The Truth About My Mom-In-Law

The strengths of my mother-in-law stand out so clearly for me. She has been a wonderful example of being strong, courageous and faithful.

 

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Sensitive

Traditional

Righteous

Observant

Noteworthy

Gentle

 

Concise

Outspoken

Unrelenting

Respectable

Amazing

Giving

Encouraging

Overjoyed

Unique

Smart

 

Fabulous

Ardent

Intuitive

Thoughtful

Hard-working

Fruitful

Unwavering

Loving

My Mom Is One Of A Kind

The things I learned from my mom are perseverance, strength, wisdom and loyalty.

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My mom is:

Practical

Economically minded

Resourceful

Supportive

Effective

Valuable

Excellent

Rational

Authentic

Needed

Courteous

Encouraging

 

Strong-willed

Tenacious

Realistic

Engaging

Necessary

Generous

Thoughtful

Humorous

 

Wise

Intentional

Selfless

Daring

Outgoing

Magnanimous

 

Logical

Original

Yielded to God

Ambitious

Love-able

Truthful

Young at heart

 

My mom is beautiful.

Before and After: A Matter of Perspective

Here is my dad David was able to get a picture tod

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s been 2 months since my dad’s passing, wow, to the day. My timing isn’t planned, just lucky coincidence.

This picture accurately represents something unexpected for me.

My dad is smiling here. He was happy because my husband was able to visit him.

When my dad was alive, it wasn’t his smile I remembered, or his comforting shoulder hug when he walked up next to me after not having seen me for a long time.  It wasn’t the twinkle of kindness and love in his eyes when he looked at me during my short visits so far and few between the passing time. It wasn’t his jokes, or the happy tone behind all he said.

The thought of my dad when he was still alive wasn’t anything warm and fuzzy.  It was sadness that he was in hospital or nursing home care. It was frustration that so much of a normal relationship with him had been stolen from me because of mental illness (also PTSD misdiagnosed and neglected) and his “guinea-pig” status with the VA. It was anger that he was so unpredictable, I never knew what to expect when I was able to visit him. My mom claims he had no “filter”, what I know as practicing self-control and taming the tongue. The last time I saw him when he wasn’t being kept alive by machines breathing for him, he told my husband some really awful things, stuff he said he was confessing to concerning me. There are so many holes in my childhood memory, some of what he said I  can’t even verify.

He was moved around so often by the VA that I rarely knew where he was, and he did not always have access to a phone for me to call him. My mom stopped remembering to tell me he had been moved, it became part of her normal life. And, the truth is, I often cringed at the thought of talking with him on the phone. What would I say? What would his frame of mind be?

The most surprising aspect of his passing is that all those fears and negative emotions have just sort of evaporated away. I am finally free to feel the good feelings when I think of him now. My guard can be let down, I don’t have to defend myself, or prepare for the worst. I don’t have to remind myself of the bad things.

I never once wished him dead- well, after I forgave him, that is. So, there is no guilt to deal with now. Life circumstances kept my family and I far away from him, so again, no guilt about any of that. It was out of my control.

I can let the little girl I once was think about my dad and remember what I loved most about him.  No more guard, no more self-defense, no more cringing as I think of him.

My heart is free to remember safely now.

United We Stand

glass broken  heartGod has sure been stirring up a lot of things in my heart and thoughts lately.

One of the recurring issues I deal with is that I am still missing out on a father figure for my life. I understand that Scripture teaches us that God is our Heavenly Father, and He has never disappointed me.

I know it sounds ridiculous, but I am 40-something, and I still wish I could just have a normal conversation with my daddy. I have never had that. I have missed that, and struggled not to envy what others have been given.

There are so many people, of all ages, who have not had real, or healthy  relationships with their parents.  Where are the Godly men who will step up, and allow God to use them to replace what has been stolen from so many?

“When Jesus then saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing heart-photo-by-Carien-of-sxc.hu_nearby, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then He said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” From that hour the disciple took her into his own household. (John 19:26-27 NASV)

He understood that those relationships are of utmost importance.

We are missing so much with our individualistic approach to Christianity. We are missing out on so much.

Love Is Tough

Judah 031Our American culture has adopted this practice of Tough Love when we see others doing stuff we don’t like.

I can see how this has been helpful in some situations. Some people are hurtful towards others, and destructive forces for themselves and others. Sometimes we need some kind of kick in the pants to wake us up to difficult things.

Judah 034My concern is, it seems like we often call something else “Tough Love”. When people do things that annoy, we turn our back on them. We don’t tell them what the offense is, but we ignore them in a manner that is manipulative, and honestly – mean.

I cannot see Jesus doing that with others. Not this second thing.

The second description is a form of rejection, candy-coated so we can justify our actions. It’s often the result of hearing one side of a situation through gossip. Often the person being rejected or ” Tough Loved” is the most in need of acceptance and actual Love. It is not Biblical.

