Turning Tables

I have been gone for five days visiting my family.  And all I can say is wow. 

I have some serious news rolling around in my head on all levels as a result of this world wind trip.  Newsflashes, passes of information at the station of reality, in and out, getting more and more food for thought.  Food for thought.  The brain I was given to me at birth felt and feels like it was and is going to explode.  For real. 

A full range of emotions took over everything and some of my family members had to deal with my emotions.  Those poor dears.  I had feelings of rejection, places of understanding and misunderstanding, full felt moments of sheer love, delight, rage, anger, hate, delusion, mystery and peace, too.  Things are happening.  Things are always happening over there it seems.  There and here in my own heart.

On this trip, one wise woman told me, it is what it is.  You get what you can get, you do what you can do and have what you have, enjoy the good, throw out the bad.  I learned a lot by what she said that day.  And maybe I needed to go just to hear her say those simple words that meant so much to me in that moment. 

It is what it is. 

It's freaky how after this was told to me it was repeated to me by others on this trip on a whim.  Weird.  My family is who they are and I love every one of them, just the way they are.  I realize just how "normal" my family might be.  It's true and there is a lot of good here, together as family.  We take the good with the really, really bad and we deal with it, and get through it all somehow.  Some is just down right sickening, some of it makes me want to get in fetal position and cry all day, but I can't.  I have my own.

My own kids, my own husband, my own life, my own sphere and my own problems, for sure.  For real.  But something is true for me in this moment and hopefully now and forever.  I'll be seeing my family regularly everywhere and everyone, no matter how far they fall or how far they are.  I'll be by to visit sometime again to check in, to say hi and to be with you.  I miss you already. 

This trip was set in motion solely to go to see my brother Matt, who is, well, the family knows.  That's all that matters.  The point was to go, show love, talk, say hi, see how he is and that's all.  I walked into his really nice apartment that was cluttered with all sorts of things...stuff, stuff he doesn't need physically, mentally or emotionally.  He was sorry and embarrassed at the state of his place where he lays his head at night.  We talked, we told a joke or two.  We chopped garlic and onion together for his special sauce he has been making for years.  A sauce he used to serve me as a kid with sausage in it when I visited him in the Army.  The brother who took me skiing and the one who took me to Georgia to go on trip with his family.  The brother who took me to see awesome fireworks in New Hampshire just because I wanted to go.  We cleaned up the kitchen together.  He told me I was set for food, anything I wanted I could have.  We sliced up delicious watermelon.  We served up dinner together.  We ate rolls of provolone together and he showed me some of his tricks in the kitchen.

We ate, we took the kids, his two beautiful blondies out to the playground, them, those little girls who were in oblivion.  The oblivion of love for father, no matter what he had done or what he may be doing now.  It was freezing, and this Floridian complained and we went back in.  From there, it's a blur of sitting around watching TV and not much talk going on.  And now I think I know why it got so silent in that moment.  Just a hypothesis not to be shared.  I goofed off too much and irritated my brother.  I fell on his leg and hurt him.  It all went down hill from there.  I was asked to leave and never to come back.  I attempted to apologize and it just escalated from there, so we left.

I called incessantly and no answer.  I woke up at 6am each morning just to drive to your apartment only to have you not answer the door.  A text came to never have contact with you again.  You made it abundantly clear to me that you are through with me.

I got to say it hurts.  It hurts to know that I took great pains to come and see you and then you slammed the door shut over a misunderstanding, an accident.  And guess what?

It is what it is.  It is what it is.

It's bad, it's really bad.  Death is something I think about often and it is imminent.  For all of us, but for him.  I don't know.  I won't go there.  It is what it is.

I will keep trying to visit and checking in and showing what love I am allowed or what I can.

There is one more who is doing the same thing for you...God, Jesus, his son.  He doesn't force Himself and never will.  Won't threaten you or give you crazy, silly things to believe in.  He wants to give you Himself, give you His love, give you His power to overcome addictions, to overcome a fetal position that you have wrapped yourself in fear for so long, He, Him.  And when no one will forgive you, He will.  He's pretty amazing. 

I am turning the tables and I am going out on a limb and I am saying...you give God a bad name.  Whoever "you" are.  It's me.  You know who you are.  I know who I am.  I have given Him a bad name, been a bad, supposed representation of Him.  I have been.  Don't want to be.

I don't want to give God's love a bad name, deluded with silly beliefs, hung up by my own pet peeves in life that I think are all encompassed in my belief in Him and His Son Jesus Christ and His Holy Spirit.  Many aren't in Him.  My way of doing things is off some and I don't want to give God's love a bad name.  That's all.
I'm turning tables.  Jesus is flipping tables in rage, yes, anger.  I'm turning the tide in my own life.  Jesus gets mad...can you believe it?  I am mad right now and would like to flip my own tables, tables filled with those silly coins weighing the table of truth down, but that's a post for another time entirely.

And I say, let's turn tables.  Turn the tide, change directions.  Delusions are everywhere.  Run from them.  Run fast and hard from silly fables.  Run to the truth.  The truth of the real and loving Jesus.     

I'm Going Home

I leave tomorrow to go back to my roots.  I am going home.  My childhood home was sold, but I am going home.  My father died, but I am going home.  My mom and my sis moved away, but I am going home.  What's left of my family in New England I am going home to.  Me and my sis are going home to who's left.  

I'll see all five of my siblings and I am trying to get them all in one room together.  For some people that's easy, for us it's like water and oil fighting together to make one cohesive unit of fluidity.  Yeah, that was an oxymoron.  Because it is an oxymoron.

The five of us being in the same room together is an oxymoron.  The whole idea of it is an oxymoron.  And I can't help but be totally envious of those people in my life who seem to have a "normal" family.  They come together at Christmas time and hang out or they may even plan a trip together because they are so close.  That kind of stuff does not go on in my family and I hate that it doesn't.  Some of you are so blessed.  Don't ever take all that you have for granted.

