Archives

The Story Never Completely Told

I firmly believe God uses every experience we have in this life for His glory when we step out of the way. Often times it takes time for us to see this come to be but when we get a glimpse of the tapestry of our lives that God is weaving we see everything woven into His design and we see how He uses our greatest challenges, hurts, sorrows and wasted years to be a beautiful addition to our lives.

In school I always felt different and it went beyond the fact I was always overweight, suffering by being teased by the kids and the last one chosen for any sports team. I was different inside. I, as did my brother and sister, bore the awful “family secret” inside us and it was not only painful and ugly but heavy as well. We knew never to speak of the secret outside our home, and rarely did we even acknowledge it at home or to one another. The endured rages from our father that often escalated into violence and physical abuse upon my brother and I and the horrific emotional rages our mother spewed out on all of us were more than any kid should have to bear, especially bear alone. But bear it we did our whole lives.

In high school as a sophomore the secrets I was keeping became way more than I could emotionally handle. I would sit in church and pray for help. Pray for strength to ask for help. Pray for a person to ask. But the hold of these secrets was stronger than my faith. Every time I would leave services determined to tell my parents I needed help one of them would lose their control and I knew asking for help was impossible. There was no way my dad would allow the family secret to become known outside our walls.

I had been madly in love with a sophomore boy when I was a freshman. He was dark and moody. Quite like my father. Only our relationship initially was the opposite in some way. When it was just Sam* and I he was sweet and caring. He made promises to love me forever and talked of marriage. He wrote me sweet notes and slipped them to me when no one was looking or dropped them into my locker. But when anyone else was around, Sam treated me as a pest. He avoided my attention. He made fun of me behind my back. He told people they had to keep me away from him. When I would confront him with these things, for kids gossiped and I heard it, Sam would deny he had said anything or point out that he avoided me publically because he was a sophomore and I was a freshman and his friends would tease him about it, plus, he said, he didn’t want our relationship to get back to his parents who would not allow us to date. Towards the end of my freshman year the relationship changed. Sam was no longer sweet to me at all. He openingly ridiculed me and the notes he left for me had knives dripping with blood draw in the background or guns with smoke puffing out. After all these years I can still see those notes.

Over the summer between my freshman and sophomore year I decided to drop band to avoid Sam. I reasoned that playing the baritone wasn’t something I was extraordinary at anyway because I was actually a year behind since I hadn’t been allowed to take band until the 8th grade. Despite the fact it was something that had me involved in school beyond academics I knew I couldn’t handle another year like my freshman year. I did pray about the decision but I willfully walked out of God’s will and decided to take a class in vocational education instead of band. I decided with my interest in writing I would take printing. This was the day before computerized typesetting when type was still set by hand in most print shops. It was a rougher type group of kids involved than I was normally around. The teacher turned out to be far more interested in sex than in teaching. He created a situation in class that ended up with several of us being questioned by the school and the next year the printing option for vocational education was discontinued.

Class was tense and the undercurrent had a feeling I was all too familiar with, it was the one we had at home, the one of expected violence with the slightest provocation. I knew I needed help. I also knew I was helpless to get it. Had I gone to my parents I knew my father would say no. He was too fearful of the family secret being exposed, there would be no way he would allow me to talk to a therapist. My mother was not strong enough to stand up for me to him on something this serious and frankly, she had her own reasons for wanting the family secret to remain secret.

So I did something foolish. At the water fountain in the printing classrooms I took 40 Dexatrim diet pills. Yes, 40. By the time we got back to our high school for lunch I was loopy and afraid. I confessed to a teacher who took me to the office and my mother was called. She took me to our doctor’s office and from there I was carried by ambulance to the hospital. The pills messed up my heart rhythm and I was in intensive care being monitored. My father came in the second day and read me the riot act. He told me he had searched my room, he and my mother had read my journals, my short stories and poetry and he concluded I was living in a “dream world”. He burned it all. I was never to keep another journal, write another story or poem. My dream world, as Daddy defined it, was in ashes. With that news my heart beat went crazy and the nurses rushed in, one hissing at him “Do you not understand you shouldn’t upset her like this right now? Do you want her to die?” My father simply turned and left the room. She must have heard what he had said, he hadn’t bothered to keep his voice down and the nurse’s station was only steps away from my room.

Once I was stable again she tried to assure me that Daddy would surely change his mind and that he had spoken to me like he had and burned those things out of concern for you. But she and I both knew different. The difference was she would not have to go on with her life in this situation, I would.

