Human Sausage

pexels-photo-1098769A well worn saying claims that if you like laws and sausages, you should never watch either one being made. When you see what goes into making some things, it can really spoil the enjoyment. The same should be said about the complexities of trying to help some children at risk. Most people have no idea how frustratingly difficult kindness can sometimes be. What is a beautiful, loving, and positive thing on the outside, is grinding and painful once you see what goes on in the background.

I’m aware of, or involved with, a few examples of bureaucratic quagmire that are currently taking place in order for good people to help children in need. There obviously needs to be laws in place to guide and protect children at risk, but what happens when those children, through no fault of their own, land just outside of the parameters of the laws created to protect them in the first place?

There are two couples that I’m aware of that have jumped through ridiculous hoops and accomplished something that is very rare. Two different American couples have adopted children in Mexico, including one boy with special needs. There were lengthy, expensive, complicated procedures, interviews, background checks, etc. It’s not unlike adopting in the US, but both these couples accomplished something everyone said was impossible. These children have been legally adopted; in the eyes of the law, they are the children of these two adoptive families. After this complicated and frustrating process is when the bureaucracy kind of caves in on itself.

Although these children have been adopted, they are not US citizens. They can not legally enter the US. Everyone wants to help them, but this situation is so rare there is no system in place on the US side to recognize them as adopted. These families are stuck in a weird place not being able to bring their own children home. There is just no path set up for visas in this situation, no forms to fill out, no appeal process, this falls JUST outside the system. Even professional US immigration attorneys are at a loss. Good people are doing great things who are getting ground up in the system designed to help. Human Sausage.

The next example is even more complicated; Two sweet young sisters, one fourteen, one fifteen, are currently in Tijuana. One of them is pregnant through assault. They escaped abuse in their home country and traveled across Mexico alone with many of the migrants hoping for a better life in the US. They are now living in a crowded migrant center in Tijuana. Many people in our area want to help them but are stuck in a bureaucratic maze. Several local orphanages wish to take them in and help them, but technically they are not in Mexico legally, so helping these girls puts the orphanage licensing at risk. The local child protective service wants to help them but since there is no paperwork the government workers don’t know what to do, and they are not chartered to help foreign children. Politicians and highly placed government workers from both the US and Mexico are aware of the girls’ situation but have been unable to find a way through the dozen agencies involved in “protecting” these girls. The girls have shelter, they are being fed, but none of it is legal. A situation has come up where these girls fall JUST outside the system designed to help the children who fall through the cracks of society. Human Sausage.

Talk to anyone who works in foster-care in the US. You will generally find good people doing their best to help children, often handcuffed and frustrated by a mountain of bureaucratic roadblocks that grow larger every month. Many children are helped; some fall through the cracks. Human sausage being ground up by the system.

The point of this rambling complaint is to encourage you to support those who battle the system every day to help the children who society has left behind. Until you’re in the middle of working to help children, you have no idea how soul-crushing it can be some days.

The second point of this ramble is, strangely enough, meant to encourage those who are in the middle of these types of frustrating circumstance. Please know you are not alone. What you’re doing is worth the headaches, the lost sleep, the skipped vacations used to help others who’ve fallen through every last safety net society has in place. Keep it up; it matters.

If you can get past the idea of what goes into the making of sausage, you know how enjoyable and unrecognizable the end product can be. All of the grinding, at the end of the day, changes lives. Keep it up.

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What About Dad?

50984016_10216681108634208_1859912021047246848_o.jpgFather, dad, pops, whatever word you use for the male parent in your life, it can bring up deep and complicated emotions. Our earthly father, and our relationship with him, for good or bad, will influence us for our entire lives. When you’re dealing with an orphaned or abandoned child, this can be profoundly complicated. Where does their security, and definition of fatherhood, come from?

It’s the rare movie scene that causes almost every male to tear up, the end of Field of Dreams is one of those scenes. When Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner) plays catch with his dad as the sun sets it will squeeze a tear out of almost any man. That moment of healing between a father and son, the symbolic act of the “catch” as something is passed between them is powerful. There is just something about the relationship we have with our father that is universal. It’s not always great. Eventually, we realize that our parents are just flawed individuals like everyone else, but that relationship will brand us and follow us. It is reflected in the way we live out our lives, and how we parent our own children.

