Look Up!

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While technology, in essence, has shrunk the world and brought us closer together, it’s also threatened to push us further apart. Being intentional in controlling the use of our handheld and lap devices is essential in leading a more meaningful life. It is true, I have read many articles pertaining to the use of technology and relationships mostly because I need a staunch reminder myself to Look Up. Recently I stumbled across this video that stopped me in my tracks as I had my ear buds in sitting at a coffee shop looking at You Tube videos on my Smartphone. Ha – God has a good sense of humor. But, I pray that upon watching this video you will be encouraged to put down the Smartphone and Look Up at the people and world around you. We miss out on so much when we let technology rule our lives. 

Enjoy!

Love, 

Kristen

Related articles:

Electronics Addiction: Another Leading Cause of Busyness – Terri Brady

Leadership Soft-Skill: Building Relationships – Orrin Woodward

Leaders as Heroes – George Guzzardo

Relationships – Chris Brady

Delivered: An Encounter with Jesus

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This is an original poem that I wrote last night. Sometimes amidst my sleepless nights my best thoughts come to me. I’ve been having a lot of those lately and thankfully God knows how to re-direct these thoughts into constructive words that will glorify Him. I pray this poem touches your heart and allows you to be reminded of the love He has for you!

God Bless,

Kristen

Delivered: An Encounter with Jesus

A sound so faint I could not hear,

The whisper of this voice.

“I want to talk to you my dear,”

“…Although you have a choice.”

Confused my thoughts begin to race,

“What do you want with me?”

He answers, “look upon my face,”

“I’m here to help you see.”

 

“You’ve been lost for far too long,

I’ve watched you from the start.

You need to know where you went wrong,

so you can accept me in your heart.”

 

“My faith is weak, my trust is low,

I don’t know what to do.

I need a Savior, this I know.

How can I follow you?”

“My love is free, I offer grace,

Your sins have been forgiven.

I have delivered you from this place,

But you need to change your livin.”

 

“Lord, your timing is perfection,

I need you so much now.

I do not know my own reflection,

I’ll follow you, but how?”

 

“Study, grow, pray and live,

A life that glorifies me.

Serve and love and always give,

So others, too, will see.”

“But Lord the sin, the struggle, the pain,

How do I remain strong?

Life is hard, it’s often insane,

It all just seems so wrong.”

 

“I offer strength, just look to me,

You are not alone.

I overcame the struggles, you see,

Turn and call on Heaven’s throne.”

 

“God the Father gave salvation,

to every soul on earth.

When I was sent to the cross I saved the nation,

For every human since birth.”

 

“This isn’t your home, trust me, there’s hope,

In Eternity that lasts forever.

Heaven is real, hang on to the rope,

Look to this Truth as your lever.”

 

“Jesus, I love you, I’m grateful you’ve came,

to share this Truth with me.

I know my life will never be the same,

At last, I can finally see.”

 

“You will sustain me in your love,

with what I’m going through.

Your promise fits just like a glove,

I am victorious in You.”

By: Kristen Seidl

Part 5 (Brain Tumor Sequel): Draw Closer to God

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Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with with my victorious right hand. Isaiah 41:10

Recently I have been studying the story of Job. Anyone who knows his journey in the Old Testament knows that he was one of the most faithful of all biblical figures in that time period and his story is marked as one of the oldest books in the Bible. For those who don’t know the story I am going to briefly summarize a portion of it for you now.

Job had a very good life. In thinking about LIFE leaderships 8 F’s I would say Job ‘had it going on’ in all eight categories. He was strong in his faith – he worshiped God in everything he did; and all other categories were exceedingly abundant. “He had seven sons and three daughters, and he owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred donkeys, and had a large number of servants. He was the greatest man among all the people of the East.” Job 1:2-3

While Job was not perfect (but he was darn close) Job knew that he was a fallen man and was very humble despite of all his blessings. He always knew Who to give the credit to. “Then the Lord said to Satan, Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.” Job 1:8

JobGod loved to brag on Job because he was the model man for all of God’s people. Satan didn’t like that and was sure that Job was only faithful because he had been blessed abundantly. “Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied.  “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land.  But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face” Job 1:9-11

God sets out to prove to Satan that Job is not righteous just because he is being blessed.  God challenges Satan telling him, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger” Job 1:12. Job lost just about everything; his sheep, his oxen, his camels, his servants, and all of his sons and daughters, but remarkably he did not lose his faith in God. What was Job’s response? “Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped. And he said: ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord.’  In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong” Job 1:20-22.

