Book Processing

The Foundation Blocks of Healthy Relationships

The Foundation Blocks of Healthy Relationships

The Foundation Blocks of Healthy Relationships

Elizabeth B. Brown discusses the Foundation Blocks of Healthy Relationships in her book Living Successfully with Screwed-Up People. She places them under four headings—first, respect. Then, accepting personal responsibility for one’s behavior. There is also allowing others to bear the consequences of their behavior. Lastly, caring without enabling.

Good grief, those last two hit me square in between the eyes. With my family’s situation, I have a hard time saying no. I want a healthy relationship with the difficult people in my life. Respect baffles me. How does one respect people who do/say/act the way they do? I don’t know that one. I have accepted personal responsibility for where I have been the screwed-up person. The last two are “allowing others to bear the consequences of their behavior and caring without enabling.” Those two I have not nailed.

Objectivity in Healthy Relationships

“Objectivity in healthy relationships encourages each person to be responsible for his own choices and actions and the consequences of them.” There is my problem. I do not have objectivity. Honestly, I don’t know how to have that in these relationships. How does one care without enabling a person? Hmmm. If I respond with simple direct responses, that comes across as cold and unfeeling, which could hurt someone’s feelings. However, if I give too much fluff or information, it can be used against me. In my eyes, I can’t win. I don’t know how to walk that fine line.  

“Turning a toxic relationship into a healthy one requires hard work and a new vision. You can’t change your situation if you fail to see the problems and the options.” In my situation, I can see the problems quite clearly; however, I can’t see the options. Rock and hard place is where I’m constantly sitting.

Questions to Ask Yourself

“These six questions will jump-start your efforts to unscrew difficult relationship problems.”

  1. What emotional tornadoes does the difficult person in your life spin off?
  2. How do you react to the screwed-up person in your life?
  3. How does your difficult person react to your reactions?
  4. If the other person is the problem, are you growing unhealthy actions and reactions in response to him or her?
  5. Are you the screwed-up person driving others to reactive behavior?
  6. How do others react to your actions and responses?

I filled this out for the difficult people in my life. You can give a “pat” type answer or sugarcoat it. However, I laid it all out there in the margins of my book. It isn’t helpful to you or your difficult person to make light of a complicated situation. Be completely honest with yourself and see where you are at fault. Apologize if you can do so safely. If not, then write a letter and apologize. You don’t have to mail it; get it out. 

Yet, if someone causes you great conflict in your life, you have to have boundaries. I struggle with the boundary-setting thing. I fear that if I set a limit, whoever will not speak to me again will lose that relationship. It is easier if it is an acquaintance or a “friend,” but not so much when it is family. That is brutal.

It Takes Only One Person to Change a Relationship

“Do you really want to bring about positive change in your negative relationships? If so, you must be willing to change first. Unless you change first, it is unlikely your relationship will do anything but sink deeper into distress. Reactive behavior rarely brings positive change. It is impossible to continue the same type of interaction if one of the parties has metamorphosed his or her actions and responses.”  

What can one do? Stop enabling. Love with boundaries. Love yourself enough to say no to the request of a difficult person. Maybe you don’t even have to say no; perhaps you can say I will do as I can when I can, but I can’t stop the world because you asked me to do something that is not easy. Yes, I’m talking to myself. I had to say that, and then I felt as if I had put a wedge further between us. Yet, the request was not feasible with the busyness I have going on right now. Honestly, I don’t mind fulfilling the request. It is just going to take time.  

“Patterns can be reversed. It is possible to regain control of thoughts and restructure a life that abuse has tumbled into chaos through the years. People can change. You can change.”

Clear Vision Test

In Living Successfully with Screwed-Up People, Elizabeth B. Brown outlines this test with these instructions: 1=never; 2=sometimes feel this; 3=quite often feel this. Answer honestly and do one test per complicated relationship.

  1. I stew and seethe in silence before our time together.
  2. I worry about and anticipate difficulties and chaos that will come after most of our times together.
  3. I feel manipulated, intimidated, and controlled most of the time.
  4. I feel unappreciated most of the time.
  5. I feel I am always having to defend myself.
  6. I feel overwhelming guilt after our being together.
  7. I feel like “something is eating me alive.”
  8. My conversations with others often spin off the negative actions or reactions I have to this person.
  9. I seem unable to control my anger, resentment, or hurt.
  10. I feel like I will never be able to measure up to what is expected.
  11. I feel like a loser when I express my ideas, needs, or beliefs.
  12. I try to plan out my actions and reactions before we get together.
  13. I fantasize about getting even.
  14. I fantasize about getting out.
  15. I feel I must protect someone other than myself from harm – physical or psychological-caused by the difficult person.
  16. I long to help this person change so he or she will be happier.
  17. I long to help this person change so I will be happier.
  18. I explode at the most unexpected times.
  19. I do not feel happy most of the time.
  20. I don’t like me most of the time.
  21. Most of the time I long for our relationship to be different.

If your score is:

21: Your relationship is normal and healthy.

22-34: Your relationship is skewed.

35-63: Your relationship and your reactions to it are unhealthy.

Book Processing

What Does ‘New Vision’ Mean

What Does 'New Vision' Mean

What Does ‘New Vision’ Mean

Elizabeth B. Brown discusses having a new vision in her book, Living Successfully with Screwed-Up People. Here I attempt to process my thoughts on this concept. “You keep saying I must see what I have instead of focusing on what I don’t have in a difficult relationship.”

That is one of the first quotes from this book, and it hit me square between the eyes. I feel like fractured relationships within my family, and I am not allowed to enjoy the people still in my life. Some readers will not understand that statement. Others, sadly, will feel what I am saying and nod their heads in agreement.

A friend I have not seen in many years also pointed this out. She knows me but doesn’t know me. This friend has wiped my tears during an uncertain time in my life and has faithfully prayed for my family and me. After about fifteen years, I knew it was time to call and get her advice.

A Massive Conversation 

There were pleasantries and catch-up moments, but for the most part, I dove in head first with everything in my head. She listened and responded with grace, love, dignity, and bluntness. See, I tend to keep things to myself or only talk to people who I know to love me, therefore, agree with me (for the most part). This person was not going to tell me what I wanted to hear. She told me what I needed to hear.  

Some parts hurt, others were “aha” moments, and then there were moments when I cried silently. We are many miles apart, but the love of Jesus poured through the phone and settled in my mind and heart. I appreciate her taking the time to call me and advise me. She gave me a perspective of someone who loves us all but sees the situation with a new vision.

A New Vision

Fast forward to reading this book, and Elizabeth B. Brown nails me between the eyes again. Solidifying the truths that my friend spoke. People, Jesus can talk through any vessel if you are open to listening.  