Everyone pressed wanting to know why I had tried to kill myself. I didn’t have an answer. In my mind killing myself wasn’t the goal. It was the only way to get help that I saw. It was certainly stupid, I realized that then and now, but to my overly crowded mind and shattered heart it was all I had.

The school board agreed to readmit me and take the incident off my school record provided I receive professional counseling. So, every other week for a few months I was allowed to go to a therapist office and talk. I found great comfort in knowing I could be honest with this woman. I didn’t have to hide my secrets. But I also knew the “family secrets” could not be revealed or we would be forced into foster care my father told me. I showed the therapist Sam’s notes, recent ones I had received once I was back at school. Rambling ones where he expressed his deep love for me on one hand and demanded proof I wasn’t Jewish on the other. One note would have pictures of flowers drawn on it and the next knives sometimes dripping with blood.

Both of my parents had to go too, usually one would go before or after me and the other another day. Daddy was almost always the one who would take me. My therapist began to suspect Daddy was listening to our session and began watching the door closely. Once she wrote me a note that said, “Please just keep talking. I need to go to the door.” My back was to the door so I couldn’t see what she had seen but I spun around when she yanked open the door and confronted my father about listening to our session.

My session was cut short and Daddy’s began. He didn’t mention what happened and neither did I, although I was curious. I also suspected I’d never see the therapist again. Sure enough Daddy had Mama call the school board and tell them we couldn’t afford the sessions anymore. Since I’d been, as had they, the school board was satisfied.

I’ve lived a lifetime with this secret. I’ve lived a life time with many secrets. But I’ve found more and more often God is bringing back with amazing clarity events surrounding these secrets. Like this one, a memory I had not consciously thought of for many years.

I could weep for the troubled teenager I was then. I could weep for a father so selfish and out of control of himself he punished everyone who loved him most. I could weep for a mother who as she got older realized her limitations and leaned on God much more so that her emotional rages were greatly reduced. Both of my parents suffered with depression. Mama was the only one who ever sought help.

Had someone intervened, and there were people who knew despite our efforts to keep what happened at home a secret, I might never have taken 40 diet pills as a way to force my parents to get me help. Had Daddy allowed the sessions to go on he might have been able to see his own hurt and pain and find healing himself. Mama might have gotten help sooner.

Life is full of “if only” and “what if”. But it is also now, it is reality.

If someone you know, maybe even you yourself, suffer from depression – be kind to yourself and those around you, get help. There is no shame in reaching for a hand to help you get out of the pit you’re in.

If someone you know, or you yourself, go through your days with a “family secret” of abuse of any kind, speak up. It will alter things forever but surely for the better.

If you’re hanging onto a love for someone that isn’t being returned, let go. Sam never loved me. I’d like to think that somewhere in his messed up mind he did but truth is he didn’t. Sam had his own issues he needed to deal with and his own family secrets to hide.

Consider your life and look back to see where God has woven the sorrowful and toughest times into a spot of beauty in the tapestry of your life. I do. I see the strength God has woven into me when I look back at my freshman and sophomore years. I’m grateful my cry for help wasn’t ignored and that I had someone for a little while to help me through for it enabled me to seek help on my own later in my life without hesitation.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28, NIV.

-Faye

*Name changed to protect identity.

Advertisements

Love Anyway

Commitments.
Vows.
Promises.
Guarantees.
100%.
Forever.
Always.
Unending.

Something our pastor said one Sunday morning stays with me.  He recounted couples who came to him seeking marital guidance when one or both partners tell him, “I just don’t love them anymore.”

Our pastor replies, “Love anyway” for fact is that feelings change.  Commitments, promises, vows made before God do not.

Act in love.  Speak in love.  Do in love.  Keep loving when the feeling is worn so you think it gone.

There are extremes that due to human involvement require exceptions.  Personally I think in cases of physical abuse, repeative adultery or emotional, spiritual, mental or financial harm, then breaking the vows of marriage by divorce are necessary.

But from what I witness it isn’t these big rocks that shatter a marriage it is little pebbles, grains of sand. 

Indifference.
Apathy.
Fatigue.
Fear.
Worry.
Misplaced priorities.

Further we all seem to struggle with an “entitlement issue”.  In other words “I deserve to be (fill in the blank).”

I want to be in love and be happy.

I want to be in love and my spouse do with and for me what I want, how I want, and when I want it.

