Friday, January 18, 2013

My opinions on a tough subject

     The other day I saw a link on Facebook that lead to a CNN iReport where a blogger explains Why they raise their children without God.  I was intrigued by this since I am the complete opposite type of parent and I wanted to know why this person made the choices they did.  So, I clicked on the link and what I read truly, truly broke my heart.  Not only was my heart breaking for the children I don't know, but it also broke because this way of life is more and more prevalent and goes against everything that I believe.  I want everyone to know and have a personal relationship with the Lord. I want all people to know that there is comfort and joy and peace that comes from knowing that there is someone there who loves and cares for you even when you feel alone. ( Psalm 55:22 Cast your cares on the Lord  and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.)

     I am definitely not a person who knows the bible cover to cover and I am certainly not a perfect Christian.  I am a sinner and I fall short EVERY.SINGLE.DAY.  But I know that there is a Savior there who will come and help me up, dust me off and love me anyways.  His unconditional love for me makes me strive harder all of the time to be the best person I can be.  It makes me want to love others the way He loves me.  I know that I will not always do it right, because I am human and I am flawed, but giving up is not an option.  Regardless, I really wanted to just touch on some of the points this person made and why I feel the complete opposite.   

God is a bad parent and role model.
     If God is our father, then he is not a good parent. Good parents don’t allow their children to inflict harm on others. Good people don’t stand by and watch horrible acts committed against innocent men, women and children. They don’t condone violence and abuse. “He has given us free will,” you say? Our children have free will, but we still step in and guide them.

**While I think I understand the point of view the writer is coming from, I see it in a very different light.  I agree that as parents we are to step in and guide our children in the right direction.  We are to teach them the proper ways to love and respect others and it is our job to instill good morals and have good ground rules for them.  However, those children grow up and they get a mind of their own.  They will make decisions based on their lives, their upbringing, the mental capacity and so on.  Even a human parent can't stop their adult child from making every bad decision.  They have free will just as their parents do and not much can be controlled after a certain age.  We have to let them out into the world and hope that we did a good job at raising them.  I find this to be equally true with God.  He has set the guidelines.  He has put rules and guidelines in place for us.  He tells us what to expect, how to love one another, how to have a relationship with him and much more.  But, it is up to us to follow those rules and accept the gift of salvation that He is offering.  He is not a genie in the sky who is going to swoop in and over-rule free will.  If He did, there would be no use for free will in the first place. The guidance we need is all right there before us.  It is plainly written so that we can understand it.  We just need to follow and trust that what He says is true.  

God is not logical.
     How many times have you heard, “Why did God allow this to happen?” And this: “It’s not for us to understand.” Translate: We don’t understand, so we will not think about it or deal with the issue. Take for example the senseless tragedy in Newtown. Rather than address the problem of guns in America, we defer responsibility to God. He had a reason. He wanted more angels. Only he knows why. We write poems saying that we told God to leave our schools. Now he’s making us pay the price. If there is a good, all-knowing, all-powerful God who loves his children, does it make sense that he would allow murders, child abuse, wars, brutal beatings, torture and millions of heinous acts to be committed throughout the history of mankind? Doesn’t this go against everything Christ taught us in the New Testament?
The question we should be asking is this: “Why did we allow this to happen?” How can we fix this? No imaginary person is going to give us the answers or tell us why. Only we have the ability to be logical and to problem solve, and we should not abdicate these responsibilities to “God” just because a topic is tough or uncomfortable to address