My wife and I were blessed with great fathers; men who lived as faithful providers, good examples, and loving husbands. They both lived by a defined moral compass. Although we’ve both lost our fathers over the last few years, their influence remains and continues to guide us. There are many things I remember fondly about my dad. He lived in a precise and consistent way: same job his whole adult life, ate dinner at the same time every night followed by the evening news, we were at church EVERY Sunday in the same pew. His temperament never changed; he was a rock. The worst I ever heard him cuss was the occasional “ah hell.” He gave me my love of Steinbeck novels, fine woodworking, and classical music. He made me who I am and I miss him deeply.

For any of us, our relationship with our earthly father is intertwined and woven together with our image of who our Heavenly Father is. Grace, acceptance, stability, discipline, love, all of the emotions and attributes we believe about our God are viewed through a window tinted by the image of our earthly father. Our heavenly Father is perfect; our earthly fathers are flawed. For many people, believing in a perfect Father after being abandoned or abused by their earthly father takes many years of healing, if it happens at all.

Restoring the image of a healthy father figure is essential to the long-term healing of a child who has been orphaned or abandoned. This restoration does not happen over-night, and it needs to been done with great care. Whether you’re caring for a child in an orphanage, one in foster care, or one you’ve adopted, this healing of the father image needs to happen if the child is ever going to grow into a healthy adult. It’s also critical if a child is going to have a healthy image of who God is.

If a child, especially a male child, does not have a male showing what a healthy person is, they will seek out whatever examples they can to see how to live their lives. I’ve seen this happen to young men who are raised in poorly run orphanages. They leave home and have no history of a strong male example to draw from as they make life decisions. How to act as a man of God, how to treat women with respect, how to walk with dignity. They spend much of their lives approaching life, and relationships, in a broken way. Their marriages fail, their faith never matures, and they’re left with finding their way in life from an unhealthy stew of input from wherever they can find it.

I do not believe the healing of the father image happens in counseling or “quality time,” although both of these things play a part. Healing takes time. A lot of time. Years of consistent healthy male examples in the life of a child. A child needs to watch healthy men of God living out their lives on a day to day basis. They need to watch healthy decisions, reactions, and actions take place for many years for the healing to take place. By seeing a solid male in action, showing grace, stability, guidance, love, and acceptance, a child can begin to understand who God is. Much more than we can ever realize, although we are flawed, we represent who God is to our children. We need to truly take on the image of Christ if we are to have a hand in the healing of broken children.

A few days ago, I was at a BBQ with several of the orphaned children (now adults) who were raised in our home. Midway through the party, I watched as a great young man, now married with three children, patiently and slowly showed his attentive eight-year-old son the proper way to season and grill steak. This might seem like a simple act, but I watched this man represent what it means to father someone, and show the patient guiding hand that our heavenly Father represents (The steak was pretty good also).

If you’re caring for orphaned or abandoned children stay the course. Healing doesn’t happen quickly. Continue to live a life representing who our Heavenly Father is. You are being watched more than you realize, they will follow your example.

The above photo is of Ramon Reid and his son. Ramon knows what putting fatherhood into action is all about. We need more men like Ramon in this world.

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The Red Phone to Joy

dreamlink_big-ideas_popsicle-hotline-1024-x-768In the Hollywood area of LA, there is a smallish hotel that is completely unorthodox. The Magic Castle Hotel was built a long time ago. The architecture is dated, the pool is right out of the 60s, to call it a hotel is kind of stretching the term. This place is really a glorified old-school motel. But, it is consistently ranked as one of the top five places to stay in Southern California. Five-star reviews across every website and rating group. They’ve taken a boring, run-of-the-mill motel, and turned it into one of the hottest places in town, by finding moments of joy.

The staff of the Magic Castle does things that, by everyone else’s standards, make no sense. They have free candy bars and snacks all day at the front desk, free soda fountain and soft serve ice cream for anyone who wants it, they just give a lot of things away. But the service everyone talks about, the thing everyone remembers, is even weirder. By the pool is a tacky, bright red phone that is the “Popsicle Hotline” Pick it up, and the white-gloved wait staff will bring popsicles on a silver tray to where you’re seated, all free of charge. Popsicles are not expensive, they’re frozen, flavored, sugar water. But when they’re presented in this whimsical way, it is so surprising; everyone is enthralled by the experience. The team at the Magic Castle has taken something ordinary and, by creating these little moments of joy, have created something extraordinary. God wants to do the same thing in our lives.

