Monday, November 3, 2014

Trust God and Find You

Today is my daughter's birthday. So it seems fitting to write why I am so thankful for her. If you haven't followed the story, she was trying to build a perfect life with someone who didn't want to be her protege, and she had to realize that half of that blame fell on her--after they had 3 boys.

It was extremely difficult for her to break up the marriage--she isn't a quitter, but she finally admitted that the best thing she could do for everyone's health was stop pretending and end the marriage. I wasn't sure she was doing the right thing, but she depended completely on God, and He came through for her. It was marvelous to watch.

I knew He would provide for her, even getting the right man for her three boys, but I was amazed at how fast it happened, and it wasn't the one I thought it would be.

It is a fabulous story. He has his own little boy now with her, but he is still a great father to her three who love him and look up to him.

I am so proud of her for becoming her own authentic person. I am reminded of one of my favorite quotes, "Submission to God is restoration to oneself, to the true glory and dignity of man." That is old verbiage, that means when we give ourselves to God we get to become our true selves--the glorious selves He intended.

The first step is recognizing that you aren't you. That you are trying to be someone else, even if you think it is what God wants you to be. Then submitting to God's leading, and letting Him become your best and closest friend.

God won't ever let you down--ever. He might take you on a wild ride, but He is safe and can be trusted. I am so proud of my daughter for leaning into this truth and experiencing it, even when it was scary. There were times when it seemed God had let her down, but she would cry and ask Him what to do. The answer would come, "Trust me even when it doesn't make sense."And she would. And He would come through. It was a thrilling ride--even vicariously.

I'm so glad He got you, Babe! And I am so proud of you for choosing to take that authentic wild ride of raw, flat-out trust. You showed all of us that God can be trusted, that He does speak to those who listen, and that He is worth it, and His ways end in peace. Thank you for risking to trust and be you.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Guest Post by Peter Pearson 2 Questions Can Clarify You and Change Your Relationship

You and your partner formed a relationship likely for many reasons. One of the strongest might have been the desire for a deeper and ongoing connection with another human… a connection that allows you to be spontaneous, real, supported, sexy, and adventurous.
At the time, you hoped you had created a connection that would lead to a richer life.
But it’s possible that you and your partner might have lost your way after the initial euphoria of being together. Many factors are involved in getting lost. One of them is losing sight of your core values in the busyness of everyday life.
It is rare for most people (including me) to reflect very often on core values. That’s an indicator that we rarely spend much time thinking about the purpose of our own life or relationship.
It can be a mind-bending question, “What is the purpose of my life?” or “What is the purpose of my relationship?” So it is understandable we avoid it.
But there might be a way of generating clarity with just two questions.
The two questions can expose your core values. And your core values are really your compass, your North Star, and your beacon, while traveling on your life and relationship journey.
Here are the questions:
  1. Who are the people you admire the most? They can be living or dead, real or fictional, ones you know or only have heard about. Make a list of these admired people.
  2. Why do you admire them? List the qualities of each person that are so admirable.
Then look for the overlapping qualities across those people. Reduce the list to the 3-5 most important qualities.
These will give you a pretty good idea of your personal core values.
This is a good exercise for you and your partner to do and share with each other. Think about these qualities on a regular basis and reflect how much you are aligned with them as you go through the day.
When you and your partner get into disagreements, or are faced with big decisions, put them into the context of “How would I apply my core values to this discussion, decision or situation?” If the values are relevant then you will have increased your clarity about how to respond or what to decide.
If you don’t create clarity with these qualities, then redo the exercise.
Is it easy to live aligned with your core values? Of course not. But I think one of the reasons the people on your admired list are there is that they embody their core values in how they live.
There they are – two powerful questions. Who do I admire? And why do I admire them?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

My Mother Taught Me to Fly...

is written on a tiny piece of wood on my dresser. I gave it to Mom a few years before she died.
It seems appropriate to continue my joy-writing on my mother's birthday. She was a person of joy even though she had a difficult life and didn't get what she really wanted. In some ways I think she got more.

She so wanted an education. They couldn't afford it. She needed to work to help the family. It was still the Depression.