I want a marriage where we both give 50/50, equal contributions.

I want THAT relationship.

Aha…is the grass always greener?

Few relationships fail due to one partner alone.  Multiple relationships survive the hurricane because one partner digs in, stays on their knees and loves anyway.

Which is one of the messages from the movie Fireproof.  Act in love.  Speak in love.  Do in love.

If your marriage is in trouble then be logical.  Seek help.  Working through the sand and pebbles makes the rock slides survival possible.

Paul by God’s inspiration, in 1 Corinthians 13 records for us what love is and is not.  Love does not quit because the journey is tough.

Lust ends. Control shifts. Money comes and goes. Health improves and declines. Bodies age. Opinions differ. Children grow up.

Love survives.

Love does not quit.

Love anyway.

-Faye

Life by the Clock

image

Five months ago I went no where without my watch.  Even with a clock in my car, on the office wall, cell phone, desk phone and computer I had to wear my watch.  Referring to it often during my day was as much a part of me as breathing.  When I went into the hospital October 4, 2012 the ICU nurses asked I send it home.  When my return to work never happened I have worn it three times in five months.

Keys are another thing I have all but surrendered.  The Saturday we packed up my office and I left all things agency owned behind I left a keyring so full of keys to remove one was difficult.  It didn’t even house all of my work keys.  The ones I used repeatedly during the work day I left on a separate ring. Today I have six keys on my keyring. I miss the weight of those work key rings in my hand. Mostly I miss the trust they symbolized to me.

The badge I wore Monday through Friday when in the office and to provide proof of identity to use agency credit or discount cards was also left behind.  So were the cards. I find myself momentarily frightened when I notice it is missing from my purse.

For 13 years my identity was defined mainly by being a Believer in God, motherhood, being a wife, and my job at a nonprofit agency.  My life revolved around these roles and wove into one another in tight connection and intertwining locks.  My job was a safe place for me and the tasks often a coping mechanism when my health troubled me or life’s struggles grew difficult. 

On January 10 of this year my resignation became official and on February 19 we “celebrated” my “early retirement” on disability.  My job is no longer my job, it is split into one full time position and some of the tasks delegated to others.

It seems the watch, the keys, the job were symbolic for me of the larger losses in my life over the past four years.  I don’t mourn not being a slave to the watch, the keys, the job and juggling being a wife, mother and a Christian.  But I do mourn.

I weep over the losses as if they were family or dear, dear friends dying.  I grieve the loss because God wired me to give everything in every relationship.  I do not know how NOT to give 110% as much as humanly possible. 

By now I was assured I would see the wisdom of those making decisions that closed the doors on my employment.  By now I was supposed to be calling them to say thanks.  Yet, I don’t see the wisdom of my best interests having been accomplished.  I am not yet in the frame of mind to say thank you for leaving me only the option of disability.  Will I ever be?  I won’t say never but it sure isn’t now.

Mourning I do not do well.  It raises the depths of my depression, the strength of my anxiety attacks.  It also whispers 1001 plus reasons to stay securely in our home.  Something I give into far more than is healthy for my emotional well-being.

But I AM DETERMINED to rise up from this a better mother, a sweeter wife and a more dedicated child of God. For now I have my time to mourn, somewhere in my tomorrows God has promised a time to dance and so we shall.

I will do so free from time restraints, stressful job demands. No watch. No job daily expectations. No excuses for not writing or painting. For this I can give 110%. The rest will come, in God’s time.

Ding-Dong – Avon Calling®

MC910216969

If you recognize that slogan we share at least two things in common:  we grew up in the United States and were old enough to recall this slogan for Avon during the early 1970’s.  Back then Avon salesladies went door to door selling Avon products.

In our small group Bible study yesterday (Sunday) we covered the things or people that call us:  MP900405334

  1. The call of the wild.
  2. The telephone.
  3. Our mother, father, kids, and other family.
  4. Our friends.
  5. The lake, fishing, hunting, or other such outdoor activities.
  6. Crafting, writing, reading, relaxing.
  7. These days the ding of an email dropping into our email boxes and texts on our cell phones.
  8. That delicious chocolate cake, cookies, ice cream, candy bar – food!
  9. That great cup of coffee.
  10. And of course for parts of our population there are:  Drugs, booze, pornography, violence and other things that can become an obsession although harmful to us.
  11. Electronics – gaming, cell phones, e-readers, computers, televisions, movies – all things that plug-in, charge up or run off of batteries.
  12. Fame.
  13. Wealth.
  14. Success.

