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I'm not wearing my glass slippers today. Not even one of them. It's a no ball to go to, mopping sort of why don't any of my pants fit right kind of day.  I did manage to throw my "in desperate need of a trip to the salon" hair in a ponytail.  I secured my unruly bangs with a bobby-pin and quickly applied my makeup; particularly my new lipstick, in hopes that it would distract from my hair while I had to get out of the house.  Only I'm not sure it works like that.

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Jason had a lunch date planned with the girls and I was in a rush to take Rylie to him at work. From there they would pick up Hallie and enjoy their Father-Daughter time.  I'd had my own business to take care of until that business fell through.  So I became the mildly cranky lunch tag-along...the fourth wheel with bad hair and cheeky red lips.

While we ate, the flat screen overhead advertised the McGregor/Mayweather fight.  We watched, but not much was said while we scarfed down our lunch.  About the time we paid for our ticket the conversation had drifted to whether or not a girl (or a guy for that matter) should consider her boyfriend when deciding where she'll go to college.

Turning the conversation toward myself (and inadvertently toward my disheveled appearance) I proudly reminded her that I had a small scholarship to a school that I turned down just for the sake of sticking right beside my beau, her dad. I picked him over the school I'd planned on attending my whole life (although be it a small school that would have choked me in loans).

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While my mind reminisced that sacrifice, it came back to our memory that her dad too had given up a scholarship to stick around with me. Jason received an appointment to West Point Academy in New York. Little did I know then that the admission process was extremely competitive and that this institution was so highly regarded.  I looked up the value of such a scholarship and learned that West Point cadetship was worth around $450,000 in 2009. That's half a million bucks.

Today it sunk in just how great a sacrifice he made for a girl who he would learn snores and who's made him one coconut pie their entire marriage 1. because she burned her arm pretty bad the first time and 2. because she doesn't even like coconut and 3. she's not a great cook in general.

Don't get me wrong.  This isn't an I'm not worthy post, but rather a Gosh I'm grateful kind of expression.  As irony would have it, I'd be reminded on the worst of hair days and on something like day eleven of a slightly sour attitude. While bragging about a small gesture I made twenty-four years ago I was hit smack in the bad-haired forehead how undeservedly rich I am in love.

Jason still loves me in a grand sort of way when my hormones are off kilter and when the kitchen floor and my roots are neglected.  He loves me when I haven't hung all the laundry and when I speak sharply. I suppose he especially loves me then.

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That's what love is, isn't it?  Giving even when there's not as much to get back. Looking right past the price tag and assigning value. Because I'm greatly loved I guess I can say I look like a million bucks.  That's what the story tells me. Even on bad hair days.  Well...at least half a million.

God's gifts put man's best dream to shame.  -Elizabeth Barrett Browning



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Bet you wouldn't guess I've never had my nails done. Nope. Not even for my wedding. I've received a few pedicures as gifts and took the girls to get one once or twice. 

I consider these things an extravagance. 

Today I got them done though. They're just painted which makes it less of a big deal than if they'd been fully manicured or dipped or whatever it is they do. What makes it a big deal is that I intentionally stopped biting them this week just for the occasion (even though biting my nails is my go to stress reliever and this week entailed stress).

 I also painted them red at the request of my sixteen year old who was getting hers red too. For my toes I usually pick out the same pale pink. It was her treat so I let her pick. 


The lady did my nails first and then Hallie's. I just listened as my girl chattered on about her job. I was wishing my nails weren't wet so I could grab my phone out of my purse to capture her soft profile which has changed recently without my knowledge or permission. 

She smiled as she shared the joy in the easier part of her day; using the paper shredder. She shared how (much to her dismay), she'd learned that some makeup she'd bought online had been tested on animals. Then she said something that made me catch my breath. 

When I grow up I want to be...

Here was this confident, responsible beautiful person beside me talking about when she grows up. I looked at her and realized neither of us have realized that she's well on her way. 


