Thursday, June 27, 2013

Leadership, it's important.

       As I journey through the muddy waters of having to live the life of a single parent ( I'll refrain from the "single mom" cliche because I realize that being a single parent is not limited to only a mother) and relying on the generous yet stressful world of public assistance, I have been compelled to speak out about what I feel is a vital issue in today's families. The structures that have been laid waste by men who have failed to step up, step out and step through the smoke and obstacles that will quickly blind, maim and destroy a family.  

       I am not going to bash men or say that they are incapable of stepping up and out, I am actually going to paint the issue as it stands. God cursed the man in the garden to work his butt off ( Genesis 3:17-19) and no you're not going to get away with saying that was the woman's curse because he gave us a separate one and trust me as a mother of children born naturally, it was a very sufficient curse ;) (Genesis 3:16) and let us not forget the whole desire for the husband and his whole ruling over us bit......

Oh yes ladies I went there..... it's biblical so suck it up and get over it and  guys you will need to buckle up because I said I am NOT going to bash men, but I am going to bash bad leadership! Wouldn't you? 

I hear many people today talking about the horrid leadership we have in America today! I hear so many say, "If I could just get him face to face I'd tell that president what I think about how he's doing and how I think he should do it differently or just GET OUT OF OFFICE." So take this as a real eye opener and if applicable listen to your wife she may just be telling you something you should be listening to and chances are she's saying it in about as nice a tone as you'd address the current leaders of the country! 

    Every good leader has core values that make them a good leader! One of my former husbands biggest complaints was that I simply was not willing to be lead, but my equally frustrated response was that I simply was not going to be led to slaughter, like a defenseless animal. It is no secret that there are many strong willed independent women who have a head on their shoulders and it is highly presumptuous of a man to think that they will follow them blindly to slaughter.

        There are certain things that a leader of the family must be willing to accept about their position.  I will list them as I see them.

A leader of a family must be capable of

1. Leading an army ( the whole unit, not just the willing ones or the ones that are solid in conviction but the WHOLE UNIT)
2. Leading with integrity 
3. Leading with humility
4. Answer to a higher authority

        George Washington was by far a man that we have all learned accomplished great things when it came to leading his men in battle. Among those men were the 1st Virginia Regiment who upon learning of his plans to resign wrote a letter asking him to either reconsider or appoint a man of equal character. In the letter they stated 
         "Your steady adherence to impartial Justice, your quick Discernment and invariable Regard to Merit, wisely intended to inculcate those genuine Sentiments, of true Honor and Passion for Glory, from which the great military Achievements have been derived, first heighten'd our natural Emulation, and our Desire to excel."

         Two things jump out at me in this sentence, first, the men list qualities that they seem to feel are important, impartial justice, quick discernment, regard for merit, honor and passion for glory. Secondly, these things, these characteristics are attributed for awakening their natural passion and desire to excel!!!

        Many times I have heard a man say that a women has to want to be led, or that she must be willing, in the right spirit or even broken before she can be led but I would argue that if a woman saw in her leader such characteristics as impartial justice, quick discernment and a regard for merit, her natural desire to excel under leadership as well as her commitment to her leader might be awakened in a way that would set a fire to the God given desires for her spouse! And much like the military men, she would not want or even look forward to any resignation of her leader!

         Ahhh Integrity, where exactly have you gone and honestly ( no pun intended) why do you matter? 

Samuel Johnson is quoted saying 
“There can be no friendship without confidence, and no confidence without integrity.”

and Thomas Jefferson says "Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom." 

         Both men were wise in their ideas and it stands to reason that a leader who lacks integrity will lack in respect. Since men are appointed leaders over the woman it would seem imperative that they embody integrity in such a way that they might be accused of being too honest, or too morally sound. A woman is a delicate creature, longing for a strong arm to hold her, a supportive ear to hear her and a steadfast presentation to ensure her safety. None of these things is possible if her leader lacks integrity for she will feel that the strength is just a "show of force", the ear is simply to pacify her momentarily and that the steadfast presentation is nothing but a hollow shell sure to crumble under pressure. You cannot build confidence on lies, manipulations or even a tiny ounce of deceitfulness. A true leader must embrace integrity.


On ward and forward we march towards the need for humility. 

