Thursday, February 23, 2006

The love for a child

I love my kids so much! Upon having kids, I suddenly realized that it really is possible, in those special circumstances, to fall in love at first sight. And if I thought I loved them then, well, what I feel know is undescribable. For I love my kids more and more every single day, and my heart is so full that sometimes I just look at them and feel like my heart is gong to burst. All my kids have to do sometime is give me one of their infamous sheepish grins, and my eyes just want to well up with tears.

I am having an especially wonderful time with my son. I say this, not because I am playing favorites here, but because for awhile there, my son was a very difficult little boy to love. He was wild, rude, uncontrollable. He wouldn't listen to anything I said. If we went to the grocery store, it was like his sole purpose was to embarass me as much as possible. I would look at other parents of 4 year olds, and be envious of how they stood with their mommies, and listened the first time, as my son ran all over the place and acted as goofy as possible. And despite all this, I did love my son tremendously. I wanted what was best for him. And I wanted him to grow up to be a fine young man with great values and responsibility. And I worried that somehow I was failing with him, and he'd grow up like (*gasp*) his father. I've never had this problem with my daughter. As pre-teenish as she's been lately, she's always been one who understood that I am the mom and she is the daughter, and what I say, goes.

But then Lucas changed. Almost overnight. It's like he turned 5 years old, and suddenly decided that the way he was behaving was not how a 5 year old behaved. He is now listening when told. He stays calm when he needs to, understanding that there is time for play and goofing off, and time for listening and being serious. I can trust him now, sure that he won't be purposefully ruining things in the house. I know that when I tell him to do something, or not to do something, he will listen. It's like he understands the rules of the house, and has decided to abide by them. He is suddenly more loving to everyone, even at school. His teachers have been singing his praises!

And the funny thing is, when I go to his dad's house, it's like he is a different boy. The rules are different there, as there are no consistent ones. I'm not bashing his dad here, it's just the way things are. When I go to pick up the kids, Lucas is absolutely out of control. In the past, it would take days for me to get him back under control and back to "normal". But the past few weeks, it's like he knows that once he enters my car, he's part of a different household and must act accordingly.

I'm hoping that one day he will grow so much that he will be wonderful at both houses. Truth is, there's no harm in the way things are now. He has lots of uninhibited fun at his dad's house, because his dad can handle the noise level and craziness much better than I can, and even contributes to it (another story, much bashing). And he has fun here, I do not limit that. But he learns manners and respect for others here, and it seems that it has suddenly sunk in. The pessimist in me keeps waiting for him to forget all this good behavior. But he's kept it up since just before his birthday at the beginning of the month, so I think he's just growing.

I have a friend who has a 6 year old with severe behavioral problems. And she comes to me for advice, and there are times when I am at a loss for words on how to handle him. But this I know and share with her, love conquers all. If he knows that she loves him and would do anything for him, he will be more apt to please her. But if he's being yelled at constantly, and his discipline is so sporadic that he never knows when he'll get in trouble, he'll be as unstable as the world he lives in. Sometimes it's just as simple as that. I know when Lucas gets difficult, sometimes a hug speaks much more volumes than yelling. I've learned how to effectively parent and discipline my kids with little to no yelling, and our household is much more peaceful because of it.

And this is my religion of love.

Love speaks much more than rules and rules being placed on one's head. I believe my son listens to me because he does not question my love for him. I have become much better about my quality time with him, loving him more than getting on him about stuff. I am definitely consistent in my rules for him, and he has shown me that he undestands. I believe my son is now behaving, not just because he is growing up and maturing (though that is definitely part of it), but he is doing it because he loves me and wants to please me.

God loves us much more than we love our kids, and more than they love us. When I think of it that way, it is indescribable. How can God love me that much, when my love for my kids is so enormous? And knowing that, knowing God's unfathomable love for me, I want to please him and do for him and for his creations. Knowing the love I have for my kids gives me a glimpse into what he feels for me, and makes me love him even more. And it also helps me understand that all the hard times I went through, and all the heartache that has resulted from bad decisions I've made, it has all been God's love for me. He disciplines me because he loves me, and wants the best for me. "do not despise the LORD's discipline and do not resent his rebuke, because the LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in." Proverbs 3:11-12 He wants to help shape me, because a perfect life will not teach me anything. And I love him even more because of my hard times, and it helps me to get through those times easier now, because he is with me every step of the way. This I know. Just as I am there with my kids, not letting them fall, but supporting them in times of need, God is there unfailingly with me. At times when it kills me that I must bite my tongue, God is there, letting me know that he knows how hard it is, but how proud he is of me for doing so. At times when I have actually let temptation pass me by, I feel how pleased he is of me.

