Family Isn’t All it’s Cracked Up to Be

Family is everything to me. But, the family I grew up in was just a tad screwed up. Okay, a lot.

My dad was a man of fewer than a few words. He rarely got involved in my life and preferred to be left alone. Completely. Don’t talk, don’t cause a ruckus, just sit and be quiet. In another room, or better yet, in another house.

My mom was stuck in the twilight zone of her abusive childhood and jerked me in there with her. She yelled a lot, picked her fingers till they bled, and consumed me with her fears and anxieties and worries and sorrow and pain. I was not the perpetrator of her abuse, yet I felt responsible and powerless to fix it. So I sacrificed my stubborn will on the altar of compliance to calm the raging beast within her. But, the inner, strong-willed child refused to die. Thus began a never-ending battle of the wills, a constant fight against her power and control over every corner of my life.

Two of my brothers escaped the madness through substance abuse, the youngest of which spent the majority of his life either in prison or homeless and living on the streets. He traded his wife and kids for the thrills and chills of crime. When his kids grew up, they walked down the same wayward path.

My older brother, whom I never met, suffered severe brain damage caused by encephalitis and was institutionalized when he was three. And my oldest brother drifted here and there, searching for his special place in this world. He was the oldest son of my mother’s first marriage. When my mom married my dad, he didn’t want a snotty-nosed five-year-old, so they left him crying under his grandmother’s bed and moved to another state nine-hundred miles away. Till the day he died, he was searching for love in all the wrong places.

My sister ran away from home when she was fifteen, got pregnant, then got married at the ripe old age of sixteen. When her husband died at the age of forty-one, she found solace in the bottle. After finally admitting she had a serious problem, she went to rehab, joined AA, and turned her life around. Sadly, she died of breast cancer at the age of fifty-seven.

I didn’t do drugs or alcohol. I was picky about whom I dated and was squeaky clean when I got married. I was nineteen. Still wet behind the ears. Naive as a kitten. I believed in God. Went to church, and tried to live a good, clean Christian life in spite of my short-lived, abusive marriage. In spite of being a single mom at the age of twenty-one and barely making ends meet. In spite of sickness and hospital stays. Even in spite of my X-husband’s constant slurs and put-downs and his lack of parenting skills and child support.

I was sugar and spice, and everything nice, a pillar of strength and unshakable faith,  as happy as a circus clown. That’s what I pretended to be on the outside because that’s what everyone wanted me to be and heaven forbid I be anything less. And no one cared what I really felt anyway, so it was easier to live a lie than to let people see the ugly, naked truth.

And the ugly, naked truth is, on the inside, I was an erupting volcano of hurt and anger and boiling rage. A prisoner, bound in chains and living among the tombs of fear and hopelessness, striking out against God and the world and my parents and my siblings and everyone who should have been there for me but never were. On the inside, I was a river of knowledge of how I was supposed to live, but as dry as a desert about how to do it.

Then one day, I snapped, and I fell to my knees before God. That’s when I saw Him clearly for the first time; when I felt His love and mercy and forgiveness as He washed my sinful heart clean. He changed my wayward direction and put me on the heavenly path leading to my eternal home in heaven, where I will be completely free at last.  

When you allow God into your life, He blesses and restores it. He makes it better than you can ever imagine. Although my immediate family relationships never improved, and all but one sibling is dead, God has blessed me through my second marriage and his family. And He continues blessing me through my son and his beautiful, growing family. We have each other’s backs. We love and encourage one another. We allow each other the freedom to be our crazy selves without judgment and ridicule. We don’t bicker and fight. We laugh and have fun. We talk and we listen. We are the family I always wanted growing up. The family I needed to help me grow strong and healthy and to be what God created me to be.

Family is important to God, too. That’s why Satan works so hard to rip it to shreds, beginning with Adam and Eve in the garden. Weaken the family and we weaken the world. Stir up anger and resentment in the family, and we stir up anger and resentment in the world. Someone has to stop the insanity, the deadly sinful disease, from spreading from generation to generation. Someone has to stand up and say, “Enough!”