In Successfully Living with Screwed-Up People, Elizabeth B. Brown talks about Aerial Vision. That is your new vision. “Aerial vision would help me see that there were no arbitrary lines, triggers, or buttons – unless I allowed them. NO ONE COULD CONTROL ME UNLESS I ALLOWED THE CONTROL. I needed to understand that if takes partners to developed a screwed-up relationship.”

I am clearing up and gaining a new vision regarding my complicated relationships. Hopefully, I will begin my healing process and learn that “It takes two people to keep conflict and control alive.” The difficulties did not always start with me. It takes two people to continue down this road of destruction. There have been relationships where I have done my part and apologized, but forgiveness did not occur. Once I am obedient to Christ and apologize, it is up to the other person to do with that information what they want. I can’t make them forgive me or want a relationship with me.

On the other hand, I can recall a couple of complicated relationships where I’ve apologized without knowing what I’ve done wrong and the other person own’s that hurt and tension. It was their perception of a situation, not anything I had done. They have apologized, I forgave, and we attempted to rebuild the friendship. However, when that continues and communication does not freely flow, I shake the dust off my feet.

My Difficult Relationships

In complicated relationships, I always take the entire blame and apologize incessantly. Sometimes, I do so without even knowing what I’ve done wrong. Other times, I continually apologize for things I have already apologized for in that relationship. Also, I apologize for something I think or have uttered under my breath.  

It is not wrong to admit when you are at fault. I want to make that completely clear. What is wrong, in my case, is that I continue to apologize and shame myself. Remember from Brene Brown that shame is when you view yourself as a wrong person. It is not the same as guilt.

In Christ, when we are convicted of something we have done that is wrong, we repent. In that repentance, we try not to do the same thing twice. Free will plays a huge part in that dynamic. Once we ask forgiveness from Christ, we go to the one (if you can) that you have hurt or offended, and you apologize to them. Sometimes you can’t do that due to circumstances. In that case, you can write a letter and then burn it. I have done that many times.

When those things are done, then you are done. Either your relationship is restored, or it isn’t. There are times when it can be repaired and others where it simply can’t. However, I continue to harbor the fact that I have hurt someone. I continue to live in shame, and it eats away at me.

That bad behavior must stop in me. There has got to be a point where I offend, repent, apologize, and then forgive myself. After that, I must let it go and release the shame and the guilt. This book has helped me understand these dynamics.

Aerial Vision

Aerial vision allows you to see:

  • the possibilities
  • the improbabilities
  • the impossible

“Aerial vision clears away illusion: Wrong actions are wrong: wrong responses to wrong actions are equally wrong,” I tell my kids all the time that they are responsible for their actions but not the reactions of others. That is a hard concept for kids, but it is also hard for adults.  

The possibilities of newness in a relationship are endless. True friendships can withstand disagreements from time to time if communication is in play. That statement is also true for marriages. However, when you are in a problematic relationship, things are a bit skewed. When you allow the Lord to open your eyes so you can see clearly, you will be amazed at what you can see. Several “minor” types of relationships have been complex. I’ve done my part and can’t control how the other person receives it or what they do with the information. I know that the relationships are no longer continuing.  

Yet, I have two relationships that I struggle with, which are essential to me. These are the two people that I have to focus more attention on in my life. It isn’t easy to walk away from them because I want greatness, but it is a one-way street right now. I cannot continue to beat myself up when I am rejected. Also, I cannot allow myself to be manipulated or controlled. I do not have a clear aerial vision yet of these relationships.  

Living in the Swamp

“Our choices will either keep us from being pulled into the muck and mire of a screwed-up relationship or cause us to sink as we fight the whirlpools spinning off the person we find difficult or off the longing for what we are not going to have.” My choices have kept me in the muck for a very long time. I have been sinking for so long that I don’t know what it is like to be on solid ground. It hurts my heart, but at some point, I must have self-preservation and let go. 

My prayer is reunification and healing, but it may not happen on this side of heaven. For now, I guess I will settle for peace. I am slowly gaining that peace because I’m beginning to set firm boundaries. In reality, “The swamp bottom is often the beginning of renewal.” I am all about renewal.

Difficult Relationships are like Swamps

“Difficult relationships are like swamps. In a swamp, your vision is obscured by vines, alligators, snakes, and mosquitoes. Screwed-up relationships are mired in the muck and swamped by chaos. So much is going on, you don’t know how to find solid ground. About the time you begin to wade out of a period of turmoil, a snake bite or an alligator threatens and you lose your footing. Your struggle for self-preservation so occupies you that you are unable to analyze the source of your problems. You wonder: Am I responsible for all the chaos? Or is the person who drives me crazy truly messed up and responsible for the havoc?”

I have lived with this difficulty for many years. It is time that I step out of the swirl of shame, confusion, and chaos. Those are not qualities that Christ has for us. Christ is not a God of shame, confusion, or chaos. He is a God of love and peace. I have been listening to the whispers of the evil one for far too long, and his reign is ending.  

“When your vision is obscured by the swamp, you must see your relationship with a challenging person from a different perspective.” I slowly see these relationships from a different perspective but have done so over many years and tears. With the love of God, how He speaks to me, through others, and just self-meditation, I’m finally getting it. When I lose sight, I have people to set me straight and remind me of how far I’ve come.

I look forward to exploring more of this book and continuing in my healing. I did change the wording to reflect Elizabeth B. Brown talking directly to me in some of the quotes.

Book Processing

Connect and Redirect Technique

Connect and Redirect Technique

Connect and Redirect Technique

The Connect and Redirect Technique is referred to in the book the “Whole-Brain Child.” This technique is one that I hope to do (aka remember in a moment of chaos) with my children. This is where your left brain, right brain, and corpus callosum work together to create a relatable moment.  

The logic of your left side (that is the side I operate heavily off of) and the emotion of your right side (I’ve been told I’m emotionally stagnant) work together in harmony. “Denial of our emotions isn’t the only danger we face when we rely too heavily on our left brain. We can also become too literal, leaving us without a sense of perspective, where we miss the meaning that comes from putting things in context.”  

How My Parents Raised Us 

My parents, in my opinion, are pretty opposite in personality. Pop is the definition of emotionally stunted, and my Oak allows her feelings to be all over her person. We, kids, are a good mix between the two. I’m a lot like Pop in how I handle things. In the past, I would be considered pretty cold and emotionless. As I’ve aged, I’m coming into my feelings and allowing myself to feel emotions. It is strange to be in the moment and let it go.

Still, I keep my outward emotions more to myself than I do to show them to others, but I’m getting better. My Lady taught me about the concept of feeling and allowing myself to show emotion. When she had her first TIA, it rocked my world. That night, the doctor told us she would likely have a massive stroke and die. He had a procedure he wanted to do in hopes of deterring this impending stroke.

The Night That Changed Me

That night, her youngest son and I sat with her at the hospital. At about one in the morning, her son decided that he would head home. She was resting peacefully, and I was happy to stay on hospital patrol. At about 1:30 am, I was sitting by her bed, and out of the blue, she started singing old-fashioned hymns.  

