Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Taking the High Road?

Lately there are been a lot of people who like to try to hurt people I love. No not my sister, that's a different story and not one I'll share. Others who like to hurt my friends and the people I care about or children. When I say they like to hurt them, I do not mean figuratively, I mean literally, they enjoy hurting other people. And when these people see others hurting they take great delight in it. For this alone, I know I need to emphasize that I AM NOT TALKING ABOUT MY SISTER! She would never purposely delight in others pain, her actions tend to be out of anger or she thinks she is protecting someone.

While discussing this all with Mom today she asked me to be the bigger person and take the higher ground. She asked me to do this because I am struggling right now with the desire to get in a few zingers and do things on purpose to get under these people's skins. So my response, was this, " Why do I always have to be the bigger person or take the moral high ground."

I think that people think that when I let things go it's because I am too nice. But the truth is, I don't always want to let it go, sometimes I want to stew in my anger and pay a person back for their actions. Whether these actions hurt me or others I love. Sometimes I get tired of being the better person and making the right choices. And fortunately, I know thanks to the Scripture that I am not alone in feeling this way. I'm not alone in watching people make poor choices and have very few consequences for them (a good example: some celebrities) and wondering when is God going to take care of this. I know this because King David struggled with it too.

In the Psalms, there are times when David laments to God that it seems that villaneous people are getting away with harming people, himself included. Sometimes even David got tired of seeing it all and being the good person. Even Job grew tired of the trials and tribulations. And I must confess it encourages me a little to hang in there, because even men who we would classify as "good and godly" men struggled with the wondering why do bad things happen to good people. Why do some people delight in the pain of others? And I don't have an answer for that question. I just don't, I know the pat answers that people give, but I do not understand how a mother can delight in the anguish of her child's broken heart or some trial that has befallen them. I don't understand people who would harm a child and get off free (at least it appears that way). The truth is there are people out in the world who sadly choose to not believe in God or who even choose to let themselves be Satan's pawn. Do I know why they choose this? No, I know that it's not always cut and dried.

Let us be honest with ourselves, we all know someone who after seeing hypocrisy in the church has left the church and refuses to return because they can't understand how God can be loving when His body is so flawed. This is my answer to that one at least: Do not trust in people. People are flawed and they fail us unintentionally or not, people are only people and they make mistakes. People will make choices that hurt us and leave us dazed and confused. But God, God will never fail you.

Some people ask me how I know He is real. . . this is how I know. God, put food on the table of my widowed mother and paid our utilities. Sometimes in unexpected ways and sometimes by asking for help, but He always took care of them. God always clothed us, whether it was unexpected money that came our way or through hand-me-downs from others. God sustained Mom after Dad died and left her with a five year old, a two year old and baby on the way. He provided the people to encourage my mother. Those were from God, He laid it on the hearts of people we didn't know who would help us in a pinch. Those are the people to look at, those who listen to His voice. Because hypocrits aren't just in the church, they are in the world and all around us. If we look for hypocrisy we will find it. Are there going to be people in the church who fail us? Absolutely. Why? Because they are human, and they are running the race just like the rest of us.

I read a story once The Portrait of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde for an English class. If you haven't read it, here is the a small summary. A rich, vain young man has a portrait painted and vainly wishes he would never age. His wish is granted, Dorian never ages, however, with each terrible sin he commits (murder, seduction, to name a few) his portrait changes until it shows who he truly is on the inside. I think even those who hurt others carry the scars of what they've done with them. I think each time they wound a person, child, or even an animal, they inwardly wound themselves. Because it lives with you and at some point in time, they will face God. In an ideal world, they would face God, but not before repenting of their evil sins and desires, but we do not live in an ideal world. Do I think that what they do is okay? NEVER!!! Harming a person, to purposel cause them pain and to enjoy it generally only shows a diseased mind and heart. A heart and soul so poisoned that they must make others feel low in order to feel better about themselves.

Am I still tempted to tell people off who are mean and hurtful? Yes, I am, however, I will resist. Will I always enjoy doing the right thing? No, but Jesus didn't promise that doing the right thing would always be the easy thing to do, did he?

Have a good week and God Bless.
Maureen

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Graduating, Finally?!

