Babies. Hummus. I’ll pass.

hummus-812675_1920I don’t like hummus. The texture. The taste. I just don’t like it.

I knew after the first time that I tasted hummus that I didn’t like it. But, everyone around me loved hummus. Let’s face it, nearly everyone on the planet loves hummus. So literally every opportunity I had, I tried hummus. Different brands, different flavors. I hated it every single time.

It took me awhile to give it up and finally admit it. I hate hummus.

And that’s OK.

Hummus isn’t for everyone.

And neither are children.

I once went with some friends from work to an event just for women. A lot of it was about women empowerment. In the venue there was a big wall where women were encouraged to write down the best thing about being a woman. A woman in our group said with enthusiasm, “Duh, we get to have BABIES!”

I felt like crap. I don’t have babies. I don’t even have A baby. I’m 37 and time is running out! But then I realized, I don’t even want to birth children. I’ve NEVER wanted to birth children.

Why was I letting someone’s comment make me feel bad about something I didn’t even want? Why did I keep trying hummus when I knew I hated it?

Simple. I felt like I was missing out on something. I was missing out on this delightful, healthy treat called hummus. I was missing out on babies, even though I have never wanted one.

Sure I had baby dolls when I was a little girl, but I was much more into Barbies. My Barbies traveled the world and had fun jobs. And my mom will tell you, the words, “I can’t wait to have children,” have NEVER come out of my mouth.

A few months at a wedding there was this precious little boy in front of us who kept turning around and smiling. A co-worker next to me said, “Aww! Look at that little…” and she stopped mid-sentence. “Oh I forgot, you hate kids!”

Nope. Not even remotely true. While yes, I’m horrified of holding a newborn, there is not a single bone in my body that has any sort of hatred of children. As a matter of fact, I would love to marry someone who already has children, or to adopt someday. I simply have zero desire to birth children.

IMG-2722There are some people in my life who refuse to accept that. They say I will change my mind. They say I’m missing out. I wonder if they’d say those same things to a woman who physically CAN’T have children. Let’s hope not.

I also have a few married friends who have decided not to have biological children. They might adopt one day, or even welcome foster children into their homes. The backlash from some of their friends and family for not having biological children is heartbreaking.

Please, stop with the “be fruitful and multiply” verses from the Old Testament. Each of those scriptures refer to animals and the Israelites, and were also in specific cases to fill up the earth after creation and after the flood.

IMG_9361 (2)And if people are so concerned with their interpretation of “be fruitful and multiply,” what about all the verses about taking care of orphans? DIRECT words from Jesus Christ Himself!

 

I realize I am in a minority group of women who don’t want to birth their own children.

I realize I am in a minority group of people who hate hummus.

And that’s OK.

There’s nothing wrong with having babies or liking hummus, but there’s also nothing wrong with NOT having babies or liking hummus.

So… what’s your hummus? What is it that is making you feel like a failure or a crappy human being because you don’t like it or want it?

Maybe it’s that you don’t dream of having babies.

Maybe it’s that your children don’t play sports.

Maybe it’s that you don’t travel the world.

Maybe it’s that you don’t make your family eat gluten-free.

Stop letting people make you feel bad for things you don’t even like, or things you don’t even want. You do you, and no one else. You are the only one who has to live your life. Don’t try to fit into the mold that other people want you to fit into.

I don’t like hummus. I’m going to stop trying hummus, even though people keep wanting me to try new flavors and brands.

And I’m going to stop allowing myself to feel bad about not waning to having biological children, even when people flat out tell me, “Yes you do.” Because, you know, they apparently know me better than I know myself.

God didn’t design us to all be the same. And although people may have a problem with it, I don’t want biological children, and I hate hummus.

“She is clothed in strength and dignity.
And she laughs without fear of the future.”
Proverbs 31:25

Who wins in the “my life is harder” competition?

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When I became a YL distributor and started my own business, “enrapture”, I found out quickly that I was in the minority as a single woman and as a woman with a full time job outside of the home.

