Monday, March 23, 2015

Guilt versus Shame

"I am finding myself at a crossroads. How do I let go of this fear that I've always known? I have cried gut wrenching sobs this weekend over so many disappointments. How do I stop fear and begin trusting in a Sovereign God...who seems like someone I thought I knew but maybe I don't ? In my personal writing... I see fear is not the point, but Jesus is; how I respond and trust Christ in the midst of these hard places is where I will find grace."

So my first gestalt this week was on fear and faith. I am learning they are identical in that they are both based on the unknown and the future. I never saw them as similar before. So when we have a "fear" response from an event we could train ourselves to have a "faith" response to the same fear-inducing event.  Does this mean  it's not threatening? No. It's whether or not we feel God is capable (only capable not "will he") of working in the situation.  So then my thoughts went the way yours did. "In the back of my mind I hear a hurtful voice saying 'you can ask all you want but God will do what he's going to do and he always uses pain'". Then it makes me think why bother praying." This is where the second gestalt comes in. My husband has been teaching recently on shame and guilt. If I could bottle these teachings and sell them, I'd make a fortune, if I could get folks to swig the tonic. "It'll cure what ails ya!"

I may destroy the beauty of the way he taught this by going straight to the point. Guilt is necessary to bring us to repentance and says "I have done wrong". Shame is language that is from the devil and says "I am wrong." .....Ok. So here's a story. A man goes to the store and the cashier misses ringing up a pricey item. The man notices, says nothing. Deliberates about what to do. Drives away with unpaid item. Starts feeling guilt. Repents. Goes back to pay.......enter shame......He tells the clerk "when I checked my receipt I noticed I didn't pay for this item." He hears "Thank you for being so honest. We appreciate customers with integrity". He pays and leaves. Guilt worked. He repented. Corrected the wrong. But SHAME tells him he was still wrong because he told a lie. The wrong was righted. He was forgiven.  The devil then begins his work on finding something to torture the man with.  Right. This message isn't for those with a seared conscience. This message is for God's people who struggle with "God doesn't love me because I keep making mistakes. We can only help those who love God and want to be pleasing to him. There are many who struggle with "God is trying to destroy me because I keep making mistakes." Shame leads us to one side or the other of these extreme and paired responses.
Superiority or Inferiority
Control or Passivity
Perfectionism or Defeatism
Blame others or Blame self
Silence (no talk rule to hide shame) or Tell-all (excessive confession)
Distrust/suspicion of others or Can't trust self
As well as Embarrassment, humiliation, fear, and anger.

All these are pendulum swing responses of one extreme or the other to deal with or hide internal shame.

Satan's purpose for using shame (his tool that works) is to separate us from God. Like Adam in the garden. When he listened to shame ("you are naked") he hid himself from God.....Adam and Eve didn't hide themselves because they felt guilt. They were shamed by the devil. Nakedness wasn't a problem before. They didn't see someone with clothes on and find out they didn't have any. They couldn't blame their shame on being raised by dysfunctional parents--they had the best Father imaginable.  Their shame caused them to hide from God.  Satan won.

When we feel guilt for a specific action, we repent. If we continue to deal with it after repentance, that is shame. If we know to not do something and we do it, we then should allow God to bring about repentance--listen to the guilt which leads to repentance.
If it's not a wrong action and we struggle with it, that's shame. That's the devil's way of separating us from God. The devil is a false accuser. A slanderer. His sole purpose is to separate us from God using any tool that works. Shame keeps us feeling the guilt even though we repented and corrected the situation.

Negative self talk is still the devil. Not us. If we hear negative things in our head or repeat them, we are listening to and repeating the devil's words. The devil makes us hate things. He would make us hate God if he could. Shame causes FEAR which is the devil's weapon of choice because it works so well. Shame makes us run from God because we fear His punishment. But God LOVES us and simply desires us to trust Him. He doesn't whack-a-mole us.

