My Healthwatch Update



I have been taking this supplement twice a day along with a dose or two of Turmeric for 2-3 weeks now. I notice when I take it with coconut oil, it works better. I also take Vitamin D and Fish oil. Sometimes I add in garlic and ginger. What I have noticed is my legs are better. The pain in my knees is not near as bad, stiffness is also better. I can see places where the swelling has gone down substantially, but I think it’s going to take time for all of the edema and swelling to go down. 

I notice if I miss a dose of the olive leaf extract, my legs get pretty weak, so I do think it’s making a good impact.

When I take Centrum for women with the olive leaf extract, I can feel things are more balanced.

I have added superfoods to my diet, gradually, 2-3 times a week. Coconut water/juice, coconut oil 2-3 times a day, and I add a few of these

  to my coconut water/juice. I don’t even crave chocolate anymore! I let the coconut juice saturate them for a few minutes, then they take on a nutty taste and crunch. They are kind of an acquired taste, but pretty yummy. You can add them to smoothies or even ice cream, as well. 

I’ll keep you updated as I see more results. :)

387 hours!

So precious! You’ll cry and fall in love with this sweet little fighter. ❤

Annalise Hope

Hello my wonderful family and friends!

I cannot believe it has been 16 days since the birth of our sweet little Annalise Hope! The girl who was only supposed to live for an hour… has now made it for about 387 hours! Talk about a fighter who wants to beat all odds and show those doctors up! 😉

-Side note- for those of you who don’t see my Facebook…here is Annalise’s one-week birthday picture from last week:

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Now back to business 😛

Last Friday (the 27th) Kevin and I went to Children’s Mercy to meet up with all the different specialists and doctors to talk about this new diagnosis and about the possibility of a shunt. We didn’t necessarily learn anything new about hydrancephaly besides from what we already heard a couple days before. They mainly were discussing the “pros and cons” of doing a shunt and not…

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What’s In An Opinion?

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I have always liked people.

Anyone who really knows me, knows it’s kind of my nature to try to put others before myself. Sometimes I’m clumsy about it, often I appear to just be trying too hard. OK– yeah, I try too hard.  Always I just want others to know they are important, that they matter. If no one ever tells them that, well, I want them to know they matter to me.

But.

There are times when the harsh cruelty of others knocks the wind out of me and I temporarily lose sight of my heart’s main focus. Maybe it’s like a spotlight on certain behaviors and treatment of me, and everything else dims while my mind works to process it. It’s unfamiliar territory for me. Sometimes it takes days, even weeks, before I realize what’s happened. I’m slow to react. I’ve never understood how anyone can decide they don’t like me, as a person, just because I view life differently than they do. It catches me off-guard when someone positions themselves as though they are above me just because they don’t like what I believe or I do.

I used to think that I need to explain myself. But recently it suddenly struck me: I don’t owe anyone any explanations. Their opinions do not make them superior to me, no matter how much they believe they are.

Just like with anyone, all I have ever wanted was to be known outside of judgement. Could those who look down on me live my experiences and end up as I am now? When I look back over my life, I am so surprised by the success I have become. Not famous, not special, not super talented or even kind of known.

I am loved. I have a handful of people in my life I can count on. I have a husband who has, for whatever reason, decided to stick by me, even through times I consider worst. I am not at my best. My ex-husband abandoned me at a time when I was not at my best. This man, he stands by me. And he actually likes me. I am well aware that I do not deserve him. I don’t believe I have ever been so grateful for anyone. Not only does he know me, he knows my story. If it wasn’t enough for me to tell it to him, he’s heard things first hand from my dad and mom. There is not another person who knows me as well as my husband.

And he still loves me.

My relationship with my mom has gone through some repairs, and it’s stronger I think, now, than ever in my life. We talked through some major things, and we learned so much that we both just didn’t know about some horrible life events and circumstances. I have her permission to write about my childhood traumas, now that my dad has passed on.

Reliving those things I have forced to the back of my memory, that’s what has held me back. I cringe at the thought of reliving so many things.

Since my dad’s passing, I have felt this new freedom to miss him. There is no more frantic fear of what he will say or do. No more added reasons to need to release forgiveness to him. No reasons to work through hatred or hurt. It’s all in a neat tidy package now ready for me to deal with, with no added pressure or painful experiences.

I’ve spent years writing circles around things, because I didn’t want to upset my parents or else I just haven’t wanted to look at what’s in the middle of the circle. It’s time to dive in.

