Second chances, Sealing Judgements, Butterflies, and the Case of the Blind and Self Deluded

“Once a whiner, always a whiner” or even “once a cheater always a cheater”, colloquial sayings that we’ve heard but are not necessarily true. “Once a; always a” statements mean that one cannot change their fundamental behavior.

Another colloquialism is “If it sounds like a duck, and looks like a duck, and walks like a duck, it’s a duck”. Again, not being able to change ones inherent attributes, features, behaviors, consummates the nature of that being. Plainly put: People don’t/can’t/won’t change.

But guess the heck what? Jesus changes people. And AMEN!!

What about grace in this worldly perspective? Don’t you have room for it? The mindset of not applying grace to certain people, basically renders grace to be powerless.

REAL LIFE EXAMPLE

There’s someone in your life, your family, your job, your church that has, well, kind of a ‘track record.’

They’re flaky. The don’t always show up on time, sometimes not at all. Maybe it’s someone who may be a little gossipy, always oversharing someone else’s story. Someone a little arrogant. Someone too needy. Maybe it that person who acts like they know everything about everything. Or maybe it’s just that kid who’s always been overly obnoxious, inappropriate, and awkward. The kind of kid you don’t really want your own kid around. Kind of like a not so beautiful (or straight up ugly) caterpillar…

‘Once a; always a’ perspective negates the power of grace, it doesn’t embrace it. How can we expect to believe God when He says in Romans 12:2 that we are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds? Do we not believe He can, or do we not believe He will?

We model that perspective on a daily basis when we don’t give people room to grow, room to change, space to transform. And even worse, when they do… we don’t give them the acknowledgement or even the second chance to be the living proof of the power of God working in and through he hearts of people.

It makes me sad. It makes me angry, but most of all, it hurts.

The self deluded people who refuse to see the growth, operate out of fear from past experience, choose to stay blind out of either ignorance or indifference. I don’t know, I can’t understand why these people cannot and will not accept and love and embrace the ones who need it most. Validate, appreciate, and operate in loving our neighbor as ourself. Forgive. Risk loving. It’s like ignoring the fact that the caterpillar has turned into a butterfly. Actions and words that say, “Whatever, you still used to be an ugly caterpillar, so that what’s you ARE’.

There can be mistrust even when you see someone change. Those muscle memories don’t go away, and trust has to be built. It takes time to build trust. But we’ll never even have the chance if we don’t take a chance, or give someone a chance.

It’s been years over here in Plattville, and a lot has happened. Pain, lessons learned, wisdom gained, progress made, more pain, more growth, more perspective and more maturity.

Our little family has come a long way from where and who we were even just 3 years ago, let alone 5. I can probably count on one hand the friends who truly believe that and see the growth, see the pain that was not wasted, and that have given us a chance to be who God made us to be. I’m thankful for those people. They truly have validated and sealed us with grace and love. It makes me wonder if we didn’t have that support and acknowledgment, where we would be. It also makes me really want to validate and acknowledge the growth and progress of others.

I cannot make people give me or my family a second chance, I can’t make people acknowledge growth in my kids, or maturity developed in my kids. I hope and pray that I will always be able to give people a second chance and see them as who God made them to be. I’ve lived through some tough situations that required a daily dose of choosing forgiveness – and I’ve learned it’s worth it. It’s SO WORTH IT.

That family member who was flaky could learn the meaning of commitment. That gossipy, oversharing person could learn discretion and to be silent. Those others could develop humility, strength. That obnoxious and inappropriate kid who messed up hard years ago could blossom into a bright and shining star who loves Jesus and wants nothing more than to serve Him, but maybe also just needs to be accepted by the very ones who rejected them in the first place. And what would happen, if we gave them the room and the space to BE who GOD MADE them to be??? We all are in process, on the journey. All of us.

Growth happens.

Goodness can come from ugliness.

Restorations and transformations CAN and DO occur.

Open the eyes of our hearts Lord…

Acknowledging the power of grace in our everyday lives IS powerful, and we SHOULD rejoice with each other when we grow.

