Wednesday, December 11, 2013
It doesn't matter how healthy we are, it matters less if we have ailing relationships. Who wants to live healthy into old age alone? It's known that people who are married live longer (if they don't kill each other *tongue in cheek*) and people get more life satisfaction by the company of pets than other humans. Isn't that a shame? I'm just disappointed at our lackluster effect on each other.
How about instead of trying to buy a gift that won't be regifted (not that I do that- LOL), we think of things we can do for our relationships to turn a new corner. Maybe tell that person that you are sorry for "x" and the loss of connection because of it. Maybe revive a relationship by letting someone off the hook and telling them you forgive them. Maybe pick one small thing between you two that you could resolve to fix between now and that gathering.
The gift of relationship is priceless. It helps babies develop and thrive. It helps our health. It helps combat mental illness. It can be supremely redeeming to one's self perception. You cannot serve another person if you are alone or do not know/ask what they need. God calls us to die to ourselves in the abstract sense because he died on the cross in the real sense. Our selflessness pales in comparison to the call to die physically. It is the first step to adopting a life of service. Service speaks value into the recipient. I think that is a good theme for this holiday- to value each other.
Another thing that has come to my mind is how the Enemy can put lies out there in the expanse of our minds that can trick us into perceiving wrongs that were not personal at all. But that's what he wants- for us to be divided and to be on his dark squad. He will disguise human instinct for intentional wrongdoing. Anything he can obscure, he will especially to tear us apart from each other.
Then the enemy takes our pain, turns them into vows like "No one will ever tell me how much soda I can drink" and then anyone who threatens that vow is fair game. Those vows are the triggers that take us back in time with unwitting company. Many times the anger of today is of past struggles and pain. The easiest way to diffuse anger is to de-personalize it and then treat it with the opposite spirit (of love/peace). For instance you need to insert this thought into your mind: "Knowing that you felt marginalized as a kid and your parents divorced, I can understand why you felt triggered by this event." And then act and say something that speaks toward that pain. Try responding with "Can I do anything for you? Should I just listen?" Once you tap into someone's pain (not think about yourself), it is easier to rebound from conflict and not feel significantly hurt.
There is much wisdom is seeking outside counsel or arbitration. Ken Sande has a ministry that does just that- he resolves conflicts of the legal kind. He has a book about resolving conflicts- we might have enough time to read through that book before we see our families. That would be a proactive measure to have a more enjoyable and less stressful holiday.
I do pray over your heart and your relationships. I ask that God soften your hearts toward each other. I ask that God reveal to you other people's pain and vulnerabilities and to recognize when people are hurting or trying to hurt you. I ask that we have a forgiving and joyful heart toward one another and value our differences. Thank the Lord for making us all unique and therefore not redundant and sincerely needed. I mostly thank God that he gave us his son on Earth, born around Christmas, to give us the excuse to see each other, to patch old hurts and to strengthen our relationships over good food. Let our inner value outshine any of the tangible gifts that we receive. We are fearfully and fallibly invaluable.
<Imagine me singing a Christmas Carol> Prayers and Blessings to you~
Sunday, December 8, 2013
I kept quiet out of respect for you. Knowing how much you have done for me. Knowing how you are also a hurting person. Knowing I didn't want to add to your pain and embarrassment. Knowing who I am... I was able to stay quiet.
If your name was tarnished- it wasn't because of me. I gave you the opportunity to squash my reputation in exchange for sparing your own. That's how I wanted it. I had a lot of life to live, and you had limited time. I didn't want to negate all of those efforts to reassure you of my love and that my caring for you was genuine.
To love you and to care about you was to allow you to hurt me. But don't be misled- you never took away from who I was or what I am worth. I guess I just learned younger than you what true love is. Love is letting the world think of your loved one better than how you know them. Love is celebrating the person you pray for them to be. Love loves without manipulation with the faith that the right things will come to pass.
I did all of that for you... until the day you died. I never let our worlds overlap to keep your reputation unscathed. To prove to you- that you never lost out when you purchased my soul. You made a life investment and future dividends. I now see that you loved me too. You loved me the only way you knew how. Lord have mercy...
In the end, I taught myself, as a child myself, how to sacrifice for my future children and my future family. I have no regrets. I wouldn't do it any other way. I was genuine. I was true. So as your birthday comes around the first time since your burial, I have a new found sense of peace. Out of my ashes, I see the person I always was and I never compromised in those ways. I learned how love is not a bandaid or an eraser- but a bridge where we can shoulder each other's secrets and pain.
Because of all that I can say- I love you.
Thursday, December 5, 2013
God is the foremost healer. But it is a fact that he works within and through us to do most of his will and work. God does not heal things where he is not welcomed or invited to heal. In the Bible, the sick first had to believe in Jesus and give credit to him (and God) for their healing to be complete. That being said, some people believe and want to be healed but are not sure how to ask for help. We can not take responsibility for people who are unwilling to become healed, but we should feel God's prodding to do what we can.
Something that is on my heart is how people chose to do nothing about something they can improve. Sometimes it's denial. Sometimes people simply don't have the perspective, or "sight" to see what is going on. But many people simply do nothing. They see struggling and yet do nothing to help. Perhaps they think they behold God's judgment and think that the hurting person doesn't deserve help.
With God, everyone deserves help despite what they have done. God believes that love is THE CURE and not "A CURE." Being a healer does not mean that you have to leave yourself exposed to damage. It takes discernment to know when to stand back from the healing role. There is wisdom in "hitting rock bottom." Healers don't need to go down with the ship. "Put your mask on (adults) before helping the children" is the common airline and sensible mantra.
I can't stand back and watch someone struggle alone. Like in step-parenting, if the step-parent needs support, biological parents (within reason) should do their best to create the bridge for the kids and the stepparent. There is no payoff to unnecessary family strife. Blessed are the peacemakers (Matthew 5:9). There are very few relationships that profit from one sided benefit. And it's never just about the one conflict. The ripples reach into the future. I take partial responsibility for my daughter to learn respect for her step-parents. They are a provision of God. We shall not mock God's provision (like the Manna the Israelites had in the desert).
In the places you are most gifted, do what you can. Don't overestimate your "specialty." Many times, God will put you exactly where you should be to minister to the people he wants you to work with. Perhaps the exact struggles you are facing right now are the exact ones that he wants you to minister to others about in the future. God does not send you out into the world unprepared to do HIS work. Whether it's tomorrow's work, he will prepare you today exactly as much as you need to do well. Whether it's 10 years from now, he will prepare you for the years to come to be ready and in the vicinity of the people you are called to help.
There is no person so sodden that God cannot use. HE will find that one pure part of you and magnify it to his glory for you to do great things. With faith comes vision; to have eyes for the future and what you can do to bring some of the Kingdom of Heaven down to Earth. We don't deserve that which we have no desire to create. And yet, God still gives. I don't know anyone who can beat what God has to offer.
I have no explanation of why I don't feel depressed anymore. I don't remember the last time I felt depressed. There have been times that I've been sincerely troubled- in the midst of heavy things. But depression no longer penetrates my mind and spirit. The last time I was depressed was as a teenager. I can't explain why I don't gorge on food or drink to excess or consume lots of things that are not nourishing. I really don't struggle in those ways. And for that, I am truly blessed.
I feel God supplying my mind and spirit with the inspiration and thoughts that I need to do exactly what I am doing. My disinterest is perhaps also HIS disinterest for my life. I only reap where I am interested, focused, and activated. I ask for help. I show my vulnerability. I invoke God's power. And HE, always refreshes me and energizes me in the very same way every time I feel tired. The energy I get is not a generalized energy. It is a focused energy only for what I am purposed to do in this life. That's the only way I can understand it.
For me, when I love on and connect with my baby son- I KNOW it means something to my future generations and on that infinite time continuum. I dare to value things that I do not get paid for or are free. I'm not impervious to the world, but I do my best to stick to and return to my convictions in short cycles. It's the returns that make my spiritual commitment stronger.
I had a well meaning Facebook "friend" ask if I am part of a cult. And I understand that concern as many disastrous things have happened because of cults. But, in another sense, I am flattered that my messages are piercing through the soul-less static of our popular culture. When I'm singled out, the Lord stands behind me. So- I welcome that.