I've read more than enough cliche "time slow down" comments under pictures of growing girls in tutus. We know. Life's seasons are hardly any less dramatic than a time lapse video of the rising and setting sun.  I've written a myriad of blog posts that reflect that sentiment. And yet here I am again. I can't help myself. 

Our children and the beautiful transformation that takes place as they grow is the one phenomenon that disproves that wise old saying "A watchpot never boils".  I've kept my eyes as watchful as I thought a mother could. And still they grow at breakneck speed right before my eyes. 

So here's my advice. Paint your nails with your daughter. Paint them red. 

The brevity of it all is unavoidable. Love extravagantly and don't forsake the beauty. 

P.S. We went to dinner after getting our nails done and had The Monster Cookie for dessert.  



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I sat curled up in my chair in our small prayer room this morning looking out the window. Another new day was awaiting. 

The kids were still snoozing and the dogs had yet to begin their clockwork yipping at the first walker who would soon stroll past our house on Memphis. 

I'd just read Psalm 119...the whole thing. I was thinking to myself how the one chapter could have been an entire book of its own. The Psalmist apparently just couldn't quit talking to God and about God.  

Like usual, after my scripture reading  I began to lift up the near innumerable requests written in my prayer notebook. Those requests, like always,  were mixed in with a spontaneous kind of prayer that often leaps from my heart. One of those sprung up thoughts of praise included a month old desire that God granted yesterday without any effort on my part.

There was something that I'd privately hoped to be able to do and, lo and behold, I was invited by someone yesterday to do that very thing. 

God is so good. 

Just to think he knows the desires of my heart;  the tiny seemingly meaningless desires and the ones so big they near burst outside my chest. 

Not that He always grants every desire. He doesn't. So many of them are selfish. If given everything I wanted I'd be swallowed up in fruitless endeavor and pleasure. That's no life. 

No. God uses my unfulfilled wishes to teach me about patience and self control. He grants me perspective and matures me in my faith. 

I thanked God this morning that, only in good measure, does He give me what I long for.

More importantly, He always provides what I need.  


I'm a daughter of a King who gives good things, including my heart's wishes, my needs and purposeful things my limited mind can't conceive.  I belong to a Father who disciplines gently when I don't know the difference. The One who calls me His own (even when I'm forgetful of who He is,) loves me without end. 

I didn't do anything to deserve such a life. I was born this way. What can I say? 

I'm privileged. I know that. And I want you to know that I fully understand this favor hasn't been earned, but rather graced. 

I suppose it would be rather boastful to share such things if the privilege I've been bestowed wasn't available for you too. Oh, but it is...

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes...

Romans 1:16

As quickly as I'll share how rich my life is in Christ I'll tell you how poor I am without Him. I'll tell you how selfish and jealous and impatient I am in the flesh and how utterly hopeless my life would be without Him. Thank goodness for salvation. Christ died to set me free; to give me a new life to be born into, a life of privilege. 

Yes I'm privileged. It's the only privilege I boastfully claim. 

Instead I'm compelled to remind those of you who are in Him to be grateful and to testify to what it means to be loved by God (and in return serve Him). 

And if such riches have never been yours...if privilege is what you long for? God is what you need. 

...that their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God's mystery, that is, Christ Himself, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Colossians 2:2-3



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I've spent two nights this week arguing with a second grader.  Not my kid.  It's VBS week at our church.  I'm one of the travelers for second grade.

During Bible study the kids were told to get in groups of two.  Being that there was an odd number of children, my second grade friend told me he didn't have a partner.  I suggested he join the two kids in front of me, to which he replied I can't.  The teacher didn't say I could.

To this concern, I assured him that it would be perfectly fine to join the group of two, adding that I am a teacher too, like a real teacher.

No you're not, he retorted.

He then began to look around the room at the other four teachers, each of whom were wearing a red VBS shirt.

You're not wearing the shirt, he told me.

As much as I tried to convince him that I had the authority to give him permission to join the two beside us, he was steadfast.  I wasn't a teacher and he wasn't moving.

