The Silence is Broken…Again

How many times does it take for people to speak up before those in authority do something about wrong in their midst? Silencing people through intimidation and warnings to be obedient to church leadership are all symptoms of a dysfunctional religious organization and it is apparently very effective. When members feel they are better off not knowing what is wrong, there’s something very wrong. When church members have the attitude that they wish they didn’t know and cry “ I just want to go to church and be left alone,” there’s a serious problem. When people close their eyes to sin and wrong on one hand, and on the other hand, claim to hold up the blood-stained banner against all wrong in the name of Christ, again, something is seriously wrong.

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” ― Edmund Burke.

A few weeks ago, I was harassed on social media by someone from my former church organization. It had to be. Who else would care that much? For about 4 weeks, whenever I shared from this blog on Facebook, the person or persons would launch a complaint to FB that it was “ objectionable content.” FB in their attempt to err on the side of the complainer banned all links and information from this blog.

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Happy Birthday to Me!

Happy Birthday to me.  I’m 56 years old today.  I’m not one of those women that thinks it improper to tell their age.  I’m grateful for every year. I woke up this morning at peace. At peace with myself. At peace with the past and looking forward to my future and the future of my family. That’s saying a lot for me.  I had pined away about lost years and mistakes made, bad decisions but I made a decision one day. To make an affirmation to not dwell on the past and look toward the future. I can remember times, I would wake up depressed on my birthday because I was too worried about what my bad decisions had cost me.  I didn’t really understand what constituted success. Doing something big and notable what the image I was given early in life. Having a house and money was the goal. Since I acquired at least one of those, I was moderately successful.  But I was never enough, never satisfied, I was sent this message by my parents, family and later by my church that no matter how much you do, you are never really enough.    I’m so grateful to have learned so many lessons I wanted to pen them down not just for other people, but so that I can remind myself to continue to grow. 

I’ve Learned to Value My Family:

Jackie Kennedy said:

“If you bungle raising your children, I don’t think whatever else you do matters very much.” 

I wrote, “An Apology to My Daughter”  and we’ve become closer at a time she really needs me, raising her own daughter. After many mistakes, trying to be the perfect parent and following some of the rules of my church instead of seeking God for myself,  I still have time to be a good parent, a present, attentive parent.   I have a chance to pass on those lessons to my granddaughter and my youngest son.  I’ve spoken with children from our church group and realize how impactful that post was to open up doors for them to heal from their own childhoods. There was often this cult-like atmosphere that didn’t serve the gospel well– all children must act the same way and do the same things and act saved even if they’re not. However well-intentioned the motives, the results for the majority of those I have talked to didn’t work. Parents sometimes had to sneak and do things that would benefit their children so no one would know.  Some ended up having to openly repent about decisions they made as a family.  That should never have happened.  Every family is in God’s hands and not the hands of other human beings.  Many of the children in our religious group didn’t go through the normal development process of becoming adults because so many decisions were made for them.  There was so much unnecessary control over families who were not allowed to pray as individuals and come to their own conclusions.  Some were angry at me for writing about this, and others applauded, but whatever the case, it was something I needed to do personally to be genuine and honest about what I see and have experienced.    That honestly has meant volumes to my family.  

 

 

I’ve Learned to Value Myself

I am learning to value myself and the talents God has given me.  I don’t take that lightly. At one point I thought I was highly invested in my talents, but my talents were limited by worrying over what other people thought.  I allowed others to limit things God was giving me to do.  I was always the champion of good causes, but I’m learning to channel that in the right direction. 

I’m Learning about True Friendship

I am also finding others who find value in me as a person, that see worth in who I am, just as I am.  People that motivate me and aren’t afraid to celebrate my gifts.  Who actually want to know me and not an imagined version of me.  

There are people in life who will only associate with you because of a position you may hold, or what they think you can do for them. Or if you’re good at listening, they may just want your listening ear.  Or if you’re good at talking, they may just want you around so you can entertain them.  They’re not bad people, they’re just not that interested in you.  

They don’t really value you as a person. If they had a choice to get to know you, they wouldn’t. You have to recognize how much time to invest with such people. 

I’m Learning about Authenticity

I want realness in my life.  Jesus is real to me. He always understood me, even when I didn’t understand myself and he’s helping me to understand who I am and be comfortable with who I am. I am through with projecting images of success in home, family, church, business. But I accept who I am and what I am and I’m extremely happy with that because we have to learn how to value the simple things in life.  The small victories, the failures that teach us lessons, the atmosphere we give our children at home, the small moments we help other people. That is what is important.