Job’s reaction during such a trial is so encouraging. He never lost faith. He worshiped God, he said that he came into this world with nothing and will return with nothing, the Lord has taken away all he had except his wife and even his wife told him to “curse God and die” and Job continued to bless the name of the Lord (Job 2:9).  In all of this, “Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong!” Job 1:22.  Satan must have been angry at Job’s response.  Job suffered unjustly and yet he did not blame God.

There is a lot more to this story. I encourage you, if you have not read it, to learn the intricate details of Job’s faith despite all of his challenges and even more, learn the ending. This is a very basic summary describing Job’s faith but I share it with you today because it is quickly becoming one of my favorite books of the Bible; and here is why.

I am reminded that even though the story of Job is so old, it is very much applicable and comparable to most people’s lives today. Let me be very clear that I am not saying people’s lives today can even compare to the sufferings of Job, but his story is a measure of struggle in our lives and allows us to examine our own faith. For example, when everything falls apart (whatever that may be for each person) does one curse God and blame God for their suffering or worship Him and draw closer to Him in faith? Those are the questions I continue to ask myself as I examine my own circumstances.

For those of you who have followed the journey regarding my brain tumor last year, you already know that by God’s grace and love and the support of amazing people in my life, I was healed last August. At the time I closed the book on that story and attempted to put the pieces of my life back together when everything fell apart. I just knew God was faithful. I knew He had a plan. And to my amazement His plan was carried out in one of the most miraculous ways possible. Looking back on all the intricate details of that journey and how each decision was carried out and examining God’s mighty hand throughout all of it, I am humbled that He gave that story to me. But, while I thought that story was over, God must have known it was just the beginning. Just another reminder that we can never predict God’s plan.

In a follow up MRI in late January I was told that there is another tumor – different diagnosis from the first but similar location, but it is benign. I didn’t quite react as foolishly and fearfully as I did the first time knowing that my options were completely different than the first time around. In knowing this diagnosis and realizing that God led me to homeopathy last year through amazing friends in LIFE leadership, I have decided to choose the homeopathic route again, completely trusting in Jenn and knowing that God is in control of this outcome as well.

HomeopathyHowever, in addition to the most recent diagnosis in January, just this past week at a recent appointment I was told that another tumor has been spotted near the back of the brain, attached to a nerve. This one is described as malignant. Yes…cancer. So now there are two. This recent news has forced me to think about my entire journey so far and in doing so it has also allowed me to re-examine my faith; hence why I started this post with the story of Job.

The very essence of this has certainly caused me to think deeper about life but beyond that, it has forced me to draw closer to God in searching for answers and accepting the reality that this is serious… but not fatal. Why? Because I have one of the wisest homeopathic specialists in the country working with me and I have a very powerful and mighty God. I know with certainty that God did not cause this to happen. This is not God’s fault (so non-believers get that out of your head), how could I possibly get mad at him? The reason things like this happen isn’t because of God, it’s because of sin. God didn’t create sin and He didn’t create evil. We (humans) did – way back in Genesis. God only provided a Savior (when He knew we would be faced with injustice and suffering) in His son Jesus Christ to overcome all the sin and evil of the world – even brain tumors..yes Jesus died for me so that someday I could live eternally with him, tumor free! Even if not in this life, I have hope that this plague isn’t forever… all because of Jesus. And for that I will always thank Him and draw closer to Him.

God is the hero, not the villain. In fact, it’s an even stronger reason why our relationship with Him is most important – especially during challenges. One day those challenges will cease to exist. One day we will know why bad things happen. But until then all we can do is what we know God has given us the power to do – trust in Him, pray, love Him, live for Him and draw closer to Him. Because in the end, our relationship with Him is what will really matter.

