Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Forgiveness (2013).

I have always been pretty good at telling others about the importance of forgiveness, unaware it is something I have not been able to do myself. I gave my life to Jesus at a very young age and proceeded to fall away from my faith during my college years, but recently had a turnaround experience in my life.

I still have problems with forgiving myself for the way I used to live, and for the not-so-great life my family and friends suffered through because of my ways.

Change has been a slow process, I discovered I had control in almost every aspect of my life but how to express my affection appropriately. While it’s definitely not where it used to be, it’s not what it could be, either.

My life completely changed when I started praying and asking God if I would ever meet someone who loved Jesus and could help lead me in the ways of the Lord. Two weeks later I met Ryan, who became my boyfriend and is now my fiancé. Ryan, the man who believes in the saving power of Jesus Christ; my answered prayer.

Early in our relationship he was asked to lead a public theater ministry at his church. He took this on and much of our life was focused around being led by God to minister to the public, and to the kids we worked with, through theater. He on stage, me behind-the-scenes, which I preferred.

While I’ve never doubted my feelings for him or see that we’ve been called together, I did doubt that I could ever overcome the temptation to give in to ways of my past. I was worried I would march us directly toward the path of destruction and not realize it until it was too late. I would get so angry and frustrated, worrying over what-ifs so much that it hurt us from time to time. Eventually I was able to be up front. Sometimes it was messy and emotional, but altogether it was healing. We weren’t perfect, sometimes we faltered, but we always took it to God and found healing.

Life has a way of surprising you; unexpected change, like financial trouble can really take a toll on the emotions of a man who is desperately trying to be a good provider. I tried my hardest to be supportive, to empathize and show tenderness throughout the process. As emotions were high and stress piled on, it seemed harder and harder for me not to try to connect with him more, so we did.

Sin has consequences, mine were more emotional. As much as sin is confusing and guilt rendering- it’s great in the moment, which is why we go back over and over. I forgot that I needed to communicate with God and Ryan and talk about things because I was caught up in these moments, or lack thereof. I worried if it didn’t happen that something was wrong, I was worried if it did happen that something would go wrong. I worried and worried myself over every little aspect of our relationship.

I came to the realization that I was no longer living out the life of a leader’s partner, someone who is a good influence to those around me. I also realized I wasn’t really helping Ryan much, either. I prayed to God, “Please hear my heart. Know that I want to please you, but I don’t know how. I’m a mess right now. I want to be good.”

This led to a discovery which would change my life forever. I am pregnant; 8 weeks 5 days today, and we are engaged to be married in March.

My plans, my fears, my life as I knew it formerly changed in an instant. In a moment my focus shifted to thoughts that plagued me. I was scared to tell my family, I was scared that his family would lose the respect they had gained for me. I feared going to church and facing the fellow members I had grown to love.

I remember crying and crying during a few services, I didn’t think I was allowed to be excited or that I deserved to be happy. I prayed for forgiveness and continued to suffer through my belittling thoughts.

“No one will look at you the same. You are a complete sham.”

“If you had only….. this wouldn’t have happened and everyone would be less stressed.”

I remember sitting in my car during lunch and I cried out, “God! I can forgive everyone for anything they do to me, but I can’t forgive myself. How do I let this go? How do I really lean on you?”    

In that moment of pure desperation a thought came to me.

“You have stopped evaluating yourself from a human point of view… I know you messed up, you guys all mess up sometimes. But what if instead of carrying guilt over something you cannot change, you choose today to receive what I offer freely- cleansing.”

