Tag: God


have we made the world fall out of love with Jesus?


For those who read here, I hope you haven’t minded that the past several posts have been my rehashing and fleshing out the latest sermons from church!  I’ve just found the content really fascinating lately, more so than usual, and I can’t seem to stop thinking about it through the week.

This past Sunday’s sermon was a continuation of Pastor Trevor’s “Better” series.  He’s focusing on how the general public view of Christianity and religion as a way of life has changed in the past few decades.  He explained how up until the fifties and early sixties, over 95% of Americans would have classified themselves as being Christian or having a belief in God, a way of living “religiously”.  Even people who would not self-identify as Christian still had beliefs in a Higher Power, in a being “out there” who was greater than themselves and in control of things here on earth.

He brought up how much that has changed in the past twenty years especially.  He talked about the similarity of our current culture that seems to be burnt out on religion as a whole and Christianity specifically to the culture that Jesus stepped into when He began His ministry.  A statistic he quoted says that most people today say they feel their lives are better without any sort of religion.

Wow.  That’s a huge departure from the days just before my own appearance on this planet.  I was born in the late sixties and grew up feeling as if most of the kids I went to school with knew about God and believed in Him.  It was fairly common that if you used the Bible to support your view of something, it would more often be accepted as truth than not.  If you decided to pray over your meal, others around you would respect that by not interrupting or by turning their conversational volume down a bit while you prayed.

Nowadays, of course, the Bible is almost automatically questioned or outright dismissed as any reputable presentation of truth.  I will interject here that back in the time I refer to in the previous paragraph there were also a good amount of folks who would just as soon thump you with the Bible as read it to you.  At least the little I can recall of those years as a young child, people weren’t all that subtle about their religiosity or their beliefs.  It was expected that you believed in the Bible and if you didn’t you were labeled stupid or rebellious.  EVEN if you had a legitimate question about what was being taught from scripture, if it went against the mainstream of whatever congregation you affiliated yourself with, you would be severely chastened if not completely dismissed or blackballed!

Those are not what I consider “the good old days”.  I’m still recovering from those “old

days” and growing up in a church culture that was more exclusive than inclusive, more separatist than mediator.  That required me to learn that others who grew up in that same kind of culture had the same unasked questions that I did! Being able to learn from those people, getting together to discuss those questions we weren’t allowed to ask and find the Biblical answers was healing to my wounded spirit.  It turns out that a lot of the ways, things I was taught and beliefs held by what I consider old, traditional church is not exactly the way Jesus presented it.  It had strayed into some unscriptural rule-making and expecting the outside world to understand what we on the inside of the church were talking about when they (the outside world, non-Christian) didn’t have any context… and then getting mad about it when they didn’t comprehend our “good news”.

All that to say this…yes, our society is changing.  Probably not for the best in general, but there are other changes happening too.  While there is plenty of moral decline in America and the world, there is also some renewed Godliness.  Not spirituality or religiosity, but true Godliness where the Creator of All is revered as the Ultimate Authority and the love of Jesus is shown to those who in the past would have been rejected in and by a church.

Like I mentioned in my last post, the very first thing God ever did when He began to give men the words that would become our Bible was to present Himself as a creator.  And as a creator, you must have a certain amount of love, passion, and joy in whatever it is you create.  God took SO much time… well, OUR concept of time at least, so much CARE, I should say, to make everything unique and beautiful.  Why would He do that for a world He did not love?  Not to mention His loving us SO MUCH that instead of giving up on us, He gave up Jesus for us.

It’s been wonderful to learn more about scripture and be able to explain why, in my childhood and teen years I felt so discouraged by “the gospel” and my church.  It’s also been hard to move past the teaching that was drilled into me about who was and who wasn’t “suitable” to come in the church… who wore the right kind of clothes for church, who sang the right kind of songs, played the right music or had the appropriate instruments on the stage.  It’s been freeing to learn that just because you like a different kind of music than me doesn’t make yours any less worshipful than mine.  God doesn’t care what we wear, but rather about the condition of our hearts.  On the topic of clothing, which was a major sore spot in my home and my childhood church, when I’d hear people picking apart someone else’s wardrobe choice I often wondered why then was it not a factor when David tore off his outer clothes and danced for joy in his underwear?  (2 Samuel 6  – Where it says David wore a linen ephod?  That’s his underments made of thin linen cloth!!)  And why was it not a hindrance for the repentant thief who hung next to Jesus that day??  All of them– he, the unrelenting thief and Jesus– eventually were naked in public!  Why was it okay to say he was forgiven while he was indecent in public?  And what about the other sinners Jesus ate and sat with?  I’m sure many of them were inappropriately dressed… um, hello!!  You know those “loose women” didn’t run home and throw on a “church dress” before they met Jesus .. especially since Jesus met people where they were!  In their mess!  In their hooker clothes!

Oops… sorry.  I got off track a bit there.  But you can see how those nagging questions can lead a person to reject the gospel when there is a contradiction between what scripture says and what a body of Christians do.  I know and have heard testimony of many people who literally walked out on God because of the way they were treated by or how they saw others treated by people who said they represented Jesus.

That needs to stop!  We as the body of Christ need to get back to the basics of Jesus’ teaching.  The greatest commandments are these:

Matthew 22:37-40

  And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” 

 


What is God like?


TITLE: What is God like?

That was the main question and basis of this week’s sermon.  Once you’ve answered the question “Does God exist?” then you almost automatically wonder “What is God like?”

TITLE: What is God like?

Pastor Trevor went over several possible answers that people usually have.  The first is often that God is angry.  Why do people think this about God?

Do you even have to ask?  People think God must be angry because by and large, most of the population that identifies itself as “Christian” seem to be angry almost all of the time.  Christians seem to be always letting the world know what they are against, what they disapprove of and who they see as unacceptable.angry preacher with pointing finger

 

Obviously, not all Christians behave this way, but for the most part, many of them do.  Or maybe it’s that the media likes to show us those who behave in an angry way.  After all, it’s no “fun” doing interviews with happy, peaceful, loving Christians, right?  (blah!)

 

Some people also see God as violent.

 

I get that.  I do, seriously.  I’ve read the Old Testament.  There’s a lot of violent goings on in there.  I’ve never had a huge problem justifying these things, not that it’s my job to justify them, but my thought is that God is God and I am not.  Therefore, I am not going to understand everything He does.  I figure that anyOne who is able to create anything out of nothing probably knows a whole lot more than me so it wouldn’t be very wise of me to question Him, even when I don’t understand His plan or His reasons for doing/allowing/commanding what He did back then or even yesterday.

I know this line of thought doesn’t work for everyone.  I understand that some people have trouble with just trusting that God knows best and letting it go at that when they see things they feel are unjust.  I don’t know if that means my faith is bigger than theirs or maybe they just haven’t reached that point in their own spiritual journey.  I don’t know if it’s just that we are all wired differently and we all think differently.  I don’t know if it’s just a fear of handing that much control over to God to accept whatever He deems righteous or acceptable.  I try not to be too naive in this because, for real, I haven’t had any great losses in my life to really test my faith.  I haven’t lost a parent or a child to death.  I haven’t had a terminal diagnosis given to me or a loved one.  I haven’t had a chronically, critically ill child to care for.  Maybe I have had it too easy to say I can just trust God, no matter what.  But I have people in my life who HAVE dealt with these things and have done so with a huge faith and they are an inspiration to me.  I hope that my faith could be as big and strong as theirs if I ever had to face any of those things.

Another way people tend to view God is that He’s uninterested.  They either think God is too busy to take an interest text sign-- sorry, but I'm not interestedin such minuscule things as our health or our happiness or that He is just too big to bother with such things.  I can understand this line of thinking too.  I mean, being God is a huge thing, right?  I think people who feel God is too busy to be bothered see Him as a VIP.  A celebrity.  Someone who, in human form, usually IS too busy to be bothered.  I guess they can’t imagine how God is much more, much bigger, more powerful than anything our human minds can comprehend.   And granted, it IS hard to imagine how someone could keep up with, let alone personally know, every person on earth.  I have a hard time just keeping track of the few people in my own life let alone a bajillion humans occupying the planet.

But God IS that big.  He can and does know each of us, not just by name, but He knows us intimately and immensely better than anyone else ever has or ever will!  He created us, after all, and not to just wind up and set loose on the floor like a toy but to love and guide and be interested in every aspect of our lives.

 

If He knows each sparrow that falls from the sky as it says in Matthew 10:29, then how much more will He know what is going on with us?  If you’re not familiar with this scripture, the gist is this… if God takes the time and “bother” to know when each sparrow’s life ends (when it falls from flight) then how much more important are we to Him than the sparrows?  Doesn’t it stand to reason that we would be of higher value to Him?  Since it is us and not the birds who are made in the image of God, doesn’t it make sense that He would take even more care and interest in us?  That is always a comfort to me, that God cares enough to notice each little wild bird (and we can surmise that ‘any bird’ is contained in the word ‘sparrow’ and is not just limited to that one genus of bird) that He would take at least as much interest (and MORE so!) in me.