I was at my first Young Living seminar back in August when I was surrounded by mothers, the majority of them stay-at-home-moms (SAHMs). We heard from many successful women, all of whom were SAHMs. Every “success story” I’ve read about Young Living distributors has been about SAHMs. So I was curious as to whether there were any great success stories of single women, with no children, who work full time jobs away from the home. I was looking for some encouragement and inspiration!

After I asked my question, I realized what was about to follow- a backlash of, “Stay at home moms work just as hard as people with full time jobs!” and, “Being a mom is a full time job!” And on, and on.

Totally misunderstood (no one could really even give me a good answer because they couldn’t get past what they THOUGHT I said), I crawled into a hole and died. I considered leaving the seminar. I held back tears. Part of me wanted to quit Young Living completely, but I stuck it out.

Then, the other day someone posted a similar question on a Young Living Facebook group. They had a friend who wondered about the success rate of women in Young Living who work full time jobs and are not a SAHM.

WOW. The responses were horrifying. One woman even said, “I know for a fact that stay at home moms work much harder than anyone with a full time job.”

Excuse me? Have you talked to every woman on the planet to know exactly how hard each woman works at her job each day? Who are you to tell another woman that her life is easier than another?

Who wins in this competition of, “My life is harder”?

How about we stop this competition completely?

Most of the time, we all work hard. We all want to be the best at what we do, and it’s a challenge for every woman. Whether its taking care of your children at home, taking care of children at a school, running a business from home, running a business at another location, etc., etc., isn’t it always hard work?

Some people think if you’re single, you’ve got it made. You get to come home from work and relax. You have all evening to enjoy life and not worry about a husband or children getting in your way. Well, do you know how many of us would love to have that “difficulty” of a husband and children? You might be stressed out because of your children and husband, but some of us are alone with our thoughts for hours on end. When is the last time you were alone with your thoughts? It’s not all it’s cracked up to be. It’s actually quite terrifying. So while you’re chasing your children around, trying to get them into bed and yelling at your husband for not fixing the dishwasher, there are some of us wondering why we don’t have exactly what you have. And on top of that, we have to fix the dishwasher ourselves.

Can we all agree that no matter what stage of life we are in, life is tough? As women, we work hard. We have to because there’s often something we have to prove. Instead of getting into a ridiculous debate about whose life is harder, we should focus on supporting each other, building each other up.

You may think you know someone else’s life, but most of the time you have no idea. SAHMs have struggles, and so do women who work away from the home. Both work very, very hard. Married women face challenges, as do single women. Mothers have hurts and broken hearts, just as women without children do.

We should be in this together. Let’s stop passing judgment on another woman’s life and telling her that she doesn’t work as hard as you do. You have no idea the struggles she faces.

And as far as Young Living goes, I am definitely in the minority as a single woman and as someone who doesn’t work at home. But I’m not going to let that stop me from trying to be successful in sharing products that have drastically improved my quality of life. Shameless plug: Follow my essential oil blog HERE! And “Like” my Facebook page HERE!

Another early goodbye…

IMG_20130914_080640Four months ago when I went to pick up my friend Katrina at her apartment here in Uganda, I was greeted through the security gate by a precious little face and painted fingernails. I instantly fell in love with the little girl peering through the hole in the gate and snapped a photo.

“Who is that?” I asked Katrina when she got in the car.

“That’s Florence, our day guard’s daughter,” she told me.

Time went on. Katrina moved back the United States, and I ended up moving into her open room on the compound. I remember my first day going home to the new apartment after a day of teaching. I opened the gate and tiny little Florence came running towards me. You would think I was her best friend that she hadn’t seen in years. Behind her waddled Gideon, her little brother.

I thought it was because I was new, but as it turned out, that’s how I was greeted every single day- with love and hugs from two of the cutest kids in all of Uganda.

IMG_4757I quickly learned that Florence loves to dance. She would twirl for me, hop around, sing and dance for as long as I would watch. And she would always say, “Look!” in her little Ugandan accent, which actually made it sound like she was saying, “Luke!” She spoke very little English, but enough that I could tell her every day that she was beautiful, and she would reply, “Yes!”

