Updates: New T-Shirt and Race Results

Well, last month I wanted to write something in my blog every day, and, sadly, it’s been about a month since I last wrote in my blog.  I sure didn’t keep up with it!  I think I’ll try again this month.  Okay, so I’m going to try and write a blog post with at least 300 words.

In my last blog post I wrote a list of some things that I would like to receive for my birthday.  One thing on the list that I got from my mom was the purple “No-Meat Athlete” t-shirt!  I was so happy to be able to wear it in a race later that week.   I wore it in a half-marathon — it was my first time to run a half-marathon.  I felt so good afterwards, and I even came in 3rd place for women ages 45-49!!  As I crossed the finish line, the announcer must have noticed my t-shirt and when he read aloud my number and time he said I was “representing vegetarians everywhere”!  It made made me smile!

Finishing the Half-Marathon!

(Source: JBLM MWR)

This past Saturday I was in a 5k.  I decided not to wear that t-shirt, but I did wear another purple t-shirt I have (love purple!). It was a small race, but I came in 1st place for women ages 40-49!  I was pretty excited.

It was near a playground, and my son and I were on the swings while they called out the winners.   They announced the second place winner first, and when the announcer didn’t call out my name, I commented to my son, “Oh, I guess I didn’t get anything.”  I was sure if I were to have placed I would have gotten second place or nothing.  And then, surprisingly, the announcer called out my name for first place!   So fun!

I don’t have any more races this month, but I have three coming up in July!  One is a four-mile run, one is a sprint triathlon, and one is a 5k color run I’m going to do with my kiddos.  I’ve passed 300 words now.  See you tomorrow!

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Birthday List

This will be a self-centered post!  Woohoo!    I have a birthday coming up and chances are I won’t get any of these things, and that’s okay, but I thought that I would make up a birthday list of things I’d like to have.  This kinda fits with the idea of the importance of setting goals:  with this list I’ll have a reminder of things I’d perhaps like to save for and eventually own some day!  It will also be interesting to look back when I’m older and see what types of things I used to want.

1.  T-Shirts:  The first thing I’d like is a new t-shirt. I’d really like this No-Meat Athlete T-Shirt, in size small.  It has a cute running carrot on it.  For some reason it seems like a lot of people think of carrots when they think of food that vegans eat, so I get a big kick out of the cute running carrot.   I’ve wanted one of these shirts for a really long time, and I chose this one because I love purple.

I admit I’m a bit nervous to advertise myself as a vegan, for a several reasons. I’m not the activist-type of vegan, and I’m not perfect at being vegan (see my article that I wrote on Tuesday).  The idea wearing a “No-Meat Athlete” t-shirt, though, seems to cover those concerns well, though.  This t-shirt, which is a pretty good price, $9.95, might be okay.  It says No Animals Were Harmed in the Feeding of this Body.  I like the charcoal gray one in size small.

Also, I admit that I’m afraid I’m not good enough to advertise myself as a vegan athlete / runner.  I remember one time I wore a vegetarian t-shirt while running at the Y, and I didn’t make sure I drank enough water, and when I felt rather lousy afterwards, I thought to myself, “Oh, great, people might be able to tell that I don’t feel so good and they might assume it’s because I’m vegetarian!”  I’ve noticed it seems people illogically often like to blame bad things on someone being vegetarian / vegan.

A neat t-shirt that would be fun to wear is this berry-colored running t-shirt in size small that says “Let The Course Be With You” on it.  Isn’t that clever?  Or this neon pink t-shirt that says “All You Need is Love and Running.”  Isn’t that sweet?

2.  Books: The second thing I’d like is another Tolkien book.  I’ve had my eye on this one for awhile–The Inklings: C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien and Their Friends by Humphrey Carpenter.  I love C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, and I collect books about Tolkien (thanks to my dad for starting my collection!), and I’d really like to read that book.  There’s another book by that same author that looks good called J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography.  The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien would be another great book to own, as would The Tolkien Reader.

