Saturday, February 17

The Voice vs the voices

Yesterday I spent some time reading a facebook discussion revolving around the recent tragedy in Florida.  The discussion was respectful and engaging, spoke from both sides of gun control arguments and mental health issues.  Both sides have valid points, true talking issues and are represented by intelligent people with understanding and viewpoints.  I spent some time thinking about it, discussed it with one of the participants of the discussion and went on...but then God began speaking to me about this further so I want to share what God gave me, not to argue nor rebut, instead to add another facet that addresses and includes both sides.  My late Pastor A Wilson Phillips used to say that two seemingly opposite truths can exist and both be true at the same time, much like a double edged sword that divides the bone and the marrow.  This morning God gave me another image to help me view this: a diamond (or any cut jewel) has many facets that when light is shined upon it reflects light, it does not replace the light, but it will not sparkle without the presence of the light touching the's my facet: Voices have more power than anything the world can devise.  Proverbs 18:21MSG says "Words kill, words give life; they're either poison or fruit--you choose."

I grew up in a time where there was no social media, we had the news that came on only at night.  The world was weary (this was just after Vietnam) people were reeling from a nation at unrest over  disagreements of the decisions of the President.  This was all amid civil unrest, racial unrest and political unrest.  Most people were in an uproar over a national scandal and people were disillusioned.  Drug use was rampant and violence seemed to be at every corner.  There was unheard of violence on college campuses, schools were having protests and people were trying to find their voices.  People were being killed by the angry and the equipped.  As a nation people were frustrated because they felt like they were voiceless...but even more dangerous were  the voices that began to emerge that were armed with hate and abuse. But, and this is a big but....none of that was as big of a voice in my development as my own personal experiences.  There were, in my life, voices that were much more powerful and shaped me into the person I became.  Those voices were the ones that became locked in my mind and stayed there until God was able to slowly unwind them....but not all completely before I became a mom.  There were voices of kindness, but there were many more ugly and hurtful voices and experiences that took my voice.

I have four children, each of them beautiful, unique and intelligent. Each of them have their own personalities that have been shaped and formed over time, each of them have walked through different challenges and trials.  They have each experienced tremendous hurts and rejections at different points in their lives and disappointments have caused pain to them in different ways.  As a mother my role, at first was to help grow and thrive by feeding them, keeping them safe and secure while they transformed from helpless to independent; but as they grew my role grew. What grows the body does not always grow the mind and spirit.  The way I treated hurts from falls could not be applied to the the way I treated hurts from character falls...there is not a physical bandage for that, nor can you apply Neosporin to the scars in the heart the same way you can the knees. So how do we treat them?  With our voices: We speak words of affirmation, words of truth, words of correction, words of comfort, words of knowledge.   We speak in tones that either encourage or deter, we speak to them and not at them, we speak about the One who is our Spirit of Comfort and Peace.  OR we speak words of condemnation and shame, we speak words of destruction and defamation or we speak words of rejection and isolation.   And then a choice must be who's voice am I going to listen?
Here's the raw truth, I didn't always speak Godly words, I didn't always operate in the right attitude.  I was not/am not a perfect mother.  I have attitudes that often have to be corrected and redirected. I have beat myself up many times for the words I have spoken to my children and have listened to my own ugly voice in my head over and over long after I've been forgiven by those I've hurt....the voices in my head were the ones that hurt me long after the incident and those joined the ugly ones that were left over from my childhood years.  My voice sounded more like destruction and not at all like the ones I endeavored to speak to my kids and definitely did not line up with what God had to say about me.                    

As I look at the issues being discussed, this thought keeps coming to me : What are the voices that are in the souls of these people inflicting this level of pain?  Who spoke into them that is resonating so soundly that vengeance is more of a driver than the sanctity of life ? What words of hate, hurt, abuse, rejection, repugnance, condemnation, shame, destruction where planted in these minds that creates this type of chaos and harm? The world looks at it and calls it "mental illness" and I guess in a way it kind of is, but not in the way that we like to classify it. My daughter, who is going into the field of studying mental illnesses rightly stated that most medically diagnosed mental illness are absent of violent compulsions, I think her figure was 1%.  You can't legislate mental illness nor solve this simply by removing the weapons of fear that have been used.  A tool is only a weapon when its intended use is to cause bodily destruction, it's how you choose to wield it that changes its intended function.  I would only be afraid of a hammer if someone was trying to injure me with it.

