Friday, June 30, 2006
No Need to Impress (Filed under: Philosophy)
"That's why it's so wonderful to have a home church. We get to mess up in front of them. Have fun with them. Experiment with them. Try things that work, and others that don't. It's nice to have a community of people where you don't really need to impress anybody. They become your 'soundboard' and a little bit of a testing ground where you can explore and examine things together."
Church is supposed to be a place of acceptance and love where there's no need to impress. Perfection should be checked at the door.
I think the churches are especially full of this kind of contradiction. Paul's struggle with sin captures this contradiction: "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do," (Romans 7:15 NIV).
It's also seen in the faith/works debate: "Not by works, so that no one can boast" says Paul (Ephesians 2:9 NIV), yet James asks, "What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds?" (James 2:14 NIV). It's the whole 'already but not yet' aspect of the Kingdom of God.
I don't think God calls us to BE the best, but simply to do our best (Col. 3:23). Striving for the top spots of influence goes against everything in the Bible. We're not to be consumed with being the best. That sort of competitive spirit yearns intensely for perfection and lacks love. Without love we are nothing.
If church advertising falters, we should do our best to make things better. Not to be better than other churches, not to impress design-savvy visitors, but because we're doing this for God and we truly want to reach people. Yet amazingly (here comes that contradiction again), God accepts our pathetic efforts. He certainly doesn't need our marketing, our evangelism, or even the sacrifices of old. For God it's all about our hearts. Are we giving this our all and doing it with the best of intentions?
The church is a broken institution, made up of sinful people. And that's exactly the draw. We don't have to be perfect. We don't have to clean ourselves up. We come as we are. That doesn't mean we wallow in the dirt and the muck, but it shouldn't keep you from coming in the door and finding a friend.
Face it, church is a ragtag bunch of losers, you and me both. We all have this disease called sin. Which is why we so desperately need God Who can save us from sin.
We're not here to impress anyone. We're here to help the church bring people to God. That might happen through helping churches avoid cheesy clipart and bad design decisions. But it also might happen when churches drop the facade and embrace the fact that we're all broken. Cheezy church marketing sucks. But church marketing that acknowledges reality might be on the right track."
This writer challenges me to take an honest look at my relationship with God, fellow believers and non-believers alike. How much of what we do is done to impress? Are good deeds done in order to advance yourself up the ladder of influence? Are we disgusted by sinners? Are we moved with genuine compassion for those who are addicted to destructive behaviors? I have wasted much precious time and mental energy trying to be perfect. It is NOT the focus we should have. Nor is it possible for any of us to be perfect in a literal sense as long as we draw breath upon this earth. The best of our righteousness is as filthy rags. That's why I need a merciful God who forgives. Sure, I could get certain outward behaviors under control and put on a pretty good front, but inside I was weak and entertained bad thoughts- I was dead. Lowering my defenses, surrendering my list of "appropriate behaviors" and trusting to the merits of the Great Unseen hasn't been easy. I simply must be who I am in Christ. He loves and accepts us as we are. The more we behold the great love of God, the more we change- from the inside out. Why do we judge and reject each other? Why do we meddle and push people to move faster than they are willing?? The painful truth is this: nobody is any better than anyone else, no matter how much truth one professes to know or how strictly they live their lives. The Cross is often rejected by professed Christians because it is the great leveler of men. The sinful part of our nature wants us to feel secure- to think we are better and more highly esteemed than others. Legalists reject the humble Christ in favor of focusing on the upholding of high standards, righteous traditions and good works. Why? Because to accept the teachings of Christ means it's not about ME anymore. Dying to self is letting go of my own efforts to perfect myself, to rest and allow God to work in me. He created the world, He can recreate my heart- this is my only hope. My job is to allow this rebirth and trust the promises of God. This is the truest sense of Sabbath rest known to man...
"No tool is more beneficial than intelligence. No enemy is more harmful than ignorance."
Abu Abdullah Muhammad al-Harithi al-Baghdadi al-Mufid
We must be intelligent in our beliefs. Though being wise, we will be thought of as fools. The things of The Almighty are foolishness to man. To wear another's robe of righteousness brings no honor or merit to me- it breaks down my pride, and yet this is the way it must be.
God is good! Today my man got hired on officially with a Construction Company for a good starting rate, so we won't starve. We definitely need benefits though. I've pretty much decided to re-enter the work force this Fall when the kids go back to school. I go back and forth over this. Sometimes I look at my youngest child and she seems so small and helpless. Other times I think she's so grown up. Life has not been without struggles, but I'm thankful I was able to spend so much time with my kids. A lot of Moms have NO choice and go back to work after maternity leave is up. I believe it's good for young children to be with their parents as long as possible. I've done 10 years as a stay-home Mom and it's probably time to move on... I must admit it sure feels good to bring in a paycheck again!
Several friends called us out of the blue to chat this week, which really lifted our spirits. One such call was from the man who got us involved with LifeTalk in the first place. Jay & I really respect this person and for him to take time out of his schedule to call and encourage us meant a lot!!
We are still not sleeping well. I just can't seem to shut my brain off at night. I lay in bed for hours contemplating so many things and praying for direction. I'm tired! Today I set aside time for a short nap.
Herman is gone somewhere today- probably a Dr. appointment. We fixed up his old flag pole and bought him a flag for July 4th. I think he will be thrilled to see it. (I love to surprise people!)
Hope things are going well for you. Have a safe & enjoyable July 4 weekend!!!! :o)
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
Recently I've been contemplating the difference between stubbornness & determination. There's a fine line between the two. One is a negative trait while the other is positive and often the call is made based on the attitude of the one who is assessing you. Overall, I am NOT stubborn- though at times I am & don't realize it. I am more determined than anything else and I'm not ashamed of that...
