Saturday, April 30, 2016

Labels and Gender Identity: a Bible-based Guideline for Talking to Your Child

Under 18? Due to the sensitive nature of this topic, please ask a parent before reading.


Recently, my nine year old asked me a difficult question.

“Mom, am I a tomboy?”

I wanted to give her a short and easy answer like “Yes, and there is nothing wrong with that,” but with everything that is going on in the world today (including the buzz about gender identity), I felt I owed her a better explanation.

I would like to share my response with you and invite you to use it for yourself, if and when you decide to broach the subject with your own children.

Firstly, the word “tomboy” is just a label, nothing more. It can be a label given to you by someone else, or one that you use for yourself, but it is still a label.

Labels are our way of trying to fit people into categories, but people don’t fit into nice neat categories. No two people are exactly the same. One girl who identifies as a “tomboy” might still enjoy playing with dolls or playing dress up, while another “tomboy” might not like any “girl things.”

God made each and every one of us special and different.    Tweet: God made each and every one of us special. #faith #family #homeschool @CharityPaschal2

People have created these labels of “girl toys” or “girl colors” and they try to get people to fit into their mold by telling little boys “don’t play with that doll, that’s a girl toy,” or “pink is a girl color, you should like blue instead.” (I, too have fallen into the trap of saying these things to my children at times.)

This can be confusing to children, and the more they hear it, the more they start to believe that maybe God messed up when they were born. Maybe they really should have been born a girl instead of a boy, or vice versa.

Some people feel this so strongly that they have surgery to make them look more like a girl or more like a boy.

As Christians, we know that God doesn’t make mistakes. He made us each different on purpose because he has a different plan for each of us.

The Bible tells us in Psalms 139:13 “For You (God) created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb.” Here is another article which explains this verse in more detail.

I want you to be who you are and to be always seeking to be who God wants you to be. If you like being called a “tomboy,” then you can call yourself one. If not, you can just be a special kind of girl who likes hunting and Tae Kwon Do.

I also want you to remember that God does not want us to judge those people who choose this surgery or to make fun of them. He loves them even though they sin, just like he loves us even though we sin.

Thank you so much for reading to the end of this post. If you use this to help explain this sensitive subject, I would love if you would come back and share with all of us in the comments.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Coping with the Death of a Sibling

After chemo and steroids had changed her appearance.

It’s been over seven years since my sister died.



No, I’ll never be “okay” again, but I appreciate the sentiment.

She was diagnosed with cancer at 24 years old and died a few months after her 25th birthday.

One of my favorites from before diagnosis.
At the funeral, I felt numb half of the time. That was the easy part; the rest of the time, I felt like my heart was being ripped from my chest. Friends asked if I was okay—of course I wasn’t. A large part of my life had been taken away and there would always be a hole there.

When I walked into the funeral home that morning, my brother and half-sister met me in the entry way. All I could think was that one of us was missing. They must have felt it too and we fell together in a three-way embrace.

We cried, held each other up when our knees buckled, and smiled through our tears at some memory of her. We were safe and loved in this cocoon of arms, heads and tears.

How long we stood there, I’m not sure. Other mourners and family members passed by, but no one bothered us.

We stood for some time not speaking, just holding each other up. Words were unnecessary in our sibling cocoon—this embrace was all that was needed. Words could not replace our loss; but knowing we were there for each other somehow made it more bearable.

In the days following her death, we returned to this embrace several times. We blocked out the world feeling closer to each other, and closer to Rebekah.

It’s been awhile since the three of us have been together. I think it may be time to revisit this hug. And someday in heaven, we will share it with Rebekah too.

Have you lost someone before their time? How did your family cope?

Monday, April 18, 2016

Trash in My Hand

“Here, Mom.” An empty candy wrapper appears in my hand, placed there by my 2 year old. It is quickly joined by another from my 9 year old. Other times, it’s a sucker stick, soda can, or previously chewed bubble gum.

I admit, sometimes this drives me crazy. I want to yell, “Just find a place for it!”

But I know better. I know the “place” they will put it will be on the ground, or stuck into the crack between my car seats. And that would drive me crazy too.