**I personally don't think that God is saying that things happen and it is not for us to understand.  I just think that we have a limited capability to understand and we can't always see the bigger picture.  And quite frankly, I think that Satan will use any amount of evil that he can to draw people away from God.  He doesn't want people to trust in God.  He doesn't want people to earn salvation and he uses devastation, loss, hate, and any horrible thing he can to make people question God and question His truth.  The sinful nature of humans causes people to do horrible things to each other.  I wish none of these things ever happened and that things all went wonderfully and smoothly all of the time.  But honestly, if things were always smooth, easy and simple when would we ever need to lean on God?  When would we ever have the opportunity to feel His wonderful, comforting arms around us?  It's easy to say you trust God when things are easy and going according to your "plans".  Walking the walk and showing the world your true faith is a real testament in the midst of adversity and trials.  I wish we didn't have trials and suffering.  I wish we were all living in that perfect Garden like God had originally planned, but sadly, human sin(and Satan) ruined it for us.  Thankfully, we have a loving father who sent his son in the flesh to pay the price for our sins and salvation guarantees a wonderful, perfect eternity for those who choose Him

God is not fair.
     If God is fair, then why does he answer the silly prayers of some while allowing other, serious requests, to go unanswered? I have known people who pray that they can find money to buy new furniture. (Answered.) I have known people who pray to God to help them win a soccer match. (Answered.) Why are the prayers of parents with dying children not answered?

     If God is fair, then why are some babies born with heart defects, autism, missing limbs or conjoined to another baby? Clearly, all men are not created equally. Why is a good man beaten senseless on the street while an evil man finds great wealth taking advantage of others? This is not fair. A game maker who allows luck to rule mankind’s existence has not created a fair game.

**I find this part of the article very confusing to be honest.  It seems like the writer is implying that they don't believe in a God, yet they feel that there is a God who is only answering silly prayers and not the ones that are important.  Nevertheless, God will never allow a prayer to go unanswered.  He will always answer.  The answer will either be yes, no or wait.  We don't always get the answer we want because we don't always understand(again going back to our limited capabilities) what God is doing behind the scenes.  Sometimes, the answer "wait" is the hardest one of all.  We live in a microwave society.  We think that if we say a prayer that we will somehow get this instant response and immediately know what to do.  Well, sometimes the answer will be yes, but it could be years down the road.  If we look at the story of Abraham, we will see that he was a righteous and faithful servant.  He trusted God and he prayed for a son.  He had to wait over 85 years to get his "yes".  Unfortunately, he and his wife Sarah, decided to try and get that "yes" quicker and used a surrogate.  That did not end well and there are long lasting consequences for not allowing that "yes" to be in God's time.  
Secondly, God is not fair.  God is a just God.  He doesn't do what we may think of as fair.  He has a set of standards and we are expected to live by them.  Just as a loving father or respected judge would be, God does the right thing.  He doesn't do what makes us feel good or gives us the warm fuzzies.  Those who manipulate, steal and use others for financial or some other kind of gain will have to answer to God for those choices one day.  I don't want to be that person when their day of judgment comes.  I am caring for a special needs niece and we have been for many years.  I look at her and I don't understand why she has to have special needs.  It doesn't seem "fair".  Quite frankly, it isn't fair.  But, we live in a fallen world. Also, a cousin of mine is struggling with infertility while we watch others who don't seem to deserve children or need children conceive.  It is hard and we just don't get it.  But, she once told me that infertility is just one card in the hand that she was dealt.  She had spent so much time focusing on that one card that she forgot to be thankful for all of the other wonderful cards she held.  That has stuck with me for a long time.  Humans are selfish and many times are very comfortable parked in a puddle of self pity.  We need to look beyond the bad, the unfair and the ugly.  We should be focusing on the wonderful things in our lives.  The blessings can't be forgotten.  Life isn't always fair but our short existence here in this unfair life yields so many amazing opportunities and experiences.  It can also lead to a wonderful relationship with our Creator that will one day get us to the only perfect place.....Heaven.

God does not protect the innocent.
     He does not keep our children safe. As a society, we stand up and speak for those who cannot. We protect our little ones as much as possible. When a child is kidnapped, we work together to find the child. We do not tolerate abuse and neglect. Why can’t God, with all his powers of omnipotence, protect the innocent?