3.  Swim Goggles: I’d like to have another pair of these awesome goggles: Aqua Sphere Kayenne Lady Swim Goggles.  I had a pair, but somehow I lost them.  I guess I left them at the Y one day.  I asked them if they had any in the lost and found but they didn’t.   I wore them during the sprint triathlon I was in last year, and they worked great, and if not for my birthday, I hope I can get another pair before the triathlon this year.  They were reliable, great at keeping the water out, and I didn’t really have to worry about them fogging up like I do with the Speedo goggles I’ve been using.

If I could choose any goggles, and money didn’t matter, you know what type if would love to try? These lovely purple goggles: Sable WaterOptics RS 101 Mirrored Goggles. I think they are gorgeous!

4.  Running Shoes:  I really think these Merrell Women’s Pace Glove 2 Trail Running Shoes are pretty, and, yes, they are purple!  Here are another pair of purple shoes that look nice: New Balance Women’s W890v4 Neutral Light Running Shoe.

Okay, I’ve reached and surpassed my daily goal of 300 words, and I’m tired of writing, so I’m going to stop now, but at least that’s a good start on my birthday list.  😉

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Labeling Myself as Vegan

I’m vegan.   I’ve been vegan for 13 and a half years.  I remember how long it’s been because my third child was six months old at the time.   Besides any non-vegan nutrients she received from my body before her birth and through breastmilk, she has been vegan her whole life.  I also gave birth to one more child after her, my second son, and at ten and a half months old, he is still vegan as well.   My older two children became vegan sometime after I made the decision to become vegan, and they have continued to be vegan as well.

The problem is that some people wouldn’t consider us to be vegan.  They are welcome to their own beliefs about what being vegan means, but I admit it’s been troubling me lately, the idea that I might not be “vegan enough” for others to feel I have the “right” to call myself vegan.  It’s been bothering me so much that I almost, just almost, felt like giving up the label.  My older son, though, says we shouldn’t give it up.

Here’s my confession of why I may not be “vegan enough” to call myself vegan.  First of all, I eat something with honey in it every once in a while.  I try to avoid buying things with honey, but say my mom buys me some throat lozenges that have honey in them, I might go ahead and use them.  Or like the other day my husband bought some tortillas that have honey in them, and I went ahead and ate some.

I actually buy something with beeswax in it sometimes — Spry Xylitol gum.   My older son avoids eating anything with honey or beeswax, but my other kids really like that gum.  It’s easy to find (I buy it at Super Supplements), and it’s a fairly okay price, so I buy it from time to time.

Oh, and Trader Joe’s spearmint lip balm — I also buy that. It’s such a good price, and it works so well, but I think it has beeswax in it.   I should probably stop buying it, but I’m not going to throw out the lip balm I already have.

I bought some leather shoes the other day.  *blush*  I usually avoid buying leather shoes, I search for non-leather shoes, and if I were rich, I would never buy leather shoes.   These shoes that I bought were on clearance plus they were 70% off the clearance price.  They were such a good deal, and I really needed another pair of shoes, so I bought them.  I figure they were such a low price that the store selling them probably didn’t make anything much off of my purchase.

Once a year at the fair I enjoy eating a scone, that I’m betting probably has dairy in it, oh, and of course it has regular sugar in it.

Of course I buy non-vegan cat food for our four cats. I’ve heard it’s important that cats, for their health, not eat a vegan diet.  I’ve thought, though, maybe I should try to cut back on how much non-vegan food they eat and make some homemade vegan food with which to supplement their diet (there must be a way to do that, right?  I haven’t looked into it much), but that would be really hard for me personally to do (time-consuming). Also, I can’t afford to buy special food for them.

If someone gives me something with a bit of wool in it as a gift, I’ll accept it.

And, here’s a big one:  we like some zoos.  We think that there are some zoos that do important and good things for animals.

Also, as mentioned above, we eat some food that contains regular sugar, on special occasions, like in candy for Easter or around October 31st, or Skittles to celebrate the Seahawks being in the Super Bowl.  Oh, it just dawned on me that I bet I eat more regular sugar than I realize.  *gulp*  I buy raw sugar or organic sugar or beet sugar when I make my own baked goods, wanting to avoid the kind that filters the sugar through the charred bones of animals *shiver* . . . that sounds gross. . . but I buy certain things pretty much weekly that have regular sugar in them, such as semi-sweet chocolate chips and candied ginger at Trader Joe’s.