Love is patient. Love is kind. Love endures all things . Love keeps No record of wrongs. Love does not rejoice in evil ( do we rejoice in turning our back on others?). Love is not jealous (does our rejection cause someone to feel jealous of others being treated better by us?). (1Cor 13)

When someone offends us, the Bible instructs us in how to deal with that. It is rare that I see that put into practice! Even by lay leaders. What most often happens is we play this manipulative game of “guess what you did wrong – no you didn’t offend me”.

We need to stop the games.

Let’s practice Tough Love on that manipulative, mean practice we use to elevate ourselves in our minds, as being better than someone else.

Let’s practice compassion by imagining ourselves in other people’s shoes, and demonstrating the very same Grace, Kindness, and Love we would hope we could expect.

I’d like to redefine Tough Love as being resilient, and sincerely loving others even more so when they are the most unloveable.

Let’s really be the Church, and effective ambassadors of Jesus. Starting right now.

Part of “revival” is repenting from Ungodly practices.

“Don’t Apologize”

I’ve spent most of my lifetime apologizing for who I was and who I am, for simply being here, maybe in someone’s way, or saying something that might have given the wrong impression or just didn’t get my point across. I’ve apologized and been completely introspective, believing something was wrong with me, because someone was positive I must have been flirting with a worship leader when I was watching them for upcoming cues, as I would a conductor in a symphony.

I’ve mentally kicked myself probably near 1 million times for all the mistakes I have made or possible wrong impressions I unknowingly have given.

I’ve eased up on myself over the years, because the focus stopped being so much on how I was messing things up, the more I grabbed hold of my life and learned to follow God. But sometimes, I can feel that try to pull me down again. It’s like trying to swim to the top, to breath, but being pulled back down by someone who just doesn’t want me to reach the surface. That’s what the negative opinions and gossip, misunderstandings, misinterpretations and even lies of my past tries to do to me.

I’ve apologized time and again for making mistakes, for giving an unpopular opinion that offends someone (but they don’t apologize to me in return, as their opinion can be just as offensive.)

I don’t expect from others what I know should be expected of me.

So, lately, I’ve got some stuff going on. I’m realizing I have some health issues that stem back to before I was even a teenager. The medical diagnosis is taking F.O.R.E.V.E.R. but I’m pretty positive I know what is wrong. At the very least, I know the generalized category of what is wrong with me. Had I been diagnosed as a child with this, would that have shaped my life differently? Would I still feel the need to constantly apologize for my very existence that alone seems to have caused so many problems, less or even more so? I believe some people actually think if I had not been born, their lives would have been tremendously more easy, and some of the problems just wouldn’t have been. Too bad, cause the only place I’m going is probably shutting the door to them. I am grateful for the life God has given to me, and I am satisfied. Should I apologize to them for that, do you think?

So, I’m sorry.

I’m sorry for being awkward and untrusting.

I’m sorry for being messy and unorganized in the past, yes I know, I was pretty bad.

I’m sorry for ever having needed to rely on someone else for help.

I’m sorry for having an opinion different from yours and not just keeping it to myself.

I’m sorry for having been promiscuous and confusing that with being cherished and wanted.

I’m sorry for leaving a church where the lack of grace was suffocating me. I’m also sorry my husband felt the need to leave, as well, all by himself. I’m sorry so many misjudged and thought I convinced him to leave, too. I’m even more sorry for the hurt inflicted in him, and me as well, as we felt rejection from some who had once treated us like family.

I’m sorry I’ve cut so many people out of my life over the years, because I just do not trust them not to hurt me.

I’m sorry for misunderstanding what you said.

I’m sorry for having a possible physical disability that seems impossible to actually diagnose.

I’m sorry for thinking a fire hydrant was a child dressed in winter clothing, in the middle of the hot summer, because my eye sight gets so blurry.

I’m sorry that you think I’m stupid.

I’m sorry for being born. Really. I’m sorry for being born. Because, we all know I had so much control over that. (Yeah, ok, this last one was pure sarcasm.)

I often hear from my husband, “Stop apologizing. It’s ok. It’s not as bad as you think. It’s not as frustrating as it seems. You’re fine.”

I can’t just quit. Because maybe apologizing will help people who don’t like me because we differ in political or religious opinions, to like me. Maybe people won’t judge me so harshly as being stupid because I made some mistakes, or I got confused about something, or I don’t debate the way they think I should.

Maybe people will think as highly of me as I think of them, if I just apologize enough for being so inadequate and insignificant.

I purposely cover over the hurts and negatives that others have caused me. But, I don’t see that happening for me from most people. So, I guess if I apologize enough, maybe, they might realize that sometimes I need to be apologized to. <shrug>

Some people, and they know who they are, have yet to begin to scratch the surface of apologies I deserve to be given. But, because I understand how to forgive and look past things in everyone else, except myself, of course I will overlook things and press on, surrendering the pain and frustration to God.