She wanted to become an artist and a writer--she had dreams and ambition--she was a strong woman. But not strong enough to withstand my father's advances. She got married at 19.

She has duplicated herself six times over. She put her strength into her children. And her strength was a desire to know God's love, experience it, and share it. I believe everyone of her children achieved that before death, or are still achieving it as the highest priority of their lives (my two brothers preceded her in death).

That is quite an accomplishment. In my mind, it is the highest. Is their anything that matters more than giving your kids the most important foundation in life? Anything more important than knowing and being loved by God?

Health is important because without it your mind and body will find it harder to make those chemical-electrical connections in your brain that lead to good choices. But it only makes all the important things in life easier, it's not the thing.

Knowing how to receive love and give it is important. But again, that is only harder without getting it first from parents and then from God.

Being able to choose your perspective is very important because that forms healthy (constructive) or unhealthy (destructive) beliefs and choices. (Poor Robin Williams--who felt he had no more good choices! And we are amazed that one with so much could feel and think that.)

Scripture says that joy is in the presence of God. If you don't know that--never learned it--you are definitely handicapped, life is harder.

Do you know how to go into God's presence? Do you know how to experience His love?
My devotional this morning says, "I crafted you with enormous capacity to know Me and enjoy My Presence... The more you focus on My Presence with you, the more fully you can enjoy your life." This is Jesus speaking (Jesus Calling, 2008)

But what if you have never done that? Don't even know God or Jesus?

An easy place to start is a choice. Set aside ten minutes to be with Him. Tell Him you want to meet with Him every day and have His joy, then go to "God in your Face" (facebook) OR http://Godhelps.net/Godinabox and read the day's short reading on Jesus' life. He was our clearest picture of God. While reading, breathe in seven seconds and out seven and keep breathing rhythmically while trying to imagine being there. (This is meditation and 12 minutes a day for 30 days has been shown to change physical numbers.)

Make that a habit and you will have a great start on knowing God and experiencing Joy. And my mother's legacy will reach you, and who knows, maybe even your children! It is the best legacy you can give.

My mother didn't miss out. She will have eternity to create art. She already created six masterpieces. I know that because they will last through eternity. What great artist can say that?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Who Sets You Off?

I'm sure you've noticed who sets you off. It seems to happen again and again. And somehow there's always one or two up close.

Have you ever wondered why they get to you?

If you're like me, you've analyzed it with respect to what they do, how they misunderstand, how they "have to be right", etc.

But have you ever wondered if it's because you two are alike? (It's not a common thought, or a welcome one.)

There's a saying from way back, "If you spot it, you've got it." Don't even remember where I first heard it. Grad school? AA affiliates? Don't know. But essentially it asserts that the things that set you off the most in others are the ones you have (that set other people off--outside of your awareness, of course).

Most of us are unaware because we are trying to be liked and not obnoxious. But of course we all have our querks and blind spots. We understand our behavior--well, sometimes it makes sense to us. We know what we feel and think, why we believe what we do, and so it fits. (Hopefully, because congruence is internal health.)

We don't often have conversations that go "So tell me why you believe______ so strongly?" Or, "What did I say that set you off?" Or even, "Why is it you feel the need to take potshots at my beliefs?"

Recently, I was confronted on my negativity by my daughter and her new husband.

"My?? Negativity?" I was truly shocked.

They seemed to always take my humor negatively. And I've worked so hard to leave off sarcasm which I used to be good at--until I learned it was veiled anger and not humor at all...I've done a lot of work on anger! (Which I repressed growing up--didn't even know I had it.)

I was thinking, she sees everything through his eyes now. But I know that isn't completely true.

Another incident later, I was admittedly angry with his response to her fear, and said as much. It didn't go over well, but it was important and I didn't care. As I told him later "her fear" was not something you play around with before giving birth--especially if you have all the symptoms. This was something I had had much more experience in than he had and I knew it.

But our relationship is not one I want bad feelings in. So I spent many sleepless hours going over the incident and talking to God about it.

"I am concerned that we always seemed to be conflicting. We are very different, have lived very different life-styles, but we liked each other from the beginning. Why does this keep happening?"

