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Mary, Mary

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Note: this post originated March 5th and sat as a draft. Now is the time to post for various reasons and more to come on this. Last week marked 26 years since I last saw your sweet face. Of course, then, it was pure and free of the cares of this world. By now, twenty six years has likely worn on you. I wonder almost everyday if you woke up this morning and put on makeup, or where you went to work. I wonder what kind of car you drive and if you speed like me. It’s hard to imagine what life would be like to have a 26 year old daughter when I am still parenting a 12 year old daughter. Whatever your path, I wonder.

I imagine your life is busy, I wonder if you are married yet, or if you’ve found the man of your dreams and is awaiting “the question”, or are you single and seeing the world. I think I ask these questions every year…or similar ones.  I think about the imagined sound of your voice and the shape of your eyes. Are your fingers long and slender like your father’s or are they short and stout like mine.

These are the little things I learned about myself when I reunited with my father seven years ago. I discovered that I like my iced tea half sweet and half unsweetened and so does he. I also realized that my short, stout fingers came from him, along with my long skinny legs that I always disliked about myself. I wonder what you dislike about yourself. I wonder if you wonder about where the personal quirks come from.

I hope by now you know about your biological parents and have learned to accept and embrace the beauty of your life and what was decided for you. Certainly, we meant no harm and only intended good for you. I wonder how your parents loved you. Mary, I know they loved you the best they knew how, like all parents do.

Mary

The last picture I received of Mary, my daughter I placed for adoption.

Maybe one day we will meet. Maybe one day I will get caught up on all the details of your life. Until that hopeful day, I pray you are well. I pray you are healthy. I pray you have faithful friends. I pray you have a job that utilizes your talent, skills and gifts to the world. I pray for you Mary until we cross paths again.

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Menopause, make up and public school

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I hate makeup on my face. I haven’t really been one to wear much of it and only started “covering” my face with a concealer because things have shown up that I would like to “conceal”. Menopause sucks in so many ways, in more ways than I anticipated or thought. And public school has been a gift from God!

For the last four years, I have struggled to get my body back in balance. My last child was born 10 years ago and really that was when it all started but the last few years particularly have been hard. I found out last week that I am officially in menopause. That day, I sent a few friends a text message expressing my mixed emotions.

Since this discovery, I have felt some relief because now I know why certain things are happening or not happening, if you know what I mean, but I also feel grief. I am remembering when I had three children under three and a middle-schooler and recall a day when a friend was sharing her discovery of menopause with me while I was pulling my hair out and couldn’t possibly imagine feeling grief over no more babies, while she was mourning her new reality. Now I know…

Between bouts of a need to cry and for what seems to be no apparent reason,  spending money on quality make up to conceal “things”, remembering post-partum blues I experienced after each birth, flashes of my new season of life and then forgetting what I went to the kitchen for, I go back to what I know is true and doesn’t change – God – and for that I weep tears of humility and great love for my King.

Interestingly, according to medical professionals, the fluctuation in hormones during post-partum is the same in menopause – I guess we really do go full circle.

But there are reasons to cry and grieve.

Several things come to mind: first, how I placed my identity in my children or (motherhood), that I came to a point recently when I really wasn’t sure who I was anymore, and that my beauty was more about having babies and being a mom than being Michelle. Indeed being a co-laborer in God’s plan to procreate is something that sets us apart as women but it’s not what makes me beautiful, rather I have an irreplaceable role on this earth and bearing children according to Gods plan was only one part of that role. The second thing that comes to mind is: it’s almost as if the last 22 years of my life (the age range of my children) is sitting in a box in front of me and I have an aerial view of it all! Not that I have an “empty nest” but with younger children still at home, and one grown married child I feel strange sometimes.

I see many mothers around me that seem so worn thin and weary. They are in the box of motherhood and can hardly see above. Which takes me back to the last four years and brings to me to today and a recent turn of events that seems to fit nicely with everything that is changing – we made the decision to send our children to public school and what feels like subjecting my children to Satan yet I see very clearly now that this was straight from the hand of God, that’s right, that’s what I just said, I AM A CHRISTIAN AND USED TO HOME SCHOOL AND I SENT MY CHILDREN TO PUBLIC SCHOOL…

You probably don’t want to mess with me on this because I am menopausal!