My man has been putting his carpentry/construction know-how to good use- making some money. It's SOOOO nice to have him around more!! He's got great skills & I'm proud of him! I know this will have to end sooner or later, but time with him is what I enjoy most!! Things continue to pick up for me at the YMCA, but still this is not going to be enough to feed, clothe, educate & medicate a family of 6. Waiting on The Lord to come through for us....
I encourage everyone out there to have some marketable trade skills. Yes, college education is a great step to take in life, but there's still a big need for people with a trade these days. To be able to work with your hands is a valuable skill. Yes, you get dirty and you sweat, but you certainly won't starve. My brother is a self-made millionaire at 30- he never set foot in college. He simply worked hard at his trade, saved money faithfully & made wise investments. I'm SO proud of him, considering how many odds were stacked against us from early on. He, like me was unjustly labelled "white trash" who would never amount to anything. I love it when people from our past ask me how he's doing- I enjoy the look of shock on their faces when I tell them my brother is actually quite successful. (No need for me to rub it in, it just goes to show you can't judge someone's potential by their upbringing.) My brother is very shrewd and handles his wealth nicely. He lives well, but doesn't go around flaunting it.
My trades are Interior decorating/painting, Equestrian management & Riding Instructor/trail boss, Poultry management, Personal training. My supervisor at the 'Y' says I have a "bright future" there and that things will continue to pick up for me there. :o) Super!! Anyway, to all of you out there who don't have the most flashy jobs in the world, I wish to thank you!! Without constructions workers, paramedics, mechanics, farmers, plumbers, welders, electricians and other tradesmen- where would we be?! A regional bank manager or Statesman would not have been more appreciated than was the man who fixed our AC/heating unit last winter. I was so relieved, I wanted to hug the man for making our house warm again!!!!! Nobody appreciates the plumber until their toilets are backed up all over the floor. So, we can boast about our Dr's, Lawyers and Scientists- they certainly deserve recognition, but if there were no farmers, what on earth would we eat?? Tradesmen & women are unsung heroes. We need to appreciate them more. :o)
Monday, June 26, 2006
When I arrived at my exit, my family was there to pick me up. I was very happy to see them and glad to be home. We spent the rest of Sunday together, then put the kids to bed. Now we're up and running Monday morning. I'll write more later, but for now I've gotta jet to the 'Y'! I'm leading YMCA day camp for girls 4 days this week- should be really fun and my girls get to participate for free because I'm the leader! :o)
Thursday, June 22, 2006
Yesterday I subbed for another instructor. Today I re-entered the field of Corporate Wellness, doing 3 lectures for a local industry on behalf of the YMCA. Very exciting! As far as I know, currently the YMCA doesn't have anyone doing CW full time and this was part of my education- so it may lead to something in the future... keep your fingers crossed...
My man is still trying to decide what direction to go as far as career goes. He is considering a few options. I appreciate all the prayers that are going up on our behalf.
I feel I need to say something- and this person knows who she is. I love you and you mean well- just be my friend- okay. I don't need you to be a parent to me. I felt from the start that you view me as inferior to you. There have been many times that you voiced your dreams and I have enthusiastically backed you 100%, yet when I share my dreams you seem to have something negative to say as to why it won't work. I'm a big girl and I research & investigate things too. I don't just fly by the seat of my pants in life with no clue. The way you live is fine if you are okay with it, but I'm not like you. God has a different calling on my life. You may not accept or understand it, but I believe with all my heart I am called to do music and that should be respected- even if you don't agree. It is possible to be BOTH a mother and be actively involved in ministry. In fact, even a well known historical figure in our church came under fire for leaving her children with trusted friends while doing ministry. My husband has no hobbies because that's the way he CHOOSES to live. He's a laid-back phlegmatic who works hard, but his idea of relaxing is working around the house or sleeping. I know this is vastly different than the way your husband is. You have NO idea how many times I've all but pushed my man out the door to go do something with the guys, he simply won't. He moved around so much, he's never really known what it's like to have a group of close friends to go out and do stuff with. It hurts when you criticize without knowing the whole situation. You have done some very kind things for my family in the past for which I am grateful and even blogged about. I would like to have a relationship with you and some others in your circle, but I keep feeling like I'm getting slapped in the face and stabbed in the back. Oh yes, how the rumors have travelled... If you have the courage to discuss this, I'm open- you know my e-mail address. And in the words of Forest Gump, "That's all I have to say about that."
My two middle children come home from camp tomorrow. I can't wait to hear of their grand adventures. It's been so quiet around here- missed the noise. :o)
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
Anyway, I noticed a recurrent theme, both in scripture and history. The thought came to me again- the stronger the opposition, the greater the opportunity. Man, I feel like having a shirt made with this saying on it! God is the Master at overcoming crazy odds. Seriously, look at all the evil that was stacked against people like Job, Joshua, Daniel, Elijah, Moses, Noah, Jesus Christ. Yet they were faithful- kept hanging in there. God did amazing things for them and they were a blessing to their fellow man! This is what keeps me going...
Few good things in life come easy. Ghandi, Martin Luther, Muhammad, Abraham Lincoln, etc. ALL had to walk through devastation more than once, but look at the good that came from it all. Thank God they didn't give up!! Today as I listened to my favorite Christian radio station- J103, it was almost as if every song was hand-picked for me. I mean, everything applied so well to my current situation:
Scott Krippayne sang, "Sometimes He calms the storm when He whispers peace be still He can settle any sea, but it doesn't mean He will, Sometimes He holds us close and lets the wind & waves go wild. Sometimes He calms the storm and other times He calms His child." Then the group Barlow Girl sang 'Never Alone'- wow, what an awesome song!!!!
I feel so very encouraged! I will cry whenever necessary, otherwise I keep smiling and being hopeful for my future and that of my family.
Last night, although he was tired from hanging trim all day, my man held me for a long time. Didn't say much, just let me cry. I love his quiet strength.
If God can redeem, bless and use a whore, a cheater, a murderer, even a donkey- I've got to believe He can bring something good from my life as well.
