Category Archives: Family

Life Together

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I found the perfect spot in the library, away from all the bustle. I was thirty-one with two little boys at home and badly needing a day away to think.  I can’t quite remember if my second relapse had hit me yet, but I knew I was in much need of rest.  I found the perfect spot next to an enormous glass window overlooking the pond.  While sitting on a little couch tucked under the stairwell, I asked the Father to please guide me to do the right thing. “Cause, I desperately want to do the right thing.”  I took out my journal, my pencil, my Bible, and Bonhoeffer’s book, Life Together.

The book had been on the shelf for years, but I hadn’t ever read it, thinking it was too “theological” for me to enjoy.  It’s not a very big book but, as I found, it is chock full of truth and wisdom for the church body to discern what living this life together “should” be like.  It’s a book that radically changed the way I understood I am to “be” in the body.  Practical spiritual wisdom for everyday life together.

God was faithful to guide me.  I understood the admonishment from scripture, “as much as it depends upon you, be at peace with one another.”  With tears streaming down my face, I wrote out the apology, understanding a heart-rending-deep-cleansing had been done.

God made it clear to me what the next step would be.  The apology was sent and now it was time to hope for reconciliation.  It was time to release the situation in order that Christ might deal…

“…spiritual love proves itself in that everything it says and does commends Christ. It will not seek to move others by all too personal, direct influence, by impure interference in the life of another. It will not take pleasure in pious, human fervor and excitement. It will rather meet the other person with the clear Word of God and be ready to leave him alone with this Word for a long time, willing to release him again in order that Christ may deal with him.”
~D. Bonhoeffer, Life Together

It might be time to read that little — powerful — book once again.

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His Promise of Peace

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“One of the great wounds in life is the shattering of relationship — having a friend who turns on us and reverses shalom or what the Bible calls peace.  Betrayal is the experience of being set up, violated, and then discarded.  It is being used by someone who violates our dignity and then is unmoved by our pain.

Such betrayal, for whatever reason, isolates us in loneliness, doubt, and shame.  The connection we once assumed and enjoyed becomes a web of awkwardness.  We don’t know whether to speak to the estranged friend when our paths cross, or simply pass with eyes averted.  To the degree there is avoidance, suspiciousness grows.   If there is conversation, it is constrained and tight, marking the contrast to the way it once was.  This is the soil where blame shifting and slander can grow like robust weeds.

The memory of how-it-once-was burns a deep and hollow spot in the heart.  Memory haunts and self-doubt grips.  Why did it end?  What did I do wrong? Why does my friend no longer like me? The intense shifts between angrily blaming the other and cutting oneself with the shards of self-doubt are exhausting.”  ~Dan Allender

Allender speaks clearly of the chaos in the heart and mind when betrayal has been experienced.  It is a lack of peace in our deepest parts.  How…how, in those moments, do we consider Jesus?  How do we stand firm on the Rock when our minds are haunted with memories and self-doubt?  The constant cutting of oneself with the shards of broken relationship is not only exhausting…it leaves one bloodied and crying out for relief.

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest.  Walk with me and work with me–watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.  Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.

Jesus says I can live light and free.
Jesus says I can walk in unforced rhythms of grace.
Jesus says I can have a real rest and recover the life He wants me to live.

These are the promises Jesus gives to those who will follow after, and learn from Him.

Who is Jesus?  He is a true friend.  He does not “set us up, violate, and then discard” us.  He does not make promises He never intends to keep.  He is the one who sticks closer than a brother.  He is a husband to the forsaken bride crying in the wilderness.

He loves with an everlasting love and He gives an unshakeable peace.

Betrayal is soul-wrenching.  Its never-ending shattering peace gives way to many doubts and unanswerable questions, unless…

Unless…

You turn to Him.

Go to Him.
Lay down your burdens and confusion,
Your pain, and your doubts,
Your fears, and all your tears,
Your woundedness…

All of it.  Lay it down…at His feet.
Bow down and consider Jesus.

“For the mountains may be removed and the hills may shake,
But My lovingkindness will not be removed from you,
And My covenant of peace will not be shaken,”
Says the LORD who has compassion on you.

“Come unto Me all you who are weary and heavy-laden,
And I will give you peace.”

What is Our Purpose?

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paisleyperson
Artist: Itokashi

I saw this on Facebook (thank you, Princess).

I’ve believed this for many years. Even when living in difficult circumstances and not-so-desirable surroundings, I knew I was there for a purpose. He must have a reason for placing me, at this point in time, among these people.

I do believe He ordains our moments. And, in that, He must be concerned about those who cross our paths. I think He does as He wills among the inhabitants of the earth and He is greatly concerned for our well-being and character development (Psalm 139; Dan 4:35; Psalm 33:14; 1 Pet 5:7; Psalm 55:22; James 1:2-4; Hebrews 12:6; 1 John 4:20).

