Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Exercises in Forgiveness

Soul Work is hard work. It requires going deep inside and bringing the wounds to the outside. As I work more on myself, I become more capable of leading my children along this path of healing with me.

After an unexpected incident, which led to more opportunities for healing and growth, I knew we needed to seal our hearts a little tighter. The wounds needed mending. It was also a good way to release the wounds of and say goodbye to, August and hello to September, a new month, a fresh start.

One exercise I have developed and found helpful in aiding the work of forgiveness involves actual fire.

I had my children join me in an exercise I have done myself. We make a list, two actually. One side is all the offenses, hurts, and wounds we can think of, remember, or the Lord reveals, that have been perpetrated against us. It doesn't matter if they are real or only perceived. Whatever it is, it gets written down.

The other side is creating a list of offenses, hurts, wounds, we have perpetrated against others. We take these lists and bring them before the fire. We say a pray confessing these wounds and declaring FORGIVENESS of every offense. We physically tear the paper to bits and pieces and we throw it into the fire. We set our hearts free from resentment, bitterness and or unforgiveness.

We do the same for ourselves, we repent and receive forgiveness as our 'sins' are torn to shreds and burned in the fire. We verbally speak aloud, forgiveness, release from repayment or obligation, repentance and freedom.

At the end, we make declaration of life and blessings on our offenders and over ourselves as we watch the evidence of our wounds disintegrate into ash. It is a raw reminder of God's promises of restoration to us:

Isaiah 61:3 To appoint them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified. 

Beauty comes from the ashes. God created man from the dust, the dirt, perhaps even the ashes of the earth. He created something remarkable and breathed His life and image into him...into us.

My children will walk in freedom. They are free to love, to forgive, to laugh and be themselves. They are free to know their value and worth in Christ...enough that they will not harbor bitterness nor tolerate the weakness of another mistreating them.

It's a symbolic gesture. A gesture of our commitment to healing and freedom.
Always moving forward.

Monday, September 1, 2014

The Road to Freedom

Wow...the road away from dysfunction and toward health is hard and painful...very painful at times. Having such hard talks with my kids this weekend...You know the path to healing requires honesty-admitting what is or has been broken.
Walking around with a broken leg, insisting you don't need a doctor and all is well...only exacerbates the problem and leaves you with an improperly healed leg...a permanent disability.
It's painful to admit what we have been through...it requires admitting that we have been hurt at times...physically, emotionally, mentally.  I made mistakes and didn't protect them how I should have. Didn't protect myself. I was confused. I didn't take some situations serious enough...
I can't go back and change the past. We are finally brave enough to be honest with ourselves and each other and admit help is needed. It wounds deeply, it sux beyond measure.
If we remain dishonest. then we block forgiveness and healing. We must admit offenses that have been perpetrated against us so that we can engage in forgiveness. To deny an offense, is to deny true forgiveness. When we release forgiveness, we open our heart to healing and allow love to come where only pain held the space before. There is where we find freedom!

I am taking one step at a time...this is the step we were strong enough to take this weekend----> Honesty.

Sunday, August 31, 2014


Family night
Family vacations
Family time
Family is everything
Everyone wants our Family
Everyone loves our Family
Christmas picture of the family at the Grand Canyon.
It's just a big hole.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Boundaries For Love = Self-Control