That woman could sing, and it took me by surprise. She was wide awake and belting out some of the most beautiful hymns ever written. In the midst of it all, her nurse came flying into the room. She heard her singing from the nurse’s station. I looked at this sweet young girl, and she had tears. Stupid me, I thought she was moved by how my Lady sang. I was wrong. She was getting emotional because this was the moment the doctor was talking about earlier.

She was having a stroke and how it presented in her was through music. The brain is so astounding. I held her hand and sang with her. After she sat up, she looked at me with wide eyes and asked me if she was done raising me yet. I told her I didn’t feel like she was done. There was so much more for me to learn from her.

Ever so gently, she held my hand. She told me how strong I was and how far I had come in our journey together. My Lady told me how much she loved me, my husband, and our children. Then she talked about her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. She told me I would be okay and that she was so excited to see “her Jerome” and, of course, Jesus.

My Emotions Overcame Me

I cried. My Lady sang. The love she showed me that night is forever etched in my heart. Thankfully, she didn’t leave me that night. The doctor prevented it from taking her life by doing whatever procedure he did. At that moment, my right brain took over entirely. It was such a bizarre feeling for me. However, after that happened, I quickly went into my left brain, where I lived. My emotions were stuff, and I was prepared to call her family and give them a recounting of the events that had happened. I wanted to be strong for them and give them all the information. They loved her way more than me, and they deserved a well-put-together account of that evening. I did that. It felt like I was reading off of a paper.  

When my Doug showed back up, that was a different story. When Chelsea came, that was a different story. I have a bond with them that is different. They know me better than the rest of the family. I didn’t want to be a flake or not know the facts. That woman and Jerome produced some brilliant human beings who loved their Granny Jo very much.

As the Weeks Went By

My Lady would ask me to go over that night. In my mind, this was asked of me because she was having a stroke and didn’t remember. Your brain develops a type of amnesia when trauma occurs. I would busy myself with something mundane. Then, I would go over that night, never looking her in the eyes.  

Her eyes.

I would get to the part of her singing and skip everything that surrounded that moment. My story would always end up with how she survived, how loved she was, and how thankful I was that she was still with us. Left brain. Logic. No right brain. No emotion.

That irritated her. She would rewind and ask me to go over it again. I had to stop and tell her the part I skipped over this time. I had to do this while looking at her. Do you have any idea how hard that was for me?  

My right brain would sneak in, and I would feel the lump in my throat. Then, like a thief in the night, my right brain would take over. She finally stopped me and asked me why I did that. Why do I shut my emotions off?

Letting it All Go

I told her that if I started crying, I would never stop. We talked about my fear of her leaving me alone that night. She eased my soul and said that crying was God’s way of allowing us to heal from the inside out. It was healthy to cry. By golly, I was going to sit there and tell her that story, and I was going to cry. She had tissues in her hand.

I sat at her feet, with my head on her lap. For the first time, I told her the entire story from start to finish. I cried so much my face was swollen. She just stroked my hair and loved me through it. We went through this same thing day after day.  

What she didn’t realize that she was doing was the connect and redirect technique. She was taking a massive trauma out of my locked box and exposing it to light. She made me talk about it until it was filed appropriately in my brain. I can talk about it now. I do shed tears, but it is not all-consuming tears. I processed this night after many years.

God Moment

Wow, this was such a God moment recounting that and realizing that she taught me all the things I would need to know. I thought I was learning all of this stuff from books. Now, I know that through the love and wisdom of her, my parents, granny, and my few support people, I am equipped to parent differently.  

Wow.

I may need to eat my feelings.  

Book Processing

More on Brain Integration

More on Brain Integration

More on Brain Integration

I continue diving into the book, The Whole-Brain Child, and now we are looking at brain integration. My last post, linked below, states, “Integration takes the distinct parts of your brain and helps them work together as a whole.” When you or your child are overwhelmed, or your emotions begin to take over (chaos) completely, you are not in a state of integration. You are in a state of dis-integration. That is not where you want to be.

It is easy to find yourself in the swirl of dis-integration. I can calm down and reflect on why I’m reacting the way I am, but in the end, you have to work in full brain integration mode. You must not be living and responding from the “downstairs” part of your brain.

Types of Integration

First, you have the “horizontally integrated” type. This type taps into your left brain logic which works well with the right brain emotion. Also, you want to be “vertically integrated.” Doing this allows your upstairs brain to work well with your downstairs brain. The upstairs part of your brain helps you think about your actions. The downstairs portion of your brain is about instinct, gut reactions, and survival. I can honestly say that I’ve been in survival mode for the last, I don’t know, 14 years or so.

There is good news, though. Your brain is malleable. Being malleable means, you can make new tracks. Your reactions don’t have to follow the ditches that you have so carefully constructed. You can veer off course and make new roads, new pathways. Your neurons can detour anywhere you want them to. Eventually, those old ditches full of trauma, bad reactions, and intense emotions begin to fill in. A new road permanently replaces them! Your brain can be in a constant state of road repair. Honestly, this is excellent news.

“When neurons fire together, they grow new connections between them. Over time, the connections that result from firing lead to ‘rewiring’ in the brain. Such inspiring news. It means that we aren’t held captive for the rest of our lives by how our brain works at the moment – we can rewire it to be healthier and happier.”

River of Well-Being

When our brains are well integrated, it is like we are sitting in a boat or on a raft, just floating down the river. The water is calm; the weather is perfect. You are at peace. When dis-integration occurs, the current can shift you to the left (chaos) or the right (rigidity).

Chaos is when you “feel out of control…confusion and turmoil rule the day.” So, you quickly try to get back in the center of the water but accidentally veer to the right side of your brain, rigidity—the opposite of chaos. “Rigidity is when you are imposing control on everything and everyone around you. You become completely unwilling to adapt, compromise, or negotiate.” In the end, one side lacks control, and the other is too much control, leading to a lack of flexibility and adaptability.

Recounting This Past Week

I can see that one child was living on the right side of his brain. Chaos ruled his world. This child was not living in that peaceful water spot.

On the other hand, I was utterly working from the left side of my brain. My raft was firmly in the smelly, reed-filled water of rigidity. I wanted to control the situation and have everyone back in the river’s center. It was my way or no way. There was no connection, no discussion, nothing. Neither of us was in that sweet spot of integration.

“If you see chaos and/or rigidity, you know someone is not in a state of integration. Likewise, when someone is in a state of integration, they demonstrate the qualities we associate with someone who is mentally and emotionally healthy: they are flexible, adaptive, stable, and able to understand themselves and the world around them.”

Brain Integration

Ultimately, the fact that our brain is plastic and can change gives me hope. Yet, I struggle with staying in the middle of the lake, cruising along without a care. I veer onto both sides of the lake with great ease. By doing that, I’m risking the heart connection I desire with all my children and husband. I have got to figure out a way to recognize what I’m doing/saying and stop myself in my tracks. There has got to be a point where I can remember these issues. I want to be an ally for them instead of their enemy.