**There are so many things that I could say about this section.  As a society, we are the biggest danger to those who cannot speak.  We are killing innocent unborn children by the minute, and mostly for the selfish reasons of that mother who is using her God-given free will.  We may work as a community to search for a lost toddler or we may step in when we see neglect or abuse, but too many people sit by silently while millions of babies are being senselessly murdered every year.  If God stepped in and protected the innocent every time then there would be many unhappy women who had their free will interfered with when they went to dispose of their children.   Sure, we can tell ourselves that we are protecting women by giving abortion as a safe option when there are medical issues or they have been raped or were a victim of incest, but studies have shown that only about 1% of abortions are due to these reasons(Study Link Here).  I think that before we ask God why He isn't protecting the innocent, we should be looking at ourselves and wondering how we got so far off course.  When did human life become so disposable?

God Does Not Teach Children to Be Good
     A child should make moral choices for the right reasons. Telling him that he must behave because God is watching means that his morality will be externally focused rather than internally structured. It’s like telling a child to behave or Santa won’t bring presents. When we take God out of the picture, we place responsibility of doing the right thing onto the shoulders of our children. No, they won’t go to heaven or rule their own planets when they die, but they can sleep better at night. They will make their family proud. They will feel better about who they are. They will be decent people.

**For our family, we do not tell our children to behave because God is watching them.  We do not threaten them with eternal damnation for sins committed and we do not bribe them with the idea of heaven or owning planets.  We are very clear of the standards that are expected of them.  We want them to love and respect everyone regardless of our differences, because Jesus loved everyone and we want to be in His likeness.  We want them to be good stewards of their time and their treasures.  We want them to volunteer, show the love of Jesus and be able to make a difference in this world.  They know that they are responsible for their lives and with the help of a loving heavenly father we can get through anything.  I am not sure what the right reasons are for good moral choices, but as long as I see others with good morals(no matter how they obtained them) I think that they deserve praise and they deserve to feel good about themselves.

God Teaches Narcissism
     “God has a plan for you.” Telling kids there is a big guy in the sky who has a special path for them makes children narcissistic; it makes them think the world is at their disposal and that, no matter what happens, it doesn’t really matter because God is in control. That gives kids a sense of false security and creates selfishness. “No matter what I do, God loves me and forgives me. He knows my purpose. I am special.” The irony is that, while we tell this story to our kids, other children are abused and murdered, starved and neglected. All part of God’s plan, right?

    When we raise kids without God, we tell them the truth—we are no more special than the next creature. We are just a very, very small part of a big, big machine–whether that machine is nature or society–the influence we have is minuscule. The realization of our insignificance gives us a true sense of humbleness.

**I actually find this to be the other way around.  I think that when we raise children to think that they have the ability to figure everything out and that there is nothing out there with the ability to see the big picture, we are giving them a false sense of importance.  We are human.  We make mistakes and we aren't always able to see around the corner.  Everyone has heard the saying "hindsight is 20/20".  Well, that came about because humans aren't able to do it right all of the time.  We don't always have the answer or the foresight to see what may result from our selfish decisions.  God can always see what our decisions will bring us.  If we trust in Him and follow Him he will NEVER steer us wrong.  We just need to trust Him, be patient, and listen for the answers He is trying to give us.  Abuse, murder, neglect, torture....none of these things are God's plan.  That is the horrible result of a simple human's bad decision.  It is the result of a decision not made prayerfully.  
I do not need to raise my children without a relationship with God to make sure they understand we are just a speck in this big world.  Everyone should be aware of the fact that their lives are tiny in the grand scheme of things.  However, we have the power to influence many and we should be taking this ability very seriously.

I do not want religion to go away. I only want religion to be kept at home or in church where it belongs. It’s a personal effect, like a toothbrush or a pair of shoes. It’s not something to be used or worn by strangers. I want my children to be free not to believe and to know that our schools and our government will make decisions based on what is logical, just and fair—not on what they believe an imaginary God wants.