I read a blog this morning that talked about shattering or changing the paradigm and I'm here to say... I'm sick of my immediate family being so disjointed and dysfunctional.  I am sick of it.  Sick, sick, sick.  I feel physically sick and spiritually sick to know how we all are in my family and how coming together ain't easy, in fact, it feels down right impossible.  Something intangible forever.  We are all just way too different.  

Me and my siblings, we are all so very different and we all have our own problems to deal with, but I don't care, I hope we can all be in the same room together even if it is just for a moment in time.

I want to shatter this dysfunctional paradigm.  I want to shatter what we were molded into as children...unloving, unforgiving, self-righteous, pious little children...who grew up and still deal with more of our same old ways as grown adults in our own way.

The five of us grew up.  We still all have our own problems, but we all still have hearts that beat inside our chest, too.  We all breathe in and out every day.  Our chests rise and fall every second of every day. 

We all have minds that we think with in so very different ways.  Ways that keep us from coming together as a family. 

But right now...All I know is that one day our chests won't rise and fall with every second of every day forever.  All I know is that I have three brothers and a sister who have kids, beautiful kids who I love dearly.  All I know is that life has passed us by, passed us up and ran us over and we are getting older. 

Our father is gone and who knows what next year will bring or even next week? 

Who knows when a heart will stop beating?  Only God.  And I want to start picking up this paradigm, this paradigm of fragmentation and disagreement, and sometimes hate and just smash it all to pieces until there is nothing left to recognize.  I want to begin afresh, anew, with a brand new paradigm.   

I can't escape Ghandi's words, "Be the change you wish to see in the world."  Those words are on my wall in my house, in fact, they are over my stove where I cook so much and where I know I'll see those words and often.  I don't know what anyone else intends to do in my family to get us close, but I'll tell you I am going to fight for my family.  I am going to fight for us to know each other.  I am going to fight hard to love everyone of these siblings of mine, just the way they are, just the way they think and just the way they live, by the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.  He is going to help me and He is going to do "this" in me.

Love.

I want to love my family.  I want to give to my family.  And I want to be there for my family.  I am going to visit my family.  I wish I lived near my family and I will be sad to leave my family. 

Despite the problems and difficulties we have had to face and are facing in our family, underneath it all, I see beauty.  I see love.  I see hope.  I see Jesus. 

Somewhere underneath this dysfunction that, at times, rages so strongly, I see forgiveness.  I see hope.  I see life.

I see children.  Our children that we all have together who are cousins, who are family.  We are uncles and aunts and cousins and grandchildren and sisters and brothers and family.  I love my family.

And as it stands now, we are at odds in many ways with one another for one reason or the next and I say phooey.  Phooey on the past.  Past be gone and forgotten.  Present be forgiving and loving.  And future, may there be good things waiting for us there. 


And Jesus please guide me as I go.  Many things can happen, but a prayer for peace, life, love and hope in You goes on in a never ending meditation in my mind, soul and heart. 

This same peace I pray fervently for in my family, a peace with God and of God, because I'm going home.  Right now home is where I belong. 

And I am like a kid in a candy shop when it comes to believing in the miracles of God.  I've seen them before and I wait and believe again in what's about to happen. 

Time to go get my brown, penny candy bag to go fill up.  Because I'm like a little child having faith and I can't wait to fill my crumpled bag up to over flowing.     

Come Sinners, Come?

While attending a local Independent Fundamental Baptist Church, my husband and I participated in what the church called the bus ministry.  For those of you are unfamiliar with that concept, some of us would canvas the surrounding area for kids interested in coming to church in the hopes they would put their faith in Jesus and then be taught in the church or at least that was the goal.  

One Saturday we were making our rounds to visit the families that sent their children to our church on the bus.  We were rarely able to get into good or long conversations with the parents of these children.  They pretty much tried to avoid us when we came to visit, but had no problem with us talking to the kids or picking them up for church.  On this particular Saturday my husband and I were able to engage this dad in a good conversation.  His English was a bit broken, but kind and welcoming to us.  His family lived in squalor in this broken down trailer with makeshift rooms built on either side.  It really was a sad sight to see the family living this way. 

The kids would come running out of what seemed like a place trapped somewhere in a third world country.  In fact, the DCF had been contacted and there was an ongoing case for the squalor the children were enduring.  The kids were happy to see us and ready to go to church, but it was only Saturday.  We assured them we would see them tomorrow.  We stepped into the home and their mother sat in a battered, rose-colored recliner, cigarette dangling from her mouth,  face glued to the TV screen and her back hovered intently over her the controls.  She was a shadow of a woman with sunken eyes, the kind of eyes that come from years of drug use.  She grunted when we came in and never looked up.  She had four little kids.  They ran around, beautiful, dirty kids, neglected kids, but they seemed to be loved strongly by the dad.  He was a gentle man it seemed that had a lot on his mind, including his own addictions, I believe. 

We chatted in this place where it seemed it couldn't get any worse than this for these kids, these people.  These parents, these sinners.  After some persuasion, the dad agreed to come with the mother and the kids to church.  And that was so promising to me and my husband at the time.  We, in our ignorance, thought if we could just get them to church then things will get better for their family.  They will come to know Jesus, they will learn, they will see God's love here at our church and things will just get better.  My husband and I left that place, that dreadful place, hopeful.  Hopeful for this family.  Hopeful that there is a loving God and that His people are loving.

It was the next day.  It was Sunday and they were coming to church.  We waited out front for them to come.  They were late and we thought they wouldn't come after all and then just before church began, there they were.  Ragged, worn, but there, standing in front of us.  The kids scampered off out back to where the building for Sunday School was and they looked so happy...mom and dad were with them for the first time, coming to church and it seemed so wonderful.  We greeted them warmly...we were so glad...then we brought them in and the stares began.  Hardly a hello from anyone to these worn, tattooed, ugly, sunken faced sinners.  They didn't go well with the suits, ties and dresses.  It felt like we walked into a prison of male murderers wearing bright, white robes.  There was a forced turn and smile or two.  These desperate people needed more than that.

