Category Archives: Friendships

Cloud-gaze with Me in the Grass?

The earth is warm against my back. I pause with minor annoyance as the tender-looking blanket of grass beneath me pricks not-so-tender shoots into the backs of my arms. The flies and gnats are dining elsewhere I guess, because they are nowhere to be seen, and I know that I am a favorite lunch venue. I rest my head on my palms, arms now above my head, and gaze at the sky through a kaleidoscope of shimmering leaves to watch the clouds moving and changing across the sky. The day is filled with peace and promise.

Join me?

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I see a smiling face. Forgiveness of myself, for choosing and staying with an abusive husband, for not better protecting my children, for not knowing what I needed to know. For not being able to…whatever. For being gullible enough to believe in the god others showed me, who demands suffering and calls it love, who advise with arrogance from ignorance. Forgiveness of imperfect or cruel people, who unpredictably hurt and cannot be controlled. I forgive myself for not being able to stop them or repair them, or my own flaws, or the damage my choices have made. The past, the losses, the whining about nonsense, and the minimizing of tragedy. God didn’t demand my forgiveness – for Him. He helped me find it – for me. It is so good!

I see a backbone that allows me to disagree with the crowd, however imperfectly. To say no to control or abuse for myself; to not watch silently if I am a bystander. To say yes to friends who laugh and keep confidences, are kind and honest and not easily offended – or live peacefully friendless if need be. To live un-ashamed (usually) for having been unglued or weak, knowing I could be again. To not be polite when politeness is passive agreement with a wrong. To know that my faith is between me and God and needs to pass muster with NO ONE. To reject drama, by avoidance or transcendence. I am.

I see a question mark that reminds me how much I don’t know, which relieves me of judgment. Of how much I want to know, which keeps me seeking, excited about better understanding to come. Of how much I need to know, which allows me to accept, to love and be loved. A lot.

I see the hands of a clock. Reminding me that time isn’t really linear, measured in equal increments – it is more…elastic. Decisions I think must be made NOW, can’t always be made now, don’t need to be…and in waiting through the agony of indecision, options may appear that weren’t there before. That some decisions do have to be made NOW, and just are what they are, whatever and however they are. And this moment is only this ordinary and extraordinary moment. My past, present and future are folded together like hands in prayer, fingers intertwined. It’s all good.

I see a face filled with fear. It is the face of everyone being hurt. AND the face of most doing the hurting. The face of everyone who struggles, who is part of any human community, who is subject to uncertainty, who is told he/she is not adequate, or who tells him/herself the same. The face of those who are separated from God, and those who pretend to be bosom buddies. It is the face of those who CONTROL, in any way or any place at any time. Of those who are controlled in any way or any place or any time.

Oh look! I will put my arm around your shoulder, and my face next to yours, and point to what I see! The smiling face again! Do you see it? Edging toward the fearful face, blowing into it, blending and thinning as the wind carries them away? Leaving the sun shining on our heads, like a blessing?

Do you see it?

 

 

 

Update and Quote-Share

Joe Ceremony 1(One of my favorite cartoons ever).

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This is my update on NaNoWriMo: I did write 50,000 words! I started the month of November on schedule with the around 1700 words per day necessary to keep the pace. Then issues with my parents and a mild bout of depressions slowed me way up. To pick up the pace, I had to write a LOT….and did. It is really rough, but it is there.

It WAS worthwhile. I learned so much about my parents’ marriage and history. In my ethnic group, respect for older people is present, but not as it should be. My parents, whose bodies and minds are changing how they operate, think qualitatively differently than a middle-aged whipper snapper who wants to move too fast without understanding the depth of meaning behind their ways. Even if changes MUST be made. Being a basically insecure, very feeling, analyzer and second-guesser, it has been painful and frustrating navigating with my parents their process of reviewing their lives and grappling with the limitations that snuck up on them too fast. It has also been and is a great honor. So writing about how their lives (plural) become their life (singular, together) has opened an opportunity sometimes missed in my culture – to sit at their knees and learn from the wisdom of the aged. And to be reminded, with GLEE, that they are the same “swell kids” they once were. I learned so much from them that I have had all of my life to learn, but never put together quite this way before.

And it took me out of the problems and issues and challenging logic, into the souls of two people who have been blessed to live life with trust, success, and harmony overall, throughout their lives. A couple who, as very poor newlyweds, would make decisions like forgoing stouter fare and opting for oatmeal or pancakes for a while so they could afford to go out to a movie, yet would find something in the cupboard for happy siblings and spouses who would stop by with their own paltry offerings, and eat until it was gone – laughing and enjoying the company. Who had some of the funniest marital fights I have ever heard! Who forgive each other everything, always. Whose eyes dance with warmth and love whenever the other is reflected there.

