Category Archives: Blogging

Silence is Golden?

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So I just looked and realized that I haven’t posted in a little over a month. And while that isn’t a huge deal to some,  I guess to me, in a round about way, it just seems like a long time. And of course, there’s always a time of busyness around the holidays and my work schedule has been insane and wonky, and overall, life has just been insanely sucky.

Yeah, I said it. Life sucks right now. And yes, please don’t lecture me about people being worse off. I know they are and I will never begrudge that. I’ve been worse off than where I am now. But sometimes, we all just have to let things out of our system and have oral diarrhea for a few and then move on. Maybe that’s what I’ve been needing but again, the guilt of thinking of other people worse off than me overtakes me.

Maybe part of it is because I second guess myself. Does what I have to say even matter? Do the words that come to my mind and the thoughts that I want to share even matter to anyone? I mean, let’s face it. I don’t have a huge readership. I don’t have a huge following. My blogs are posted on my social medias when I publish (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn), but who cares? Does anyone even take the time to read it or bother to care what I have to say?

I really don’t have anything special to say.
My words don’t hold any significant importance.
I have no words of wisdom or bright ideas that need to be brought to your attention.
I’m far from political (for the most part).
I’m not going to share some amazing parenting moment that will change your life.

But sometimes, I just need to speak what’s on my mind, what’s weighing on my heart, and put ideas and thoughts out there for the “masses” to see/read.

MAYBE something I say is what you needed to read.
MAYBE something I bring to light is an opinion you hadn’t thought of.
MAYBE something  touch on could be a turning point for you.
MAYBE something I’m struggling with is the very thing you have recently conquered.
MAYBE I just want to “talk” but feel like I’m not being heard.

I’m not a fabulous writer. I’m not an award-winning author or up and coming blogger or even author in the making! I just like to talk about things, and for me to get my peace out about what’s important to me.

And if you’re still reading, then kudos to you because I’ve recently discovered that some people who I thought would take interesting in my reading didn’t bother to read what I have to say. Some of the things I say really need to be heard, but if there’s no interest, or even acknowledgement, what’s the point?

I guess, again, life is hitting me hard on the sucky scale. And yes, I could have things worse. Yes, I could be worse off and in a far darker place. Yes, I have it “good” for all intents and purposes.

But sometimes, I just need to scream from the rooftops. I need to scream that I want to be heard and I want to be valued for what I have to say and I want to be accepted, no matter what. I want to feel like I matter. I need to know that things I say mean something, in one way or another, or that you even SEE and READ what I write.

Because, maybe they don’t matter to you. Maybe they don’t affect you personally. But it affects me and it’s very real to me and it’s personal to me.

Maybe I just need to zip the lip (my famous line I say to my kids a lot these days lol). But really, it’s not going to stop me. Sometimes a little shake up helps. Maybe that’s what this is a prelude for. My life is already crazy and about to get even more crazy in the next month. But hopefully you’ll still be along for the ride. I know I’m not going anywhere! Silence or not……

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Tuesday’s Quotes & Quips – Self-Esteem Edition

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“Telling yourself you like the way you look is easy. Believing it is an entirely different kettle of whales.” ― Andrew Biss

 

I’ve decided that each Tuesday I’m going to pick a topic and share a bunch of quotes that I have read that would really personify the topic. Of course, as a starting Tuesday’s Quotes and Quips, I’m going to delve into the topic of self-esteem. I say “of course” because I struggle with self-esteem each and every day of my life.

But for most of my life that I remember, I’ve dealt with self-esteem issues. I say to myself that I’m strong and that I’m better than those negative thoughts that I’m having, but then they creep back up on me and drag me down again. And those thoughts and actions ruin so many things in my life.
 

I hate this feeling because it overwhelmingly gives my children an unhealthy view at how they should be looking at themselves and how they should be proud of who they are and be strong in their esteem and know that they ARE worth something, no matter the struggles that come their way and no matter what anyone tells them.

Pot calling the kettle black, huh?

So, I don’t know about you, but quotes and quips from various authors, famous people, ordinary people etc. can put things in perspective for me. They can bring me back to reality and help me to realize that I am fine with who I am. That I am way too hard on myself. That I am a great person right now. I don’t have to overly impress. If someone is going to like me, and truly be compatible with me, as a friend or more, then they are going to like me where I am at. Not where I could be and could change to be, but where I’m at. And to know that I’m a strong, beautiful, intelligent, amazing woman is something that I should be proud to be.

Daily struggle? Absolutely!
Overcoming daily, step by step. That’s the only way I’ll get there.

Anyway, here’s your Tuesday Quotes and Quips. PLEASE feel free to leave your own quotes in the comment section. Make up your own, find one that you especially like, etc. I’d love to hear what you say about this week’s topic. Remember, positive remarks please.