“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less” -C. S. Lewis

         I absolutely love this quote from Lewis, it makes the definition of humility look like a thing that is easy to accomplish! But oh how difficult it is to remember that the thoughts you have should be focused not on yourself but on others. A follower is more likely to want to follow if they know that the person who is leading them is worthy of praise but willfully sets aside such things to make note of someone else's accomplishments. A humble leader is more likely to put his followers first, to provide when there is a need, to go beyond expectations and to understand that others are vital even if they don't have the same roles or responsibilities as them.


         Lastly, a true leader must answer to a higher authority. When a leader does not answer to a higher authority, they are a dictator. A man who answers to God is a man who lives under rules and regulations made to ensure his success. A man who refuses to answer to God becomes a slave to his own devices and quickly destroys his own reputation with those who would otherwise have grown to admire him.

"The blame for the broken homes, the untrained and undisciplined children, the immodestly dressed and fashion-mad wives, and the whole train of evils which curse our American civilization, must be placed upon degenerate, weakling men, slackers and shirkers and quitters, not willing to take the place of manhood and bear the burdens which God lays on men as heads of families." John R. Rice

Mr. Rice brings about a very interesting yet sad reality that the failure of the success of families falls upon the shoulders of the unwilling men, those who simply did not embrace the job of leadership God bestows upon all me who volunteer themselves for the position.

         So, after all this I must revisit my earlier idea that a man, when in a relationship with a woman is supposed to be a leader and as such he should possess the very qualities he might expect in a leader. As you consider what you want out of the President, Congress, Governor and even your local leadership in politics and church you must ask yourself, "Do I have the qualities of a leader? Am I one who should be followed? Am I even leading? Have I taken on the idea that my family is a unit who needs a leader?". All these questions most likely will be answered with a half yes or a hell no but either way there will be an answer.

 Once you have your answer then take those questions to your spouse and see what the answers are!!! 

Will she have the same opinions as the soldiers in Washington's unit? 

Will she beg you not to resign? 


         If you find yourself with the reality that you haven't been leading, START NOW! But don't expect a family that was formerly under your dictatorship to suddenly trust your guidance! You must demonstrate your leadership, repeatedly to cancel out the doubt, mistrust and poor performance you provided in your first term! 

You wouldn't expect anything less from the leader of this country!!!


Friday, March 22, 2013

What's the purpose?

I often wonder, "what's the purpose for all this?" and "Why are we taking this journey?" "What could possibly come of this?", but honestly it doesn't matter! I'm constantly seeing realities that tell me nothing is in vain when you recognize that God really does have it all under control. Wait a minute He doesn't have it under control, He's controlling it. He's got the good and the bad (at least what we think is bad).

Isaiah 47:5

 I form the light, and create darkness:
I make peace, and create evil:
I the Lord do all these things.


To all those who'd like to say that it simply doesn't mean what it says. You can call it calamity, you can call it evil you can call it what you want, but I'd rather believe it is what it is and that He really is the author of EVERYTHING! I know that there are MANY MANY debates about this verse, but for me I'd rather believe that the "care" and "preservation" of the Word is just as relevant to this verse as it is with all the others.

I don't want to serve a God who created a world where something caught Him by surprise. I don't want a God who didn't plan the good and the bad together. We do it all the time, we call it calculated risks. We make decisions knowing the realities, we manipulate what we can control to ensure the outcome is as we would like, the only difference between us and God is that He is the Author of it all. We just get to play a little in the world, He gets to work all things out for His glory.

I am amazed at the journey we have taken so far, the good, the bad and the ugly but none of it is a shock to God, because He's not piloting and waiting for a surprise. He's got it all within His control.

Remember that the next time you think you're at the mercy of the world.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

I will make History!!!

The last few days I've been contemplating what I would write about next. The funny thing is that when I have to think about it, there are tons of ideas that run through my head but none of them seem blog worthy in the end, mainly because I veto them before they have a chance to flourish into a post or even a full sentence for that matter!

So today as I was folding laundry I noticed my nephew's shirt had a statement on it. In big bold letters it says "I will make history". I couldn't help but find the irony in this statement. You see we're all making history one way or another. We make history as we live our lives day in and day out, with the people we meet, friends, family and even the meaningless encounters with people we don't know. Every step we take will send us another direction, some will step the same path over and over repeating mistakes and bringing misery, others will find new direction and in doing so find a way to create a new path and a better existence. With all the talk of politics and guns, I have quickly realized that the shirt represents an idea that I'd love for my children to embrace, I will make history, a history that will be talked about, not like we talk about our today.

