Friday, July 24, 2015

It's Still a Struggle

How could I ever know the meaning of love?  Love, the ever obscure romantic idea that everyone seems to die, strive, lie and fight and struggle with and for and about and to and of.  Of.  What.  I was told as a child by hundreds of people that God is love, the very embodiment of love.  More than hundreds of people actually.  Thousands of sermons.  More than.  Love was a fleeting kind word met by a firestorm of hatred, words unfurled, disrobed of love.  A broken glass, eye glasses lost, a laugh too loud, psychotic tendencies would turn a normal day into a rage of crazed volleying of words, flailing hands and arms, I want to hit you, but I didn’t, but I could hit you pitted feeling inside of you all afternoon sometimes all night sometimes all day sometimes in the car on the way to church in the car on the way home in the car was the worst.  This was one of my pictures of life and was it love?  It was my life.  My mom tried to love me.  My dad tried to love me.  His attempts at love were covered over in a muddy mess of radical religious thoughts, control and mental illness, undetected abuse, but we should have been protected from this mental illness.  If the community really was a community at all they would detect, defend, help diagnose, help deter and confront, help my mom.  Support my mom and be there for her.  She was a wage earner.  We could have made it, but she needed support.

 My dad would beat me for being funny, for being a kid, for breaking stuff, one of the worst beatings I ever got from him was for whisking past a glass jar of coffee grounds and it smashed and broke to pieces, mingled glass, coffee grounds, mingled glass, coffee grounds, kid messes.  He grabbed me by the arm, dragged me dangling by the arm and I peed the whole way there...I couldn’t help it, I was made him even more angry.  The mess.  The inconvenience.  He beat me so hard and so long that his belt buckle flew through the air and hit the wall.  I remember that red face and labored breath...every single time he was done beating me.  For being a child.  For having an unbreakable will.  And unbreakable spirit.  He hated me because I was tough.  I hardly cried.  I didn’t let him shake my joy as a small child.  I think that made him very angry and drove him to beat me more than my sister.  Don’t ask me how.  I don’t know how.  God, I guess.  Or maybe I was just so tough myself.  He fought, crazed.  He beat crazed.  He lived crazed.  None of it made sense to my small heart.  I would pray to a God that I thought was there despite being beaten in his very name.  Yes, I was beat in His name.  Jesus’ name.  God’s name.  I was beaten for being a beautiful child with dreams and gifts.  I was told to shut up when I sang.  Stop singing he shouted to me whenever I sang.  That was my main gift...I could sing.  And that voice has been with me ever since in my head...shut up.  Don’t sing.  Don’t live.  Nobody wants to hear you.  Are you crazy?  Nobody wants to see you fly and I will make you pay for trying to find your wings.  It wasn’t intentional.  My dad was insane.  He was mentally and clinically ill and in the religious, independent fundamental baptist community Jesus was enough.  Secular psychiatrists were frowned upon.  He didn’t mean it but he did...I don’t think he could control how he was or maybe, could he?  This is something I battle.  He was angry.  Angry isn’t a good enough word...Is there a better one?  I don’t know. 


He was angrier about the child like messes and mistakes we all made than our worst offenses.  I remember bold faced lying, lies I told to my dad that I was caught in and he would tell it again and you will be in trouble.  He said that often for really bad stuff.  He didn’t beat me as much for bad stuff, but for being an inconvenience.  For being a child.  For being a kid.  For being the creature I was created to be. For trying to find my wings while making silly little mistakes.  I was a joy to others.  I was a joy I think to my mom.  But not to him.  To my siblings?  We all wanted to like each other, but we were so damaged we didn’t know how.  We just didn’t know how to get along with each other and the majority of us still don’t know.  There is a small desire somewhere in our souls to be a unified family but there is a huge risk for coming together for staying together for being there for each other it almost feels impossible and almost dangerous.  

What of it all?  What is the meaning of this? 

People say get over it.  Move on.  Let go.  Forgive and forget. 
I dabble between two worlds...forgiving and not forgiving. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

My Thoughts As I Say Good-bye to the Sea

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Giving up the American dream on purpose: Coming up for air in a delusional nation of Christians

Just throwing my thoughts out there for a book I'd like to write.

