God – My Driving Force

From my dear friend Marika…

Follow Footprints

I have told this story before, but every now and then, when I get in a place where I can’t seem to move forward, the lesson God taught me from a 1994 Nissan Altima, comes flooding back.

When my husband, Pablo, and I were dating he drove that 1994 Nissan Altima.  It got us where we needed to go, but the reverse had gone out on the transmission.  We spent extra time trying to find parking spots that we could pull through so that we could avoid having to try to back out.  
Sometimes we couldn’t find a spot and we would have to flinstone our way out.
Pablo would put the car in neutral.  He would stick his left leg out his door, I would stick my right leg out mine, and we would push our way into reverse.

Life is like that car.  We don’t get to…

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You Have Got to be Kidding!

When we have questions for God…

God is Good

Everybody identifies with poor Gideon. There he was, fearfully thrashing his wheat in the middle of the night, minding his own business, when he had an encounter with the Lord. Then God got a little crazy, he called Gideon a “mighty man of valor”, and everyone knew that wasn’t true. Then God calls Gideon to get the Mideonites out of the land.

God must have known what he was doing, but Gideon didn’t. So he had a couple questions while he had God’s attention for a few minutes.

  1. Oh my Lord, if the Lord be with us, why then is all this befallen us?
  2. Where be all his miracles which our father’s told us?

“But now the Lord hath forsake us, and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites.”

Gideon had good questions. He didn’t understand what was going on in their country and why God hadn’t fixed it…

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Lessons From Elizabeth Smart’s Kidnapping

Keeping the line bold between abusers and victims over all types of abuse

Elizabeth woke to a knife at her throat and a threat to stay quiet or her younger sister, lying next to her in bed, would be killed. Terrified, 14-year-old Elizabeth went with her kidnapper more concerned about protecting her family than herself. She went on to have a sensational story of being married as a second wife to an evil, narcissistic psychopath who raped her daily for nine months. Finally found and rescued by the police, she went home to throngs of well-wishers and reporters rejoicing in her safe return.

Celebrations are proper and good in such situations. A child captive set free and returned to a loving family who never quit their desperate search for their daughter breaks all of our hearts. The sexual perversion foisted onto her makes our blood boil. It should.

Our culture understands kidnapping and sexual enslavement. There are many wonderful supports for survivors and great understanding from family and public alike. We want to read the survivors’ stories and hear about their struggle and strength. We are inspired to stay vigilant for our own family.

Imagine if no one had even known that Elizabeth Smart was missing. Then she turns up and tells people about what happened to her. Her parents scathingly accuse her of being a liar and the public tells her that kidnappings and sexual enslavement don’t happen. Friends turn against Elizabeth and she becomes an outcast to her family. She goes to church and hears over and over about how she hasn’t forgiven people in her life and is shamed that she isn’t happy and vibrant in life.

This doesn’t happen in Elizabeth Smart types of kidnappings and horror. But there are other sexual abuse genres (if you will) that turn out very much just like our crazy example. The situations I am talking about are as turned upside down from Elizabeth’s true abuse as can be.

I HATE the word “incest”, but I will go with it because it is universally understood. It is a neat and tidy word that explains raping and sexual viewing/touching. These are children who are sexually abused in the home. While people know that it truly happens, there is huge societal pressure not to discuss it and not to get involved in rescuing these children. There is huge family backlash if any abused child gets out of line, and if the child (or adult if they disclose later in life) doesn’t recant the abuse, the victim will get kicked out of the family. Then they sit in churches and hear about how unforgiving they are, shaming the victim instead of speaking out against the perpetrators. Many times, the perpetrators themselves are sitting in the seats.

Satanic Ritual Abuse victims are treated even worse. Most times they are taken to the rituals by their own parents where they are sexually tortured and horrificaly traumatized by death and blood of animals and sometimes humans. In this case, society says that SRA doesn’t happen and feel sorry for the poor family that had this horrible accusation foisted against them by their own child. These victims are also kicked out of the family and are seen as mentally crazy.

It is interesting to compare law enforcement and courtroom reactions to the three different types of abuse we are talking about today. In the kidnapping/sexual abuse scenarios, it is very obvious to society who the bad guy is, who the innocent victim is, and the perpetrator goes to jail for a very long time. In incest cases, many times they never even make it into the courtroom. If they do, it is hard to get a conviction with the blurred lines between perpetrator (but he is a pillar in society! He would never…) and the victim (if this was true, why didn’t she tell a teacher when she was young? She would have told someone!). Sometimes the defense will go so far as to say the victim made it up. If there is a conviction, there is not very much jail time at all.

