The Effect of a Narcissistic Parent

I saw this and thought I’d use it later, but then I thought maybe you grew up with a narcissist as a parent, so I would sneak it in. We all have tendencies towards narcissism, but a true Narcissistic Personality Disorder is on a whole different level and usually comes from trauma by the age of 3. NPD’s are never wrong, don’t say I’m sorry, and can’t see from another person’s perspective. The problem is never them, and they are masters at turning things around to make you feel guilty. They built a silo around themselves when young because life and people weren’t safe. They don’t relate to people as people, but objects. If this was your parent you may have the symptoms below. You may have also adopted some narcissistic traits of your own, but you can learn to see them and choose something different and heal. True Narcissistic Personality Disorders very rarely change, but if you were raised by one you can.

5 Signs You Haven’t Fully Healed from Narcissistic Abuse

By Eric Perry, PhD-c

“Narcissistic people are always struggling with the fact that the rest of the world doesn’t revolve around them.” ~Unknown

It is common for individuals who experience narcissistic abuse to suffer in silence or not even know that they are being abused. Because narcissists are master manipulators, they can be very difficult to spot. Narcissist abuse syndrome is a term used by mental health professionals to describe individuals who have been victimized to the extent that long-term negative effects may seem insurmountable to the victim. Before we can heal, we must identify the signs telling us that healing must be a priority. Here are some of those signs.

1. Trusting again seems impossible
If you are experiencing the effects of narcissistic abuse, chances are you find it difficult to trust others and maybe even yourself. Let’s not assume that the world is a safe and harmonious place. Trust must be earned. However, if you find yourself hiding in isolation, this might be a sign that there is room for growth. Don’t assume that people are healthy for you just because you have known them forever or they are family. Start small and listen to your intuition. If you feel like your intuition is untrustworthy, it is time to seek the support of a mental health professional.

2. Constantly doubting yourself
A narcissist will train you from the beginning to doubt yourself. They are masters at love bombing until their victim is reliant on the love bombs. If you are not familiar with the term love bombing, it means to influence a person by demonstrations of attention and affection. It makes sense that a person would experience self-doubt once their steady stream of affection and affirmation are taken away.

3. Blaming yourself
Let’s start here. It isn’t your fault. During your experience with the narcissist, maybe you felt the need to collude with the narcissist in order to feel at least some sense of control. It isn’t your fault that you had to or felt the need to do this. Sometimes, we make unhealthy compromises just to feel like we are not completely powerless. Also, keep in mind that narcissists use guilt and shame as weapons to control their victims. Say this out loud, “It isn’t my fault that a narcissist weaved their way into my life. I will learn from my experience and commit myself to living the fullest life possible.”

4. Feeling confused and sometimes even cr*zy
Gas-lighting means to manipulate someone by psychological means into questioning their own sanity. Narcissists are experts at this. Journaling is a great remedy for making sense out of where your confusion or feelings might be coming from. As many of you know (to the bloggers out there), writing is a great way to make sense of your thoughts. Try this, take out a sheet of paper and a pen, or open up a blank document and write a short but honest reflection on why you have been feeling confused. Let the words flow without criticism or judgment. After you finish writing, read it back to yourself. Did you find answers? If not, try again soon. Try to go deep. The answers are within you. Here’s a hint, your confusion and feelings are not because of you. Whispers… it’s the narc.

5. Everything feels hopeless
Are you familiar with the term hoovering? The hoover maneuver is an attempt to see if a prior target of abuse can be conned into another cycle of abuse, resulting in the abusive person reclaiming a sense of power and control by causing pain to a target. This pain can be emotional and sometimes physical. Feelings of hopelessness often arise when a narcissist hoovers their victim. Have you completely cut ties with the narcissist? If you haven’t, this might be a reason why you are feeling hopeless.

 

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Love Is Not Control

Throughout this series I want to keep bringing us to the definition of love, because we have come to think that love is yes. Now here’s the rub if God is love, and God is yes (which He is) than why isn’t love yes? Because God is not broken and we are. And while God is yes, He doesn’t always say “Yes.” And neither should we, as I wrote in the last two blogs. Love is not letting your child do whatever he/she wants, but neither is it total control.

