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One More Time

Forgiving other is probably one of the most important things you can do.  Jesus tells us to forgive seventy-seven times seven, so it’s big on his list.

Last week, I went to Madonna House.  For two hours, I spent some time with two of the staff members. For the last few months, I shared with the two ladies about what issues in my life that I was struggling with. I wasn’t surprised to realize that I needed to forgive my Dad again.

I wasn’t shocked that it was him that came up because my healing from the beginning has been what I have lacked from him. Granted no earthly father is perfect.

For those of you have seen the movie, The Shack you’ll know that it is about forgiveness, I won’t go into anything else if you haven’t seen it, but six days later I still felt raw(from going through from the process)  the revelation that I still needed to forgive my Dad. I know we are like layers of an onion, and it was just one more level to be peeled off, but in some ways, I felt discouraged after so many years that it was still there.

Honestly, I don’t know if forgiveness is just a way of reminding ourselves of how much we are loved, or I really just need to let go. I can’t go on judging someone or thing that I have no control over. Or maybe just another of a deeper understanding.

 

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Love My Dad

Who you were, who you are and who you will be are three different people –  Author Unknown

 

Your identity is the most valuable part of you, but most of us, some of us have no idea what it is. Knowing who you are minus all the titles we play day in and day out can blur out the truth of your identity. Confusion is a big deterrent and a likely suspect in losing ourselves to the constant swirl of life.

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As a little girl, I loved the feel of the cool green grass under my bare feet. I believe at the time that I had the biggest backyard than anyone I knew. I could hide in our tree house that existed out of weirdly shaped trees that bordered our property. In the summer, I would walk over the cracks in the cement in our backyard because I never knew for sure if stepping on them would break my Mothers back. Clothes hung on the clothesline overhead. I could go visit my (Hebrew for grandmother) Bubi anytime I wanted. I remember the sand stuck between my toes and ants crawling over the big peony buds right before they would bloom.

Fear that no one wanted me

Ever since I started this blog, I have used each post as a place for my healing. It has become a place where I have been able to share who I am without fear of rebuff of any kind. Finding my identity and claiming it has been a long process. From an early age, I have been shy, preferring to stay close to my Mom.  When I met Jesus, I became more aware of myself, and at times it was extremely painful. Slowly, I would surprise myself at how well I would speak to others. Over time, the shyness that I assumed was a part of me disappeared, as I would go to reach for it. It was my protection over what I felt I couldn’t control. From the world that I had a hard time processing through.

Shyness is a reaction to feeling rejection. This was at first confusing because as that little girl with the ash blonde hair I thought knew who I was. I believed that the shyness was a part of the package of my personality.

If we lived in a perfect world, I would be living my dream. I wanted to be loved. I didn’t know if I deserved it but it was this silent, persistent need that over time gave my credence of what I didn’t see as acceptance. You see I wanted my Dad to see me as a lovable little girl, but what I didn’t know at the time was he didn’t have the skills on how to fill my emotional needs.

It wasn’t until I was in my mid-twenties that I learned that daughters’ need their fathers love as much as we need oxygen to breathe. The extreme anxiety and depression that I struggled throughout my childhood through to my early 30’s. spoke volumes of how I tried to teach myself on how to handle my emotions.  I can’t breathe unless I know my father loves me unconditionally. It was the root. I really believed I was a terrible person.  Desperate, I was for my Dad to notice me. To take an active interest in who I was.

Before I go on, this is not a post to bash fathers because they are hurting too. Too many men are being pushed down, or believe it’s not good to be masculine and to be as they have been created.

As I have learned about all my parts, or at least the ones He has chosen to show me, I have had many aha moments. He has brought clarity into my being, and a peace that is everlasting. And get this! People really do like me.

Knowing who I am, the peace can flow into every part of my being

As a little girl, I desired for my Dad to notice me, to see me and pursue me. I wanted him to be interested in who I was, but as time went by, he did none of what of what was in my heart. So I did the only thing I knew and I began shutting down emotionally, mentally and physically. Instead, I sought out my Dad, I asked him about the rules of Canadian football, what and why he washed his car. Nothing I did got the attention I was desperate to have from him.

