Perspective on my Purpose

The big theme of my life is to give more and stop being "too busy." Love is not selfish. If I want to reflect God more in my life, I need to give more.

The big theme of my life is to give more and stop being “too busy.” Love is not selfish. If I want to reflect God more in my life, I need to give more.

My pastor of my church has been taking us through an in depth study of Solomon’s Ecclesiastes. The deeper we go, the more we can see that Solomon saw the purposelessness of life without God and then how much God takes that and gives us purpose and meaning in all that we do when we center it on him.

It got me thinking.

Does every aspect of my life seek to glorify God?

And if not, how can I change my perspective on that aspect and create a deeper Christ-centered consciousness in that area.

So this is just a brain storm but I’m thinking about every big area/role of my life.

  1. Wife– How can I reflect God more in my role as a wife? I think I want to seek to understand my husband more, and to make sure especially during the next few months to attain to his sexual and emotional needs even when I am tired, dripping with breast milk, and over all not feeling sexy or loving and probably struggling with wavering post partum emotions (I hope not, but I’ve had postpartum anxiety with all three of my previous babies). But God wants us to be self-sacrificing and especially with our spouses, seeking to meet their needs above our own.
  2. Mother– I want to continue praying with my children each day but also reflecting God more by showing more patience and being less quick to yelling. I yell when they don’t listen. I know I can do better at this by being more consistent with training them to obey the first time, so that I’m not lead to frustration which prompts me to yell. I also want to make sure that my three boys feel loved even when they have to share attention with the new baby. I’d also like to get back into memorizing bible verses with the boys–something Owen got us started on last year, but since we moved we started slacking on.
  3. Homemaker– on top of working full time, and wanting to spend quality time with the kids in the few hours I have left with them at the end of the day and on the weekends, I just hate cleaning. Owen is very busy as well with his business. So cleaning gets put on the back-burner. I mean I clean every day. But it pretty much stays with the dishes and then a quick clutter check. By Sunday I can get around to doing a couple of loads of laundry, a sweep and a mop, a vacuum, and if I’m really good–a bathroom scrub down. This is stressful. I get grumpy. Especially if I feel like I’m the only one doing it. The kids help, but they are so young, its not a significant help. I want to have more of a heart of service. A heart of finding joy in serving my family by providing a clean home for them. But I also don’t want to be a Martha (see the book of John). I want to be wise when its time to put the scrub brush away and spend time with my kids. I don’t want them to remember their childhood as a time when Mom just cleaned and they played alone.
  4. Teacher-– I work in a public school. I wish I could just evangelize the entire time to this lost generation. I make sure though to give a different perspective and worldview on things when the topics arise. There is this christian group that shows up on Thursdays at lunch that feeds free pizza to kids who come and then gives them a gospel message. Tons of kids go. And they aren’t christian. I talked with the person who runs it and asked her if she’d be willing to have  a day where Christian teachers could give a quick 2 minute testimony to the kids. So the kids know that intelligent people can believe in Jesus. She loved the idea. When I come back from maternity I’ll pursue that a bit more. I also need to check with my teacher’s union to find out if I would be supported should I get any attacks from other teachers, students, parents, or administrators for making a stand during this meeting.
  5. Friend– I don’t spend time with my friends very often. And lately it seems like I’ve been more on the receiving end of blessings than I have been on the giving end. I want to check in with friends more. Find out how they are doing more. And if I can’t see them, to at least encourage them more via text or a phone call.
  6. Sister– same thing. Send out more encouraging texts. Make more attempts to get together. And be an example with the way I live my life.
  7. Daughter-– I don’t see my mom enough. I don’t call her enough. For the most part, I feel like I’m a pretty lame daughter. She lives in Newport Beach in a one room condo, so coming up with my big family seems often like an impossible feat. But I want to call her more at least. I’d like to talk at least once a week. Some of my friends talk with their mom’s every day. I would love to have that with my mom. But I can’t live my life wanting something but never making the effort to do that. I want her to know that even though we don’t see each other often, that I love her.
  8. Granddaughter--I want to finish my Grandmother Lois’s memoirs. I’m going to start in a couple of weeks. We are going to set up Monday calls. She tell me her life. I’ll record it. Then I’ll transcribe the recording by typing it out. She can’t write anymore, she is getting so tired. And she’s on an oxygen tank now. I want her to have her book before she goes. As for my other grandma, I want to call her more. My grandfather died a few months back and I know she stays busy, but I don’t want her to feel forgotten in that old folks home way up in L.A.
  9. Entrepreneur/Writer-– reflect God in all that I do by being encouraging and patient with my old memoir clients. To do a great job with every resume so that when my resume clients see that bible verse under my name in my email signature, they can say that the Christian resume writer had integrity and worked hard. We don’t need any more negative stereotypes about Christians. Finally, to get those Children’s books done. They are all Christ-centered. I just need people to read them!

