- June 29: for the safe arrival of my friends on a mission trip to Jamaica.
- June 28: for celebrating 12 years of marriage. I love you, Wayne.
- June 27: for the solidifying of plans and transportation for the Jamaica 2 Mission Team.
- June 26: for the opportunity to re-connect with "my youth minister" via facebook. Good to talk with you, Keith.
- June 25: for understanding and supportive friends. I love you so much, Brittney, Randy, Jim, and Wayne. Thank you for your patience, perseverance, and prayers.
- June 24: for the ability to reconnect with "old friends" through facebook. Looking SO forward to seeing Sheila and it was great to "talk" with Keith and Brittney.
- June 23: for an enjoyable evening with my mom and for her yummy quesadillas. Love you, Mom!
- June 22: for lazy days filled with sunshine, rest, and replenishment.
- June 21: for my father-in-law who loves us all well and continually gives of himself to help others. I love you, Audie, and am so glad that you are my father-in-love.
- June 20: for Summer Bible Study opportunities.
- June 19: for working in a community that pulls together during times of grief.
- June 18: for the privilege of daily prayer and having easy accessibility to God's Word.
- June 17: for the silly antics of my dog that bring about smiles and laughter.
- June 16: for being able to regularly communicate with friends conveniently through email, facebook and this blog.
- June 15: for a day filled with sunshine and relaxation at home.
- June 14: for having the opportunity to spend the weekend with Wayne and getting to know Sandra and Raynard better. Good weekend filled with ooo's, ahh's, and laughter.
- June 13: for un-unexpected fun with my husband, Wayne, his sister, Sandra, and her husband, Raynard, while touring the "Parade of Homes"
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Friday, June 26, 2009
- She has a great attitude. Despite all of the sufferings and chaos in her world, she continues to walk with God while sharing smiles, hugs, and helping hands to others around her. I love you, Coralee.
- God is by my side, always.
- I know this: I am created by God for God. My life is not my own.
- Being still is sometimes the most difficult thing in life to do.
- These words apply to me: ...weary, hopeful, impatient.
- Today the sun was shining and it was a very hot 100 degrees.
- And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to reading in my newly received book and studying in my newly bought ESV Bible, tomorrow my plans include clearing out the storage room and Sunday, I want to be there to see off the "Jamaica 2" team before they leave at 3 a.m. (!!!) for their amazing mission trip to Jamaica; I was so blessed to be a member of the "Jamaica 1" team last March!
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
My first response to this book was "WOW...it had me at hello". The written reviews by others that were included on the back cover and within the first few pages of the book, immediately had me thirsting for more. I was unfamiliar with the Bible verse that began the chapter:
"See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut."
Loved those words. Simple yet profound! As I began reading the chapter, I felt as if I were reading a letter from a long-lost friend. At the risk of sounding a bit strange, I felt immediately welcomed by this book. Higgs penned the words: "There are also things about you that I do know because we share them: the need to be loved unconditionally, the desire to live a life that truly matters...who wears past failures and present mistakes..."
I immediately felt a kindred spirit which is still a fairly new 'thing' for me. I've written before how closed off my heart has been for such a long time. I was the girl who could be whatever she needed to be so to avoid conflict and chaos. Being true to myself didn't hold much meaning because I wasn't even sure who I was, much less who I was supposed to be.
My experiences in this blogging-world have been a tremendous blessing. For reasons beyond my understanding, I have been able to "lay out my heart" in ways I'd never allowed myself to do so before. This sharing brought people into my life who empathized, sympathized, encouraged, prayed, and helped me to stay on the track leading to THE Love like no other. Because of the acceptance felt within 'cyberspace', I became better able to step out and risk being "real" with those who are a tangible part of my daily life and I have been TRULY BLESSED.
I am so thankful that Lelia did choose to 'host' this study. God is already speaking to my heart and I sense amazing changes going to take place. Lelia is an amazing woman of God and I am thankful that she has allowed God to use her in such a way to be such a huge blessing to so many, including myself.
