Category Archives: Relationships

When Your Little Sister Turns Out To Be Your Hero

My youngest sister doesn’t look like a strong woman. A “do-rag” covers her shiny bald head and these days she’s tipping the scales at just over 100 pounds. She isn’t much of a threat to anyone or anything.

Or is she?

Just after my ninth birthday, around the time I was getting used to the idea of having a new step-mom, our family of three little girls expanded to include a fourth. As far as I was concerned, my blonde-haired, hazel-eyed step-sister was a special gift sent just for me. I happily assumed the role of “little mother.”

But, by the time I reached the hormonally challenging age of 13, I was wearing annoyance like a huge placard that read “Stay Away”. I was the oldest sister and I didn’t have time for playing with dolls or pushing my little sister in a swing. My world was “me” and to escape my younger siblings (which by now included a baby brother), I hid out in my room. A lot.

The summer my horse-loving little sister fell off her pony and suffered a severely broken elbow jolted me out of my self-absorption. A pin was inserted in her elbow and she was in the hospital for days. Who did she ask for? Me — the big sister who hadn’t given her so much as a glance for a couple of years. I was the person she most wanted at her bedside. At 16, I took my seven-year-old sister seriously and spent a couple of nights in a chair by her hospital bed. Seeing that skinny little blonde kid sleeping with her arm in traction, I realized she’d developed a case of hero worship. I didn’t feel worthy.

Once I knew what was at stake, I tried to pay more attention to my little sis, mostly at my convenience. I was amused by the fact she wanted to do whatever I was doing. Dress like I dressed, grow her hair long like mine — hers blonde, mine brunette.

The depth of my tomboy little sister’s devotion was on display when she let a hairdresser pile her hair in elaborate curls and donned a very girlie dress just so that she could be in my wedding. In photographs from the day, she looks a little uncomfortable, but she’s smiling at me like I’m a queen and she’s the princess.

We grew up, the two of us. Marriages, kids, careers. Slowly, the nine-year gap shrank. In time, we joined forces in the task of keeping our aging parents healthy and happy. Like bookends, we learned to hold it together and frame the sometimes challenging dynamics of a blended family.

We also became friends.

When we lost Mom last year, the friendship we’d cultivated was our strength. The two of us tag-teamed, covering the many decisions and responsibilities of arranging for Mom’s funeral and moving Dad to a nursing home. Our siblings helped, but most things passed through us. Our bond was strengthened.

Then one evening, I received another wake-up call from my sister. She’d found a lump in her breast. Cancer.

As a survivor of breast cancer myself, I was tempted to tease her about following in her big sister’s footsteps. Somehow, it wasn’t funny. She’d been there for me in my own collision with cancer; hers seemed more real. I wanted to protect her. She’s my little sister and my friend.

“A friend loves at all times, and a brother (sister) is born for a time of adversity.” Proverbs 17:17, NIV

What do you do when the playing field is leveled by cancer? You pull up a chair. Click To Tweet

So, I sit beside my sister while drugs drip into her body, attacking cancer cells and killing every other good thing that her body produces, and I’m amazed at how brave she is. With surgery and reconstruction part of the plan, it will be months before this journey ends.

The irony is, the year before her diagnosis my sister agreed to lead a Livestrong class at our local YMCA. The mission of Livestrong, founded by cyclist Lance Armstrong, is “to improve the lives of people affected by cancer.” Her class of cancer survivors has become her own support team. Fit and healthy in every way, my sister is tackling cancer head-on. She’s determined to beat it. I believe she will.

Funny thing about hero worship – it goes both ways. My baby sister is my hero. And she’s the strongest woman I know.

5 Things I Learned While Going 7 Days Without Facebook

Still wide awake at 12:30 a.m. today, I rolled out of bed and did what I’ve done on many other sleepless nights. I grabbed my phone to check in with Facebook — for the first time in 7 days.

A week ago, inspired by a book I’m reading and challenged by my blogging friend Plaidfuzz, I decided to give myself a one week break from Facebook. Besides wanting to change a habit, a big motivation for my self-imposed fast was the climate on Facebook. Don’t get me wrong. There is much that’s good in this online community — inspiring messages, fun recipes, photos of friends and their families, groups of like-minded individuals conversing on topics of interest (writing and hygge). And, Facebook is sometimes a window into the world of my sons, though it’s not often their chosen means of communicating online.