It took me a long time to realize I couldn’t change him, no matter how many times I initiated something with him. I had finally got it, that it had never been my job in first place. It was his job as my father to delight in me – as his daughter. To show me his love, protection, values, and everything that was important to him. I wanted to know who he was and is, but that part of his heart to me has never been opened to me.

My Dad is without the skills I need. I believe his own father didn’t give him what he needed as a boy growing up. His own feelings about his Dad (my grandfather) aren’t the memories that you hold close to your heart. Rather they are the kind that you push away, and you let everyone else teach you how to be a man. Yes, we need our parents, a mother and a father to show us how to be a man or woman –  learned from their parents. A family is about love, trust and passing it down because it is good to know that there is a place where all of us can truly belong and be accepted. There is no cost to join, we simply need to be the product of our parents love that is between them. I believe how we are brought up determines a lot of who we become. It guides our perception of the world, it certainly leads mine.

I speak with my Dad once a month, we chat for about 15 minutes on the usual things. I would love to go to visit him but that just doesn’t seem to be his thing.  Does my Dad love me? Yes. I have no doubt that he does, he kind of gives it away in the way his eyes shine and sparkle when he first sees me. This could be a whole other post because I know my heavenly father has and is filling me with what I lack.

I’m not the shy, scared, self-hating little girl with ash blond hair anymore. Nor am I am the girl who hid from her peers. I am not the awkward adult who didn’t feel that she was a full-grown adult and just a child in disguise. Don’t get me wrong there are still times, the child in me comes out and gives a sly smile at those around her, and allows some of them into her heart so that they can see for themselves that God still saves.

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Discovering the Real Value in Christmas

 

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Christmas always left me feeling sad and empty when I was a little girl.

After all, the presents had been opened, and the wrapping paper was in the garbage, the whole idea of Christmas always seemed to be a waste – at least – to me it was. It was a race against time to get all those presents, and then a few hours later it was done. I wondered what the point of all of the gifts was. I was focused on a tree strung with bright sparkling lights, a man in a red suit who travelled with reindeer flying all over the world to give out gifts.

Forget the actual day of Christmas, the magic of Christmas Eve struck a chord in my young heart because I knew whatever was happening was special. Everyone leaves work early to go home and be with their families and close friends. Part of the problem I think was, I didn’t even know that we were celebrating and remembering a baby being born.

It’s a few days after Christmas, and it is still about hope, and though the majority of us have already been out to pick up a bargain from the leftover sales from Christmas, we make-up excuses for more stuff. Just another day to spend time buying stuff. And the question is: do you even need it?

Everything and nothing leads us to pause about what has gone wrong, except we don’t know what it’s all about. It’s a season of where paradoxes’ emerge. It’s a time to be wowed by the hope given to us by a baby born in a barn – in a complete lack of luxury, the complete opposite of what most people think of when they speak of Christmas. This is a time when it’s easy to overeat, over-shop, just plain over the top consumption! Another chance to fill the emptiness inside of their souls, but sometimes you need to empty yourself to feel the poverty of the situation.

It refuses to be extinguished

A small flame of hope lingers hidden underneath anger, shame, depression, and anxiety, etc., with all the gems that are the sum of our desires. Christmas doesn’t seem to be enough but it is, with the simple gift of hope in a birth of a baby in a manger. The problem is most of us equal Christmas with more stuff, more doing than waiting as we are called to do so during the season of Advent. Taking time to enjoy the Christmas lights on front porches, for example, this can help remind us of the hope that is in the waiting. Instead of holding onto negative emotions, make an effort to seek out the good that Christmas does offer, and even the opportunities that are given to us the time in between Christmas and New Years. For myself, I have found I need fewer activities and more time reflecting to appreciate what is going on.