I want to be content, I want to count my blessings, yet I'm so weary I just don't feel like I have the will to do so anymore. Sleep does not come easily. God help me be strong.
Limbo is a hard place to be. At this point, we have NO idea what the future holds for us. We are ruined financially. It will take years to recover from this ordeal emotionally and otherwise. 6 families are suffering while a dysfunctional leader keeps his cushy job. Very disillusioning when this happens.
I am preparing myself for the phone call I know is coming... Poor Grandpa, what a life he's led. He was born to a father with a fierce Scotch-Irish temper. Because of the Depression, he only received a 3rd grade education before quitting school to help earn money for the family. He fought in WWII. While working high up on a telephone pole, the Germans shot the pole out from under him and he fell backward to the ground straddling the pole. His pelvis was crushed, ribs were damaged and he was rendered unconscious. When he awoke, he was laying in the morgue surrounded by bloody corpses- this traumatized him greatly. Between the atrocities he witnessed during the war and the injuries he suffered, he decided there was no God and if there was, he wanted nothing to do with Him. He came back from the war and married a beautiful young war widow with 4 children. Her name was Verlene. She had beautiful blue eyes and Auburn hair. I have a picture of her in my room. I very closely resemble her- it's downright scary!!
Anyway, they were somewhat happy for a few years. They had my mother, then a set of twin girls. That was it. The pressures of raising 7 children proved to be too much and their quality of life went downhill fast. Grandpa worked all sorts of jobs, from a schoolbus driver to a highschool janitor- all the while managing a farm. They had no indoor plumbing or running water- in fact, Grandpa didn't get those luxuries until the mid 1990's. Grandma became so sad and tired that she prayed the Lord to let her die. One day while working in the fields in the hot August sun, she got overheated and headed toward the house. When she got inside, she drank a cup of really cold water. Her last words were, "Girls, I feel kinda faint". She died of massive heat stroke in the arms of her daughter. Grandpa felt guilty for the rest of his life for some of the mean things he said & did to Grandma, but life has no rewind button. Eventually, he remarried a woman named Gertrude, but she was sleeping with her own son and understandably, they ended up divorced. After that, Grandpa lived out the rest of his days alone in the little farmhouse in the middle of massive acreage. We moved to Missouri when I was 8 years old. My Mom left my Dad and took us west to join her family there. Grandpa Campbell could be the funniest man you would ever want to meet- literally told stories so funny that I wet my pants from laughing so hard! But he could turn in a minute and pitch a fit. Due to his quick temper, he trusted few people and even disowned each of his own kids several times over the years. He had some really strange ideas, but I loved him dearly. He enjoyed laughter & loved to play pranks- I think I got my goofy side from him!
My best memories of him were sitting with him in the rocking chair while he told stories. Also, lounging on the riverbank fishing. We built a fire, wrapped the fish we caught in tinfoil with a pat of butter and a slice of lemon, then let them cook. When you unwrapped that steaming fish and put a little salt on it, it was great eating. Grandpa was a WONDERFUL cook. He made the tenderest deer steaks and rabbit stew! He lived off the land growing his own corn, vegetables, berries. We went mushroom hunting together. I was his only blood granddaughter- he said I reminded him of Grandma. He never actually said it, but I thought he was proud of me- just because of how he would look at me sometimes with that far-away smile. However, when my parents decided to make ammends, we left MO- that was the end of my relationship with Grandpa. He didn't respond to any of the cards or letters I sent after that, or even acknowledge my graduation, wedding or the births of any of our children. I went out to visit him a few times during the summer when I was a teen, but things were never the same. He gave me a beautiful butterfly necklace for my 10th birthday. That was the only gift he ever gave me and sadly, I lost it in one of our moves. Sure wish I had it now... I took my children out to meet him 2 years ago. He was kind, but distant.
Grandpa George had struggles with Kidney stones and many other ordeals, including Prostate Cancer. He was near death many times but that stubborn Scottsman pulled through repeatedly against all odds. Now it appears his journey is nearly ended. I guess part of my interest in Herman up the hill is because he's the same age as my Grandpa and my care for him is how I wish I could care for my Grandpa.
Grandpa George, I wish I had the chance to get to know you better. I wish you had wanted to know me. I hope you took time to read the last letter I sent you and know how grateful I am that you were a part of my life for 3 years. Rest in peace.
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
It's the same principle with finding God. If we approach the Bible, the Torah or the Quaran, etc. with strong pre-conceived ideas of what God is like and Who He is, we may just miss the true picture. Some of us are looking SOOOO hard for God that we can't see Him. Breathe, relax. He wants to reveal Himself. The more I go to the Word with a teachable spirit, the clearer my picture of God becomes. I find the reality of Who He is VASTLY different and far greater than I ever imagined Him to be.
I find this same principle also holds true with people. When we judge people by their past, race, social status or appearance, we register a pre-conceived stereotype of who this person is and what they have to offer. What if we approached each individual with an open mind and a willingness to see what will unfold? What if we gave everyone a chance?? I've pre-judged many people in my time and can tell you that many times I was pleasantly surprised to find I was mistaken. The reverse has also been true as there are times when I thought I could trust someone and they betrayed me. When this happens, we tend to view everyone as suspect and miss the truest picture of who they are.
You can't judge a book by it's cover and we will never see the truth until we let truth reveal itself.
Monday, June 19, 2006
We picked our oldest daughter up and dropped our two middle children off at camp Sunday afternoon. Like me, she has a heart for horses and did specialty camp for Horsemanship last week. The camp bug has bitten! She had a wonderful time and told us all about it on the way home. The house seems so quiet with two of the kids gone now, but I'm sure they will have their own adventures to tell about when we pick them up at the end of the week! :o) Our littlest one will have to wait another 2 years before she will be old enough to go. I tried to do some special things with her so she didn't feel left out.