As Christians we use the word “calling” to apply to many things too:

  1. Our relationship with Jesus.
  2. A vocational career in ministry or missions.
  3. Specific types of service/ministry as volunteers such as shelters, ministries to unwed mothers, senior adults, children, youth, first responders for natural disasters etc…
  4. The use of the creative arts and media to reach those of this world who do not have God in their lives.

(These lists are not exhaustive.)

MP900177808

As we sat discussing our selected text in the Scriptures, Mark 2:13-17, we also tackled the types of people who Levi (Matthew) invited to the dinner in his home that the Pharisees objected to, citing that Jesus associating with them (including Levi who was a tax collector) was wrong.  Jesus replied, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.  I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (v17, N.I.V.)

Fact is all of us can be labeled as belonging to a particular “unholy” group of people, for not one of us is free of sin in our lives. (Romans 3:23)  Even as the Pharisees pointed out the lack of righteousness in the lives of the people at Levi’s dinner they should have been able to recognize the lack of it in their own lives.  Yet, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.  I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (v17, N.I.V.)

My last thoughts on this discussion were these that follow.  There is a JOY to be expected in learning that we belong to the group of spiritually unhealthy people who Jesus calls.  By His sacrifice of Himself on the cross, He provides a permanent bridge to us and God the Father thus allotting to us the privilege of serving Him through some calling in our lives.  Perhaps it is evangelism, teaching, expounding upon the meaning of the Scriptures, or picking up trash in the church parking lot, making and supplying 100 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the youth fellowship or singing in the church choir.  Perhaps it’s using the talents and gifts God has given you to write, act, dance, relate and minister to various and any group of people.  Where God calls us to serve isn’t important.  SERVING Him is important.  To SERVE HIM we have to SERVE OTHERS.  (Matthew 25:31-40)

WHO is CALLING you?

WHAT are they CALLING you TO DO?

HOW are YOU ANSWERING?

WOULD your LIFE support YOUR ANSWER?

-Faye

fvbf

Parking in one of my usual spots to wait for my daughter’s school bus I intended to read a book. Instead I found myself watching a bee and a butterfly dine from some flowering weeds.

Confession, I was thinking, “Why did God make flowering weeds? Why ‘waste’ such pretty blooms on a weed?” (similar questions I’ve had about mice, snakes etc…but that’s another post!)

The buzz of the bee helped my attitude shift. The daintiness of the butterfly flitting from flower to flower opened my eyes. Neither the bee nor the butterfly seemed at all concerned that the pollen they were busily collecting was from a weed flower and not a “real” flower. They seemed to be perfectly content with their meal. It occurred to me, that neither bee nor butterfly probably knew a weed flower from a regular flower anyway. Furthermore, I don’t think they would care. They need pollen. God supplied pollen. Their needs…

View original post 344 more words

Ironic is it not?

  • That courageous has “rage” at its heart?
  • That therapist is spelt “the rapist”?
  • That two wrongs don’t make a right unless it’s a multiple choice test with only three answer choices and you can keep answering until you get it right?
  • That rarely do you get to take a test and keep guessing at the answers until you get them right, even in the above possible situation?
  • That you may be alone or lonely but it can’t be done without one?
  • That together needs “to” but not “two”?
  • That subway is an underground train, a type of sandwich and a restaurant?
  • That popcorn chicken, popcorn shrimp, lollipops, soda pop and popovers don’t have corn in them?
  • That Washington D.C. needs a good washing and a ton of soap probably wouldn’t be enough for the job?
  • That angels were created by God to worship Him and yet many humans worship them and not Him?
  • That Satan masquerades as an Angel of Light but swallows a soul with darkness?
  • That scented markers smell like fruit but can’t be eaten, while fruit can be eaten but doesn’t make a good crayon?
  • That love and hate are four letter words, the first is often spelt T-I-M-E and the latter takes love and time away?
  • That your conscience isn’t a little cricket but both can keep you awake all night?
  • That billions and billions are spent to create new movies and television series but it’s the same ones over and over again?
  • That silence is golden, old friends gold and new friends silver but you can’t deposit either in your checking account?
  • That upon breaking up with a special person you hear “Don’t worry there are plenty of fish in the sea!” but no one talks about all the trash in their too?
  • That insomnia will cause your mind to focus on ironic tidbits like this?

