Wednesday, February 16, 2011

I Love You ... But, Don't Get Fat!

I had a conversation with my son that ignited this blog. Ignited is a really, really nice word to describe such the discussion. I suppose I was caught off guard with what he said because of all the time I have spent in teaching my children what is right and wrong and how to treat others, I assumed that they understood judging by what they convey to me and what they say to other people. I was even pleased with my younger son who received the compliment that he thinks far above his age. Good, they have it and no one can come and teach them any nonsense that would take them away from Kingdom Living.  Then my son goes ahead and says something like the title of this blog. Profanity was not my reaction; however, it might as well have been when the results were something like, "Why in God's name would you say something so stupid?"

Having never been a single numbered dress size when my age was no longer a single digit, I take certain subjects personally. I got over people deciding to give me diet advice or telling me that I looked so good way back when but did not have these wonderful words back then when I could have used them. I no longer feel the need to please others with what I look like knowing that no matter how hard I try to be a certain size or weight, there will always be someone who thinks I could lose a few more pounds or not to get too small so I won't look sickly. A person can just go nuts if he/she bases their overall happiness on what they should look like. Yet when these same people continue to speak thinking  they are doing more good then harm and then I have to hear it from my children who I know was taught well (based on the Word of God), now that's territory that can make the lioness come out in every mother and send out a roar that could put goose bumps on a goose. How dare you!

I have heard message after message not just from well known ministers but those who are not so well known just berate women with what they look like and where they need to tighten up. I suppose they got tired of hearing those talk shows bash men and the only way they felt to even things out is make it a forum on the pulpit. Again, I write, how dare you, knowing how speakers of God can influence people. Knowing that God gave the platform to feed His sheep and not a means to feed the flesh. Knowing that the tongue has been described as evil that no man can tame (James 3:8 KJV)... how dare you! How dare you manipulate young minds because your wife made you angry and said something she shouldn't have said. How dare you make it your place to get revenge on a group of people that creates half of the population because of something that has happened in your past. How dare you use the blessing of God for ill gotten gain.

Let's go over the statement in of itself. I love you is a phrase used to express the care one has for another. God in His awesomeness and almighty power is first and foremost described as being what we use to express that care. He is Love (1 John 4:8 KJV). When said for the first time, we have to stop to react. It took a lot to say it and for most of us it takes a lot to receive. It is a powerful statement and best to be used at the most appropriate times. It is also what Jesus tells the disciples that all of the Law and prophets can hang on the expression of loving God with all you have and your neighbor as you would yourself (Matthew 22:36-40 KJV). It is a phrase that means so much and should never be taken lightly or used casually. Yet the very next word after this wonderful phrase is the word, "but". It opposes everything that was said prior to using it. Therefore, I love you, was wasted and the command, "don't get fat," stood alone without comfort, support, or care. It is under the disguise of concern about the overall health of the individual. HA!

It is a blatant and blunt expression that the concern for the individual is threading on looks. It is a thread that isn't woven with anything else and therefore is extremely fragile. It can snap at the change of anything that threatens what someone sees. How does this have anything to do with faith?

Granted, I will agree that the health of an individual and the weight one carries is something to go before the Lord with, its just never, ever something that is a bargaining chip for a relationship, marriage, or to obtain some superficial desire. If a person carries extra pounds when a friendship begins, there has to be something that was attractive in order for that friendship to exist at all. Why then does it become a means to control and make the person feel insecure? Should the person needing to lose a few extra pounds then retaliate and speak on those issues of you not having parents when growing up or those fears of catching some unknown disease by which there is no cure? Weight is an issue everyone can see but what about those wounds that no one sees unless shared with others. Consider your ways.

I suppose such a statement which entitles this blog is said because of seeing someone else after so many years. For instance, at a family reunion or just happen to see a person from high school after 20 or so years. I have seen such people and yes they are different looking. Whether it is weight, hair loss, from puny to muscle bound or from rags to riches. People change over a given period of time. Some people look the same as they did in high school but their perspective and outlook on life is vastly different then when they were a child. With all of this change, what does the viewer see when looking at you? Will you work diligently in maintaining the outward appearance while the inner man is completely neglected? Do you have the stature of a king and the heart of a coward?

I recall a man having a contract with his new wife for her to look the same as she did when they first got married. Oddly enough, she agreed to it. In the agreement they were to both check the other when they saw extra pounds on the other person. How long did this agreement last when he was predisposed to weight because of his family gene pool and for his love of sweet treats? How long would she care when she had three of his children and had to lose the weight after each pregnancy? Would this agreement begin many quarrels? Would it end the insecurity of never being able to look as they both did in their 20's? I failed to mention that they are both in ministry. With this agreement of sight walking, would it impede the information God has for them to speak to His people?