The things of God make no sense when looked at through the logical eyes of this world. The first shall be last; you must give away your life to save it, etc. That God would pour out His grace on us as a free gift for the asking makes no sense. But God does not work by the rules that everyone else is expecting; He creates His own rules that run counter to the common sense of this world. He wants to bring joy, on a silver plater, to where we are.

It makes no sense that by serving others, we would find joy, but that is how it works in the things of God. The standard operating mentality of the world says, “Collect more toys, make more money, buy a bigger house, get recognition, these are the things that bring joy, these are the thing that matter.” God has an entirely different take on finding joy in this life. The idea of giving to others, serving others, taking the humble servant’s attitude is crazy when looked at through the harsh eyes of the world, but it works.

The team I work with here in Mexico has the privilege of seeing people experience joy every week. We host short-term missions teams from around the US here in northern Mexico. They come down to serve in home building, medical outreach, ministry construction, or any number of areas where they can give from their talents. Every group is different, every group has different skills, and every group has different expectations. There are a few common denominators though; people are more alike than everyone likes to think. People from different cultures, different incomes, etc. tend to have the same reactions to some things. God’s rules universally apply to everyone.

Almost every group we host has the same responses to a service trip, “I’m leaving with so much more than I came with.” “I’ve experienced such joy.” etc. These are the types of comments we get from everyone. They come to give, they come to serve, they come to bless, and are blessed beyond measure. They find joy in the everyday acts of service they share with others.

God designed us to serve. The last example Jesus showed the apostles was foot-washing. God only wants great things for us, and He knows that serving others brings joy. Representing God’s servant’s heart to others brings those moments of depth that raise our lives to a higher level. Once again, the rules that God works under make no sense when viewed from a worldly perspective, but the rules of God work.

So how do we find joy? How do we experience those moments of surprise that bring depth to our lives? We can create them; we can reach out for that very cool red phone on the wall and order them delivered to us. God has given us the magic red phone to joy; He wants to deliver this to us on a silver platter. By seeking out those small moments of service we can find every day (not just on a mission trip) we can experience a connection with others, we can have an impact on others, we can make a difference.

Service does not need to be huge. A kind word to someone in hurting, helping someone load their groceries, shoveling someone’s sidewalk, are all simple acts that bless others and change us for the better. Live your life in an unorthodox way, live under God’s rules, find those moments of surprising joy.

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Why There Will Always Be Orphan Care

poorchildI recently had a conversation with someone who follows orphan care, and he made a statement that led to an interesting discussion. He claimed orphanages were ending in parts of the world. That many of the children were moving into foster care or larger care facilities. “So…into an orphanage?” I responded. “No, they are homes for children without other options.” He enthusiastically clarified. “So…orphanages?” “No no no,” he protested, “just big houses to care for children.” “So…orphanages?” We did not get far in the conversation. Calling an orphanage something different does not change the fact that it’s a system to care for kids who are abused, abandoned, or orphaned. If it looks like a duck, sounds like a duck, and has feathers, calling it a banana does not change the fact that it’s a duck.

I wish orphanages did not exist. The fact that society needs a place for children born into horrible situations, who are abused, who have parents on drugs, is terrible. That wars, aids, and natural disasters happen every day leaving children to fend for themselves, is a fact that needs to be addressed. We live in a broken world. We, as a society, fail children way too often. Until we live in a perfect world, kids will be victims, and they need to be rescued and cared for.

To say that we should close all orphanages because children should be with families is a worthy goal, but it’s not living in reality. It’s like saying let’s close all the hospitals in the US because the billing system is a nightmare. “But if everyone worked out, lost weight, and quit smoking, we wouldn’t need hospitals!” If you could get everyone to look after their health more, we could cut down on hospitals, but cancer, accidents, etc. would still make hospitals a necessity for many people. Even the healthiest people age and eventually wind up in the hospital. You could make inroads, but ending hospitals because you don’t like hospitals makes no sense. It just isn’t reality. The idea of ending orphanages is just as crazy.