On page 4 of the book, I wrote within the margins, "Yay for the opportunity and privilege!" in regards to the author's words: "...slipping off the old and putting on the new. Letting go of the past and embracing freedom with our whole hearts." It seems that every day, God is breaking a shackle on the chains I've carried in my soul and each taste of freedom leaves me yearning for more.
While the author discussed the meaning of an embrace, it dawned on me that my only remembrance of being held in a true embrace occurred just 3-4 years ago on a very upsetting day. I felt like too much was being asked of me but hadn't a clue on how to put an end to the madness. Once my tears began, I was overtaken by sobs that felt as if they were coming from someone else. A deeply treasured friend took hold of me in the most loving way and I had never known such comfort. That was an experience within the embrace of a mere person. Oh, how I long for that sort of embrace from my Heavenly Father's arms.
Grace was defined as "...God's word for love, expressed through divine forgiveness." I am amazed at how such a simple definition filled me with such gratitude and peace.
The statements shared within this chapter further deepened my new-found awareness that there are many women who are kindred spirits because of the sharing of similar emotions and circumstances. The Scriptures that are noted within these first 17 pages brought such joy and hope. Most were familiar words but God enabled me to see them in a fresh light. I love when He does that!!
I am looking forward to the continuation of this book. Higgs wrote of her hopes of this book being "...at least a field guide, tracing a well-worn footpath from doubt to belief, pointing us away from shame and toward...a trustworthy hope based on the realities of countless lives changed by a leap called faith into the arms of a hero called Faithful and True." Within my heart, my bags are packed and I am READY for this journey.
The chapter ended with 3 poignant questions. I wanted to include my response to one of the questions.
"What words do you wish God would whisper in your ear?
Sunday, June 21, 2009
(Direct quotes from the book are noted in a different color.)
Wright explored the following concepts in this chapter:
- there being no source of shame that is more fundamental than the shame felt in a broken family
- the most important process in development is learning how to trust that someone else is there for us and knowing that the acceptance will be a constant simply because you "belong" to someone
The chapter examined how shame-based people have difficulty celebrating the success of another because the exultation of another prompts feelings of rejection. Biblical examples of the prodigal son's brother and Joseph (Old Testament).
Much detail was given in regards to how Joseph personified shame-free living:
- Joseph resisted temptation (Genesis 39:8-9)
- Joseph's immediate acceptance of Pharaoh's offer after being imprisoned for 2+ years (Genesis 41:41)
- Joseph's willingness/ability to readily forgive (Genesis 50:21)
The words I found to be most "stinging" and "revealing" were:
"Shame ultimately objectifies a person. You are not valued for your personhood...(or) for relationship. You are worth only what you can do for me.""Every concession of integrity in order to gain the payment of acceptance from others is an unseen prostitution of our souls."
Prostitution seemed like such a harsh word but made complete sense in his explanation. One of those moments of realization that you can't begin to heal until you admit there's an illness.Wright further illustrated the heaviness of shame and deepness of want through his telling of a child who had recently been adopted. This child refused to leave the 1st place that she experienced fun with her adoptive family. She didn't want to leave because of her belief that once she left, she'd never be able to return. She couldn't comprehend the truth in the words: "You're adopted now. You will see greater things than this. You won't be abandoned ever again." The child's situation had changed but not her mindset.
I could so relate to the young girl. I keep refusing to let go of my 'known ways' and trust wholeheartedly in what the Lord promises to be greater things.
Chapter 4 ended with:
Ask: What hidden "hornet" is stinging on me?
- Shame is insidious...(I included this passage in the last post)
- Shame's invitation is : "Hide from God lest you be condemned." Jesus' invitation is: "Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."
- I do not have to hide my pain from God and others in order to avoid shame. In fact, when I expose my shame to God and others, my healing can begin.
Choose: I choose today to quit hiding the things that I'm ashamed of. I will trust God and someone else enough to share what hurts me so that it won't keep stinging me.
Now on to Chapter 5. As usual, direct quotes from the author are noted in a different color. This was an amazing chapter. I loved the following words: "True conviction comes not at the sound of God's displeasure in us, not at the moment He turns the light on brightly enough for us to see our imperfections." The author discussed the importance of our ability to differentiate between shame and conviction using the "prodigal son" as an example.