If you’d like to watch the awesome sermon from my church, you can do that HERE.  I’m so thankful for our church and to have a pastor who is so concerned for the Kingdom of God, so focused on outreach and bringing in those far from God.

 

Please share…how do YOU think of God?  How did you feel about Him before you became a believer or if you are not a Christian, please tell me why you feel the way you do about Him?  I would love to discuss with you and know what you all think!

 


the thing nobody wants to discuss


About that title… I had a post all-but ready to publish yesterday. I was looking for photos to use in it when I ran across something on my Facebook timeline. I have searched all through the year it happened and cannot find it. There are about 4 days missing and I even went back several years to see if it was there instead, but no. It was about something really important.

And tragic.

And controversial, of course.

I am SO upset that I can’t find that post because it linked to an article, which is what started the post in the first place. I debated just giving up on the idea of even writing about it at all, but guys, it’s REALLY important and I’m being serious here.

I feel like, as so often happens, the enemy is attempting to thwart something that would bring God glory, so even though I can’t find the post or article, even though I’ve spent literally almost FOUR HOURS looking for it, I’m going to go ahead and write about this.

I think there may be someone out there who needs to read what I have to say today. It’s something that feels like one of those “God nudges” so I’m not going to ignore it. Please bear with me since I will have to explain SO much because I don’t have the linked article!

I’ve found only one article that is even halfway similar to the post I mentioned in my FB status, so I’m going to put the text link here, but I’m not linking to the article. You’ll have to copy/paste into the address bar to read it and I encourage you to read it. I just don’t want to popularize it by linking it from my blog.

http: //www.rolereboot.org/culture-and-politics/details/2014-08-suicide-selfish-wanting-someone-live-pain/

The blog post I saw back then was just a few days after the suicide of Robin Williams. The lady’s point was that suicide was not selfish and I didn’t agree with her.

Now, before you get riled up at me, I didn’t start a debate with this woman. I merely created a status stating that I disagreed with no links to her or mention of her name, etc. I didn’t want to increase her pain since she linked her feelings to the loss of a parent by suicide. I didn’t and won’t even pretend to understand how one would begin to cope with such a tragedy. I was not and am not trying to pass judgment on her, her parent, RW or anyone else!

However, given the fact that RW’s decision to take his own life was linked to depression, and depression is something I know, I’m going to address it. I know depression well. Depression and I are like ** this **.

I’m not going to deny it. In my worst, most desperate moments of deep depression, I have pondered committing suicide myself. More than once. If you know anything about depression, you know how it can grip you, how it can strangle you and make you feel like there is absolutely no reason whatsoever for you to go on.

I want to interject here that my thoughts and opinions about all this are filtered through my faith in Jesus. If you do not consider Him to be your Savior, then you are not likely to understand my intentions here. Just be aware that you MUST use this faith-filter in order to even begin to know my intent.

I believe without doubt or hesitation that my faith in Christ is the only reason I didn’t go through with ending my life. Perhaps it was guilt over the thought that I would be disappointing Him if I carried it out. But when I had lived a couple of decades with depression, after I had resisted the temptation to get rid of my pain through suicide, I finally learned something that has kept me from ever seriously considering it again.

My life is not mine.

Before, when I was younger and would consider suicide, I could only think about how death might bring some peace to my aching heart. I thought about how not having me around would take undue stress off my family and loved ones. I thought about how things would stop being so hard, so painful, so worthless.

 

In short, I thought a whoooole lot about one thing: ME. I was too young and immature as a Christian– because yes, sometimes even us Christians think about ending it all– to realize that I am not the “owner” of my life.

That probably seems like a strange thing to anyone without faith in an eternal God and Creator. But here’s how it works… if I believe that God created all things, all humans, then I must recognize that God is the Giver of Life. If He gave this life to me, then in reality, it isn’t really mine, is it? Especially when you go further and add to this the realization that our lives, our time on earth, is just “borrowed” and we must one day, when this life is over (whether by our own hand or not) give an account for how we used our time here, it really sobers you up in a hurry. It makes you put down the spirit (as a liquor) of persecution, of pettiness, of self-focus and yes, selfishness.

While I pondered how I could not imagine dealing with one of my own parents committing suicide, the way this lady was, I then put my children in that spot. If I thought it would be hard for me to cope with, why on earth would I consider putting my own children through that? How utterly selfish and thoughtless of me! That thought is possibly more of what kept me from killing myself when I was a young mother. I couldn’t dream of doing such a thing to my babies.

It was later that I realized what sort of thing my suicide would be to God.

I believe that all things are created for a purpose. I think most Christians believe this. Even bad things can be turned into good ones through Christ. I have lived that doctrine out many times! So, if God created me, He gave me life and meant it as a gift, something precious to be treasured and used for His glory…then how dare I think I know when it should end and how dare I contemplate ending that life myself?

How dare I??

When I put it that way, I am stunned and ashamed that I ever even entertained such thoughts. And don’t get me wrong… I still fully understand what it’s like to be in such a deep pit, lost in such total darkness and in such great pain that you think there’s nothing left but death. I am not trivializing the way that feels at all.

I wouldn’t dare do that, either!

But…I am adding to it another thought. A thought beyond the temporary (but sometimes extremely too-long) pain that is depression. The realization that this is not my life. God gave it to me. He intended me to use it to glorify Him. What glory do I bring Him if I let desperation and depression SO overcome me that I take my own life? What glory is it if I dismiss His might and power to keep me safe, to direct my path, if I throw away the gift He gave me? Where is my faith if I let what I KNOW to be the work of my enemy destroy my faith that God is enough. That He is mighty enough to deliver me from this, just as He made a dry path through the Red Sea for Moses. Just as He provided a substitute sacrifice for Abraham as he prepared to prove his faith in God by sacrificing his only son, Isaac. Just as He closed the mouths of lions and kept Daniel safe and sound. Just as He walked in the fire where the three Hebrew men (who refused to bow to an idol) had been thrown. *

How??

Once my mind was healed enough to realize what suicide actually is to God… a virtual slap in the face. A statement that He actually doesn’t know best. That God can’t keep me safe or heal me. That He doesn’t care and the gift of life He gave is worth nothing to me.

And most tragic of all, that Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross wasn’t enough for me.

I am not wise enough to state or debate about whether committing suicide will keep you from entering Heaven. I know some people believe that as much as they believe the sun gives light, but I don’t. I admit that I could be wrong. ** chuckle ** We all know, I could certainly be wrong about a lot of things, especially something so spiritual and eternal as this. So I won’t debate it but I can’t think God would “undo” the promises made when a person accepted Him because they later became so despondent and so wracked with grief and pain that they made a foolish, albeit eternal, choice. Again, I DO NOT KNOW THIS and I’m only stating my opinion. You decide for yourself if you must ponder the question.

I am so thankful that my mind is no longer so clouded. That even when I am deeply depressed I can remember Who I belong to. Yes, I do STILL get depressed. Not sad, not discouraged, but deeply grieved and almost physically unable to smile it seems. Depression for me is hugely physical and not just emotional or psychological. It’s like having a heavy black cloth thrown over me that I must fight to get out from under. When I’m there, in the darkness which can feel completely isolated, I can recall that God made me and He DOES have a purpose for me. Then I can ponder what He wants me to learn from this season.

I hope my rambling and sharing has helped someone out there. I hope it speaks to your heart and prods you to look at God’s word for healing. EVEN when He doesn’t “cure” your depression, you can still rest in Him knowing that He doesn’t forsake and He knows the plans He has for us… plans for good and not harm; plans for a purpose and to bring us to right where He needs us to be.

As I like to say, I don’t have to understand it. I just have to trust God with it.

Email me if you have questions or want to talk through anything.

Blessings…

  • scripture references for the miracles mentioned in this post:
    Exodus 14:16

Genesis 22:3-14

Daniel 6

Daniel 3

 

Additional encouraging scripture:

1 Corinthians 10:13

2 Thessalonians 3:3

Hebrews 10:23

Isaiah 12:2

1 Thessalonians 5:24


the indomitable human heart


It’s been crazy around here since my last post.  It took a lot out of me to write about losing my sweet puppy-boy, Max.  But the point of that post was that God can heal any disease, any injury, even a broken heart.

I also told you that I needed to find another little fuzzy to fill the void left by Max’s death.  Tommy and I had been looking at all sorts of rescue and adoption sites for Shih-Tzu mixes and at our local shelters.  We found a possible one in Georgia and we would have gone through with it had it worked out.  As it was, the adoption people have not yet contacted us about our application and God orchestrated a different plan in the meantime.