This is the paragraph that really stuck with me long after I finished reading this article.  The fact that atheists want believers to tuck their beliefs away in a little box and only pull it out in the privacy of their own homes is sad.  While I hear many atheists say they are fine with other religions and they are open to letting their children make their own choices, I don't know if that is completely true.  How can they really make a choice when you want to live in a world completely free of religion?  How can they make a choice when speaking of one's religion is taboo?  We made the choice to send our children to a Christian school so they could get the education we think they deserve, yet those who believe only in science get to sit in a "free" public school and allow the taxpayers to pay for the education of their choice.  How is there freedom in that?  How is there diversity in a setting that is catering only to freedom FROM religion?  We pay the taxes for children to go to a school where religion is not allowed and then pay private tuition to pay for an education of our choosing.  If atheists/agnostics/etc want to have a school where they are free from religion then they should be willing to pay for that education because that is a personal choice and the taxpayers should not have to fund those personal educational preferences.
I hope that I said everything clearly and I portrayed my feelings well on this subject.  I can only pray that hardened hearts may be softened and that maybe I can be a light on a sensitive subject.  I have had the opportunity to learn about so many different types of people and it has been amazing to see the differences and the way that people's minds work.  I hope that one day I get the opportunity to see everyone in heaven with me because they all have a relationship with God.  After all, it is all about the relationship and not about any one "religion".

Friday, August 17, 2012

Dear Joel Osteen......

A few weeks ago, we were standing in the narthex at our church and I saw a few papers that caught my eye.  One of the papers was titled: "An Open Letter to Joel Osteen" and it was written by a man named Greg Garrett.  I picked the paper up with the intention of reading it that afternoon, but as things happen many times in life, I stored it in the front flap of my Bible and I forgot about it.  So, the other day I was getting ready to do some studying when this paper fell out and I finally had a chance to read it.  It was amazing that what I read on this piece of paper is many of the things that I had been feeling about the "health, wealth and prosperity" preachers that I have seen and heard about.  I wanted to share this letter because I think that many others may be feeling the same way.

Dear Joel Osteen,

For some years now I've stood back and looked the other way as you preached your message of optimism and faith rewarded to tens of thousands of worshipers and to the millions of people who have bought your best-selling books, as you've become perhaps America's best-known preacher or inspirational speaker.  Earlier this year The Guardian actually called you "America's Pastor," which forced me to sit up and take notice

My attention during that time has been focused largely on those preachers and traditions obsessing with sin and suffering, on the death of Jesus on the cross as the only salvation for a wicked race.  And so I kind of lost sight of you, a couple of hours down the road from me in Houston.

You have said that you don't like to talk about sin--who does, really?--and that you want to dwell on the positive messages of God's love.  Those are nice antidotes to the mainstream American evangelical focus I abhor, and they may have given you a free pass until now.  But, I've come to believe that your nicey-nicey message and your God of infinite promises is as antithetical to genuine Christian faith as the always-dying and ever-angry Christ of conservative evangelicals.

Mr. Osteen, here's the thing.  I've realized that I've been writing, speaking, and preaching about you as well.  I've realized that The Other Jesus was also written in response to your Jesus of handouts and new cars--I can't hang with that Banker Jesus any more than with the Spiteful Jesus.  I've realized that I'm also tired of cleaning up your messes, of trying to constantly reorient Christian faith back to something real and true to scripture, tradition and reason.

You and other Prosperity Gospel preachers advance a vision of God that is transactional:  if you do this, then God will do that.  He has to, in fact.  Because a verse here and there in the Bible say so, however little it reflects God's actual redemptive work in the world.

And I'm here to tell you, Sir, in the same language I use with anyone who imagines we can be in a transactional relationship with God, that this isn't what Christian faith is.  Praying the right prayer often enough to get what you want, believing really hard in Jesus to get what you want are not true to the Christian story, or to logic.  To imagine that you, or your followers, or the person out in the bookstore or TV land who is exposed to your message somehow influences the God of the Universe, the Creator of All That Is, by his or her personal actions is not belief in God.

