My “Me”

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My “Me” without Parental influence, is on her feet, poised in a defensive stance born of too many betrayals by those she has loved deepest and hardest, prepared to defend her “self,”  yet once more, against the ugly and hurtful accusations of addiction and narcissism;

when, in the distance, the soothing, weathered voice of His daughter, shaped by the storms of betrayal coupled with the constant and unconditional love of Her Father, begins singing peace over my “Me.”  The lyrics of His daughter’s song remind my “Me” of the numerous lessons learned, the abundant growth attained, and the beautiful, bumpy, earthly sojourn in which my “Me” continually grows into His daughter.

I stand in quiet confidence.

 

Oh, that I could (a mama’s lament)

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If I could go back 

and do it all again

-or maybe just parts of it…

I would honor who He made you to be more than forcibly attempting to mold you into who I thought you should become.

I would listen more with the intent of hearing your heart and less with the goal of sharing my “wisdom.”

I would engage more in being a part of all of those wonderful memories and less in the role of martyred stagehand. 

I would enter into holidays, vacations, and special gatherings with my hands and heart wide open instead of my everything being wound up and around unrealistic expectations that almost always led to disappointment and my embarrassingly bad behavior.

If I could go back,

I would remind myself that I don’t have to be perfect in order for people to love me and that even if people will never love me without condition, HE does and that’s enough.

I would give myself grace, and, in turn, give more grace to others. -Because NO one is perfect, we all make mistakes, and grace is such a beautiful place to live and grow in, unlike judgement and condemnation.

I would set healthy boundaries so you would feel safe and have a confidence that my wounded parenting wasn’t able, but desperately wanted, to instill in you.

OH, if I could go back and do it all again,

but I can’t – not even a little bit of it.  So, I will not linger in “what-if’s” or “should-haves.”  I will move forward, grateful with experience and wisdom that I lacked early on (and hope still to increase), accompanied by grace and love for myself and others born of my journey, prayerful that I will continue my pilgrimage, walking ever more fully in who I was created to become.

Monday Mullings

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I planned and executed (with the help of my precious and sneaky youngest 3) a marvelous surprise birthday party for my Honey this past Saturday.  He’s reasonably easy to be sneaky with because he’s very trusting.  I often tell him that if I were a woman of less integrity, I could get away with SO VERY MUCH…  He never even had a clue and seeing the look on his beautiful face when he walked through the door while 70+ of his favorite peeps screamed, “SURPRISE!!!!” was just about as perfect as it gets.

Yesterday I helped coordinate a women’s network luncheon at church and it went off without a hitch.  My friend, Tamera, spoke beautifully and the food was pure yumminess from La Madeline.  I watched several women reach out and connect in such lovely ways. It was beautiful.

The past couple of weeks have been FULL of extra work days, extended insomnia, and loads of fun meetings with friends.  I recall noticing that my throat was a little scratchy last Thursday and I was fighting off a 3 day migraine along with it, but I just kept moving through, because there just wasn’t time to do much about it.  I had things to do, places to go, a husband to surprise!  So, yesterday, as soon as the luncheon was over and I walked through my front door, I realized I felt beat up.  My tickle turned into a croupy cough in less than an hour.  I was suddenly exhausted even though I had gotten 9 hours of sleep the night before.  So, I’ve been in bed for nearly an entire day.  My throat and chest feel worse, but I feel more centered and less beat up.  Sometimes, He slows us down in such inconvenient ways…

because, in my case, it’s the only way I will listen.

Some of the best things have happened in my family in recent months.  We are in such a great season.  An old friend of mine, who turned out not to be much of a friend at all, once shared this sage advice, sprinkled with a bit of profanity:  Enjoy the good times that you go through, because the %$&* times are coming!

I had spent way too much of what should have been joyful seasons, fretting about what was coming next or even believing on some level that if I enjoyed myself too much, God would punish me because I didn’t deserve to have joy.

Who does?!