How do I do that? That is the question.

Book Processing

A Survive Moment is also a Thrive Moment

A Survive Moment is also a Thrive Moment

A Survive Moment is also a Thrive Moment

This book has a lot of information in it. There is a lot to process (for me). I might write on this and sprinkle some of my new recipes in the mix. Honestly, not sure. There is a lot that I need to reconcile, apologize for, and start over. I pray that my children do not repeat the same things that I have done and learn from my mistakes. Also, I pray that they forgive me for my many shortcomings and remember more good than bad.

The Whole-Brain Child

Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson start this book by taking ordinary, challenging moments and rethinking how you, as a parent, respond. “Instead of just breaking up the fight and sending the sparring siblings to different rooms, you can use the argument as an opportunity for teaching: about reflective listening and hearing another person’s point of view; about clearly and respectfully communicating your desires; about compromise, sacrifice, negotiation, and forgiveness.”

Will we always take every moment captive and do this very thing? No. That is not realistic. I wish it were. Sometimes I wish I could step back in the past and redo it when I have a challenging moment concerning my kids. Trauma is a weird thing, and it can be consuming. There are a few of my kids that come from trauma. Their beginnings weren’t great, but their middle and, hopefully, the end will be less traumatic. They will have been able to reparent themselves in tense situations. Moments can be captured where they can go back and say, “what would I have done differently?” Moments where they need to forgive someone or themselves (or me) and extend grace to themselves and others.

Being the Expert on Your Child

I learned this statement a long time ago. When H got sick, we went to 5 hospitals and two other facilities. What they saw was a name on a chart and a frantic mom. I sat and listened to them say things like “succumb debilitating, wheelchair, chemotherapy, and Plasmapheresis.” In the beginning, I did everything they said.

Then, I realized that I was the expert, not them. I took back control and began using my voice and advocating for him in a way that I was too scared to do the first time. There was no longer a time when I sat back and blindly said “yes” to any of them. I questioned, researched, had many lists, and consulted with other doctors from other states. I was his expert.

So, now that I can advocate for my child(ren), grandchildren, and myself better (not entirely but better), I can take that into their mental health and trauma. I can become an expert on that to the best of my ability.

In The Whole-Brain Child, it says, “the brain itself is significantly shaped by the experiences we offer as parents, knowing about the way the brain changes in response to our parenting can help us to nurture a stronger, more resilient child.” Quickly, I could throw my hands up and say, ‘I’ve waited too long, I’ve done too much damage. I should just keep my eyes above the waves and let their therapist handle it.’

Yet, here I am, reading books, learning, praying, and hoping that the difference I make now will filter down to my grandchildren and great-grandchildren until Jesus returns. Today, I have royally screwed up. Moments of sheer insanity, but then there were moments when I pulled my crap together and got to the root of something. One moment of healing will hopefully overshadow the moment of stupidity.

Repeatedly Telling the Story

Repeatedly telling the story is one thing that we do. I do this more with H and his medical trauma than I did with anyone else. My adult children would probably tell me to shut my piehole. His medical trauma is ongoing, and there have been some scary moments. Note that he got sick when he was three years old. He has, physically, been through more than what most adults will ever go through.

What I do, for him, is I get copy paper and fold it in half to create a book. I stable the “bind” of the book to make it easier for him. Next, we go through the scary story. The last one we did was on plasmapheresis. It was terrifying.

He retells me the story of what he remembers, and I write it down. Where he doesn’t remember, I fill in the blanks with facts of the story. After that, he illustrates it however he wants. Once that is done (sometimes it can take a while, but I try to do it immediately), we go over the book multiple times.

It is his story, in his words, with his emotions. Then you add in my facts or my fill-in-the-blanks. Doing this allows him to take this core memory that has scared him and process it. Doing this won’t remain a traumatic memory; it will be filed accordingly in his brain and be a memory. Honestly, it helps me as well. That is why I blog. I do that to process some tough stuff.

Integration

I didn’t realize that I was helping him with integration. “Integration takes the distinct parts of your brain and helps them work together as a whole. Integration is simply linking different elements together to make a well-functioning whole.”

Who knew? I sure didn’t.

Dis-integration is defined as the loss of integration. When you are working out of your “downstairs” brain or veering too closely to the rigid or chaotic side of your brain, you will find that you are dealing with the loss of integration of your brain working as a whole.

The goal is to help our children (ourselves, or anyone really) to stay in that sweet spot of the water. Remember to process the junk in the Amygdala. Then, move into the “upstairs” part of our brain. From there, we can sail down the middle of rigidity and chaos.

Be on the lookout for all my thoughts on that. I know you are all on the edge of your seat!

 

Book Processing

Take Back Your Life Part 5

Take Back Your Life Part 5

Take Back Your Life Part 5

Today is the last day! See, I told you I wouldn’t make it as long as the previous book review! I have been on the struggle bus today. Sadly, I have not captured my thoughts, and my strongholds are in full force. I am so frustrated with so many things. Shall we move on?

Hope

“So what is hope? At its most basic level, to have hope is to believe that something good is going to happen. That help is on the way. That it’s not over yet. And that no matter how dark it seems, there’s going to be light at the end of the tunnel. Our hope is a living hope, because we have a living Lord.”

Hope. That word permeated throughout our entire (ongoing) journey with OMS. The word started as a prophecy by three people (none of whom know each other). Then, everywhere I turned, it was that word, thought, concept. Hope. Frankly, it irritated me. I didn’t see the hope at that time. My faith level was that of a mustard seed. At that time, I most definitely had blinders on my eyes.

Yet, here we are, reading and learning about hope again. Over time, I’ve learned how to love that word and accept it. I have it all over my house in some form or the other. Even a tattoo on my arm reminds me to have hope. Hope is what I survived on after the blinders were removed from my face. While they were on, however, the people I chose to surround me with held me up, and they hoped for me when I couldn’t.

“The wonderful thing about the anchor of the soul is that it, too, comes equipped with a mighty chain. Hope has a rope: The Holy Spirit. He is our great rope that cannot be frayed, the one who has lashed our hearts to heaven.”

Did You Take a Tone With Me?

My husband and children hate it when I say that phrase. It isn’t always what they say; it is the tone they use, the body language, and the facial expressions. Someone can say I love you with complete and utter hate in their eyes. You know you can’t always believe what comes from someone’s mouth. I think Jesus says our tongue is a double-edged sword.

“Experts estimate that a very small percentage of our communication occurs through the words themselves. The great majority of what we say each day involves what we do with our bodies, our facial expressions, and the tone with which we communicate.”

Levi Lusko says, “if Jesus is the Lord of your life, then he should be the Lord of your lips. Colossians 4:6 reminds us to ‘let every word you speak be drenched with grace.’ Grace is unmerited favor, by the way. Grace is not ever deserved.”