Which brings me to the story that sheds the light on the facet of truth I want to add.  There was a man that was known as "The Madman", he was a danger to everyone, including himself.  The town has resorted to completely exiling him to the mountains when they couldn't control him with chains and shackles..they had tried many times to control him but he always broke free and no one was strong enough to control him.  He tormented all who came in contact with him and even hurt himself with cutting himself with sharp objects.  But (and it's important to make sure your "but" is in the right place) when Jesus approached him the voices that spoke back were not the man's but the demons that lived in his headspace and body.  Jesus spoke to them...and cast them out.  Jesus did not condemn the man who had the demons, He spoke to the torment. He used to voice to set him free!   Jesus did not reject the man due to his state, He approached him and met his greatest need....when Jesus left his instruction was "Go..tell them your story"..use the voice that you now have.  Jesus gave him his voice back!!!  How long had that man been battling the voice he wanted to use but was overpowered by the evil voices?  How long had he lived in torment wanting to be loved and accepted but instead had been banished and rejected?  And to whom do we place the blame for his destructive presence?

How long can one live with hopelessness and rejection and not feel like theres no way out?  Evil lives in a headspace that echoes.  Abuse lives in a headspace that resonates.  That is a mental illness that is really a soul and spirit illness.  I do not excuse such behavior nor do I condone any violence....I hate what has been going on!  I do know, however, that the headspace of these perpetrators are different.  How do we treat them? Medication may numb the emotions, but can it transform their pains and hurts and bring freedom?  NO!  We need to change the voices and the conversations.  We need to address the internal voices....the ones that are echoing.  And we need to address the source...there is no love apart from Christ!
God gave me a phrase years ago when I was in the process of clearing out the ugly thoughts that remained in my head  "The words that remain unsaid are the ones that scream loudest in your head".

Tuesday, May 7

A New Day Dawning

As the mom of four children, I have often been guilty of rushing here and rushing there only to find that I am late, I'm grouchy or I've forgotten an item needed. I have rushed us through chores just to get them done, I've rushed them out the door, I've rushed them through meals or rushed them off to bed. In all the rushing, one loses the day, the moments, the words of life. God built us to live not rush...He made us to savor, not scarf...He fashioned our days much like He has fashioned our hearts.
Morning does not break forth suddenly, the sun does not hurry to be at full crest the moment a new day begins. The day dawns, the dark gives way to light gradually, the sun takes hours to crest and begin to descend. Our lives, our children, our hearts must also emerge in like fashion. We grow into maturity, it's not instantaneous, our children need the time we have to give and the words we have to speak, for they are dawning each and every day toward life that is full of purpose. If all we demonstrate is rushing then the lesson taught is our purpose to "hurry up and get going". There is a time for immediacy, but it must not come at the cost of the dawning. As I sit here, reflecting on my children and how quickly it seems that they have "dawned" into ladies and a gentleman, I find that life provides all the speed my heart can handle. I am thankful for the time and wish only to cherish all that has been given.

This quote from Ann Voskamp says it so well:

“Being in a hurry. Getting to the next thing without fully entering the thing in front of me. I cannot think of a single advantage I've ever gained from being in a hurry. But a thousand broken and missed things, tens of thousands, lie in the wake of all the rushing.... Through all that haste I thought I was making up time. It turns out I was throwing it away.”
― Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are

Friday, March 22

Technical Issues of Life

I had to walk away from my computer this morning for a time...I was frustrated and when I'm frustrated I"m fairly useless.  In my work, I am called upon to be the person showing someone how to do something, using the help guides and manuals when I don't know off hand.  How it's supposed to work and how it works are not always the same thing---but it should be.  This morning, after working with my team to get a program to function correctly and being unable we had to reschedule a meeting that had been anticipated by many.  There were no other options at that point.  It came down to a programming issue over which I have no control.

This has been mirrored in life in general recently for me.  As a mom, wife, friend and christian I am sought out for answers, advice and direction.  I generally can point to the Word, experience and the prompting of the Holy Spirit to provide these nuggets, but what do I do when I don't know?  How life is supposed to work and how it works are not always the same thing.  In the past year I've had several friends to whom I've given truth, spoken words of direction and even encouraged with hope but the situations did not actually turn out the way I saw them going.  At these times I am left to wonder, it's not like life can be rescheduled until a more convenient time.  Did I hear wrong? Did I give the wrong direction? Was it my own emotions that encouraged hope?  But it comes down to something much bigger, God has a different plan/purpose/problem that will be used for His glory.  I cannot control the words, only speak what I know to be true and trust that the one who has designed this life knows more than I do about the "programming" of the persons. I have seen miracles take place in the middle of these tough situations, been able to look back and see that the delay was the time God was using to prepare for the answer and see the times that hope was given to build up a foundation that allowed for a better outcome than the one for which I'd been hoping.

I am most grateful to know that God is the perfect designer when it comes to creating a product (us) and that He has planned and provided for each technical issue that comes up in our programming.  What may look like a glitch is really just a new option we didn't recognize before.

