Sunday, November 6, 2016

To Remember is to Honor

It's that day of the year again, the day I should be celebrating my sisters life instead of grieving it. To honor her, I share her story, praying that it impacts one endangered life in a positive way.
My intention is not to state that every bad relationship is abusive, it isn't. I'm not saying that every negative comment is abuse - we need people in our lives willing to correct us when we are wrong. I'm not saying all sarcasm and "joking" is abuse, sometimes it's just a horrible sense of humor or a bad day.
Abuse is a pattern of behaviours designed to control and manipulate. It isn't isolated incidents by flawed humans - we all are. None of us are perfect. We all make mistakes, we all hurt those we love on occasion.
Having said that.....
Domestic violence kills. Sometimes it will sneak up on a family in the form of verbal and emotional abuse, then taking it by surprise when it becomes horribly, terribly physical, leaving the family shattered and broken in pieces. Irreparable. That's what happened to my sister. Literally overnight our family was affected by the worst form of domestic violence there is - death. She didn't live in constant fear of physical harm, she never had to hide bruises and yet she is no longer with us because the one time, the first time he hit her was the last time.
Our society is so ingrained with TV and movies showing how "funny" it is to insult and degrade those we love and care for but the reality is ... THAT is emotional and verbal abuse. Treat those you love LIKE YOU LOVE THEM! Don't make them wonder if your sarcasm or "jokes" contain the truth of how you feel about them. Don't speak harm to them and then laugh if off. Words are powerful. Words created the world and words can destroy a heart and a family. When we speak ill of someone long enough we come to believe it for ourselves, and when we stop appreciating the value of the people in our lives, we stop valuing their life, period.
My sister lived with verbal and emotional abuse. She didn't even recognize that she was being abused (let's be honest - hindsight is 20/20). Set your boundaries and insist on being treated with respect and kindness, especially from those who claim to love you. Recognize your own self-worth, see your own value, believe that you deserve to be treated well. Loving someone does not require that you allow them to hurt your heart. If the person in your life does not respect you, speak lovingly to you (even - or especially - when angry!) IT IS OKAY TO WALK AWAY! Do it safely, do it wisely but do not allow yourself to be trapped in harmful relationship.
There is no abuse that is "safe". It is always, always, always life threatening. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, maybe not ever for you, but it ALWAYS carries that potential.
I've heard it... "that's the extreme, it could never happen to me"... but my sister said that too.
Please, let her story help you - and help you help others. Don't stand by and let yourself or your friends/family be treated poorly. Say something! Abuse thrives in darkness & silence. What happens behind closed doors should be the same as what happens in the public eye -- what if it was your daughter or son? When we turn a blind eye to the hurt of those in our lives, we contribute to their pain.
It isn't "just words". It's dangerous, it's scary, it's harmful and sometimes, yes, it's life threatening. Beware your words, beware the messages being spoken to you. Stand up for those who are having words used against them. Stand up for yourself. Be there for someone who doesn't see their own value and worth enough to protect themselves from abuse. Put aside judgment to be supportive. Be in prayer for those around you! Educate yourself on the warning signs of an abusive relationship - for yourself and for those in your life. Don't be afraid to be a voice, to be a presence for someone else. Ask the question. Don't be offended if someone asks you the question - accept their concern as love and be honest.... consider the source and take a good look at your relationship - maybe they are seeing something you don't. Maybe it's just an area of your relationship that needs some work.
I miss Angela every single day. My heart aches for her. So many people were touched by her life. She was my best friend, my big sister, a wonderful mother and a loving aunt... my boys don't remember her, my youngest never even had a chance to meet her. Her boys miss their parents immensely, my parents wonder how it is they have outlived their daughter, her friends still miss her too. There is a HUGE hole in our lives that she used to fill. We have the memories, but we miss her presence.
Don't let this become your story or your message.
If this touches your heart for yourself or a friend, if you ever need to talk, please leave me a comment. Find the resources for your community and call a distress line - they are there to listen and help when you are ready. You don't have to be alone, help is available and YOU DESERVE TO BE TREATED LIKE YOU ARE LOVED AND CARED FOR.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

What is Humility?