We do so many things, though, that are definitely vegan, and our mind-set, I feel, is vegan. It’s not just about food choices for us.   We care about animals, and we don’t want to add to their suffering.  If it were just about food choices, I would be buying butter rather than Earth Balance, or I would eat eggs from “happy” chickens every once in a while.  But I can’t.  I just can’t.   It would feel wrong to me for me to do those things.   But I’m not perfect.  And I still feel it’s okay to call myself vegan.

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Small Things

I’ve set a goal of writing at least 300 words a day in my blog for the rest of this month.  I’m going to try not to worry if it’s not very good.  I figure the practice of writing is good for me, so here goes!  

I’ve found that making goals for myself really helps me get things done, so I made a goal recently that I would do some yardwork every day.  I’ve kept with my goal for the most part, though I’ve missed a couple times.

Partly sunny and windy, it felt really good to be outside working in our yard today.  I decided to work on cutting back some of our blackberry bushes, especially the long stems  reaching up to the trees above them and blocking off light to the plants beneath.  I also worked on a space that used to have pretty flowers growing in it, but now the berry bushes have taken over.

I only partly finished both of those places.  It took quite a while for the blackberry stems to grow as much as they have, and it’s going to take some time to complete the tasks.  It’s crazy to think about how they start out so small you can’t even see them, and then they grow bigger and bigger, and boom, you have a whole area full of sticker bushes.

Someone recently mentioned to me the idea that when we put off doing small tasks, they can become big, overwhelming tasks, and that’s so true.  Similarly, with bad habits, or even good habits, we start with something small, and when we do that thing over and over it can grow into something hugely bad, or amazingly good!

So by going outside and tackling even a small portion of yardwork every day I’m attempting to create something good.   Our yard, really big and wild, with lots of sticker bushes, is truly overwhelming, but small steps grow into bigger things, and I’m going to keep my focus on my goal, and day after day, I want to work towards creating beauty for my family.

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Afraid of a World Run by Adults Who Were Never Spanked?

I saw a meme on facebook recently, and I wonder if those who like it have thought it through.  The meme says this:

I’m afraid of a world run by adults who were never spanked as kids and got trophies just for participating.

How do you feel after reading that quote?  Do you think it’s true?  Do you feel connected to others who agree with that sentiment and feel like cheering “Amen!” along with the crowd?  Or do you feel saddened, wondering how people can think violence is the solution to help raise our children into healthy adults?   (Or perhaps you, like me, are scratching your head and wondering why two such seemingly disparate ideas–not-spanking and giving trophies for participation–are being coupled together!)

If you don’t spank your children, seeing that others feel scared of a world run by children who weren’t spanked, do you feel convicted and think, “Wow, maybe I need to start spanking!”  Or do you feel upset that so many are judging you and your children?  Or maybe you yourself weren’t spanked as a child.  Maybe you received a trophy or medal for participation (*gasp*).  Do you feel offended that others are scared of a world run by people like YOU?

Do you feel anxious as you picture a world run by adults who were never spanked as kids?  Or perhaps, looking at the world we live in today, you feel hopeful at the idea of a world run by adults who weren’t spanked as kids, but are saddened because you fear that there is a long way to go before we get there.

If you don’t agree with that meme, maybe you can’t get over how illogical the statement sounds.  It certainly makes a lot of assumptions.  Maybe you think it’s narrow-minded and simplistic. It sure has its basis in stereotypes and lays a huge amount of blame for the troubles of the world on families where children aren’t spanked (just think of the huge variances involved in such families) and in which children are given trophies for participation.

I wonder if some blame shifting might be at play here.  If we look down on other families, the way they raise their children, and the type of adults we fear will be the end result, do others who spank their children feel better about themselves and their children and feel assured that they aren’t adding to the “scariness” of our future world?

Maybe you wonder, what exactly is that meme saying?  It raises a lot of questions in my mind.  I wonder does it mean that those who agree with it think spanking is the main determining factor in how a child turns out (and where do trophies come into this)?  Should we judge others on the basis on how their parents raised them?  Do those who agree with that statement believe there is no hope for a child raised without spanking?