"This is not a good time to talk. I don't know what to think. I think you should leave. I am not in a good place right now. This is not a good time." My heart was racing, my hands trembling as I tried to concentrate on keeping my arms from appearing to flail wildly while I spoke.
The Mr. had shown up at the door unexpectedly yesterday, to do some damage control with our kids after we were all exposed to some hurtful information about him. He refused to leave...
Everything escalated after that, though I believe none of us truly wanted it to. I don't regret anything I said, because I spoke truth but I was too frustrated and wasted too many words that were not received and didn't want to be heard. Pearls to swine...
I am still figuring out the whole healthy boundaries and relational health 'thing'. It doesn't come naturally to me yet.
While I feel and one could say my husband didn't respect my boundary-the truth is, I didn't. It's always about self control. I could have (and should have) removed *myself* from the situation.
I also realized I have done the same thing my husband did many times...He has expressed in tense moments, that he didn't want to talk-and while there was some rejection and avoidance at play there, it never went well nor did it build trust to not respect the limit he was trying to convey.
Controlling ourselves with boundaries is not meant as punishment or emotional manipulation like the 'silent treatment'. It's meant to preserve our love and prevent damage to relationship.
My path to healing and relational health involves leading my children along this path with me. The Mr. ended up giving them permission and respecting their desire for 'space' (a healthy boundary) after yesterday's upset. The middles long for relationship with their dad but not at the cost of their own emotional health, well being and personal value system. They have decided they are OK talking on the phone to him when he calls but not hanging out with him.
When we create space, teach our children their worth which includes valuing their feelings, how to adequately manage them and use self control, they can then feel confident to recognize and stand up for their own boundaries/limits and learn to safely disengage from mistreatment.
We were able to convey that we all love, respect and forgive my husband and he is free to continue on this negative path along with the consequences of that choice, which includes a lack of intimate and close relationship with us, his family. He did not like that nor want it, he wants it *all* with out consequence...but surprisingly, so far, he accepted their decision. He also tried to reassure *them* of his love, though his actions convey only *self love*. We all accepted his choice as well.
We all, including the Mr, looked a bit battle worn today. The Mr was subdued and possibly remorseful and humbled as he came to get the kids. Only the 5yo went with him. I suspect this is affecting him, as in the past he would have approached arrogantly and upbeat, as if nothing had happened.


Keep pursuing healthy love and healing.

Friday, August 22, 2014

In Memorium: Alien

My father-in-law
was an alien.
I remember when he took his citizenship test.
I still couldn't relate to him.
He became a saint when he died
Now I recognize him even less
Though I see his hand print on everyone
He's a permanent resident in their heart
They put his skeletons in the closet.
I don't think he fits in there, either.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The World's On Fire, and We're All Smiling...

though it's all our fault...

Those are the lyrics to a popular current Christian song. It goes on to say how beautiful it is, but it's referring to the essence of God's grace and love for us, though we are all a mess.

Those first lines though, have been replaying in my head for days now. I intentionally do not watch the news and try to avoid it, though I do think it is important to stay alert to current events...but the majority of *news* is so depressing and negative. It was no different the other day when I got sucked in to reading article after article about current world atrocities.

I felt overwhelmed to tears. Helpless. I wanted to scream, "IS ANYONE PAYING ATTENTION!?! WHO is going to DO something!" I wondered what CAN we do? What CAN *I* do?

As a Christian, I believe in service to others, physically helping others in some way. What though, can I possibly do for women and children who are right at this moment, being abducted and intended to be sold as sex slaves, ONLY because of their race and faith?

What can I do for men, women and children who are being beheaded, hung and raped for refusing to deny their faith?

How can I help a country that is constantly under attack and then blamed for it?

I thought we were supposed to learn about our history in order to prevent it from repeating itself. Especially the darkest of times. But a holocaust is happening again. A people group is being targeted for extinction.

Then again, this is not new. People groups have experienced genocides for decades now, as the world stood by and did NOTHING!

Maybe we can say we didn't know it then. Maybe we weren't made aware, news, information and media didn't travel as fast in the past. We can't say that now though. We have access to instant, real time info, pictures, graphics, words and videos of events and situations all around the world.

What can I do?

I can sit here and cry for a journalist that was kidnapped and held captive for years, then beheaded...while another is threatened. That is one option. And I suppose it could be expected that I could continue my instagram life of smiling children, work outs at the park and table settings. To be honest, I will.

But we are NOT helpless.  I am unable to go across the globe and offer anything for anyone. I can't rescue the next female who has been threatened and kidnapped. I can't stop the war in Israel. I can't bring back a dead journalist. I can't take the noose off those men's necks. I can not undo all the evils that are currently being tolerated.

I can make you aware of it though. Maybe you know someone, who knows someone, who knows someone else, who CAN do something about it. Maybe if more of the world knew...Or not.

Maybe it doesn't really matter what I have to say...except to the One who always listens. We can pray. We can pray like never before and keep on praying. At every opportunity, we storm the heavens and demand justice.

When the world is on fire and we're all smiling...we can pray for our human brothers and sisters. We can praise the Lord of all. That is our greatest weapon. Pray for justice, protection and peace. Gather other people together to pray. Mobilize spiritually.

Pray. Care. Do something...like pray!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

I Don't Want to Have Anything to DO With Him Ever Again!

