Happy Back to School 

I love back to school time of year for many reasons. I have been called an office supply/school supply hoarder. I am no longer allowed to go in to the office supply store alone this time of year. I never outgrew my excitement for buying new pens, pencils, notebooks and other stationary paraphernalia. The scent of the paper and ink sends my pulse racing. I am not alone in this obsession. Admit it, some of you can relate to my secret stash of pencils that I do not share and the stash of pens that I will loan with the understanding that if it isn’t returned the borrower will pay the price with their first born or a pound of flesh. Oh come on! Those are my good pens, y’all.

I like this time of year for the memories of the promise of new friendships. Many of my lasting relationships started during the first few weeks of school. On my Facebook friends list you will see my best friends from middle school and high school. I even married one. 

As you send your kids off to school this month, remind them about the important stuff. Remind them to stay safe the world is an ugly place. Encourage them to make new friends and keep the good ones they have. Tell them that the friends they meet now are the ones that will love them the longest, disappoint them the worst and beak their hearts the hardest. Every bit of love, disappointment and heartache is worth it. Tell them to yell the loudest at the pep rallies, eat the pizza in the cafeteria, get all those crazy people to sign their yearbooks, and pay attention in class. Give them a camera, preferably one of those New Retro Polaroids.  Encourage them to take thousands of pictures. The snapshots  they take now will be gold to them in twenty years or less.

Remind them that all the stuff that seems so important right now should be put to the test, will it matter for my future? No, then let it go. Yes, then give it the attention it deserves. Make them read, read and read some more.

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Most importantly impress upon them that no matter what happens this school year, no matter what people think or say, they are special, important and unique.

~Lori O’Gara

Sunday Thoughts: God’s Day & Fun Day, What?

We are lucky to live near one of God’s most beautiful creations. We live close to the beach. For those of you, Dear Readers, who have been on this journey with me for a while know that the beach, particularly Perdido Key is home to me and my family. (See page 21 in the Perdido Key Visitors Guide for my article about home)

The beach is for me like being in church. Not everyone will understand and that’s ok.  If you pray and ask God to meet you where you are, he will not let you down. He will be there.

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Today we will go to the beach. We will marvel at the beauty of God’s creation. We will sing songs of praise in the car. We will share the love of God with each other. I do not believe that God loves me less for not going to church on his day, but rather choosing to spend the day with my family out in nature that he created. There is nothing in the bible that says Sunday can’t also be a fun day.

Matthew 18:20 “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” (NIV)

~Lori O’Gara

Sunday Thoughts: Rest in God

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Sometimes you just find yourself exhausted. Not the sleepy tired that goes away with a good night’s sleep but the bone weary tired. You know the one, you go to bed with it and wake up with it the next morning.

Yeah, that one. We knew it is coming because we begin to feel it in the middle of the day. It taps us on the shoulder and says hey, how about a nap? Usually we are standing at work putting our best customer service smiles on, waiting in the grocery store line or some other place that frowns upon sleeping, like sitting in church on Sunday morning.

Excuse me mam, you are storing.

God tells us this sort of soul tired is to be expected. ““Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” The burden he is talking about isn’t the kind you physically carry but the emotional one that changes from day to day. Emotional burden come from many causes. Life causes stress good and bad. Many people are living with emotional burden and do not show it because they have found a way to cope. They might be repressing their emotions and this can often be more damaging. Coping and repressing brings the exhaustion that sleep won’t fix. Sharing the burden with someone you trust and making a plan to deal with it is one way to handle the burden.

This burden is not always because life is difficult or from something bad. Even when life is good we have this burden. It may be the overwhelming happiness that you are terrified you may loose, It may be the responsibility of supporting a family, because well, children like to eat. Life may be all picket fences and daisy chains that is making you tired.

Sometimes you just need to rest. Stop what you are doing, give the burden to God, lay down and rest.

Believe in the power of restoring rest and letting God handle your stuff.

~Lori O’Gara

(Also published on Medium.com)