Saturday, November 03, 2012

Thoughts from a book...

Post by: Imperfect

Tonight I finished reading a book from the young adult section of the library. The story centers around a seventeen year old girl that was driving when her parents were killed in a car accident. The girl turns to cutting to deal with the pain. At this point a seventeen year old boy enters the picture and eventually he ends up “saving” her from this destructive lifestyle.

I am sure that at least one person is wondering why I would even pick up a book like that to read and the answer, to me, is simple…it was available and I was bored. But as I was reading that began to change. I am blessed to be able to be a full-time mom and I am blessed to be able to work part-time with women that relate well to the character in the book. And even though the book was fiction it gave me insight into why some of these women do what they do.

I was struck with thinking,as I put the book away, that what I just read was the fact that this guy came in and “saved” this girl. He did this by sticking with her and being there for her; not by just telling her the nice things but by saying “I don’t know” and by being real. And I thought wouldn’t it be nice if there was always someone right around the corner that comes along and does those things for us. But I know, from experience, that isn’t always the case. If it were I wouldn’t have a job! Often women, and men, are dealing with incredible pain in the only way they know how…cutting, drinking, over-eating, not eating, excessive shopping. All the while waiting for someone to come and “save” them. 

Here is what struck me as being so profound: We already have someone who has come and saved us! Jesus Christ! He came, he gave up everything and CHOSE to die on a cross for us. And he isn’t even waiting around the corner for us to “bump” into…he’s right there with his arms outstretched. I’m not saying that if you are dealing with some of those very serious issues that all you have to do is accept Jesus and all will be rosy. What I am saying is He is there for you and He has already saved you. You still might need to find some outside help and Jesus CAN lead you in the right direction!!!


Wednesday, September 05, 2012


By Persistent

Mood swings--up and down. Super excited and then extreme anger. Stomping around the house. Screaming, "I hate you!" Arguing, arguing, arguing and not letting ANYTHING go. Then sweetness...helping around the house, telling me what a great mom I am, hugs and laughter. Sounds like a hormonal teenager doesn't it? Nope, it's my 5-year-old. I didn't think I'd have to deal with this stuff for at least another 7-8 years.

How is it that you can love someone so much it hurts and yet at the same time feel like if you don't get at least a 3 day break from them you're going to lose it?

How is it that the beautiful little cherub you gave birth to (or chose for your own) now seems to be possessed by the devil?

How is it that within a 5 minute span she can go from being possessed by the devil to being the sweetest little angel this side of heaven?

Ok, maybe I'm exaggerating a little. I know she's not possessed--at least not by the devil. I would say the flesh has a pretty strong hold on her though, just as it does with most of us. My husband says it's payback for what I put my parents through. I admit I was moody--my mom wrote it in my baby book at the age of 3. I just don't remember it being this extreme. Since I do remember dealing with anger a lot though, I try to give her some space when she is heading down that road. However, it is getting to the point where there is disrespect that just can't be tolerated. So recently while staying at my in-law's house, I noticed on the bookshelf in our bedroom that they had a title that seemed to beckon to me and offer some hope. I asked if I could borrow it and at the same time questioned my husband why his parents had this book, maybe our 5-year-old's behavior is payback for what he put his parents through?

Dr. Dobson's The Strong-Willed Child has been the reading material of choice in my spare time for the past couple of weeks. If you look at the cover it may seem out-dated, I mean Dr. Dobson's hair still has color to it in his picture and Ryan and Danae are still kids as he shares examples from his own household. It was printed in the early 80's and yet I'm fascinated by the analysis he gives of other child psychologists' conclusions on discipline. Even back then, a lot of it was just a bunch of baloney.

Parents tend to swing one of two ways when it comes to their discipline style; they're either strict and have no flexibility to let their kids be kids or their homes are a free-for-all where the kids are allowed to decide everything and as a result run the household by their every whim. I like to pride myself on being somewhere in the middle. I spent years in school studying early childhood and experiencing it as I taught pre-school and helped run a daycare and a Boys & Girls Club. I like to think that I have an edge on discipline that maybe other parents don't have. Angel-face likes to remind me that just isn't so. Everything I learned in class can go right out the window in the face of a melt-down. It's hard to not give in to my own temper and I find myself using the threat of a spanking to mold her will to mine at every turn.

