Tuesday, September 9, 2014

But I Think It's About Forgiveness...

I sometimes joke that my life would make a good Lifetime movie.  It was one of the ways I avoided dealing with all the STUFF.  The sexual and emotional abuse.  The loneliness.  The bullying.  The disappointment and sometimes despair.  The depression and suicidal thoughts. I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder at age 14 and it ravaged my mind and body for years. I was physically and emotionally sick.

I suffered for years with the STUFF and the unforgiveness.    The details of my life are probably for other posts (or never), but are mentioned now for serving the purpose of giving you some background for my journey to forgiveness.

I fought dealing with my issues (and then forgiveness) tooth and nail for years. I felt that I had a right to be upset about things that had happened to me. I struggled with bitterness, betrayal and anger (to name a few things).

I embraced being a victim.  It brought me false comfort.

Until I realized that these things held me back from peace and joy.  I realized it was not about the people who had hurt me.  It was about who I was called to be.  And certainly, my anger was not holding anyone back but myself and those I loved.

Working through the STUFF was a slow journey for a while.

The giant leaps came when I had kids, and they started to get older.  By the time Philip was a toddler, I knew it was time to get to work HARD on these issues. I didn't know where else to start but to pray.  I prayed to get to the place of true freedom and forgiveness.  I prayed for love to enter my heart for those who had hurt me.  I needed the bitterness gone.  For me.  For my family.  For the future.

My husband John once pointed out to me that the Lord's prayer says something that we oftentimes overlook..."Forgive me my trespasses as I forgive those who trespass against me." He said that most of us just want to be forgiven but we don't think about the fact that we have probably asked to be forgiven AS WE FORGIVE OTHERS. Ouch. If God were to forgive me the way I used to forgive others, I would be in a sad situation.

One day, I came to the realization that God loved the people who hurt me as much as He loved Philip or Gracie.  That thought knocked me to the ground the first time.  He loves me even when I hurt others.  The worst things I have ever done were not too much for Him.  He forgave me.  I asked God to show me how to love others the way He loves them.

I had to get rid of my thirst for revenge.  I had to trust that God is just, and has my best interests at heart.  I could not bring about this vengeance anyhow.  If I was working on justice or revenge, I could not be working on my peace at the same time.

I started actively praying for those who had hurt me.  I felt victory for the first time.  I slowly moved from a victim mentality to a victor mentality.

Nothing bad comes from forgiveness.  It is something that when done, brings good things like peace and restoration.  Joy.  For you.  For your family.  Don't let anyone tell you forgiveness is for the weak.  It is for the brave and the strong.

It is not something I have complete victory over.  Sometimes I will catch myself in a truly nasty thought towards someone.  Then I know that I have let my guard down and have not forgiven.  I try to make it right immediately.  I am on a constant path to peace and forgiveness.  Sometimes forgiveness has to happen fifteen times a day.

Don't be mistaken; forgiveness does not mean access.  It is important to remember this.  You can forgive someone and still realize that they are unsafe, and should not be part of your life.  Forgiveness does not mean forgetting. It doesn't mean being a target or a doormat.

Forgiveness means dwelling on the good in your life and not the bad in your past.  It means releasing someone's hold on your life because that will bring freedom and peace.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Amazing opportunity during September!

Joining Mary Kay is one of the best decisions I've ever made.  The minute I signed up, I was surrounded by women who provided me and my family with support during my son's many hospital visits.  They hardly knew me, but they took care of us when they knew there was a need.  Not only that, but I have the opportunity to make money, and my skin is looking better than ever!  My favorite product right now is the TimeWise Repair Volu-Fill Deep Wrinkle Filler because LOOK at the results I got after just ONE application!

Join or shop here today!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

A Sobering Moment Between an Atheist and Me (a Christian)

For all you pearl clutchers, there is nudity AND profanity in the following post.  Usually I eschew both, but I am hoping that others will be similarly shocked into deep thought by the image like I was.

I heard a story once (internet legend? true? either way, the point got to me) of a pastor who opened his sermon with the following quote:

"I have three things I'd like to say today. First, while you were sleeping last night, 30,000 kids died of starvation or diseases related to malnutrition. Second, most of you don't give a shit. What's worse is that you're more upset with the fact that I said shit than the fact that 30,000 kids died last night."