My Grandfather Campbell in Missouri is dying. He had an anyuerism in his chest, along with several other problems. His liver and kidneys are failing. My Aunts are now left with the painful decision of deciding when to shut the life support down. I will be getting a phone call any time now with grave news. This is the last remaining of my biological grandparents. I only had a chance to know my Grandpa for a little while as a girl. He was an interesting person. I'll try to write more about him in the next couple of days. This is going to be a BUSY week for me.
My man has been REALLY productive around here since he was put on "Administrative Leave". He managed to get the pool fixed, filled and running. He got the yard mowed and the treehouse nearly completed- also did some work in the barn. Poor guy has lost about 15 lbs from all the stress we've been under. (He looks good though!) The situation at the radio network was investigated last week. In the end- once again, the organization failed to deal justly. They voted to keep the current leadership in place and dropped 6 families who had sold houses, etc just over a year ago to follow the ministry down here. I feel so WIERD inside! My temper is threatening to flare over this, and yet I am relaxed as I know God has seen this injustice and it will not go unpunished. In a way, it's a relief to think maybe we have a better future ahead of us without being involved with radio ministry. Sadly, I really don't see a bright future ahead for LifeTalk. I'm grieving in a way too, because we invested SOOO much of ourselves into this career. God, I REALLY don't know what You are doing, but I'm trying to be brave and trust that You are in control... there are some prospects on the horizon- for my husband and for me... stay tuned...
A comment left by 'Anonymous' on my last post is a classic example of the insensitive, finger-pointing, judgemental attitudes that exist out there. This person felt it her duty to very boldly put me in my place, but didn't have the courage to leave her name. Why? (I think it's because she knew she was wrong to treat me that way- especially since I haven't done any disrespect to her.) Am I angry? Nah. I'm developing thicker skin when it comes to this kind of thing. If this was years ago, I would've been devastated and crying in my room, examining myself and doubting my motives. NOT anymore! God is pleased with the way I'm living my life, my sins are covered and I'm resting in His love. My life isn't perfect by any means- in fact, it's been pretty rough- at times I have felt like Job. But I have healthy, well-adjusted children and a man who is supportive of me. My advice to 'Anonymous'? Weed your own garden!!
Until we first master how to LOVE people, we have NO business going around correcting others or telling them how they should live.
Friday, June 16, 2006
Sharing my story was cleansing for me. What about you? I'm interested to hear your stories too. What are your scars, your victories??? Open yourself, share your journey- Trailady will not judge, but seeks to encourage you. I've learned a lot about Brian, Angel, Royce, Sharon, Andy, Marcel, Donny and many others since we met here in the Blogosphere. WAY cool people! More than anything, I long to connect...
Life is too short to stay married to our sorrows. Dare to expose your hurts, drop the baggage and be free. Stand up against the winds of rejection, be brave enough to laugh, cry, dream and dance before your Maker. This is my wish for each of you.
Thursday, June 15, 2006
'Message of Mercy' recorded their second album. This was an exciting time writing songs, working out arrangements and hanging out in the studio. I very much enjoy being on the road with the girls. My children always greet me with such enthusiasm when I come home. This makes me so happy!
Together we faced the challenge of dealing with a lady who was Bi-polar. Helped her move several times, find jobs, etc. After 2 years of this, I was frazzled. Did our best to care for her, but in the end she left the area never to return.
There's always a bright spot in dark times. Our oldest daughter had seizures every so often from the time she was around 3 months old. This was incredibly frightening for us to deal with. She stopped breathing twice. We had to watch her carefully whenever she was around water, etc. I'm happy to say that just as the Dr's predicted, she has finally outgrown them. Her last seizure was 3 yrs ago. We are still careful whenever she gets in the pool and monitor her bathtimes.
The children are growing up so fast! Seeing my oldest daughter develop has been bittersweet. Along with looking forward to the many milestones she must pass, I am reminded of what happened to me when I was her age. I have attended several recovery seminars. I've come a long way in my journey away from spiritual, verbal and sexual abuse. I was, however diagnosed as having 'Delayed Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome'. Basically, I'm a stubborn person. Just kept bouncing back time and time again from difficult experiences. However, this past year, I simply ran out of bounce. I felt completely devastated, vulnerable and weak. All the stress finally caught up to me. I'm trying to relax and breathe, trusting that Someone bigger than me is in control. I find comfort in passages of scripture. I feel alive when I pray, sing, dance, workout and when I'm playing with my kids. I keep asking, "Who am I now?" 13 years of marriage has changed me. I'm not the same happy-go-lucky person I used to be with so much responsibility resting on my shoulders. I'm not getting any younger and my dreams seem to evade me. So close to what I want and yet so far away... Sometimes I go back in my mind to my days on the farm with my best friend. For a moment, I'm a wide-eyed girl running barefoot through the grass chasing fireflies... great memories...
After making a move we really didn't want to make, and experiencing intense financial difficulty, my husband was fired unethically. (This is currently under investigation) But our journey with the radio network appears to have come to a close. It hurts that we sacrificed greatly and moved all over the country to make this work and this is how it ends... dumped like unwanted pups beside the road. The last 2 yrs with the ministry were tough due to the poor leadership we've had. We watched helplessly as our close knit team of friends & fellow staff plunged into subzero morale. My man and I were both on anti-depressants this past year- which I felt helped me- my husband refused to take them anymore because he didn't feel it made any difference for him. (Although for a time he was able to laugh and relax) I'm not sure where I belong anymore as I am a free thinker. After much searching, there don't seem to be many churches that offer what I need most- a loving, accepting, non-judgemental atmosphere where all are welcomed in the Love of God. Churchianity has often smothered Christianity- this is what I am moving away from. There's a small, but growing movement of like-minded people. I encounter them on a regular basis and it is a comfort to me- gives me a great deal of hope.