The time between Christmas and New Year’s Eve is usually a chaotic time for me. It’s hard to put into words how I feel in this time of undetermined celebrating. It’s mostly an emotional and spiritual battle, but this year, I decided I was going to do something more concrete. I started with Advent:

  • This year I made the plan not to go into a mall once December came, I didn’t want to see the busyness when it should be a time of waiting, not rushing around. I start my Christmas shopping in March/April so that around November I can tie up loose ends.
  • I bought a devotional from Magnificat specifically for the season of Advent. I don’t normally read devotionals, but I figured reading something about Advent might help.
  • During Advent, there were times that I felt little reminders of joy and hope. I let the Lord fill me with these emotions, and they led me to anticipate(joy) the coming of His arrival.
  • I make a point each year to work 2-3 days to help with confusion of days between Christmas and New Year’s Eve

 

I hope you all had a safe and happy Christmas and all the best for coming year of 2017!

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Not Left Behind

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He chose not to pursue her.

Still he waited at the starting point as the afternoon sun hung at an angle that blinded him. His heart pounding as the poison of fear mixed with the life-giving blood that coursed through him. He looked the other way as she walked down the opposite hall where he watched her disappear. He wanted to say more, do more and, he didn’t want to pretend he didn’t see her. Part of him didn’t understand why the words were so hard to come by. The game they played; the covert glances, the slow emergence of a smile on her lips. Hope rose inside of him but the taunting became louder, the accusations roaring, and eventually drowning out the hope that struggled to thrive inside of him. All of a sudden whatever it was; the joy or the hope, it shriveled up and his decision was made. He didn’t try anymore because that reservoir of whatever fueled him became a mirage in his head. It wasn’t real, but the wall of rejections that he kept walking into was all too familiar.

Most women have equal opportunities alongside their male counterparts in careers, and in just about anything that a woman can dream about. No longer are women expected to stay at home, and take care of the house and children. Women are being urged they will and can have it all because the feminist movement told the world that women are just like men. We can do anything that men do – at least this is what being advocated to us.

When I was a little girl, I had a small suitcase full of Barbies, along side with clothing, shoes, etc. I loved playing with my Barbies, helping my mom bake, playing dress up. I loved doing what little girls normally do. It didn’t seem odd to me to dream of getting married, having a family and staying at home to take care of them. No one told me what I was supposed to want as a little girl. It was just what I wanted. I didn’t look for the reasonings or studies to prove it was right, it was a desire that welled up from within me.

It wasn’t until I had my conversion that I was reminded of the desire that began as a little girl. My desire to marry and have a family. You see I thought I could have it all, and of course that meant having a career. I don’t know where the idea of a having a career came in, but somehow it seemed the thing to do, it was what every other woman was doing. She could have it all like men. I’m not against having a post-secondary education, but I think a lot of women get sidetracked into believing that this is what they have to do. We’ve told we can have everything. I believed this for so long, and it was hard to reconcile with the fact, staying true to my original dream, the one birthed in my childhood meant more than having a career.

Observing people is something I like doing a lot. When I was younger I could tell you what everyone was wearing on the bus. Thankfully I don’t do this anymore. Even though we would all do well to not judge others on outward appearances, it’s something we all do. What we wear expresses to the world who we think we are or aren’t. It’s a barometer of sorts that gives a shout to people who don’t live inside of you; ‘this is what I am believing about myself right now.’

It’s something I have seen in men and how they dress.  It’s as simple as the suit that they’re wearing, and trying not to cringe at the fact that their dress pants aren’t long enough to cover their red striped socks. I’m not trying to be picky because I’ve seen this example many times. A lot of times, how someone dresses does reflect their personality.  However, I am not hinting that how you dress determines your sexual interest, or highlights all your issues, but it does provide a window into some people.

Yes, men in the past haven’t always treated women well, but there are the men who have learned from the other men in their lives how a woman is to be treated. Men are lost in a culture that doesn’t encourage them to take their role seriously. We dumb photo-1436891620584-47fd0e565afbthem down and we want independence from their protective natures. Just like woman, men are confused as to what their roles, and these definitions vary to who talk to. I think the Lord has placed this burden on my heart to pray, pray that men will understand how important of a role that they have been given.