There is no shortage of posts on facebook concerning the day to day events of our lives and I don't want my kids to look back on my little history day to day or even the big history of our country and realize that I didn't do that much to "make history" and that I let others "make it" for me. It would be a real shame. It made me think of ways my life has been impacted by others "history".

While out doing family research I came across an epitaph that still to this day makes me wonder, what would my "history" look like in a simple statement, on a stone, would it stand out enough to make others think? Would it be something that would impress someone even after I'm gone?
This one did..... a simple statement
 "Defer not till tomorrow to be wise, for tomorrows 'sun on thee may never rise".
- William Congreve - 
 
 I don't know a thing about that family member but what I do know is he made history for me by leaving words on his stone that reminded me to think about the current day wisely because the next was not promised. I'll never forget his epitaph and the value those words had to me. 

Most of the time when we think about making history our mind lingers towards, laws, historical stories, popular figures of the past and even a few people who have made an impression on us in our very short lives. Rarely do we stop to think about the history we are making daily. Every day, the decisions we make, the patterns and paths we follow are slowly making an impression on those we know, be it parents, children, nieces, nephews, neighbors, facebook "friends", spouses and friends.

          The history I've shared with people I've known for years is often scattered with the good, the bad and the ugly. It is a long saga of triumphs and tradgedies that sometimes I'd rather not remember. I look back on many of my years and wonder, what if anything would I change and how would that have changed the history I've left with others? There are a times I know that even my personality, character and motivations have altered the outcome of a seemingly empty event or conversations, leaving behind a memory or a thought that will forever stay with the people I was around at that moment and the end result is permanant, it's history.

Today, strive to "make history" that is positive, uplifting and life changing! History that will encourage others to think about things in a different way, gain a feeling that helps them continue a journey they have long desired to quit or even do something that will make a difference to them. When you effectively pursue a life that "makes" history then you can know that your accomplishing something, don't let others make your history for you!!!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

We're praying for you..... Just call if you need anything....

I hate to say it but I am becoming a critic of my own faith. 

               I am realizing the amount of worthless chatter we present to the world, fellow believer and unbeliever alike. It is no wonder to me that so many people are turned away from faith so quickly. When I consider what I was taught as a child into adulthood and how little I saw it demonstrated it brings me to believe that our complacency as a religion is so deep that we are just as the Pharisees and Sadducees were in the days of Christ. A loudly boasting, noise producing, vast waste of space. Murdering the very essence of our faith through a lack of motivation, a lack of willingness to move and an overall buy in to the ridiculous statements such as "We're praying for you" and "Just call if you need anything".

              Now before you go nuts and think that I've lost all bearing, hear me out. When you hear someone say "we're praying for you" the first thought that comes to mind is "oh that's nice" or maybe you even think about your own prayer time and realize that if they are anything like you.... it's gonna be a short prayer said once or twice and then you'll be quickly forgotten. Even the believers have lost their faith in a solid petition of prayer to the Almighty and rightly so! We have pretty much made "I'll pray for you" a house hold statement as worthless as the slogan on a big company that implies they put customers first! Most importantly we have through that statement around as much as the words "I love you" hit the ears of so many people on Valentines day each year right before they break up and move on!!! We've overused and abused it to the point that it has lost its worth.

           How do we get it back? Simple really, if you say your going to pray for someone then do two things pray for them and then write a note and mail it! Example "I'll pray for your family" you say to a fellow friend. Two days later you think, oh I am supposed to be praying for them. You say a prayer and hastily depart to other things..... they never knew you actually did what you said you were going to do and honestly they have no reason to think you did, cause honestly EVERYBODY SAYS IT! So change the tune, when you say a prayer take 3 extra minutes to write a quick note, "Hey, I was thinking of your family and while I'd love to do more for you I simply can't at this time. But I wanted to know that you were in my thoughts and prayers today!" AND MAIL IT!!!! 

How quickly would those empty words be changed to a meaningful tangible reality for those who heard them and dismissed them as mindless christian chatter!!!

