Nobody's Perfect



"They say that nobody is perfect.  Then they tell you practice makes perfect.  I wish they'd make up their minds."
~Winston Churchhill

 


Perfection.  Is there such a thing?  Women long for a "perfect" body with a "perfect" face to match.  We tuck, we pull, we diet, we pluck and cover up who we are to be something that, to us, is better or good enough to ourselves or others.   Some people want their homes to resemble something that of a museum rather than a place where people live, a smell of perfection in every corner.  The question I have is if I try really hard, will I be perfect?  I'd like to say, yes, if I try really hard and "never give up" I'll be perfect, that I'll be a perfect mother and still have a perfect body after having five kids, be a perfect wife and yeah, if I try super hard, I'll be a perfect Christian.

Perfection...a state of not possessing a single, solitary flaw in any area of life.  And a place of resolute belief...perfection for some is a place of complete assurance about what one believes here on this earth.  For some perfection is grace and for some it is a cup of Yoplait yogurt.  Go figure.  But really nothing and no one is truly perfect.  Even Yoplait might have a bug in their yogurt cups from time to time.  The secondary cause for all deaths in America is due to medical errors, and yes, not even the most dedicated and committed nurses and doctors are, you guessed it, perfect.  

Getting back to that state of having a perfectly resolute belief system.  I wonder, is there such a thing?  Can we really figure out all that we need to know and understand in this life if we try really hard, if we read the bible enough or pray long hours?  I know so many different kinds of Christians and each one is convinced that they are right and that their belief system is "spot on" or perfect, rather.  Will Christians ever come to a place where they are all in perfect agreement about what truly matters in this life?  It seems like there is a unity to be had on earth among us if there is supposedly going to be unity forever in eternity.  It seems silly that we have to wait until then to be in agreement on the things that seem clear.  Love one another, feed the poor, help the fatherless and the widows in their affliction, love our neighbors.

Jesus died so we could be redeemed, but He also died to give us power to walk in perfect love towards one another.  Perfect love? 

I don't think He died and came back to life to empower His people for useless arguments over unclear issues.  I don't think He suffered so much for the empowerment of His disciples to struggle or strive in vain for things they will never fully understand here upon the earth. 

He died and came back to life because nobody's perfect.  We all have flawed ideas about life and about God.  Well, we try to come up with our good reasons for thinking or believing the way we do about what seems to be perfect ideology, but in vain we try.  I've tried.  I don't know anymore about much.

I know God is real.  His son, Jesus, is real to me and I believe He died to save mankind from sin.  I know that love should be the fruit of real Christianity, not control.  And again, I say I don't know about much else anymore.

I feel as if so many would like to inject "their" perfect thinking into my brain and yet, it is their feeble attempt to get me on their page instead of God's.  I want to be on His page alone.  I am imperfect, but He will guide me into all truth or so He has promised.  Jesus did not die in vain for me.  He did not vicariously hang in agony so that I could be left tramping around in the dark, alone, frightened and unable to find truth.

He did not beg His father in heaven to let his bitter cup of agony pass from Him just to observe a disbanded and disjointed people squabble over gnats of insignificance while swallowing the camels of deception.  And sadly, I have been guilty, but, yes, this imperfect woman is perfectly forgiven also. 

He did die, but He came back to life.  Breath flowed in Him again and not for vanity's sake, not for the ways and beliefs we have placed our stamp of perfection upon, our seals of approval over products of abundant pride.    

I admit I am hopelessly flawed, but not without help.  Yes, indeed, I am not perfect, but I am forgiven.  The life that I now live even in my imperfection can be one of seeing the truth, the truth of what I am and what I've done and will do and how I will live today and in the future.  And I am setting myself apart in my beliefs and observing what is clear.  

Yes, nobody's perfect and that is why Jesus died and who He now lives for.       

My Dad: the Abused Becomes the Abuser

I really didn't want to go on any tirades about my dad here on my blog.  He's gone and I didn't want it to seem like I was bitter or bashing him.  I will tell you, lest you think any different, we did make total peace with each other before his death and I feel pretty much at ease in my mind about him now.  In any case, I do want to detail a certain pattern in the life of my father that I think is very needful to expose.  A pattern that I believe has been definitely repeated over and over again in other places concerning myself and other people in the Christian circles of my life.  A pattern that needs to be stopped. 

My dad had a really trying childhood.  He was not raised in a Christian or what someone would consider a normal, loving home in the slightest.  His father was abusive to him, his brothers and his mother.  My dad would talk of tales of my grandfather chasing my poor grandmother around their dining room table with a beer bottle in hand ready to strike her while the kids hid in fear under that table.  He also told of my grandfather gambling himself silly to pay for my grandmother's cancer bills.  She was dying and did die when my father was nine.  My dad had nothing but good to say about my grandmother.  She was wonderful in his eyes.  I remember one night he began to tear up when he and I were alone talking.  He recalled her hands, how beautiful and loving they were to him.  That was one of the only times I had ever seen my father cry in my whole life. 

