I'm just a wife and mother who earnestly desires to grow in my faith and it's demonstration. DISCLAIMER! I have absolutely no problem with women in the clergy. As a matter of fact, I have several female pastors who I consider friends. In my home, the pastor is a male so the pronouns I use to refer to a pastor tend to be male. This is not a statement of any kind. Just a reflection of my every day life!

Archive for the ‘Personal Growth’ Category

Who Are We?

One of the things I love about the Bible App I use on my phone and iPad is the Devotional feature.  I can choose a devotional AND have the app remind me each day.  And this latest devotional is hitting me HARD. I just have to share yesterday’s devotional reading and the scripture it referenced.  What you are about to read is not my creation.  It’s from “When Faith Catches Fire” by Samuel Rodriguez and Dr. Robert Crosby.

Rev. 5:9 – And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.

There is a new song arising! Can you hear it? It is deep within and longing to rise from a sacred place of silent hope to be a sound that will pierce the darkness. There is a new song arising!

This new song will not be sung exclusively by a black chorus, a white ensemble, a Latino band, or an Asian soloist. No! This new song will be sung by a multiethnic, multi-generational, kingdom-culture choir washed in the blood of the Lamb. A church united.

But rest assured, this song rises not out of programmed promptings or emotional exuberance, but rather out of the depths, out of the leading of God’s spirit at work in the hearts of surrendered men and women. It is not born out of hype but rather of hope.

It is time to sing a new song! The new song reminds us of our identity. So who are we? We must respond with clarity, conviction, and courage and affirm the following:

  • We are the light of the world (Matthew 5:14)
  • We are a city on a hill (Matthew 5:14)
  • We are a people of the Word (Matthew 4:4)
  • We are the salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13)
  • We are prophetic and not pathetic
  • We are disciples, witnesses, and Christ followers (Matthew 28:16-20)
  • We are children of the cross (Romans 8:17), fruit of the empty tomb (John 12:24), and products of the upper room (Acts 2)
  • We are the redeemed of the Lord (Psalm 107:2)
  • We are forgiven, free, and favored (Galatians 5:1)
  • We are called and chosen (1 Peter 2:9)
  • We are warriors and worshippers (Psalm 144:1)

We are not first and foremost brown, black, white, or yellow, Hispanic, Charismatic, Pentecostal, or reformed.

We are above all the born-again, blood-washed, Spirit-empowered children of the Living God.

This one is a day late – apparently, the schedule got away from me but I figured better late than never!

Hubby got a chance to preach at 2nd Baptist this past Sunday.  It was a treat to get to hear him preach again!  But I learned something new from a passage I’ve read numerous times.  Hubby’s text was Matthew 17:24-27.  In this particular passage, Jesus and all of the disciples are in Capernaum. Peter is approached by those who collect the temple tax.  They want to know if Jesus pays his temple tax.  His immediate answer is yes but Peter asks Jesus about it later.  Jesus has a conversation with Peter in which he makes about being the son of God and should he really have to pay the tax to maintain God’s temple . . . but that wasn’t the “new thing”.  Jesus gives Peter an instruction in verse 27 – “However, so that we do not offend them, go to the sea and throw in a hook, and take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a shekel.  Take that and give it to them for you and me.”

The temple tax was established in Leviticus.  Those men 20 years of age and up were to pay a half shekel to the temple.  Jesus and all 12 of his disciples were in Capernaum.  Jesus tells Peter how he will get a shekel to pay the temple tax for Peter and Jesus.  Only Peter and Jesus.  The implication of this act is that the other 11 disciples are not yet 20.  Somehow, in all my years growing up in the church and the Bible courses I took in college, I missed this.  During Jesus’ 3 years of active ministry, he was surrounded by 12 young men.  Possibly even teenagers.

Here’s the “take away”.  If Jesus entrusted the establishing of the early church to men not yet – or barely – old enough to pay the temple tax, we can certainly trust teenagers to make good choices and impact their world in positive ways.  I’ve always been a big advocate of seeing the best in young people and setting high expectations for them.  And it would seem I have the best of all role models in doing so.  Just didn’t realize it till now.

Now What?

My month is up.

