I Knew They Were Christians..

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I knew they where christians shortly after I first saw them. The family of 4, 2 young boys..father and mother. What gave it away, where they carrying their bibles? Was their joy overflowing? Did they have their I love Jesus tshirts on? Maybe bible verse bumper stickers? Did the Holy Spirit jump when i saw them?

None of the above, I knew they where christians by their scowl….
We had taken the family to Lake George and the Shcroon lake area. We where excited from the break of the hustle and bustle to spend time with our boys. We decided it would be fun to visit the caves near Schroon lake. Clearly we where not the only ones, the caves where very busy that day. I had first noticed this family in the gift shop prior to starting our hike… I noticed them because it appeared the father was scowling at me.. the wife glaring. I looked around and noticed nothing amiss…assumed it was my imagination and went back to my family to enjoy our hike.two adults
This family started before us and we ended up running into them again at the first look out point…. this time they again glared, but at my whole family. It was then I recognized that look and was transported back to my teenage years…………
I grew up in church. I loved being a christian, I was homeschooled, as where most of the people my age in that church. I recognized that look, because I had been on the receiving end of it all of my teenage years. I thought that was how christians greeted each other, with a look of disgust as if you where not worthy of their time…. you had to climb the christianity ladder to be noticed.judgemental1
During those years I cried myself to sleep in pain and  heartache almost every night because I wasn’t good enough. I recall an announcements that a leader was needed for children’s church, when I volunteered I was told someone else had asked to do it.. I found out this person didn’t want to but was told they where the only one who was available. I was no longer allowed to sing solos in church after singing Petra & Dc Talk ( not even the raps etc.. ballads!!) I received letters from “concerned woman” about my tight clothing ( I was a size 4 wearing size 12 hand me downs…not sure how that could be considered tight…skater/baggy was the style) My pain at that point was overwhelming, the hurt overbearing.
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I didn’t see at that time that it wasn’t me that was broken, but the lens in which those people where using was.
Then at 16 I was at the breaking point, the starts of an eating disorder, suicidal, severely depressed……. I started martial arts. There from the first moment I was accepted by all the cool kids and all the not cool kids lol. Kids-adults instantly welcomed me into their “family” loved me for exactly who I was, even though our style was different, liked different music, had different interest. I was loved, for me. No need to prove myself, or “earn” a place…ironically the place where rank matters on the floor, it did not matter in real life. But this was “the world” I had been warned to stay away from. The “heathens” who did not attend my church and homeschool like me. The wicked ones who wore the wrong clothes. Why then could they love unconditionally?
I knew they where christians by the way they judged us. Then, I noticed the cross he wore.
The rest of our hike we passed them countless times, each time being treated as if we had leporasy or something. I did a “check up from the neck up” –we where not being rude, we where patient, quiet, respectful, no inappropriate joking, everyone was dressed appropriately. I am not sure what we had done to offend them. My son finally asked me, “Mom, why do they keep looking at us like that?”
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I am blessed to say after my teenage years I have been part of 2 amazing church families who have loved on us like Christ commands. This small experience brought me back, made me think- If that is how my faith is represented, no wonder people would not want to be a christian. As I thought of it at this park, I was almost ashamed to have the same faith as this family who would, without knowing anything about us (even if they did know anything about us) treat us in such a cold fashion. I confess that at a point I was guilty of   the “scowl” to those who had not yet “ranked” as a christian.
“My son finally asked me, Mom why do they keep looking at us like that?”
I  believe it breaks our saviors heart that our churches do not love as he commands. That a teenage girl can find unconditional acceptance in a sport, but not in her church family. I strive to love, even when it isn’t easy. even when I don’t understand. When I find myself starting to cast assumptions or judgement – I recall that girl and her pain.
Whether you are a christian or not, I think the importance here is to remember, what we say and how we treat people can have an even deeper impact then what we see. Instead of pouring coals of judgement onto those you interact with, pour into them instead and help them to develop into the person they can be.
If you are searching for a church home that doesn’t judge and rank, I would love to have you join us at mine! http://www.fellowshipne.com is warm and welcoming and ready to get to know you….and not talk about you.

Perspective on the Recession

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I met a fellow martial arts school owner at a friends house the other night. The friend mentioned to me earlier in the evening that his guest owned 4 other schools on the south shore. I made introductions and we chatted a bit about his school. He was incredibly respectful, but he also had tunnel vision. I have met many school and business owners like that over the years. They just “know” what does and does not work.

We first started discussing the styles we taught, he told me about his school and how great his style was. He wasn’t arrogant about it, just confident and specific. He asked how my school was doing. I told him great.IMG_2966 The topic came up, kid students adults etc. He then told me “the economy sucks, so adults don’t want to take class now” When I shared we have over 250 adults training in Spencer, he explained his schools where in high end areas so the recession has caused more problems with wive’s having to get jobs now.

I mentioned how we also offer ilovekickboxing..started to ask if he had heard of it. He told me how he did kickboxing in the 90’s “When it was hot” but “NO ONE” does kickboxing anymore..nobody is going to join that program.