After my grandmother's death, dad continued to live with his father's gambling and drinking and abuse.  Grandfather did provide for them, but he was negligent after his wife died, so my dad got into a lot of trouble.  He found himself on the wrong side of the law and a sympathetic Christian couple began reaching out to my father.  They had eventually asked the courts and my grandfather if they could take him in and take care of him and watch out for him.  The court allowed my dad to live with this Christian couple.  I think he was fifteen or sixteen when they took him in.  My dad entered their home, into a relationship with Jesus and was now on a track leading him through Christendom.  He was off to Baptist Bible College in Springfield, Missouri to study theology and become a pastor of a church someday.

While attending college my dad heard word that his father went missing and then was found murdered a couple of years later, his remains lying in a farmer's field, miles from where he lived.  My dad had to go down and identify his clothing.  They dug up his dental records, they were my grandfather's.  The theory of how my grandfather was killed stems from his ostentatious gambling habits.  Someone wanted a ride home from a gambling party and he killed my grandfather and took his money or that's what they believe.

From that point on the only family my dad had was one half brother who was in an insane asylum and one half brother who moved away and didn't hear from much since.  His new family was within the realms of Christianity and the Independent Fundamental Baptist community.  He graduated from BBC and became a pastor of a couple of churches in Wisconsin.  He got married and had five children.  We moved to Connecticut where he took over another church and we lived there most of our lives. 

So my dad went from such a family and straight into this new religious community who also became his family.  I am not sure about all that happened in the transition period between those two places in his life.  I know he says he became a Christian.  Jesus, to him, was believed to be enough for him.  His new religious family was also, I can imagine he believed, would be enough to see him through life.  His wife, his kids and his ministry.  He had everything he needed to get on in life happily, right?

I would love to say, yes, we all lived happily ever after, but I am sad to say that our lives together with my father and in the religious community we were forced to be in were anything but happy.  I really could write a book about all that happened, but I'll just say we were all abused in all forms and I really think my dad needed professional help.  His mental stability definitely came into question almost daily by his words, his actions and his abuse.  It was so bad that his children hated him and secretly his wife hated him, too.  In honesty, to indicate the total climate of my home further to you, I will tell you that me and my brother plotted to kill him at one point it was so bad.  It was just talk, we were little children at the time and only knew of the hell we were in and were so desperate to get out of no matter what.  It was our feeble attempt at the time to get through such deep suffering and sadness.  It was our way of consoling each other I suppose.

Now, as a true believer in Jesus Christ myself, I know that coming into a real relationship with God through Jesus Christ should be life transforming.  I do not believe you will become perfect and I am a perfect example of being far from perfect.  But there should be a transformation in your life as a result of the Holy Spirit residing in you.  A transformation from darkness into light.  A new desire to turn away from sin and go a new direction of desiring to do right by others and God.

We were in a community that did supposedly believe this as well, but something I will add to what I believe is that certain people like my dad need professional help in combination with his supposed life in Christ.  My dad went through a horribly insane childhood.  I know it could have been worse, but it was still bad enough to mess a kid up I think.  I am convinced that my dad needed help for all that he went through.  He needed Jesus for real, a real transforming relationship with him AND he needed help, counseling and maybe even some psyche drugs.  I don't say this lightly.  I know in our day and age it seems like everyone is on a drug of sorts for their ailments or that so many have some sort of phobia or problem, and in some cases people are hyper-focused on what "might" be wrong with them at every turn.  I know we need to be aware of that, but I say, my dad was insane.  He needed help.  Period.

In the community we were in, not only did people not know about what was going on in our home, but I am not sure that they would be in agreement that my dad needed professional, secular help from the medical community.  In our community, Jesus was enough, Christianity is supposedly enough.  And yes, I do believe in God' power and the power of the Holy Spirit, but I do not think that that belief has to defy or be in conflict with someone's need for professional, medical help when necessary.  It's obvious that my dad was scarred by his childhood and because of that and yes, that combined with his sin nature, he couldn't cope with daily life, with his wife or his kids.

For some reason, almost every simple problem that occurred became a great ordeal  to my dad.  These daily problems were something that couldn't possibly be dealt with calmly.  My father got to a place in his schizophrenia where he thought people were following him and trying to kill him.  Something as silly as losing the television remote would put my dad into a crazy fit and a hot pursuit of accusation and screams while attempting to locate that piece of made in China plastic.  A misplaced bill would turn into hours of searching and desperate crying out to the ceiling as to where it was.  Spilled paint in the garage turned into an angry beating.  Our laughing while playing a game was always directly toward him in his mind, "Why are you laughing at me?!" he would say.  He would never allow us to help him because everything had to be done perfectly or his way.  We couldn't touch his mower because we would break it.  We couldn't help him paint or do anything because we would screw everything up so badly that it couldn't be fixed, at least to him it seemed that way. 

I could go on and on and on and I don't need to, you get the point.  It's obvious to me and to any person with common sense that something was amiss, awry in my dad's brain.  Something had a hold of his mental capacities and I would like to say he definitely had a mental disease(s).  A disease that was never allowed by him or his religious community to be diagnosed, because Jesus should have been enough.  Sermons, bible reading, praying, church going, being a pastor, going to conferences and meetings...they were believed to be enough.  And because of that all prevailing mindset I do believe the abused became the abuser.  What probably could have and should have been diagnosed as a child or a college student never had a chance of being spotted or ever helped. 