But what I found when dropping in during the middle of the night is that not much has changed in seven days. Attacks and “false news” are still popping up in my news feed, which means I have to do a lot of scrolling to get to stuff I want to read, and, the things I don’t want to pour into my mind still seep in.

I have enjoyed at least 168 hours without the vitriol, and I feel cleansed.

Stepping away  from Facebook — even for just a week — gave me some perspective and taught me a thing or two. Or 5. Here are 5 things I learned during my 7-day break from Facebook:

  1. My friends are still my friends whether I “like” something they say or not. Not one of them unfriended me because of my neglect. Nor did they send me nasty messages.
  2. Picking up my Bible first thing in the morning instead of my phone or I-pad is better for my spiritual, emotional and mental health. I started most days happier, calmer and with a clearer mind. I’ve been reading the book of Jeremiah first thing in the morning, with Eugene Peterson’s great book “Run with the Horses” as my guide. The destruction of Jerusalem and the angry greed of Babylon aren’t so far removed from our world today. (Adding praises from Psalms tempers the message.)
  3. There’s a lot more to read, watch and listen to on the Internet besides what’s in my Facebook feed. Notable sites where I spent time this week included The Redbud Post, The Academy of Ideas, and Jeff Goins’ podcast The Portfolio Life .
  4. My political views didn’t waver in the absence of daily reminders of how divided our country has become. I’m still conservative, right of center, pro-life and praying for our nation.
  5. I can accomplish a lot in the 10 minutes I might spend several times a day scrolling thru, liking (or loving, crying, laughing) and commenting on Facebook posts. Some of my 10-minute fillers were folding a load of laundry, reading a chapter in a book, stirring up a batch of chocolate chip cookies, doing my yoga stretches, having a real conversation with a friend.
  6. I said 5? Here’s a bonus. Twitter is a poor substitute, and it is just as mind-numbing and time-wasting as Facebook. Instagram? Not ready to give that up yet.

Will I return to Facebook permanently? Possibly. I’ve made some great connections and found new friends there. But if I do, I think I’ll rely on it less often to fill spare moments and to connect with people.

My final three words on Facebook? Words I try to apply to everyday life: Discretion, Self-control, Balance.

Sexual Misconduct Isn’t Just for Politicians

It’s always an awkward conversation. After we’ve played some games, talked about what they want in a dating relationship, done a bit of role-playing, we get down to the nitty gritty.

Sexual assault. Violence. Rape.

Some of the students avert their eyes. Others giggle nervously. A few show concern, even ask questions.

I talk to high school kids about teen dating violence because they already know it’s happening. They see it among their friends, maybe fear it could happen in their own dating relationships. And they need to know how to stop it before it becomes their reality, their life.

As I write this, I’m preparing to spend four days in another high school health class as the guest speaker from our local domestic violence agency. It’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month and the three county schools have opened their doors for our presentation.

For this group of students, there’s new information on the table. They’ve probably already seen it on the evening news or on the internet:

A candidate for the most powerful job in the world has been exposed as a perpetrator of sexual assault.

He did it just because he could. Because he’s rich and famous. And because he doesn’t value a woman’s right to say who can touch her body and when.

By the time we’ve finished talking about teen dating violence, rape, sexual assault, the students will know that if they had done what he has admitted to doing, they could wind up in jail with a felony conviction that would follow them the rest of their lives.

They’ll also know this:

  • 12 percent of high school students report having been physically victimized by a dating partner in the past year
  • 25 percent of high school students say they have been psychologically abused by a dating partner
  • Dating abuse begins as early as sixth grade
  • Adults who abuse their dating partners often do so during adolescence
  • Young women ages 14-17 represent 38 percent of those victimized by date rape
  • Any unwanted sexual contact is assault
  • Perpetrators of sexual assault and violence do it to gain control over their victims

We’ll have the awkward conversation because just maybe their awareness will mean they won’t have to know what it’s like to be a victim.

love-is-not-abuse

For more information about domestic violence and teen dating violence, visit one of these web sites:

http://www.breakthecycle.org/loveisnotabuse

http://www.nrcdv.org/dvam/home

http://www.ncadv.org/

 

 

 

For All the Unknown Soldiers in Our Lives

(The photo above was taken at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Rose Hill Cemetery, Albion, Indiana.)american_flag

In the small town where I grew up, summer always began with Memorial Day. I remember waiting with prideful anticipation to catch site of the American Legion Color Guard, knowing I’d see my Dad in the line of uniform-clad men, dressed in his Air Force blues and either balancing a flagpole on his hip or carrying a gun at his side.

