Saturday, March 21, 2015

The Eye of the Storm

If you think this is going to be a blog post about my knowledge of meteorology, I'm sorry to disappoint you. However, know that if I did write such a post that it would be either very short, or nearly a copied and pasted article from Wikipedia.

Today, I'd just like to share with you some thoughts that I have floating around in my brain. So, here goes ...
It's amazing the amount of pressure that can force its way into one's chest.

Sometimes it really feels like you just want to burst. You want to scream and cry and punch a wall because you're so frustrated that everything is completely out of control, or, at least, out of your control.

This is what I like to call a life "storm".

Sometimes, you see it coming. Sometimes, it comes out of nowhere. And, sometimes, it's nothing like what you had predicted. (Thank you, Weather Channel of my mind.)

For a while, you feel very defeated - like there is nothing you can do but sit there and take it. It's similar to that feeling you might've had as a kid looking out the window during a bad thunderstorm. You feel so small and meaningless ... Maybe even sick to your stomach. What can one so little do against a storm so big and strong?

The wind keeps raging. The rain's still pouring.

It seems relentless - just like your thoughts of "How can I solve this?" that lead up to the only reality you can see ...

"I can't."

I know I have felt this way numerous times.

It's one of the worst feelings in the world to have to sit there and watch things be torn apart - things that were once beautiful, or should be, or would have been.

Have you ever watched footage of a tornado tearing through a populated area?

You don't even have to know anyone who lived there to feel the deepest sympathy as homes are blown apart like they were made of nothing more than paper and held no memories within its walls.

You can't help but think about how these people's lives were turned upside-down.

Most of us know what that feels like, even if we haven't been at the mercy of a literal storm.

It's so discouraging to feel so useless.

But I find that, in the midst of things, I am overwhelmed - and not with grief, or anger, but peace.

My Lord Jesus has me in His thoughts always, and I easily forget this.

One thing about weather I do know is that the eye of the storm is also the calmest part of the storm.
... Doesn't that blow your mind?

Right there in the middle of something so vicious and uncaring is where you can find peace.

I thank God that I can stand and watch things fall apart around me, but that does not mean I must yield to the wind and let it destroy me, too.

No matter what your personal views are, when you find yourself at the center of a situation in which you feel you cannot win, know that you have already.

You're at least half way there. Although, you cannot see where it ends, you can rest assured, it does have an end. And you're already stronger and braver than you were when the storm first came, because no matter how puny and weak you felt, you stood your ground.
You did not run.
You faced your fear.

And that is what being brave is all about.

I know! Shocking to find out it isn't about having poofy red hair, a Scottish accent, and a bear for a mom, isn't it?!

I hope that these thoughts have encouraged you, and maybe even made your burden feel a little lighter in knowing that you are not the only one to ever feel this way.

'Til next time ...


Tuesday, March 10, 2015

"Life's Not Fair"

The amount of times we've all been told that life isn't fair is more than likely annoyingly high. The thing is, sometimes, life really isn't fair.

Why is that?

Simply put, it is because people are involved.

The human race is an extremely self-centered group. And, I get it- top of the food chain, and all that jazz, but here's the other thing ...

We aren't in control.

We do affect the overall turnout of almost everything, but that does not make us the master of the universe.

Even if you don't believe in God, this is still the matter of the fact.

I, personally, do believe in God as the Almighty Creator of the universe.

Everything WAS fair. Then man messed it up.

People like to try to turn the tables and say things like, "Well, God could've prevented Adam and Eve from sinning."

Yes, He could have. But God created man with free will for a purpose.

Think about it: Would you get more personal glory from inventing a robot- an unfeeling machine with absolutely no choice to do but what you program it to do-, or from raising a child, teaching it right and wrong, and watching them grow up and make their own choices, and live their own life the best they know how?

I could probably make a guess what your answer would be in the end.

Not all of life is unfair all the time- not for us anyways.

But even Jesus' life on earth wasn't fair at all.