By the way, I’m getting better at not making myself the exception. That is the healthiness God is bringing about in me.

I hope you’re getting better at apologizing.   😉

To Know Me Is To ______ Me

1Corinthians 13:12 “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.” (NASB)

I have a jumble of thoughts built up. Hopefully I can get them all out and place them in good order.

I’m thinking about God’s continuous cycle of revealing and healing. He shows us something about ourselves or our past that we haven’t seen through His understanding, He illuminates it, then He begins the process of healing.

The thing about God’s way of healing: it’s not always our way. We don’t even understand that that’s what He is up to, sometimes.

A root biggie in my life is enveloped by the Scripture I shared. To be known. A branch off of that would be to be seen, and another branch would be to be heard. The fruit that I want to grow on this particular crop in my life is: to be valued.

This probably shapes pretty much every thought, action, and even inaction I do, all the time.

There are so many things we place value on concerning people. What they do (job, talent, skill), what they say, where they have been. We value degrees, titles, clothing, monetary worth, status, and career choices.

I think we often forget to place value on the most valuable part of a person: them.

When my husband and I discipline our children, we often remind them that it’s the dangerous, unacceptable, or just all around bad behavior we are wanting them to change and correct, not them as individuals. Their worth is not tied into behaving perfectly. No matter what, we will love them, they will always be our child, though their choice in behavior may disappoint and frustrate us. Their behavior does not define them.

God defines them. He began the definition of each one of us as He knit us in our mother’s womb.

There are roots in my history that have become tied to how I perceive being valued. My parents weren’t the sort to hold conversations with me, or listen to what I had to say. They were focused on their own lives for various reasons, and the very best thing I could ever do was try to just stay out of their way as much as possible.

There were times I ran away, and they didn’t even know I wasn’t there. There were times I ran away, and they did know I wasn’t there, but I never heard a conversation about how I might have been in danger, or how I had or would be missed. I heard about how it made things look, or how things weren’t so bad for me, or how next time they’d  put me in Juvie. I had no self worth, because I never saw my parents reflect that back to me. Except when I did something that reflected on them in a good way, like doing well at a concert. My worth became tied into playing my violin well.

I remember times when I shard things with my mom that seemed super important to me, things I didn’t have anyone else to share them with, and she would roll her eyes, sigh irritatedly, and tell me how stupid it was, or something to that effect. She still does that, and it still tries to affect my perception of my worth.

I feel like I was robbed of a healthy mom-daughter relationship. Because of that, I purposely go out of my way to tell my kids how important they are to me. I don’t ever want them to believe they are not valued just for who they are, because I know what that feels like. (Of course, a clean room would also give an added pleasant bonus…)

I think that’s why God carefully took me under the shelter of His wings when I was pretty young. I always remember His being there, going out of His way to give me something I needed to help me want to carry on. He made me aware of a deeper purpose that He has given to me, deeper than any person ever could. He reflected my own heart back to me when I was heart-broken at trying to help a friend who tried to commit suicide, then told me they never wanted to speak to me again. He fixed that, and He worked, and I didn’t have to lose that friend to suicide or hatred. He made Himself known to me before I knew myself at all. He showed Himself to be real. Nothing can ever convince me God is not real, because He simply IS. There is no unbelief that is more powerful than God’s reality. It doesn’t take much to find Him, either. One just has to sincerely want to know Him for themselves.

God is at work healing some pretty deep hurts in my life. After all the healing and work He has done, sometimes it’s tempting to want to ask Him, “Are You ever going to be finished in me?”

“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6

I do know that answer: Yes. When Jesus returns.

Anyway, I got the jumble of thoughts out, and here I am at the end of this blog entry. You’ve now had a glimpse into my head, heart and life. I hope something good will come out of that for you.

Thanks for reading.

Being Falsely Accused

“‘You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” (Deut 5:20 )

Don’t take hold of a misunderstanding, giving it no opportunity to be resolved or cleared up, and instead tell others about it as if it were the truth.

1-sad-girl-bad-love-relationship-quotes-photo-images-wallpaper-fanzwave-netMisunderstandings happen.  I have often hoped for grace from others when I have either misunderstood something, or I have been misunderstood.

But there is a pride in some that just won’t let them admit they have misunderstood something. That lack of communication that could most often keep friendships safe, marriages strong and family close in heart, often gets overlooked or disregarded.

That’s when anxiety pulls the strings with impulsive reactions, causes a spewing out of hurtful words that can’t be pulled back in under a controlled tongue. The mind plays tricks, creates scenarios that consume concentration. Reality is saturated with illusions and injections of a “read between the lines” offensiveness that often doesn’t even exist.

Negative, accusing thoughts are illuminated and become like darts of poison to a misunderstanding.

