Being Mary In A Martha World

I’m a worshiper. Most often, when I am able and there is a place and opportunity for me, I join the Worship or Praise team of a local church or chapel. We’ve moved quite a bit, or we’ve moved on when we find a church no longer is a good fit for us and our family needs. Right now my husband is stepping in to cover for Worship leaders and pianists that are taking a summer break with travel. Our current chapel service that we feel most fits us doesn’t have need for our usual talents and skills very often, so we both find ourselves in a kind of new situation.

As a home educating mom, in the past I have hit the “your kids use the nursery or classrooms, so you need to volunteer” in a head-on collision quite a few times. Many times I’ve responded by not using those things at all and teaching my children how to behave and participate in the praise and worship while I play my violin or sing.

The problem came in when someone got upset because I was playing violin and not rocking babies. This hasn’t been an issue for me in quite sometime– mostly because my kids aren’t nursery babies any longer, but I find I still have a tough time dealing with attitudes about me not serving the way someone else thinks I need to step up and do.

First of all– I am not 25. I have the energy of someone 20 years older than I actually am, and I live with limiting circumstances in a community that often just doesn’t “get” that. It takes everything I have to play my violin in Worship, some days.

Here’s a conversation I can imagine having:

Me— I’m here.

Church— what do you have of value that you can give to me?

Me— I have nothing of value in me right now, I’ve given all of myself to worshiping God.

Church— I’ll talk to you when you have something to give me that is worthy of my time.

I’ve had work supervisors that would get on me about not standing around, always looking busy. I’ve attended churches that treated me the same. If I “stand around” and don’t exhaust myself volunteering for every opportunity to serve, my value drops.

Can the Church please stop acting like the world?

Programs and outreaches are nice and often helpful. But sometimes they aren’t the necessary things they are presented as being. Church members are often exhausted, which causes dysfunction. Or maybe, a shifting of focus could help assuage those that do need ministry focus inside of the church body.

Many times programs, outreaches and ministries are started and run with good intentions but not necessarily at the leading of the Holy Spirit.

People in the Church have needs not being met. We are often encouraged and prompted to “give of ourselves”, but we need to be given to, we need healing, healthy relationships– we need kindness shown to us all just because and not because of something.

God made us to need one another.

This isn’t the big issue it’s been for me in the past. I’ve learned my own limits to avoid unnecessary exhaustion, as well as how to say no.

I want to be about the Father’s business. I want to worship at His feet, to rest in His Presence, to be a drawing force for others to enter into His healing, comforting Presence.

I am a Mary in a Martha world.

Don’t Forsake The Assembling Of ‘Ourselves’ Together

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Hebrews 10:25.

How many times I’ve heard that– especially when I’ve missed a service at some churches. I’ve lost count!

I’ve exhausted and frustrated myself trying to jump through those hoops that lead to acceptance.

What about when the assembly forsakes it’s own members?

Like me.

When my health started to betray me, and I was going through some honestly scary stuff– where was that assembly then?

Not rallied around me, listening, praying and cheering me on with encouragement.

No. It was silent.

Unless I asked for prayer. Then– it prayed, maybe laid hands on me too– and then it went back to whatever else was going on, and silence for me again.

And let me tell you– I have had need of encouragement!

When I was struggling as a kid and teen with things I couldn’t tell anyone about, I needed that assembly.

When I nearly died, a few times, that assembly has been nowhere around.

When it was up to me to forgive some deeply serious and scarring offenses so I could be free to move on with my life and follow God’s path for me, where was that assembly?

When my dad passed away, and I was numb because our relationship was so screwed up, I needed the assembly.

How thankful I am that I have that close relationship with my Redeemer. He has always given me exactly what I need, when I need it.

But– God made us to need others. The Church isn’t supposed to be like a game of jump-rope where you just jump in and hope you don’t mess up the rhythm or get hit or tripped-up by the ropes. There is supposed to be a mutual-ness to it. Not a sizing-up, or a dressing-down. It’s not one-size-fits-all, and yet it’s supposed to be all for people.

The safest place on earth.

That’s what Church is supposed to be.

I always thought it was like a hospital for the sick, a resting place for the weary, and a nurturing place for neglected outcasts. Welcoming and warm…

I’ve struggled my whole life with fitting in, or feeling like I fit in. We all have our family issues and personality quirks, along with unrealistic expectations.

But when, as a kid, I heard several congregations singing about being “The Family of God”, my mind formed certain expectations that I honestly haven’t felt are unrealistic.

I see others laughing, spending time together, helping one another out. I’ve watched from the outer courts on so many occasions, like the envious little girl watching the big kids skillfully turn the jump ropes while the confident kids jump in and sing rhymes timed with fancy footwork.

So when I heard the song about being family– well– I’ve been looking for the evidence of that.

I’ve wanted to find one where there is a healthy father- figure for me, one where the women are not competitive, judge-mental, or seem to actually ignore and look past me.

I am so tired of the Church acting like the world. Or worse.

I want to find that true Family of God.

One where the assembly does not forsake me.

One where God doesn’t speak to my spirit to tell me the Pastor is my enemy, not my friend.

This is what is on my heart and mind today.

When I Was A Young Lass

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I’m getting older. I can’t deny it. I can stop counting years when I celebrate my birthdays, but I can’t stop aging– as much as I’d like to freeze a few years at a time. And, to make things even trickier– my birthdays happen so much faster than they used to!

My birthday was a few months ago, but it’s really just hitting me now– crap! I’m a year older, again! My mind feels 20 and my body is somewhere in the waaaay-older-than-that range.

I’m at a stage where I tend to reflect back over my life, remembering what I was like when I was younger. I don’t wish I were there again, and I’m realizing I’m not even the same person I was.

For starters, I’m a mom now of kids ranging from age 7 to age 19, with my oldest being a much more beautiful and just as stubborn version of someone much like I was– but way better than I ever was.

If I were to wish for any part of who I was to be part of who I am now, it would be the endless energy I had! I’m tired now– all the time! I was designed by God to be a survivor, fighting my way through difficulties and challenges that I do not miss. I had so much energy, so much motivation to be the best version of me I could be.

I’m not the same person that I was in my younger years. Each experience and phase I’ve passed through has been evolving me in metamorphosis that happens so slowly, so deceptively simple yet intricately detailed, I can’t catch it with my eyes. Except in hindsight. Only through the rear-view of my life, rewinding the years and events through my memory.

I went through years of self-hatred, believing the things perfunctory and critical people, who’s opinions I valued as much as I value the air I breathe and the water I drink, said to me and about me. For many years I heard the words my dad said to me, and they guided me into relationships where I believed them so deeply, I allowed others to be abusive because I didn’t believe I deserved better than that. Then I would have a moment of waking up, realizing that things didn’t have to be that way at all. I didn’t have to let myself be bullied, harassed or abused.

I was evolving into an independent woman who was learning her self-worth came from my opinion of myself, and the opinions of others did not shape me or choose my path for me.

Ultimately my God’s opinion of me pulled me out of some very dark places mentally and physically– certainly spiritually. He views me far differently than any human, and not at all like my dad did.

So– as I reflect back over my youth, and covet the energy I used to have, I wouldn’t want to change the path I’ve been on. There are situations and circumstances– and people– I do wish I could have avoided. But they helped propel me in many cases in the direction I followed, which led me onto the path I now walk with Jesus.

Forward is now where I need to set my view, with Jesus being the window I look through. I believe our world is speeding up to the end, that Jesus will be returning, and I need to get myself ready.

Now, instead of looking back over my younger days, I will focus on the child-like faith Jesus told us we need to have. I don’t have to give up youth, it’s just evolved into a different form now.

Mark 10:13-16 (NLT)

One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could touch and bless them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him. When Jesus saw what was happening, he was angry with his disciples. He said to them, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” Then he took the children in his arms and placed his hands on their heads and blessed them.

Unavailable

Usually I make myself available for others to talk with, to help with their online businesses, to help their friends with their online businesses…

It’s rarely convenient for me. But I value people and sincerely want to help others succeed.

I’m seeing how little that is actually valued beyond the moment it happens, so I’m stopping that part of my friendship offering.

If I kept a journal of friends and family seeking me out first to talk with and spend time with because they genuinely enjoy my company, because they take an interest in what I am interested in– it would be full of blank pages.