Thursday, December 6

Trend Breakers

It has been commented to me several times over the last few years that I am "lucky to have real friends".  I was surprised by the sentiment the first time, a little amazed the second and then sad the subsequent times.  I often thought that it couldn't be that unique, but it can be for some.  Friendships require work on the part of both individuals, time and a common heart that desires to maintain relationships.  If you are the only one attempting to commit to the friendship then it will be very hard to establish deeper roots.  I have been blessed with people who have common hearts bent toward loving friendships!  I love and care for each one, knowing that they reciprocate the same toward me.

In our lives we have many outlets, but we also have more pitfalls--social media can create both.  Facebook is a classic example where we can feel like we are missing out, being left out or being called out.  If not used as an avenue for our good it can quickly become a tool for our hurts and destructive thoughts.  I, in my own life, have chosen to post only those things that amuse, build up, preach His word or share things that will uplift.  People that are negative are quickly hidden from my newsfeed, people that are mean are deleted...I have chosen to not allow the ugliness of others to pollute what I read and feed into my thoughts.

On the subject of friendship, I recently read Trend Breakers, Discovering and Choosing True Friendship in a Lonely World by Kelly Westerfield (full disclosure--we are friends via Facebook but I have yet to meet her, although after reading her book I think we have similar hearts and would make very good friends in real life!). Kelly discusses some of the areas of struggle to make, establish and maintain friendships that is reliant not on the trends or fallacies of this modern day but upon the deeper spiritual connections that draw us to the heart of God and each other.

The book starts off with her experiences and her desires and invites you to "make friendship a purposeful and necessary part of life".  Dispersed throughout the book are the trials learned while seeking out true friends, the lies told to oneself (She doesn't need me) the self-doubts (we have nothing in common), excuses (I'm too busy right now) and the deferral (She has enough on her plate right now) and offers the steps to begin building true meaningful relationships.  Bonus--there are recipes, ideas for meal planning and hospitality ideas for getting together.

I very much enjoyed reading her book and would like to share it with one of you.  I will be doing a give-away.  To enter tell me: What is the name of your first best friend?  Mine was Debbie Reynolds...not THE Debbie Reynolds but a little blond haired girl in Washington state.  It took me years to understand why my parents always laughed a little when I said her name. :)

Monday, September 17

Oh Lord you've searched me

I was talking to my youngest daughter about a few things, and when I say "talking" I mean disciplinary discussions about attitudes, and explaining to her my heart. The discussion centered around her keeping her room and bathroom clean but it encompassed so much more.  I explained to her that her room being messy every once in awhile is normal, expected even, since she is a child...but that to keep it that way is not desirable for many reasons. As I spoke I started pointing out some of the issues with a messy room:
  •  it's hard to find the things you need or want to use
  •  makes it hard to walk (safety)
  •  shows little respect for your belongings
  • it takes longer to clean up a when you've let your room get too messy
  •  your forget what you have
As we began to clean her room together, she was reluctant to work...complaining some and even a few tears were shed.  But as the chaos began to be transformed into order and cleanliness she became happy and even excited.  In the chaos we found her missing iPod, her new shoes, a library book, some money and a favorite shirt that has been MIA for quite some time.  In her obedience to trust and obey she found many blessings and a few surprises.  

In my own life I have found the same principles to be true when I am not keeping my own heart clear of messes...when I let my life dictate my LIFE and I find myself knee-deep in emotional chaos.  Some of the issues with a messy mind/heart:
  • it's hard to find the joy and peace I need to live the life to which I've been called
  • it's hard to walk in newness of life that has been laid before me
  • it shows little respect for the ones God has put in my life
  • it takes longer to sort out the relationships and hurts you create
  • you forget just what is is that you have
Daily, like with keeping a tidy room, I must clean out the things that threaten to clutter my heart and open my path to walk throughout my day.  When I do so, I often find unexpected joy, sometimes an opportunity to serve, a positive interaction with my husband or children, a new favorite song that makes my heart sing, and sometimes money that I left in the pocket of my favorite jeans!   In my obedience to trust and obey I find many blessings and sometimes a few surprises.  

"Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me" Psalm 51:10

This song...oh this song!!! has been speaking to me the last several days.

The first lines are "Oh Lord you've searched me, you know my ways.  Even when I fail you, I know you love me!