These beliefs lead me to understand I am not to live for self.

I am not here for me.
I am here for Him.

He leads me down the path He desires.
He determines the people who will cross my path.
How, then, am I to live?

In love.
With love.
Through Love.

The waitress with the attitude?
The neighbor with the pit bulls?
The friend asking, once again, for money?

How am I to live with all who cross my path…and with those He has placed in my life…for a lifetime…for a season…or…only…for a moment…?

With kindness.
With patience.
With humility.

Without arrogance.
Without rudeness.
Without counting faults.

With grace…
For the moment
And a lifetime.

Bearing.
Believing.
Hoping.
Enduring.

ALL. THINGS.

It seems outrageous.
It’s too much to ask.
It’s more than any of us can do.
On our own.
But, in Him…

I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.

It’s called Love.
God, in me,
Loving others, through me.

Oh, what a purpose-filled life!

Can’t Schedule Mourning

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That’s what he said to me … last night …
He was visibly shaken, struggling to keep his temper.

After a few words, neither of us will soon forget, he said, “I guess you can’t schedule mourning.”

“No.  You can’t,”  I responded …
“When it chooses to come, feel it.
Don’t stuff it, or you’ll never get past it.”

I cried until the pain came.  I let it pound inside my head, wondering how to relieve his …

And then … I went looking for answers … again …

A man’s steps are directed by the LORD.
How then can anyone understand his own way?
~Proverbs 20:24

What hurts most?
Watching them grieve.
Seeing the pain in their eyes.
Hearing the hurt as he says, “I don’t pity you.”

God, please …
Touch their pain.
Heal their hurt.
Help them forgive.

I do want to move on, but, I get it.  I do …

… you can’t schedule mourning …

When they walk through the Valley of Weeping,
It will become a place of refreshing springs,
Where pools of blessing collect after the rains …
Psalms 84:6

Please, lead us beside still waters …

Grace and the Holidays

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Be open and honest about your failures. Let God’s grace wash over you. It  completely transforms you. It lights you on fire and sends you blazing. That’s  where the power comes from. It’s not from you and your ability, it’s from grace.  God’s children need to see it. The people need to see that there is hope for them, too.
Nobody goes through life without knowing they’ve been saved from something  that had every right to destroy them. Don’t set yourself up as someone who is so  far away from that, that it steals the hope of grace from everyone else. Use the  moment of someone’s failure to rejoice about the vibrant display of mercy,  grace, and restoration that God is about to show. That’s when you can really see  Him. It’s the rainbow after the storm. It’s in the eyes of someone who believes  with everything in them that God has a plan for this, too.
~The Follower, Serena Woods, Grace is for Sinners

The holidays are just around the corner.  I haven’t yet decided how to spend any of them.

Our family is broken, due to much sin.
I suppose all families are to a certain extent, it’s just that this is raw for me…
I haven’t made any sense of it in a way that can be told.

I know what I did.
I know what he did.
I know what the consequences have done to us all.
I just don’t have it all compartmentalized… it’s not neatly packaged… yet.

(Will it ever be?)

And I’m afraid of family being judgmental.
I don’t think I can handle anymore judgment.

It’s good to know the One who matters is full of grace and mercy.
It’s just those pesky people He’s created us to live with that are the problem!!  😛
(Tongue in cheek… I know I’m one of the pesky ones, too!)

Why do we do this to one another?
We’ve ALL sinned. Every one of us.
None of us is good, no not one.

I suppose it’s because not all of us believe we’ve sinned “like that!” So we label and categorize and separate one from another. We whisper behind each other’s backs and decide what one must’ve done in the dark… although we have no idea, because we weren’t there and we weren’t told. And we’re shocked! “How could she?!?”

Unfortunately, it was way too easy.
Maybe that’s the issue… ?
Maybe others know how easily they could fall and don’t want the reminder (me) too close to home.
Or maybe… I’m the judgmental one… ???  😯

Whatever may be the problem for the lack of acceptance —
Sin, gossip, fear, judgmentalism, factions, anger, unforgiveness, grudges —
Whatever we may call it, remember, we are to fulfill the law of Christ:  Grace for all.

Dear brothers and sisters, if another Christian is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself. Share each other’s troubles and problems, and in this way obey the law of Christ. If you think you are too important to help someone in need, you are only fooling yourself. You are really a nobody. Be sure to do what you should, for then you will enjoy the personal satisfaction of having done your work well, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. For we are each responsible for our own conduct.
~The Apostle, Paul, Galatians 6:1-5

The end of the world is coming soon. Therefore, be earnest and disciplined in your prayers. Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins. Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay. God has given gifts to each of you from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Manage them well so that God’s generosity can flow through you.
~The Disciple, Peter, 1 Peter 4:7-10

I’m FIFTY!?!?!?!