The Best Investment in Our Children

Girl Holding Plant

Those of us who are parents are constantly faced with challenges in raising our children.  As our own daughter nears adolescent the issues become more delicate and complex.

MC900440671Our daughter is 11 years old and in the sixth grade and she is a worrier.  She worries to the point that she can become a crying, miserable mess of emotions just thinking of something going wrong.  Not just “big” things but little ones as well.  Just yesterday she was approaching tears in the store as we searched for new sneakers for her because she was worried that we would not find any that suited her needs.  So when my eye caught this sentence when flipping through a ladies magazine, “Yet even in happy times, my son had been a worrier;” I stopped to read the article.

Reading it further I did so in a sense of disbelief, for once I read the title and subtitle I1000405372 couldn’t help but feel my heart sink within me.  “Surely,” I was thinking, “this isn’t what it truly talks about.”  The article title is “The Fortune-Teller’s Gift.  A crystal ball.  Gleeful fibs.  And the best $10 I’ve ever spent.”

Summing up the article Ms. Maynard’s son who at the time the article is written about, was 11-years-old and in the sixth grade.  He had always been a worrier but that year the worries had overwhelmed him and he rarely smiled or laughed anymore.  His mother, seeing her son’s misery evident by his slumped shoulders and subdued countenance after a holiday performance at school spotted a shop advertising fortune telling for $10.  They stopped and the fortune teller, who the mother recognized from her previous employment as a fast-food worker, took her son into the fortune telling session.  Twenty minutes later her son reappeared and Ms. Maynard paid the $10.  She learned from her son how perfect the rest of his life was going to be.

He was going to have a wonderful life, go to college, be a movie or rock star and marry a nice girl.  They would be the parents of a boy and a girl while living in a great house with a pool.  He was going to live a long life as were all the members of his family.  Even though his mother knew the fortune teller was a fraud and given her son hope based on a lie she wasn’t concerned.  Her son did grow up and find that the fortune teller had lied and his life did have troubles and he did have to learn how to deal with the issues in life beyond our control.  Still, Ms. Maynard considers the $10 she spent the best investment she ever made.  Her son got the message she herself wanted him to understand at that time, “Don’t worry.  You’ll be OK.”

MP900177811As Christian parents this mother’s choice certainly isn’t our choice to help our daughter learn to handle her worries and fears.  Last night, to continue with the example of the “could be” shoe disaster while her father continued to look for shoes, I took a moment to touch her hand, look into her eyes and remind her we hadn’t looked at all the shoes yet and that this wasn’t the only store we could go to.  We would find her shoes.  We then continued our hunt and quickly found her a pair that met her needs, our budget and were still stylish.

Our responses to our daughter’s worries vary, depending on the fear, situation and the time we have in the moment.  We sometimes address it enough to ease her mind and return to the issue when emotions aren’t as stirred up or time permits a deeper exploration of the problem.  We encourage her to pray about everything and pray with and for her in her presence and in our own times with God.  Together we explore the Bible for the truth she needs.  We’ve made her life affirmation Jeremiah 29:11.

We’ve also sought professional counseling services for her as well as medication when it was something that required that intervention.  We do not discount that there are times when intervention for people of all ages needs to be aided by professional help or other resources.  But we do not forget to point her towards the ultimate resource for seeking guidance on her future, assurance for her worries and calmness for her heart – God.

It’s not my place to say Ms. Maynard made a bad decision.  It isn’t the decision I would make.  Yes, her son got the message she wanted him to get, that everything would be okay, but it was hope based on the words of a fortune teller and that doesn’t work for our family.  We don’t discount that there are people who practice things that are empowered for sources other than God but God’s word gives us some very clear understanding of how He views trusting practices such as fortune telling.  Specific scriptures relating to this issue are given below.

Indulge me this one question.  Of the investments we as parents make in our children everyday what do you consider your greatest investment?

1001224892

These are not the only scriptures pertaining to this subject in the Bible.  References are from the New Internation Version of the Bible.

Everyone should study God’s word on their own with the counsel of the Holy Spirit and the use of trustworthy resources.

“Acts 16: 16 Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling. 17 This girl followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” 18 She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so troubled that he turned around and said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” At that moment the spirit left her.”

“Deuteronomy 18: 9 When you enter the land the LORD your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there. 10 Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, 11 or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. 12 Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD, and because of these detestable practices the LORD your God will drive out those nations before you. 13 You must be blameless before the LORD your God.”