How did I get to this rabbit hole from the beginning of this blog post? I’m recognizing a common link. I loved my dad, I always had this lingering hope we’d someday, somehow, have a healthy relationship. But, because of how he often treated me, I have let others look at me through the same horrible opinions my dad saw me through. I have had myself convinced that others have a right to question me or treat me as though I’m an idiot.

I  have nothing to prove or explain, and I have nothing to fear now by talking about my past.

I’ll be moving forward as I look backward and share some very hard times. I’m hoping there will be some who will travel the journey of my life with me. Going through it alone once was enough. I’d love and appreciate some company this time around.

 

 

 

Perspective

Jemtree's Heart Renewed

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This is my 3 year old’s toy tornado.

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This is my silicone funnel that I bought at the 100 Yen store.

Perspective.

Perspectives are like opinions: everyone has one.

Like noses.

My perspective comes from a different view of life than yours does. My experiences factor into it.

My age, where I have lived and traveled.

The jobs I have worked, the people I have associated with.

My choices, my successes, my failures and my mistakes.

The societal standards for “normal.”

The media sources I pay attention to.

Those all factor in to my perspective equation.

Perspectives are molded over time, and it seems like sometimes they can become the opposite of what they once were.

We don’t even realize something is molding or shaping– let’s just be real here and say manipulating– them at times, when we aren’t paying attention.

One of my favorite phrases…

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9/11: 13 Years Later

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My daughter asked me what today’s date is, and as I glanced at my calendar and told her, the date slapped me across my consciousness. September 11. Wow. So much significance in that date, and yet, this year for the first time, it caught me off my guard.

13 years ago, when our country was attacked by terrorists who have declared a holy war against our nation, I was out of the US. I watched the entire thing unfold, as plane after plane hit, from a long distance, over the news. I did the only thing I could think of doing: logged in to the chat rooms over Yahoo, to see if anyone online was needing someone to talk with, to prayer with or for them, to just be there to keep them from feeling alone. It was shocking to see the chatrooms almost empty. Even the mockers of Christianity were silent, absent from their self-appointed posts.

I waited around online, and eventually someone logged on. They didn’t know about the planes, the fallen towers, the heroes and the many missing and dead. I don’t think they believed me when I told them. Until they turned on the news. Then, they logged out.

For one day time online seemed to stand still. The busyness of the primitive versions of our now sophisticated social media was abandoned, forgotten. I doubt social media will ever again see such abandon and neglect. I prayed for 2 or 3 people on that day (it was night for me). I don’t remember the prayers, or the names/id’s of the people. But, I remember being grateful that I was able to just do something to help anyone. I felt so helpless, being so far away. I cried and prayed a lot that night, all by myself.

I still cry on September 11.

Yet, this year, I didn’t remember to think about the day as the anniversary approached. I let myself get caught up in daily cares and life.

I didn’t forget.

I just didn’t pay attention. I didn’t prepare myself for the flood of memories.

I’m letting the memories start to slip away.

9/11 2012 was another reminder of murderous hatred towards our nation. People died. Regardless of political beliefs and whatnot, no one can dispute that our Ambassador did not deserve to die. So horribly.

The men protecting him did not deserve to die and be abandoned by their own country’s leadership.

I forgot to remind myself to remember.

I’m ashamed, and sad.

I can’t let myself forget to remember, again. Those people did not just die in vain. They do not deserve to be forgotten. My daily life is not more important than the death they experienced in service for my country and essentially my protection.

Ambassador Christopher Stevens.

Sean Smith.

Tyrone Woods.

Glen Doherty.

They deserve to be remembered by name.

Embracing Pain and Fear

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It’s on my heart to share this, and given recent events in the Middle East, I can see that in some respects, it could be a timely message for some.

As an American, I’d say–in our modern American culture, there seems to be a strong growing trend to avoid pain and suffering. We’re a first world nation, we should expect to have comfort and some luxuries, isn’t that the mindset we have all just accepted as normal, healthy living?

We tell ourselves we deserve it.

I think this has, in some ways, weakened some of our resolve and even work ethics.

In today’s America we often expect to be well paid for a job we put minimal effort into doing well. We complain about working, about customers, about our bosses, about not getting paid enough–so little contentment with so much expectation and even an overreaching of an attitude of entitlement of money, healthcare, cell phones or the latest electronic device, of getting everything we want and having every convenience possible, with as little effort as possible.

