Monday, December 19, 2016

On Not Being Enough

(BE AWARE: I don't usually share these things, because I don't want to hurt people that are or have been close to me. I still won't mention names, but since there are only about 100 of you who read my blogs, I'm sure you can puzzle things out.  It is not my intention to shame anyone, but to share what I have learned. Thanks)

     I wasn't enough. Ever. I grew up with that idea being constantly reinforced. I wasn't thin enough, I wasn't pretty enough, I didn't sing well enough, I wasn't smart enough, I didn't follow directions well enough, I didn't learn fast enough, I wasn't considerate enough, Or I was too much of something, which was not enough.  Then I got married, and I was enough for a while. And then I wasn't.
     That isn't to say that I was never complimented. But I'd been conditioned well enough that I didn't believe it. I'm sure the people that were giving me my identity were not intending to do so. I'm sure it was a by product of having received a negative identity themselves, in most cases.
      I was told, often, by the wrong men, how pretty I was. Men that were adults when I wasn't, and that were married and had children. I feel rather lucky now that I wasn't physically violated by any of these men. I did feel sick to my stomach sometimes, though. I wondered what I had done to encourage the kind of attention I was getting. I was sure it had to be something I had done wrong, because of course, I wasn't good enough.  It was years before I realized that I hadn't knowingly  presented myself in a way that would invite such attention. So I wondered instead if I had some sort of mark, or aura, or body language that shouted vulnerability. Did I exude the need to be accepted? Was it abundantly clear that I was lonely in need of affirmation?
     Then I met someone that accepted me. He accepted who I was when we met. He continued to accept me as I grew and changed. Changes in my physical, intellectual and spiritual self were not merely accepted, but encouraged and celebrated. In turn, I learned that affirmation from my spouse is priceless and lovely, but I need affirmation from God. He's my ultimate measuring stick. As I pursued a relationship with God, the relationship with my husband grew, too. And for each other, we are enough. Finally.
     I know this idea could be fleshed out, almost infinitely, with specific stories, but I don't believe that is necessary, here. If you struggle with being enough, look to Jesus. He makes you enough. People don't. Most people won't every be pleased with anyone that isn't themselves. Unless they find their own worth with Christ.  That's why my husband saw that I was enough, and that's why my children will learn that they are enough.
Go, be enough.

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Saturday, December 17, 2016

Will I be Accused?

     Over the years, whenever I  become aware of some truth, I wonder why I wasn't aware of it before. I mean, I've been going to church for my entire life! My parents, my friends' parents, the people we spent time with, they were all church people. The read their bibles. They prayed. They Preached! I went to Sunday School, Wednesday evening services, Youth Group, two Sunday services, and attended every other event that took place at the church. How could any of these truths be new? Worse, how could my understanding of those truths be different than what I had learned growing up?
     I noticed a major trend among Christian authors, bloggers, and speakers. They would introduce some truth that they had begun to understand deeply, and mention how the previous generations had failed them by not ensuring that particular truth had been understood. Obviously no one else had understood it correctly, and the church had failed it's future generations. So, I began to have the same attitude.  I would be sad that I had wasted some years with a misrepresented God. I began to search for truth myself, because obviously everything I learned had been skewed in some incorrect fashion.
     I have learned things that I wasn't formerly aware of. I believe I have matured in my faith. I believe that I am now a stronger, more confident person because of what I currently understand about my relationship with Jesus. I also know that I will always have more to learn and understand. That there is infinitely more spiritual wisdom than I could ever attain in a lifetime on this world.
     I have also learned that my former lack of understanding, wisdom, or knowledge, was simply lack of maturity. Oh, I may have been a mature person. Street smart, well aware of the things that I did know, but somewhat unaware of the things I didn't know. Not cocky, exactly. Of course I knew that as a young person, there was still plenty to be explored, and that I wouldn't ever get to every corner of every idea. That's a given, I hope. What I am sure of now, I realized because of teaching. Parenting, sure, but come on, teaching is a large part of parenting, a part that not all parents choose to embrace. That's another post.
     Teaching my kids over the years has taught me that some of them learn some ideas more easily than others do. For a few, their interests may ease or might complicate learning certain subjects. They learn basic ideas, first. As they mature, they learn more abstract ideas. Their heads are so full of learning, sometimes, that some ideas don't seem to make it into their heads at all. I have been an eye witness to a child asking me, "why didn't you ever teach me that? It seems to basic, and it would have helped me to learn this!", when I did, in fact, teach them that. Else, I tried to. For whatever reason, that particular child wasn't ready to learn that particular thing at that time. No problem, it was retaught, the child progressed, and learned the new concept.
     I've chosen to continue my education in God's word, learning all I can about His character and how to live this life He's given me here so that when I transition to eternity, I will be confident in it.
     If you've believed that your church let you down in their teachings, I won't argue that maybe they have. There are some kooky churches and nutty preachers out there. Search for yourself, and ask someone that you might trust to help you. Watch for people who live their life selflessly, mostly. Maybe they don't walk around preaching, but you know they aren't in it for themselves. You'll know.  If you message me, I'll pray with you to find the right people. I want you to grow in wisdom and grace, too.
     Pray with me, too, that I will communicate with my kiddos, and whomever else seeks my advice, that they won't one day want to blame my church, or my generation for letting them down with unwise or immature teaching.  Thanks.