I have friends who don't see any logic in using a spanking to teach a child, for example, that it's wrong to smack their little sister. I can definitely see where their argument comes from. After studying young children though, I also know that they don't have the cognitive skills to reason with them and logic isn't a tool that works well with a pre-schooler. They can only fully understand what they can experience. That's why I do see logic in spanking when the child has already been told not to hit their sibling. If they get a swat to the behind you are now able to say, "That didn't feel good, did it? It doesn't feel good to sister either when you are smacking her." While there is the big debate on spanking raging on out there, I don't mind saying that I believe it has its place if used correctly. The problem is being sure to use it correctly. That is what I have appreciated most from Dr. Dobson. He agrees and he gives guidelines for how to use it correctly.

· There needs to first of all be a balance in the child's environment, "wherein discipline is evident when necessary, but where it is matched by patience and respect and affection." (i.e. "molding the will" vs. "protecting the spirit") [pg 74]

· The purpose of spanking is to inhibit harmful behavior, "rather than a wrathful attempt by one person to damage another."

· Define the limits for your child properly--make sure the boundaries are too obvious to be missed before they are to be enforced [pg 71]

· "It's impossible to discipline properly until the parent is able to interpret the child's intent. Corporal punishment should occur only in response to deliberate disobedience or defiance," not for childish irresponsibility. [pg 71]

· Respond decisively and confidently in the face of willful disobedience [pg 31]

· After exercising your right to lead your child, spend time to teach and reassure them and even spend time in prayer with them. In other words, make sure they understand why they were disciplined, remind them of what is expected and then love on them. [pg. 33]

· Avoid impossible demands--is what you're asking of your child age-appropriate or even physically possible for them? [pg. 33]

· Spanking should not be used before 15 months and should be mild and infrequent at this age.

· Spankings should be administered with a neutral object, rarely with the hand. The hand should be used for love not punishment. Also, if a neutral object is used, the child never needs to fear that they will suddenly be punished. [pg 46]

· Spank immediately after the offense or not at all. Young children do not have a long memory and it is not fair to administer punishment when they no longer remember what the offense was. [pg 47]

· Yes, a spanking should hurt or "else it will have no influence." It is not necessary to lash or whip though. There is a definite difference between a properly administered spanking and child abuse. [pg 47]

So at my house I'm going to be working on myself as well as Angel-face. I know that there are times I have disciplined incorrectly. There have been times I gave punishment when there should have been mercy and there are times I am lackadaisical when I should be on top of it. I know that I need to stop threatening a spanking every 3 minutes, especially if I'm not going to follow through on it. And I do need to follow through on maintaining the boundaries. It's not making life easier for her or me to enforce the rules today and then let it slide tomorrow. Parenting is hard and requires a LOT of time, resources and energy. It will be worth it though when our children "arise and call us blessed." (Proverbs 31:28)

A couple of other great scriptures to remember are Ephesians 6:1 & 4 "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right...Fathers, do not exasperate your children..." and Colossians 3:20-21 "Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged." There's that balance Dr. Dobson starts out talking about, discipline AND love!

Now it's dad's turn to read the book.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Loving Jesus

I ran across this poem today and thought it was worth sharing. What a good reminder!

Loving Jesus

I started my day early,
Before the room was light.
I lifted my son from his crib
And wished it was still night.
But as I held him close and said,
"Hi, Kenneth, precious one,"
I knew that as I greeted him,
I greeted too God's Son.

When my daughter woke up later,
Calling, "Mommy!  Mommy!  Down!"
I picked her up and hugged her
In her worn Elmo nightgown.
I know she felt the closeness
That a mother's touch affords.
I welcomed not just Ellie,
But so, too, the Lord of Lords.

That day, I mixed some formula
And opened jars of peas.
I fixed some "pizza butter" bread
When she grinned and said, "Pleeeeease."
I heated up some leftovers;
I had to nuke them twice.
And when I fed my children,
I was feeding Jesus Christ.