Us moms, we often give in to the temptation of having a pain-free birth. I gave in with our 4th baby, but I felt like I had somehow cheated. I’m not saying I think that’s wrong, but it seems like it could be a symptom of pain avoidance.

My first 3 births were natural, no pain killers at all. Our second child came so quickly, there was no time to even have an IV put in.

Through childbirth, I learned how to embrace the pain of the contractions, to use that pain to know when to help my baby come out into the world. I bonded with my babies, I struggled and strove to help them. The pain wasn’t something I feared, but something I embraced, I used it to accomplish purpose.

During the labor of my 3rd baby, God spoke to me through the pain.

He told me no one could touch my soul because it’s safe with Him. No matter what happens to my body, my soul can never be touched, harmed, or stolen.

With the recent growing number of killings of Christians, this is something He has reminded me of, to share and have others meditate on.

Pain is fleeting. Salvation is Eternal. Our soul is safe when we give it to God through belief on Christ Jesus. As a result, I know deep within, I Never have to be afraid of any pain. I know that God will avenge me for anyone who hurts me, because I belong to Him.

I know that God will avenge every Christian murdered by those who have set themselves up as enemies of The Most High God. We may not see how He does it, but their souls will never have the comfort, peace, rest or safety that the souls of those they murdered will have for ALL of Eternity.

God’s judgment is coming for those who dare to touch the ones He has claimed as His own.

I have no fear, because I know Who I belong to. And, if I stumble into fearfulness, God reminds me that it’s His perfect love that casts that out. I don’t have to succumb to it, to let it take over my reactions, my emotions or my actions and words. I don’t have to let it take control, I am not helpless because I have Help.

I have read and heard quite a few interpretations of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednigo–from prosperity encouragements, to commitment, to God’s faithfulness to us. But, what I get out of that account is that no matter what–no matter the pain, no matter if God chose not to intervene or help them–No Matter What, they would remain faithful to God. Because they knew Who they belonged to. No amount of pain, or manipulation, or fear-inducing circumstances could make them turn their backs to God.

He chose to help them. I have no doubt if He hadn’t, they would have died in that furnace still completely faithful to God. Because they knew He knows the end from the beginning. He knows the reasons He does, or does not do things.

Do you know Who you belong to? Do you believe on Him so deeply, that no amount of pain or suffering will manipulate you into relenting and turning away?

We need to pray that those being killed for belonging to Him through Jesus know Who they belong to. We need to pray that God will intervene, that Jesus will return, and that this persecution will be stopped. Only the return of Jesus is going to stop it.

When we obey the command to pray for peace in Jerusalem, we are praying for Jesus to come back and intervene on behalf of those who are suffering because of His Name.

Return, Lord Jesus, return quickly!

When we Christians unite, the power of God is manifest through our agreement in prayer, through our worship of God, and that is what causes fear in our enemies. That is why they kill, because Satan knows and wants to stop God’s power from flowing through His body–The Church, The Bride of Christ.

We are part of something so much greater than we are just in ourselves.

Satan is using people who believe his lies to try to stop God from working through us. He will not succeed, we know that from The Revelation of John.

But, where 2 or 3 are gathered, He is in our midst. When we have faith, we can tell a mountain to move, and it will.

Do we ever challenge our own faith?

Paul had a thorn in his side that God chose not to remove. There is debate of what that thorn was, but what I understand is–Paul chose to continue to faithfully serve God with that thorn unremoved. He didn’t complain. He didn’t yell at God. He didn’t quit. He didn’t rebuke it.

Paul focused on God, not on the thorn.

Our faith and our commitment need to grow up. We need to put off the American part of ourselves and embrace the Eternal, like putting off our old selves to put on the new. Ephesians 4:22-32 Colossians 3:1-4

We can’t, after all, take America with us, and America can’t keep our souls safe Eternally.

Only the One True God can do that.

How To Build A Mom

The first item needed is the promise of a child. This usually begins with a growing belly and cravings for strange foods that defy human logic. Like a cheese and mint jelly sandwich. Variations include the promise of a pet, adopting a child, and investing in the life of another.

Next thing needed might be a careful study of blueprints. A super close look can even detect the evidence of God’s design, which is often shaped by circumstances and experiences to develop the prototype. It’s from these elements the plans for a supportive, strong base foundation stem. However, sometimes the blueprints are bypassed, and intuition and avoidance of past experiences are engaged instead.