A local friend of ours messaged me one night a few days after my post was published.  She said she had a little Shih-Tzu mix puppy that she needed to rehome.  This friend has seven children, the five youngest she is still homeschooling!  She said she’d thought the kids would have more time to spend with the puppy, but their busy schedules had not afforded it much time.  She loved the pup but could see it was suffering from neglect (emotionally, that is) when it had to beg for attention from the kids.  As you can imagine, all those children, plus homeschooling, each child with extra-curricular activities and a husband with his own business is a lot for a mom and it came to the point she realized she needed to find a new home for their little pup.

She had already asked a few other friends since she didn’t want to put it in a rescue situation, so she hesitantly messaged me that night to see if Tommy and I might possibly consider taking her.

We went to pick her up the next morning. (ha!) It just seemed like another situation God had worked out in advance.  She is young enough, like we wanted and now we would know about her background instead of unsure of how she was treated.  We know she was well-loved and taken care of.

And now we have little Silvey, an 18-month old Shi-poo (Shih-Tzu/Poodle mix).  The past week has been an adventure to be sure, but Silvey (short for Silverbells Piddlepie  -haha!) settled in amazingly well.  We even took her to Knoxville with us the day after we brought her home and she did excellent.

She’s so different from Max, it made me tear up a bit as we drove down the highway, thinking about how he used to cuddle up in my lap but Silvey wanted to sit independently on the center console.  The next couple of days, though, she became more cuddly as she adjusted to feeling at home with us.  She gets along great with Samson, our chocolate lab, and seems each day to feel more and more at ease.

 

I have not posted anything on Facebook or Instagram about having her to avoid having my friend’s younger kids see it and feel sad about having to part with her, but soon, I’ll share some photos on there.  Right now, she is needing to visit the groomer and so I will wait until she’s got a new hairdo to post pix.

For now, I’m trying desperately to get a video up here for you guys of Silvey fussing at the bad doggie in the mirror of our bedroom.  She’s been mad at that dog all day long and the weirdest thing is, she has seen that mirror before today.  Goofball!  Ha ha ha!

In other news, today is Tommy’s fifty-first birthday.  I’m gonna attempt to make a gluten-free chocolate cake for him.  With all his allergies, it’s so hard to find things he can eat.  If we find a restaurant where he can eat, there are never any wheat-free desserts on the menu, so I’m fixing this cake for him.  I sure hope it comes out right!

Our Ohio kids (ha!) are coming down tomorrow evening to be here for Tommy’s birthday and we have a girls’ breakfast planned for Saturday morning since the boys are squeezing in a bachelor-party/camping-trip thing.  I’m looking forward to that!

Beyond that, life is pretty normal.  I’m still struggling with low energy despite the fact that I’m taking B-12 injections at home each week.  We haven’t got to ride bikes this week due to rain and a severely neglected yard (we had to rake the entire thing the grass was so tall and thick!).  Maybe we will get to go this weekend, though.  I start missing it so much if we don’t get to go.

I need to get back to editing what I have written of my book.  Editor Elaine has informed me that she is almost ready to send chapter two to me with suggestions and a rewrite along with her notes on my rewrite of chapter one!  I can’t believe how productive it makes me feel to have her notes to work with!  I am SO thankful she is helping me like this!

I’m off to get you a video… You’ll see why I needed this little stinker…she makes me laugh the way Max did but at an entirely different personality.

The heart is never too broken.  Our hearts are indomitable, always rebounding, when God makes the repairs.

Thanks for hanging with me!

Be blessed!
HERE YOU GO!! VIDEOS!

 


confessions


You may or may not know this about me, but I used to be a horrifically passive-aggressive person. In my defense, my parents weren’t good communicators so this sort of thing was all I knew. They weren’t always what you could call passive-aggressive necessarily, but they did not communicate what they wanted, expected or thought very well at all. So I guess my only response was to learn to communicate in this way.

“I lived like that for YEARS and never realized what a mess I was.”

I say “I used to be” because, trust me… you can ask the Hubby, I was a WHOLE LOT worse in the past. But even though my passive-aggressive tendencies are extremely reduced these days, there are times when I reactively resort to coping with things this way.  I guess you could call me a ‘recovering passive-aggressive’.

I began researching today about how to deal with passive-aggressive behavior. Once I was aware of myself acting this way and took steps to stop, I became keenly aware of others who were severely passive-aggressive. And it is other passive-aggressive people who seem to instinctively pull that same PA reaction out of me.

Let me clarify here by saying that I did NOT realize this is what I was doing all those years. I knew what it meant, but I didn’t really know the term or even when I heard someone use it, it never registered that, in fact, I was a passive-aggressive person. I was complete blind to it. Now that I make an effort to NOT live passive-aggressively, my life is much more peaceful. At least my “inner voice” isn’t forever playing this running monolog of the latest conversation with someone else or some upcoming confrontation I was going to or WISHED I could have.

So far, I haven’t read anything about this trait so maybe I’m the only one who did it, but I suspect that’s not at all the case. I think it’s probably the main “thing” with any PA person. I could spend entire days replaying some conversation, changing my responses or creating new scenarios. I would work up these awesome, very dramatic confrontations I wanted to have with people who had hurt me or wronged me. In my scenarios, I would passionately make my points, I’d ‘tell it like it is’ and give them a piece of my mind. I’d tell them how horribly they treated me or how deeply they had wounded me and they’d always see the error of their ways and spend the rest of eternity trying to right their wrong.

I’m telling you, folks, having a passive-aggressive tendency will make your mind sick.

I lived like that for YEARS and never realized what a mess I was. I mean, sure, I also dealt with depression and diabetes too and recognized those “ailments”, but I just never realized how terribly passive-aggressive I was as just a routine…an everyday occurrence.

“…it never registered that, in fact, I was a passive-aggressive person. I was completely blind to it.

Now, after a few years of coping with recognizing and having others around me, some new and some not-so-new, who are very passive-aggressive, for some reason it has finally occurred to me to research how to deal with them! I don’t know why I never thought about it before. I guess this is all some sort of self-therapy and I’m just giving a name to the behavior I displayed for most of my life. I wish I had known this stuff before now, but as it stands, I guess there’s a reason for it all. If you have known me for eons and tried to point out my ugly temperment, I’m sorry. At the time, I just could not see it and I probably responded poorly. ** * sigh * **

Right now though, I’m desperate to make sure my mind operates in a completely NON-passive-aggressive way so I can get through to others who are seriously PA and tend to direct most of that inner bitterness at me.

Maybe that’s because they know I myself have been and can still react passive-aggressively? Is it a thing that PA’s try to push other PA-people’s buttons? Hmmm… I wonder… but I bet it is.

“I’m telling you, having a passive-aggressive tendency will make your mind sick.”

I may be wrong, y’know… because for reals, I’m not a psychology major nor do I play one on TV, but in this case, I realize that I behaved this way because of deep-seated hurts and rejection during my childhood. Coupled with the depression, I think any sort of dismissive attitude towards me had to make things worse. Just to be told your thoughts are not valid is such an awful feeling. When it’s repeated in a child’s life, I guess you end up with someone like me. Someone who feels worthless, guilty, useless and bitter. The only way I knew to deal with people was in a very non-direct way. That’s why I am a MUCH better communicator in writing than I am in person, face-to-face.

I’m learning to stop that self-destructive, harmful-to-others, sick-mind way of living, finally. It’s a slow process, but maybe, hopefully, Lord willing, I am at a place where I can now destruct difficult relationships with other who are way too much like me… like the me I used to be. But I’m not sure how to deal with it when it feels like all the manipulation and aggressive non-actions are just to be mean. When I was at my worst, I don’t think I ever just set out to see if I could manipulate someone for the heck of it. It was never just to be mean. But if they hurt me, boy, I could be one of the craftiest, nastiest passive-aggressives you ever met. That was a sort-of justification to me: you deserved it if you’d been mean to me. And not knowing any other way to communicate with people, I reacted in kind! In that way, I feel like I was different than some PA-people are. From where I sit, it seems some people just want to manipulate me for fun. Just because they’re bored maybe? I don’t know, and like I said, I don’t remember ever being passive-aggressive toward someone just to be mean, just because I didn’t like the way they looked or because I wanted all the attention. I ** * think * ** I was only that way towards someone who hurt or attacked me. It was my defense when someone was just ugly to me. I’ve never been a mean-spirited person however maybe my poor husband would tell you otherwise. I don’t think I’ll ask him at this time. Maybe one day, when I’m more confident that I’ve overcome that way of responding. ** * ha * **

Again, I’m no psychology major by any means, so I’m not sure if this is even possible … to have different motivations for PA actions? Is that a thing? Or does this behavior always stem from insecurity and low self-esteem no matter if the person is mean-spirited about it or just defensively reactive? Are some people just really mean without having some past damage to their self-worth or psyche?

Hmmm… so interesting.