In a broken world where we all start out self-centered, love is at least half “No” if not more. Why? Because it gives us security. Somebody loves me enough to give me boundaries, and boundaries make me feel safe. Somebody cares enough to do the hard thing and make sure I stay safe within those boundaries. Cares enough to stand up to me when I’m wrong. Cares enough to take the time and effort to correct me so I don’t crash and burn–(become addicted to food, drugs, alcohol, or porn by the time I’m an adult).

Remember how we are born; we have to learn everything. True, we have parental conditioning through those things that sit on top of our DNA and tell it how to express itself (epigenetics), but we still have developing brains that have to learn about everything. God knows everything.

And to a baby, parents know everything. We’ve had experience. Hopefully we’ve had good modeling. And hopefully, enough wisdom to know what we don’t know and get help. Also hopefully, we have enough confidence to use the education.

For a baby control is needed because they have none. So self-control in a parent is crucial to give their child what’s best in care–time, attention, and good responses to needs. Self-control as a parental necessity never stops, because the control in parental love is always changing with the need to be constantly giving more freedom until they are an adult, when the parent relinquishes control. Believe me that takes self-control too.

We could say that while love is not control, it is all about self-control: giving the amount of control that is needed at the appropriate time. A beautiful example of this was my daughter with her seven-year-old. The boys were tracked out while I was there and returned to school the day before I left. The day I left he didn’t want to go to school, and cried but went. The following day he had a stomach ache and stayed home, and the next didn’t want to go, but after listening to him, his mother said “You need to go. We all need to do hard things at times. Jeremy didn’t feel like going to work today either. I’m tired and don’t feel like taking care of the baby and Jack. I’ll bake you a cake and tonight we will have a special dinner to celebrate that we can do hard things.” So they did and it was a great success. And from time to time it gets reinforced.

It takes a lot of wisdom to know how much control to give, and when to let them try and fail. Too many choices too early are overwhelming to a child.

In the beginning there are no choices, and gradually they can choose what to play with or what to wear. Choices in food should be limited to between two healthy choices if any. Most tastes are developed and you are giving a gift of health if you help your children establish tastes and habits that are good for them. (That takes a lot of self-control on your part too.)

I’ve said many times that parental modeling is the strongest influence there is, and your self-control or lack of it will be imprinted on them. It is one of the most important things they learn from you, and most of it is caught rather than taught.

Some of you have been reading this with a nagging thought in the background, How can she say God is not controlling? because you read the Bible and think about all those laws.

I used to think that. But after writing the book about all those laws, I saw that the people He was leading were developmentally babies from 100 years of slavery when they had no choices and lost God’s ideas of what was good for them. So God spelled out His ways–which were so much better than any laws around them. They still spell out His good will (the way things work), and they never were the means to ultimate salvation, they simply made it possible for God to do whatever They (Abba, Adonai, Ruach) needed to do to protect and provide for their covenant people according to the rules of engagement in this war. Adonai was their king. You must give allegiance to a king and his laws to get protection and favors.

If you still have questions about God and law read Love’s Playbook: Cosmic Chess–the story of God’s law from Exodus through Deuteronomy. But you might like to start with book 5 which ends with the positive form of the Ten Commandments. (They were positive in Hebrew.)

We are developmental beings, a perfect place for the reality of love and freedom to be exhibited. Control is not love–never when you are adult to adult. But for parents control is built in and very important to use and not abuse, and grow out of.

Till next time…

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Love is NOT Getting Everything You Want

So here is the rest of my story. Alone, and adjusting to a divorce, I knew a small group was what I needed. Somewhere to feel safe and loved. So I called a friend and we started one.

One night we met at my friend’s house, and afterwards he took me aside and said, “You are turning your daughter into a monster. She is obnoxious and it isn’t her fault. You give her all your power, and very soon no one will want to be around her.”

Ouch! But I knew Herb to be caring and honest, to say what he thought without glossing it. Of course I said, “You don’t understand…”

But he replied, “She needs to know that you are in control.” I actually don’t remember what else he said or how long it took me to change my behavior, but I know his words had a profound effect.