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It is 50,000 words of facts and thoughts and ramblings. There is work to do to organize it and even out the styles of writing (personal vs factual narrative), and make it complete. I will do it, and soon, so it will be a legacy available for them to share as they wish in their lifetime.

Now for the request. I received a chain letter in my personal e-mail suggesting that each person send one positive and encouraging Bible verse to the e-mail address of #1 person, then move #2 up, then send on. I am really curious what verses people would choose, and in a rare state where I actually want to hear people quote Bible verses. I mean, this is almost weird. I’m not going to bombard anyone with a chain letter, but I did send a query to see if they want to get it. Weird again.

Truly, I have called you my blogger church. Still true, really. I wonder if you will do me the honor of sharing one particularly encouraging, positive verse or quote, scriptural or not, just for the joy of sharing a bit of your spiritual legacy and wisdom with me?

I would be so honored to sit for a moment at your knee and learn as I did with my parents.

Thanks, dear friends.

Blessings,

Diane

Cloud Gazing and Being Worthwhile

P1010379Do you ever lay on the grass with a friend (of any age or species) to share what you see in the clouds? You may point and say, “See, over there, third cloud from the top of that tree, kind of up on the left side, there is a nose…and over there you can see the guy’s necktie?”  Silence.  “Right there?”  “I don’t see it…” “No…right THERE, where that little knobby thing sticks out…right THERE.  “Oh yeah, cool, I see the dude…uh, oh, well, um…he really looks kind of like a duck.”

That’s kind of what it’s like reading blogs and news reports sometimes! And finding a bottom line to anything. Or formulating my own thoughts.

Since I began blogging last year, it has been more natural for me to desperately explain psychological abuse via personal stories, and express anger and indignation about the support of abuse via Christian views and counsel as I “Ran the Gauntlet” than to speak with passion about how it SHOULD have been. Or, the main goal, how it CAN be! This is because I didn’t live it as it should have been. What I want most to convey really lies outside my experience.

I was also desperately disappointed by unrealized expectations of version of God I believed COULD help, comfort, speak, and empower with faith, but didn’t. I still don’t understand, and it is beyond crazy that I should hang it all out there again, this time having no expectations of God, but rather the assumption that His help, comfort, empowerment were completed 2000 years ago. This is joyful, but also very tender and private. So bold and yet so tentative that I feel like a liar to say anything at all. I can’t explain it; I can only rest, trust, wait. Not very interesting to read about. I don’t know how I want to say it any more. I don’t feel clever. I’m starting to feel real.

My stats are way down, which is fine, but indicates my words aren’t resonating as well. No cliffhangers any more like, “Will she jump? Will she believe?”  I’m sure some liked the intensity and drama. But the thing is, I don’t! Or words like abuse, and abused, and victim. Past tense, intensity and negativity aren’t where I want to live. Or Christian bashing, even when warranted! Even just within myself, when it never finds a page or ear. It hurts. I think that when one hurts, somewhere all hurt. I can do better.

My voice is different, and I haven’t quite found it.

I’m going to spend November diving deep into the space between words, and relax. I am going to write a 50,000 word novel during the inspiring and challenging National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). It’s going to be a novel that has nothing to do with domestic violence, my past, or problems to be solved. November 1 is an hour away where I live. I have no outline, no sure plan.

I’m going to be cloud-gazing!

I can see whatever I want to see!

It will be worthwhile!

I will stop in to see you at your blogs, and maybe post here, if I like what I have to say. I will answer if you check in on me.

When I’m finished, I’m going to call out to you, invite you to join me in the grass, stretch out my arm right next to your line of sight, and say with glee, “Oh, LOOK, do you SEE it??!”

(Even if you don’t, it will be fun trying!).

Blessings,

Diane

P.S.  If you will, please pass on your favorite writing (or other) music! Inspire me! Get me moving! Say, “Oh LISTEN to this?” And I will!

The Faith of a……..

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The Faith of a……

Green and alive, a kaleidoscope in swaying tender grass. A whispered breeze, its breath bearing the fragrance of honeysuckle. Early morning, fresh and crisp with promise of a beautiful day. A child. Sweet tendrils of gossamer curl clinging tenderly to a rosy, plump, and slightly sweaty cheek. Bright, wide open, unguarded eyes sparkling with delight and trust. A body resting, still for once, as all intention focused upward, in adoration and anticipation. Daddy. Papa. Abba!  

The faith of a child.

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Adorned with flowers, a kaleidoscope in sunlight dancing through intricate stained glass. Breathless stillness echoing restrained yet festive voices. A young woman, tendrils of gossamer curl clinging tenderly to a rosy cheek. Bright, wide open, unguarded eyes sparkling with delight and trust. A body moving, all intention focused ahead. A Savior. A man. One flesh. Mystery.

 

The faith of a woman.