With all that being said to me lately, today my favorite christian phrase is "Just call if you need ANYTHING"..... seriously?     You need me to call?      My needs are posted all over the internet, on Facebook, in emails you have received, in phone calls I have made and YOU need ME to call you???

        As a person who claims to have faith we must learn to embrace our responsibilities as such, when you know someone is in need, you should NOT ask them to "give you a call" your right in FRONT of THEM...... instead of asking them to do yet another embarrassing thing like call and plead their case to you, simply say "I know things are tough right now, is there anything we can do for you?" or even "I saw you had some needs, and I wanted to ask you if x, y, or z might be helpful" showing that you as a caring person actually thought ahead demonstrates your commitment to actively working out your faith. I can honestly say that if I had even a dollar for every time I've heard "We're praying for you" or "If you need ANYTHING just call", my children wouldn't be homeless, we'd have a car of our own and we wouldn't be worrying about how the health insurance bill was going to be paid.

           You can call it ranting, you can claim I'm bitter if that will make you feel better but honestly what makes me angry is the fact that I used to listen to all this stuff about how people were just "hurt" because their expectations of people were too high and they let their "hurt" drive them away from the church....... what  a bunch of hype, the church is a place were building up, edifying, tending to those in need and providing like no other should be happening so where did WE go wrong? We went wrong when we put numbers and limitations on God, when we told God our budget wasn't big enough for His business and when we used the "good steward" excuse to avoid doing our job!!! What if, just what if we actually closed the bank account and worked on cash, paid all our needs in cash and donated the rest to those in need, do you think that God wouldn't provide if we as the "faithful" ones actually believed?

So in another attempt to say "wake up friends" here is my challenge for the week, when you KNOW someone is hurting or in need, don't just say one of the standard phrases and if heaven forbid you do, follow it up properly with ACTION!!!

We could all use a wake up call and I think that if you pay attention to the example God gave us, he didn't ask people to send him a letter before he could meet their needs. He faced it right at the moment it was presented and He FOLLOWED it up with ACTION...... if that is His example it should be ours as well!

GO MAKE A DIFFERENCE (notice it didn't say, go "say a difference).............. 

Monday, February 4, 2013

We the Pew Sitters

I have in the past 7 months begun to learn what it means to be at the mercy of the good Samaritans. Somedays I find that there are many and some days there are none. I am not angry at the realities of the world I live in but this experience has been so enlightening to me and has challenged my long standing beliefs. I am not against gathering together in fellowship and I am definitely not against joining in a good round of praise and worship but yesterday lent me another lesson, one that comes from the deepest part of my action crazy soul.

         For some reason I used to really enjoy sitting in the pew and participating in the traditions of the typical "baptist" sunday but now it seems so frustrating. To sit for an hour and a half in a pew, looking around as people writing notes on their bulletin that they will most likely never revisit, highlighting scripture that will never leave the good Book to be applied in the real world, and ladies and men alike heads nodding in agreement as they nod off for a quick nap.  The pew sitters, as I see it are supposed to be the life of the body! Where is the life of the body? What can the body do if it does not EXERCISE. I want to see pastors that encourage the body to EXERCISE THEIR FAITH!!!

I see this as a grave failure in our culture as a church. We have become lazy, even fat on the ideology of gathering together. If every sermon started with packing of food bags, or sorting socks for the homeless, or anything for that matter would the congregation attend? What if the pastor handed the sermon out on disc after the congregation had split up and mowed lawns for the elderly? Would taking that 1.5 hours to change the world change the congregation, would it turn us into servants of the Almighty? Would there be a church that could do it? You see when you fail to exercise you get fat and you forget how important it is for the body to move..... your church secretary creating a handout that you carelessly leave on a counter isn't exercise. Sharing the "good news" without caring for the person your sharing with isn't exercising it just basic stuff anyone can do, believer or not.

There are people out there that actually need believers to demonstrate Christ's example and trust me pew sitting isn't the answer.  Now, don't get all up in arms I'm not saying to abandon learning or avoid the pastors sermon I just want to challenge you to consider what you could be doing. In a time when technology has given us so many options I question the archaic approach to hearing the Word and I am frustrated with the idea that so many "christians" don't exercise the body and thus we are wasting into a helpless, fat, and soon dead presentation of a very ALIVE GOD.  Pastors, get out of the droning and challenge your members by example. Don't tell them how you have a great relationship with the Almightly, SHOW THEM, show them how it drives you to giving, caring and compassion.  Let's get to a point where we exercise together, in fellowship as we rejoice in what God has given us by blessing the world.