Giving up the American dream on purpose: Coming up for air in a delusional nation of Christians
It took quite a moment, quite a long moment, a definitive moment of understanding when I realized that I’ve been fed a sack of bologna a good portion of my short life.  Awareness of the person I was and the person I desire to become emerged and clashed drastically in a battle of critical thinking.  This ability to think for myself exploded just a few years ago and it’s the biggest battle I have had to face.  The contrast of so many doctrines, beliefs and notions steeped within me by others caused so many critical errors in my dealing with life, in dealing with people.  There were casualties everywhere, including myself.  Not all my thinking was done for me growing up, but on the issues in life that mattered most I was very much spoon fed, force fed and in some cases left to starve as questions within me arose and went ignored.  Those honest questions were also a threat to many along my journey.  And why would honest questions ever be a threat to anyone?  Maybe I asked dumb questions at times, but really, when did a child or anyone, for that matter, ever have a dumb question about God, about religion, about our world, when those very questions came from within their own souls and more importantly they came from an honest heart?  And with the ignoring of my questions came my acceptance of the inevitable life planned out before me in a never ending line of exact and precise steps.  These steps, unbeknownst to me at the time, would totally shape how I lived, how I loved or didn’t love, how I treated others, all others, how I thought of myself in an endless world of ways to offend God, what I thought of God, and where I put myself on a pedestal between God and man.  If only every parent pondered what they did, how they taught, lived and thought before and while they were having kids.  If only I started seeing how much I shape my children before and while I first began raising my own kids.  I would have done many things much differently.  And what things would that be?  I’ll get to that quite a bit later.  For now let’s take a tactical pause, a dramatic, life-giving methodical pause and think.  
Where have you been and where are you going and where do you want to go with your thoughts, with your life?  How has your life been defined by the people in your life?  Go back to your own childhood and ask how much of your decision making, your thought life and your treatment of yourself and others has been tainted by someone else’s spiritual design for you or destruction of you?  This book is for you if you are left today feeling like you have been a religious zombie, living life on auto pilot, following the path of your predecessors.  Did someone decide to make you into some sort of spiritual Frankenstein, being forced to freakishly dole out the system that was stored in you by others?  I say again this book is for you.  This is a place for you to be received.  Pull up a chair, have a seat and may the words of these finite pages holding words of infinite desire to help, may they touch the part of your heart that needs to be healed.  And ultimately may you be set free in time.  Take all the time you need. 
All in all, processing starts here, at the beginning.   

In the beginning there was a child
Growing up God’s way according to some, mom’s life in her home
Dad’s path to religious fundamentalism
Christianity, mental illness, fear and ignorance
Spiritual molestation of children and its five results(five children’s responses to spiritual abuse)
Groomed for control, to be controlled and to control others
Masquerading ignorantly until the cycle ends

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Never Miss the Point: Part One

I saw a post from a friend that led to Ted Dekker's facebook page.  I really liked his mind.  I like the way he seems to be, full of something that was truly good.  I was intrigued.  He is a Christian author who I had regrettably never heard of before.  His page led to my reading his mention of a scholarship program to attend the Re:Write Christian writers conference.  I had my oldest, first born son in mind when I applied for scholarships to attend because he desperately wants to be a fiction author but longs for direction.  I thought this might be just the thing for him.  I had personally never been to a writers workshop or conference and up until the last few years never really attempted writing and certainly never considered myself any sort of writer in any way.  I, I, I, I.  Time for some new words.

Then Mark said.  Mark said...circumstances that surrounded him writing The Circle Maker were small steps that led to a greater picture.  This coincidental thing just happened that led to this and to that until...


A new email showed up in my inbox about a week later.  It was the folks over at Re:Write telling me that we had gotten the scholarships to go.  Stoked, I ran over to the site to register us for this event totally unsure of what to expect, but I felt like something great was going to happen to us, that we would learn something outer bounds of amazing.  I booked a cheap hotel, you know, the one where the police knock on your door and demand to know who's inside for know apparent reason and then tell you, oops, sorry wrong room.

The feeling continued to run deep down inside my bones, that change was coming, something is coming, don't know what it is, but it is coming to me.  The air is humming and something great is coming.  Come on.  Deliver.  To me.  Thanks, West Side Story.

Now how all the details surrounding getting to Austin, Texas, figuring out who would watch my other five kids while me and my son attended and the like had yet to be figured out, but I knew it would work out somehow for some reason.  In actuality, my husband truly made it all happen.  He started a new job and had his own details to figure out, but he squeezed his appointments and obligations together just so we could go without much trouble.  Looking back, I should have made it easier for him by packing the children's bags and preparing them for the little journey they were going on, but my mom got sick and I flew out to see her child free for five days.  We thought we were close to the end with her so I wanted to make a small trip to see her just in case it was our last days together.  This conference came directly after my visit with her and all these events surrounded my husband starting his new job.  He was trying to make me happy.  He was encouraging me in every way until...

I flew back from my mom's to Dallas and he came to pick me.  He drove up to the arrival doors at the airport, I opened the car door and trash, tooth paste, clothes, coats and stuff fell out of the door.  Not seeing all that my husband had done for me in full retrospect the last week, I looked at all the things falling out of the door and before I could stop myself it was too late.  My first words to him after all he did for me and for the kids and yes, for his boss, my very first words were a complaint about the stuff falling out of the car.  He was immediately disheartened and so were the kids who just longed to hear I miss you and love you from their mom.  I was so completely concerned that someone saw all the mess, junk and stuff and all the judgments that surround having a larger family ensued my mind.  I back pedaled.  I tried to say sorry.  I tried to be upbeat but all I could think about was how dirty and messy that car was and why in the world was it?  It drove me nuts.  I immediately started cleaning the whole car out.  You'd think I'd learn my lesson just by saying those initial words, but no, I had to get it all clean before I could have ten decent words with my family. 

