Stay Out of the Attic, Batgirl

coffee, cup, laptop, memeHello, Thursday Morning readers! I’m so excited about spring. But thinking about spring led to thoughts about summer, which led to dread over the inevitable bugs and mosquitoes. Then I remembered seeing bats flying one evening last year.

Creepy? Maybe, but I’m a big fan of bats. In fact—

You may not know this, but I am actually Batgirl. Or at least I was. It was eighth grade, and my schoolmates found out my initials were B.A.T. Batman was a popular TV show at the time (the campy one with Adam West and Burt Ward. It was inevitable. When my classmates realized I was embarrassed, the funny joke became merciless teasing. Every day.

Every. Day.

I soon learned to take it in stride. Made the best of it. Laughed it off. I had an older brother, so I had learned to endure ruthless teasing. He was a world champion at it.

And I was always the new kid. Eleven different schools in twelve years. Yes, eleven.  My dad wasn’t in the service, he was just restless. Other side of the fence, greener grass. You know the story. If not, just ask these cows, they know the struggle well.

So, Batgirl was my claim to fame. Even though those kids were teasing me, for a brief interval, I felt as though I belonged. You see, I secretly longed for attention.

So, I understand when kids go through things, and I know what I’m talking about when I say, pay attention to your children. Listen to them. Encourage them. Be positive. Learn the signs of things like depression, low self esteem, and bullying.

I was a smart kid, but I didn’t know it. Both my parents were products of single-parent homes. Mom’s dad flew the coop. After the divorce, her mother worked long hours as a nurse. My dad’s father was killed when Dad was only two. His mother worked hard just to feed and house her four children. Still, they grew up in poverty. My dad never had a dad.

So, my parents didn’t really know how to give us positive encouragement. They were often too tired from working to care. I don’t fault them, because I know how hard it was. My introverted personality chaffed against all the moving around. Constantly changing schools, having to start all over building friendships, left me scarred. That, and other negatives in my life as a child. I’m not making excuses, just telling the truth. I know how hard it is.

Let’s  talk grades. My attic was in good shape, I had the ability, but I had no encouragement to achieve. If I didn’t know how to do something, if I hadn’t understood the directions, I often left it undone, so homework wasn’t always finished. As a result, my report cards were mediocre at best.

By my senior year in high school, I had found a niche in business courses. My grade average improved to the point where I was no longer totally humiliated. If only I’d done this earlier.

Another thing happened that year. My family started going to church. I followed, and my life changed. Faith strengthened me. I had a greater sense of self-worth and a smile that wouldn’t quit. Take that, Batgirl. I came out of my shell. I had a purpose and a hope for the future.

Bats have a purpose, too. I’m a fan of bats, mainly because they eat mosquitoes. Yes, they can also carry rabies, but so can most of those other critters that inhabit my yard at night. I’m content to see them flitting about the dusky evening sky around my home.

The greatest gift you can give your children is your time. I know that sounds trite, but it’s true. They need to hear things like, “you can do anything you set out to do,” “you’re beautiful,” “you’re important to me.” And not just words, but show them through your actions. Dare I say it? Put your phone down. You can look at that when the children are otherwise occupied. You’ll only have them in your nest for a few years. Make those moments count.

I have an author page on Facebook. If you’d like to keep up with me there (when I remember to post on it) please stop in and “like” the page. I’m careful not to overload it with advertising. And I do occasionally offer free things on there, like books and unwanted advice. Here’s the link:

Click to Tweet: The greatest gift you can give your children is your time.

Who Are You?

(I started to title this post, “Who Am I?” —but I already know the answer.)

coffee, cup, laptop, memeHello, Thursday morning readers, and Happy March! I hope you’ve had a wonderful week so far. Will you join me in a cup of your favorite morning beverage? Mine, of course, is coffee, lightened with a small amount of organic half-and-half.

Who you are may depend on the following facts:

  • Who your parents are/were.
  • Where you’re from.
  • Where you’ve been.
  • Education.
  • Vocation.
  • Attitude.

Yes, that last one is important. No matter what the answer to all the other points are, attitude is a game-changer.

One of the gold-medalists in this year’s winter Olympics, an American woman skier, has a tattoo on her wrist that reads, “I am.” My first impression when I saw it: Wait, that’s blasphemous. That’s the name God gave Himself when He spoke to Moses. “I AM that I AM.”

But when she told about the tattoo, I realized what it meant to her. The small gesture had helped her push through a difficult season and continue to pursue her dreams. Yes, for me, it would border on blasphemy, but for her, it meant something entirely different.

Her attitude has to be one of great self-worth. She has to remember who she is, where she’s come from, what she is able to do (because she has worked hard at it), and where she wants to go in order to succeed. If that looks egotistical, so be it. This is the attitude that sets many athletes apart and pushes them onward to victory.

So, I ask again, Who are You? Who do you think you are? Where have you been, and where are you headed? Have you worked at something to improve yourself?

Sometimes I take my eyes off the horizon, the place I want to end up, and I get lost. I’m confused. I lose focus, which results in loss of hope. So, I need to refocus. Reflect. Reorder. Redirect. Whatever it takes to get myself back on track.

The problem with this is, I’ve lost valuable time in the process. Let’s go back to that skier. She has to stay the course. She has to keep the finish in mind from the beginning of her race. She has to stay focused, so she doesn’t miss a gate, or overshoot a curve. Any one of those things can slow her down, break her concentration, and  cost her valuable time.

The same can be said for any of us in our walk through life. An unfocused moment, a missed turn, an untimely response—any of these can cost you—and push you off course. Given these circumstances, how does anyone ever succeed?

Sometimes we have to face “monsters,” or “giants” of discouragement, fear, anxiety, and remorse. Daunting.

When I need reassurance, I turn to one of the oldest books in the world—the Bible. It contains verse after verse that helps reinforce who I am and helps me keep my mind centered on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of my faith. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • I’m a new creature. 2 Corinthians 5:17
  • I am God’s workmanship. Ephesians 2:10
  • I have the mind of Christ. 1 Corinthians 2:16
  • I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13
  • I am more than a conqueror. Romans 8:37
  • I have peace that transcends all understanding. Philippians 4:7 (NIV)

Click to go to Bible Gateway

Reading through these, I can’t help feeling that I’m part of something greater. So, maybe it’s not so much who I am, but who He is.