What does that statement mean? There is a condition to the love given. If you love me, I mean truly love me, then it doesn't matter how I look. Because of the unconditionally love, he/she will care for him/herself. It is an automatic because of the cyclical motion of who God is and how He is invited in the relationship first an foremost. He, and apparently only He, is unconditional.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Yeah, But What If...?

I find it amazing that we as Christians haven't quite figured out what it is we have in Him. Its almost aggravating that we cannot see why God does what He does in our lives and all we have to do is acknowledge Him to get what He has promised us. He is good. So why would He give children something they don't deserve? He has already given us His only begotten Son and look... look how we treat that gift. Do you really think you should expect more? To much is given much is required!!!

I was watching Kenneth Copeland and Keith Moore this week on the Believers Voice of Victory Broadcast (Friday, February 11, 2011). The topic they were having so much fun discussing is the richness of God and how so many of us are still wondering, how come I don't have or why is he blessed more then me or when is it going to be my turn? Keith Moore explained how people get into a rut because they refuse to yield their will over to God and because of this their vision is as if there is this veil covering the blessing that is right in front of their faces.

We have all been there, on our knees travailing as to why we are going through what ever it is that seems to pain us even knowing that someone else's pain is worse, it doesn't completely take away what it is we would like to happen in our lives right now. Personally, I am notorious to be a multi-tasker. I like to keep busy doing something. To just sit still and do nothing but sit would be a pain far worse then.... well, I just won't go there. The point is, God had me to enter into His rest, which was good but I still needed to do something while there (Hebrews 4:10 KJV). I needed to be still and I just couldn't. I didn't even realize that this need to be overly productive was also seeping into the day of rest - the Sabbath. When was I going to have one? If I wasn't going to school, working, managing a house, and taking care of my family, I was in church services, or volunteering my time elsewhere. I truly believed that helping in ministry was taking a rest during the Sabbath time. No one in the ministry was telling me any different. They were glad someone was there to do the tasks at hand. It seemed to be, at the time, the hardest thing for me to do, just to sit down and be still. Aarraaagggh! Even when I saw that there was a need that no one was going to step up to do - I just knew I could do it because God gave me the ability. He gave me the skills. So it must be Him speaking to me to do this thing.... so who was telling me to be still? I wasn't confused. I was being tempted and had to sit still to clearly hear the right voice. In that time of stillness, God showed me two women that were fabulous multi-taskers as well. Each had their own stories of hard times and what they did to get out of them. Each profess Jesus as Lord. Each had a stroke and is working diligently to regain their health. God is good.

The whiners waiting for God to give them that million out of the sky and repeating day in and day out, "money cometh to me... now," why do you suppose it hasn't got here as of late? God will not do for a child who refuses to be obedient. Creflo Dollar, a well known pastor of World Changers International Ministries, had explained something in the beginning of his ministry. He confessed daily that he was going to be a millionaire. He more than likely used scripture knowing the Word would not return to God void and therefore knew that it would eventually happen. After so many years, he asked God why it hadn't happened for him yet. God answered him by stating if he knew how much money he has made in that year. Pastor Dollar answered that he didn't. There was quiet which was indicative for him to go and find out. When he went over his records with an accountant, he learned he had made exactly what he asked for months ago, but because of his passion for what God led him to do, he didn't see it. How different of a pastor would he have been had he received all of the money in one lump sum? Would he have heard God as clearly as he does now? God is good.

It is just ridiculous how people try to blame God for stuff that they won't take responsibility for. I find specific things so fascinating that is in the Word and some things that I have to wait for God to reveal them to me. This one fact should preach all on its own because it is so good and I am hoping that I can write it in such a way that it would be clear to those who really can see.

There are people who love science and what answers they receive from the experiments, observations and hypothesis created from it. When coupled with scriptures, it is undeniable what God tells us to do and not to do. Oddly, though, when believers have the facts, their refusal to let go of what they have enjoyed for so many years is baffling to me yet it explains why one gets in the state that one gets into. I am referring to what we eat. It is clearly defined in the Old Testament and then when Peter has a dream, God reveals to him that he can eat those things that he refused to eat before. Peter answers, I will not defile my body. That is the end of it. Peter isn't punished for rejecting God's suggestion and his answer seems as if it is well received in scripture. However, believers have misinterpreted that verse as meaning that they can eat whatever and has God's permission to do so. Why would they not question Peter's reply? Because they like what they are doing and are not willing to give it up. Fine. Let's take a look at the science of the matter. There are certain animals that are scavengers. They clean up whatever is left behind. They are the natural garbage collectors. That which God created is good and is necessary for them to have these tasks on earth or the earth would be overrun with waste, decomposing carcases, and rotting food. These animals have certain enzymes in their bodies that can break down the things listed and are desirable for them to eat. For humans to eat these animals that have been listed for us not to eat and Peter said would defile his body, would mean for us to consume those enzymes that are not in our bodies. Those enzymes that break down matter we are not eating. What would those enzymes that we don't normally have be doing then? Could they form together and cause sickness and disease in our bodies so that they can have something to breakdown? Would that sound like what cancer does? So I ask how important is it for us to eat those thing listed in scripture? Can we yield this matter over to the Lord so we can be as blessed as He intended? It is ridiculous to holler that you really need that shrimp or one more taste of turtle soup when there are so many other things for us to eat. God is good.