Uhm, I need to have a redo on my entire day. My words have dripped with irritation, frustration, anger, fear, and sadness. Why do I continue to do the things I do not want to do? To add insult to injury, he says, “your intentions don’t matter; your behavior does. No one can hear what you wanted to say; we hear only what you said. The impact you have on the world is what you’re accountable for. When you allow yourself to be provoked, you give up the one thing that is yours alone: control of yourself.”

I need to go back to bed.

Anger: Party of 1

“You might struggle with anger, but you are not an angry person. You might struggle with people, but that doesn’t make you not a people person. Your face can absolutely have an impact on those around you, for better or worse. Positive thinking is important. So is watching how you speak and minding your habits.”

We are at the end of this book. I didn’t squeeze all the goodness out of it because I was hoping you could go and buy it. Marinate on this book. Put it into practice. I pray that forgiveness is shown to me and that I can start over. In the middle of the day, have a massive do-over.

“So tie yourself to Jesus, and you’ll feel his power as you work out the life he breathed into you. Take off your grave clothes. And remember that when you are authentically your healed self and walk humbly as a follower of Jesus, you can live in confidence without fear, distraction, depression, anxiety, worry, regret, quarrels, addictions, darkness, selfishness, self-sabotage, narcissism, the held-hostage version of yourself you don’t want to be, or anything else that gets in your way and stunts your growth. Draw a line in the sand – a crimson line painted with the blood of Jesus – and decide that the cycle ends with you. Your children don’t have to inherit from you what you inherited from your parents. Fight this battle so they won’t have to.”

Powerful. Just keep swimming, friends. We, as believers, know what happens at the end of the book. We win.

 

Book Processing

Take Back Your Life Part 4

Take Back Your Life Part 4

You Can’t Be a Victim and a Victor at the Same Time

“God is saying that impossible things can be done when you speak faith in the midst of the storm, though sometimes the impossible thing is you continuing to believe in him in the middle of it all, even when what you’re believing for doesn’t happen. He’s not saying you’re going to get every single thing you want if you just speak to it in an attitude of faith. Always, Jesus’ attitude is “Thy will be done, not mine.”

It is so hard to believe in the middle of it all. My faith was tiny during the most challenging part of our OMS journey. I felt defeated. The doctors were talking at me and not with me. Only one doctor in another state spoke with me and helped me understand everything I needed. Though her belief system was different than mine, she gave me hope. That hope restored and grew my faith exponentially.

“Jesus didn’t come to give us a blank check for any dream. But when hard days come, the way we speak in the midst of our crisis, in the midst of our difficulty, can cause something to happen that feels impossible. A mountain of discouragement can move. A mountain of ingrained negativity can move. A mountain of hopelessness can move. It happens when we do things like speaking words of faith in the midst of a chemotherapy treatment. Suddenly we have more to give and joy where there shouldn’t be any.”

In the midst of one of our journeys, the above statement happened. That one doctor, Kavita Thakkar from UPMC, gave us hope. In doing that, our mountain and perspective shifted in a way that occurred three years before meeting her. God speaks through any situation and any person. We have to listen. “God’s most important miracles can’t be seen with the naked eye.”

Feelings

My Lady always said, “no one can make you feel one way or the other. Your feelings are your decision to have or not have.” I miss her. Levi Lusko states that “You need to learn to feel your feelings. Lean into them. Diagnose them. And then do what is needed to move through them.” Do you know how hard that is to do when you have chosen to stuff your feelings most of your life?

He goes further to say (and I am paraphrasing here), “if you try to understand what is driving it, you can look to the Lord to fill the hole instead of ~the things~ of the world. You will discover that the ache you were going to silence with something on Disney+…was actually the voice of Jesus calling you to himself… The silencing of that discomfort by fast food or fast delivery from e-commerce brings the opposite – more punishment than reward.”

I do that, especially at night. Binge-watch things, play my bubble game, eat popcorn. Lately, I’ve been closing my eyes and listening to some praise and worship music. Listening to music creates a space where my feelings are feeling things. Honestly, I’m not sure what to think about that. It is not pleasant, but I know it is healing.

Decision-Making and Fear

“All I can tell you is that you must not let fear play a part in your decision-making. You can’t ignore fear, but you don’t have to let it control you. True bravery isn’t feeling no fear. It’s being afraid and moving forward anyway.”

Currently, I have a big decision to make. In my world, I need a step-by-step of what I need to do to get from point A to point B. In a turn of events, after ten years, I now have that step-by-step guide. Now, I’m ready to back out and not do it out of fear. What if I’m not good enough? What if I can’t pass the test? What if I can’t find a job? What if I can’t find a supervisor? What if I screw someone up?

I’m allowing fear to overtake logic and a calling. I know I’m called to do a sure thing. I’ve taken some vast steps to get to this point. Yet, I hit a brick wall when I got involved with someone who did not have my best interest in mind. Levi Lusko states, “not only is failure not a bad thing, but it is a necessary thing. The only way to get to victory is to be willing to make mistakes on the way there.” Choosing this Lady and believing her lies was a HUGE mistake. Then, OMS hit, and I had no choice but to care for my son. Most obstacles (except a supervisor and a job) are out of the way. I’m terrified.

Fear is affecting this decision. Completely. “God isn’t scared of what you’re scared of. But you don’t have to pretend like you’re not frightened. Naming your fear is part of getting through it. It’s also important to remember that Immanuel means “God with us.” Jesus is with you. You are never alone.” God states in Psalm 91:5, “You shall not be afraid of the terror by night.”

Stronghold

“A stronghold is an area in which you have become entrenched in believing something that isn’t true or in doing something you shouldn’t be doing. As a result, the Enemy has a heavily fortified position in your life. Simply put: it’s a constant pull in the wrong direction. These strongholds put a chokehold on the joy, growth, freedom, and strength you are meant to experience. They neutralize your effectiveness and lock you in a state of darkness and arrested development.”

I have many strongholds. Anger is fear and/or sadness. Tonight, there was an issue. I am beyond exhausted, and I have two choices. One choice was to sit here and dissociate. The second choice was to intervene. I don’t have enough energy to intervene. Logically, I can tell you what outcome will come if I just let my husband handle it (not allowing my stronghold to rule me), or I can intervene (and have my stronghold rear its ugly head). Tonight, I choose to dissociate.

How to demolish them:

  • Spot them.
  • Renounce the thinking or behavior and se3t your soul against it.
  • Paint the target so heaven can blast it with God’s supernatural power.
  • Let your squad in on what has been going on.
  • Vigilantly and diligently build something in place of the sin so it can never be rebuilt.

“Rise up and do exactly what the devil doesn’t want you to do. Refuse to go gently into the night. Don’t be taken without a fight…”

Tomorrow will be my last day of posting on this book. Powerful book.