As our local heroes stepped off around the courthouse square, townsfolk joined the parade for the short walk down the street to Rose Hill Cemetery. There, in the early summer sunshine, we’d recognize our soldiers, living and deceased. The ceremony always ended at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier, as taps were trumpeted from a far-away hillside. A solemn prayer released us all to our holiday activities.

A few years ago, my husband and I joined the Memorial Day service at a small cemetery near us. We heard the names of soldiers, mostly unknown to us, but familiar to many gathered around. Just as we did in my hometown half a century ago, our ceremony ended with prayer and a salute at the tomb of those whose names are unknown.

It struck me then. Our lives are filled with “unknown” soldiers — men and women who anonymously laid down their lives here and abroad, and who continue to do so today, so that I could live and raise a family in freedom and safety. My own father and his three brothers all served in the United States military, one of them dedicating a career to military duty. In my hometown, we know their names, their histories, their pride and dedication, but to the rest of the world, they are virtually unknown.

Robert Harris Wilson tried to enter the military at 17, but had to wait a year.

Robert Harris Wilson tried to enter the military at 17, but had to wait a year. Read more about Dad’s military career and his childhood in One Man’s Work.

This Memorial Day weekend, I’ll be thinking of family members, classmates, friends and neighbors who put on a uniform and committed to do their duty as defenders and protectors of our nation. May they be known and honored, not just at the end of May, but every day.

“The greatest glory of a free-born people is to transmit that freedom to their children.” ~ William Havard, chaplain to the armed forces during World War I.

 

Words: On Fear, Contentment and Life

I’ve yet to meet anyone who is totally confident in their abilities as a “creative”. Whether it’s painting, making music, designing living spaces, creating a great meal or writing, every creative individual I know faces a moment of fear (perhaps many of them) when they think that maybe they don’t have what it takes.

I’ve offered a guest post on the blog at Breathe Christian Writers website about a time I nearly let the darkness of doubt overwhelm me.

Even in the stark cold of winter, we find little gifts of color. Harvested on my Christmas Day walk in the valley.

Even in the stark cold of winter, we find little gifts of color. Harvested on my Christmas Day walk in the valley.

During the Christmas season, I came across a short essay by a writing friend that gave me a focus for the coming year. I wasn’t searching for one and had even sworn off the “My One Word” tradition, but her simple yet profound piece gave me encouragement and pause. She spoke words that I purpose to live out in 2016, and beyond:

“allow it”

My friend shares that she was struck by the simplicity of this submissive statement and the attitude it implies: “a consent of both heart and mind. ‘Allow it’ and relax. No bracing, straining, plotting to change or avoid.” (I’ll send you to Nancy Nordenson’s lovely blog to read the rest of her words here. )

For me, those words are a passageway to contentment. How often do I strain against what I cannot change or plot to influence situations or people it’s not my business to change?

The Merriam Webster definition of contentment is “the state of being happy and satisfied”. When things do not go my way or when people in my life cause discouragement, choosing to simply allow it in both my heart and my mind can only be healthy for me — in body and spirit.

And ultimately, I think this one choice will save time as I refrain from the unproductive habit of fretting and stewing.

It will take practice, but I’m claiming “allow it” as my resolution, my intention, my mantra and my one word (okay, two) for 2016.

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Finally, because I love sharing good things, I want to direct you to one more website and blog. A writer I met in October has shared an important season in her life in the beautiful book “So Many Africas: Six Years in a Zambian Village”. Jill Kandel’s award-winning memoir takes you to a country and on a journey most will never experience, but which may shed light on periods of struggle and growth in your own life.

Jill’s beautifully written account of her life in Zambia lingers in my mind long after I’ve passed her book on for others to read. I’m expecting to read it again.

Jill’s work has been featured in numerous periodicals and anthologies (both print and online). You can get a taste of her multi-cultural life in and around Fargo, North Dakota, by visiting her website www.jillkandel.com.

 

Giving Thanks for Family Stories

There’s still turkey in the fridge, but Thanksgiving has officially given way to Christmas. I’ve done some cyber-shopping and boxes of ornaments and lights will be opened so the halls can be decked some time this week.

But until then, I’m lingering over memories of Thanksgiving.