I gave myself the month of June to “wallow” a bit.  Empty nesting isn’t any more fun.  Not a bit.  But I am getting better at coming up with clever or useful ways to fill the time.

Now that my self-imposed deadline has arrived, what next?

For the better part of 26 years, my schedule and my choices have had to revolve around the fact that I was a mom.  Their schedules, their needs, their activities . . . they came first as they should have.  But that’s not the case any longer.

My leisure time is now mine.  Completely mine.  I got married at 20 and had my first child before I was 23 so it’s been a few years since I’ve owned my leisure time.

So I’ll make a list of creative ways to spend my times and plan some “purging” of various rooms and cupboards.  I’ll repaint the room that is now mine and get my stuff all settled in.

I used to say that one of the advantages of having my kids when I was young was the fact that I would still be young enough to REALLY enjoy the empty nest phase of life.  Well, that phase has started, so it’s time to go prove myself right.

My Story Isn’t Over

New TattooA few people have told me I shouldn’t share this story.  Some fear it will give people ideas.  Others think it is too shameful to share.  But my reason for sharing is simple – I wish I hadn’t felt so alone all those years ago.

The picture is of my newest tattoo.  Call it a “stylized semicolon” if you will.

Project Semicolon is a non-profit initiative focused on promoting mental health and preventing suicide.  Semicolon tattoos are worn by those who have lost someone to suicide, those who love someone who battles suicidal thoughts because of mental illness, those who battle mental illness themselves, or those who themselves have survived suicide.

Why a semicolon?  It’s a punctuation mark used in place of a period when a writer chooses not to end a sentence.  The semicolon joins two sentences into a longer sentence.  As for the stylized portion of my tattoo – an eighth note in place of the dot – there’s a very simple answer.  Music became my lifeline during a very, very dark period.

We’ll call my bully “Oscar” (not going to use his real name because he doesn’t deserve that much respect).

I was about halfway through my 8th grade year the first time he walked up behind me in the hallway and muttered, just loud enough for only me to hear, “You know you’re worthless, right?”

I was stunned.

I stopped walking.  He went around me and continued down the hallway like nothing had happened.  It was the first time I’d ever had that kind of encounter with him.  But it was certainly not the last.

“Oscar” and I attended a small school – about 25 kids per graduating class – but we didn’t really spend much time around each other.  He preferred to play sports while I was already a committed performing arts geek.

To this day, I have no clue why he chose me.

From that first encounter, it just got worse.  Multiple times a day, he’d find a way to get behind me in the hall, close enough to say horrible things that only I could hear –

“Nobody actually thinks of you as a friend.  They are just pretending.”

“The world would be perfect if you weren’t in it.”

“Do us all a favor.  Just kill yourself.”

“Religious freak music nerds like you have no right to go on living.”

You get the idea.  At this point in my story, someone usually asks, “Why didn’t you tell someone?!” I tried to.  Once.  I hinted that really cruel, hateful things were being said to me on a regular basis by a fellow student.  I was told that I needed to sit down and talk to the student so I could find out what I had done that made him angry.  It was the first time I entertained the thought that it might be my fault.  (Side note – I never again went to that particular teacher for advice.)

I was on my own.  I knew that “Oscar” wasn’t the least bit interested in a sit-down.  And, after a moment’s reflection, I knew that nothing I might have done warranted his behavior.

Summer offered a reprieve and I started my freshman year, hopeful that he had moved on.  Or forgotten.

No such luck.

Every day.  Multiple times a day. A fellow high school freshman “encouraged” me to end my own life.

Three different times during my freshman year, I made plans to give “Oscar” what he wanted.

Let me be crystal clear – I made three different attempts to end my own life because I knew it would finally get him to shut up.

But I survived.  The “how” doesn’t matter much.  The fact that I’m still here 30+ years later is what’s important.

With about six weeks left in the school year, “Oscar” goofed.  I had started walking so close to the wall that my arm was practically brushing against the wall.  The hope was “Oscar” might back off if he had to risk others hearing.  His verbal attacks lessened but didn’t end.

Then it happened. He leaned in over my shoulder, risking having someone else hear as they walked by –

“You should do us all a favor and just end it.”

Her name – real name, this time – was Carla –

“Are you kidding me?!  Did you really just say that to her?!”