ANYway, I’m trying to educate myself here. I know there’s a lot of scripture that can be applied here, but I am too tired to look it up and paste it here. Just don’t think I’m looking only at the psychology of it and not the spiritual side of having this kind of personality. Believe me, I certainly realize living with a PA attitude is NOT at all Christ-like. That’s just one more reason I’m so thankful God gives big grace! I have needed and STILL need tons of it! I can now see how very sinful my attitude and actions were when I lived my life from a place of hurt and bitterness.

I just hope I can learn to leave that all behind, even in snap-reactive situations when it’s more likely to slip out again. I want to live the way Jesus wants me to. I want to be able to help other people to either overcome passive-aggression in themselves or help PAs around them. I know we can be difficult people to love, hard to interact with and I want to help people see how destructive and reversible it is. Jesus can heal the diseases of bitterness and manipulation and passive-aggressive mindsets.

Lord, let it be so!

PS: I realize being vague, like leaving out any identification, is a tactic of a passive-aggressive person however, in this case, I definitely do not want to identify anyone since any of the several people this could apply to could possibly find this post. I also don’t want to identify anyone, even people I am not “analyzing” or whatever just because that would be rude.

Remember, I have also “analyzed” myself in this post. I am trying to make myself better and be able to help anyone else who may need it to overcome what I am overcoming.

For God’s glory!


watching God do His thang… (& other random mind dumps)


Okay, so you guys know, if you know ME or if you’ve read here much at all, that I am a “retired” homeschool mom of two twenty-something sons.  Yeah, I’ve been “retired” for quite some time!

Homeschooling was the greatest, most best decision we ever made.  Yes, even though I had plenty of days when I was quite certain it was the WORST decision we ever made.  I think as a mom OR dad, wanting to do the very best for your children, we all have those doubts when trying to determine what’s best for our kids.  Even though we were happy having the boys at home and I loved being a stay-at-home mom teaching my boys, there were still days that it seemed like a really baaaad choice!  There are probably those moments in anything we pursue that is ultimately good.

I would never say I was a “great” homeschool mother.  I wouldn’t even say I was “good” at it most days.  But I tried my best to meet the needs of my children.  I know families with 8+ children who have a whole posse of little virtuoso in a variety of areas.  Music, mathematics, communication, entrepreneurship… you name it.  Many of those kids are now doing extremely well in their adult lives.  My boys are no exception to that.  I feel like, at least for me, this is the litmus test as to whether homeschooling was a success.

While my youngest son chose not to finish high school, he is still doing well.  He never attended any other type of school than at home.  My boys have quite different personalities and while our eldest enjoyed learning at home, our youngest had a different bent.  He wanted nothing to do with anything that came hard to him.  If it wasn’t easy or something he was extremely interested in, he just didn’t want to do it at all.  And he was several times more stubborn than his mother, so this made continuing his education at home very difficult.

I don’t want to rehash old problems or bring up too much from a really hard time in our family, but our baby became very rebellious, very hateful toward me specifically.  I’m not sure if that was just because I was the “authority” figure  for the large part of his life at that time (since I was also his ‘teacher’) or if it was more personally directed at me, but it was very obvious and it broke my heart.

By the time he was 14 or 15, he began to just refuse to do his lessons.  He had a car by this time, one he had bought himself and was working on to have ready by the time he got his license, so of course, he spent a ton of time doing that.  When he’d  refuse to read anything else, no matter how hard I’d tried to find literature that would interest him, he would devour anything about his car without hesitation.  And yes, I did try to allow as much as I could for the how-to car reading to count toward his school, but that wouldn’t fill all the requirements.  But no matter what we threatened or how hard we explained why he needed to do the other work, he would just refuse.  He wasn’t super-in-your-face with his refusal, but he’d sit for hours NOT doing the work you gave him.

Needless to say, I was frustrated beyond words and it became harder and harder to deal with.  It didn’t make it any easier that the boys’ father wasn’t really a disciplinarian in that area.  I’m trying NOT to sound disrespectful or like I am bashing Tommy, but he just wasn’t involved with schooling very much.  He felt that was my job, my territory, and when I would come to him with concerns or problems,  he just wasn’t very helpful in addressing them.  I think he felt like he and Casey were more alike and Corey and I were alike so he usually seemed to “side” with Casey.  I say “sided” because that’s how it felt.  In hindsight, I think Tommy just didn’t know what to do, he wasn’t fully aware of how bad things had become and that’s what informed his actions.  The way most things go in parenting, we always just do the best we know how at the time and I think that’s what happened here.

All these years later, we discovered that there were things happening in Casey’s life that we had absolutely no clue about.  He shut himself off from us and seeing how he rebelled even more if we tried to approach him, we just gave him space.  We had no clue he needed us to break through his walls, to be praying for him in specific ways, to help him navigate some horrible things.  When I was made aware of this stuff, just a few years ago, it broke my heart all over again.  What kind of mother am I to not know??  To not see how much my child needed his parents to intervene??  Even if he was pushing me away with all his might, how could I not know how much he was hurting?  Those thoughts bring the tears, even now.  Nothing is more heartbreaking as a mother than to realize you failed your child in such a huge way.

deep sigh

All of that to say, even with all this failure and heartbreak, I don’t regret homeschooling my boys.  And to see them today, both successful in their jobs, both contributing, functional adults in spite of their “lack of socialization” (pshh!) is a balm to my mama-soul!

You may not know, but Corey, our eldest, recently moved with his wife to the Cincinnati area for a new job.  The company found his profile on LinkedIn and sent a request for his application!  Out of the blue.  Realizing this, as a homeschool mom, was a real boost for me personally.  I mean, after all the naysayers either aloud or privately saying my children would suffer from our choosing to teach them at home?  I thank God for this affirmation that we did what we should have at the time.

Casey and Corey have always worked together in their grandpa’s business (my dad), which is a combination of various plumbing-related things.  They’ve sort of grown up in the trade, working summers from the time they were barely teenagers to the year Corey put off his graduation in order to help my dad when his only other employee at the time (my father-in-law) had suffered a heart attack and dad sorely needed the help.  Corey was not quite 17 when he made that decision and because we homeschooled, it was totally possible to do this.

When Corey left to take this job, it left Casey with a role he hadn’t ever filled before.  And let me say, this was a job too good for Corey to pass.  It was higher pay with commissions and bonuses, less stress of being responsible for both office work and keeping track of and working on jobs and less being resented because to others, it seemed Corey was doing less because of his time doing office work.  There’s also benefits like retirement and 401k plans that aren’t available with my dad’s business and room to advance.  There’s also a respect that Corey didn’t get here at home.  No one who knows the situation could possibly fault him for taking the job.  As much as it pained me to see him move, I can’t deny that in so many other areas, he’s a lot better off than he was here.

It really took him leaving for my dad and Casey to realize how much Corey was actually doing.  So as far as the resentment shown when Corey informed them he was leaving, there’s now a respect that had never been shown before.  It always hurt me so much to know that the boys, both of them, were dealing with so much stress and tension from my dad, who seemed to not understand or be willing to admit that doing things the same old way weren’t working.  Any new idea the boys came up with was met with scorn and most times, ridicule so they had to continue doing things a more difficult way while bearing the weight of their grandfather’s disapproval.

I love my dad, don’t get me wrong.  But he can be impossibly bullheaded sometimes.  Like most of us, I guess, only… well, more so!  I think now that these changes have been made, he’s beginning to see that there need to be new ways of doing things than he’s done all his adult life with his various businesses.  I just hope Casey can continue to urge him to make the changes.  Casey is much better at communicating or at least confronting my dad than Corey was.  Casey will get in his face and tell him when he’s being irrational  or stubborn where Corey would just bite his tongue and let Pap carry on his own path.  Overall, I think Corey’s leaving has been a positive thing all around.  I had been very worried that it would be only negative here at home, with the business. but it seems to have ushered in some new realizations so I’m hopeful things will be better here as well.

Casey is now having to step us as more of the salesman for the company, the “people-person”, which had been Corey’s role most of the time.  And granted, I think both the boys would agree that Corey has an easier time with that than Casey most of the time.  Although Casey is learning and he does very well most of the time anyway, it doesn’t come as naturally to him as it does Corey.  It’s been good to see Casey maturing in the way he sees the business now that he doesn’t have his brother to leave all that to.  Maybe I’m a little biased since I am the eldest in my family, but I think it’s just easy for the younger to leave things up to the elder.  It’s like a natural role so when there’s never an opportunity for the younger to take the lead, they will continue to let the older sibling tend to those things.  It’s not that Casey is unable, it’s just that he’d never really had to before, so in all, it’s a good thing, I believe.

In case you’re wondering about that title, it was intended to refer to how things just fell into place with Corey moving and getting this job.  He has all this time he never had before and he’s figuring out what to do with himself.  That’s a good problem to have.  Granted, some of that no-time-for-himself thing was because he was also serving as youth pastor at his church here.  Not only was he dealing with all the stuff from the business, he had kids calling on him at all hours with various issues plus all the activities that were most of the time scheduled by someone else without consulting Corey first.  It was just a lot on his plate.