I have become that person that is an afterthought to everyone. I’m the convenient one to ask to buy things, or help get someone through some sort of a bind– as long as I don’t ask for the same in return.

I’m the person who has no value outside of political opinions. And if mine don’t match yours– I am valueless.

I’m the mom expected to help in the nursery or with the kids at church often, to pay my “dues” since I have kids– and if I don’t, I’m the mom everyone gets upset with.

I have been a giving person because I want to be. I can’t remember the last time I was given to. I rarely ask for advice or help– especially when I need it, because I already know I will be hard-pressed to find it.

I often say yes just because I know too well how it feels to be told no.

Well…

Now it’s going to be no.

No more helping online parties. No more sacrificing sleep to listen and be there for someone across the world. No more taking up someone else’s interests just to spend time with them.

I am right now feeling exactly how empty giving of myself has made me.

I am now unavailable. I doubt it will be noticed or that I will be missed.

Someday God will also be unavailable. Seek Him while He May be found– because instead you may find Him unavailable and at that point it will be too late.

3 fingers pointing back at myself at that reminder.

One Size Fits… Um No

I confess– I have a tendency to be a serial unasked-for advice giver. I can’t help it. I know others can glean from my experience-gained wisdom. Right?

Except that’s never how it’s taken.

If I’m honest, it’s also not how I take it from others, either, even though I try to be polite and respectful.

The old cliche’ about judging a book by its cover fits here well. How often do we hear or read something someone says and opine that we know the solution to their problem? After all– it worked for us, so it will work 1000000% for all– right?

Well, no. It won’t.

Nothing about me or my life is ever a one-size-fits-all fit.

Even Scripture is not a one-size-fits-all life application. I mean– it is– but it applies in endless ways. Some Scripture is the same for everyone. Like John 3:16-17. And most Scripture will help us achieve the same outcome as others, but it applies individually and uniquely over every life it touches.

Because it’s the Living Word of God.

It’s not a one-size-fits-most bandaid or covering. It’s the healing/repair balm uniquely designed to fit our specific needs.

God’s Word is not reactionary to us, it’s designed for us to respond to it.

Unlike our random acts of unasked-for advice-giving.

I have so much more to learn about letting God love others through me.

His ways are so much better than mine.

I’m A Mom

Maybe you can relate–

Do you know who I have to talk to on a daily basis? My kids— one who can on occasion be opinionated while challenging everything I say– makes me feel like I’m the stupidest person on earth because I never know what I am talking about. I have my husband, but he gets busy or involved with his own stuff and doesn’t always even hear me. He tries, but he can’t stop doing his own stuff just because I want someone to talk with and do things with.

Some days it would be nice if I had a friend who didn’t stop talking to me when I start talking about me. Who’s there for *me*, not just me for them. I don’t need problem-solving or advice, I don’t need to be ignored until it’s convenient to talk because something is needed. I need a consistent friend that does not expect me to always initiate or to give until it hurts while agreeing with everything they believe politically/religiously and then wait until they get around to getting back to me after they just drop off texting. Or gets offended and doesn’t value me enough to work things out.

I am far more isolated than most realize or care to know, I guess. But— pay no mind to my irritated rant— I’ll go back into my corner and look at the news–

That’s what I feel like saying sometimes.

I don’t know if this is common, or just me. It’s pretty much always been my life. I think if someone else stepped into my shoes, they would get back out really fast.

My life itself is really good. But that friend issue– it’s a lonely place.

Thankfully when I start to feel sorry for myself, God reminds me that He always provides what I need. I always have just who I need in my life when I need them. Then they move on or get busy with their own lives, or just step back because they don’t much care for me. I’m used to that– life goes on.

I’d be surprised if anyone really does relate.

It would be a nice surprise, though.

The Ego and the Communicator

Have you ever been in situations where people glean off of your success, and get embarrassed by your failures?

Have there been people who change their treatment of you based on your performance or appearance?

Are there those in your life who have attached their ego to their expectation of you, and then communication becomes this one-way street where even if it’s physically impossible you are expected to elevate them? And if you fail– if you try to signal or explain why you are unable to– the transmission of pertinent information is incomplete or ignored?

Most people are allowed– even forgiven– for their mistakes. Most first-world people are afforded the the right to individual successes and respected with reciprocal dialogue.

I bear the scars of being crushed by expectations and egos of others. I’m not sure why that has been the case for me.

I’ve recognized how I’m treated differently when I fall short of getting them some glory versus when I hit that mark head-on.

People exhaust and overwhelm me. I’ve been trying to figure out why that is, and I believe God is opening my eyes to help me break free from unvocalized and unadmitted rejections I’ve experience far too often.

God’s glory is not attached to my perfection when the world’s spotlight singles me out. He’s not embarrassed when I fail, nor is He prideful when I succeed. He is always consistently the same with me, my relationship with Him isn’t affected by me except where I allow it to be. He never moves away or towards me because I perform perfectly or I miss it by any length.

My whole life I’ve born this crushing weight that I have to say things just right, I have to play every note perfectly, I have to openly be supportive, embracing and encouraging of specific people, while being given little– sometimes nothing at all– in return.

While I am hard on myself, I often take cues from the responses and reactions of others to me after I fall short of where they expect me to land. My mistakes and successes somehow get tangled in with the egos, even pride, of others.

I believe God used my very public mistakes yesterday to open my eyes to this so I can begin to walk in freedom from crushing expectations.

I hope He also helps others to start giving me what I need in every situation. I do see a turning point, I just hope I can use that to shed this chain and fetter people have used to attached me to their pride-success balance.

Maybe then people will no longer exhaust and overwhelm me.

Foolhardy Judgement

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How many times do we hear something and jump to a conclusive opinion without actually looking into things for ourselves?

Examples I see everyday are critics of Christianity, political opponents, public school supporters against home educators, race criticizing race, Christian critics of anything secular… I’m sure you can think of many I haven’t listed here, there is an endless supply of judgement that is both uncalled for and unnecessary. But we sure do value our opinions!

I once, many years ago before the internet saturated me with knowledge, said I thought the POW/MIA flag was some sort of American Indian symbol. Of course my husband– then friend– sarcastically corrected me. Yeah– I was that ignorant! He had to tell me that it actually means Prisoner of War/Missing in Action. I was deeply ashamed, but I had never even seen that flag before.

I used to judge table top games, such as Dungeons and Dragons as demonic and evil because Jack Chick made a tract about it that seemed like facts. But, the facts are– it’s nothing more than socially creative story making and acting out the different characters. Sure there are millions of directions it can go– just like any fiction novel. But, I don’t think he wrote a tract about The Lord of the Rings. D&D is so much like that, and Christians miss out because they refuse to investigate what it really is. https://www.chick.com/reading/tracts/0046/0046_01.asp If a person is swayed to leave Christianity because of a game, there are far deeper issues involved. More than likely they never actually gave their lives over to Christ.

Being confronted with my having badly judged a book by its cover woke me up to how easily I can fall into that trap of not looking into things before forming an opinion– judging what I actually know nothing more than the appearance I see.

It shocks me every time I hear people who have never enlisted in the military talk about the military being soldiers at war, killing innocent children with no accountability. That’s actually the opposite of what I’ve known for more than 20 years in military life. I’m sure it would surprise many critics to know military life is like everyday life, but super structured and strict. There is far more accountability in the US military than in any organization– especially of size and scope– in the world throughout history. Certainly far more than in our current government! But, don’t take my word for it, find out for yourself. Do some research, interview military members, Veterans, contractors– even enlist for yourself!

Critics of our military sometimes falsely accuse it as blindly going along with whatever is commanded. Obviously they don’t realize each member has the responsibility to not obey a constitutionally unlawful order. The military is beholden to no person, no political party, no cause. There are core values instilled within each member. Core values unique to Americans and our 1st world allies.

While there is purposeful misinformation out there trying to sway people to specific sides of various issues or keep people from knowing what’s actually going on, there is no excuse for not researching the facts. The easy way is to not challenge sound bites and points of agenda for what we want/hope to be the truth. The responsible way is to dig deeper and find the truth.

For the past 10-12 years I’ve noticed how historical facts are being changed to paint a different picture than actual reality. I’ve seen things disappear off of the internet, I’ve caught the main news sources passing on false information, lying, and even staging events to mislead people watching to trick them into a political point of view or support some cause.

