be a bit rough with his first day trying to swallow the pill. His big brothers would mock him, be unkind and make it ten times harder on him to do what he needed to do.
I took his medicine and a cup of water up to his room this morning as I woke him up for the day. I told him I believed in him, I knew he could do it, and that it was our little practice session so his brothers didn't need to know a thing.
First attempt, gagging, coughing, spewing (all expected).
His second attempt, pill falls into the water cup.
He starts to cry and says that he can't do it.
His third attempt, (the pill is now soggy and barely contained) the spewing continues.
His fourth attempt, same as the first.
He is crying even more now. In the past I would have been irritated as all get out, said some things I would likely regret and storm down the stairs.
INSTEAD, God gave me these words for this little boy that needed to believe in himself.
"Tears are always okay when you are sad. Let's say you lost a friend, a pet, you feel really sick or you are just having a bad day. But right now, I want you to get mad and determined. I don't want you to say bad things about yourself anymore. I want you to be a rock star and get determined right now to swallow that silly pill. Dry up the tears, save them for something sad. Do you want to be sad or a rock star? "
My little guy, through his drying up tears, said "Rockstar" and he grabbed the soggy pill and downed it like a hero.
What do you need to get mad and determined about today? I don't want to hear you call yourself names or sit in your own tears.
He can. SO can you.
Remember back in the day when we had cassette tape recorders? Do you remember recording your voice and then hitting the "play" button and listening to it and then, if you were like me, feeling shocked at what you sounded like?
As I've said before, I have five children. The Proverbial wife/mom/steward, is not typically how I would describe myself on a daily basis. I do make an effort every morning during what I like to call "rush hour" to keep calm, remain patient and keep a smile on my face until the youngest three are out the door to school where they are someone else's blessing for the day. I.OFTEN.FAIL.
Let me be clear... I am not proud of my fiery spirit at times or the volme of my voice. Two of the three boys have a pretty significant case of Attention Deficit Disorder and if you haven't experienced that before, please come to my home and indulge yourself in a treat of awe and wonder to see their little brains process things a tad slower than the rest of us.
Moving on to this morning, one of the twins decided he was frustrated with his counterpart and he said something that was downright negative, full of ugliness, and mean. I went to remind him to start the day off a little better than that when it occured to me, just as the taperecorder had done, of the voice that had said that same thing just the day before and it sure did sound awful hearing it played back.
I fill the pantry with healthy, non-sugary foods to avoid added toxins. I have essential oils to calm their tummies, their earaches, their anxieties. We don't have sugar and or chemically-filled sodas in the fridge (that often) and I try to "detox" the cleaning supplies and soaps and shampoos that we use. I try to avoid toxins when I can. BUT I realized I have some work to do on the words that come out of mine and my children's mouths.
We know in Psalm 19:14 that it says..
"May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you"
I don't know about you, but I think if I am able to apply that thought and that filter to my mouth before I speak , that I may just like the sound of my voice coming out of the mouth of my children the next time they copy my words.
Want some tips on how to lower the voice "toxins"?
PAUSE sweet friend. Use a moment in the heat of the battle to stop and think if God would be proud of what you are about to say.
RETREAT take a moment to yourself when you feel the negative energy coming on and leave the room until you can revisit the moment later.
JOURNAL write down atleast five phrases you could use that are a little more "environmentally" friendly and meditate on them so they become your new "go to" words.
"PLAN" AHEAD do you usually get edgy after coffee? Get cranky if you wake without enough sleep? Hold off on the coffee until after your "rush hour", realize you will likely keep acting the same way if you continue to get the same amount of sleep and try switching things up to see if it helps.
BREATHE the biggest of breaths you can and then exhale it down into the pit of your stomach and release the negative out of your body.
SING I have been know during "rush hour" to play some nice, uplifting music to calm the craziness and have even been known to sing the words outloud while I am in the midst of a frustrating moment.
See if these help. Know you are not alone. Detox your words.
I get it ya'll. Change can be that thing that occupies your mind but never really makes it into reality.
Having a goal to "better" yourself or to make a change in your life is often just a safety net or a someday.
What would it take for you to make those thoughts an action?
Here are FIVE THINGS I can encourage you to try....
WRITE IT DOWN
write that goal down. make it bold, make it colorful, make it fun. write if FIVE times.
DRAW AN IMAGE
this doesn't have to be a masterpiece. make it a stick figure, a collage of scribbles. i want you to write what your goal looks like, feels like to you. ask God to show you something and pause long enough to see what that looks like.
how can you start and when? what's this look like? map it out and frame it.
ASK FOR SUPPORT
what do you need to do to get this goal out of the planning stage and into the action stage? do you a have a friend, a spouse, a sibling (a coach) to take that first step with you?
JUST DO IT (thanks NIKE)
try it out, tweek it if you need to, adjust it but i encourage you to take action. out of your thoughts and into your life.
I believe in you.