“II Chronicles 33: 1 Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem fifty-five years. 2 He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, following the detestable practices of the nations the LORD had driven out before the Israelites. 3 He rebuilt the high places his father Hezekiah had demolished; he also erected altars to the Baals and made Asherah poles. He bowed down to all the starry hosts and worshiped them. 4 He built altars in the temple of the LORD, of which the LORD had said, “My Name will remain in Jerusalem forever.” 5 In both courts of the temple of the LORD, he built altars to all the starry hosts. 6 He sacrificed his sons in the fire in the Valley of Ben Hinnom, practiced sorcery, divination and witchcraft, and consulted mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the eyes of the LORD, provoking him to anger. 7 He took the carved image he had made and put it in God’s temple, of which God had said to David and to his son Solomon, “In this temple and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, I will put my Name forever. 8 I will not again make the feet of the Israelites leave the land I assigned to your forefathers, if only they will be careful to do everything I commanded them concerning all the laws, decrees and ordinances given through Moses.” 9 But Manasseh led Judah and the people of Jerusalem astray, so that they did more evil than the nations the LORD had destroyed before the Israelites. 10 The LORD spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they paid no attention. 11 So the LORD brought against them the army commanders of the king of Assyria, who took Manasseh prisoner, put a hook in his nose, bound him with bronze shackles and took him to Babylon.”

“Galatians 5: 16 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. 17 For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.19 The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”

“Jeremiah 29: 6 Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. 7 Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” 8 Yes, this is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “Do not let the prophets and diviners among you deceive you. Do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to have. 9 They are prophesying lies to you in my name. I have not sent them,” declares the LORD. 10 This is what the LORD says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.” 15 You may say, “The LORD has raised up prophets for us in Babylon,” 16 but this is what the LORD says about the king who sits on David’s throne and all the people who remain in this city, your countrymen who did not go with you into exile—“

Another Woman’s Child-Part 1

The tears in his wife’s eyes, rolling down her face and falling unheeded onto her blazer made Kevin twisted him with guilt. He gripped her hand more tightly, fumbling with the key fob, silent in his fear. Internally he thought only how this was his fault.

“Kevin I just really feel God leading us to trust Him to provide and not to go through infertility treatments again of any kind.” Sarah had said.

“Honey trusting God to provide food, a job, or clothes is one thing, but last time I checked He didn’t walk around handing out babies.”

“Try telling Abraham and Sarah or Jacob and Rachel that Kevin.”

“That was Old Testament times. These are modern times,” he countered back picking up his mug-to-go and heading out the front door, “God uses modern science and medicine to work His miracles now.” He paused. “Just one more time? For me? Please?”

Sarah had agreed to appease him and look where this had led them, another disappointment. A door slamming shut in their faces. Sarah must hate him.

Dr. Moran had been gentle in his news. But his word seemed so final. “Infertility treatments will not solve your problem in conceiving.”

“You’re not the only infertility specialist, we can get a second opinion.” Kevin announced.

It was Sarah who ended the conversation when she reminded Kevin, “Honey, I told you God has told me we need to wait for Him to move.” Sarah’s voice had been laced with unshed tears but it had also carried an undertone that clearly conveyed she was serious. She hadn’t uttered a single word since they’d left Dr. Moran’s office.

Safely in the car Sarah reached over and stopped him from starting the engine by putting her hand on his and Kevin looked up at her slowly. His heart shattered when he saw the pain in his wife’s emerald green eyes. “Ah honey I am so sorry I made you do this…” he brushed her copper hued curls away from her face.

“You didn’t make me Kevin. I wanted one last chance too. I knew God was telling me no, to wait for His timing, but I didn’t listen well enough. You can’t blame yourself. No one is at fault. This just is, even though it seems unfair and unkind, it just is.” Tears still ran down her face.

Kevin felt relieved. She didn’t hate him. She didn’t want to leave him. She didn’t blame him. Kevin breathed a prayer of gratitude.

“Let’s go home.” Kevin suggested and Sarah nodded her agreement.

Neither felt much like conversation or supper, they barely nibbled at the pizza they had delivered, and turned in early. Kevin held Sarah as her tears soaked his tee-shirt as he cradled her to his chest. Gradually they both slept.

Kevin sat up wearily when the alarm sounded at six o’clock the next morning. Startled he noticed Sarah wasn’t asleep beside him. Looking up he saw her on the window seat, wrapped in a blanket with her Bible open. She was obviously praying.