For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
Psalm 103:11-12
I’m nothing if not stubborn, Ryan can tell you that with certainty. I found myself thinking, “yes, I’m forgiven, but let’s get practical.. there are going to be consequences and this is one of them.”
Then another thought came to me, one that was completely foreign, but made things a lot more clear.
I needed to start looking back at my thoughts and emotional reactions over the past week. I needed to see that something needed to change. I needed to figure out how it might be possible to change my attitude in a way that reflected true Christianity; someone who lets go of their past, who refuses to carry the shame and guilt any longer.
I needed to look at it realistically.
I can’t pay back everyone that has been impacted by my sin, but I can apologize and own up to my own mistakes.
I can’t blame everyone else for action or inaction that led me to sin, that shows a lack of grace and forgiveness which leaves you in an emotional rut (and angry, a lot). Instead, I should own up to the things that caused my personal failures. I should be able to admit that they led me away from God’s plan, and I should remove the temptation. Even if it is something that other people can participate in without fault, if it can harm my family, it should be non-negotiable.
The kicker, for me, was the realization that if I kept hurting myself emotionally for all of my past mistakes I would show my child, by example, that once you fall you can never get up. Instead, I should let my little one know that I was lost, but Jesus took that and made it beautiful in a way that only He can do. This is one of the easiest ways to show your children what grace looks like, first hand.
I need to get over the fact that God is more powerful than I am. I need to give up the control issues and realize that nothing I do myself can remove my sin, that only He is strong enough to.
I acknowledged my sin to You;
And my iniquity I did not hide;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord”
And You forgave the guilt of my sin.
Psalm 32:5
Remorse is a beautiful thing, but it is only a stepping stone. I need to continue to walk toward a grace-filled and free life, praying for my child and my fiancé, living a new life in front of them filled with hope and optimism as they see God in my actions and my words.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Second Wave vs Third Wave feminism.

I am currently enrolled in a few women's studies courses at Southern Illinois University- Carbondale. While I have been doing some research for a paper proposal I have been looking for differences between the first, second and third waves of feminism. I haven't found much between the second and third, so I am listing these for others who may be searching for the same information. I hope this helps.

Second Wave
Third Wave
Getting paid work, even if you're married or a mother. Getting "better" paid work, so we can support ourselves and our families.
Securing the right to an abortion. Maintaining that right and learning how to use it properly. Allowing for differences of opinion and the choice to say "no."
Breaking the glass ceiling. Leaving the building and climbing up to the roof.
Getting women into positions of political power. Getting women into positions of economic power.
Getting day care. Changing our family and work structures so day care is less necessary.
Finding ways for women to have loving sexual relationships with other women. Finding ways for women to have loving sexual relationships with whatever gender they prefer, and yes, that includes the individuals with prominent external genitalia and obvious body hair.
Breaking the silence about rape and sexual abuse. Breaking the silence about consensual sex.
Giving women divorce and singlehood as options to heterosexual  marriage. Making heterosexual marriage a better choice for the women who want it, while still keeping those other options.
Making it acceptable for women to delay or space their children with birth control, or even to not have children at all. Making it possible to be a mother and have a life.
Making it acceptable for mothers to work. Earning enough money so we can afford to become mothers or choose to adopt or remain childless. 

The following is a list of the issues third wave feminists are focused on. Some feminists focus on all of these issues, some focus on one or a few.

1. violence against women
2. violence against men
3. sweatshop exploitation
4. reproductive freedom
5. affirmative action
6. race exploitation
7. class exploitation
8. death penalty
9. queer issues
10. sexuality
11. labor issues
12. welfare rights

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Fear vs Love

"You can't go through this life being afraid to love, because, without love, there just isn't any reason for living." - Little House on the Prarie

Everything in our life impacts something. In the Christian faith, we have freedom of choice. We don't have to follow God's path for us. But when we defy our heart, we damage something in our core which not only hurts us, but will most certainly have lasting impacts on the people we interact with during those times. It makes things a lot harder than they have to be, which takes healing time to recover from.

In the past I have struggled with a damaged self and body image. I had decided that due to my relationship history that I didn't have much to bring to the table, I wasn't getting any younger and I needed to make myself more available to different types of people. I should broaden my horizons and allow people who were my opposite into my personal life. I had this mindset that I should date anyone I got along well with, no matter if there was attraction beyond friendliness because it would come eventually. In my mind, it was more important that my partner be my friend because that aspect had been neglected so much in the past.

So I controlled my own universe and I hurt a few people deeply in the process. If these past two years have taught me anything it is that you absolutely can't force your heart to make feelings appear. When you try to force romantic love on your heart it never works. It only hurts more people (friends, family, etc.) as time progresses. 

We don't get to pick, and I'm very thankful for that. Namely because our mind has a tendency to try and sway us from our heart's own excitement. It will tell you that you can't have your cake and eat it, too. But I can tell you that when it's meant to be, it will be, or you will live in misery trying to fight it.

My biggest struggle when I was involved in an ungodly relationships was feeling that I had to fix all of these things in the other person, when in all reality I needed to let God work on my heart. I always found myself feeling overwhelmed, like I was in over my head in these relationships because I was scared to speak up and voice my opinion. I needed that boost in my self confidence so I could see what He sees when looking at my heart. I had a lot of stuff that needed to be worked out. I had a lot of problems with relying on God to keep me safe. I would talk to God with these types of prayers.. 