It's belief in magic.  Put your hands together, say a few faithful words, and the Universe will give you what you ask.

Your life is lifted up as a shining example of God's blessing, and well it might be.  But Sir, I suspect that the money to buy a former NBA arena for your mammoth Lakewood Church didn't just flow into your hands because God blesses you for your teachings.  I suspect that you got that money because you draw a crowd, because you sell a product that is always more enticing than the hard and lifelong work of genuine Christian spirituality and authentic belief.

I know Christians who feel uplifted by your focus on God's love, and non-Christians who love your sermons because they make them feel better about themselves.  And both of these things are lovely.  Telling people that God will give them whatever they faithfully ask for, assuring them that God will deliver them from their financial difficulties, that they can live their best life ever is tremendously appealing.  If you were my financial adviser, I could sleep soundly at night.

But this assurance of the good life is also a tremendous theological falsehood.  It's not true to the experience of a lot of Christians, who believe yet still suffer.  Many people of faith suffer from poverty that will never ease, from sickness that will not be healed, from losses that cannot be made right in this life.

Even during some of my times of greatest faith, I faced horrible emotional, physical, financial, and spiritual suffering.  My Assembly of God grandmother, the most devout Christian I have ever known, has lived her entire life in poverty, and has only the streets of gold she imagines as her heavenly reward to look forward to.  Students at Baylor show up in my office every semester after they have heard from their pastors that if they only had enough faith, their problems--that depression or anorexia, that unplanned pregnancy, the financial disaster befalling their parents--would be taken care of.  And when they aren't taken care of--when, in fact, as problems do when they're ignored, they get bigger and more complicated--my students have been left in a genuine crisis of faith, or with no faith at all.

But I'm not just upset about the bad theology of a God who works like an ATM, I'm also upset about the way that you and others preaching "your best life now" have defined that life almost exclusively in the terms our secular society suggests for success.  Instead of making Christianity a counter-cultural religion pushing back against society's mania for wealth and acquisitions and individualism, you've allowed faith to be co-opted by the power and principalities.

You want a house?  Pray for it.

You want more money?  Be faithful and God will give it to you.

This focus on money and temporal things is also bad theology--and perhaps even more pernicious, because it gives religious sanction for people to buy into the most un-Christian aspects of our culture.  Jesus didn't preach wealth, possessions, or prestige; his teachings, and his life, suggested the precise opposite.  In fact, this person most faithful, most in tune with God's will, lived in poverty and died in pain, so why on earth should we imagine that God will give us what we want when we only have a fraction of Jesus' faith?

No, it doesn't compute.  As the late comic Sam Kinison--himself once a charismatic pastor--might say if he were still around(and don't watch this if you're easily offended), if Jesus were to show up at the door of Lakewood Church, I think you'd have a reason to be very, very nervous, Mr Osteen.

I know that your church helps people in the community, and that you have given hope and encouragement to a lot of people, and I respect that.

But I feel a whole lot more comfortable when you're identified as the nation's most prominent inspirational speaker than when you're tagged as a preacher, Christian leader, or theological expert.  What you preach Sunday after Sunday about how God works may make people feel good, but it doesn't reflect the reality of many faithful people's lives, and it certainly doesn't reflect what I learned in seminary and in the Church about the reality of Jesus' life and message.

So spread your message of hope and optimism as widely as you like.  Nothing I could say, write or do would slow the Osteen juggernaut anyway.

But, please, please don't tell people that your spiritual message of hope and financial reward is God's holy word for their lives.  God is in the business of love, joy and hope, but that actually has very little to do with cars, houses, or  bank accounts.  As Matthew 6 reminds us, we're called not to invest in treasures of this world, but in those things that are everlasting and eternal, the things of God.

And anyways, as Don Henley sang, You don't see no hearses with luggage racks.