In this day and age of purposeful deception, it’s imperative that we take on some form of an investigative role. No one likes to be fooled, and no one likes to find out they are reacting in a foolhardy way.

From The Darkness Of Despair To Hope: The Future’s Light

I have darkness in my past. In my 20/20 hindsight view, there are things I’ve said and done, parts of who I used to be that I deeply, deeply regret. I was young and foolish, brought up in a culture that never mentioned accountability or conscience, my immaturity and lack of common sense mixed with my world-view of life was self-destructive.

When I look back at the heart of who I used to be I cringe with disdain and distaste– and then I look away, ashamed of the hatred and jealousy that polluted my younger self. I don’t want to see it, except now I can use it to measure how far I’ve traveled from what used to be my expectations and experiences.

Living in the moment, desperately trying to “find myself” and figure out how I “fit” into the world’s big picture, I made so many bad decisions.

I used to blame the bad things that happened to me– some, the things of nightmares and semi-horror stories, some, happenstance of being wrong place-wrong time– for my negative situations, many I had zero control over.

The one constant I had that never faltered was God.

I remember standing at my window as a small child, around 8 years old, crying, watching the kids outside who seemed to have no cares in the world. I remember the feeling of hopelessness drowning my thoughts. I didn’t fit in, I sincerely believed that no one liked me, that I was such a horrible person that my own family hated me.

And then I saw a rainbow.

Suddenly my thoughts and emotions were flooded by 3 words I heard and felt at the same time, from deep within my being- “I love you.”

The darkness that engulfed me that day was pushed out by the bright, warm light of hope– things would get better.

I’ve always believed that was God. Now when I see a rainbow, I know beyond the shadow of any doubt God is reminding me that He loves me– and He keeps His promises.

Fast forward to today, looking into the review mirror of hindsight– God has indeed kept His promises to me. He turned my darkness into light, my mourning into joy, my fear of the unknown into hope for my future.

I remember as a kid trying to imagine what my future would be like. The thing is, I couldn’t have guessed because I hadn’t experienced or seen anything like it. I had dreams of happiness, but I had no picture of what that was except it was full of this warm light. I was afraid to bring children into a world I had been shown pain and abuse from. I lacked faith that my choices could create a different type of future for my offspring. If others walked through what I barely managed to survive, they could understand the lack of hope I was surrounded by, that tried to overtake my inner confidence and boldness to push through to find the good that others seemed to have.

Had I not pushed through that invisible force that was so heavy and thick that tried to hold me down, I never would have left the life I was born into physically, and stepped into the life Hope embraced. I never would have stepped out of the grappling hooks the enemy of my life, of my soul, attempted to try to imprison me with.

God designed me carefully, He put in me what I have needed not only to survive, but to want to survive. Many living in my circumstances and experiences might have given up, and I don’t say that lightly or with no understanding. I was tempted to give up, to let go of that brilliant shard of hope my spirit desperately clung to.

I understand darkness in a way I don’t think many who know me realize.

Thankfully, I also now understand the light of hope even more fully than I remember the darkness that embraced me with its death-grip.

I am undeserving of God’s grace and mercy, but I am so very, very thankful He wrapped me up in it, healing my heart and my mind. An inner strength pushed with a force far beyond my own strength, to get out of the stronghold of that darkness.

I’ve often seen myself as a 50 yard-dasher type– a short-distance runner. I start out strong, and if the distance is short, I finish strong. But, with longer distances I find myself being tempted to stop short. In this rearview-mirrored view, I can see that God has carried me those distances I didn’t have the strength on my own to go, and the view lighted by the hope He planted deep inside of me, has made it far more beautiful than anything my childhood imagination could have dreamed.

I’m maybe halfway, maybe more, through God’s planned distance for my life. I’m greatly anticipating the view through the remainder of hope’s light for my future.

The Oppression of Skepticism

I was right.

God has spoken to my spirit a few times about things over the past 25 years, and I continue to find out that I heard Him correctly. Yet– when I try to step out in faith of what I know my Lord and Savior has shared with me, has led me to pray about, or has warned me about, it amazes me how my brothers and sisters in Christ— some near to my own heart– shut me down. They don’t trust me or believe that God would choose to be active in our– in my— relationship with Him.

They don’t want to hear from God– through me.

Well, I’m not letting people hold me back or push me down any longer.

They can live with their skepticism, I choose to step out in the faith of my amazing, loving, kind God Who leads me in all wisdom, Who increases my understanding, Who gives and increases my discernment.

I blame me for trusting in or relying on the opinions of those around me– for allowing myself to be gauged by people I have believed would listen to God’s Spirit for confirmation rather than skepticize– and I repent from that. Their lack of faith in God’s Spirit for confirmation and trust in my ability to discern my Shepherd’s voice is deeply hurtful.

Deeply.

I’m trusting God to guide my steps forward with new confidence because–

I was right.

A Patchwork Of Memories and Emotions From An Overly Complicated Relationship

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So, I’m sitting here, alone, on the eve of the anniversary of my dad’s death. Hubby is deeply sleeping after a long day at work, the kids are in bed, and I wish I had someone I could just maybe watch a movie with– probably to avoid thinking. There’s no reason why anyone should think I’d need to talk or get my mind off of what seems to be an undercurrent of emotions I really just don’t want to deal with. (It’s going to turn into a flood of tears, and I don’t want to open that gate.)

I don’t think much about my dad anymore.

When I do, there aren’t many emotions involved. We didn’t have any kind of a relationship when he passed on, I hadn’t seen him in years. One of the last times I did see him– he humiliated me, in public and in front of my husband. I mean, horribly humiliated me.

I forgave him. My husband gently told him off, and forgave him. But, it sickened my heart to even see him again.

We had such a complicated relationship. He was mentally ill, before doctors knew what to do to help that. I have begrudged the VA for using him as a guinea pig, but some of that responsibility was his alone. He wouldn’t take the pills prescribed, he used his diagnosis as a crutch– and he was a jerk.

But he was also really funny. There were times he had us laughing until our sides ached.

He was one of the smartest people I’ve ever met, and I have met quite a few very smart people! He was a genius with electronics and rigging things.

He had times where he could be really mean. Thankfully those weren’t constant. But, he was unpredictable. And, of course, there was the abuse.

It’s always kind of felt like my dad was dead in some ways. When I think about him, I grieve for the father-daughter relationship I wish we could’ve had. I know there is not one thing I could have done to make things better, so I’m able to move on. There is a diminishing part inside of me that wonders “why?” Why did it have to be me that went through all of that?

Why did I have to have that dad?

And, after all these years, I think I finally know the answer– Because just like that scratchy violin I had as a kid that caused me to practice for hours and hours everyday to overcome that awful, scratchy tone– I had to want to make a better life. I had to actively seek God to make a better path for my future children. My first husband was not that path, he was not someone I would have trusted with children. After that (biblical) divorce (from a non-believer who wanted to leave), I desperately sought God to provide me with a man who would be.

And He did.

But, had I not experienced everything I did, I wouldn’t have known what to work towards.

I sometimes wonder if my life being so full of overwhelming things that I’ve had to push through, if that’s what triggered my body’s reaction with a disease that exhausts me. Physical things, nothing psychosomatic. Fatigue is a reality blood work has confirmed.

Ok, now it’s the actual anniversary of his death.

4 years ago, today.

Remembering is stirring up, I don’t know– I guess emotional dust? Cobwebs? Triggered reminders?

I’ve watched my husband over the years with our daughter, and it’s such a contrast to what I ever knew with my own dad. I grew up terrified, filled with hate and anger– though not anymore. My daughter and my husband laugh and joke, share music, and she has never had to build a protective guard against him for any reason.

I am so, so deeply thankful for that.

I’ve often said it’s been thoroughly healing to watch them interact, and see what I missed out on– yet gives me the opportunity to rejoice that my daughter has not.

Isaiah 61:3 has come to life in my life– “To grant those who mourn in Zion, Giving them a garland instead of ashes, The oil of gladness instead of mourning, The mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. So they will be called oaks of righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.”

