Looks just like who?

Do you have a kid that you have no idea where they came from? I mean the kid looks nothing like either parent! That’s the way I feel. I look a little more like my dad, but then some like my mother, and who knows who else. :/

I’ve heard that we are a combination from the DNA of our 16 great-great-grandparents. Living on a dairy farm, that’s one thing farmers learn quick when breeding to a pure herd. It takes four generations to out-breed a trait. It’s uncanny the similarities between cows and humans. 😉

With my dysfunctional family tree, I have very little knowledge of my great-great-grandparents. I have a few names, but that’s about it. Heck, I only have pictures of two of my grandparents much less anyone farther back! Which means my great-grandchildren will be the first in my line to know the features of their 16 great-great-grandparents. I’ll be long gone by then…

So when someone says, “Oh he/she looks JUST like so-and-so!”

Hmm…

They don’t have a clue.

“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
So are the children of one’s youth.” ~ Psalms 127:3-4

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Message in a Costa Rica Poem

I wrote this in Costa Rica, while looking through the scenes you don’t see in the Travel brochures…

His Redemptive Treasure
 
Endless webs of metal
     Spin fear upon black tar.
Dark lungs grasping dense air,
     Fierce anger wonders far.
 
Life’s hope is lost for those
     Who dwell within locked bars.
With fear of evil woes
     Bitterness turned to scars.
 
Searching for life’s purpose
     The world’s empty pleasure.
Who will bring God’s true light?
     His redemptive treasure?
 
His death upon the cross
     Covered our scars of sin;
Brought joy in redemption,
     Hearts full of peace within.

~Nora Marie

 

I never let this poem go anywhere…it’s not one of my best works…not even close. But now that my ex mom-in-law is lying in a hospital bed breathing her last, this holds a higher place in my heart. The trip I took was with a group from an organization called “Men for Mission”, which my ex in-laws were part of for many years. As they grew older the trips grew less frequent. Most of the trips were work missions. The trip to Costa Rica in January 1999 was the only one I was able to join. Maybe I’ll write more about it one day. But for now, my prayer is that one of the leaders…my ex mom-in-law…will rest in the arms of Jesus knowing she ran a good race. I pray my ex mom-in-law finds peace. I pray she knows I have no more bitterness for the angst she caused in my marriage. I pray she knows I’m sorry for not being the daughter-in-law she needed. I pray she knows God redeems and restores all.

I need to pull out the old photo albums and scan some of the pictures from that trip. The people and country are beautiful. I pray the two boys I spent time with, showing and telling about the love of Jesus, are still following Him.

Some things we will only know when we cross over into heaven…

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Another Beloved Icon Has Passed

Hugh Heffner is gone. Most of the world was saddened by the news. We mourn the death of every soul. We know that soul will never again walk the ground we call Earth. Why would any Christian show honor to the death of an icon such as Hugh Heffner? But, didn’t our grandmothers tell us that it was bad luck to speak ill of the dead?

Ok, so I won’t speak ill of him, I’ll just let his life speak for itself. Now, I don’t ever propose to judge where a person goes when they die, for that is determined by God alone. However, we can have a pretty good guess by the fruit of their life. What legacy do they leave behind?

Hugh has a pretty broad legacy that spreads over decades of objectifying women, celebrating sexuality.  He is credited as the biggest proponent for pornography in the history of photography. That’s quite a feat! He is also credited as “having” over 1,000 women in his lifetime. And finally, he is credited to taking $8,000 in 1953 and creating the most popular men’s magazine of all time when in its peak had a net worth of $250 million! At his death, due to his extravagant lifestyle, alimony payments, and fading sales due to easy internet access, his empire had dwindled down to less than $15 million. Still a pretty sweet nest egg though.

By the world’s standards, he was a success story to follow.

If Hugh was such a success, how is the world better for his involvement? Are women respected more, or reduced to mere eye candy? Did the product his companies produced enhance or destroy families?

I’ve written about the destruction of pornography on the family (my family) in the past (here and here). I don’t want to repeat myself. Except that it seems like people just don’t get it. Or at least they don’t want to get it.