But the whole thing with this new job just sort of happened all at once.  They contacted him, he sent a resume, then went up for an interview, the next week he went for another interview and then the offer letter came.  All that happened in less than a month beginning around the first week of November and then they wanted him to start in January!  They had to settle their house, pack it up and get rid of what they weren’t keeping, deal with settling Corey’s part of the business, find an apartment and figure out how to get moved up there all at once!  It was crazy times, let me tell ya!

And this poor mom had like ZERO time to adjust to all this.  I mean, like I’ve said, I never dreamed either of my boys would move out of town, let alone out of state!  And even if I thought one of them might move, I always figured that would be Casey, not Corey.  It was like total shock!

Thankfully, I got to spend time with them after Tommy and I helped the kids find an apartment, so we had first-hand knowledge of where they were and what kind of place they had, what type of area they lived in and all that.  I think they really appreciated our help.  It all went so smoothly, with only 4 of them (Melissa’s uncle and cousin came to help) unloading the UHaul and getting done right ahead of the snowy rain?  That was just God, y’all.  He was just working through the entire thing.

They went from a 1400 square foot home with a full finished basement to a 1000 square foot apartment with a small storage room about the size of a closet!  Needless to say, they got rid of a ton of stuff.  Their apartment is nice, cozy but roomy enough for them.  It’s also roomy enough to house a few guests for a few days (or a week.. I stayed with them almost a week at the end of January).  Ha.  Their dog, Timber the Australian Shepherd, has adjusted extremely well.  Even with the company changing start dates on Corey and having him start a couple days before he even had his work van organized, he’s done really well and has been noticed by the management and owners.

Casey seems to have adjusted to the new role he has and although he’s working a lot, he’s doing well, too.  I would honestly be tickled if he would move up there and take a job with this company too.  They recruited Corey because of his experience in plumbing and the fact that he has his Master Plumber license and they have just started expanding their business into plumbing and need licensed plumbers!  But Casey doesn’t seem interested and that may have more to do with his wife, I don’t know.  Shoot, if Tommy wasn’t less than five years from retirement, I would be pushing him to move up there and apply with this company.  It’s been voted one of the top businesses in Cincinnati several years in a row and anyone who knows about it says it is an awesome company.  They really have a stellar reputation and they do business in such a no-nonsense way that seeks to accommodate customers while also taking great care of their employees.  They have an open-door policy among management, which in this company means there are NO doors in their offices!  How cool is that?  You won’t find many companies that think this way!

Anyway, I guess all this is just to give God ALL the credit for working things out so well.  For helping me deal with my anxiety over the sudden move, for making things smooth out here at home as well as for Corey in his new home and job.  Now, if the boys would just allow God to move and work in repairing their relationship, I’d be super-thrilled!  Over the last few years, the boys have seemed to get this growing tension in their relationship.  I think it’s been partially due to dealing with dad and the stress of working with him and each other and the changes that came with their marriages and adding new family members.  Casey and Mel were almost like brother and sister when Corey first got married.  It was good to see him be so at ease with her and watch them have fun being around each other.

I think after Casey moved into the basement of my parents’ old house (where Corey and Mel lived–the three of them bought the house together for some reason I’ll never understand–my dad arranged the whole thing) things seemed to change and I don’t know why.  Maybe it was the dynamics or maybe the proximity?  I just don’t know.

Things just change over time, and I know that.  I just never dreamed they would drift so far apart or that one would push the other away.  Growing up, they were each other’s best friend.  As they began to get a little older, into double digits I guess, they spent more time with other people, had the chance to make other friends.  Corey, like I said, is just generally more outgoing and quick to extend himself to make a friend.  Not that he tried to leave Casey behind.  It wasn’t like that at all.  Most of the time, Casey was included in whatever Corey did, whoever Corey hung out with.  I guess maybe as time went on, Casey began to feel like he was in Corey’s shadow?  I don’t know why.  At least, I never saw Corey treat Casey with anything other than patience.  Maybe I didn’t see everything.  I don’t know.

I mean, obviously with the things that Casey got into when he hit the teens without me even having a clue, how would I know what was really happening?  Did I miss things between them, right under my nose too?  I tried so hard to do everything I could to help them learn and have fun and do the things they wanted.  How did I mess it up so bad?

How could I fail so bad?  So big?  Our one son barely acknowledges us most of the time and has many times brought his brother to tears the way he’s shut him out, shoved him away in the past 3-4 years.  Why did I not know he was struggling with something dark and evil?  He was a teenager.  He was surly and aloof.  We thought he needed his space.  We gave him his space and apparently the space for this evil to get an even tighter grip.  He grew more and more hateful toward me.  He seemed to just despise me and I didn’t know why.  I thought it had to do with school, but apparently the evil had given him more fuel to just add to his resentment toward me.  I have been so hurt, so heartbroken over the way he’s treated me.

My response to hurt, after it goes on for awhile, is to just shut down.  To just shut myself off from the hurt by avoiding it, the person causing it, to steel myself to it.  So I just tried to keep from losing it.  After trying to reach out to him, trying to show him how much I cared and having him push me away, I just quit trying.  I avoided him or shut my emotions off when it came to talking to him.  Maybe he saw that as proof that whatever horrible thing he thought of me was true?  I don’t know.   It was just the only way I knew to deal with it.   So yeah, I guess I just allowed my heart to harden, to turn to stone  a little bit.

If you read about The Dark Secret, the really depressing, maddening thing that was going on in our marriage for almost 20 years at the time all this was happening, you might realize, I was hardly hanging on to reality sometimes.  It was all I could do to keep from losing it most days.  Add to that the awful state our finance tend to stay in.. more so now than when the kids were at home.  I guess it’s because the both of us have so many stupid medical bills, take so much medicine now, but for some reason, we seem to never have enough money.  We really don’t splurge on anything, but still we always have to juggle the bills trying to keep from going under.

All of that is a lot for my brain.  I have a really hard time not being dismally depressed.  I have to constantly tell myself I am blessed.  I have a lot to be thankful for.  Then I get a notice that the bank balance is dismal, or a reminder that my youngest son doesn’t like me or a bad blood sugar or I run out of a medicine knowing I have to wait for the next paycheck to get my refill…  that’s all it takes for me to just slide down into the pit a little further.

Soooo…after explaining my title and now sorta obliterating it with my random bout of ‘the dumps’, let me say that I still cling to the fact that God loves me.  He has my best interests at heart in everything He leads me to and leads me through.  I don’t know why I tend so heavily toward depression.  I don’t know why my relationship with my youngest son is such a mess or why we didn’t know he needed us to rescue him from himself when he was a kid.  I don’t know why we have to constantly struggle to make ends meet.  Why we can’t ever rest because we can’t seem to keep our bills paid.  I don’t know why we had to endure all those years, those decades with our marriage in shambles.  I don’t know why He kept us together through all that other than to receive the healing we did.  To show us that it’s never too late.

So as I sit here, in tears, hurting and wishing I understood, wishing things weren’t the way they are but having no clue how to change it.  Worrying how we’ll pay for things, if I’ll ever not hurt when I’m with my baby son, if I’ll ever be able to have all my kids together, daughters-in-law included, and not have to worry that they’re trading barbs or if what they’re saying carries a double meaning, worrying that we will have spent our entire marriage scrapping, struggling to have enough money to pay bills and buy medicine.  Feeling SO tired of worrying.  So guilty that I worry when I am supposed to trust God.  Feeling like such a failure in so many, many ways….  just know that later, maybe not tomorrow, but later, soon… I will be better.  I’ll realize things aren’t as dismal as they seem, that God’s still got me.

God always has me.  This I know.  <3

 


gifts from God


Happy Monday, y’all!  I hope you guys had a great weekend.  Ours was awesome because our baby-kids returned home from Haiti after being there for two weeks!  It was great to finally have them back!

I just have to say, not to brag or to put down anyone else’s church in any way, but I just love my church.  It’s huge in comparison to any other church I’ve ever attended, but it doesn’t feel huge and the preaching is just so phenomenal and so applicable.  It isn’t that we hear only feel-good sermons, the way many in our area believe.  Quite the contrary!!  Many times my hubby and I leave church feeling very humbled and challenged to do better, to improve ourselves and always be transforming ourselves to be more like Jesus!

So Pastor Trevor’s latest series is called “Sweet Spot” and concerns the giving of spiritual gifts from God to His children.  It’s about the fact that each of us are given specific spiritual gifts and that we should discover and hone them, leverage them for the kingdom of God.  Use them to help others and lead them to faith in Christ!

Here’s the link we were given to take a test that will help determine our spiritual giftings:  Spiritual Gifts Questionaire   Almost all of our family have taken the test and some of us spent Saturday evening comparing and sharing how we ranked.

what are your spiritual gifts?