Doxology

Your Discomfort Is Not My Responsibility

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When we started dating, my husband, bless his heart, listened to so many stories from my past. He was my true friend– still is. He didn’t live through the same kinds of pain, and maybe he didn’t really want to hear what I was telling him about– but he did. I know he did, because he can still tell me things I told him about back then. He listened, and he remembers.

There are moments when I’m reminded just how separated from most people my experiences have shaped me to be. While I no longer hold onto anger, grudges or the pain of most, those experiences are still very important parts of who I am and why I am the way I am. But– why have I had to have so many of them? I have too much to add to some conversations, and nothing to add to most. Small talk is easier now, but it used to be impossible.

How I wish I didn’t have so much to say about some very difficult things. Most people have one or two, maybe three tough life experiences. If I stopped to count, I could name at least 8– ranging from spirit-breaking to devastating to near-death.

I’ve met very few that could honestly say the same, to the same degree as my own.

This causes me to realize just how alone I really am.

Certain songwriters’ lyrics speak to issues and express feelings I haven’t been able to give my own words to. I was surprised to hear Plumb’s story recently. I thought for sure she must have lived through similar devastating life circumstances to my own, because her words reach down into depths I had forgotten existed in my own past. What she has experienced are not light matters, it just wasn’t what I expected because of the impact her music has had on me. NF is another one that has a few songs that reach the depths of my spirit and my painful past, sometimes so deeply I have to stop listening to it. Through his music, I would guess he’s at a place in his healing that I’ve already passed through in much of mine, so sometimes his lyrics cause me to go back to the negative view of things God has already visited and healed in me.

My point in writing this is– I know I will never “fit in”.  I’m ok with that, now, I just recognize it for what it is. I recognize and I now just accept that if I mention or blog about something that nearly broke me in my past, a rare few stop to listen/read.

They don’t hear what God claims as victory in me.

I think some would rather I stay silent about those uncomfortable things because they don’t have to acknowledge them. Some think I haven’t moved past things if I bring them up. Some feel uncomfortable if others hear.

It happened to me.

It happened. To me.

Don’t they think I feel uncomfortable having to live with those memories, and the shame attached to them?

But– as long as I go out of my way to make everyone else feel comfortable by never mentioning publicly what has been constantly uncomfortable for me– it’s ok. Because they aren’t uncomfortable, and it’s got to be all about me making sure no one feels any discomfort around me because of circumstances outside of my control. That happened. To me.

I try very hard to be gentle in what I share. But to remain silent about it because of the expectations of others feels like I’m being shoved into that box I’m not meant to go into.

The comfort of others is not my responsibility, and it never should have been something anyone has expected me to go out of my way to ensure for others.

The subjects that were the main theme of my past are more than anyone was meant to carry. I’m not carrying that burden of protecting everyone from knowing what happened to me, anymore. That is not my calling. Because to not be upfront about what God has had to do in my life to help me be a normal, functioning woman, is to suppress the glory and praise God alone deserves. The discomfort or embarrassment others experience at hearing about what I have had to survive is not my responsibility.

I’m not going to be silenced by silent or verbal disapproval.

If they care at all about me, they will instead rejoice at what God has done and is still doing in my life– every time I mention it. They would praise and thank God for working unseen from most so that I am still alive, instead of them wishing, maybe, that I weren’t. If someone is embarrassed by something that happened to me because I mention it, the problem is with them, not with me.

People have to know what happened to me so they can praise and thank God for what He did when He rescued me.

And, He has rescued me. More than once.

If you have a broken limb, everyone sees the cast, and most will ask what happened. I’ve had a broken life, and if people were paying attention, they would have seen that. Since the things that broke my spirit are hidden, people want them to remain hidden so they don’t have to be inconvenienced by knowing.

I see that as a problem, never a solution.

That whole #MeToo campaign gave me hope that finally victims would be able to speak out, and be received with hearts of compassion. How disappointing that it’s become a mockery to victims, and I do not mean the fake ones paid to lie to ruin reputations! That needs to be exposed! Where is justice for the real victims of sexual assault? Not the “He said I look pretty.” garbage!

I am a survivor of real sexual abuse, who can claim victory. #MeToo #VictimToVictor #TheTruthHasSetMeFree

Those who don’t want me to speak out can #GetOverIt.

 

 

 

 

 

Suppression

With all the recent scandals from Hollywood and politicians, I’m again thinking about my own past of sexual abuse, and different reactions I’ve experienced about how I do/don’t do things.

First, I’ll share some of my background.

I was molested by my dad as a young girl. That in and of itself is still a humiliating experience for me. I’m still emotionally sensitive at times and in different situations. It’s just the first abusive situation I experienced, but it’s the foundation of abuse in my history, so it’s my focus today.

Bringing it up now and admitting my emotions can still be affected by the memories– at times, the nightmares– does not mean I’m not healed, that I haven’t forgiven him or that I am stuck in the past. These are some of the reactions I can count on getting nearly every time I mention it.

No matter the reasoning behind my dad’s actions against me– it still happened.

So, when I see and hear things people say to others, it frustrates me. Things like– “Pick up the broken pieces, and move on.”

Well– start where in picking them up? To me, this is like telling a person with 2 broken legs to just stand up and walk away.

Everything about me was broken. I say was, because God picked up my broken pieces, and He helped me move forward– towards Him.

But, you know who didn’t? People. The Body of Christ didn’t. Once when I asked for special counseling from a Pastor’s wife, she blamed me for causing problems with my reactions to having been hurt!

Much of my life I have fought to be heard. Most of my childhood I struggled with being seen and learning how to fit in. All of my victim-hood I’ve fought to survive.

You won’t believe the attacks of my mind, my heart and my body that I experienced as a result of what was done TO me. I fought to get away. I tried to run away. I tried to make it stop by taking my own life away from it– physically– forever. Thankfully God intervened and had Compassion for me.

These were my wrong reactions and thought-processes growing up– I cut because I was numb and that made me feel something. I starved myself because I deserved to be punished because I must have been an awful person for that to have happened to me. I clung too tightly to guys I just wanted to love me– I just wanted to be loved and valued. I thought if I removed myself, I would no longer cause problems for my dad– because he told me that.

My mom did all she could to protect me and handle an impossibly difficult situation. She sent me where she knew I would be safe during the summer years of my childhood– to her parents. I don’t know what they knew, I only know I was told to never ever talk to anyone about things. You see– I didn’t even know that my mom knew. I thought I was completely alone, and had to fend for myself all alone. But, she was looking out for me.

Pick up the pieces and move on…

When you’re self-perception has been damaged through the mental abuse of someone else that should be trusted to protect and build you up– how do you move forward? Where is forward? Which way is up? Because everything I knew was filtered through that experience and how others reacted to me.

It’s by the Grace of God and my mom that I survived my childhood years.

I am not hanging onto what happened. Talking about it doesn’t mean I’m hanging on to it. Hopefully talking about it will extend a lifeline to someone else who may need someone to look out for and reach out to them.

God has brought me through it, to the other side. I don’t need pity of the stuff of feeling sorry for me, or counseling.

My purpose for writing this is– those “encouraging” sayings do not help real people with real needs.

Picking up the broken pieces for me, at that time, meant the equivalent of picking them up and then walking barefoot through more broken, sharp pieces. I saw no clear path, until God in His Mercy reached out to me and pulled me out of it.

He had to carry me, because I was far too broken to walk on my own.

For those who are broken– you can Trust God. I promise! His ways are gentle and kind– and always perfect.

For those who are unbroken observers– Please– Allow God to work through you to reach out and help the broken with more than cute sayings that often feel more like salt poured into open wounds than healing balm.

Pray at all times, without ceasing, giving thanks to God above for one another. Especially those that you just don’t understand. Don’t turn a cold shoulder, don’t be short or abrupt– that helps no one, but instead often feels like condemnation poured-out on those who might be crushed under the weight of it. God is not in that.

Love is Patient. Love is Kind. Love does not dishonor others. Love is not self-seeking– Love does not prefer its own opinion over the needs of others.

What I Wish Some Understood About Sexual Abuse Survivors

We live in a world full of people with as many backgrounds as there are people. No two are completely alike. In this mix, there are abusers, abuse survivors and the unaware.

The category I fit into is abuse survivor. I was molested as a child, harassed as a teen and young adult, and raped as an adult by someone I believed I could trust.

It’s been quite a few years since it all happened to me, and it surprises me to see how it still affects my thinking of myself. 