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“You’ve got to have someone who loves your body. Who doesn’t define you, but sees you. Who loves what he sees. Who you don’t have to struggle to be good enough for.” -Deb Caletti

“The wise do not buy into other people’s perceptions of who they are and what they are capable of. Instead, they bypass a person’s public persona and see who they are in their highest expression. When you see actions taken with integrity, instead of words only, you will then know a soul’s worth.” -Shannon Alder

“Once you become self-conscious, there is no end to it; once you start to doubt, there is no room for anything else.” -Mignon McLaughlin

“When you’re different, sometimes you don’t see the millions of people who accept you for what you are. All you notice is the person who doesn’t.” -Jodi Picoult

“As long as you look for someone else to validate who you are by seeking their approval, you are setting yourself up for disaster. You have to be whole and complete in yourself. No one can give you that. You have to know who you are – what others say is irrelevant.” -Nic Sheff

“Nobody can say anything about you. Whatsoever people say is about themselves. But you become very shaky, because you are still clinging to a false center. That false center depends on others, so you are always looking to what people are saying about you. And you are always following other people, you are always trying to satisfy them. You are always trying to be respectable, you are always trying to decorate your ego. This is suicidal. Rather than being disturbed by what others say, you should start looking inside yourself… Whenever you are self-conscious you are simply showing that you are not conscious of the self at all. You don’t know who you are. If you had known, then there would have been no problem— then you are not seeking opinions. Then you are not worried what others say about you— it is irrelevant! When you are self-conscious you are in trouble. When you are self-conscious you are really showing symptoms that you don’t know who you are. Your very self-consciousness indicates that you have not come home yet.” ― Osho

“In youth, it was a way I had,
To do my best to please.
And change, with every passing lad
To suit his theories.

But now I know the things I know
And do the things I do,
And if you do not like me so,
To hell, my love, with you.”
-Dorothy Parker

“How would your life be different if…You stopped allowing other people to dilute or poison your day with their words or opinions? Let today be the day…You stand strong in the truth of your beauty and journey through your day without attachment to the validation of others.” ― Steve Maraboli

“The most terrifying thing is to accept oneself completely.” ― C.G. Jung

“Nobody holds a good opinion of a man who holds a low opinion of himself.”
― Anthony Trollope

“Be real. Embrace that you have weakness. Because everyone does. Embrace that your body is not perfect. Because nobody’s is. Embrace that you have things you can’t control. We all have a list of them.” ― Dan Pearce

“When I loved myself enough, I no longer needed things or people to make me feel safe.”
― Kim McMillen

“Self respect, self-worth and self-love, all start with self. Stop looking outside of yourself for your value.” ― Rob Liano

“It is an absolute human certainty that no one can know his own beauty or perceive a sense of his own worth until it has been reflected back to him in the mirror of another loving, caring human being.” ― John Joseph Powell

“Because one believes in oneself, one doesn’t try to convince others. Because one is content with oneself, one doesn’t need others’ approval. Because one accepts oneself, the whole world accepts him or her.” – Lao Tzu

“Risk anything! Care no more for the opinion of others … Do the hardest thing on earth for you. Act for yourself. Face the truth.” – Katherine Mansfield
“Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit.” – E.E. Cummings
Believe in Yourself

Daydream Believer

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what-screws-us-up-most-in-life-is-the-picture-in-our-head-of-how-its-supposed-to-be-quote-1Sometimes I wonder why I make plans for something that most likely won’t happen.

I plan for my dream house, saving pictures and decorating ideas, and little DIY projects to make organization better in my dream house.
I plan for my dream wedding, pinning color schemes and flower arrangements on Pinterest and looking online to find just the right dress that meets my budget and of course body figure.
I plan for my life, my future. I try to imagine what could be on the horizon in my life, professionally, relationally and everything in between.

I plan and I hope and I dream. But for what? Why? Why do I continue the endless torture of planning something that is likely never going to happen?
I’m a dreamer. I’m have an unrealistic imagination. I’m a hopeless romantic, emphasis on hopeless.
Even despite the unlikelihood of these things ever happening in my life, I continue to dream.
I continue to imagine what my life would be like if those things ever happened for me. I just can’t let go of the dream.

I find myself wondering why it seems that everyone else’s dreams come true, while mine seem to sit dormant, never coming out to see the light of day.
What are they doing right that I’m not? Why can’t I seem to be the person that has those good things happen to?

Because of something I’ve done?
Because of something I haven’t done?
Because of something I’ve said?
Because of something I didn’t say?
Because of some way I’ve acted?
Because of something within me?

Maybe it’s silly and immature to have those feelings, I mean, I AM almost 40. They are my feelings and raw emotions, but can those dreams still have a realistic ending? Simple answer. NOPE!

So instead of holding on to some of those unrealistic dreams, because in all honesty, they really are, my new modus operandi is to work on making realistic goals and having attainable dreams.

I know that due to my financial situation and issues from the past, I’ll never be able to own a house again. I won’t have the “perfect” house in the “perfect” neighborhood with the white picket fence blah blah blah. But I can provide a roof over my children’s heads and keep them happy, fed, clothed, and protected.