Florence loves having her picture taken, and she especially loves being in videos. We’ve had fun with my camera and computer just being silly. She’s been the first child here that’s made me think, “I get it. I now know why people come here and go back to America with a child.”

But Florence isn’t an orphan. She isn’t without a family. She’s got a mother and a father who have gone through the very worst in order to do what’s best for her and Gideon. I learned recently that they are refugees from Congo. They arrived here on foot. They have seen two children die already. They’ve been through things we can’t even imagine.

On the worst of days, and I’ve had my share of them here in Uganda, Florence has been the shining light that makes me smile. Today, Florence and her family leave to return to Congo.IMG_20131116_002418

To say that this breaks my heart is an understatement. Not only am I sad that I won’t be able to spend time with her, but I’m horrified for the family’s safety. The worst part is, I’ll never know what happens to them. I’ll never know if they make it back to Congo safely. I’ll never know what happens to them if they do make it.

My initial response to the family returning to Congo was one of shock. Why on earth would they return to such a war-filled country? They escaped! Why return? I was somewhat relieved to learn today that apparently things have been peaceful for a few weeks now. Also, they cannot afford to send Florence to school in Uganda, and in Congo, she will receive an education. If that’s what’s best for Florence, I am all for it.

The compound is going to feel really strange now. I know I’ve only been here a month but I’ve grown to love Florence and to always look forward to her smiling face. I’ll even miss Gideon, even though he was prone to peeing on our front porch. It’s hard not to love that little ball of goofiness with a smile that melts your heart.

Please pray for Florence, Gideon and their parents. Pray for their safety and that the move is what’s best for the family. Pray that God will provide them with whatever they need to live a happy life.

And pray for the rest of us who will miss their glowing faces and their giggles that once echoed throughout the compound.

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Such pride and disappointment…

That's me- cheering for the Troup Tigers at a football game in Georgia in 2007.
That’s me- cheering for the Troup Tigers at a football game in Georgia in 2007.

Having taught high school English for five and a half years, I had the pleasure of attempting to educate nearly 800 students. While I didn’t succeed at educating some of them, I certainly did succeed at getting to know my students and loving them with all my heart.

When I was teaching, I didn’t allow students to be my friends on Facebook or follow me on Twitter, for obvious reasons. But now that I’m not teaching, I’ll allow it (unless the kid was super creepy). Social media has given me the opportunity to see what my former students are up to.

Some make me smile.

Others devastate me.

I smile when I see the class clown as a Marine. So serious, so important, so driven.

I smile when I see that students who struggled to pass my English class are now graduating from college.

I smile when I see the heartbreaker has found the love of his life and is getting married.

I smile when I see the jock getting ready to open his own barber shop.

I smile when I see the yearbook editor doing mission work overseas.

Then there are the others.

I am sad when I see they’re doing drugs.

I am sad when I see them have kid, after kid, after kid.

I am sad when I see they pride themselves in being “thugs.”

I am sad when I see they love to advertise the fact that they have guns- and aren’t afraid to use them.

I am sad when I see that they clearly think that’s what life has to be like.

And then there’s the one you invested so much time in, only to see him a complete disaster down the road. I’ve seen my fair share of former students in the news, and not for good reasons.

If you’re a teacher who has a heart for the “bad” kids, you know who I’m talking about. For me, there was one specific “bad” kid I cared about so much my first two years teaching in Georgia. He won my heart over the first day of school. He even eventually got the reputation of “Miss Trout’s favorite.” He was a mess, no one believed in him, no one saw the good in him, but I did. Despite the fact that he was a drug dealer and whatever else he did outside of school, I loved him like he was my little brother. And I was going to save him.

One of the hardest things I had to learn in teaching was that you can’t save them all. While that doesn’t mean you stop trying to “save” all the ones who need it, it means you have to know you tried your best to make an impact on someone’s life and how they turn out but that sometimes… you don’t.