I remember telling her (I think she was five) that from now on things were going to be different. That I had made a mistake, and I was sorry and was going to correct it, that I would be making our decisions and she would be expected to obey, so she could relax and enjoy being a kid.  And from then on I really struggled to make all of our decisions.

What scares me now is that in doing that I think I changed our relationship. I must not have known how to stay affectionate, available, and loving while setting and holding firm boundaries. How sad.

I think that because a couple of weeks ago, before leaving her house, I asked her (now 38) what feelings she has of her childhood. She said almost none–a scary thing. But she did remember me feeling distant. So I shared what I have just shared here, and she said “Maybe that’s when it started.”

I know when I became a stepmom five years later that I tried very hard to be the same with all three of them, so they wouldn’t be jealous of her. Of course they were anyway, so all I did was rob her. Too bad I couldn’t have just shown more affection to all of them. I didn’t know how then. I came from a non-demonstrative family, and my processing and decision-making took me to self-protection instead. But I thought I was protecting her and them! Sad!

I’d been noticing a distancing in our relationship, and had learned over the past two years that I hadn’t taught her how to be sweet and affectionate. I guess I just always thought she knew what I felt. I only just realized this. I backed off of everyone.

But what I saw at her house was a three-year-old painfully favored and in need of boundaries from a dad doing the same as I had as an early parent, unfortunately getting the same results. However, he was doing the opposite of my behavior as a step-mom, and I thought well, I’ll get to see how this works.  I confided in my daughter and they are addressing it.

I am so glad our relationship is a sharing one. At the same time it was very scary to ask the questions I needed and wanted to ask about our relationship. And it was hard to hear, but nothing changes until it becomes real. And the reality of seeing yourself, especially in parenting, often comes too late to spare the damage to your child.

I hope you have a friend, mom, spouse, you can ask, who will confirm your need to change, if you are on this same trajectory and can’t see it. And God will give you the strength and wisdom to see yourself. Your child deserves it.

It is way too hard on a child to have all the power in a system. Your limits or boundaries provide them with security. They can relax and develop the way they are meant to, and with respect. By seven we need to realize that we are no longer the center of the universe. Some people never do. We call them narcissists. It’s so sad for them.

I actually witnessed a mother asking her three year old if she could visit us, and confirming it twice that he was ok with it. It was all I could do to keep my mouth shut–not the place or time to correct. I felt sorry for that three-yr-old too! It is way too much responsibility to be responsible for your parents! It makes children crazy.

And we are seeing more and more of it. Poor parenting tends to duplicate itself becoming either harder or softer. The ditches on either side of the road are very full. The road is love that is both hard and soft–firmness with gentleness.

Firmness and gentleness provide a great balance. It allows all the affection they need and requires the respect they also need to develop. You are the parent, you make the rules, and you follow through. You don’t have to be harsh, that is not required or desired, you only have to make sure that your word is law. No anger is required either. You shouldn’t allow yourself to discipline in anger. They are learning, they will make mistakes, even defy you. But you matter-of-factly hold the boundaries, letting the consequences follow naturally and appropriately for learning not hurting. The best consequences are losing something they want and making the connection of cause and effect. Delight follows obedience.

Obedience should be established by two years old. It is important to their growth and development. And it hopefully comes from a desire to please you so that it is forever linked with delight. God defines obedience as delight. And only asks it of us to protect our happiness. A broken world offers many confusing choices to inexperienced people. And being in a war between good and evil where deception is rampant makes it even harder.

Till next time…

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Is Love Enough?

I’m starting a series of blogs on parenting. It happens that lately I’ve been asked questions and made observations that are begging inside to be shared about parental love and effectiveness. Please note that this is not shared in judgment. I’ve made huge mistakes myself.

I now have had the advantage of  corrective education. But more importantly I’ve had time–being able to go to my adult daughter (a full-time mom of five) and ask what it was like for her–which I recently had opportunity to do. Difficult to hear. But it is my hope that this will help you in raising children, or you can share it with your children, friends and relatives who are struggling with children. They may not even realize they are struggling!

