Interference–Bad and Good

So the day after my post on anger, my little sister texted to ask if her sisters wanted to do a seven-day fast with her for our kids. We said yes; I was thinking maybe I’d fast from sugar, which isn’t a big deal since I don’t usually eat it, and then thought I should ask God. I did and He said immediately, “Fast negativity and blame towards your husband.” So I agreed thinking it would be good after our week.

No sooner had I agreed, than I got hit with little sleep and a load of resentment and blame like you would not believe! It was so intense, I knew it wasn’t just me, and choosing wasn’t cutting it! So I called for back up and got it, but that evening got slammed again and had to shout out to God again.

It wasn’t too rough after that, except I had trouble sleeping which always makes it harder. And at the end I got slammed again, but got through it. I thought I’d done pretty well. Not perfect but well.

The very next day my husband nicely confronted me that I seemed to have gotten more negative and he couldn’t take it. I recognized this was engineered by the dark side, so noticed, but didn’t hook in–didn’t even comment.

But five minutes later he was getting popcorn and I remarked that he couldn’t be hungry–we had eaten lunch not that long before. He exploded that I was like a warden, and I exploded back that he should shut up because NOW I was hurt and angry. I went into the other room and lay down on the bed and talked to God. Emotions are so crazy! So strong, so irrational, so quick!

I had somewhere to go in an hour, and had planned to do something or other and all I got done was processing. I felt so bad, so stupid, and knew that our date night, and the next two or three days were ruined. So God gave me a picture of what I could do–kneel by his chair and say, “I’m sorry. I don’t want to be negative.” But I said, “I can’t. I can see it would work, but I can’t do it.”

So He asked if this was worth it, and I thought about how the evening would go down and the next few days, and said, “No, it’s not, but I can’t do that. So if YOU can do it (get me to) go ahead, but I know I can’t.”

I was watching the clock–I had ten minutes, then five, then three, but it took less than one–on my way out I didn’t kneel, but I laid my hand on his arm and said, “I don’t want to be negative, I’m sorry,” and I left–amazed. I was free! My whole attitude changed, and it was the truth–I don’t want to be negative!

When I went home everything was normal. No pain. No lost time.

You don’t have to feel it, you just have to choose. God can do it for you.

 

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Reaction to Ivanka and Trump

I thought I’d published this three weeks ago, after the convention, but I guess it didn’t come out. Ivanka’s speech for Trump was amazing! I haven’t liked him from the beginning. He seemed like a hot-head who doesn’t have self-control or filters– “a loose canon” I think I’ve heard him described. Not someone you want representing your country as its leader. I’ve been amazed at his appeal, and then concerned. Is this really what the majority of people in our country are like?

I couldn’t believe it when it got down to him and Hilary. I’m not comfortable with her either. Although truthfully, I think many presidents have great dreams and ideals, and find out when they get there, that special interests and big business choke the democratic process. I don’t think they can do nearly what they plan to. Throw in a congress in opposition, you can do less. But then that is the system of checks and balances, and thank God we have it!

I like Obama’s even-tempered reasonableness. So I was curious what Trump was going to in his acceptance speech, and first I heard his daughter, Ivanka. She was a class act, coming across as real, genuine, factual and emotional. Not over-the-top emotionalism, but engaging and believable. She made him sound so real and credible, she drew me in. Well maybe… I was thinking. She made him glow. She was glowing, talking about “My father…my father…” At one point I even thought this is a speech Jesus could give about His Father!

The one thing that made Trump credible to me was his children. If you have four successful adult children who like you, and will support you, that speaks well for you, and it impressed me–especially since his wife isn’t much older than them. And then to hear them speak as well as they did, well they could be bought or threatened I thought, but then I heard that his daughter worked for him and has for ten years, and still said those things. She couldn’t be lying. I was caving.

I said to my husband, “He would do himself a favor not to say anything.” But that isn’t realistic, I guess.

And then Trump started off his speech trumpeting about Obama and Clinton and all the mistakes and screw-ups they’d made! It was a real downer. It was so typically political it made me sick. I thought he was supposed to be different. Why can’t you at least make the comparison general and tasteful if you have to do that? He finally did get around to saying some things he wanted to do, but then so does every candidate.

He ended strong, even managed to get in a dash of humility and gratitude. His confidence is impressive if slightly over the top. A bit narcissistic sounding, like we’ve got Trump, who needs God?