Being the educated adult that I am, the next night during opening ceremony, I had the idea that he ask my husband what my profession was.  He then asked me who my husband was. Wide-eyed at his forgetting who I'm married to (I've known the kid for four years) I reminded him...It's Brother Jason.   You know that, right?

Creasing his right eyebrow and somehow simultaneously lifting up the corner of his mouth he looked at me incredulously.  No he's not! He is NOT your husband.

I called Jason over to our pew indicating with an aggressive wave of my hand that we had urgent business for which we needed his help.  So he came.

Brother Jason, what am I...what has been my job?, I asked.

A teacher,  he replied.

Right, I smiled.  And who are you to me?, I continued.

Jason looked at the boy stone-faced.  ...She's my mom.

(FBC Nederland, your pastor lies.)

 

No t-shirt.

No credibility.

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Don't ask me why it was so important that I convince a second grader. It's a little silly if you ask me. I worry too often whether or not people know me for who I really am.  I'm transparent. I'm cool with people knowing my mistakes and frailties. But I also want everybody to know these things about me.

  • I love Jesus.
  • I love my family.
  • I love people.

Not everybody knows that about me.

I can't help but remember the lady I had conflict with in the restroom in Target a few years ago.  She was standing by the sink (as opposed to near the stalls).  A stall soon opened up, but she remained in her spot.  Rather than asking if she was next in line, I assumed she was waiting for a child to finish up.  I paused and then proceeded to the stall.  She unleashed a wave of fury on me letting me know how rude I was for cutting in front of her in line.

I'm most positive my face contorted into what looked like an angry troll, but I kept my words few. I thrust my arm out and pointed to the open stall and said, Sorry, didn't know you needed to go, so just go!

She could have easily assumed I loved neither her nor Jesus.  I could have thought the same about her, after all, neither of us were wearing the t shirt, not that the shirt would have made a difference.

The shirt does little more than give an impression.  Time is the real teacher. Time affords us the opportunity to show who we are as we invest.  It grants us the chance to be who we are.  Most important, time, beating in slow grace-filled rhythm, shows those willing to see, whose we are.

...for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. Galatians 3:27

 

I'm on a global quest and need your help!

The Village Girl Handbook 2 will be released this fall. As in the first volume, there will be a section of the book devoted to thoughts from girls around the world. It's important for girls to not only be able to relate, but also to receive perspective. Hearing from voices worldwide will aid in just that.

If you know a girl (or lady) who lives in another country (or another state), I'd like for you to make contact asking her to respond to the following prompt.
IN 30 WORDS OR LESS, TELL GIRLS WHAT YOU'D LIKE THEM TO KNOW ABOUT LIFE
Here's an example:
"Laugh. Receive grace. Extend it. Be a searcher of beauty. Leave each situation better than you found it (as much as possible). Ask God's help! You've been created for this."

Kristi Burden

Nederland, TX

You can share this post with them, copy and paste the prompt and send it to them, or just ask them and have them type it up.

Please send their response to me through email- kristiburden@gmail.com
Make sure they include their name and where they are from (age is optional).
Please make sure the responses are

  • From outside of TX
  • 30 words or less
  • Their own words (not a quote)

I'll need them by August 10! Let me know if you have any questions.
If you'd like to know more about this book I'll be glad to share what it's all about. If you'd like to know more about the first book check it out here.

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I'll never forget my teacher's aide rushing into my classroom to tell me she saw my son Hayden in the principal's office his fourth grade year. I was a little slow in recognizing the significance of the situation.

He probably got hurt during recess, I offered, knowing that the nurse's office was next door.  Her telling expression let me know...that wasn't the case.  I was quickly summoned to the office where a dejected Hayden sat in a chair by the principal.

While Hayden sat silent (looking extremely nervous), I was given a brief summary of the account.  I was told that Hayden had punched a kid because he had incorrectly surmised that the kid threw a rock at him when in fact (the principal told me), the rock assault could have been an accident.

I was swiftly given two options for Hayden's punishment; licks or three days of "In School Suspension".  I chose BOTH (hoping spectators would know I discipline my kids) and then left the office and marched down the hall to my classroom trying to simmer down. 