Christians, in particular, seem to struggle with the concept of humility. For too many years, I thought humility was to depreciate myself, to cling to my failings and faults in order to refuse value. I thought humility was always being aware of my failings, my sins; to live in degradation because of the things I do or have done wrong… in other words, to continually pay for the consequences of my sins.
God is working on my heart. I have realized that humility is very much like courage. Courage is strongest in the face of danger. A person who never faces a challenge, who never faces danger cannot claim to be courageous; so also a person who does not believe in their value cannot be called humble.
If we do not have an intrinsic understanding of our value, we cannot truly understand humility.
Let’s look at some Biblical examples. Who does Scripture admonish to be humble? At first, it is the Israelite nation. Why? They have intrinsic, God-given value. God made it abundantly clear to them that He held them in high regard. He literally moved oceans, rivers and armies to prove how much He cared for them. They KNEW, without a shadow of a doubt, that they were chosen to be God’s special people. What did they do with this knowledge, however? A lot of the time they used it to set themselves apart from the other nations … and not in a healthy way. They set themselves up as more valuable than other people because they had God’s favor. So often, they took the special favor given them by God and decided it was their right rather than their gift. They forgot the source of their value. They refused to be humble. In turn, they had to be humbled.
God doesn’t want proud people. Prideful people treat others with disrespect and abuse. He wants us to understand we are valuable and then show others that they, too, are valuable.
That’s what humbleness is. Humbleness is knowing intrinsically what your value is and helping others to see the same value in themselves.
Pride is believing you alone are valuable and have the right to hurt or hold others down so you look more valuable than they are.
Then there is self-degradation. Self-degradation is refusing to believe you have value, focusing only on your failings and believing that you cannot have value until you have achieved perfection. This is disproved in Scripture time and time again. You simply have to take one character to see this, David for example. David was a simple shepherd, without value in his family of origin, shrouded in mystery, small in size, without anything to recommend him when Samuel davidanoints him to be the next king of Israel. Suddenly, his life does a complete turnaround and he is pretty much left reeling from the changes. What David does have to begin with is a deep understanding of his value in God’s eyes. David understands that all his accomplishments are because God has provided them and protected him. Even knowing that, even understanding that God was beside him and eager to answer any question he had, David was not perfect. Sometimes he forgot to ask God what to do. Sometimes he blatantly chose to sin, such as when he committed adultery with Bathsheba and had Uriah killed. Sometimes he made huge errors in judgment because he neglected to check in with God. History, however, tells us that no matter what David did, God continued to show him favor. David didn’t need to be perfect; he needed to maintain his humbleness by remembering where his favor came from, returning to God every time he messed up, and using his favor to help others.
Self-degradation … the belief that you have no intrinsic value, is pride, not humility. It stands beside pride in believing that you alone are responsible for achieving and holding value.
Humility comes from understanding Someone Else (God) holds your value, it is a gift meant to be shared. Humility is understanding you don’t have to be perfect, you don’t have to accomplish it all or be strong enough to sustain life. Humility is remembering where you have come from, what you have survived; it is knowing you have value despite the mistakes and errors made along the way. It is seeing the full journey, recognizing God’s hand in your life and treating others the same way.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Maybe.... We Need A Different View

I never expected this picture to be a source of conflict, yet that's exactly what it became on a friend's Facebook page earlier this week.

People were decrying her for posting it saying "This seems like a very bad way to portray all men" and  "it doesn't make sense" and just in general critizing with the impression that it was wrong.

To me it says... blame the criminal, not the victim. To me it is a reminder that we have to teach people to treat others honourably. Maybe the satire of this meme is unneccesary, maybe it will have absolutely zero effect on absolutely everybody who reads it, but....

Just Maybe.

It will reach one person. It will reach that one boy who grew up in an abusive home, who was never shown or told that you needed to treat other people with respect, who was shown that women were there for him to use and abuse.

Maybe I'm giving too much strength to a meme. Maybe others aren't giving it enough.

There are people who are hurting in this world. There are people who simply haven't been taught the proper way to interact, to have relationships.

There are boys and men who believe women are theirs for the taking. There are boys and men who don't know any better because all they've ever seen is women being used instead of being loved. There are boys out there who have been inducted into gangs and rape because that's what is expected of them. They may even not realize the depths of how wrong it is.