"God, I'm not sure I'm ready to go down this road again. I've been hurt so many times in the past."
"Jesus, you know we are just in a rough patch right now, it will get better as soon as ------"

"He just likes me so much, this is going to kill him! Can't you make me like him, too?"
"God, can you just fix it? I really don't want to go through another breakup."
"I don't think I could make it without him; he's my friend."
"I don't want to be with him, but I don't want to hurt him, either."

As much as God needed my advice, none of these relationships played out like I prayed for. Rather than trust God with my heart and future, I cowered in fear and remained in unhealthy relationships until something major happened. If I had followed God's will things would have gone much smoother.

In all reality, ladies, why would we want to pick every detail of our perfect romance? It may sound fun to be in complete control of your destiny, but where is the excitement? The thrill in anything comes from spiritual unity, overcoming obstacles together. Once you start doing those things together, living life becomes much more interesting. Seeing and encouraging your partner to chase after God's own heart before your own is the best way to experience that fairy tale ending. Which happens to be the theme of this blog :)

So, in other words, don't let society's ideas of cheap romance and free love get you down. Give your fear of never finding that special someone to God and let Him show you how it's done. Dream as big as the stars, fall among the clouds. Pray hard and enjoy the simplicity of life and love with all you've got because there's no guarantee for tomorrow. Live out God's love story for you, trust that He'll make it happen. I promise you won't regret it.

My encouragement for today:

Keep alert. Be firm in your faith. Stay brave and strong. Show love in everything you do. (1 Corinthians 16:13, 14 CEV)

My friends, be glad, even if you have a lot of trouble. You know that you learn to endure by having your faith tested. But you must learn to endure everything, so that you will be completely mature and not lacking in anything. If any of you need wisdom, you should ask God, and it will be given to you. God is generous and won’t correct you for asking. (James 1:2-5 CEV)

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Rabbit and the broken Pony

The Rabbit and the broken Pony

Rabbit came home from school with his owner, Lucy, after farm day at school. 

Rabbit had seen all types of other toys that looked all torn up, but he kept hearing over and over about 'real' rabbits and 'real' puppies, but he couldn't find anything that looked as nice as he did. 

Disgruntled, and mildly confused, Rabbit asked the Broken Pony when  Lucy brought him back home. 

"What does it mean to be real? Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?" 

Pony laughed at him.

''Real isn't how you are made. It's a thing that happens to you," he said. "When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but really loves you, then you become real."

Rabbit wondered how he was ever going to figure his 'real' mystery out if he kept asking this Pony. 

So he tried again, using a different method. He was the new model after all, and Pony was terribly outdated. 

"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked. "Or bit by bit?''

The Pony thought for a minute about it, and just when Rabbit had given up he said, "It doesn't happen all at once. You become. It takes a long time."

"So, what kind of time are we talking here?" Rabbit asked. "I only have a shelf life of about 1 year; only a few months before the new model comes out. Is there any way to speed this process up?"

"Not without it hurting, things like this take time," Pony said. "You don't get to have everything your way."

"But why?" Rabbit demanded, growing more and more impatient with this Pony's crazy ideas.

"Because it isn't about you," Pony said as he started to limp away.

"Then who is it about?" Rabbit asked.

"It's about your relationship with Lucy. It's not about the rules, or the color of your fur," he said.

"Then how am I ever supposed to be real?" Rabbit asked, somewhat dejected at this thought. "I've never been taught anything but cute and fluffy." 

Pony stopped, turned around and smirked at the Rabbit. He saw the vigor of his youth and desire to become this 'real' he had seen at school. 

"It doesn't happen often to toys who break easily, or have sharp edges. You know, those toys who have to be carefully kept," he said. "Generally, by the time you are real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose joints and look very shabby."

Rabbit was stunned. He had never considered Pony as anything but broken before. His limpy leg was all taped and held together with a half Popsicle stick that was still half purple from Lucy's snack the other day. 

"Are you telling me I have to look like YOU to be real?" Rabbit asked. 

"Rabbit," Pony said, looking at his broken body. "These things don't matter at all, because once you are real you can't be ugly, except to the people who don't understand."

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Choice. (2011)

How much does He love us?

So much.