How could he?!  This was the kid who'd been taught from toddlerhood to give up a toy rather fight over it. This was the kid who'd coach himself "Stop, breave (breathe) and fink (think)" when he'd get angry as a three year old. And really? Now he was throwing the first punch?

Hadn't everyone that knew me witnessed my countless talks with my kids (both my own children and my students) about being a peacekeeper and telling an adult when someone wouldn't leave you alone....and now I'd failed at ensuring my son played by those rules?... Would I become a laughingstock?  What would the church members think? Would this hurt the reputation of my (pastor) husband who teaches peace, patience and kindness from the pulpit?

That afternoon, when I finally gave Hayden a chance to speak, I found there was more to the story.  The friction between Hayden and the other boy had grown over the course of a couple of weeks with Hayden trying to be passive; a trait I'd so carefully ingrained in him. But the torment had finally accumulated to a point where Hayden broke.

I learned that teachers knew that the boy had made numerous attempts to escalate the situation (by use of insulting language and other means such as slight shoves before he decided to throw rocks at my kid), but nothing had been done about it.

Being that the news had already spread that evening by the time Wednesday church rolled around, I was asked a question by a male church friend who had detected my frustration toward Hayden.

Are you mad at Hayden because you're embarrassed about the situation or because you truly think he did the wrong thing?

Initially I thought he had done wrong. I'm still not sure what I expected from my son, but one thing was clear. After talking to those who witnessed the interaction, it was confirmed that Hayden had been severely provoked. My church friend posed an interesting question. The answer was that I was more worried about what everybody would think, and the possibility of my son becoming a public vigilante, than whether or not he made a reasonable decision considering the circumstances.

The next day I talked with the principal who agreed that 'pops' and a day in ISS were enough punishment. I apologized to Hayden for making my reputation (and his) more important than his emotional and physical well-being.  I apologized for all the times I coached him when he was younger to give away a toy he was rightfully playing with just to keep the peace. I cringe today and have apologized again as I think about the damage I may have caused. I'd repeatedly failed in looking out for my kid's best interest. 

I've failed since with the girls too, on various occasions, even recently.

When it comes to instructing and disciplining our children there's a simple equation we'd all do well to follow.

Your kid does something wrong (in the eyes of God)?...You discipline them.

I think as parents, too many times we allow the following unnecessary forces to influence our instruction and discipline:

  1. Our fear of embarrassment. I've coached the kids on how not to be weird. I can become too involved in their clothing choices (Do NOT wear those sandals with your athletic shorts). Is that really a moral problem? I'm afraid people think one of my kids talks too much. The other, I worry, doesn't talk enough to people she encounters. Will people think she's rude? He's sick, but will people wonder why he's not at church this morning?  And so I guide them (badger them) to be children who are pleasing, that is, to people.  Don't we as adults know, that's IMPOSSIBLE?
  2. We worry that others will find our kid annoying. Closely kin to my fear of my kids embarrassing me (or themselves) is the worry that others will find my kids annoying. I muddle down the definition of wrongdoing by getting on to my kids for behavior that may annoy the company they're with even though there may be nothing sinful about their behavior.  Don't fake laugh.  Don't raise your hand too much in class.  Don't hug too long or sit too close. Don't tell lame jokes or that story that no one wants to hear. Rather than considering whether or not their behavior is wrong, I use wide brushed strokes in my guidance; prohibiting any behavior that may not be easily likable.
  3. We 're too concerned that someone might misunderstand. Too many times the appearance of the matter overrides the heart of the matter. Not long ago I forced one of my kids to go out of her way to be overly friendly to someone who had treated her poorly over a course of several months (a simple "Hi" and a smile wasn't enough, I thought).  Why? Because the girl's mom wasn't aware of the situation and I didn't want the mom to think my daughter was unkind. The fact of the matter is that my daughter could have been kind without the unnecessary display just to avoid a misunderstanding.
  4. We give too much thought to what other parents deem appropriate for our own kids. Will they think she shouldn't be allowed to walk to school by herself/ have a cellphone/ take selfies/ eat at McDonalds/ drink a soda/ watch that movie... The question should always be, What does scripture have to say about this? Not, What will the Jones's think? 