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How did that happen???

One day at a time.

It seems like only yesterday I was 49! (lol)  Honestly, these years have gone by so quickly and yet, at times, they’ve dragged.  Babies grow too quickly.  Before you can blink, they’re graduating.  Then college…and they’re on their own!

My twenties came and went in a flash.  The thirties slowed a bit, trying to keep up with the kids.  My forties moved at a snail’s pace.  So…what will fifty bring?

One day at a time.

In my twenties I wanted to be “teacher of the year”…

In my thirties I desired “the world’s greatest mom” award…

In my forties I prayed (and searched for doctors) to get my health back…

One day at a time.

Now, here I am, at the beginning of the next decade…

Divorced.

Living alone.
(Well, I still have my dog.)

Most relationships are strained, at best.
(Except those friends who stick closer than a brother.)
(Thank you, Heavenly Father, for friends!!)

One day at a time.

I’ve lost most everything I ever believed I wanted:  The love of my life (or so I thought).  “World’s Greatest Mom” award.  The house in the ‘burbs with the swimming pool.  My reputation.  Being a bible teacher/leader.  Relationships I thought were real.

And, I can’t blame anyone but myself.

I did it.

It happened because was  am a fool.

One day at a time.

And I can’t go back.  That’s not what I’m to do, if the scripture is to be believed.

I did repent.  I did return.  But, I was rejected…

And now, I must move forward.

One day at a time.

Forgetting what lies behind,
Reaching forward to what lies ahead.
I press on toward the goal:
The upward call of Christ Jesus!

The sanctifying process…

One day at a time.

I’m leaning on Him…

One day at a time, Sweet Jesus,

I’M FIFTY!?!?!?!

The Best We Could

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He did the best he could with what he knew.
I remember when I first came to that realization about my dad.

In many ways he came from a privileged home, and yet, dysfunctional. One brother (my uncle) declares their mom was crazy. The sister says their dad was an alcoholic. My dad? He doesn’t talk much about his life as a kid, except for the terrorizing antics (from my perspective) with crickets and neighborhood girls. He does say he had a good childhood (I think that’s the privileged part speaking) and rarely remembers his dad being drunk, “Well, sure. There were times he spoke with a slur…” Mom, one of those neighborhood girls, recollects a mean lady living in Dad’s home. She doesn’t have many kind words for dear old grandma — aforementioned crazy lady. So, yeah. Dysfunctional fits the bill.

The short temper and sharp tongue make more sense when I remember “from whence he came.” Not that he had an excuse for his bad behavior, but, at least I caught a glimpse into his life. And in that picture, I realized how much better life was in our home than the one in which he was raised.

So, why didn’t that “ah-ha” moment translate into discernment for my marriage?

Instead of empathizing, over time, I grew complacent. I became frustrated with his constant countering. At times, his dismissiveness broke my heart. Yet, he was living a better life than the one in which he was raised. Of course he had “leftovers” from childhood… who doesn’t?

None of us come out of childhood unscathed. Some of us might paint a rosy picture, but, if we’re honest we’ll admit, we didn’t live long on this earth without suffering the effects of this sinful world. Many times those “effects” literally come at us from our parents. The sins of the fathers (and the mothers) truly are being visited upon the children.

I wish I had been more understanding. I needed to see how empathy was not something he understood. He was raised in a neglectful home. His parents weren’t old enough to be having children. Kids raising kids. Of course he didn’t learn unconditional love. Their motto: “Turn on anyone who turns on you.” Dog eat dog? YES! As one daughter explains, quoting Forest Gump, “Sometimes, I guess there just aren’t enough rocks.”

When life became unbearable for us, I did my dysfunctional thing. I went inward.

He did his dysfunctional thing and moved outward.

Neither of us moved toward the other, as we had been taught to do.

We moved to our “default” settings… And, now… years later… we’re divorced…

I sure wish I would’ve heard Lora when she tried to tell me why he wasn’t able to meet my needs.
But then, why did I expect it from him? And, why did I marry into the pain I thought I had escaped?
Also, why couldn’t I meet his needs? Did he marry into the same kind of pain he had hoped to escape?

It felt comfortable. The pain was comfortable.
I was used to being questioned… and the butt of jokes.
He was used to rescuing and caring for hurting people.
The results of masochism.
Sigh.

Search me, O God, and know my heart,
Try me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any wicked way in me…

We did the best we could?
Maybe…

What if we had chosen to do the best HE could…?

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Yes. It is true.
But, sometimes, even as Christians, we take the easy way out.