For as long as I can remember, we’ve piled our turkey, sweet potatoes and stuffing on creamy gold-rimmed, rose-covered china. This year was no different. The beautiful dishes decorated with pink and yellow petals came into my safe-keeping several years ago, along with the cherry china cabinet that has always held the china and the box of silver. When Mom was finished hosting Thanksgiving dinners, the tradition and the china became my responsibility.

dishes sink

dishwater

As I hand-washed the china and stemware last Friday, placing it carefully back on the shelves, I thought about the great affection Mom has for these priceless family heirlooms. For her, and now for all of us, the plates and cups represent more than a home-cooked meal. They speak of the love of an older brother.

Mom’s brother, my Uncle Bill, served with the United States Army and was stationed in Germany during World War II. Always fond of nice things, he used his military paycheck to purchase a full set of Wild Rose Limoges China, replete with 22-karat gold edging, at some point during his service to our country. He also bought new furniture for his parents and younger sister and surprised them with the gifts when he returned to his home in Chicago.

Asked about the china again this year, Mom willingly shared that it came from Uncle Bill. And then, she surprised us with a new nugget of information — Uncle Bill served under the famous General George Patton. My sons, her grandsons, know the name Patton from their history books and they were duly impressed. Their great-uncle was a WWII veteran and he served under Patton.

Uncle Bill passed away almost two years ago. The summer after he died, I took my parents to Bill’s house in a Chicago suburb so they could spend the day with his widow. Mom stood in her brother’s tiny office, surrounded by all the little pieces of art he collected and enjoyed. Pieces of a beloved brother who appreciated beauty.

Mom still misses her brother and continues to call his widow every Sunday night. This Thanksgiving, gathered around a table in our farmhouse, the feasting was made sweeter with the shared story of a soldier and his love for his family.

“After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.” Philip Pullman, British author

Bless your family. Tell them stories.

glasses

flowers

 

Note To Mature Women: To Teach, We Must Be

Young women have been on my mind a lot lately.

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve spent selah* in Titus, Paul’s letter to the young pastor he assigned to the Greek island of Crete. As I read slowly and contemplatively, and as I hear our pastor teach on this portion of scripture, I’m struck by some verses in Chapter 2, where Paul gives Titus advice on how to guide different segments of his congregation. Regarding mature women (my age group), he says this:

“Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.” Titus 2:3-5

Any woman who has sought God’s plan and will in each season of her life has been told she should strive to become a “Titus 2 woman”. The weight of that calling is especially profound as I realize Paul places responsibility for teaching younger women squarely in the lap of mature women.

Paul tells Titus to instruct mature men “to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance.” He also tells him to “encourage the young men to be self-controlled. In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned….”

But not a word on how Titus should instruct younger women. Paul leaves that role to the mature women.

In his letter, he makes it clear that the best way mature women can teach younger females godly character is by example, “to be reverent in the way they live.” Only then, after they have “walked the talk” are they qualified to give instruction to the younger ones, “to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands.”

To TEACH, I must BE. Click To Tweet

Some days, I fall far short of the call to reverence issued in Titus. I may not be “addicted to wine” but I can be impatient, self-centered, slothful and, yes, a slanderer.

But I also know I am formed in Christ’s image and I live under God’s grace. That is what I can offer to young women the Lord has brought into my realm of influence, even as I strive to live out Titus 2. I stand on those truths as I heed the call to “teach what is good.”

When I hold the hand of a young mother who struggles in her marriage, who is trying to be a good Mama and a patient Wife, but is overwhelmed by the challenge of it all, and we pray and speak of God’s grace.

When next to me on the church pew, tears are streaming down the face of a new friend, broken and lonely and regretting so many mistakes as she tries hard to press in to the grace and forgiveness and glory of this God who’s captured her life. It is so real to her, and still so very hard, because she knows her choices have hurt the very fruit of her womb, the ones she loves beyond understanding. I remind her she is created in the image of Christ.

Photo credit: davidewart

Photo credit: davidewart

And on a late summer evening when I serve coffee shop customers alongside young women giddy with the prospect of future husbands, children and LIFE, I remind myself of Paul’s instruction. I offer encouragement and gentle counsel, perhaps not with words, but with presence.

While I can’t offer these young women the perfection of a fully mature, completely reverent woman of God, I can extend to them the hand of experience, the counsel that all strength is found in faith and in scripture, and the gift of knowing God’s grace will cover it all.