“Oscar” nearly ran down the hall.  Carla stopped me and asked how long “Oscar” had been saying those kinds of things to me.  I started to cry.  The next few moments are a blur.  Carla and I were headed to the same class so she walked me as far as the door, got the teacher’s attention and asked her to meet us in the hall.  I don’t remember what Carla’s explanation was, but the teacher gave us permission to be a few minutes late so I could go compose myself.  As I was in the bathroom drying my tears and splashing water on my face, the story spilled out.  Carla promised that she was going to make sure it all stopped.

Carla grabbed some mutual friends and simply told them “Oscar” had been messing with my head and asked them to help her make sure that I wasn’t left alone long enough for him to start up again. Walking to class, eating lunch, even heading to after-school rehearsals . . . I never had to worry about running into “Oscar” alone.  They continued their companionship into the next school year.

I would change high schools at the end of football season the following school year.  With the change of location, I got a chance to decide exactly who I was going to be.

So I got reacquainted with myself.  True, “Oscar’s” verbal assaults had ended, but his words had stuck.  They ran on a loop in my head that I couldn’t silence completely.  The only way to fight them was to drown them out with the things that brought me joy. I remembered how much I loved music.  How much I cherished playing the piano.  So I poured my time and energy into that.  Music became my life-line and the means by which I returned to a more realistic sense of myself.

In other words, I chose to be me.

Don’t get me wrong – life hasn’t been perfect.  There have been really dark moments when I forgot who I was and allowed others to try and write my story.  But I choose to keep moving forward.  Sometimes it’s only a baby step and there are still times I fight with the ugly words that keep creeping back into my head.  But my story isn’t over.

This new tattoo is a reminder of the whole experience.  A reminder that I have the strength to make a better choice.  And, hopefully, it’s a conversation starter.  A chance to encourage those fighting their own dark battles; a chance to encourage them to keep looking for a reason to take one more step forward.  The another . . . and another . . . and another . . .

Because the story isn’t over.

From My Website

Hey gang!

Sharing this from my website – the story was more appropriately shared there, but I wanted to make sure I shared it here!

Unchanging – Part I

Aside

The Long Haul

The beginning of a famous quote by Theodore Roosevelt says “Nothing in this world is having or worth doing unless it means effort.”

But we humans want quick fixes and fast solutions.  I’m four weeks into a new workout routine and have made some pretty significant changes to my eating habits as well as being much more intentional about my water consumption.  My eating habits aren’t perfect – I still “cheat” now and then – but I’m learning and doing a little bit better each day.  I’m doing LOTS better than I was four weeks ago!

But I’d love to see big changes and fast!  In my head I know that quick, radical changes usually don’t last.  When it comes to healthy weight loss, slow and steady is the route to success.

So I have to choose to focus on the positives –

– My sleeping pattern is better and more restful.

– My energy level is great!

– There have been small changes in all of the “measurements” and the scale has nudged a bit in a healthier direction.

– My legs feel stronger and my arms are starting to do the same.

I say these things not to brag but to remind myself that my commitment to living healthier was never going to be a short term thing.  If I want these healthy changes to “stick”, I need to remember that I signed up for the long haul and just keep taking baby steps forward.

Reading Challenges, Healthy Changes and More

I’m still actively working on the Reading Challenge for 2016.  I have 18 books completed.  Some were old favorites I knew I would love, others have become new favorites – The Martian and Saturn Run come to mind – and some . . .  Let’s just say I tried a new genre and leave it at that!  Currently working on the “A book and it’s prequel” – The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe and The Magician’s Nephew.

Today started week four of the Cize workout.  First day of the week = new workout video.  I am SO glad I’m doing these in my own home where no one else can see my lack of coordination early in the week!  As of yesterday, I was down 4 1/2 pounds and a total of about 13 inches from various critical places.  The food choices have been much healthier, the water consumption is at healthy levels and – as a consequence – much of the junk food craving has vanished.

The school year is winding up which means that preparations are already underway for next school year.  

I’m really starting to find joy in my strengths.   I might even dare to say that I’m starting to like myself.  And I’ve learned that this is a crucial step for continuing to work on my weaknesses.  After all, we don’t invest time and energy in those we don’t like.  

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