Next, a team of helpers for support, advice,  some amount of prayer, with at least one model to draw off of will be needed. The model can be well-known or local anonymity, past or present, real or wishful thought.

Finally, a child (or pet) is added. Then, watch all the plans come unraveled as life adventures begin to unfold. And, Voila! A mom has been built.

 

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.

Elements of Critique: Dialogue

Hubby’s taking an a-z blogging challenge. I don’t want to brag but…. Oh, who am I kidding? He’s brilliant! I can’t help but brag.

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My teenage son is constantly getting into trouble with Mom. It’s because of his mouth.

“The problem’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.”

With dialogue the problem can be both.

First, I need to know who’s talking. That means attribution tags are important to include as early into the speech as possible. I read books to my kids, and I do voices for certain characters. You’d be surprised how often I have to double back after reading two or three lines of speech, because the author did not let the reader know who was talking until the very end.

If I’m critiquing a piece and I come to a point where I don’t know who’s talking, I’ve identified a problem for the writer to fix.

Second, I need to know how something is said, but this can be tricky. I used to try descriptive speech verbs. He…

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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.

Church “Home”

I feel so blessed that this time as we transition, we are leaving an actual church home. Not just because we chose to become members and begin to lay down roots. No. There are many facets in why we stayed with this church until God, through the military, chose to move us on from the area.

There are a lot of really “good” churches. There are also, sadly, some not-so-good churches. Every church has different focuses, different ministries, and even different reasons for having been planted.

This church has felt like home. I have been free to just be myself. I have been allowed to make mistakes, to grow, to be the vessel God has molded me to be. Not everyone has been formed by God into a pitcher. Some are vases, some are bowls, some are cups… All can be poured into by God, but there are a variety of ways God redistributes what He uses through us. I have been able to serve as God has built me to serve. And, it’s not been an issue with anyone that my season just has not been one of exhausting myself getting involved with everything possible. Maybe some haven’t liked that, but I don’t feel judged or labeled, or even rejected. No one has resorted to calling me offensive names, or directing sermons at me trying to get me to change something that they completely misjudged about me. Nope. Not this time.

I love that this church is involved with several missions to quite a few international locations. They open their doors to guest speakers who share stories about God using them to help people who don’t have many opportunities to be shown hope, kindness, love or grace (Project Rescue). They embrace opportunities to reach out to hurting children in ways that don’t try to conform the child to any standard, but just to give them a chance to rest, and have fun in a safe environment (Royal Family Kids Camp). They reach out into the community to give what is needed, and make things fun and inviting (Harvest Party and Feed the Multitudes).

I’m not going to blather on all mushy-like about how perfect it’s always felt to me since we started going. It’s not perfect. It’s not fakey-polite, it’s not elevating of certain people. It’s well-balanced. And, while, of course, there are things I would personally change, the things I would not change far out-weigh anything petty.

It’s real, with real people, doing real things, with God at the heart of it all. The teaching is sound, with just the right touch of “edginess” and twists on perspective to illuminate the Word of God being alive – that double-edged sword that separates our understanding and everyday ways from God’s actual intentional purposes and plans.

That’s why I consider this my church home- because it reminds me of how things will be in our Heavenly Home. I have been satisfied here.

 

 

Missed

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I’ve said goodbye to an extraordinary amount of people during my lifetime. So many, I’ve lost count. Different phases, stages, careers and places I’ve moved on from.

This past year I’ve lost 4 people near to my heart, to death: 2 sisters in Christ that I admired deeply, my dad, and my middle school music mentor who helped form the individual I’ve become.

 I don’t remember how the two sisters in Christ that passed on last year dressed. I remember how they demonstrated their love for the Lord by giving Him their lives, their hopes and dreams, in service, worshiping Him in spirit and in truth. I remember seeing the reflection of God’s heart as they prayed for me and others. I remember the Hope they lived out and openly shared with people who had no idea they even needed it. I remember when I was young, how my dad made me laugh. I remember how my music mentor encouraged my creativity and helped me form a sincere love for music, how it could be fun, how we could take the notes and put them in different orders to make new melodies. I don’t remember what color shirt he wore, or if he wore sneakers or dress shoes. 

It’s human nature to size people up. We value our opinions more than we value the person our opinions are about. It’s God’s nature to value what’s within each individual, the unique qualities that make us all who we are.

We’re all so much more than our outer packaging. My own life has been full of adventures, twists and turns, comedy, drama, tragedies, trials– easily missed by an outward scan of the eye. 