I made some funny faces,
And "played puzzles" on the floor.
I dressed kitties, ran around outside,
And played with them some more.
We laughed and jumped and tickled,
Making memories to be stored.
When I spent time with my children,
I spent time with my Lord.

I wiped up sticky cereal
And washed the dishes clean.
I straightened, picked up, put away,
And dusted in between.
I did six loads of laundry
And folded it like new.
When I cleaned for my children,
I cleaned for my Savior, too.

When my children were both crying,
I held them in my arms.
I cuddled them and whispered
That I'd keep them safe from harm.
I told them how their Father saved them
With His perfect Lamb.
When I comforted my children,
I comforted I AM.

Later on that evening,
I put them in the bath.
I washed their little bodies
As they kicked around and splashed.
I dried them in soft towels
And put their jammies on.
When I had washed my children's feet,
I'd washed the Holy One.

I cooked and cleaned and rearranged,
Made beds and taught and played.
I made sure that we had food to eat
And that we often prayed.
I died to self.  I made a home
From ordinary things.
But when I served my children,
I served the King of Kings.

To some, I have done nothing,
But to two, I've done the world.
I made eternal difference
To my precious boy and girl,
And to the One who watches over
Every pathway that I've trod.
For when I've loved my precious children,
I've loved Almighty God.

 - Megan Breedlove (

Monday, July 02, 2012


By Persistent

I'm afraid I'm guilty...guilty for seeing a controversial article posted on a friend's Facebook status and commenting.  Most of the time I will see something someone has shared and I will check it out but rarely comment on it.  That is until it is a controversial topic as related to the Church and/or scripture.  Then I take the bait and have to put my rambling two-cents worth in.  Which usually ends up in a no-win debate.  The debater in me loves the volleying back and forth of intellectual ideas but it's not healthy for the part of me that doesn't deal well with frustration. 

What had me so frustrated this time around?  What I thought to be a well-defined position by the Church as a whole is now being questioned by individual Christians who I never thought would question such a thing.  Which now has me questioning them, myself and the Church's position.  So what was the topic that has me flustered now for over a week?  "I'm an evangelical Christian and support same-sex marriage" is what I read and just had to respond to. 

It reminds me of the time I was in college and my Sunday School teacher (not in the Nazarene church) shared that he and his wife were pro-choice in the debate on abortion.  WHAT?!   How do the two go together?

That was my thought this time around.  How can someone who believes in and has a relationship with God and knows his Word support something that goes directly against it all? 

To quickly sum up the whole of my fb friend's stance as I understand it--we cannot legislate people into a relationship with Christ.  When we bully others into behaving in a way that they don't believe in we are failing to show the radical love of Christ.  If we can love and accept them the way they are, that is how we win them to Christ.  Jesus never spent his time trying to get his way made into the law of the land.

Even now there are so many thoughts swirling in my head I can barely organize them to get them down but I guess the first thing that comes to mind is that the enemy's best deception has a grain of truth to it.

Of course my friend is right--law has NEVER made anyone right with God.  We ARE called to love and accept people as they are because that's what Jesus did.  The radical love of Jesus IS what draws people into relationship with him.  So where do we split in our beliefs?  I believe that scripture clearly speaks against homosexuality and while we are to love the people we cannot overlook, condone nor support something that goes against God's Word.  Is this going to offend some people?  Of course.  Jesus was always offending someone when he spoke the truth.  Even though he spoke the truth in love.  It's hard for me to take, hearing from God that I'm in the wrong.  It's humbling.  But I know it's the discipline of a loving parent.  I think that as Americans we have the right to voice our opinions and as Christians we are obligated to stand up for our faith.  I think it does matter to God what the moral fiber of our nation is and what we are living amongst.