- The son recognized how poorly his life was going
- The son realized that the continuance of this lifestyle would result in destruction
- The son acknowledged his father's riches in comparison to his sin-induced poverty thus leading to thoughts of repentance
- The son returned to his father and admitted his unworthiness. This admittance led to the acceptance of his father's grace.
Other important points made by the author included the following:
- "Conviction causes us to feel closer to God. Shame causes us to feel distant from God."
- When unsure if what you are feeling is conviction or shame, ask yourself: "Am I being drawn to the love of God or do I feel like running away?"
- Emphasized how the nature of God's kingdom revolves around celebration.
- "God's love is not a reward for the righteousness it is a gift to the repentant."
Conclusion of chapter:
Ask: When have I confused the voices of shame and conviction?
Believe: A Principle to Ponder
- "Oddly, nothing had ever felt better or more real or more satisfying than those hot ears and those seemingly self-deprecating words rolling on into the mystery of God's holy presence. While I had never felt worse about my sin, I had never felt so hopeful about my future"
- It's good to see my sin. Only then can I walk a better path. It is possible to be full of remorse for my mistakes while being infinitely hopeful for my future.
Choose: I choose today to risk going to my Father, telling Him that I have sinned, that I long for His forgiveness and I will expect Him to forgive me, hold me, and teach me.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Wherever you are spiritually, whatever you have been through emotionally, you are already wrapped in the Lord's embrace. Held close by nail-scarred hands. Enfolded in the
arms of One who believes in you, supports you, treasures you, and loves you.
He is waiting for you to embrace Him in return. To accept the gift He's offering you. To listen for the whispered words you've longed a lifetime to hear: You are loved. All is forgiven.
3 questions at the end of each chapter.
145 short pages.
Please join us in learning how to embrace the grace that God has offered.
Monday, June 15, 2009
Even though many of the situations remain the same, I now understand that I am not the sole cause of some circumstances nor can I be the redeemer of such. I am, literally, exhausted from all of the "trying" to make things as I would like them to be. I am, relieved, to know that God never expected me to do or to be all the things that I've attempted. My weariness is well-earned but was ultimately un-neccessary and I find that to be relief in and of itself---simply knowing that I don't have to continue down this path nor do I ever have to travel its way again.
God is good, despite the circumstances, situations, and happenings around me, and I am SO thankful that not only is He my God, but He is my Savior, my Guide, my Protector, my Friend.
I am thankful for:
- June 12: for the "blogging world" and the precious people God has brought into my life through this avenue of communication. Thanks, at this time, especially to Denise, Lelia, Sue, Tina, & WB. Your words of encouragement and thoughtful prayers mean a lot!
- June 11: for the safety and security that is mine because of God blessing me as an American citizen
- June 10: for an enjoyable "sleep-over" with my nephews and niece. Late nite, movies, games, laughter, and junk food. Hard to beat that kind of fun. :)
- June 9: for the graciousness of my sister who has stepped in when I felt as if I couldn't take another step.
- June 8: for good friends when I am overwhelmed by raw emotions.
- June 7: for fun times with my family
- June 6: for a fun evening with my mom, my brother, my sister, and their children which included a chilly nite swim at Nanny's apt. pool.
- June 5: for a simple day at home to catch up on household tasks.
- June 4: for the safe arrival of my sister, Sheryl, and her precious baby boy, Kaeden :)
- June 3: for the promises of God that He will provide me with wisdom when I ask Him for such.
- June 2: for a relaxing day at home...for the chance to talk on the phone with my brother, sister, sister-in-law, niece, nephews and a treasured friend. Love you all: Sheryl, Kevin, Angel, Allen, Elizabeth, Kaeden, and Randy...for an enjoyable dinner out with my husband: Thank you, Wayne...and for a nice evening of visiting with my mom. Summer is off to a great start!
- June 1: to have the task of "shutting down my classroom" for the summer. The long-awaited break has truly begun!!
No tears to spare.
My mind wonders
Will pain always be there?
Some sympathize but
I'm grateful all,
Is in God’s loving hands.
Smiling facade but,
Contentment's hard to fake.
Lord, I know I'm Yours.
You are aware.