I think the most wonderful part of having kids, is understanding God's love for me through my great love for them. "How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure." 1 John 3:1-3 Oh man, I am feeling love today! Thank you God for the love you have given me, and the reminders you place in my everyday life to let me know unquestionably that you love me as your child.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Judgment: Our's vs. God's

It seems to me that I've spent a lot of time and energy passionately posting about judgment and the spiritual walk in other people's blogs, instead of flowing out of my own blog. This topic is something I am fervently passionate about: how our judgment of others has no place in this world, only God's judgment matters; Christs religion of love vs. man's religion of law; and how our spritual paths to Jesus are very different from the person next to us, and that's ok. While looking up scripture on judgment, I came across a brilliant scripture in Romans...

Romans 14: The Weak and the Strong
Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters. One man's faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him. Who are you to judge someone else's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.

For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living. You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God's judgment seat. It is written:
" 'As surely as I live,' says the Lord,
'every knee will bow before me;
every tongue will confess to God.' " So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.

Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother's way. As one who is in the Lord Jesus, I am fully convinced that no food is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclean. If your brother is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy your brother for whom Christ died. Do not allow what you consider good to be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men.

Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a man to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall.

So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves. But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.

This speaks volumes! I read this scripture over and over, and was just in awe. It's all right there. The food is the metaphor for our life. One person's feast is another's forbidden fruit. Who are we to say what another person's feast must be? And at the same time, we know what is right and what is not for our own life. It's always apparent. And we are in control of that. But we are not in control of someone else's path. They know what is right and what is not, and it is between them and God what they choose to do with that knowledge.

I am an avid celebrator of the religion of love. I am not against the law of Christianity, don't get me wrong. God wants us to be obedient to Him, and that includes following His law. But most important of all, God loves us, and wants us to love Him. And because He loves us, He saved us through His son. The most known scripture in all the Bible is John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." But it goes on..... "For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son." John 3:17-18. It does not say we will not get into Heaven if we do not follow God's laws, if we are sinners. It says we are saved through Jesus. God loves us, imperfect as we are. We are saved through Jesus. This is why Jesus died on the cross, He took our sins and placed them on His body, He suffered and died and rose three days later, and all so that we could live eternally with Him, the Father, Son, the Holy Ghost. AMEN!

And beyond that, the most important thing is for us to develop an intimate relationship with Jesus, and share that amazing love with others so that they know, they know just how wonderful our Jesus is, how loving and forgiving and holy our Lord is. When we as Christians point our little bony fingers at others and claim that their lives are not worthy of the Lord by condemning the very person they have only known themselves to be, how exactly are they supposed to discover that amazing love? "...make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother's way." Love. Love. Love. It's God's heartbeat, He wants US. He wants our NEIGHBOR. Condemnation never won any battles, it certainly won't win any souls. There are people out there who are running the other way from Jesus, certain He HATES them because of the way He has been portrayed. We are God's warriors, how are we doing Him justice? Are we pointing fingers, or offering embraces? It matters not to us how someone's life looks. It matters how we helped them to know the Lord and love Him as we love Him. Let God be in the details, not us. We are not God. When we force our visions on someone else, we are telling God we do not trust Him to work in that person's life. We can nurturingly guide, we can use God's truth in a loving way rather than a spiteful weapon. But we shall not steer according to our truths.

We are warriors of Christ, but this is the battle for peace and love, the way of Jesus Christ. Remember, it's for Him, not for us.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Depression and Suicide

I came home from picking up Lucas at school today, and my mom met me in the kitchen with a very sober look on her face. She told me that she had just gotten done talking with her friend Theresa. I immediately asked what had happened, because talks with this woman usually result in a funny story, or my mom still on the phone for hours. But today, Theresa had news that her brother had killed himself by gunshot, her second brother to do so.

Winter is the darkest season of the month. It's cold, it's dreary, you're forced inside for much longer hours, sometimes all day. For people with depression, winter is the season that is dreaded. Years ago, I went through my depression, and winter was pure hell. My house seemed like a dungeon. Nothing gave me hope. Everything was a burden or too much a of a hassle. Death seemed all around me. And I wished for it. I fantasized about what it would be like just to end it all. And seriously, the only thing stopping me was my fear of what would happen to my kids when I was gone. I know this is why many depressed mothers take their kids lives when they are suicidal, so that they haven't abandoned them.