Over the week as I kept reading scripture, praying about this, stewing on it and talking out my thoughts with my husband I found myself being pulled into the argument my friend was making (intellectually it made sense--I just couldn't agree spiritually).  Then I came across a blog my husband had found,  "Ask A ..." Series.  I clicked on it and found a very intriguing discussion she entitled, "Ask A Gay Christian" (which my fb friend also found and posted).   Prompted by questions from readers, gay Christian, Justin Lee, eloquently and graciously explains how he found himself in a position of being an on-fire Christian and battling homosexual feelings.  Wow.  You should take the time to read it.  I really liked Justin just by hearing his responses.  I appreciate the way he honestly shared his story.  I empathized with him for what he's gone through.  And I was amazed that he understands the position that most Christians take, that homosexual relationships are wrong.  He does end up saying that after much studying of scripture he came to a different conclusion in his interpretation than most of us have.  He believes that where there are negative verses in regards to homosexuality it is in response to very specific situations where lust was the focus.  He believes that a loving, monogamous homosexual relationship is not what Paul or others are referring to and that is how he has reconciled his Christianity with his homosexual feelings. 

Do I agree with his conclusion?  No, but I'm sure by now that's not a surprise to you.  He did however bring up some really great points that I don't think we can ignore.  One I wanted to point out... he didn't choose to start having these thoughts, feelings and temptations.  I can believe that.  We all struggle with thoughts, feelings and temptations that we didn't ask for.  Even as a young child I've dealt with my temper and once in a while it is still an issue I have to die to self on.  Some of us are tempted to overeat, some have feelings of bitterness and some have had thoughts of someone other than their spouse.  Does this mean they've done anything wrong?  Should the Church judge them and turn them away for these thoughts, feelings and temptations?  No!  Even Jesus was tempted.  To be tempted isn't a sin.  Unfortunately, many people who deal with homosexual thoughts, feelings and temptations have found themselves being judged and turned out by their churches.  Shame on us for that!  That's not showing the radical love of Christ.  At a time when they most need us and we have the most chance of influencing them, we shun them.  Is it any wonder that many turn away from God at this point?  When asked why he hadn't, Justin simply and beautifully said, "Jesus."  

When someone comes to us and shares their struggles with homosexual thoughts or even actions (which most in the church do consider to be a sin) what is our response?  Aren't these the people we are supposed to be trying to get into our churches? If Jesus was walking the earth today, aren't these the people he would be hanging out with?  How do we help them?  I'm afraid that the cause of so much hurt between the gay commmunity and the Church is because most of us Christians don't know the answer to that.  We don't know what to say, much less what to do.  I don't have the answers to that either, except to say that we shouldn't begin lecturing, judging and freaking out on them.  I think we first and foremost need to listen to them.  Really hear them and where they're at.  Secondly, I think we need to stop and pray with them.  Pray that God would give us the wisdom in knowing what to do and that he would guide us in the journey we are about to take with this person.  And then if we aren't trained to deal with this, we need to seek out those who are.  And I don't mean drop the person off at the pastor's door and let him deal with it.  If the person trusted you enough to talk to you, then I think that it's our obligation to walk with them, disciple them.  If that means going to the pastor together and working through this with them then that's what we need to do.  Being a discipler is messy; it means getting involved in someone else's life even if it's not convenient.  And we need to love them.  Be a friend to them.  The time will come when, because the Church does believe homosexual actions are sin, that the person is going to have to decide what they're going to do in response to God's Word. 

For many, the decision they make will come down to what they believe scripture says about it.  Does it speak against all homosexual relationships or just lustful orgies?  I know what I believe it says, but that's not really what I want to focus on now--it just leads to more of those frustrating debates.  I am curious though, as a response from those of you reading this, have you had to deal with this in some way?  What did you do?  How did it turn out?  Do you believe that the Church, while well-intentioned, has made some mistakes in how it handles people dealing with homosexuality?  Do we have different standards when dealing with that sin vs. other sins?  How can we reach out and make a difference now?  Do you believe as my fb friend does that love is all we need?  Or do you find flaws in that like I do?  Is there a way to be Love and still stand firm in what we believe to be right and wrong? 