I have to say it almost makes you want to see if he can walk his talk. His best asset is his daughter. If he wants to win he should have Ivanka do all his speeches. Better yet, let’s elect her!

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Working Your Way Out of Anger, Fear, Hate, Blame…

It’s so crazy how far you can grow and still fall back into the same old stupid patterns with their same old stupid powerful feelings in a minute.

Actually the slide doesn’t start in a minute, but once it has begun a minute is all that’s required for another thought to take you from 0-60. Maybe even a second. It’s unnerving.

And worse is the incredible surprise that this can still happen after all the work and repair and growth–after all the good things that have happened! And then comes the shame and doubt. I will never get it. I will never be a good person, good wife, good mother… 

The truth is you will always be a human; some triggers will get healed if you ask for help or have an understanding partner, and some will not because you won’t be able to get to their source, and some might be hormonal. But the point is don’t get discouraged; we are all in the same boat and we all need forgiveness. We had an episode like that this week, and the anger is what startled me. I would give it to God, let it go, and another thought would come and in a second I would be all caught up in it again.

I was so gratified to talk to my friend who I thought was way past that and discover they had had the same thing this week!

The more awareness you have the more control you will get–that’s how it starts to get better. But you may not eradicate reactions completely. You will always have to say I’m sorry, if you let loose and express your feelings. Thank God I didn’t get that far. There was plenty I wanted to say, but I’m glad, now that I’m through it, that I didn’t. I only had to say sorry to God. And I know He (They) are always so happy to hear it and take me back to sanity. They never get tired of helping us even though we get tired of asking for help. It’s so embarrassing, but God is never shaming.

Ruach (Holy Spirit) kept giving me little thoughts to grab on to when I was so angry, and then I would calm down; and then another negative would come and off I’d go. Finally I remembered to choose, but I almost wanted to be angry. But was it worth it? Yes! Well no, I know what anger does to your body. No, it is not worth it. And then I started telling myself. Just choose. All you have to do is choose. Even when you know what to do and have told people 1000 times, it’s hard.

What always gets me out is writing. I got my devotional and my journal and spent some time alone with God. That smoothed it all out. I fought it for at least 12 hours, but why? Just because I’d been wronged! So what.

God said, “Have you given me control of you life? Do you think I can handle it?” Sometimes I actually say no, because I know They don’t control other people’s choices. But can They work around that? Yes, they are very creative. Peace is worth it. Trust is worth it. He is worth it! But we have to listen and choose.

 

 

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What God is Like

I’m on vacation at home. It has been a wonderful week with two of our grandchildren! I haven’t worked like I usually do, and have focused on just relaxing and enjoying them. It’s been a great experience. God helped me realize one morning that most of my life I have been focused on making people right rather than knowing and enjoying them. It’s the way I viewed Him for many years.

Now I see Them(One God–three persons) as wanting us to know Them and walk with Them in relationship through the process of every day, no matter what others do or what happens. To experience Them every day–Their love, Their kindness, Their goodness, Their laughter, Their joy, just Their presence, in all of everyday life, no matter what others do or what happens. And it is beginning to make me see and treat others differently. It’s about time! Safety and control were always so huge.

Our influence for good in the world comes from drawing not pushing (God told me that), from making God look good because we are so good to be around and we are clear and comfortable about identifying ourselves as Theirs. I really can’t even comprehend that yet!

Could it really be that powerful? Do I know–see–encounter–experience enough people that it would really make a difference if I was just full of God’s goodness? If I just lived with Them and soaked in Their love? If I just focused on the good in everything and everyone?

I’m not put together that way, but God seems intent on me getting this. Right now I’m thinking of people who raised their kids erring on the side of love, people I thought should provide some discipline. I’m not talking about giving-in or neglect, but truly focused love, and in adulthood the kids turned out well.

I think of Jesus who drew people to him, inviting. He never told us to go make Christians, he said go make followers (disciples). The only way you can do that is by drawing, making them want to follow. It seems to work for the dark side. Isis plays on the desire for power and revenge, expressing discontent, anger, and hate AND in the name of God! They draw many malcontents from our society.

And what does it take to experience God’s goodness that way? The only thing I know for sure, at this point, is choice. The second thing I suspect is some time alone with God, getting to know Them. Ruach (Holy Spirit) is closest, and Jesus is the easiest place to get to know God. That’s why this year I’ve added to the titles of God-in-a-Box, “Know God in a Year #…” because this may be the most important choice you will ever make.