Just how far gone is our society??

 

 

Here are a couple of secular articles depicting the dark side of Hugh that I found interesting:

http://www.glamourmagazine.co.uk/article/hugh-hefner-sexist

http://time.com/4963765/no-hugh-hefner-did-not-love-women/

http://fortune.com/2017/09/29/hugh-hefner-worth/

Beautifully Created

A present from my dad…
Dad's gift

Do you see the slight girl
with the hesitant smile?
The one in the middle
with the ancient hairstyle?

Oh the secrets she hides
in pale haunting green eyes.
Her stoic demeanor
lend a blissful disguise.

Little girl in my past,
I see your reflection.
Masking painful tears from
your Daddy’s rejection.

Beautiful creation,
though the world be unjust.
God’s love and affection
hold your refuge and trust.

~Me

Hurt people hurt people. The cycle continues. So long as there is sin in this world, there will be injustice. We will be hurt and rejected by people…because people are imperfect. Oh how hard it is to release others of our own unrealistic expectations! But to do so will allow us the freedom to love freely. When our identity is in the Lord, we can have faith that we are totally accepted, cherished, loved.

“Although my father and my mother have forsaken me,
yet the Lord will take me up and adopt me as His child.” ~Psalm 27:10

It’s so hard for us humans to accept that no matter what we do 10% of the population will not like us…even some within our own family; even Jesus was rejected by his family! We buy into the lie that we have to be the best and accepted by the world’s standards to be of value. The book of Ecclesiastes (the most seemingly depressing book of the whole bible) teaches that “He has made everything beautiful in its time.” God created us to be a reflection of himself. He made us beautiful. Even the “ugly” people by the world’s standards are beautifully created; fearfully and wonderfully made.

“For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb.
I will praise You,
for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.” ~Psalm 139:13-14

When we understand the depth of love God has for us, and we understand that He is our Abba God, our Daddy, we find His strength and joy. Our carnal nature continually pushes us to take control of our situations through revenge, bitterness, and broken relationships. Pull from the strength only the Lord can give. Let us worship with joy and let His love flow through our hearts as we wait patiently for his will in our lives.

“Wait on the Lord;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the Lord!” ~Psalm 27:14

Forget about the negatives in the past, don’t worry about the stresses of tomorrow, just live in the beauty of today. You. Are. Beautiful.

Psalm 27.10

“Can a woman forget her nursing child,
And not have compassion on the son of her womb?
Surely they may forget, Yet I will not forget you.
See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands;
Your walls are continually before Me.” ~Isaiah 49:15-16

“He has made everything beautiful in its time…I know that nothing is better for them than to rejoice, and to do good in their lives, and also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor—it is the gift of God.” ~Ecclesiastes 3:11-13

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Fifty Shades of Lust

Bleach is one chemical I refuse to reject. When whites do not come out of the washer as white as white, they are promptly run through a re-cycle with a load of bleach. Oh yes, my whites are white…not any shade of grey!

I’ll make this post short. A while back, I wrote a piece about porn and its effects on marriage and family here: From a Wife’s Perspective. That post was, admittedly, not one of my best…kind of dry. I really should take the time to re-write, but life and too many other thoughts keep distracting me.

The main theme is the destruction on the marriage and family. Yet, a deeper side-effect is the damage to the psyche. After immersing into the world of lust, the images are embedded in the memory, without help from God above to renew the mind. Trust me…I’ve seen firsthand the fallout.

Most men don’t realize the women in front of the camera are somebody’s daughter, somebody’s future wife, somebody’s future mother. And girlfriends, that man behind the camera is nowhere close to the kind of love we all desire.

What are we committed to? Where are our loyalties? If you are not committed to your marriage, you are flirting with adultery and divorce. Men, do you not realize that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure? Women, do you not realize one woman’s knockoff is another woman’s designer wardrobe! If you treasure your marriage (or future marriage) your whole heart will be in it. You will protect it. You will love, support, and cherish your spouse. Sex was created by God himself…and it is beautiful. Abuse only distorts God’s creation. Love the way Jesus loves us, with a pure and faithful love.