My heart misses the people who have impacted my life over the years. My eyes miss seeing their smiles or tears of compassion. My ears miss hearing their laughter and voices.

The things we place value on in the here and now are often completely erased– rendered invalid as time passes on.

What do you miss about those you’ve cherished?

Remember Me?

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Lots of people make a fuss to get gifts for loved ones during the Christmas season. For some, it’s just about checking people off of a list. For others, it’s about spending as little money and/or time as possible. For others, it’s about really looking for that “perfect” gift for each person.

My love language is giving and getting gifts, so I’m a “perfect gift” searcher. I fail if I don’t give something that has special thought and meaning behind it. Empty gifts just create clutter and are easily given away. One with thought and purpose involved also contains a portion of my heart and thoughts towards the recipient.

I am not one to just get “something, anything”.  That makes me sincerely uncomfortable.

This year I got some really nice gifts.

God gave us all the ultimate gift. He put so much thought and care into His gift to us. It’s the perfect way to be with Him eternally, if we will choose Him to be first in our lives. He gave all of His heart, all of His love, all of Himself to make a clear path for us all to join Him one day.

Our gift to God is allowing Him to be our help in everything and loving Him more than we love anyone or anything else. That’s what He wants.

Have we remembered God this Christmas season?

15 Things I Wish I’d Known About Grief

Wow. This is completely on the mark. Great advice for losing loved ones through death, divorce, and broken relationships.

Identity Renewed

After a year of grief, I’ve learned a lot. I’ve also made some mistakes along the way. Today, I jotted down 15 things I wish I’d known about grief when I started my own process.

I pass this onto anyone on the journey.

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1. You will feel like the world has ended. I promise, it hasn’t. Life will go on, slowly. A new normal will come, slowly.

2. No matter how bad a day feels, it is only a day.  When you go to sleep crying, you will wake up to a new day.

3. Grief comes in waves. You might be okay one hour, not okay the next. Okay one day, not okay the next day. Okay one month, not okay the next. Learn to go with the flow of what your heart and mind are feeling.

4. It’s okay to cry. Do it often. But it’s okay to…

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Individually One Flesh

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Mark 10:8 “and the two shall become one flesh; so they are no longer two, but one flesh.” (NASB)

Marriage is the most unique relationship between humans. When a man and woman marry, it takes time to learn how to live together.  How to agree and disagree. Whether or not to even have children.

Then, if having kids, how to raise them and discipline them. How to encourage them in the midst of parents coming from 2 different perspectives, backgrounds, and maybe even world  views.

There are many outside forces to consider. The husband and wife learn they have to set boundaries for outside forces so they can follow the path together that they set out on when they said, “I do”. There are things to compromise on, things to agree on, and times where tongues may or may not be held, when one does things the other doesn’t like.

I learned a lot from my first marriage that failed. I was rejected by a husband who was far from the image he sold me before we married. I was shoved out of the way to make room for another woman. As I struggled with my hurt, I also learned how to become an individual again. I lost “me” completely within that marriage.

When God brought His choice for me into my life, I remembered my previous marriage experience. How bad things were with a man who would have nothing to do with God or church. I realized it would be best to focus on what is right with my second-chance marriage. I chose to not adopt society’s way of focusing on what I see as being wrong, and telling others about my irritations, getting people to be on my side.

We are one flesh. There are no sides.

What I say reflects back on both of us. It points to my character as much as his character.

But although we are one flesh, we are still both individual people. One of the hardest lessons I have gleaned from is: I can’t take his failures personal. Not everything is about me. Sure, his decisions and actions affect me more than any other person besides him. Sure, I am in it with him, and when he makes bad decisions they affect me like they affect him. I am part of the fall-out. My feelings are entangled with his choices. And, no, he doesn’t often remember to think about that.

God gave him to me. To love me, to provide for me, to protect me.

Sometimes I forget: God also gave me to him.

God gave me to him to be his help mate. He may not want my help. He may not recognize what I am trying to do as being helpful.

But, God has given me a mission as his wife: help him.

How am I supposed to help him? The first thing is to let him be the individual God created him to be.

I have to disengage my feelings when he falls off the pedestal I tend to put him on. He is not immune from making sinful decisions. So, how can I help him look to God more? How can I help him be a man of prayer and response, rather than human reactions? How can I help him make decisions best for the whole family, that please God, rather than just decisions for himself?

I need to remind myself at times that God will work out the details for what He sees as faults.