We SHOULD.

CAUTION: HEAVY LIFTING REQUIRED

Maybe the sting made me write this. The sting I know so well, the sting that so many others know as well…the rot in the pit of my stomach when the OCD rears it’s head. When the impulse control dominates the decisions. When the affect on our family is so profound it’s a sucker punch to the face AND the gut. It’s our particular brand of sorrow, yours maybe a different flavor.

Ever feel like the wind gets knocked out of you? You can’t breathe and your stomach literally hurts because it’s bruised INSIDE??

If you’re here and you’re reading this, chances are – you do. But guess what, there’s good news. It’s not all for naught, it’s not all for nothing.

See, we’re not faint hearted, not as weak as we’re perceived to be, not as ‘dangerous’ as some allow themselves to suppose.

Nope, we’re just trying to make it with a heavier load up a steeper hill.

Apparently heavy loads carried for long periods of time produce character…apparently this is the way God sees fit for me.

I was on the train one night coming home from work a few months back. I had a big bag full of promo items, my laptop satchel, my purse, and another bag of things I needed to take with me on a business trip. For some dumb reason, I also bought I could hold my phone and text my husband on the way.

I kept dropping things. I couldn’t keep my things together. I finally dropped all my stuff while I sat on the train waiting for me stop. It was too heavy, and I was too tired.

I saw a lady with 2 kids, toddlers mind you, and a baby. She had a diaper bag, another bag and was holding the baby. She didn’t drop the baby, or the bag and she didn’t lose her stuff, or her sanity or so it seemed. I thought to myself, geez, I can’t keep my things together and look at this amazing lady. Yeah, I was comparing. Guilty as charged. You do it too. We all do. Here’s what struck me though- the things she was holding she WANTED. She ACCEPTED. She CHERISHED. Even though she was clearly tired, even though she had a lot to juggle. She didn’t throw the baby down on the floor like I had thrown all my stuff. She wanted her load, and I did t want mine.

I thought about how so often, we don’t want the loads we bear, and subsequently we have a harder time holding and keeping our grip.

How much easier would our loads be to carry if we accepted them like Jesus accepted the cross, instead of fighting them.

Dumb analogy maybe… I’m kind of the queen of dumb analogies. It’s how I make sense of the world to better understand it.

What if we accepted our assignments of life with joy, with attitudes of okayness? What if we embraced our loads like this lady embraced hers? What if I had embraced my load? Yeah, sometimes we need to put stuff down and take a rest and a break, to refuel, recharge, reset. But that’s not what my point is, my point is what if we embraced the unwanted loads and burdens? ‘What a privilege to carry’ mentality. We forget that whatever we carry, we can carry it to God in prayer as well.

We all have different brands and varying weights to our loads. And while some are on flat ground carrying a shoebox, and some are carrying elephants up Mount EVEREST…maybe each is carrying the exact load that our MAKER deems right. In fact, that’s the whole point right there:

We each are designated our exact load that our Father in heaven sees fit for us.

When I go grocery shopping, I don’t ask my 12 yr old daughter to take the light stuff, but also, I don’t ask her to take anything breakable. I don’t ask my 8 yr old son to take super heavy things I know he isn’t strong enough to carry yet, like the bag of dog food that’s bigger than his whole body. I do hand him heavy bags that make him work or stretch his strength. Most often he says, it’s too heavy mom. But I also know I can count on him to carry the fragile stuff, the breakables. He’s more careful than my daughter. Each according to their individuals strengths and weaknesses.

Embrace the life you’ve been given. It’s for a reason, and His glory. We aren’t called to understand, we’re called to be obedient.

Mother’s Day Smothers Day (insert eye roll here)

I usually don’t like Mothers Day. It’s always a difficult day for me.