Last night, I went to bed with a heavy heart, nearly heart broken all over again. My middle son was triggered and began to share his heart. We MUST STOP what we are doing when those who share so tentatively, take a moment to trust us with their tender vulnerability, and REALLY LISTEN--not only to them but to God, at the same time, for divine wisdom--parenting can be challenging sometimes.
His jaw was set hard but it didn't stop those big, silent, crocodile tears from streaming down his 14 year old face, over the peach fuzz above his lips. "I don't want to EVER be compared to dad. I don't like that. I am nothing like him and I don't want to be!"
He continued, "I am ready to move on...I am ready to let go." His shoulders tensed as the tears came in waves. Fourteen year olds should not have to be stoic.
"What do you mean by move on? Let go? What does that look like for you?" I asked softly.
"I mean, I just want to forget about him. I don't want to be around him. I don't want to have anything to do with him." He said, his anger and pain rushing again to the surface.
"You won't ever forget him...I mean every time you look in the mirror..." I smiled. "I know you love him and that is why you feel hurt. People disappoint us. I am sorry you are facing this situation."
Barely holding back my own tears, I tried to use my words sparingly. A hand on his shoulder...wishing I could cuddle him in my lap and he didn't have to feel what he was experiencing. Silently saying my own prayer for wisdom...I reminded him of the WORD. "God says He will use what is meant for harm, for good." I continued to speak intentionally into his life, heart and soul, "You are forgiving. You have a heart of compassion and you know, maybe more than others your age, how God is your provider and because of the pain you have felt, you feel compassion for others...."
More tears, more words, more heart ache...
"His DNA is in your blood, along with mine, you are part of both of us. You also have the DNA of Christ, which over rides negative behavior. You stay humble and continue to rely on Christ and you will be a responsible and loving husband and father some day... It might be helpful to focus on and remember the good times you shared with your dad. I know you have good memories with him."
In the end, we were both worn and it was late.
Today, the Mr was scheduled to pick them up for a couple hours before work. Everyone slept in later than usual. No one was in a hurry to leave either when dad showed up at 10am.
I checked in on my 14yo and in typical 14yo fashion, he was 'fine.' Tired but fine. He still chose NOT to express his heart to his dad...none of them feel safe enough for that yet...but the burden was lifted. He said he just needed to 'release' what he had been holding in.
Amazing what comfort a listening ear can be. Also a reminder that negative emotions can be handled appropriately, redirected and they DO PASS, therefor, we do NOT have to act on them. 
I wanted to be angry. For both of us. For him, having to feel so hurt. For my pain, cause he was hurting AND for having to deal with it ALONE. I was tempted to text my older son (21yo) who was out w/ friends-to come home immediately, for 'back up' (they have a good relationship)--BUT knowing I had to be the parent God has created me to be! I AM the parent & I have been CHOSEN, qualified and capable of handling the *hard stuff*.
JUST AS YOU have been! You CAN do this. No, you DON'T have to play BOTH parental roles...just YOUR role. I am not perfect. I *consistently* pray for WISDOM, not only as a human on this planet BUT specifically as a PARENT...in this 'situation'. We are dealing with circumstances above and beyond the normal call of duty. God promises to give wisdom. Start or KEEP reading Proverbs--EVERY day. Keep praying. Keep speaking life. Don't give up.   
{this was NOT all of his or our conversation--as I want to respect his privacy, but I feel free to share portions of MY part. I know you all understand.  }

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Everything is OK

I started my too early morning, greeted by hundreds of ants, invading my kitchen sink. I sprayed them down, ignoring that creepy-crawly feeling all over my skin, then plodded my way to the bathroom. I stepped on an extra wet towel near the sink cabinet that I knew should not have been so wet.

Sure enough, water was over flowing out from under the newly replaced sink, pipes and cabinet. 'Newly replaced' after the faucet exploded on the 4th of July, shooting up high enough to blow out the light bulb that still has not been replaced. The towel was on the floor, over flowing from our laundry basket, spilling out into the small hallway because of a reoccurring and unresolved plumbing issue in our laundry room preventing us from doing laundry regularly. The laundry room plumbing connects to our kitchen sink, causing it to drain only sometimes and when the water from the washer isn't backing up into it, producing a very narrow window when I can actually wash dishes. That narrow window is not long enough for me to complete a full sink load of dishes at a time and I can only do dishes during day light hours because the kitchen light also burned out and I keep forgetting to replace it...until it's dark again!

Five humans live in this house. One meal is a sink load. Five days or more with out doing laundry...is disastrous.