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Your Resident Genius

We watched the President’s get together Thursday night. I liked it. He was open, relaxed, unbiased, direct, and inclusive. He was supportive of all groups represented, non-threatened, and non-threatening. He was honest about the problems, and yet encouraging and hopeful.

David Muir did a great job of setting it up and moderating. It was the first time I had seen a President do that–like a town hall meeting only better. Getting diverse people to sit together, share, ask and listen is huge. Kudos to David if it was his brain child, almost like group therapy, just a little more structured, and a little more wow factor. They were invited to be in a group with the President of the United States! They could even ask questions if they had made arrangements to. An experience they will always remember.

This week I read a description of the advantage we have as God’s children. We have a resident genius living with us–God’s Spirit. Why don’t we use Him? He is always with us, waiting for us to talk to Him. Why don’t we ask Him questions? Or ask His perspective on what we are going through? How does He view what we are struggling with? What are His plans for keeping us safe? You can have an audience with the King every day! Just by choosing it. Really. I do.

Some days it’s richer than others. And it will morph over time. I started by purposeful breathing. And then added talking and listening at the same time. Now I curl up next to a big pillow like I’m on His lap. Some days its all about me, and that’s it. But I always end up better. Other days, many of them, I get His thoughts, His perspective, on what I’m working on or wondering about. It’s great! Even better than having the honor of sitting in a group with the President!

As I said last week, Jesus warned us it was going to get ugly–it did again this week–in France, and my oldest sister finding out she has cancer. So many people grieving and in fear! We need our Resident Genius to get through this, to keep our hearts strong, warm, and well. Don’t let your heart get cold because of evil. God wins! It isn’t all good, but it will be.

 

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Wisdom from Age

Let me tell you about my friend who just visited. He’s 88 and loves life. He wants to live to be 120, especially now that he “learned not to control.”

He said, “I wonder why I was like that?” His wife died seven years ago, and he’s wondering why he felt that everything had to be his way.

He’s building a house. Also helping his girlfriend with her goat farm and properties, is interested in everything, loves learning. In short he has a great attitude even though he’s a bit hard of hearing and his ankle hurts from an old  injury when he walks . You would never know it except that he limps.

I’ve know him for 40 years, haven’t seen him in 6 or 7, and he was so happy to see me, he was like a kid. It was heart warming. I wish he’d had more time to talk so I could find out what brought this great transformation. I’m guessing it was suffering.

He’s always been interested in everything and learning, but there has come more softening, more other-centeredness, more acceptance.

Those are the gifts suffering brings, and losing a spouse will bring them. Glad I haven’t had that experience yet, even though coming close brought its own gift.

Oh and speaking of suffering,  Job is in preorder stage on Amazon. I’ll post the cover and link here since some of you have asked where to get it. https://www.amazon.com/Loves-Playbook-episode-Perception-Everything-ebook/dp/B01HLTG36W?ie=UTF8&ref_=pe_2427780_160035660.

I feel like I have just graduated from a university course on suffering. And what did Job learn fromPlaybook Cover Kindle RGB 04  intense suffering? That it’s better to go through it with God  than without Them.

Suffering is getting bigger  and more widespread, as we saw this week, soon there won’t be anyone, if there is now, who hasn’t been touched by intense suffering. I’ve said it here before, Jesus warned us to get close to God because the increase of evil activity will cause many hearts to grow cold. Suffering is a timely topic! Suffering brings out who we really are. Forces us to make choices. Brings understanding.

And there are several other important perspectives we can learn from Job. I think that must be why I was so impressed to make it the next book in this series of finding an all-loving, all-good God in scripture. Take care of your heart.

 

 

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Experimental Freedom

I read the term “experimental religion” once and was intrigued. But it was years before I began to practice it. I had prioritized relationship to God–well, at least the discipline of it–a good habit, but fairly rigid. I’ve written about making God real–the practice has been interesting and rich. Recently, it’s gone to a new level.

I was challenged by Oswald Chambers idea of 1 in 60: that is, taking 60 seconds of every hour to celebrate who you are. More precisely, whose you are–God’s. It is very hard to train yourself to do that every hour, even asking for help. So I decided to use my smart phone for something smart. I set it to go off with these tinkling celestial-sounding chimes every hour to remind me.