I am getting ready for school. Most of us are parents getting our children ready for school, but this year in addition to adding a three year old who will become a peer-model for children with disabilities at Little Early Childhood (her first real school experience), or a teenager enter the 10th grade, or my eight year old who starts the third grade this year, I am getting myself ready to resume school.

I started as a freshman in August 1992 and while the general course for those who usually start college is finish in four maybe five years, by the time I walk and receive my diploma in May 2011, it will in fact, have taken me 19 years to complete college. . .

Why so long? Why would I take so many breaks? What on Earth happened that required me to take so long to finish? All good questions and the simple answer is Life happened. The complicated answer, the things that stood in my way were first a breakdown, second a family car accident that took the life of my grandmother and left my brother a hollow shell of the young man he used to be; a year spent as a volunteer missionary in Catania, Sicily, and finally, I got married and had a family. Ironically enough, it was the car accident that made me cry "Uncle", not the fact that the year prior our house had caught fire and destroyed almost everything. I still pushed on, but no, that pesky car accident threw a huge monkey wrench into my college ambitions (funny how mourning and sittting by your comatose brother's bedside tends to do that).

I would never ever take back the year I spent working in Catania, I had a great year and learned a lot about another culture and that language is not always a barrier. Nor would I ever give up the fact that I married a wonderful man and we started a family early out. I even resumed school in 2007 after Beka was born (insane, maybe, but it helped me out tremendously), but after finishing the year took the time off to help the girls while Chris was deployed. I know me, I know what I could have done, and some people could have attended college and juggled all of those things. I am sadly not one of those people. I could be a great mom or I could be a college student, while Chris was deployed but I couldn't do both. I have learned that lesson the hard way.

So now I prepare to go back to college and I will be done, soon, very soon. And as I look at this, I must confess I am a little worried. I am worried that I will have a hard time finding what I want to do with my degree (right now I'm leaning towards Industrial Psychology - they help businesses and their employees, etc . . .). I worry I won't be able to find a good job to help support our family while Chris goes back to school if his business idea doesn't do well. I worry that in fact, I am 36 years old and I have no clue what I want to be when I grow up. It's a little scary, to say the least and yet, I have to move forward. I need to finish to set a good example for my girls and show them the importance of finishing college. So I push forward and try to embrace the unknown. We'll see how this goes.

I hope you all have a good week.
Maureen

Monday, July 19, 2010

A Different Kind of Mourning

I have had the privilege of growing up in the church. I grew up learning about the Bible and the stories in it and have gone to weddings, and to my share of funerals. And today I attended another funeral. . . a different funeral. Today I attended a funeral where the emotions ran high and were extremely intense. As I sat in the back trying to be there for a friend of mine and watching this funeral I realized a difference between the funerals of those who are a part of the Body of Christ and a funeral for those whose families may or may not know if this loved one has moved on into Heaven.

Until today all of the funerals I had attended had a feeling of sadness, but it was mingled with hope. This hope comes from knowing that the person you said goodbye to is not really leaving for good, but only going somewhere ahead of you. They go on to Heaven and enjoy their lives with Christ and begin living in their mansion. Today's funeral was filled with a lack of hope and despair. . . and it broke my heart. It is heartbreaking when you want to explain that this doesn't have to be the end, or goodbye, but until we meet again. I don't write this to be calloused, or indifferent, I write this because it truly is heartbreaking to see lives living without the love of God or Jesus in their lives. However, I also know this one thing. That no one knows what happened with this man in his final moments . . . I believe it is very possible that before he lost consciousness or until his heart stopped beating that he cried out to God and asked forgiveness for any sins he may have committed (because EVERYONE sins . . . after all Romans tells us, there is no one righteous, no not one and yes, this even includes myself). I know this, that God is a loving God and that He longs for us to come to Him. I longed to take this family in my arms and tell them, "This is not God's plan, it doesn't have to be this way for you. You can see your loved one someday again. Please take heart and find hope in Christ. It is so easy, all He really wants is you." And yet, to do so would have intruded and I am pretty sure wouldn't have been accepted or wanted at that time. So for now, I sing quietly in my heart, Steven Curtis Chapman's song, "With Hope." "We can cry with hope, we can say goodbye with hope. Because we know that goodbye is not the end. We can grieve with hope and we believe with hope that we'll see your face again." I love that song, a song of hope even in grief.