If you need to hear that you are loved- hear ME say it. If you need to hear that you are beautiful- hear ME say it. If you need to hear that your pain is significant and means something- hear ME say it. If you need to hear that you are NOT a lost cause- hear ME say it. I don't need to know the details. God says- we're all loved, beautiful, significant and one step from redemption!
My love to you all- atheists, agnostics and theists.
Orig. Posting: 12/5/13, updated 4//7/14
Thursday, October 17, 2013
What hurts more- being abused, or not being protected from the abuse?
You know- I think it is in part by the fact that it is so hard to go head to head with an abuser with all the here-say; but to have a bystander - a loved one, a friend - just say nothing to corroborate said wrongdoings. It just seems like a stab in the back. I can hear it in the back of my mind "You knew this whole time and didn't say anything?! Why didn't you protect me?!"
And the most preposterous part of failing to act (as that bystander, I mean loved one and friend) is that two against one is a hands down victory. How much discomfort are you going to experience by doing the right thing and advocating for someone else? How do you validate this inaction? How do you feel a divided loyalty between one person who is acting anti-social versus one that is pro-social (acting on social contract theory, morals, ethics, good faith)?
To me, (I even mentioned to a loved one last night) I'll be d--ned if I don't stick up for the people who are the underdog, disadvantaged, unable to advocate for themselves. I will not hesitate to make a scene and dare I say- I will make sure it feels uncomfortable. I am not "all bark and no bite." I walk the walk- sometimes to my own detriment. But so be it.
There should be a feeling of uneasiness in a person for not doing the right thing. If you don't, if they don't, they might want to consider where this anti-social mentality came from. It is in these little slips of our moral standards that pave the way to larger acts of violence against human kind. If you see X, Y, or Z it's probably because the person was abused in some way.
From not saying anything to encourage a receiver of abuse (I hate the word victim) to obstructing a person's ability to speak the truth; that is to de-humanize the person. That is the first step that it took for Hilter, Mao, Mussolini to validate killing all of those people of worth and purpose in God's eyes. Teach that deaf person how to sign, how to write, how to speak. The moment you are okay with someone not talking, you might want to think about if you consider them to be on the human level or that of a domestic dog.
To the core, it is a violent form of censorship. It's not just showing dominance, it is stealing the authority to de-valuing a person. I'd rather confuse people with conflicting evidence than let the truth go unspoken. It is up to the upstanding people to cipher what is the truth and what is a lie. It's time to get our hands dirty and give these people a voice, an identity and hopefully a better future.
Friday, October 11, 2013
The most defensive person in the room will still believe anything that they say to themselves unchallenged. What if you are telling yourself lies? What if you don't like the truth? Are you your own worst enemy? Are you a vessel for the Enemy himself?
Exaggerations are rarely true and yet we have a penchant for putting others on the pedestal of superlatives and ourselves on the chopping blocks of the bleakest descriptors. There is a huge attribution error if we truly want to label ourselves as the worst... I mean, of 7 billion people in the world.
Who benefits from the lies? We do not benefit at all, even the positive exaggerations. They make us rest on our laurels and stifle our motivation to do better. Other lies serve to stop us in our tracks; to stop trying; stop caring. Taken to the extreme, I dare say that the lies that discourage us reduce us to rocks. Lots of weight, solid, formidable; we would be in resting inertia unless acted on. Do we really want to be acted on? Passive?
Maybe we can say "I need a break from this." " I'm not in my optimum form right now." Things that allow us to step back- but not to give up. I mean, I agree; we shouldn't do the same thing over and over (to frustration) and expect different results. In a sense we MUST step back and re-calibrate.
I encourage you to reduce those lies to a particle of truth and toss the rest away. Okay, TODAY... this attempt... making cookies was botched. But I'm not a failure at cookie making (specifically) because I plan on doing it successfully in the future. I'm not a bad cookie maker because of one botched attempt. I am not done getting better at baking; this is an ongoing process for me.
Or, let's calculate our costs. I will study less for this test (in favor for a B) so that I can spend that extra time with my kids and being an A grade mother... at least for this one hour. We put ourselves in a pickle; cherry picking the details of every situation to suit how we feel. But, how about we suspend how we feel until we take stock of all of the details? Feelings lie. Feelings give momentum to negative thoughts, to negative words and still, negative actions. Feelings give us the illusion of a lack of choice. In the throws of passion, we throw our ability to exercise choice into the wind.
Let's say we blow it... And I promise you- I will, and you will too. It's healthy, reasonable and safe to say "I'm not done learning to DO life better." "He's not done learning to do life BETTER." "God is not done working on me." "God is doing an invisible work on him... God is not done working on him."
We can lay down our defenses when we know that ultimately: God is in control. Knowing that, we can align with the truths: "This moment is growing me, teaching me and humbling me." God doesn't want me to be perfect- that's His job. God wants me to work on being obedient to him and loving. No exaggerations... that is the whole truth.
Saturday, September 14, 2013
I think it's wise for us to examine our environments, heck our culture, before we start labeling people with inadequacies. Can we think of a person in the frontier days that would have ADHD being surrounded by nature and pertinent work (clear the rocks from the wagon path, watch out for the snakes, find water so you don't dehydrate)? Whereas today, the world of products and things we digitally consume are DESIGNED to distract us. How could they sell without grabbing our attention?
How can we admonish our kids for being distracted when we saturate their environment with so many sensory and attention grabbing things? Adults have the same distractions and a tad more self control. But if we were honest we could own up to our own weakness in concentration. How many times have you checked on your cell phone in the last hour; how many times have you checked on your child in that same time period? Do you see what I'm getting at?
Don't bring your kid into the grocery store and not expect them to grab at everything. That's what the product designers were employed to do; and they do it well because they want their paycheck! Expect people to do exactly what the environment was designed for. If we bring home lots of bad food and some good food that is less attention grabbing, should we really be surprised that only the bad food will be sought out?
Why do we comment on our kid's extra weight but serve them too much food? They can't concentrate with an open room that connects to the trendy food screaming for their attention and also connected to the room they are used to spending playing video games. Why not change the environment we expect them to do anything productive?
I don't think our kids ask for so much to be expected of them. They expect us to know what they can handle because, by the nature of being kids, they aren't wired like us that they function better when they clear off the homework station. I think we should try taking away things in their environment and see how much better they function. If they are more calm with monochrome surroundings, change it. If they need regular lighting instead of over stimulating fluorescent (energy saving) lights; do it. If we give them a sugary snack and expect them to work on a project, perhaps we could give them a more protein snack and try the same request.
Some people need smaller areas to feel secure and protected, some are more claustrophobic and need wide open less cluttered spaces. We need to take back the control of our environments. We need to be aware of what we are consuming (media and food wise). We need to start doing this more intentionally rather than on auto pilot. Do we want to be the rat going through the maze or the scientist that engineers the environment to help the rat solve the maze?
Don't mistake being ineffective for being defective. There is a way... find it! =)
Thursday, September 12, 2013
I started to think about why people choose games over people. I'll abstain from beating up on the gaming industry that is only doing what any successful industry should do- sell sell sell. The sad fact is that what sells these things is pointing out the failures we have been too each other. Hey, this game will help you feel successful; it will be fun; it will help you get your anger out; it will interact with you the way your family can't or won't; it will evolve WITH you. I WON'T (can't) leave you. Don't worry- there's a patch for that... and upgrade for that. We want to meet your expectations.
I think the thing that unifies everyone is that we've been disappointed by people... some close, some not. But that gives those games, computers, gaming consoles the "in." Without words, those things say "Hey Meredith, you KNOW that X is not going to try to meet your needs, here I'll do it for you." It satiates our instinct to avoid pain... but especially social pain.
It's gotten so bad that when games let us down- we cry! We have no reason to hope anymore because the one thing that promised to meet the needs (our last hope of it being met) has let us down. It seems like a logical reaction; but at the same time it seems ridiculous too. Crying over a computer chip. Will the game cry over you?
We've stopped asking more of others, but firstly, of ourselves. When the going gets socially rough, go to your cellphone or your computer... right? Who's doing the dirty work of upgrading their relationships? There is NO DOWNLOAD for that. When we actually get to that point with a PERSON- it is ecstatic and feels miraculous. I imagine it would give ME the biggest dopamine rush to challenge ANY game out there. That's the REAL stuff; the high that we're programmed to get from doing right by each other... the way our maker designed us.