Father, help me
Thursday, June 11, 2009
I am dealing with such a sense of sadness; not in the sense of despair but a sadness that places an ache in my heart that is accompanied by a sense of emotional suffocation. I was reading the Biblical definition of love, according to 1 Corinthians 13.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.
The Webster dictionary defines love as:
Affection based on admiration, benevolence, or common interests; Warm attachment, enthusiasm or devotion; Unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another
I can’t recall my dad ever having, genuinely, shown any of the above characteristics. I can recall one instance of possible sincerity but if it was, it was short-lived and ridiculed in future interactions. When I think of my dad, these descriptions come to mind: irritable, critical, indifferent, appalling, mean, two-faced, dangerous, harmful, unreliable, dishonest, con-artist, liar, thief, resentful, arrogant, insensitive, self-centered, condescending show-off, vulgar, destructive, disrespectful, criminal on several accounts, abusive (in all senses of the term), impatient, prejudiced, inconsiderate and unbearable.
I DO NOT UNDERSTAND why with knowing those things about him, do I still care about him and care about what he thinks of me?!? I hope that I would be more concerned if he did actually desire to have a relationship with me.
He doesn’t love me. He didn’t love me. And that fact, alone, has broken my heart. I realize, in my head, that the reality of that says more about him than it does me, but it hurts just the same. In my heart come the questions like why didn’t he love me? Why doesn’t he care? What did I do or not do? What did I lack? How did I disappoint him? How can I make it up to him? What was he looking for that I didn’t have? Why didn’t I have ‘it’?
Over the years, some have told me that my dad loved me as best as he knew how. Just days ago, my husband told me that my dad loved me as much as he was capable of loving. I may be wrong about this but those statements really offend me. I don’t believe that my dad was incapable or unknowing; he had choices to make. Even if it were a matter of incapability, there were choices made along the way that led to that proposed result. He could have done things differently. He could have chosen kinder words. He could have changed his vulgar words and actions. He could have attempted to make things right. He could have lived a life of honesty and integrity rather than one of destructiveness, thievery, hatefulness, and abuse. He could’ve done a lot of things but he chose not to. I realize that he had a crappy dad who treated all within his family horribly but so what…I, along with many others, had a crappy dad and chose not too be the kind of person that he has shown himself to be.
I disrespect the man. I despise him. I resent him. I am angry with him. BUT I don’t want him to be in pain. I can’t stand the thought of him being destroyed by cancer. I can’t fathom the concept of his spending eternity in hell. I want him to be physically okay yet at the same time, I wish him gone from my life, from my mind, from my heart, from my memories. I hate that I can’t seem to simply place him in the furthest recesses of my heart and mind.
I don’t want to go against God’s commands to “honor your father and mother” but how do I go about showing honor to one who is so dishonorable? I know that command doesn’t have conditions tied to it…it doesn’t say “honor your…if they…” What does God expect from one in this kind of situation? Part of me wants to reach out to my Dad, yet again…but the larger part of me wants to stay as far away as possible but in doing that, am I being too self-protective, judgmental and critical---which are some of the very things that I find so detestable about him?
I feel badly that my brother is the only one of 4 children who regularly communicates with the man. Am I being unfair in allowing my brother to be the one who attempts to maintain a relationship with our Dad? What are my responsibilities to my him and to my dad? Do I offer to help financially? Do I do nothing unless specifically asked? Do I seek information on the status of our Dad or just let my brother continue to tell me what he wants to, if and when he wants to? Do I make myself available regardless of the probable personal attacks (verbal, emotional, and potential physical) that will come?
I am weary and unsure what I am to do or even if I am to do anything. I keep praying and searching Scripture but have yet to find any clarity on this issue. ANY guidance here would be much appreciated.
Sunday, June 7, 2009
This chapter began on the premise that there is no one who does not have some degree of inner pain deep within their soul. Wright told of a time when his wife was behaving strangely, at one of those pivotal pastoral moments, because of a hornet repeatedly stinging her under her dress. He commented on how she had to choose between enduring the pain of the hornet's sting or enduring the shame in her attempts to stop the pain. He made an analogy with these words:
"Only when the pain of the sting gets worse than the pain of the shame do people become willing to let their agony be known."