Do we all not desire identity? At the root of all desire is the need for fulfillment. How can anyone be whole, secure, or complete if their heart is focused on the temporal? Everything, yes everything on this earth will eventually decay…including that beautiful fantasy.

The eternal is all that will fill the holes in our hearts. Put your identity in Him.

You are fearfully and wonderfully made from the hands and heart of our creator!

(Instead of supporting an industry that exploits the abuse of women, donate to your local women’s shelter instead…you may just save a life!)

Psalm 139.14.

Do you really want to be a step-parent? Part 2

(For the 1st half of this post, read here… “Do You Really Want to be a Step-Parent?” Then come back!)

I started this post quite a while ago, but decided with the negative nature of lengthy blogs, I would divide it into two posts. I’m afraid it’s still a bit lengthy. 😉 This post may not make sense without reading through the first post, but they are thoughts from two different directions…this one being my “bullet” list…which I’ve read are not very popular, but I feel effective for multiple points within the same subject. We’ll see if anyone agrees…bullets or no??

Most of these two posts on remarriage have already been written in the volumes of blended family self-help discussions…I’m just trying to post my own “journal” from experience through my studies, my friends, and my own life. My prayer is that someone…at least one person…would be able to improve our world by avoiding the pitfalls of so many others.

In all these years, I have seen very few cases where all four ex’s were mature enough, and secure enough, to be amicable. We live in a society where offense runs skin deep. The innocent children are tossed back and forth continually being used as weapons against the ex. The competition quite often becomes childlike and immature. And it doesn’t have to be. It takes maturity and love to be amicable.

What is a step-parent to expect? Below are snippets of common and worse-case scenarios from my research and experience (not necessarily my own experience). As you read through these bullet points, some will resonate with you, and others will remind you of a friend or two. Hopefully, you will see a running theme.

The pitfalls of step-parent/step-children:

*No matter how much kindness is shown, or how much love is given, the step-parent is typically seen in the negative.

*No matter how many years the step-parent helped raise the child, even in cases where the spouse has full custody, the biological parent will always take emotional precedence.

*The step-parent is not welcome in their ‘family time’. The kids learned visitation is “me” time while their parent was single and is not interested in having to share their mom/dad with someone they view as embezzling their parent.

*A step-mother is expected to carry the load of the household chores while the step-kids spend play-time with their dad.

*A step-father is expected to ignore the undisciplined step-children with no rights to scold when his favorite golf club (insert favorite personal belonging) is used as a baseball bat.

*The step-child’s disrespectful attitude is overlooked due to the pity given by parents, grandparents, and extended family. The child is not taught that even though there is no requirement they respect the step-parent (usually due to their hurt from the family division) their parent’s divorce gives no excuse for the child to behave disrespectfully (Oh yes, I have plenty of experience in this one!).

Respected

* Research shows the hardest position to be in amongst a blended family is that of the step-mother. She is expected to be the caregiver while despised at the same time. If a step-mother steps in to create an atmosphere of a normal working family, with expectations of equality for every family member, they are met with hostile opposition. The new in-laws will revile her as the outsider. If discipline and chores are expected, she will be met with the position that the kids need a “vacation” on their visitations. The excuse is they don’t see their dad near as often since their parents’ divorce. However, the responsibility for the respectful behavior of the children falls on the biological parent, not the step-parent. It’s called “parenting”. (Note: Every piece of literature I have read from the experts indicates that discipline, consistency, and structure create the best environment for security…not vacation time!)

*Most non-custodial parents do not “engage” due to the separation during the space of time between visits, or out of fear that discipline will cause the child to draw away, when in fact, the opposite is true. Spoiling out of pity only leads to disrespect and dysfunction later in life.

*Through jealousy and insecurity, all too often, the ex will saturate the child with defamations regarding the step-parent. Since the parent/child bond runs deep, even when a parent is dishonest, the child is easily persuaded against the step-parent, causing irreparable damage to the relationship. (Keep in mind, lies will always backfire when the child becomes an adult and begins to think for themselves.)