Life has many strange twists and painful turns... but it's also full of wonderful mysteries and surprises. We now have the opportunity to be involved with Christian theatre through Ripple Productions. Also I was recently hired to teach fitness classes at the YMCA. The old gym I worked at gave me an excellent reference. Though it is unclear which direction our lives are going at this time, and sometimes I feel like I am hanging by a thread, I remain optimistic that somewhere, sometime in the future things will be better. There are blessings in my life for which I am grateful. Health, nice clothes, vehicles that run, a big yard, a good dog, etc.
For years, I quietly hid my grief over a dysfunctional childhood, the break-up of my family, the traumas I suffered as a child and the poor treatment I received at the hands of people who meant well, but had no living connection with Almighty God. There's something freeing about being honest about my struggles. Some people are really bothered by openness. We ALL have scars and that's okay. We all know what mistreatment and rejection feels like, because unfortunately we live in a harsh world. I came to realize that I have a choice. I will either become cold, hard, depressed and live in denial, or let myself hurt, heal and remain open-hearted. We either become withdrawn or we connect with others and help soothe past hurts. I choose to keep reaching...
We joined a little church in TN. where the people were kind and sincere. There was no constant barrage of critical suggestions coming my way as to how to be "holy". These people simply cared and we could feel it. A speaker came to town to do a week long revival. We almost didn't attend for fear it would be the same ol' seminar on Revelation we've heard a million and one times. Instead, this guy got up front and very passionately spoke about the love and mercy of God. I had never thought of God as merciful. I had always pictured Him as an angry, demanding egotist. This man told us that it's not about us and what we do, it's about God and what He has done. Suddenly a heavy load was taken from me. I was loved by Divinity! I looked back over the years of being labeled 'white trash', I thought of all the condemnation I had endured at the hands of so-called Christians and saw what an innaccurate picture of God they had painted for me. God hates sin because it damages our bodies & destroys relationships, but He loves sinners. He's wild about us!! What a concept! I got re-baptized at the end of the revival. My life was changed! Now I had something to sing about and songs started pouring out of me.
After moving nearly every year of my life, we were finally able to design and built our first home. It was a cozy little Cape Cod. 4 bedrooms, 3 baths. 1750 sq. ft. It was a very exciting time for my husband and I as we worked together as a family on the house- yes, even the kids helped carry wood, nails, etc. For the first time in my marriage, I really felt like my man and I were a successful team. I felt I had some kind of stability and we could put down some roots.
Slowly I began to emerge from the diaper decade. I began working out at a local gym early mornings and got fit. A few months later, they hired me to teach Aerobics, Toning and Stretch classes. The exercise and the extra money helped raise my bruised self-esteem. Then I received a phone call from a girl in Chattanooga who was part of a Contemporary Christian singing group. I heard 'Message of Mercy' at a concert event where I also sang. I was impressed with them and they had also like me. My youngest daughter was still in diapers and my husband was working long, hard hours as always, so I didn't see how it would be possible for me to be in a travelling group. I told the girl I was flattered they would think of me and would invite me to join them, but it wouldn't be fair to them for me to accept. (I said a silent prayer, "God, if I've just passed up an opportunity that You ordained, give me another chance") Two months later, the girl called me again saying they still hadn't found the one they were looking for- would I reconsider? Of course, I said "Yes"! The timing of God is amazing because if I was still strict, I would never have joined a group that had drums in their music. Now, I had a circle of friends to travel with and a group to write songs for. My husband was very supportive of my musical pursuits. Can't say the same for some ladies at church who felt that I shouldn't have said yes. They felt travelling one weekend a month was innappropriate for a mother of 4. Oh well! I've had the time of my life with these girls!!! I'm busy once again outside my home and have a little "me" time. I felt my horizons expanding... (to be concluded)
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
Thanksgiving of '97 we got away for a few days to visit some friends in Oregon. While trail riding in the wilderness, I was thrown from my horse. When I hit the frozen ground I broke my collarbone, dislocated my shoulder, split my humerous, sprained my wrist, shattered my tailbone and whiplashed my neck. Thank God I was wearing a helmet, or I may not be here today. I laid on the cold ground by myself until my companions came back for me with help. It took 45 minutes to get me to a hospital. The pain was excruciating! I went into shock so badly, the ER people had to stick me 11 times to find a vein for the IV. I had a severe reaction to the Morphine they gave me and nearly lost consciousness. My baby boy was only 6 mos old when this happened- he was still nursing. Poor little guy had to do without me for 24 hrs. Let's just say that more than my arm was hurting! ;o) I was able to continue nursing him with a few minor adjustments. My son walked at 7 mos. because I couldn't carry him with an arm in a sling. Once again, I was down for recovery. To see my man and two small children struggling to get by without my help was torment for me. I determined not to do any risky activities until the kids were big enough to take care of themselves. I was pretty helpless for 2 mos till the fracture fused enough so I could move around. One lady came and stayed with me for 3 days after the accident, and a good friend of mine, Kristine came to check on me several times to help me bathe, but thereafter I was left to fend for myself.
The study group brought in some guests who had more radical ideas to add to our regimen. Abstinence within marriage was one of their beliefs. We were strongly encouraged to remove our simple wedding bands- as they were "ornamentation" and God could never accept us if we had them on. There were strict interpretations of how to keep 'The Lords Day'. The older women strongly advised me to try and change myself into a quiet little house mouse who followed 10 paces behind my husband. I did my best. By the time our 3rd child was born by C-section I'd pretty much mastered the 1800's look. The people who were mentoring us weren't always pleasant, but desperate for acceptance, I submitted to their counsel. Felt I was "purifying myself" with all the many things I had "surrendered" for the Lord. We were told to share what we learned, so I attempted to minister and mentor others into the strict lifestyle we were living. My hard-hitting, judgemental approach didn't go over too well. Needless to say, I ended up worn out and fell into despair. (Secretly, I knew I wasn't holy. I knew the temptations I struggled with.) I cried out in desparation and The Lord heard me. First He sent me off to work at summer camp 1999 where I could almost hear Him tell me everyday during trail rides that He loved me. Then He dropped a "bomb" on the study group clique and soon everyone was moving away to different parts of the country. The radio network decided to relocate to TN. So, once again we were on the move cross-country. I was SO happy to leave the desert! One day in the moving truck, a voice spoke to my heart saying, "Tear down this wall of beliefs you have built and I will re-build it with My Truth". So I did one of the scariest things I've ever done. I simply stopped living the cultish lifestyle. I went back to the simple Gospel. I began to accept that God loved me, though I was a sinner. I put my wedding band back on, cut my hair, dug out my jeans. I was forgiven and I was FREE to be me! From that time on, I would NEVER again live to please people. I would stand on my own in the sight of Almighty God and live by conviction alone.