The folly of divorce is that it goes off the premise of "S/he wasn't good enough for me. S/he was the problem. I'm sure I could find someone better for ME." And when divorces lead to marriage and more divorce we still skip over the ludicrous idea that maybe the common denominator is ME. Change Me. Upgrade ME. I need to take an inventory of MYSELF and my social repertoire.
Divorce isn't just for marriages anymore. It's for our families, or friends, our workplaces. We're so ready to give up these days. Where are the people who are gearing to DIG IN? Now if we're realistic, this is partly an age and maturity thing that sets the stage. But in reality, how many people COULD dig in that don't?
We need to see each other cry. We need to see each other angry. We need to see each other happy. We need to know what it looks like and why those feelings manifested. It's what it takes to be human. We don't get to tell the other person "I only want to see the perfect side of you." That's just ridiculous and unrealistic and UNACCEPTING. We are all imperfect and we deserve people around us who will accept us where we are in this moment before they are DESERVING of seeing us perfect. We need people around us who see us for who we are destined to be or made to be before we actually achieve it. We need people around us that love us despite our need for patches and upgrades and support us toward those ends.
What is impossible with love and grace? The moment we give up, a whole set of possibilities become IMPOSSIBLE. When I watch wretched people, I've started to see how wretched I am. And thank heavens because now I have the wits to change myself for the people I love. True love is being WILLING to change; having the FAITH that those people will help us.
I defy you to find a game or silicon instrument that will have faith in you, that will love you, that will help you become the best you you are meant to be. So- I really really hope that we don't opt for robot best friend. How unfathomable is it that the crown of creation (humans) are learning to be LESS human and would create something that is SUB-human as in a robot or games...
I love people. I pray that the Lord gives me the strength and the perseverance to PURSUE people. First, I have to stop being a homebody... But that's why I'm working on ME so I can bust out of this joint. =)
Love and blessings to all my readers!
[Originally Posted: 9/12/13 Edited: 4/8/14]
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Sometimes we need healing space. I'm not talking about abandoning people in their time of need or storming away in anger. There is love in walking away from a situation if it is not productive. "I love you enough that I want to walk away before I hurt or distress you anymore." "I love you enough that I will walk away before you hurt me; I won't let you damage our relationship- it's too important to me." Walk away when you feel the itch to project your feelings on the wrong target.
When you know that the conversation is going in a bad direction. affirm the other person's stance and let it be. Nip those relational free radicals in the bud. Infuse the antioxidants of affirmation, acceptance and love to neutralize and overtake any more damage.
Sometimes the fight is over one side wanting to help and the other side not wanting the help. Sometimes the other person triggers our anger and fears from our history. We then are driven to project those disturbed feelings onto the wrong person (not the perpetrator), onto our loved ones. What a huge casualty to bring the past into our present.
Do yourself a favor: don't overextend yourself and create a toxic expectation out of a close friend or relative. Do the loving thing by not enabling others to do toxic things to themselves or to you. All it takes is one time for that ugly head of expectation or entitlement to rear in your relationships. Don't apologize for someone who won't do it for themselves. If you're not a part of their character development, then you are a partner in their demise.
My name is Meredith and I used to overextend myself because I didn't value myself for the person I was designed to be. I always felt like the second choice. I always felt like I had to be better than a biological child, than a biological mother, that I had to prove myself more than another person: all because I didn't see worth in the pure fabric of who God made me. I short changed myself and didn't require enough from those around me to actually cultivate self worth and see value in myself. Shame on me. But no more! Who's with me? Anyone else want to confess in the comments?
Thursday, August 29, 2013
I believe that due to my adoption, I have a weird concept of time. I feel it so viscerally. I have an attachment to time- the here and now. I want this moment to last forever. I guess the emotional part of me knows that things will never be the same. I rarely take for granted a moment in time- especially with you. =)
I remember when I was in my last trimester in the pregnancy with Gabriel. I felt such anxiousness about my relationships with my children. I wanted our relationships to be awesome before our lives would be changed forever. I kept thinking-- "This is the last month that it will be just Jasmin and Alexander and Me... just the four of us."
Every time we'd fight, I'd think "is this how you want to remember our last months as just us? Are you satisfied with our relationship as it is now because once the baby comes we won't have as much time to work on it?" I was doubly insulted that it didn't affect them like it did me.
I don't want to have regrets. I don't want to leave anything unsaid. I don't want people to question how I feel about them. Perhaps I do too much "intentionally." I am particularly high strung in that way. I'm extremely intense and have a hard time just relaxing and having fun. I'm always "on."
I think back three months ago when I was in labor with my baby boy. I feel sad that I don't remember it very much any more. I guess that's why I love to write... so I can always revisit those treasured times. Just the same way I keep my college text books. I feel like the past is still alive- but I must pursue it. When I write, it is a way of honoring the present- the past of our future.
This is why I think I've been writing about my life for as long as I can remember. I remember writing letters to my biological mother on the chance I could actually send them to her. (I was able to send them to her- for good or for bad.) Writing makes pathways in our brains that help us learn and help us understand who we are as people. I think that is why I hated that my mother told me I was a bad writer... it meant so much more to me than just writing... it was about how I think, understand, experience life, how I remember events...
Anyways, my point is that writing gives us access to the times we could easily forget and take for granted. In a time where Alzheimer's disease is so rampant- I hope we learn to appreciate our trials as much as our successes. In the end, when we forget all of that, it is as though the fabric of time as been incinerated; the fabric being our experiences.
Things won't ever be the same as when I was the poorest with my husband... we had a lot of good meaningful times together... we were the most creative in that time. Now that we are the wealthiest we have been together, we seem to lack ideas for how to spend our time. Even if we lost everything all over again, it won't be the same.
Things won't ever be the same as when we were at his brother's wedding. The one picture that comes to mind- we are standing arm in arm and laughing and someone caught that moment in an unstaged snapshot. He looked so handsome. I worked my booty off to wear a size zero dress from Express. It felt as if it were OUR wedding... that's how awesome that moment felt.
Later that night, we went to the piano bar on the premises and I sang Gershwin's "Someone to watch over me" which reminded me of the fateful night I watched "Mr. Holland's Opus." That movie had me so wrapped up in "the moment" of the screen. Well, that night at the bar I sang that song. It felt great. Funny enough, it happened to be the favorite song of one of the customers departed mother. And that night was her mother's birthday. I have to say it was so magical, that I couldn't even tell it was happening. What I remember is not how well I sang it, but the amazing way that I brought her mother's favorite song to life on no other day but her birthday!
I could don that dress again... I could go back to that particular piano bar... but it still wouldn't be the same. The magic was in "the moment." I'm glad that I've done my best to change for the best as my circumstances are always shifting. What ways have you changed... stayed the same?
Wednesday, August 28, 2013
I think it takes extreme stripping of all our possessions, relationships, idols, creature comforts for us to truly notice the things that God freely does in our lives for the good. The discipline of building our relationship with God is to be able to have SOME possessions, Godly relationships and no idols AND be able to notice what he does. Imagine God being the "woman" in the marriage "If I ask you to do X then it doesn't mean as much." The real appreciation God feels is when we can see the things without him having to club us in the head. He desires to respond to our unspoken desires (as long as they are part of his will and purpose for us in life). It is not his responsibility to point out proof of himself... the same way I don't have to prove I exist.
The best way I can understand God's desiring to make our dreams (his dreams which are much grander than we could ever think up for ourselves) come true is of a parental desire. We would not create an intricate one of a kind piece of art just to tear it apart. He gives to us the same way our parents gave to us intuiting what we need and what is good for our future. Parents know what their children need whether or not the children request for those things or whether they even know what they need. Parents don't always pay attention to their children's wants unless those wants are good for them.
My latest testament to God's working in my life came in such a subtle and involuntary shift in my life. Many parents would try to orchestrate their children being on the same school schedule; but I did not have that luxury. For four more years, my son will go to school an hour before my daughter and he will return 45 minutes before she returns. Many people would beleaguer their need to wake up earlier; I admit that I wasn't so happy about that detail.