How can I help him be his best for God? Without being manipulative. Without trying to be his Holy Spirit. Without putting my opinion and expectations in place as the standard I try to push on him. How can I just let him be him, treat him with respect and loving-kindness, regardless of what I see as being wrong?

How can I submit to his leadership, in a sense, without losing my own individuality in the process? How can I help him consider my needs and instincts, while balancing myself against things I recognize as not being God’s best for him, us, or our family?

My husband needs me. Whether he acknowledges it or even recognizes it, or not.

He needs me to be encouraging when he feels overwhelmed. He needs me to pray for him. He needs me to help carry his burdens, when possible, and let him handle them his way when I can’t.

He needs me to love and accept him, unconditionally. He needs me to not harden my heart when he doesn’t do things “perfect”, or even when what he does and says hurts me.

The hardest part of being his helpmate is focusing on my mission from God to respect him and be the helpmate God gave me to him to be. Through prayer, fasting, encouraging, silence, sharing Scripture, and being nonjudgmental when he does not do things the way I would.

Individually, we are one flesh. He does not have anyone else like me in his life.

God has given me an important mission on earth. To help one of His children in ways no other person can, with God’s help through my life.

We are 2 individuals that are also one-flesh. Even when my other half messes up, or strays from God. I still have my purpose given to me from the Divine. That does not get cancelled out. If anything, it becomes a more urgent focus.

My feelings and expectations are not the standard I live by. God’s standard is what I am striving to live by.

I can’t just give up and walk away, even if it ever felt like it was killing me.

Jesus didn’t give up and walk away when it was killing Him.

What Will Greater Things Look and Sound Like?

John 14:12 NASV “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=5_TOOXRpn8w#t=247

As my soul drinks in this song linked above, some questions come to mind. What will the greater things Jesus said we would do, look like and sound like? Can you even imagine what it will be like for God’s Kingdom to come down to earth?

The first time the human race experienced God’s Kingdom coming to earth, most did not recognize it.

Most weren’t even aware. Only those whose hearts were linked with The Creator of all, knew. Only those who had a relationship with the Living God appreciated what God had given to all humanity. Only those who studied the prophecies of the coming Messiah recognized Him and loved Him.

72084292455What does it look and sound like when God’s Kingdom touches earth? Have we ever experienced even a taste of that? I think it looks like Praising and Worshiping in one accord. I think it’s supernatural abilities of demonstrating kindness, love, and forgiveness. Like those times when we are aware of God’s heart for other people, and we seek Him on behalf of them. Or, when telling the truth, even in the hardest of situations, becomes more important than saving face or being right. When the needs of others being met overshadows our worries and fears about our own needs being met, and those who are hurting can rely on those who have hurt in similar way to walk with them, listen and pray for them. That’s what it looks like, sounds like, and feels like, to me.

We look like and act like Jesus.

What will His return look like? What will it sound like?

We know from Scripture, there will be a trumpet sounded from Heaven.  Will everyone be able to hear it, or just those who have been called and chosen by Him? Will there be a rushing sound as there was when the Holy Spirit first was released? Will there be a choir of Angels singing His Praise as He rushes to the aid of His people being persecuted, or about to be persecuted?

He IS returning. Signs He mentioned tell me that it will be soon, and most of us will not even realize it… I pray we do everything we can to make ourselves ready and aware of His return. That we all don’t remain complacent, burdened and buried by the concerns of this life, which tug at our hearts and minds, draining our energy, warring with our focus. That we don’t get, or remain, so consumed in all the things we say we are doing for Him, that we don’t pay attention to Him. That we will be ready for Him. Would we be ready if He returned tonight?

What do you think will greater things look and sound like?

Bondage Gospel: Good News?

