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Challenge: Follow Your Dreams

My parents left me at college and my husband won't buy me cookies

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I very seldom follow through with things I say I am going to do. "I will start running on Monday." "I will begin eating better." "I will try and cut out sugar," (yeah, right). I always find an excuse to NOT do what I said that I WOULD do. I think many of us are like this. It's very easy to say 'I can't do that today' when what we really should be saying is 'I won't do that today.' The word 'can't is a contraction of can and not and although it means something in which you have no alternative, you actually do have an alternative and by definition this word makes no sense in the English language.

You choose not to... you won't. Please don't say "I can't meet you for coffee today, I have a million things to do." Actually what you should be saying is " I won't meet you for coffee today, I have other things I would rather do."

Can't is a victim word. And its a word I don't want my children to learn.

We convince ourselves we can't because we don't have the faith or the will or the want to do. Excuses are a part of our fallen, sinful nature. Remember in Genesis when Adam was caught eating from the tree of knowledge? When God called him out on it he didn't say, "Sorry God, I was wrong and I should've had more faith." He said " The woman, whom you gave me ate and showed it to me."

From day one men were blaming their wives for their problems. Just kidding! But from day one, we made excuses and we made up stories and lies as to why we have little faith and no trust. Why we simply can't.

The other day my husband and I were in the car and I mentioned that girl scout cookies had gone on sale and that I needed some. He then remarked, no you don't. You don't need cookies, you want them. There is a difference between a want and need. He is right you know, and we need to be carful about the rhetoric we use to describe what we can and won't do and what we need and what we want.

But I still need girl scout cookies.

I think in each of us lies a lot of self doubt and if we aren't careful we will pass that along to our children. I am not good enough or smart enough for that promotion. I am not strong enough to face that situation.

No more excuses! Enough! Please focus on the victories of your past so that you may see the strengths of your present and the gifts of your future and share THAT with your children.

Too many times we focus on the mistakes of our past and that is what sets us in our 'excuse mode', our 'not good enough mode.'You are good enough and you are not deserving enough. Forget about the 'what ifs' of life and just take a chance. See what you are made of. See if you are strong enough or smart enough or good enough. You will never know until you try and remember those people that others call failures, well, they just haven't succeeded. Yet!

You are never a failure if you try. You are a failure if you never try.

No one in my family has a college degree. Not aunts, uncles, cousins, no one. So why in the world did I think I could earn one? Well, I didn't. I was never convinced college was for me and I spent most of my first semester away from home calling my parents to come pick me up. U-Hauls pulled in and out of my parking lot daily with happy kids getting to return home. My dad finally said to me one day during one of my 'I am ready to quit' moments, "We are not coming to get you."

That was all it took. I was stuck. They won't come get me.

I will admit it also helped that plenty of people in my hometown were rooting for me to fail and that southern grit in my belly won't let me prove people right. I stayed. It took me 7 years to earn a bachelors degree. And when I walked across that stage on Mother's Day in 2003 it was the most amazing feeling in my life and the moment, the one moment I have to give that credit to is the day my dad said, "We are not coming to get you."

It changed everything. They weren't saving me. Not this time.

When I was 21 years old I had never been on a plane but was given an amazing opportunity. I had never been out of the south but for just a brief few days on vacation and I have never gone to a place alone to spend 8 weeks with people I had never met. I was terrified. I went back and forth for months about whether or not I was actually going to go.

So the night before I was to get on this plane and go, I confessed to my parents over dinner that I was scared and that I didn't want to go. I was too young, too afraid, too alone.


I was hoping they would say "It's okay. You can just come back home with us tomorrow." But they didn't. Instead my dad slid his hand across the table then pulled it back revealing his wings pendant he had received for flying helicopters in Vietnam. "You can do anything you want." These words he spoke to me still ring in my ears today.

I needed him to tell me this. I didn't need saving this time either.

I needed to hear these words so they may vanquish all my excuses. And they did. I knew how much this pendant meant to my dad and I knew that one day I would regret not trying. So the next morning, with tears in my eyes, I got on the plane and I flew to New Hampshire where I would spend 7 more summers working with kids, meeting people from all over the world and changing my life. God knew...I did not.

I need to make a point to try and be careful with my language these days. I have two little ones whose ears are always listening and I don't want to raise 'can't dos.' I want to raise 'will do and can do' kids. I want them to know the difference between a want and need, a can and a won't. But I need to learn this first.

So after much thought and reflection I decided that faith and positive rhetoric starts today. I can and will. I need not want. But I also remember that all of this began with the fall of man and the invention of excuses. So, Adam, if Eve convinced you to eat and it was all her fault, then Honey, I don't need girl scout cookies. I want girl scout cookies so that I won't need to kill you later. My rhetoric is getting better already!

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