So, the lesson He has been renewing in my life is to BE in this season of joy with my family.  Celebrate.  Give exuberant thanks.  Praise Him for this blessed season.  I know the junk is coming, as well as more beauty, and worrying about what’s next will do nothing to prevent anything bad from happening.  It will, however, steal the joy of this season.  I’m also a firm believer in praising Him in the dark times and I believe the joyful times fill me up in a way that makes it easier to walk through trials with faith.

Our world is crazy right now.  Two Black men were waiting for a third man to join them at Starbucks.  The barista called the police because they hadn’t ordered anything…  yet.  Several White patrons stated that the men were never asked to order or leave or even spoken to.  They also stated that the men had done nothing wrong.  The police arrested both men, taking them out in handcuffs, as the friend they were waiting for showed up. WHAT IN THIS CRAZY WORLD?!?!?!?!

I’ve gone to many coffee joints and seen multiple peeps on their computers for HOURS, never ordering anything OR ordering only a $1.50 cup of coffee.  I meet with friends regularly and wait for them before I get my chai or whatever.  I have NEVER in several decades of being white, been asked to leave, to order, or had the police called on me.  Never.

The sadder thing is that Starbucks had a similar incident in Redondo Beach just this morning.  You can watch it here:  starbucks-accused-racism-yet-new-video-surfaces .  Now, if I’m honest with you, I probably go to Starbucks twice a year.  I’m very much a “support local” kinda girl, but now I can assure you I won’t be going there at all.  We have to support the disenfranchised with our dollars.  It’s the most effective way to make your voice heard.

Lastly, there’s this Cohen-Hannity debacle. What in the world?!  As I begin to process this news, I have a few random thoughts…

It makes so much more sense now that Hannity has been almost obsessive in his support of Trump and his constant criticism of the FBI’s raid of Cohen’s files.  Those two know Hannity’s dirt.

I’m not sure why Cohen is called “the fixer” when he clearly is not.

If Cohen was “fixing” the same stuff for Hannity as he has for his only two other clients (Trump and Broidy), then that gives “Fox & Friends” a whole new meaning.

Hannity is claiming that he only told Cohen things as a friend.  So, why did Cohen keep files on his friend?  If it was just friendly conversation, there is no attorney-client privilege, correct?  Yet, Hannity says that there is.  Pick a side, Sean.

What a day!  

The Evolution of My Sin

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Growing up in my family of origin, it was normal to discuss how absurd other people’s choices were.  I heard (and eventually said) things such as, “Who does that?!” and “Iwould NEVER act like that!”  We pretty much had the corner on the market when it came to how to parent, how to behave in public and just generally how to do everything and how to be at all times.

I carried on this tradition with my own family for longer than I care to admit.  At some point I realized in the midst of utter shame that I was the leader of my “judgmental & gossipy pack,” so I began praying a bunch and worked toward not criticizing almost everyone we encountered on the regular.  It was clear to me that, while I believed almost every “normal” family did this on their way home from gatherings, it was not healthy, nor very Christlike, and I wanted better for my children.  I wanted better for myself and my character.

Several years ago, after I had been intentionally working on extinguishing this ugly behavior,  I felt very convicted and decided I didn’t want to participate in it with my family of origin any longer.  This is when I realized that what we were doing was gossiping and I could put a name to my sin. Up to this point, it had honestly not dawned on me that what we were doing was judgmental gossiping.  The next time I was on the phone and my family member began to criticize another family member’s parenting and marital choices, I calmly said, “I feel like what we’re doing is gossiping and I don’t want our conversations to be about this kind of stuff.  I would prefer to talk about you or something else because…”  And at that point the other person began screaming at me a bit maniacally, hung up on me, and then did not speak to me for almost 4 months.  This was not how I envisioned this scene.  I was certain that after I had poured so much prayer into it and was speaking out of my own shame and love that it would be received in kind.

I’d like to tell you that I never get in the car with my family and begin to chat it up about how so-and-so spoke to so-and-so very rudely or how much so-and-so bragged about his whatever, but that would be a lie.  The good news is that since we’ve been working on this as a family for years, I can usually count on someone to guide me back to Jesus in love.