So, I’m going to address some of those things that I’ve learned, and some of the attitudes I’ve dealt with.

1) Rape and sexual harassment is never funny to a survivor. It’s never a light topic, it’s not something to be joked about. Words do matter— they conjure up memories— sometimes traumatic ones with deep emotions attached.

2) No, we can’t just get over it. Something was stolen from us, trust was violated, our spirit has been bruised. Healing over time happens but, often invisible to the natural eye, emotional scars remain. 

3) We grieve over the robbery of our innocence. 

4) Our body was attacked, and our bodies react to that— often through eating disorders, or even gaining weight in an attempt to self-protect. Stop the body shaming, they probably have some history of sexual abuse! 

5) We are often more sensitive to criticism because many of us have an unconscious belief there must be something wrong with us for someone to hurt us so badly.

As a Christian I rely on God to be my Comfort and my Strength, but sometimes I wish I could rely on my brothers and sisters in Christ more. Relationships aren’t often easy for me to form because I still, even after so many years of God restoring what the locusts had eaten, I still have trust cautions. 

All I hope to get across through this post is to encourage others to become aware. Be kind and sensitive. Hold back on criticisms. 

What’s Sexism Got To Do With It?

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What does every woman want, universally? Is it to be a “sex symbol”? To be loved by everyone? Is it to be known as the prettiest? The friendliest? How about the smartest?

On the surface, every one of these may fit. But, what’s at the heart of it?

I believe it’s simple acknowledgement of our accomplishments, talents, gifts and hard work. To be taken seriously. To appreciate our contributions. To be loved for the individual we are

Without giving us the “gender” handicap.

With all the Hollywood happenings and exposures lately, my thoughts have returned to my past issues of running into sexism. Whether it was about being a “woman driver“, “too emotional“, treated as if I were “too delicate” to lift weights or as though I were ridiculous to think I could do the “man’s job” the USAF trained me to do, as a civilian– or as though I were a stupid female for making mistakes– I have experienced sexism many, many times, in many, many ways. And– not always from men!

I have overcome it, for the most part anyway, by meeting it head on and challenging those who think I need to be suppressed in my desire to prove I can do nearly everything a man can do– as well, if not better– than men can.

We’ve allowed Hollywood, Hugh Heffner, and Larry Flynt to shape our views on women. They’ve brainwashed us into dehumanizing and minimizing all females into categories of size, looks, and potential popularity– all the while overpowering and/or capitalizing on each victim they’ve chosen.

Hollywood has created this system of failing demand– and we have allowed the land of make-believe to convince us it’s reality.

What is it you love about your spouse, if you are married? If looks and size changed, would you still love them and be attracted to them?

When we watch movies and shows, we are seeing things through the writers’, directors’ and producers’ eyes and imagination. Since we are looking through their biased and skewed perceptions, we may as well be placing scales over our own eyes.

Women want to fight back, but so many are misdirected. It’s not everyday men we need to fight against, it’s the lie sold to them and the people selling the lies. It’s the Harvey Weinsteins, the Anthony Weiners, the perverts changing laws to allow more perversions– like Governor Brown in California. Those are the ones we need to focus on, and then the rest will be small potatoes– easy to ignore and walk away from as we just live our lives and fulfill our vision and God’s vision for our lives.

In the world, there are separations based on all sorts of differences.

In Christ, there should not be.
Galatians 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (NASB)

 

Marriage 101: Arguing

My husband and I got into an argument earlier today, about politics. We agree on some points, and are polar opposites on others. It’s not the disagreeing that is the argument for me, though, because we could easily be having a discussion and disagree. It’s his reactions to me, the person behind what he disagrees with. Males in the past often treated me like I was less than them, rarely as an equal– as though I were validated by their approval of me. Usually my husband doesn’t come across that way, but lately when he disagrees with me it feels as though he does. It may just be my perception, not the reality. But, nevertheless, it stings a lot. 

Maybe it’s different for men than it is for women, maybe they can separate the personal from the words. Perhaps it’s just the way I am built. I believe strongly in certain things, and I research things a lot, and sometimes I don’t research enough or remember specifics well. 

I asked him to tell me he doesn’t think I’m stupid, because that matters to me. I don’t care what anyone else thinks, but he matters. He told me he doesn’t think that. The problem is he argues to conquer and win, and then I feel attacked and our voices raise with jabs and offense– I hate it. I wish we could discuss without it turning into some battle of words and opinion. I wish we could communicate our different perspectives in a healthy exchange where we both feel valued and heard.

We both need to level up our communication skills. We should be aware of how what we say affects the other, as well as how we say it and how they receive it– not always the same things. 

Thinking about Scripture, where the Bible instructs wives to respect their husbands, and husbands to love their wives as Christ Loves the Church, I don’t see us treating Jesus that way. One step further– I don’t see Christ treating us the way we treat one another. I can’t imagine Jesus raising His voice or belittling my opinions or beliefs. I don’t see Jesus yelling at my husband the way I did earlier. 

At some point our humanity has to submit itself to God in order to match God’s Word picture through Scripture– or we fail at demonstrating the Lord Jesus in and through our marriage. 

My Open Letter To Pastors Everywhere– You Need To Get This


Dear Pastors,

Over the past 20 years I have been moved from place to place, sometimes by God, sometimes for personal reasons. 

That is why I’m writing this.
I am no one special. I have no title, no grand purpose or calling. I am like many within your flock, under your care– part of your Divine calling and purpose.

I am a member of the Body of Christ, and that means something more to me than merely being a member of a local church.

I have been given talents by God, and I strive to use them to help further His Kingdom purpose.  I have been given a heart of flesh that longs to please God. I love people, I love Jesus, and I love serving God as He calls me to.

I have seen where church leadership has some blindspots. I am asking you, humbly, as one who loves God and people–  please– drop all defensiveness and listen.

I believe that God has called Pastors and all church leaders to love His people as He loves His people, not to just instruct us about the Word of God. Not one of us is in the same part of the narrow road, nor have we walked with the same steps or strides. In fact, there are some who are crawling, there are some who are stopped– waiting on God to give them clear direction– direction that oftentimes comes through you.

Every Pastor wants the congregants who are running the race perfectly, with all the energy necessary to carry out the plans and purposes of the ministries churches offer. There are people who are called and able to fulfill those Pastoral dreams. 

I want to tell you, many simply are not. Many are trying to work out their Salvation with fear and trembling. Some want to please church leadership, but they are burnt out by doing so. Some feel weighted down by life. Some have been crippled by life’s circumstances, and they can’t “perform” as is often necessary. These are the people you are leaving behind. These are the ones you are hurting. Some of these equate how you treat them with how God wants them to be treated– and that is breaking God’s heart.

I want to encourage you to look at every person as the individual that God has created them to be.

We are all brothers and sisters in Christ, and God has entrusted you with the loving care to help nurture and grow even the most unloveable Christian.

I believe God wants to release His healing within His Body. Hurts caused by our own family in Christ. Reconciliations. Letting go of offenses. Repentance for how we all treat one another.

I believe He wants to begin from the top of the leadership down through the entire congregation.

What does this look like? More ministries for congregants, not just opportunities to serve. Listening more carefully. Being approachable, a healthy relationship attainable outside of jumping through specific hoops to prove worthiness of your time, attention and appreciation. 

Removal of any “hierarchy” mindset that in any way belittles your congregants in your eyes.

There are millions of Pastors, and every one of you is a unique individual created by God, just like all of your congregants are. 

I pray you will read this, that you will seek God concerning this. Not because I am asking, but because God’s Judgment begins in the House of The Lord. We all need to be far more sensitive to God’s Spirit than we are to the opinions of ourselves and others.

God’s love is not tough, it’s full of compassion, patience and deep understanding.

So should we all be towards one another.

Sincerely,

Your Sister In Christ

He Watches Me

🎵”I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free. His eye is on the sparrow, I know He watches me.”🎵


This song is a comforting reminder– Jesus sees what no one else sees concerning me.

And then, there is the realization– Jesus sees what no one else sees concerning me… He looks over the walls I have built. He sees when I cry, when I binge eat, what I watch on tv. He sees what affects me, what bothers me, what tempts me or distracts me– what pulls me away from Him.

He watches me. 

What does that look like? 