Would it kill the congregation to wear jeans one sunday and descend on a popular roadway to clean up the trash that is floating in the ditches???? Can you imagine a WHOLE CONGREGATION cleaning up the trash of the world, one mile at a time? And don't worry nay sayers, the people who aren't physically capable could actually stay behind to fix a dinner so that at the end of the amazing event a fellowship could continue as you sit and dine together! This is just one example of something a large group could do.......... take the thought and re-imagine what Sunday morning might look like for your congregation! I think we can do a much better job of exercising our blessings, physically, mentally and spiritually.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

That's all the lumber......

I am always curious of my own doings. I sometimes wonder about the opportunities I've missed and the times I've fallen short. I think about how many things I've been blessed with and how many times I've failed to bless others. 

It's kind of ironic to think about these things given the circumstances I'm in but it never ends even in my position there are still things I can do to help others and I will continue to do those things. My attempts to collect lumber for a home have been very limited. I have had lots of offers of help but very little material donated and honestly that doesn't shock me.

I even had a woman of a business tell me that "that was just too much for me to take on"...... it was all I could do not to scream at her and ask her if the accident, hospitalization, divorce, lack of income, no car and no home wasn't too much for me too! Without naming names, I was appalled at her careless concern and lack of respect for me as I was making an attempt to make something happen rather than sit at home and feel sorry for myself. I was very impressed when she shooed me off on a local charity organization as though it was above her to consider that all of us are a community of caregivers that in large and small ways we can be a heart beat to an individual, a family, a school, a church or a whole city! 

As I continue to think about my project and what I'd like to accomplish it makes me think of the song Eli Woods sings called "The lumber song". 

This version of the song found on youtube made me laugh however the story is so real to us who live in this world. We need to find our way to show our care for others and our community. Even as simple as opening a door for someone or letting the person in a hurry go in front of us in line! We can make a difference if we want to, it's the wanting to that seems to leave us behind! I sometimes wonder what I can do to make my kids less selfish, to encourage them to think of others first and to stand out from the average kids. I know that deep down it is me and my responses that will teach them to love others.



When you run around this weekend, take a minute to think about the lumber song and take just one more minute to do something that affects an individual, family, church or community in a positive way!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Perspective

Sometimes in life you gain perspective and other times you lose perspective. Either way that little attribute of understanding or misunderstanding makes a huge difference in your life and the lives of others! It is often times that our perspective is what leads us to judge one another. I can personally attest to the uncomfortable reality of being judged on things seen but not known! And, on the same token I am guilty of the same.

When we see a bum on the street we assume they are a drug addict and that they "put" themselves there. There are times when that really isn't the case! When we see a person wearing great cloths we assume that they are well off and have everything together, most of the time that is unlikely.

Yesterday I went to a lumber store to drop of my material list and realized that the graces of other people make me "look" like nothing is wrong! I pulled up in a 2013 Ford Escape that still has paper tags ( my fathers car), walked in with bright blue hair ( my neices' kindness for getting the dye and the pastors kindness for paying for it) and Miss Me jeans ( my sisters, taken straight from her closet with permission). So in a minute it looks like I have money to do my hair, a new car and expensive jeans, yet I'm saying I have no money and soon no home for my kids to live in, no income to sign for a rental home, and I've even filed for state assistance!

I realized quickly that I was so guilty of making assumptions without knowledge! I have often times assessed a situation but not asked any questions! I have looked at someone and determined their worth by what they wear or how they talk, I have judged parenting skills by how kids behaved without considering the situations that may be present, I have assumed that I knew just from observing and frankly that's not enough.

The real power in perspective comes in knowledge! You don't know if you don't ask!

There is no shame in confirming a story by asking questions or looking things up, there is no shame in approaching a person and asking because by doing so you gain knowledge!!!

Here's the real kicker with knowledge you can then gain wisdom.