I know that also due to my financial situation and just life in general, I’ll never have that “dream” wedding. I honestly doubt that in this lifetime I’ll have a wedding that comes close to anything I could imagine or dream of having, if I get the chance to get married again I should say. Yes, I know. Weddings aren’t all they are cracked up to be. Weddings are just for “show” and it doesn’t really MEAN anything. But when you have dreams of certain events as a child, teenager, college student, and it never comes to fruition, even being married once before (and not getting the chance to have a wedding), it’s just something I’ve always wanted. A girl can dream, right? But I also have to know that it’s not realistic. A dream can only go so far before it gets out of my grasp and leads me down a path of disappointment, again and again. I’m fed up with disappointments in my life to be honest. So in the spirit of being realistic, I got rid of everything wedding related on Pinterest. The dreaming and hoping for what I saw was becoming overwhelming. And when I’m overwhelmed, I tend to just shut down, and that’s not healthy for me or anyone around me.

I enjoy writing. I like expressing myself through words. I think of writing as a cathartic experience. I write a lot. But I won’t publish a lot of what I write, because sometimes what I write is a way of either calming myself down and snapping myself back into reality, or just recognizing the changes I need to make in my life and attitude. Sometimes reading and re-reading what I just wrote is enough to get me feeling better about the situation in my life I’m currently working through. I am complimented on my writing. I have been given a platform through my local newspaper as well as the website Cincinnati Moms Blog where I will be a contributor. Despite these opportunities, I don’t want to dream too big. I don’t want to get ahead of myself. Would I love to be writing more down the road? Sure, absolutely! But I also know that I am a full-time working mom with shared custody of my amazing boys. I am busy. I am often tired. I have a hard time finding time for myself to pursue anything outside of the realm of my current life. So, for now, I’ll soak in the opportunities I have been given, I’ll continue to write for my pleasure and hopefully to encourage, enlighten, and even entertain those that take the time to read what I present to them.

I’m not saying I’m giving up on my dreams and aspirations. I’m not saying that the things in my life that I desire most will never come to fruition. I’m not saying that at all. But what I AM saying is that I want to come down from orbit a little bit and become more realistic in my future plans. I want to make a decision about my life that will only affect me and those around me in a positive manner. I want to make wise decisions and plan my life with the best intentions for everyone involved, now, and in my possible future.

I’m still going to dream. I’m still going to aspire to be better and do better. I’m still going to give everything I can to make my dreams a reality. But going forward, a more realistic reality.

Now Serving, #78……

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More and more these days, I’m finding that I’m constantly pushing myself to the back of the line. I’m giving up my spot in line, so that someone else can benefit for the umpteenth time. Maybe it’s because I’m such a generous person and love to see everyone else succeed while I flounder back and forth, just trying to catch my breath. <Insert HEAVY sarcasm!> But while I’m sure that statement sounds absurd to many people, it’s partially true.

I think this goes back a long way. I’m inching closer to 40, and I can look back to my elementary school days and see this pattern starting to take shape, so yes, it goes back a ways.

I always struggled to fit in. I was (and if I’m honest, still am) a little different than everyone around me it seemed. Part of this I blame on my mother. If you saw some of the things she dressed me in, you’d understand! Mismatched clothes, shoes that had different color laces, and the Dorothy Hamill bob haircut….I digress. I’m only partially kidding. My mother was also a single mother, and I know that she did the best that she could. In all honesty, I’m seeing myself mimick my mother in her selfless, giving of herself.

But honestly, as I look back at much of my childhood, I was always awkward, socially and otherwise. I was always the girl that was bigger than everyone else. I remember vividly looking at my 2nd grade glass picture and I remember that I was only a LITTLE bit bigger than the other kids in the class. These days, some would have considered me skinny back then. But, as we all know, kids are cruel, and they’ll hone in on your insecurities and capitalize on them. So starting in 2nd grade, that’s when I can see the demise of my innocence.

As I grew up, I struggled, almost on a daily basis. Struggled to see that I was a good person. Struggled to acknowledge that I am a great friend. Struggled to fathom that I could even potentially be somewhat attractive. To this day, these are still constant struggles. I always wanted people to like me…I thrived on the acceptance. So in that instance, I would do whatever it would take to be accepted. So began the cycle of putting myself last and elevating the needs of others on a continual basis.

Part of this stemmed from a very strict religious upbringing where it was frowned upon for women to put themselves ahead of others. Women were the “helpmeet” for others. They were to put everyone else first. We always talked about this acronym: JOY which meant, Jesus, Others, Yourself. That was ingrained in us from as far back as I can remember. Which, for the most part, is not a bad way to think about life. But if you are constantly putting yourself last, you run out of steam to pick yourself up and function at times.

Now, I’m not saying that putting others first is a bad thing. Not at all. In fact, I encourage that mindset with my children on several occasions. My boys are 8 (almost 9) and 6. They are selfish people. I’m not shy about saying that. I think that all kids this age are selfish to an extent. As a mom, I encourage them to think of others. I implore with them to not fight over who is first all the time. I try to teach them that you don’t always have to “win” and that there’s no shame in helping others. In fact, I’m starting to look at opportunities where we, as a family, can put that mindset into a tangible action, whether it’s volunteering at a soup kitchen, or participating in a toy drive, or giving out care packages to homeless people. I’m trying to teach them to look for the opportunities to help others and live a more selfless life.