In SRA it even more bizarre. The parents immediately turn the entire family against the victim if they speak out. They are either quickly recant, or they are outcasts from their family. The family turns viciously against the victim and tries to shame them in front of their family and friends. Society says that they don’t believe it ever happens. Churches don’t know what to do with the victims, and tend to think they are more demonically controlled and need demons cast out. Here not only is the victim made guilty, but their very spirituality is questioned.

Hearing the story of Elizabeth Smart gives me hope. If society can understand the kind of abuse that happened to her, then I believe incest will one day be seen in the same black/white view. Maybe one day SRA will as well.

If you are still reading this, I thank God for you. It is time that society gets educated on all abuses, not just the ones that make logical sense. Society not wanting to deal with or know about incest or SRA is unacceptable. Our churches need to step up and start helping the victims instead of shaming them.

I thank God that Elizabeth Smart was rescued. I highly recommend her book, “My Story”. As you look closely at how easy it is in her case to figure out who was the bad guy and who was the victim, I encourage you to extrapolate that to incest and SRA as well. We need to call out abuse and abusers. If they face what they have done here and now, not only will it alert others to their perversions, it will save those abuses from being thrust on other children. The only way to save incest and SRA victims is through education and prevention. You cannot prevent what you refuse to look at.

 

The Unsung Heroes

What does a worship team do in the hours before church starts.

Carlos arrives first. He unlocks a door for the others to slip through and starts turning on the lights. He goes to the back and turns on the audio equipment and works on getting the numerous dials to the perfect spot.

Patrick walks in at a fast clip with his guitar case and  pedal board filled with his guitar effects. It always takes him the longest to set up with his electric guitar and pedals. The speaker isn’t working right this morning, so he plays with his guitar and volume until he finds the exact spot where the speakers will work for him, not against him.

In walks a new guy with his battered acoustic guitar case. Justin exhibits a laid back demeanor as he introduces himself to the others and begins asking the multitudinous questions that it will take to get him set up and ready to play.

Meanwhile KJ enters the back of the sanctuary with his bass slung over his shoulder. He talks with people and laughs as he wakes up and gets ready to play.

Carlos starts calling for mic checks as Richard enters. He walks to the front and sets down his breakfast, coffee , power bar and drum sticks. He yawns as he walks out the door to hang up his coat.

Cassie and Emily walk in laughing as they walk to the front pew. Emily pulls out her violin as Cassie prepares the keyboard. They continue to laugh together as they prepare their instruments and wake up more.

As the mic checks continue, the chatter slowly starts a crescendo. The air begins to fill in with instruments warming up, a cacophony that will soon give way to order.

Carlos steps up to the main mic, his own acoustic guitar slung from his shoulder. The instruments noises quiet down with short burst of the final warm-ups. Caleb goes through the order of the songs and last minute chord changes. He bows his head, along with everyone else as he prays to God that He would get all the glory; that their worship would bring a smile to the Almighty’s face.

As they play the first song, the yawns lessen and the eyes open a little wider. The protein bar has been consumed and the coffees are empty. The recently showered heads of hair have now dried. The team is looking sharper and chords are called out and debated as the practice continues.

The sun still isn’t up as the singers quietly enter. They are still in yawning mode. Kim quietly distributes the coffee that she has brought in to share. Sarah comes in looking awake and ready to go.  They quietly pick up the mics and voices are added to the music. There is still 90 minutes until the service begins. When the congregation yawns in, the wide awake worship team has been soaking in praise for a couple of hours already.

Carlos finally declares them ready and everyone takes a break. They make last minute bathroom breaks and grab some water. When it is a little before nine, they are all on stage, ready to go.

Carlos begins with prayer and takes directs the focus of the congregation and puts it on God. The people join in with the worship team and the hours of prep brings the people into God’s presence quickly. Hands wave in the air and eyes fill with tears. A few people bow at the altar and some dance in the back.

The Holy Spirit seemingly flows out of the instruments and voices. There is no way to explain how this works. The glory and magesty of God become overwhelming to the hearts that are fixed on their Abba Father.

When the pastor takes the mic, he is ready to preach. This rides on the presence of God coming in like a flood during worship. He is strengthened and encouraged from the worship, and his message today will be strong and Biblically sound.

People will get saved today. Some will be healed or encouraged. All will receive Gods love. God isn’t just working through the worship team, but they certainly set the stage to get it all rolling.

These unsung worship heroes will be at church for a total of 7 hours. They will not have time to eat during until after the last service. They sit through two entire services. Some will fall asleep during the message from exhaustion and it will bring knowing smiles from the others on the team.