The majority of the world has never had a healthy family life. But we can all create one by loving our kids and doing everything within our power to make them feel loved and protected and safe from a world gone mad. We can teach them to spread their wings and fly. We can encourage their dreams rather than crushing them in our hands. We can teach them about God the right way, rather than the twisted way we once perceived Him.

I loved my family. As messed up as it was, it wasn’t all bad. My parents were good people, they just didn’t know how to be good parents. They didn’t know how to teach their brood to fly, so they broke their wings instead. Hopefully, though, as we get older we can forgive and move on with our lives. None of us are perfect parents. We just have to keep moving past our own junk and be the best parents and grandparents and great-grandparents we can be.

I’m in this parenting thing for the long haul, learning and growing as I go.

Proverbs 22:6
Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old, he will not depart from it.

Colossians 3:21
Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.

The Lord is My Shepard . . .

I used to think that God only loved me when I was good, that He only answered my prayers when I followed all the rules, that His standards were so lofty and steep that I couldn’t do anything but fail.

Then I think of a stupid sheep, always looking for greener pastures, always timid and afraid, always wandering away from the flock and getting injured or cast down and getting their fleece infected with parasites. I think of how they graze on inferior pastures that eventually cause sickness and death. Yet, the good shephard drops everything to find it.

That’s what God does for me and for you. He hunts us down, he binds up our wounds, He picks us up in His arms and carries us back home. No condemnation, no being grounded for a month, no shunning till we can straighten up and do better. None of that garbage that we receive from others when we screw up.

I am a stupid sheep. I wander and stray. I get lost. I get wounded. I get cast down. I don’t have sense enough to take care of myself. If the Good Shepard didn’t love me, He wouldn’t waste His time on me. He wouldn’t dry my tears. He wouldn’t cover my filthy nakedness with His mercy and grace. If He didn’t love me He’d let me die and rot in my sins.

Freedom is Slipping Through Our Fingers

So, we went to krispy Kreme last evening. They said to wear a mask. I said I can’t eat with a mask on. They said I wouldn’t get served unless I wore one. I said either serve us or not. They said not. So, we walked out.

I follow the rules. Jesus said to obey the laws of the land. But, He didn’t say I had to wear a mask to order a donut. That’s a stupid rule when I just have to take it back off to eat. Besides, it was so cold in there no germ could survive, anyway.

When rules make sense to me, I follow them. But, when they are biased and twisted way out of proportion and are actually causing more harm than good, I rock the boat. I make it thunder and lightning. I make it rain cats and dogs.

I know, I know. Wearing a mask is the new norm these days. Mask-wearers feel justified spitting in non-mask-wearers faces. They feel justified screaming insults and causing bodily harm to those who don’t think and feel as they do. Non-mask-wearers are the culprit for what ails mask-wearers and must be shot down.

Wearing a mask in public is no longer a choice but a requirement if you want to be treated like a “normal” human being in this abnormal world.

I’m not afraid of COVID-19. I’m not afraid of spreading it because I don’t have it. But, I am afraid. I’m afraid of losing my freedom. I’m afraid of getting shot or beat up while walking through the mall because I’m old or not the right color. I’m afraid of socialism. I’m afraid for my grand-kids and great grand-kids. I’m afraid of living in a country that curses God and places a crown on Satan’s head.

Wearing a mask doesn’t prevent the disease that’s sweeping across our nation.

Yes, COVID-19 is horrible. It’s turned our world upside-down. Going out in public is like walking into the twilight zone. People don’t even look like people anymore. When they smile, I can’t see it. When they talk, I can’t understand them. The whole going-out-in-public-thing is so depressing that I’d rather just stay home.

Maybe COVID-19 will end. Maybe it won’t. One thing for certain, it has changed our world forever.