Paranoid parenting is unhealthy.  Parenting strictly by what we believe scripture says may lead to our children experiencing rejection for what is thought unlikeable or popular.  There will be those who disapprove of things we allow our children to do. That's unavoidable. But through allowing their true self to seep through, they'll find those who love them for their quirks and through their immature and sometimes awkward life stages. Those who patiently and lovingly stick around are the ones they need to be around anyway. 

When we seek to teach our children what is pleasing to God, and stop worrying about pleasing the hoards, life will be less confusing and less disappointing for our children, and for us too. 

Train a child in the way he should go...Proverbs 22:6 
Check out the new book here




 

Sorry.  Have to mention it again...("The Village Girl Handbook"). Among the stories in this recently published book (I keep talking about) is a story I wrote about about a super lady who was my pastor's wife during junior high and high school. Ms Donna was (and is a gem) and I wanted the world to know it. I got a handwritten letter from her today reminding me once again what a treasure she is. It included some "tea party" pictures from days with Ms Donna.  Don't be jealous of my hair (or my sweet jeans). 



We called her Ms. Donna. She had perfect blond, chin-length hair that turned under. She wore red lipstick and bright colored dresses on Sunday. She was soft spoken, but you listened to hear what she would say. She was our preacher’s wife. 

She and her husband, Brother Jimmy lived in the rock house across the street from the church. It was a small gingerbread-looking house that was owned by the church. It was a plain with tan carpet and white walls. Soon after moving to Iredell, Ms. Donna decided to paint the entire downstairs an unpopular color, the color of a green olive. 
Though some might underestimate the possibility in a color likened to the hue of puke, it looked quite beautiful. She made that little house fancy. I know, because she invited me and a couple of other girls over for a tea party and luncheon when we were teenagers. 

On Tea Party Day, I wore an unladylike blue jean skirt and a shirt that had been decorated with puff paint (which was popular at the time but probably not appropriate for a tea party). She served croissants and other fun foods on her fine china and talked to us like we were ladies and friends; something we hadn't thought yet to consider ourselves. Her invitation and kindness made a good impression on me. 
When she would see me, she would ask how I was, and she really wanted to know. She wasn't just being nice. 
My admiration for Ms. Donna would only continue to grow as I learned more about her. She and her husband, Brother Jimmy had five children. Their youngest son was born blind, but it was easy to recognize that he had been raised not to let this disability limit him. One daughter had died tragically, and another would battle cancer at a young age. 
Ms. Donna would serve as a picture of faith. She never appeared to be angry or feel sorry for herself. Neither did she seem eaten up with worry, even when her husband had a terrible stroke that left him struggling to walk or speak. All of these things seemed to further her need to talk to, and count on, Jesus. 
She was dainty and beautiful like the pale flowers that edged the teacups she used to serve us. Yet she was strong, the complete opposite of the fine china that decorated her dining room. I was loved by Ms. Donna. It wasn't a part of her job description. She was just good at it. She was good at it, I suppose because she loved Jesus. Ms. Donna took the time to learn who I was. But it was in the time I took to learn who she was that I was changed for the better. 

Check out The Village Girl Handbook here


Future volumes of The Village Girl Handbook are in the works. If you have a story of a mentor, someone who encouraged you during your middle school or high school years, I'd love to hear it. Send me an email if you're interested in including your story in a future volume in the special section of the book Your Village. 

kristiburden@gmail.com

Be yourself 

No doubt you've given, or been given, this piece of advice. I know I have. 

Certainly we don't want our kids to act like someone else to try and fit in.  We don't want them fake laughing, constantly making duck lips to look "just so" for a selfie, or putting too much effort into following the latest fashion trend just to feel like they fit in.