“If there is a recession, I refuse to participate.” Master Paul Garcia

We opened our school right as the recession started. I heard the news and media every day talking about how bad it was. I started feeling afraid, and doubting our decision to open a school. These where the worst conditions, in a small farming community. I heard the locals talking about getting laid off, I saw house foreclosures on every corner. My own home was behind now.  I had been running a school for the 8 years prior in the same community in a great economy, how on earth could we succeed in a failing economy.

Then one day I sat in Master Garcia’s training and he said the quote above, “If there is a recession, I refuse to participate”. I realized I had allowed the mindset of what was in the media etc. affect my own behaviors. I realized then I had a choice on how I was going to respond to the things happening in our community, I Could jump into the doom and gloom boat, or I could paddle against the stream.IMG_3105

We doubled the size of our school that year. We have continued to grow every year, in every program. We surrounded ourselves with like minded individuals and stopped spending time around those negative nellies. I have watched all of the America’s Best Defense Schools (even those in well to do communities grow like crazy year after year).

Please understand, I am in no way down playing or sweeping under the rug the fact that there have been some very had times in our country for families. I am rather encouraging to choose how you work with the cards you are dealt.

Did you know that the game Monopoly was born due to the Great Depression? Charles Darrow found himself out of work after the crash of ’29, he then spent years perfecting the game and became the first millionare by creating a board game.

Check out these 5 stories from the great depression,

Monopolyhttp://mentalfloss.com/article/20837/5-great-depression-success-stories

Then of course, you can check out why so many adults choose our schools at http://www.abdspencer.com or http://www.abdshrewsbury.com

Weathering the Storm

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Weathering the Storm

I sat in the hot tub last night. 19 degrees out and I was outdoors nice and comfy in my hot tub. I thought kind of crankily how with the big storm coming in I was kind of upset my fireplace wasn’t fixed yet. I am not a fan of this weather, but a nice cozy fire and glass of wine makes it bearable. So not having my fireplace was quite the inconvenience.

Missed My Fireplace Over the Holidays
Missed My Fireplace Over the Holidays

It hit me how much has changed. Just 5 years ago Corey and I were getting ready to celebrate our 10 year anniversary. But everything around us was falling apart. We had just opened our school, and our only source of household income was my job as a store manager. I had broken my arm and had been out of work 2 months with a possible 3-6 months more out.

Needless to say, we were in financial crisis. We were now 2 months behind in our mortgage. For Christmas, we had nothing. We were blessed that someone close to us had an idea of how things were and the local police dept dropped of to huge bags of wrapped gifts for my boys. Even though it was a huge blessing, I still was feeling a failure.

Then we ran out of oil. It was one of the coldest spells in years, some schools closed due to the sub zero temperatures. We lived in a house that was 200 years old and very drafty. We didn’t tell anyone. We asked Corey’s parents because of how “busy” our work schedule was that next couple days if the boys can sleep over their house.

Huddled around a space heater.
Huddled around a space heater.

Then we closed of the rest of the house and huddled around a space heater and wore 5 layers! We bought a cheap electric blanket.

I became very discouraged. I started doubting if we had chosen the right path. Maybe a martial arts school in Spencer MA was not a good decision. Such a small farming community surrounded the area. Maybe, when I go back to work I should focus on finding a district or regional management position. I mean, I really did enjoy that kind of work and I loved to travel. Maybe Corey should look into a full time career outside the school also. Nothing was going the way we hoped it seemed like we would forever be stuck in this place unless something changed. I was facing a wall of discouragement, I began to feel foolish in my goals and worry what others where thinking of me and my failures. Real Mistake

Corey had been doing some side work and we had oil again within a couple days. I did return to work and we were able to tread water and make some serious changes, but not the kind that forced us to give up on our dreams.

I would like to say after that winter it was all better. It wasn’t, we faced many more challenges.

A little over a year later our electricity was turned off for non payment,  I owed over $2000. We went a week with no electricity. We told the boys it was an experiment to understand what real farm life used to be like. It was summer so we didn’t freeze, but all of our food spoiled.

This time though my attitude was very different. I understood in the long run this was only a few days. It was not going to destroy my life or even seriously hold me back. I didn’t need to abort my goals. I could see progress happening and knew we would overcome.

When challenges come your way you need to step back. You need to ask yourself, will this matter in 5 years? How will it affect me in 5 years? How old will I be? How old will my kids be? What do I want my life to be like in 5 years? How will I  get there? As awful as that year was, it was a small part of a big life. I had the opportunity to be blessed by my amazing community, who helped us survive during a challenging time. I got to find out what was really worth it. I got to learn that success isn’t sprint, but a marathon. Just like a marathon, sometimes you want to give up and take the easy way. Stay on the path, don’t give up, don’t life’s discouragements stop you. It’s your life, don’t let it happen to you, create the life you always wanted.

Follow that dream

My dream grew into http://www.abdspencer.com — now we also have http://www.abdshrewsbury.com, http://www.ilovekickboxingspencer.com,

http://www.ilovekickboxingshrewsbury.com