I have to say I was a little surprised by my scores.  Granted, there are some statements on the test that are a little ambiguous and so I answered “neutral” to many when I was either unsure of what it was saying exactly or when it seemed to have two parts and I would feel one way about the first part and another about the second.  I may go back and take it again in a few weeks and see how I score then.

As for the first attempt, I scored very 5/5 in teaching.  Not super-surprising.  I am the eldest child and we tend to be teachers by design.  I homeschooled my children through high school, so yes, I wasn’t shocked to score high in that area, although I don’t really consider myself a good teacher.

I may tend to be a little impatient which is probably why my second high score was in prophecy.  Hmm.  Now, before you jump to the usual conclusion about what ‘prophecy’ means or what it means to be considered a prophet, let me explain that the gift of prophecy is not about foretelling.  As Pastor Trevor so aptly put it, “It’s about forth-telling.”  Meaning it’s about seeing potential and being pretty honest with our opinions.

That makes much more sense to me!

Yesterday’s sermon was about prophets and their strengths and weaknesses.  About how prophets are perceived and misunderstood sometimes.  It was a really great sermon and I can’t wait for the rest of them!  I’m really glad that I won’t miss out on any due to the Orlando trip to MasterLab 2016 next week, too!

The big picture of this series is that we are responsible for using whatever spiritual gift we’ve been given for God’s purposes.  We’re responsible for figuring out what that gift is, and to realize that no one alone is fully equipped to be a spiritual “multi-tool”.  We are, as Romans 12 tells us, many separate members of one body and a member or “part” on its own, is limited to what it can do and only what it can do.  When working in conjunction with the rest of the parts, a body and therefore its parts, can be much more productive.

Of course, we have all heard the sayings about “teamwork” and “many hands make light work” and such.  This is not a new idea, but it bears repeating because we always seem to need the reminder!

Some points that were brought to light about the fact that each person has different gifts and different abilities to use those gifts, so that none of us are the same which can lead to different approaches, ideas and ultimately, misunderstandings.

We need to remember always that we were created by and for God…made ON purpose, FOR a purpose!  We are created as originals and should not attempt to be or settle for being a duplicate.

When it comes to the individuality of our gifts, we can misunderstand each other because of our misconceptions of one another.  Since we see EVERYTHING through the lens of our particular giftings, whether we realize it or not, sometimes we don’t understand the words and actions of someone who is also viewing the world through their own particular gifts…gifts that are not like ours and whose strengths are not the same as our own.

And we must understand this:  Our spiritual gifts are not about having an ability as much as the capacity to develop an ability.  Think about that one for a sec.  It’s not necessarily that we are ‘bestowed’ with a particular gift but that we discover and develop the gift!  We have to invest ourselves in it.

Since the sermon focused on the prophet, Trevor gave us the characteristics, challenges, potential dangers for and public perception of the prophet.

As a person who scored high in the gift of prophecy, I could relate to so many of these!  Things like the fact that as prophets, we are rather opinionated, we see the “wrong” first, we’re impatient, we tend to be loners or prefer isolation, we are highly intolerant of dishonesty, very transparent in that we are very much WYSIWYG…‘what-you-see-is-what-you-get’ and we want justice to be served.

Our challenges are not being very good one-on-one (even though we don’t much like crowds), we’re suspicious,  never taking things at face-value, we tend to jump to conclusions and over-think things, we have a tendency to be (or at least appear!) bossy and super-negative, and others (especially those gifted with service and mercy) tend to see us a completely tactless in the way we speak to people.

The dangers we must watch out for are the tendency to be easily depressed and discouraged (hello!)…we see the wrong first, remember?  We want it to be righted and sometimes that can be overwhelming.  Even when it’s a “wrong” in our own lives.  My experience is that this is the worst of all.  If I feel powerless to fix what’s wrong in my own life, then I tend to just give up on anything else.  I feel unworthy to mention it let alone fix it.  For me, these feelings stem mostly from feeling out of control where my health/body is concerned.  Feeling exhausted so much of the time doesn’t lead to an organized life or clean home, ya know?  WANTING these things done and being able to accomplish them are two entirely different things!  sigh

Another danger is we find it hard to forgive.  Thank God, He’s been working on me in this area for many years and I’m getting lots better at this, but it is still a struggle!  We tend to default to anger and bitterness.  I think this also links back to our struggles with depression.  We can become prideful and we find it easier to rebuke than restore.

That last one explained why I didn’t score higher as an encourager the way I thought I would!  Seriously, this whole blog is about my desire to encourage others to stay positive, to never give up!  But when I read that, “finds it easier to rebuke than restore” it made me realize that this is so true of me.  I feel like it’s being encouraging, but others see it as rebuke or scolding!  When I say, “Pick yourself up, put your big kid pants on and get on with it!” it’s not seen as super-encouraging!  Hahaha!  And what’s really funny is that I wouldn’t see it that way either if it were directed at me.  So… I have a big task here to be a bit more soft and gentle with my “encouragement”.  Although… I still think sometimes people just need a good (but loving! -haha!) kick in the pants to see that they are just wallowing in self-pity.

Ahem.  Maybe I have more work to do than I thought.  grin

So, to conclude Trevor made clear that we all need prophets in our lives but we need to learn to understand them as much as they need to learn how to interact better with those who are not prophet-personalities.

Wow…see why I can’t wait for the rest of the series?  I’m anxious to hear about server-personalities since my Tommy is one and those who scored high in mercy (Taylor) and those who may have scored equally in several areas the way Casey did and those who scored almost equally in teaching and administration the way Corey did.  I haven’t seen Melissa’s score, but I suspect she would probably fall into server or administrator?  It will be interesting to see.

I pray this whole thing helps us all to communicate better with each other and those around us!

What do you think about this sort of “personality” testing to determine spiritual gifts?  Have you taken one?  How did you score?  Can  you see other traits from reading my blog?

Let’s discuss!

Oh…here’s the sermon too. (NOTE: when I posted this link, the video was not yet uploaded.  Check back.  It will be available soon but look over the notes and group questions in the meantime!)   Go watch it, and go back to watch the first one too.  I think you’ll love it!


dealing with insecurity…


Don't think too highly of yourself, but don't think less of yourself than God does!

Hey y’all!  Hope your week is off to an amazing start.  I am running on less than 10 hours sleep today, so that’s progress! (I’m not joking!)

But enough about my terrible lack of energy these days…

We had another tremendous sermon yesterday.  This whole series has been SO wonderful and SO needed!  We all have mental and emotional stuff…baggage, garbage, whatever you wanna call it.  We all have it, unfortunately.  Some of us create our own and some have other people who create it for us, but either way, it’s not healthy and if we are having major struggles with our emotional “junk” then we can’t be as spiritually healthy as we need to be and can be!

So yesterday’s message was about insecurity.  Insecurity is defined as so:

in·se·cu·ri·ty
ˌinsəˈkyo͝orədē/
noun
  1. uncertainty or anxiety about oneself; lack of confidence.

It is unwise to think more highly of yourself than you should and unfortunate to think less of yourself than God does.

Pretty common knowledge, right?  Yeah, so what can contribute to insecurity?  One of the things Pastor Trevor brought up was the fact that we have these “competing identities”.  For instance:

the way you see “you”

the way others see “you”

the way you *think* others see “you”

the way you can’t see yourself due to your *ideas* of “you”

the way you *think* “you” should look/be

the way you *think* God sees “you”

the way God  *actually* sees “you”

Like most anything else, when it comes to reality, our minds…our self-imposed ideas of what should or should not be…our way of letting others dictate how we view things can really mess up what God has created.  We have to learn to replace our faulty, deceptive way of thinking with the truth of God’s word.

The way WE see ourselves can be really distorted by our own faulty thinking or by the way others have described us.  The way others see us can also be a distortion depending on their own individual emotional “stuff” and the way they filter information about the world around them.  If they’ve been sort-of *programmed* (for lack of a better word right now) to be negative about things, they are liable to only see the flaws in everything/one else!  If a person has been “taught” to have a low view of themselves, they are likely to not even notice anyone around them due to thinking they’re so unworthy or unwanted.  See?  Most of the times, others will see us a lot closer to reality unless we are “putting on a show” and pretending to be something we’re not.

“O Lord God, do not turn away the face of your anointed one! Remember your steadfast love for David your servant.”  ~2 Chronicles 6:42

The way others see us can also be a distortion depending on their own individual emotional “stuff” and the way they filter information about the world around them.  If they’ve been sort-of *programmed* (for lack of a better word right now) to be negative about things, they are liable to only see the flaws in everything/one else!  If a person has been “taught” to have a low view of themselves, they are likely to not even notice anyone around them due to thinking they’re so unworthy or unwanted.  See?  Most of the time, however, others will see us a lot closer to reality unless we are “putting on a show” and pretending to be something we’re not.