If we struggle with either of those extremes on the list -- which I do--we all do to an extent-- then we struggle with shame which means we struggle with the temptation to listen to the devil and allow the devil to interpret what God is doing in our lives. On the earlier list of responses, some may tend toward one response and some the other.  Both are listening to the devil. The controllers and perfectionists hide their shame by covering it up. The passivists and victims deal with their shame by exposing it. Both are listening to the devil. If we are feeling badly about something and can't point to a specific action that is making us feel that guilt, then that is most likely shame. Those foggy feelings of "does God even care?"  That is shame.

We can define shame as "I'm listening to and repeating the devil".
God accepts us. He loves us. He is thrilled when we return to Him.  He is glad when we repent and do the right thing. The devil would have us believe that God would respond like "well, yeah, you paid for the item. But I'm still mad. You will probably do it again. I don't believe you have it in you. You'll fail again."

Action plan: we have to stop listening to the devil.

This world is not our home. Our only hope is in Christ and in eternally dwelling with him. If things go well on earth, great. If we expect to choose Christ and live In a bubble protected from life from that point on, we are in false doctrine. We are believing prosperity trash. God does not inflict pain. The devil inflicts pain. We choose to cause ourselves pain. We surround ourselves with people and choices that cause pain. People are blessed when they obey God's principles. When they have wisdom. When they seem to escape the trials of life. But not everyone who is an awesome Christian escapes the trials of life. Dietrich Bonhoeffer? Corrie Ten Boom? Her sister? Present day martyrs who are dying for the name of Christ? Can we look at some of those pillars and say "I must be a better Christian because I have my health and my house and my money."  ???
There were awesome believers who were burned at the stake. And there are satan spawn who are richer than Croesus.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015


When we realize we want to turn from our sinfulness --  what then becomes the supreme object of our affections? Is our desire then to know Jesus, love Jesus, serve Jesus, obey Jesus, and be like Jesus?

Or is it to know church, love church, serve church, obey church and be like church?  Are we living for Jesus or are we living for church?

I am ready to serve Jesus wholeheartedly, and make sure my walk is solidly built around making Jesus alone the shepherd of my soul. No longer can church usurp the place Jesus was meant to reign supreme. It seems to happen insidiously. Where church quietly removes Jesus as the object of our worship and becomes our taskmaster and shepherd.

I believe there is a place for teaching, for helping others, for uplifting fellowship of believers. I believe we ought to support and help others in a body of believers, but should church take the place of Christ in our adulation?

I'm remembering the quaintness of white, steepled chapels set on a grassy hill, sitting there innocuously pointing the way of salvation, but at some point, these become steepled sepulchers of the spiritually vacant as they serve they know not whom. Many of these attend because daddy did, and granddaddy did, and all they can seem to do is mouth Christian cliches and the platitudes of those who have gone before. These church worshippers have their empty traditions, their homecomings and small minded politics of who replaced who on the church board.
Of who will sit in the "highest seat."  Didn't Jesus rebuke his disciples for that?

I'm ready to serve Jesus and Jesus alone.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Ministry of Dashed Hopes and Unmet Expectations

Many years ago, about fourth grade, I had asked my mom for a watch for Christmas.  I didn't bother to ask for a particular watch, she knew me and knew what I would like.  Or so I thought.  Christmas morning came and as my gift was handed to me, my expectation soared.  It was the right size to be a watch box.  I knew it was going to be great.  Sure enough, it said "Timex" on the box.  It was a watch.  But when I opened it, boy was I disappointed.  It had to be the ugliest watch Timex ever made.  Plain white and functional with a boring, ugly leather band.  Even the glass was thick and ugly.  The numbers were ugly. There was nothing pretty or feminine about this watch.

My hopes were dashed and my childlike expectations were completely unmet and it tainted my whole Christmas experience. Or whatever I thought I deserved as far as "Christmas experiences" go. Am I alone in experiencing these sort of dashed hopes?

But perhaps your hope was not immaturely placed in getting the right gift at Christmas as mine was. I grew up and found my hope was later placed in getting married.  I unfairly laid all my hopes and dreams on my soon-to-be husband and what I thought he would provide for me.  Maybe I'm not the only one who does that.  For those who have done that alongside me, I think we set those expectations too high. We've seen the picture perfect marriages from the outside and are convinced that is what God has planned for us.