BUT, in the same notion, I don’t want them to feel burnt out and constantly giving of themselves that they feel like they are suffering. That’s a very fine line to follow, especially when I feel like a hypocrite for doing just that myself! I honestly don’t remember the last time that I did something JUST for myself. I’m wracking my brain to think of a time where I wasn’t putting everyone else’s needs before my own. And that’s not a bad thing necessarily. It’s just draining and exhausting.

I’m sure you have ALL seen this meme, whether it’s floating around on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram (which I still have YET to sign up for!):

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And yes, it’s quite kitschy, but it’s so true! I fail at this, often. And what I’ve figured out about this is devastating. There really was no “lightbulb moment” where I sat there and pondered this and said “Eureka”!! No, this is something I’ve known for a long time, but have failed to implement in my life on a consistent basis.

I feel like I’ve failed my children so often by not being able to do everything for them that I want to, or even that their father can give them. I know I shouldn’t compare, but it’s hard not to. I don’t make a lot of money, and as single mom, it’s a month to month struggle sometimes. I don’t want my children to struggle because of me, or despite me. I want to afford them all that life has to offer them, and in doing so, I’ve found that I’m in a sense, failing myself more.

For example, this past Christmas was difficult financially. I had surgery a month before Christmas and was out of work for 6 weeks with minimal disability pay. I don’t have a huge savings account, so that couldn’t offset it too much. I wanted to be able to give my boys a great Christmas, but just couldn’t afford it. So what does this mother do? I took the money I was given for Christmas and the gift cards that were given to me, and I in turn used them to buy my children gifts. I used the gift cards to buy groceries for my boys. I’ve had a spa gift card for almost 2 years now. I’ve yet to use it because I haven’t made the time for myself. I’ve often thought about gifting it to someone else. But again, that’s all on me.

Because of our crazy life schedules during the school year, family meals were a rarity. I’d get off work in time to pick up my boys from their dad, rush home, take the dog out, make food for my picky children (who tend to just want to eat grilled cheese and quesadillas), help with homework, get the boys showered and ready for bed, get clothes set for the next day, pack lunches, and get my boys to bed. Eventually, I would sit down to eat, but usually not until everyone else was taken care of. After my kids were asleep and taken care of, THEN I would eat or finally sit down for the first time in hours, usually to a cold meal or something just thrown together.

That’s not fair to me or my children. They need a mom who is refreshed, who is alert and enthusiastic. Not someone who is always run, run, run to get everything done. Not someone who is constantly feeling like a maid or butler or short order cook. They need a mom who is PRESENT. I’ve failed my children in this time and time again. If I can’t take care of myself, how in the world can I be expected to take care of others? There’s definitely a flaw in my reasoning that I’ve been holding on to!

It’s NOT selfish to take time for myself and get a pedicure (when I can afford it).
It’s NOT selfish to make sure my children learn to do things for themselves so I don’t have to do everything.
It’s NOT selfish to say “no” sometimes to all the requests that are hurled your direction from family, school, church, etc.
It’s NOT selfish to take a “day off” from household chores (THIS is my biggest struggle).

As a mom who co-parents, I have shared 50/50 custody with my boys’ father. This means that I have some weekends “off.” There are times when I won’t have my children for a few days while they are with their dad. But what does this mom do on those off days? Clean up toys that the boys didn’t clean up before they left. Clean the house, dust, mop, vacuum, do laundry, clean closets, cook, etc. I am in a constant power struggle with myself. I feel like I HAVE to be doing something at all times so that others aren’t disappointed in me. This all goes back to feeling like I don’t fit in and I need to do anything to be accepted. But in all reality, a Netflix and chill day is sometimes all that I need to be “refreshed” and ready to tackle the next day, whatever may come of it.

People aren’t going to reject me if my house is messy or dusty. People aren’t going to look down on me if I don’t put the laundry away for a day. People are not going to judge me if I have some wayward Super Hero Mashers in my living room. I have kids, young kids, and my house proves that. I don’t live in a museum, and honestly, never will. But I have to let myself relax and take some time off. The laundry will be there tomorrow. The dust isn’t going to get outrageously out of hand in one day. It’s ok if my kids have a pop tart for breakfast and not a gourmet pancake and bacon meal.

What it really boils down to is that I’m too hard on myself, and instead of letting myself relax and just “be”, I’m constantly on the go, giving all of myself to others so that I can feel validated. But in turn, when I do that, my children suffer. And that is SO counterproductive. I don’t want my boys to “follow my example” and feel like they always need to put themselves last just to fit in. I want them to know that their needs are important as well. I don’t want them to feel so downtrodden and their own feelings pushed aside. Yes, it’s a hard pill to swallow and sometimes comes with a side of guilt.

But more importantly, I want them to learn that they need to be their best selves in order to give their best selves to others. And this mommy needs to learn that it’s ok to take a break and take some much needed “me” time. The guilt associated with it can be harsh, and sometimes overwhelming, but there is going to be a learning curve to this new mindset. A mindset that has taken over 30 years to accomplish.

Now Serving………..