It was a long three hours on to Austin. 

I should've.  I should've.  I should've.

Shoulda' coulda' woulda'


My coulda's clouded the entire weekend.  I don't think I made anymore complaints.  But my life is one big complaint too much of the time.  I don't even see it anymore.  I don't know how to catch myself.  I don't know how to stop myself.  I don't know if there is any way to stop committing so much complaint or critical jabbing at myself.  At my family.  At others.  I grew up this way.  I feel it's horribly and irreversibly inbred and unbreakable.  It's pathetic.  It feels hopeless in many ways.  I keep telling myself to get over myself.  To admit, to improve.       

Then Ted said.  Ted said...Judgments are personal fears reflected onto others.

I judge.  I criticize.  I complain.

Then he said, "Who are you pretending to be today?  We live in story.  Rewrite what you believe about yourself today."

I believe I can't be helped, that there is no possible way that I can change, but yet, people have to put up with me on a daily basis.  I can be very loveable, but then not appealing in the smallest way because my words will injure and cause fall out.  I have created fall out in my marriage that creates another kind of fall out that creates another kind, that creates another kind...

Then Sandy said.  Sandy said...create your culture, ignore your critics and opposers!

I am my own worst critic.  These cliche and well often spoken thoughts are still true.  Always have been true for me.  I am a mom to six.  I am a homeschooler.  I am a wife of almost 16 years.  I want to follow the real Jesus, the real God.  I want to follow my love of music and the love of writing with reckless abandon.  I am reeling inside every single day about what I did or didn't do and I've passed those decrepit feelings I carry on to others, worst of all, my own beloved family.  Yes, they are my most beloved and my greatest wish on planet earth is to make them feel love and encouragement daily....but that is SO hard to do if I do not love myself and don't feel loved and encouraged.

But what does it take to feel that...for me?  DO I even know?

Sandy also said...release courage over someone.  Maybe that someone is myself?  Myself.  It's selfish.  Myself is extremely and embarrassingly selfish.  But courage.  Me.  I need courage to see myself for who I truly am and face it.  Face the ugly truth head on.  I have been given SO much but my gratefulness hasn't shined as much or as high as what I've been given.  My reality has been washed over by how I have been raised and by not listening to others and by myself and most importantly not listening to God.  He so understands me, but He does want me to hear from Him.  He is so patient, but He does want me to shut up and listen sometimes, too.

C.S. Lewis received 800 rejection letters for his books before he was finally published.

Rejection of self, self-inflicted rejection...all can be overcome.  Persevere.  

Write.  Engage.  Explore.  Track.  Miss Diaz graced us with her words.  Applicable to life.  Applicable to mine. Me.  Mine.

She said, she said...turn around errors by being transparent.  Being real.  Being honest.  I need to get honest with myself  and face fear and irresponsibility for my actions head on.  For real.

Susan May Warren said.  She said if your writing journey hasn't changed you, you missed the point.

This blog post has changed me.  Time to face the music and embrace forgiveness and love of self.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

I Really Am Done Now

Does anyone know the life I lead here?

At my house, in church, in the places I should feel most comfortable and call home there is all out war in my mind, my heart, my soul.  It’s not physical.  It’s mental, it’s emotional and above all, it’s spiritual.  

I’m supposed to know without a doubt where I am going to end up when I die, that there is an afterlife, that there is a hell where most people (I’m told) will burn forever.  I’ve heard that kids go there, I’ve heard that kids don’t go there.  I’ve heard that mentally handicapped children go there, well, if there predestined to go there.  I’ve heard that maybe there is not a hell.  I’ve heard that if I don’t go to church every time there is church that I am being unfaithful and therefore, sinful.  I’ve experienced missing church only to discover no one wonders where I am and the reality is no one has a life with me or knows me outside of the church.  I’ve heard that speaking certain words during prayer is forbidden and sinful.  I’ve heard that children should be spanked and often, and should be totally under control by force if necessary.  I’ve been told if you can’t or won’t or don’t speak in a so-called tongue that you do not know Jesus Christ in a personal way.  I’ve been told that I will know when I’ve received the baptism of the Holy Spirit.  Something is going to happen.  Something amazing always needs to be happening or there is a lack of faith, a lack of God, a lack of Spirit or a dryness or a shallowness, or, or, or...  I’m told to keep seeking the Lord, His Spirit until I see miracles, see visions and dream dreams.  Some say the “faithful” ones are inherently blessed and will not get sick, not suffer disease and that their finances are supple and unending.  I could be on this one paragraph all day.  All night.  All year.  All millennia. 