I have to end this post knowing that there are other things that is keeping us from God's best. I have been writing about them all along. Just go through the other blogs. I would just like to close with a verse that is continuously over looked and has really made sense of so many things in my life. I have had a dickens of a time finding this verse (in the past), but once listed here, hold onto it and never let it go. It will assist you when you have major decisions to make. Ready? That which is permissible is not always profitable (1 Corinthians 6:12 MSG). Go through this post again with that scripture in mind and you will see why it had to be written. God is good. 

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Children Are A Blessing

When I delivered my fist child, they were twins. I was so scared at the outcome. That is, the time that comes when it is announced that I can go home. Home, where the dishes aren't automatically washed. Home, where no one comes to check your vital signs. Home, where no one sees if you are nursing your child correctly. Home, where its just you and those two babies that depend totally on you. Where are the skills going to come from? Who is going to make sure I am doing them right? Oh, and the all important question, when will I be able to sleep again?

With all of this going through my mind and so much more, I was there in the wheel chair with both sleeping bundles of joy in each arm. The nurses came to say goodbye and I looked at one in particular who shared with me earlier that she had twins as well. I looked directly in her eyes trying to tell her something without saying it. She looked at me as well sensing the communication. "What," she said all concerned as if something was so horribly wrong. She bent down so her ear would be close to me as I whispered, "please...please, come home with me."

Eventually that feeling of not being able to be the best Mom I could went away and the survival and thrive mode kicked in. I had many battles that I learned to choose rather then fighting them all. From my husband claiming not getting enough attention to how we don't have to use cloth diapers anymore. Plenty of those battles I had to just be quiet to reserve my energy and it was Wisdom so the house could return to some sort of manageability.

Three deliveries and a divorce later, the battles still came and were so different then anything I knew my mother ever had to deal with. I recalled what she did to resolve many things that happened outside of the home with men calling on her and what she needed to do to keep them away from her, her one and only son, and three daughters. It got so bad that she had to wear a silver wig peppered with black strands of hair when she had no silver in her natural hair color. She wore no make up and her fashion sense bordered on Aunt Bee and the small town librarian. I didn't know what she was doing as a child, later when she explained it to me, I figured it was too extreme - sensible shoes? Yeesh! Yet we were protected and never had to conform to a new uncle every month.

After my divorce, I had some men interested as well, but because I kept my focus within the confines of the church, men had to come to me in a completely different angle. It was so cool. If their intentions were less then noble, it was difficult to make the wolf's skin look like lamb's wool. Their mystery became obvious and so comical. It was fun and I thanked God that I didn't have to make those uncomfortable changes to get the same results. Still, I had four sons and a daughter that needed guidance and a good male influence. It scared me at the thought of each day they would grow and learn something new that I didn't teach them. There was this one young man, I recall that worked at the day care I registered my children to for after school while I attended classes. He was so interested in my children's well being and got involved in what their interests. He happened to be an artist and both of the twins liked to draw. When we met, I was trying to get there on time, after leaving my class, going to pick up my mother, get home to make dinner, get them in bed and go to night school. I saw that he wanted me to take time to talk to him, but I just didn't have those precious minutes to spare. He quickly jotted down his number and asked me to call him while I was zipping the coat of one of my children. I was flattered and flustered at the same time. I couldn't even enjoy that I was being pursued. I got in the mini van after belting everyone in and took the phone number out of my pocket. I looked at it for a moment and put it in the cup holder explaining to my mother what happened. I smiled while driving to my next destination. When I got back in the van to go to night class, I looked at the cup holder for the phone number. It was gone. I never thought about my mother taking it until now. I never called him - obviously, and I never saw him at the day care center again. Later, I thought about the missed opportunity of my children having that good influence but it was only for a few seconds. I had mid-terms that week.

Each day still came while the children grew and became more aware of things I would have rather kept from them. Public schools have their own agendas though they carry the slogan that the parents are in partnership with them. I would have never allowed my son to view a rated PG-13 movie at the age of 8; however, the public school system thought otherwise at an unscheduled assembly. I never knew that my son saw the movie until weeks after when he mentioned it in passing. I could get angry but that wouldn't take the information that was soaked into his mind. Frustrated with another fight lost, I made the decision long ago to get along with their father because he was the only male influence they were going to have. When he suggested that he be the primary care giver to them, I thought it was the best solution. He would have them attend church regularly and he desired for them to do well too or so I believed. Eventually, again, I had another battle to get them back.