The wisdom of God‘s Word in Philippians 4:6Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (NASB)  stands out like a beacon of light on the darkest of nights.

God’s Word heeded saves friendships during times of misunderstanding.

I grieve the loss of friendships torn away from me by confusion of circumstances, misreading of intentions, and not having open heart-to-heart conversations.

Be anxious for nothing. But in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving: Let your requests be made known to God.

That seems so clear. Until I walk away from it, and my thoughts remind me of a perceived offense.

In light of God’s advice: maybe my own perception is affected and influenced by things outside of what really happened. Maybe what I see is tainted by my choice to instead meditate on the perception. Perhaps my prideful ego suckled on the bitterness of a false negative, while stirring up strife in my heart and in the hearts and lives of others.

Who wants to admit when they’ve made a mistake? Isn’t it easier to instead cover it up and share with others the perceived offense? Doesn’t the sweetness of revenge that drains the vitality of relationships grant a satisfaction, while turning people away from an innocent person that we project false guilt on to? To drag a reputation through the mud to elevate a temporary false victimization, that’s vindication, right? Isn’t that fair?

Enough of that. When it becomes the destroyer of reputations it is unfair and wrong. It’s actually a form of bullying.

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (NKJV)

What are God’s thoughts towards us?  Even though every one of us have sinned against God and fallen short, this says His thoughts are …”of peace and not evil, to give you (us) a future and a hope.”

What about thoughts towards those who we perceive to have sinned against us? Are they of peace?

We need to get this right. God will hold us accountable for our words and our actions. No matter how justified we believe we are.

What My Mom Helped Me Learn

My mom has helped me learn some things that I now have the opportunity to purposefully make sure my daughter gets from me.

Deborah turning 4 Incidentally, when my mom came o1) Always have her back. Even if I don’t agree with her or she doesn’t handle things the way I would, never make her feel as though she has to deal with things alone.

2) No amount of money or possessions can replace a sense of being cherished or belonging.

3)  I need to be approachable.

4) Listen, even when it drives me crazy to hear about her friends I’ve never met. It’s important to her to be able to share it with me. Also, that keeps me informed and interested. I know who is dating who, who just moved into the neighborhood, who I should be aware of,  and what their ages are.

5) I need to be involved without being controlling.

6) Make time just for her, just because I want to spend time with her. I enjoy her company.

7) Help her find a sense of purpose by telling her what her strengths are, and what I admire about her.

8) Praise her and compliment her; critique things she does without harsh or mean criticism of her.

9) Teach her skills that will help her fit into society in a healthy way.

10) Help her value herself so she will make decisions that will be healthy and beneficial.

11) Don’t say negative things about her behind her back. When I share information out of frustration or as a prayer request, she knows about it and what I have said.

12) Don’t side with someone who calls her a liar. She isn’t always completely truthful with me, but I have never, ever known her to lie to someone, outright. And, even if I thought she did lie, we would deal with that in private and she would apologize to the person face-to-face. I will not take sides against my daughter.

13) Teach her the “why” behind each piece of instruction, guidance or advice.

14) Make sure she knows I separate her from her actions, decisions and mistakes. She is not what she does.

15) Let her wear my shoes and clothes sometimes. There is just something uniquely bonding about this with my daughter.

16) Don’t attack her for, or say harsh, mean things about, what I view as faults. My view is only one perspective, but she gets her cues at self-confidence from me.

17) Make sure she knows beyond any shadow of doubt, every single day, that I love her, cherish her, and my life is better because she’s in it.

18) I am careful to not expose her to things she’s not old enough to be able to process with an informative maturity. Raising children is like growing plants in some ways: I wouldn’t throw a rose-bush out into a blizzard just because I was tired of it being in the house and it’s too expensive to buy it food and soil. The same with my daughter: there will be no cut-off time for her, we won’t force her out of the house by a certain age. My hope is that we will help her become confident and prepared when the time comes for her to begin a new phase of life apart from us. I’m in no rush for that day, but I also won’t hold her back from embracing it.

19) Give her a healthy view of marriage. I think this is one of the best gifts my husband and I can give to our children, especially our daughter. As she sees how her dad treats me, and how I treat him, she will be able to discern the right relationship for herself. It’s so important for her to understand God’s perspective in marriage, because the world’s perspective brings no peace, no comfort, no health, and no longevity.

20) Make sure she has a firm foundation in Christ, while I encourage her in her own relationship with God, but don’t criticize when she doesn’t do things the same as me, or she isn’t passionate about the same things with God and church that I am. She is uniquely formed by God, and I trust Him to lead her in the direction that He has planned for her.

I hope I can pass on things that she will pass on to her own daughter someday, and so on, and so on…

My desire above everything is to bless my daughter. When a mother curses her daughter with negatives and harsh criticism, it affects every relationship and interaction she has, negatively. My hope is in blessing her it will do the exact opposite. I can already see some positive fruit from things people say to me about her, and how she is treated by her peers.