I think the big theme here is for me to give more and stop using busy as my excuse. I get so busy, I tend to make busy our excuse for not loving people enough. For not being that light in their lives. It takes self-sacrifice. I struggle with the desire to blame. But Christ never did this. For me, my big issue is being too busy to reflect God. What is yours? What can you change in your life to show to reflect God more?

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How Do You Teach a 6-Year-Old to Love in Action?

how to love like jesus cover picture (1)About a year ago, my oldest son was 6-years-old and struggling with the typical issues 6-year-olds struggle with: selfishness, boasting, being rude…just a me-first attitude, really. I remember telling him that what he was doing was not showing love. He immediately defended himself–” I love you all, Mom!”

That when I realized, I hadn’t really showed him what loving in action looked like. I just said he needed to love.

That’s when I went to the only source I trust for truth and teaching– the bible. I found that famous scripture in 1 Corinthians.

“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not insist on its own way. It is not irritable, and does not count up wrongdoing. It does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (ESV 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7)

So I read it to him.

“What is patient, Mom?”

” Patient means we wait for what we want without whining, crying, or screaming. Jesus is patient with us when we make mistakes. He waits for us to do the right thing without acting unloving.”

“What is counting up wrongdoing mean?”

I realized then, that I needed to come up with a way to explain it to him. So I went on Amazon to look for books on the topic. Nothing but silly stories out there with rhymes and such that never really explained it.

That was when I knew I just needed to write the book myself. So I did. I started writing it that summer. Even started the illustrations. And I used those to help teach my son how to love like Jesus. So I wrote the book. Its called How to Love Like Jesus: A Guide for Children and Their Parents.

It has been a year, and I’m finally back in that book. I’ve revised it. I’ve finished the illustrations (pretty much) in Photoshop, and I”m almost ready to venture into the self-publication stage. But the added beauty to it is–I’ve written 2 more and co-written another 2 more with my friend Kelly. So there is much more to come. And I’ve got a few ideas for even more when I’m ready for the second and third wave of writing. This summer has been a turbo-charged writing session, but I’m excited about where it might go. For my kids. And for others.

I will definitely be thanking my son Kanan for being the inspiration for my first book. And my hope and prayer is that there are other children and parents out there who could use this book too.

What do you find your kids need help in understanding? What books do you use? What books are not out there and need to be written?

Those Amazing Teachable Moments

//www.starbeck.com/images/as_131_smile_mask.jpgIf someone had asked me why I wanted to teach high school students or to teach English, they would not hear me speak about my excitement over creating grammar trees or analyzing the conflict in the plot of a story or determining whether or not Hamlet is insane. I wanted and still want to teach high school students through literature and writing because I want to make a difference in their lives.  Literature and writing was the only avenue that allowed me to get in touch with my emotions in high school and college. High school is a terribly confusing time for most teenagers and many of them, I myself was one of them, couldn’t find solace at home. How much I would have loved to hear from someone willing to talk about the struggles of being a teenager and how they got through it. Someone who truly understood what I was going through and willing to admit some of the things they learned. Someone who could be a good example to me.

Of course, I have long stretches of time in my classes where all I do end up teaching them is how to analyze a character and how to determine whether a word is an adjective or an adverb, but every once in a while, I am blessed with an opportunity to teach my teenagers about life. Sometimes it may be through the theme of a story that everyone is into and I can hear their silence…but a different kind. A silence that screams thought and contemplation instead of boredom or apathy. But even better are those moments before, during, or after school, when I can teach them about something that is affecting them right now.

I had that moment today.

We just finished a unit on Poetry. I love poetry and I loved poetry in high school. But one thing I remember from poetry in high school is that I learned more from the poems that connected to my life than the poems that Walt Whitman or Emily Dickinson ever wrote about. Browsing through the curriculum that I was to teach this year, I couldn’t help but notice how quickly we would rush through poetry without ever having students learn how to apply it to their own writing or to have them share poems that make them think or feel something. So I made some adjustments. I required each one of my students to either bring in a poem that they wrote or a poem that someone else wrote, but that they liked. Everyday, someone would read their poem and we would talk about it before jumping into the day’s lesson. I even told them that I wanted this poetry unit to be meaningful to them. And as we studied poetry, I often asked them to think about how they could write poetry using some of the figurative language or techniques that the poets of our curriculum used. I saw many amateur poets excitedly practicing their skills on their college-ruled lined paper that they folded and stuffed into pockets or passed on to friends in the halls.