My dad had multiple personalities.  He was schizophrenic.  He was probably a little bi-polar, manic depressive and obsessive compulsive as well.  He had all the signs and so much of what he did made no sense to any of us in our family.  A yes, he had a horribly abusive temper to boot, but we know that there was so much more than that wrong with him.  He needed help for sure.  But he would have never agreed that there was even a problem with him or that he needed help.  But when does someone who is insane agree to help or seeing the need for it?

In any case, I do believe that my dad got a whole lot of religious masking tape to hold him "together" and through this life.  He wore a suit.  He greeted people at his church warmly.  His family would stare at the whole thing in astonishment I think.  There was a cover up in our community.  Surely by my dad, but I think it very amazing that nobody noticed something amiss about our family in the religious circles we ran in.  Nobody noticed that my dad had any serious mental problems or that he was extremely abusive and hot tempered.  And I think that is where his multiple personalities came out the most, at church and with other Christians, but at home he was somebody altogether different.  To them out there, at work, with other Christians, at his church, at other churches, he was a pretty nice guy.  At home it was a sporadic and crazy, unstable person running rampant...that needed professional, medical help.

Help for the abused so they don't become the abuser.  Any abused person could possibly become an abuser themselves.  There is help for the abuser in the world and with Christ, too.  I do believe we need both in many instances.  I can only imagine what it would have been like if all involved would have help my dad to see that he needed to go for that help, to get diagnosed all that was wrong with him, how that would have helped him.  I can only imagine.  We can surely learn from this so that, yes, the abused does not continue a cycle of abuse themselves.  The madness has to end and it would help much if all circles of Christianity would see the need for this kind of help for the abused instead of just giving them a Jesus card and a bible and Christian college education.  The abused need more than that.  The warning signs are there and help must be given and the seeking of medical help and the use of drugs need to be strongly encouraged when necessary. 

The abused need more than religious masking tape.  Much more.         

College Days: Catch the Spirit or Control the Spirit?

College days.  I couldn't wait to go to college.  I couldn't wait to be somewhere, anywhere other than my home.  I worked two and three jobs just to pay for the initial payments for school.  It was the end of August and I was thrilled, excited beyond belief that I was going to Florida to basically start my life.  Waiting for me there was also my sister and that affected my college choice greatly.  She and I would be together enjoying life in sunny Florida and going to class.  I received the packet for Pensacola Christian College prior to leaving my home and I read the rule book.  And the "things you need to know" book you received did not really include ALL the things you need to know before attending this college.  I began to get a little nervous and think wow, can I really abide by all those rules and then I  thought, well, yeah, I'll suck it up and deal with what's dealt to me.  Little did I know...

That I would get demerits for wet hair, sleeping in my unmade bed at 7 in the morning on a Saturday, demerits for not scrubbing out my sink "good enough", demerits for wearing socks instead nylons the wrong time of day.  Demerits and a lot of them for sleeping through a class by accident.  We were made to do everything, even be to bed on time every night at eleven o'clock.  I was nineteen years old and I went from being told what to do, to being told what to do even more.  In fact, I was told more what to do at college than at any other phase of my life.  Yes, even my abusive, controlling father controlled me less and my Christian high school controlled me less than this.  But here I was I was old enough to drive a car, old enough to vote and old enough to have a job of my own(oh, but not the one of my choosing at PCC, girls could only work on campus), but not old enough to decide when is the proper time I will go to bed?

Little did I know...

That I would almost get kicked out for a semester for reaching too close to one hundred and fifty demerits for silly things like not wearing nylons in the burning heat because really it was causing rashes and other things I don't care to discuss.  Those demerits for socks, slightly wet hair and slightly dirty sinks or showers really rack up.  I was such a bad girl.  I was raked over the coals for having as many demerits and boy, was I warned.  I felt like a little kid in a principle's office, not a grown woman by any stretch of the imagination.  Of course, it being a Christian college, we went to church and to chapel and I mean every day.  And not any church, we had to attend the church that they provided to us students.  No venturing out and visiting another church, well, that would be heinous.  Just think if all these students wanted to go to church where they wanted to?  They would develop all sorts of notions.  Why, that wouldn't be fitting, it just wouldn't be proper! 

I was in my fourth year there as a student and I was engaged to be married.  My intended wouldn't set foot in their church, so he would go to another church in town.  We were desiring to be counseled in our dating process and went to the church administration and asked to have marriage counseling with the pastor and they said he was booked full through to the time we were to be married.  Then I asked if we could see the second guy in charge of doing such counseling, he was also booked full.  I asked them if I could get a chaperon of their approving to go to my fiancee's church to receive counseling from his pastor and they refused to let us go.  If I was going to get counseling I had to get it there.  I had to go to this church and receive only its counseling, but they had absolutely no time for us.