I shed so many tears over this kid when I was his English teacher for two years. He was never rude or disrespectful to me. Well, if he was, he’d be back later that day to apologize. I didn’t let him get away with things. I wrote my fair share of office referrals for the kid. But for some reason, I never stopped caring about him. Even when I moved back to my home state of Indiana, hundreds of miles away, I prayed for him. Still do.

And then a few weeks ago I saw on his friend’s Instagram, a photo of him with the words under it, “Free Marquez” (name has been changed). My heart dropped. I knew right away it had to do with drugs. The journalist in me did my research, though. It was much more than drugs.

There were actually six charges. Two of which were armed robbery and aggravated assault.

It made me cry. Was I completely crazy to ever believe this kid had a chance? I knew his home life. I knew the people he ran with. I knew that not long after I left Georgia, he dropped out of school. So why am I so shocked?

Because my heart is broken.

One of the things America has seen recently in the wake of what happened in Newtown is the fact that teachers love their students. They would do anything for them. As crazy as they are, as out of control as they are, as completely hopeless they sometimes are, teachers love their students. No matter what.

You would think this makes me give up on Marquez. What could possibly change now? Plenty. Here’s where my spiritual gift of Mercy comes in, and my faith in God. I’m still going to pray for him. I’m still going to believe that one day he’ll fix his life. He might not, and I might never know what happens to him. But I’m not giving up. Teachers don’t give up.

I might not be a teacher anymore according to the state of Indiana, but in heart I will always be a teacher. I still refer to my former students as my “kids.” Like a mother, I’m very proud of so many of them. Words can’t express how proud I am! And like a mother, I love my “kids” unconditionally. No matter what he’s done, that includes Marquez.

No More…

Before writing a blog post, I felt led to write a poem about yesterday’s tragedy and the children who have died. I am a faithful believer, based on what I have read in the Bible, that all children who die enter the kingdom of heaven. If you are friends with me on Facebook, you saw my status about how I believe we must pray for those left behind and the suffering they are going through. For these children, who so tragically died, they will suffer no more. And that’s where I got the idea for this poem.

No More

There will be no more birthdays.
No more gifts on Christmas morn.
No giggling from their bedrooms.
It’s as if they were never born.

There are no more smiles.
No more hugs for mom and dad.
No baby dolls or little league games,
It’s enough to drive you mad.

But…

There will be no more suffering.
No more tummy aches or bruises.
No more misunderstanding,
No team that ever loses.

No tears shed over lost pets,
No more fighting over toys.
God has perfectly prepared His kingdom,
For these little girls and boys.

No more will they worry about anything.
No more will they be distressed.
For their lives are now in heaven,
Where they are truly blessed.

Moms and dads will miss them,
Their families see them no more,
But we must remember that these angels,
Are now inside heaven’s door.

The “Bully” and the “Bullied”

I’ve written about this before on my Facebook page (weird- I just noticed it was exactly one year ago to the day), but I’ve updated it and would like to share it again, as it is something that really gets me worked up. It’s not the typical “anti-bullying” post:

There once was a girl growing up in small-town Ohio. She was teased a lot for multiple reasons. Nowadays you would say she was “bullied.”

There was an instance in fourth grade where after the school play she couldn’t get out of her cheerleading costume and got back to class late. The entire class laughed at her because one of the mean girls told everyone that the girl was so fat that she was stuck in her costume. She went home and cried.

This girl did not feel very good about herself. She wasn’t pretty and popular. The popular girls actually made fun of her a lot. One time she decorated a t-shirt with puffy paint and wrote “GUESS” on it, convinced that the cool girls would think it was a real GUESS shirt (GUESS was THE brand in the late 80’s, early 90’s). The mean girls made fun of her and ridiculed her for wearing it.