His love perseveres until the brokenness of our heart can no longer hide from His careful and persistent probing. He never forces anything on us, and if he has chosen you first before you chose Him then He will not relent until you are his completely his. He sees past all the appearances, and all the choices that you thought you had to make in order to be what everyone else dictates.  I have been purposely, in the the last year, surrendering all my worries, doubts, fears and desires, in other words dumping all of my stuff onto him, and it has transformed how I feel about myself. I’m believing things that seemed completely out of my reach, but now they seem just within my reach. Remember He chose you first, not the other way around. John~15:16

 

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Surprise!

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Yep, it was surprise all right.

September 11th was my 40th birthday, the birthday I did not want to come. I had moaned and groaned all about it in my head to the Lord. I  was worried about turning 40, like maybe I would turn into a pumpkin?

Nah, it didn’t happen.

So I had my birthday party all planned for my two guests. My Mom ordered this chocolate cake – icing, drizzle and cake – all chocolate! For dinner I had thin crust pizza at a restaurant called Za’s Za’s Pizza, and I ordered Cajun Cowboy – it was delicious. I have this thing for chocolate, so much so that my supervisor made the comment to her two placement students that she’s never met anyone so obsessed with chocolate. This was after I had offered to bring in the brownies I had made the night before. I had cut myself a whole row of brownies that morning about 5 a.m., and it was about three hours later I was still very wired. Caffeine does wonders for some but not for me.

I could post a article on caffeine, but I would rather talk about my big surprise.

I was enjoying my very chocolate cake, when I guess someone knocked on the door. I didn’t hear it but Jolene did, and she got up to answer it. She called me over because it seem that there was someone at the door for me. I had no idea who could be at the door, despite the fact that it was my birthday. So I walked to the door, and lo and behold, my sister Serena stood on the other side. I think she said, “Surprise,” I gave her a hug, and well the rest of the evening kind of blurred from there on. Don’t get me wrong, it was a great evening, but it was so unexpected and the rest of the weekend just kind of swirled into one revolving door of memories. What I couldn’t get over was how good she looked. She had her hair in a short bob, and it looked fantastic on her. I was just wowed by how good she looked.

I remember when I made plans to visit my sister when she lived in Calgary, AB and how bad things turned out, as opposed to the way we had hoped. At least they didn’t turn out well for me, and I literally was counting the days until I went back home. I don’t know what happened because I thought it was a foot in the right direction. We fought and when we didn’t, we didn’t speak to one another. It was just a bad scene. I wanted a relationship with my sister and I had no idea how to go about it. Well fast forward about 15 years, and voila! My mom always reminds me of when I started sending Serena a card of encouragement, or one of love every month. I then had the nerve to suggest to my Mom she do the same. I knew she didn’t like the idea at first, but the Holy Spirit warmed her up to the idea, and before I knew it, she was sending my sister cards too. It didn’t happen overnight, but the relationship that I shared collectively with my sister and Mom has gained a strong foundation once  again.

When I go looking for a picture for the post, I usually have something in mind, but finding the right one for this post was tricky. I wanted to find something that not only said surprise, but also expressed the different turns a surprise can take. The coals look cool, but they’re not. I wanted to acknowledge that even though my sister’s visit was a huge blessing to me. I had a hard time trusting my sister because she unlike me, she expressed herself quite well.

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How to Say Good-Bye

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She wore pink lipstick.

It was towards the end of January 1989, and I remember her wearing a long green coat buttoned up all the way to the colourful scarf that was wrapped around her neck. On her head a grey felted hat that she had worn on previous occasions, and on her feet, she wore galoshes, the kind that were similar to the ones that Mary Poppins would wear. All this for a trip to the hospital, but my Bubi always made an attempt to look nice when she went out. I don’t remember a lot of snow on the ground. For some reason I was home as my Dad was taking my Bubi to the hospital to have gangrene removed off her foot. I knew at the time it was because she had diabetes, but it didn’t occur to me that they would be amputating her whole toe. I know better  through past clients I’ve had.