Along with this, is the fact that my adventure van is sounding and running like a lawnmower, spewing strong fumes into it so that we have to drive with all the windows open just so we can slightly breathe.

This could all sound so horrible and awful and make any mom want to go back to bed and stay there. I could have gotten angry. Given in to agitation. I could whine and complain about how terrible my life is, all day.

None of that would be true though. Sure, it's inconvenient. Last week a drawer face broke off, as someone tried to open it. Just snapped right off one side.

None of this will last forever though. Nothing ever does, good or bad. Everything will be fixed eventually. We did get a brand new water heater, after the old one had been continuously leaking and running for months after we found out. We're renters in this home and we have a good deal.

My side kitchen garden is really thriving and looks so lovely even though earlier in the week I had to pull out a mold diseased squash plant. It was a bummer but everything else is still looking good. The garden looks beautiful and lovely with it's mix of edible herbs, vegetables and wild flowers.

I can choose to focus on the FEW things wrong in my life right now. I choose to focus on the temporary nature of EVERYTHING in my life right now. The plumbing will be fixed. We have more than enough clothes. I can wash dishes in increments. I own a plunger. The Mr. was helpful enough to try and readjust the restroom sink plumbing to prevent more over flow when he came to pick up the ktbunch. We shared a laugh. The ants died and more may or may not be back tomorrow but my 5yo thinks it's the funnest thing ever to get to "spray the spray" and kill them.

I have a rush custom baby bloomer order to fulfill today that put some cash in my back pocket. I have a lovely family. I have a great sense of humor. I have a great job opportunity I'm starting, that is challenging and loaded with potential. Life is ALWAYS good. I really have no reason to get down. My live is lovely and beautiful and sometimes inconvenient which makes for fun stories and possible blog posts and laughter and snarky, sarcastic comments to process.

Life is going to end sooner than any of us will ever want. There may be painful moments. There will be lots of fabulous moments. I choose to not waste any more time focused on the negative or what is 'wrong' with it. I may share and let you in on some of it but a bad moment does not make for a bad day...or a bad life.

This is how my family not only survives but thrives.
Smile on.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Like Old Times

It could have almost felt like old times if not for that last moment the Mr. walked around the table giving each individual kid a kiss and hug with an 'I Love You,' before he left to return to work...stopping short to offer a 'see you later' in MY direction. 
He specifically asked what our plans were for S's birthday yesterday...and asked if we could meet him for lunch so he could see Sam on is birthday since he might have to work late, missing his 'visitation' (gosh how I despise that word!). He forgot Sam's birthday card so he also asked me to take them all by his work so he could give it to him. I stayed in the car but I knew he would walk the kids back out anyway, to say goodbye.

I maintained my SELF. As it's sometimes confusing to know just how to behave in these unknown situations, isn't it? So I smiled and listened to him talk about his morning at work...I keep the appropriate guard over my own heart until it's time to 'awaken love' per God's instructions in Song of Solomon. 
'...and they all enjoyed their lunch, as if they were an ordinary, happy family, on an ordinary, summer day...as their smiles hid the invisible ache of their hearts.'

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Happy Birthday

He was our 1st restoration baby, though I didn't know he would be the 'first'. I was so unsure of trusting my husband again...our oldest was 7.5 by the time this second son was born...I can STILL remember being in our new home, back together and feeling so self-conscious...

"Come sit by me," he called from the living room. I felt like I should finish the dishes first to keep every thing clean the way he liked, trying to impress...
He wanted me to spend time with him, sit with him...I walked over and he pulled me down on his lap. I always loved sitting on his lap.

He wanted us to grow our family. Maybe we were finally ready. I expected it would happen so quickly like our first. It took 10 disappointing months. We didn't find out the gender. Oldest son prayed for and was sure it would be a boy.

We changed his name at the last minute...as I read about Hannah, from the Bible. The Mr wanted to use his grandfather's name, as our child's middle name. I did not like the name Angel but I said ok if he would let me have the name Samuel. We agreed. 
We started attending a new church. We were moving forward and every day we were further away from the past. I met another mom in the church cry room with a daughter the same age as our Samuel...she was a single mother... her daughter's father, which was now her past, was a married man.
There we were. The place where broken people go to be restored, healed, and transformed. Bringing our broken pieces, broken lives, broken hearts, along with the hope we carried in and birthed from our womb.
Here we are. He's 14 day today. My heart is filled with the bittersweet sighs of yesterday and the longing for the uncertain hope for tomorrow.