Or perhaps we believe our hopes will be met by the new job, the new location, the new church, the new whatever. And then life happens and our hopes seem unfairly dashed.  What happened?  We know the word says in Proverbs 13:12, "Hope deferred makes the heart sick…but when the desire comes, it is a tree of life." What happened? Why did God allow this suffering?  Why did we trust in this false hope? The job loss? The failed marriage? The sick child?

I have written in some notes "Dashed hopes make us recoil from dreaming big, it causes us to lower our life's expectations so that we'll never feel disappointment like that again."  Should that be our response?  Is that a knee-jerk response?  At minimum, it seems to be our safety valve.  "Y'all ain't gonna hurt me again.  I'll just peck 'round here on the ground with chickens rather than soar in hope with eagles."

And just where do these unmet expectations come from?  Is it possible we look around us, establish what we "need" and therefore must have?  So when we compare ourselves to others, establish what we think we should be, or what we think we should have, or what we believe we deserve, are we setting ourselves up to covet and then be disappointed?  2 Cor 10:12 states "We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise."  (Paul is talking about his ministry but this favorite verse of mine keeps me in check...when I remember it.) 

If what Paul said wasn't targeted enough, C.S. Lewis also said, "Comparison is the thief of joy." So evidently I cannot allow false hopes to alight on what others receive or what others may think.

So about the time I feel like a martyr in having these unmet expectations, is it possible that I have ever dashed someone else’s  hopes and expectations? I'm thinking yes.

I am also learning  that whenever hope is misplaced, disappointment soon follows. One mom put it as the "Big Let Down".  The BLD.  So when the inevitable happens, when our hopes are dashed,  when we experience the BLD, we need to learn to handle disappointment correctly.  

So what are we placing our hope in? By placing our hope and expectations in the people we love we literally risk the health and life of our relationships. Before we knew Jesus, our hopes were dependent on what was going on in our lives at the moment.   What would today bring? Will work be good today or bad? If I'm happy what will happen to make me sad? If I'm sad, what will happen to make me happy? The answer was dependent upon the object of my hope—my job, my friends, my appearance, my relationships…..As believers, do we sometimes revert back to those things as the source of our hope?  Have we misplaced our hope for happiness, life, security, or contentment, in everything the world has to offer? 

Are we placing our expectations for our future in someone or something other than Jesus?
Do we just know about Jesus, or do we truly know Jesus? 
Do we know Him as the comforter? (Or does someone else comfort us?) 
The savior? (Or do we call someone else when we need help?)
The redeemer? (Or do we rely on someone else to "redeem" or add value to us.)
The provider? (Or do we rely on someone else to provide for our needs?)
The healer? (Or do we jump to medications, doctors or other medical advice first?)
The friend who sticks closer than a brother? ( or does someone else meet our need for deep friendship?)

The ministry of our experiences with dashed hopes is that the unwanted "gift" can serve as a tangible reminder that our hopes are not to be placed in things in this world.  This world can disappoint.  People can disappoint.  As long as we are trusting in these things to be our hope and bring the joy and contentment we seek we will always be disappointed.  So when we meet that disappointment, whatever it is, big or small, can we let it serve as a reminder that in Christ alone our hope is found?

However, in the real world, when we are looking those dashed hopes square in the face, we need to address our initial attitudes.  1) We need to be thankful.  Look for the good and praise it.  Go all Pollyanna and find the thing to be thankful about.  2) We need to realize things aren't always as they appear. Sometimes we are given what we need and not what we want because what we want may not be God's best for us.  3) And ultimately, we need to realize that it's not all about us and our desires. We may just need to get over ourselves. 

As a reminder of Jesus being our only true hope in a hopeless world, I looked again at Psalm 23. 

The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want. 
(He provides everything I need)

He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters. 
(He gives me peace and comfortable surroundings when I need it.)

He restores my soul;
(He has saved me from judgment by salvation and given me hope of eternity)

He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
(He gives me instruction and helps me to do right  so I won’t make disastrous mistakes.)