Ephesians 5 in motion. http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ephesians%205&version=NIV

She makes her groom a lovely dinner. He doesn’t like it. Or her driving, or the way she does her hair. He asks her to keep herself more presentable and lose weight. He doesn’t laugh at her jokes. He snorts with derision at her requests and suggestions. He corrects her choice of words. He insists she cooks the eggs just right, and hangs his shirts just so. He makes himself clear, whether loudly, or quietly. He lets her know that her hobbies and work are somehow inferior. He brings her flowers. Takes her to dinner. To church. He acts gallant and she loves him. He becomes angry and controlling, and she tries to please him. The cycle continues. Romance and retribution. Love and fear. Hope and despair. She becomes isolated from friends. Unsure of herself. Timid. She wonders if she is losing her mind.

Sun streaming in windows of a home that always feels dark. Bright, guarded eyes, darting to and from his face, alert to the ebb and flow of his mood. A body rigid, all intention fearfully focused on learning the rules, and following them perfectly. Or else.

She prays that God will heal her, heal him, and bless her with strength and wisdom. She listens to others, and tries to do what they tell her is right, because something seems wrong with her faith, with her, and her marriage. She doesn’t know what to believe any more. She talks about this at her Bible study. She doesn’t know she is experiencing psychological and emotional abuse. No one else does either. Time passes, children are born, and she walks a tightrope between joy in her life and children, and fear of her husband. She is so tired.

And she can’t please him. He says it is her fault. He wouldn’t get so angry if she was a better wife, a better Christian. Then he wouldn’t want to hit her, or body block her against the wall, or tickle her too hard, threaten her with the children, or humiliate her in bed. Or embarrass her in public. It’s just that he loves her so much, and it could be so much better. If she would just get it right.

She goes to church, and talks with friends, hears sermons, and reads her Bible. She dares to speak to her pastor and a few Christian friends. They tell her to submit to her husband and that God will honor her. That if she is completely obedient, God will be her protector. That she should walk by faith, not by sight. She is told that he might be an unbeliever, in which case her goodness and kindness could win him over. And that she should not let the sun go down on her anger. That she should forgive seventy times seven. She is suffering for and with Christ. God hates divorce. Their relationship mirrors that of Christ and the Church, and she must keep trying.

What they just told her is TO SHUT UP AND PUT UP.

She is NOT in an Ephesians 5 marriage. She is in an ABUSIVE marriage. Her husband does not relate to her as Christ to the Church. He does not honor her. He does not love her. He will not change. He sees no need to change. He is entitled. He is a 2 Timothy 3:1-4 man.

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2%20Timothy%203:1-4&version=NIV

Over time, she will find that neither God nor her husband seem to honor her submission or obedience. She wonders, as the abuse escalates, what to do about the reality of her life by “sight” while she is waiting in faith…for what, now? She wants to leave, but is afraid for herself and her children, and of what he might do.  There is so much unexpressed anger and frustration at unresolved and un-repented meanness that she goes to sleep with it and wakes with it. She drives it inward, downward until it doesn’t show, and becomes depression. She wills herself to forgive, but doesn’t really know what it means any more. She is suffering but wonders why God wants it that way, since she has prayed and believed and valiantly suffered for Christ. But she just doesn’t feel any of the peace that passes understanding that was promised. Or wisdom. And since she feels fear, not love, God must not be pleased with her. But she doesn’t know what else to do. He doesn’t seem to hear HER prayers. And she is tired, and confused, and doesn’t trust her husband, or God, or Christians who counsel her. She wants to be strong and be noble for the faith, but there just isn’t much left. She no longer knows what to believe. She no longer believes.

One in four women are abused to some degree. And the children, who carry it into the next generation.  The church is NOT immune. Christian Domestic Violence Advocates, who attempt to educate others, tell me that those in CHURCHES are the hardest to reach, because they are afraid the advocate is promoting divorce. I have encountered rigid theology, in which the letter of the word is more important than the soul of the abused. 

httpfreepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com~florencenywindowsAltar.htm

 

Shards of sunlight reflected from intricate stained glass. Voices from inside, singing? A woman, traces of curl limp against a shadowed face. Steady, guarded eyes, hooded by disappointment and mistrust. A body moving, one foot after the other. No savior. Nothing left to say. Nothing left to trust.

The faith of a victim.

The End.

 

No, no…NO!