 

Book Processing

Take Back Your Life Part 3

Take Back Your Life Part 3

Take Back Your Life Part 3

Part of me wants to rush through this book, so I don’t bore people. The other part of me wants to stop and absorb everything that stands out. Frankly, it is pretty therapeutic for me. We shall see how far I get. At the end of each section, there are very thought-provoking questions. You can thank me now for not posting/answering!

You Always Have a Choice

Levi Lusko states that “Satan can’t make you do anything. You always have a choice. In that way, you are more dangerous to yourself than the devil is. He has to check with God before he can wreak havoc in your life, but you can do great damage to your calling without getting approval from anyone.”

I would have never thought that. In my mind, God either allows or ordains the things that happen in your life. He can change it instantly because He is God, and He can do that. Yet, free will comes to play, and though He can override free will, He chooses not to. If He did that, we wouldn’t cry out to Him or need a God to come to our rescue. Maybe I’m wrong.

“Remember, God doesn’t cause bad things to happen, but he is sovereign and nothing happens outside his permission. The devil is the one ultimately responsible for evil.”

I know God is the only omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient God. He can be at all places at all times, at the same time. Satan can’t do that. He can only be at one place at any given time, but he does have an army that he can send out that seeks to kill, steal, and destroy you.

Finding Beauty from Ashes

One thing that I told my clients, often, was that there was a purpose in their pain. Whether it was allowed or ordained, God would use whatever situation they are currently going through to help another person find beauty from their ashes.

Levi Lusko agrees to say, “But be of good cheer. There is a connection between the strength of our pain and the volume of our voices. The more we hurt, the louder we become. The things God deposits in your spirit amid suffering are the same things that someday others will desperately need. I dare you to look at the hardships you’re facing and believe that, through them, there are people you are meant to reach.”

I wholeheartedly agree with that statement. Amid pain, suffering, uncertainty, and trials, we can’t see the forest for the trees. Yet, God has a helicopter view. He sees the beginning to the end. In those moments, He knows that there will be someone, somewhere, that will walk through the same thing you are walking through.

Who better to minister with someone than someone with a child who has instantly been stricken with a rare disease? Especially when that someone is five years on the other side. Is there someone better to minister to a wife who finds out her husband has an addiction that he has been hiding for most of her marriage? What about the mom who has a prodigal child? When you have a wayward child, you have lived it and can not only sympathize but empathize with them.

“None of your tears have fallen to the ground unseen.” God states in His Word, “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” Psalm 56:8

Power in the Pain

In Take Back Your Life, Levi Lusko states, “I always want you to believe in Jesus’ name that there will come a day when the devil will regret ever asking God’s permission to give you your trials because you will end up twice as blessed as you started out. God’s up to something! He’s turning your mess into a message. He’s turning your pain into a platform. He’s turning your trial into a testimony. He’s turning the trash that has come into your life into triumph!”

Beauty from ashes! You can declare war. You can have that freedom that only God can give you. You don’t have to succumb to depression, anxiety, or fear. Admit where you struggle, become a student of the problem, and be your expert. When you do that, that can eliminate fear. Stand up for yourself and for what is right. You don’t have to lay down and take it, but you must release it to the One who can fight your battles! You are not your darkness, and it cannot overtake you as a child of the King.

Begin in Your Mind

That is where you can shut off the darkness. “My friend Kevin Gerald likes to say, ‘Thoughts are like trains: they take you somewhere.’ When a train of thought shows up, don’t just get on! Slow down before you board it to make sure it’s heading in the right direction. Ask each one:  Where are you taking me? Are we headed to Lovelyville, Virtuetown, Good Report Station? Boomsauce! Wait, this train is going to Jealousy, USA? Rage City? Gossip Central? I’m sorry, I’m just not comfortable going where you are headed.”  

That is a fantastic analogy. I can catch myself when fixing to go off the rails into a tangent. There are times when I can physically hear a voice that says STOP. SHUT UP. STOP SPEAKING. WALK AWAY. 98% of the time, I ignore it, and then crap comes flying out my mouth. You can’t take back what you say because the damage has already been done.

Levi Lusko goes on to outline a few more places that may be harder to spot the trains that are coming:

  • Being suspicious of people’s motives
  • Wondering what went wrong
  • Feeling guilty
  • Doubting and questioning God
  • Worrying
  • Obsessing about why you weren’t invited
  • Fearing someone you love being harmed
  • Secretly being happy when something wrong happens to someone you don’t like *ouch*
  • Stressing about your future
  • Stewing over something that was done to you *double ouch*

You Have a Choice

“You can take it captive. Detain it. Don’t let it into your mind for a minute. Show it no mercy. Give it no quarter. Send that thought to the pit of despair so the six-fingered man and the albino can torture it. Don’t be kind. Remember, this is war.”

Replace the thought with Scripture and what God says about you! You don’t have to choose to live like this. You can overcome. Choose life and speak life into yourself instead of the death sentence that Satan brings to the table.

“It’s time to stop letting life happen to you and start happening to your life. When you decide to stare the things in the face that are holding you back, strength will bubble up inside your chest.” So many gems in this book. There are so many powerful statements like this that make you stop and ponder. I will be 50 this year. I have let life happen to me for almost 50 years. Time is soon changing, and I will start “happening” in my life!

A Bad Mood Exists Only in Your Mind

It is never too late to change your attitude, mindset, or course of action for your life. You don’t have to wait until tomorrow. You can make the change halfway through the day. If it is evening, change your perspective. New mercies can happen at any time of the day. Give yourself grace. Go to the Word, put on praise and worship music, dance in your underwear, say you are sorry, or go for a walk. Be the change you want to see made! Remember, “your words and actions both begin as thoughts.” Take your thoughts captive! “You can change how you feel by changing how you think.”

Cliff and Ms. Jan

One of the first things they EVER said to me (amid a chaotic moment with my children at church) was quoting 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. It says, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Levi Lusko is quick to point out some facts relating to this verse. “He didn’t say to be thankful FOR everything. You aren’t supposed to be thankful for death or divorce, or unemployment. Those things aren’t good. You can, however, be thankful IN those things – or in any other thing hell can throw at you – because God has a plan to produce good from what you are facing.”

Ponder that. Tomorrow we talk about miracles!

 

Book Processing

Take Back Your Life by Levi Lusko Part 2

Take Back Your Life by Levi Lusko Part 2

Take Back Your Life by Levi Lusko Part 2

We are camping out in the next part of this book, Take Back Your Life. I promise this little series won’t be as long as my last one. Taking apart certain aspects of a book helps me gain a perspective I might not have. So, these book reviews are my online journal to continue my faith journey.

Here’s Some Truth For You

Levi Lusko provides these truths.

  • You were made in the image of God.