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Thursday, September 15, 2016

Where Do I Even Begin?

"You should write a book!"

 I've heard it many times. I've dreamed about it. I've prayed about it. I've discussed it with friends and family. I've even tried a few times.

Once, I began writing an adventure for a young boy with Asperger's. There's a lot of research that goes into writing books. I had three kiddos under age 5, and four more kiddos besides. How much research and writing could possibly get done? I did get several handwritten pages in, but when I read them over, it was inconsistent, and ideas were crisscrossing all over the pages. I put the story away, hoping for a better time to get at it.

Another time, I tried writing about raising kids. But, I was busy with raising kids.

I usually wonder, after someone says that to me, what it was about our conversation that led them to say it. Was it a funny thing that I said? (Was I even funny to anyone but myself?) Was it some insightful, intelligent thing that I said? (Was the thing that I thought was intelligent the same thing THEY thought was intelligent?) Was it just that we have such wacky, zany adventures? (Or just completely unbelievable circumstances?)

Sometimes I write down ideas and phrases that just occur to me out of nowhere, hoping they will flesh out into some grand idea. Not so far. Maybe I can just publish a book of possibilities, and others can write amazing books out of them.

This blog even took a hiatus for a year because of life. I realized, though, that all of the creative things took a hiatus from my life this last year. I haven't crocheted, or paper crafted. I didn't make christmas tree ornaments, I haven't been canning and baking. I haven't even switched out the color of my eyeshadow all year. And I've worn the same silver hoop earrings every time I reach for a pair.


So, I bought a coloring book. I used to love to color, a lot! Then the grown-up coloring book became all the rage, and I avoided it like the plague. I don't like to follow the crowd. I like to what I like to do because I like doing it, not because everyone else likes doing it. But then, I relented. Maybe I think it'll lose popularity soon, and the next big thing will be all the rage by Christmas.  I wanted to start being creative again, but it had to be something that could travel well, and not be messy.  I also need a good fiction book to read. I'll start slowly, and let the creativity build. Maybe I'll get to Christmas ornaments by Christmas.  And maybe I'll start writing another book.

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Monday, October 19, 2015

When I Talk About What I Taught My Kids

     I talk about my kids on this blog quite often. They're mainly what I write about. There are quite a few of them around here, filling up my time and space.

     One of the categories that I share the most about is discipline. Correction, really. It seems pretty natural that a parent would need to correct children, and often. It's a subject that comes up time and again. And again. And yet again.

     What I found when some of the Zooligans began to mature beyond the preschool years, is that the way the corrections played out began to change. There were discussions and explanations, and understandings, and mis-understandings.

     Sometimes, when correcting and guiding, words would come from my mouth. Words that didn't seem to be all mine. Even though my mouth spoke the words, I was hearing them as though they were being spoken to me. I was the one that needed, desperately, to hear those words. They were fluid ideas, wise thoughts, good advice. I'm pretty sure they weren't my words.

     I like to believe that I'm an intelligent person. I educate myself be reading and researching. I think that I can string ideas together into intelligble communication. I might even, on occassion, say something profound. I'm pretty proud of myself when I do this. I don't feel that it happens often enough.

     But, profundity isn't what I was feeling when those correct, right words were spilling from me to my children. I was feeling conviction. Whatever I was correcting my children for in that moment was something that I needed to correct in myself, too.

     God uses some great tools for teaching us, even the words that come out of our own mouths. I guess I don't don't need to hide behind my kids when I tell share about a great correction moment. I can just come out and say that I learned something great when the Holy Spirit spoke through me to my kids, and I needed to listen, too.

     May the prompting of the Holy Spirit be obvious and real for you, too.

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Friday, October 16, 2015

"But I want to!"

   "But I want to!"
One in a long list of phrases that my children use that makes me want to respond in a similarly immature manner. I would like to roll my eyes, or say something snarky about their response. I mean, I *know* you want to!  You just said so! And I gave you an answer complete with a reason. Just, Ugh!

Arguing, and complaining are on a no-no list. When the children are older, and they have learned something about the exchange of ideas, and the art of persuasion, they may appeal to me. When the "no" is rebutted with something less like whining, I am willing to listen.  For now, it's important to Mr.TheZoo and I that the children understand that complaining for the sake of complaining doesn't make anything better.

When the Israelites were delivered from Egypt, and were on their long trek through the desert, the complaints of discomfort began. 'At least we had watermelons in Egypt', 'At least we had a home to go to at the end of the day', 'At least we had a comfortable place to lie down in Egypt!'  There were slaves! They were beaten, overworked, generally mistreated, even killed while working for the Pharoah. They had no freedoms, their baby boys were murdered at the pleasure of the government! It seems that walking to their freedom was more difficult in their minds, then a life of slavery.  God's response? Poisonous snakes. Yikes! In the face of true adversity, the Israelites cried to again to God. He sent them relief. A way to heal. A physical beacon to look toward that would rid their bodies of the poison, and allow them to continue to walk on to freedom.