I don’t like the way this story ends. So let’s write a different ending:

She is not in an Ephesians 5 marriage. She is in an abusive marriage. She talks to her pastor, and to her Christian friends. They listen respectfully, carefully and lovingly to her. They assume her truthfulness, and choose to believe her. They don’t know what to say, at first, other than, “I am so sorry you are dealing with this. He seems so nice; I never knew. What do you think you need? How can I support you?” Then they look for information on the type of behavior she has described, and learn about abuse. They tell her what they learned. They present options, but don’t push. They give her support to leave, or to stay, knowing that she is united with Christ one way or the other. They remind her that God loves her, and doesn’t want her to be abused. That fear and anger are normal, but she will move past them and again know joy. They re-read and study up on Malachi 2:16 so they can regard it the way it was likely intended. They include her in fellowship that is fun and healthy, and has nothing to do with jots and tittles. They point her to agencies, and advocates, and wait with her as she makes her choices, in whatever time it takes. And if she does divorce, she becomes a single woman, not a tainted woman. It wasn’t her fault. She bears no shame. They remind her of this. They remind OTHERS of this. As often and as long as necessary. I have also known those who understand, and speak words of strength and love and encouragement.

Amber and gold, swirling grasses bow and sway. A fragrant fall breeze, bearing the scent of mown hay.  Leaves frolic and dance, as if celebrating the abundant harvest. A warm and mild afternoon, fresh and crisp with promise of a beautiful sunset. A woman. Sweet tendrils of curl springing free to gently caress a  sun tanned cheek. Wise, wide open, unguarded eyes calmly gazing with serenity and trust. A body resting, focused inward, in adoration and companionship. Jesus. Abba!DSCN0041

The faith of a survivor.

The Beginning.

September Gift of Words

 “It’s like that Truman sign. ‘The buck stops here.’ A hero is someone who makes sure that the evil stops with them.”  Jo, the main character of October Snow, a novel by Jenna Brooks.

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I’m not afraid anymore. I will be stronger, and I will protect myself and those I love with my own clenched fists. Keep watching. Pia – An Infinite Solitude

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Here’s what God wanted me to grasp within my spirit: “For he will not much remember the days of his life because God keeps him occupied with joy in his heart.-Ecclesiastes 5:20(ESV)

Something changed when I read this verse. God spoke to me about my future. I was to trust that it would be good, it would be prosperous. No longer did I worry about the future effects of the many ailments of my body; my heart was going to be occupied by joy. Joy? Yes… yes indeed. I could definitely do that. Will I face challenges? Yes. Will I have to shed a few tears now and then? Probably. But the sum total of my life was not going to be the management of pain; I am going to be pre-occupied by and engrossed in joy.

….Since I have let go of that worry, I have experienced such joy, peace, and a mission from God (pun intended. lol). When I made the decision to not let the management of pain dictate the direction of my life, the joy came flooding in; every crack and space of my heart.  The Great Plains Poet

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Theologian Frederick Buechner once told a graduating class:

“The voice we should listen to most, as we choose a vocation, is the voice that we might think we should listen to least, and that is the voice of our own gladness. What can we do that makes us the gladdest? What can we do that leaves us with the strongest sense of sailing true north? Is it making things with our hands out of wood or stone or paint or canvas?” Or is it making something we hope like truth out of words? Or is it making people laugh or weep in a way that cleanses their spirit? I believe that if it is a thing that makes us truly glad, then it is a good thing, and it is our thing, and it is the calling voice that we were made to answer with our lives.”

Can you trust what makes you “glad? Could that really be the voice of your “calling?”

“A tree gives glory to God by being a tree. For in being what God means it to be it is obeying Him…. The more a tree is like itself, the more it is like Him….” – Thomas Merton Morning Story and Dilbert

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Choose your battles carefully. Some battles really aren’t worth fighting. Ask yourself, “What am I fighting for?” If you discover that the battle has more to do with your ego than anything else, it may not be worth the fight. You may want to take the higher road. Kristin Barton Cuthriell’s The Snowball Effect 

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Psychological freedom, much like physical and political freedom, requires vigilance.

If you’re not militant about your well-being, this world will knock the wind out of your sails, flatten you on your back, and grind you beneath its feet.

Assertiveness is not the enemy of kindness; it’s the bodyguard of kindness. It’s there to protect what others choose to neglect.

If an abusive or manipulative energy pattern manifests in your life, do the most dignified, democratic, and diplomatic thing you can possibly do: ANNIHILATE IT!

You’re nobody’s clown. You’re nobody’s tool. You’re nobody’s slave. You’re nobody’s punching bag. You’re nobody’s emotional sponge.

Psychological vigilance isn’t about harming or killing people. It’s about getting rid of self-defeating patterns and self-negating perspectives.

It’s about telling the enemies of your inner peace and spiritual freedom that they’re messing with the wrong {insert your favorite expletive here}.

It’s about looking at the elements of oppression that seek to be a part of your life and firmly saying, “let me help you die!”   T.K. Coleman 

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Blessings, Diane

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JUST – Is a Four-Letter-Word.

 

 

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Just do it. You just need to say no.

JUST. RARELY have I heard the word “just” used, in the form of advice, when it didn’t over-simplify and minimize a more complex issue.  Sometimes simplification is needed, BUT more often, when dealing with abuse, it is applying a band-aid to a severed limb.