But I had to ask myself: what type of atmosphere have we created in the Church that I feel the need to be defensive about putting my children in public school, where does all this come from? (I am leaving these as rhetorical questions) I love my children and care very much about their spiritual state and perhaps God asks some of us to entrust our children to him and let them go sooner and in different ways like Hannah who promised God that she would give her only son Samuel to the priest hood where he would be surrounded by Eli’s evil sons!

Obviously I am not saying that one turn of events caused the other but God is using menopause, make up and public school to show me that there are seasons to everything and the only thing that doesn’t change is him!

As I walk through this process and grieve what I have “lost”, I am encouraged to know there are also things to celebrate, like my desire to want to wear makeup. All the while, I am holding onto the hem of His robe!

 

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Rejection

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I am reading a book on rejection. I think this author is effective. She is a counselor and has written a series on the common areas people struggle. Our writing styles and her approach to counseling are similar in that there are core issues behind the behavior and behind the behavior are patterns of familiar yet unhealthy thinking deep rooted in the heart. She doesn’t go on some religious lecture quoting all these theological complex thoughts, it’s just real life, real situations, clearly and concisely written without compromising the truth!

I have felt conviction and experienced freedom in the area of rejection. About 10 years ago, the Lord showed me wounds deep down. I had responded to those wounds with judgments, that at that time, I prayed through with a mentor and received healing and freedom. Since then whenever situations trigger rejection I have to work through the layers to identify what I am thinking or feeling when it happens.  Recently, the Spirit showed me through what seemed to be unlikely situations in my marriage but demanded certain responses (behavior resulting from what I was thinking) were not really a result of the current situation necessarily rather rooted seeds of rejection that needed uprooting which brings me to the crux of this post.

In striving for affirmation and acceptance we soon discover the futility of looking to temporal things. Clearly, Jesus understood this because we read in John 2 that He “did not commit Himself to them (the many that believed in His Name when they saw the signs which He did) because He knew all men, and had no need that anyone should testify of man,  for He knew what was in man.” (v. 24-25) Ouch, but thank you Jesus, this is so freeing, even Jesus was tempted to look to his friends for applause.

For me, feeling seen, or should I say not feeling seen has been a real wounding place. Lately, over and over the connection between rejection, value and feeling unseen keeps popping up. Not that I just now am seeing (pun intended) where I have been rejected but more so how I have responded to that rejection.

All through Scripture is the usage of God’s eyes:

The eyes of the Lord is on those who fear him; “the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,” “the eyes of the Lord are in every place;” let these alone sink into your soul! There’s more though:

I-am-the-apple-of-His-eye-Zechariah-2_8

We are the apple of His eye (Deut 32:10, Zec 2:8);

For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to him. (2 Chron 16:9a)

This list is not exclusive, and we don’t find many other anatomical parts of God in Scripture except a few places like: His “arm” is outstretched and not too short to save for example; his “ear” and hearing our prayers and maybe somewhere there is implication that he is using his feet, but His eye is used over 88 times in Scripture.

The eyes being the pathway to the soul are powerful. Rejection is seen in the eyes. We feel valued in being seen, which is why so often we look to man to see us, to feel accepted and affirmed making rejection the most powerful emotion I believe.

June Hunt, in her book: Rejection: Healing a Wounded Heart says:

“Nothing cuts to the core as deeply as rejection. Even death, while heartbreaking doesn’t leave such lasting wounds!”

Another area I think is prevalent among Christians but appears as humility is looking to ministry to find value. Each week, my husband and I lead (whatever we call it as we are not officially leaders) and host, a community group. Even in this, God has used this to show me where true leadership comes from. When we see Jesus over and over again not making a point to inflate or even tell who he is and yet he had all the influence, He is God for crying out loud! But as I grow in influence, because of who I am in Christ, Christ in me, I continue to be reminded that we live in a performance based society. We crave affirmation from man. Being performance based driven isn’t a new societal issue rather it began in the Garden. We want to be seen, noticed and rewarded. We like to hear how great we are. But in God’s kingdom that isn’t really what fills our spiritual beings.

I believe the only way to be healed of rejection and truly feel seen is by seeing God!