With the backdrop of the overlapping schedules, I was given a twice daily opportunity to enjoy my kids virtually one on one (not including the baby). God primed my heart to make the most of the times with my kids to feed our relationship and ENJOY one another. God also knew that I needed that one on one time as I do much better in that situation than when they are demanding of me at the same time... combined with the rivalry. Now- it is as if our relationships have transformed and they also get along better with each other. They also get the bonus of feeling special. I tell my daughter she cannot come down stairs until my son has left; I protect my time with him.
God, like my children, doesn't want to compete for my adoration. He is the only one that still looks out for me as an adult because I am his child. I still get to be a child in his eyes and get the benefit of unlimited re-dos when I make mistakes (just like children get to make many mistakes in their youth).
Maybe the reason God works in many mysterious ways is so that we will be continually surprised and delighted by his perfect love for us; and so we can continually expand our concept of Him and his limitless power in our lives. Yes, dare I say it, we have an AWESOME God!
Tuesday, August 27, 2013
The spiritual suggestion in my walk with the Lord recently took my tongue by ransom. He showed me that words are my weakness (leads to sin or downfall) and that I must downsize my daily commentary. This came most evident to me when in a situation I would have just gone through the motions of "let's talk it out"; then having it progress to more misunderstanding or defensiveness; as a long journey to coming back to copacetic. The Lord moved me to hold my tongue and deal with it inside myself and with Him.
There was nothing to take back. There was no foot in mouth. There was no bringing up "dirty laundry." There was no at odds conversation to add to the at odds event. And the "air" settled a lot more readily than if I had done the usual talking. It didn't take long for me to see that the root of the scenario was that one or more of us were tired, hungry, or bothered by other things that just happened to be triggered by that particular interaction.
I felt a huge sigh of relief. There was one less nail in my relational coffin. I felt one more neuron closer to spiritual wisdom. It felt so unnatural to me- that I knew I was doing the right thing. I felt obedient to something other than my self. I felt like I sowed a seed of trust and grace by omitting well-meaning words in favor of growing positive relational energy. I made something positive out of something that could have been more tense.
The knowledge that we all come from histories that have many dysfunctional relational behaviors, we must lean toward the healthy unknown rather than make excuses for our iniquities. I have never seen my parents have a "good fight" or witnessed either of them having "good conflict resolution" skills. Sometimes just knowing that what we are used to is not good (to put it nicely) calls us to reach, dare I say- seek, the unknown.
I feel (as the Bible says not to sin in my anger), that my anger can be turned into something healthy if I deal with it within myself and between me and God. As long as my anger is followed by loving service (also the call of God), then I should be a peace with my anger and I will learn to trust my ability to deal with upsetting things in a healthy way. It is God's higher plan to shift potentially hazardous relational situations toward win-win prospects.
I am determined to be successful in my relationships by being teachable to the Wise One, my God. I am so thankful that I don't have to learn on my own.
Blessings to all God's people...
[Originally Posted: 8/27/13. Edited: 4/7/14]
Friday, August 2, 2013
Thursday, August 1, 2013
This is a test of faith, or at least of thankfulness for the present for unbelievers. Looking back, we cling to the relative "opulence" we became accustomed to. Looking forward, we predict that things can only get worse. But- if we look at the present and take stock, take inventory, perhaps we'd be able to see how abundant our lives are without the more of the future.
We are lucky that we don't have outstanding unsecured debt. Our four vehicles are paid off. We have money in the checking and savings accounts. We have "so" much that we can't qualify for Social Security benefits for our child. Heck, we were poorer and we couldn't qualify for food stamps. Yay us! (I'm not judging other's situations- just speaking about myself).
I have things I own (cars, electronics, etc) that I can sell if need be. I have some skills that I can earn money. I have things I can do that are free that I enjoy more than things that we pay money for (and gives me remorse later). But more than that- I have FAITH in God, my true provider. He has given me an abundant portions of his provisions throughout my life whether or not I recognized the fact. But I recognize it now.
Don't let the lies of the world steer your thoughts and fears. The world tells us "That is not enough." "Why did they get more?" "That's all?" "What's in it for me?" But what about asking "What can I give and donate?" And dare we give when we are lacking? That is unheard of on our Earth. We only get to hear and see what "they" want us to see unless we seek it out and investigate.
And really, I'd dare you to invite God to be your "provider" in these lean times; heck, even during times of plenty. And more than that, ask him to give you the wisdom and self control to steward what you have so that you can be satisfied longer. If it can last... make it last. If you have extra... give it away with a generous heart. I might even go as far as daring you to get rid of more stuff during lean times. Get to know what real life offers; give your spiritual life room to thrive. Find more balance. See value in areas that the world won't reveal to you.
I was blessed to have a wonderful relationship (not perfect) with my current family years ago when we were trying to "make it" financially. Those are the times I miss. We spent so much time together and did quality inexpensive things. We were more connected then than we have been since. It was a blessing; though many people would not be able to see that. Now that we have more income- we have less time to enjoy each other and more to worry about. If your "yoke" is the amount of your possessions- how heavy do you want it? I know people who pick up trash and want to keep it. Can you juggle all of that and know your Creator (God, if you believe in him)?
Don't be frightened. Little is plenty and less is more. I'd venture to say that it's time to unload rather than download. You are loved, provided for and protected from above...
Tuesday, July 30, 2013
A bunch of years back, I had a conflict that although I was clearly being wronged and clearly in the right, I knew I was not going to "win" this battle. So, for as much as I can remember, I kept my mouth shut and endured until the matter was brought to court. And, without throwing the person under the proverbial bus, I merely answered the judge's question honestly.
What ensued was the victory that anyone but that judge would not have been able to deliver for me. Although I was not particularly smart for that age, something in me said to keep quiet and wait. I learned that on my own, I would have blown my "argument", but when the right "judge" (which was literal for this real life example) came along- I was delivered relief and justice.
So ladies and gentlemen, don't just shut up about it-- stay in your clean character, continue to love and to bless; but DO pray and do have faith that if not now, then later is a better time. I can't tell you exactly when. If it truly is a small matter, and the better "stakes" don't come around- then ask God to break this angst from your body, spirit and mind. It might even come to a point, if it is a large enough conflict, that you might have to break soul ties especially if that person is deceased. None but the power of God can break toxic soul ties.
The benefit to choosing your battles, is that with prayer you don't have to do it alone; you don't have to fight of your own power, energy and strength. You can invoke the wisdom, truth, and love of our Supreme God to fight on your behalf. Or at least call on God to purify your heart and spirit when you cannot come to a resolution with that person or issue. Ultimately, seek resolution in prayer or in gentle argument.
Funny enough, I am in a smaller scale situation as the first, and without argument- the person is making amends. And I didn't have to say a word... With God on our side, do we even need to speak? =)
Blessings to all of you...
Sunday, July 21, 2013
When I was twenty, I told my family that I wanted to switch my collegiate major to psychology. In comparison to the medical track they set for me, it paled in comparison. But the response went deeper than that- they trashed the idea saying that psychology is a bunch of rubbish and makes quacks out of people.
Either I'm stupid or hard headed (I am a Taurus by birth), but I refused to listen to that smearing of my dream that fit me. It felt as if they were trash talking me, and not "psychology" directly. They responded like it was an impetuous decision of a stupid young adult. But the truth was, I had thought about it a lot. The truth was, that desire found me.
It is said that God won't give you a desire that he's not prepared to assist you with (paraphrased from Pastor Jimmy Evans of Marriage Today Ministries). And if he gives you a desire, it's because it is part of his will and his unique gifting to you. For me, I think about psychology all the time; as if God doesn't want me to veer off course for what he has in store for me. It is also complimentary to my faith in God. I visit a Christian counselor and feel confident that she will not guide me wrong. Some people do not know what this God given desire is in their life- yet. But I pray that they listen to it and pursue it.
Some people back down to fast. What if I had responded to my family's disappointment with "Oh okay, I guess you're right"? I would not be doing what God has inspired me to do. Which "parent" are we supposed to obey- our earthly ones or our Heavenly One? But what if it wasn't my family that tried to convince me not to pursue my God given desire? What if it was a friend, coworker or otherwise? Would I be as strong in my conviction? I hope so- since family is usually your strongest influence. Which influence would make you buckle in your convictions?