So with this recent news I thought it would be fair to ask this question:

Has an obstacle challenged your faith?

Has a terrible loss of a loved one burdened you to the point of giving up? … If so, draw closer to God.

Has a difficult relationship with someone in your life torn you to pieces? … If so, draw closer to God.

Is your health on shaky ground? … If so, draw closer to God.

Are you faced with a financial challenge that you can’t seem to overcome? … If so, draw closer to God.

Are you questioning your purpose? … If so, draw closer to God.

Are you lonely? … If so, draw closer to God.

Are you afraid? … If so, draw closer to God.

“For the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23

 

Love,

Kristen

(Sequel to Part 4: God’s Plan is Always Perfect)

 

The Hourglass

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Sometimes I lay in bed at night and think about the day’s events and just wonder if all of this is real? I have to pinch myself just to make sure that I am alive. It’s on nights like these, when my mind will just not shut off, that I reflect on how strong God made man to be.

grandmaThis past Monday I had to bury my grandma. She was my last living grandparent and a woman who stole my heart while she walked this earth. We had a very special bond that I believe very few grand-kids develop with a grandparent. I never imagined living my life without her and now that she is gone, it has made each day just a little bit more empty. She lived her life as a reflection of who Jesus Christ was. She was self-less, loving and forgiving. She lived a full life into her late 80’s and fought all the way to the end. Just moments before her passing she still had the strength to make the sign of the cross as the priest prayed over her. A woman who is living life eternally with the Creator of the world, she has left a legacy behind to all those who were blessed to know her.

In the meantime, during all the events of my grandma’s passing I was thinking about and praying for a very special lady who has also made an imprint in my heart as well as thousands of other people’s lives, LIFE co-founder, wife, mother of four and friend to many – Jackie Lewis. When I heard of her worsening condition Sunday evening I fervently prayed that God would heal her. Each day that went by her condition continued to worsen and by Tuesday evening we were praying for a miracle. In those days I have never prayed so much or cried so much.

jackie-quoteI believe Jackie’s fight brought 10’s of thousands of people closer to Christ in just a matter of days. And in her last 12 hours people literally put their life on hold to lift Jackie, the doctor’s, her family and friends in prayer in hopes that a miracle would happen. Communities around the world were consumed by her story, her fight and her faith. People who have never believed in anything started to pray and began to have faith and believe in a higher power. People who didn’t even know Jackie were crying out to God for a healing. While Jackie may not have been able to physically see the impact that her fight was making in thousands of people’s lives in those days, I am certain that as she looks down on us today she can smile and know that she is still in this world by the legacy she has left behind in people’s hearts and souls.

hour-glassIsn’t it interesting how God has a timeline… or hourglass (as my friend and mentor George Guzzardo likes to say) for everyone’s life. We don’t know how much sand is left in the hourglass; but what we do know is that one day, our last grain of sand will reach the bottom and it’s what we do before that last grain falls that makes all the difference. We would all like to hope that our sand moves slower through the hourglass so that we can live a long life into our late 80’s, just as my grandma did. But that isn’t always the case. We see that in a woman who went Home to be with the Lord at 32 years old and realize that the hourglass is so unpredictable. We recognize that we have no control over the speed of the sand that falls. But what we do know is that Someone is in control of that hourglass – and it isn’t us.

Jackie lived on this earth for 32 years and while we may not understand why she was called Home so soon – we can know that she made a difference in more people’s lives than most people do who live a full life. Not only did she impact thousands of lives while she was living – she changed even more lives while she was dying. We can never claim to understand why God does the things that He does but as I reflect on all these events this past week, I can say with certainty that He does have a plan and His plan is always perfect – despite what we want to believe or the confusion we often feel as we live in this world.