We moved into a little cottage by a lake. My husband worked up the hill and could walk to & from work. The first 3-4 months we were in TN. my man worked 12-16 hour days. We rarely saw him. I found comfort in my 3 babies. How I loved to hold them! To play, chasing them around the house. I read a TON of books and sang to them. Whenever we sat at the table to eat, I felt that someone was still missing. I longed for another child. We soon found out I was pregnant again. I was terribly sick 24/7 with my last pregnancy just as I was while carrying my other two girls, so we figured it was a girl. Sure enough, our fourth and final blessing came along via a scheduled C-section. As soon as I looked upon her tiny face I knew the missing person had arrived and my fertile years came to a close. The surgeries took a toll on my body though. I have always struggled with Anemia and had to have blood transfusion twice. It took me 3 years after the last section to get my energy back and Iron levels close to normal.
For 8 long years I rarely sang, had few hobbies and did nothing but change diapers, wash laundry, and wipe noses. Then God saw fit to bring me out of the wilderness. (to be continued)
Then came the call to Yakima, WA. We dropped everything for a chance for my husband to have a career. Halfway across the country I began to miscarry our second pregnancy in a truckstop bathroom in Salina, Kansas. I was 4 1/2 mos pregnant and devastated. We stopped for a day Wyoming to rest after it was all over with, then kept driving to WA. When we arrived I was weak from blood-loss, pale and heartsick. The Yakima Valley was the UGLIEST place I've ever been. Brown & barren high desert. When we drove over the mountain into the valley, my man said, "Well, this is our new home" This Trailady burst into tears. My husband worked incredibly long hours without pay for 8 months while we lived on sponsorship in 1 bedroom of someone else's home. I did home care for an elderly lady with Altzheimers. Now, I was far away from family or friends. All I had was my little girl. I loved her dearly and wanted another baby. 2 mos after we got to Yakima we received a phone call from PA. My dear mother-in-law was dying of breast cancer that metastasized to her brain. This was a devastating loss as she had taught me so many things. The family wanted us to return to PA. So, the internship was put on hold, we threw our bags into our little Escort wagon and headed home. I begged for another baby & somehow, just 3 1/2 mos. after miscarriage, I was pregnant again. We had 2 weeks to visit with her and say goodbye. I sat beside her singing hymns and stroking her forehead as she passed. After the funeral, I stayed with my Father-in-law to help care for him and be company to the new widower. My husband then returned to Yakima. We were apart for 6 mos. He finally returned to PA for Christmas and New Years, then we moved to Louisville, KY where he was Station Manager of WSOH. This time he worked from home, but he was so preoccupied with work- we never got to do anything together. I felt a bit isolated and looked forward to weekly church and grocery shopping every other week. Since we still didn't have any money, when the time came for our second child to be born, I returned to PA where a midwife who did my prenatal care would attempt to deliver the baby at home for low cost. Unfortunately, I was unable to deliver a second time after 36 hrs of labor and 5 hrs pushing. We drove the 10 miles to the hospital for another C-section- with no insurance to cover it. We had a beautiful baby BOY. Made payment arrangements. I was taken back to Louisville just 3 days post op. and recovered in our apartment while my husband did his best to figure out a way to sell underwriting for the station- which didn't have much coverage. No church member offered any help- even though they knew we had no family and that I had a C-section. My man tried to assist wherever possible, but his work was very demanding and it was terribly hard for me to manage a 2 yr old and a newborn with a 6 inch gash in my torso and feeling so tired.
Four months later, we were called back to Yakima, WA as my husband was offered a position as Program Director for the network with a little better pay & benefits. (Thank God) We loaded up our stuff AGAIN and headed West where we stayed in one bedroom of someone's home, this time for 3 mos. while I tried desparately to find an apartment that would be affordable on one meager income. Finally found an 800 sq ft. apartment and we were soon moved in. Our two children were such a joy to me! Again, the only time I got out of the house was for church each week & shopping every other week. Then we got a computer, so at least I had e-mail. Sent out a ton of messages with few replies. Honestly felt nobody cared about me anymore. I felt lonely and forgotten. Desperate to connect with someone, I got caught up in a study group that taught a bunch of false ideas and legalistic rhetoric. While my husband was working 10-12 hour days, I was home studying the books I was given and making some radical changes. ( to be continued )
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
1) You can get just about anywhere in them :o)
2) The new trucks are sweet enough to go to church or out on the town
3) You can put a wet dog in the back after a long day at the lake
4) Good for hauling hay, tack, feed & firewood
5) Convenient for biking enthusiasts- just load the gear on the back
6) I LOVE to camp in the back of a truck. Simply blow up an air mattress, load it & some blankets in the back. Lay down & snuggle under the stars. (If it's cold & wet you can always put a cap on the back.)
7) When you have a truck, you get a little respect on the road
Here's what I'm wondering: have you had a Dodge truck? Can you think of other things a pick-up is good for?? What's your dream ride???