* The word “Selah” occurs seventy-three times in the Psalms, and is found also in Habakkuk. The exact meaning of the word is unknown, but it’s believed to be a command to “pause, or reflect.”

Thought-provoking-thursday-banner_NEWSharing this post today at 3DLessons4Life

 

If You Have a Perfect Plan, Lord, Don’t Let Me Sabotage It

I’m a planner. Always have been, probably always will be.

The first-born of five children, growing up I was the self-appointed boss of my little kingdom. On those long summer vacations, I would plan out daily activities — not only for myself but for my younger siblings. In the morning, there would be time for reading and maybe some exploring or playing on the swing set. Then, if we were lucky and didn’t have chores after lunch, we’d stage a drama that (of course) I would write and direct. My sisters and brother weren’t always on board with my plans, but I never gave up trying.

Me and my sisters with Grandpa Koch. Our little brother hadn't come along yet. I'm the  one in charge, second from the right.

Me and my sisters with Grandpa Koch. Our little brother hadn’t come along yet. I’m the one in charge, second from the right.

My well-honed planning skills came in handy when I began home schooling our four sons. Every weekend, I labored over detailed lesson plans and started Monday mornings with renewed determination to end the week by crossing off everything on my school “to do” list.

It rarely happened. A couple of years and a few stubborn students into our home school journey, I decided that some plans are just goals and we pretty much became “freestyle” home schoolers. (Don’t worry — they all graduated our home school and are successful, productive adults.)

I still like a good, well-drawn plan, even if it means I may sabotage it later. Most Sunday evenings, I pull out my Day-Timer to write down what I expect to be doing between appointments and other obligations already on the calendar for the week ahead. I note phone calls to be made and items to be purchased (including when and where). The practice makes me feel in control and saves me when memory fails.

Imagine my delight when I recently began to see a plan that could only be of God’s making play out before my eyes.

I don't believe in coincidence. I lean toward Divine Providence. Click To Tweet

I don’t believe in coincidence. I lean toward Divine Providence. I’ve always laid the big things before God, asking Him to listen and respond to my requests. You know the kind of prayers I mean. “Heal this, fix that, make me better, make him more understanding, keep us safe.”

I haven’t stopped praying those things, but lately I’ve found myself saying more often “your will, your provisions, your PLAN.”

And He’s been doing some crazy stuff with my Day-Timer, with my “to do”, “to read” and “to study” lists. There seems to be a theme, a common thread — a plan — running through the opportunities, people, conversations, books, Bible studies, Sunday school lessons and online blogs that come into my world.

And it’s not of my making. Why am I so surprised?

God’s plan for this final quarter of my life isn’t clear yet, but I’m seeing things come together in a way I could never have imagined. Maybe it began when I wrote my Fourth Quarter Manifesto.

Or maybe when I let that last student of mine move seven hours away.

Or maybe when I stopped talking and started listening, then waiting with expectation.

I’m excited to see where God goes with this plan of His. I’m also pretty sure He knows I would be willing to chime in, should He need some help moving things forward. But until He calls, it’s hands-off because I’m all on board with letting Him lay out what He wants to do with this final quarter of my earthly life.

“Lord, just don’t let me sabotage your Perfect Plan.”

Maybe It’s Not About Cake; Maybe It’s About Fear

To my gay and lesbian friends and those who support their freedom to choose who they love. And to my conservative family and friends who believe they have a right to choose how to live out their religious beliefs:

Take a deep breath and look around you.

There is a lot of pain in the world today. Pain and persecution and bigotry and conflict and loss of life and loss of freedom — all in the name of “liberty of conscience”, freedom to believe what we want to believe.

It should break your heart to hear that people are being slaughtered in the Middle East because of their religious beliefs, or that gay men are being thrown off rooftops in Syria. Or that nearly a million unborn children are killed in America every year.

And we in America are attacking one another over the possible intent and impact of one piece of legislation.

I am not political. I’m conservative in most of my views, surprisingly liberal in a few. I am a follower of Jesus Christ and I believe the Bible holds the only laws necessary to create a peaceful, orderly, kind society. But we live in a fallen world so we have man-made laws — perhaps too many — designed to encourage morality.