I pray that everyone who has been affected by Jackie’s story uses it as a reason to live a life of significance and purpose. Very few people leave the type of legacy that Jackie has left behind but I believe we are all capable of leaving that type of legacy. God knows what He is doing. He is waiting for us leave the type of impact that Jackie did. He is waiting for His people to draw near to Him and pray like their lives depended on it. To fight for their place in Heaven by living while they are alive and being an example of Jesus’ presence in the world. That is what I know my grandma did and that is what I know Jackie did. While the grains in their hourglass were completely different, their legacy was very similar and they are both being rewarded in Heaven today for who they were when they were alive. They are celebrating today with all the angels in Heaven who did not waste their hourglass.

What a gift we have to know that Jesus Christ has saved us for all of Eternity. We don’t have to fear death. We don’t have to worry about the last grain of sand in our earthly hourglass. We can leave that in His hands. Our hourglass in Eternity with Jesus is never ending and that is the hourglass we should be striving for in this life.

Hugs and prayers to everyone who is mourning the earthly loss of Jackie Lewis, Ann Mardoian and any other angels who left this earth to be with Jesus. God gave us the strength to overcome these earthly losses and use them for His glory!

“This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life.” Psalm 119:50

In Christ,

Kristen

Veritas Vos Liberabit

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The hinges of the flood gates were weak and the salty downpour was a constant threat.

I was at the point where anything had the potential to tip me over.

I’m normally not an emotional person, so being in that state made me feel unstable, vulnerable and weak.

I lay in bed trying to figure out what’s wrong with me? Was I subconsciously drowning in my own self pity, fearfully questioning the next chapter of my life?

Perhaps, but something uglier was going on.

I had been feeling defeated, judged, worthless, guilty, ugly, unstable and selfish; and as a result my behavior and attitude reflected my thoughts.

Old habits that I had been freed of years ago were resurfacing, and lies I no longer believed were echoing in my ears and directing my actions.

As I lay crouched up on the couch staring into the fake embers of my gas fireplace reliving a day of selfish behavior and meltdowns, the ugly whisper returns:

…you haven’t changed one bit now have you?

…what a waste of a life you have had.

I was reliving the lies of my (misunderstood) purposeless past.

For months I had been believing these lies, indirectly forcing me to question my existence and calling.

When eventually one morning I woke up to a quieter whisper, gentle but firm.

It bid me to start writing about the lies that I had been hearing.

truth

When I was finished with that, I began to pray for change, truth and clarity.

I paged through the bible looking for verses that would bring light to my darkness and suddenly I found myself filling my page with words of freedom and hope.

“Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.” Psalm 25:5

“Truth shall spring up from the earth and righteousness shall look down from heaven.” Psalm 85:11

“Little children, let us not love in theory and in speech but in deed and in truth.” 1 John 3:18

And, my favorite:

John 8:32 “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 

…And just like that the lies had lost their sting – in fact these words empowered me.

It makes so much sense now. Of course Satan would tempt me into believing that I am worthless and purposeless. He is the complete antithesis of truth and life.

The chains that had been broken five years ago when I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior were already stripped from me and no lie, no matter how believable, could ever reconnect those chains.

Ironically, just a couple days ago I was diagnosed with another brain tumor – different from the first. Were some of the emotions I had been feeling linked to this subconscious but ultimately true reality? I may never know. But what I do know is that God does have a purpose and a plan. And despite the recent news, I am confident that one day I will have the answers. But until then, my hope rests in His truth and His word.

…”For I know the plans I have for you, “declares the Lord,” plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

Jesus is freedom and He is truth! And it is by His grace that we have been set free from all the lies, sin and pain of this world.

For the rest of our lives we will be surrounded by situations and lies we can’t explain but the truth is that if we don’t receive them, they can’t have power over us. Remain faithful, live courageously and arm yourself with the Truth as your sword and shield as you go out and battle the deceit and trouble of this world.

(In Latin) Veritas vos liberabit – The Truth Shall Set you Free 

 

Love, Kristen

Just Passing Through

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“But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.” Philippians 3:20

FogAheadI had been driving from Southeast Wisconsin to Northern Wisconsin late one night on an intensely dark two lane highway when it started pouring rain. The densely thick fog made visibility strikingly difficult and I could barely see the white stripe on the edge of the road let alone two feet in front of me. I didn’t want to stop because I was afraid someone might come along and rear-end me so I unknowingly coasted forward hoping the rain or fog would subside in mere moments.