My Mom told me to go say good-bye to Bubi, but at first, I refused because I figured I would see her soon enough, and sometimes I thought my mom treated Bubi better than she should. Whenever she made a batch of muffins, or something that she thought Bubi would enjoy, she would pop over(since we lived right next door to her) and leave her a few. This made me mad because I believed at the time, if she shared, there would be none left for us. Of course, this never happened, and my Mom always assured me that if we did run out, she’d simply make more.

For some reason I couldn’t be bothered to say good-bye to Bubi because I figured she would be back soon enough. I ended up saying good-bye so that I could placate my Mom – it formed a mental picture of how Bubi looked as she departed for the hospital with my Dad.

And depart she did.

It was the last time I saw I ever saw her. She died of Congestive Heart Failure, a condition she had a time before, but this time she didn’t recover from it. It had never occurred to me that Bubi would die, I just figured she would live for as long as I needed her. I was only 13 years old, and my sense of time as all children that age is warped. I thought she would be around forever. I always like to think that I had indeed said good-bye, even though it wasn’t in quite the way I would’ve like it.

My world always included Bubi, so the shock of it was like having icy cold water thrown on me on a hot, humid day. I didn’t know, so I was probably going through a grieving process of some kind. I didn’t even know even know the word, Providence, existed and that her passing was a result, but God had everything in control. Nothing was out-of-place, but to me everything was out-of-place, and the following year, it continued to be pulled to shreds because my parents split.

A few weeks ago, I was having a discussion with my Mom. In the beginning it had nothing to do with saying good-bye, but in the end, it was all about how I say good-bye. As I struggled to explain to her what was going on inside, I could see that image of Bubi as she waited to be taken to the hospital for the last time. This ‘heaviness’ hung inside of me, and though I could not fully say what it was, I tried my best, and yes I do make and have made a point of saying good-bye to her each time.

 

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Remember Who You Are

 

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Breathe.

It’s something we take for granted, something we forget that it’s an action that keeps us alive. Remember every inhale and exhale involves the scared. Simple actions can create triggers inside people and without realizing it, they let go of who they are.

I am worthy.

My sister instructed me to repeat those words, I just wanted to talk and she just wanted to be the good sister that she is to me.  It was all coming back and how, I did feel unworthy of so many things. Ask and it shall be given to you. Matthew~7:7    I didn’t ask, but it didn’t mean it wasn’t in my heart, and of course, He knows our thoughts, desires, wishes for He desired them first.

I don’t want her to talk so much, but she was trying to show me through the experiences she went through that she undersands me. I forget sometimes that she grew up with me. I realize how little I knew of who she was growing up. She remembers things about me that I did and now I do not remember.

A fire has been lit in her, and for every situation that is beyond her control, she surrenders to her Lord. Yes, she is His, just as much as He is hers. Never would I imagine that I would be about learning how much I can trust her. He is faithful and trustworthy in all things.

She did listen but not as silently as I had wished, hoped or would’ve tried to control. As I struggled to listen and wonder what relevance her experience(s) had to do with my situation. I closed my eyes and breathed.  Silently You drew out what you needed to tell me, and everything came rushing forward to me. Incidents that happened over a week and a half ago, suddenly lay naked in front of me. The pain I refused to let go of didn’t pierce my heart anymore. The pinch lessened as my understanding expanded in my heart, and the anxiety,doubt and anger dissolved.

Put on a Pedestal

No I’m not on a pedestal, but I put someone else who is a sinner just like me in that position. I don’t know all her struggles or triumphs, but from where I stand, sit or lie, her vantage point of view is better than from where I am standing. I will never know everything about her, but I have been focusing on what she has, but not on what she lacks. What she lacks, I have in an abundance, and what she has, I don’t know if I’ll ever have.

I love words, which probably explains my love of reading and writing. I like letting words work themselves all around in my head, and I silently say each syllable. I repeat this word as one would chew on their food. How do I feel about it? What does it remind me of ? What colour is it? Maybe what I lack is a gain, a reward that will continue to bloom in my life until it has been exhausted. When it is gone, I will go back and remember who I am, and I will remember to breathe.