The author then went on to discuss how Adam and Eve felt no shame at the beginning of their existence. He noted how "In a shame-free relationship, every ounce of their energy went into exploring their future rather than covering their tracks." He discussed how shame caused Adam and Eve to make coverings to hide themselves. I loved his phrasing that "God didn't yank off their fig leaves; He gave them a better set of clothes." He placed emphasis on how the better covering required the sacrifice of blood (animal skins) and how Jesus has permanently covered our shame through the shedding of His blood.
Another direct quote that spoke directly to my heart: "Shame is insidious. It inflicts not only the pain...but it begins a cycle that blocks us from taking the only steps that can help us feel better...One of shame's greatest goals is to get you hiding from God because God's rewards go to seekers not hiders."
My hiding began around the age of 6 and lasted well into my 30's. I became a master at manipulating situations where my pain wasn't evident. I hadn't allowed even my closest friends, including God, into the areas of my soul that had long been hidden away. When I made the initial decision to stop hiding, I played and re-played the following song by Susan Ashton. I literally wore out the CD as I drove to counseling to remind myself of the importance of being open and honest. That has been close to 2 years ago and the journey of discovery which included the beginning of a "real" relationship with God has been the most joyous, though often painful, experience of my life.
"Hide and Seek" sung by Susan Ashton
Heart in a bottle, high on a shelf,
Chorus: Well, you don't have to suffer, suffer in silence
Withered with sadness, hurting inside
But, you don't have to suffer, suffer in silence
I'll be your shelter, I'll be your retreat
'Cause, you don't have to suffer, suffer in silence
"No One Knows My Heart" sung by Susan Ashton
Standing at my window, hidden by the night
Harboring the private wounds, safe and out of sight
There's an agony in living, but there's a comfort in the truth
That no one knows my heart better than you.
I can face a lot of people with this sanguine act of mine
Guarded by the eloquence I sometimes hide behind
But it's a veil of false pretenses that You can see right thru
'Cause no one knows my heart better than you.
Chorus: Part of me is reaching, and part of me holds back
But when it comes to You I am a doorway
You're free to walk into
'Cause no one knows my heart better than you.
Chorus: Part of me is reaching, and part of me holds back
But when it comes to You I am a doorway You're free to walk into
'Cause no one knows my heart better than you.
There's an agony in living but there's a comfort in the truth
That no one knows my heart, oh, no one knows my heart
No one knows my heart better than you...
Friday, June 5, 2009
Thursday, June 4, 2009
- I am glad that my younger sister and her little boy have come home for a visit over the next few days. Great way to begin the summer :).
- My favorite thing for dinner lately has been Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cereal or a cold bologna sandwich.
- Since my mom is not allowed to have dogs in her apt., my sister's dog is in my backyard and is obviously not happy with the situation as I am continually hearing him bark! bark! bark!
- A nice long walk is a habit that I am hoping to establish over the summer.
- Late 2008 and so far 2009 has had more than its share of bad news. I am looking forward to hearing some good news.
- When all is said and done, THANKFULLY, God is above and in charge of ALL.
- And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to dinner out with my husband, tomorrow my plans include hanging out and enjoying time with my mom and sister and Sunday, I want to attend worship services, get caught up on some reading, and simply enjoy the day!
I received word earlier this week that my dad is now receiving hospice care and my heart is breaking. He has "called wolf" many times regarding illnesses but this time, it seems to be legitimate (though it is difficult to tell, he is a master at scheming manipulations). I still do not have any contact with my dad---now going on 5+ years. The only thing that seems to have changed is his physical health status, so personal contact remains an unwise and unsafe option.
- Please pray for his salvation above all. Please pray for his comfort and healing, if God wills.
- Please pray for me and my siblings as we face this undesirable situation. My 2 sisters and I no longer have a relationship with our dad. My brother lives in the same town and is carrying the brunt of whatever responsibilities this entails.
- Please pray for the skill of those responsible for his care.
- Please pray for whatever details/issues I may not have thought of because of feeling a bit overwhelmed.
THANK YOU dear ones. I very much appreciate your thoughts and prayers.