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
(He is my hope when all is frightening and scary and I feel alone and terrified for my future)

For You are with me; 
(He will always be a part of my life….)

Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
(The rod protects and corrects us.  We are subject to his most careful, intimate and firsthand examination…..the staff pulls us from danger.)

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
(Our provisions are given to us in this world)

You anoint my head with oil;
(We are blessed and anointed to rule and reign with Him in heaven)

My cup runs over.
(We are blessed over and above what we can hold or what we deserve)

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
(We experience God’s goodness daily as well as his mercy in forgiving us of our sins.)

And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Mr. Obama, maybe folks are mad because you’re a liar

Could this have been said any clearer? Thank you Matt Walsh for unabashedly writing so well what the rest of us only can hope to say.  (This is from 
Dear Mr. Obama,
Congratulations on getting 7.1 million people enrolled in Obamacare before the March 31st deadline!
Not to muddy the festivities by harping on technicalities, but I thought I’d pass along just a few corrections, in case you plan on giving anymore speeches or anything:
Alright, by ‘March 31st’ you mean ‘sometime in April,’ and by ‘deadline’ you mean‘suggestion which is subject to change.’
And, obviously, by ‘enrolled’ you mean ‘people who have filled some information out on a website.’

And by ’7.1 million’ you mean ‘probably like 858 thousand or something.’ 
In your speech on Tuesday, when you said that Obamacare is ‘the law’ and ‘it’s here to stay,’ you really meant that Obamacare is ‘a fluid and constantly adjusted set of unconstitutional decrees, which can be imposed or withdrawn by the Executive Branch at any point, for any reason, up to 21 times and counting.’ And by ‘here to stay,’you actually meant to say that ‘most of it is neither here nor staying, because you don’t want America to feel the full brunt of it until after the midterm elections.’

You claimed that ‘more than 3 million young adults have gained insurance’ by staying on their parents’ plan. Even if that were true, it seems to take for granted that there’s anything remotely positive about the government forcing insurance companies to treat 25-year-old men and women like children. But, more importantly, it isn’t.

Indeed, when you said ‘more than 3 million,’ you really meant ‘extrapolations based on faulty estimates conjured up by Health and Human Services almost two years ago have brought us to the dubious conclusion that we can claim 3 million, because nobody will understand how we arrived at that figure, and most everyone will be too lazy to even attempt to check our numbers.’

You appeared to venture into the vicinity of truth when you stated that Obamacare is‘doing what it’s supposed to do,‘ but then you forgot to stipulate what, precisely, that happens to be.

It has not, nor was it meant to, make insurance cheaper and more accessible – but it has stripped away choice and freedom, and made more people dependent on the government.
It has forced single men and elderly couples and nuns to pay for maternity care and birth control. Likewise, it has compelled everyone to purchase coverage for psychiatric illness and drug addiction treatment, even if we aren’t necessarily psychiatrically ill or addicted to drugs (though, with your help, the pharmaceutical industry will soon get us all under one or both of those umbrellas).

And, while you spiked the football in the Rose Garden, you still failed to indicate how many people have purchased and paid for a plan, as opposed to just checking some boxes. And you forgot to tell us how many of the Obamacare ’enrollees’ were only inclined to enroll in Obamacare because your law forced them off of their original plans.
You celebrated a ‘law’ that will supposedly ’insure the uninsurable,’ even though most of the people now insured by Obamacare aren’t actually yet insured, but they were insured before Obamacare made them uninsured under their original insurance.