Take heart my friends, when we live in Christ, we can grieve, live, laugh, love, and cry with Hope that God is here, He loves us and while he may not take us around the trials in life, he surely will take us through them, even if it means he is carrying us.

Have a good week and God Bless.
Maureen

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Parenting


Parenting: Biological AND Stepparenting
A few years ago actor, Alec Baldwin came under fire after a recording of him chewing out his daughter was released to the media. Everyone was upset and wondered how this all happend. Now we have tapes of Mel Gibson being released with him ranting and raving. Of course, these are all ploys by ex-wives/girlfriends, etc . . . to discredit these people as a good parent. Now Sandra Bullock is under fire for having shared with her stepdaughter's teacher that she thought the child's mother was better off in prison so she couldn't ruin the little girls life.
Now while I do not think it's great that these incidents occurred, I also think that dragging someone through the mud is great either. How do I come to this conclusion? Good question . . . the answer, because I am a stepparent and I too have made mistakes as a parent and as a step-parent. Let's be honest, we all have flaws. And while I have not approved of many things that happened to Sarah when she lived with her mom, I also realize now, that sometimes it's better to hold your tongue. I didn't come to this decision or idea easily either. It took five years of watching Sarah pay a price that children shouldn't have to pay, they pay for the sins of their parents. Divorce is always sad, but sadder still is how it affects the children. Let's be honest, there are couples who work well together and work hard to keep things amicable for their children, then there are parents like Kyron Horman's father who is currently revealing things about his soon to be former-wife that I find a little circumspect. There are things to reveal to the police, and things to reveal to the media and these are things that he needs to keep to himself. Airing your soon to be ex's dirty laundry does not make you look better, it makes you look like a self-serving jerk!
I watch as Sarah pays the price for what her parents decided to do. I see how it leaves her in conflict, I know that her dream is for everyone to live under one roof in one humungous house and live happily together (did I mention this is a pipe dream?). She hates that her parents aren't together and this isn't made any easier when she attends a church where few parents are divorced, so this leaves her feeling like the odd man out a lot. There are more aspects to Sarah's life and other instances that lead to us receiving sole custody, but some things are best left in the past and some things are best left private in families. And Sarah hates having everyone know the dirty details about her life with her mom when she was little.
Now as a mom, I watch Sarah struggle and learn to navigate adolescence and live with aspects of divorce and it makes me more determined. It leaves me with a determination to be sure that no matter how bad it gets, Chris and I will work on our marriage. It makes me determined to be sure that God forbid, if something happened to our marriage to not play games and use my children against their dad, because having a relationship with Chris will be one of the most important relationships the girls will have in their life.
And yet, with all of this, and all of the media coverage surrounding celebrities and their divorces and custody battles, it comes down to this. . . Kids do not come home with a manual. No parent is perfect, anyone who tries to tell you this, is in deep denial or is fooling themselves. And yet, the media enjoys crucifying the likes of Britney Spears (okay, she made herself an easy target, I know, but really), Mel Gibson, and others, because they can. Now let's ask the tough question . . .And where exacly are your families? Where are your children? Are you even parents? Do you really understand the rigors of parenting while you question other people's ability to parent their children? And last but not least, what makes you so qualified to decide if someone is a bad parent? These are questions we all need to ask ourselves and those who constantly critique others, whether that person be a celebrity or not. When we are all sitting reading a newspaper, or the computer and casting these judgements, do we remember what Jesus told us in Matthew 7: 1 & 2 "Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and wit the measure you use, it will be measured to you." It goes further from there to tell us that we need to worry about our own life more than the life others are living. If you want to know the rest, then please be my guest and research it further. The bottom line, like the men who wished to stone the adultress woman had to walk away after Jesus wrote in the sand and told them "He who is without sin, let him cast the first stone." Notice the men had to walk away. Wouldn't it be interesting to know what Jesus wrote in the sand? Either way, it meant that just as those men had to stop their judgement of the woman, shouldn't we too stop constantly critiquing other's parenting jobs and worry more about how our children turn out.
Have a good week and God Bless,
Maureen