Because in one way or another, and I find myself wanting and desiring a special brunch or to feel loved, or for obedient children for just a whopping 4 hours!!! I see photos plastered on social media of my friends and their mothers, their kiddos, prettified and posing in a church photo booth (why do we have photo booths at churches??) at a park, with a bunch of flowers they’ve received. It’s wonderful and yet I think, great, we didn’t take any photos, we didn’t go to a park, I didn’t get any beautiful flowers. That has been almost every Mother’s Day for the last 12 years…

But last year, after I rolled my eyes, I found myself thinking about how God blesses some of us with mothers that lead by godly and loving examples, and some of us with mothers who have forced us to trust Jesus more. I kind of stumbled through my day, attempting to wash away the bad and cynical attitude that this day is commercially driven to make profit – I had to keep choosing to be ok with my day being whatever it turned out to be.

I realized that I don’t need a special brunch or lunch, and special presents or gifts or tokens of affection to know how much my children love me. (Ahem, yes it would be nice…) BUT! My point is, I’m changing MY expectation and tradition of Mothers Day in this house. It will henceforth be a day for me to remember the great importance and weight and responsibility we are given when we are gifted with children. It will be a day for me to be thankful that I get to be a mother, that I can strive to continue to be the best mother I can be to my beautiful people, and the calling God has for me to care for, nurture, and shape these people according to His will and train them each according to the way He has for them to go. THAT is no small task.

No trophy or bouquet of flowers or basket of bath salts could ever compare to the privilege and honor to be their momma.

Their constant saying of my name, constant asking me for help, never ending seeking of love and guidance and time brings me satisfaction and joy immeasurable. I have to adjust my attitude (when DON’T I need an attitude readjustment??) and remember these little and not so little people, they are MY people, and I am

THEIR Momma, and THAT is important and beautiful.

And just like that, I’ve had the best Mothers Day ever. For the second year in a row!

Wounded Brand of Love

Sometimes, we find ourselves in a place where we isolate for self preservation. That’s normal, that’s ok. Space and time are wonderful salves to a hurting soul.

Community is imperative to persevere, to carry on, to make it through, and yet…

Sometimes the best thing we can do for each other is reach out without the expectation of a response, because sometimes it hurts too much or requires too much thought and/or energy, or is simply too personal.

Sometimes encouragement is painful and we need someone to just hurt with us. Are we willing to do that, without response, without validation, sometimes even without acknowledgement … Are we OK with that?

Friends, in our circumstances as parents of dear ones that struggle,

I humbly offer you this:

You are not alone.

Each tear that falls is counted by our Maker. Jesus Himself, Hope, Love… Suffered for us, was wounded and died for our very souls to be saved.

He hurts with us, He hurts for us and offers comfort, love, and compassion.

His Love is a wounded brand of Love The kind that brings the healing that only a co-sufferer – only someone who intimately understands your brand of pain, could.

Through friends, through stories that are so similar to our own, through small successes, testimonies of progresses made, faithfulness of grace amidst strife, through us living and loving one another well… He soaks our aching hearts in His blood and they come out whole and new and beating stronger.

This is a family we never wanted to be part of – the broken, the bruised, the broken-hearted , the sorrowful, the weary, the wounded…

A club we never signed up to join

A community we didn’t volunteer to be in.

But we are a family, a community…

And we are here for each other.

The wounded tending to the wounded… because we know that pain firsthand. ❤️

ENOUGH! Washington DC- are YOU mentally ill?! When will we learn…

Once again we have suffered great loss and much tragedy from these mass shootings.

Classrooms have become the front lines, not a safe haven or refuge. We mourn these precious lives lost yesterday in Florida, and we’re outraged it happened yet again.

It’s heartbreaking, frightening, completely devastating. What has bothered me in the midst of this heartbreak is the constant blame given to ‘mental illness’ as the main reason and underlying culprit of these horrific attacks. Not gun owner responsibility, not the actual reason why these individuals had possession of firearms, not investigating what really happened, not even the fact that some people are just evil. Because evil people, mentally healthy evil people, exist.

They do.

But no. The initial reports always blame mental illness and attach it to these criminals who have committed heinous crimes. That furthers the stigma we are so desperately trying to educate people away from. Granted- there are some extremely ‘mentally ill’ individuals that exhibit criminal minds or behaviors. And yes- there should be better resources and options to treat them or help them or keep them and everyone else around them safe.