I don’t begin to think I can make sense of the controversy surrounding my state’s recent passage of the religious freedom law (RFRA). I have read the law and explanations of the law and many commentaries on the law, and my opinion is that it is not written specifically to limit LGBT rights and freedoms. Its focus is on the rights and freedoms of people who hold specific religious views.

The intent of my state legislators in putting this law on the books is something I cannot know. The impact of the law on business owners and the people they serve is yet to be seen.

I write this not because I believe the law is correct or even that it is necessary, and I don’t expect to change the minds of those who oppose the law or of those who support it. I write it because I am the Mom of four sons who are part of the Millennial generation. I write it because they are being told what to think, and I want them to think for themselves.

In fact, all of us on both sides of the issue are being told by others who have our ear what we should think. So we are forming an opinion and taking a side without even knowing what we’re standing for or against.

I challenge my sons, in the same way that I challenge any of you who are concerned about this or any action that you believe limits freedom and promotes prejudice:

Be informed. Understand the issue before you take a stand.

I did not do that.

Before taking time to read Senate Bill 568 (You can read a synopsis of the bill here.), I chose sides in the debate. You probably did, too. I let others who share my religious beliefs and my conservative views tell me how to think.

After doing the research, I believe all of us are reacting based on one emotion.

Because really, it’s not about cake; it’s about fear.

  • That I will be made to feel unequal because of my lifestyle.
  • That I could lose my livelihood because of my faith.
  • That I will suffer because others do not hold the same views as mine.

My Bible says only one emotion “casts out fear” — perfect love. We might think we get it, that we know what love is, but our actions and our attitudes say otherwise.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking. It is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” (You can read more in I Corinthians 13)

There’s a whole lot of pain and not enough love in the world. And more than enough injustice. Life isn’t fair.

Can we consider this? Instead of working so hard to defend and protect our personal rights and freedoms in this one issue, can we look outside ourselves and our circle of fear to see how horrifically the rights and freedoms of others in this world are being violated? Maybe the energy, attention and indignation we’ve expended on this one law that most of us haven’t even read could be used to help the many who have no defense.

We might at least have an idea what we are fighting for.

And maybe in taking the focus off ourselves, we can move closer to giving others a glimpse of perfect love.

For my sons.

When Fitting In Means Shedding Some Skin

Growing up, a couple of my sons were fascinated with reptiles and rodents. Not atypical for boys, but they also had a strong desire to own and nurture them.

In a cage.

In our house.

Along with the traditional kittens, dogs and farm animals, at various times, we also raised hamsters, guinea pigs and iguanas.

While I never warmed up to any of the more exotic critters, the iguanas were my least favorite. They’re slimy and ugly and they do very little beyond lay on their bellies in the sun. Because they need warmth to thrive, their abode was equipped with a tiny heating pad. I do not need to describe what can happen when said device is turned up a little too high.

I might have felt more “affection” for the iguanas if they had the characteristics of chameleons. These miniature dragons (whose name in Greek means “lion of the ground”) are distinguished by their ability to change color through pink, blue, red, orange, green, black, brown, light blue, yellow, turquoise, and purple. A lot more interesting than plain old pea green and brown.

Besides being a great way to “blend in” with their environment, scientists believe chameleons change color as a form of “social signaling”. Their color change indicates their attitude toward other chameleons. “Chameleons tend to show darker colors when angered, or attempting to scare or intimidate others, while males show lighter, multicolored patterns when courting females.” (Wikipedia)

Don’t we all act a bit “chameleonish” at times? Haven’t we found ourselves wanting to blend in, “changing colors” to seem more acceptable under certain circumstances?

While adapting to the color of their surroundings may work for miniature dragons, it isn’t an admirable practice for someone who claims to be a believer in truth and transparency.

If I present myself in one circumstance as a follower of Christ, then turn around and deny his sovereignty with attitudes that allow me to “fit in” with another crowd, just who do I think I’m fooling?

My unbelieving friends may be tricked into thinking I’m a beast of a different color, but my true friends will look past the color of my skin to the condition of my heart, and they’ll know in whose image I was created.

Conforming so we won’t stand out when we are called to be “the light of the world” is denying the very God who created us.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2

I'd rather stand out and be transformed than adapt and conform. Click To Tweet

When I find myself in circumstances that tempt me to take on a different hue, may I remember that lasting change comes when I stay the course and remain true to what I know. And that it’s okay — even admirable — to stand out like a “sore thumb.”

My reptile-loving sons would have gotten a kick out of this experiment: