reality

False Encouragement

I think we all have well-meaning people in our lives. You know the ones that are quick to redirect our honest, heartfelt, deep moments of transparency, into something that makes them feel more comfortable.

The ones that think they know us well enough to correct us.

But reality is— they just don’t get us at all.

They don’t realize the wall they are putting up, or the signals they send.

Maybe this is why God is often the only One I feel comfort in, or safe confiding in.

God has never left me feeling like something is wrong with me.

He never leaves me feeling like I’m stupid, or over-sensitive, or misunderstanding His Word or calling on my life.

He never tells me to push myself farther than I know is too much for me.

He tells me to lean on Him, that He is my strength.

Not that I have to do things in my own strength or because it’s what people are expecting me to do or be like.

God has never made me feel like I don’t know what I’m talking about.

God never makes me feel like I’m a burden.

I am often confronted with things I see others have that I just don’t have.

Relationships I’ve just never had access to, for whatever reason.

I’ve spent my life working to be for others what I’ve wished I had.

Someone who hasn’t been in my shoes can’t understand my perspective.

That doesn’t mean my perspective is wrong.

That doesn’t make me a target for mocking and sarcastic opinions.

That makes me normal.

I have been broken.

God has chosen to repair some things, but He has also— for His reasons— chosen to not repair other things.

Relationships.

Giving my life to Christ has not fixed anything about me to perfection.

I have been conditioned to feel ashamed, to feel “less than” everyone else.

But Not by God.

God has been working deeply in me to re-condition me. To fix ungodly beliefs about me being deserving of nothing more than being under the feet of others. Ungodly beliefs that I deserve to be the scapegoat carrying the shame of others.

That is not what God has created me to be.

I have grown children, and I’m still struggling with a belief system imposed on me as a child— the belief that things would be better if I just weren’t born. Belief that I’m supposed to take the blame for things others have done.

Belief that my reputation, my feelings— my life— don’t matter like everyone else’s does.

Undeserving of the life God chose to give to me.

Those are lies of the enemy of God that people who claim to be Christians have imposed upon me.

It’s not often, anymore, that I reflect upon these things.

As I do now, I recognize God’s Hand upon my life.

God moved me away. He has provided for me and nurtured me.

As The Potter, He has been deep at work reshaping the ungodly beliefs others have bestowed upon me. People I have striven to impress, to gain the attention and affection of.

Even today, decades later, the striving is in vain.

It’s exhausting being the only one that cares about nurturing relationships I’ve wanted to desperately hang on to.

I am exhausted.

So— I am letting them go.

I’m not expecting the same effort I put in. In fact— I’ve already experienced the evidence that I can fade off into the distance, and just be gossip, but no relationship.

Experience has taught me I’m not someone others will put that effort into.

Emotionally it has always been a taxing thing for me. It has caused anxiety, stress— worry…

Physically I am just as weak as I am emotionally, now.

My reaction wants to be to just not care.

But that’s not how God made me.

God made me to not only care— He made me to empathize with others who have similar experiences.

There are those I’ve tried to share things with that will tell me to calm down, that I’m too sensitive, that what I’m feeling or understanding isn’t real.

Those people are wrong.

And I’m done hitting the walls they put up out of intolerance for what is just me.

God placed them in my life. I don’t believe they are fulfilling God’s calling for them in my life, and I do think God cares.

Often my spirit feels weighted down with a sense of grieving. That is just fact.

It’s not depression.

It’s not self-esteem issues.

It’s grief.

Grief over the ones who helped instill those ungodly beliefs God is working to fix my understanding of.

Grief as He calls attention to them, as He focuses on making sure I recognize each one of them, and He shows me what His Truth about each one is.

People are fallible.

I just want to be malleable under His Hand as He works out all of those mars and lumps.

NF – All I Have Lyrics excerpts “All I ever wanted was somebody to hear me
And all I ever wanted was somebody to feel me
And everybody wanna tell me that I’m out of my head…”
“And you better get ready cause you might find
I’m from a different place and my kind
It’s a little bit different than yours is…”
“I don’t live for the world
I live for the King, I live for the King, focus
Wrote this with emotion
You do what you wanted but you can’t contain me…”

Don’t tell me that this isn’t real, don’t tell me it’s not how I feel…”

“All I ever wanted was somebody to get this…”
I stand behind these words. I’m a Christian but I’m not perfect
Don’t tell me to calm down. I’m calm now,…”
“Yeah it might take a minute to get it but once you get it everything will be crystal clear
I don’t think they see my vision here. I don’t think they see my vision here!
Don’t tell me that this isn’t real
Don’t tell me this ain’t how I feel
This is all I have. All I have.”

NF – All I Have

introspection, reality, The Past

Translucent— Paralyzed (Do You See Me Down Here, Oh Lord?)

Merriam-Webster defines translucent as:

permitting the passage of light:

: transmitting and diffusing light so that objects beyond cannot be seen clearly

Clear, transparent

translucent water

: free from disguise or falseness”

I guess if I had a “theme” for my blog posts, this might be a defining term I’m aiming for.

I’ve been working my way through more NF songs, lately. Today, I have two on my heart.

The first one, I think it’s a deeply important one to address— “Paralyzed”. The second is the chorus from “Oh Lord”. (I think both can be a great mash-up.)

As the “Paralyzed” lyrics flow, they hit sensitive areas in my past that I buried or forgot about.

Oh, my God, thank You— he has described this lack of just everything— that I could never put a name to!!

I still have moments of this numb feeling, in certain social situations, I get struck with this— paralysis— NF has given it a name! I can define it! You have no idea how impactful and healing that is for me. If the “spotlight” focus of attention is on me— I still sometimes freeze up! When I leave social meetings, I sometimes have this weird ache— almost like that feeling when the numbness wears off at the dentist— in my chest. I feel vulnerable,

exposed.

I spent many of my youthful days going through the motions, disconnected from my emotions.

These lyrics transcend just words for me— they overwhelm my spirit with… I don’t really know what. Understanding, maybe? Relief?

I didn’t think anyone could ever understand. No one around me ever seemed to. But then— I was afraid to even ask, to talk about anything.

I just thought I was alone.

And then— I remember someone telling me they struggled with the same kind of eating issues that I did— and they gave it a name— Anorexia. I thought I had a friend I could identify with, that understood me. But— friendship with me wasn’t something she was interested in. In fact— she seemed annoyed that I had those problems too.

I was alone.

My whole life, all I ever wanted was to feel included, wanted, appreciated— valued.

Absorbing the lyrics from the NF song “Paralyzed”— they took me right back to those moments. Only, as I again felt them, I was also standing outside of it all, looking at it from a perspective of having been healed, or delivered, from the damage and circumstances that rendered me

detached.

I remember walking through my middle school hallways, realizing— I couldn’t feel anything.

I was emotionally numb.

I think that was when the self harm started for me.

I spent years hiding the scars on my arms and legs. They have faded, can’t be seen easily anymore, but I know exactly where they are.

When I wrote poems, I marveled over where the words even came from. I didn’t write thoughts I was meditating on, inspiration didn’t come from outer sources, dreams or conversations. I would wake up in the middle of the night, and I just had to write.

“Can You see us down here, Oh Lord?”

I wonder what I look like to God? I know all the encouraging words of Scripture— and I believe them.

I also know God sees what we can’t see or understand.

I think as the lyrics from “Paralyzed” grab my heart, make me catch my breath from overwhelming remembrance, understanding— and emotions I’m no longer detached from, flood all my senses— I see that God is outside of things, but He somehow still feels what we feel, He sees what we see— and so much more.

My world felt impossibly dark and devastating.

But God.

God’s Light has diffused the darkness my soul was held captive in. His Holy Light came into my life, and all that nasty darkness fled— Jesus set this captive free. He healed my heart and my life.

He restores my soul.

Daily.

As much as we often believe our childhood shapes and defines us— it’s not permanent. I believe that.

The damning, torturous grip that once had its hold on me, has been released.

God broke the fingers of that stronghold over my perception, that affected my decisions.

There are some who are in a similar place to where I was.

It can get better. Most often, circumstances aren’t permanent. There is nothing God cannot change, heal, repair, restore or improve.

You are not alone.

Nothing is too difficult for God.

“Intro:]
When did I become so numb?
When did I lose myself?
All the words that leave my tongue
Feel like they came from someone else

I’m paralyzed (Do You see me down here, oh Lord?) (Yeah, I’m just so paralyzed)
Where are my feelings? (Don’t You see me down here, oh Lord?) (Yeah, I’m just so paralyzed)
I no longer feel things (I have no feelings)
I know I should (Can You see me down here, oh Lord?) (Oh. How come I’m not moving? Why aren’t I moving? Ay yeah)
I’m paralyzed
Where is the real me? (Can’t You see me down here, oh Lord??) (Where is the real me?)
I’m lost and it kills me – inside (I’m paralyzed)

[Verse 1:]
When did I become so cold?
When did I become ashamed? (Ooh)
Where’s the person that I know?
They must have left
They must have left
With all my faith

[Verse 2:]
I’m paralyzed (Do You see me down here, oh Lord?)
I’m scared to live but I’m scared to die
And if life is pain then I buried mine a long time ago
But it’s still alive
And it’s taking over me – where am I? (Don’t You see me down here, oh Lord?)
I wanna feel something, I’m numb inside
But I feel nothing, I wonder why
And on the race of life time passes by
Look
I sit back and I watch it, hands in my pockets
Waves come crashing over me but I just watch ’em (Can You see me down here, oh Lord?)
I just watch ’em
I’m under water but I feel like I’m on top of it
I’m at the bottom and I don’t know what the problem is
I’m in a box (Can’t You see me down here, oh Lord?)
But I’m the one who locked me in
Suffocating and I’m running out of oxygen

[Outro]
Do You see us down here? Oh Lord
Can You see us down here? Oh Lord
Oh Lord, oh Lord
Can You see us? Can’t You see us?down here? Oh Lord
Oh Lord, oh Lord
Can You see us? Can’t You see us?”

Walking With God

Keeping It 100– Real

My youngest has become a superfan of NF. My whole family, I think, is a fan at some level, but my youngest, who is 11, surprises us sometimes by his choice in ringtones (Leave Me Alone!— NF song 😅), and what he has stored on his flip phone— mostly NF songs. The other day, he chose Therapy Session to play through the car radio. I asked him if he related to the words and felt like he needed therapy because of me, lol. He said “No.”

As I absorbed the impact of the words in the song, once again I was drawn into just how much they reflect my own heart. One phrase is “I was talking to fans
And one of them pulled me aside and said
“We never met but I swear that you know who I am
I been through a lot
I don’t know how to express it to people, don’t think that I can…”

Well, that’s me, for sure. I could have been that fan!

Another phrase jumped out at me, and has been bouncing around in my thoughts. It’s actually the inspiration for this post.

“This music” (my blog) “is not just for people who sit in the pews and pray at the churches
I’ve been rejected
I don’t expect everyone to respect it
I don’t expect you to get my perspective
What you expect from a therapy session, huh?

“I mean, I think sometimes people they confuse what I’m doing
I write about life, I write about things that I’m actually dealing with
Something that I’m actually experiencing, this is real for me
Like this is something that personally helps me as well
I’m not confused about who gave me the gift
God gave me the gift, and he gave me the ability to do this…”

“And he also gave me this as an outlet…”

This is me here—

The experiences NF has shared in his music are NOT the same as mine— the reactions, emotions, and scarred-over-wounds— they often are the same.

You don’t walk away, sometimes run away, from the things I’ve lived through and some things I have done, without wounds— some very, very deep wounds. Most are now scars— but

even scars hurt sometimes.

While this is sometimes my type of therapy, I am open and honest in sharing here to possibly reach out to maybe even one person who needs soneone to step up along side them, and show someone really does understand.

That is always my intent here.

Always.

So, I am going to be misunderstood.

I am going to be “corrected”.

I am still going to be told I should write about “happy, positive things”.

I am going to be given advice I don’t need.

I am going to make some people uncomfortable.

I want to apologize, because that’s in my nature, but I won’t. Because this is how God made me.

I don’t need a therapist— I have God. God’s Holy Spirit is my counselor. His Word is my “self-help” book.

I have this blog to sort out things. To help me see things, to work through them.

I get it all out or my head and my heart, sometimes here, sometimes in prayer privately.

I have learned that how to let things go, to give them to God, is to NOT try to lock them in a dark closet, or sweep them under a rug.

To get them out into the open, to look at them fully, to examine the roots as much as possible, to confront them— to surrender them to Jesus.

And then I move on.

Sometimes I bring others into my process through my blog posts— but not always.

Sometimes it’s just between God and me.

But— you, whoever and wherever you are, are always welcome to look here to find understanding and hopefully some degree of God’s healing.

Everyone needs to be heard, to be understood— to be identified with.

That’s my intention— always.

I am not the perfect writer. I am not perfect in any way— ever.

I am just real.

Because that’s how God has made me to be.

http://www.absolutelyrics.com/lyrics/view/nf/therapy_session

“Yeah, I gotta say like a month ago
I was talking to fans
And one of them pulled me aside and said
“We never met but I swear that you know who I am
I been through a lot
I don’t know how to express it to people
Don’t think that I can but I got that mansion CD on rotation
That’s real for me Nate, you do not understand”
It’s crazy for me
Kids hit me up, say they slitting they wrists on the daily
This music is more than you think
Don’t book me for just entertainment, it’s entertaining
Hearing these parents, they telling their kids
My music is violent, you gotta be kidding me
I guess that your definition of violence and mine
Is something that we look at differently
How do you picture me ah?
Want me to smile, you want me to laugh
You want me to walk in the stage with a smile on my face
When I’m mad and put on a mask, for real though
I mean, what you expect from me?
I’m tryna do this respectfully
They say that life is a race
I know my problems’ll probably catch up eventually
I do my best to be calm
How you gon’ write me and tell me you slaughter my family?
That’s just a glimpse to the stuff that get sent to me
These the parts of my life that’ll never see, woo
I am aware it’s aggressive
I am not here for acceptance
I don’t know what you expect here
But what you expect when you walk in a therapy session?

Therapy, therapy session
Therapy, therapy session

This girl at the show looked me in the face
And told me her life’s full of drama
Said that her dad is abusive
Apparently he likes to beat on her mama
I got so angry inside
I wanted to tell her to give me his number
But what you gon’ do with it right?
You gon’ hit him up then he’ll start hitting her harder
That’s real
These kids, they come to my shows
With tears in they eyes
Imagine someone looking at you
And saying your music’s the reason that they are alive
Sometimes, I don’t know how to handle it
This type of life isn’t glamorous
This ain’t an act for the cameras
You see me walk on these stages but have no idea what I’m dealing with after it
I put it all in the open
This is the way that I cope with all my emotion
I’m taking pictures with thousands of people
But honestly, I feel like nobody knows me
I’m trying to deal with depression
I’m trying to deal with the pressure
How you gon’ tell me my music does not have a message
When I’m looking out at this crowd full of people I know I affected?
Ah, I got some things in my life, I know I should let ’em go
Let me jot it down, let me take a mental note
I put it all in this microphone, think about that for a minute
What is the point of this song, I’m just venting but what you expect from a therapy session?

Therapy, therapy session
Therapy, therapy session

What you think about me
That doesn’t worry me
I know I handle some things immaturely
I know that I need to grow in maturity
I ain’t gon’ walk on these stages in front of these people
And act like I live my life perfectly
That doesn’t work for me
Christian is not the definition of a perfect me, woo
I ain’t the type to be quiet
I ain’t gon’ sit here in silence
If I wouldn’t say what I say to your face
Then I promise you I wouldn’t say it in private
I am not lying
People go off on my page and I’m trying to quit the replying
But this is ridiculous
I’m passionate man, I really mean what I’m writing
You want me to keep it 100? Okay, I’ll keep it 100
I see a whole lot of talking on socials
But honestly, I don’t see nothing in public
I kinda love it, yeah
“Why don’t you write us some happy raps?
That would be awesome
All your music is moody and dark, Nate”
Don’t get me started
You wanna know what it’s like if you met me in person?
Listen to my verses
This music is not just for people
Who sit in the pews and pray at the churches
I won’t reject it
I don’t expect everyone to respect it
I don’t expect you to get my perspective
What you expect from a therapy session?

I mean, I think sometimes people they confuse what I’m doing
I write about life, I write about things that I’m actually dealing with
Something that I’m actually experiencing, this is real for me
Like this is something that personally helps me as well
I’m not confused about who gave me the gift
God gave me the gift and he gave me the ability to do this
And he also gave me this as an outlet
And that’s what music is for me
When I feel something, whether it’s anger
Um, it’s a passion about something, or frustration
Like this is where I go, this is, that’s the whole nfrealmusic thing man
This is real for me, I need this, this is a therapy for me”

introspection

Adopted As His, Restored For His Glory, Used For His Purpose— For Our Good

I struggle with something that has been medically defined as “body dysmorphia”, from an eating disorder I developed as a child. As a result— my view of myself and others physically is often pretty off.

Thankfully, God has been deeply at work healing me, in every way possible.

As God has been changing my perspective to match His, I have learned I just can’t rely on what I see, or what “feels” obvious.

I have traveled a long way from where I used to be. Physically in location, but also in many other ways. My reflex reactions to things, my understanding of what I see visually has been so skewed, I find I rely on other things to help me feel my way through life. I try to read people’s reactions, to gauge their acceptance of me through their words.

As a result, I don’t often see things the way others do and seem to expect me to.

It catches me off guard when others miss the heart of things I share, and get offended or misinterpret me.

I have always looked at myself as though something must be wrong with me.

God has been at work at how I see me. He has refined some things, He has changed how I focus, He has shown me that what I naturally am tempted to focus on doesn’t match up with what He accurately sees at all.

I have sensitivities others don’t seem to. The way many appear to respond or react has said to me that I am the problem.

Lately though, God has revealed to me that sometimes He’s highlighting what’s wrong with others.

He has fixed me not for the world’s acceptance, but for His purposes.

He reveals broken areas for me to be used to pray for them, to demonstrate His grace, His mercy, His kindness— His love.

His ways are, sadly, definitely not my own.

So He has been humbling me. Not to be mean or cruel, but so I will be of use to Him.

So I can join Him where He is at work.

My flesh still wants to resist, to be prideful, to reject what is uncomfortable.

But to reject that is to reject His purpose for what He’s changing in me.

If that makes me look peculiar— even to other Christians— I have to live with that.

He has been weeding out some very ugly things that have taken root and grown strongly in the garden of my understanding and my heart, that have become my focal points.

He has planted seeds that are just beginning to grow the fruit of His Holy Spirit that lives within very imperfect me. His fruit is becoming my offerings of sacrifice as I give up the old me and allow God to direct the new me He is still bringing about.

So many very ugly things are always being plucked out of me to make more room for the fruit God loves.

I have been adopted by Him, changed by Him, groomed for His purposes.

Nothing else matters.

My focal point has to be Jesus. Everything that blocks Jesus from my view has to be adjusted, fixed, or removed.

Walking With God

Self Sabotage

Lately I have become aware of an enemy in my camp, so to speak.

I’d love to be able to point my finger, along with my focused outrage and frustration, at someone.

But, if I were to point any fingers at anyone at all— all of them would point at me.

I’m not sure why I work tirelessly to undermine myself or my confidence with myself, and others, in me.

Maybe it’s because I don’t believe I deserve it.

Maybe it’s because there are still old “tapes” running in the background of my thoughts— “You don’t deserve this.” “You are worthless.” “You don’t know what you are talking about.” “You are too emotional.” “Who do you think you’re fooling, anyway?”

Things I’ve heard others say to me, about me, over my life.

Things I’ve internalized, because certainly those people know me better than I know myself. Right?

I’ve put my confidence in how others see me, or how I think others see me— because I know I have blind spots. I can’t always see many things about me.

I have based so many things off of what it looks like other people’s reactions to me are.

I have plenty of things that are against me as I face the world, daily.

Overweight. Most people don’t even know I’ve lost a lot of weight. I still have a way to go before I’m satisfied with the outer me.

Physically I’m weak. I used to be strong. I used to be independent.

I used to value those things in myself, and even expected them from others.

God has allowed me to now be in a type of place filled with humility and self- disappointment. And— I’m sure that disappointment is universal.

I can’t do many things I used to be able to do.

So, the things I feel strongest in, I’m not confident in my ability to do them. I’m not confident I won’t just provoke further negative reactions to me.

Many years ago someone advised me that when I’m ministering to someone— praying for them, participating with praise and worship, speaking or teaching— don’t pay attention to people’s faces. Because you can’t tell what is happening inside their hearts. They can have a “look” on their faces or react/respond for an infinite amount of reasons. That can become a stumbling block for allowing God to just work through us.

As a violinist, that goes completely against my nature and teaching! I was taught to watch the conductor. Watch for the signals, the eye contact, the head nods, even verbal cues. While I wasn’t watching the crowds/audience per se, their reactions were always telling! Either they liked it, or they did not.

I just pay way more attention to those things, plus body language, than I probably should.

Because of words said to me, and reactions from people important to me over my life— I rarely trust when words don’t seem to match the rest of what I instinctively observe.

It gets confusing, trying to live up to expectations from signals and reactions others appear to have towards me.

Maybe that’s why I self-sabotage.

Who really expects I’ll ever amount to, or accomplish much of anything?

I mean— I’m too intense. I need to calm down. I’ve even been told someone wished I hadn’t been born… I’m just in the way. I talk too much. What I want to do, or how I feel is just stupid or embarrassing

I guess I’ve just unconsciously believed all of that. Even though, consciously I know it’s mostly not true or accurate.

I feel like I need to measure up to the expectations of others— and those unconscious thoughts have, in my past, been the expectations of others.

So— I self-sabotage.

Maybe that’s why I strive so much to always encourage others. I’ll be their cheerleader, because I have confidence in them. All of us need encouragers. I have them in my life now, I purposely surround myself with people who build up and encourage.

This world has too many ways we are constantly torn down. As Christians I believe God wants us to be builders— not destroyers.

Scripture has taught me that I need to place my confidence in Christ.

God made me with a purpose— His purpose for me.

Those things that have been said, those negative reactions to me, those expectations from others— they don’t match His view of me.

And— who knows me better than God?

Reality Check

My Complaining Heart

Yesterday was not my best “me” day.

Between Covid reactions and my own physical health issues with limited mobility, I am out of practice for busy-ness.

For years, I’ve maneuvered through the maze of living with an immune disorder. I’ve managed my time carefully when I can, because honestly being overwhelmed with just doing whatever and always being busy becomes a crushing weight— and then fatigue takes over everything.

I need peace of mind. I need intentionality in my daily, weekly and monthly schedules.

One day at a time.

One activity at a time.

Yesterday started out with a plan for me to not be busy.

Then, like life does— a wrench was thrown in.

Nothing about what I needed to do was tough, or a big deal.

Combined— more of the ugliness God has smoothed away, manifested.

The combined events— A/C in my car is busted, my window won’t easily roll down or back up, had to walk farther to my vehicle without my cane, had to also bring my dog, the back gate needed to be closed, then bad traffic…

Did I mention the A/C in my car is broken? (It’s so hot outside…)

Then— it rained. Of course it had to rain while my window was stuck open.

I got to my destination, got my cane and walked (hobbled) up to where I needed to pick up my son and his friend. In the rain. Then I had to wait in line. In the rain.

Some days I just don’t have much strength to stand very long.

I am so disappointed— heart broken really— that our culture does not even consider making things easier for those with physical disabilities. Like, I mean— sure there are handicap parking spots— but many times they are farther away than any other specified parking spot. It’s less about actually helping than it is about just making sure there is one.

Yesterday my disappointment nearly turned into disgust. Not even one person in line acknowledged my difficulty. No eye contact. No offers for me to go ahead of them. No offer for a chair folded up against the building.

I did what I needed to, and then I found the coordinator and asked for a way to make that situation manageable for me. Because if I don’t, no one even thinks to do that— or cares.

I got the boys, then took my son’s friend to where he stays while his parents work. The handicap parking space is at the farthest end of the parking lot. The easy access drop off route is blocked off by cones. I have to walk up hill, in the rain, step over high curbs… then back to my car.

My son’s friend held the door open for me and patiently waited for me to slowly walk (hobble) towards him.

Frustration had nearly overwhelmed me. His kindness washed the frustration away.

Such a sweet, dear boy.

Then I realized— it’s raining.

This weekend I nearly passed out (not exaggerating) from the heat in my car with busted A/C. The rain cooled down that heat and made the entire trip manageable.

God provided for me and I nearly missed it— because of my complaining heart and my ugly attitude.

I can look back and see miles and miles of things God has done.

Yesterday, I realized I can look forward and see miles and miles of what God will continue to do.

Yet— He walks with me through it all.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of fatigue and rain— He is always with me, providing for me, taking great care of me.

How many times have I missed that as I looked at what’s affecting me, instead?

A Mom's Perspective, An Honest Perspective, Walking With God

Parenthood: Common Threads

**Disclaimer— If reading this will offend you— then don’t read it. Offense is never my intention. Also— this is about no one. As I attempt to get my thoughts written out, I want to acknowledge I am only an “expert” in my own experiences. I don’t know anything about anyone else’s. I empathize and attempt to understand . I’m not here to correct , inform or instruct. I’m just talking. I pray that God provides us all with His view.**

We all have experiences, and, most certainly have opinions, concerning parenting.

No two parenting experiences can be exactly the same. In general, there are billions of similarities. But, at the very heart— every single one is unique and cannot be duplicated.

From within and without, throughout my own years, I can see so many common experiences. What we often refer to as “stages” and “phases” for children— all of us have or will go through them.

As much as we focus on children, parents— I believe— also go through stages and phases.

For those of us who have and are raising up children, there are so many common threads.

Fear with anticipation (or dread) are the first responses— generally. I’m sure there are a billion ways to describe billions of “first time” experiences. But, from my view over the years, I’m recognizing our focus is often not uncommon— infinite dreams and fears, worries and hopes…

Every child is a unique and beautiful experience.

Notice, I did not say easy and fun.

Not every part of parenting, in any stage, is easy or fun. In fact, I’m not sure worry ever completely dissipates. It’s always lingering, somehow, in some way, in the background, in decision making, interfering with the enjoyment of the evolving relationships with our children, as well as with others.

Fear of making wrong decisions.

Confidence of making right decisions.

Rigidness of how things “have” to be.

The “easily offended nature” of feeling criticized. Often when someone isn’t even doing so, our worry or fear of somehow doing it wrong, or someone thinking we’re not doing it “right”, can transform into our feeling criticism from others— even when it’s not present.

Don’t get me wrong— there is plenty of criticism to experience!! From every direction possible, we all experience some forms of criticism everyday, at every stage.

I believe— when we turn our focus away from what we believe others think, to our one-on-one relationship with each child, that becomes what is important. When we interact with each one as an individual and we drop the wall expectation often creates— the relationship thrives. This can nurture every relationship, in every situation, as well.

When we focus on things we have decided is are faults— blaming ourselves, worrying about the opinions of other people— that stirs up frustrations, disappointment— even anger. In my experience, if that’s what becomes “nurtured”— that can cause a dysfunctional edge to the relationship.

I don’t think we even realize what poison pills expectations and concerns about the opinions of others tend to be.

Of course there is always some level of expectation that we hold— with ourselves as well as with our spouse/partner/the other adult influences, and our children. Expectations are a part of our “make-up”, in every role we find ourselves filling.

Expectations can be crushing, though. If we allow those expectations to guide us through our decisions and become our view of how things “should be”— they will become like a bulldozer of destruction.

Who can possibly thrive under the weight of someone else’s expectations for them?

As a mom of 4, I am astounded by how much love my heart can hold. And— with that infinite amount of love is also plenty of fear, worry, doubts in my decisions…

We parents, we stumble through a lot more than we may let on. What we most often let the world see is confidence, security, resolution— but underneath it all, the stuff we often protect from detection is a jumbled mess of emotions— guilt often takes shape, and can form into our reactive outer shell.

Being responsible for the protection, the provision— the life— of another human being as it grows into it’s own ability to embrace the complicated depths of parenting— that is the weight of the common thread.

Those of us that have embraced our roles as parents, we want our children to be healthy, happy, safe, and provided for in every possible way.

For myself, I now recognize similarities I have in common with my own parents.

I didn’t even know the worry and fear that form a constant state of feeling guilt— even existed.

As a kid, I could only form my opinions by what I could see and match them up to what others seemed to have, or what Hollywood portrayed as “normal”.

As a parent, now I can “see”. It’s an open-ended experience!!

As an observer of human behaviors, I recognize so many common threads.

They may manifest in infinite ways— but their roots began from the same seeds.

Thank God He is the perfect parent.

As we grow in understanding of all the perfect, amazing characteristics of our Creator— we can find that rest we seek— at times desperately seek.

The more I learn about God, the more I want to be like God with my own children.

That is an unlimited objective— never fully attainable, but always continuing.

I’m not the same person I was when the birth of my oldest “crowned” me as “mom”. I won’t be exactly the same when Jesus returns, or when Father God takes me Home.

Thank God.

Walking With God

What If I Just Can’t Thank Him For The Trials?

I’ve heard many people, throughout my lifetime, tell me I should thank God for the difficult things.

This has never sat well with me.

Just like I’ve heard some say that everything that happens is because God wants it to happen.

The God I serve doesn’t make bad things happen.

The God I serve allows bad things to happen.

These are not one and the same.

The God I serve made sure His faithful servants, Shaddrach, Meshach and Abednego were protected in the fiery furnace.

God did not put them inside of the furnace. He did not light the fire.

God did not make Joseph’s brothers sell him into slavery, and make it appear to their dad that he was dead. God knew before it happened, He warned and encouraged Joseph. God then led Joseph, He protected Joseph, He raised Joseph up to a place where he demonstrated God’s mercy, His forgiveness and His provision for some of those people who made the bad things happen to Joseph.

God restored.

God tested Abraham’s faithfulness with his promised son’s life. God provided Abraham with another way— He gave him a ram to sacrifice, and through his obedience Abraham proved to God that He trusted Him, Isaac proved that he trusted God through his father. God proved He is trustworthy.

Paul was warned that bad things were going to happen to him by someone who worried for his safety. Bad things happened to him— but God did not make the bad things happen. God led Paul through every situation.

As I’m thinking about Paul, before God renamed him, I do remember God inflicting him with blindness. Why? Because He needed to get Paul’s (then Saul of Tarsus) attention. As Saul, he was persecuting severely—to the death— God’s chosen people doing God’s chosen work. Through the blindness Paul was inflicted with, God showed him that he was behaving as an enemy of God— no matter how “righteous” and pure-of-heart his intentions were. He humbled him, made sure he was able to hear, to see, the truth about Jesus and everyone preaching that Jesus was the promised Messiah.

I realize God can do whatever God wants, whenever God wants, and He doesn’t ever have to make sure any of us understand why.

But.

I believe He has gone to great lengths to do just that.

Everything we ever need to understand God’s unchanging character is written for us to study.

Before I knew I needed to follow the example and words of Jesus, I did things and said things that most likely made me God’s enemy.

I can’t think of even one bad situation I believe God ever made happen in my life.

Even at my worst!

I will never believe God made people hurt me in the multiple ways I’ve been hurt.

Many of those situations I walked right into, eyes wide open, and it was people— not God— that hurt me.

But God was with me in every single situation.

He made sure the right things happened, the right people of His choice helped me.

He has been right there, protecting me— undeserving, frustrating, mis-guided me— every time.

All of the time.

There is not one bad thing in my life that I can ever thank God for.

I don’t believe Scripture teaches us to blame the bad things on God in order to then thank Him to glorify Him.

I just can’t do that.

My God is Good.

My God is kind.

My God is understanding.

My God is my comfort.

My God is my Healer.

My God protects me.

My God never forsakes me.

In every fire, every troubling situation— He is my Rock.

The Rock that those hard places try to crush me against— He shields me, never crushes me.

No matter how much I have deserved to be crushed.

I can always thank God for turning bad things around for my good, His Glory, because I love Him deeply and I am called according to His purpose.

He does not start the fires.

He makes sure they don’t burn me.

For that I will forever thank Him. Eternally.

An Honest Wife's Perspective, introspection, Reality Check

The Changing Status Of The Love Language

Love Language— the defined, intentional way we both experience and demonstrate the affection, respect, appreciation and value from/for others.

Years ago, I was “diagnosed” with my love language as being gift giving and acts of service, sprinkled with words of affirmation.

At the time, I was a new mother, in a fairly new marriage.

The thought of things defining something like quality of time seemed unnecessary, unneeded. I had a new baby at the time. Raising her as a home-educating, staying-home-with-her-mama meant she had all my time, attention, lots of hugs and kisses, and more than enough of my mental and emotional focus. My husband remembering to bring me something, or taking care of a responsibility that was weighing down on me— that spoke volumes to me of his love, appreciation, affection and value for me.

Fast forward 22 years later— something in me has changed.

Don’t get me wrong— bringing me something home (like an unsweet tea), and helping with some responsibilities I now just am not able to easily do for physical reasons, boy do I ever value those!

But I really believe my love language has changed, has adapted to changes in our family and my life.

Now— I value spending quality time with him. Going with him on errands, him sitting down to fix a puzzle with me, or watching a comedy we both laugh at together— that’s what I need. That “speaks” to me how he values me— wanting to do things with me.

Quality of time has become an obstacle-laden minefield with so many forms of technological interruptions and distractions. Always looking at some device, attention diverted by notifications— always something interrupting staring meaningfully into one another’s eyes (record scratching sound)— I mean, talking about his work or my day, or what we need to get at the grocery store…

When we first met then married, we actively sought to spend time together. As we got more used to our relationship dynamics, I busied myself with our children and trying to keep up with the housework. He worked crazy hours which forced us all to learn flexibility with plans and scheduling things. He also played video games (anyone married to a gamer can relate, I have no doubt). He served at our church on the worship team— which took so much of his time away from us. I served also, but just wasn’t able to as much as he did. Over time, the video games waned down while more work and church responsibilities now presently claim much of his time and attention.

I suppose I just got used to having very little time with him, and I tried to adapt to where I felt nurtured in our relationship. I jumped into his hobbies with him so we were doing things together, growing together with interests in common. There were days where we barely spoke or saw each other. Those were my hardest days.

Sharing life with my husband has often been him doing things away from, or without me. I think this might be typical of many marriages.

While my love language for others is finding ways to demonstrate that they are important, in my marriage— I believe quality of time has moved up to the top of what makes me feel loved. He knows this, I think, and he has been adjusting things so we are doing things together.

Learning to speak and interpret a love language takes time, effort and understanding.

I wonder if his love language has changed, as well? My own food for thought.

introspection

Over Here, Over There— Far Removed

These trees look like they want to be somewhere else, but their roots are planted too deep for them to leave.

If I could see my heart right now, I think it might somehow resemble this!

My roots are planted deeply, firmly into the ground here.

But my heart— my heart wants to go. It wants to take me back to family.

I got a call today, letting me know my oldest cousin passed away a few hours ago.

I am so far from my family. I won’t be able to attend the funeral.

No one expects me to, I’ve not been able to for any, except my dad’s a few years ago.

There are things, situations and people my heart is trying so hard to pull my body in the physical direction of.

Too many obstacles. Too many things and reasons not to.

Now I have to just not allow guilt to set itself on me.

Sometimes I wish God would transport me like He did to Phillip (Acts 8:39-40). Of course, my reasons are selfish. No matter how well intentioned my heart seems— it’s all just selfish.

On the surface, it may not look like much is going on with me. But deep in the heart of me, a tug of war pulses on, as the events of life ebb and flow.

introspection

Be Anxious For Nothing— But How??

I feel stressed.

While this isn’t a new thing, the intensity of this feeling is more than usual.

So, while I know the Bible instructs me to “Be anxious for nothing…” I am struggling right now with that very issue.

Circumstances far beyond my control.

Worry over family and friends.

Plowing a new course for my future career.

Weight loss and emotional healing bringing old buried memories and reactions to the overly-sensitive surface…

Anxiety hasn’t been an obstacle to me in decades. But there it is, staring me down.

Deep breath in, let it out slowwwww…

God is already there, plowing my path for me.

He’s got me.

He’s always got me.

I can do this.

One step at a time.

Breathing through the waves of panic that threaten to soak through my resolve.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 NKJ

Instead of giving in to anxiety, frustration or fear, I will pray. I will thank God for everything, because without Him, I couldn’t appreciate the good that comes from painful, hard times.

God has a purpose, God has a plan— for me. He will never fail me, He will never abandon me.

My first prayer is for God to help me surrender all that anxiety and everything tangled up in it, to Him.

All of it.

There is no sense holding on to that. It does not contribute anything beneficial to my life or my emotions.

Time to step away from the anxiety, and let God’s peace flood my mind, my heart, my body and my spirit.

🎵 “All to Jesus, I surrender all to Him I freely give;
I will ever love and trust him,
in his presence daily live.
I surrender all, I surrender all,
all to thee, my blessed Savior,
I surrender all.“🎵

Walking With God

My Testimony

I’m stepping out of my comfort zone to share my story of what God has done, and is still accomplishing in me. I’ll be honest— I’m recognizing a deep, breath-constricting anxiety as I set out to share this here. I have family that won’t want me to talk about it, some who still don’t even believe what I experienced. Fear or worry about what they think or feeling like I have to defend myself, have been my boundaries in the past. Being called a liar, or treated like a liar has been an anxiety-riddled prison. So much so, that just speaking in normal settings about everyday things triggers an anxiety that I “talked too much”.

If you’ve read any of my previous posts here, or if you know me personally, you may already know bits and pieces— or large chunks— of the circumstances that started out as my mold. The mold that God broke when I surrendered it all to Him as I finally hit my rock bottom, and circumstances, mistakes, and unGodly beliefs tried to crush me.

The picture I chose above is significant to me. So many things I can glean from it that describe my personal experiences. The water can represent so many things, but I see it as God wearing through the hard places to forge a path forward for me to follow. My path has been rocky, twists and turns threatening to cause me to get lost or stuck, or even follow a wrong path. Before God— it was just rock. No path. No safe place for me to set my feet, no clear guidance. No water.

My story starts with me as a child. Let me preface this with— this is not in anyway a “bash” attempt. Things happened that were out of my control— like everyone has had happen to some degree. For me, mine were devastating. Through them God made me a strong person, deep rooted in Him. He has proven Himself to me over and over, so many times.

He is trustworthy.

He is Worthy to take the reigns of my life and be in control.

As a child, I don’t remember much. There are so many “holes” in my memory.

My dad struggled with mental illness, sometimes mis-diagnosed or misunderstood as he was a guinea pig of the VA. Had they understood more and accurately diagnosed him, maybe things wouldn’t have been as bad as they were.

Parts of my childhood are like memories of terrifying nightmares. Not all of it. We had fun family times, with lots of laughing and fun family vacation times.

Over the years I have gotten to where the nightmare things are being forgotten. I find myself wanting to cling to the good things.

I’m not going to get into the ptsd-invoking events, except to say I was in an abusive environment. My dad was a bit of a Jekyll-Hyde type— either angry/enraged, or joking and fun. He had bouts of depression, in there as well.

I never felt that security of stability with him. I was terrified of making him angry, or being spanked by him. I never felt loving type of discipline from him— he beat me.

At some point the sexual abuse started, but I can’t remember much about when. There are things he told me, and things he never told me. The most recent time he addressed it, about 15 years ago, he told not me, but everyone else in a mental hospital community room. Things I did not know. My husband heard it.

I was beyond devastated. Embarrassed and humiliated.

My mom tried to say what he said probably wasn’t true— but no way either of us could know for sure. That feeling of not even knowing what happened to me, or for how many years, is crushing. My dad saying those things about me— proudly— to strangers and my husband isn’t something she could even begin to understand.

That night I went back to my parent’s house and at the prompting of The Holy Spirit, I wrote my dad a letter, telling him that I forgave him.

When I think back, age 10 is where most of the memories start.

That’s when the eating disorder began.

We started spending summers living with my mom’s parents. My grandma poured her love into everything meal or dessert she made.

I needed love.

I ate so much “love”, I gained a bunch of weight the summer before. My dad made fun of me. We already had a dysfunctional relationship— making fun of me was salt in my deep emotional and mental wounds.

He was so vocal about women.

So, determined to not be made fun of or noticed, really, food became a type of poison, and my RN grandma had a poster on her bathroom door for what to do if I ate something poisonous— throw it up.

It started out once or twice a day. Then turned into food avoidance.

Over the next 10 years it developed into all-consuming rituals, every meal, every time I ate.

I am not going to regress back into describing in detail those rituals.

God has delivered me from those rituals, and from that “poisoned” mentality.

After a couple of years, it developed into more of a Bulimia, as God brought someone into my life that helped encourage me to eat.

By the time I turned 20, I was purging so much I started throwing up significant amounts of blood.

One particularly bad time, I called the ER and told the nurse I threw up blood. In the discussion, I mentioned making myself do that, and she said to me, “ Stop doing that!”

Let me tell you— that was so powerful!

In all those years, I never considered I could just choose to stop.

So, I stopped.

I never did it again.

In that time-frame, I was assaulted. Then I married someone who abused me, neglected me then raped me in my sleep.

And so, while the purging and rituals had stopped, my binging habits had not. Reaction to trauma made that all worse.

I gained weight.

Most would view that as bad. But here’s where I believe God’s deliverance began—

Fat did not kill me!

It was not the worst thing that could happen to me.

In fact, I began to find a comfort in men not paying attention to me.

My husband didn’t like that I gained weight. He was mean. He made humiliating jokes about me to our families. He did things that threatened my life. Then, he divorced me.

Devastated as I was— God saved my life, and then my soul through that divorce.

I turned to God.

I had missteps. My mind was still very much in the world, I didn’t understand God’s ways being different, or transforming.

Eventually I walked away from everything and every person I knew. After seeking God for His direction for my life, for weeks, I became convinced He was making a way for me by joining the military.

I enlisted, I traded my first military assignment to move overseas.

I completely left everything, and put my trust in God.

That was 28 years ago.

He provided me with a new husband. He promised and provided me with a beautiful daughter. He gave me 3 sons.

I never returned to the rituals of eating disorders.

I did however become a food and sugar addict.

God is in the process of both delivering and healing me from this, while raising me up to help others walk in His freedom.

It’s been a long time since I’ve felt hope or excitement.

I have all hope, and I am so excited for the future path God is continuously carving out for me now.

My feet are on The Rock.

http://www.public-domain-image.com (public domain image)
Walking With God

Change— What’s In My “Pocket” Of Life

If you could see my spirit, it might very well look a lot like this.

I think mostly scars now, not so many cracks.

So many scars are evidence of where God has healed me throughout my lifetime. Wounds that used to fester have been healed by His Word, His kept promises, His love.

My view has been changing over my life. I used to wish for things during the painful times. I couldn’t see any sort of horizon, or even light at the end of a tunnel. I was crushed down, my spirit and mind beaten down with words of hatefulness and destruction.

My mirror was the opinions, the words, the treatment of those I loved and trusted.

That taught me I should hate myself. I was less than nothing.

Less than nothing.

All throughout my life, God has whispered into my spirit that He loves me.

That became my strength, my grounding.

God created me. He loves me!

He helped me find my pathway forward, walking with Him.

He has never left me, never forsaken me, never turned His back on me.

No matter how much I thought, or actually may have, deserved it.

One careful step at a time. Each step slowly gaining confidence— not in myself, but that I can fully trust Him.

No person on this earth can compare to what God has done.

He provides through people, more now than ever in my past.

But He provides. He is my source.

Looking at the picture above, it’s easy to think I’m weak and about to fall apart.

Those scars where God has healed me— those strengthen the cracks.

I have physical scars, some have faded, some have not.

In my weakness, often caused at the hands/mouths/actions of those I’ve loved and trusted, Jesus has become my strength.

Each time He begins leading me down a new narrow path, I start out cautiously, and then my confidence in Him grows stronger as I continue on the path with Him.

God used this song so many years ago, the words wrapped so perfectly around my life and my heart. He used this to breathe life into me where fear would try to suffocate me.

Even when I feel alone, or I actually am physically alone dealing with awful things— I know I am never alone. He never lacks understanding, compassion, gentleness, patience— never.

He is all I need! He chooses where He provides through, He picks the people in my life, He has never let me down.

Because I understand His ways are higher and better than any other way— I can always be at peace in my heart. I can demonstrate compassion, even when my humanness tries to get in the way. I can demonstrate patience, because I understand just how freeing that is as He has continuously covered me with His patience.

I can stand strong in Him, even when the world only sees my weaknesses and failings.

I am walking a newer path with him. I have demons to face down, and fear that will again try to suffocate me. But He is my Rock. He is my Confidante— sometimes my only confidante.

Things are looking up as I continue to look up.

An Honest Perspective

How God Changed Paul

Convinced.

Paul— then called Saul— was convinced. He was right. He was righteous.

I can’t help but notice the word “con” in “convinced”.

It took God setting then Saul aside, taking him away from his circle of influence, blinding him, opening his true sight— and then He reopened his physical eyes.

Paul was conned by the religious system of that time into believing He was doing God’s Will, and he was justified in his actions.

Paul was wrong.

Paul was teachable by God, receptive to His corrections, as well as repentant.

Are we teachable by God? Are we receptive to His correction, His admonishment— His discipline?

Looking around today, I am concerned that more are convinced they are right, while also believing we are submissive to God.

Are we?

Or are we being conned by some system that has us convinced, manipulated or intimidated into following it?

Just some food for thought.

Walking With God

Confidence in Christ

In America, our culture is saturated in self-confidence. It’s embedded in every aspect of our society, to have faith in our own abilities, to live with a measure of success because of some wisdom, knowledge or ability we possess.

I have slowly begun to realize that this whole doctrine for American life is contrary to God’s Word.

We are instructed in Scripture to be in the world, and yet not of the world.

What a balancing act that becomes! There are so many human obstacles to trip us up as we learn how to walk God’s narrow-ing path.

The closer we follow after Jesus, the more narrow our walkway in this life becomes.

With God’s Spirit as our Guide and God’s Word as our compass, we can constantly learn new ways— His ways.

The “don’ts” become more clearly recognized as some of the wisest bits of protected information we should be clinging to as we work out our salvation with fear and trembling.

This is where I’ve been learning in recent years that confidence in myself gets in the way.

When I trust in my own abilities, I stop relying on God.

When I lean on, or into, my own understanding, I stop leaning on God.

When I seek inside of myself for answers, I stop trusting God for answers.

It cannot be both ways.

Recently my self confidence has been deeply shaken. It’s not a new thing for me to go through stuff that I can only talk with God about. He’s the Only One Who knows me from the inside out. He knows where I have come from, and the direction He wants me to go in.

He doesn’t force me to go any specific direction, I have freedom to decide.

The thing is, I’ve learned that when I don’t seek Him for the direction He would prefer I go in— wow do I end up in some crazy places or circumstances!!

Even when we are following Jesus, we can make missteps. It’s when we lean on our own abilities, wisdom, knowledge or understanding that we fall. When we misstep while leaning on Jesus as completely as we can, we don’t fall.

My walk with God throughout my life has been my lifeline.

Where people have failed me— and they always do— Jesus never fails. God’s love for me never fails.

My path has been uncluttered with human interaction at various times throughout my history. That used to make me feel lonely and unsure.

Now I can look back as see how God has always filled those gaps.

In the last 2 years my personal confidence has been going through a type of threshing. This may seem horrific, but it’s actually become comforting to know that God has been deeply at work separating that chaff from the wheat of everything I have known.

He has been refining my faith and my confidence in Him in every way.

My confidence does not lie in what the world teaches me. It does not rest in people. It does not reside within me, is not something I can ever possess.

My confidence thrives in Jesus, the perfecter of my faith.

My purpose here on earth is to learn about His ways, to empty myself so I can be the vessel He pours out into the world at His will, in His way— not mine.

🎶”In Christ alone, I place my trust…”🎶 In Christ Alone

I have full confidence in Him. In my weakness, He is strong within me. Where others see the outward and what they would opine as laziness or failures, God is patient with me. He allows me to take my time, He never rushes me or pushes me into accomplishing anything. He works through this unattractive, plain vessel humanity disregards. His expectations never weigh me down, I am not a disappointment to Him. He doesn’t place value on the things this world does.

I think Mary understood this as she sat with Jesus while He was with her, even with the pressure of Martha trying to pull her away to do what the world expected of her.

The world will always be pulling, tugging, expecting…

Thankfully when I turn my eyes toward Jesus, all that’s in this world fades away, and I can be in it while not being of it.

introspection, Reality Check

The Hoarding Church

How many Bibles do you own?

How many Bible apps do you have?

How much Scripture do we have on the walls of our homes, on the wallpapers of our devices, or set aside on our note apps?

How much Scripture do we have written on the tablet of our heart?

God’s Gospel of Salvation, Grace, Mercy and Forgiveness has been collecting around our homes and churches for generations— sometimes even covered in dust, cobwebs, or buried under stuff.

There are so many focal points we have picked and chosen from Scripture— and from the store.

It all becomes blurry clutter.

Meanwhile— there is Jesus— forgotten as we look into our giant mirror of how spiritual we are. Binding this, loosing that, tattling to God about faults we’ve assessed in other ministries and people— misjudging, condemning, looking down on others while we pat ourselves on the back for how good, “spiritual” we obviously are, elevating ourselves in our own eyes.

“At least I’m not falling into that sin…“ “Thank God I’ve never done that, or I don’t do it anymore…”

Clanging gongs of obnoxious noise.

Maybe we need to become minimalists with our Christian possessions.

We have so much “merch” (😣cringe😖) for God.

Every bit of it is going to burn away.

Every possession we hold dear to our heart is going to turn to dust.

Every opinion we hold in our high (or low) world-treasured “self-esteem” is going to be dissolved.

Maybe God is disciplining Believers right now so we will get back to simple and humble.

Jesus left everything to provide the only way for an ungrateful creation, trapped in a deadly game of sin.

There is one letter difference between sin and Son.

We need God’s Son, who crushed sin because it had us trapped.

Now— we can be trapped by too much “good”, I think.

How can we find a direction when we are surrounded by so many good things?

How can we focus on accurately, adequately using the tools God has provided through His Spirit, when we are sifting through all of our manmade “Roman’s Road” and doctrinal tools?

How can we clearly hear God’s Spirit speak to our spirit when we have so many commentators, opinions, translations and versions to sort through?

We rely on our t-shirts to let people know our opinions, our beliefs— show that we are Christians.

The bumper sticker on our speeding van, as we rush to the next event.

We’ve resigned ourselves often to ask for prayers of healing and protection— but how much of that is because we are about the Lord’s work, and how much is us simply pushing through our daily life of chores and schedules?

Where is Jesus in all of the Church business and doings?

Do you see/hear/feel Him, in any of it? A little? A lot? An overwhelming amount?

Honestly?

Have you heard of Smith Wigglesworth? I am struck by the difference in how he was just reading a newspaper on a bus, and God’s Spirit began working deeply in every person there, and how we now wear a hat that asks something like “Got Jesus”?

He had Jesus, and everyone around him was affected by Jesus in Him.

Every finger and both thumbs stick into my ribs— I am so guilty.

How much Christian clutter is holding our heart captive, squeezing out Jesus?

What do we really value?

If what we value will burn away, dissolve, or involves I, me, or them— I think maybe it’s time for a deep, strong purge.

It sure is for me, anyway.

Purpose of Church

Believers Meetings

What is the purpose of “church”?

I’ve heard church described as a group of sinners. Saved by grace, yes, but emphasis on sinners.

If we are people who claim to follow after Jesus, shouldn’t we instead refer to ourselves as repentant sinners saved by grace?

Repentant.

Having turned away from the sin that has affected every person ever on earth— except for Jesus— God in the flesh.

This is why someone still blinded and bound by sin shouldn’t be a role model in a Believers Meeting. Because it’s meant to be for repentant followers of Jesus. That’s not to say everyone shouldn’t be welcomed. But, there has to be an open repentance standard for role models and leadership.

We may not like it, but God’s House needs to have strong Believers who choose Him and turn away from the sin that caused Him so much pain and anguish in our place.

He died the death we deserved, and then He provided the way to turn away from that sin, and is offering each one of us Eternal Llfe— with Him.

We lack God’s love.

We lack compassion.

We lack surrendering to accountability to one another.

We lack so many Godly things explained to us in Scripture.

Every person falls short, and messes up. But— isn’t the entire point that we are repentant, and we turn away from the sin that plagues us?

If we embrace the actual sin, what is the purpose?

Loving individuals who are still bound up by sin **should be** the natural actions of repentant Believers.

But— loving them doesn’t mean we should embrace and cater to the sinfulness.

It also doesn’t mean we exact judgement against anyone. If anything, true repentance should humble us, while reminding us of the sinful muck and mire God dragged us out of.

God’s Word specifically tells us Jesus came to set the captives— those held captive by sin— free. He came to seek and to Save the lost.

He did not come to condemn the world, but to Save it.

God so loved the world that He gave us His one and only Son…

Harsh judgment is going to come at us from people who don’t agree, but it’s not our place to reflect judgment in return.

We won’t win souls for Jesus if we don’t treat others as God expects.

The first step is humbling ourselves in repentance and acknowledging that there is nothing new under the sun.

God is not surprised by anything.

Nor is He ashamed of the lost.

Neither should we be ashamed.

Here’s the thing— since Jesus died on the cross, was buried, and rose again— conquering both sin and death— why do we focus so much on sin?

Kindness, compassion, gentleness— praying for someone bound in sin is the fruit of a repentant heart.

Our focal point needs to be Jesus.

Not any specific sin.

By the same token, anyone who calls themself a Believer and Saved, needs to repent of everything Jesus conquered through His death on the cross.

For the Believer, church is about becoming more like Jesus— sinless. The only way to achieve that is by rejecting the sin that we sometimes try or want to justify.

There is a difference in the life and heart of someone who **turns sin away**, and tells it “No! Jesus has a better way for me, better plans for my life! I can do ALL things through Christ Jesus, Who is my strength.”

Believers Meetings are for empowering us to do that.

God's Heart, introspection

Simple Gospel VS Layered Expectations

God made Salvation as easy as possible for us. Mankind adds twists, turns and an abundance of complicated expectations.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one, and only, Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 NIV

Then mankind adds their own “twist”— you’re Saved if you demonstrate the gift of speaking in tongues. You have to prophesy. You need to speak things that are not into being as if they were. You must demonstrate unspeakable joy as though it’s continuous happiness… and on, and on, and on…

I personally believe there are people who are as clanging gongs to God, that believe they are pleasing Him.

Maturity is important in our relationship with God. I do believe we grow in maturity as we get into the meat of Scripture.

I also believe we tend to move away from the Gospel’s simplicity as we “grow up” in Christ.

Here’s the simplicity— am I included in whoever believes?

What should the evidence of that be?

Galatians 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. NIV

I wonder if ministries today are how God wants them to function. It seems as though very few get right to the heart of the simplicity of God’s Gospel message.

1Peter 1:3 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”

Romans 10:9 “Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

Romans 8:11 “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.”

Acts 17:31 “Because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”

That seems pretty simple to me.

I am reminded of Mary, who sat at Jesus’ feet and hung on every word He spoke.

Simple.

And yet, Martha complicated it. She tried to pull Mary away from giving her full attention and focus to Jesus. I think, even though Martha’s service was what she believed was necessary and needed— she missed the mark that day. She stepped into a performance role, whereas Mary stepped into a relationship role.

I see these two roles as often being almost in a type of war with one another.

The road is narrow for the simplicity of God’s Gospel. We seem to lose our footing the more we focus on what everyone shouts at us along the way. “You need to do this, be this way, demonstrate that, bind and loose these things…”

I simply need to believe in my heart and confess with my mouth.

Sometimes it’s wise to just drop everything we “know”, and go back to sitting at His feet, absorbing every word He has spoken.

An Honest Perspective

The Blood of Jesus

Geoffrey Holt, Station of the Cross No. 12: “Jesus Dies Upon the Cross”, American, active c. 1935, c. 1936, watercolor, colored pencil, and graphite on paper, Index of American Design

Who can understand how the blood of Jesus can wipe away the sins of the world?

Only God.

The same God Who created time itself, created a way where He could come onto Earth, and prepare the only way to eternal Salvation for a fallen, disgraced, despicable humanity.

The only way.

Blood is not a pleasant thing to discuss or think about.

Many faint at the sight of it.

How many fainted at the sight of God’s Blood dripping down, spilling out of the body of God in human form?

No one talks about that.

I believe humanity has become desensitized to the Blood of Jesus.

We pray— “I plead the Blood of Jesus” almost casually, giving little time of thought to what that actually means.

At least— that has been me.

I plead the Blood of Jesus…

I plead the Blood of Jesus.

Pleading— to me that’s almost like begging, not casually “applying” it over our lives, our loved ones, our situations.

To me plead has a sound of near desperation— as we remind ourselves when attacked by the enemy of our soul, of our God— Jesus died to cover that sin, and that sin, and every sin of the world. And then we remind ourselves what Jesus did to rescue us— I plead: the Blood of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior.

Only God can apply the Blood of Jesus.

We can allow Him to, we can accept that from Him.

I have fallen into that trap of praying pre-made prayers that sound “spiritual”.

We paint very liberally with such a precious gift, maybe giving a quick thought to what Jesus endured and became the Victor of.

We say He did that on our behalf. He did. Because only He was qualified.

Not because we are qualified to be given such an unselfish gift.

“Behold! I stand at the door and knock…”

He applies the Blood over the door posts of our soul.

We walk by faith— not by sight.

By faith, I believe the Blood of Jesus is already applied over my life.

I always need to be reminded of how humbling that is. But, I don’t need to apply it to myself in a ritual.

Jesus has done that.

It’s done. One drop is way more powerful than I could even grab hold of!

After all— it has already washed me white as snow.

So much of our focus becomes what we need to do as rituals.

But Jesus said to follow Him. I don’t recall ever seeing Him demonstrate any of the rituals we hold so strongly to today.

Is the power of God held within rituals? Or is it held within faith?

When we walk in the knowledge of what Jesus has already done— I believe then we walk in the strength and the power of His might.

Reality Check, Strong Woman

Managed

My eyes are opening.

At least, they are trying to open.

They’ve started to open before, but then I shut them. Again.

Everything on the surface looks fine, looks good even.

But then something happens, and they start to open again.

In the past, just as they are beginning to focus, to recognize…

I am lulled back to sleep.

This time, I’m staying awake. I’m rubbing my blurry eyes so I can focus more clearly.

I’m making out a shape with some color..

I see…

I see control.

I am recognizing when I make any kind of decision without it being discussed and approved, I provoke the frustration and anger that guard control.

When I start to walk in my own decision making, and I begin to feel like my “old” self again, it creates an unbalance in the control system.

As soon as I begin to relax, to just enjoy, being refreshed and confident naturally— the beast begins to wake up, cranky from lack of control.

I see it now. Clearly. With eyes that are awake.

I recognize it.

I see the prison it has created.

It’s not unpleasant.

I’m not unprovided for.

But I’m not free.

My confidence is challenged.

I’m not encouraged to be at my best.

In fact, I recognize I am actually encouraged to not be my best.

I am often alone.

I am often drained of “will” power, exhausted, by reactions.

This is my own doing, for allowing this to overcome me.

The things that energize me are discouraged— subtly, yet effectively.

Being able to just relax and be myself is subverted by the lag of distraction, and the oh so subtle injection of unresponsive disapproval .

A hesitancy to respond.

An obvious attempt to squelch anticipation or even excitement.

Like a bug being squished as it’s headed in a specific direction with an intended purpose.

That’s my ability to make plans without lengthy discussion, or simply do something spontaneously and un-dissected.

My abilities are bogged down by lack of attention or acknowledgement.

My accomplishments are overlooked, or even torn down.

I have taken the path with the least friction, and just laid everything down— because— what’s the point?

But now I have my focus on it.

I see it.

The beast of control will be challenged, openly.

I want my “me” back.

I want my confidence back.

I want all of the appreciation, encouragement, and full support I’ve poured in to now be reciprocated.

I’m not ok with being managed.

Not anymore.

Ephesians 5:13-14 “But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. For this reason it says, “Awake, sleeper, And arise from the dead, And Christ will shine on you.”

God's Heart, The Past

You Saw Me First

If I could describe my life as a mash-up with how God has always been there, it would go something like the following:

Accidents, mishaps and hospital ER trips— Your protective Hand was covering me, keeping me safe from far worse.

Deepest loneliness, hurts and deep-seated rejections— You’ve always accepted me, held me close to Your heart of hearts.

You are the only One Who has truly loved me. The only One Who has consistently been there through everything.

There in my happiest times, rejoicing with me.

With me in the sad times— comforting me in Your arms of perfect Love.

My northern star, the compass of my heart…. You are the voice that calms the storm inside me
Castle walls that stand around me
All this time, my guardian was You
It’s Always Been You Phil Wickham Who stood with me in the fire?
It was You, it was always You
Who pulled me out of the water?
It was You, it was always You
And who carried me on their shoulders?
It was You, I know it’s You, You

You have never born false witness against me, have always encouraged me through Your Word and that still small voice speaking to my heart of hearts.

You have lifted me up, You have had my back. You have been my Guide to get out of the muck and the mire threatening to suffocate the life out of me, draining me of the will to fight, the will to live.

It’s Always Been You.

It’s only been You.

So Will I Hillsong United. You chased down my heart
Through all of my failure and pride
On a hill You created
The light of the world
Abandoned in darkness to die.

If the stars were made to worship so will I
If the mountains bow in reverence so will I
If the oceans roar Your greatness so will I
For if everything exists to lift You high so will I
If the wind goes where You send it so will I
If the rocks cry out in silence so will I
If the sum of all our praises still falls shy
Then we’ll sing again a hundred billion times

The sum of my life is simply— You’re the One who never leaves the one behind.

4 Luke 15:4-7 “What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the other ninety-nine in the open pasture and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it?5 And when he has found it, he puts it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, because I have found my sheep that was lost!’ 7 I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance.

I am that one.

Reality Check, Strong Woman

MIA— Compassion and Respect

I, (NAME), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.

I am an Air Force Veteran. I am a woman. These two things should not be opposite sides of the time-in-voluntary-service, but unfortunately they are.

There are so many variants that shaped my personal military adventure. No two experiences are alike, but if I were standing next to my also Veteran, retired, husband— he is the one attention would shift to in interest.

I know this, because I have experienced this 99% of the time. We both can mention our enlistments, and mine is treated like it’s no biggie, but my husband— “Really! Thank you for your service!” with maybe a nod in my direction.

It’s like people don’t know how to process my being a woman in the military.

The military began “shaping” me to live in a man-shaped perspective, from day one.

I was 15 pounds under the expected weight-lifting limit to apply for a job I really wanted to do. You and I know it wouldn’t have been difficult for me to build up to that limit— I was determined and in shape to do that— but that was not an option. I believe this was an across-the-board decision, but I also believe that could, and maybe should, be changed.

The mindset of the military is always “military needs”, and volunteers are “property”.

The process for making me a military-minded person began by breaking me down, separating me into a group of 49 other women, limiting things like time to shower, privacy, time to eat, getting mail or calls from home, and dictating every moment of everyday.

Don’t get me wrong, it was an amazing experience, and I am proud of myself for success in making it through that.

But, for me— coming from an abusive past, it was also an emotionally difficult experience.

Additionally, it was a lonely experience— but that wasn’t a new thing for me. I have almost never had someone to talk to, or go through things with me.

That brings me to my point in writing this.

The military comes at everything from a man’s perspective. It just does. Sure there are videos, and training once a year to learn about being professional and demonstrating polite courtesy to not offend women, or make them feel threatened.

I think that is kind of a good thing, but it’s also kind of condescending.

It also does not work. I mean, just look at scandals way at the top concerning sexual harassment towards women.

Here is another perspective:

https://m.facebook.com/200999403407041/posts/1838927186280913/?d=n

My personal experiences of working in a man’s career field as a plumber (my 10th flowery-worded choice— Utilities System Specialist), in a man’s-perspective-d world are unique and don’t necessarily reflect or match another woman’s.

I get that.

But, men, and even some high-ranking women, certainly have a long way to go towards mutual respect and fair, rational, understanding and compassionate treatment of women— as individuals that are completely unique and separate from the way men are built.

With all the money poured into “research”, you’d think by now things would have naturally “evolved” from arrogant, chauvinistic, neanderthal-like behavior.

Recently, women have finally been provided with something many have needed all along! It took decades for that to happen! Why?

Because it’s a world based on men’s perspective that women are “allowed” to become part of.

Things are getting better, and yet, the latest response/reaction by civilian men to the mere mention of the newly available maternity flight suit just proves— men have a long way to go.

In the famous words of our current President— “Come on, man!”

You can, and should, do better.

Christian Thoughts, Walking With God

He’s With Me Through It All

Imagine this is a picture of God’s hand— catching all of our tears (Psalm 56:8), Holding our hand (Isaiah 41:13), pouring His grace, His mercy out over us (1 Timothy 1:12-17)— within our reach, in His grasp (Acts 17:27).

Imagine His hand designing every part of us, every cell’s information center, every detail from the tiniest strands of Laminin to the color of our hair and eyes. (Jeremiah 18:6), (Isaiah 64:8) (Isaiah 66:2)

His hand— that shelters us (Ezra 8:21-23), heals us as He applies His perfect Heavenly healing balm upon our hearts (2 Chronicles 30:12), our eyes (Matthew 26:64), our wounds… (Revelation 1:17) (Exodus 15:26) (Psalm 107:20) (Jeremiah 30:17) (Jeremiah 17:14)

His hand places us (Ezekiel 37:1), directs us ( (139:10), supports us (Psalm 18:35), it beckons us towards Him (John 14:6) fulfilling His purpose for us (Psalm 138:8) (Jeremiah 29:11), warns us to stop what we are doing and turn back to Him. (Psalm 31:15) (1Chronicles 4:10) (Daniel 9:15)

It’s His hand that holds us (Isaiah 41:13-14) (Ecclesiastes 9:1) and keeps us safe (Isaiah 41:13) and keeps us from being snatched from Him. (John 10:28-29)

His hand gives us the opportunity to humble ourselves so in His timing He might exalt us. (1Peter 5:6-7)

It’s His hand that upholds us. (Isaiah 41:10) (Psalms 63:8)

His hand delivers us. (Psalm 138:7)

He has us inscribed on the palms of His hands! (Isaiah 49:16) Regardless of where you stand in the tattoo debate— think about this culture of tattoos, all the pretty (or not so pretty), creative designs humans come up with and want to display on their bodies— for all the world to see. God— Who created everything— has us inscribed on His hands!

All throughout Scripture we read about His hand executing justice on the behalf of very imperfect people. (Ezra 8:21-23)

And that’s just His hand(s)!

Along with His hand, is His attention. His focus. His love.

We have the attention of The Creator of every universe, every planet, every living being!

The imagination of our loving God is on full manifested display for us to witness, across the sky, and across our world!

The One Who’s thoughts are so much higher than we can ever reach or attain, has His thoughts on us, even shares them with us.

Being reminded of these things is humbling.

How is it possible to forget He’s holding me in the shadow of His hand? When I’m overwhelmed by the enormity of circumstances affecting, over-shadowing my life, there is something that is far greater in size and strength.

God’s hand.

He is with me through it all.

Even when I am aware of my unworthiness. Even when I think what I’ve said or done— or not done— makes me unqualified for His protective, loving hand.

All of us have experienced the same things, in differing degrees, the past year. Add to that individual, unique experiences— it’s overwhelming when our focus rests on that.

Much like those pictures with a hidden picture we can only see when we let go of focusing on what we recognize— God’s hand comes into focus when we stop looking at everything else.

A Mom's Perspective

Repost— Mom 139: New Parent’s Translation

I wrote this in 2014 while my husband was deployed. I think all of us parents could use a little creative humor to help us get through some of the roughest times.

Am I right?

Mom 139: New Parent’s Translation

JEM

They have searched for me, my kids,

they know me well.

They know when I sit down, and when I get up to clean;

They perceive my need for time alone from afar.

They discern my going shopping and my lying down for a catnap;

They are familiar with all my habits.

Before a word is on my tongue,

they interrupt and make me forget what I was going to say.

They pull at my hem from in front and behind me,

Their hands are always on me.

Such attention is overwhelming for me,

Too much for me to process all at once.

Where can I go from my children?

Where can I go to flee from the kids?

If I go in the bathroom, they are there, 

In the middle of the night when everyone should be sleeping, they are there. 

If I get up early, they are there,

Try to sneakily eat chocolate behind closed doors, there! 

Even there, they beg!

Their hands trying to take it from me, making me feel guilty.

If I say, “Surely I can have privacy in the darkness

and the quiet becomes peace around me,”

the night will be full of interruptions;

because the darkness means it’s time to play.

They were created in my inmost being;

I am the mother in whose womb they were knit.

I praise God because they were fearfully and wonderfully made,

His works are wonderful!

My frame was not hidden from their kicks

when they were made in the secret place,

when they were woven in the depths of my girth.

Their eyes saw as their hands punched me;

all their days were written in their baby book

hopes and promises before they came to be.

How precious are their words, and their silence!

How vast is the sum of their joyful noise!

Were I to count them, it would require I could concentrate…

I’m sure their questions have outnumbered the grains of sand–

when I’m awake, they are always with me.

In game and play, they slay the zombies.

They pretend to kill the monsters and vampires.

While at church they sing Jesus Loves Me;

they are learning of His precious Name.

Do I not get angry with those who are mean to them,

and abhor those who bully or reject them?

I have nothing but disdain for adults who dismiss them;

I count them as missing out on great opportunities.

My kids have searched through my stuff, and they know what I love;

they test me and cause anxious thoughts.

They push buttons of offensiveness,

but I love them, that’s my way, and it’s everlasting.

https://jemtreeheartrenewed.wordpress.com/2014/10/09/mom-139-new-parents-translation/

reality

The End Of The World

Chaos. This is the idea being pushed all around us. Urgency. Fear. We are surrounded by this, wherever we look. The news. Family and friends. The medical community.

We can’t escape the chaos.

Or— can we?

There’s a newer song with a verse that says, “The atmosphere is all around. The Spirit of The Lord is here. The atmosphere is changing now. For the Spirit of The Lord is here” Here as in Heaven

While everything around us wants to immerse us in chaos— God remains outside of it all.

How can we get outside of it, as well?

When we pray, when we commune with Almighty God, we turn our backs to it all. Much like Jesus who was so outside of the chaos, He slept on the boat. Fear did not touch Him or cause Him to react. But those He loved panicked, and woke Him to change the atmosphere. He was outside of that fear, but He changed it— told that storm— “Peace. Be still.”

And the atmosphere obeyed.

When I read and remember Scripture— Jesus will be returning once again, to rule and reign for 1000 years. Will every person be dead? Will only His haters survive?

No.

So, that means all the chaos caused by fear pushed by media, by political viewpoints, by climate change purveyors— none of that will affect the second coming of Christ.

So why get caught up in it all?

Why let the media convince us to be afraid, worried, to hate people who aren’t persuaded by their narratives?

Why?

We can turn our backs to it all.

We can trust Jesus. We can lean on Jesus.

We can rest in Him.

If God is not moved by it all, why should we be?

We can throw our hands up in surrender to Him, release it all, and confess to Him we have allowed our emotions, words and actions to be manipulated by the pushed chaotic ideas of the day, and release it all to Him.

Because He holds our entire world inside of His hands.

He does not cause the chaos.

He does not get involved in the chaos.

He remains outside of the chaos.

I’m trying to kneel there at His feet, and stay outside of it with Him.

It’s so peaceful and clear outside of the storm.

Or, should we also panic and beg Him to calm this storm?

I personally believe there is a reason— this is the season— for this storm.

I’d rather wait it out while spending the time with Him in His Presence— under the shelter of His wing. I can breath here. I can rest. I can rejoice in Him.

Outside of the chaos, with Jesus— that’s the very best place to be.

Uncategorized

Our Changing Worldview

1 Cor 13:11a “When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child;

When I was a child, my whole entire view was about me. My immediate surroundings, how big everything seemed, my interactions with family members, wanting to be liked and approved-of by everyone I interacted with. There was always some level of security I sought through confidence in what I knew, routines, and things being consistent.

As I grew older, my view started to include people I cared about, and people I looked up to— outside of my immediate family. Friends, friends’ parents, neighbors, my parents friends, kids at school, teachers, and pastors.

I learned about the world around me and what I could trust through how my parents reacted to things and interactions with me.

As I continued to grow and mature, the response or reaction from others became my “thermometer”. I developed a sense of right and wrong, and learned how to take up the offense of others as though it were also my own. And— sometimes it became my own. Sometimes I saw past it and looked at it in a different perspective.

I began to develop discernment.

As I grew into an adult, my experiences, surroundings and environment changed— several times. I left home under stressful circumstances— independent and determined to make my way, in my way, alone.

Thankfully God placed people in my life to help me propel through all those twists and turns in my personal life story.

I learned from a pretty young age who was in my “corner”— and who was not.

As I ventured into my adulthood story, I learned some really tough lessons in humility and that few people would have my back as I tried to have theirs.

Trust had been a recurring theme in my life— or most often— lack of trust. It’s been an uphill battle to find trustworthy people who support the extremely imperfect me. Letting my guard down has burned me more tines than not.

Now, as I look back through so many years past, the second half of 1 Cor 13:11 makes so much more sense: “when I became a man, I did away with childish things.” Ok— I’m not a man per se, but as a human I now understand I don’t have the full picture.

I also recognize that for some parts of the picture, I have a clearer understanding than some others. And, for some parts, I do not.

Now my worldview has changed into a much wider view. It’s no longer about me— it’s about my children, and as they grow up and venture into their own lives outside of my parental decisions, my worldview includes those who are important to them. Oh, we disagree on various viewpoints and opinions, but the heart connection moves us far beyond that.

At least for myself it does.

I have learned that God’s view is complete and perfect, and I can always trust Him with what I don’t see, or know. He knows all , sees all— is everywhere, at all times. Nothing is hidden from Him or outside if His reach.

That brings me great comfort and security. That’s where my peace of mind lives.

He also has given me a deeper discernment, and with that a confidence that He is helping me see and know things not for the sake of my having knowledge— but so I can pray and I can recognize where He is at work. That is the entire purpose of discernment— to differentiate between where He is, what He is doing, and the absence of His involvement. It’s not to focus on where and what the enemy are up to— it helps us to be aware, yes. But our focus should always be on our Creator and our Savior. This is what His Spirit has taught me over the years.

Now I’m finding that God has completely changed my heart, mind and worldview focus. It’s no longer a tiny area just involving how things affect me. It’s about so many other things, and how those things affect other people and situations. It’s now an earth-wide view. It’s an Eternity view.

I want to see through God’s eyes, not my own opinions and misunderstandings. I want to care through God’s heart, because mine gets tempted to wax cold.

I want to pray for what’s on God’s heart, I want to be aware of what’s on God’s mind.

So much has been centered around our individual selves within our church environments.

There really is so much more.

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

There are new things illuminated as we seek God for what He wants us to see, know and pray about. I want to participate with Him in what He’s accomplishing— through praying and through recognition.

introspection, Reality Check, Walking With God

Puppet Strings— Opinions Of Others

We all have some point where we worry about the opinion of someone else— to some degree.

The affects of that worry can be debilitating! How do we react to negative comments from those we value the opinion of?

Because of our documented-through-the-ages reactions to opinions— the enemy of our soul uses this to create stumbling blocks in our intended path. When I intentionally go in a specific direction, especially if it’s to bring honor to God, there is sometimes a stumbling block that causes me to trip, lose my balance, stub my toe, stumble, and sometimes, to fall.

Often we are so caught up in appearances, as well as our reactions of embarrassment, shock, and/or anger, we miss that this is a device and tactic employed by God’s enemy, the same enemy of humanity. We all know who that is. The serpent, and all the names attached throughout history to identify this evil entity.

What we don’t often understand is, we can be set free from the manipulation. We can cut the puppet strings. We don’t have to live in the tangled web of fear of opinions of others.

When something happens that causes fear to rise up— say this with me— “So What?” “Who Cares?” “Why Should I Let This Stop Me?” “God, Show Me The Truth.”

This is how we stand back up, brush the dust off of ourselves— those tiny, weightless particles of the opinions of others, with the chameleon affect of feeling heavy—brush that dust off, and start walking again. With purpose. With intention. Letting the fiery darts meant to burn us up and out, bounce off instead.

Because the only opinion that actually matters is God’s. In fact— His opinion is just that— fact. Truth. With no distortions. Since He fearfully and wonderfully formed us within our mothers, in secret, then we are His garden of fearfully, wonderfully made blooms.

This is why the enemy of our souls, the enemy of God, tries desperately to plant seeds of doubt, skepticism, fear, concern, worry, hatred— everything contrary to the fruit and nature of our loving Gardener, into the soil of our paths and the garden of our life. Because God tends to us and we bloom into beauty and life only He can create— empowered with His Spirit, nurtured and cleansed by the very, Holy blood of His one and only Son— Jesus. Our enemy wants to crowd that out, to infest us with doubts, skepticism and fear.

We are all His creation, made carefully, delicately, lovingly— by His hand, nurtured and protected by His hand, watered by His Spirit, cleansed by the blood of Jesus that sin can never corrupt. Ever. It is forever, eternally, so powerfully clean of sin— it actually washes sin away into nonexistence because of forgiveness and grace.

So— we can walk— puppet string free— from everything contrary to God’s Word. His Word is alive, His Word lives within us and has always dwelt amongst us. Always.

Isaiah 40:30-31 Though youths grow weary and tired, And vigorous young men stumble badly, Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary. NASB

This blog post was inspired by https://cheriewhite.blog/2020/10/16/a-letter-to-my-teenage-self-2/ parts 1,2 and 3.

Reality Check

Focal Point

Have you ever felt invisible?

Have you ever been the sounding-board for someone who doesn’t really see you while they are talking?

Has there ever been an expectation of you to be available to fit into someone else’s schedule?

Have you ever just wanted to not— just for a little while— be available when it’s expected of you?

Have you ever been broken by something completely unexpected?

Have you felt pushed and pulled into expected directions you just don’t feel like going in?

Have you ever tried to pick things back up after being let down?

Have you ever felt like you needed a vacation from your own life?

There’s this song I loved years ago, called Disappear from Out Of The Grey. The idea in the song is the desire to disappear into Jesus— like John the Baptist said— more of Him, less of me.

Well, I did disappear— but into my marriage and my family.

I’m still seen by God, though, even though I don’t feel worthy to be seen by Him. Because I know I am a broken fixture in this world, and I can’t fix what’s broken about myself. There is no doctor, no hospital, for invisible wounds, and my brokenness is invisible except to God— Who really sees me.

I can rest in Him because He sees me. I’m not His sounding board. I’m not empty, I’m not weak because He fills me, continuously, with His strength and love.

As long as He is my focal point— I can push through the emotional labors of this life. I can stand up under the weight of the roles I’m expected to play. I can be who He created me to be.

Physically I can’t do what I used to. Thankfully my spirit still can, through Christ Jesus Who is my strength— He is my focal point.

Because of that— I am okay.

Isaiah 40:31 NASB Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.

introspection

Tough As Sand

In the past, I thought of myself as a kind of diamond in the rough. But here lately, I realize I’m more a lump of soft coal that wishes it could be a diamond. Coal that is under the heaviest of pressure can, in part, become a diamond. In the past I’ve compared my life’s hardships as what coal experiences as it then becomes one of the very hardest substances known to mankind. Hard circumstances formed a hardened heart within me and a toughened, hardened exterior. I thought that was what I needed to protect myself, to make sure I could withstand more pressure from circumstances outside of my control.

Today I realized what I believed about myself may not even be the case— if it ever really was. God softened my hardened heart after I met my husband. He chipped away at that outer layer of toughness, like an emotional callous, and He took down the walls I had built up, brick by brick.

Nothing I do will protect me like God does. Walls trap the yuck inside, and keep the positive new things out. Before God fixed my old hardened heart, it could have easily been one of the rocks that praises God when people fail to.

It was that hard.

Today, I talked with someone about something I haven’t really thought deeply about in years! I’m not sure what I expected, but I left that conversation feeling as though all that hardness I still managed to cling to is crumbling away into dust. A trauma I experienced as a child re-emerged into my memories, and God has been so deeply at work within me, my reactions are different. My walls are gone. My heart feels soft, crushable and exposed.

I had myself so figured out before, I had every one of my reactions to my history carefully planned out. And now— I let go of my control. I feel like I’m just going to completely crumble as I now deal with old trauma mixed in with something new that was unexpected.

Maybe my life is a series of diamonds made from my spirit being crushed, over and over again. Maybe it’s all still just a lump of coal that has been broken into so many pieces, it more resembles charcoal powder. Maybe it’s a piece of coal used to keep the fire of difficult circumstances stoked at it’s hottest. Maybe it’s more like the ashes and residue left over.

I don’t know.

What I do know is— I am not the same person I started on this journey as. I thought situations had helped shape me. Turns out, maybe God has handled me differently than I believed He had, and maybe my opinions kept me blind to that. No trauma I have or ever will experience could possibly match what Jesus endured on the way to, and on, the cross. He was wounded for our (my) transgressions.

My walls and self protection have to crumble in order to allow His healing process to be thorough in me.

By His wounds I am healed.

Isaiah 53:5 “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.”

introspection, reality

Forgive Them? Why??

This is a recurring theme in my life, it seems. And not just little things— really big, hard issues. When things start to finally relax, suddenly it becomes necessary to exercise my forgiveness muscles again. I have lifted some of the heaviest issues with these muscles. I don’t see a need to flex them for vanity purposes— these are the necessary muscles for living a life that keeps me close to Jesus. They are the strength that is unseen, coming from an unseen force— Jesus, Who is my Mediator, my Intercessor— my reason for living. He keeps me continually moving forward.

I’ve been dealt some difficult cards throughout my life so far, most seem to fall under the category of betrayal. I don’t know if I can even categorize them all. The one thing they have in common, besides intense pain, is an attack on trust.

When the burden of offense against me is so heavy— a crushing weight, God reminds me that forgiveness lifts that burden off of me and puts it at the foot of the cross.

We can’t take anything with us when it’s our time to move on from earth— that includes the offenses and hurts from others. When we surrender them to Jesus, Who bore the crushing weight of every offense, past, present and future— we walk in the truest form of Grace and Mercy.

When we come face to face with the knowledge that Jesus said, while being crushed by all of the sins of this world— “Father, forgive them because they don’t understand”, we then have the tiniest of glimpses into what Jesus endured on that cross, in our place. He willingly surrendered to every betrayal we’ll ever experience.

That is why we forgive. Again. And again. And again…

“Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven…” Matt 18:21-22

An Honest Perspective

Back To My First Love

Lately my time, one-on-one with God has been a spontaneous thing, which becomes steered by intention.

Something within me has changed. My perspective, or I guess my realization of the reliability— the consistent stability— of God with me. I never question His willingness to make sure I am taken care of. He has never wavered— though I know it’s certainly not because of anything I’ve earned nor do I dare think I deserve it.

This idea of “first love” is tumbling around in my brain today. Meditating in His Presence, saturating my spirit in the beautiful song Nothing Else, this idea of being taken back to my first love opens up a whole new reservoir of understanding for me.

“Take me back, take me back, take me back to my first love…” Can I say God has ever been my first love? I mean— honestly. Because, of course in “Christianese” that’s what we profess— that God is our first love.

As I just meditate on what that means to me, and question how exactly to get back to my first love when I cannot say that was God, I recognize what I need is to get back to the first recognition of my love for Him, and my first realization of His love for me.

My first time knowing this unique, soul-filling love that heals me, that refreshes me— that holds me close to Him.

“Take me back to my first love…” Take me back to that first moment the veil was torn from my understanding, that first glimpse my spirit had of You.

Take my heart back to being satisfied by sitting in Your Presence, back when things were simplified— back to the safety and comfort, like a newborn babe resting on its daddy’s chest— near to Your heartbeat. Because “Only You satisfy my heart… Nothing else will do— I just want You”

reality

Expectation Meet-Up

I’ve failed. Again. No big surprise. I’ve gotten pretty good at recognizing the game by now. I show up, with all of my imperfections– which are easily recognized at first glance– and I fail the test. You know– the test– where I do, or behave, or look like the labeled box I “should” just fit right in to. Where I “fall in line” with how everyone just is or just does– just sayin’…

The expectation test.

Although, I must admit, the anger I seem to detect lately is a new twist. I mean, surely I deserve whatever reaction the opinion of unmet expectations metes out, right? Surely I have no right to react or respond, or– heaven forbid– show any sort of weakness emotionally or physically.

I see the looks behind your eyes, I am aware of the reactions, and all it does is push me farther away.

Humanity has been such a disappointment to me most of my life– other than my own family. See there? You didn’t meet my expectations, either. I’ve expected grace, kindness, but have most often been meet with coldness, disappointment or indifference.

Thank God for Jesus.

Jesus didn’t meet most people’s expectations, either. In Him I find my own identity. In Him I find acceptance, and peace– comfort in all of my times of need. Where I am weak, He is strong. Where I am found lacking, He provides everything I need. When life just makes me more tired, when my body fights itself leaving me exhausted and frustrated– He carries me, He ministers to my spirit– giving me rest.

God made us to need other people. For myself– that remains to be a double-edged sword.

This is what has been on my heart this week.

Maybe God will choose to heal me this year. Maybe He will enable me to better fight back against that invisible enemy that attacks my body. Maybe He will just continue to draw me nearer to Him. I have learned to be content with where I am, no matter how He answers my prayers and needs– have you?

If I’m not angry about my personal fight, what gives anyone the right to be angry with me about how I manage my personal fight?

After nearly 51 years of life, I’m tired.

Be kind. Pray. Don’t put expectations onto me–I will never be able to meet them. You have not walked my path, experienced the things I have, or fought the fight I deal with daily. Maybe you’ve heard things about me, taken out of context. If so, you are adding opinion to heresay.

How is that Godly?

I expect to receive the grace of Christ from my fellow Believers.

Are my expectations too high for you?

Strong Woman

The Forgiveness of God

How many times have you heard someone say, “I will never forgive them.” How many times have we all felt someone has done or said something that is beyond the scope? It’s crossed that unmentioned line we all tend to instictivlely draw in our personal belief system?

I can tell you I had my own line, and I stood firmly behind that line– even though there had been a few events of someone stepping right on or over that line, as though it did not even exist. Of course– for them, I don’t think it did exist, while for myself it seemed reasonable to assume everyone knew about this line.

That’s the problem. Rational people know, people in my society know, men know. Except some must not, or they don’t care about that line.

So, for me, I’ve had this line solidly placed in my belief system, that should never be crossed. And, if it were crossed, as it has been a few times in my life, then I have an “out”– surely I don’t have to forgive that… right?

So a challenge came to me in the form of a testimony of a woman missionary, who had recently passed away when I learned about it.

At first, I was angry with her. How dare she blow off what was a great injustice done to her– and to me! How dare she minimize that as though it were not that major deal I had known personally for it to be! How could she excuse away this awful thing when it has ruined and damaged so many lives?!

Then God’s Spirit went to work in my heart and my understanding– my outrage.

In my defense of holding my grudge, I viewed her as weak- minded and ignorant. I mean, she had been violated— didn’t she get that??

History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new.” (Ecc 1:9 NLT)

Then I started to think on Scripture that says “But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins. (Matt 6:15 NLT) Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your transgressions.” (Mark 11:25-26 NASV)

Most times I have no problem forgiving what people do or say to or about me. But violating me– that is intensly personal, the greatest offense and sin against me. I felt I was justified in my anger and unforgiveness.

This woman’s approach and her testimony challenged my deepest-held justifications.

Then I began to think about all the abuse Jesus experienced on the cross and before He was nailed to the cross and what He said in response– “Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” And the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice...” Some continued what they were doing, not even realizing the profoundness of what Jesus had just asked of God.

People do things without realizing what they are doing to others.

Our role as children of the Most High God, as followers of Jesus– is to forgive them. 7×77 times. Per day.

Forgiving is not easy. But, the focus I’ve found I need to have is not on my need to forgive others, but instead on my desperate need for God’s forgiveness towards me.

It’s a matter of spiritual life of death.

I want to encourage you to watch the video interview of a woman who I now believe to have been a pillar of strength and understanding for God’s Kingdom, inside this article linked below:

https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justin-taylor/a-woman-of-whom-the-world-was-not-worthy-helen-roseveare-1925-2016/

introspection, Uncategorized

Transformed By Transcendence

I used to hold the collateral damage in

Stuff it way down deep

Keep it out of sight

Like it was nothing but a junk heap.

I used to care about

What people thought

But then I woke up

I’m different– so what?

I’ve lived an intense life

There are depths I know

Created through strife

I’ve been embarassed to show.

When I began to embrace

The pain and emotions

The trials and the breaks

The personal notions–

I realized others were in need!

I could share what God’s done!

How He’s made that difference

I’m thankful He’s the Healing One.

You see, rejection and I

We go way back– years!

We’ve been intertwined

Tied with dread and fears.

I used to surrender

Just accept the defeat

Now my spirit is strengthened

I forced it to retreat.

Oh, it still pops up

Tries to drag me back down to submission

But I know it’s a lie

I know it’s a fake prison.

I walked away

And found my acceptance

I have risen above, no longer blind

Transformed by transcendence.

I’ve embraced my purpose

I accept it’s about more than just me

Others need my experience

To identify with their need.

My pain, my wounds

My steep pile of stuff

Belongs to other

Diamonds in the rough.

I don’t matter to many

It’s ok, I accept it

Those lives most affected

Are puzzles my life fits with.

My views are intense

I embrace pain till it runs it’s course

Ignoring it seals it in

Confronting it gets to the source.

I thought I had to apologize

For being more sensitive than most

Yet, I owe no person anything

Except to the encroached.

My life has been open

My story a book for the broken

No more apologies

My understanding is now awoken.

The Past

My Shoes

Nobody says, “I wonder what it would be like to walk in their shoes?” about abused children.

No one daydreams about being yelled at, called names– or worse.

No one envies the child with the broken spirit, no one celebrates their choice to fight to survive.

One of the strongest memories of my dad was the time I walked into our living room and he just started yelling at me about how much he hated me, how I was just in the way– how he wished I were dead and had never been born.

I reacted to that, at first, by contemplating ways to take myself out of the way. Then– I called my best friend.

She helped me realize the best way to help myself would be to remove myself from the situation. So– I planned a vacation, where I could strengthen my will to continue to live.

I was in high school at the time. I planned for a two week vacation from my life. I took time off from my job, I arranged for a place to stay, and I told no one except the person I stayed with where I would be.

That saved my life.

It was inconvenient for others, I know. Some worried– and they should have. They should have been worried more about my state of mind before I took my time-out, than the fact that I left.

I only used a week of that planned two weeks.

I was introduced to a life I had never known before that, but it was just enough to realize– that also was not the kind of life I wanted to live.

I woke up to some harsh realities, and I walked away from some permanent options that would have become permanent mistakes– had I chosen to take them.

I had always had a secret life of envying others who had dads that were loving, kind, and healthy. Dads who’s hugs were not dangerous, where insults were not the “norm”– ones that cherished their daughters.

My dad, he had a rough childhood. He probably had a secret envy life, as well.

I forgave my dad for his failings, years ago.

I made sure my own children had what I envied of others (God made sure too) because I knew what I had missed. I don’t blame my mom for my dad’s issues. It’s never been her fault.

I love my friends who have had wonderful, nurturing and healthy relationships with their fathers. But, it’s like bumping an unseen bruise to know that that’s something I will never get to know firsthand.

I’m old enough that I’ve forgotten many things I’ve experienced. That ache at what I was robbed of is always there, though, silently throbbing under the surface.

I’m so very happy for others, but my heart silently envies and daydreams about what their lives must have been like.

I’ve attempted to try on their shoes, but my callouses and bruises keep them from fitting comfortably, I’ve never been able to walk in them.

I’ve heard more often than I can count, that God is my Father. True– He is. He is a good father.

As awesome as God is, I still have a lack in my heart for a loving, mentally healthy, earthly dad. That’s my reality. Acceptance from God has been more healing than anything anyone could offer. This is why more mentally healthy, accountable-to-others, Christian men need to step up inside the church. There are people of all ages missing healthy relationships. We are so quick to just expect God to mysteriously fill every void and heal every affliction, when God gave us to one another.

Jesus made sure his own mother had someone to step in to fill the void He was leaving. What an amazing example of compassion and understanding! We lack nurturing, healthy relationships inside our church families. Our own members are hurting from devastating wounds and circumstances, and we busy ourselves with programs, not recognizing the deep needs right in front of us.

God help us to be what our own family-in-Christ needs us to be– what You call us to be.

God has given us shoes to wear. Shoes of the Gospel of Peace. Shouldn’t we wear them at all times, starting inside the Church? And if we don’t wear them there, if we take Abaraham’s burning bush approach and take them off on Holy Ground– Jesus made it abundantly clear the need to wash one another’s feet.

In other words– we need to look after one-another, with the same intimacy as close, healthy, loving family.

We need to get this right so we can effectively affect and reach the world around us with God’s gift of Hope, Love, and relationship with Him through Jesus.

Reality Check

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.

Walking With God, What life has taught me

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.

Reality Check, The Past

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 life has taught me

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. 

American, An Honest Perspective, An Honest Wife's Perspective, Reality Check, The Past, What life has taught me

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.

A Loving Wife's Perspective, A Mom's Perspective, American, An Honest Wife's Perspective, Christian Thoughts, Nuggets I Learned from my Childhood, What life has taught me

How Have You Grown?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In what ways have you grown?