Friday, April 24, 2009

Rejection Lessons

For the LORD will not reject his people; he will never forsake his inheritance. - Psalm 94:14

As a writer, I know that rejection is a regular part of life. Sometimes an editor doesn’t like my writing style, or recently bought a similar piece, or simply doesn’t have a need for my work at the moment. Rejection comes with the business, but it always stings a bit.

Today, however, I experienced rejection in a whole new way. In an attempt to find some extra money, I purged my closet of my old business suits and took them to a consignment store. The friendly shop owner politely told me that she doesn’t carry suits because they don’t sell well. When asked if she knew anyone who might take them, she referred me to another store in town.

I hauled my suits to the next consignment store, where I heard that they were too old and out of style. So much for “classic” tailoring. However, I left with the name of yet another consignment shop.

At my third stop, I learned my duds weren’t “high end” enough. The fact that this small pile of clothes cost over $500 ten years ago is apparently meaningless in today’s resale world.

Repeatedly hearing that one’s clothes are old and cheap brings personal rejection to a whole new level, but despite this, each dismissal spurred me on to try another store. The embarrassment of peddling unwanted clothes faded, and I became boldly determined to find someone who would take my former treasures.

I started thinking, “I’d better go home and submit some stories for publication because I am not sure I’ll feel this comfortable with rejection ever again.”

Tomorrow I plan to get busy trying to consign my kids’ clothes. I think I will let them be part of the process so they can learn to get comfy with rejection too. Perhaps hearing their former favorites are undesirable will toughen them up a bit and help make the next playground squabble or careless remark from a friend just a little less hurtful.

Have you ever found a way to manage the sting of rejection for yourself or your kids? If not, I have some old suits you can try to consign!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Hair Affair

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight. - 1 Peter 3:3-4

My daughters both have very long, pretty, “little girl” hair. I think their long hair is beautiful, but my husband loves it. He thinks it is exactly the length of hair little girls should have. He likes it when I style their hair in braids, pony tails, and other little girl styles. When it comes to our daughters’ appearance, he generally doesn’t have much to say. His only request is that they have long hair.

The girls, however, are ready for a change. They both want to cut their tresses before summer so they can stay a little cooler. They also want to donate their hair to Locks of Love, an organization that makes real-hair wigs for children without hair due to illness.

I am glad for their generous spirits regarding their hair. I want to make sure they understand that their beauty comes not from their hair or any other physical feature. Rather, it comes from the light of Jesus shining within them. A kind heart looks better than the latest hair style on anyone.

We’ve all come to an agreement (Dad included) that the girls can cut their hair once they’ve got enough to donate Locks of Love’s minimum requirement of ten inches and can still have shoulder-length styles after their cuts.

What are some of the fashion or personal style issues at work in your family right now?

Friday, April 10, 2009

Cheering For The Home Team

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” - 1 Thessalonians 5:11

This week, my daughters started a cheerleading class. Once a week they go to learn different cheers, jumps, and tumbling techniques. They love getting to shout, sing, and root for an imaginary team.

I hope they feel well-equipped for this because they’ve always had a cheerleader at home. I make a purposeful effort to let them know I think they are the best. We celebrate their victories and rejoice in their efforts.

Everyone needs to know there is a cheerleader in their corner rooting for them no matter the challenge or the outcome.

One way we show support in our family is with the “candle of honor.” When someone makes a meaningful accomplishment, he or she gets a special candle at their place at the dinner table. Share some ways you cheer on your family members with love.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Fighting To Stay On Course

Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth. – Proverbs 10:4
Along with most of the country, my husband and I recently renewed our commitment to battle debt. We seem to have a bad habit of working hard to follow a budget and save money for a few months, then we get lazy and succumb to credit card convenience. Eventually something catches our attention enough to get us back on track, at least for a while.

This financial teeter totter is exhausting, primarily because the hardest part of sticking to a budget is the first few months when you have to work out the kinks and figure out how to handle unexpected expenses. By repeatedly giving up and starting over, we redo the hard part over and over again. Our laziness and the ease with which we fall back into familiar patterns not only keep us from making any real headway, but in the long run they add stress and hardship to the process.

I find this happens in other areas of life as well. I develop a good habit of going to the gym on a regular basis, but as soon as I catch a cold and skip a few days, I return to my old ways and fill that time with something easier. I figure out a system for keeping my house clean, but as soon as a writing deadline or school field trip breaks my pattern, the dust starts collecting.

Thankfully, the Bible gives us instructions for battling this problem. 1 Timothy 6:11 tells us to “flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.” In other words, when we find ourselves wondering off track, we are to purposefully strive for living in ways that please God. The term “endurance” used in this passage means that we regroup, we shake off “the lazies” and get back to doing what we know is right. Of course, this has to be done with plenty of prayer. I have never been successful at overcoming a struggle without God’s help.

This is a great thing to talk about with our kids. Let them know when you set a new budget so they understand why you are going home for lunch instead of stopping at McDonald’s. You may even find your kids helping you stay on track. You can also help them set a budget for their allowance money. My kids divide their earnings into separate piggy banks for saving, spending and offering. When we started this system, I suggested a formula for spreading the money between the three banks, but they decide for themselves how to actually divide the money. They get 10 quarters every week, so I recommended putting one in offering (ten percent), four in savings (forty percent) and five in spending (fifty percent). I am amazed every week when they put the bulk of their money in offering, the next biggest chunk in savings, and only a quarter or two in spending. Sometimes kids can really teach us a thing or two about Godly living (or maybe I have been too quick to buy things for them so they assume they don’t need spending money!). Encourage your kids to help the whole family stay on a budget.

Do you have any suggestions for staying the course when things get tough? Share your ideas!