I was born into this.  I was programmed for this.  I didn’t have choices.  My choices were made for me.  There was nothing else.  There was no one else.  There was no other experience.  I have left many thoughts, many of these above, but far below the mark thoughts behind, only to discover that there are new people with new thoughts and plans, great and supposed wonderful plans, but it’s all the same old song and dance. 

It’s dizzying.  It’s exhausting.  It’s confusing.  It’s madness.   

Bullying.  Passive aggression.  Manipulation.  Fear driven belief.  Sick control of all of the surrounding environments.  Smiles, politeness, kindness, manners.  It’s like being raped while the rapist says please and thank you and your welcome and handles you with the most delicate care all while you scream in horror. 
I am supposed to be sure about what I believe.  I am surrounded by people who seem so very sure that they are right on so many  levels, layering ever taller and then those that are so sure they are right disagree with each other whether or not they among themselves are right.  There is a sectioning off, then a divide, then a vehement seething waste of comparing.  If we all just do x,y and z, we will be fine, in fact, we will be great and what those letters stand for is different for each spiritual group that seals themselves off.  

Well, I am not great and I am not fine and I have been doing this whole x,y and z thing in one religious group or another for decades.  I don’t know any more about all of these spiritual carrots people set before me and a huge host of others constantly.  Visions, dreams, speaking in tongues, the back packing it for Jesus stuff, the just feel the Spirit stuff, the neatly and tightly controlled environment we put and keep our children in, the scriptural trumpeting, the cherry picking of thought, language, semantics, ideas, feelings, emotions, the manipulation, the downright manipulation of others, the talking over you, above you conversations, the unrelenting covering up of the dirty, dingy details of life, ourselves, where we really are and what we really think, the sing songy positivity that never allows for one moment of anxiety, sadness or fear, the forcing on of prayer, of words, the pre-empting of human permission.  We must give up our humanness.  We must stop being human beings.  I don’t know how to do that.    

The past takes us to the present which leads ultimately to the future.  Here we are.  It’s the present.  It’s the good old here and now or the bad old here and now.  It’s both.  It’s all good and all bad.    
My life is very full, but yet it is very empty.  I long to possess empathy and real life answers, I want to live caring.  I don’t want to live an uncaring life, but I find myself surrounded by people who are uncaring, ignoring and elite, not toward themselves, of course, but towards those who just don’t make the cut economically, socially, physically, spiritually, mentally, emotionally.  If we were really listening to God would we find only the people that resembled ourselves closely and then hold them tightly, rarely allowing those from diverse, socio-economic worlds into our care and friendship?

What is this?

It happens day in and day out.
The confusion goes on and on while I believe the real God is simply ignored.  Just blasphemously ignored, shunned.  Christ?  He has nothing to do with any of this stuff.  Seek and you will find.  Yes.  I agree but not in this mess.  I’m in a mess and I don’t how to get out.      

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Are You Really Pro-life?

I just visited with a lady who I have known for about three years who has three children. Both her and her girls used to live with the mother's grandmother on and off since they were born.  In an attempt to paint a picture and make an important point I will say that the girls' mother has been in and out of towns and jobs, does not have a G.E.D. or diploma of any kind, lives in HUD housing, doesn't have a job, a car, is on welfare and has caused quite a bit of trouble for many people over the years.  She recently had that third baby, gets child support for her two older children and lives with the third baby's father who does work, but the relationship is up and down.  The CPS has been involved with the family since fingerprint bruises were found on both of the baby's arms and the mom does not know who would have given the baby bruises.  Yes, this is very alarming and sad and I really hope she isn't the one perpetrating the abuse. 

The children seemed better this visit when very often they seem lost, forlorn, disconnected and have that far away look in their eyes, especially the older child.  It's okay for now.  Life is a little quieter again since they now have their own place to stay, the kids are in school and life has calmed down.  I have visited with the mother many times and she does seem changed to me, but still comes across as being very out of touch in some ways with where she is in life and in the way she includes people who could be very toxic for her and her children.  I've tried to help her as I can by providing rides, a place to stay, friendship to her and her children, a listening ear and as I say life has quieted down for now, but it has many times done that before only to blow up once again.

All this to is one example of a girl, well, she's older than a girl now, but she was what I would consider a girl when she started having babies.  Here is a woman who decided not to abort any of her three children.  To that I would say, yes, I am definitely glad. 

I am pro-life.  But not just for the babies.  I am pro-life for all.  I am pro-life for this woman and the two fathers of her children.  I am pro-family.  I am for helping people rise from the ashes.  I am for families coming together in healthy environments and finding solutions for unhealthy environments.  Helping people because I am pro-people.  All people.  It's easy to be pro-life and even easier to just "say" that you are pro-life, but if you are truly pro-life you must be on this life instilling trip for the long haul for all that have breath in their bodies.    