But the thing about people who are depressed and suicidal, they don't ask for help. Partly it's because they don't want the attention on them. Partly it's due to denial about there being a problem with them. Partly it's because they don't want anyone to stop them because they feel it's the only way to end their pain. Reading stories in the paper recently about the teenage suicides that have taken place in our county, it took everyone by surprise. They never expected these kids to take such a turn. But there were always some clues. And yes, they're easy to overlook.

At, they describe the bleakness of depression and why some turn to suicide in easy to understand terms:

"The bleakness of the landscape is unimaginable. It is as friendless and alien as a Dali painting. Ordinary concerns, such as work or friends, have no place here. Futility muffles thought; time elongates cruelly. Who is to blame for this situation? Those with depression think it must be them. Pointlessness and self-loathing govern them. So the natural final step is suicide. People with depression don’t kill themselves to frighten an errant boyfriend. They kill themselves because it is the obvious and right thing to do at that point. It is the only positive step they can think of."

So what are the red flags that you might be depressed? Sometimes they are barely noticeable. Life seems uninteresting, bland, with no hope. Keeping in touch with friends is an effort, so you stop. Things you used to love to do, they just don't do anything for you anymore. It almost seems pointless to get out of bed at all. You are more tired than anything, and everything seems to take extra effort. Just thinking about getting up off the couch and doing something leaves you feeling mentally exhausted. Your patience is worn thin, and you find yourself snapping. Or you just don't react at all. You may want to cry all the time, or just feel like nothing. You've lost or gained a significant amount of weight. But food just doesn't taste as good.

Or they're big warning signs. Like you fantasize about death. You think about how it will be done. It consumes your thoughts. You may have already gotten the materials together....

Suicide is never the right answer. It seems that way, but it's the end with no turning back. So many times when someone has taken their own life, many talk about if they had only known they would have helped. If anything, counseling through a therapist or faith counselor is your best option. Talking about your pain is the easiest way to relieve your pain. And if more steps need to be taken, there is someone there to help you through the process.

If someone you know is showing signs of withdrawing from life, please be there for them. Love your friends, your family, your neighbor by paying attention. My friend will never have her brother back. The pain that he has left behind is enormous. So many people are devastated by his loss, and it can not be overturned. Suicide is not the answer.

Someone else's life may be hanging by the very string you are holding.....

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Accountability vs. Judgment

Accountability is hard for me. My church does this thing called "accountability partners". I think it's lame. It seems like such a faddish thing to do in our church. I'd never heard this term before, and suddenly everyone was talking about accountability. And these are people who I don't believe have any real sins. It sounded to me like this big AA movement. And it sounded like my Catholic days, when we had to confess to a priest.

My whole thing is, confession is to God. And if you need to speak to another human about it, so be it. But confession is to God. Maybe partnering in accountability works for some people, but all I saw was people wanting to be held accountable for how many times they opened their bibles. Lame.

Anyway, I was asked to do accountability, and I've had my resevervations about it. It's been a struggle to stay consistant and true to the format. But it's also been a blessing, because I've shared parts of my life that I've never shared before, and it has opened my eyes to behaviors I need to change, big and small, and ones I never would have paid attention to before. I still believe the truest form of accountability and confession is between us and Christ, but I can also see that by admitting certain aspects outloud can draw attention to those things we must change.

There are some things we must remember when going through accountability. First and foremost is confidentiality. Trust must be built for true accountability to take place. How can someone share their struggles with someone they cannot trust? And how can you fully trust your partner when you aren't being trustworty? The second is judgment. Matthew 7:1-2 says, "Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." Do you have your own struggles, or have you gone through struggles before you became wise? So is, and must, your partner. The other part of that is we are not God. We do not know what exactly is right for this person's life. Our jobs as accountability partners is to use GOD'S truth, His Word, to hold our partner accountable. Our personal opinions are neither here nor there. Which brings me to this: Galatians 6:1-2 says, "Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ." We are to watch our own lives, be there for our partner, but do not be swept up in the struggle. Use the Truth, the Word.