When Trust is Gone

Trust does not come easy for me.

As a young girl, I searched for someone I could trust to bare my soul to. It was years of being alone and afraid before I finally found someone who would listen, and not repeat what I told them, who didn’t treat me nice to my face while saying horrible things behind my back.

Maybe you can imagine the disappointments I have experienced. I grieve the loss of trust more than the loss of loved ones.

Recently I became aware of someone bad-mouthing me, someone I thought I could trust. The hurt cuts deeply, down into my soul. What do I do now? Sometimes, I push people out of my life when the trust tests fail. If they treat me coldly after I share my heart with them, then I close the trust door and lock them out. If they tell others what I share in confidence, out they go. My intolerance for failed trust creates a wall of separation to protect me from making the mistake of trusting them again.

When I see signs of gossip, slander, back-stabbing and bad-mouthing others, I stay away.

As deep as intolerance runs, forgiveness fills the void intolerance creates. Because of Jesus, I have been enabled to forgive. I am able to be wise as a serpent, but gentle as a dove, withdrawing myself from future issues, now knowing the damage this person has caused, and will cause in the future. All I can do is withdraw my trust, let God count my losses of reputation, and grieve the relationship I believed we had.

Now, who will I talk with?

Fiddlesticks-Fanart The devil uses our tongue like a scythe cutting through hay, destroying trust, reputations and opportunities for God to work beyond what we can even imagine. There is a reason the scythe is often portrayed with the demonic.

I am desperate for God to build others up through my words. Why is it so difficult to find people who are like-minded and trustworthy?

I try to live by Proverbs 11:13 “Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered.”~ESV

I am so thankful I have God to hand my hurts to. He tends to them carefully and lovingly. But, how I wish people were easier to trust, and cautious to guard that trust.

James 3:2-10   “For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! 28_32_90---Scrap-Timber-Fire--Darlington--County-Durham_webAnd the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. …” ~ESV

My Dad (A Soggy Account)

Here is my dad David was able to get a picture tod

Well, what can I say about my dad? Where do I start? I guess I will introduce him to you.

He is James Roy Bennett Jr. He is the oldest of 3 children, the only boy, and both his parents have passed away. He’s a musician (plays/played the guitar, sings, and wrote his own songs, including one for me called Jami Michelle). He’s a disabled Vietnam era Veteran. He grew up under tough circumstances, in a tough house. Worse than many, but not as bad as it could have been.

I know 4 sides to my dad. The first side is tender. I remember him singing the song he wrote for me when I was very young, probably about 3. I don’t have many memories before the age of 10, but time, and God I believe, have been kind to me and allowed me to remember some good things that my heart holds valuable.

The second side is angry. While I was growing up, my dad faced so many obstacles, both because of his disability and lack from his own childhood. He didn’t handle things well, and for that reason I hated him for a very long time. He made choices that hurt me, and he was unapproachable.

The 3rd side is hilarious. He told the funniest jokes and usually had us laughing wildly on road trips. We played 20 questions for hours, sang “Jingle Bells” as he beeped it on the car horn through tunnels, and giggled insanely at his playing on words. He could also be crude and inappropriate, which made me so uncomfortable, but the fun stuff made all the traveling worth it.

The 4th side is vulnerable. I have seen my dad at his weakest, and because I was able to forgive him, that caused me to feel protective towards him. I’ve seen him in grave condition with a ventilator helping him stay alive, much like I’m sure he is now. He thumbed his nose at death then. I’m not sure he’ll do that this time.

Listening to others talk about their relationship with their dad has always made me feel cheated and even jealous. I wish I had my dad encouraging me, cheering for me, and playfully interacting with his grandchildren. We have all been robbed. He’s lived in nursing homes and hospital care since 2003. Military life has kept us at quite a physical distance from him while our relationship has kept us at an emotional one. My kids know the fun things about their Grandpa Jim, and a little about his strictness. They don’t know the man I grew up fearing and hating. My daughter has her own tender memories of my dad from when she was 3, but none of the fearful ones I have purposefully shielded her from. I see no purpose is telling his grandchildren the negative things, I won’t pass on my burdens about him to them. They deserve fun, happy memories.

I said my good-byes and made peace in my heart as we traveled back from Okinawa in 2009, not knowing if he would have passed on or clung to life by the time we landed. It’s been in the back of my mind that he will die at some point. So, it surprises me that I am having such a tough time dealing with it now. It surprises me that my heart is broken that he will probably never meet his youngest grandson and get to see his smile light up the room, or get to hear his crazy laughter. My boys won’t have the fun memories that our daughter has, won’t hear his silliness about things like driving over painted warnings, him yelling, “Watch out! A head!”

The “best” of my dad will be passed on as the condensed version, instead of experienced by them firsthand, while the worst will remain in the past, not known by them at all. I think that envelopes the meaning of “honoring your parents in the Lord“.  God didn’t add, “if you think they deserve it” to that commandment.