We want them to be comfortable in their own skin. We're well aware that our daughter won't likely make friends by altering her personality to fit in with the girl (or crowd of girls) she's interacting with.  The other side of that coin is if she does make friends by intentionally changing her behavior in order to seem more pleasing, she'll likely attract friends she probably won't be able to keep, or else she may attract friends that don't foster the great character we hope will be instilled in our children. We know all of this. And so we work to make them secure in who they are. 

I recently realized that one of my kids has matured to a point of being pretty comfortable in their own skin, thanks, in part, to culture and to my years of coaching. 

But, boy oh boy, my job's not done. 

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Romans 12:2

Though we don't want our children to try to be somebody else, and though we don't want them to be insecure, do we really want them to be themselves? I know I can be a force to reckoned with when I'm being myself. My kids can be too. 

When I think about my children, my husband and those I've been called to befriend and encourage, they need me to live beyond myself and my natural whims. 

In being myself, I can be selfish and jealous, rude and impatient. 

Naturally, I don't like to wait. 

In being myself, I use saracasm at the expense of others. 

In being myself (truly myself) , I'll more times than not, choose to do things that bring ME pleasure or accolades...or comfort...or happiness.   

The same goes for our children. In being themselves, our children will all too often behave like spoiled and selfish creatures. It's the human default. 

So it's our duty to stretch them beyond what's natural, again. 

Sure we should teach our kids that they shouldn't try and be somebody else. 

Let's teach them to be content and confident in who God made them to be. But it's not his plan that they be themselves, for themselves. 

Beyond teaching them who they are, more pertinently, we must teach them who they are in Christ. He sat an example of being oneself, selflessly. 

God has fashioned you in such a way that you can...

 Be yourself, but to the benefit of someone else. 


He must increase, but I must decrease. John 3:30

We have been created through him and for him. 



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Hey it's Mom.

I saw you two sitting  beside each other last night. Hallie, you were on the couch. And Rylie you were right beside her as you leaned over while the two of you looked at her phone whispering about something you both found comical.

I heard you laugh...together. Not one of you laughing at the other.

You girls even took a selfie...the both of you...without being asked.

The crazy part (as if this wasn't already crazy enough) is that one of you had company, so I know you weren't just interacting positively out of boredom.

I've watched you through the years doing normal sister things. I've observed, countless times, one of you hog the bathroom and then exit proudly, your towel piled on top of your head, while your junk remained; heaped on her side of the sink and spilling on to the floor. I've listened to the other of you beat self-righteously on the door with zero grace demanding to be let in ten minutes before her exit.

I've watched you fight over a possession that would typically be claimed except that I was asking the rightful owner to pick it up and put it where it belonged, in which case you fought, both claiming (pointing the figurative finger) that it was hers.

Car trips haven't been too bad for years. But only because you each take an entire bench seat. You drown out the world with your pillow and your headphones; blasting the playlist you so carefully created before we left the house. You each forget the other is in the car until it's time to stop for a restroom break.

Sure you've taken up for each other a time or two when someone outside our family has criticized or mistreated your sister. That's what siblings do. They hold outsiders to a higher standard than they hold themselves. How dare anybody (besides me) treat her that way?

Was it the ice cream? Did yesterday's impulsive purchase of the Bluebell flavor The Great Divide have some sort of counter-cataclysmic effect that turned you into foreign characters...friends?

I can't be sure, but you give me hope.  I fully expect to hear arguing later, over whether or not the YouTube video one of you is playing loudly in the kitchen is annoying. I'll be patient and let you work it out.  I know from my own experience that the process from sister, to friend, to best friend is a long one.

I'll remember that one of the ingredients to such a friendship is a number of failed attempts. I'll know that the disappointments and heartbreaks that will come from outside (and probably in) our family will serve in helping you to better care for one another (as has already happened a few times).


Until then I've stolen this selfie off your Instagram account to remind me that it just might happen. While I wait I'll think about my own sisters, my best friends. I'll be thankful that we got it right, even if it took a little while.

Check out the ultimate book for girls here.