For every day, every action, one must ask themselves, "what would Jesus do?" Yes, it's become cliche, but it's true. My dad, not a church goer, but a definite disciple of Christ, reminds me of this whenever I am going through an inner struggle. And it's a saying I need tattooed to my eyelids. What would Jesus do? Jesus would speak the truth plainly when it came to right and wrong, but use the Word and His father to do so. I am not God, I cannot give my personal opinion. But I can help my partner by holding her accountable to whether she is leading her life in a Godly sense by using the Word and God the father, Jesus the son.

Every now and then, I get these negative feelings regarding accountability, that I really don't want to be a part of it, especially when choices my partner makes do not match what I would do in my life, snd when she is still refusing to be held accountable for some things she should really look at. But than I realize, am I better than my partner? No. Did I go through my own struggles, and am I struggling every single day between the battle of my will and God's will? Yes. I am ashamed. How dare I look at her struggles and not want to be around them. How dare I judge her. How dare I act like God, thinking I know what is exactly right for her life, or take away from the lessons she must learn. How dare I take all the lessons I've learned (and am still learning) and run with them, unwilling to give back. We go through things for a reason, and my life history was why she asked me to be her accountability partner. How dare I deny her my experiences, and how dare I refuse to learn from her, myself, as she has some wisdom I could definitely learn from.

I'm ending this with one of my favorite passages. I've always prided myself on not being judgmental. I preach against judgment whenever I get the chance, and promote Christ's love as my religion. And then something like this comes along, and I realize I am guilty of the judgment I hate so much. Forgive me Lord for my failings in your teachings. I am still your child in faith, mold me to be as you are.

John 7:53-8:11
"They went each to his own house, but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Early in the morning he came again to the temple; all the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, "Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such. What do you say about her?" This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, "Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her." And once more he bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the eldest, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus looked up and said to her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" She said, "No one, Lord." And Jesus said, "Neither do I condemn you; go, and do not sin again.""

Wednesday, February 08, 2006


Lent is a wonderful time to focus on God. And many people do so by giving something up for those 40 days. The purpose is that by fasting for 40 days, we are sacrificing something in a small tribute to Jesus as He sacrificed for us, and we are giving ourselves yet another way to meditate on the Lord. By fasting, we can remind ourselves to pray to God when we are suffering from our sacrifice. Not everyone of the Christian faith fasts during Lent. It is mainly a Catholic thing. Catholics also give up meat on Fridays during Lent. It used to be during the whole 40 days, and fasting completely on Fridays, but that all changed with the times.

I grew up Catholic, and carry some of the traditions with me. Fasting from something for 40 days is one that I hold close to my heart, and believe in. Last year I gave up meat for 40 days. It was hard at first, being an avid carnivore. But soon I found it an incredibly spiritual fast, and became pretty healthy as a result. Of course, Easter came and I was into the BBQ chicken with the rest of them. This year, I considered doing the same fast, but I didn't feel the spiritual pull to do so. I find it is necessary to pray on such things, to ask God what it is he wanted from me during the 40 days of Lent. And to my dismay, he told me. He wants me to give up added sugar. And not just sugar, but honey and sweeteners too. And the reasoning is that by giving up that added sweetness for taste, I am experiencing a metaphoric life without God's sweetness for 40 days.

This is going to be hard.

I am addicted to sweetness. The hardest thing to give up will be the Splenda in my coffee. And chocolate, no more raiding my mom's chocolate box under her bed. I thought about practicing for this fasting, and as a result, I am even more addicted to sweetness from over indulgance. And it doesn't help that the kids birthdays were this past week with lots of cake to go with it, and Valentine's is coming up and I am salivating over anticipated chocolate. And I wonder why my pants are a little snugger.... When Lent comes, there's no question that I will be giving it up for good for 40 days and not cheating. But for the first 10 days, I expect to be going through some pretty hefty withdrawals.

I am writing this here, first of all, for accountability. But second, to encourage anyone reading this to give up something dear to them for 40 days. Yes, it's hard. But the rewards are worth the effort, spiritually and beyond. And not only that, it's for Him. That's reason enough.

Lent begins March 1st this year. Join me and millions others in fasting for 40 days.

For more on Lent, read THIS.
For extreme fasting read THIS.

Sunday, February 05, 2006


"What we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others and the world remains and is immortal."
- Albert Pine

Saturday, February 04, 2006

The Bible on Love

Valentine's Day is the day of love, thus making February the month of love. And many of us without Valentines might have the tendency to feel sad or wistful during this month. But who created love? God our father. And in Him, we possess the most beautiful and truest forms of love to be had. I do not have a romantic earthly valentine this year, but I have love because of my Father.

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.

1 John 4:7-21