I probably couldn’t identify all the ways my heart, mind and consciousness react when I think about Jesus watching me. I mean– seriously– He’s watching me. 

Not in a creepy way.  Not to inspire fear of harm. Not in a mocking way. 

His plans aren’t to harm me, or make fun of me. He doesn’t elbow God the Father in the ribs and say, “Whoa! Did you see that?? What an idiot!”

He’s not plotting my demise. He’s not shouting at me, like I do at my tv, when He doesn’t agree with what I say or do.

He is nothing like me. I need to just let that sink in.

He doesn’t conform to my ways– no matter how good I think my ways are. 

He doesn’t reject me for not doing things the way that He would.

He is full of abundant life.

If we tapped our understanding into the reality of Who He is, we would be walking in His power. Miracles would not be the exception, they would become the standard.

Peace would permeate every space our feet touched, spreading His Word.

Demons, which we’ve been convinced don’t really bother us anymore, would flee in terror because they would recognize not us– Jesus living through us.

Our bodies would be purged of all infirmities and all desire for unrighteousness. We would be transformed in our minds, in our hearts and in word and deed.

We are new creations through Christ Jesus– the problem is, we have no idea how powerful that transformation really is when we fully embrace it.

That is why Christians are persecuted. Because of the potential, transforming power of Christ surging through us, coursing through our veins, into all of the earth. 

We see these movies and tv shows about people and super heroes with super powers. Jesus is more powerful than every one of them combined. And WE know Him!!! He lives inside of us!

Think about that.

If we trade in all of our earthly valuables for Him fully– what would that look like?

We have the potential to demonstrate the most powerful abilities– far more powerful than Hollywood could ever make up. Love, forgiveness, grace, mercy, healing, wisdom, compassion… Discerning where God is at work, and not falling into the critical-of-everything trap…

The thing is, I think we don’t often explore that because,  really– how does that benefit us? How does it make us look cool, or appear sexy? How does it multiply our bank accounts and possessions? How does it help our reputations– seriously– who wants to leave everything, to lay down their life– for real? Does Jesus really expect us to do any of that? I mean– He knows our hearts, right?

Right. He knows our hearts. He’s known our hearts since before we were even formed within our mother’s womb. 

He sees it all, He sees our hearts all the time, not just the times we want Him to.

He died for us, in our place, despite our hearts.

Our hearts should experience a massive change once we allow Him to be our Lord and our Savior. Our hearts should be redeemed by Him.

There is another aspect, though. Jesus knows because He is also human. He has both– God’s heart and a human heart. He understands our limitations from within and without.

And still, His thoughts towards each one of us outnumber the grains of sand– on every beach, every ocean floor, collected as souvenirs, combined throughout all of the earth’s history.

It’s overwhelming to think on and to appreciate the fullness of Who and all He is.

Is Church Membership A Two-Way Street? 

Over the past few years, my husband and I have gotten involved with several ministries. We’ve gone to churches or chapels. We’ve gone through membership classes, fulfilled membership requirements– jumped through those expected hoops…

Then we moved, as is the military way. We’ve lived Stateside twice, for a combined 3 1/2 year total of our 19 years of marriage and military life together. 

Church membership, in my understanding, is different than any other membership. We are already members of The Body of Christ. Does moving just dissolve the local church membership? It doesn’t for me.

I carry some deep-seated disappointment and hurt, I’ll be honest, from our last church membership. More than just moving unexpectedly.

I hoped to be embraced by the church community when we joined with them. It’s such a large community, I don’t even think people knew, or cared, that we decided to make that committment. No one outside of our small class of people welcomed us. We were allowed to go to the business meetings where they were transparent about using the tithes and offerings– but there was also the expectation for us to give– sometimes until it hurt as we trusted God– to support their ministries. 

To be fair, our first Christmas there, they gave us gift cards that added up to $200 for Walmart. We needed coats and winter clothing, coming from a tropical climate. We needed groceries, dealing with less money. It was humbling, and appreciated. But, there was no conversations with us, just someone handing us a card, and maybe a gift basket– I wish I could remember it better. I think it was outer appearance they judged our need on, because no one ever asked us anything, no one took time to hear what we all had going on.

While we were there, I got very sick. There were doctors visits, blood tests, exams, other tests– some very painful or uncomfortable. I had blood tests done over several years past that had problems revealed and recorded, but no one had ever told me or did tests to diagnose the causes. 

I wasn’t able to serve as my heart really wanted. I tried to communicate to leadership a couple times about my limitations and my need for prayer, but honestly– I never felt heard, and I did feel judged because of my lack of involvement, or needing to sit down when I tried to serve with the Thanksgiving ministry. 

On top of health concerns, we had one vehicle, new to us but on it’s last legs. Having spent the majority of our marriage living overseas, we had to start our household all over again. Taking that assignment also meant taking a pay-cut for my husband, and we owned nothing in the states. We had so many obstacles to overcome.

I went from driving on the left side of the car and road, to the right, slow speeds to fast, terrifying highways… Driving anywhere was an enormous stress, scared I’d wreck our only car, nervous I’d drive on the wrong side of the road or get confused… I was a wreck!! 

The church environment was one unlike I had ever really experienced. Instead of any type of an outreach for people new to the area, there was this expectation that we just “jump in.” 

I was overwhelmed– entirely.

I was scared about my health– at one point I honestly thought I might be dying. 

I was drowning just trying to stay afloat and maneuver this new, kind of cold, environment.

Thank God I have a healthy marriage!! 

My husband and I were quick to try to jump into music ministry, as we have everywhere we are, as much as we could. Even that was a new experience– from having to audition, to figuring how to fit my music skill into a completely new dynamic– it started on a high note, but faltered completely by the time God decided to surprise us and move us on. We were actually looking into buying a home and settling there, but God had different plans for us.

I’m not a very social face-to-face person, and I found it incredibly difficult to find even one close friend.  I tried over and over. I met so many nice people at that church, and I did find friends through our writing group outside of the church we were at. But, in the church I felt like I was held an arm’s length away by most people. They were polite, and extremely helpful in so many ways– I love the people. But no one asked about me. No one asked how I was adjusting. No one was interested at all in things I had experienced living in another nation, or as a military spouse, or even as a Veteran.

I was surrounded by so much activity, so much joy– I don’t think I’ve ever felt lonelier.

Overwhelmed, I tried to give all I could, but the more I didn’t get back, the more my attitude about having to jump through hoops that I honestly wasn’t able to jump through soured.

After months of medical tests, including 2 different MRI’s, a full body x-ray, some horrible test of my nerves that I couldn’t even finish– my main doctor gave me a partial diagnosis– some rare, unnamed immune disease I was born with but didn’t know I had. 

My whole life I’ve fought to overcome this tiredness that I learned was actually a physical fatigue. Daily life wears me out. Interacting with people, especially in groups, often leaves me feeling overwhelmed and exhausted– sometimes to the point of tears.

I remember, over 20 years ago, crying out to God during a time I was dealing with fatigue, He spoke into my spirit– “I will bring friends to you. I will bring ministry opportunities to you. You can rest in Me.”

So, I waited on the Lord, and He has been so wonderful to me!

He brought my husband *to* me. He brought a new career and love of teaching violin *to* me. He brought me ministry opportunities and friends who really know me *to* me through various online avenues.

The church we left was a place I had to go to to exert myself in ways that left me not just depleted of energy, but empty emotionally. It wasn’t a refuge– not for me, anyway. 

The small group setting was really nice and friendly, but when it was over, most people there moved on and forgot about me. Not everyone, but most.

The church is there for ministry– even for its own members. I needed to be ministered to, I needed what the people weren’t equipped to provide. I felt no one cared. Even when I asked for prayer. Since we moved nearly 2 years ago, not one of the leaders has kept in real contact with us or inquired after us in anyway. There is no interaction over Facebook at all, no messages– nothing. 

We became members, but they never joined with us. 

I will say, 3 or 4 of the members still interact with us, and I am so thankful we’ve stayed in contact. They are truly amazing people.

There is an expectation that as Christians we should just be able to stand on our own, to fit into those premade “molds” everyone *has* to fit in. But, I don’t. So then– what? I’m just on my own because I don’t meet the expected standards? 