Then the preaching began and it was pretty okay until the preacher began to rant and rave about how long hair was shameful on a man and how horrible it was.  The dad had long, flowing hair.  The dad shifted in his seat and looked so embarrassed.  I was thinking in my mind, really?  Yeah, even back then I thought to myself, are you kidding me?  Where was love and grace for this dad...this couldn't go any lower in life family?  Come, sinners, come?  Really?

What?  After they get cleaned up to keep from offending eyes that have been so tainted by empty religion...sinners get cleaned up before you ever enter our church.  Get your hair cut, get you best clothes on...clean the outside of the cup...do it, before.  Before what?

The service was over.  The family left before we could even come and say good-bye to them.  I was completely blown away in my mind and even sad.  After that service we couldn't persuade them to come again and shortly after that the kids were taken away from the family.  We visited them again after the kids were gone and they seemed to get worse, especially the mother.  She went to jail for fighting a police officer and seemed to be steeped further into her drug habits.  The father seemed totally broken and trying to get his home fixed so it would be acceptable enough for him to get his kids back.  He loved his kids.  I could see it in his eyes.  All in all, our church left him unaffected.  Unaffected by the grace of God, the love of Jesus, the sweeping fulfillment of the Holy Spirit in an ever-entwining depth of joy in Him.  Because it didn't exist.  Not fully in me and not in the people at my church.  

Those people needed to be saved from some of Jesus' followers at that point.  Who are any of us?  Are we too good for these sinners?

We sing that song, Come Sinners, Come.  Really? 

I say, yes, the real Jesus says come sinner, come.  He is here, love is here, grace and forgiveness is here for you now, knock, take, eat, receive...right where you at, no cleaning up or getting "better" or "doing" better before you come to Him.  No scrubbing your filthy nails first, no clothes shopping, no making yourself new. 

He will make you new in every way and in His own good time and at His pace and in the way that He sees fit.

And I see it now, we didn't have to bring those parents to a church or that church, we needed to pour out the love of Jesus in every way we could upon them in that moment, in that desperate moment of life being so low.  We needed to be the body of Christ and let them come into our home and into our private life and pour out grace, help and love, not subject them to scrutiny of their outward appearances.  And what does that bring anyway?  A false conversion and a false idea that one can clean up enough for God.  Insults, scrutiny, obligatory persuasion, human control, threats, demands, oppression, will not help sinners come to Christ.

Love will.  Love for the saints and love for the sinners and above all, our love for Christ and our emulation of Him in our own life.  If He is lifted up He will draw all men to Himself.

Come, sinners, come?  I say, yes.  Come to the real Jesus.  He is waiting for you with loving and open and forgiving arms just as you are.  Just.  As.  You.  Are. 

Run to Him.   

 

Imperfection Awareness

Me, my husband and kids don't attend a church building presently or faithfully.

We left the church we consistently attended and served in for eight straight years back in November, 2006, four and a half years ago.  Why?  Well, I could give you a hundred reasons why.  And it had nothing to do with the church being simply "imperfect", because, well, there is no perfect church you know.  Or so I have been told a million times by various persons.  I don't feel like writing a list today and I don't think I need to either.  The Holy Spirit is good enough to show each believer what he needs to know and the Spirit will truly guide each true believer in the path He would have them go in.  For real.   

If you are looking for a perfect church, you won't find one.  And I agree wholeheartedly.  If you are looking for a perfect friend, mother or wife you won't find one here.  *finger pointing to chest*

When we left the church we attended for eight straight years we immediately began to search for another church to "join".  First we started with the Baptist churches.  All sorts.  There was an immediate pressure from those churches to join "their" church.  You're like fresh blood to them, or it feels that way.  They weren't all that particular way, but there was more of the same patterns in these places that we had experienced in the past that we felt weren't good. 

We decided to try some Reformed and Presbyterian churches.  One of those churches was actually the first church I had seen close to what I would consider a true New Testament church, full of love and grace and community.  Then we found out that the music minister played in a bar on the weekends.  I look back now and that wouldn't have bothered me as much as some other things would...that wasn't the clincher for us, but rather when we went to a business meeting at the church where they were discussing a 12,000 buck church sign.  It was such a small church, I didn't see why on earth they needed a 12,000 dollar sign and they also wanted to start other ministries that were going to cost a fortune, all money they didn't seem to have.  My husband and I raised questions as to why they needed to find or spend money they didn't have.  Instead of listening to us, they laughed at us and mocked us.  Seriously.  If someone can't even raise a question without being made fun of by those "in charge", then something is more than wrong.  At least, that is what I thought.  We were going to the church for two months or more and did want to be faithful there.  It was hard to go back after that.  Maybe those were really small things, I don't know.  I was still caught up in much of my own religion at the time so my thought process, I believe, was still tainted by self-righteousness, unfortunately.   

We visited another Reformed type church and the service was stark, cold and lifeless, but the exposition of the bible was excellent.  Despite the amazing sermons, the people seemed as if they didn't believe what the preacher was saying.  A very sober and serious setting and maybe that was good.  Something that struck me odd is when the service was over the men and women split up to talk.  I didn't know if talking in mixed groups was bad or what.  I guess that was a small thing, too, I suppose.   We had warnings from others who attended for many, many years.  One of my friends who formerly attended mentioned that she was told that her down syndrome children would go to hell if they were not one of the "chosen".

I'm sorry, folks, I do not believe that even one sweet, down syndrome child is going to hell.  No, not one.

Then we began meeting many people in the Charismatic community and found some of the most loving and kind Christians we have ever met among them.  Some are still my closest friends in the world today.  We also started going to meetings in homes and having meetings in our home.  Those were such wonderful times, but in those settings you really got to know people on multiple levels.  There were many troubling conflicts.  Nothing that couldn't have been worked out, but when others refuse to work things out or they shut you out, there is not much you can do besides pray and make every attempt you can to restore the relationship.  So, all in all, in the business of home church we were burned, but that is okay.  Our home is a place of fellowship for any and all persons, Christians or not, still to this day despite the difficulties we have faced.  And what is the body of Christ?...we should be the most loving and forgiving persons in the world.  I wish we were.  I wish I was more.   