The biggest question raised in my mind is where is gospel, and where is mercy and grace in all of this?

Trophies for participation or not–and I know I personally was pretty elated at the medal I received for the triathlon I completed this past summer. Spanking or not. . . . these things do not define good parenting.  A good parent might or might not spank their children, and a bad parent might or might not spank them.  There are so many variables that I can barely begin to scratch the surface.

Spanking can look as different in different families as apples are from. . . . , oh, I don’t know, how about mangoes.  Sometimes a parent slips up and spanks and then humbly apologizes and makes amends.  Sometimes parents have many discipline tools in their toolbox, and only use spanking as a last resort.  Some parents spank when their child does something annoying or embarrassing, while others save it for what they term “direct disobedience.”  Some save it exclusively for “danger situations.”  Some do it in anger because they snap and feel out of control. Others  recoil in horror at the idea of doing it in anger and use a very carefully predetermined formula which a parenting “expert” has told them is the “right” or “Biblical” way to do it.  Some children are more naturally compliant and only need a “look” for their parent to gain compliance, and some are more strong-willed and don’t follow along so easily.

When a bunch of parents rally around in support of spanking it’s concerning because, for one thing, spanking is hitting, it’s violence, and it’s never the right solution to help teach and meet our children’s needs.  It breaks connection and relationship with our children rather than building it up.  Also, though, seeing parents rally around in support of spanking is concerning because of the immense amount of possible variables involved:  what you mean by spanking could be at complete odds with what another parent means by spanking.  They could be so different from each other that you would be heartbroken if you were to hear what they mean by it.

Above I asked the question “where is the gospel, and where is the grace and mercy in all of this?”  Parenting a certain way does not save our children. The way we choose to parent is important, no doubt about it, but it doesn’t nullify the fact that Jesus saves, not a parenting method: spanking (or not spanking) doesn’t save, our parenting doesn’t save.  And thank goodness, because we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and even if we tried to be as good as we could be, we could never save ourselves.  We are only saved by God’s grace.  It’s the same way with parenting.   We could be the very best parent in the whole world, but we still would fall short, we still would make mistakes, and we still would need to rely on God’s grace to save our children.

Just as God extends mercy and grace to us, I believe we should extend it to our children.  Jesus paid for our sins, not only for my sins, but for my children’s sins, too.  He took the punishment for their sins, and I don’t need to punish them further.

My kiddos have all made a profession of faith, have been baptized, and take communion at church each week.  Are you who are Christians who say that you are scared of a world run by adults who weren’t spanked saying that this doesn’t matter?    You know it does matter.  Whether you agree with the way I parent my children or not, how could you say you are scared of a world run by children like mine?   My children are empathetic and caring, creative, they are great thinkers, they love animals, they care for God’s creation.  They are not perfect, but I dare say that you are no better than they are. We all are in need of God’s grace, living together in this world He has made.   If you are a Christian reading this, you, as do myself, my husband, and my children desire to bring glory to God, and why can we not work together rather than tearing one another down.   I’m not scared of a world run by your children, even if you spank, because I believe deeply in God’s grace, and I hope you will learn not to be scared of a world run by children like mine.

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God’s Plan is Good

I really struggle at times with anxiety, and I get overwhelmed way too easily.  I don’t respect myself like I should or think very highly of myself.  Sometimes I ask God “Why did you make me? Everyone would be better without me.”  I know that thinking those type of things are irrational and not true.  I know how God sees me, that I am precious to Him, and that He has good plans for me and wants the best for me.  I know of His promises, and I know of His goodness.  I’ve seen It’s a Wonderful Life many times (I love that movie!) and I know the things we do, even seemingly small things, can make a huge difference for so many people.  I don’t know why I struggle like I do.  I am getting better; I am feeling these negative things less and less, but I hate it that I still struggle.  At least I’m not giving up, though, right? And I guess we all have our struggles, and this is definitely one of mine.