When discussing my situation with others I try to always lean towards the positive, I smile a lot ( why not!) and I save my heart wrenching moments for my pillow or my mother! At the end of it all, the one thing I want to make sure of in all my challenges is that I walk away wisdom, a better understanding of how to help others and a willingness to challenge my assumptions, ask questions, gain knowledging and in doing so be a wiser person!

So, when you pass somebody today or they ask you for something, don't judge them!
Talk to them, get to know them and by george do something!
Jesus taught the multitudes and FED them! He challenged the disciples and LED them! Paul visited people and then WROTE them! We as a christian people, we can look all day long at a circumstance and wonder why, or even say well that's disappointing but it's not for me to be involved. I've heard some people say life isn't a spectator sport, it's meant to be lived and honestly they're right!
Don't just be a spectator in the game.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

We need a home, and momma plans to build it!!!


 Everybody goes through hard times, but we have no intention of letting the hard times hold our family back! In the last 7 months our family has been hit with an unbelievable number of events and the journey is nowhere close to being over, here's a short timeline. . ..

• June 24th A car accident almost claims Elijah's (8 yrs old) life, life flighted from the scene
 • July 23rd Transferred from LSUS to Christus Santa Rosa, San Antonio for rehabilitation (8 hours from home)
 • August 28th We returned home!
 • September 18th Dad leaves
 • September 21st Dad files for Divorce
 • October -- We are seeking options concerning reconstructive surgery for Elijah's Airway ( still needed)
 • November 10th Mom and Dad's last Anniversary, 11 years.
 • November 27th Divorce final, child support ordered.
 • December 8th No more car.
 • December 14th Dad fired. No more support.
 • December 25th Christmas (generous people made this a wonderful holiday) but no Dad
 • December 28th We are told we must vacate our rental home
 • January 30th The day we need a new home.

So what are we going to do now?

We're going to ask for your help!

As a contractor's daughter, mom knows how to build things. This won't be the first time she's put a roof on a house or raised a wall. With her fathers' help and a small piece of his land, she aims to build a house for her boys. A modest home that only totals 768sqft! We're not out to gain a mansion. After all the adjustments we've had to make, we just want a home to call our own!

You can check out our story at
Raising Boys and Life's Joys ( a blog by mom)
If you want to know more about Elijah’s Journey you can go to
Elijah's Journey
If you’d like to follow him on facebook as we continue his journey towards recovery you can follow on at
Elijah Rocks, a public facebook page
 
Will you consider donating any of the needed materials below?
 If so, please feel free to contact us at 903-930-8951 or 903-930-4465
 Via email at colelaurent83 at gmail.com

Don't have any material?
 You can donate towards materials via paypal using the email address gracecovers@hotmail.com

So. . .. . .. . .. Without further delay here's the list.

1. 13 2X10X16 Treated (Floor Joist)
 2. 10 2X10X16 Treated (Floor Band)
 3. 1 4X6X16 Treated Seal
 4. 1 4X6X10 Treated
 5. 24 Sheets ¾" CDX plywood
 6. 24 Sheets ½" BC plywood
 7. 51 2X4X16 plate material
 8. 138 2X4X92 5/8 studs
 9. 13 2X10X16 untreated
 10. 5 2X10X16 floor bands
 11. 26 2X6X10 rafters
 12. 18 4X8X 1/2" OSB sheeting
 13. 45 Sheets 5/8 T111
 14. 7 Squares of Shingles
 15. 2 rolls of #15 felt
 16. 4 1X6X8
 17. 2 1X6X12
 18. 2 1X6X16
 19. 4 Sheets ¼" BC plywood
 20. 1 6X8 exterior Door
 21. 12 windows ( size doesn't matter really, we like to be eclectic)
 22. 1 sliding glass door or double doors (exterior rear)

Additional needs will include
 23. Rolls of insulation
 24. 72 Sheets of sheetrock
 25. 110, 220 wire
 26. Outlets, switches, boxes etc.

We will be diligent to mark off materials as they are donated. I know that is seems ambitious but we have set aside the weekend of January 25th -- 27th to build a house and Lord willing it's gonna happen!!
                            Thank you for making this possible, one piece of wood at a time!
                                                                  Sincerely,
                                                                           Mom,
                                                                               and the Boys
                                                                                        Elijah, Ethan, Josiah & Jeremiah