 

How Have You Grown?

I was inspired to write this by this blog:
http://thingstoadore.wordpress.com/2013/03/15/and-before-you-know-it/

There is nothing like becoming a mom and being responsible for the lives of our little ones who are so vulnerable and completely dependent on us, to make us both grow, and grow up.

I became a mom at 29. I had almost 3 decades to learn how to be selfish and think about “mememe”. My transition to momhood was ugly. My life before marrying a Godly man was all about my survival, my being independent and responsible, my working hard. I can count on one hand the number of people who sincerely had my back or even cared whether I survived. Transferring that mindset into taking care of a baby, especially after not being around babies much at all, I was a huge mess. I didn’t have family nearby to help me, and I didn’t have the benefit or experience from a healthy relationship with my own parents. I did have my Grandma to confide in, and I had an amazing husband that God provided for me, who supported me, believed in me, and continually shows me kindness I often feel undeserving of.

The first 2 weeks of my first baby’s life were the hardest and scariest of my entire life, and believe me, that is saying a lot. She lost a full pound after being born a month early, and I was trying to learn how to breastfeed her. Thankfully I had encouragement from people at church to not give up breastfeeding. I am so very glad I pushed through. She finally started gaining weight at 2 weeks, and we had some rough times, like clumsily trying to feed her in public and getting a yeast infection in my milk ducts. She is 13 now, and she’s one of the best accomplishments of my life, and a reminder of how much God changed my life when she was born. When she was born, the “mom” me was born. As a mom, she and I are both 13, and trust me, we both have some seriously real “adolescent” days.

Over the past almost 15 years of marriage, God has used His Word to instruct me to not be anxious for anything, to cast all of my cares on Him, and that no matter what, I can lean on Him and He will make all of my pathways clear. He has never failed, He has never given up on me, and I know there is nothing I can’t trust Him with. I have grown as a Believer.

I have grown as a wife. When we first married, I had all sorts of expectations of what I believed a Christian marriage would/should be. I was previously married to a nonbeliever. It was a disaster, and I know it was because of God’s protection over me, in my ignorance and desperation to just have someone who would love me, that I’m alive today. He delivered me from that marriage that I clung to when my ex decided one day he wanted a divorce, but I wouldn’t grant him one. Until I read Scripture, and I heard God in my spirit tell me it was ok to let him go. So, I joined my new husband 6 years later, with God’s permission to remarry, with hopes, plans and expectations. All of those either died out or were changed by God. I learned to relax when things feel out of control, spinning ahead of what I feel ready for, because God knows everything, and I can just lean back on Him, rest, and trust. Being married to a Christian has both defied and soared beyond my expectations.  We don’t pray together about everything, we don’t sing and play praise and worship songs together all the time, we don’t always have it all together with perfect smiles on our faces and lots of Christian friends who adore us, we don’t have popular Bible studies and prayer meetings in our home every week, and we have never gone on mission trips as a family like my heart still longs to do. Yeah, my picture guess was way off from our reality, lol. I’m not “Suzy Homemaker”. I’m a military spouse who has almost no control over any area of decisions or plans, the military takes care of all of that for both of us. I have learned to be content during some pretty intense times, but I’m still learning, and I fail at “content” pretty much every day in one way or another.

I have grown as a daughter. I have a new lens on my “hindsight” indicator. I no longer look through it as a daughter, but I look through it as one who has a daughter. There are things my mom did that I have made sure not to do. There are things I cringe every time I do or say. There are things I am careful to do, and I’m sure there are things I wish I had done, though I can’t think of any off-hand. I learned a lot from my Grandma that I didn’t learn from my own mom. There have also been times when anger or tears pop in because of things I missed out on or was robbed of in my own relationship with my parents. I have had much forgiving to do, needed much grace to apply, and tempered with love much disappointment and frustration. God has helped me to be a better mom to my children than I ever could have been without His compassion and help.

It’s amazing to me when I look back over all of the events of the past decade and a half, just how much “growing” God has accomplished in me while I was distracted by my life’s moments. I still have a lot of growing to do, but wow: God sure has been busy in me!

In what ways have you grown?

Who Controls Your Time?

This is painfully honest, but it’s “real”.

There are some days when I have a heightened sense of awareness concerning how very little control and input I have in my daily life’s circumstances. I am writing this as I sit in our one vehicle waiting for my husband to finish something he’s volunteered to do for our church. I have no issues with his having volunteered. What I am continually frustrated about are my lack choices in my own life. Some days it’s apparent that nothing about my life is about me.

As a Christian, I remind myself that that’s the way my life is supposed to go. Putting others before myself. This is the “season” I am in, and the lesson of learning to be content in all things, it’s a doozy some days.