“That’s right, made. You are not smart mud or a monkey wearing pants. God made you. Fearfully, wonderfully, he knit you together inside your mother. You’re no accident.” I am NO ACCIDENT. I was not an “oops.” It was not a mistake. I was meant to be on this earth and given to the people, my parents, who created me. It might have been a surprise, not a well-received one, but I’m not mistaken. God wanted me from before He created the earth. He knew about me. He made me in the image of His Son.

  • You have autonomy.

“Like God, you have a personality. A sense of humor. You can laugh and sing, make love and create, dream and destroy. You have feelings and can be hurt. When things don’t go your way, you get sad and can be grieved, just like God. This might surprise you, but God doesn’t always get what he wants and neither do we.” Be bigger. Be loud. Do not shrink down and become invisible! You are not less than. You are the child of the King. Straighten that crown!

  • You are immortal.

“The question is not whether you will live forever but where. Four hundred years from now, and four thousand years after that, you will still exist. You will still be alive, and you will still be you.” Wow. Just wow.

  • You were expensive.

“Think about what God was willing to spend to redeem you and give you hope when sin and death had their suffocating stranglehold on your life. You weren’t purchased with any common currency, like gold or silver, but with the precious blood of Jesus. His veins were opened, and then hanging on two pieces of wood on top of a hill shaped like a skull, the Son of God died to pay the price for every wrong thing you have done. Sin is a capital crime, so he died to set you free.” Humbling. This concept is almost incomprehensible. I can’t say I would kill my son for anyone ever.

  • You have power.

“As a child of God, you have been entrusted with the Holy Spirit. The same Holy Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead now lives in your heart and is ready and waiting to be activated.”

  • You are gifted.

“You have specific connections and opportunities that I haven’t been given. You’re a genius. There are people you get to talk to every day whom it would take a miracle for a preacher to get in front of. But for you it’s effortless as sitting in second period or clocking in for an afternoon shift at your job.”

I can say that I wholeheartedly agree with this, but not everyone does. I learned to blend. Do not stand out, do not attract those that look different from me, don’t go to bars (which I don’t, but that is for another reason), watch who you talk to because you just might be seen by a church person, and that could mean disaster for you. Never have I ever agreed with that statement. I did, for years, but not anymore. I’m a girl with pink and purple hair. As small as I want to be, I am loud and look different. Those people march to the beat of their drums. Well, those are my people. I don’t care what anyone else thinks. There are people that I can reach that might seem “less than” to other “Christians.”

  • You have an epic mission.

“The orders from your commanding officer are pretty clear: go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.

Be Bigger. Be Unapologetic. Be Unique.

“I hope you are starting to get a sense of how incredibly, wildly unordinary you are. You, my friend, were put on this earth to make waves, disrupt the status quo, and kick over some stinking applecarts. you have everything you need to move forward and live an extraordinary life.”

Preach it, Levi!

From Mundane to Purposeful

“It’s always going to be harder to do the right thing than it is to do the wrong thing. That’s why checking your email a thousand times will always be easier than actually working on something. That’s why scanning your Instagram feed is always going to be easier than actually doing something meaningful. That’s why starting a project, with the blank screen staring back at you, is so hard. But here’s the thing. The harder you work, the better you get at getting over that hump and starting, and the harder it is to surrender.”

From mundane to purposeful is the commitment we need to have for Christ. Delete your social media apps off your phone. You will find that it very well might empower you. Carry a book around, place a small Bible in your car for wait times, and have a playlist of praise and worship music on your phone. Listen to a podcast that uplift and teach you. Fill your mind with the things above, and you will find that your perspective will change for the better.

How You Speak

“How you speak determines how you feel. It’s time to stop listening to your fear! Instead, put some faith in the air. Your speech can create, tear down, build, heal, or hurt. You will feel how you speak and find what you ask. Your words can unlock a life you love or one you loathe.”

I can say; lately, I have been speaking negatively about everything. A thousand and five things in my house need to be accomplished. I clean, and 5 minutes later, it is a disaster. My relationships are not great right now. When a friend calls, my first statement is running down the list of things that are all wrong. I don’t want to lie, but I also don’t want to focus on the negative, and that is what I do. I have got to work on that. It is destroying the people I love around me and me.

Mask of Shame

In Taking Back Your Life, Levi Lusko says, “Is the you you’re showing people really you? Or does your image feel a little disquised? A little distorted? A little masklike? God tells us who we really are but it can be hard to absorb, especially when fears hit. So we slap on a mask as a defense to hide the fears that we aren’t enough.”

The mask of shame speaks to me on every level. I am famous for wearing the appropriate mask for the proper time. I do this out of fear that my true self is too much for some people. Honestly, it is a realized fear because people tell me I’m not good enough. I have too many tattoos, and my hair needs to be a standard color; why do I not wear shoes often? I parent differently than other people parent. I’m not submissive enough, not smart enough, etc. The bad stuff is more accessible to believe than the good stuff. How sad is that?

The Different Types of Masks

I won’t go into detail about what Levi Lusko says. You will get the idea as you read these.

  • The superiority mask.
  • The smiley-face mask.
  • The “Fifty Shades of Grey” mask.
  • The funny guy/gal mask.
  • The “I’m so holy” mask.
  • The clone wars mask.
  • The zombie mask.
  • The gold-plated, diamond-encrusted mask

“It’s ironic, we put on masks in hopes of finding love and acceptance, but people cat love someone they don’t know. What they’re falling in love with isn’t you; it’s your maks, a superficial version of you, a costume you’ve carefully curated. What you wear to obtain, you must wear to retain.”

He further says that we need to learn our true identity in Christ. He encourages you to take your masks off, remember who God says you are, accept who God says you are, and live in complete freedom.

What Does Freedom Look Like

What does this word “freedom” look like when you drop the facade and become the you that God created you to be? I wish I could say I was living that, but I’m not. Honestly, I’m a constant work in progress.

“Freedom looks like vulnerability.” Vulnerability is being capable of being physically or emotionally wounded – open to being attacked or damaged. Being vulnerable takes an incredible amount of strength. I encourage you to see the TED Talk by Brene Brown on this subject. Levi Lusko states, “the only way to victory is by going through vulnerability.”

Life Lesson Number 101

I read this book a couple of months ago. I’m rereading as I process through each chapter and rereading what I have highlighted. I aim to apply things to my life and get stuff on notecards to carry around. Silly sounding, I know. Yet, it works for me.

Currently, my husband and I are at a crossroads. Hurts have been expressed. Saying things out of frustration leads to hurt feelings and pain. The desire to give up is at an all-time high. As I’m going through this book, this is what I previously highlighted: “In marriage, being “naked and unashamed” lets down all the walls, telling your fears, telling your desires, telling your dreams, telling how you feel when you don’t measure up. People can say, ‘what you said hurt my feelings. I’m not going to lash out in anger and write an angry email to make you feel small because you made me feel small. I’m going to tell you it hurt me. I’m going to try to get on with it.’ “

I need to pause and go and talk to my husband. Marriage is hard; even after almost 30 years, it is hard.