I’ve decided to title this “Is Love Enough?” but considered calling it Love 101, if that weren’t so trite. It has become my conviction that we do not understand love. We feel it for our children, but most of us have a deficit ourselves that we are trying to parent from. We are doing the best we can, but we can get very tired and angry and confused when our children don’t respond the way we want them to and think they should. And believe it or not, our love can become toxic for our children!

So I am going to take apart the concept of love bit by bit, and hopefully illustrate it well enough to bring understanding. Please feel free to respond either publicly, to benefit everyone reading, or privately. I will answer all questions or clarify my presentation if it wasn’t clear.

I’m excited about this because I feel it is SO important, and I have learned so much just from writing the Bible–go figure. It makes sense, and I am sure I will learn much more. I’m excited about that too–it’s had a profound effect on me and my security. I grew up extremely insecure. And we all want to raise secure, well-loved, well-adjusted children.

So let me begin with one of my biggest mistakes. (I do have my daughter’s permission to share this.) Can we love too much? With our understanding of love, and our brokenness, YES!

When my biological daughter was six months old, I discovered her father was having an affair. My heart was broken, my world turned upside down–not a good state for a baby to be developing in. (Although better then than during pregnancy.) But even though I was totally in love with her, I’m sure I felt very preoccupied. Perhaps, it is why she was such an easy baby. She didn’t seem at all repressed though, she was very alert and ahead developmentally. I wasn’t one to give into depression. I’ve always been a fighter.

She was born in Minnesota, and on her second birthday, she and I flew to California. I had to get away, but knowing what I know now, I wouldn’t have done that. At that time it seemed like salvation that some friends paid for my ticket. But she still remembers the feelings she had that day of leaving daddy.

Long story short, he followed us to California, and we tried several times to start over, but he finally left the last time when she was four. So the most important years of her life for personality and character development were unstable at best. But I am grateful he was in her life that long. Divorce or trauma before four is extremely hard on children (personality-disorder hard).

Once he was gone, she was my focus. I didn’t know it then, but that is a terrible thing to do to a child. They absorb your anxiety.

I felt so guilty that she didn’t have her beloved daddy, so horrible that I had done this to the most important person in my life, that I became indulgent. Thank God we didn’t have any money so I couldn’t indulge her that way. And thank God I was into health already, so I didn’t ask her what she wanted to eat–we were fortunate to have food, and I had to choose it very carefully. But for everything else, it was “What do you want?”

That is way too much responsibility for a child who, ideally, should  live care-free. That is why we have parents–someones to make good choices for us so we don’t have to. We can relax, secure that we are taken care of by someone who loves us and has learned a thing or two about life–hopefully has wisdom. We don’t have the ability to respond appropriately yet.

Children haven’t had enough experience or the chance to learn. These poor little ones only know what feels good, what tastes good; and in a broken world, that is not a safe method to choose what is good. They would live on candy and ice cream and doughnuts and never go to bed. They would be hyperactive, adrenaline junkies, with gray skin and dark circles around their eyes, who terrorize others with the burden of their power, and end up with diabetes before they reach puberty. I know you have seen it, just as I have.

I want to keep these under a thousand words, so I will finish the story of my mistakes next time. Fortunately, I had a friend who was gritty and bold and not afraid to speak truth to his friend. That is what I want to be for you: the friend who is bold enough to be the wall that everything that isn’t really you runs into and shatters or bounces off of.

Till next time…

 

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Making Room for Delight

I just went through a delightful experience of a snow day. And since I don’t remember one since I was a child, it was extra special, especially being surrounded by the delight of children–four grandsons. They get snow maybe once a year, and barely enough to play in, so this was a big deal!

It was so beautiful! Huge flakes falling thicker and thicker and finally sticking. They were dressed up and outside to experience the falling snow, and then again when there was four inches they were out making a snowman. Jeremy was helping them, and it was a huge snowman taller than his 6’2″ frame.

It was great fun to watch from inside where we were guessing how long it would stand. It had a lean to it that I was sure would be it’s undoing overnight, but my daughter thought maybe it was cold enough to hold it. Two minutes later it crashed over, and they rebuilt it into a modest but decked out one, and barely finished before dark.