And they know.  Many of them know that they are at the bottom, but they have failed for so long and fallen so far that they secretly feel hopeless.  Many of them.  And this girl, this woman came to me in tears as she was being threatened by her family members and needed a place to stay with her children.  She sat for hours when she first arrived and cried bitterly.  I had never seen her cry before then.  Regrets and hopelessness had set in it seemed to me.  And we talked about jobs, getting her G.E.D., a better way to get her HUD housing quicker, she used my computer to keep her food stamps up to date, she had a place to lay her head for now.  And...she is undeserving.  She doesn't deserve kindness, she has been a user, crude and rude to her family and many other things.  Even her dirty, low down, user friends don't want her.  They kicked her out of their house.  She doesn't necessarily deserve love.  But I believe Jesus calls me to a higher standard.  If any man asks you for bread do not give him a stone, if your coat is stolen give the thief your cloak also, love your enemies and do good to those who hate and despise you.  Yeah, it's crazy thinking for many, but this is my belief.  My belief.      

I would also say that I think that adoption is just as devastating for many mothers as abortion may be down the road for those same mothers.  I have six kids and I could not even begin to imagine adopting a single one of them out no matter what my circumstance, but we will preach from the hill tops...just adopt your baby out, just adopt your baby out...all will be well.  No, I don't think so.  Yes, it is a step in this process that can have very good outcomes in some ways, but what would be better than a healthy child with their own healthy parents in a good environment.  This is what we should strive for and what they should strive for in deal with their own need for personal accountability.  And when this absolutely cannot be achieved then adoption is viable, then the children are put in better homes, etc.  I know it seems idealistic and far from being the norm in society, but I totally think a healthy(not perfect) family format is a norm we need to get back to.  Helping people who have grown up in less than suitable environments tackle parenting and how to deal in relationships with healthy boundaries.  I grew up in an extremely abusive environment, but I still don't think I'd want to be adopted out or aborted.  Not to say that we want to shove kids quickly back into abusive homes, but we must define abuse clearly or we may all lose our children, because we as parents fail and often.  We need to define abuse clearly and we also need to know when enough is enough when it comes to discarding people who can be saved.  Aborting adults.  Aborting people who can be saved.  

So, this pro-life stance is much more complicated than we think at first understanding.  We chime from every hill top...don't abort...don't abort...adopt...adopt...  And we can't save everyone and idealism bites the dust.  I get it, but let us be pro-life from the top down to the very babies themselves. 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Free to Fail: Teaching Kids to Care While Letting Them Be Themselves

For about a year, give or take a few months, days, well, hopefully not years, I have had a well of feelings, thoughts, emotions and experiences stew in this big pot of my mind some relating to this blog post and some not.  Yes, a well is stewing in a pot.  A whole well of dripping wet life in all of its drama or serious lack of drama, the drab, mundane life mixed together in a pot bubbling, brewing, bubble, bubble, toil and trouble(thanks, Shakespeare) and the pot is boiling over.  There's much I do not understand.  I never could understand a lot of things and that drives me nuts.  I like solving things, figuring things out, figuring people out, figuring life out and there's way too much I am having a hard time cracking.  I also thrive in the world of observation.  Sometimes I get the great wide world I am observing right and other times I get it wrong.  Sometimes I get it all wrong, what I observe.  I perceive, yet sometimes I don't really see.  We all do that.  I get it.  I don't want to wallow in that truth too much.  We all fail.  We are freetofail.  And way, way more than once. You heard me right.  I want to step back from the proverbial plow of control and take a deep breath, but it's hard.   

And my kids.  You see, they are growing up and I wonder about a great many things way more now than I ever have before.  We are charting new territory over here.  I've got little boys and little girls who don't want to be little boys and little girls any more.  They like their friends.  They like their time away and they are exploring a whole new world of acceptation, rejection, triumph in small ways, seemingly small ways to me, their mother, but huge to them.  What appear to be giant issues, subjects, mindsets to my children can seem insignificant to an adult, to adults at large, to me, but we've seen these things.  We adults for the most part know how to divide the real from the unreal in our minds way more than they do.  I remember what life was like when I was thirteen, don't you?

And kids say things.  They say a whole bunch of things.  Today I heard from one of my kids that Paul Simon's music was annoying and retarded.  I was offended.  I was listening to my "happy" music.  My Brown Eyed Girl, Don't Worry Be Happy and You Can Call Me Al was playing this morning as an introduction to some good old tunes.  Okay, so You Can Call Me Al by Paul Simon may not have been the best introduction to his music, but, hey, I love that song.  I just assumed that my kids would love it too.  Then throughout the day there were a bunch of unkind jokes made about certain types of people.  Not any person in particular but people groups in general, but I still didn't like what I was hearing.  No biggie.  Kids say things.  They say a lot of things, but I still wanted to sit them down and make a few things clear.