There has been a tremendous push in the last few years for the church to take up the biblical call to care for orphans through adoption and quality foster care. This is fantastic. Everyone who can, should be caring for the less fortunate, the marginalized, those who can’t care for themselves. The problem is, even if adoption doubled or tripled in most countries it would just begin to address the problem. Inroads could be made to address the issue, but to eliminate orphanages does not take into account the many situations where adoption or other placement is very difficult or impossible.

The latest estimates say there are 150 million orphaned or abandoned children in the world. If a child is in a system, orphanage or foster care, they have a 2% chance of being adopted. Adoption is not a reality for most children who need it. Adoption, when done right, is a beautiful, biblical, life-changing event. But adoptions are just too rare to make any real impact on the vast majority of children who need a home.

Orphanages should be the last resort after healthy family reunification, adoption, or some style of foster care. But countless children still need attention after all other options are exhausted. Severe special needs children, children with multiple siblings, or children with extreme behavior issues are complicated to place. There are also many children left in limbo because the parents are still in the picture in some way but can not (or should not) care for their children. Parents in prison or parents dealing with substance abuse might take their children back when or if healing does take place.

So given that orphanages need to exist, they should be outstanding. Back to the hospital analogy; I’m not crazy about hospitals, but if I’m in one, I want it to be the best hospital possible. Orphanages should be beautiful, inviting places. Orphanages should give the children as much stability, attention, and love as they possibly can. Around the world, so many children are left in systems that, due to lack of funding or lack of caring, are horrific places to grow up. We need to do better.

If you’ve adopted or have worked in foster care, THANK YOU. Keep up the difficult work you’ve been called to do. If you work in orphan care, thank you for being the last line of defense before children wind up on the streets. It’s a worthy calling.

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Finding Bromance

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Everyone loves a deep, solid bromance: Turk and J.D. from Scrubs, Wyatt Earp & Doc Holiday from Tombstone, Joey and Chandler from Friends, Captain Kirk and Spock from 26 different movies, you get the idea. The definition is pretty simple:

bro·mance / ˈbrōˌmans / noun; a close but nonsexual relationship between two men.

Women cannot have a bromance, females just function differently, not better or worse, just differently. (I know I’m going to get complaints about this last politically incorrect comment.) You can and should be best friends with your spouse, but it’s still very different than a guy friendship. Two women might be close, wonderful, supportive friends; but it’s just not a bromance.

Bromance involves a lot of hanging out and giving each other a hard time. Bromance will include a few practical jokes, and almost always involve some type of competition. It will involve not so subtle put-downs or ribbing, (My wife does NOT understand this part at all). The definition might seem simple, but the nuances and impact can be dramatic. Guys need this bonding with other guys. We need it for accountability, for support, and to know that the other guy will be there no matter what. Job loss, marriage problems, the death of loved ones, financial hardship, a solid bromance will remain as the one thing to count on outside of God.

The idea of bromance is actually a biblical principle.

Jesus did everything with a purpose; He sent the apostles out in twos for a reason. Two can keep each other accountable, two can encourage, two can support each other through the trials that will come into anyone’s life.

As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17

“Iron sharpening iron” is very specific. Iron against something soft just becomes dull; it doesn’t say “As aluminum sharpens iron.” When iron does sharpen iron, it involves friction, sparks, and bumping against one another. But if sharpening is done correctly, all that friction creates something very sharp, something ready to be used, something much better than before.

Two are better than one because they have a good return for their work; If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up. (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10)

We live in a broken world, and the battle is very real. We are at war. In the last few years, I know two men who’ve committed suicide, a few who’ve fallen into sexual sin, some who battle substance abuse, and others who fight other issues. I know many people in ministry who are tired and worn thin from the battle. I’ve had my own struggles over the last few years. As we struggle and fight in this ongoing war, we need others around us to hold us up when we can’t stand on our own. We need others who understand the struggles we are going through, people who we know will be there for us. We also need to be the one holding others up, supporting others, giving a non-judgmental ear.

I’ve been richly blessed in my life with several very solid male friends. Way more blessed than I deserve. Some of these friends have come into my life in just the last few years, some go back decades. Many times I’ve been able to be there for them through their trials, and they have been a steady force while I’ve gone through my own battles. I am here today thanks to the small group of men in my life that I have the privilege to call my brothers. They have helped shape me and kept me going, I hope I’ve been a blessing in their lives.