In the months before our marriage in May, in the fourth year I attended college, (I had to go six years total to graduate because I was on contract to pay for tuition), I went to the administration to ask them if it was going to be fine for me to attend church with my husband after we were to be married.  They said it was fine for me to go to church with my husband and that I could also come back to college to finish my degree after we were married.

We got married and I continued to work for the college through the Summer.  In the middle of the Summer we decided to start attending a different church in town.  I told the college our plans (it was a church that was currently on their "black list", no, seriously, they really have one) of wanting to switch our membership to another church.  I know now that was a very stupid thing for me to have done, but ya' know, I was a "good girl" and I wanted to play things straight, I played things straight almost my entire time there and still, this nonsense ensued.  I didn't "rebel", although, maybe I should have and maybe that is why so many of these grown-ups rebel and leave or get kicked out of this establishment...because the whole cycle of control is simply maddening.  I remember the turnover rate being very high when I atttended and now I totally understand why. 

So, I told the college what our intentions were and they were not happy at all.  They said that was not going to be allowed and I kid you not, they were now demanding that both my husband and I were to attend the para-church for the college if I was to attend the school any longer.  Of course, my husband was livid.  He was not going to be attending the school's church.  No way was he doing that and I would have never wanted him to for my sake or for the sake of finishing my degree.  The degree I worked through sweat and  tears to receive.  That was the end of my college debut.  All that and they deceived me and made it sound like it was going to be okay to go to another church while I was married.  Because we were "church-hopping" we were no longer given the green light to be in another church other than theirs.   

I look back on that time and I think, wow, maybe God was saving me from something worse in the ever-thickening layer of unlawful control and power over me and now, my husband, our family.  Maybe God was grooming me for a mind that was free to think and free to rest in His non-manipulative ways of love, forgiveness, hope, mercy and grace.  Yes, I was very sad at the time that I was literally forced not to finish something I started, but it's okay now.  I may go back to school someday and get the degree I always wanted to get.  Until then, I say beware of controlling colleges that keep you from thinking for yourself and walking in a personal fruitfulness without the loving Spirit of Christ being allowed to guide you in your decisions, every, single one of them.  Because if He is able to save you, He is able to keep you from falling.  He has power, let's not dismiss Him in the lives of the little children in our care daily.  Let's let go of our grown children, they are not ours or anyone's, they are Christ's or will be Christ's hopefully some day.  Let's not crush His Spirit within them with our control and our lust for power.

So beware of colleges that are merely, as one friend put it, "Christian daycare centers".  Because if someone has to tell Johnny when to get up and how to live and what to wear and where to go when he is eighteen, nineteen and twenty and twenty-one, well, it's an ill wind of immaturity, spiritually and mentally speaking, that blows no good thing.  We haven't done our job as parents if our children need to attend one of these controlling colleges to keep them out of trouble or keep their wits and senses about them.  And if they fall, they fall, if they are meant to get back up, they will.  If they are tested or tempted, so what?  What are we afraid of?  That the Holy Spirit will be free to kick in and help them make their own decisions?  Well, that's sad.  He has all the power to save, but not all the power to keep?  I assure you, as one that has fallen again and again and again, that He does have power to save and He has all power to keep.   

And may I say that water parks and accreditation won't change what's really wrong.  The winds of real change really do need to blow.  The wind of letting go of control must blow and the need to step back must come and woe unto these establishments who will not allow Holy God to do His work, His beautiful work in the life of every believer.  It is a true and honest work, sincere and pure in every form and free.  Let us all step out of the way of the Holy Spirit, shall we?

Blowing Off the Lid

If only you knew what I know stemming from the religious world I have lived in for so long.  If only you have seen what I have seen.  If only you have heard what I have heard for thirty years.  That's a better part of my lifetime.  It's a chunk of my life that I need to pause and reflect over and to heal from.  It will be a life long process.  I know the real loving Jesus is what I need, and I know that He is always here for me, but I also may need the help of professionals to get through this.  We'll see.  I know I have just scratched the surface when it comes to even realizing all the damage done to my mind and the damage that I have done to others myself.  All in the name of Jesus.  The little entries in here, on here, in this space that is white, fresh and clean, it's the here where I purge and I tip, tap until I feel tired and can't punch the keys anymore at 2am.  If you only knew...


And I am having another aha moment.  The light bulb in my mind turned on once again and it's flashing in urgency.  I now realize fully that you need to know what I know, that telling my pain and my story might help you see or understand that what you have experienced yourself, you dear child of God, isn't a myth no matter how many religious people tell you it is.  There is so much going on and has gone on that makes my head spin and as it spins round and round that light bulb illuminates even brighter and the need for my tip taps to go further, go deeper, expose more and shed light and as a friend recently said..."Blow the cover off the whole lot of them."  Why do we hid lies, abuse and cover up so much?  What do we excuse?  Dismiss?  Shrug off and even ignore?  This dark religious world where so much seems distorted.  God tells us, the real, true, free and loving believers to warn of wolves and ones coming "in His name" that aren't Him at all.  Liars.  Well, I am blowing the lid off all the lies I know of personally that come in the name of Jesus.  In boldness I denounce the lies I have been told.  I denounce what I knew and I want you to know. 