It’s not unusual for my husband, our three youngest children and I to occasionally discuss what we believe is gossip.  Because while we believe that our family is a safe place to vomit without judgement, we also, now and then, cross the line into the realm of gossip and/or judgement.  It is a fine line, and sometimes, when our emotions are high or our egos are bruised or someone’s heart has been broken, my mama-bear comes out in all of her ferocious “glory,” instead of my faithful daughter in her beautiful humility.  Sometimes because we are all reeling from the unfair blow one of us received, we forget Who has us and we don’t pull each other back into His will, or toward the faith that He’s working it all out for a minute.

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Now, let me just say that the only thing worse than not being gently pulled away from the ledge of judging and gossip is a confidant who immediately throws anecdotal christianity all over my pain, so that I don’t feel seen or heard, but I do feel as if I’ve been served a big old judgement sandwich.  I know that people think that they are helping and pointing me back toward Jesus, but before doing that, a wounded person needs to feel safe, heard and not judged.   (and if you ask my kiddos they will tell you I’ve done this a time or two)…  Just the other day, one of my precious children was sharing the anxiety he was experiencing, and I immediately began wrapping it all up in a nice little b.s. Jesus package to which he replied, “I know all of that, Mom, I just need to express my feelings in a safe place before I can get there.  Please don’t shame me.”  I thought I was making him feel better, but, really, he just needed to be heard without judgement and without me trying to fix everything.  – Like I could do that in a million years, anyway!

So, initially I joined right in to the sin of my family of origin.  As an adult and especially, as a mama I realized this sin was wrong.  Years after that I could name the sins – Judgement and Gossip. All the while, I have been praying about this, feeling shame off and on as I stumble, and then I heard about something called the enneagram.  I’ve done plenty of personality tests, many of which have been extremely helpful and had a positive effect of my life such as MBTI, StrengthsFinder, love languages, and spiritual gifts tests.  The enneagram, however, has definitely had the biggest impact on my life.  In the evolution of this particular sin, it has been a game-changer.  Your enneagram number is not a personality test, but it is more about determining the essence of who God made you to be.

I’ve been studying the enneagram for almost three years and my whole family is very into it.  It has helped me see how I behave in unhealth and understand why I have been and done SO many of the things I’ve done and been since forever.  Partnered with the other personality tests I’ve taken, I’ve been able to walk more fully in my daughter identity than ever before.  It has also helped me understand more fully the people I love most in the world – and often other people who may offend or hurt me.  As a 2, I listen to and read anything I can get my hands on that explains my husband and our children so that I can meet their needs in just the way they need them met.  I’m all about meeting the needs of people before they even know that they have that need.  As I’ve taken in this knowledge about other people’s essences/enneagram strengths, I feel as if my eyes have been opened anew and I am understanding how others view, react and behave in a way I never did before – especially considering my family of origin and the fundamental belief we cultivated that our way was the only and right way.

Which brings me to the next stage of the evolution of my sin…  As I’ve learned more about others and their essences, I’ve realized how arrogant I’ve been in judging people through the years.  Of course, I realized years ago I was gossiping and in that I was being judgmental, but now I also realize how arrogant it is to believe that the way I am motivated is the only correct way to be motivated – and that, of course, we all think the way we believe is the correct way or we wouldn’t behave the way we do.  This may seem very obvious to most of you, but it has been revolutionary for this girl.  In learning about each number of the enneagram, I’ve learned more about the lenses we each look through because of childhood wounds and what motivates us at our core.

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There are times when I wish I would’ve known about the enneagram before I had married or had children, so that I could’ve been a better wife and mama, or just before I made SO MANY MISTAKES, not because I would not have made any, but because I would’ve made less and had more grace for myself and everyone who crossed my path.  I’m more than thankful that my children have this tool at such a young age and that they understand it isn’t just a narcissistic information source so that they can talk about themselves or make  excuses for their personality flaws, but a rich source of information about how they can work (hard) toward growing into the person God is calling them to be.