God did something extra special the other day that really encouraged me.  He’s always doing things to show me that He loves me and to encourage me.  Thank you, God!  What happened was someone sent me an email telling me that Chuck Norris linked to my website Gentle Christian Mothers at the end of his C-Force health and fitness column this week in his article entitled You Are Fearfully and Wonderfully Made.   Doesn’t that sound like a dream that he would link to my website, like it couldn’t be real?  I mean CHUCK NORRIS?!  Wow!  It lifted my spirits so much and put a great grin on my face! And my goodness, what a perfect message for me to read!  All babies are indeed a blessing from God!  Our children are fearfully and wonderfully made, so true, and that also means that we ourselves are as well.   I’m so thankful to the person who wrote me and so thankful to Chuck Norris.

There are so many other things that God has done to bless me.  Our van broke down, and it’s been quite discouraging.   Our church has been praying for us, and I received an uplifting email from a dear lady at church, and another one called me at home offering such beautiful empathy and concern and care and offered to take me shopping.  Also, a friend gave us a ride to homeschool co-op and has offered to do so again this week if we need it.  Others have been praying for us, too, and I’m trying to remember that all things work together for the good of those who love God.  I know He has a plan!  Our pastor had a great sermon this week about God’s Providence.  Isn’t it funny when a sermon touches your heart so much that it seems to as if it were written just for you, as if God had a special message that He wanted you to hear?  And of course He does!  I know our family was on God’s heart when our pastor wrote that message.  ♥

And my parents are such a blessing to our family.  I love them both so much.  My mom took me grocery shopping on Sunday so that I could stock up, and she’s so full of faith and love.  I truly look up to her.

There are so many things to be thankful for.  Maybe I should make it a regular thing to write out what I’m thankful for.   Thank you God for all the good things in my life, and for all the things that seem bad to me at the moment, because I know you have a plan and are working through it all and will always bring good even out of things that others mean for evil.

So I will keep plugging along and trusting that God is good and that He knows what He’s doing, that He even knew what He was doing when He made me. . .   and you can trust that He knew what He was doing when He made YOU!  Toward the end of Mr. Norris’ article he wrote,

In the end, we ought to love and cherish the babies and children in our lives (in and out of the womb) no matter what their strengths or disabilities are. And who’s to say that their disabilities won’t turn out to be their greatest strengths?

What an profoundly true statement.  As an example, he mentioned a man named Nick Vujicic, a man who doesn’t have arms or legs.  Then the next day I noticed a friend on facebook linked to a video that showed Mr. Vujicic talking with Oprah, so I clicked on it and watched it and was deeply touched and inspired.  If you haven’t watched the video yet, I encourage you to watch it below.

Remember, we are all fearfully and wonderfully made!  ♥

Psalm 139:14 (NIV)

14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.

Psalm 139:13-16 (MSG)

13-16 Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
you formed me in my mother’s womb.
I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking!
Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
before I’d even lived one day.

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Some Thoughts about Being Shy

When I was googling for information about obedience the other day, I came across a sermon that briefly mentioned shy people, so that caught my eye.  It said the following:

Let us remember this when we are tempted to estimate the faith of another. We are limited to visible indications of faith- church attendance, Bible knowledge, involvement in church ministries, and so on. We do not see into the heart.

The faith of one with rather modest Bible knowledge, infrequent church attendance, or a somewhat sharp character; or one who is shy, says little and does not do much around the church– their faith could be much purer and deeper than of many who are active in the church.

Only God knows the heart. [emphasis mine]

That encouraged me because I’m really shy.  I won the label of “most shy girl” in both junior high and high school.  I’m not, by the way, sharing that quote to say that my own faith is purer and deeper, but because it encourages me to see someone speaking out in support of shy people, not dismissing shy people right off the bat, and saying that it could be true. And of course it could be. . . it’s sad that it even needs to be said, but it seems that it does need to be said.

I remember when a teacher in college gave a message during chapel in which he said that being shy was a sin.   What he said felt like a sock in the gut to me, and it left me wondering, do people look at me with my shyness and think I’m self-centered, self-absorbed, not wishing to help people or not caring for others?