For me to say that I am pursuing psychology, it has a larger meaning in my obedience to God. For anything that is of God's will that we pursue, it also means that we are coming closer to Him. If God were of human form, how could he care for everyone at the same time? Doesn't it make sense that he is everywhere in a spirit form so he can watch over all of us equally? If I were able to see God, then I would also deprive other people of his love and relationship. That is why, at least to my small brain, it makes sense that he is everywhere and unseen. Many times we are next to people and they don't "see" us the way God "sees" us.
It is easier for me to say that I am pursuing a career and lifetime of psychology than to say that I am pursuing God for the rest of my life. If I could openly say "I believe in God", would I be able to defend my conviction to everyone, everywhere, every-time? (Search "Apologetics" if you want to learn how to defend your faith.) I would try my hardest and I would get weary. I know that is what God is truly calling me to do. That right now- I'm just staying safe. There's no real "safe" way to follow God- as told in the Bible and the social climate of our modern times. In that way, I am letting God down. Because, if I were to speak about depression, as in the link that inspired this post, I'd lose face but I'd probably get a huge amount of support and empathy. But the biggest stigma with depression is the one we experience in ourselves- in the impression that we lose when people know about it.
For the people who get the kudspa to confess their faith in God, they are bound to get trivialized or receive negativity. It's hard for us to withstand the backlash except to know that God loves believers and unbelievers alike. I guess the idea is we're going to be marginalized, hated, criticized, persecuted for something; let us consider what we want that to be for- something big like being saved or something little like "I don't like Rock and Roll". I have this challenge for myself, and for you - if you're game-, to be more fearless in talking about what really matters. No matter the social consequences, I should openly say "I have decided to follow Jesus" as in the song by that title. Listen to it on YouTube here: http://youtu.be/rUwpfId1Zr0
You have my invitation to comment on this post with what you have been building up the courage to say/confess. Practice speaking with conviction. You have my blessing. Hugs and Prayers to you all...
Friday, July 19, 2013
I think this phenomenon happens most with people who have been battered or victimized. My history as an orphan has warped my view of people and my relation to them. If I didn't have a healthy faith in God, my relationships would be either non-existent or sorely unfulfilled. In fact, until I "found" God, I relied too heavily on people; the logical fear response to being abandoned. God doesn't blame me for that period of my life, or yours.
The problem with overestimating (relying) on people is that it's quite a burden/load to bear. But God's word says: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (NIV)
So, it's not that we have to tow the load all by ourselves, but we need to be wise about how we manage it and who we have to help us. Many times we first lose hope in ourselves, and that's when we underestimate our strength. Not to say that we will be strong in all things. But God has gifted us unique talents and skills; and when we use those skills for his will, we will be boosted to heights unknown and unfathomable.
When we lose faith in ourselves, perhaps it is because we believe too much in ourselves and not enough in God. When we cannot rely on ourselves, naturally, we lose esteem in ourselves. But with God's love and strength, self esteem is of no consequence- faith is everything. When we take the burden off our friends, lovers and family and let God take his rightful place, those relationships have space to grow and be positive. And when we humble ourselves to the fact that we have little strength in comparison to God, we give ourselves the grace during our follies and mental space to try and try again WITH God's help.
When we assume that a spouse of an alcoholic should be able to handle all things since that person isn't debilitated by alcoholism, we are overestimating their strength. Sicknesses like alcoholism take huge tolls on the family members as well. That is why they created Al-Anon for the family members of alcoholics. That is why there is a relational dynamic called "co-dependency." That is usually the hell that people in those harrowing circumstances live without dependence on God for peace, hope, and strength.
Depending on the degree of closeness to a burden such as addiction or depression, the people closest to that sufferer also suffer. We must reach out to all who are impacted by those things. They affect how people take care of themselves, how they parent, how they live. The impact is much wider than we know.
So rather than under or over estimating people, let's do our part to pray for them (extend a helping hand) and hopefully lead them to God. And some people are beyond words or coercing. They're at the stonewalling stage. For those situations, consider this verse: "Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives." 1 Peter 3:1 NIV Actually, anyone can be "won over without words." Part of that idea involves vigorous prayer and conversation with God, rather than that suffering person.
The Enemy will do his part to convince us that we don't need God and we can do things on our own. The Enemy will try to convince us that people CAN be relied on (or help) but they are just unwilling. The Enemy will do everything to sever our relationships to isolate us and take us for the spoils. But in those moments, cry out that you are not on the enemy's team. Send the enemy away with your prayers and words from the Bible.
But, always remember to thank God for his words (Bible), his love, his concern for you and everyone you love. With God, we can only underestimate his power and willingness to be a positive part of our lives. Hallelujah!
Saturday, July 6, 2013
Submission is a part of our social construct. If there isn't submission in a workplace the hierarchy would be a sham. If there isn't submission to the law, our world would be overtaken by crime. If there isn't submission to laws of nature or science, we will walk a sure path toward death. We even struggle to submit to our futures by living each day scrupulously and wisely.
Two people who are dominant always have struggle between them. And there can only be one winner in the ideology of "I must prevail." Compromises are a power struggle in themselves. Finding a win-win resolution should be their goal; but they see it as a tie.
When there is one dominant and one submissive, this is also a recipe for disaster. The dominant person will be stunted personally and will not enrich themselves because being dominant, according to them, has worked without a hitch. Win-win situations are not a concern in this mix. The goal for the submissive is to keep the peace.
Now- when we put together two powerful individuals who engage in a submissive relationship to each other- they have the most pleasant relational vibrations available to man. Each person serves the other in equal servitude and they see each other as equals. They often become more evolved as they bend in harmony with each other. Both needs are met without reservation and they feel secure that their needs will be met into the future.
But the most powerful social interaction is when someone who has a passionate investment chooses to die to themselves and opt to submit in order to serve the other in love (not romantic, but for the sake of love). When that one person gives that other person undeserved and unearned deference: that is a picture of God's will for our society. In this example, the weights are taken off the interpersonal scale. And even if that person who received the deference doesn't feel humbled by that experience, even if they inflate their egos; their style of dynamic imbalance will not serve them. Dominance repels and submission attracts. There's no point in being dominant if no one will socialize with you. In the end, dominance loses. The so called "underdog" is destined to win.
Using the power of character outshines and outlasts manipulative dominance. I believe that is why Jesus taught us so well. Though he was the greatest of us and any one of us should be honored to die for him, he died for us. He earned loyalty by leaving his crown in Heaven. He never forced anyone to be blessed by him and he never manipulated people into following him. He ruled without might; opting instead to attract and love with servitude.
On a personal note:
God blesses me to the extent that I submit to him. If I submit my finances to him, he gives me excess. If I submit my marriage to him, he gives me relational wisdom. If I submit my family to him, he does his best to knit us together. And if I live submitting each day to him, he has ample invitation to work in the areas of my life that need blessing and or pruning. By taking myself off the hook and submitting to him faithfully, he will take over- and he never fails. Hallelujah!
Friday, June 28, 2013
Let's say you are in a very hard position: conflicting loyalties, pivoting on guilt, etc. Let's also say- you are the only one who can improve a situation. Rather than choose- you do nothing, say nothing, avoid it altogether. That is a death blow to the person who needs your strength, security and influence. It relegates the person to live in a workable conflict; but without action- it will be an ongoing conflict. By not doing anything, you are asking the person to put up with the state of things because you can't figure out what your purpose is and what is the most important.
Sorry to say, but I think men are most to blame in this area. Women are more apt to make a decision (even if it's sorely received) than to leave people hanging and worrying about being held accountable. They will live, speak and act with conviction. Men will wait for an external component of the situation to shift and act when he's most likely going to have a win-win situation, or at least a win situation. Unfortunately, life presents us many excruciating decisions that will each have their own thorns. Life doesn't shift so that we can win; life itself doesn't care about biases or turns.
If my child is hurting another child, I have to be able to hang the "loyalty" card for the "teaching" card and correct my child within the context of the situation. If I don't act on it, I will give my child the idea that they can harm people without repercussions. It gives the parent the message that you don't parent according to what's right. To the parent, you have just caved to a child a fraction of your own age. Is that really a win?
Let's say, we don't want it to be "our child" that ruins a plan, but on this day life hands you a child, your child, who picks the worst time to be naughty. Do we ignore this bad behavior because it's unbearable that the source is our own child? Or do we carry out our intention of not rewarding bad behavior. Believe me, I've been there and it felt horrible to do the right thing!