We began to attend a somewhat Charismatic church on and off for the past year and a half.  The music rang out loudly and almost hurt your ears and some would speak in tongues, some would dance for joy.  That part was okay to a point, but there was something quite different in my book about them.  When you showed up...they would coming running to talk to you, not out of an awkward obligation, but because they saw you.  You were a person to them and they were people to me.  They really care and are so diverse and holding up well in the red light district of town.  One of my first times visiting I had a casual talk with the Pastor.  I asked him what were his plans for lunch or something and he mentioned he was headed over to a house next door to the church to attend a birthday party of a boy that lived there.  He knew these people in the church neighborhood and well it seemed.  That impressed me.  The people there impress me.  Brian and I differ about the church.  He likes the church but doesn't like the Charismatic flavor.  I don't mind it as much...I saw something real there at that church and I still see it in my friends who I see regularly outside this building.

From piecing all the conversations I have had with the people at this particular church over time, I see what is so real and different there.  And it is the fact that they know who they were and they know who they are now.  They actually know they are imperfect.  It's one thing to understand that all churches are imperfect and it's quite another when a church actually admits that themselves and actually realizes and actually knows they are just that...imperfect.  Admittance of that fact, to me, makes all the difference.

Religious and self-righteous arrogance can kill any church and it can kill you.  I have seen it happen again and again.  I have seen my sick need for control in my own religious, self-righteous state rear its ugly head plenty of times.  People, all sorts of people. who have any sense will run away from you.  They ran away from me and I don't blame them.  

Today I am at a place of fully knowing and comprehending my need for the real Jesus to flood my soul with mercy, love, grace and forgiveness.

I am a true, free believer in Jesus Christ.  I am the church.


And most importantly, I am totally imperfect and I know it.

On the Way to Church

I grew up having to witness and experience the rage of another person and often.

Rage in the morning, rage in the evening, rage at supper time...we had rage almost anytime.  I felt like I was living in the twilight zone as a child.  I was made to behave, but the one who should have displayed the utmost decorum in front of me as a little girl had little propriety for us, for me, in front of me as an example of what not to do. 

Somehow this event of rage happened much "on the way to church".  A laugh from a kid out of turn, a squabble over which tape to play in the car tape player, a pair of glasses and that of the preacher's left accidentally at home...any one of these things could turn an automobile into a escort from hell on a ride to rage.

Screaming, a temper tantrum the size of Mount Rushmore and then threats and sometimes the threats were carried out later.  All over what?  And all "on the way to church".  And then when "the preacher" got out of the car to meet the people of "his" church, "all" turned to smiles, greetings and an amorous flash of personality.

Yes, it was the twilight zone.  Definitely.  *cue the music*  I liked being "at" the church where the other people were.  "My preacher" turned into a used car salesmen.  I actually liked him okay "at church".  At least he smiled, well except for when he was giving his sermon.   


Needless to say, I hated the ride to church.  Can I say that again?  I hated, loathed, despised the ride to church.  And the ride to church was three times a week.  You couldn't go hide anywhere.  You couldn't run away.  You were made to witness and experience...this, this rage. 

I cannot even express to you what those moments in the car "on the way to church" did to my psyche.  And "my preacher" was the one forcing me to witness and experience this process over and over again...week after week, year after year.

One day when I was in middle school my mother took all she could of the abuse and the ride "on the way to church" with "her preacher".  She decided that we were going to leave "his" church.  And the day she decided she was done, "her preacher" looked into my eyes and exclaimed, "Do you want to go with her or do you want come with me to church?!"  I ran to my mom and didn't answer.  I was scared to give an honest, but wrong answer because I knew what honest, wrong answers brought...rage all over again. 

My two older brothers were living on their own by that time, so me and my younger brother and older sister were taken to another church by my mom, forever more.

I remember vividly that calm first ride with mom, my brother and my sister to this new church for the first time.  It was like a taste of freedom.  We drove, we spoke, we parked on the gravel and it was if a whole weight had lifted off of us for the time being.  The pastor was so kind to us.  He was the kindest and best of men.  Soft spoken and knowing what was happening to all of us...he opened his arms to us.  The church was very small, but the people were kind and diverse.  They knew nothing of our situation and didn't need to know to show their love.  

I was in an Independent Baptist school when this was happening.  I remember word getting out in school that my mom and us kids had left my dad's church.  The knowledge was met with a self-righteous air of displeasure and questions on the part of these PK's.  The kind of "air" that I became so well-acquainted with over the years in others and in myself, much to my chagrin.  

I am not sure what would have happened to me if my mom didn't decide to have us leave "our preacher's" church.  I only know what almost happened to me. 

What almost happened to me and also what did happen to me. 

Both stemming from my road taking me to churches, many churches.  But the transformation started with mom and her decision and it ends up with me and my enlightenment. 

A road of destruction that passes over the bridge of abuse and back on to another road and this road is called the road of the religious and self-righteous.  That is the road I began to take.

And then we came home from our first trip to the new church and the new preacher.

And then we came home. 





 

Earning Your Rights

I am a mother to five precious, harry-carry, wonderful, crazy, exhausting, life-enhancing, worth-the-work, best thing I ever did in my life, messy, difficult kids and maybe a mother to more and only God knows when or how many.

*dramatic pause of the century*

The internet connection just went dead.  The phone just hung up by itself.  The car ran out of gas.  I just lost my voice.  You have the right to remain silent, because anything you say, can and will be used against you in a court of law.  We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union in order to hold you to it, rather, will take every word you say seriously or twist it or well, I don't care, but...I realize this.  My words.  They are life or death, help or hindrance.     

Pause.  And think about what I am going to say as if you life depended on it.   Well, not really, but...

"Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.  Honor thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;)  That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth."  Eph. 6:1-3

These verses were quoted and preached to me over the years as a child, teenager and college student to the absolute point of exhaustion and nausea.  It was a buzz verse, to be sure, that I was made to memorize and ever have in my mind to meditate upon forever.  Not a bad thing per se, but the emphasis upon this verse, was, I believe, well-intentioned at best.  This following verse was often completely excluded in most of the sermons and talk about this much focused upon passage in scripture:

4"And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord."