Christianity isn’t what “I do” for God. We don’t read our Bible for the sake of reading, we read the Bible to see God! Ironically though, faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

In the times that I receive accolades for sharing a word of wisdom, or answered prayers as a result of interceding or helping in a time of need, I remember how frail man is. I remember that one day they may be thanking me and the next I could fail them in some way and they reject me. Grace is free but grace is messy! Love is messy!

I pray we are healed from the wounds of rejection. And that we are set free from the patterns of thinking that lead to more rejection. Lastly, I pray that we see God every time we open our Bibles and press in until we do; that the Holy Spirit would enlighten the eyes of our heart and we would be sanctified and made whole and complete until the day of Christ Jesus because we know we are accepted by God, Amen! (Ephesians 1)

 

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Then there is writing…

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I enjoyed writing one of my last posts on writing. I have another thought about writing so I am writing about writing again. Whew…that was a lot of “writing’s.”

I tend to be more of a protagonist but I have this annoyingly overwhelming part of me that is very antagonistic.  In an almost sick kind of way I like being the antagonist. I remember learning about the characters of writing in a Literature of the Bible class in college. It was at the University of Maryland, although I wasn’t in Maryland, I was in Okinawa, Japan. I like the way this writer explains the roles of an antagonist and protagonist. Basically, I am just saying that my personality which is both fighter and peacemaker is what I want to express in my writing and I liken it to the antagonist and protagonist roles in literature.

Side bar: There is something to be said about the richness of University coursework as compared to a community college. Not only am I speaking as a student who attended both but I currently work in an advising capacity at the local community college and appreciate the work we do.  I remember it was the first writing class that I really learned about the elements of literature. Adding this sidebar is one thing I remember learning. And even though its not exactly fitting in this type of writing, I am still doing it anyway; why, because I am a rule breaker and an antagonist.

I don’t like reading all writing, there is a part of me that appreciates all writing because I think I am writer. But in effort to not offend I will refrain from expressing what writing I don’t like.

Let’s just say, I think writing should be real and raw, I think non-fiction writing should stir up and draw out the reader. It should resonate in the soul of the reader. We don’t always have to relate to the experience of the writer but good non-fiction writing should serve as a reminder that all man kind has the same struggles. Most “devotionals” I read don’t do that, they share their struggle superficially and all spiritually (yes that was antagonistic), ask a series of surface level questions in an attempt for you the reader to summarize what you read but not quite reach your heart – their isn’t this soulish exchange through summarizing, it doesn’t address the heart’s cry!

I feel frustrated about the amount of written work on parenting, marriage, friendship, etc and yet we are still screwed up. We put so much emphasis on obedience and “spirituality” that we forget relationship and end up carnal Christians. We spend so much time on doctrine and theology that we forget the simplicity of love and the realness of pain. We miss all the barriers, wrong thinking, familiar patterns we learned in our childhood, that we are not free rather we walk around with this heavy yoke around our necks making Christianity look like drudgery!

At first, I spent a lot of time blaming “the church” and I still do because I believe its still the stumbling block to many coming to Christ. But I also see that it has more to do with the weight, or expectation that I put on people since “they have been Christians for blank amount of years” or because they are the “Pastor.” When I remove that expectation from the equation I am left with nothing more than another human being just like me with different gifts and roles to play in the church. I know the Bible says that those who teach Scripture will be held accountable and pastors for how they managed their flock and I do respect that and give credence to that but at some point I have to let them be people.

When reading what Pastors, Preachers, or leaders in the church write its easy to forget (partly their own fault I think) that they too have issues! They too have to wake every morning and choose to love the difficult person in their life.

Writing is risky especially when you speak of those you care about! As Yancy said of Buechner, at some point its about you writing from your perspective, rather than writing to tell someone else’s story. In this post, I am referencing other areas not exactly related to family secrets as Buechner we referencing but its still the same concept, my Pastor might read this and feel uncomfortable because my perspective involves him indirectly, just like my Mom read my story about her recommending I get an abortion.

My writing brings out or should I say let’s me freely be the protagonist and antagonist in my perspective of life. While the war within is real; I don’t want to offend, I want peace. Part of me wants to be quiet and careful, but I want to write. I do hope to encourage someone out there to be real about what they see, believe or feel – the good, bad and ugly! Writing to me is the place where the writer and reader connect on a soul level and share something common.