Walking through the park with my kids, I see trash littering the ground. Candy papers and popsicle sticks. I see a little boy, trailing behind his mama, drop his M&M bag on the ground. Mama turns around and tells him to come on, but leaves the candy bag.

My son runs over and picks it up. He looks up at me and asks “Throw trash?” I lift him up so he can reach the trash can and he tosses it in. See, I’m not always a human garbage magnet. The kids will throw things away themselves if they know where a trash can is.

I’m happy they don’t want to throw their trash on the ground, and that they are willing to pick up after others as well.

So, even though I walk around with sticky fingers and trash wadded in my palm; even though I am constantly in search of a trash can so that I can relieve my pockets of the refuse within; I am glad that my children hand me their trash. And when sticky fingers press used chewing gum into my palm, and I want to say, “Eww, go throw that away,” instead, I can smile and say “Thank you.”

Do your children use you as their personal trash collector? What is the yuckiest thing you have ever been handed?

Monday, April 11, 2016

Are we asking for earthly praise?

I was blessed to hear another great message this weekend from Pastor Craig at +Life.Church  My Monday posts won’t always be about Life Church, but I feel compelled to share this.

Pastor Craig is currently doing a series called “Love Like Jesus.” Last week’s message was on forgiveness. (See this post from last Monday.) This week’s message is on serving. 4/10/16

Something Pastor Craig said really hit home with me.He said we should be honored to use our gifts to impact someone else’s life (without getting credit).

Ouch. I enjoy serving, but I also (pridefully) want others to know about this great thing I did.

I don’t want to shout it from the rooftops, but can I just tell my brother? Or my mom? Come on…let me tell someone! I need them to tell me how great it was that I did this thing.

Wait, what? I NEED(?) them to tell me I did a great work? Why do I need anyone to tell me I did something great? Firstly, that’s all ego. Secondly, the Bible tells me to serve.

Jesus said “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (from Matthew 25:40 NIV). Those who served in the way Jesus commanded, will have their reward someday in heaven. I know this to be truth. But I still struggle.

Tweet: Earthly validation and praise make us feel good while we are here, but do nothing for us in heaven.
Earthly validation and praise make us feel good while we are here, but do nothing for us in heaven.

As a matter of fact, the Bible says “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 6:1 NIV)

If you struggle with this as I do, I encourage you to read Matthew chapter 6. What?! If I do this for show, I have already had my reward? Ouch again!

This is a very real personal struggle for me. I have had to consider long and hard what my priorities in life and Christian service will be. I performed an act of service (and even now, I want to tell y’all what it was), and I wanted to tell my brother why it took me so long to meet him…then I wanted to tell my stepson so that he would consider others before himself.

Both of those sound like good reasons to tell someone, but I know it would really be to stroke my own ego. Only my daughter saw what I did, and I explained to her why I did it. Partly because she asked and partly because I want her to grow up with a servant’s heart.

The last point that really stuck with me was that if you look and listen and care, you will find opportunities to serve everywhere. Keep watching for them, and don’t borrow from the glory that God deserves when you act in His service.

Is this something you struggle with? Is the praise of others important to you, or do you serve in secret, anticipating your heavenly reward?

Monday, April 4, 2016

Is it Monday Already?

Blargh, It’s Monday again. Time to leave your family and go back to the everyday monotony that is work. If you are blessed to have a job that you love, praise God for it. If not, I have a few tidbits for you. I had planned to share this as part of a larger post later this month, but God laid it on my heart yesterday to go ahead and post it(and helped me to wake up early enough to finish it).

For the last few weeks I have been attending a church that streams in messages from +Life.Church . The pastor yesterday spoke about forgiveness, and used the very verse I had planned to share. Click here for the message from 4/3/2016.

Jesus tells us “…love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” Matthew 5:44

If you have a job you love, thank God for your blessings and pray for others who are not so fortunate. If you dislike your current job or situation at work, pray about it.

God knows our wants, but He also wants us to ask for help and believe that He will help. It may not be in the way that you expect, or ask for. Your boss may not get run over by a bus, but he might transfer to another department, or get an unexpected job offer in another state.

Try to pray for your boss as well. Pray for good things for him instead of evil. If nothing else, it will help your own outlook, but it may help his as well.

What is your Monday motivation this week? Is there a verse or quote you are focusing on to get you through it?