The way we THINK others see us is almost always incorrect.  Even more so if we have an unhealthy of our own selves.  Of course, how we feel and think about ourselves factors heavily into this.  If we are thinking in unhealthy and deceptive ways about ourselves, we will automatically believe others see us the same way.

The way we see ourselves is largely based on the ideas and ideals we have.  If we have lopsided ideas about ourselves, we’re obviously NOT going to be able to see ourselves with truth.  It’s one of those can’t-see-the-forest-for-the-trees situations.  We can’t see our true self for all the bad ideas we have, all the deceptive ideals we’ve created about who we are.

This goes along with the way we THINK we should look or be.  Almost ALL the time this is going to be due to influences around us.  The way our parents raised us or talked to us, the way our friends have treated us or persuaded us to feel/think.  Many times, it’s also clouded with lots of untruths and unfair comparisons.

God only needs one; He made me to be that one.

How we THINK God sees us can be unbelievably skewed and affected by many different experiences we’ve had thus far in our lives.

There are tons of bad theology out there about how God sees His children!  For instance, a theology that says you have to “do” certain things or “be” a certain way in order for God to love you or sometimes to even receive salvation!

I have one word to say about this kind of “religion”:  RUN!  Fast and far.  Jesus loves us where we are.  He died for us before we even knew Him.  He’s not waiting for you to fulfill a checklist of tasks before He will love you.  (sorry for this rabbit trail!)  So, obviously, there are LOTS of ways we mess up the way God actually sees us because of how we THINK He sees us.  Stop putting God in a box!

 “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?”

~Romans 8:32

The insecurity in me fades when I find my ultimate security in Christ.

How can I know how God *actually* sees me?  That’s the easiest part.  He used all these people through several centuries to write His love letter to the world.  All of it is contained in the Bible.  To know God’s heart, His will for you, the way He sees you … read His word!  Once you start immersing yourself in scripture, you will begin to see His will, His guiding hand, all over your life and you’ll be more at peace when the path starts to get a little bumpy.

 

 


of being a blogger: a plea for help!


Hey y’all.  I’m working so hard, trying to increase traffic here…build an audience, a subscription list, whatever else a successful blogger does.  Most of the time, I feel like I’m just flopping around, splashing water into the floor, making a mess.

blogging sites

I see some steadiness in the amount of traffic, so I suspect some of you are just awesomely loyal readers and probably close friends who stop by often to see what crazy thing I’ve posted.  I am so thankful for you!

I know I’ve said it before, but this blogging thing is a big deal to me.  I started it after months and months of stewing and praying about whether I should even try.  I’ve blogged off and on for about 16 years, so it seemed like the natural thing for me to do…try to monetize the thing I am so passionate about.  I felt (and still feel, btw) that God was really nudging me in this direction and so, even though I didn’t feel completely ready, I took the plunge.  I plopped down what little was left from our tax refund and started this site.

Looking back, a month later now, I see many mistakes.  I think most of them are easily overcome though and not the kind that will break me or the blog.  I still don’t understand stupid AdSense or why my husband can get an account with them like snap that and me, with my two (now three!) google accounts, can’t get any of them approved.  I’m not sure I’m missing much though.  I’m learning that AdSense isn’t the end-all-be-all it has been purported to be, so I have pursued other means of generating income through my blog.

blogging for a living

Some of them I am pleased about, and some I will be glad when I can be done with.  And no, for the record, I haven’t made a single cent so far.  That really concerns me, but I have to remind myself how new it all is.  I can’t do it all at once and I need to be patient.

But BOY, is that hard!!

Today, when I went to look at a “blogging schedule” thingie I got from the web, for today it says to post about relaxing.   BAHAHAHA!!  What is that even?!?  I don’t have time right now to relax, and certainly not about the state of my blog.  Some of these ‘blog helps’ aren’t really geared toward me, ya know?  Many of the blogs in these groups are about how to create a successful website, how to find a niche to build, how to monetize and market whatever you are selling.

I just wanna share life with my readers.  I want to encourage and inspire.  I want my readers to leave feeling better than they did when they pulled up my site.  I want them to find the courage to go on, the determination to stick it out.  The comfort of knowing they are not alone, the peace of knowing someone else out here has been where they are.  I want the person with t1d to find a friend, someone to commiserate with and rejoice in whatever victories we accomplish as PWD’s.  (persons with diabetes)

diabetes and depression

I want the homeschooling mom to know she can do it and I know she can because I did it.  I want her to know that the great mistake she feels she’s made is not the end. That she and her children are far better off just because she tried to teach them at home, whether she continues or not.  And no matter what, as long as she is trying to do her very best for her kids, she is a winner!

homeschooling

I want that couple who is struggling with some sexual incompatibility or physical problem to know they are not alone.  I want them to realize it’s okay to talk about it and that there are people out here who can help, both professionals and people like me who have been there, done that.  I want that woman to know she’s not the first or only one to be facing what she is, and that she need not bury herself in depression and self-hatred or guilt because there is hope.  I want to keep her and her husband from living the hell that we did for 30 years and to find healing and hope!

lasting marriage statisticslasting marriage statistics

More than all this, I want people to know there is hope, no matter what the situation is, there is hope.  There is peace to be had, no matter how big the mess or how damaged their soul, Peace is there for the asking in the person of Jesus Christ.  I want them to know that it is because of Jesus that I am alive today.  That I’m able to share and talk about the issues, struggles and problems in my life.  Ultimately, I believe this is the reason God has been urging me to write.

jesus loves me

I haven’t touched my book in over 6 months, but perhaps soon I’ll dig back into it.  I still feel He is calling me to write it, but I’m at another crossroad about which direction to take with it.  (ANY feedback would be appreciated on this, folks!!)  The book has lived in my head for many years as a sort-of memoir, a story of my life and how I have dealt with diabetes, the depression and all the other physical and emotional side effects of having a chronic disease for so long.  However, as we have come to this place of healing in our marriage, I feel THAT is also a topic that needs to be shared.  It, of course, is much more personal, deeply painful but ultimately hopeful since our long journey through this has ended with our beginning the healing process.  My conundrum is should these be separate or combined?

how to write a book

You probably didn’t know this, but I have a problem with compartmentalizing.  ha ha! Meaning, I can’t do it.  You may have noticed I began this post talking about the blog and now, here I am asking for input and suggestions for a direction of a book!  I need help with my wandering mind, my rambling style of writing.

I know there are some writers out there who read here occasionally.  I also know there are lots of readers who come here too.  I want to hear from you!    What appeals to you in a book?  What topics are you most interested in?  What are you most interested in learning more about?  Help me out!

I look forward to a great discussion and some awesome feedback and suggestions!  Let’s help each other!

Blessings,

G~


mind. blown.


First, Tommy came home Saturday night excited that a friend of his, the man’s family at least, were going to go to church with us!  I don’t really know any of them other than to wave, but knew there was a lot of addiction and just ‘life-struggle’ in the family.  They really need Jesus!  So we’ve just always tried to be lights, just living for Jesus in front of them, ya know?

It’s sad when people get so beaten down by life, the disappointments, the abandonment, the betrayal of it that they become hardened to the idea that love exists anywhere anymore.

living for jesus
Especially when you present some “ancient guy” Who’s supposed to love everybody the same and besides that…“didn’t he die already?”  sigh

So yeah, by the time we were getting ready for bed though, the mom texted Tommy through his friend’s number saying that she was “just going to take everyone to my church”, but thanks for the invitation.  I could tell it upset Tommy. He said that the reason they had come out (as Tommy was in his truck getting ready to leave — he had taken some auto stuff over there for the guy to paint) to ask about church was that the young teen boy, the mom’s son, I think, “has questions and wants to go to church.”  The son was just there for spring break, he normally lives with his dad.  I have no clue what sort of relationship there is other than that.

We knew they had never gone to church in all the years we’ve known them so I’m not sure what church she was calling ‘hers’, but then again, Tommy said they were both (the mom & dad) pretty buzzed by the time he left.  He said they’d started on the beers soon as he got there and, the best he knew, that was the regular evening routine.  I don’t know, but anyway, he figured that was part of the text and still said he would come pick them up, that they should go see what it was like at our church and we were sure they’d really like it.

There was no response after that.

We got up earlier than usual the next morning because Tommy had decided we’d go over there anyway and maybe if, by chance, they were up getting ready, they’d just go with us or if not, we could get them to go.

We were ready to get in the truck when he realized that he had forgotten to put Samson up.  Samson, (look in my photos down there to the left) is our big, cuddly, laid-back chocolate lab.  We’ve had him since he was just a few weeks old.  We learned pretty early on that he has no sense of direction after him following another dog off a couple different times and us getting a call that he was 4-5 miles away somewhere.  Bless his little heart.