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Jesus Loves Me This I Know, For the Bible Tells Me So…………

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I’m well aware of the love God has for us. For me. For you. It’s been drilled into my brain since I was a child growing up in church, Christian school, and even into Bible college. And even now as an almost 40-something year old adult (yikes, I’m old!), I still am very keen on the fact that God loves me…..

BUT…..

If God can love us, as sinful and imperfect as we are, why can’t we love other people in the same capacity?

Yes, I understand that there are going to be people that we cannot show love towards.

To the man who raped me 17 years ago, I have no love towards this individual.
To the murderers who take a life or the abortion doctors who steal away the breath of an innocent child, I have no love towards.
To the pedophiles who defile the children who place their trust in them, I have nothing but hatred towards.

And maybe, according to my Christian upbringing, I’m supposed to show those individuals love as well. But that’s not something I will ever be able to change in my heart, no matter how you try to persuade me otherwise.

But, despite my childhood lessons and despite the constant barrage of Biblical teachings, I have a difficult time justifying the hatred that I see coming from so many so called “Christians” towards others.

Now, before you get all up in my face and attack me, let me give you some background.

I was brought up in a very religious background. I was an Independent Fundamental Baptist. Very strict in many aspects. We weren’t allowed to go to the movies, listen to secular music, wearing pants was frowned upon, no premarital touching/relations, total submission to men, no tattoos, no drinking alcohol in any form. In high school I got my ears double pierced and got in trouble for wearing two pairs of earrings. Oh, the horrors!

I was brought up in a religion that declared every other religion was wrong and that the ONLY way to get to God and be saved was through that religion. We were taught to look down on people that were not like us and to cut ties with those that weren’t walking in line with our beliefs and were not in a personal relationship with God. Now, while I understand that many religions teach that THEIR religion is superior and it was the only way to God, I DON’T believe that you have to show hatred and disgust towards those who believe otherwise. Unfortunately, this was taught to us at a very early age, and repeatedly beat into our brains that we must maintain that mindset.

As I’ve grown older, moved on, been on my own, and allowed myself to take a step back and evaluate everything that I was taught, I’ve come to a startling conclusion.

God is a God of LOVE and not HATE. God would not choose for me to hate anyone, despite everything I was taught.

MIND BLOWN! <insert sarcasm>

Here’s what I’ve learned:

It’s not about a particular RELIGION or denomination. It’s about a RELATIONSHIP with God.
It’s not about a list of rules that I have to follow or a smattering of things I can’t partake in. It’s about my own personal convictions and beliefs.
It’s not about looking down on others or judging them for how they approach God. It’s about accepting people for who they are and letting GOD be the judge of their actions and beliefs.
It’s not about breaking ties with and avoiding those that believe opposite than me. It’s about creating relationships with those people so that we can learn from each other.
It’s not about degrading and spewing hatred towards unbelievers or those you deem to be “out of the will of God.” It’s about showing the love of God REGARDLESS of where they are in life.

Here’s some other things that I’ve learned and reminded myself from memorizing scripture growing up that would refute how Christians act inappropriately today:

1 John 4:8-10 (The Message)
“My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn’t know the first thing about God, because God is love—so you can’t know him if you don’t love. This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him. This is the kind of love we are talking about—not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God.”

Matthew 7:1-2 (Amplified Bible)
“Do not judge and criticize and condemn others, so that you may not be judged and criticized and condemned yourselves. For just as you judge and criticize and condemn others, you will be judged and criticized and condemned, and in accordance with the measure you [use to] deal out to others, it will be dealt out again to you.”

And perhaps the most “damning of the passages:

Romans 14:1-23 (The Message)
“Welcome with open arms fellow believers who don’t see things the way you do. And don’t jump all over them every time they do or say something you don’t agree with—even when it seems that they are strong on opinions but weak in the faith department. Remember, they have their own history to deal with. Treat them gently. For instance, a person who has been around for a while might well be convinced that he can eat anything on the table, while another, with a different background, might assume he should only be a vegetarian and eat accordingly. But since both are guests at Christ’s table, wouldn’t it be terribly rude if they fell to criticizing what the other ate or didn’t eat? God, after all, invited them both to the table. Do you have any business crossing people off the guest list or interfering with God’s welcome? If there are corrections to be made or manners to be learned, God can handle that without your helpOr, say, one person thinks that some days should be set aside as holy and another thinks that each day is pretty much like any other. There are good reasons either way. So, each person is free to follow the convictions of conscience. What’s important in all this is that if you keep a holy day, keep it for God’s sake; if you eat meat, eat it to the glory of God and thank God for prime rib; if you’re a vegetarian, eat vegetables to the glory of God and thank God for broccoli. None of us are permitted to insist on our own way in these matters. It’s God we are answerable to—all the way from life to death and everything in between—not each other. That’s why Jesus lived and died and then lived again: so that he could be our Master across the entire range of life and death, and free us from the petty tyrannies of each other. So where does that leave you when you criticize a brother? And where does that leave you when you condescend to a sister? I’d say it leaves you looking pretty silly—or worse. Eventually, we’re all going to end up kneeling side by side in the place of judgment, facing God. Your critical and condescending ways aren’t going to improve your position there one bit. Read it for yourself in Scripture:

“As I live and breathe,” God says,
    “every knee will bow before me;
Every tongue will tell the honest truth
    that I and only I am God.”