 

This version of “just,” as defined by the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary, means “simply, only.” Abuse is not simple, and there is not only one solution or option to consider.

You just need to tell him to stop. Just let him cook his own dinner. Just leave it to God. You just need to pray. You just need to keep faith.  Just trust the Lord. Just wait. Just believe! JUST LEAVE…..You should JUST….. 

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See what I mean? On the surface, this APPEARS harmless, or maybe even helpful. 

But it’s not. Coming from someone without an individual’s experience or understanding, or who has not deeply attempted to understand,  it is simplistic and insulting. If a woman and children are in an abusive situation, this creates either further mental/emotional confusion. Worst case scenario, it can cloud the situation enough to place lives at risk. So, YOUR words cost you nothing to SAY; they could cost, OR ENCOURAGE AND STRENGTHEN, someone for the rest of a lifetime, and generations beyond. I am not being poetic here. One lifetime after another, one generation after another, the abuse and fear are perpetuated, OR TRANSFORMED into a BETTER view and life that will then be perpetuated. 

I catch myself half way through the word on occasion. Every time I do, I do a mental stop, and ask myself what I am minimizing or oversimplifying. It never fails to open up a wiser, more complete picture. And from that, an opportunity to listen and speak from greater discernment.  And even better, to know what I don’t know, and SAY NOTHING.

Which brings me back to one of my recurring themes. LISTEN!!

That urge, stronger in some of us than others, to be thinking of what we want to say next, or mentally solving the problem and wanting to verbally troubleshoot, NOW, must be set aside. We need to become calm, look at the abused woman talking to us, LISTEN to her with our entire awareness, hear what she says in words and beyond words – the core of what she is saying. She is dealing with a situation of colossal DISRESPECT to everything she is, in herself and as created by God. We must not disrespect her further by not listening, and JUST-ing. Instead, we can HONOR AND STRENGTHEN HER with one of the GREATEST FORMS OF RESPECT: LISTENING. Then, if she gives permission, and we truly have suggestions (not theoretical or theological) that MIGHT help, we can tell her politely without pushing or control.

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This is life-giving opportunity.

1) We want to fix it. It is uncomfortable, so we vomit out the solution that makes easiest sense and reinforces our philosophy of life, religion, or whatever. INSTEAD, BECOME CALM AND OPEN OUR MINDS TO LISTEN AND LEARN FIRST.

2) It requires little thought or effort. INSTEAD, THINK AND DEVELOP EMPATHY; LEARN MORE. LISTEN.

3) It sounds right. INSTEAD, CONSIDER HOW IT WOULD APPLY IN REAL LIFE. Test it. LISTEN.

4) It feels like we’re being effective, wise, supportive. INSTEAD, DON’T SETTLE FOR FEELING HELPFUL, LEARN HOW TO ACTUALLY BE HELPFUL. LISTEN. EDUCATE YOURSELF.

Our WANTING to help doesn’t mean we are ABLE to help – she needs options, not another person who (like her abuser) tells her what she JUST HAS to do.

There are other definitions and synonyms for the word “just” as well, again using the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary, that are much more useful ways to use the word:

  • having a basis in or conforming to fact or reason
  • agreeing with what is considered morally right or good
  • treating people in a way that is considered morally right
  • acting or being in conformity with what is morally upright or good

TreatYourChildWithRespect  - www.nathanielbranden.com www.lifejourneycoaching.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

JUST – can be a four letter word.

JUST – don’t use it that way any more.

INSTEAD – BE JUST.

 

Blessings!!

Diane

 

August Gift of Words

If one would realize that the world of God, His splendour and magnificence, are to be seen in the wise and the foolish, the good and the bad, then one would think tolerantly and reverently of all mankind, knowing that it represents the messenger, as the messenger represents God.  ….If the eyes and ears are open, the leaves of the trees become as pages of the Bible. If the heart is alive, the whole life becomes one single version of His sublime beauty, speaking to us at every moment.  Amras888

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Our fear of “what if “creates our prison, but our trust and faith in  Divine possibilities, is what will set us free. Window of Wisdom

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We think this world is “real” because we observe and interact with people and objects and ideas using our minds and our physical senses.  Certainly, the day-to-day stuff of life is plenty real.  But there is more.  Much more.  Connecting Dots…to God

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I WENT TO A BOOKSTORE AND ASKED THE SALESWOMAN, “WHERE’S THE SELF- HELP SECTION?” SHE SAID IF SHE TOLD ME, IT WOULD DEFEAT THE PURPOSE. Unknown

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All that is gold does not glitter, not all those who wander are lost.  J.R.R Tolkien

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WHAT IF THERE WERE NO HYPOTHETICAL QUESTIONS? Unknown 

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To me sitting comfortably in Christ is more than the seating arrangements in our churches, light and heating; church is not just simply a physical building of bricks and mortar, it is to be “seated with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6)   whisperingleavesblog

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 Emotional discomfort, when accepted, rises, crests and falls in a series of waves. Each wave washes a part of us away and deposits treasures we never imagined. Out goes naivete, in comes wisdom; out goes anger, in comes discernment; out goes despair, in comes kindness. No one would call it easy, but the rhythm of emotional pain that we learn to tolerate is natural, constructive and expansive… The pain leaves you healthier than it found you.”  Martha Beck

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ONE NICE THING ABOUT EGOTISTS: THEY DON’T TALK ABOUT OTHER PEOPLE. Unknown

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Love everyone. Trust few. Paddle your own canoe.  Anonymous

Blessings.