Monday, June 12, 2006
I've never seen Divinity, but I have felt it in my heart. I've never been to Heaven, but I know it exists because I can imagine more than we know in this life. If there is nothing greater, why this intense longing in me? I have no doubt humankind was meant to live forever. There's simply not enough time in the 70-80 years we're given on earth to read all the books we want to read, to try all the experiences that would enrich, to pursue humanitarian causes, etc. To me this is the cruelest limitation of all.
I'm thankful for the years and opportunities I've had, for the growth I've experienced and good memories made. But I want to be so much more...
Saturday, June 10, 2006
Heard a message today about Nehemiah rebuilding the wall and restoring a sense of identity in hurting people. I was moved by what was said. The whole point was that it's okay to hurt- even to be devastated. It's healthy to humble ourselves and cry before the Lord, then wait for Him to answer...
I would describe my existence right now as a state of painful anticipation. I know something powerful is going to happen, but don't know how or when. Anticipation is such sweet torment... before Christmas or prior to a dental appointment.
I have a vision. I'm in love with a dream that hasn't come true. It's the agony young lovers feel when they are passionate for each other but have yet to consummate their love.
Thursday, June 08, 2006
Things are still up in the air for my husbands job. He was fired illegally- one thing in a string of unethical actions that occured over the course of 2 years. I was hoping for a clean break so this has made things even more complicated. For now my man is getting a week or so of paid vacation while things get figured out.... he doesn't say much and keeps himself occupied with busywork here at home. He sleeps a lot....
We went to eat with a friend last night. He has so many good ideas for ministry and lots of contacts! Sets my heart on fire to hear him talk of all the possibilities. I hope that soon we will see some concrete plans materialize. I simply want to serve The Almighty. I don't have to be a big hero evangelist or some famous singer. My goal is not to be rich. Though it would be nice to be known, if it is my calling, I am content to simply serve those around me who need. God help me be a stronger person. Make me more like You..... Jesus was a humble servant. He did not elevate Himself above others. He did not rally the Jews into some big, violent political power, or support their ego trips. He spoke simple words and united Himself with common people. He spoke the Truth because He was not owned by loyalty to anyone or any church. He was determined to do the will of God- even unto death. I want to be that kind of faithful.
Today we received word that Al Zarqawi was killed. I feel mixed about this. I certainly believe it is in bad taste to celebrate the death of anyone. I'm glad that his murderous influence is gone, but I'm sorry when anyone dies. I looked at the picture of his dead face. Despite his violent deeds, he was some mother's son, some childs father. God save us from this world of woe. I know Zarqawi believed in what he was doing- I respect that. However, I strongly disagree with the way he carried out attacks that killed innocent men, women & children. I find it wholly detestable to bind & behead someone on camera and use it as propoganda. I don't think the death of Zarqawi will have a great influence on things in Iraq. Someone else will take his place and the new terror will probably be more ruthless than ever... there will be revenge killings. When does it end? Peace is a choice. For example, the fighting between Jews & Muslims, Protestants & Catholics. As Ghandi put it, "Sure you say an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, but if we live that way, soon we will all be blind and toothless." This was a reality check and a call for peace. I've never lived in the middle of such violence, so I don't claim to be an expert on it. I'm not the kind to start a fight. All I know is that in order to have peace, in order to give a better future to the children, the adults must stop being consumed with anger and filled with thoughts of revenge and murder. Children should not be educated in hateful rhetoric. I know what rage is. It's the way I feel when I see cruelty. I felt it when I perceived my children were under threat in a parking lot once. It welled up inside me like a mother bear and I was instantly ready to fight! In fact, after the mugger ran off, it took me hours to come down off the adrenaline rush I had. I was ready to protect what I loved. I believe in a sense this is a noble instinct. However, the best way is not retaliation, but forgiveness. Violence is a shame to us all. It degrades us.
I do not agree with Crusades. There have been many throughout history. Attempts to conquer and convert other races of people through violence and intimidation is not the way. Long ago, Native American children were kidnapped from their tribes and placed in "Christian" schools where they were forced to memorize scripture in English & Latin. They were also beaten, stripped publicly, starved and verbally abused all in the name of the church. They were different than the white man, so they were therefore labeled as "savages" and mistreated as such. This is not a past to be proud of. God sees all acts of kindness and deeds of injustice. He is the Judge of all things. I trust He will soon bring an end to the suffering we are forced to witness here. This is my greatest hope.
So true, so true- I believe this applies to religion as well as to the socio-political aspects of life.
Wednesday, June 07, 2006
|You Are Big Bird|
You are usually feeling: Happy. From riding a unicycle to writing poetry, you have plenty of hobbies to keep you busy.
You are famous for: Being a friend to everyone. Even the grumpiest person gets along with you.
How you life your life: Joyfully. "Super-Duper."
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
A line from one of my favorite songs: "Sometimes love can break your heart, but I'll die believing love is always worth the pain. Dreams can fly or fall apart, but love is never given in vain. It's sad but it's true, you do all you can do. Sometimes love can break your heart." Another song says, "You will never lose what you give to love." So true. To love someone and lose them is not the same as making a bad investment in the stock market. Often we only love for what we can get out of it in return. To love is good for you- no matter what the outcome. We love & learn from it- one way or the other. Marriages fail, but that doesn't mean love failed. It merely means two fallible human beings got together and tried in vain to make their personalities blend. This is a gargantuan task and not one to be taken lightly!!!
The saying goes, "You hurt the ones you love the most". Yes, true- because we're human. "Happily Ever After" bothers me. Charming? Yes, but it sets people up to believe a lie. I don't care how much you love each other, you're going to tick each other off once in a while. You're probably going to have some falling outs. You're likely to wonder at times what you were thinking when you married this *^&#%. Still, that doesn't mean love failed...