Fast forward to Junior High, where things were the worst. The poor girl developed a chest earlier than some of her classmates. While a large chest might make you popular in high school and the rest of life, it is not a good thing in Junior High. Boys called the girl “Puffs,” because they thought she stuffed her bra. They would approach her and say their noses were running and they knew she had tissues. Also, in 7th grade, this girl was madly in love with a super popular boy in her class. To make a long story short, this boy said she was fat. She was nowhere near fat, but felt that way because of what he said. She was destroyed.

Fast forward again and the girl is in high school. It was freshman year and her family had just moved. She started a new school, and on the first day, someone put a tack on her chair. She sat on it, felt a stinging in her butt, stood up, and pulled out a tack. She was even bleeding a little bit. Such humiliation.

This girl didn’t tell anyone about the bullying. She didn’t tell her parents, her teachers, anyone! Why? Because she KNEW HOW TO DEAL WITH IT. How do I know? All of the above things happened to me. Never once did I consider myself “bullied.” It’s called kids being jerks, and that’s just life. I remember one of the worst “bullying” incidents I suffered was on the bus ride home from school. Some of the mean girls said I wasn’t cool enough to even know the words to “Ice Ice Baby.” I thought I did- but I completely messed them up. They laughed at me. Their laughing echoes in my head to this day when I hear Ice Ice Baby. (kidding)

Now, I will say this, physical violence is a different story. If a child/teenager is being physically harassed, it is definitely bullying and unacceptable. I know words can hurt just as much, if not worse than physical violence, but with today’s definition of “bullying,” I think almost all of us could claim we were “bullied” at one time or another, and we all got through it.

So what’s the solution to all this “bullying” and kids killing themselves over it? Yes, it’s a tragedy. But it’s not just a tragedy that kids are so mean and can say such hurtful things, but it’s a tragedy that kids aren’t taught the proper way to deal with those situations.  Self-image is not on any state test, so it’s something teachers and guidance counselors can’t spend time on, no matter how much they want to.

Kids (which includes teens), also need to learn about the finality of suicide and what it does to the people around them. Killing yourself doesn’t make a statement. It’s final. There’s no “last laugh” when you kill yourself. If parents aren’t teaching their kids this, and the school isn’t allowed to take time to teach this, clearly a kid might think suicide is a natural solution to being made fun of, and the media only make it worse. It’s almost like kids think they are being a martyr for bullying and that their gesture is a good thing.

Are kids really getting that much worse, or are our kids becoming too sensitive, too babied, too sheltered? They are being raised in this society to always point the finger- change other people, but not yourself. You HAVE to change yourself if you’re being “bullied” and you can’t take it anymore. The number one thing you can do is learn to love yourself, to know that everyone, EVERYONE has been “bullied” in some way or another in their lifetime, and that the tough times pass. There’s not always something you can do about other people, but there’s always something you can do about your reactions to how people treat you.

What happens to these kids who are “bullied”, once they leave school? Do “bullies” not exist in the adult world? Of course they do! And if you’re overly sensitive and can’t handle it, you still won’t be able to deal with it as an adult. Problem is, you can’t run to mommy and daddy and expect them to do anything about it. Someone in your life will always be a jerk. That’s just life.

Again, don’t get me wrong, I think it’s terrible that kids are killing themselves over “bullying.” I think it’s tragic, and I think something DOES have to be done, but not JUST with the bullies, but with those who are being bullied. There are two problems in the whole “bullying” situation in this country- the bullies and bullied. Both need examined and fixed, if that’s even possible. Bullies may never stop bullying, but we can teach our kids that suicide is NOT an option, that they ARE loved, and that life DOES get better.

Never once in any of the above situations did I feel like I was being “bullied.” To me, bullying was only in movies when kids beat up other kids for their lunch money. I felt like being teased was just a part of life. And it was, and I have turned out just fine. Now that the media is on this “bullying” frenzy, EVERYONE thinks they’re being “bullied.” And given how society is now defining “bullying”… I’m pretty sure ALL kids could say they are being bullied right now in one way or another. We’ve got to teach them how to deal with it before we lose anymore lives.

Note: All photographs are from from stock.xchng.