I find it interesting that the passage mentions fathers and not mothers here, but I do not think it will inhibit what I have to say in this post.

I have seen in my life, in my own home growing up, in my circles I have taken part in my whole life and the madness almost continue even in my house that I am building over here with my kids.  I have touted my rights to my kids. 

I am your mother and you better listen to me right now.  If you don't listen to me, then you will be punished in some fashion or another.  I am your father and you better do what I say because I am your father.  You better obey me or else.  Or else what?  Brute force, that's what.

Just hold on and let me clarify.  Let's ask ourselves as parents a few questions.

Why is my kid not listening to me?

Stop, pause, reflect and think.  Don't give yourself a pat answer in your head.  Stop and think.  I mean really think, because you are free to do just that.  I am also pausing to think as I write.  We expect our kids to obey us because of the above mentioned verse, but may I instigate the fact that if we are given something or in this case, someone, our precious children, from God we are responsible for "it" or for them rather.  Or should I say, we are responsible to them, our kids and to God.  We are accountable to God for our stewardship with our children.  Okay, that is better put. 

If I go to my neighbors house and say, uh, can I borrow your lawnmower?  He says yes and then you push it on over to your yard to begin mowing down your yard which has now reached new heights.  There are snakes, rocks, stick and so much grass that in the process of procuring your lawn with someone's mower you managed to actually break the mower.  You rolled it back over to the owner's home and offered every excuse and explanation for why you broke the mower.  The neighbor proceeds to express his hot displeasure, explains how he won't be letting you borrow anything again and then, quite reasonably so, dismisses you from his yard.  It's the way it goes sometimes...all over a mower and good intentions to be sure on the part of both the borrower and the lender.

All that kerfuffle over a mower, a temporary piece of metal.

If the borrower ever wants to gain favor with the neighbor again he will have to restore that which was lost and also build a trust up between them both again somehow, if that is even possible.  Some people never allow a bridge of trust to be built again once it is torn down.

In other words...

If you want your kids to listen to you and I mean really listen to you, not just do what you tell them to do on the outer layer of themselves, but listen and really hear you and see you and respect, love and appreciate you down in their inmost part of their being...you have to earn that.  Earn. 

I know a lot of kids who "listen" to their parents.  I used to be one of those kids who "listened" to her parents outwardly, but inwardly I was liar and I do believe I was provoked to no end to be as such...a liar.  Lying meant I wouldn't get hurt and that I would be accepted outwardly to some tiny degree of where I really was in my heart of hearts.  I was "listening" to my parents to some degree outwardly but doing exactly what I wanted to do on the inside of my heart and secretly in my physical life when it was just me and those who really accepted me for what I really was, sin and all. 

I was literally forced into that small, cramped, suffocating space between a rock and a hard place.  The rock being the real Jesus(a loving Shepard leading me to safe pasture) and the hard place, a place where I was forced to obey this false God purported to me and my parents.

How can we earn a child's respect, love, trust, hearing, listening and compliance?

By having grace with them no matter what.

By listening to them fully yourself no matter what.

By protecting them no matter what.

By speaking the truth to them in love no matter what.

By accepting them where they are instead of placing them falsely where you want them to be or where you think God wants them to be right now...no matter what.

By understanding them no matter what.

By having mercy with them no matter what.

By not provoking them to wrath or anger no matter what.

By stopping brute force or harsh punishments that don't fit the crime no matter what.

By seeing who they are, just children, no matter what.

And that is just the start.  My own parenting has been flipped on its head as of late and I see myself as I really am and it seems to me to be for the very first, life-giving time.  It seems impossible to carry a more biblical design of parenting and without God, I must say it is impossible.  But with Him, the real Jesus, all things are possible.

It is possible to earn your rights a parent.

Acknowledgment of what isn't and what truly is, what should be and what should not be in parenting, is the first step.

I am taking that step.  That first step.  

  




 


 

I've Got the Power

Submission was a big word thrown around in my house a lot.  As a kid growing up, I never really understood the word completely or the act the word implied and is still implied today by various sorts of people in the Christian world. 

I would hear my dad say all the time to my mom, "If you would just submit, then _____ would happen."  I don't know.  You fill in the blank.  It could be anything really.  Everything that went wrong was someone's fault and it had to be revealed as such or something that was just okay would suddenly improve if "this" would happen.  Using this blanket, incorrect, brainwashing statement to my mother was just another way to shift all sorts of blame around like bent up cards on a gaming table.

If my mom would just submit to my dad...life would be grand according to him.  So, what then, is submission?  I really still don't understand the ideology of it and I am just being honest.  My husband would do anything for me...I do believe he would die for me if it boiled down to it and I for him.  My husband gives up his own comfort so that I can have comfort and he serves me and helps me.  We put our heads together on all matters and we come to many agreements and even agree to disagree on many subjects.  It did take twelve years to get here, but we are here and becoming more like the best of friends every day.  Friends.

When I think of the word submission I don't think friendship...not with what I have seen in my life all along this journey to find a loving Shepard in safe pasture who leads me beside still waters and restores my soul. 

In my house submission meant...

Just do everything I tell you to do and everything I think you should do and no one will get hurt, either physically, emotionally, mentally or spiritually.

Well, supposedly.  It was a false premise that never actually came to fruition no matter how many times it was audibly declared.  And let's talk about my mother a little first...

Mom was a hard worker.  She worked a full time job, had five kids who she carted everywhere, she was a spend thrift to the core and actually enjoyed hunting bargains and making each penny count, and she waited on my dad hand and foot.  We all did.  She tried her best to deal with the hand she was dealt.  Like being handed 80 a week for groceries for seven people and never complaining and making the most of every dollar.  I am still utterly amazed by the things my mom could do with the little she was handed.  She worked a full time job and was hardly ever allowed to dip into the money she made.  