I'm afraid I'm guilty...guilty of not having all the answers but wanting to truly and humbly seek God and hear his heart on this matter.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Answer Should Be Obvious

By Persistent

I've been reading Mark & Grace Driscoll's book Real Marriage: The Truth About Sex, Friendship, & Life Together.  I've only read Part 1 Marriage so far and I'm struggling with it already.  It's a good book--I'm not saying that.  I guess where I'm struggling is with the conviction it brings.  My flesh just wants to throw the book out and forget I've even started it.  And then this morning I read "Imperfect's" post about Jesus' question, "Do you want to get well?"  Grrrr! 

My first conviction comes from the type of wife I am.  The scriptures about a quarrelsome wife...
Better to dwell in a corner of a housetop,
     Than in a house shared with a contentious woman. -Proverbs 21:9
A continual dripping on a very rainy day
     And a contentious woman are alike.  -Proverbs 27:15
That can be me.  Sometimes it's a wonder my husband is still living inside.  Ever had those days when you can't even stand to listen to yourself?  And you hear the Holy Spirit giving warnings?  But your fleshly side seems just too powerful and it actually feels good to give in to it?

Do I want to get well?

My second conviction comes from specifics in how I am "contentious".  I fail to follow Paul's admonition,
Let the wife see that she respects her husband. -Ephesians 5:33
I respect him in his profession, I respect him as a father but I often don't respect him as a husband and submit to his authority.  By submitting I mean deferring to his leadership of our family.  When I disagree with one of his decisions I often argue my side until he defers to me.

Do I want to get well?

My third conviction is in regards to  Taking Out the Trash, as Chapter 5 is entitled.  The Driscolls reference Dr. John Gottman who has studied many married couples over the years and has concluded there are 4 things that are sure to result in marital death if not taken care of.  They include criticism--more than a complaint, it is "attacking one's character"; contempt-"showing disgust for your spouse"; defensiveness- "the guilty person refuses to apologize or back down"; and stonewalling- failure to work towards oneness or ignoring the other person and/or problem.  I've been guilty of all 4 at one time or another and the big problem comes down to repentance.  They state that repentance includes confession, contrition and change.  Contrition is feeling the sorrow over your sin that God does.  When I think about it, I know I've sinned and I feel bad for hurting my spouse but do I really feel the sorrow over my sin that God does?  I am coming to the conclusion that, if I'm honest with myself and God, I don't really believe my sin is all that bad. 

Do I want to get well?

And finally, the biggest conviction is my pride.  I know I'm guilty of all of the above and I am even praying that God gives me the sorrow over my sin that he feels so that I can change.  But when it comes to confessing all of this to the one person I should be confessing it too--my husband, I haven't found it in me to do yet.  (Would it count if I just left this post up on the computer and let him happen to come across it?)  My pride won't let me humble myself before him.

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.  James 5:16
Do I want to get well?

Why is that such a hard question when the answer should be obvious?  Maybe because it requires something of me?  Maybe because I'm comfortable where I'm at?  Maybe because I would have to die to myself? Lord, help me!

Help me to answer with a Yes!  Not just grudgingly because it's what I should do as a Christian but resoundingly, Yes!  Yes, I want to get well!  Yes, I want to have a healthy marriage!  Yes, I want to be a model that I would be proud for my children to imitate!  Yes, Yes, a thousand times, Yes!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

"Do you want to get well?"

Post by: Imperfect

I have been reading in John 5:1-18. This is the story of Jesus healing the invalid man at the pool of Bethesda. What I normally do when I read a passage of scripture is read it over and over and over and over and over and OVER again. I do this because I am OCD…just kidding…I do this so I can be completely immersed in a passage and it helps me get a “feel” for what is going on.

Anyway, I was struck with the question Jesus asks the invalid in verse 6…”Do you want to get well?” (NIV). Does this question seem a little off to anyone else??? See in my brain I’m like, why even ask the question…seems kind of stupid (don’t say stupid, it’s not a nice word!)…of course he wants to get well he has been an invalid for THIRTY-EIGHT years!! But then I remind myself that this is Jesus and when Jesus asks a question I should probably pay attention.