We don't make fun of people even certain types of people.  I don't care what the reasoning behind the teasing.  We don't tell jokes at the expense of others.  Ever.  Call me intolerant.  An intolerant mother.  Good.  I'm glad to be intolerant in this area at least.  And speaking of intolerance, everybody is different.  Nobody is the same.  Profound, isn't it?  And some people are just annoyingly dead wrong and still continue on in their flawed thinking after being warned, but even still everybody should be treated with politeness and with kindness.  If other people can't distribute the same good behavior in return to you then you are not required to be in their company.  That's fair I think.  When me and my family look at people, I want us to see souls full of worth in each and every one of the people we meet.  Okay, I am a little serious about this.  I'm deep.  I go overboard.  Maybe I need to lighten up, but I believe each person has value, created in the image of God and although we may not be able to make room for everyone we'd like to befriend or reach or teach or touch or share with or help, we can still take the time to see the view of the people from where we are standing in the moment, see who's there, share a hello or a kind word and if we are able also put ourselves in their own shoes.

We all walk into rooms, on to fields, into homes, and on the streets with all sorts of people.  We pick people out of a crowd and gravitate toward the commonalities we possess in synch with our passions or desires.  It's normal.  There are those who shine with all the confidence in the world and there are those who long for one person to notice them, enough to catapult them into their own confidence.  There are kids who can talk to anyone and there are kids who can only talk to kids their same gender, same age, same grade, same hair style, same car, same music appreciation tastes, oh, you know.  Nothing wrong with that in general.  But if their care for others only extends that far then I would question where they are headed in life.  If they can only have a meaningful conversation with those who look, smell and behave the same way that they do they are limiting themselves and missing out on what the great, wide world of people has to offer.  In the same way if they can only be kind to those just like themselves then I am seriously alarmed.  I know.  I know.  Idealism.  Idealistic parenting.  I have visions of sugar plums dancing in my head.  I get it.  I don't want to be completely unrealistic.  I really don't.  Kids say things.  They live.  They do.  They fail.  They are freetofail.  They need to be allowed to be themselves and also be allowed to fail.  Please allow your kids to fail.  They learn so much from failure.  

But kids also see what their parents do.  They observe.  Kids are avid observers.  They see when you ignore certain kinds of people.  They hear when you speak to people in some sort of varied or categorical deference.  If you make fun of others for their religious differences they will too.  Whatever you give license to in your treatment of others they may repeat and with high fluidity.  Being a kid is hard enough.  You want them to be themselves, give them the wriggle room they need to grow and learn, allow them plenty of space to breathe and plenty much more room to fail, but we certainly don't want to set our kids up for failure.  Now, therein lies the rub and it's never too late to learn from our mistakes, to learn and grow on this journey with our kids, teaching them to care, teaching them to be themselves, and teaching them that failure is part of the path we take and learning from failure is the smartest thing we can do.    

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Free to Let Our Children Think for Themselves

One day I was at a friend's house and I was relating my experiences with her about how I have seen more and more Christians or put more broadly, believers in God become atheists or have heard them just seriously question whether there was the existence of God.  It was one of our many mornings spent together conversing about a myriad of subjects that were important to us while her children were about us playing.  The words atheist and doubting God strung off my tongue once again in our drawn out conversation and I was abruptly shushed by my friend while she glared at her children in the room.  She obviously didn't want her children hearing those words even in their proper context of our conversation.  I was conveying my words with sadness that people had been wasted by their religion or whatever belief system that had been crudely or wrongfully or disdainfully thrust upon them, so I wondered why I was being quieted.   

The word atheist has a meaning, maybe more than one.  All words have meaning and some of them have hidden or subliminal meanings depending on the teller of those words.  I use to be horrified by my kids hearing any cuss words at all by anyone.  My kids were perfectly self-righteous in their ability to see weakness or differences in others and rant about them to me in public and private as if we were some sort of morality inducing gestapo.  I had not in my mothering past taught them how to hear and observe logically or sympathetically or without condescension, but rather I served up regular, paranoid, schizophrenic style labeling, parenting and teaching all backed by the dishes of belief that were served up to me as a child and young adult.  The trickle down effect can be devastating, stifling and growth stunting. 

And I understand shielding little children from overall exposure to strong, unsavory people, scenarios and words, of course, as parents we should do that, but if they happen to encounter things that fly in the face of what you adhere to in everyday life, they must eventually be able to hear, see or experience anything under the microscope of thinking, critical thinking on every level.  And to critically think is to critically understand and to critically understand is to critically know and to critically know is to critically and honestly and fully live.  Yes, can you imagine a whole life fraught with critical living and doing and being?  And therefore leading to a life that critically thrives and fully loves.

Kids will never be able to understand things that they are not allowed to hear or talk about.  Kids will never fully derive their own honest and heart felt belief system or way of living on this earth without talking about everything and being allowed to ask all their questions, being unafraid to pose words in any order to parents whatever they may be.  To let the children hammer it out with the help from those that love them.  To go through the motion of understanding and belief hand and hand with them.  Hearing the words atheist and doubting God will not magically go into a child's head and forever shape their belief system for good.  It is an option, though, isn't it?  Being an atheist.  It's not one I would encourage my children to take, but it is something to talk about, isn't it?  One of many, many, many things we need to talk about with our children.  And talking with our kids takes time and the more you have the more time it takes to let each one go through the hearing, observing and thinking process out loud, raw in its original form and real, just really real.  And when this process occurs again and again and again at home just think of how well your children will be equipped to freethink and honestly convey their own thoughts when confronted with this world and all of its ideas and life and things, beautiful and unsavory.