So tend to your knitting. You’ve got your hands full just taking care of your own life before God. Forget about deciding what’s right for each other. Here’s what you need to be concerned about: that you don’t get in the way of someone else, making life more difficult than it already is. I’m convinced—Jesus convinced me!—that everything as it is in itself is holy. We, of course, by the way we treat it or talk about it, can contaminate it. If you confuse others by making a big issue over what they eat or don’t eat, you’re no longer a companion with them in love, are you? These, remember, are persons for whom Christ died. Would you risk sending them to hell over an item in their diet? Don’t you dare let a piece of God-blessed food become an occasion of soul-poisoning!

God’s kingdom isn’t a matter of what you put in your stomach, for goodness’ sake. It’s what God does with your life as he sets it right, puts it together, and completes it with joy. Your task is to single-mindedly serve Christ. Do that and you’ll kill two birds with one stone: pleasing the God above you and proving your worth to the people around you. So let’s agree to use all our energy in getting along with each other. Help others with encouraging words; don’t drag them down by finding fault. You’re certainly not going to permit an argument over what is served or not served at supper to wreck God’s work among you, are you? I said it before and I’ll say it again: All food is good, but it can turn bad if you use it badly, if you use it to trip others up and send them sprawling. When you sit down to a meal, your primary concern should not be to feed your own face but to share the life of Jesus. So be sensitive and courteous to the others who are eating. Don’t eat or say or do things that might interfere with the free exchange of love.

Cultivate your own relationship with God, but don’t impose it on others. You’re fortunate if your behavior and your belief are coherent. But if you’re not sure, if you notice that you are acting in ways inconsistent with what you believe—some days trying to impose your opinions on others, other days just trying to please them—then you know that you’re out of line. If the way you live isn’t consistent with what you believe, then it’s wrong.”

So what it boils down to in life is this:

Love others, despite their beliefs, convictions, lifestyle, choices, religion.
Do not judge others for what they believe to be best for themselves.
Accept others, no matter what their differences are.
Be a friend to those that think and act differently, because they are a human needing affection, just like you.
Do not look down, or demean, or degrade those you look or believe differently than you do.

I am NOT the judge of you. I am not going to hate you because you believe something different. And I sure as heck am not going to demean you because you sin differently than I do. I have NO place to pass judgment on ANYONE as I myself am not blameless. I am not perfect, and neither are you. NO ONE is, save God.

Now, my inner beliefs and convictions and thoughts might be radically changed based on my upbringing. But at the end of the day, those beliefs and convictions are what I have to answer for. Not my parents, not my family, not my pastor, not my boyfriend, not my kids, no one on this earth. GOD is my judge, and He is the one that I’m going to answer to some day. I’m not going to be spiritually bullied by someone who believes the way they do and looks down on others who aren’t the same. I’m not going to let an apparent “cutting of ties” deflect my heart from the TRUE meaning of Christianity.

The word “CHRISTIAN” is defined as “A Follower of Christ.” It’s definition is not one who passes judgment on others. It is a person who FOLLOWS the teachings of Christ. So basically, the main tenants of Christ’s teachings are as follows:

Micah 6:8 (The Message)
“But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do, what God is looking for in men and women. It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love, And don’t take yourself too seriously— take God seriously.”

Matthew 22:37-40 (The Message)
“Jesus said, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.”

Maybe I don’t agree with what you do or how you live your life……That’s not my judgment call to make.
Maybe I don’t see God the same way you do (or don’t)……Those are not my beliefs to account for.
Maybe we aren’t going to come to the same conclusion on spirituality or life…..That’s ultimately out of my control and not my “problem.”

What I will choose to do is LOVE. Despite all the costs. Despite all the naysayers and those that would choose to neglect, judge, and demean. I will choose LOVE.

And I’ll be the first to tell you that I’m going to fail. I’m going to falter in my endeavors. I mean, remember, I’m not perfect! But I can take reassurance in this. God loved and loves me still, despite my shortcomings, failures, sin, and neglect. You don’t need my approval or permission to live your life the way you choose and vice versa. You and I are going to have to give account of our actions and our actions alone. And knowing that and truly believing that leaves me with an overwhelming feeling of peace and relief.

And in that moment of sweet, sweet peace, I will choose to LOVE.

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All Rise….Court is in Session

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So, a very close family member has decided to block me on Facebook and therefore remove themselves from my life, which in my opinion is a very immature and inappropriate response. Here’s my take on it, and please allow me my soapbox moment:

Just because I sin differently than you do, because yes, you DO sin, doesn’t mean that I’m any less of a person than you are.

Just because I am not active in church or I don’t read the Bible everyday, does not mean that I’m destined for hell and that I’m an evil person.

Just because I don’t live my life according to your strict standards does not mean that I’m a bad person or that I am horrible.

Just because I say an occasional curse word, or have tattoos or drink alcoholic beverages does not mean that I am any less of a Christian who deserves any more severe of a punishment than any other sinner in this world.