**Greg Garrett is the author of works of fiction, criticism, and theology, including The Other Jesus from Westminster John Knox Press.  He is Professor of English at Baylor University, and a licensed lay preacher in the Episcopal Church.**

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The book of Esther

Today I had the opportunity to sit outside with some rare peace and quiet and read my Bible.  The last time that I had been studying, I had started the book of Esther and today I decided to finish it up.  I only had a few chapters left, but there is so much to learn from this book that it took me a little bit of time to finish it.  I thought I would share a few of the lessons that I learned while studying this morning.

1.  A sense of self importance, arrogance and need for power and money is a destructive way to be.  One of the important characters in the book of Esther is Haman.  He was made the most powerful person under King Xerxes and had much power, money and recognition.  He did not use his power, authority or riches for good.  He NEEDED recognition and wanted everyone to bow down to him and fear him.  He did not like the Jews and especially Mordecai(Esther's uncle and father figure).  He was angry that Mordecai would not bow down to him and he planned to have all of the Jews killed in retaliation.  His sense of self importance and his arrogance was the beginning of the end for him.  I find that sometimes I focus on things that I do not have or things I cannot afford.  I would love to have a new house, I would love to have a new car, I wish we made more money so we could make improvements on our home.  I sometimes forget to be thankful for what I DO have and I forget that "things" are not what this life is about.  I not only see this happening in my own life, I see it in others as well.  I know many people that go into debt buying a car they want even though they can't really afford it or don't really need it.  I see couples with children who both work full time to afford a house that they don't really need instead of choosing to live simpler so that one can be home with the children.  Keeping up with the Joneses has become an epidemic.  It is not my place to pass judgment on these people and I love them no matter what they may decide to do.  Part of loving like God loves is to meet people where they are.  To love them no matter what their choices may be and showing God's love by our own actions and lifestyles.  I have found myself praying many nights that God help me control my covetous attitude.  Over time I have seen what a giving spirit and loving attitude can give in return.  I have seen God bless my family when we give selflessly our time our money or our goods.  Haman in this story is a good reminder that the need for power, money, and recognition is not the way God wants us to live.

2.  God will bless those who pray according to His will.  Queen Esther found out through Mordecai about Haman's plan to kill the Jews.  She told Mordecai to have all of the Jews fast and pray for three days and at the end of the third day she would approach the King even though it could mean that she would lose her life.  Many Jews spent days praying and fasting on Esther's behalf.  On the third day, Esther went before the king and was shown mercy.  She was able to bravely ask the King for a chance to speak.  She was able to finally disclose to the King her heritage.  She was able to show the King what Haman's plan was.  She was able to save her people from the decree(of death) that Haman had ordered before his own death.  God used her to save thousands and he blessed the Jews for being faithful servants who prayed and trusted in Him.  The Jews were able to eventually beat their enemies and turn many others into Jews into the process.  How wonderful it is to be blessed for your faithfulness to Him!!!  Here are some verses that reinforce this lesson:

1 John 5:14~
 This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.

Matthew 18:19-20~
19 Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.

Esther was such an incredibly brave woman who wanted to serve the Lord.  I am inspired by her and her faithfulness.  I pray that when trials and tribulations come my way that I am able to stand firm in what I believe.  I want to be able to speak with love and respect so that others may see Christ through me even though they may not agree with me.

I urge everyone to take some time to study the book of Esther and see what it means to you and your life.  I know that everyone can use the encouragement that this book offers.

Thursday, May 10, 2012


Today was D-Day.  

Today was the day that I gathered up the whole year's stress schoolwork, took it to the certified teacher and found out how they did this year.  I have been nervous the whole week, which is nothing new for me.  I get like this EVERY.YEAR.  I feel like I didn't do enough or the girls didn't do enough, or I didn't keep good enough track, etc....etc...etc!

So, I got to the building and had to wait a little while.  It was like torture sitting there.  Finally, the time came.  I sat down with the teacher(who is an AMAZINGLY WONDERFUL Christian woman and friend) and we started to go through Michaela's work.  She was aware of our struggles this year with the third grade and what we had gone through, so it was nice to have her up to date on how we were progressing.  