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
This chapter began with the author’s memories of an occurrence within his congregation where each woman in the church was honored by the gift of a rose. He wrote a lengthy poignant “Spirit-led confession” in regards to the many ways in which women, young and old, have been dishonored and shamed in our world. His words were supernaturally honest, thoughtful, and healing while reminding us that we serve a God who sympathizes with our every wound. His words of confession/apology were hard to describe but incredibly worthwhile to read.
“The cycle of shame can only be broken when repentance replaces bitterness...healed when honor replaces dishonor. To let go of shame, you must let go of your own sinful reaction to it. Be angry but do not sin. Hold no judgment. Harbor no resentment. Nourish no bitter roots."
- I've never considered how my response to the shame could, in and of itself, be sinful.
- I can see how I've allowed my reactions to rule my life. That is unacceptable because Christ and He, alone, are to rule my life. 'Letting go' seems like a daunting task but I am thankful that "I can do all through Christ..."
The chapter closes with the now familiar ABC format:
Ask: "What bitter roots have sprung in my heart from the seeds of shame?"
Believe: No matter what depths I've experienced, I need harbor no bitterness, judgment, or resentment. I can be angry but not sin. I can grieve, but have hope.
Choose: I choose today to release bitterness, judgment, and resentment from my heart. While I may not have received an apology from my offenders, I forgive them on the confession of another. While I do not excuse the offense, I lift the offender unto God for His blessing.
- Saturday, May 30: for a good night's rest, soft sound of early morning rain, and a beautiful sunrise on the lake.
- Friday, May 29: need I say it again...THE LAST DAY OF SCHOOL!!!
- Thursday, May 28: for my class-room parents who DON'T think that they are THE exception to the school schedules and routines...hmmm, I may be misusing gratitude to voice a complaint. 1 more day of school...1 more day of school...
- Wednesday, May 27: for my wonderfully amazing co-workers. Bullard ISD is a great place to work!
- Tuesday, May 26: for the last "full day schedule" of the school year!! YAY!!
- Monday, May 25: for a beautiful sunshine-y afternoon and for the Pre-K Completion Ceremony.
- Sunday, May 24: for my husband's graciousness at the times I feel out of sorts.
- Saturday, May 23: for the convenience of OTC medicines that help when feeling "out-of-sorts".
- Friday, May 22: for a nice surprise dinner out with my husband. Thank you, Wayne.
- Thursday, May 21: for a fun-filled morning with my Pre-K class while participating in the campus' "Field Day".
- Wednesday, May 20: for having the privilege to learn more of God's Word with an amazing group of women. I so appreciate you, Sherrie, Kathy, Debbie, Krystal, Rebecca, Cheryl, Jill, and Dena.
- Tuesday, May 19: for trustworthy people who say what they mean and mean what they say.
- Monday, May 18: for stomach-aching laughter with good friends.
- Sunday, May 17: for the reminders of what a privilege we, as believers, have in the power of prayer.
- Saturday, May 16: for a FABULOUS niece and nephew who are celebrating their May 11th bday with a fun party today. Can't believe it's been 9 years, Allen and Elizabeth. I love you both SO much!!
- Friday, May 15: for "perfect weather" for the Pre-K "nothing-but-fun-day"!
- Thursday, May 14: for the ability to wish a long-lost friend "Happy Birthday" via Facebook. Enjoy your day, Kristina!!
- Wednesday, May 13: for classroom parents who are actually involved in their child's life and education.
- Tuesday, May 12: for loving people who cover me in prayer when times are tough. "Thank you's" especially to my blogging buddies Denise, Gail, Tina, and Susan. Each of you are appreciated.
- Monday, May 11: for the opportunity to attend a workshop tomorrow & escape the frenziness of the end of the school year for at least one day.
- Sunday, May 10: for an amazing Mom whose daily strength and perseverance continue to amaze me. Happy Mother's Day, momma! I love you very much.
- Saturday, May 9: for a husband who allows me to 'crash-and-burn' after a week filled with activity, emotion, and chaos.
- Friday, May 8: for my God who is capable and willing to over-ride and bring out the best from the foolish choices I make.
(Thanks to heartlight.org for the photo depicting Scripture.)