“Well,” Kevin thought, “I tried to make things happen in the way I wanted. Maybe I need to let Sarah and God have it their way.”

He just didn’t know how her prayers were about to change
their lives.

The Privilege, the Right and the Necessity of Voting

This blog, though personal is still public and therefore this writer will refrain from “endorsing” any one in particular for any office.  I firmly believe each and every American of voting age should vote regardless of who they vote for.   I also firmly believe not in voting for a “party” but for the person most capable of doing the job and whose views and proven track record support what I believe to be the truth according to what God’s word reveals to me is right.

When I turned eighteen I was still in high school and registering to vote to me was a big milestone in my life.  While I don’t remember what election I voted in first I do remember voting for the first time.  We lived in Palmerdale, Alabama then and when I went to vote the voting site was far from crowded with voters.   I was excited and nervous.  I felt incredibly adult as I walked into the building.

A multitude of senior citizens greeted me as I entered.  Right away they asked if this was my first time voting and as soon as I confessed it was everyone in the room wanted to educate me on the particulars.  I had an escort with me right up until the moment I entered the booth and pulled the curtain.  Once inside every instruction those kind men and women had given me went right out of my head but thankfully written instructions brought it all back.  I flipped the levers and my ballot was cast.  As I opened the curtain to the same room full of helpful older people I thought to myself that the process took such a short time.  Doing something as important as voting should take longer, I thought.

I remember meeting George Wallace who was running again for governor of Alabama and his theme song of “Happy Days are Here Again” and sitting with other students afterwards at the community college I was attending discussing what we remembered from his speech.  Sadly, as I recall, none of us remembered his past governorship.

In college at Troy University I voted by absentee ballot.  When I moved to Norfolk, Virginia I registered to vote there.  I’ve also registered in Knoxville, Tennessee; Pinson, Remlap and now Cleveland, Alabama.  What’s more I’ve voted in each place.

The things that impressed me as a young voter changed as I grew older.  Bill Clinton’s ability to play the saxophone and seeming so much more in tune with my generation of voters would not impress me now as it did then.  For I began to understand the “issues”, the problems America faced and how the right or wrong person in the office of President of the United States affected American’s and other countries.  I also began to understand that a president was only as effective as Congress would allow him to be.  Unfortunately I also began to understand we were often called upon to vote not for the best person for the job but for the lesser of two evils.

The issues I cared about have changed with the aging process of this voter too.  Not only as I aged physically but as I’ve matured spiritually as well.  As my health has changed, for example, the importance of health care for Americas has become an issue that’s far more important to me than it was when I was in my 20’s and 30’s.  Becoming a parent has forced me to think more about how my vote now will affect our daughter’s future and our grandchildren’s.  Not being able to have biological children forced me to rethink abortion.  More and more I’ve sought God’s revelations on how to vote than ever before because I KNOW IT MATTERS.

Voting isn’t about being Democrat, Republican or an Independent.  It isn’t about the color of skin a person capable of doing the job and carrying the responsibilities of the job has.  It isn’t about the gender of the person either.  It isn’t about promises you know in your heart of hearts the person isn’t going to be able to keep.

Voting is about being a responsible citizen of the United States of America.  That means being an informed voter.  It means knowing what America’s issues are and voting for the person that you believe best represents what God would have us do as His people, as American citizens.  It means Christians need to not just vote but make their voices heard on the issues before us.

Sometimes voting means righting a wrong such as in Alabama where our constitution is in severe need of being rewritten and we are in severe need of effective leadership on both the national, state and local levels.  Sometimes it means we’ve got to say we’re sorry, we got it wrong, we messed it up but now we’re going to fix it.  In the past I’ve cast my vote for the wrong person, impressed by the wrong things, being ignorant of the issues so being more careful in my voting now is my way to right my wrongs.

Voting is about respect.  Respect for our country, for our heritage, for our God and for our diversity.  It is about respect for our elderly and our young, our aging and the lives just beginning.  It is about bridging the gaps between groups and working together for the best for ALL OF US.

Voting is a privilege and in America it is still a right.  It is also a necessity.

I encourage you to be an educated voter and to vote in any and all upcoming elections especially the presidential election.  Cast your vote.  Let your voice be heard.

V-O-T-E!

Could I Be the Worst Mom Ever?