Of course, this is all after you famously told us we can ‘keep our plans’ if we ‘like them,’while omitting that by ‘keep’ you meant ‘watch as it is demolished in front of our eyes,’and when you said ‘like’ you didn’t include the disclaimer that we’d all be legally obligated to adjust our affections in the direction of the type of plan you think we should like.
Whew. My head is spinning.
You’re a slippery one, Mr. Obama.
I feel like I’m beginning to learn your language, although I haven’t deciphered the entire code. I do know that, essentially, when you say a certain thing, what you really mean is anything but the thing you just said.
Honestly, I’m starting to think that you’re doing this on purpose.
I’m starting to think that you’re… lying.
You’re a liar.
Yes, that explains it. You’re either enormously inaccurate and oblivious in ways that just so happen to suit your political goals, or you’re a scheming, conniving liar.
I’m going with the latter. You lie. That’s all you do. You’re a liar.
I know, in this day and age of ‘civil discourse,’ we aren’t allowed use words like ‘liar’ anymore. It’s such a harsh and startling term. It upsets people. It makes them sad. It makes them feel all icky inside. But, Lord forgive me, I’d rather call a spade a spade and a liar a liar — as opposed to your strategy, which is to call a spade a tortoise, or an apple, or a three toed sloth, or anything but a spade.
I would label you pathological — as deception seems to drip like putrid sewage from every single word and phrase that escapes your lips — but I know your lies are calculated, not compulsive. You can’t be a pathological liar for the same reason that an effective diamond thief can’t be a kleptomaniac. Your lie, like his heist, requires careful planning and plotting. You’re very aware of the truth, which is what makes you so adept at avoiding it.
Still, I’d like to, for your sake, take you seriously on one count.
In your speech, you said this:
“I’ve got to admit, I don’t get it.  Why are folks working so hard for people not to have health insurance?  Why are they so mad about the idea of folks having health insurance?” 
Why are folks mad at you? Well, as you’ve pointed out in the past, it’s probably because you’re black.

Yeah, that’s gotta be part of it. I’m sure cancer patients would be excited about having their plans abolished and their out-of-pocket expenses skyrocket, if only it had come at the hands of a white dude.

But, beneath the racism, maybe there’s something deeper going on.
Maybe, Mr. Obama, we’re all just tired of the lies.
Maybe we’re mad because you used the IRS against your political opponents, and lied about it. And you spied on everyone’s phone records (after specifically condemning that sort of practice), and lied about it. And you sent your Justice Department after journalists and whistleblowers, and lied about it. And you funneled weapons to drug cartels and terrorists, and lied about it. And you assassinated American citizens and drone bombed hundreds of innocent civilians, and lied about it. And you filled your administration with lobbyists, and lied about it. And you armed a terrorist insurrection in Libya, then orchestrated a cover-up once the terrorists murdered our ambassador, and lied about it. And, in general — whether it’s wiretapping, or Guantanamo, or deficit spending, or Obamacare, or whatever else – we’ve seen you do everything you said you wouldn’t, and little of what you said you would.
We’ve heard you lie. Over. And over. And over. And over again.
Maybe that’s why folks are so mad.
Maybe you’re a liar, and we know it.
And so do you.
I hope this helps clear up your confusion.
Matt Walsh

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Do Men Have Abortion Rights?

I am avidly pro-life, and vehemently opposed to abortion as I feel nothing warrants the taking of an innocent baby's life.  Killing a baby through abortion is the most selfish act a person can do.  The arguments framed defending the woman's right to kill a baby are so egregious that, typical of all philosophies that are an affront to morality, the terminology has been changed  drastically so the true intent is hidden by using the wrong words.  Those in defiance of God are skilled in this.

But, in playing devil's advocate here, and assuming there are "rights" to killing your baby and aborting your parenthood, I have a few questions regarding the rights of the daddy.

A woman has a "right" to NOT become a mother, but a man has NO RIGHT to NOT become a father and will be compelled to pay for years. Only women have the right to kill?

If a woman has a “right” to terminate a pregnancy by paying money to an abortion clinic, then why doesn’t the “father” have the right to terminate his paternity by paying a sum to an agency? Why are only women given the right to end their parenthood?

Can a father end his paternity through a "paternal abortion agency" if a mother can end her maternity with physically aborting her baby?

How does a pro-abortion person frame an argument when a mother wants to keep the baby and the father doesn't?

Do men have abortion rights?

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Good-bye and Good Riddance to Hooker Chic

Am I dreaming? Are these really the 2013 runway fashions from notable designer Valentino? Is modesty making a comeback? Please tell me it's so!