My children forget, or don't even know, what adversity is. To them, being told that they can not have a Popsicle for breakfast is adversity. My firm "No, but you may have..." isn't loving enough for them. "But I want one!" is the response.  I offered them something good. Something that would nourish and sustain them, Something that would give them long term health, and they turned it down, opting instead to whine and pursue their own selfish interest, no matter that it would bring them harm.

The Israelites did that, too. Many of them refused to look to sign that would heal them, and they died. Painfully. They refused to accept God's rescue from slavery as a better situation, and then when offered mercy from pain and death, they still clung to their own idea of comfort and happiness.

Please, little Zooligans, understand one day, that  I desire good things for you. Often that means that I need to say 'No', even though you try to convince me "But I want it!".

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Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Summer Daze

     This morning I was up at 5 a.m. I haven't seen that side of the clock since I was working full time and had to haul four kids out to daycare before going in to work. Ugh. Problem is, someone had my pillow! I tossed and turned all night, catching 1/2 hour naps. I can't sleep without my own pillow. It drives me nuts! As a result, I have already accomplished many things. The dishes that I left because it was too hot last night have been done, laundry has been started, A bathroom has been wiped down, I have been grocery shopping, and the groceries have been put away. And, this blog post has been written. All this morning. AND, the children are still sleeping! The teenagers, the middles, and the littles. This might be the best 8:30 a.m. I've seen in a while! Also, I had a starbucks mocha. A treat, and I didn't have to share sips all around. Ha!
     In the parking lot at the grocery store, there was a large group of young people. Older teens, I think. they were heady with a lack of authority figures, and all the promise of a beautiful, hot, sunny day at a lake someplace. For the first time, I didn't long for days gone. Instead, I thought of how my children are nearing those times, and how happy I am for them to have those moments.  I guess I'm growing up a little bit. *sigh*
     I'm bucking that growing up thought by putting '90's music on the pandora station on the t.v. so that the kids have to hear it when they get up. If they're going to grumble about anything, why not my choice in music? I mean, it isn't like I'm making them listen to Debbie Gibson. (Thanks, Dad.)
     Happy summer days, to you!

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Monday, January 19, 2015

That Time When I Was Robbed

     A few years ago, someone stole from me. Someone that I considered to be more than an acquaintance. Actually, I handed over the money of my own accord. There was a promise about what was to happen with the money. The promise was never kept, the money was never returned, and there was no communication on the part of the person that took the money. None.
     I did inquire several times as to the time frame, and whether it was going to work out. Still, this person that called me 'friend', and 'sister', did not return my money. After more than a year had passed, I began to pray about how to handle this situation. Our family isn't in a position to hand over hundreds of dollars and not miss it.  We need to prepare well in advance not only to give an amount that is substantial to us, but to spend it on anything at all.  It wasn't even just the keeping of the money that bothered me, but that there had been a promise of a gift that would be combined with our portion for something that we desperately needed. We ended up having to find what we needed elsewhere at a considerably lesser amount, and therefore, a lesser quality.
     After a time in prayer, I felt that I needed to forgive this person. I contacted them, communicated about my disappointment in the lack of communication, and expressed that I would be forgiving the debt. I was rewarded with a "Oh, I don't expect you to do that!" and an offer of services in exchange for the money.  No apology.  No follow up. Nothing.
     It took me another two years to realize that it wasn't just forgiveness of the debt that I needed to be willing to give. It was forgiveness of her thievery. Yes, it was thievery. She stole from me. She took my money, made a promise that was likely sincere in the beginning, but never returned the money, and never admitted to it.  It is my feeling that this was for more important to me than it was to her. Since then, she has seen tremendous success in her career, she has made several purchases, taken trips, etc. I only know this because the internet is such a public place. Still, she has never even offered an apology.
     I found that every time I saw or heard of some wonderful financial gain of hers, I felt angry. Then, I would remember how much I like this woman. How much everyone likes this woman. I would wonder, why does this mean so much to me, and obviously so little to her? How can she call me a sister one day, then steal from me and dismiss me the next?
     I was stewing in my anger and growing bitter toward this woman. The thing about bitterness is that it destroys the bitter one while everyone else gets on with life.  I needed to forgive her. The debt should have been secondary, the relationship should have been first. As it stands, I now have never seen the money again, and I no longer have a relationship with this woman.
     There is a great difference between bitterness and memory. What I have now is a memory. Of course, I won't do business with this person again, and I won't recommend her to others, but because bitterness isn't in my heart for her, I also won't speak badly of her to others.
     It does happen sometimes that we are cheated or robbed, and still we need to forgive. I would hope that from time to time, my debts are forgiven. I also pray for the woman that stole from me, now not with bitterness, but instead with hope that she will choose honesty, and that she will value the relationships in her life.

Have you been robbed? How did you respond? Are you harboring bitterness?

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