1048428-Royalty-Free-RF-Clip-Art-Illustration-Of-A-Cartoon-Happy-Springy-Man-Running-BarefootMark16:14-15 (NLT)
Still later he appeared to the eleven disciples as they were eating together. He rebuked them for their stubborn unbelief because they refused to believe those who had seen him after he had been raised from the dead.  “And then he told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone…”
Recently in the news, many rejoiced that 3 young women who had been held captive by a man for a decade, were suddenly found and freed. They were alive! Though not unharmed, and changed in ways most of us will never comprehend. They were finally allowed the freedom to return to their loved ones, robbed of a decade of memories and experiences with them.
 I think we can all agree, their new freedom was good news!!! And, it was spread, far and wide.
Also, recently in the news, the government has enforced a new law that is popular with some, and unpopular with others.  For years, many have been shouting the good news about free government healthcare. For others, they recognized a new bondage they have been forced to embrace.
The Gospel can come across that way. When we Christians quote the 10 Commandments of God to the world, many look at it as a new bondage. One that locks them into a box of condemnation and away from the freedom to live as they choose to. Many hear the clanging of gongs whose noise level is deafening, and it makes them run away from what they think of as a type of ancient imprisonment. It makes them strike out in anger at the ones making the noise.
Sadly, we have been ineffective messengers. We’ve caused many to equate the Good News of Jesus conquering eternal death, and being raised up from the grave, as an agreement to surrender to a bondage. One they cannot live up to, and don’t even want to try.
Do we hear how we sound?
Is what we say, and the attitude in which we say it, how we ourselves were drawn to Jesus?
When we say to someone, “You will die a forever death that will keep you eternally separated from the love of God, from the goodness of God, from God Himself”, what reaction does that invoke?
How can we communicate the Gospel message effectively?
Do we even want to communicate effectively?
See, it seems like sometimes we prejudge people and we tailor our message to fit the perception we have created with our opinion. Then, we leave God out of the message. Oh, we talk about Him, we try to thump it into people’s guilt and consciences. God is probably not in that.
Many have come to equate the Gospel message with a message of condemnation and criticism for how they are, who they are, and how they want to live.
When did Jesus ever talk to an unbeliever like that?
How many people actually ask us what they have to do to be Saved? Most often, it’s an unwilling listener who gets a barrage of what a horrible person they are.
When my husband asked me to marry him, if he had told me what a horrible person I was and how he could make me be a better person if I would marry him, I would have never spoken to him again.
That’s what we do when we walk in condemnation of the people God loves and wants to draw near to Him. They aren’t going near God with a 10 foot pole, when we approach them like that.
Are we like Jonah? Deep down inside, do we feel like they don’t deserve our loving God’s arms wrapped around their lives, or His promises fulfilled for them?
Is it really a Gospel of repelling and condemnation we are wanting to pass on, so they will instead reject the wonderful things we have been given in Christ Jesus?
Or, is it a manipulative way we embrace because of how we view our own inadequacies in sharing Jesus with a world full of hostile critics? Is it our own lack of faith in God working through us to draw others to Himself through us?
Are we willing to be vessels filled with His love and grace?
Whatever our definition of love is, I do not believe, most often, it is God’s definition of love. Where is the kindness, the gentleness, the peacefulness that God Himself demonstrates to us constantly? Is God like the slave master who whips us into submission to Him?
NO!
He is gentle, and loving, and Kind, giving us everything we need. Why is it, then, that often we take on a harsh, mean attitude, and shout about Sodom and Gomorrah, the 10 Commandments, and how the unbeliever needs to repent?
Perhaps there is a time and a place for that. But, most often – I think not.
I believe these are some hard questions we need to be asking ourselves. This is a mirror for us to look into, and do a heart and motivation check.
Paul wrote:
1 Corinthians 5:9-12 (NASB)
I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; 10 I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world. 11 But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a one. 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church

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.

In All Things Charity

“Scripture shotguns and Gospel grenades just don’t make a lot of sense to me. “In all things, charity.”
Not casualties.”

Wanton Disregard for Safety

I am amazed when I consider how some Christians handle conflict.

Some people seem content to throw the figurative grenade into the room, then pick up the pieces and see what’s left. No really, that’s pretty much a quote I was given as one person’s method of conflict resolution.

There are those who feel compelled to fire their Scripture-shotgun into the face of any opposition, no matter how tame. “I know what God says on this matter. I asked Him.” Or perhaps “I have a degree in Christian Ministry, so I don’t need your input on Christianity, kthxbai.”

Not exact quotes but close enough.

I attend a church whose stated vision is to “Saturate our city and our world with the heart of God.” My wife and I have been playing for the music ministry for about a year and a half now. When they announced a new members class…

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Being An Enabler Is Good

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Isaiah 57:14 “And it will be said,
“Build up, build up, prepare the way,
Remove every obstacle out of the way of My people.””

We’ve all heard the phrase and warning, “Don’t be an enabler“. I grew up thinking there is only one definition and only one way to enable: to allow, encourage or make excuses for the wrong or hurtful behavior of another. I became an expert in not fitting that definition. I also became an expert at knowing how to avoid being co-dependent.