Up ahead I could see what appeared to be the taillights of a truck that was coasting confidently through the storm. He must have had fog lamps in front because his fearless and deliberate pace was no comparison to the disorientation I had been feeling in that instant. But somehow I knew that if I could just follow those taillights, I’d be headed in the right direction.

This experience provided a metaphor for clarity as I have reflected on the last two weeks or so. As some of you know my grandma has been fighting to live as her health is declining. In fact, just last week the doctor’s were not very optimistic about her even surviving through the holiday’s. It breaks my heart because she is my last living grandparent and our relationship is closer than almost any other relationship I have within my family. The deep and intimate talks and moments we share are etched in my memory forever.

About a week ago my mom had been leaving the nursing home where my grandma is staying temporarily and as my mom went to give her a hug to leave, my grandma tearfully gripped my mom’s shoulders tighter and didn’t want to let her go… she was afraid she would die that night. Up until these last few weeks my grandma’s tough outer shell has been broken down and her vulnerability for comfort and clarity is resting in the hands of those closest to her. Immediately the next day I went down to visit because I knew the fear and anxiety she must have been feeling and I just wanted to be there to comfort and encourage her through some of those troubling thoughts.

me and grandma 2When I walked in she lit up with joy as her smile contagiously brought a huge smile to my face as well. Before walking in I asked God to give me the strength to encourage her and give her hope in the midst of her darkness. Even though I know she is a Believer I am not certain if she fully understands God’s love and promise and hope in eternal life. I wasn’t sure how I would bring it up to her but I was just trusting in God to reveal to me the right time and I just knew that it was necessary to give her comfort in her last days, weeks or months.

Our conversation transitioned perfectly later in the evening as she said to me, “Kristen, I am dying” with defeat and fear written on her face. While everything in me just wanted to hold her and weep I just knew I couldn’t. I wanted her to know that dying is not a defeat and it is not the end. I wanted her to know that dying is actually a victory because when our bodies are no longer here on earth it means our souls are rejoicing with Jesus in Heaven for all of Eternity. It means that all the pain, struggle, fear, disappointment and chaos are now behind us and we get to live victoriously with the Creator of the world. I told her that she needs to live the remainder of her days with hope in her heart and celebration, not fear and defeat because whenever God decides to call her Home it’s because He couldn’t wait to meet her face to face.

I also told her, “if you live each and every day as if it’s a celebration, I would be willing the bet God would keep you here a lot longer because you will have appreciated the gift of life He has given you. Heck, He might even keep you here another 10 years!” She laughed and said, “I don’t know if I can handle another 10 years.”

It was so wonderful because her spirit turned completely around over the next week leading up into Christmas. Two weeks ago we were talking about Hospice and funeral arrangements and now we are talking about who is going to take care of her when she goes home!

church steepleSo let me finish the story I began with. I had been just passing through this storm while trusting in the taillights of this unknown truck for what seemed like hours when eventually the storm had passed and I could finally gain some visibility.  I could clearly see some landmarks as I rounded a curve that was silhouetted against the night sky. Just ahead I saw the steeple of a church and the cross of Christ reflecting off of the moonlight and I realized in that instant that the confusion of the fog, the heavy rain, the uncertainty of direction – it was all God revealing to me the beauty and light that is promised in Heaven beyond the fear and disorder of the world.

That experience helped me to realize that this life is only temporary and we are all just passing through for a period of time. It also encouraged my grandma during a very unfavorable and scary stage in her life. Even though it’s hard, we have to have faith in the unknown, we have to trust that God is leading us in the right direction, we have to have hope beyond the darkness and we have to realize that our struggles are temporary and eventually the storms of life will pass as victory awaits us.

People need hope. Not just hope for tomorrow but hope for all of eternity. And it is our responsibility as believers to share that hope with others. It’s real easy to allow our own fear and doubt to cloud the truth that we know in our heart. My grandma knew the truth, she just needed confirmation that what exists in her heart is the real promise of God. We celebrated Christmas to thank God for sending His spotless son to earth to die on a cross for our sins so we would never have to experience an ‘end.’ Jesus was just passing through for a mere 33 years just like we all have our own timeline – the difference is, His life (as short as it was) is the exact reason we celebrate – it’s because His legacy changed the world and our eternal lives forever!