Diane

 

I Believe

The cold wind nipped at my face and hands. The air was thin and my breathing deep. Beneath my feet was rock; around the rock, vulnerable, ancient tundra. As far as I could see were range after range of mountains – bare of trees. I was above the timberline,  at 14,000+ feet elevation, near the highest point of Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, USA. DSCN1442I have been many BEAUTIFUL places,  and I inhale the beauty of trees and water and mountains like my life’s breath.  But even without trees, and somehow beyond the sheer visual input around me, this was the most beautiful place I have ever been! In the thin air, where my daughters become altitude-sick, and my husband’s heart slows him down, I was energized!  It was a different, higher perspective than I had ever known! Magnificent! I RAN up the summit and scaled the rock. Raised my hands to the perfect blue sky, and said “God….can I hear you NOW?!”  2012-12-17-ImageofGod

I have been asking, “HOW do you believe?!” After you HAVE believed, but learned that what you believed could not be trusted, could no longer be believed. You have said, “just believe.”

I have been talking and writing about this with you and Graeme Schultz since December. Graeme has spent untold hours and many thousands of words ever so kindly sharing his faith and talking through understandings of Christ, faith, God, Adam and Eve, suffering, the nature and effect of faith, crucifixion…always back to Christ and the cross.  He didn’t blow away my doubts, or even chip away, or refute, or prove them false. They began to melt away, ever so slowly, as I was able to trust the patient, quiet thoughts of a friend in dialogue that conveyed, “Rest in Christ. Trust Him. Let Him fill your screen. He’s that good. Expand your view. The cross is that powerful! This is how it works for me. This is what has changed for me. This is how I see things now.”

I read or recalled scripture, info on the origins of the Bible, intention and prayer, time and the universe, and most of an interesting book, “God’s Lunatics” by Michael Largo. Added to years of believing and living out….I don’t know what it was , searching, and loss. I didn’t push…stayed open, but not to others who push. My conclusions? There are arguments and counter-arguments about EVERYTHING! No two Christians (or any other group), even with strict doctrines or analytical criteria, have identical beliefs. imagesCAM2Y74B

We ALL pick and choose what we can and will believe, for myriad personal reasons. Which verses we elevateimagesCAMOA0XL to law, and which we reduce to analogy. Which sources we trust. How much we really BELIEVE we can hear from God Himself. We will never PROVE it absolutely, whatever IT is. Misunderstanding even when different words state the same idea, or illumination when the change of phrase makes them suddenly “believable.”  Yes, I could believe the wrong thing. Yes, I could be disappointed again. Yes, I could miss it. But then again, I am already missing too much by living in profound mistrust. Starting with my basic God-fact, the magnificence of creation through my senses and theories via science, I have asked and answered enough practical and scriptural questions, laid ENOUGH doubts to rest. And I WANT to believe. It just had to be something I CAN believe. Someone I CAN trust. Beyond expectations and rules. More about the Person and the reality beyond my senses and understanding. And the beginnings of thoughts about how powerful BELIEF or FAITH really may be.  A different, higher perspective than I’ve known. Magnificent!

There was no jump from a cliff. No burning bush, or voice from heaven. Still no blinding light, or overwhelming sense of love. No deep knowing. No tears. No choir, or brush of angel’s wings. No moment of desperation. No flood of warmth.

I wrote this to Graeme a couple of days ago:

“G, you need to know this: I found myself responding to Joe Pote’s post (Redeemed!) with conviction about who Christ is, and what He did on the cross. From the stance of a believer. Surprised myself!  I find myself riding my waves or feeling fear and anxiety, and say to myself, rather as I’ve heard you say…”wait, this can’t be right…this was fixed 2000 years ago…the reality is the hybrid creation Jesus/Diane that I’ve become.” I started by testing out how that feels, whether I could visualize and believe it…and I guess I do.  I’m considering that the earth manifestation in blood, and painful nerve endings, flesh, suffering, torture – perhaps even of crucifixion, may….I don’t know… no words, sorry. Something just outside my ability to get to it! But I’m open to even the cosmic meaning and consequence in that…which is what you grasp so clearly without the recoil I feel so strongly.