By the next morning there was 5 inches–8 in places and they were delighted. Their step dad didn’t have to work–the roads were iced over. So the whole day felt special.

My daughter is great at capturing special times and this was one of them. For breakfast we had waffles and afterwards “snow cream”–ice cream made out of snow! She couldn’t believe I had never had it, but I hadn’t! And I grew up in the midwest with lots of snow!

Then everyone brushed their teeth and made beds and got dressed up to go out for a walk. The sun was out and the world was transformed into a white and sparkling wonderland. After the walk came the sled rides as Jeremy pulled them with the 4 wheeler. (Icy roads were empty of traffic and safer than a hill.) I even took a turn–great fun!

After which I was soaked through and went in.  The kids played until they had to come in for grilled cheese and tomato soup and a rest. Then Jeremy made special cowboy chili for dinner. while it was cooking we watched “Cool Runnings” and the kids sat on a blanket and had popcorn. They had never seen it and loved it–especially when Jeremy said it was his favorite movie as a kid.

The day just felt special all around, and all day I was thinking of what Pete Scazzero says about Sabbath being like a snow day (Emotionally Healthy Spiritually).

He equates the two saying God built 52 “snow days” into the calendar–a snow day for delighting in your life every week. They gifted us with that kind of time to celebrate–time to make memories you and your kids never forget! Time to remember Them (God) and time to experience Their delight in us.

 

 

 

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A Microcosm of Cosmic Chess

On a cold but cozy afternoon, my daughter and her husband were sharing their birth experience from last week, more like debriefing; and seeing the counterplay of bad and good, I commented, “This was clearly cosmic chess.”

Even though her delivery was scheduled to give greater control, her doctor got called out to an emergency c-section which caused her staff to try to delay her labor. But she was so exhausted from being in light labor all night, she was not ready for extended labor, and started passing out with the contractions. Her nurse thought an epidural would help her, and so she agreed.

However, that caused her blood pressure to  drop to 70/30, and her frantic nurses worked long and hard to get it back up. Suddenly the whole floor was slammed  with patients, and a new doctor was called to cover for her chosen doctor. However, my daughter liked her even better, and felt more comfortable with this lady who was definitely in charge, knew her stuff, and got the bleeding stopped.

With her hemorhage history, the dark side had been trying to  scare me for months, as they always do, and I had been refusing their fear fairly well. (Fortunately,  I didn’t know her bleeding started again during the night.)  The last lie they had pushed was that something would be  wrong with the baby–disfigurment or something, so it isn’t surprising how they set things up, and that the drop in pitocyn had confused both Mom and baby hormone processes. The baby kept turning and getting stuck.  The doctor had to reach in and move her shoulder so she could come out…  when she  did, the chord was wrapped around her neck twice and she was blue, but they were swift in dealing with it, and turned to mommy’s bleeding.

However, at home the hours dragged by, and I was praying, trying not to  be afraid. I was sure she would deliver by noon!! (Her last baby had come 45 minutes after they broke her water!) Then came Jeremy’s text at 2:30 and she was still only at 5! Now it was hard to be calm. What was going on? I was glad I only had Jack–the three older boys had  stayed with their dad–it would have been hard to hide my stress from them.  Finally came the first picture her daddy sent at 6:30, Eileigh was slightly banged up and swollen, and her color didn’t look good, but at least she was born!

I was afraid we wouldn’t be able to go see them—it was too late and they wanted to have the first two hours alone, also to make sure Lox was ok. Jack needed to go to  bed—he’d had a runny nose that we were successful arresting with alkaline food. I was sure with good sleep he’d be well tomorrow.

But his dad wanted us to bring him, so we did. And  I was so happy  to see my daughter and get to hold the baby during  her optimal bonding time (the first four hours).  It was a bit unnerving to hear my daughter say she was sure she wouldn’t have made it if it had been 100 years ago. Or even if she hadn’t been in the hospital. Baby Eileigh had a scrape but looked beautifully like her mother.