Yep. You can argue with that statement, but think about it carefully. If all you ever see is hatred, violence and abuse; if your largest people of influence think that is okay and promote it, will you truly see the danger and risk of it?

Maybe it will speak to that one girl who has been sexually victimized from as early as she can remember. Maybe it will tell her that it's not her fault. That her existence does not mean she has to remain a victim because the crime, the shame, is not hers. Maybe it will give her the strength to start believing that she has value.

Maybe that girl thought she could only be loved if someone was using her sexually. Maybe she doesn't even realize yet that she's been raped because ... it's only ever been taken from her.

Maybe, this just brings home to one person that rape is not the victims fault. Maybe, the next time you sit on a jury this meme will ring in your memory and you will look to the suspect, not the victim to explain why they are sitting in the courtroom. Maybe, just maybe it might start to change societal views, police attitudes, justice....

Maybe.... if we started looking at it differently, we'd start seeing a different result.

Let's be honest. It's a meme. It's using satire and humour to address a very serious issue. It's not a perfect representation, but isn't it time someone said it?!

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Fearfully Frozen

Like I said last time, fear is a powerful motivator for deep privacy. I am really only beginning to recognize the depth of the role fear has played in my life.

I read, a lot, and one of the benefits of reading is that you can observe all angles of a situation, you can see clearly the battle, and often the solutions that evade me in real life, and my eyes are opened. One of the eye openers lately has been this theme of fear. Fear is isolating. Fear is restricting.

In a recent book I'm re-reading, the heroine fell to her knees in tears (and in private) and her tears were healing. God spoke to her in that moment of brokenness. He also spoke to me.

In my thoughts, I fall to my knees often. In my head I collapse in His arms.... but I rarely, if ever, do it in life. I'm a whole different person in my head. Part of it is that I fear falling apart. I feel like a shattered windshield, held together solely by the shatter proof threads built into a windshield and if I fall, if I drop, I will break completely into a million pieces, never to be whole again.

There it is. Truthfully, I don't feel whole now, but at least I "look" all together... sort of. Those looking at me see that I'm all together, that I'm all there, nothing glaringly obvious is missing. If I let people in, if I open the door of my heart, they might notice there are cracks in the windshield. They might see I'm being held together with ugly duct tape and mud. If they touch me, I might shatter in front of their eyes and who would want to see that?

I don't have time to fall apart. I don't have the energy to fall to pieces. .... at least, that's what I tell myself, but maybe it's that I don't have enough faith to let it all go. If I stopped trying to hold it all together, maybe I would have the energy I need to fully live.....

Maybe not.

Sunday, April 17, 2016


I have always been a private person, and in the last 6 - 11 years I have found myself becoming more so. It's not easy for me to open my heart and soul, to expose myself to others. The reasons for this are varied and all boil down to fear. Fear of being taken advaantage of, fear that what I say will be used against me, to hurt me. Sadly this has happened. These aren't irrational fears, they are based on experience. Those who purport to love me the most have taken advantage of me and hurt me deeply, using what they know of me and my story to do so.... overcoming those fears is a journey. God keeps calling me to it and I'm doing my best to answer His call.

So, now you know where I am coming from. Why my blogs are sporadic at best. Please bear with me as I endeavour to share my heart with you.

About 15-16 years ago I began to dream a dream. I started thinking of something that I would love to do. Around the same time God put in my life people who believed in me, people who encouraged me, people who set up opportunities for me. I am a singer. I love to sing and I'm not horrible at it. I was put in a place where a tv show would hear me sing and I was encouraged that it could be an opening door. Somehow while I sang of God's love I was overcome with the feeling that this was not my path. That this dream would (also) not come true. I felt that God was saying "no", or at least "not right now". Nothing came of the experience and I believed that dream was not meant to be mine... and yet I haven't been able to truly let it go.

Along the journey of my life almost every one of my dreams has been abandoned, shattered or blocked in one way or another. Many of the messages I have received have been that I don't deserve happiness. That my lot is to be disappointed, pushed to the background, to be a shadow of someone else and never to shine on my own. If that is God's call for my life, I will accept and be happy with it... but then I feel guilty for dreaming of more, for wanting what is not mine to have. And yet, is it not God who gives us the desires of our hearts? Is it not God that reveals to us what the desires of our hearts are? How do I reconcile the desires of my heart, my dreams, with the realization/belief that what I dream of will not come true for me? As I get older it feels like time is running out on some of them, maybe on all of them.