Know my pain, feel it for yourself, to open up your eyes around you and keenly be in tune to the lies that ascetically please the eyes of so many people.  Beautiful lies that house the hearts and minds of countless empty souls.  Lies in your church.  Lies in your home.  Lies in fruitless outward religion, the religious bones of the truly spiritually dead people.  Pretty corpses coming in Jesus name.  Cover ups of control, misplaced power and oppression.  Lies to you, the abused that you are not really being stripped away a little at a time.  You are really not being raped, that your soul is not being quelled and literally crumbling within you.  The precious soul God came to forgive, lovingly help, fill and use freely and with freedom in this world.  Open each lid because I am about to really blow the lid of the crock pot of a skewered view of God and teachings off that come in "His" name and with His supposed approval.  So many have made a God to suit themselves bent to the leanings of their emotional drives or lusts for power.  God gets blamed for people in this world who use His precious name and His love and His ways that are mixed up with nasty lies.  A little leaven leavens the whole lump.  Beautiful lies.

As one who has been abused herself mentally, spiritually, emotionally and physically by a myriad of people, intentional or unintentional, I say to the abused, wherever you are...you are not what your "Christian" abuser is telling you that you are.  You are hurting and you need to hurt and you are allowed to hurt, to talk, to grieve, to walk through this process.  You are also allowed in Jesus name to pick up the phone and call the police.  If your husband is beating your kids call the police.  If you are being abused call the police.  If anyone you know is being molested blow the lid off of that for the abused sake.  If you can't get the support of your "church" run for the hills and find a secular place of healing if you have to.  Go to the real Jesus and go to a therapist.  Do whatever it takes to find help and healing.  If you feel controlled at your church, run for the hills.  If you feel controlled by your husband find a support group for yourself, because you are most definitely going to need it, if not now, then in the future.  And yes, divorce may be in order in some instances for sure.  And I am putting myself out here on a limb and telling you... if you need to talk and find healing and help, please contact me, Deb Paul either on facebook(Deb Sue Ashmore Paul) or call me on my cell number 850-377-5421.  Also, my email is debagain7@gmail.com.  I know what you are going through and if you need to talk, I want to help you.  I know especially when your community is all you've ever known you may be completely cast out just for standing up to abuse or attempting to expose manipulators and controlling oppressors.  My friend, dear one, child of God, He, the beloved Father has not forgotten you and He is disgusted by His so-called "followers".  He is sick, He sees and hears you, beloved, and there will be a judgment for your abuser and a justice will be carried out by and by.  Vengeance is mine, says Jesus.       

And those of you that don't have any desire to "involve yourself in matters that don't concern you" I will tell you flat out that you are deceived and you don't know what Christ designed you to do when you supposedly became a free and true believer in the real Jesus filled with His Spirit and possessing the fruit of the Spirit.  Don't call yourself a Christian if you will protect the abusers and not the abused.  Don't give me your church discipline 101 rant or "this is how we do things" junk.  I don't care about your opinions or your flavor.  It stinks, it's corrupt and dangerous thinking.  The bible is clear in how to handle dangerous, abusive people!  Kick 'em out, stay away from them.  Heck, cast them into the sea if you have to...which in modern day language that would be, "Call the police, people!".  You are responsible.  You will not be guiltless.  You will give an account for keeping your mouth shut, for closing your ears and keeping your eye lids clamped tightly.  The light of the body is the eye....look into the eyes of the families around you...is there life there?  Life.

The ever entwining depth of life that comes from being truly free, because your free to think, because I am.  I am blowing off the lid.

You Are Not Alone

The real Jesus is here to heal your wounds.  You are not alone.

Working Myself Out of a Job

I don't know much.  In fact, the older I get the less I feel I know.  A friend of mine put a post on facebook the other day about her relationship with her daughter and the struggles of dealing with a teenager.  I read that and thought, oh my, teenagers are going to be so difficult to deal with!  I hear the moans of so many parents and it scares me to think of how hard it will be with hormones flying around all over the place in this house when we have teens.  It has started early I think even in our house.  The eleven year old has an overwhelming desire for autonomy and decision making.  And I let him.  He's a hard worker and disciplined.  He does what he needs to do everyday and no, not always with pleasantness, but neither do I.  He's eleven and part and partial he's allowed to make his own decisions and at this age he does well.  I trust him.  I went to Wal-Mart the other day and had to do a boat load of shopping.  I told him to go do whatever he wanted, their is a gaming system in the store and toys to look at and books to read.  The only requirement was for him to meet me in the food department at a certain time.  He did whatever he did, and I have no idea what that was and then he met me at the time I told him, he was actually early.  Then, without asking him he loaded all the groceries on to the conveyor and the cashier rang us up.  He took the groceries out of the cart with me and put them in the trunk.  That was our grocery trip in a nutshell. 