Also unnerving was Jack screaming uncontrolably all the 20 minutes home. I was sitting in the back with him an nothing worked, so I finally moved to the seat in front of him and then felt like I’d abandoned him. I don’t remember how he went to bed but it must have been ok, he was exhausted. I was too, but I was amped and couldn’t get to sleep til 1:00. The next morning the alarm went off at 5:00. (They’d asked us to sleep in their room so we could hear Jack, but forgot about the alarm.)  And then I couldn’t go back to sleep.

Jack was fine the next day until he facetimed with them at the hospital and melted down again. This time putting him in his room worked, telling him to scream as long as he needed to and to come out when he was done. But I already knew I wasn’t taking  him to the hospital again. Actually I knew better the night before and wished I’d been strong enough to tell his father. He was happy and would have been fine if he hadn’t seen him.

So I suggested Jeremy come put him to bed that night, which seemed to be a good idea, till Jack dragged it out. Finally, he went to sleep, and Jeremy left, asking me to check on him. My husband and I were already in bed so I went in immediately–afraid I’d fall asleep. I pulled up another blanket ever so lightly and he woke up and started screaming for daddy! (Once again I should have trusted my instincts and gone too sleep!) This time it only lasted about 5 minutes or less,  but then he woke up cold 3 hours later probably from kicking while screaming, and I felt like the world’s worst grandma! He woke again 2 hours after that, but no screaming.  And no more sleep for  me.

The next day they came home and we started to sleep again, but I still got his cold. He hasn’t yet. I’m amazed, but remembered hearing that colds are just uncried tears. I’m sure he had gotten them all out! But I hadn’t!

However, God prevailed, as They always will with our choice. My cold is gone, Jack is sleeping through the night again, and even Lox is doing better. I’m glad I’m still here to help and give her a couple more hours sleep in the mornings. This place can get loud even with the best intentions of four boys (three tracted out of school). And baby Eileigh is wonderful, beautiful, and looks exactly like her mommy did as a baby. It’s amazing and bonding! It’s going to be hard to leave.

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What is Empathic Connection?

Going through uncomfortable situations as an observer is what I have done for 30 years–on purpose. As a therapist it is what you do. Going through emotions with someone is not always easy, but if you’ve sorted through enough of your own emotional baggage it can be done without losing objectivity or too much wrenching of the heart.

However when you are a bystander who is emotionally connected it is another story. Especially when you are powerless.

I was thinking and feeling this the other morning; I felt like I was getting sick. I worry a lot about the effects of shame, my own early years were riddled with it. It can undo everything good a child feels or believes about himself–cripple you for life. So I went back to bed and muddled around in feelings until I turned to God.

He reminded me that He has nothing perfect to wotk with here and He still brings people through this alley of suffering intact. Then He turned my mind to empathic connection. Researcher Brene Brown says it is the one place shame can’t survive. But what is empathic connection?

I think it is mostly listening and validating feelings, and then redirecting. But how does one get to that when people aren’t coming to you? I’ve always had that advantage. Well, not always; I was (am) a step parent, with just enough experience to know how hard it is.

Now I’ve been watching my daughter with her own four boys. She never used to yell. But now that she is “more real instead of trying to be perfect,” she is yelling a lot. I get to stay with my four grandsons aged 13-3 while she is having her first daughter. Last time she had a baby I stayed with the three and I yelled.

Then a year ago I baby sat for a couple of hours with all four, and this time I was determined not to yell, but to act. Of course they tested me and I think it actually was worse. (My opinion; and being in the middle of it, I could be wrong. They still love me.)

I’ve written about shame before, but in case you missed that, shame is the feeling that you are not good enough. It is communicated easily through tones or looks of judgment or disgust.

I’m apparently very good at both when I’m being “real,” having inherited it. I’ve been horrified to learn it and I hate it. So I’m a little uneasy going into this task which I wouldn’t think of refusing.

A lot of parents have been afraid and opted to skip discipline in favor of empathic connection. But that isn’t good either. Children with no boundaries grow up insecure or with little concept of reality, and are poorly prepared for life.