So, you think it’s ‘them’ and not you? You think you’re mentally healthy? Think again

How about these statistics:

Almost 50 percent of Americans (46.4 percent to be exact) will have a diagnosable mental illness in their lifetimes, based on the previous edition, the DSM-IV. And the new manual will likely make it even “easier” to get a diagnosis.

-Robin S. Rosenberg, Slate.com

That’s staggering. Our culture continues to talk about ‘mental illness’ as if its a severely handicapping disease that only affects a very small percentage of people, people that we should be ‘afraid of or wary of, or careful around’. These people are regarded as less than worthy, not the same as, of lesser importance- and it’s NOT ok. With the new DSM-5 manual, this percentage will increase, and more and more people will be considered ‘mentally ill’.

What is NOT adequately acknowledged or understood is the actual high percentage of people – people you know- who SUFFER from some kind of disorder or possible diagnosis that falls under ‘mental health’. People who don’t identify as mentally ill, but ARE nonetheless.

Do you get anxious about particular things or nervous about certain circumstances? You may have anxiety.

Do you get irritated when things get out of order and changed or messed up from the certain way you prefer? You could be suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder.

Have you experienced some type of grief and are having significant difficulties in getting back to everyday life? Maybe you are experiencing a circumstantial depressive episode – depression.

Do you have trouble focusing, you have lots of nervous energy, and you like changing things up frequently? You might have ADHD.

Do you see my point?? We ALL have SOMETHING going on however mild or severe it may be. 46.4% of us have a diagnosable issue. If we keep attaching mental illness to criminal acts and regarding mental illness as a horrible, scary, frightening thing- where is that going to lead us? We demand equal rights and protection for every other group imaginable. We demand understanding and tolerance and education, and acceptance, but not for ‘mental illness’. Why?

Why, when these horrible things happen, why can’t we look at the individual and not the disorder? There are a GREAT many emotionally unstable people who shouldn’t be carrying guns, but not all of them have ‘mental illness’, and not everyone who has a ‘mental illness’ is emotionally disturbed.

Evil exists. It exists everywhere. Mental illness does NOT equal evil. Is this really a gun issue? Is it really a bunch of ‘deranged people’ that are committing these horrible acts? Or are these seriously evil people, who may test as mentally healthy? We would argue that Hitler was mentally deranged, but in his time, would he have tested as ‘mentally ill’? There have actually been many studies and comprehensive medical and psychological biographies done on the evil dictator – most of which have concluded, ‘that he suffered from nothing severe enough to take the blame for his crimes’.

-Erica Goode, ‘Insane or Just Evil? A Psychiatrist Takes a New Look at Hitler New York Times -Dr.Fritz Reidlich, author, ‘Hitler: Diagnosis of a Destructive Prophet’

https://mobile.nytimes.com/1998/11/17/science/insane-or-just-evil-a-psychiatrist-takes-a-new-look-at-hitler.html

Are President Trump and Hilary Clinton mentally healthy?? We know that BOTH would be accused of being ‘mentally ill’ and yet those were the two who we selected to represent each party in the race for the highest position of leadership in our country.

I’m tired of the stigma. So I’m speaking up. I’m speaking out.

Again.

I’m disgusted by both the right and the left and everyone else who adds to the problem of blaming ‘mental illness’ for criminal and unlawful activity.

If we had better understanding and better treatment options available and better support systems – maybe this wouldn’t be a problem. Maybe we would be emotionally healthy. I’m the end- it’s a heart issue, not a law issue. People will use whatever they can as weapons to enact evil. Our only Hope is to change hearts…

So Stop it. Stop the stigma.

#stopthestigma #splintersofHope

Change: Glorious or Mundane? Reflections on 2017

It’s perplexing how we develop our devices. The sequences of events that shape our dysfunction without us ever knowing. The stealthy manner in which unhealthy behavior manifests itself in our lives and stains our hearts. It breeds blind eyes for the holes in our development. Our blemished hearts appear to be whole and ‘normal’, as they beat with pain that we’ve grown accustomed to, and so, we don’t notice, until…

Until the pain of staying the same is so far greater than the pain of change- THATS when you change.