Yes, I’ve made unwise decisions in life. WE ALL HAVE! I’ve not always chosen the best path in life. I’ve not always followed the “prescribed plan” for a Christian. But you know what? Neither have you!

So before you go making judgments about me and my life, take a long hard look at your own heart. Do you look down on someone for being different than you or living a life that is different than you? Do you think you are better than another person because you live a perfect (in your own eyes) life that is fully in line with the Bible?

My boyfriend sent me this text when I told him about the situation, and he summed up pretty quickly my thoughts on this:
“Perhaps you should remind her that Jesus died for everyone’s sins, not just hers. And that Christ was most compassionate to some of the biggest sinners. Christians are supposed to reach a hand out to people “living in sin” not turn their nose. Especially family.”

He hit the nail right on the head! It is not your place or my place to judge the actions or lifestyle of others. Sure, you can have your beliefs and your opinions, but you are not the ultimate judge, God is.

Matthew 7:1-5 (The Message)
“Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.”

Get your own house in order before you start trying to fix other people. Don’t give people advice about how to live their life if you can’t live yours on the straight and narrow.

If you have a problem with me, tell me. If you misunderstand something I have said, ask for clarification. I am only responsible for what I say, not for your interpretation. If I say something perfectly harmless, and you take it the wrong way, that is on YOU. Not me. So if you take offense to what I say, when NO offense was even remotely intended, than you need to look at yourself and deal with your own issues, not project them onto me.

You have made the choice to exclude me from your life. I didn’t make that decision. Instead of talking things out like adults, you have chosen the path of immaturity and insecurity. You have closed the door to reconciliation by removing contact from me. You have made me very well aware of how you are choosing to handle this situation (that I wasn’t fully aware was an actual “situation” but I digress). But also know, that while you have excluded me from your life, you have also chosen to remove my children from your life. Again, this was your choice, not mine. But know this. I will not subject my children to your judgmental attitude and general lack of love to those that are different than you. I will never allow my children to face your spiritual bullying. God loves us just as we are, imperfections included.

And God loves you, despite YOUR sins and imperfections, which you so easily have overlooked in your lifetime. I have peace knowing that I did nothing wrong and am sure of this. I can also have surety and peace in knowing that God loves me. He always has and always will, and I don’t need your approval or blessing to prove that to me otherwise.

Odd Man Out

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Ever feel awkward in your own skin? Feeling odd but you can’t put your finger on it? Like you’re missing something but you have no clue? I feel like this every single day and I’m feeling more and more lost without a map to lead me out! Searching to find my way, my place, my niche’. And I come up empty every single time. Wandering aimlessly through life hoping to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Sometimes to me the light isn’t visible. Sometimes the tunnel doesn’t even exist. The train comes barreling down the tracks, unsure of how it’s going to get to the other side.

I don’t fit in. Anywhere. I never really have. Growing up I was always the one that was very outgoing, would talk to anyone, no matter their age, and was overall a very friendly person. Someone who you would imagine had the world on a string and was just full of life and vigor. But I wasn’t.

I was lonely. I was chronically picked on and bullied. I had friends, sure, but never really had a close, personal friend that was my “BFF” to use a very generational term. And this wasn’t how I was just in those “awkward” pre-pubescent years. It was all the time. From kindergarten to present day. I remember getting picked on in kindergarten. I remember my mom having to come to school when I was in 2nd grade to find a way for the kids to stop picking on me. Despite her efforts and the teacher’s efforts, it only got worse.

Summer camp was always a bear. And not to mention it was a CHRISTIAN summer camp. I was still a loner and did my thing. I got along with people, or so I thought, but I still didn’t fit in. I tried, I really did. One year at camp one of the counselors nicknamed me Gabby Abby (hence the name of the blog) because, well, I can talk, a lot. Several of us were making t-shirts in the Arts & Crafts room, and I made one that on the back said “GABBY ABBY”. It was cute and we had our fellow campers sign our shirts. When I went back later that day to pick up the shirt, someone took the paint and painted over the GABBY part of the shirt. My shirt now said “FLABBY ABBY.” I was devastated. Even as an elementary aged child, I was hurt beyond words. Of course, I just laughed it off and painted over it. But I didn’t let them see me crying back in my cabin. No one. No one was going to see me upset by this, because, then they would know they got to me.

Everyone had their cliques in school. In youth group and church, they had their groups they hung out in. I was never in the “popular” crowd. I didn’t play sports. I was a cheerleader, but I think only because they felt bad for me. I didn’t fit in the cheerleading uniform and they had to make one for me specifically. I was the base of the pyramid and had a loud voice, so that was my reasoning why I was on the squad. I wasn’t super spiritual, so I didn’t fit in with the “good kids.” Because I wasn’t the shining star of Christianity, I always seemed to be pushed aside. I never was the girl the guys asked out. I was “one of the guys” so to speak. I had the “cute face” and “great personality.” I was the one the guys went to in order to find out if a certain girl liked them or to find out if they would go out with them.