It has been great! I love the interruption, and if I’m not in the middle of something with another person, I let it go for what seems like a whole minute while I am articulating thanks. Then I touch the screen to see if it has been a minute. All my alarms are set to go off at 59 past the hour, so it is very easy to see when the minute is up.

Even if you are talking to someone you can shoot up thanks. And even if I am on the phone, I can hear the faintest background chime and I know.

It was funny the first time it went off, I thought where is that chime coming from? My neighbor must have gotten new wind chimes. Then I discovered it was my phone’s alarm. I had already forgotten! Now it’s been a week and so far I love the interruption!

Yesterday my grandson and I were on the phone. He had just gotten his first phone for graduation to middle school and so called me. We talked 45 minutes and one thing was about his moving up to big church from kid’s class. He admitted he was kind of bored, and then said they had told him what he already knew–you need a relationship with God, but didn’t tell him how to do it.

I shared about setting my alarm and told him it’s hard for God or people to say do this or that because then it becomes the only thing, rigid, a formula, a legality.

Would we tell people how to have a relationship with a person? Some of us could use that instruction, but it isn’t the way it is. Usually, you meet someone, you are attracted to him or her, you share something in common, one of you pursues the other, you make time to be with them, and then more time to be with them with more sharing of yourself. The more fulfilling the relationship is the more time you make for the other.

So it would seem that a relationship with God would follow a similar path. He is always seeking us. Once we see Him and are attracted to His personality or character, we begin to give Him a little space in our heads-a little time. Then as we get to know Him, we are drawn to more time, and as we are fulfilled, we make more time–we may fall in love—hopefully that is where it goes. There is no one safer, or more fulfilling, or more exciting to be loved by and to love. But it does take time and effort–just as you make time for a friend.

But keep it real–make it experimental. If you don’t, and you say the same things every time you get together, its going to get boring. And seriously, that is disrespectful, at least once you know better. Give God time to be God, let Him talk and don’t monopolize the conversation! Let Him be real. Experiment.

 

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People with Edges and Corners

I think this describes me. I grew up thinking self-protection was a good thing. It’s not. I know a lot of you reading this are surprised. Just like I was when I read it in Matthew. I was over 40–that’s a real late bloomer.

My husband and I were laying in bed the other morning, snuggled up after reading our two chapters. He said, “This is precious time.” And I agreed. “It takes off the rough edges and corners,” I said. He agreed. We are both those kind of people. Have both admitted that we deserve each other. We’ve been forced to look at ourselves and admit who we are.

People who grew up afraid to get close. Maybe not to the extent of Narcissists, but still afraid enough to duck into corners of hiding. Shame causes that. And it’s mostly tone of voice that causes shame. If you were parented with it, you know what I’m saying. It leaves the feeling that you didn’t do it right–can’t be good enough. (Now I turn inside out when I hear shame tones used on my grandchildren. I can hardly keep my mouth shut.)

Or we put edges in our conversation. Maybe because we weren’t encouraged to build others up, or feel safe enough to risk kindness. Edges tinged with sarcasm, jokes that are hurtful, a shaming tone of voice. It’s not that we mean to, it’s just natural to communicate that way. And our sense of humor was built around put downs. We can be very funny at each other’s expense. But lately we can receive the other’s confrontation and apologize. We’ve had a lot of unlearning to do. I think everybody does. Except maybe people who were always taught to be nice. That’s another issue if you were made to be nice and couldn’t be honest. We were skilled at keeping people at arms length.

Arms length doesn’t make for good relationships. Scared to get close. What are we afraid of? For me, it’s being made fun of. Ridicule will cork me. For him, it’s being left. That’s a common one. For you, it might be not good enough, that’s another common one.

Learning how to be people who can live in love is critical to liking your life.

It’s God’s way, and They worked it out so we can unlearn our programming and choose Their better way. I say They because I believe God is relational above everything. One being doesn’t make sense to me. One position filled by three, who learned to live in love and chose it as the basis of Their government, makes sense. Some of you are offended that I said They learned to live in love. One thing we do know about God is that before we knew evil, They did. So at some point They chose. Now we are learning to choose. It’s not easy. It’s painful to look at yourself and admit that you fail, or that your good intentions cause pain. But people get divorced because they don’t look at themselves. They are afraid to.

So it is very good news that we can choose and change. That admitting fault is not fatal, and failure is not final. Forgiveness is God’s state of being, and They give it to us for asking for other people. It isn’t natural to us but it is to Them and They love to share. Love will be the norm again. It will even be the only attitude we have. Our sorry state of being will be renovated. Thank God!