I find myself WANTING to believe more than I fear to believe, as I carefully and quietly (almost sneaky as to not trigger myself!) set aside my beefs and disagreements, hoping that as I rest, I will understand better, but through loving union not a spirit of intellectual debate. And I am perceiving, sometimes almost feeling, the love. My past experiences with religion are becoming irrelevant to my beliefs – fading in my mind like images from a scary movie.  I find myself more interested in talking with God than talking about Him. And when Christianity does come up (as it has with atheist Emily, and my nephew and niece), I find myself responding carefully – saying “maybe it is like this…” as I describe some (safer) aspect of our conversations or your book.  I have previously been incapable of sustaining faith but, as you have said, it doesn’t require years of restoration but rather turning my gaze back to Jesus who will never have left me, even if I am being freaked or inconsistent myself. And the renewing of my mind will continue. And I’m feeling traces of the security and freedom you describe.”

So quiet I can hear. A different view than I’ve known. Worth believing. Magnificent!

life-and-the-universe

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A few Diane-style references:

Powers of 10 – Original 1977

Powers of 10 – Redo, just the universe

Hardwired to Christ by Graeme Schultz

God’s Lunatics by Michael Largo

The Intention Experiment by Lynne McTaggert  (Don’t do an auto-trash on this because it sounds new age. A lot of good stuff on prayer, and the power of our thoughts and words. As in BELIEVE, bless, heal, pray, do good. Points TO God, or away, depending on YOUR paradigm. I suggest take what you want and leave the rest.)

Wikipedia on Bible and History

More than a Carpenter by Josh McDowell

A Crusty Old Cactus

Dust powdered my feet as I stood at the top of Piestewa Peak Summit Trail, overlooking the city. My eyes raced across the panoramic view, taking in the generalities, but missing the specifics. That was because my mind also raced across the panoramic view of my life, taking in the overview of successes and mistakes, joys and losses. I glanced to the side and all the scanning stopped, inward and outward.IMG_0859

I stood beside a 20 foot Saguaro cactus. It looked as though, over its lifetime, it had been so bumped, kicked, assaulted by human or nature, that it could hardly stand. Its base was shriveled and darkened, covered with scars. Farther up, less so.  Two thirds of the way up, it was green, robust, round, and thoroughly armored with the spines that are normal for the species. And at the top – a FLOWER! It was blooming!

This, I thought, is me! I liked the looks of that crusty old cactus!  And my life, however imperfect.

I am no longer a victim.  I NO LONGER FEEL LIKE A VICTIM!

I’m breathing, sleeping, jumping off cliffs, taking one day at a time, and laying my heart wide open before God.

After being frozen for months, for years, I am profoundly, utterly grateful for a number of things:

A friend who talks with me about God, Christ and faith without judging me, and without control or arrogance. A number of bloggers who very, very quietly, in words of peace, encourage me to faith like theirs…no hype, no insistence on words or doctrine, maybe no doctrine at all….more like a whispered, “this is what freedom smells like…follow the scent, breathe deeper, and also live in the One Who gives us breath.” The clamor and control of abuse has left me deaf to louder voices.

A way of seeing God and Christ that is gradually melting my sad heart and moving me forward to a place some rest and some faith. Progress.

Your prayers.

Friends I have lost touch with many moves (and moons) ago, but who have had a sweet effect on my life by their sincerity and support, and by the example of how they live their lives.  They are the Christians I went on walks with, shared kids with, shared my heart with – and who responded by being steady, sincerely loving God, knowing me very well and still loving me, seeing and hearing the parts of my situation I shared with them, admitting it wasn’t OK…and leaving it there…as displayed confidence that I would make the best choices possible. Hello, Cathy T.!  Michelle J., Rosa P., Terri H. and Karen J.? I love you, and I will be getting back in touch to tell you so!

Medical intervention for perhaps bipolar issues (perhaps not) – that has turned the volume in my mind and heart down from rock concert screams to loud conversation. Medical intervention for adrenal depletion and nutritional deficits. Therapy.

Love. Beauty. Peaceful moments. Generous thoughts and words.

Those beautiful, beautiful people in my family who love, trust, communicate, accept each other (and me!). Safety from those who don’t. And a husband who is a diamond in a world made of stones.

Hugs, kisses, touch, laughter, funny faces, odd habits, mispronounced words, photographs.

If this is manic, bring it on! If this is faith, more and deeper! If this is normal….sigh… it’s about time.  The problems are not all solved, the wounds are not all healed, the questions are not all answered. But life is looking better the longer I grow.  Maybe I am looking better the longer I grow!

Like a crusty old cactus.

Flowers

Blessings to you,

Diane

Believe – In YOUR Words!