It seemed like New Years Eve was a good time to do a little soul-searching and vulnerable sharing. I’ll let you know how my dilemma turns out.

 

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Steady as a Post

I’m celebrating that Thursday I sent Love’s Playbook #6 to the publisher! It’s subtitle is Cosmic Chess and it is Exodus 24 through Deuteronomy. Usually hard stuff to read!

My plan was to publish on Friday, but the final stages have always been stressful, so I paced myself, deciding to move it up to Thursday. I was doing ok but not sleeping well, and then Wednesday night I woke up one hour after going to sleep! I went back to sleep and woke up an hour later! I couldn’t believe it! So I gave getting enough sleep to God, and lay there relaxed and breathing deeply. (That is almost as good as sleeping.)

Suddenly, I was aware that I had had all kinds of opposition for the past two weeks that I hadn’t even realized. As I lay there I counted 10 ways the dark side had tried to interfere, sidetrack, derail, discourage, cause shame, anger and irritation.

It was surprising because I hadn’t really noticed.  I mean, I had noticed, it’s hard not to notice that you may be evacuated because a fire is headed toward you! But I hadn’t really thought of the implications for my project. And it was that way with every one of the things they had set up for me. I just kept going.

I knew they hated this book, and so they should. It is all about God’s goodness, Their character–Their law. It’s been the hardest one yet! And maybe the most rewarding. I learned SO much! Perhaps that is why I didn’t really notice the dark interference. It was such demanding subject matter that I was constantly aware of God, yelling “Help! what do I do with this?” or “I don’t know how to think about this!” or “How can I make this interesting?”

Looking back at all the things that could have become drama, I was so pleased. I was reminded  of a Psalm my daughter had put on her wall.

Several  years ago, during one of her hard times, she had written scriptures that were meaningful to her and posted them around her house to encourage her. One of them caught me as humorous, “You hold me steady as a post…”

It always made me smile. and it came to me that night, “You did hold me steady as a post!” I said to God in wonder. Well, maybe not quite that steady, I did have a run-in with my husband, where I firmly held my ground in a shouting match until he laughed, and it felt so good I had to tell him. “It was like finally getting to yell at my older brother and have him admit I was right!” But even with that, it was as if I was always very aware I was on holy ground, and if felt good.

It also felt so good to look back and realize I hadn’t taken their  bait, hadn’t succumbed. I had bounced through them like a buoy on the waves. And it felt triumphant! It made me confident that I would finish on Thursday, and I did! And with the least stress ever, even though the last thing I had to do went berserk. Page numbers are usually hard, but I thought I had learned enough and had it down. They went crazy and the things that were supposed to work, didn’t. So again I turned to God and said, “Help! Bind the dark side from my technology! What do I do now?” I know it sounds crazy but it works. I learned  to do that seven years ago when I started publishing my first book about finding a true self! And with that one I wasn’t working alone!

That is the point! We never have to work on anything alone; we can always turn to God. That is what the whole Bible is about: “Let Me help!” Over and over in a thousand ways, God says, “Pick Me! Turn to Me and I will fix it.”

But all of life is coming out of codependency with Mom, Dad, friends, spouse, and learning autonomy! Yes, broken autonomy. So then it’s really about, “Who will you trust?” We can be thankful for those places that teach us, “Without Me you can’t do anything but choose. The forces against you will overwhelm you unless you find your true center–your true self in Me. We give Our life to you because you need it–to make you whole–only God can give you Their life and still keep it.”

All of life can be holy ground (or wholly grounded)–God is right there to make you whole–to hold you steady as a post.

I’ll put a link here, it should be out by Tuesday or Wednesday, but I recommend you start with the first one which is short and available now:

http://amazon.com/author/arlacaraboolad

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A Strange Fire–A Strange Gratitude

What a week it’s been with fires raging all around us!

The first night, Sunday, I had gone to bed early, and had barely gone to sleep when there was a loud crack and I looked outside to see a transformer blow on the street below us. It looked like someone had set off fireworks. Shortly my husband came in and told me there were three firetrucks in front of our house–a tree was on fire next door. They put it out and left, and crews with big lights fixed the transformer below us.