I’m thankful for the evolution that God has enriched my life with.  I won’t lie to you and say it’s been a joyful journey…  not even most of the time.  It’s always been worth it, though, and the alternative is not even worth considering for this girl.

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REVOLT

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                                                                                                                               -Tacitus

We look to our earthly fathers to tell us the truth of who we are.  This is what God calls on fathers to do, and when they don’t, as is too often the case, we are left empty and open to every lie that we are told.  We live in a culture that satan has chosen to attack in such a way.  An entire culture can be broken generation by generation through weakening the fathers.  I’ve witnessed this in my own upbringing by a man who scorned Jesus and gave into his own weak pride on the regular, regardless of how it hurt him, his children or his grandchildren. I wasted years tying my Heavenly Father’s loving hands behind His back, projecting my earthly father’s angry, disappointed face onto His.

I know very few people who honestly revere their fathers for genuine leadership and/or godliness.  I know some will read this and think I am seeking perfection.  I am looking for men who pursue God and His will for their lives with all they have because they took the time to experience an intimate relationship with Him and have some understanding of how great His love is for them.  These men will LEAD in HIS LOVE and that will change our culture generation by generation. 

Men who live like this will understand that women have a place beside them and that through this partnership, God will move mountains, change lives and heal our land.  There will be no place for degrading women in pornography, disparaging pay, sexual assault, etc.  There will be no place for racism.  With men and women truly after God’s heart will come the truth that we are all gloriously different, but equal; we will finally celebrate our differences and reparations will occur with a new humility born of seeing one another through His eyes.

The demand for pornography and other sexual immorality comes largely from broken men, who were most likely broken as young boys.  We need men who will stand against this sin by coming alongside their brothers who are afflicted with this addiction, and help them bring it out into the light, so that they can be healed, and, in turn, come alongside those who remain in this sinful addiction.

We need to stand shoulder to shoulder with one another in love against those who oppress others, standing up for women, people of color and those who struggle with physical and emotional constraints.  This is how we win as a people.  We love like Jesus and we stand against sin as He does, without compromise or distraction.

Until there are more men who operate out of their love of and from God instead of their fear of losing money and power, hidden behind a shield of false godliness, we will continue to disintegrate, until we finally are morally bankrupt beyond repair.  We must raise sons and daughters who fall into His arms and turn to Him in every circumstance.  Knowing the Word is so important, but getting quiet with Him, professing our adoration of Him, and cultivating an intimate relationship with Him is where hearts are transformed and real world change burgeons.

Do you know how much He adores you?  He waits for you and me, not just for an hour, or a day, or even just once.  He waits for us over and again, with outstretched arms and unending love.  He doesn’t turn away as we walk toward our sin.  He is in the room with us, heartbroken that we are not choosing life abundant, ready to fight for us, if only we would turn from the sin we are pursuing, once again.

Make a plan to invest in your relationship with Him daily.  Spend time pouring over His Word, full of rich wisdom, truth and love.  Get quiet before Him.  Cry out to Him.  Invest in getting to know Our Father intimately.  It’s the only way to start and win the Revolution.  The alternative is much too grim and coming too quickly.  It’s time for action.

Press On

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Like everyone else, I struggle with having enough time to do the things I need and want to do.  Why is keeping up with the laundry such an impossible task when my predecessors had to use a wash board and hang everything up?  All I have to do is throw it in with some homemade laundry soap and vinegar, toss it into the dryer and then take it out to fold or hang after about 45 minutes.  Somehow I end up with a MOUNTAIN of clothes, towels, etc. every couple of weeks and it’s a chore to get it all put away properly.  Cooking is the same.  

A few years ago the situation was:  I hardly see friends.  I hardly see my family.  It’s a luxury to write on here.  Last week was the first time since forever.  I know I have tons of company in this area.  I have been struggling with this for years – especially since I’ve return to work full time.  I always get caught up in the worldly demands of the here and now, so I work my tail off keeping up with school work (not mine, I’m the teacher!), and spend what’s left of the weekends making food for the week, washing & drying clothes and cleaning the house.  The last few weeks I have taken time on Sunday to go to a movie and/or get a massage with my husband and daughter.  It was fun, but I still didn’t feel rejuvenated, like I was hoping to feel.