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Discovery

My daughter tells her friends that her sister is the next Martha Stewart. That’s my other daughter–she has fine-tuned house-keeping, cooking and baking to a science. She would be aghast that I had a basket of unfolded clean laundry sitting in my garage for five days because I just couldn’t get to it. And it didn’t even matter–it was mine and I didn’t care. Oh the bliss of not having to take care of anyone but yourself and a recovering husband, who is doing much better.

This week I kept thinking of all the things I’ve learned from her. As I would splatter stuff I was cooking, I would think, Now what would she have done to prevent that? She would take her time and be purposeful–enjoy the process. She would use two hands. Not like me who is always rushing and trying to mix something with one hand while I’m getting something out of the cupboard with the other.

Some of it, I have already figured out from watching her. She gets everything she needs out before she starts baking something. (Both daughters do, come to think of it. Wonder where they got that?) She measures it, gets everything ready, and as she uses it, puts it away. Everything is very smooth; not like me, who as I need it, grab it from the cupboard, smearing coconut oil, or whatever else is on my hands, all over it. So I can’t possibly put it away until it’s cleaned off! And since I’m rushing I don’t have time anyway. By the time I’m finished every surface in the kitchen is covered, and clean up is a huge, but gratifying task.

One morning her boys helped me make waffles for her and the kitchen was such a mess we wouldn’t even let her look at it. She would have had a heart attack! But I did get it all back to normal again.

I used to think I could write a book like Everything I Really Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, only change the title to …I Learned from My Daughter. She has a gift for research and application. Right now she’s into health again, having struggled with her own heart and blood issues. Now she has discovered that sugar is even worse for her than wheat or gluten! I want to say it sounds familiar, but what’s the point, it’s only worth-while and applicable when she discovers it.

That’s a great point that was made in a meeting I was in last week. “Your  twenty-to-thirty-something kids have to find the answers for themselves.” The better you are at getting out of the way and listening without leading, the better they will do. You just ask questions, cheer them on and they will be fine. It has to be theirs–not yours. They are discovering their own truths and values because they have to be theirs, not yours. They might end up very close to yours, might be better than yours, but they can’t be yours–they have to be theirs. Trust God with them, and the values you’ve modeled. That’s what they caught.

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Healing is a Process

I’ve finished writing the book of Job! Of course the rewriting is the hardest part, but I just have to celebrate that I got through the first draft.

It’s a heavy book, but it has been very exciting to dig up all kinds of little details (like he was married to Jacob’s daughter) that put it in a context, and make it even richer than the problem of suffering. That is only the biggest, oldest question around–Why do we suffer if there is a loving God?  It’s really about your concept of God, and the question–What is God like?

The question of its authorship has also made it so meaningful to me. In the beginning I wasn’t convinced it was Moses. But I am now. And that really makes it rich. Especially because I’ll be writing Moses life next!

I’m hoping to have it out by the first of July. Maybe I’ll even put a preorder special on this one! It is a greatly condensed and simplified version for easy reading.

This is a gentle day. I’d call it a lazy day, but it is purposefully lazy so I’m calling it gentle. It’s overcast and I haven’t even gone outside. It’s June and I have a fire in the fireplace! Crazy. But then the last five weeks have been pretty crazy. I’ve been going so hard that I get antsy when I sit around. The week after my husband’s surgery I had a spiritual retreat scheduled at my house. I think that week I just ran on corticosteroids (the kind your body makes for stress). I didn’t feel stressed, just busy, and did I ever sleep that week!

God showed up and made it a great retreat. But the next week I was so tired, I walked around in circles in a fog. My body called off the dogs (the steroids) and I don’t ever remember being so tired for so many days. My husband thinks its funny that I went into the grocery store and could only buy the things that were in the front because I was too tired to walk any further.

This has been a really good experience for us–very bonding–and we haven’t had any big fights–even though he fired me for two days. It gave me some much needed rest, and in two days he was humble and ready to be taken care of again. It’s not easy to be recovering from major surgery. I can’t believe I was on crutches for 5 months ten years ago! Thank God my daughter and son-in-law were living with us then.

So these are just ramblings of post crisis. It takes time to come back to status quo. If you are recovering from anything–besides life–give yourself time and be gentle, while you maintain little disciplines. Don’t expect to heal overnight–miracles happen–but it’s usually a process. That’s what I keep telling my husband.

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