Join my grandma in celebrating life and God’s promise for us all:

(At the request of the couple in the mirror – who were Jewish, we all joined them in Celebration on Christmas Eve – just two days ago. Enjoy!)

(I should probably clarify, grandma is still here with us. This is my way of being able to celebrate her life while she is still here).

Love,

Kristen

This… is Water…

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A fish doesn’t appreciate water because they are born into it. They have never experienced life without it; until they are taken out of water and realize how important that water is to them.

Americans who are born into freedom don’t always appreciate freedom because they have never lived without it. Until that freedom is taken from them, then they realize how important freedom is.

 

In order to have freedom, we have to be aware of our freedoms.

“Awareness to what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight, all around us all the time, that we have to keep reminding ourselves, over and over, this is water…this is water.” David Foster Wallace

God Bless,

Kristen

Cut the Bull!

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“What if the kid you bullied at school, grew up, and turned out to be the only surgeon who could save your life?” Lynette Mather

My student moved from Zimbabwe to America two years ago; a smart, likable dark-skinned 15-year-old with a positive attitude and a low self-esteem. As he walked into class I over-heard one of his outspoken 17-year-old peers sarcastically comment, “Hey, Zimbabwe! What’s up?” …as he went to slap him a high-five and pulled his hand away just as they were about to make contact. The 15-year-old chuckled as the other students laughed under their breath but little did he know that his peers were laughing at him and not with him. Immediately I pulled my 15-year-old student aside and asked him if he was okay with his peers calling him Zimbabwe? These kids were all the same ethnicity so I wasn’t sure if it was a nickname or an insult. Sometimes it’s hard to tell with teenagers. But I thought I would ask just to be sure. In his sweet pre-pubescent voice he responded, “well…not really, but so many people do it now that I’ve kind of gotten used to it…”

Immediately I spent the entire class period wrestling with the words that I wanted to say to these particular students who I just knew were bullies. I didn’t want to humiliate my 15-year-old even more in front of class so I formulated a plan to talk to these students privately afterwards.

bullying (1)In my most choleric and serious tone I glared into their eyes with tears and anger as I told them about my friend in high school who committed suicide because of bullying, my brother who was humiliated and ridiculed in middle school and needed a restraining order against his bully (who today the guy is now dead from drug overdose) while my brother is a successful business owner and musician. I told them that people can get kicked out of school, get fired from jobs and go to prison for bullying and harassment.  I told them, “I don’t care if you think it’s a joke, if you think it’s funny or if you think it’s harmless…….because it’s not a joke, it’s not funny and it’s hurtful.” I told them I have NO TOLERANCE for bullying at any level and I would do everything in my power to stop it from continuing. Needless to say I have not seen or heard anything since.

BULLYPIC2This topic has and always will hit close to home for me. Not only have I seen and witnessed the effects of bullying and harassment in people who I care deeply about, I have personally dealt with it in my own life. Subtle comments that are remembered from my past: the tall girl, the tom boy, the girl with man hands, ghetto booty, the shy girl who doesn’t talk… probably the most hurtful was in high school people liked to ‘joke’ because I dressed in athletic clothes, played sports and rarely had time for a boyfriend that I was the single girl with a big question mark above my head. Stereotypes that were completely UNTRUE began as a joke which escalated to rumors all because one person wanted to be funny. In fact some of those comments were what led to my years of battling an eating disorder because of low self-confidence, insecurity, low self-esteem and poor self-image. I wanted to believe that I was strong and I could ‘handle’ their jokes but my heart was hurt as I began to get angry, depressed and isolated. One thing that is important to remember is that bullying doesn’t always look like bullying. We recognize that when we hear stories of parents verbally abusing their kids, friends teasing and spreading rumors about other friends, rampant gossip or inappropriate texts, e mails or social media messages about another person. It sometimes looks harmless but rarely is it actually harmless!