Serving and listening to others because you want to is not what I have a problem with.  Some women get very irritated when they see me serving or listening to my husband(because I want to!)...they don't see how much he serves and listens to me(because he wants to!).  Serving and listening to other people because you want to is a great thing, but feeling like you have to serve or listen to someone because they've got the power and demand you to serve them and listen to them, then, well, that is a horse of a different color now isn't it?  And then add the false fact of doing everything you are told and no one will ever get hurt, right?  That false premise gets added in there and then you have a real crock pot for abuse and disaster.

Then you repeatedly tell a woman who does everything for you, "Just submit, just submit and ____"  all the time and you have an abuser abusing the abused over and over again. 

My mom was far from perfect, but she did everything for my dad and yet the cry for submission and the touting of control was still ever present daily.  I don't get it.  So when I hear that word being used by a man upon a woman I cringe.  I shift in my seat and I almost have a fear begin to settle over me as if I am about to be abused and brainwashed myself with the very word itself.  Every time I hear it by anyone, really, I want to run and hide.  Because really... 

If I want to serve or listen to somebody and I feel strongly that I should serve or to listen to somebody...I will.  If I should listen to somebody or "obey" them, then I will.  Like the cop or the judge or the tax collector or...my husband.  Those who have an "I got the power" sign hanging off their tongue need to go back and examine...where in the holy scriptures did God tell you to go around toting your so-called power or position or leadership or authority.  He never did and He never wielded His own power in an effort to control or force Himself upon another.  Ever.  The Son of God NEVER did, but we try to.  Oh, my.

"Even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
~Matthew 20:28

Even Jesus, the Son of God wrapped in flesh came to SERVE.  He didn't have people handing Him fancy cars and diamond rings.  He had no place to lay his own head at night when he slept!  But those who followed Him and loved Him were those coming on their own time...their "have-to" time sheets were clocked out because they LOVED Jesus and His message.  They followed him...a few to His very grave and they weren't getting paid.

Think about that the next time you start singing, "I've Got The Power!" 

Because you are free to think! 



      









 

 

Dissent, Disagreement and Heresy

Dissent

_________________


Disagreement


_________________


Heresy

Buses, Grandma and Transformation



Who says I can't rewrite my own history?  Who says I can't rethink the way I used to be in order to break through to the other side?  The other side of throwing people under the proverbial bus is a fresh new path in life for me.  Just me, I don't know about you.  Who would think that a bus all wrapped in its lovely yellow, sun shiny splendor would be used to help describe the discarding of a life?  What's worse is that my hands are conveying my heart and creating severe damage with reckless abandonment for the lives of countless individuals.  

Break on through, break on through, break on through to the other side.  And what is on the other side?  Life and peace and love and forgiveness and hope.  The kind of stuff that the real Jesus provides us with.

I almost repeated history the other day even in the midst of trying to break through and break free from throwing people under a few ton.  And it happened again.  I stopped right in the middle of my mental process of saying to myself, "I am done with that person."  And it hit me like lightening.  I am not going to do "it".  I am not going to wait for that bus to drive on by so that I can have my hands carry out the thoughts of my heart.  I've done that for too many years.

Why?  Why am I done with so many people for whatever reason?  Oh, and they, so many of them are done with me and in some instances I don't blame them.  There's a faithful few that have stuck around with me through the years no matter how stupid I became or no matter how I messed up and for that I am truly grateful.  And what are these people made of, the ones who care for you and show it until you die, no matter what? 

The madness I can see plainly for myself needs to stop.

Throwing people under the bus is bad.  So let's define my perception of what I am saying a little clearer.  We are all just people.  See the cute little plastic people in the picture?  They look so nice.

Let's pick apart one person who I know has never thrown anyone under the bus...

She was bent over and barely standing upright anymore when she was here in her final days.  She was a fragment of her youth standing there before me, but the fullness of a gray- haired beauty was present.  Let's talk about her.   

She went to church faithfully, she read her bible and prayed, but truly she was filled with the Holy Spirit and her life in Christ was never kept in a box or made exclusive to one certain compartment of her life, but there was fluidity in her Christianity.  She was a true follower of Jesus and it pervaded every area of her life...it touched every part of her life and every person.

My grandmother loved me and I knew it.  She loved me when I was wrong and she loved me when I was right.  I knew she prayed for me everyday...even though she never said, "I'm praying for you."  I NEVER, and you heard me right, hear her say an unkind thing about anyone and she never discarded people no matter what they did.

I remember visiting her in the Summertime and when I was there as a child life was grand for a moment.  She baked and talked and laughed and something that struck out to me was when some of my extended family would join us for lunch.  Some of them had an addiction to tobacco.  When they came she always made sure that the ash tray was clean and put out for them to use when they needed it.  She knew that they had a problem, but I never heard her preach to them about their addiction.  She accepted them as they were, addiction and all.  These family members were never afraid to step foot in her house for fear of a tongue lashing.  She knew they had a problem and still she laid the clean ash tray out on the kitchen table when they arrived and never put restraints on them.  To me, she was saying I'll sacrifice my clean air for the time being to sit with you and have you in my company because I love you and I know you have a problem for which I offer my compassion and my silent prayers to God, but my love is steadfast for you.

Another example... 

Grandma Reh was married to a drunk.  I don't mean to slander my grandpa, but that is what he was, a drunk.  He was mostly a kind man to my knowledge, a kind man who had an addiction.  They had twelve kids together.  I am still amazed by the number of kids she had.  My grandma had every right to leave my grandpa, I am sure of it.  They were very poor according to today's standards and there are reasons for that and one big reason was that my grandpa was a nice man who had an addiction.  She loved him anyway and she stayed faithful to him anyway.  Why?  I don't know.  Jesus being in her, I believe, made her that way.  Most women would have gotten tired of him and left.  No, she loved him and no doubt prayed for him.  She never threw him under the bus even though she easily could have.

What makes a woman have such fortitude in such a difficult situation?  What makes a woman so steadfast in her love despite the odds?  What makes a woman never utter despicable words about another?  What makes a woman look at you and say, "I love you and you are such a good granddaughter." when you feel so all alone and left to bear the weight of the world upon your shoulders in silence as a child?  What makes a woman send cards to you and everyone else in the family...all...year...round, every year?   