Thursday, February 9


There was a time in my life when 10am on a Thursday meant watching an episode of Little Bear with my oldest two, or Blues Clues with my son, or The Wonder-pets with my youngest....I still have tucked deeply in my heart the related characters and/or theme songs.  I loved those days...most of the time.  But if I'm honest, and I am, I can say there were days that I thought to myself "I am going to go crazy if I hear _____(insert "cat whine about duck getting in the way", "the mailbox song", or "The Phone...the phone is ringing") one more time!  I felt like the days were endless sometimes, the chores insurmountable and the vision of being an at-home-mommy felt like drudgery.  Now, 10am on a Thursday means that I am alone in a quiet house, the only sound is coming from the ticking of the clock and the clicking of my keys on the keyboard...and I miss Little Bear, Blue and Ming-Ming....not in a melancholy kind of way, but in a "that seems like so long ago" kind of way.  Its so easy to lose sight of today due to looking to tomorrow or gazing back at can rob you of your joy today.

And we have such trust through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient of ourselves, to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. 2 Cor 3:4-6

As mom in the midst of planning a birthday parties, picking up/dropping off kids at school or work, and doing the endless laundry that accumulates, I often have to remind myself that my calling is still to serve and to witness to my children on a day-to-day basis. Two of our daughters are drawing near to testing their wings and beginning their journey into adulthood...and this, if left unchecked in my spirit, brings me to tears fairly easily.  I have found that it's easy to look back at the Little Bear days as the "good old days" and forget the joy of "Pomp and Circumstance".  I have to fight the urge to cram every little bit of parenting and wisdom into each conversation.  It's when I fight these urges with truth that I am again able to rest in the knowledge that God is not only my sufficiency but theirs also.  And in that rest I can enjoy what is now...and helping them plan for tomorrow with joy and excitement on their behalf while reminding myself to cherish the days I still have with the younger two.

Tuesday, January 31

Being "In"

My life continually revolves around my four children, my husband, my obligations, my messes....all while being in the life He has called me to live,  who lovingly is guiding me to live up to the standards He has set for me.  It can be daunting, overwhelming and honestly often discouraging when I feel I am failing.  

The goodness of God is that He always finds very real ways to show His love and heart via my own.  Unfailingly, He brings teachable moments so that I must rehearse His words to another and in the process dig them deeper into my heart.  

A few weeks ago I had a child struggling with concepts in a few classes, with feelings of "stupid" and "not good enough".  This child, a very easy going child, ended up in the nurses office with upset stomach thereby requiring me to pick them up and take them home from school.  My spirit discerned that this was not medical but spiritual...and we all know "how you think determines how you feel".  When I began digging into this child's issue the Spirit prompted me to ask about their classes and experiences at school.  
"Are you being picked on?" --No
"Do you have friends with whom you hang out and talk to?"--Yes
"Did something embarrassing happen?" --Silence
"Are you having problems in any classes?"--Tears
For a child who so desperately wants to please, relishes in the joy of their parents, and likes to be a helper to those struggling...a lack of understanding in an area that seemingly is easy for everyone else and the resulting grades of struggling is devastating.  This situation was robbing the joy from the days, weighing down the hours and depleting all the life from morning to night.  The days were daunting, overwhelming and discouraging----feelings with which I can readily identify.
So often we judge ourselves and others by performance. Someone singing well, getting good grades, having a visually pleasing appearance, being the supermom/dad earns the mental and verbal applause of the community.  Someone working hard but only coming out on average doesn't provoke the same reward; a struggle or failure often garners the mental or verbal "boo" from us and/or others.  

God has had me camped out on this verse for several weeks:
Ephesians 1:6 KJVTo the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He hath made us accepted in the Beloved.
There are so many nuggets of truth in this one many depths of who He is and we are.  His grace accomplished our acceptance just by being "in" the Beloved.  We cannot earn His acceptance, we cannot posture for it nor can we cajole it...His acceptance is simply given because of His grace..and His grace is like breathing, it happens just because of who He is and His character, without effort or thought.

Our arguments of who we think we are and who we really are begin to look like this in the face of daunting, overwhelming, and discouraged:

But God....makes us accepted in the Beloved.
But God....calls us priests and kings
But God....who knew no sin became sin so that we could be called  righteous
But God...has set us apart, made us a holy nation
But God...we can do all things through Christ who gives me strength
But God...we are over-comers through the blood of Jesus Christ
But our weakness He is our strength.

As I sat down with the verse from Ephesians I began to share with my child:
 "I love you simply because you are here.  My love and acceptance for you is like God's's like happens without thought, without provocation and without your seeking.  The struggles are what makes us realize our need for Him, but His acceptance never wavers, His grace is always faithful.  It's our attitude and how we look at Him that changes our views.  Your struggles in classes made you also realize your need to ask for help from me and your father...but your view of us and our acceptance (or worry about rejection) is what kept you from asking for help. As you adjust your view of us and our desire to help you succeed, you will relax and simply ask.  God teaches me that daily, He wants me to simply ask for help with the trust and faith that He is ready to help me succeed. "
So often we lose sight of the vision the Father has for us but is faithful to give us opportunities to see His work in our's never about the's always about the life in them.