So we have always kept him on an underground fence.  He’s been on it so long now that he knows exactly where the boundaries are and he will not cross.  I mean, seriously!  I tried to get him to walk down to Corey’s with me a couple weeks ago.  I took his collar off, walked across and he just sat there, quivering.  I called and I begged, but he wouldn’t budge.  I even tried to sorta push him across but he would have none of it!

Samson has a dog house inside a chain link dog run and that’s where he goes at night.  By this time, it is habit and normally, if Tommy dawdles later that Sams thinks he should, or he’s just hungry, he’ll bark and let us know he’s ready to go to bed!  Ha ha.

Tommy had worked all day Saturday in the shop with both his dad and Casey and then after taking the stuff to be painted out there and talking to his friend awhile, it was later than usual for him to come in.  He’d stopped and picked up some supper for himself and sat in the recliner to eat.  I didn’t realize he hadn’t put Sam up so when he was soon snoring loudly, I just let him sleep and went on to bed.  He seems to sleep a little better sitting up like that and can be hard to wake up, so when he’s sleeping soundly like that, I just let him sleep there.

Back to Sunday morning, we came out to leave and Tommy realized he hadn’t taken care of Sam the night before.  We called, expecting him to come running, but no Sam.  I walked around to the front porch, even though it’s unusual for him to stay out there unless it’s sunny, but nope.  Not there either.

lost pets

We only have a smidge over an acre here, so it’s not like he had a lot of other places to go.  So Tommy went out into the shop, calling Sam as he opened the office door.  No Sam in there either.  While he did that, I walked around behind the shop, which is about the only other place he could have been out of our sight.  I feared I might find him sick or injured because that’s the only reason he wouldn’t come when called, but he wasn’t there either.

Now we were completely flummoxed!  What in the world…?  Now there was only one other conclusion, but it didn’t quite add up either:  Samson had been stolen!!  We checked to make sure the fence was working: yep, it wasn’t off or alerting due to a broken wire.  All this time, we’re making all this noise in the shop, but it’s getting later and we were determined to try to get at least the young boy to go to church with us, so we reluctantly left.

As we drove away, I began a plea for Facebook friends, most of whom are great animal lovers and told them about our missing Samson.  Many of them have met Sam and love him too, because you just can’t really help but love the big galloot.  He’s such a gentle, easy-going fella and of course, he’s gorgeous too.

Samson

Samson

So people began sharing my status like crazy and posting to lost pets groups and commenting with sympathy and encouragement and prayers.

When we got to the house of Tommy’s friend, his sister-in-law was standing on the porch.  Tommy got out and talked with her.  Apparently, the mom had talked herself out of going.  And no, she wasn’t up preparing to go that her church either.  She said no one else was up so they couldn’t go.  Tommy told her we’d be back at 10:30 and we’d all go to the 11:15 service, then.  She agreed and we left.  It was about 9:15 at the time.

We drove over toward our house, on the other side of town, and started down the roads where we’d found Sam the other two times.  Nothing.  No sign of him.  As we got closer to our house, a dear friend, Shell, called me to ask what area we lived in…she was going to drive around looking for him too.  I could have cried.  What a precious thing to do!!  I told her there was no need for her to get out when she informed me she was already leaving her house!  Bless her heart!  She wasn’t about to go back, so I told  her a couple places he could have gone and off she went.

Seriously, guys?  I have some amazingly awesome friends, don’t I?  Makes me feel SO humble and thankful!  God’s blessed me so good!

We were still driving, getting closer to our house and decided we should go turn off the fence so that if Sam did somehow wander back home, he could go in without getting shocked.  None of that even seemed feasible still, but what else could we do.  We pulled up to the shop, where the control box is and Tommy informed me he was gonna use the bathroom while he was in there.  I said fine and began checking on the Facebook activity, updating people and thanking them for the shares and concern…I was absorbed in my task so when Tommy showed up with this incredulous look on his face outside the driver’s window, I had no clue what was up.

He opened the door and said, “Look!” and pointed across the yard toward Sam’s pen…and lo and behold, there was his big chocolate butt trotting around the yard as if nothing was amiss.  SERIOUSLY!?!?  “WHERE WAS HE?!” I asked in pure shock.

“In the mower room, “ Tommy said with this monotone voice, completely disparaged.  My mouth fell open then.  Let me explain, our shop is about 30 x 60 feet with two tall garage bays, then a small office with a “people door”, when you come out of the office into the shop, immediately to your left is a staircase to our storage area, another small work bay in front of you and if you walk around and under the stairs, there’s a bathroom and at the very back, two more rooms, one of which has a small garage door where we park our lawn mower.  It’s RIGHT BESIDE the bathroom.

I was just floored.  Why on earth hadn’t he barked at all??  I mean, the boogar had not made a single sound in all the time when Tommy called him from INSIDE the shop (it’ echo-y in there, people!) nor when he got a scoop of food out for him from the tote sitting right outside the mower room door…and he still hadn’t made a peep when Tommy came into the bathroom.  He just thought, even though the chance was slight that Sam would be in there, he’d just check to be sure… so when Sam jumped up and trotted over to him, tail a-waggin’, we were just baffled!

I had gotten out of the truck while Tommy was telling me all this and Sam came over just like normal.  I bent down to hug on and scold him.  I was in the process of calling Shell to tell her we’d found him.  It was a little hard to hear her well out in the wind, but she said something about “whoopin’ his butt” and next thing I knew, she had pulled in the driveway.

We laughed and talked a bit while she gave Sam another good scolding and hugs and then we all hurried off to church.

WHAT A MORNING!  I hurriedly got on Facebook to call off the search so people were commenting back and no one made too much fun of us for finding him in the stinkin’ shop.  HA HA HA!

This morning I posted this on Facebook:

  Here’s what Geannie learned this weekend:😀
1) always check all the rooms before pleading for FB help to find you dawg. 🐶💩
2) if you still can’t find him, ALWAYS plead on FB …those people rock!💪🏼👍🏼
3) Gentle persistence pays off when you are trying to engage people for Christ. 🙌🏼
4) A bunch of stuff about my brain that I didn’t know before (& am still chewing on! Thx, P Trev -> Trevor Barton
5) 2 months is probably too long to keep a kumquat in the fridge. 😖
(I made that last one up, but I betcha I’m right!) 😂

How funny!  I was so overwhelmed by the help and concern, especially from Shell.  She went above and beyond.  I just love my sweet friends!! (she’s an Emmaus friend, by the way…they totally rock!)

Okay, so back to the collecting of guests for church…

When we got back to Tommy’s friend’s house, no one was stirring that we could tell.  We were in the process of determining what we should do, go knock, go away…what? when someone opened the door and out came the sister-in-law with a car seat and behind her a cute little blonde-haired girl and the teenaged boy.  Praise God!

We had an amazing sermon!  This series is called What Lies Beneath and it’s about how if we aren’t emotionally healthy, we can’t really by spiritually healthy either.  Our lead pastor is super-blessed with the ability to apply Biblical truths to our lives today.  He went into this in-depth explanation of how our brains work… how the neurons created connections or paths each time we learn something new.
nerves-346928_1920

The more we do OR think about those things, the stronger the path becomes.  His point was that, just like how Paul says it in Romans 12:2…

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

We CAN change our lives, our thought patterns, our behaviors by changing how we think.  He phrased it “changing our minds” which, get this, is the definition of the word repent. (read down to ‘repentance’… if you look in newer dictionaries, it paints repentance as a feeling of sorrow or regret, but that’s not the original meaning!)   How amazing is it that all those centuries ago, Paul had it right.  He described the very process that our brains use to change how we live, how we act and how we think!

I was really blown away by how the Bible really does tell us that our regeneration, our renewal, our path to that ‘new self with the old self in the past’ after we’ve made Jesus the Lord of our lives really begins in our minds and WE must submit our minds to Christ!  It sounds so simple, but I really loved the way he explained how the brain works, how neutrons form paths and the more we concentrate on a task or thought or memory, the stronger that connection becomes.  So in the case of a bad thought pattern, the scripture 2 Corinthians 10:4-6 come into play:

 “4For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.”

THIS is how we change our lives!  By changing our minds.  Literally rewiring our minds by filling them with the Word of God and detemining to bend our will to His knowing that He loves us and wants only the best for us, no matter how it looks to our human eyes.  (that’s a whole ‘nother post about faith and trust, I believe. 🙂 )

I’m going to link the sermon series here because as of right now, they don’t have yesterday’s message uploaded, but when they do, you can get to that one here also.  Besides, you oughta listen the Week 1 anyhows.  🙂

What Lies Beneath – The Creek Church – Pastor Trevor Barton

Wow.  Such an energizing thought and I don’t know a soul who didn’t need that!  Don’t fall prey to your thought patterns, to a negative mindset, to naysaying friends who don’t encourage your faith.  Break free!  Start by locking up those unbeneficial thoughts and replacing them with the truth of God’s Word!!

Blessings

G~