She cared.  She really cared about...everyone and I can't say that enough.  She is an inspiration for when I feel the need to do the deed, to chuck a heart, soul and mind up under those wheels for whatever reason.

I realize now that everyone has a story and there are reasons why people are where they are in life today.  Jesus knew that, too, and the people around Jesus in the New Testament knew that, too.  They came to Him, many of them, of their own volition.  They came to him with questions, with needs and with desires, because they knew they could.  He was inviting.  Grandma was inviting.  Her love was inviting.     

His life fleshed out in hers until the day she died.  That is what the real Jesus does to you.  Something that religion can't.  It remakes you from the front porch to the back door and it pervades every aspect of your whole life.  It's not a go to church thing.  It's not a denominational thing.  It's not a standards or keep your set of rules thing.  It's not a prideful, bible-toting thing.  It's not a Christianese or buzz verse or buzz word thing.  It's not a place you visit from time to time or even once a week.  It's not something exclusive to a single thought process.  What she had influenced every.  square.  inch.  of her life.  It was not something she tacked on to herself.  It's was a Jesus thing.  He transforms you, recreates you, mars you in His hand, to remake a new vessel and it defies logic and even reason.  A vessel that could never throw another person under the bus...ever...again.

Ever.  Again.    





   

Bubble Gum, Coffee Grounds and Religion

Here I go.  *deep, cleansing breath*

Jesus is not some magic pill you take and then forever more you never feel pain, you never feel sadness, you never ask questions, you never have struggles and you never talk about the past...it's just not that simple...

especially when you have been wounded by Jesus' so-called followers again and again and again.  That kind of screws things up in a big way for how you really perceive God or anything, really. 

Bubble gum was one of my favorite things as a child and like any child, in my mind, worth a fight over.  I snatched a piece from my sis and then it happened.  My mother tried to stop him, she tried to stop him my whole life.

I was snatched up by the arm and I dangled in terrified revolt from the living room to the bedroom and a trail of urine was left behind me, every drop filled with fear.

Then for snatching a piece of gum he proceeded to endlessly beat me so much so that He was red-faced and out of breath.  Then the isolation came.  Anger, rage and the beating, then the isolation.  I was made to sit on my bed when it was done and left alone...no words of comfort and no prayers, no love, no one was allowed to speak to me until I was sanctioned to leave.  And I don't know what was worse.  The fear, the beating or the utter isolation afterwards, the ignoring of me, my pain and the deep ocean of silence and the lonely, abandoned feeling I felt.  

And I always wondered again in my mind what was worse....the yelling, the beatings, the screaming, the rage, the name calling, the sheer hatred or the isolation.  And again I wondered.  I wondered.  I wandered and shuffled it off my shoulders in vast repetition, seizing me, remembering, but forgetting, bombs in the brain and running off to play and smiling once again.  As a child I wanted to forgive him.  I wanted to come to a place of resolution, even after the things he did to me, but there was no peace and no resolution and absolutely no restoration of any kind, except for a very rare, sick hug that came as a quick response and with no explanation after a hateful beating.

I was running.  Children run, they love to run, they are full of life.  They are full of hope and wonder and freedom.  Children are young and they make young mistakes.  It's normal.  It's the way it is and always will be.  I was running in the house.  I ran through the doorway to the kitchen and I bumped right into a small table by the window where my mom had her glass jar of instant coffee grounds.  It fell and the fear came.  I was scared half to death.  Smash.  I had done it.  The worst thing in the world.  I had broken something and had made a mess.  It was so loud and the pieces of glass were everywhere.

I was trying to pick it up, clean it up as fast as I could, but I knew he was coming.  He was coming.  "What was that?!"  I was hurrying, I was going faster because I was afraid.  I was terrified because these things, these child like things are what sent him over the moon.  Not lying, not hitting, not cheating, but silly kid mistakes.  He grabbed me by the arm and dragged me to the dining room this time.  I was counting in my head and I stopped at seventeen.  He hit me eleven times with his belt and mid stream his belt buckle flew off, but that did not deter the anger, the rage, the abuse for one second and six more wails came.  I beat myself up, I should have known better and did I ever try to not do it again.  And again I was left alone in isolation and in my pain and in my tears in the aftermath.

Why?  Why was he doing this to me over bubble gum and a broken, glass jar of coffee grounds?  Why?  Because he himself had been through hell and back as a child?  Wait, I thought Jesus sets us completely free from our past the moment we come to know Him?  I could write a whole book about how things really were in my home as a child.  I shared some mild things with you compared to some other examples.  And all I want to know is why?


He had the scriptures memorized and I mean much of it.  He read his bible every day.  He claimed to pray.  He went to bible college.  He was a pastor.  His church was typed up in a church directory listed with so many other Independent Fundamental Baptist churches in the area.  He went door to door and told countless people how to know Jesus.  Why was he persistently abusing me, my brothers and sister and my mother?

Why?  I say why God?  I say why?  I was a child and I should have been protected from all of this by someone.  Where was my protection from your follower?  I really want to know.

Silence is deadly people.  Children die every day in this country from the mere silence of those who are in the know or have an inkling that something is wrong...that something is just not right.  Children die, people die and much more by silence than we can imagine.  Not only do they die physically...that is just one part.

Children are made to die inside, while people watch and while people hold their silence.  Abusers love for the abused to shut up, take the beating and move on to pick up the pieces alone and in fear and desperate for love...from someone.

Controlling abusers love the power, they fight for the power and they keep the power until God through the hands of good people comes down and dethrones them once and for all.

And there I was broken, washed up, the light had gone out of my soul, and I was waiting for a miracle.

And that's just the beginning to my long journey that has brought me here to this clean, white page of a flat screen in front of me.

It's pure white and it's freeing me with every.  single.  word.  Because I am free to think, free to process and ask questions and I am free to feel pain, the pain that was never fully permitted for me to feel when I was a child.  

The frightened, little girl is coming out one painful step at a time.   



 

Stop This Train

The Facebook Revolution

Love is here, love is now...