Note from Faye:  This blog series, “Am I Messing Up My Kids” is based in part on a book by that title by Lysa TerKeurst.  Copies of that book are readily available from many sources.  While it is not necessary to have a copy to participate and enjoy this blog series it will be helpful to you if you have one.

In the beginning of this chapter Lysa makes it clear she’s stretched to the max and her stress level is around 7 on a scale of 1 to 10.  Her husband is out of town, each child had weekend events to get to and somehow she has ended up with four additional friends of her sons not only spending the night but to get to an out of town early morning soccer game.

She realizes she is running on empty from one gap to the next.  She wants to spend time with God, allowing His Word to refresh her drained spirit.  She wants a time of fellowship between God and herself to help her bucket to overflow.  There just doesn’t seem to be any time.

The next morning she manages to get all the boys and one of her daughters up and out of the house by 5:45 a.m. to make the soccer match and half-way there someone points out they haven’t eaten breakfast.  Feeling as if her status as a good mom is already in question she drops off the boys and hurries to the nearest drive thru with her daughter for biscuits and tea.  The drinks are too large for the cup holders in the van so it becomes her daughter’s fate to hold the teas to keep them from spilling.  It was a disaster waiting to happen.  One pothole equaled tea all over the van.  Mom’s stress level is above 10 and she turns to her daughter accusing her of letting the tea spill.  The daughter responds with it wasn’t her fault her mom hit the pothole and out of Mom’s mouth flies, “Shut up and eat your d*** biscuit!”  The daughter was hurt.  Mom didn’t tell them to shut up.  Mom didn’t cuss at them.

Mom was appalled with herself.  The same mouth that praised God had just cussed at her child.  Her spirits fell to the floor and she was sure she was the worst Mom ever.  So she called a friend and after more than sufficient warning of the horrible thing she was about to share she told her what happened.

Her friend said, “That’s it?…That’s what you are so upset about?  Apologize to her (the daughter), ask God for forgiveness, and get over it.  So you had a hard morning.  Stop letting Satan get the best of you and ask God to give you a new attitude.”

In reading this narrative I was struck by my own thought, “That’s it?  THAT’S your WORST MOM EVER story?  My gosh I can top that.”  How many of you could too?  If you feel comfortable doing so, share your “worst Mom ever story”.

But like the author the formula for getting back on track is to ask forgiveness from our child (ren), from God and let it go.  We can’t let Satan have that stronghold over our spirits.  God will give us a new attitude.  We just HAVE TO MAKE TIME to SPEND WITH OUR CREATOR.

None of us can operate very long when our tank reads empty.  Like a car, we can’t run on fumes, we need fuel.  Spending time really listening and communicating with God is how we fill ourselves up.  How we guard against worst Mom ever moments.

REFRESH YOUR SOUL:

Read Psalm 103:1-4

Before stating that God forgives his sins, David the author of this Psalm praises God first.  What are some things you can praise God about right now?

In verse 2, David said, “forget not all his benefits”.  What do you think he means?

What verbs are found in verses 3-5.

What does God forgive?

What does God heal?

What does God redeem?

What does God crown you with?

What does God satisfy your desires with?

Verse 5 states that your “youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”  Life, energy and vitality return to your spirit.  How does this make you feel?

Psalm 103:8-13

God’s love for you is described in what way?

God does what with our sins?

“If God removes our sins, then why do we allow Satan to beat us up for them?  Let God remove your sin and leave it with Him.   Satan can’t beat us up with sin that we’ve let God truly have.  Only when we hold on to it can Satan use it against us.  Learn what God what to teach you about this sin in your heart and let it go.”

“Does fearing God mean “afraid of Him” fear?  No, fearing God is a healthy respect and reverence of Him.   How do you show this to the Lord?”

“We often think of God as big and powerful and mighty.  But in this psalm it is very clear that His tender compassion is there for us as well.  How do you show your own children compassion?”

Now that you’ve identified how you are compassionate with your children, identify how God is compassionate with you.

“Verse 17-18 tells us the Lord’s love is with whom?”

How many times does the word perfect appear in these verses?

“Whose righteousness will be with your children and your children’s children?”

Righteousness can be stated simply as “right choices that honor God.”  To those who ask God gives the ability to make right choices that honor Him.  He will do it for you and your children.  Since children act what they see it is vital we model making choices that honor God before them.  We will mess up but we can then model right behavior by pointing to God’s forgiveness, healing and redemption.

This psalm began with praise and ends the same way.  Praise God for how He has blessed your heart through today’s study.