Now, there are things at the store that I hate.  The xbox gaming system has less than desirable games that he could have played.  The warcraft, witchcraft aisle I can't stand.  And even some of the toys and books I roll my eyes at and don't like.  But ya' know, I trust my son to make good decisions.  If he has a problem about something he saw, he'll tell me.  If he wants to tell me something he will and with no prodding on my part.  I teach what I feel is right in our home and if he genuinely wants to adopt what I say, that would be great and if he doesn't, he doesn't.  He has the spirit of Christ resting with him and I have no worries and no fears as to what will become of my free thinking sons and daughters.  

And for all that I don't know, which I feel is a lot, there are some things I am beginning to see that I haven't seen fully before.  One all-pervasive knock you up side the head kind of aha type moment.  As a parent I want to be in state or plan of working myself out of a job entirely.  The older my kids get the more they do for themselves and one of those things that they will be required to do in this house as time goes by is think for themselves.

Using your brain is going to be a requirement for my kids and steadily increasing as the years go by.  As my kids age, I'll be here for whatever support they need, but slowly I will be taking a hands-off approach to my kids.  I am working myself out of a job and isn't that what parenting should be?  Imagine your son or daughter at the age of sixteen, what do you want them to be like?  I think about this kind of stuff all the time and I must say I expect my kids at the age of sixteen to have a enough sense to make choices for themselves completely.  At ten, twelve, fourteen, sixteen and beyond, I see a larger need for me, the mom and my husband to step back gradually until, voila, standing before me is a person who is capable to stand on his or her own two feet.

That in mind, I am perpetually amazed at how much control parents would like to have over their kids in their teenage years and also, well into years beyond adolescence.  And I say, why?  You can teach or show or help your kids see things all day, but there has to be a point where they really want to do what you say or adopt what you think.  It's their choice no matter how heartbreaking or just different than what you would choose for them would be.  They are your children.  You should love them no matter what and offer support.  I have my ideas about what I want my kids to be or what they will do or what they will believe in life, but my kids may choose a different path and if it's what's in their heart sincerely to do then I need to realize the truth of what they think and accept it.  Honesty and sincerity should reign supreme in the home of every family.  I do teach my kids the bible, but we just talk about it.  We discuss the bible, we discuss the real love of the real Jesus.  We offer our thoughts as parents.  There are some things that my kids are not allowed to do, but they are the same things most sensible parents would not allow their kids to do.  Not stay up too late, eat too much junk, watch too much tv, play too many video games, etc.  Just normal parameters that every parent should consider.  But when it comes to what I believe about God and the bible and Jesus, I realize that I can present my beliefs to my kids and state them as fact to them all day, but it is entirely up to them to make their own choices in this area.  I won't love them any less and I won't force them to believe what I believe.  I do hope they will all enter into a real, loving relationship with the real and loving and forgiving Jesus, but I will not be making them do anything.

My friend that posted about her relationship with her daughter on facebook spoke about her prayer for her daughter and really, to me, prayer matters more than our lip service and my good example of love and kindness matters more than making my kids do anything when it comes to a life in Christ and walking in His real ways of love and compassion, grace and mercy.  Jesus will not force anyone to come to Him.  They are lovingly invited to come and dine at His table of forgiveness, redemption and love, but never forced.  I remember a lady telling me one time that her daughter didn't want to pray when she was asked to and she commanded her to pray.  Are you kidding me?  Do you honestly think that God wants you to make your daughter pray when she just really does not want to?  What kind of God is that?  It's not the God I know.

If my kids want to enter into a relationship with Jesus they will because they want to and see the need for it.  It they want to read the bible it will be because they choose to out of a hunger for it.  If they want to pray, they will.  This mama won't be making her kids do any of those things.  I will live this life the way Christ intended me to live and wow, I am sure I mess that up some, but really, I'll set those parameters, those sensible parameters for my kids, but I am not messing up what God can do and the Holy Spirit can do.  I will present, I will ask questions, I will bring up thoughts, we will discuss, I will pray, and sing and do what Christ may lead me to do in my own personal walk with Him, but making my kids do what I do I will not do.  Because in all areas I want to be slowly working myself out of a job.  And when it comes to the world of Jesus' doing I will simply be a seed planter and not a controller.  In fact, the work of the Holy Spirit was never my job to begin with.         

Glitzy, Fake Costume Jewelry Cult Crap

I remember back in the day, way back in the day when diamonds were pretty cool to me.  Having them, wearing them, owning something that was so expensive was really appealing to me at the time.  I was just thirteen or fourteen and I loved the thought of having two big diamond earrings in my ears and telling everybody, "Look, these are real diamonds!"  A friend of mine just had her dad buy her some nice ones and I thought I could save up for some, but then I realized, wow, at thirteen even little, real diamond earrings were out of my price range at the time.  So I shopped around to see if the stores had something that looked like a diamond without actually being a diamond.  At last I found some misfit, counterfeit "jewels" on the market by the name of a cubic zirconia.  I bought a pair of them there zircs and thought, yeah, nobody'll notice that they aren't diamonds, right?