Enough to die,
To fight for us
To take the fall

But most all, he gave us freedom

Freedom to turn our lives around
Freedom to fall and run into walls
Freedom to make mistakes, to learn

Or not.

He gave us the freedom to choose.

Can you imagine someone saying, "I let my innocent son die tragically after being tortured for you, but you don't have to love me?"

Of course we can't.
Of course we take that for granted.

When we as Christians, or wanna be Christians run into trouble from our past, we can only hope and pray that those who are immediately impacted will see past our sin and see who we are trying to be.

We can only speak our sorrow, ask for forgiveness, and hand the situation over to God to handle.

Unfortunately sometimes as Christians we have to back off and let God do His thing. It is never fun knowing we aren't the superheroes we lead ourselves to believe we are.

I can only imagine Jesus being ridiculed in his final hours, thinking, "I don't wanna be the one to say goodbye, but I will. 'Cause in the future, you're gonna come back around."

It's hard to see people turn their backs on you, but just imagine the pain God felt watching his son. Actually, he couldn't bear the sight, the ultimate sacrifice.

Sometimes the only way to really know God's strength is to let go of what holds you back from seeking out.

Maybe it's losing someone you've cared about for a long time. Maybe it's losing a lot of people you thought had your best interest at heart.

We may be saying, "I don't wanna be the first to let it go." But we need to teach our hearts to say, "But I know, if you, my God, have the last hands that I want to hold. Then I know I've got to let them go."

It is one of the hardest things I've had to do. I've had nights where I cried and ached for people, where just one more of anything would cure all my wrongs. It's a really weak and humbling place to be.

But my promise is to do my best to wash away everything, each and every day until God comes home to collect me.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Seasons & Society

Soft, gentle, without a cause.
I run toward a light that moves.
Pain like this gives me pause.
I failed a lesson I thought I knew.

In my past I've struggled to speak. So God has called me to express. Satan tries every way to show me that I'm weak.

Not safe.

Trapped within a wall. I let this affect me, my lack of faith.

Kind words are lost on today's society. More and more people are hurt by the absence of kindness and love in our churches. Our lack of forgiveness speaks volumes more than our false praises.

It dries a heart that was ones filled with love for others.

Where does it lead? To dust and dust alone; the grave.

Caring for one another has been put aside. It is replaced with anger and deceit. Our words say, "violence is the only answer." It opens painful doors which should be kept shut and closes doors that should be open to opportunity.

We all have walls built up. Our most challenging task is to reveal ourselves, flaws and all, so one by one, the bricks will fall.

Society tells us our wall keeps us safe from the world outside. The choice is who to let in and who to keep out.

So many people so little trust; yet each has a spiritual gift; each we are called to love. We live our lives with opened eyes closed mouths.

All we can see is a fading life, from color to grey, not black or white. Slowly but surely life fades away, home is where I’m headed; don't waste today.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


I was reading an article earlier on friendships and relationships and how some people struggle with anxiety and depression, especially during Christmas and the holiday season.

People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime. What you want to do, is try to figure out which category your friend fits into. When you do, you will know what to do for each person.

When someone is in your life for a reason, it is usually to meet a need you have expressed. You are experiencing some sort of difficulty and they are there to assist you, to provide you with guidance and support. Reason friends are able to help you physically, emotionally or spiritually, depending on your need. For those of religious beliefs, they may be considered a miracle, or a godsend. They are there for the reason you need them to be.

Reason friends are only meant to be temporary. They will, without any wrongdoing on your part, or at an inconvenient time, say or do something to bring the relationship to an end. Whether this be death, or an argument in which one of you walks away. They may disrupt your comfort level by forcing you to take a stand.

What we must remember is that our need has been met, our desire has been fulfilled and their work is done. Your question has been answered, and now it is time to move on.

Now some people come into your life for a season, because in certain times in life we are required to share, grow or learn. Friends will often come into your life and bring you peace or make you laugh. They may educate you in things you have never done before, and they usually leave you with a feeling of happiness and joy. It isn’t fake, it’s real, but it is only temporary - for a season.

These are people that later on will become acquaintances. When you meet in passing later on, you’ll smile and wave, possibly make small talk and catch up for a few minutes.

Lifetime relationships teach you lessons that will impact you forever. These relationships are very special, and are things you must build upon. These relationships are the hardest, but, when successful, leave you with a solid emotional foundation. Your responsibility is to accept the lesson, love the person, and utilize all of the other lessons that reason and seasonal friends have taught you.