I was the funny one. I think that some days I still am. My humor was and is my defense mechanism. I would make fun of myself before someone else could. That way, in my warped sense of self, it wouldn’t hurt as much. If I beat someone to the punch line, then it’s not like THEY would be picking on me. And then through that, people “liked” me more because they thought I was funny. Only now do I see that they “liked” me for making fun of myself and it just saved them from having to say the jokes. But if someone beat ME to the punch line, that hurt so bad. It cut like a knife, a very jagged, dull knife.

It’s pretty sad. I have so many memories of my childhood and teen years and growing up. But unfortunately, most of them revolve around the bad things that happened to me. I can remember vividly the bullying. I can remember times and places, situations, even what I was wearing during different instances. But ask me about the fond memories, the happy ones….they are all a hazy, vague memory, one that I’m not sure even really existed.

I don’t fit in when it comes to music. I grew up in a very restricted household. I wasn’t allowed to listen to the radio or buy CD’s or such, so even now, close to 40, there are SO many things I have no idea about, and people just look at me like I have 4 heads. I have a hard time making conversation, with anyone. I say something and then kick myself for being so awkward. I try to keep up with the daily headlines and what’s going on in the world, but I still come across as being ignorant. I’m no akin to the “ways of the world” in so many aspects, and that gets to me.

I don’t fit in when it comes to appearances. I’ve always been the big girl. Even when I look back at school pictures in elementary school, I was never really HUGE, but I was always just a little bit bigger, therefore, I wasn’t like all the other girls, and I was picked on for that. I don’t wear name brand clothes, I don’t FIT into most name brand clothes. I never had the money for expensive, popular clothes. I tried too hard to fit in and ended up looking like a clown at times, I’m sure of it. Even now, as an adult, I don’t buy brand name clothes. I shop thrift stores and bargains and use coupons. I don’t look stylish and don’t have the body type to try.

I see people talking about their big circle of friends and how they did this together, or all their kids had play dates together, or they went out on a girls weekend with their besties. You get the point. And then I look back at my life and realize I don’t have any of that. I see all these people getting married and they have a multitude of bridesmaids and groomsmen, and I think to myself, “Do I even KNOW that many people, let alone LIKE that many people enough for them to stand up for me if I get married?” The answer to that is a resounding no.

I don’t fit in with most of my family. I’m the black sheep of the family….or I’d like to say that I’m the tie-dyed sheep of the family: much more colorful and interesting. But in all reality, I’m not. I grew up in a super religious family. Church since I was 2, went on Sunday morning, Sunday night and youth group on Wednesday nights. I went to the Christian school affiliated with my church. I went and attended Christian college after that. I did everything I was SUPPOSED to do, but still never fit in. I was still getting made fun of. I was still the loner, the odd man out. But no one realized this about me. I hid it well. I still tend to hide it well.

While in Christian college, something very traumatic happened to me, and it changed me at my core, and I can honestly say I’ve never been the same since. In good and bad ways I’ve changed. But, as always, everyone’s idea of good vs. bad is very subjective, and what I believe to be “good” is vile and heinous to other people. And because of certain things that have happened in my life, and certain roads I’ve taken, I again, do not fit in and I’m the “outcast” and have been shunned.

I have tattoos, my nose is pierced, and I drink alcohol on occasion.
I’ve been divorced.
I live with my boyfriend.
I don’t regularly attend church.
I swear sometimes.

So basically, I’M HUMAN! I’m not perfect and I don’t fit all the qualifications of a good Christian human being. So that gives you the right to shun me and keep your distance from me? You’re perfect in your life endeavors and have always done everything according to God’s will? Yeah, what’s that verse in the Bible? John 8:7 “But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” There you go. Please, find the sinless, perfect part of your life to judge me with. So I don’t fit into your mold. If that’s the kind of people you will only allow into your life, then I don’t want any part of it.

It hurts not fitting in. It is painful being the odd man/woman out. It’s a struggle that I face daily, a struggle that slaps me in the face on a continual basis and it stings. It hurts knowing that you have been ostracized from people in your life who you thought would always be there for you. It’s painful to see family members push you aside because of their overwhelming archaic beliefs rather than to love their “enemy.”

I don’t fit in to the popular crowd. I don’t look or play the part of the popular crowd.
I don’t fit in to the religious crowd. I’m too damaged and sinful to play the part of the religious crowd.
I don’t fit in to the trendy crowd. I have no clue what their crowd is all about.
I don’t fit in to the beautiful crowd. Because, well, in so many words, I’m not beautiful enough to play the part of the beautiful crowd.

I guess what it all really comes down to, is this. Do I really WANT to fit in? Well, yes and no. Yes, I want to feel like I’m a part of something. I want to feel that I’m accepted and wanted for who I am and all my eclectic ways. I want to have an overwhelming feeling of love and peaceful interaction from all types of people, similar and different to myself. We don’t have to agree. We don’t have to think alike and be of the same mind. We don’t have to look alike or come from the same background. Life doesn’t work that way. Unfortunately, so many people compartmentalized life and friendships and families into that box. I don’t fit in that box…never have, and God help me, I never will. So in that aspect, not fitting in is probably the best thing for me. Hard in the meanwhile and painful as time passes. But in the end, worth it as my personal identity is not tied to a person or a group or a “type”; my personal identity is exactly that. Personally, ME.

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