I haven’t been sleeping well.  Insomnia has been my unwelcome companion for many years.  Some of that is just my nature, some of it is family drama and some of it is my job.  I’ve been taking magnesium and melatonin before bed and sprinkling lavender essential oil on my pillow and they’ve all helped immensely.  Still I’m not centered and I can tell it is affecting many areas of my life.  

Now, I only work part time and I’m still struggling with slowing down.  I spend time with friends, I never bring work home, my children have moved out, so laundry is a fraction of what it used to be.  Yet, here I am feeling like I’m chasing my tail, feeling out of balance and too busy at times.

I know what the answer is.  I forget sometimes when I get caught up in doing and forget about being, but in my heart of hearts I always know…  The sad part is that after a while I avoid the obvious answer because I can’t remember how to begin again.  How to REALLY slow down and be in communion with Him becomes so foreign that I just avoid it or step up my B Game and say more quick little prayers during the day…  UGH!!  Aren’t I too old for this?!

Spending time with Him…  Being truly quiet, not just audibly, but in my spirit, is my goal.  As I sit here and recall similar times in my life the solution is always the same:  Spending time with Him.  And He’s always waiting patiently for me.  I think because of my very conditional upbringing I have a hard time believing that He’ll be waiting for me in any other way than to tell me how I’ve let Him down and to let me know that He’s done with me, so my B Game seems like the best choice after I’ve fallen off the relationship wagon for a bit.  At least then I don’t have to risk His complete rejection…

I just continually and constantly imagine it…

I spent some time with Him yesterday.  I’m not gonna lie.  It was SO hard to be still and quiet in my spirit.  Slowing down was a task!  It took me awhile and then I got incredibly sleepy.  But I was at the point of brokenness and my memories reminded me of who He is and has always been, so I persevered and He clearly spoke lovingly to my heart.  He ALWAYS does.  Why would I rely on anything else?  Why do I forget who my oxygen mask is?…

I’m so glad He’s not like me.  I would grow impatient with a daughter like me.  I would take it personally instead of realizing that my daughter is still growing and she has some shortcomings that have nothing to do with me.

Then there’s satan.  He’s all over this, doing his best to keep me from my Father.  I had the worst night of sleep last night that I have had in a couple of months.  I laid in bed for a couple of hours trying to solve everything in my head.  I’m still growing and I definitely have several shortcomings.  Today I’m spending time with Him.  I’m setting my alarm a little earlier tomorrow morning so that I can start my day listening to Him.  I have a feeling that I will again struggle with being quiet and simply being with My Father, but I know that He will be there, waiting for me with His incredible love and protection.  

So, I will press on.  I will do this again and again, as I fall away and stumble through my journey.  He will forever be there, because He adores me, His beloved, prodigal daughter and I will pick myself up, dust myself off and stumble into His loving and wide-open arms.

Blurry Vision

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It’s been a month…  

10 days of flu for me,         

7 days and counting of upper respiratory junk,

4 days of allergy pink eye in my right eye, where I looked a bit like a monster.

My hubby and all of our kiddos had this terrible flu, also.

Our daughter then got bronchitis and I’m following in her footsteps.

Our twins celebrated their 23rd birthday.

I held an IF: Gathering in my home,

and

I started a new part-time job, while continuing in my present one.

My depression level is soaring.

 

It’s been a year…

We sold our house and moved to a new city.

I got a new car.

The last of our 5 babies (who are not really babies at all) moved out.

Our Tita was baptized.

It was the BEST year I’ve lived through in a ridiculous number of years.