As a military spouse and veteran, I remind myself that serving our country is an honor. Supporting my husband as he serves, is some days a more difficult sacrifice than my own military service was. He has people telling him what to do and where to be pretty much every minute of his work day. He’s scheduled for meetings without any communication with him about it, and he has no say, nor does he even get to take real vacation time. There is often little to no consideration or concern for how his work affects his home life, by his leadership. He wasn’t issued a family, so his family isn’t important to them. I do my best to keep things under control at home, but I have reached a near breaking point a few times since we moved to this assignment 1 year ago. Service before self, that’s what is expected, even from military families. When he gets orders just days before he’s sent away, I just have to go through the motions of having it all together. If I’m sick or stressed, it doesn’t matter, his duty comes before my life, in every way possible. That’s just the way it is. When he flies, I drop him off so I won’t be without the car if he gets stuck somewhere over night, or for several days. Everything revolves around his schedule, and truth be told: I don’t often feel much like running errands just because his work schedule makes our car available for me to actually go somewhere.
I cannot plan anything. When he comes home from work, he tries not to bring his frustration home too, and he plays with the kids when he can. Sometimes he lays down and falls asleep. Ok, lots of times he does that. I get the leftover exhaustion that’s a result of all the junk he deals with, or exhaustion from his flying 6-10 hours a day.

As a home educating mom, I remind myself that my kids educational needs are priority. They have to learn, we have to stick to a schedule to fit in the State mandated number of hours required, even though the school system certainly doesn’t follow that guideline very strictly. The school system gives kids 5 days off over Valentine’s Day and Presidents Day, alone. My kids can’t take that amount of time off without having to make up time over a weekend or extra long schooldays. Even though they will beg me to go play with their friends, they have to do schoolwork, because of those mandated hours I signed my name before a Notary Republic agreeing to enforce. Normally I enjoy the kids staying home to learn, but I honestly despise that box of “time” everyday that this state has inflicted on us. I have consistently been strict concerning their education from day 1 of their schooling, that mandate is unnecessary, and it’s too restricting.

I have no one to talk to that really understands where I’m coming from. There is nothing that is about “me”, at all right now. When people ask what I like to do, I’m at a loss. I don’t even know anymore. I try to write, but I’m only motivated by getting stuff off of my chest, encouraging others one-on-one, or politics. I play my violin for church sometimes, but that’s another part of my life that is scheduled for me, which isn’t a big deal in and of itself, but when I look at the whole picture, I just get overwhelmed by how lost I am in everyone’s scheduling that affects me but isn’t ever about me. I very much want to play my violin and bless others, just some days I feel crushed by “overwhelm”. Thankfully God never lets it really crush me, and He gives me the strength to get out from under it, and rise above it. I am no good at anything without God’s help.

Nothing about my life is my own right now. I sometimes stay up too late just to get peace and quiet time to myself, but that comes with a price, too. I cannot ever get away from responsibility, or everything being planned for me while not including me in the planning.

I just follow the schedule.

America the Great

Life. Liberty. The Pursuit of Happiness. The American Dream. This is how America was described to me as I was growing up.

I was taught to love and appreciate the country I was blessed to be born into. I was taught to be a giver, and to fight the need to be given to. I was taught to have a sense of pride, and even a touch of arrogance, about being an American, because I live in the greatest country in the world. I was told to love my neighbor as myself.

The definition of neighbor seems to vary among individuals.

Neighbor, to some, means the people in our neighborhoods. To some, it means friends. For some, it includes people at work, school, church, or those we interact with as we enjoy our hobbies and our lives. For some, they also include other nations as our neighbors.

For me, the title of neighbor has grown to include the homeless, the person standing alone at a gathering, the child whose parents would rather they go play than stay home, and the person across the world being persecuted for what they believe, or rather, what they have rejected to take on as a belief.

American Pride often keeps us looking at the things we value, that look good on the surface, but rarely does it acknowledge those within our nation that are the least desirables. At best, we touch those subjects with a few glancing words giving a shallow appearance of compassion, while moving on to a more comfortable subject like football, or how many medals we won in the Olympics this year. American Pride give homage to what looks pretty on the outside, while skirting issues that don’t reflect pride or even the pretty. For example, the way our war heroes are treated, often neglected, if they don’t find the successful path that ends up in a house with the white picket fence and the 2.5 children, that have become entwined with our definition of “American Exceptionalism”.

Years ago, when I was placed in another country, I went with my American Pride and touch of arrogance. I had been taught being an American meant I was the best, that I was better than other people. I learned pretty fast, that I had been taught wrong. I learned that even though we have this great respect for ourselves, other people in the world, well honestly, they hate us. They don’t think we are great, they don’t rejoice with us that we were born in the greatest country in the world. No, they don’t respect us, they don’t even like us.