I wore them to school thinking I was going to fool everyone one with my zircs.  I walked in the school door and saw my friends and said, "Hey, check out my diamond earrings!"  They were like, wow, look what she, uh, wait, those aren't diamonds!  Girl, yer wearing some cubic zirconias!  Yeah, I knew that.  Man!  I wanted to be cool and I wanted to be wearing something worth while, but really all I had on was some cheapo fakes instead.  The real pizazz you get from wearing a dazzling pair of real diamond earrings just wasn't there.  In fact, my zircs had a slightly dingy quality to them and they were less than sparkling clear or truly glitzy.  Yeah, I had some fake costume jewelry crap on.  I don't think I even wore them again after I knew they weren't really that attractive.

When I first saw the zircs, I thought, yeah, they'll pass for real diamonds, but after the scrutiny of my friends I realized how far off from diamonds those silly zircs really were.

There is a lot of funny stuff happening in the "Christian" world as we know it today and much of what I see seems so much like cubic zirconia in human flesh.  Pretty little, slightly dingy, lifeless human zircs with zirc-like philosophies, instead of what's real.  Instead of wearing real diamonds, they are sporting zircs in their ears, nose, around their neck and even in their belly buttons. 

Okay, now this blog is free to think, right?  I am here to tell you all...if it feels funny and looks funny and seems funny and smells funny and acts funny and you feel funny when you around "it", being exposed to "it", whatever the "it" funny stuff is for you, well, then it is funny.  If it walks like a duck, well you got it, right?  It's a duck.  I don't care how glitzy, fake costume jewelryish you think your junk is or some junk you are considering to believe in or follow in, well, it ain't the real deal.  Junk being anything you are throwing into the bible or Jesus pile that is just well, crap.  Glitzy, fake costume jewelry cult crap.  I don't like the word crap, but it's the best I can do to describe "this" without really telling you exactly what I think about "it".  Opinions don't factor in.  They are nice, they are well squabbled over or even easily agreed with, but they don't fall under the love your Jesus and your neighbor as yourself process that every free to think believer should focus on, then, well, it's just junk.  Uh, preconceived notions, yeah, they really stink, too, because they really keep you free and away from your think.

The bible talks about blind guides and the blind leading the blind.  Jesus was talking about the pharisees and I understand the context, but I think I can safely say we live in a world where there is so much of the blind leading the blind especially in our world of so-called "Christians".  Heck, I used to be one of those horrible blind guides.  It's a long process of healing and God helping you get out of that mess of a mindset for darn sure, but Jesus, I pray, get me out of those mindsets forever, yes, amen. 

People make up so many rules, rules that have absolutely zilch to do with loving Jesus and loving yer neighbor.  And who's yer neighbor?  The person standing next to you in that particular moment.  It doesn't have to be the guy living next door, but your beautiful daughter looking up at you or your co-worker in the desk next to yours, it's the bum on the corner when you drive by, it's the librarian, it's the waitress, it's yer wife, whatever, you get the point.  And let me tell you what rules are that have absolutely nothing to do with loving Jesus and loving yer neighbor...you know what they are...glitzy, fake costume jewelry cult crap.  Ugh, I hate that word, but well, it's the best I can do, I repeat.  I could say much worse, trust me, I would like to say much worse considering all the harm I have seen rules and opinions and preconceived notions do to other people, innocent people, little kids and whole families.  It would make you want to you use every cuss word in the book to express your outrage at this...this...this...glitzy, fake costume jewelry cult crap.  I invented a new phrase and I really, really, really like it.  

Let me rephrase and remake the thought again...rules, opinions and preconceived notions are the new pornography in the world of "Christianity".  It's a cult of personality pornography and it's an ill wind that blows no good thing.  You can shift crap around all day long on a table or in your hand and in any direction you want, you can manipulate it, you can mix it with good stuff, but it's still just your mind with crap in it...a glass of refreshing water with a speck or a whole  boat load of excrement in it...either way I am not drinking that supposed glass of refreshing water!

Listen people, Jesus was right when He said that a little leaven leavens the whole lump.  You wouldn't walk into a room with even a little bit of a poopy smear on our face.  We wouldn't drink a glass of water with a speck 'o crap in it either, but there is such a vacuum cleaner style approach so prevalent out there for all the cult like stuff floating around.  Thar in them thar hills, the hills of our minds and hearts, the hills are alive and not with the sound of music, but with the sobs of many being abused, misused, misguided, lied to and pimped out in these hills or pastured upon as the bible calls it in Ezekiel 34.  The books, the seminars, the ideas, the junk and more junk, the if you just pay...$19.95 you'll have all your spiritual dreams come true.  Or what I heard from someone say to me recently, if you just come to church three times a week I can gull darn guarantee your spiritual success!  What a crock!  In life, there is only one guarantee and that is Jesus and His love and the rest added in to get you bound up or sucked in to seek a life of perfection or get some formula that will never work no matter how much you use it...it's a crock, my friends.

I'm hear to tell you and myself, keep yer rules, opinions and preconceived notions outta' the all encompassing truth of loving God, Jesus and loving yer neighbor as yourself.  Keep that glitzy, fake costume jewelry cult crap out of your life, outta' your home, and away from your person.  It has NOTHING to do with Jesus.  You are totally and completely free to be responsible with the real and loving Jesus and His message of truth, life and hope because you are free to think.  Get you some real bling with the real thing!  Ain't nothing like the real Jesus, baby!  Seriously, now.  He loves you and I love you and we don't want to see you get hurt!