Let's stop shushing our friends, hey, they are our friends for a reason, and more importantly let's forever cease the shushing of our children.    

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Father, Forgive Them

I was running around town on my usual, busy Friday and here in the bible belt, the city that has the most churches per square mile than any other place in the entire U. S. of A, I read a sign.  Yes.  You read right.  I read a sign.  In fact, I read many signs.  In front of churches.  They are all over town.  Little quips, sometimes bible verses, but mostly quick witted, far sighted, closed minded groups of words on boards with removable letters.  The letters have to be removable to change what is said from week to week, month to month, year to year, decade after decade.  And I do believe I see more churches open now than I ever have before in this big town.  Churches in shopping centers.  Churches in movie theaters.  Churches on the beach.  Churches in huge complexes of many buildings and landscapes.  Tiny churches on little corners or way out in the country with open blue skies floating majestically above them.  Well, out front of one of these churches was a sign, there's usually a sign.  The sign read, "Father, forgive them."

And instantly I thought...subliminally thought, a quick, popped-up sentence in my head...yes, Father, forgive them for they know not what to do with the circumstances they have been handed in life.  I let that thought set for about three seconds in my mind and then I suddenly became angry.  Father, forgive them, people who many or most have suffered in life, or have been programmed for cruelty, some seemingly beyond any repair, who have been handed not what they asked for, and have had a trickle down effect of such circumstances that continue to flood down the stair of every generation of their familial life?  All due to Adam and Eve sinning in the garden?  All due to their wicked nature they were born with at birth?  I have had to recently grapple with these thoughts I have never even dared to think before.

Babies are born totally wicked, depraved and sinful or so I have been told.  Children have messy, evil, mistake filled lives, supposedly, unless we constantly intervene.  And all adults are bound for hell without seeing how lost they are without Jesus.  But is this the whole story? Is this fully true?  Are many in evangelical churches at large leaving wide open gaps of understanding left misunderstood?  Is it okay to ask questions without fear of retribution and abandonment in these churches?  I have been in church for the better or worse part of my life.  Questions that test the traditional belief systems were ignored or swept aside.  These questions leave you lonely with feeble, hallow answers that never settle the soul.  And I know that many questions we have about life, God, the bible and how it all works may never be answered and what it boils down to, is what do I choose to believe.  It's my choice.  And, yes, despite the questions I have posing a threat to many, many people in the great, wide world of the churched, I do want to make the right choice in the way I believe.  

Many things are unclear and I am human.  The journey I am on is hinged in many ways on these two elements.  Father, forgive me.  I am human.  I was born into a family.  I was born to a person who had an absolute design thrust upon my soul, etched in self-righteousness and piety, but no real personal kindness or love for people or life or family.  Father, forgive me.  Father, forgive me for being in churches my whole life that caused me to stare down my nose at the rest of the free world who did not fall in line with my particular belief system.  Father, forgive me, for spending years of my life isolating, criticizing and abandoning people.  And on and on.  On and on I could go.

And that board.  That board I read.  It's missing a few words.  Very crucial words...and how could you leave them out?  Tell us the whole story, not just part of it.  Jesus, the son of God, was crucified, and hanged on the cross in agony.  I believe He really did live and die for me.  I choose that belief for myself.  He spoke to His Father in heaven while being mocked continuously, spit upon...He could barely speak.  His mouth was dry, his body was almost done from the pain and it took every ounce of his effort to say these words and He didn't have to exert Himself to say them, but He did.  "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."  Jesus could have said a lot of things.  He alone spoke a very few words while hanging on the cross.  No, He looked at grown men and women who were yelling, screaming, spitting, mocking, cursing, belittling, throwing what they could, words of pain, cruel shots of words into the atmosphere.  Adults.  They were old enough to know better.  But they didn't do better.  They were taught that Jesus was an absolute imposter, a threat to their God of the Old Testament and not the true Messiah.  Jesus knew that.  He understood that.   

"Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."  They just don't know.  

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Freetoend the Fear and Anxiety in Parenting

Yeah, I am calling for a moratorium, a huge death to transpire and for myself the most, because I know myself and no one else the best.  I can fix my own thoughts the most and not as much the thoughts of others.  I can influence, but I must have strategy in doing so.  I will learn, I have learned, I am learning.  I have lived in fear for too long in my parenting.  I have six kids in which I want to love and influence, but yet again, the desire is to do so with some serious strategical forethought.  And these thoughts I extend to you.  