King of Kings, born in a stable, only to grow up and be crucified for crimes He never committed, dying and suffering for sinners who, by nature, mock, scorn, and hate Him, so that they could live forever in Heaven one day.

Any of that sound fair to you?

But, if only for this reason, I am glad life isn't fair.

I am glad to have life in the first place.

When life isn't fair, we should stop to think about why it isn't, but also, why it IS fair.

Fair can also mean "beautiful", like in the story of Snow White, the fairest in the land. Fair didn't mean she went around handing out equal amounts of candy to the local short people. It meant she was beautiful.

Life is always a beautiful thing.

Life isn't always fair, and that's okay, because we still get the chance to live it.

Not everybody is that lucky.

Finally, I'd like to say that even though life isn't always fair, that doesn't mean you can't try to be.

How fair is it to that kid you called weird in school that not only were you not his friend, but spoke ill of him to others?

How fair is it to that customer you mistreated because you were having a bad day at work?

How fair is it that after all they did for you, that you gave your parents a hard time for not getting that one thing you asked for?

Life isn't fair, because we aren't.

But life can be beautiful, even with all of its flaws.


You can't control the weather, but you can control your attitude.

... Imma just sayin'.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

"Image is Everything"

Perception is an interesting thing and a powerful mind-bending tool. The media knows this, and the media utilizes this to shape the minds of anyone they can influence. I mean, they have all the tools- TV shows, movies, magazines, etc.

It strikes me hard when I really give thought to how we allow the media to mold our minds and make our decisions for us.

"Image is everything."

This is partially true, but not in the way you might think.

It's really hard for a lot of teen girls and teen guys to feel good about their image. There is judgment coming from every kind of source stemming from other people- judgment that says they're not thin enough, they're not toned enough, they're not talented enough, they're not stylish enough, simply pushing the impression of "You're not good enough" down their throats.

The way we view the world influences the way we view ourselves.

"Image is everything."

If you want to find flaws, you will always succeed.

If you want to see the silver lining to make the best of a bad situation, you only need to try.

There's a fatal flaw many fall prey to: Comparing yourself to others.

This is very easy to do, and very hard to stop doing. Comparing yourself to anyone else is a huge mistake.

If we were meant to be compared to each other, to see who could be the best, we would all be the exact same ... But we aren't.
You aren't me and I am not you. So why should we waste our time comparing ourselves when there is nothing but discouragement to be found?

If you found that you had better hair than I do, then that would be discouraging to me.

If I thought I had better taste in music, that would be discouraging to you.

My point is, there IS no point when it comes to comparing two very different people.

Body image is a huge maker or breaker these days.

Once again, I say, WE ARE NOT THE SAME.

You could take five 16 year old girls that all weighed exactly the same and stand them all next to each other, and they would all have very different body shapes. One might be a bit broader in the shoulders. One might not have the curves that the girl next to her has. One might be shorter, so she carries her weight differently than the super tall girl on her left.

Whether you're a guy or a girl, teen or adult, you shouldn't be trying to have the same body as that model or body builder whose picture you saw.

If you want to improve yourself, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Just don't try to be like someone else. Try to be the best you that you could hope to be!

If you like that shirt that girl said was ugly, who cares what she thinks? Wear it if you want to. It is YOUR choice.

If you love your haircut, OWN it, even if some guy thinks it makes you look "different".

Do what makes YOU happy. We waste far too much time holding the opinion of the world around us highly.

At no point in time will you make everyone happy.

At no point in time will every single person agree with you.

At no point in time should you have to change yourself for anyone else's approval.

You are the only you there will ever be, and that is a wonderful gift. Don't throw that away over some measly opinion that doesn't matter in the end.

So just keep on being you!

The way you look at life, the world, and yourself, is important. Be positive. Life is too short to be negative.

"Image is everything."

... Not so much. But, you deserve to see yourself as pretty freakin' awesome as you really are!

I encourage you to not let negative thoughts about yourself get the better of you. I know they're not easy to ignore. I have them all the time. It's the mental equivalent of drinking poison- it kills your spirit slowly.