Learning at a Heart's Pace

Homeschooling is something.

Teaching your kids at home is a pretty crazy idea to most people.  Having your kid learn from you under your own roof or in a plane, on a train, walking in the way, well, that’s nuts to most.  Teaching abc’s and 123’s to your own kids is crazy, especially when both parents want to or have to work and most sensible people realize that a lot of people for one reason or another cannot or would not even attempt this crazy idea of our kids learning under their own guidance.  And even if they don’t have to work, people look at me  funny when I suggest homeschooling to them, just as a passing thought.  Who, me, their parent teach them the stuff I learned at school myself, are you kidding?  Are you crazy?  Yeah, I am a little crazy, always was.  Homeschooling is a pretty daring idea even for me. 

I am a homeschooling mama of five uniquely different children and it’s rather overwhelming to me even after five years of doing this.  Don’t get me wrong, I love this process, this painful process of trying to figure this out for myself.  I hear all about curriculums and books and stuff and manipulatives and more stuff to help me teach and to help my kids to learn.  I have grand ideas about what’s going to happen every year and then, well, life takes over.  People die and funerals are held or family members self destruct and life and you don’t feel like getting out of bed sometimes.  We learn stuff every year, you bet, but not in the way I planned.  It gets a little hairy sometimes. 

And then you have curriculum fairs and conferences just for homeschoolers and co-ops and meetings and clubs and more things to keep me busy forever and ever.  And I feel the wind get knocked right out of me.  The hits just keep on coming from all directions, hits meant to be something good for me when well, it’s overwhelming.  There are leagues and self-help books all just for homeschooling.  It’s quite amazing to me how big the community really is.  There is dual-enrollment with local colleges and virtual schools online for your kiddies.  And I say, stop the bus or train, rather, I want to get off.  I’m dizzy and fizzy and a little high and delusional with all this constant information at the homeschooling station.  I want to get off the bus, sit down on the bench that holds the people waiting for the next one to come, the bus to come.  I need a breath, a break, a thought, a hope that, well, I’ll really know my kids.  I want to know them.  Really.  For real. 

I gotta’ say none of this good stuff is really going to teach the most important thing…knowing how to teach and guide and lead and help your own uniquely made child.  No, there is not another child like yours.  Like a snowflake or a fingerprint…this soul was created and it’s one of a kind.  There’s not a book out there that can teach you about your child,  their specific needs, desires, and skills, talents, loves, hopes and dreams.  You go crazy trying to become better teachers or buy the hottest curriculum or fad product on the market to help our kids excel and we get upset when it doesn’t work.  Well, I am here to say there’s no “your child 101” course.  It’s a process that defies any book or curriculum or plan for the year.  He or she, your child will move forward and learn and love and grow in their own time and way.  Nothing can prepare you for that I have found.  God pity the kids made to be in a factory driven schools or homeschool plans or private school fantasy playgrounds where they just take a number and the one in charge must know twenty to thirty souls by heart or at home there’s just five or one or ten or twelve.

Know their everything for the time they are in charge.  You the mom or dad or you, the teacher.  Take your pick.  It is your choice.  I am biased, but that’s just my holey opinion.  Holey, not holy.  Moms sigh at the thought of teaching two or three of their own, but then expect one teacher, just one, to know the heart of their child and know them inside and out…their kid and twenty others.  Is that even possible?   Nobody knows a child more than the parents or the care giver.  Or wait, maybe they can, I don’t really know.  The heart of the kid that’s what matters.  What they like, what their weaknesses are, where they are at in their own mind emotionally, physically, spiritually, mentally.  A parent or a care giver knows how to get their own child to learn to the best of their own ability and at their own pace.  Don’t they?  It seems like they would. 

And grades are a figment of our imagination…our imagination.  Our American imagination…compulsory schooling in factory style, age segregated grades is made up social engineering fairly new to the free world.  Up until the last 80 or so years there was absolutely little to no compulsory schooling anywhere on the planet.  If people wanted to learn, like Fredrick Douglas, they just did.  They had and all children, babies have a thirst for learning on all levels.  Socrates didn’t go to the type of school we purport today, nor did he “go” to school.  The wide world was much wider than it is today even with all of our technological advancements we have become as narrow minded as ever when it comes to this all encompassing thing called learning.  I say free your  mind because your are free to think. 

I must say, too, I like my kids and for me, I want them to stick around a little while they are young because I know one day I’ll be completely out of a job and I hope they, my kiddos, like me enough to come home.

Then and only then will I know without a doubt that I took the time to know them, really know them and love them.  Love them into learning, now that’s something.  Not sure what they would get out there.  Maybe something good and maybe just that, don’t know.  I just know what I want, and I’ll stop at nothing to get  it, whatever “it” may be on this journey of gaining the heart of each of my kids enough for them to learn on their own and to learn from me.  Hmmm, yeah.