I’ve been asked to take down posts about my real feelings simply to preserve an image and that never works.  What works is possessing the real thing and you will not need to cling to a presentation.

I’m Learning About Purpose

Finding out what the general purpose of life itself is easy.  The Bible tells us that the whole duty of man is to respect God and keep his commandments. Finding out your specific purpose is not so easy.  It takes trying different things, not being afraid of failure or how you may look to understand where your talents lie. That’s a process.  To be an instrument of God for His purpose, to be there for your family, your children and others around you with whatever talents he has given you.  That’s what’s important.

I’m 56 years old and happy about the things I should be happy with: my beautiful daughter and granddaughter, my two sons,  and my made-in-heaven 30-year marriage.

Just Happy

Someone asked me recently what I was doing with myself nowadays. I told them “I’m working on myself.”   The best present I could give me is to have a stable inner self.

I’ve learned to let go of past mistakes and people that want to hold to the past.  It’s important to encircle yourself with a village that will help you move forward. No one is successful on their own. People need other people.  Understanding this is truly honoring the gifts God has left to mankind.  We should respect those that are gifted, no matter whether they’re Christians or non-Christians.  All men have gifts and capabilities.  Every coach needs a coach, every therapist needs a counselor, every minister needs someone to lean on. All good mentors need their own mentors.

I didn’t find my worth in how many people were going to wish me a  Happy Birthday today.   I was satisfied. Although I’m conscious that everyone loves these things, I had no yearning today for praise, approval, and attention.  I am no longer trying to please anyone but God, myself and my family.  Other people matter but not in the way they once did.  My childhood was spent seeking praise and approval from my parents and much of my adulthood was spent trying to fit in and belong in a group that wasn’t that interested in me.  It wasn’t personal,  it was just system that wasn’t interested in anyone much as individuals.

One person I hadn’t seen in years knew me, but I didn’t remember them, told me  “you still have that salvation glow”.  Yes, I do, and that’s because, in the last 2-3 years, I’ve been seeking God for the next chapters in my life and learning new and wonderful things about Him and his Word.  I have been studying the bible to actually understand it, rather than to teach messages that will support what’s been already said. The Spirit of God is not stagnant and I’m trying to follow what he ‘s doing in my life and move along with Him, and that makes me very happy.

Worry Never Changes Anything

One summer afternoon, I received two notices: the gas was going to get turned off and the bank was going to foreclose on our home.  I did what most responsible adults would do—I worried.  How can I fix this?  I pondered. Who can I call to help me?  It’s amazing how easily we can tell others no to worry until we are the ones who have to pack our bags and sit on the curb.  Panic started to trickle in.  My daughter, who was about seven years old, was concentrating on a double-dutch game. I had promised to show her how to turn while she was jumping rope.  She came in from playing outside and said,  “Come on, Mom; I thought you were going to show me.”

My first reaction was “Not now.”  But then I realized that life goes on and there was nothing I was going to do in the ten to fifteen minutes it would take to show her that would mean a hill of beans in the outcome of the situation.  In fact, I probably would have just sat and worried some more.  So she and I went outside, played Double Dutch, and had a great time. Both of us got really involved in the game, and I was able to relieve the emotional stress of the looming crisis. We all have to “let go” when we need to. My husband always says, “When there’s nothing you can do…there’s just nothing you can do.”  As adults, our lives can be filled with stressful circumstances, but I learned that day that having the heart of a child helps us relieve that stress.

Having the heart of a child, even in adult situations, is what the Bible encourages us to do.

Matthew 18:3 (KVJ) says, “ …Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.”

Children are more trusting than adults and adjust to their circumstances more easily. As we grow older, we learn that everything may not turn out the way we’d like. Our problems seem larger and the consequences greater.  What was once a natural reaction—adjusting—has now become a chore. So as adults, we lose our sense of safety and have to relearn how to find the silver lining in the clouds,  smile when things are going badly, and trust that we will survive whatever happens to us. Seem impossible? Seem unrealistic?download

As I go through life, I realize God enables us to accomplish the same impossible feats over and over again when we overcome our fears and stretch out on faith.  I hope the stories I share with you will encourage you to trust God with your life. And even though you will make mistakes because that is part of the journey of life, I hope the lessons I’ve learned will teach you not to make the same mistakes that took me so long to realize I had made.

Human Emotions

In the first three chapters of Genesis, we see fear, guilt, shame, contentment, anger, and happiness. Emotions are part of our existence, and while they should not be ignored, they are also not intended to rule our lives.  Jesus showed extreme levels of emotion in his walk here on earth.  He was human in every way.

Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared;  (Hebrews 5:7)

Emotions are part of our existence, and while they should not be ignored, they are also not intended to rule our lives.  Emotions come and go.  How many times have you felt depressed or sad, but the next morning you felt great?  I’ve known of some churches to teach the Christian experience at such an elevated level as to make it inhumane. Emotions do take time to process especially when something tragic happens like death, terminal illness, or a divorce.

It’s normal for us as humans to experience lingering sadness and depression over enormous hurts, such as the loss of a relationship or the death of a loved one.  If someone harms your child, it is human to feel hurt, anger, anguish, and a desire for justice.   While the Christian may certainly struggle with feelings of anger, hurt, revenge, we fight not to succumb to them and we pray for God to provide peace. Christ gives us strength beyond ourselves to endure and overcome.  I’ve been there and back and I’ve been amazed at His power to overcome evil with good.  Since God has grace for all these things, He encourages us to come boldly to the throne so that damaging emotions will not find a settled home in our hearts.

We will be hungry; that cannot be erased.  We will be angry.  We will desire the opposite sex and companionship; those hormones and attractions are part of our mortal fabric. We will get physically tired or even bored because humans crave variety.  We will not want to suffer problems, pain, death, injustices, rejection, isolation, loss of relationships, loss of health, or fear of the unknown. We will get physically tired or even bored because humans crave variety.

Though we are human, our hearts have been changed with the touch of the divine. Our focus while suffering these things should be to follow the steps of the one “who did no sin, neither was guile [craftiness or deception] found in his mouth; who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously” (1 Peter 2:21-23).

In other words, Jesus left an example of how we should live. We should walk in the same path as our Savior. A person who believes he or she can’t overcome even the most minor temptations because “Well, what’s the use? God looks at me as a sinner anyway and I can’t stop doing wrong,” is not living the way God intended.  The mindset of Christ is to walk in his path and do what He would do.

Christ never emphasized the weakness of man over the power of God.

excerpt from How to Walk on Water     DOWNLOAD THE BOOK

Little Foxes

It’s the small things that hold up progress. In my time as a minister, I’ve seen many people appear to have achieved perfection in Christ, but it turned out to be just their own version of perfection—perfect church attendance, perfect church attire, perfect children (that you know of), perfect involvement in auxiliaries, and perfectly faithful in their chosen post of service. Only later they find, through major mishaps in their spiritual experiences, that they had missed some very important lessons in serving God and growing in Christ.  Scripture clearly defines what God considers perfection.

In Matthew 5:48. various Greek words are used for “perfect” in the New Testament, one English word remains constant in translation, the word complete.  Christ’s sermon spells out for all of us as Christians that our righteousness must go beyond the outward compliance with the laws and regulations God laid down under Moses.  The law of Christ demands an obedient heart as well as a change of heart toward His voice and the Holy Spirit. Here Christ describes the divine love that needs to be in the hearts of all believers. It is easy to be drawn into the routine of Christian living and become self-righteous like the Pharisees in measuring up to the “rules” of Christianity.  Like the Pharisees, we can become concerned only with being strict keepers of the Law and miss the “weightier matters” of “judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone,” as Matthew 23:23 says. The Pharisees were overlooking the small but important parts of serving God and the honest joy of walking in the light.

There is great joy to be found in being honest about our shortcomings. I had this personal “thing” where I didn’t like borrowing other people’s clothes. I know; go figure. I could shop at the thrift store just fine, but the idea of asking to borrow an outfit seemed different to me—couldn’t tell you why. Maybe it was because I never had to wear hand-me-downs. Vestiges of pride were obviously hanging on.

Back when I was going through the financial hardship, God allowed me to be in a situation where I had to attend a fancy birthday dinner because it would have been too rude not to go.  I didn’t have the money to buy anything, not even from a thrift store.  So the Lord told me to simply “borrow a dress” and even told me who I could call. I contemplated, considered, and toyed around with the idea for days. I even told my husband to just go to the dinner without me because it was just too embarrassing for me to put on the “rag” I had in my closet.  But even though I was truly ashamed of what I had to wear, I did not want the solution God put in front of me. Since I could not escape the obligation, however, I realized God wanted me to attend, which meant I had to borrow the dress from the person God told me to borrow it from.

The person I needed to call had the right dress, just like the Lord said; it fit perfectly, and it was just the style I would have chosen myself. She even told me to keep the dress after the party—ain’t God good? Now if I had not listened to the Holy Spirit and refused to come face to face with my pride, I would not have learned this valuable lesson in love, giving, and following the Holy Spirit. Now that might seem like a ridiculous thing, but small things can be troublesome and a hindrance to your spiritual growth.