Bullying is a serious topic that needs more awareness and that is why I am posting this article. Just look at the statistics:

  • Over 3.8 million students are victims of bullying each year.
  • Approximately 160,000 teens skip school every day because of bullying.
  • 90% of 4th through 8th grade students report being victims of bullying.
  • Almost 60% of those bullied early in life are also bullied in high school.
  • Approximately 30% of young people ADMIT to bullying others.
  • 70.6% of young people admit to seeing bullying in their schools.
  • 62% admitted to seeing bullying three or more times in the last month and 41% admit to seeing it at least once a week or more.
  • The MOST common types of bullying are verbal and social
  • According to one large study, the following percentages of middle schools students had experienced these various types of bullying: name calling (44.2 %); teasing (43.3 %); spreading rumors or lies (36.3%); pushing or shoving (32.4%); hitting, slapping, or kicking (29.2%); leaving out (28.5%); threatening (27.4%); stealing belongings (27.3%); sexual comments or gestures (23.7%); e-mail or blogging (9.9%).
  • Out of 100 – LESS THAN 20% of students who are bullied ever notify an adult about the bullying!

Don’t be mistaken, young people are not the only one’s who are targets for bullying. Many adults face similar challenges in the form of harassment, verbal and emotional abuse and physical harm. None of this should be taken lightly and if you see it and it doesn’t seem normal – it probably isn’t. It’s not okay to be a bystander or walk away!

Check out this video that is both disturbing and encouraging…but mostly disturbing:

 

Leadership is doing what’s right regardless of the consequences. If there were more people with a hunger for leadership we could not only stop bullying while it was happening but more importantly prevent it from starting.

I believe LIFE Leadership provides the best information to develop adults and young people into strong leaders who would not only recognize an inappropriate situation but sacrifice their own comfort and safety to help someone else. The Edge series was designed specifically for young people to develop their confidence, self-esteem, leadership and thinking. George Guzzardo stated recently in his article, Everything I Always Wanted for Christmas how important it is that we get the right information into people’s hands this holiday season and it starts with the Edge series for teens.

I truly believe it will be leaders who get the right information into the hands of the right people who will make a difference in their schools, communities, churches and professions. It will be leaders who sacrifice the comfort of their own lives in order to change someone else’s life and it will be leaders who spread the message of bullying prevention across the nation and the world.

“You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.” Leviticus 19:18

God Bless,

Kristen

A Time to Give Thanks

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Winter and I have a love/hate relationship. I dislike this time of year purely because of the cold weather and early darkness in Wisconsin. But my love for it far surpasses my hate. I love this time of year because I can get away with dressing in warm baggy sweatpants and sweatshirts, I can fill my house with the winter aroma of Gingerbread and evergreen, I can sit in front of the fireplace and read deep books to challenge my thinking, I can watch classic Christmas movies that never get old and experience the beauty of watching the snow fall into the wee hours of the morning. But beyond these blissful moments, it’s a time when families are brought together, with the stress of life being put behind them while we quiet our souls for reflection and thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving has lost its meaning over the years; it’s not just meant for stuffing our bellies, watching football and preparing for the black Friday specials. Its roots go back nearly 400 years to a shared autumn feast between Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians. The two groups came together in 1621 to celebrate the harvest in what is known as the first Thanksgiving celebration in the New World.  Thanksgiving is really all about our devotion to God and His laws. The Pilgrims recognized that everything we have is a gift from God – even our sorrows. Their Thanksgiving tradition was established to honor God and thank Him for His blessings and His grace.

Orrin Woodward, founder of LIFE wrote a wonderful and touching article titled Thanksgiving Thankfullness:

On Thanksgiving morning, as I sit at my desk, overlooking the Bay of St. Lucie, watching the sun rise out of the water, I am thinking thankful thoughts for all the blessings in my life… (click to read more)

George Guzzardo also writes about the the meaning behind Thanksgiving:

This week most of us will prepare to set aside time to celebrate the national holiday we call ‘Thanksgiving’. It begins a busy time of year most of us call the ‘holidays’, when we schedule time with what I call the 3 F’s: Friends, Food, and Football...” (click to read more)

I pray that God moves the hearts of all those who seek His love and all those who are servants in His kingdom. In a few words, I am so thankful for our military and veterans who fight for us to be free, good health, a loving family, amazing friends and a God who is faithful and forgiving. What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving?