I thought, Is the Bible real? Is it accurately translated? Is it historical? Is God real? Can Jesus be true? If He really was in the history, who was He? …..But then it came a point, when all my life climaxed. Who am I? Why am I living this life? Why am I involved in these horrible situations? And I realized that no longer I questioned if He is real. I simply NEED Him! See, when that happened, none of my questions were answered. Logically I had no basis to take either side. Logically it makes no sense! But logic has nothing to do with who I am right now. It was a gift of faith. Talitha Kum

 

The fact that God’s nature was difficult for me to understand used to be a real challenge to my faith. This was especially true after being diagnosed with ALS. I don’t remember ever asking God “Why me?” but I naturally wondered why God would allow this or any other horrible disease to strike anyone. I began to rethink everything I knew, or thought I knew, about this being we call God.

…I know better than anyone that I’m far from being the sharpest knife in the drawer, but after many years of trying to figure out this concept of what we simply call the Trinity, I’ve concluded that no one is able to explain this Triune God in terms that are understandable to even the razor-sharp knives among us. And, I’m now okay with this because –

“If we were able to understand God in human terms, He wouldn’t be God; He’d be a man.”
CS Lewis  Unshakable Hope

 

Today, I believe that God is, that God is Love, and that Love is Kind and Good. Today, that’s enough for me to know. I don’t need to know anything else, but Christ, and Him crucified, for it to be well with my soul.  Lady Quixote

 

…There are certainly many things that Jesus said which I don’t understand, which I find unpleasant, which tickle my teeth and turn my guts upside-down… 

…If someone died for me while saying a few tough words: I’m not going to whine about the tough words.  J.S.Parks

 

…Mike and Lorraine were not followers of Christ when we met them. We did our Christian duty and invited them to church and tried to share the “Good news” with them; even our girls (then 4 and 7) invited them to church, but all to no avail. (They later told us that they mocked us in private. I could relate; I once mocked Christians too. Let’s be honest: making fun of Christians is so easy).

But after I was diagnosed, they began to reexamine the faith that was sustaining our family through this trial. Lorraine told me; “…When you were diagnosed with ALS I began to see a man who held no anger with the God that ‘allowed’ this to happen. Then you began to demonstrate trust in God’s plan, I saw your faith and I saw 2 little girls accept what God was doing in your lives and I began to wonder how such young children could love God unconditionally. I opened my heart first to the possibility that this might be good thing for me as well. Then I finally got it and allowed my brain to accept the basic truth that God is only good, loving and faithful…”   Unshakable Hope  

 

When I am asked why I believe in God I simply profess that he exists…….

“I gave in, and admitted that God was God.”  C. S. Lewis 

 Planting Potatoes

How can some of us be put to death, yet realize the promise that “not a hair of your head will perish”? The answer can only be found in a radically different concept of safety. Jesus sees things from His Father’s perspective. In His eyes, the passage from this world into eternity looks more like a coming-of-age, or a rite of passage. It’s a beginning of something much more than it is an end of something.                                 iLife Journey

 

Let’s face it.  There are aspects of God’s Word that are very confusing.  Some passages are just plain weird and others seem contradictory.  For those of us who believe that the Bible is God’s inerrant word in the original manuscripts (an important qualifier), this is troubling.

If God’s word is perfectly true, then what do we do with apparent inconsistencies?   Furthermore, why didn’t God just communicate things more clearly in the first place?  Certainly he knew these issues would be cause for disbelief, argument and interpretive error.  Why invite confusion?

I’m sure he has his reasons.

…. But, I don’t think God allowed ambiguity so that we will read more scholarly opinion.

Perhaps difficult passages of Scripture offer us an opportunity to examine our own hearts and our false constructions of God.

Connecting Dots…to God

Although I didn’t understand much, I did understand one thing.I believed, with only a tiny amount of faith, that God had shown me that He was in fact real — and if that was true then I kept hope that He might help me. That choice to have that tiny bit of faith was a pivotal point in my life. I had asked and accepted Jesus into my life at age 16, but it was not until my late teen years and early twenties — the peak of all that I have described — that I started to focus on Him.  40-Year Wanderer

 

The only way I have found to lay hold of the peace and rest that all of mankind craves is to ‘step over a line’. To decide once and for all that Christ died on the cross to make me His. I have to examine this so closely that I am willing to make it the pivotal statement of my life. Christ can do no more; He has already given Himself for me and to me – now it is over to me. Will I believe it, will I cease my quest for more proof, more evidence, more answers – that’s why it’s all about trust – at some point in my life I need ask my last question, express my last doubt, try my last fleshly endeavour… breathe out slowly… and begin my new life as one who has decided that God is good, He loves me, He can be trusted… with everything.

And all of this I do with unanswered questions, with my flesh screaming out “don’t”…. I do it on the basis of one fact only; “Christ died for me” – and now I await the revelation of the cross of Christ to bring sense into my senseless world – now I rest in  the life of Christ in me, and cease my life of trying.  Graeme Schultz, Hardwired to Christ

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