I love being a supporting role for my friends and family. I love knowing that what I do can help them succeed and pursue their dreams. Many times I don't know where my value is if I don't have that. Other times I experience envy and wish that I could have my dreams too. I have spent my life doing good for others, serving wherever there was an opening, helping wherever I could be of use.

It's likely my own fears, my own resistance to being vulnerable that stand in my own way. Maybe one day I'll recognize the open door and be able to walk through it. Until then.... I cling to God, I cling to trusting His plan for my life and I'll keep helping those I love pursue and realize their dreams. I'll keep asking Him what my goals should be, what path my life should follow.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Faith as a Child

When I was a child, I had faith as a child....

God tells us in Deuteronomy 7:18 to "Do not be afraid of them; Remember well what the Lord your God did..." I've been remembering lately. I had the privilege of attending Captivating Advanced (with Ransomed Heart Ministries) this past October and while there God reminded me of how He's been with me all my life, how He's taken care of me. Which has brought me do doing a lot of thinking about my childhood. My retrospect has been heightened by the recent death of my father, helping my children live theirs and praying they find God in the midst of their journey, as I did.

I see the faith I had as a child. I was fearless. I knew God was at my side, I did not doubt it, it was as real to me as the walls of my house. His angels were at my side and that was sufficient for me. I didn't know what anxiety was, and there was plenty to be anxious about in my childhood.

How do we lose that as we age? The older I get, the more fears I have, the more worries I cling to, the more I see the dangers that are spread along the path ahead of me. How do I regain the faith of my youth? How to I hold on to the certainty that Christ is my rock and my strength. 

How do I balance Jesus words "Unless you come to me as a little child, you cannot see the kingdom of heaven" with the words of Paul "When I was a child, I spake as a child, but when I became a man I put away childish things". 

I need to return to the "childish" faith of my youth. That sure confidence that God would take care of me, no matter what was happening around me. Call it a blind faith if you will, but it was sustained by evidence time and time again. To return to it, I need to Remember, so remember I shall. 

You'll find me in memory lane this year - pulling out the dusty memories of how God has walked with me, protected me and saved me for all of my life.

Oh, and if you need your heart refreshed in the Spirit, I absolutely recommend you check out the Retreats offered by Ransomed Heart. God spoke to my heart in a blatantly clear way, refreshing my soul and bringing me home ready to face the world again.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Rescuing... continued

After my blog last night I ran into a few difficulties...

1. I couldn't change my thoughts to something else;
2. Despite being exhausted and going to bed early, it was after 2 am before I finally slept; and
3. I had a horrible nightmare about not being able to rescue my best friend... I won't go into details.

Where did this leave me this morning (besides reeling a little from the too-realistic images of the dream)?

It left me realizing that my desire for rescue in my life is for me to be able to rescue the people I love from the difficulties and traumas in their lives. I realize that I feel responsible for the bad things that have happened to those I love. I have experienced this realization before, when I felt I should have prevented my children from getting hurt, feeling like I should have been there for them, protected them, seen the dangers. I am beginning to realize that this extends to others as well.

People like my sister. I feel like I should have been able to save her, both as a child and as an adult. Intellectually, I am aware that there is nothing I could have done, I am in no way responsible for the way her life unfolded; that there is no way I can protect my children from every trouble that they will come across.

Knowing that doesn't mean I don't feel responsible. It is an extension of the question "why was I not enough?".

Why was my word not enough to protect my sister from a lifetime of abuse?
Why was my love not enough to keep my brother from committing suicide?
Why was my advice not enough to convince my sister to stay safe?
Why were my instincts insufficient to recognize the full dangers my loved ones were facing?

There it is.... I want to be infallible, I want to be omniscient. I'm not God... I don't even want to know everything... until it comes to rescuing my loved ones, and then I want to know it all, to protect them from it all. I don't even want to live in a bubble or to put my boys in a bubble... I want to and want them to fully experience and embrace life. To chase down the dangers and fight through the difficulties.

Where does this leave me?

I feel like I'm spinning, spinning, spinning tonight and need to take a few different steps in my dance.