Will church leaders ever stop to assess the damage caused to members through expectations and standards? Will they begin to look for each individual’s best interest here on earth, as we participate and join together to be about our Father’s business?

One can only hope. 

 

Excitement with the Familiar

When my husband asked me to marry him, I was so excited I did cartwheels! I couldn’t wait to tell everyone, to show them my ring!

Compare that to the day I was baptized, as an adult at 22. Excited– because I was following after Jesus. In my spirit I felt the love of God as though the sunlight were shining on my face. But I didn’t do cartwheels, or run to tell everyone and show them my certificate of Baptism.

I believe each Christian denomination gets some things right. 

With Charismatics, I see the passion they get at excitement with familiarity with God, as a strength. They embrace the outward expression of God answering prayers and helping in times of trouble by dancing, raising their hands, even thanking God out loud. 

I believe God wants us to demonstrate unreserved excitement sometimes when He responds to our prayers. That He wants us to reach up outwardly, surrendering pride of appearance to Him. Like a child, unable to contain their joy over something they love, I think there are times He wants us to worship Him with that complete abandonment of everything that restrains us.

What would that look like for you?

Simple Gospel


John 3:17– “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.”
And yet–

We constantly see judgement coming from those of us who claim we belong to Him.

We have redefined judgement as love, giving ourselves excuses to do exactly what God did not send Jesus into the earth to do.

God alone is judge. We are not equal to Him, we serve Him. If He made it clear in His preserved Word for us that He didn’t send His Son here to judge the world– why do we believe that’s what He’s calling us to do? 

God has bound Himself to His Word. His Word tells us to love one another.

Love does not include our well-meaning criticism. It does not look like what we define it to be, at all.

Love endures all things.

Love looks past what we opine as being flaws.

Love encourages.

Love is gentle.

Love is kind.

Love leaves evidence of Grace everywhere it touches.

Love gives.

Love forgives.

Love is impossible without God. 

I believe we can often be so focused on the speck in someone’s eye, we miss the log in our own.

Though we are individuals in Christ, God is unchanging. Just as He is bound to His Word, we are also bound to His Word– Jesus is the Word, and we have been given the written Word to help keep us grounded in Him firmly. There is a danger when we stop measuring everything against what is found in Scripture.

God has chosen love as the vehicle to give us Hope, He has chosen Jesus, His nonjudgemental Son, as the Savior of the world.

He has called us to be wise as serpents, yet gentle as doves, as we wear the sandals of peace to spread the Good News.

He has called us to fast for Him to remove unbelief. 

He has told us through His Word that the battle belongs to Him, that vengeance belongs to Him. We must be so careful to make sure our actions and words are lined-up accurately with His written Word.

He speaks to His people, today. But He never strays from His written Word.

Who are we listening to? 

The more complicated we make things, the more exhausted we become. 

The Gospel message is simple. Always.

Luke 2:11″For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes upon Him shall have everlasting life.”

Just Stop–

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Daily busyness mutes His voice.

So many things clutter our lives, clutter our hearts– clutter our churches. So many good things. So many good intentions. So many ideas to please God, programs to help people, traditions we’ve convinced ourselves we need.

Abel understood the very heart of God. It was more than just hearing and obeying God. It was more than the best of what he could come up with, within himself. Cain gave of his best efforts, his strength, his creativity, but it wasn’t the same as Abel. Not because it wasn’t the exact same offering. Cain did what was required, and he lacked the understanding or caring of why.

Mary sat with Jesus. She was bold and brave, in a culture when women did not sit with men, she sat with Him. She listened intently with her heart. She understood and openly sought the heart of God– despite what anyone else would say or think. We might, in our culture and time, think Mary was being lazy and trying to get out of work. She sought Jesus while He might be found. Martha was steeped in her culture and the burden of what had to be done. She prepared the meal, and she openly complained to Mary about her not helping. Martha did what was required of her in her culture’s role for her. She lacked understanding of why Mary did not. Maybe Martha had a bitter root planted in jealousy, as well as offense that it looked bad. There was Mary– sitting down with the men– listening and being taught, but not pulling her own weight in the work of serving.

For many of us, we try to do the minimum requirement when tasked. We have a mental checklist, and at the end of that checklist is what we would rather be doing– if we’re honest. Our heart’s are not in it. Like Martha, we look at someone else not doing what we think they should be doing, and we get jealous. We complain. We give in to frustration and allow bitterness to plant a root.

Cain had a jealous and bitter root, which produced the murder of his own brother. Like his parents with God, he tried to hide it.

What does God require of us? Is it perfection? Maybe exhaustion? The best programs? The most outward sacrifice? Praying the most profound prayers? Knowing the most and best Scriptures?

There is a plan layed-out through Scripture that highlights what He requires.

Come as you are.

Trust in the Lord your God.

Fear not.

Rest in Him.

Beloved– He requires us. Everything that we are.

He inhabits the praise of His people– not our works or sacrifice.

Take a deep breath… just stop– worship Him, meditate on Who He is, thank Him for all He has given, all that He is, and that He will do and has done.

When He Walks Into The Room   https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=r50EGH7x2nw&feature=youtu.be

The works will happen as we regain our focus. Not our works– His work through us. We will be more in tune with Him, He will lead us to be about His business– not our busyness.

When was the last time our heart started to burn for His Will, or the darkness trembled at the Light of God breaking through our lives?

That’s when the miracles will happen. When His Spirit will pour out on all flesh, sickness will be healed, mountains will be moved.

But first, we need to stop and get reaquainted with Him and remember our first Love.

Survivors Are The Strong Heartbeat Of Our Nation

I am a survivor.

I survived childhood trauma, dealt with it and moved on. -Taught me how to be a better parent for my kids.

I survived life with a mentally ill parent. -Taught me the importance of trusting God for who would father my own children.

I survived nearly dying from alcohol poisoning. -Taught me I got a second chance, life is a precious gift, and there are reasons to limit alcohol in-take.

I survived emotional, physical and yes– mental– abuse in my first marriage. -Taught me to appreciate those who treat me as God wants them to treat me.

I survived divorce. -I learned to pay attention to details about who I married next.

I survived date-rape. -I learned to not be so trusting, and eventually how to forgive someone who did something so horrible to me.

I survived remaking my life choices. -I am a better person today.

I survived Basic Military Training– which for some was no problem, but for myself triggered many raw childhood emotional scars. -Taught me I could do whatever tough thing I set my mind to.

I survived moving to another country all by myself. -Taught me I am capable of adapting to new environments and situations.

I survived being deployed to the Middle East with bomb threats, violent threats towards me from a local man–  as the only woman in charge of men who hated me because of my gender and my Christian faith. -I am stronger and more resilient than I even know.

I survived and overcame PTSD. -I can do ALL things through Christ Jesus Who is my strength.

I survived being laughed at because of my gender as I applied for a job I was qualified to do. -I learned to dust myself off and find a job where I was treated with respect.

I’ve survived unfair and inaccurate slander about me and to my face. -Taught me how to know who I can trust.

I’ve survived unforgiveness for mistakes I tried to make up for with relatives. -Taught me to forgive and do my best to make better decisions, not just out of wanting to help.

I’ve survived unfair judgement. -Taught me people may never be fair, but God’s Judgement is always fair.

I survived being fat-shamed. -I can hold my head up even amongst the small-minded.

I survived anorexia. -Taught me I’m not attached to any label– anorexia no longer “owns” me.

I survived losing loved ones to tragic or natural causes. -Taught me that relationships are more valuable than I often realize.

I’m a survivor of Mt. St. Helens. -Taught me about a volcano near where I lived, and what it’s capable of doing when it erupts.

I survived an attack from a “domesticated” mountain lion– have the scars in my scalp to prove it. -Taught me never to trust dangerous wildlife at any age as a pet.

I survived natural childbirth without any drugs– 3 times. -Taught me how to push through and embrace pain, rather than cringe and try to hide from it. Pain actually serves an important purpose.

I survived emergency gall-bladder removal surgery. -Taught me I didn’t need to rely on drugs for pain so I could again nurse. I valued being able to nurse my baby afterwards even more.

I’ve survived several deployments without my husband, while living in a foreign country far away from family. -Each has taught me I can be self-sufficient when necessary, the importance of schedules for my kids, and how much I value my husband being home with us.

As a survivor of so many things, I in turn have sought to help others as I would have wanted help from someone.