Choose your friends carefully. This sounds like obvious advice but who you spend time with has a considerable influence over every aspect of your life. No one is perfect, but choose people who have character, who have vision, who are seeking God on a daily bases and not just on Sundays. Have people in your life who stretch you and help you be the best version of yourself. Once you have those people in your life, protect them, cherish them, be there for them. You will be better for your efforts, and it will help you survive the inevitable battles that will come into your life.

In the movie Gladiator, Maximus says to the other slaves at the start of the Barbarian hoard scene, “Whatever comes out of these gates, we stand a better chance of survival if we stick together, do you understand? If we stay together, we survive.” There is a lot of truth in that line. We never know what will be coming out of the gates to attack us. We need to stick together.

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Breaking the Cycle of Orphan Care

IMG_7507 2Most of the time, orphan care seems like a losing game. The bulk of the time it just doesn’t work the way we envision it. Often, a child is brought to a home with so much baggage that it’s almost impossible to help them reach a healing place emotionally. Frequently, a child is in an orphanage (or foster care) for a short period and then returned to the family, and the cycle of abuse or neglect continues. Orphan care can be a discouraging, heart-wrenching journey. But it can work some of the time. The times orphan care does work makes all of the other times worth it.

Recently, two great young adults married. Weddings go on all the time, but this marriage was a little different. Both had been raised in an orphanage. For reasons that aren’t important here, they were each brought to an orphanage with other siblings at a very young age. They were raised in this large home, and it was the only family that they knew for many years. They grew up independently, she going on with her education, him apprenticing in construction and learning various marketable trades. After they were out and on their own, they started dating and continued to make healthy life decisions as they planned for the future. A few years later, once she graduated, and he had established his own successful construction firm, they decided to marry. Today they are constructing their own home and building a wonderful life together. They’re a joy to be around. Granted I am biased; I so am proud to call Jerri and Yury two of my many children.

So how did these two beat the odds of becoming healthy productive adults while being raised in the system? I’m not saying we have all the answers, and I’m not saying every child brought to us has the same outcome, but it can work. We have found that many of the children raised in our home for years have gone on to be healthy productive members of society. Today there are doctors, lawyers, businessmen, many healthy individuals that can look back and say they were raised in an orphanage. It can work.

Many factors go into what makes a successful orphanage, even defining what “successful” means can get complicated. But, there are two factors that we’ve found to be the most impactful for children who need long-term care and healing.

1) Consistency. We all need a stable environment. Most children in the system anywhere in the world are moved to new homes, returned to blood relatives and then removed again, moved to another home, etc. If we each had to change homes, schools, friends, churches, etc. every month or two we would have some serious issues also. Constantly shifting living arrangements is not how people are designed to live and grow. God is consistent; He does not change. We all need a certain level of security in our lives. Over time, we’ve found that children given a loving, consistent upbringing will eventually learn what it means to feel comfortable, to know they are loved and wanted. We all need this.

Part of consistency is building traditions into our lives — the same activities for the holidays, the traditional meals, celebrations, and events that occur annually. The simple rituals that happen in most families: birthday cakes, the tooth fairy, etc. almost never occur in the lives of children who are in the system. They never know what the next week will bring, they don’t know what to look forward to. We need to be consistent in our care and model stability in these fragile lives.

2) A Servant’s Heart. We are designed to serve others. Most child-care systems never give the children the privilege of serving others. Children are fed and cared for, but a life of just receiving is an empty life. It also creates a victim mentality that does not make for healthy relationships in adulthood. By allowing children to experience the joy of serving others, it gives them purpose. When a child is abused or abandoned it can be hard to show them they have value. When a child has been thrown away, it teaches them at a profound level that they have no worth. By showing them they that can have a positive impact on others, it shows them they have great things to offer the world. Service shows them they have value. Service shows them God wants to use them to impact other people’s lives in a positive way.

An attitude of service makes us all healthier. It makes us better workers, bosses, spouses; it just makes us better people. Christ’s example to us is a perfect servants heart. We need to not only follow that example ourselves, but we also need to instill that humble servant’s heart in the children we are raising. A humble servant heart is the most empowering gift you can give a child. It will heal them, and change them for the better.