You are you and that is beautiful.

No one else will ever have your eyes and the mind to match.

Your thoughts are your own, and, yes, maybe others have had similar thoughts, but no one has thought the same way as you have.

You have so much to offer the world, whether you recognize it or not, and you don't have to have a perfect body, or perfect face, or perfect hair to prove it.

Who defines perfect anyway?

Who defines normal?

Can't think of an answer? Well, the media world sure tries to be that answer. Don't let them.

Be your own kind of weird! Unless, you'd rather be your own kind of normal ... That's your business :P

Don't let anyone make you feel like you're not good enough. You are MORE than enough.

I'll leave you with this: Just be you.

If you don't listen to me, listen to the illustrious Dr. Suess.

"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."

~ Dr. Suess.

Friday, January 30, 2015

One Step to Stand: Courage

Bullying is prominent in schools and in life in general. It affects more than just those targeted but those around, as well. Today, we're not gonna talk about the issue so much as the solution.

1. Who am I talking to?

This isn't just a post for those who are being bullied or have been bullied. This is a post for those who are around bullying- the bystanders, if you will- or will be, also. Although you are not being bullied or doing the bullying, if you know of it or witness it, you are one of two things to bullies.

You are either a hindrance to this crude act.


You are a help.

In case you think I'm jumping the gun and blaming you, allow me to challenge you to think about it this way ... If you were being bullied and you knew that those around you knew it and could maybe even see it, wouldn't you want them to help you? How painful would it be to have people you may even call your friends sit back and let this continue?

If you're thinking, "Well, I'm scared of what they'll do to me" or anything similar to that, I do understand that these things are not easy. However, bullies count on the silence and do-nothingness of others. You have to stand up to them for them to stand down.

2. What can you do?

I'll do my best to tell you. Every situation is different. There are also many forms of bullying. A lot of the same solutions apply though.

You can always be a friend.

Naturally, you want to help your friends. So, another thing you can do is encourage them to go to a trusted authority figure about what's going on. If they have a favorite teacher, or they're close with one or both of their parents, etc. get them to get help. You can also go to an authority figure you trust to ask them for help and advice. It would be best if they knew both of you, but it isn't necessary.

You can always come to an organization like Teens of America for assistance as well.

Whatever path you choose, getting help first or not, you need to stand up for those who are suffering at the hands of bullies. That's the only way anything is ever going to change.

3. Where can you find help?

You can find help at home, at school, online, over the phone, and in many places you might not expect! Talk to your parents, or your principal, or your favorite teacher, or contact your friends to back you up in doing something about the bullying. You can even contact us through our website, phone number, texting line, or listen in on our radio program.

If you care about ending this problem, you have to know that there are others who want the same thing. We are better together than we are alone.

4. When should you intervene?

Simply put: right away. Right now, even! Don't wait. You can save a life. Don't let someone else take care of it. You can help to stop the bullying, and now is your chance!

5. Why should you stand up?

As I said earlier, bullies count on your silence. Don't give it to them. You should stand up for those who are bullied, because they don't deserve to live in fear and neither do you. They weren't immune to it, and you aren't either. None of us are. If you want to change the world, you have to be willing to take a stand for what's right. You can't just sit by and let people walk all over you or anyone else. All you need is courage. This isn't about not being scared, it's about not letting your fears stop you. That's what courage is. If you keep your courage, you can climb mountains. You can do this. You can help others see that they can do this. And this applies to way more than just bullying.

You only ever need one step to stand:


Monday, January 26, 2015

Don't Give Up!

“You’re such a freak, get away from me!”

“Do you always dress like that?”

“Hey, what’s wrong with your face? Oh never mind, you just always look like that!”

“Why are you such a wuss, grow a PAIR!”

“You’re too stupid to do anything with your life!”

“You’re too weak to amount to anything useful.”

“You walk like a maimed duck, what’s wrong with you?”