The truth is here, the truth is now...

The real Jesus is here and always was...

Their is a revolt happening and it's happening now...

The freedom to think for self for the first time is happening all over the globe...

All because Jesus used a donkey to speak.

The revolution of love and forgiveness and cleansing in freedom is happening even as I speak...

God is using facebook as a place and source for revolution and rethinking and freeing.  Of all things, facebook.  Jesus is coming down and His Spirit is ascending through facebook and on the phone and in a plane, on a train, in a house with a mouse, on the moon with a spoon, up the in air, sitting on a chair.

People left and right are rejoicing in the real God of freedom, forgiveness and salvation.

People are wondering all over the place...could it be that God loves me?...that He wants to forgive me and is forgiving me daily?  People all over the planet are crying out and asking WHY?  How could He love me so much?  I can't make it, I can't buy it, I can't sell it, I can't put it in a best selling book, I can't afford it...but it's mine for the taking and for the asking and for the receiving it!

People, let's love one another by speaking the truth in LOVE...love comes first.  First comes love, then comes truth!  I GOT IT!  John 17...read it and be INSPIRED to love your brother, your sister and then speak the truth.  And reason and think, because you are free to use your God-given brain.  WOW, I can't contain this.

I'm over the moon.  Shoot for the moon and you're bound to land among the stars.  I heard that once somewhere.  Let's hammer away in love.  Let's tell the truth in love.  Let's think and reason in love and with love.  Let's follow the Spirit of God in love...how can it be any other way?  Let expose, let's talk, let's hammer and forgive, let's help and think, let's talk and care, let's disagree and agree...and let it all be done in love.  Read John 17....how does the world know that we are His disciples is that we LOVE ONE ANOTHER!  Wow.

Double wow, okay I need to go lie down now.   

Just a Question

Would

I

follow


jesus

if


there 

was


no

heaven

?

The Healing Begins

For Whom the Bell Tolls

St. John's Church, Richmond, Virginia
March 23, 1775.

Patrick Henry

MR. PRESIDENT: No man thinks more highly than I do of the patriotism, as well as abilities, of the very worthy gentlemen who have just addressed the House. But different men often see the same subject in different lights; and, therefore, I hope it will not be thought disrespectful to those gentlemen if, entertaining as I do, opinions of a character very opposite to theirs, I shall speak forth my sentiments freely, and without reserve. This is no time for ceremony. The question before the House is one of awful moment to this country. For my own part, I consider it as nothing less than a question of freedom or slavery; and in proportion to the magnitude of the subject ought to be the freedom of the debate. It is only in this way that we can hope to arrive at truth, and fulfil the great responsibility which we hold to God and our country. Should I keep back my opinions at such a time, through fear of giving offence, I should consider myself as guilty of treason towards my country, and of an act of disloyalty toward the majesty of heaven, which I revere above all earthly kings.

Mr. President, it is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that siren till she transforms us into beasts. Is this the part of wise men, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty? Are we disposed to be of the number of those who, having eyes, see not, and, having ears, hear not, the things which so nearly concern their temporal salvation? For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst, and to provide for it.

I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided; and that is the lamp of experience. I know of no way of judging of the future but by the past. And judging by the past, I wish to know what there has been in the conduct of the British ministry for the last ten years, to justify those hopes with which gentlemen have been pleased to solace themselves, and the House? Is it that insidious smile with which our petition has been lately received? Trust it not, sir; it will prove a snare to your feet. Suffer not yourselves to be betrayed with a kiss. Ask yourselves how this gracious reception of our petition comports with these war-like preparations which cover our waters and darken our land. Are fleets and armies necessary to a work of love and reconciliation? Have we shown ourselves so unwilling to be reconciled, that force must be called in to win back our love? Let us not deceive ourselves, sir. These are the implements of war and subjugation; the last arguments to which kings resort. I ask, gentlemen, sir, what means this martial array, if its purpose be not to force us to submission? Can gentlemen assign any other possible motive for it? Has Great Britain any enemy, in this quarter of the world, to call for all this accumulation of navies and armies? No, sir, she has none. They are meant for us; they can be meant for no other. They are sent over to bind and rivet upon us those chains which the British ministry have been so long forging. And what have we to oppose to them? Shall we try argument? Sir, we have been trying that for the last ten years. Have we anything new to offer upon the subject? Nothing. We have held the subject up in every light of which it is capable; but it has been all in vain. Shall we resort to entreaty and humble supplication? What terms shall we find which have not been already exhausted? Let us not, I beseech you, sir, deceive ourselves. Sir, we have done everything that could be done, to avert the storm which is now coming on. We have petitioned; we have remonstrated; we have supplicated; we have prostrated ourselves before the throne, and have implored its interposition to arrest the tyrannical hands of the ministry and Parliament. Our petitions have been slighted; our remonstrances have produced additional violence and insult; our supplications have been disregarded; and we have been spurned, with contempt, from the foot of the throne. In vain, after these things, may we indulge the fond hope of peace and reconciliation. There is no longer any room for hope. If we wish to be free² if we mean to preserve inviolate those inestimable privileges for which we have been so long contending²if we mean not basely to abandon the noble struggle in which we have been so long engaged, and which we have pledged ourselves never to abandon until the glorious object of our contest shall be obtained, we must fight! I repeat it, sir, we must fight! An appeal to arms and to the God of Hosts is all that is left us!

They tell us, sir, that we are weak; unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be the next week, or the next year? Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and when a British guard shall be stationed in every house? Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance, by lying supinely on our backs, and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot? Sir, we are not weak if we make a proper use of those means which the God of nature hath placed in our power. Three millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations; and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us. The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave. Besides, sir, we have no election. If we were base enough to desire it, it is now too late to retire from the contest. There is no retreat but in submission and slavery! Our chains are forged! Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston! The war is inevitable²and let it come! I repeat it, sir, let it come.

It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace²but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!

Now it's me talking...
Read and think.  Think and read.  Because you are free to think.  Where does freedom come from?  God.  Who preserves freedom?  I do.  It's my new job.