“O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; For His loving kindness is everlasting.” 1 Chronicles 16:34

Blessings,

Kristen

Unspoken Love

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“Give thanks to the God of heaven, for His steadfast love endures forever.” Psalm 136:26

This time of year often carries a different meaning for different people. Many people love this time of year because it is filled with the holidays, fun, family, food and love. Other people dread this time of year because it can reflect a time of grief for loved ones not here, conflict in families, loneliness and stress. I personally fall right in the middle of these two categories. Living room Christmas

I spent this afternoon setting up my Christmas tree and hanging decorations for the holiday season – a fairly common ‘ritual’ for most people around this time of year. But it was while listening to the meaning behind the lyrics of the Christmas songs that were playing in the background while warming my hands and feet in front of the fireplace that I was inspired to write this post.

Earlier this week I was extremely frustrated and stressed about some personal matters. I had a hard time dealing with the emotions associated and found myself yelling at God in anger because I just didn’t understand why it was happening or how to fix it (as if it was God’s fault). Instead of humbly asking God to help me, I was angry with Him… and carried this anger with me all week!

As my heart started to race and tears began to shed this morning in church I couldn’t help but ask God for forgiveness, help and guidance. He reminded me of Friday afternoon when my high school students displayed the sort of love that is often times only revealed through God.

One of my seniors had injured her self fairly severely in an activity and immediately my students took action. What I didn’t realize until I got into my car that afternoon was the type of love they displayed. A type of love we don’t often talk about and doesn’t always get recognition – unspoken love. In a matter of seconds I had students leading with their heart; one student ran to get an ice pack, another ran to get a wheelchair, another ran to get a cell phone to call the girl’s mom and another ran to get a nurse while others stood by to encourage her and dry her tears. Seconds later one student boldly suggested, “I think we should pray” and she led her remaining classmates in a prayer. What was so beautiful about this moment was the realization that they did this all without my instruction – it came purely from the love in their hearts. It was a very proud and memorable moment for me and more importantly for God. I guarantee that young lady left school feeling deeply loved.

It was in my reflection this morning and again later this afternoon that I realized how simple it is to display love and conversely receive love without words (just like my students modeled on Friday). Like…the unspoken love of laughter, the unspoken love of a warm hug, the unspoken love of a card filled with X’s and O’s, the unspoken love of holding someone’s hand, the unspoken love of a listening ear, the unspoken love of dancing to no music, the unspoken love of a child climbing into your lap, the unspoken love of a knowing glance, the unspoken love of a tiny hand grabbing your finger or the unspoken love of serving someone else. Who doesn’t like to give and receive this kind of love?

love GodBut I believe the most obvious and powerful unspoken love we can receive is the love of God. No matter how angry we may be with Him (or ourselves), no matter what sin we violate, no matter how broken our hearts may be or how lonely we may feel we can find peace, comfort and hope in the unspoken love of God. It was the unspoken love of God that filled my heart this morning when I needed it the most. He continued to love me even when I didn’t deserve it.

God hears every unspoken word, sees every unseen wound and mends every unbearable pain. There is no problem He can’t solve or question He can’t answer. We just have to be patient enough to listen and faithful enough to trust Him.

So as we enter into a time of holiday cheer, laughter, fun, family, food and love, lets not forget about those who don’t have anyone to celebrate with or those who are facing health challenges, a family crisis or overwhelming stress. Not only should we embrace the love in the everyday things around us but also display and share the unspoken love of God in our hearts to those who may need the hope and love of Jesus the most during this time.

“God’s unfailing love for us is an objective fact affirmed over and over in the Scriptures. It is true whether we believe it or not. Our doubts do not destroy God’s love, nor does our faith create it. It originates in the very nature of God, who is love, and it flows to us through our union with His beloved Son.” Jerry Bridges

Much love,

Kristen

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