Let's err with the side of "if the situation makes you want to make an exception to the rule- this is THE TIME to live out the rule." Get cozy with that uncomfortable feeling, may I call it a feeling of sabotage or failure? But- it happens... and from what I've heard, it happens to everybody!
Loyalty to people misleads our decisions and judgments. Loyalty to our convictions and to character may hurt- but you can never go wrong by going this way. Come on people- make the hard decisions!
Friday, June 21, 2013
My husband showered me with sacrificial care as I got closer to labor and birthing our Gabriel. And, like an act of God, Gabriel has done magic on our family. I've seen things in my family that I haven't seen before his arrival. I've seen love in action and in unexpected places. The next time you look at a pineapple, think about the many pineapples my husband cut for me and the think about the hundreds of black spines he ripped off each one so lovingly.
I feared that all men would be callous to my pain. I feared that all men would be ambivalent to their newborns. I just didn't want to accept that as reality. And God led me to suspend judgment until I went through these things with my husband. I'm so glad I listened!
I feared that when I called upon help, that I was admitting defeat. But God said, "No child. You are being humble like I call all of you to be. I am here to help through my human hands and feet." And God made sure to provide wonderful hands and feet to do his work (my mother in law) in my life. She has made a huge difference in our hearts... at least my heart. She said things that spoke God's message to me that it is okay to make the choice we made; and many have made the same choice and have lived to see the benefits of that path.
I heard God's conviction of my errors in parenting. He called me out on being a hypocrite. He made me see that my techniques for parenting were related to my childhood and no longer applicable to my present life. He showed me without question, that I was doing the same thing that I was frustrated with in others. He called me out on something that I wasn't even aware of in myself. Thank God. I need to change those unsightly parts of my mind and behavior.
I think that the zinger with free will is that it has given us a compulsion to manipulate. He gives us free will to submit to His will. But even our God doesn't force us to do his will. Why do we trying to intimidate others to do our own will? I think the answer to this is fairly innocuous. We as humans, and weak of faith (yes, that is me many times), are focused on results. God doesn't care about results. Yet, we are driven to do anything to get results, and then lift up the results to the Glory of God, or to our own glory. Well, God has nothing to do with manipulation.
Another wrench in the free will issue is that children, left to their free will, often go astray in dangerous ways. So how do we balance being their first model of a god to be true to God's ways AND help them avoid dangerous or unhealthy paths? My conclusion is that we have no true bearing on what they choose but we must hold fast to our modeling for them. The modeling will hold true even when we land in our graves. It's the modeling that lives on. If I model manipulation, then that will be my legacy. If I model God's wise lessons, I will leave them behind as the exterior conscience for my kids and generations to come.
God doesn't focus on our performance. He focuses on our hearts and our choices as far as they conform to his teaching. I cannot go wrong as a parent if I do as He does. The results land on the recipient and are not held against me on judgment day. In that lesson, I have to trust. In God, I have to trust.
So I pray:
God, I know you are not done polishing my heart and my character. I ask you to continue to give me the lessons that I will be proud to leave behind for my own children. I thank you for being so gentle and yet clear about your messages to me. You are greater than I could even fathom. I ask that you continue to bless my family and my audience as they find their way to you in their own relationship with a most Perfect Parent so that they may become better parents themselves through your modeling. I submit more and more of my life to you each day through your ever present and unfailing invitation. Amen.
Sunday, June 16, 2013
My heart aches for you... the way you hid it away from anymore harm in your fantasy fortress. I'm sorry I couldn't help you feel some hope and not wither. I would have handled you differently, more tenderly. I know how strong you tried to be, how much you understood so young. I'm glad that you still hold on to some innocence... don't let it corrupt all of you... all of your life.
I wish for you comfort, security, respect (self and otherwise) and success. I can't take the pain away, but I will face it with you if you let me. Even if you don't- I will pray that you will with another person.
Please don't drown your frustration and sorrow in food and things. They are bandaids that will never completely cover your wound. I'm sorry we tried to minister to you where you really hoped we would. I wish we could have read your mind to find your main source of pain. I'm sorry we let you down. You are special and so worth it.
I would volunteer to shoulder your burdens for a few days to loosen the grip of your hell. I wish I could give them a piece of my mind. Your pain is not lost to me. I see you. I love you.
God, I pray for the wisdom and eyes to minister to hurting souls with your Mighty accuracy and tenderness. I pray that I won't be blindsighted again to one of your children's agony. I pray this in your Loving Name, amen.
Thursday, June 13, 2013
I still think about the time my mother told me I was a horrible writer and she couldn't help me. I felt beyond help. I felt cursed. I wasn't disillusioned to think I was good; but my best wasn't even good enough. I felt the burn of being put down without the offer of being pulled up. My inner voice wants to say to you "Don't you dare put someone down unless you are offering to help them up (succeed)."
I remember feeling conflicted when I heard my counselor respond to my sentiment that I felt like I was set up to fail and wondered why people weren't offering to show me or guide me to some success. The counselor said (to my best recollection) that it was a nonsense notion to have and that we shouldn't base our value on our performance (Christian influence). I felt misunderstood because I wasn't trying to perform; I sincerely wanted to learn how to do better (if not succeed!). There is no sin in trying to reach success. Repeat failure is as painful, at least for me, as rejection.
This reminds me of how determined I was to help my stepson grasp learning to read. We struggled to speak each others language; he kicked and screamed; I kept persevering and being consistent; I vowed not to stop helping him through the good and bad until he felt good about his a-bility to read! And you know what? He reads with expression better than he speaks in conversation. But- reading with expression is a stepping stone to his verbal skills. May the domino effect (in the positive sense) continue!
This also reminds me of the times I get so angry at my daughter for not heeding my commands or advice. It seems like my "catch phrase" lately is "If you had done X like I told you, you wouldn't be in this predicament." I was trying to lead her to success, assuming she wanted it, and she chose to flail on her own "wisdom" (catch the sarcasm?). I guess part of the reason why I want to help her to success is that I won't have to spend the time in those "teaching moments" that kids so readily dispose of as soon as we walk out the door... so I won't have to repeat myself...
But I guess that points to my own failing (or is it a woman's failing) to speak to her desires and expectations to/with her boyfriend/husband. We know they are not mind readers, but at the same time- we need to usher them to success (if they choose it) by giving them the information beforehand. They don't want to take the risk of guessing and missing the mark. They want success and they want to hit the bulls eye.
In the teaching aspect (not that I'm a licensed teacher), my strategy is to take the lesson one more step. For instance, the other day my stepson was acing his spelling practice based on words that rhyme and have similar structure/blends. So- since he was at premium confidence of getting the practice perfect, I asked him how to spell another rhyming word that wasn't on the list. And he did it without even getting to see the word spelled out. Or, I might give him a shortcut to help him remember that word when he comes upon it in a book or a shortcut to remember how to spell the word (like brighten has the word "right" in it and you know how to spell that from two years ago).
Anyways, rather than condemn mistakes or failure, be ready to lend a helping hand. Show them a little (or a lot) of success. I dare you. =)
Wednesday, June 12, 2013
Trauma = living life without faith in God and involuntarily experiencing pain or loss that could not be predicted or avoided.
Blessing = being at a point of need or pain and getting some relief from the hands and feet of God (our neighbors, family, friends, even strangers).
History = something that will never change, un-editable, contributes to present fears or pain.
Adoption = Giving the blessing of commitment to a person who has a history that includes trauma (abandonment).
I have my own trauma and I've encountered many other people who've experience trauma. My inclination (hopefully other people's also) is to want to reach out and help and to bless those in need. Part me of thinks of it as a challenge to make them forget about their past and it never seems to work. Have you noticed this too?
Okay, to be real- I don't actively tell people to get over it and I don't tell them to forget. But something about the way I assess my effectiveness is how much they dwell on this trauma; if they dwell a lot, perhaps I'm not doing a good enough job of ministering to their needs, perhaps I'm not blessing them the way they need.