I graduated from college and got my career off the ground. I was able to purchase my own car and take all of my children to where ever they wished every weekend. I was exhausted most weekends but figured it was all well worth it in the end. There would be some wonderful memories of seeing the stories I read to them come to life on the big screen, the go cart races, the amusement parks, and the arcade. I spent so much money but never missed a dime because they had fun.

While in one of the many church services, I recall  the pastor's wife reading Proverbs 31. I smiled at her references to her own life as she read each stanza. After about the 15th verse, I began to look at my own life and how far I have come and where I could be in just a few years. Towards the end of the passage I read (as well as heard) how eventually, if you maintain in the same path, your children will call you blessed (Proverbs 31:28 KJV). Yes, its like every mother's secret dream for her children to really be able to see what their mother has done for them and how God has blessed her for the sacrifices she made. Yes, it will all be well worth it - they will see.

Having that little thread of hope was all it took for bits and pieces to be chipped at my faith. My daughter got pregnant at 19. I cried but maintained strong while I supported her in raising her child - my grandchild! One of the twins decided to disregard the many warnings to keep his insurance up to date so the police suspended his license. That not being a warning enough, he continued to drive and got his car confiscated. If that wasn't the tip of the iceberg, another son decides that he found "the one". I figured this would be a piece of cake having taught them all of how men and women try to manipulate to get what they want. I am a  counselor. I was reading and intending to go back to school for family and marriage therapy. I write a blog on the subject matter. If nothing else, I will be able to get through to my son on this - most definitely!

Five days ago, one of the twins came home while on the phone with his sister. She was telling him that after church services, there was a small event that took place. He told me what she said to him just as plain with no buffer like sit down Mom I have something to tell you. No, it was more like I stopped off at the store to get a carton of milk tone. No pause for dramatic effect, no stopping to hear from God as to the best way to give such news, just thoughtless as the event itself. "They are married," he said, "after church services, the pastor married them."

Shocked was not the word I would use. I got up and walked past the school picture of my son wearing that overly sized check jacket my mother bought him. He had fallen weeks prior and chipped bi-laterally his front tooth. I walked past the picture of him in Junior High School sitting in front of a brick wall that was spray painted "the class of 2002." I remembered he had the principal call me instead of his father because of some mess he got into when he knew his father would have done a lot more then I did. I walked right by the latest picture right above the television stand of him graduating from boot camp where he cried on my shoulder prior to him leaving and whispered in my ear a request of what I told him I would do and continue to do so. I walked past all of those memories and went in my room to be alone to decide if this was one of those battles to choose to fight or one of those things that will just go away.

In those 5 days I spoke or text all but one of my children. I was intrigued with how they were dealing with this life altering decision of their brother. I was absolutely fascinated with how they eventually came to blame me. I was blamed for getting married to their father, blamed for divorcing their father, blamed for giving up the marital home, blamed for not taking their father to the pastor for the seventeenth thousandth time, blamed for them being punished when they clearly did wrong, blamed for keeping them out of harm's way when they should have been allowed to learn the lesson for themselves, blamed for my son not getting enough quality time with me, and blamed for not being more positive about bad decisions, and on and on. It was one of the craziest weeks of my life. Every time, I tried to speak, there was another weird thing one of them said. It made no sense of their reaction until now. They must have been in shock as well.

However, before this realization, I had to decipher what was said. Once upon a time, I would have second guessed every single lesson I tried to get them to realize. Once upon a time, I would have thought of my past cases and wondered if I was effective with any of the advice I gave. Once upon a time, I would have believed them if two or more agreed on the same topic. The problem with those once upon a times is it is the beginning to fairy tales and once you have put away childish things and know that we wrestle not against flesh and blood, lunacy statements trickle like water off a duck's back. The truth of the matter is, no matter how much a mother prays, teaches, reiterates, punishes,or lectures, the child will still have to make those decisions as to trust in God, the emotions, or whatever influences him to do what he does. If it is good then the outcome will be good. Only with God can anything be good.

I suppose I could become discouraged believing that my children will never call me blessed. I am not driving that luxury car I desire nor am I making the income I would like. If they needed financial support past a certain amount, they know I am not the one to ask. None of that was my plan back then when I made the decision to go back to school to get my degree, yet it is where I am now. I recall telling my children on one of those many days when their continual actions and reactions were pleasing to me, that I like their personalities and if I wasn't their mother, I would be friends with each and every one of them. I don't know if hearing that blessed them or freaked them out - which actually could explain a lot. Nevertheless, it did my heart good when I said it. How true that same statement  is now after the garbage that was loaded at my feet in the last 5 days - idk.