I’m also an introvert, too, definitely, so I have both of those marks “against” me.  Introverts are often terribly misunderstood.  Because I’m an introvert I “recharge” by being alone.  I also tend to be careful and make decisions more slowly than an extrovert would because I need to gather and weigh the details before coming to a decision, and I’m not usually very quick to offer my opinions. But that is different from being shy.  I see “shy” more as being nervous around people, worried about saying the wrong thing or doing the wrong thing, and shy people often find it hard to step out and try to connect with people.  I think part of the reason I am shy is because I never learned to accept failure as important, even good, because it’s something from which we can learn and grow.  I’m working on that, but it’s a scary concept.  By the way, I like being an introvert, but I’d really prefer not to be so shy.

I wish I could reach out more in real life.  I want so much to be able to do that, but it’s hard, really, really hard.  Though part of it is that I’m afraid something I might say or do might cause myself embarrassment, I also worry that I’ll mess up in a way which will hurt other people.  No, I admit it. . .  I don’t think very highly of myself. That’s something else I’m working on.

While reading a description of myself I wrote maybe 12 or so years ago I saw that I had written that “people scare me.”  Generally, I do tend to get anxious around people that I don’t know very well, especially in new situations or situations in which I’ve never learned how to be relaxed.  The anxiety I feel doesn’t mean that I don’t like people or don’t care about people, though.   In fact when I see someone hurting, I hurt, too.  I want so much to be able to help people.  That is why I enjoy being online so much.  I prefer to write out my thoughts, and I can reach out to someone one on one, all while I’m at home, the place I feel most safe.

For various reasons shy people can be intimidating to people who are not shy.  I remember someone years ago telling me they felt like I was like Piglet (in the Winnie the Pooh) and they were like Tiger, and they were afraid they would bounce on me.  You don’t need to be afraid of shy people, though.  I’m not that fragile, really, I’m not.

I worry that people think I’m aloof and want to be left alone.  But I don’t.  Just because I’m scared to go up to a person and talk with them doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate it when someone else makes the effort.  I do, I really, really do.  I enjoy talking with people one on one, and I enjoy listening.

I’ve learned that we can’t assume that people want to be left alone.  I mean, it can be really easy to misread that.  Some people seem like they want to be left alone, but if you reach out to them, you might encourage them and help to draw them out.

There was a situation a couple years or so ago in which someone I knew in real life truly thought I wanted to be left alone.  It created such tension.   I finally wrote her about it, wondering if I had offended her and seeking the opportunity to work through things and make things better.  She wrote back explaining that she didn’t have any trouble with me, but she just thought I was trying to stay away from her and she was trying to respect that.  It was more complicated than just my being shy, I bet, but I feel that my shyness really played a big part in the misunderstanding.

That situation, as painful as it was to me at the time, helped me better understand how being quiet and shy can be so easily misunderstood.  I appreciate what I learned from that, and amazingly it actually helped my relationship with my dad.  My dad is shy, and he’s an introvert, too.  Sometimes he’s really quiet, and I used to think that meant that he didn’t want to talk and I felt anxious about talking to him when he was that way. I’ve found, though, that I can’t take his silence as a sure sign that he doesn’t care or doesn’t want to interact.  If I say “hi” to him and interact with him so he knows that I care, I’ve found that most often he’ll respond in kind.

If you see someone who is quiet, it’s possible they may be shy or an introvert or both, but  I encourage you to please remember the adage “don’t judge a book by its cover” and, as the quote at the beginning of this post says, “Only God knows the heart.”  Don’t judge them as being self-centered, don’t assume they don’t care or assume automatically that they want to be left alone, or assume that they don’t want to help or that they can’t help.  Don’t even assume that they aren’t already helping.  For example, in the quote from that sermon it mentions a person who does not “do much around the church.” They might really want to help, but don’t know how (it can really hard for introverts and shy people to find a role in the church), or they may be doing more than you realize, but quietly. And please note that quiet people are often really good listeners, and I know that some are really good, as some would put it, “prayer warriors.”

We all have our place in this world, and as Christians, we have our place of importance in the body of Christ.  Shy people have their place just like anyone else.  Sometimes we can get too isolated and end up feeling really discouraged, or we can feel like we are unimportant.  If you are shy and you are reading this, I want so much for you to know that you are important, you are needed, and you are unique and wonderfully made!

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