Let's think of some blessings that don't actually make the wounds/trauma evaporate:
Adoption = Of course, the orphan "needs" to be adopted to a better life (than the orphanage, not always to be compared with the family of origin). But this is not a ceremony that lops off the fact that the child was abandoned and now, without a voice or choice of their own, go home with whoever went through the adoption process and wanted a child of similar age, gender, and temperament. Like it or not, by the time an adoptive parent receives their child, this will be the 3rd set of guardians for this child and the 3rd or more (depending on how many foster homes the child has gone through) moves for a child who has been traumatized. Those realities don't even delve into the visceral experience the child has seared in their chemistry, brains and hearts of feeling unloved and discarded. Outside of remarriages, people don't conventionally experience such disturbances in their lives.
Stepparents/Blended Families = It doesn't matter how honky dory the lego family is or how awesome the "step" parent is, the reality is that none of it was requested by the children. Their biological parents are irreplaceable and they trying to be placated by a "fill in" parent. Sure this parent may take care of the children well, but who would ever ask for such a complicated family life? At best, we could call this a mixed blessing.
Faith = Faith doesn't turn your life into a dry erase illustration and give you the ability to erase the parts you don't want to carry around with you. It doesn't change the past and it usually doesn't change the way people treat you or think about you. Faith is a vertical blessing between you and God. But the best part of faith is that God will minister to you in exactly the way you need (and that you never knew you needed).
All that said to bring you the idea that after such life changing traumas like international adoption in my case, there is nothing that you can heal unless you are the person that created the trauma. There has to be an understanding and acceptance of the person as a collective of experiences that the only way to honor them is to hold their hand through their bouts of fear and grief. It's that gesture of being present with the hurt person that IS the silver lining to the pain. Humans have this natural desire to have matching likes and experiences; pain gives people an opportunity to bond together. I believe that the best reward of helping people is the blessings we receive from God for doing his work.
Tuesday, June 11, 2013
Ok, so-- as much as we must acknowledge the fact that we cannot control everything (some of us would say we have submitted to God's will), there are still things we can "choose" with our free will. And since our history is longer than our knowledge of our future (any fortune tellers?), we have a wealth of memories/experiences that can make us witnesses to God or to the Enemy. Of course no one has all good memories of their lives and each of us carry around our own pain (not to be compared). Some people have more happy memories than others.
Jesus's ministry on earth was but a short time in proportion to any of the disciple's lives, heck even less time with the people he met healed and blessed in passing. But those people still had a choice to dedicate one moment or many moments of their history/experiences as totems for their living faith. Even for believers, a death by religious persecution was not "death" in conventional terms, but an express train to Heaven. We are all going to die from/for something- at least they got to choose what they died for. And nothing is more powerful than the message of a person willing to die for a cause/belief.
As I progress in years, my attitude towards my memories has changed. They cease to be face value and now have a "value" in the believer's sense. The memories have gone through a spiritual metamorphosis. Thank God. Whatever we do not claim for God will be claimed by the enemy- God forbid. I invite you to claim parts of your life for things that represent good (even if it doesn't include God).
Blessings to you all...
Friday, June 7, 2013
How can we say "Yes to God" (a phrase I learned from Lysa TerKeurst's ministry) if we don't say "no" to ourselves? If you want to say yes to yourself, make sure you are doing things in line with God's will by submitting to his reign over your eternal life and a close relationship with him. If you truly have a "God filter", could you repeatedly gorge yourself to death... to bad health? What if you needed to be a spokesperson for God; how would he want you to present yourself?
When we reach health for ourselves and match that to a healthy spiritual life, won't that bleed into what we desire for the world and for the less fortunate? How can we evangelize great health if we don't first have it ourselves? In the beginning of time, God blessed Adam and Eve with long life and then he reduced their lifespan after "the fall in the Garden." God intended for us to live long and happy lives. What have we done that is in tune with that intention?
When I get a handle of a green thumb in my new home/soil, I would like to give my surplus organic produce to local people in need. If I really had the means and vision, I'd find a way to help the welfare housing develop their own sustainable organic gardens. I'd find ways to make organic food cheap enough for McDonalds to sell only organic (and other similar food chains). I'd have a garden ministry and go overseas to orphanages to help them feed themselves, learn a trade, and perhaps have the ability to sell the surplus.
I never really valued the accessibility of organic foods until I became pregnant with my newborn son. I then felt panicked to give him the most organic nutrition that I could for his best start. I'm in the process of starting an indoor container garden that I can bring in and out according to the fickle Colorado Weather. Next year, I will move some of those plants to our hopefully conditioned soil (composted) and plant at the right time and not delayed like I am this time around. I envision my kids having their own garden plots around our grounds that they can make their own and tend to themselves within their abilities.
But mostly, the gardening is symbolic of the harvesting mentality (sowing and reaping). They can apply this to their goals, education and relationships all the while being an integral boon to their health. Maybe they can do their own thing with gardening. My son shows interest in having a business selling foods that he will make from his garden. But the point is- we will certainly reap WHERE we sow. And if this is his dream, I will help him sow so he can REAP his dream.
The bottom line: goals are tenuous without the security of health. I'm tired of seeing people being sick. I want my family and friends to join me in health. Let's be so busy enjoying each other, life and shared goals while enjoying good health... and pass that on as a legacy. Let's find our health conscience...
Thursday, June 6, 2013
So, to be transparent, I'm on my third marriage. I am no "expert" on marriage, just on myself. What I've noticed in life is that when things go wrong in relationships, some phenomenon happens where we are convinced it's the "other person." I believe that's where manipulation comes into play; if I could only get them to do this, stop this, think this way... etc.
But have we ever taken a step back to see more of the picture... more of the history of our relationships? The common denominator is "me" and "me" is many times associated with broken relationships. It stings... it might not be ALL my fault; but I'm looking at the part that IS my fault. It's the truth, like it or not. Why do we think we should get back out into dating after divorce after we get over the pain of separation? That is not the green light to get back into a relationship. Why do we seldom use these times to change ourselves? Why be the same person to everyone and expect different results? That's close to the definition of crazy.
And another fallacy to the idea that marriage will work with "the right person" is that deep down- we're pretty much the same... women and mostly like each other and men are mostly like each other. That's why we run into serial divorces. Perhaps in a divorce, you should actually "divorce" your self... or that version of you that contributed to a failed marriage; and if there are kids involved, contributed to a broken family. We give ourselves too many chances that we don't extend to other people.
Imagine if we stayed married and, rather than change the spouse, changed the "I". Literally, die to yourself... as is mentioned in the Bible. What I realized with my current and rich marriage is that my current husband isn't so different from other guys. He's special and has a unique life experience. The thing that makes this marriage work out better is that I've done the changing.
Perhaps the main idea is that we should be open to changing for the better instead of expecting everyone to swallow our excuses or manipulation. I'm GLAD I'm not who I was ten years ago; I'd be ashamed if I didn't allow myself to improve and grow as a person. I'm a stubborn person but I'm glad I've learned to be stubborn about the right things and not just to assert my "presence." Sometimes we can even make something negative (like my stubbornness) into something more positive (like channeling it into my discipline toward faith and relationships).
And as a final thought: if divorce is such an easy thing for "past me" and society to resort to, perhaps we never really became united. If we really did marriage the way that leads to lifelong unions is to become and to consider ourselves to be "one flesh"... to consider divorce as killing two people (or more if children are involved). If we really grasped that concept, would we decide to cut half of themselves out of their life? By that logic, we'd be killing ourselves. We should not be able to survive divorce... but society makes it common-stance. The concept of letting a judge finalize when a parent can see their own children... the idea that children should only have half the time (or less) with a parent outside of death... We should feel heart broken as a SOCIETY!
That is one thing that I took for granted until recently. I never factored in the benefits of having my parents stay together and not having the lifestyle required by divorce. I never had to choose a parent over another. I never had to call my parent to talk to them. I really need to work on this vein of compassion for my fellow citizens. The first time we ever are introduced to divorce, many times, is before WE have ever been married at all. And for people who want to give their children what they (never) had or more- how can we choose divorce (outside of being in harm and in the safety interest of the children)?
Outside of championing for one marriage for a lifetime, I want to send out a message of redemption and grace. It's never too late to move in the right healthy direction while you're still breathing. Blessing is but a choice away. I believe that we can have lifelong marriages, even after a divorce. I believe that we can make divorce something that is rare and strong relationships commonplace. For me, I work on my relationship with God first, then I keep myself in check, and lastly, I work on our marriage WITH my husband. The interpersonal component comes last, not because the spouse is considered last; but because in order for me to expect something from another person, I better be prepared to give it to them with prayer and self enrichment. And that is not my idea, but evidence of my submission to Christian lessons on marriage.