After the service, they quickly pack up their instruments and join in with the multitude of conversations taking place throughout the church. Ministry is still taking place as people discuss what God spoke to them during the service and others ask for prayer for difficulties they are going through. Even this is riding on the songs of the worship team.

They do not get paid for what they do. For many this is their day off. Some will leave and  go straight to work, some will go play with their kids and the rest will hit the couch for a well deserved nap. They have pleased God greatly and have impacted lives not only in the congregation where they ministered, but in the lives that the congregation goes out and touches as well. Who knows, as they minister to people who in turn minister to others who in turn minister to others, they will be reaching around the world. But this isn’t what they are thinking about as they quietly and humbly go on with their day.

 

Anniversary Take One

Congratulations! You have been putting up with my all over the place blog for a whole year! I wish WordPress would send you all the anniversary badge that they sent me, because you deserve it. Thank you for taking your time to read my blogs, to respond or reply, and to become my friends.

My first blog was  The Secret Things. Boy did I have a lot to learn. (And I still do. I am surprisingly not really considered a techy kind of girl).

I had so many ups  A Homeschooling High and downs Living Forty Decibels Up. (Like a roller coaster!) You encouraged me so much! I was way too emotional Another Day Lost, and sometimes just silly Sunbathing in the Throne Room.

My topics were certainly diverse. I talked about my walk with God Help! I’m at church!, homeschooling The “I Have to Teach What?” Meltdown, parenting Coming Out of the Parenting Hazes, writing Coffee Break; Cream, no Sugar, sexual abuse Flashback, publishing sexual abuse and publishing, philosophy Coffee and Meandering Life Philosophies, stories The Bull, the Apple Tree and Me and my new job with VIPkids A Fun New Job and This Time I Get Paid.

This year I also got serious about poetry, which is the biggest way I have worshiped God Look Up, worked through sra and ptsd There Is a Child, and my personal favorite  There is a Line.

You have shared so many aspects of my life, and I appreciate your great support. I also learned about so many of you and about your lives. Sometimes you have even been gracious to allow me to share your work on my site Guest Vision Sharer and one of my favorite blogs redheadmom8.wordpress.com written by Shelly.

I entitled my blog “God is Good” because it is the one thread throughout all of the different topics I have addressed. It shows that no matter what I go through in life, God is a part of it, and that He is good. Simplistic maybe, but deep always. I see that He is good in each of your lives as well  God Really is Good.

It will be interesting to see where this new  year will lead. Thank you, again. You have been great and I appreciate your continued friendship and support, likes and comments. You are as much of a part of this blog as I am :).

 

 

 

Philosophical Pneumonia

Nothing to do but philosophize

How best do you grab time that is slipping away? You write about it!

January is slipping by. The last few years we have, sadly, hit our medical deductible by January one year and February the year before. My very brave new years resolution was not needing a doctor at all in January.

So the resolution made on New Year’s Eve dawned the next day to a cold. I have had lung surgery and lung obstructions, so this was not good news, but I am doing better, so I soldiered through for a week. Then it got worse. I ended up in urgent care with bronchitis, super -duper antibiotic that always work, and nasty cough syrup. I went to the pharmacy, and $400 later went home. (Apparently you have to pay to breathe.) I did better quickly and at the week mark again got much worse. Back to urgent care. This time it was pneumonia with the doctor shaking his head. He had never seen the antibiotic not work. So then I was put on two antibiotics and even worse cough syrup. Then I was told to go to my regular dr during the week, which added steroids for breathing and another round of antibiotics when the others were finished.

I have been sick thee entire month of January, have paid hundreds of dr bills and prescriptions, and have missed enough church that I will have to visit the visitor’s VIP desk and get a free t-shirt.

After looking at my few options of redeeming the time, I realized that there really weren’t any. And this is when I started getting philosophical…

  1. Life is Like Pneumonia: Just when you start thinking everything is good, you let your guard down. Then life comes in like a flood. Never let your umbrella be far.
  2. No matter what anyone says, prescription prices are just a fancy way of taxing the people without an uproar. The people will pay whatever because they need to breathe to live.
  3. Doctors are not omniscient. My dr shook his head at the antibiotic not working and said, “Well, doctoring is called practicing…”. That didn’t make me feel any better.
  4. People who have never had pneumonia think of it as a bad cold. After walking up and down a flight of stairs, I was wheezing and gasping for air. I was asked why I was out of breath….????
  5. Just because you have lung issues does not mean you deserve a lecture on how to stop smoking. (If I had a million dollars for every time I have been given that lecture over the last five years.)
  6. If you can get energy out of Niagara Falls just by the water going down, you could harness energy out of pneumonic coughs.
  7. If children get stickers for shots, why don’t adults get expresso?
  8. No matter how much your children claim you love them, they are not willing to get within 10 feet of you just because you are sick. (Seriously, if they were going to catch it, it would have been by now.)
  9. Buy stock in Kleenex. Seriously, think about it!
  10. Pneumonia gives you more freedom as a writer. You are so miserable, you just don’t care if what you say hurts people’s feelings.