After she finished looking through Michaela's folders I was finally relieved to know that she was doing just fine.  She was right on track and there are only a few things that I really need to work on over the summer.  After she told me that, I finally felt like I could breathe and I wasn't going to be sick.

Then it was time for Alaina's assessment.  I wasn't nearly as concerned there.  Alaina is a lot like me when it comes to school.  It comes very naturally for her.  She doesn't struggle with new concepts and quite honestly, I felt like much of the first grade curriculum was too easy for her.  But, I decided it can't hurt to really cement those concepts into her mind, so we went ahead and stayed the course.  It was well worth it.  She did amazing!  Her work was great, she almost completely finished all of her books and she should fit into the Christian school next year without an issue.  She may even be ahead of her peer group.  Yay for her!!!!

After all was said and done, both girls got their papers saying they had completed their grade levels and we were on our way fairly quickly.  I had a chat with the girls to let them know what to expect over the summer and before school starts in the fall and we are finally at a place where we can really relax and enjoy the beautiful weather.

Thank you, Lord, for your blessings on my little girls.  Thank you for allowing us to have another successful school year under our belts.  I also thank you for giving my girls the ability to learn, comprehend and continue growing.

Now, we are moving on to a new chapter in our lives.  2012-2013 will be the first school year my girls have had that is not at home.  It will be an adjustment for us all and I am continuing to pray for success and a good transition for all of us.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Cardboard Testimony

Cardboard Testimony from hillsidewired on GodTube.

Have you ever witnessed a cardboard testimony?  I have seen one in person at a church we used to attend.  It was an experience I will never ever forget.  I was touched to see the level of transparency that people were willing to have to show God's work in their lives.

I have often wondered what my cardboard testimony would say.  There are many times in my life that I have seen God at work, but I just wasn't sure if there were a few words that could sum up how I feel right now.  I saw this video and it made me think about it all over again.  What could I say that would make people understand ME better?  What could I use as a testimony to others to show them God's love, mercy, grace, forgiveness, etc?

Being a mom has done many things to change me and who I am as a Christian and as a person.  It has made me stronger, it has made me feel more passionate about things, it has made me more emotional.  It has also lead me to a stronger relationship with our heavenly Father.  My desire for my children to know and love God also played a huge role in where I am at with my personal relationship with Him.  It has helped to change/improve my marriage with my husband, it has taught me how to choose my words and how to hold my tongue.  It has taught me that I don't always have to give every person my opinion on their lives and their choices.  I have spent a lot of years working on being the least judgmental person that I can be.  It is so easy to look at others and judge their choices and their actions.  I have had to ask forgiveness for judging others more times than I can count, but that sin is showing up less and less in my life and I thank God for that transformation.

I think that my hysterectomy almost five years ago has played the biggest role in who I am today, though.  That surgery sent me down a road of anger and depression that I had never experienced before.  I affected many areas of my life and it took me a long time to finally get away from that hurt and pain and turn towards God and not away from him for what I "thought" was a punishment for something.

I am so thankful to see what finally laying those burdens down before Him has done for me and what it can do for everyone else, too.  When I finally surrendered all of my hurt to Him, I actually felt free.  I felt like I could finally breathe again and I wasn't being suffocated by my pain and depression.

I think my cardboard testimony would go something like this....

Suffocating from depression and anger towards God

The Breath of Life has set me free!

New Living Translation (©2007)
For the Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.

What would your cardboard testimony say?  What is your story?  How has God been at work in your life?

Friday, April 20, 2012

Good friends

It is so wonderful to have a friend that just "gets" you. It is a safe and comfortable feeling. I am so glad that I have a friend like that. We have a standing coffee date every week and we just meet at one of our houses and chat and laugh while the kids play. She is like my twin. It is scary how alike we are! We like the same things,have many of the same views on life and religion and politics. I truly think we were separated at birth! Thank you, Lord, for great friends!!!!!