So I start looking at the man’s response. He doesn’t scream “YES”, actually he doesn’t even say “YES”, he just gives an excuse of why he hasn’t been able to get well yet. “See I can’t get down to the water after it’s stirred because I don’t have anyone to help me, you see.” (Imperfect translation). So then I wonder why he is not saying “yes” over and over. Why the excuse and not the answer.

And then my thoughts stray to life, life as I know it right now. There are areas that I am dealing with right now that I feel like Jesus is asking me, “Do you want to get well?” And instead of answering “Yes” I just give Him excuses as to why I can’t. And then there are also areas where I don’t give Him any excuses and I still don’t feel well. Things just haven’t changed, patterns, habits, guilt, excuses…they are all still there. And then I start to look around and think about the lives of some of the people I know and some of these people have been beaten down by the worst of the world and I wonder “How are they going to be well?” “How is Jesus going to work?” These are things I don’t have the answers to and honestly I probably won’t EVER! But I do have a hope and a faith that Jesus can see what’s going on and He does care! God desires for us to be well, to be whole or He would have never sent His one and only Son to die for our sins so we could have a way to Him (John 3:16). And God didn’t do this so we could feel condemned (John 3:17) or guilty but so we could be in a relationship and the thing that was so broken could be fixed!

So I keep finding myself having the thought of Jesus asking, “Do you want to be well?” when different things happen. And I have decided that instead of giving Him an excuse as to why I couldn’t be well, I am going to say “Yes”. Will you?

Just a sidenote: Remember that my name is Imperfect and there is a reason for that, I am NOT perfect. I am striving be a Spirit-sourced-Jesus-loving woman, but I mess up A LOT! And it seems like when God is trying to teach me something new, through scripture, it takes a SUPER long time for it to finally sink in and even then I mess up. So please don’t think I have this all down because honestly I DON’T!

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Best Job

Post by: Outspoken

I have a confession to make and maybe even an apology. You see, ever since I was a little girl I dreamed of the day when I would meet my long haired, hippy husband(don't judge, everyone has different taste). I had it all planned out. We would wait until we were married for exactly 3 years and than settle down and start our family. This is when I would graciously give up my “outside of the home job” and stay at home with all of our 5 children. Side Note: Okay seriously, the thought of 5 children now gives me the urge to run as fast as I can into my wall. Hence, this is where my confession and apology comes in. Before I had ONE CHILD, yes one, I was so judgmental and literally thought that I was Nanny 911. I was so disgusted by the lack of discipline and involvement that so many parents had with their kids. I also thought since I was a Social Worker that I had the toughest job in the world and I could handle anything and any child. It's still mind boggling how I could manage 15 foster children and 12 foster parents, be on call 24/7 and still manage to have time for myself and my husband – but this ONE little 10 month old has me literally creeping through the house while she's sleeping, for FEAR that she may wake up to early from her nap.

Anyway, I say all this to note that staying at home or even just being an involved mom is such a tough job. I had so many expectations and every single one of those were completely recreated when my little one came along. I saw a commercial recently that literally brought me to tears. I liked the commercial because it reflects how tired, busy, worn down, giving, and simple each woman is. However, the most important thing to all of the kids was that their mom was there! 

Another video that I felt was worth sharing is the story of Olympian Gymnast Shawn Johnson. She explains how her mom was always there for her and loved her no matter who she did or did not become. 


I hope all you mothers out there feel encouraged and uplifted by the fact that you have the hardest job – being a parent. Hang in there! I tell myself that 100 times a day. Also, I apologize if you were one of the woman that I was casting my haughty eyes upon. Don't worry, God answered your prayers that I would be blessed with a wild child. :)

**Please note: I understand that not everyone has the desire to stay home nor are they able to stay at home and I believe that is their decision. I feel that God can still bless families that have two working parents and for the record, all you single moms/dads out are my heroes. I do not know how you do it!

My son, keep your father’s command,
and don’t reject your mother’s teaching.
21 Always bind them to your heart;
tie them around your neck.
22 When you walk here and there, they will guide you;
when you lie down, they will watch over you;
when you wake up, they will talk to you.
Proverbs 6:20-22

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