That’s when I changed…

Holding on to hurts, pain, allowing myself to become embittered, clinging to resentment and anger… it was not only paralyzing me, it was infecting my heart on deeper levels, spilling into relationships and family dynamics wreaking havoc. I was suffocating on my own self inflicted bile. I knew I couldn’t stay in that place. It was more so out of fear of the unknown that I didn’t want to change. So many variables that were outside of my control were at play.

⁃ if forgive, what if that person hurts me again?

⁃ If I risk loving what if they don’t love me back?

⁃ If I never get an apology, how can I ever move on?

⁃ What if I’m empty when I give up my anger?

⁃ What if something worse happens?

The list continues… We could come up with reason after reason how ever logical or illogical they may be.

“Do not be conformed to this present world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may test and approve what is the will of God – what is good and well-pleasing and perfect.”

Romans 12:2 NET

Change can be exciting and new, thrilling and glorious. Change can be small and seemingly insignificant, slow, mundane. But change is inevitable- it makes us grow, or propels us to be someone different, somewhere different.

As I reflect on the last year, and all the pain and sorrow, all the discomfort and awkwardness, all the sadness and tears and confusion we waded through, I can’t help but remember… All the JOY, the lessons, the wisdom, and the overwhelming love we experienced along side, mixed in together with everything. I think it’s the love that stands out the most. The love we received, and the love we chose to give, at times in spite of wanting to give it, or in spite of it not being deserved, we gave and we received the love of Jesus.

Remembering His faithfulness and goodness is what carried and still carries us through.

Things like: The love of people showing up with meals, with supplies, with empathy, with open arms and tear stained faces, just to be with, just to sit with, just to experience with.

Complete strangers coming together to help others whose lives were devastated by flood, by fire, by the evils of men.

Healing that comes from being honest with each other in friendship, in relationship, because people are worth being honest with, because Jesus says so.

Deepened relationships because of traumatic experiences that were experienced TOGETHER.

Unity in suffering.

Unity in comforting each other.

Forgiveness. Chosen forgiveness, Because He forgave us, and makes us able to forgive in circumstances we think are impossible, and were impossible, without His love.

Love that changes hearts, and minds, and lives. Change that restores that which was wounded. Change that brings life to where there was only death.

When Jesus came, He changed everything, at least in mans estimation. We didn’t understand His sacrificial and constant love.

The biggest lessons and deepest blessings for me, came from surrendering my grip on staying comfortable complacent. Only through trusting Him, our Only Hope-even if that meant painful circumstances, did we find the courage to accept change, accept heartache, accept answers to prayers that we didn’t like, accepting loss at an unspeakable depth and degree.

Surrender, acceptance, trust.

I don’t know what 2018 will hold. Maybe it will be glorious, maybe it will be mundane. Maybe it will be better than 2017, maybe it will be worse. Maybe it won’t compare in any way.

Maybe it won’t matter because I won’t be the same person I was in 2017 anyway…

You were taught with reference to your former way of life to lay aside the old man who is being corrupted in accordance with deceitful desires

to be renewed in the spirit of your mind “and to put on the new man who has been created in God’s image – in righteousness and holiness that comes from truth.”

Ephesians 4:22-24 NET

I do know that in 2018, I want to trust and obey more. I want to love more. I want to be a more effective disciple of Christ. I want to forgive more. I want to worship more. I want to share more. I want to write more, I want to impact more lives, I want to be a better friend, and better mother, a better wife. I want to be a better lover of Jesus.

I’m going to keep surrendering, I’m going to keep trusting, keep obeying, keep accepting what He allows life to hand me, and what He blesses me with.

No.

Matter.

What.

Change is inevitable. Growing is changing, for the better, for a more mature version, a wiser version, a closer to who He made me to be version.

I’m almost ready for 2018. Are you?