So there are some good truths and ideas to chew on. Do you have any?

Coffee Break

I love coffee breaks! The process of the warm cup in my hand, the steamy smell wafting to my nose, and the calming of all the muscles in my body as my mind stills happens every time. It’s like an old friend coming over for a chat, but it is only me and my cup. Today I am looking over my life, my blog on how God is Good and how it all works together in my tangled life.

I know that in the blogging world, people like blogs with one theme. I love that too, and when I am in the mood for homeschooling, or current events or someone sharing their life it is easy to go there. But then you hit my blog, and it’s everything I do, think, and understand that will greet you. You never know what you will get, but you will always know where I am in life and what is going on at the time.

I realize that blogging is putting my life on display and that anyone can access it. It is quite terrifying in many ways. But I always come back to my love for God and the need to share how wonderful he is for whomever will grace me with a glance at my blog.

I know that there are many topics on my blog that make many people uncomfortable. There are those who do not want to hear about God, homeschooling, my life,parenting, teaching, my poems, or sra and sexual abuse. But I do hope that the brave that soldier through my posts are seeing that I am just a woman who lives my life knowing that whatever I am going through, God is with me.

I continue to love homeschooling. My 9th grader and I are having an enjoyable study in the executive cabinet appointees and Trump’s innauguration. My teaching English to Chinese students over the internet for VIPkids is a joy and is going well. Parenting is challenging as always. Health-wise I have been fighting cold/bronchitis/pneumonia for the past several weeks and it is really annoying. SRA healing has been quite difficult lately, unfortunately, and I struggle with how long the healing process is.

In the midst of all of these areas of my life swimming around in my head, I come back to the rock of my life: God. He calms my storm of thoughts and I remember how much He loves me and that even if I feel as though I am going through the valley of the shadow of death in different areas of my life, He is with me. With Him, I will make it out and do well.

My cup is about empty and it is time to get back to work. Thank you for being supportive of my blog and of me. I greatly enjoy my WordPress time and I hope that God blesses you in what you are dealing with today.

So How Great Am I?

Let all that we do or think be a praise to God, not ourselves.

Okay, so maybe that question is a little bit over the top. How about this one:

How many trophies do I have?

Did you know I graduated with my master’s degree with honors?

Actually, I don’t think any of us have ever had those questions in our conversations. But it is possible that some of them slip into our own thinking. It could be thoughts about how smart or accomplished we are, or how smart and accomplished we’re not, or how we have the need to be successful at anything we do in work or even church.

God needs to be the one getting all the glory in our lives.

That we should be to the praise of his glory. Ephesians 1:12

What we do should be a praise to God. We are giving Him the glory, not ourselves. This is where the point lies: God should be the center of our focus in whatever we do or think. If we are thinking of ourselves, then we are off into pride, no matter how servant-like we are.

God loved King David just as much as a shepherd boy as he did when David was king. David’s life was a big praise to God. Let our own lives be that praise and may our thoughts reflect our love for Him throughout the day. More of Him, less of me. John 3:30

My 2016 Juggling Act

As I look at my 2017 clean slate and contemplate how to use it, I realize how easy it will be. I will keep God first, stay disciplined, take care of my family, work hard, and accomplish much.

2016 starts popping unbidden in my mind. I don’t want to go there, but my mind keeps whirring. Where 2017 has easy to follow directions, 2016 was anything but. There was always the desire and attempt to keep my days and priorities straight, but then it was time to get out of bed.

Reality always set in once my feet hit the floor. The were constant needs of family, pets and house. Groceries were always needed, meals to be planned, meals to be made with frantically looking for substitutions for ingredients I was sure I had. There was parenting issues and teaching. Bills had to be met with trying to stretch the income. There were sermons filled with challenges to change things that seriously needed to be changed in my life. Then there were constant medically challenges, losing days or weeks depending on what my body was doing.

You get my point. While 2017 looks straightforward, it will be anything but. Life pulls us into more directions than a compass rose. It wreaks havoc in our thoughtfully laid out plans, and then we easily abandon our resolutions. We’ll start the whole process again in 2018.

Life is happening in all the redirections we encounter. God has our steps set out for us. As we walk them this year, let’s embrace the craziness and trust God. 2017 will be a great year filled with juggling needs and changing directions. Enjoy every minute!