The next morning we were watching TV coverage of the fires around us, mainly in Ventura then. Suddenly I realized how fortunate we were that our neighbors had been vigilant and called on the fire in their tree! In that wind We could have lost our whole neighborhood if they had been asleep or gone. Our houses are so situated that we couldn’t see it from our house. We thought the transformer had started it.

I texted my new neighbor and told her how grateful I was that they had been on top of it, and she told me a tree from the neighbor’s yard below them had fallen on power lines and they had heard something strange. So her husband got up and looked and saw one of their trees was on fire, and she called 911. She was grateful too that they had seen it and for the efficiency of the firefighters and power company.

We went to bed on Monday night with the fire officials predicting that the flames of the Rye Fire were likely to be licking at our city by morning! But during the night the wind shifted and it went down the 405 freeway instead. It left an odd sort of gratitude. Grateful we were spared but feeling bad for others in its new path. both sides of the freeway were burning and thousands were stranded in their cars from the closure.

We still weren’t out of danger on Tuesday. That night we slept with the phone close by in case we were notified to evacuate. The wind was supposed to be gusting to 80 mph. That leg went west and didn’t touch us either. Again we felt strange: grateful, but sad for the town where it was headed. We prayed that God would calm the wind and He did. It had been roaring Sunday night, and they were supposed to pick up  Monday and Tuesday nights again, but instead went relatively calm when they were predicting gusts of 80 mph. Thanks to those of you praying with us. Its hard to imagine that it could have been worse, since they are still burning, but it could have. If the winds had stayed that high there might not have been a place in Southern California that wasn’t touched by fire.

We live with fires every year–we have fire season here–but I don’t remember one like this before. The winds have never been this strong and crazy. There is often some wind with a fire, but not like this with no prior rain. It was scary. I didn’t realize how wind all by itself could start fires. I don’t think we’ve lost this many homes before either. We were so glad nobody had died, but now today I’ve heard there was one death.

That is still remarkably low, and we want to give great thanks to the firefighters who have been on since they started. My friend said this morning she hadn’t seen her husband since Monday. (But she knows he’s ok because he keeps in touch.)

It is a strange gratitude to be thankful when other people lost everything. It’s hard to even imagine what that would be like, so disorienting. I know God can and does bring good out of anything, if we just stay close and don’t turn against Him. It’s hard not to when it seems He didn’t protect you, but He told us evil will be given more and more power. Now is the time to make that relationship real so He has the right to protect you–you’re His kid. Then if He doesn’t, it’s because He knows He can trust you to stay close and let Him work for you.

 

 

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Jesus on Family

The following is one of my blogs from God-in-a Box–Your Inbox at Http://Godhelps.net  which goes through Jesus life in a year, approximately 250 words a day, showing God’s love through Jesus. This one always gets to me because I feel like one of those people whose better self was stifled in childhood.

“Jesus loves children, finding their pure openness and unaffected love refreshing. Little hearts are tender and impressionable, open to Spirit and strong to remember his stories–the kind of people he wants in his kingdom.

If parents give them every opportunity to learn of God’s love while they are young and their characters still adaptable, they won’t grow up hard-hearted.
Many regard true affection as weakness; their happiness is ruined because their better self was stifled in childhood. The expression of love toward God and each other wasn’t encouraged, but God’s love can melt the hardness.

A  mother teaching children to obey because they love her, is teaching them to obey God out of love.

Fathers, representing God’s authority, don’t need to be harsh or unkind. Jesus wasn’t discourteous or disrespectful, even cutting to the heart with the rudest men.
His graciousness causes parents to treat their children as intelligent beings, as they would want to be treated, correcting them gently as a gardener trains vines and flowers.
Take them outside and teach them how the God of nature made an awesome creation as an expression of His love for us–that all living things are governed by laws protecting happiness and joy–everything designed to give.

Don’t keep your little ones from Jesus by being cold or hard. Don’t make them think he is joyless or negative if he is like you. Smile at them. God loves to give wisdom and tenderness to teach them, but you do have to ask for it.”

 

Matthew 19:14-15,  Mark 10:15-16,  Luke 18:16-17

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