And the truth unabashedly, but embarrassingly is that I am afraid that my kids are going to grow up and get messed up or be messed up.   I worry.  I have anxiety.  I want to control everything they do, where they go and what they say and how they live.  I know I don't give myself enough credit because I have in a lot of ways overcome some of that type of control.  I now understand that I must help protect, teach and guide my kids instead of being bent on controlling them.  I know those aspects of parenting should never stop ever or some of my kids will be messed up I think.  Well, I think I know that to be true, given what I have seen with my own eyes, not yours, but mine.  But there it is.  The truth.  I am oh, so worried and I watch too much news and those two ingredients don't mix well.

My biggest misunderstanding in life is that if my kids witness evil, what evil is, what evil people do, the evil that may be in certain elements of life, then they will become evil.  And the reality is that kids are born needing to obtain knowledge on all levels which as they age should become wisdom, or knowledge with a passionate brain attached to it.  In classical education we call this thought process the grammar phase(obtaining loads of rote information or knowledge) passing over into the logic and rhetoric phase of thinking, the stage where knowledge and critical thinking collide.  So, kids need to obtain knowledge, and guess what?  They are obtaining knowledge every day in all sorts of ways from all sorts of people.  I am simply amazed at the conversations my kids can remember that I have had with other people...good and also damning conversations alike much to my chagrin.  I am also quite amazed at their recollection of the things that other people say and do.  It's all going into the portal of their brains.  It's all knowledge...good, bad, actions or words, well, just anything that contributes to their input process.  It's all going in. 

We can control what's going in their heads and that's good on certain levels.  I don't want my five year old seeing anyone's head getting chopped off on television and I don't want my thirteen year old son to see people having sex.  We as parents should set up healthy boundaries for our kids, but that I don't think that is enough or that it will ever be enough.  Making rules, laws and regulations for kids alone will never mean much to them if the process of obtaining and receiving knowledge never translates into honest, passionate critical thinking on their own part and for themselves and I mean before they are forced into that position when they leave home. 

I'll never understand parents who rule their kids with the rod of iron expecting them never to question their authority, expecting their kids as they grow through life to never become their own person or critically think on their own.  They keep themselves at a frightening distance from their kids in the interconnected world of knowledge and critical thinking.   

In a lot of ways I was one of these kids, handed a bunch of rules and regulations that I was to never question and made to obey them and never taught how to critically think for myself.  I'll tell you, that has made me a follower in the past to almost anything people would say and do in my family's circle and the damage is still to this day ongoing and needing to be purged.  It really is flat out dangerous to extend knowledge to your kids without eventually handing out the ability and understanding to pursue passionate, honest rhetoric and logic.  We are simply setting ourselves up for a lifetime of sadness with our kids as parents when we wake up and our kids walk away from half or more or all of the knowledge we ever gave them.  And it doesn't matter how helpful, common sense or good anything we ever taught them, the likelihood is high that they will walk away from it if we do not teach them to walk through the honest process of making those thoughts their very own.  And when they honestly walk through those things we imparted to them, and they then honestly do not adopt them, then we as parents have but one thing to do.  Accept.  Accept and live how you are led to live yourself and your kids.

Love, grace, understanding and acceptance out poured to our children during the passing from the knowledge phase to the critical thinking phase means the world in this process of raising our kids.

You want to pass on your faith in God and Jesus Christ and you want them to come to a place of honest acceptance?  Offer your thoughts, offer your desires, offer your knowledge, offer your passion, offer your heart on the matter, then sit back and let the kids ask questions, tell them what you DON'T know.  Listen and listen and listen some more and talk and talk about anything they want to and never ever deter honest emotion, thought or question from your kids...absolutely NEVER.  Let them hash it out.  Let them hash out anything they need to. 

You want your kids to never take drugs or fill in the bazillion blanks?  Share your knowledge and your raw personal experience.  YOUR RAW OWN PERSONAL EXPERIENCE being shared is absolutely vital.  My kids have perked up often and listened to me when I said...I did this, I said this, I experienced this myself when this happened.  They not only think it's great (, I can RELATE to you, you are SO relatable instead being unapproachable and untouchable) that I seriously messed up in life, these are the times when they really listen to me. 

So we all need to relax a bit, I need to relax.  Because the reality is...stuff happens.  Lot's of stuff.  And for me as a kid growing up with all the rules I had in my house and despite having the ability to critically think for myself because we NEVER just talked about stuff, we never could ask questions on the level a kid needs to ask questions...I still overcame a lot of things, I still am overcoming things and will continue to overcome things because I am learning and not afraid at this point to learn from anyone or anything that I can learn from. 

And it's not over for me because I now see that I am freetothink.  It's not over for you if you see that you, too, are able to pursue truth and error and the wide world over with honesty, passion and logical forethought.  And it's not over for your kids.  But it could be.  It could be over for all of us if we don't learn to use our brains for ourselves no matter how many rules we think we are keeping to make others think that we've got it all together.  It will never be enough.  Never.