I will leave this parting quote that was written on my whiteboard. “If God didn’t give it, you don’t have to keep it. This is your permission slip to let that go.” Part 3 is coming soon.

Book Processing

Take Back Your Life by Levi Lusko Part 1

Take Back Your Life by Levi Lusko Part 1

Take Back Your Life by Levi Lusko Part 1

Trigger warning: This book talks about the death of his young daughter, Lenya. It doesn’t necessarily talk about it in great detail. However, it is referenced quite often. Take Back Your Life is meant to be a 40-Day interactive journey to thinking right so you can live right. Honestly, if I had to try and just read one chapter a day, I would never finish it. Typically, I read the entire book through in a day or so. Then, I go back through and highlight the parts that stood out to me. That way, when I go back to it, I can see the details that stuck out and marinate on those parts instead of rereading the whole book.

If you want to get super technical, I read the introduction first. Then, I go and read the last chapter. After that, I read the ending parts and acknowledgments. Lastly, I go back to the first chapter and start the book. Doing book reviews like this is odd, but this is the only way I have read any book. Please know you can read any of these books any way you choose.

Ants vs. Mosquitoes

Levi Lusko starts with a weird analogy. As I reread the highlighted passages, the words resonated with me. “Ants…public enemy number one… Ants do not carry yellow fever or malaria… Mosquitoes do… Mosquitoes love water. Mosquitoes were laying their larva and thriving. The ant moats – the very things people thought were keeping them safe – were costing them their lives. I’ve made the mistake of doing the right thing the wrong way. Fought the ants but fostered the mosquitoes. By following my feelings, I have become trapped in moods that should have not had a hold on me. By failing to take my thoughts captive, I have allowed anxiety to have a seat at the table reserved only for God and paid for with the blood of his Son. Leave the ants alone. It’s time to swat some mosquitoes.”

Note that I left out a lot of words. I pieced together this, so it is his words but condensed. Wow. That is a notecard I need to make. The notecard needs to state Ants vs. Mosquitoes. The ants and mosquitoes are an odd way to start Take Back Your Life. Yet, it is something that you will remember. I would love to get someone else’s thoughts on this book’s “Before” section. He talks about idols and how they are not necessarily bad things. “They are good things that are treated as ultimate things.” What are your “ultimate” things?

I need to ponder on that.

Feelings

Romans 7:15 states, “I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate.” Feelings are fleeting. We can not base our life on what we feel in the moment. Levi Lusko relates that to our vision. He says, “Looks can be deceiving. We can look at something but not see what’s there. Ant that means we cannot trust what we see with the naked eye. You can’t trust what you see and the decisions you make based on that. You need more.”

We are quick to judge, determine, decide, or do as we see things. However, what we see may not be what is there. I can look at a child and see someone who has behavior issues. There are so many things that I do not understand, and it causes a great deal of frustration for a family. For example, the husband could have found a child huddled in the kitchen corner, out of sight, with a ton of food items hidden in their child’s shirt and lied about having it in their shirt.

What does that look like to a parent without trauma? Disobedience? Stealing? Lying? Yep, it sure does. Especially since the parents stated that the child had just had supper and ate more than a grown person, they know that this child was not hungry.

Discipline? “Go to your room, you are not watching a movie tonight, no dessert, why would you lie, why didn’t you just ask if you were still hungry, you are going to make yourself sick by shoving that much food in your mouth.”

From the eyes of someone who has been through trauma and neglect, you can see that this child was not any of those described above, and none of that discipline was appropriate. The parents see one thing, but this little brain is acting out of fear and remember when this child was neglected and hungry. For the parents of a child like this, their feelings can be straight-up anger because of what they SEE, but they MUST pay attention to what they cannot see.

“Night-Vision Telescope called Faith.”

“You’re going to see potential. You’re going to see they’re destined for impact. They were made in the image of God. There is amazing potential packed inside of them.” As believers, we are part of the priesthood (1 Peter 2:9). He says, “And when you see problems, you’ll automatically assume that God’s working things together for your good. When you look at them with the naked eye, not so much. But when you look through the lens of faith, you’re not going to get discouraged, because you’re going to remember that God has a plan.”

Do you have any idea how hard that concept is? A knee-jerk reaction is an anger (anger is fear and/or sadness). It is so frustrating to have the same conversation over and over and over, and it goes nowhere. The same thing continues to happen.

My first thought is never to assume that God’s working things together for my good or the good of this child. As a believer, that doesn’t sound very good. Yet, I’m also human and not perfect. Raising kids from trauma is hard.

Your Story Now is Not the End of Your Story

Levi Lusko states, “Through faith, eternity becomes visible. When you operate in faith, you know that what you see is not the end of the story. You may not be happy with your story right now. You may be disappointed or grieving or bored, or maybe you’ve forgotten you’re living a story at all. But you are. Uncover what has been hidden in plain sight. When you see the invisible, you can do the impossible.”

That is a powerful statement right there! What I see right now in the above story is a lot of pain, trauma, hurt, unforgiveness, self-hatred, and complacency. When these parents look around, they see all the things that are broken, screwed up, and need attention. They can’t just enjoy the things that have been done or improved. When do they choose to look through the lens of faith? When they see the invisible.

The Battlefield of the Mind

“Before we can do the great things we’re called to do out there, we must get things squared away on the inside. I’m talking about the war within.” Let me just tell you, the battlefield of the mind is real. Joyce Meyer wrote a book and Bible study on that very subject.

Ending the stigma of mental illness is something that needs to happen. You will encounter more people who struggle with something than if they were completely “normal.” We must have compassion and show love and encouragement. I’m told quite often to capture my thoughts. Yet sometimes, they are already on the train heading 200 mph down the track before I even catch up with them to capture them.

My self-image is a constant struggle for me. Constant. I look in the mirror and do not like what I see. Honestly, I try to make myself as small as possible to avoid anyone seeing me or calling attention to my wrinkles, my obesity, my moles, my personality, or my behaviors. Again, this all resides on the battlefield of the mind.

In Take Back Your Life, it says, “Jesus said, the message of the gospel isn’t try; it’s trust. You don’t have to carry the weight of what you can do for me; just stand on the strength of what I have done for you. Once you’re under that umbrella called grace, how God views you, your identity, doesn’t change day to day with your behavior or with your activity.”

“What God says about you? You are loved. You are chosen. You are called. You are equipped. But I had a bad week…. Loved. Called. Chosen. Equipped. But I haven’t been a good ~wife, mother, friend, human~ Loved. Called. Chosen. Equipped. God doesn’t love you more on your best day or less on your worst day.”

Honestly, the words “Loved. Called. Chosen. Equipped” will probably find a permanent place on my body. I already have the words “perseverance, survivor, warrior” written in Amharic. I feel as if I’m going to be adding to those words. They are powerful. These words need to be remembered, even on my bad days.

Part 2 is headed your way tomorrow or Monday. We shall see!