“Stop crying, grow up! You’re so pathetic.”

“Can you ever just be normal?”

“No one likes you.”

“You’re just dirty and crummy…go crawl in a hole and die.”

“You’re so ugly. They have a surgery to fix that you know.”

“You suck at everything you do.”

“No one will ever love you. You’re not good enough.”

 “You are a useless pile of trash. Why don’t you just die.”

“Why do you always have to make us look bad? Why don’t you just go along with it?”

“Why are you such a suck up! You’re so annoying. I wish you would go away.”

“Uh oh, here comes Mr./Mrs goody two-shoes, don’t do anything wrong!”

 “Hey, you ever tried liposuction? You might want to look into it.”

“The doctor called. He said you were a perfect candidate for a brain transplant.”

“You’re such a girl. Be a man!”

“You should just give up.”

“I give up with you…it’s hopeless…you’re hopeless.”

“Just go kill yourself. The world would be a better place.”

“You’re unlovable, unlikable, and disgusting. GO DIE.”

“Why are you such an idiot! Can you do anything right?

“I wish you didn't exist.”

Sticks and Stones may Break my Bones, but Words will NEVER Hurt Me.

Words hurt. Words are powerful. Words can kill.
It’s a scary place, this world. It’s also a very hurtful place.
It doesn't have to be though.
As I typed those words up there, memory after memory came into my mind. All of those phrases up there, have been said to either someone I know, or to myself. I know how much it hurts. I know how much it affects you.
You feel powerless. You feel like someone is sucking the life out of you. You can feel it draining from your body. It’s like someone just keeps stabbing you over and over.
The big problem with those words up there, is that people start to say them to themselves. They start believe those things about themselves.
I want you to know that those awful things don’t have to define you.
They don’t define you.
You are unique. You are beautiful. You are needed. You are none of those things
You shouldn't go die. You shouldn't kill yourself. You matter!
It’s OK if you are there, right now. It’s OK if you've become smashed down by it all. You’re not weak, or useless, or pathetic, or hopeless, or helpless. You’re simply human. Humans have emotions, and humans get hurt. There isn't anything wrong with you for feeling like you do about awful things that people say. I've been there. I know that all you want is someone to just be kind, loving, considerate, empathetic, helpful, encouraging, and understanding.
You wish people would just understand that you’re different, not weird.
You wish people would understand how much you hurt.
You wish people would understand how much they hurt you.
You wish you just had a friend.
You wish someone cared.
Well, guess what, I care.
Teens of America cares.
Also, I bet if you looked hard enough, and deep enough, someone you know cares too. They’re trying to push through to you, but you don’t see them.
Someone sees you. There’s just so much negative in front of you, they've become invisible.
Break through that fog, push through the haze.
See that person. I know they’re there.
I know how rough high school can be. Been there, done that.
I know what having no friends feels like.
But there is ALWAYS someone.
I know not everyone is a Christian, but Jesus cares too. He loves you, and wants to help you. He has always been there for me. He can be for you too.

I also know, how hard it is to care.
I’m not trying to toot my own horn, if you will, but I’m a very loving, compassionate, and understanding person. I've put myself out there many times. I know what it’s like to love and care about someone, but being afraid to do or say anything. You’re afraid to put your heart out there. You’re afraid to offer help. You’re afraid to make yourself vulnerable, because you don’t want to hurt. You’re afraid to let that other person in, even though you want to, because it would place you in their power.
You care so much and so deeply that it hurts sometimes.
I want to tell you, that it’s OK.
Show your love and concern.
Make it known to that person, that you care, and that you will be there for them.
You never know what they might be dealing with.
You never know what it might mean to them.
Take that chance.
Don’t be afraid of hurt and pain. No, it isn't fun, but it’s part of life. What better reason to be hurt, than to have offered part of yourself to someone else when they were in need.
Kind words, a pat on the back, a friendly smile, a squeeze of the arm, and even a hug can change a person’s day and maybe their life.
Don’t be afraid to show your affection.
Chances are it will be reciprocated.
People are always touched by genuine kindness, love, concern, and charity.
I say this from experience. I've come to love and care deeply for many people. I have never had it come back negatively on me. Friends and family both, just want to be loved. Is that not what you want? When you really think about it.
Why then, would we think that others wouldn't want to be loved?
Well, they do.
You see this is a two way street.
Sometimes, if you want someone to love you, you have to love first.
No, it isn't easy.
Yes, it’s hard to push past pain.
It’s worth it though.
No matter how hopeless it seems, don’t give up!
 We love you!
 You are important and valued!
Don’t let anyone else give up either. Love and value them. Make them feel important.
You could change your life.
You could change someone else’s life.
You could change the world.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Mosaics (Beautifully Broken)