I learned that people are people no matter what country they live in, and when we attempt to define them by their country of origin, we are missing the big picture. I learned to appreciate what those in my host country of Japan, the Okinawan people, placed value on, not trying to Americanize them, but embracing their culture and learning to interact with them, even in a limited way, in their own language.

I found that people want you to meet them where they are, and find things in common with them that they love, that honor them. I realized that putting people above America was more important than trying to get them to be more like an American. I learned that something as simple as saying, “Thank you.” in their language meant more to them than just about anything I could do or even give them.

I came to love the people of another country, and even respect them as much, sometimes even more, than those in my own country. I grew to appreciate and sincerely value the true humility I saw in them and in their everyday lives. I gathered as much knowledge and information as I could about the area I lived in, so I could understand them better, and so I could be effective when I prayed for them, from my heart.

I gained a new perspective and clearer sight. My neighbor is everyone, no matter what their station in life, or what their nationality or belief. And, I learned how to love them as myself, even more than myself.

America is an amazing country, full of opportunities, hope, and generosity. I love my country, my heritage and my life. But now I also love people everywhere far above my love for my country.

Living out Titles and Roles

Throughout our lives, we acquire many titles that attempt to define us. I have been given several: daughter, wife, mother, violinist, Mrs…

I am the wife of my husband, my life has been molded under that title, by that title, by God’s, my husband’s and society’s definition of “wife”, but the way it’s lived out is different than how other wives live it out. I am not molded by any other woman’s husband to fit the title of wife. I am not the mother of any other children than my own, I don’t discipline other children in the same way that I discipline my own. The title of wife and mother does not define my role in other relationships the same way it defines me with my own husband and children.

In the same regard, I have been molded to fit under the title of Christian. Within that one title, are many roles: sister, Godly, Christ-like, encourager, worshiper, intercessor, forgiven, and so many others.

When I consider how I am a child of the Living God, it can sometimes feel overwhelming. It isn’t just a title, it is part of every aspect of who I am. It’s part of being a wife, mother, daughter, and violinist. I now have a responsibility to be an ambassador for God, to be an accurate representative of His Patience, His Forgiveness, His Love, His Peacemaking. That title extends out to everyone I ever interact with. I am a Child of the Living God. There is continuous molding going on under the surface, every situation is used to mold and shape me into a more clear likeness of Jesus Who modeled God in human form perfectly. My reactions to things are not God’s reactions to things as His ways are higher than mine. As His child, I have the responsibility to make sure I am teachable, not resisting Godly correction from those God places in my life to help me walk in His ways. I have the responsibility to make sure my behavior points the way to God, Glorifying Him, but not embarrassing Him or causing others to not consider coming to Him. I have the overwhelming responsibility to reflect Jesus, and not deflect people from seeking Him.

People aren’t going to turn to Him in times of trouble because I tell them they need to and I one-up them with His Word. They are going to seek Him out because they see His Kindness, Gentleness, Love, and concern for them in their situations. They will be drawn to Him through His perfect Peace within me.

I wonder what aspects of God are recognizable to others in my own life.

Grandad’s Teaching and Example

I had 2 Grandads, growing up. Well, actually a Grandpa and a Grandad.

My Grandpa taught me by example how little I mattered by never getting my name right. He called me “Janey” the whole time I knew him. He never teased or joked, he just didn’t like me. I learned that because I’m a female, he thought I was worthless. I despised him, so much so, I refused to go to his funeral when he passed on my Junior year of High School.

My Grandad called me by my name, never got it wrong. He also called me “Sunshine”, and “Punkin” (his way of saying “pumpkin”). He taught me work ethics and the importance of respecting and valuing others. He had all sorts of stories about knowing Jesse James (he lived on the farm down the street from my great grandparents) as a child before he became an outlaw, meeting Bonnie and Clyde during his days as a security guard on a train before they turned to crime, and his having met Buffalo Bill Cody. I wish I had paid closer attention to his stories, so I could pass them on to my own kids.

My Grandad was a hard worker, and he placed value on others by the work effort they demonstrated, as well. He had the best garden with the yummiest “pickins’ ” I still have ever seen or tasted. He would pay my brother and I a dime to pull weeds each summer. Then as he held the dime out to give to us, he would tell us a story about how that was a day’s wage when he was a kid, or how bread used to cost a nickel a loaf. I never forgot those facts.

He also taught me, consistently, that the effort I put into the work I did would tell people more about me than I could with words. It tells people whether I respect them or not, whether I have self-respect, and if I would be willing to go that extra mile and put in extra hours when needed. In my heart of hearts, work ethics are more important than most things.

Health issues frustrate and keep me from doing all I really want to do. I am trying to pass on to my kids all I learned from my Grandad. I think they are getting it, but sometimes I wonder. Then again, I bet my Grandad wondered if he was getting through to me, and his lessons and example are still some of the strongest bricks of the foundation of my character and person.

So, maybe one day, I will be pleasantly surprised by my own kids really getting it.