I wish for you all a wonderful marriage, personal life and family life! If you're miserable in your marriage/relationships, I wish for you a revival of love and personal growth.
Tuesday, June 4, 2013
But consider this in an interpersonal perspective and the math just doesn't do it justice. In the case of orphans: being orphaned (-1) and then being adopted does not make a plus one and does not make everything honky dory with said HUMAN BEING!. To this human being, they are being treated like a commodity if people truly feel like being adopted makes all the pain go away. To treat an adopted person like their life has been "fixed" just isn't adequate. To an adoptee- they were abandoned (-1) and adopted (-1) in the respect that they had no say in either and they had no place to have an emotion about their own circumstances. They are expected to swallow what other people wouldn't even VOLUNTEER for.
I'm not saying that adoption can't be beautiful. But the beauty comes from recognizing that both sides come from a place of loss or pain. I am not a valuable person just because you handed over money to legalize guardianship. I am valued BECAUSE I'm a person. PERIOD. You cannot add or take away my value; it was given to me, to all by our higher power (or to me, by God).
I felt bad about myself because I was at odds with my adoptive family. I cursed myself for not being able to see them as hurting broken people like me. But then again, they never saw me as hurting or broken. If anything, I was a PROBLEM. Maybe I'm daft, but "problems" don't have value. But with the guidance of God, I was finally able to see my adoptive parents as broken like me and it gave me a sense of peace. It gave me room to pray for them, to mourn for their losses and pain the way they never exposed to me when I was in their household. How do you live with people, family- no less, and not know them?
Having a beautiful son and enjoying him so, I mourn for my adoptive mother who never was able to experience that. Does that pain equal mine? I don't care. But it does give us a bridge if some time in the future we ever do reconcile (God willing).
I think about all of these blended families that have child triangulation going on (not that I blame them). I think about the parents of child perpetrators the school shootings that still back up their children. And finally, I think (man!) I could have been worse! And what would have become of me if I were worse? Would I been kicked to the curb instead of just being called a "terrible child"? I never got to say: "Well, if you think I'm a problem, I'll just re-enter into my biological family's life (even though much time as changed and we don't know each other anymore)."
I think about children who were abandoned by their parents and part of me wants them to call their parents out on it and ask them the hard questions. Don't just let minus one and minus one equal zero; zero water under the bridge, zero pain and anguish, zero reconsidering your worth. I would speak for them and say "No. You don't just jump back in like nothing happened. You can't get that time back. That time with me was valuable. How are YOU going to rebuild my trust? What have YOU done to better yourself while I was worried that I should just rot rather than to thrive as an innocent person. I want you in my life, but you need to value me first." In a world that accepts abortion unflinchingly, I'd say to these children who were "spared"- know your worth in GOD! Demand repentance before reconciliation.
I know that this is a big thing on God's mind. That when I reach the pearly gates, I will have to account for my wrongs against HIS children. So I better make things right before God calls me home. It's only too late when we're buried. Value each other now. Repair those relationships. Don't leave anyone with an open wound if you can help it. Don't get into the "zero" trap.
Sunday, June 2, 2013
As I venture to lose this weight, I'm not assuming that it will be as easy as last time. Things are different: my age, metabolism, my current habits. So in my research, I learned that in order to get rid of the fat, I must recognized that the fat shields me from the toxins I hold in my body. So my first step must be to detox to allow the fat to "stand down" and flush out of my system. Detox is the new buzz word in the health world. Even Dr. Max Gerson touted the coffee enema (detoxification).
Must we forget other areas that we should detox? For me, I think we overlook the contents of our mind that come from our history and things that we allow through our eyes and process in our brains. Most recently, I watched "Game of Thrones" with my husband. (I've had a total spiritual/mental shift since being a former "Nip/Tuck" watcher). My brain really hated seeing the non-Christian content. I've been super sensitive to my past ignorance (way of dressing/acting) and now I see it in public around me. I feel totally convicted and I'm so glad I'm not the same person.
I have a new addiction: feeding my mind on Christian content (sermons, texts, testimonials, counter-cultural stuff to be exact). And I couldn't understand why I was so drawn to this stuff beside the fact that I never get tired of it. I think it is a new program in my brain that wants to detox of modern pop culture. It's the realization that my children are destined to steep in this brain altering "culture." For me it's come to a point of thinking about my children's hearts and minds and even my grandchildrens'... future generations. And even if we don't care about our "self control", what about worrying for our future family members? Aren't they worth it?
I'd like to fantasize that if my biological parents were Christian, they would have "kept me" (I know, such a disorienting concept) rather than giving me up for adoption. I'm not aware of any other dynamics that made my mother un-fit to be a parent. There was plenty of family around to help raise me. Anyways, I can't rewrite that part of history.
I strive to never become desensitized to our sexualized and self-seeking culture. I don't think I can be desensitized AND be a good parent. And only in this world do we feed the kids and our minds junk and still expect to treat each other well. We are set up for failure in this regard if we continue to let culture lead us in what is "right."
Sometimes we are the worst offenders of ourselves. We must also detox our minds of the beliefs (archaic at best) we held about ourselves. We are not the same even if we tried to be such. None of us live in a time capsule. Clear out those negative thoughts you hold about yourself especially if they only hold you back. Break free. Give yourself permission to first love yourself. I dare you. =)
So- I invite you all to detox mind and body with me! I need some accountability partners for sure. Let's keep this journey in the Light. Blessings!
Saturday, June 1, 2013
Well, I'm convinced that that is what the Enemy wants to do to our relationships: have us conclude that we're better off without the other person since all they intend to do is to disappoint, hurt and annoy us. But even that sounds too sensational. How many of us are really that "important" that we could have an arch rival like those of fairy tales?
As the scales fall from my eyes through this new chapter of my life as a "new mother" with the love of my life- for once (and I wish it hadn't taken my hard head so long) I see the "bad intentions" falling away and I see more and more evidence of the glue that holds us together and strong. I am thankful that I have one relationship that is at this level; some people don't recognize it.
My larger than life dog... is a LIVING reminder of how much my husband loves me. He researched, planned, and surprised me with the puppy of my dreams! He even made me think that we'd never get a dog. Ha Ha- joke's on me. And Bella, is my kindred canine friend. She reminds me of how much I'm loved. What a blessing.
My son: is my newest reminder of the love I have with my husband, a LIVING reminder of our love and bond that will outlive us (God willing). I cannot fathom loving one and not the other. I am gaga over both of them. But I love my husband even more because he is just as "gaga" over our son as I am. If my parents had anything like that- well, I wouldn't have been orphaned in the first place. I promised my husband that I'd teach our son to respect and love his father; that he could see a hero in his Dad. And a few days later- he was born. =)
Our new car, is a reminder of his love for me. Since we got pregnant, he made a concerted shift in his brain to change what had to be changed to accommodate our growing family. He didn't leave it to the last minute. He didn't leave me worrying about how we could all get around in one car.
Our soon to be puppy: is another reminder of his love (undeserved of course!) for me. He picked out the perfect breed for me and perfect playmate for my huge Bella and a great family dog for Gabriel to grow up with. He is even planning on building a dog enclosure underneath our porch (at my suggestion) for our dogs.
My suggestions/desires/ideas, many of which he's listened to and made come true, are many more reminders of his love for me. He's never made me beg. He's never dashed my ideas. He has honored them and made them his goal. And we've made shared dreams together for our future too.
The left cupboard of my roll-top desk/office/bookcase (that was one of my desires that he filled in an over the top way!) and one file holds our "relationship portfolio" and sentimental keepsakes. The fact that I had to devote one cubboard beyond our "file" is a huge blessing to our relationship in retrospect. It holds movie stubs, sight seeing brochures, books, hotel insignias, name tags from seminars, things we've made for each other... To think we were able to do all that in a short 3 years... where many other couples haven't done half of what we've done together.
I've moved on to the "feeling solid" stage of our relationship. We still fight and make up. But even those times cannot outweigh what we've done and built together. We found each other at very broken times and still saw the best in each other; and that has been the key to our ever changing and blessed life together. I don't think I've ever felt "solid" before... but I feel "light" and content. I wish this for everyone.