Love is built on a solid foundation of trust & insulated with forgiveness. After getting burned several times, we tend to become skeptics. We hold love suspect, avoid intimacy and keep people at arms length. We tend to stand on the banks of this mighty river- but only dip a toe in for fear of losing control and being swept away. How cowardly of us!! We make excuses for living with a closed heart. He did this, she did that. When you really think about it- so what?! Do we allow other people to dictate who we are??? It's like saying, "He hurt me, so I'm going to punish him by never allowing myself to love again"? You're only hurting yourself... I think the truest measure of a man or woman is how boldly & creatively they love.
Our time in this world is short. I do not want to be a flickering flame that burns down to nothing in wicked silence. I want to be a flaming presence eminating warmth, making a difference. I want to love and be loved with reckless abandon...
I believe this is the kind of love The Almighty has for us.
Monday, June 05, 2006
I don't care who you are or what you do, everybody with a heartbeat on this planet has an addiction. Here's what I mean. No, we're not all drunks & dopeheads. Usually when we think of the word "Addiction" we think of things that are considered "bad". However, too much of a good thing or misuse of it is also harmful. Here are some thing people are commonly addicted to: food, coffee, accomplishment, chocolate, sex, power, football, porn, shopping, television, jewelry, exercise, religiousity, etc. One of my biggest struggles in life has been overcoming approval addiction. Okay, I'm addicted to chewing gum- gotta have it or I bite my nails. (Plus, I like having sweet, kissable breath)
Face it, life has a lot of heartache to offer, so we go around self-medicating through the tantalizing power of addiction. However, addiction can be deceiving. If you go overboard, before you know it, the addiction controls every aspect of your existence and your quality of life can decrease. So do a reality check and see how you're doing. Don't get me wrong, just because we enjoy something doesn't mean it's an addiction. For example, I really like to soak in my big tub, but I don't stay in it all day long- I don't get angry when somebody else interferes with my bathtime, I don't sacrifice time with my friends in order to lounge in my tub. I enjoy Breyer's Mint-Chocolate chip ice cream, but I don't eat it for every meal... get the picture??
My daughter described some little girls in her 5th grade class who had boyfriends. As soon as one boyfriend broke up with them, they were distraught & desparate to find another. (I wish these girls knew they are special and can enjoy life without a boyfriend.) Don't get me wrong, I'm not against relationships by any means- I think they are wonderful, but it is possible to be addicted to them. Some people form unhealthy ties simply because they are insecure and must have somebody- anybody in their lives.
Who knew that a single phrase bumper sticker offered so much food for thought..... what's your addiction?
Sunday, June 04, 2006
After 11 years with the radio ministry, my husband was suddenly "let go for financial reasons" Friday morning. It's a bummer- wish we'd known this was coming BEFORE we sold the house we built to follow the job down here. That was just over a year ago!!!! Yet I do think we have the possibility for major life improvement here. My man said for years that working in radio was like having 2 wives. One could share time with him and the other couldn't. Guess who sacrificed? Sure hope my man will be able to find something of equal or greater income SOON or who knows what's going to happen to us... I refuse to wallow in self-pity.
'Message of Mercy' had 2 performances this weekend- both went quite well. We debuted a new song I wrote for the group called 'Whosoever Will'. I think it went over well & matched what the speakers had to say 100%. I love it when that happens!!
We also got to participate in JFEST this year. The local Contemporary Christian station rented a fairground and threw a big concert bash. We hung around the 'Ripple Productions' booth. It was GREAT- they had a petting zoo & everything. The kids loved it!! Music was awesome, the fellowship was wonderful. I was TOTALLY in my element. Glad we could be involved. Hope next year 'Message of Mercy' will be on that stage...
We ended up spending Sat. night at the home of some friends who are in a similar situation as us. It is comforting to be near them- don't feel so alone when we hang out. Everybody needs some friends just to "crash" with. You know, the kind you can relax, play games, veg and let your hair down with. Today, my husband napped for nearly 5 hours- partly his way of coping/escaping our situation. I'm here for him if/when he needs me but- at the same time, this is his battle. I'm trying to give him time and space to figure things out. He's a big boy- I'm not going to research job possibilities for him or even advise him this time around. If he wants a job, he'll have to do the groundwork to get one. His approach right now is to "just wait-n-see what comes around". I want to be supportive of his way of thinking, God can open doors. At the same time a job doesn't just fall into your lap, you have to look for it. I would be more laid back in my thinking if it weren't for the fact that we have 4 kids to feed. I choose to believe God is faithful and I'm looking to the future with hope for something better for all of us...
Still can't shake that trembly, unsettled feeling inside... I feel ashamed of this- wish I were stronger... I read stories of women around the world and the many challenges they face- my struggles seem small in comparison. These poor women are burying their children. In a way, I'm thankful that my biggest concern is how to feed mine.
Thursday, June 01, 2006
I enjoy teaching at the YMCA, however, there are several people taking my classes who are extremely hard to please. They come to me or go to my supervisor after class with complaints like, "The music was too loud", "The workout wasn't intense enough", "the workout was too intense", "the room was too hot or cold", etc. Feedback is important to let me know how I'm doing, but a whole wave of it can be overwhelming. I let it roll off, because there are always a few busy-bodies whom you will never please in the fitness profession. However, one must wonder why it has to be this way? Why can't they cut me a break?? I'm brand new at this YMCA and still getting settled into the swing of things. I've only taught Pilates 3 times now. What if, instead of complaining, they said, "Hey, you gave it a really good effort today"?? I took over for another very popular instructor and until the class gets used to my style, this will keep happening. I do know my stuff as I am double certified in it.
No matter where you work or worship you will encounter people who are just plain hard to please. Some people are married to spouses who are never satisfied with anything. Why is it this way? I believed for over half my life that God was also hard to please- that He was never delighted in me. In fact, when I pictured Him in my mind, He was usually frowning down on me. I have learned this is simply not true! God adores us, He delights in our praise. He loves to hear our prayers and likes to give good gifts to His children.
Perhaps part of having a better life is learning to delight in simple things and finding something in everyone to appreciate? I will continue to make more effort to let people know when they have blessed me.