And His response startled me. "Maybe it's because you are so much alike."

"What? No we aren't! We see everything differently!"

"But you both have very strong opinions. And you both are sure you're right."

Hard to hear. But it made sense. (And I know God is always right!)

I lay there stunned, silent, thinking.

I've worked hard to hammer out my beliefs--I want them rock solid. He manages a business for a living. He's used to being right and respected in it. Hm-m-m, You may have something there.

"So what do I do?"

God told me, and I said, "I can't do that, but if You can pull it off, I'm available."

I missed him the next morning so we went to plan B. I was scared. It had more opportunity to go South, but I felt it went pretty well.

My son-in-law obviously didn't share my feeling and was distant the next day. Then the dark side made me miserable with their spin on it. Finally, I remembered, I was being obedient!

It came up with my daughter somehow and I told her what I'd said. She was approving, and said, "It may take him awhile, but he comes around. You can tell him the truth." (Whew! That helped.) And he did.

I'm grateful, but I know there is something I have to, no want to, change. I've been working on not being judgmental for years--accepting differences. I guess it's time to go deeper--another lap around that track.

It's deeply ingrained--this I-know mind--from both my family system and my personality.

Is there a take-away for you? It might be just don't be afraid to look at yourself.

I write that and think, Yeah, right! That is the scariest, most painful thing you will ever do.

But it is also the best for growth and relationships.

 And if you do it with God, you don't have to be afraid. He's always kind, even when what you face hurts.




Wednesday, June 11, 2014

We Live in a War Zone

It doesn't happen often, but it did again yesterday. I intervene, help heal someone's false beliefs, and the entities behind them push harder, the feelings growing huge, as if they're there and refuse to leave.

I recognized them and used the authority I have in Jesus, but it was unnerving because the client struggling was a child under 12. Fortunately, the parent didn't think I was crazy. It made me angry that sweetness and innocence should be taken over by evil. Yet I know we live in a war zone, and children are the most vulnerable.

The child had been traumatized by violence and pornography that had come to them through You Tube unsolicited.

That makes me angry also!

The parents hadn't known they needed to put parental controls on You Tube! I didn't know that either. So for any of you parents that think that is a harmless site--think again and if your child has an ipod, or goes on You Tube, or the internet, put in parental controls!

And to Google, doesn't your users' agreement forbid that kind of content? I'm sure I read it. You should exercise some control over your site!

I'm writing this because evil takes advantage of ignorance. We can't afford to be ignorant of the dark side and their ways.

I'm sure countless children have been affected but are afraid to tell a parent or say anything to anyone. They suffer in silence. The feelings of violation are very powerful, sometimes making them want to end their lives. That is where it went yesterday.

We don't have to live in fear, that is not why I'm writing, we need to be wise and aware.

God is stronger, but it's our job to protect our children--they are our dependents. God will help you, but freedom requires you to ask.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

On Hard Drives and Heart Drives

(This was written and scheduled the end of February to publish March 7--it still shows that on the side--but the schedule function didn't work, so that's why it sounds Lentish and Eastery.)

My computer hard drive crashed on Monday. So badly that it can't be rebooted. I have to buy a new one. I had already decided that I would give up negativity for my version of Lent, which seemed impossible, given my personality, so I was practicing when it crashed.

I was already sad and trying to being ok with it, because my sister left on Sunday. We'd had a wonderful 24 hours and I was grateful, but missing her. So I was allowing the feelings, determined not be get negative--even over the computer--and kept telling myself, God has a plan, it's going to be ok.

This happened last year at this time too, and the year before (that's when I got my laptop!) It's a very powerful time at my blog God-in-a-Box,* and the dark side doesn't like it, so I wasn't surprised, just inconvenienced. Thank God our desk top is refurbished and working well.

I woke up the next morning from a dream where I was explaining to someone that having your hard drive crash is how it was for God when his universe got a virus--sin--self-exaltation--my way--my kingdom. He created it to run on freedom and it crashed. He worked and worked to reboot and get it running right again, but finally it was completely corrupted and He just had to accept it and let it go or replace the hardware.**

I was so impressed that the dream was so clear and made so much sense, and I felt so much better about my situation. As though good was going to come from it, not just be ok. And already it has.