It’s been…

A blessing to reminisce about the last year to put the past month into perspective.  Being sick for most of this past grey month has been a bit of a struggle, but the past year has been amazing.  In the whole scheme of things, this month has been trying, but only temporarily, so there’s no need to give into the fleeting darkness because light/joy/health are all just around the corner, waiting for me…

It’s just hard to see right now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m Back

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I’ve spent the past six days with the flu.  Body aching, tummy churning, head stuffed up and throbbing.  The last time I had the flu was in 2009 when I had the H1N1.  This has been a walk in the park compared to that!  My Honey came down with this flu about a week before me, our daughter started the same day as me and then our twins got it two days after us.  Everyone came home to be cared for by me during the day and we all just laid around, while my Honey cared for us in the evenings by making tea, warming ginger ale, Zarbee’s and loads of soup.

Today I feel human…

I also feel like I lost a week and while I should just be thankful, I’m having a quick little pity party.  I struggle with wasted time, accomplishing little.

I’m heading to the chiropractor in a bit because lying in bed has wreaked havoc on my back, arms and sciatic nerve.  

SO… I’m thankful that I didn’t miss any work, and I have a husband who loves his family and makes a great nurse and I can just get in my car and get Chiro care.  Also, I’m thankful for feeling like a living, breathing human being again, instead of some walking dead girl.

Perspective

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If I protest the destruction of the rainforests, does that mean I want all of the other kinds of forests to be destroyed?

If I walk in the Susan B. Komen Race for the Cure, am I opposed to other forms of cancer being cured?  – Or am I just opposed to Democrats…

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Do all lives matter to the police equally?  Do the indictment records reflect this?

Where are all of these blue people?  Are they blue all of the time?  Do they choose to be blue or are they born that color?  Can they take their blue off – for a little while, at least? Or forever, if they choose?  What about the black people?  Are they born black or did they choose to be black?  Can they take their black off, for a little while, at least?

 

If my pastor is a known philanderer, brags about forcing himself on multiple women in a violent manner on the regular and has children from three different women, but tells his congregation that the offering is more than ever before and he is against abortion, should I continue to follow his leadership and defend him to anyone that speaks against him based on real biblical principles?  What if he wants to marry my daughter?  Should I give him my blessing?  What about if he mocks people who are physically or mentally challenged or people of color?  That’s not a big deal, right?  He’s not a bully or racist if he says he’s not, right?

Is the best way to defend him to bring up things our pastor from nearly 20 years ago did wrong?  Because I remember when I was a child, deflecting to something one of my siblings did wrong often distracted my parents from what I had done wrong, at least for a minute or two, until they realized how childish my behavior was and returned to the real issue at hand…

If a White Evangelical man and woman bring their sick child into the ER, does the lesbian or transgender nurse have the right to refuse care based on a difference of religious beliefs?  Say, the nurse believes that White Evangelical Christianity is a hate group based on recent behavior she’s experienced personally…  Should we force her to care for these people just because they’re human beings?!

Since I am a woman, is it okay for me to lie about the atrocious behavior of a white man and when a person of color questions me, can I just claim that he’s a bully because I have a v-jay-jay?  Can someone help me publicize an aggressive looking picture of the POC so that I can perpetuate the victim role of a white woman instead of owning the lies I’ve participated in and continue covering up the racist remarks of the real bully?  I mean, just because I’ve been placed in a leadership role over the entire country does NOT mean that a black person can question me about lying to the people of the country I represent.  I am a fragile white woman and shouldn’t be treated like other leaders who behave with complicity.

Right?

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During the past year (or so), I’ve experienced a regular feeling of living in the “upside down world.”  Things that I thought of as ludicrous and only existing in the past have reared their ugly heads in a very public and “normalized” fashion.  I’m beyond thankful for people such as Joy Reid, Kathy Khang, and Cory Booker for courageously calling out the folks who continuously try to take us down bunny trails.   I’m thankful that they unapologetically demand justice, equality and sanity reign.  Listening to them, and others like them, I find myself, saying, “THANK YOU!  Finally, someone is standing up to this lunacy.”

May we all have the courage to stand and speak before the damage is beyond repair.