I’ve helped 2 guys violently threatening their own lives with knives, one cost me a hospital visit and stitches in my hand.

I’ve counseled many people, and helped those who wanted help, over the past 3 decades, to find their inner strength– GOD– and turn their focus to surviving and thriving, and to walk away from self-destructive behaviors and thoughts.

I no longer see young survivors that seek truth and the betterment of society. That concerns me deeply.

What’s the deal with all these people who are having a meltdown over a Presidential election?

I survived 8 years of Obama blowing off and ignoring everything that seriously concerned me, and I didn’t have an emotional meltdown. I did, however, have a personal time of mourning the future deaths of so many human babies. I have kept my eyes open and myself informed of important things. I have given voice to concerns and passed on information I believe is important for others to be aware of.

I’ve been a part of the healthy vein of our Nation.

The in-Dems-pocket media force has our young adult generation so afraid, and believing outrageous lies like anyone not with the Dems is for racism, or whatever the current slanderous  word-of-the-day is injected into their malleable minds. There are actual outside forces doing everything possible to stoke and stir-up emotions and irrational actions– some are even paid professionals. That’s been proven.

If these are our Nation’s future leaders, our country is in trouble. These aren’t survivors.  These have been programmed and controlled as puppets of a monster political organization that does not care about them in the least, to have a “victim” mentality. Where is their discernment?

I used to also be a controlled-programmed “victim-mentality” puppet of the Dems. Until I woke up.

I hope they all wake up before it’s too late.

I wish they could see they are being played.

Sexual Assault Damage Is Not Just Physical

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As I read about high ranking military officers not being disciplined for sexual assault, I felt sick at my stomach, disgusted and angry. Here are men that are at the forefront of our Nation’s safety, yet they are purposely hurting those under their authority!

Sounds like something our Nation should already be past, does it not?

So, why aren’t we? Why is that an untouchable issue? What gives these men the impression that they can do whatever they want and not be held accountable? Stars on their shoulders? High prestige? The fact that they are men?

No matter how it gets overlooked, blown-off, and ignored–

it is not ok.

It’s NOT ok that they get to walk away while the woman– or man– they assault has to try to move past it. It’s NOT ok that the attackers’ lives are intact, while the victims’ lives are shattered. IT’s NOT ok that they abuse the authority that they have been entrusted with.

It’s NEVER ok.

For every life they have destroyed, they are accountable. For every suicide that happened as a result of their abuse of authority, blood is on their hands. For every child conceived in their selfish lustful greed, borne or aborted with shame, they are accountable. For every life shattered, every career destroyed, every hope smothered– they are accountable.

Ladies and Gentlemen– This is our current day Air Force, led by yesterday’s male chauvinist pigs.

Think it’s time for a change yet?

If we call enough attention to this, things WILL change. They have to.

What happens when 4-star Air Force general is accused of sexual assault?

http://www.stripes.com/news/us/air-force-investigating-sexual-assault-report-against-4-star-general-1.425762#gallery

Happy Birthday, United States Air Force– What Is There To Even Celebrate Now?

As a veteran and military spouse with 22 years of Air Force experience, what can I say about my beloved branch of service on its 69th birthday?

I was proud the day I stepped out of MEPS with a promised new, exciting yet completely unknown future.

At 24, after a failed marriage to a man who was abusive and mean, I was beginning a new life– one I’d be proud to say I’ve lived.

I think I was a joke to my first recruiter, but I found another recruiter who took me seriously and helped me find my door out of the destructive life going nowhere that I’d made for myself.

To the Air Force, I was a female body filling an empty spot in a predominantly male career field. I had high expectations of learning my job, being trained exceptionally. I trained waitresses before I enlisted, and I expected at least that same level of professionalism and depth. My expectations were not met– it wasn’t even close. I was a female after all– someone to flirt with, try to date, but keep at arms-length in what was, after all, just a man’s job.

I’d faced that challenge my whole life with relatives that mocked my efforts because of my gender, as though I were less than any male.

I rose to the gender challenge in school by taking a car repair class, acing it. I knew my way around a car engine, transmission and a/c– you know, back in the day when things were repaired and replaced, not sent to someone to fix or throw out.

I fought against that whole “weak girl” mentality, and the Air Force decided to throw me into that, once again. I was left at job sites by my supervisor, to figure things out without his help, tools or replacement parts. My 25th birthday was spent alone in my dorm room until my supervisor called me to go on a call at the dorm next to mine. The lighting was nearly non-existent  outside, and as I was walking, I didn’t see a step in the sidewalk, and fell. I got up, and not realizing I had a concussion from the fall, I went to try to stop a broken shower. I had no user’s manual, no training, and no supervisor taking me through the troubleshooting steps to fix it. 45 minutes later my supervisor finally showed up, disappointed that I hadn’t magically solved the problem. I went back to my dorm, finished that birthday by falling asleep. A week later I went to the doctor because my head had been hurting since I fell, and that’s when I learned I had a concussion. God still had plans for me, even if my co-workers thought I was just a waste of space in their career.

I’d love to say there were many high points, but I was constantly held back. One guy even became my supervisor, after being turned down over the phone for a date. I’d never seen him face-to-face, so I didn’t realize who he was until my career was nearly ruined. As soon as I figured it out, I changed supervisors and shops, but he had already said too much negative about me, gave me a bad EPR and convinced me I needed to work on my CDCs rather than drive around to jobs we never had the parts to actually fix. My personal challenge was a ruined opportunity, I’d never make Msgt by 13-14 years. I also no longer cared.

After that, I learned the outdoor part of my job. I had better opportunities at being trained, and hands-on repairs. I learned a lot and I worked hard physically. It was a better fit for me, but my shop boss hated me and I got another low EPR because he didn’t agree with the positive things my new supervisor reported in it. My shop boss never actually went to my job sites and saw how hard I worked, or how good I had become at everything I was given the opportunity to actually do with the right parts, tools, and training.

I received orders, so I moved to another base. I wasn’t hated because of my gender, this time I was too delicate to do my job. I was given jobs like painting, hammering a few nails in, controlling and sitting-in for my commander’s secretary. I volunteered to deploy to the desert, and my leadership nearly had a heart attack! They fought me on it, tried to keep me from going, but no one else was volunteering. So I went. But, not to do my actual job. No. I was an escort for the local nationals. And then, because I couldn’t be alone with the local nationals, because I’m a girl, I was put at the gate for 12-16 hour days, in charge of who was allowed in. Over Muslim men. You can probably guess how good that went over. Besides the fact that I was a girl, I was a girl that drove, told men what to do, and read her Bible openly in front of men. Now, I had no idea women weren’t allowed to read religious stuff, and as a Christian I read my Bible because I needed God’s encouragement and wisdom to handle some difficult people and situations– like bomb threats and air tests, and men who hated me, refusing to follow my instructions without cops threatening to pull out their guns telling them they had to do what I said.

Anyway– that was much of my enlisted experience, though definitely not all.

As a spouse, I’ve endured 18 years of constant changing plans and the results of the spectrum of various leaders my husband has worked for- from awesome to abusive at times. We have been blessed, and most of the time he has had awesome local leadership. Though it often feels like he’s away more than he’s here, we have had it better than many.

His extended leadership has gotten worse, though. Most of the time they’re clueless about what they put their people, and their people’s families, through. They are uninformed, and “yes men”, not professional enough to get needed information or listen to the needs and complaints of the workforce they are near breaking.

It’s not unlike Benghazi, where they are communicating needs, concerns, and asking for more bodies– but being ignored, blown off, and having more work than is even possible dumped on them. I have watched my good-natured husband, who has already put his 20 in, in a much needed career field, be crushed by unrealistic expectations, pushing of regulations, as well as physical and mental exhaustion to the point he falls asleep as soon as he gets home some nights. His schedule is all over the place, he has no time or energy to keep up with the rigid demands of PT because the nature of his job is already far too physically and mentally demanding.

And now, we celebrate the birthday of a force to be reckoned with– by its own people. From leadership that sexually abuses and assaults those lower-ranking than themselves, getting a “pass” from being held accountable, to leadership that has no clue what they are putting their people through– this year, I’m not celebrating the birthday of my beloved Air Force.

This year, I mourn its self-destruction, from the inside-out.