I know that I am constantly hearing about cyberbullying on the evening news, in movies and in the newspaper.  It is a huge problem right now!  Kids can be so mean, so immature and so unaware at what they are doing could have serious consequences.

As a mom to three little girls I have witnessed a less obvious kind of cyberbullying(at least it is cyberbullying in my opinion).  I think that women, moms especially, are most times the ones who are involved.  Of course, I could be totally off base here, but this post is going to cover my opinions and feelings on this matter.

I have seen, first hand, moms who have been at social gatherings where they have received unsolicited advice or questions that seem a bit unwarranted.  They take these comments and they then turn them into facebook comments and blog posts, and explain that these people just don't "get it".  They don't give the right advice, or ask the right questions.  Then starts the pack mentality.  All of the other moms out there who feel like they, too, have been given unsolicited advice will post the questions that they were asked or the advice they were given.  Everyone will then agree at how silly this person at the party was for ever opening their mouths to ask such questions.

To be fair, I agree that unsolicited advice or intrusive questions about your family can be irritating.  Sometimes you will hear the same comment over and over again and it begins to grate on your nerves.  Those are some of the things that you just have to deal with as a mom.

However, in my experience a lot of these "advice-givers" are older women, women without children, or people who aren't used to a particular situation or circumstance.  Older women raised their children in a different era and they did things differently.  A lot of the questions that I received were from people who hadn't experienced what I was going through at the time and maybe were curious or maybe just didn't understand my situation.  We should all remember that someday we will be the older women trying to give helpful advice to a new generation that will, undoubtedly, do things differently.

Let me give an example. There was a time after I had my first daughter that she was about three-four weeks old and I was going stir crazy.  I had been on a very long amount of strict bed rest at the end of my pregnancy, I had a difficult birth, and since it was winter time, we had been very cautious and were trying to keep her away from germs for as long as possible.  However, on this day, I just needed to get out!  So, I packed up my daughter, my diaper bag, my husband and we headed to wal-mart for a few things that we needed.  It was so nice to stroll through the store and just be somewhere besides on the sofa at home.  An elderly woman stopped me to see the baby and she then told me that I shouldn't have her out when she was that small.  Back in her day they didn't take babies out until they were at least six weeks and that I shouldn't have brought her out in public yet.  Honestly, I was taken aback at how forward she was.  I just quickly explained that it was our first outing and that I felt that she would be just fine for the short amount of time we had her out of the house.  That happened to me nine years ago.  Many other pieces of advice have come my way since then.  I have also had many questions about decisions we have made as a family.  But you know what, as strange as it may seem at the moment, I never really did dwell on those comments.  Sure, I would sometimes vent to my friends about a weird thing that happened, or I would call my mom and tell her a funny story about a woman in the mall, but it rarely went further than that.

When a person openly points out something someone said or asked and then makes it sound silly or stupid, it makes me feel bad for the nameless person who has to see that post.  Maybe that person had no idea how their question or comment came across.  It very possibly could have been an innocent statement that they now feel foolish about.  Like it or not, that kind of stuff can make a person feel self-conscious.  It can make them over-think and worry about things they may say in the future.  If you didn't like what a person asks you about your family or your life, then you should probably take it up with them personally.  Maybe you should take unsolicited advice with a grain of salt and just move on.  When everyone has a good laugh at someone else's expense, that is bullying.  It is much easier, and doesn't feel as "wrong" to do it online when the victim remains nameless in the post.  That is exactly what I have seen happen.  It makes me sad.

I think that most moms, in general, are doing the best they can.  I think that most people innocently make comments or ask questions and don't realize how they may come across.  Sometimes people have a life experience that makes them wonder why we do the things we do.  We will never fully know because we haven't walked in their shoes.

I think that the internet has a wonderful way of bringing like-minded people together.  It can make us all feel accepted or understood in some way, many times with people we will never meet.  But I don't think it should be used as a tool to make a person feel like they have been singled out.