Finally, it looks like we might say fare(not)well to the parade of hooker-chic attire that has been marketed to us women since the first peek-a-boo bras made their appearance on fashion runways in the early 90's.   We women who live in the "real" world never thought it would fly.  Fast forward a few years and while we are waiting for the bank teller to complete a transaction we are embarrassed at seeing her colorful bra underneath her lacy top or alone under her suit jacket.  What?!  I remember having to send home a bank teller I was training because she showed up at work with a skirt fully above her knees and fishnet stockings.  And we thought that was edgy.  Any cleavage showing was unacceptable and deemed highly unprofessional at that time.  Oh, how I miss those days.

I am so glad that I did not have to clothe daughters over the last ten years.  I truly pity my dear friends who wanted their girls to look fashionable and modest at the same time.  It was an exercise in fashion gymnastics avoiding the words splayed across the rear, or lingerie-esque tops for their ten year old.  And honestly, sleeves would be nice.  What was with all the spaghetti straps showing the bra straps underneath?  I think the low-point of hooker-chic was on full display during the half-time show for the 2013 NFL Superbowl with Beyonce's inappropriate show and attire--if it can be called that.  I was so thankful for Jackie Gingrich-Cushman's editorial which gave me a light at the end of the tunnel.  Do I see a little hint of Downton Abbey reflected in the calf-length dresses and overall gentility?

So maybe we're on the upswing. Maybe I will actually enjoy shopping for clothes again but it may take some time for these runway fashions to make it to mainstream America and eventually hit the clearance rack at Dillard's for me to ever be in vogue--or at least last-year's vogue--again.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Kitchen: Before and After

Long overdue...and believe me this was no easy task...not the kitchen part so much, but figuring out how to format and layout these pictures.  Ugh.  blogger.  After doing all this, my son  says, "Why didn't you just....."
and then gave me computer jargon.  I'm a homeschool mom, not a tech-y.  So for those who haven't had a chance to come by and visit or see the pics, here 'tis.

The Main Work Area

Below (in the small pic)  is the original view of my stove and sink.    On the right is the completed kitchen.

The Missing Wall

The wall behind the fridge is what I
desperately wanted removed.  It created the
most unnecessarywaste of hallway space since Alaska's
bridge to nowhere.

My Fridge Area

We enlisted the help of a local carpenter to assist with some of the cabinet placement and hanging.  I asked him if he could use one of our existing cabinets, which used to be over the stove as a storage unit above the fridge.  The issue is that the fridge was larger than our old one, so this cabinet was going to look funky unless we did something creative with it.  We created a false wall and only used the front of the cabinet facing creating a HUGE cabinet for out of the way storage.  It now houses holiday items and tableware. And to think that the little cabinet that used to be above the fridge only held my cookie cutters. 
The island provides the most organized solution to my "redneck" tupperware ever.  No more tumbled plastic margarine tubs cascading out of the skinny cabinet.  These are now STACKED.  Neatly. 

 The Coffee Bar

 In order to sort of balance out the large fridge cabinet area, I created a coffee bar on the other side of the dining room doorway.  Those upper cabinets are original--I just plucked out the center panel and replaced it with striped glass panels. I love it!

Here's my hallway to nowhere....well, not really but to the den, which is now the "family room" since it's not hidden away anymore.   I would be holed
away in the kitchen cooking or cleaning while my family would escape and enjoy a football game or such.  No longer!  I am part of the fun now!  Even if I'm
still behind the sink.

If you look closely, you can see the original cabinets that my husband worked so hard at repainting.  This was no easy task. Every cabinet that has an arched panel is original.  The cabinet doors with rectangular panels were stock cabinets we purchased from Lowe's, and we had to sand and paint those to match.  Unbelievable amount of work, and so scary to begin when you are looking at a brand new, shiny cabinet.
That's what I get for watching HGTV one too many times.  It took us several weeks to paint the cabinets and cabinet doors.  Sand, paint, sand, paint, sand, paint...some as many as 5 times until we got them right.  And then I used a glaze on the detailing to create an antique look which really brought the whole kitchen together, with the mix of new and old cabinets.

I am incredibly blessed to have a family that helped me with this insane project.  Believe me when I say, I don't think we will ever want to go through a remodel like this again.  I believe our next house will stay as-is.