I liked the analogy and decided to share it. Of course every parable only goes so far:

The difference is He couldn't just go out and buy a new hard drive and install it. The crash had come in a volitional being and that being had to choose whether to have a new part or keep going with what he had until he quit working. (God even had to do a miracle to keep him from expiring until everyone understands why and how he expires. That is a story in itself!)**

The similarity is that I did have to send my laptop back to its maker to get a new hard drive.

But the main difference is new heart drives have to be chosen. They can't just be paid for and installed. And the exchange wasn't money but life and death.

Once installed, heart drives have to be maintained because it is so easy to pick up a virus. That's how I crashed my computer downloading a program that evidently had a horrible virus. It was so bad we couldn't even go back to restore.

And that is "Earth's story" in a nutshell--rather, in a byte.


*God-in-a-Box--Your Inbox takes you on a Cosmic tour of Jesus' life in a year from Easter to Easter  http://Godhelps.net/God-in-a-Box
**the story of the beginning of evil is in my e-book Love's Playbook, http://www.amazon.com/dp/BOOIESSOQNW

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Do You Know God's Voice?

A request to God and one of my goals for the past three or more years is to be more tuned in to God's voice...more able to hear him and be confident that it is Him.

This scares some people, and I get that. My personality is fear-based and I have worked hard to heal it--asking God to show me what anchors it, in all its myriad forms. I am much less fearful today, but it is true that not every thought we have comes from God. So awareness is good. 

However, I really believe God wants us to hear him, to actively listen for His voice, to have conversations with Him.

Today I saw this from New Hope Church's newsletter...
I Samuel 3:8 says, “Then Eli realized it was the Lord who was calling the boy.” God was speaking to Samuel but he thought it was the voice of Eli. He confused the voice of God and the voice of man. Maybe God is speaking to you, but you are attributing it to the wrong source.
I wonder how many times God has spoken but we have not recognized His voice? How many times have we dismissed a providence as a coincidence? How many times have God’s words gone in one ear and out the other?
What hinders me from hearing is my attention to other things. It is not that I don’t want to hear God, but I am not devoted in the right areas of my life. I am devoted to things and even to service and my own convictions. God may say whatever He wants, but if I am only listening to my desires, I don't hear Him. If I don’t take time to get quiet before the Lord and listen to Him, I can only hear God’s voice at certain times. At other times I become deaf to Him because my attention is to other things— things I think I must do.
The Holy Spirit speaks in lots of different dialects. He knows every language including your unique language. He knows what to say and how to say it - and He is always speaking. The only question is this: do you recognize His voice? If you aren’t looking you won’t see it. If you aren’t listening you won’t hear it. But if you open your eyes and open your ears you will see and hear God everywhere!
I believe God wants to actively communicate with His children. And we are ALL His children whether we are seeking a relationship with Him or not. He is still seeking us.

That reminds me of one of my favorite scenes from "The Count of Monte Cristo": the priest is dying and gives his friend a map.
"God will guide you," says the priest. 
"But priest, I don't believe in God."
"Doesn't matter. He believes in you."
That scene has always thrilled me from the first time I saw it. I'm not sure why, but I just never get tired of it. Maybe it's because I really believe God desires us and loves us. I also believe that the quickest way to find your true self is to find Him and began a relationship with Him.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

April Fools on Me From Blogger

I try to write here once a month. And today I came here to post, and noticed that February's post was still up! But didn't I post last month? I was sure I did...and then I remembered. I'd written about my hard drive crashing and scheduled it to post later that day. Guess it never did.

Oh well, April fools! Post it next month--tomorrow's is already written, and it's about God speaking to us.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Why Do I Need God? Watch Philomena!

"Why do I need God?" she asked me. "I know people who don't have God and are happy."

I have a love/hate relationship with this question. On one hand I love giving the answers, and clearing people's misconceptions and misinformation about God. On the other hand, it's a huge responsibility, and while I love it, I feel the weight of responsibility. It is that important.