My brain isn’t geared toward politics. I don’t like politics. I don’t trust politics. But, as I look around and see what is happening in our country and what our politicians are allowing to happen, I’m paying more attention. And what I’m seeing and hearing doesn’t take a political genius to know that our government wants to be king over our great nation. Woe to us if it succeeds. Shame on us if we allow it.

What does COVID-19 and wearing a mask have to do with it?

Everything. 

 

Six Reasons Why I Shave My Head

I felt really stressed this morning, so I shaved my head. I feel so much better now . . .

Okay. There’s a method to my madness. It may not work for you, but it works for me.

1. I don’t like long hair on me. As a kid, I pestered my mother to death to cut off my long, red hair. Kids made fun of me in school and yanked on my ponytail or pigtails till my head hurt.

2. Growing up I lived under the dictatorship of lofty rules and regulations; enslaved to the convictions of others and was rarely allowed to think and choose for myself. Unable to tame my wild, independent spirit, they tried breaking it with the hammer of guilt and shame.    

3. I was a slave to curling, teasing, perming, and burning my scalp with a curling iron. I’d spend hours fixing my hair only to brush it all out and do it again. And again.

4. After years of trying and failing to fit in, I became a hoarder of guilt and anger and rage and stuffed those feelings deep inside so no one would know my dirty little secrets. Then one day something happened; the straw that broke the camel’s back and I snapped and there was no place for all that garbage to go but out. Thankfully, Jesus was there with a big box of bandaids before I bled to death!

5. Like a snake shedding its skin, shaving my head is my proclamation of freedom and growth. I’ve outgrown my old skin of doing it someone else’s way, now I’m doing it my way regardless of what anyone thinks. I’m shedding my old skin and growing a new one just for me. I don’t care if I raise a few eyebrows when I enter a room or walk through the mall. I don’t care that people walk up to me and blatantly ask me if I’m sick. I just don’t care!

6. And last but not least, I can ride in the car with the windows down. I can look in the mirror and every little hair is right where it’s supposed to be. It doesn’t frizz, it doesn’t fall flat, it doesn’t move! Best of all, it’s my choice to shave my head. I’ve allowed too many people to bend and twist and pull me out of shape and it’s been a long, painful struggle to straighten it all back out. I’ve earned the right to live in peace in my own skin whether anyone likes it or not.

Conclusion:
A shaved head is not for everyone and I would never recommend doing it unless you really want to. It will grow back, but not as quickly as you shaved it off! 

2 Corinthians 4:16
Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.

 

 

Punch Fear in the Face!

I was asked to share my testimony with the women in the church I attended. I was petrified just thinking about doing it.

I’d rather eat worms than be on center stage. My heart races, my hands sweat, my legs turn to spaghetti, and my brain turns to mush. I feel as if I’m cut open and being dissected like a poor little frog. But at least the poor little frog is dead!

Yet, I agreed. That’s what good Christians are supposed to do, right? Share what God has done and continues doing in their lives, right? In spite of the fear and anxiety, it causes, right?

Right. God will give me the words to say. He will help me through my fear.

So I did it. I stood behind the podium, unzipped my skin, and exposed every inch of my quivering heart.

When the service was over, I was overwhelmed with hugs and tears and I’m praying for you. Relief washed over me like a trickling stream. My knees stopped knocking. My heart forgave me. Everything was good.

Well, not everything.

One well-meaning soul came up to me and blurted, “I always knew something was wrong with you, now I know what!”

No, I didn’t blacken her eyes. I just considered the source and laughed it off. You can do that when you own up to who you are and stop pretending to be what people want you to be in spite of your fear and anxiety. In spite of what people think.

So, yes, I was scared to death that Sunday night standing in the limelight and every eye aiming at me. Just as I was scared to death every time I stood up to sing or play the piano or my accordion or speak. Sometimes just walking into a crowded room was so overwhelming that I wanted to run back out the door.

Social anxiety disorder has wrecked my entire life. I don’t know where it came from and why it latched onto me, I just know it’s a monster that binges on fear.

Fear is a ravaging beast that kills dreams. Fear is why people wear masks, why they become people-pleasers, why they can’t be true to themselves.