Recently I’ve become aware that Merriam-Webster is changing definitions to words. No, not adding new definitions, but erasing/deleting/removing previous definitions, then adding new ones. “Tolerance” is one that has been redefined. I’m going to work hard to help change the mindset about this word “enabling”. Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying we completely throw out the definition society most often grabs hold of and speaks out against. I am saying, let’s get to the place where that becomes a secondary definition, and the word doesn’t cause such a negative reaction.

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I thought about how using a lawn mower enables us to take care of our lawn.

Recently my husband was asked to play the keys in a band performing that didn’t have someone available to play them. I reacted, rather than responding, with a groan. My husband has so many demands on his time. Often when it’s my turn, he’s so exhausted he’s falling asleep. Things have been busier for both of us, and I was looking forward to just having a day where nothing was scheduled that we could relax at home. Then, he explained the reason for the performance. It was an opportunity for the young lady singing to participate in an open air concert, with a possible opportunity to be able to open for a big named singer in the future. Wow. I didn’t want to stand in the way of that possibility! So, I stopped complaining and dreading his being busy with yet another thing, and I went with him in support. Meeting her and hearing her sing, I realized this was a super big deal. She is good, with a powerful message that made me cry while they were rehearsing.

So, that got me to thinking, and realizing: I’ve been short-changed. There is a whole other positive side to being an enabler, one I think the majority of us would love the chance to embrace. So, here are some ways to enable the people in your life:

1) Always speak to them with words that encourage and build up.

2) Address things that need to be changed or done better, in a positive way. Don’t just allow the negative to continue, but don’t criticize harshly or condemn.

3) Be available to support in the ways they need, not the ways you think they need.

4) If they mess up or fail, be there to support, build up and gently encourage them to not give up.

5) Support them and help them have a balanced attitude when they succeed.

 

Only An Internet Message Away

380482647455Many of us have lost a friend or loved one that left us a bit bewildered as to why God choose to take them.

I have, recently.

I can’t say I knew her very well. We joked, we chatted about Scripture and natural foods, and we shared prayer concerns. She once watched my kids at my van while I ran my dog into the Vet, because kids weren’t allowed and my husband was unavailable to help out. We ran into each other a few times out shopping, and at a Christian weekly function. All of this has been scattered over the past 8 years or so, beginning shortly after my second son was born.

Even with that limited interaction, she left an impact on my heart. Her smile could draw someone out of the darkest mood, and her laugh had to have shattered demons ears, it was so full of joy. She had the most gorgeous long, flowing hair. But, it was her countenance that was the most apparent. You could just look at her and not only see her love for Jesus, but you could feel His love for her. I remember seeing her and her husband standing close by each other, worshiping Jesus together at The Harbor. It was so easy to see how cherished she was by him, as he would stroke her long hair and have his arm around her. They had a silent testimony of the power of love in a marriage. It’s just not something that is so noticeable in marriages, not even Christian marriages, so it has stood in my mind, like a beacon. That is what God wants in our marriages, and it’s what He wants in our personal relationship with Him. To be so comfortable and natural together, I wish that for every marriage.

I don’t understand why God allowed her to pass on. She was one of the warm, beautiful lights here, glowing with His love for everyone. I get to see her again one day, and because of that I am sincerely able to rejoice. Even though I miss her here, just knowing she was here, ministering to someone, reflecting Jesus to others so clearly was so comforting. I have a friend from high school that I’ve been separated from by time, distance and circumstances, but I can pick up the phone and call her, and we talk like there’s nothing separating us at all. It was like that for me with my friend who passed away.

I miss just knowing she was only an internet message away.

Pound of Flesh… or Soda

SonWorshiper

I chugged the last of my third can of Diet Mountain Dew (or Mtn Dew, as the label now reads), and I listened to the radio news on the way home from work.

“A court in New York struck down the city’s ruling limiting beverage sizes in restaurants to 16 ounces.”

Well good. That was stupid.

Then I hear that somebody or other “vows to appeal and continue this fight.”

Seriously?

New York City must be an absolutely amazing place. If the biggest problem on their plate these days is fighting against a venti or the dreaded 32 oz giant soda from the gas station, then we should all be moving there ASAP. Forget crime, and gun control (or lack thereof). Forget about cities going bankrupt or businesses struggling, or unemployment rates.

Someone out there might drink a 24 oz cup of Coke!

What’s to stop me from getting a…

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“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.   😉