So I said, "Well if you are thinking about reality--you need God because He is. You can ignore Him but since He IS, why would you want to? It's a lie that life is better or easier without Him.

"But if you are thinking Do I have to believe? no, you don't. He doesn't force anyone to believe in Him. He just loves you and wants a relationship with you. He knows how much better your life will be with Him than without Him."

"He and the church just complicate life," she said, but I knew she was very protective of her Catholic background.

"It can feel like that if you listen to people, even priests," I replied. "However, Jesus kept it very simple. He said knowing God, having a relationship with Him, is all that matters. In fact, He said it is the one important thing in life. Why do you think He would say that?"

"I have no idea."

"Maybe because God wants a relationship with you? Maybe because we have been given so much misinformation? Maybe because even the church has got it wrong? I believe you can't really know or be yourself without knowing Him."

She is like a lot of people I've met: afraid to believe that God really loves them and wants to communicate with them, afraid to trust their own ability to hear and believe. They see God as someone out to get them.

I understand that. I really do. But after seeing Philomena last week, I think it is imperative that each of us seek and find our own path to God. People who get it handed down from the church--and think that to believe in the God they are taught about is sufficient--can really lose themselves in either, guilt, anger, or resentment. Thank God, Philomena didn't give up believing in His love, even while she suffered under inappropriate guilt. I highly recommend the movie. It is very well done, and a true story.

In my opinion, the story shows that God will come through, if you seek Him. All the little things that had to come together, details that almost didn't happen for her to find out she was loved, proved to me that God was there for her showing His love for her, His forgiveness.

It also shows how wrong the picture of God the church gives you can be. If that's wrong, how can you have a true picture of yourself?

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Holidays Juxtapose Differences

Christmas magnifies differences. Different regions and cultures, and even extended family have different traditions, different ways of celebrating, different foods that are special to them-- all within the same religion!
Today we watched Rick Steve’s “Christmas in Europe”—featuring beautiful and lovely differences—all celebrating the same event. The spirit of the subject kindles acceptance, but food widens the chasm.
I was surprised one Thanksgiving with my husband’s extended family. I always think there will be plenty of sides for a vegetarian. But even the vegetables had meat added. I found two of many dishes on the table to eat. (I didn’t suffer any; I’d had plenty of guacamole and chips before dinner.)
Yesterday we had dinner with my daughter’s new extended family and in all their special food I found two things to eat. I wasn’t upset, I was honored with “no need” to contribute, but it was so interesting to me that one family’s “special” is another family’s exceptions. I had missed my daughter’s text about making a salad. This morning I saw it, and felt bad because she had to cope with yet another set of exceptions (gluten-free). I could fudge a little, she couldn’t unless she wanted to be sick for five days.
These differences in the way we are raised, and the way we see things, the way we celebrate, the way we think and the things we like, or even need, can make for strained relationships; or we can notice, honor, ask questions, learn and respect.
Have you noticed that isn’t always the way it goes down?
In fact, very often, it becomes a source of irritation or ridicule, sometimes hurtful even with family; other times it’s more good-natured jesting, even adding to the fun—as when I had seven sibling supervisors as I was learning to make tortillas the morning of the aforementioned Thanksgiving.
What makes differences so threatening? Or is it just that we like what we learn to like? What we’ve had from childhood?
Openness seems to be threatening. We don’t really like change. We like what we know, it makes us feel secure. We usually have to have a reason to learn new ways, try new pathways. Sometimes we go looking, but more often we get into ruts.
But think about it. The same old ways lull us into mindlessness—one of the biggest problems we have today.
Auto pilot can take all the joy out of your life. The same old routines can suck the life right out of you. Creating deadness, or creeping numbness.
So, do some things that make you stretch, that move you out of your comfort zone and keep you awake. Purposely try new things for good reasons and make thoughtful choices.
Maybe all you need is one New Year’s Resolution this year: live with purpose: learn from others, ask why and listen, try good new things that make sense, that increase life and energy—things that make you more you. In the end you are only responsible for you (and the things your children pick up from you). You are all you have.