Today one of my students brought in a poem that she wrote. It was a free-verse confessional poem about the masks she wears and her desperation to be liberated from the lies she lies behind. She started to cry while reading it and the entire class was screaming the silence of complete understanding. We all gave her a big group hug and when I heard students whispering to each other about how they felt the sameway  and when I saw tears well up in a few empathetic audience members, I knew I had to set aside my lesson for the moment and use this opportunity to teach them something.

I asked them to raise their hand if they felt the way she did. Every single hand went up. Twenty hands from twenty 14-year-olds of every color and social group and intelligence level. Twenty teenagers who thought that no one understood them, but learned right there that they had more in common then they thought. For half an hour we talked about the masks we wear in high school. About how tough it is when we don’t know who we are. I shared with them how much I had felt the same way when I was a freshman. And then I felt called to take it to a deeper level and bring up how so many teenagers turn to drugs to find comfort in their confusion and how this just fuels the vicious cycle of not being self-actualized. I explained to them that what they are feeling is normal– about the development of their frontal lobe and what areas of our thinking and acting that it influences. Also coincidentally, the very same part of the brain that drugs destroy, slowing its development or preventing it from ever developing at all until they find themselves at the age of 35 and realizing they are at the emotional level of a 14-year-old and wonder if it is too late to ever figure life out. Students asked a lot of questions. Questions about alcohol and marijuana. About where to draw the line.  About what to do about “friends” who are abusing drugs. I had one student ask me what she could do to help herself not feel so lost and confused. She finally realized she was normal, but still wanted hope. I gave them both secular and spiritual advice. I told her and the rest of the class to write, to exercise, to stay active, to do more of the things that help them release emotions and energy. I told them to associate themselves with people who love and respect them no matter who they are, be it family or close, true friends. And I told them, that for me, Jesus has made a difference. I made sure to say “for me” so that I couldn’t be accused of telling them they HAD to develop a personal relationship with their creator even though I wanted to so bad. This is definitely one of the downsides of working in public education and I’m not sure if I will have a job tomorrow. But the atmosphere of the class had gotten so personal at that moment, I think it will stay indoors. If not, I have faith that I will be okay.

It was hard to change the subject to our analytical essays afterward, but we all made the transition. I told them that they could come and talk to me anytime they wanted and that I would listen and not judge them and to do my best to share my wisdom. I told them that our class was a family and I watched their heads nod in agreement. It was a powerful moment.

In the end, it really doesn’t matter if these kids walk away from my class knowing the difference between a simile and a metaphor. But if they walk our of my door knowing that they are not alone and there is light at the end of the dark tunnel of adolescence without masks or drugs or suicide, then to me, I have made a difference. I hope they all sleep a little better tonight. And maybe try writing another poem again soon.

Peter and I share something in common

This video touched me so much! I knew Peter had denied Jesus three times, but never read this part of the Gospel of John. I went back into my bible after seeing this and read the passage od John 21. Apparently “Agape” means a self-sacrificing love and “phileo” means a brotherly love. I remember this a scene earlier when Jesus was washing the feet of his diciples and Peter didn’t want him to do it because he felt that Jesus was too good to be doing such a lowly job. Jesus told him that Peter didn’t understand what he was doing but that some day he would. I think that conversation between Jesus and Peter by the Sea of Galilee finally taught him what Jesus was all about. And Peter later became a powerful witness to God and was later crucified himself for being a Christian.

 I asked Jesus into my heart when I was 10 years old, but fell away from the path when I was in high school. And for 12 years, I didn’t go back because I felt like I wasn’t worthy. When we ask Jesus into our heart, we actually form a marriage with Christ. The marriage of Christ and his Church. While this video refers to our “marriage,” it is actually talking about how to apply our marriage with our spouse in the same way Jesus applied the marriage between us and him. Whether we are married or not, I think this still speaks so much about our need to recommit our lives to Christ if we have separated ourselves from him. The conversation between Jesus and Peter, also happend between Jesus and I about two months ago. This video totally captures the emotion I felt when I felt him calling me back. For those of you who have divorced Christ like I did at some point in your life, I hope this video brings you as much hope as it did me. Jesus is truly an awesome God!

 God Bless!