Wow.  That hit home.  I am known as a bit of a goody two shoes (though I might be veering from that a little, which is a whole other blog post.)  I have not looked at Christianity the same way since.

This photo that a self proclaimed atheist posted to Twitter took my breath away.  I was trying to get recs for a church to visit while visiting family this summer out of state.  I don't know the person who posted this, personally, but it was a very personal moment for me.

I don't think money is bad.  I don't think God cries because I have a super schmancy 2011 Ford instead of a beat up Pinto.  But I do think I and the church at large are all ignoring major issues in favor of majoring on minors and sitting comfortably.  No longer am I okay with giving to ministries where the leaders live in multi million dollar homes and take their jets on 'missions trips' to London, Paris and other fancy locations while staying silent on issues that REALLY, REALLY matter and avoiding poverty stricken mission fields.  Yes, salvation is so, SO important.  But how can someone think of receiving Jesus when their body is shutting down from something preventable?  This is why I am such an advocate of feeding programs and other ministries that take care of practical physical needs as well as the spiritual ones.

This is really how the world sees the Church.  It's heartbreaking.  What can we do about it?  Not just to change the perceptions but to change our actions from the inside?

Monday, July 7, 2014

Lars and the Real Girl

I'm pretty sure this is the first time I've ever suggested a movie on here.  My critics (yes, I have them!) will have tearing of clothes and gnashing of teeth that it isn't Son of God or God is Real, Yo or some other deeply deep spiritual movie that I'm sure is great...

But this is a deeply spiritual movie that is great.  And I totally didn't see that coming:

A blogger that I love, (who may or may not see me as a stalker) tweeted that she'd watched this and loved it.  *AhemRachelHeldEvansILoveYou*  So I watched it.  Baaaaaaaah.  I'm a sheep.

I expected a slightly raunchy comedy.  It is about a sex doll after all.  But it isn't really about a sex doll.  And it isn't raunchy at all.  It's a love story.  Not your traditional love story.  But a "church and community in action" love story.  

Please, watch it.  Let me know what you think.  

Friday, June 6, 2014

...When Your Kid Drops The F-Bomb

Wow.  Okay.  So I was minding my own business, sewing costumes for Vacation Bible School, talking to the kids yesterday, when things took a turn I didn't expect.  A bomb was dropped.  THE F BOMB.  

I had just a moment to decide how to handle this.  I am working on not overreacting and not reacting too quickly.  I'm glad I paused, because if you had asked me last week how I would have handled it, the way I handled it would NOT have been what I'd say.  I was led in a different direction.

I calmly said "Where did you hear that word?"

What I wanted to say was, 

The response?  "Everywhere."

Lest you think I am a potty mouthed sailor, my children have never heard John and I say that word.  My usual utterance is "FLUFFERNUTTER PUMPKIN BUTT" or some other nonsense.

My mind flashed to things I say when I drive.  My kids hear me call people morons and idiots when I drive sometimes.  Why do I say those words?  Because I'm a person who has feelings that I don't always control well.  I wouldn't want my kids to use those words against someone else, but I do it.

The truth is, a word's meaning is the most important part.  Not the word itself.  If I call someone a moron with the same fervor and feelings someone else would put behind a "bad" word, does that make me a better person?  No.  An arrangement of letters isn't the issue here.  It's the heart.  

I had a child who was baring their soul to me in this moment, talking about really serious feelings- and they slipped.  I could see the look on my child's face, begging me to hear what was really being communicated.  

We talked for a while longer then went about our day.  That evening, I said "I know that you know that isn't a word I think you should use with frequency.  You aren't in trouble.  I'm glad you talked to me.  You are allowed to share anything with me.  You have some very serious things going on and lots of valid feelings."

That's it.  No long sermon.  My kids know how I feel.  I know how they feel.  Our goal is to speak life and love to each other.  Driving home a lecture would have shut down the lines of communication.  I have had and will continue to have opportunities to model and teach self-control, kindness and other positive attributes that should be the driving force behind our words.

I wasn't so collected about it the whole time though...when my kids weren't around that night, I texted a friend and fellow parent and said "OH MY GOSH MY KID DROPPED THE F BOMB."  

The response?  "Mazel Tov."

Phew.  The world didn't end.