So, yes, I’m afraid. I’m very afraid. But I’m learning to be brave and strong enough to push through my fear. To own my weaknesses. To try and fail. To be vulnerable. To speak out. To fall and get back up again. And again. And again.

Fear is losing its death grip.

And I’m feeling good about that.

“Don’t fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine.” Isaiah 43:1 
 

Church is Wherever You Are

It’s Sunday

Buck and I had church

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

on the deck where the old pickup is temporarily parked
barefoot and in our PJ’s

 

 

beneath skies of blue
and drank coffee

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and read our devotions
and held hands and prayed for renewed faith and trust in God during these dark and fearful times. And God was there . . .

 

 

 

 

Mama, I Love You So Much!

Meet Lucas, our sweet, three-year-old great-grandchild defying all the hardships and challenges of life.

For the first two years of his life, Lucas was poked and prodded by doctors and strange looking machines. He’s been run through a battery of tests ruling out autism, water on the brain, and everything in between before finally diagnosing him with a rare genetic disorder. And through all the sickness and doctors and therapists, all the fear and confusion, he has never lost his smile.

This morning, our granddaughter posted on Facebook the picture and the following conversation. We are living in dark times. Scary times. Confusing times. If only we could all see the world through Lucas’s eyes . . .

Lucas: mama, l love you SO MUCH!
Lucas: mama, come see me. I wanna give hugs.
Lucas: mama give me kiss
Lucas: mama, l so happy
Lucas: I SO EXCITED
Lucas: literally loving life and everything in it!

Everyone needs a Lucas in their life!

If You Believe Everything You Read on the Internet, Don’t!

This is an earwig. I was attacked (pinched) by one a few years ago. It was horrible. Like a zillion bee stings. The pain lasted all day.

I never knew such a bug existed so I didn’t know what it was until I looked it up.

It’s harmless, they said. It doesn’t even bite, they said. They pinch, that’s all.

The next day my arm was swollen but that’s a usual reaction for me after an insect bite, so I wasn’t concerned.

Day three my entire arm was red and swollen. And by day four, it was red hot with streaks running up and down and it looked more like a tree trunk than an arm. That’s when I realized the internet lied to me and went to the doctor.

He was quite alarmed when he saw it and thought I should go to the hospital. I had a bacterial infection. But, I had to go to work. So he prescribed a strong does of Amoxicillin and said if that didn’t work I’d have to go to the hospital. Thankfully, my arm got back to normal within a few days.

So, in spite of how harmless these guys are supposed to be, I murdered one on my back porch this morning. With the big rubber chainsaw blade my youngest grandson outgrew, I whacked and whacked the poor little guy till there was nothing left of him.

NOTHING!

I did feel guilty, though.

But, I got over it.

Real quick.

 

 

Surviving C-19 the Fun Way

I don’t know about you, but I’m really getting sick and tired of being stuck inside. I miss being with my family and friends. I miss eating out and shopping. I miss seeing real-live people in real-live places. Netflix can only do so much to keep me entertained. It’s a good thing I love to create!

Free for you to use and to share
Click on any picture to enlarge or begin slideshow 

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You Can Do Anything if You Want to Bad Enough

Digital DrawingThis is my first attempt at digital drawing. I don’t draw using a pencil and paper let alone using a mouse and a computer screen. I create most of my designs using picture tubes or photos. Sometimes, I create them using shapes and the warp tool in PaintShop Pro. That’s a lot of fun. But, today, I actually drew a face using the pallet knife tool. Several times I thought of trashing it. But, I kept working with it till I was finally satisfied.

I had the most trouble with the eyes. I’m still not 100% happy with them, but they’re better than they were before I changed them a million times.

I used to draw as a kid, but I never thought I was good at it, so I took up other interests, like playing the accordion, organ, and piano. And I enjoyed singing, too. So, what drawing skills I may have had are full of spiders and cobwebs, now.

Thanks for stopping by!