There are times when life picks up a hammer and comes down on us- hard.

In these times, it feels like the blows keep just coming, each hit crushing us into smaller and smaller pieces. Matter of fact, it isn't just a hammer, it's a jackhammer, and life doesn't seem to wanna pull the plug.

We are falling apart.

We think ... There's no coming back from this. I will be a mess forever. There's nothing left of me but shattered remains. How could anyone or anything make use of me now? I am nothing.

If you are broken, why would you think you are no longer beautiful?

Some of the most beautiful works of art are made from broken things. For instance, a mosaic is a picture made up of many pieces. Broken glass has been used to make mosaics, and so has clay, and many other things.

Sometimes we have to be broken.

Does this mean something is wrong with us? Are we just too weak to the point where something can come and take us down with one hit?


You are stronger than you think you are.

If you have ever exercised at any point in your life, you have probably experienced being sore.

The way that muscles become stronger is first by ripping, and then healing. The muscle is ripped by the activity and the stretching, and then it heals and is stronger and better than ever before.

But it had to feel worse to make you better.

I know I ditched my usual system, and this isn't a topic that I can really list facts on, but I felt compelled to step in with a message of hope. You need to know that no matter who you are or where you've been, you are not done for, even when your life is in pieces.

We are not meant to be alone in any sense.

You need to know that you are not alone.

I don't know where I would be without my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I don't know where I would be without my family. I don't know where I would be without my friends.

I know not everybody believes in God. I know that not everybody has family, and that some people don't have many people they consider friends.

 Every work of art is different and requires different care taking.

But if you are open to God, He will always be there. Even if you aren't at this point, He's still there for you, because He loves you. He is our eternal Father, and a constant, never-failing friend.

 If you don't have a family who acts like they are family, remember that family isn't limited to who shares close blood relations with you, but rather those who come into your life and stay by choice.

If you have a couple of close friends and not many others you would call friends, it is better to have few real friends than to have a hundred fake ones.

If you are currently in a situation that you feel you are drowning in, you will get through this. I promise. You are strong, and this will only make you stronger. Your life is a wonderful story that has not reached its ending. You are a unique work of art still being molded.

You are not finished here. Not even close.

You and I are simply beautifully broken.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Dropouts: Are They Failing School, or Is School Failing Them?

Hello again! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season filled with blessings and new fond memories. Due to scheduling conflicts with my designated blog day, I was unable to post until after the holidays had passed. I am glad to be back, and I am ready to jump into today's subject.

I was asked to write a post about kids dropping out of school. So, without further ado, let's "talk"!

1. Who is dropping out?

This topic required some research from me, and I was able to find some statistics that taught me a few things about the numbers. Numbers, however, don't answer the question "Why?", and we will discuss this later in my last point.

I want to give you a link to a couple of the different layouts in dropout statistics I came across:

If you took the time to even skim through those, you can see that through the years, the overall rate of dropouts has decreased. It is still far too prominent. Recently in the gender aspect of the dropout rate, the amount of male dropouts exceeds the total of female dropouts.

Now, the breakdown of these charts branches far more in depth as far as racial aspects and the variations between the years. If you'd like more insight on those details, please, feel free to look at the statistics again and even take to Google and find even more.