Does orphan care always have a happy ending? No. But it can work. Even in the cases where we feel it’s failed, we need to know that the seeds we plant in the hurting children we encounter are what matters. Those seeds can grow down the road; they can impact lives. If you are in orphan-care, please know your work matters a great deal. Your efforts are needed, work through the discouraging times. It can work, hang on to the times when it does.

The Best Advise I Ever Got

shoesMany years ago, a few months after taking over management of a struggling orphanage, the lady who ran it for years came down for a visit. She had been gone for quite a while before I got to the orphanage and I had never met her. I was terrified. Everything I tried to do, I was told, “Well, Agnes never did it that way.” After six months of working in the shadow of a legend, I was finally going to meet her. I just knew I was going to be judged by her the same way everyone else was judging. Yikes.

Twenty-five years later I still remember the meeting, where we sat, the time of day, everything. She turned out to be incredible, very gracious and encouraging. She told me two things that I didn’t fully understand or appreciate at the time, “It’s OK to leave now and then.” She wanted my wife and me to make time away from the ministry. The second thing she said was, “Buy good shoes.” Agnes had wrecked her knees walking miles around the property wearing old, donated shoes. She hadn’t wanted to “waste” the money on herself and paid for it in other ways years later.

It took me a very long time to fully understand the advice, and much longer to start to put this sage wisdom into practice. What she was saying was, “It’s OK to take care of yourself. If you’re going to survive orphan care, or any full-time ministry, learn balance.”

Full-time ministry is hard. Yes, I know this sounds cliche or self-serving, but a lot of the time ministry just sucks. There can be a great deal of joy, but there is also a relentless stream of problems and challenges that wear away at a person. Every week you can read of another pastor or ministry leader who falls into deep sin, suicide, substance abuse, etc. You can attribute this to spiritual attacks, pride, or just the broken world we live in. But whatever the cause, there are a lot of casualties in ministry.

In the ministry leader circles I run in, I can list a suicide, a couple of people battling substance abuse, and a few that are so worn down they are just going through the motions at this point. I know others who’ve not only walked away from ministry, they’ve walked away from the faith.

While working through this article, I happened to meet with the head of a children’s ministry working in the middle east, and I brought up the topic of burn-out. Although he said he was doing pretty good now, he shared that he had considered “swerving into oncoming traffic” a few times over the years. I know for me I’ve gone through some very dark times in ministry, usually not relating to any big issues. Oddly, the big challenges can energize me, but it’s the day-to-day that can wear me down. More than a few times I’ve been smiling on the outside while sharing with a group or spending time with a child, and inside I was screaming and wanting to run and hide. I could relate to my friend’s “wanting to swerve into traffic” moment. Been there a few times.

We are called to serve. It’s biblical; it is Christ’s example to us. But it’s so important to find a balance, find a support system, and keep strong in our walk with the One who provides our strength. Jesus spent a great deal of time alone, getting up early to pray. He also had a small team around Him, and He would ask them to pray along with Him. The battle is real; we need fellow warriors when we’re weak.

A few years ago a young pastor came into my office, and I asked how everything was going. He gave me the standard boring pastor answer, “Doing well, some challenges but excited to see where we’re going.” I’m not sure why, but I asked again but with some force, “No, honestly, how are you doing? I know as a pastor it’s hard to find people you can talk to. Nothing you say will leave this office.” His eyes widened, he paused for a moment, and he broke down. He unloaded so much pain over the next hour. He shared about his loneliness; he shared about the strain the ministry was putting on his marriage, how the people in his church had hurt him, he just shared. I had no great advice (I’m not that bright) he just needed an ear, a safe place.

If you are in full-time ministry, a caregiver, or are just worn down by life, please find people or only one person who will listen. Find someone you can be transparent with. Find someone who will not judge you or try to “fix” you. If you’re leading a life of service, odds are you spend a great deal of time giving of yourself to others both physically and emotionally. We can not give to others if we have nothing left to give. I want to re-emphasize this: find someone you respect that you can go to and be safe when you’re hurting. We all need support. It’s sad how few people have this in their lives.

If you feel you’ve reached the point where it might be clinical depression, please seek help. It’s not a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of bravery to confront this real problem. It’s not your fault, it’s life.

Taking care of yourself is OK. It’s OK to “buy good shoes.” It’s a long walk to the finish line, you want to be able to keep walking.

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