Today, I am switching two of our "w" questions. Right now, I want to discuss why this occurs.

2. Why do kids drop out?

I say frequently that every situation is different. Upon doing some research, reading some personal testimonies, and recalling people that I know/know of who have dropped out of high school, I have noticed a few common reasons behind something that society frowns upon greatly (yet, society also has done little to prevent this).

Let's be clear on one thing, although there are majorities, there is not one sole reason as to why kids make the choice to drop out. No matter what the cause is, we ought to do what we can to find out what is wrong and do what we must to prevent it.

There are many cases in which the student makes the decision to quit school, because, despite what the average picture on dropping out is (in other words, laziness and/or stupidity), they felt that the education system was failing them and/or their schooling was not challenging them, nor giving them the amount of learning they needed.

On the other hand, in a certain survey, the report was that 35% of those that left school said they did so because they were failing.

45% of those who admitted to leaving school on the account of extreme academic challenge for them personally, went on to say that their education in their elementary school years left them improperly prepared for a high school education.

My mother has worked with and taught young children for quite a while. Having had an exposure to the teacher side of things as her child, I saw the great example of how a teacher should be in the way(s) she handled her students, as opposed to those who were not such exemplary teachers. I have heard and seen instances were a teacher simply gives up on a particularly difficult student, whether it be because of their behavior, or their poor academic skills.

Giving up on a child who clearly needs teaching as a teacher is an example of how school can fail a student instead of the student merely failing school.

I'd like to take a moment to encourage any teacher that struggles with a similar issue. Whether or not by your own hand or skill, there is a way you can impact a more difficult to reach child's life. Do not give up on them. They need someone to care enough about their education to actually make sure they are able to be taught and to learn.

3. Where does the issue lie?

There is no set source to the issue. Even if we had a flawless education system, every student is still different. We all learn at different paces and have different minds. Some people are lazy and simply do not want to put the work in, but do not assume this is always, or even most likely, the case. Sometimes, it is a matter of disinterest. I'm fairly certain we've all had a boring teacher at one point or another. An educator who is working to engage their students in the learning process will bear much more fruit than one who does not.

The issue on either side, the education or the student, stems from human error. Human nature surrounds us, but we do not need to use this as an excuse or succumb to it. All of us must never stop working to make this world a better place.

4. When does dropping out effect kids most?

The answer to this question would have to be when a dropout attempts to find a good job. I am happy to say that some dropouts later do go back to attend school, or they get their GED. But not a huge majority do.

In another report, many adults who had been dropouts stated that if they had the chance to go back to that time, they would choose to stay in school. If you did go to the links that I posted under the first point, you probably saw that the amount of money a high school graduate makes vs. the amount a dropout makes is a matter of about $200,000 or more in their lifetime.

So, clearly, it mostly affects their work situation.

I would venture to say on a more personal level that it also affects people emotionally, especially in the instance where they may or may not realize that the education system failed them, as opposed to them being a failure.

5. What is the solution?

If you are the parent of a student considering dropping out, I have a link specially for you.

If you are the student, I want you to realize that there are other options.

If you don't feel challenged by the school you are attending, homeschooling is an option. I have been homeschooled since the 7th grade. This works for me personally because I can work at my own pace, and I have found more of a challenge in the particular curriculum(s) I have used. This is also a choice that comes with a lesser expense as far as tuition goes. Transferring schools is another option.

No matter what your position is concerning why you are thinking of leaving school, I encourage you to speak to your parents or authority figure(s) in your life for advice as far as what would best suit you in your situation.

If you feel that you cannot keep up in your schooling, you can get a tutor, or you and/or your parents can set up ways to get you caught up in your work, or some schools offer various programs to assist you as well.

The point is, with some guidance and exploration, you can find a fitting solution!

Never give up. You are capable of accomplishing anything you put your mind to.

I hope that this post provided you with some insight and information to further your knowledge and thinking on the matter of high school dropouts.

I wish you all the best.

Until next time!!!