*More often than not, the new step-parent will not only have to deal with the belligerent attitudes of the step-children from hurt and insecurities created from their parent’s divorce, quite often the new spouse will also need to deal with the manipulations of an insecure and over-protective or jealous ex.

*Never reply to the ranting of a jealous ex. Learn to ignore false accusations and brush them off. As they say, sometimes the reasons are obvious as to why they are divorced. For your own emotional well-being, forgive and let God handle your justification. Oh yes, I know how hard it is to let go of justification! Sometimes, it never comes. Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” The opinions of men/women do not at all indicate your value.

*All too often the ex (and/or overly doting grandparents) will sometimes try to out-buy or spoil the child, or outright belittle everything the child says about the ex’s household, especially the step-parent. Too many times, I have witnessed a parent withhold visitation and badger the ex in the presence of the bewildered children, not realizing their manipulations only destroy the child’s future relationship capabilities with their own spouse. Their attacks on the step-parent will eventually backfire. If only the vengeful parent would realize the depth of anger they have fueled in their own child’s heart (causing the child to sin), anger that only causes children (no matter what age) to lash out toward those in authority. Thus, the number one cause of the “troubled teen” syndrome plaguing our society.

*If the children are allowed to take a higher priority than the spouse, whether from guilt or pity, the home will be filled with dysfunction and the subsequent marriage will suffer. Discipline falls on the shoulders of the biological parent, and if not enforced, the family can expect nothing but chaos.

And on and on and on…volumes have already been written so hopefully you get the picture.

What can a step-parent do? Is there hope? Can a step-parent possibly have a good or even great relationship with their step-child?

Yes! Both families can have amicable and loving relationships! But it takes work. It takes patience. It takes thick skin. It takes maturity. It takes prayer. It takes love. Lots of love.

Do some heavy research to be informed on the negative and positive impact of step-parenting, both to the child and the adults, so these pit-falls can be avoided. Look for classes offered by your church, or a local church, on blended families to help you navigate through the initial adjustments. My husband and I took an invaluable class early in our marriage. Not only is seeking help beneficial for your marriage, it is essential for your children. Again, you are not alone in your struggles. Do not be too proud to seek help. “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.”Proverbs 15:22

Always keep in mind, when you enter in a relationship with someone who already has children, the presumed “rights” are automatically diminished. A blended family can be successful if both spouses (parent & step) prioritize, keeping their marriage as the most important family relationship. It is imperative to build that “three stranded chord” with God as your head.

Peace will come into the home and heart when you take responsibility only for that which is yours. That does not mean the atmosphere in the home will be calm. It may take years for the child to mature enough to accept and actually like their step-parent. Most of the step-parent’s success is dependent on the support of the spouse, the biological parent. The step-child’s happiness is not the step-parent’s responsibility. Yes, step-parents should continue to try and convey areas that need improvement for the benefit of the whole family. But, always remember if others do not choose to live with integrity; the results are not your responsibility. Learn to ignore. You are only responsible for you.

Though being a step-parent is a thankless job, and you may never receive the credit or recognition for your sacrifices, never grow weary in doing good. Even though you may never be fully appreciated, and a greater chance you will be resented, never ever grow weary in doing good; for no matter what the opposition, you are contributing to the future. It’s up to you whether your influence is positive or negative. The Lord above is the one you need to please, to look for approval. You will never find affirmation in people.

But most of all…pray! Pray for God’s comfort and strength. You will need it…and He will give it.

“For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” ~ Galatians 6:8-10

Matthew 11.28-30

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Just a Box of Chocolates

With four kids, funds were tight back in December of ‘91. But, isn’t that the way it goes every Christmas? Quite often, my ex would complain about the money I spent…yet he was the one who… No, I’m not going to get into all that. This is a particular story that happened one Christmas that shows so many elements of human nature. And yet, do we learn from the past? Or do we ignore and continually hit the repeat button?

Trying to be thrifty, I had a list of each person to buy gifts and the amount to spend. Most of the kid’s gifts were purchased throughout the year as I stumbled on a sale somewhere. But, occasionally (well, I admit, more than occasionally. I am such the procrastinator!), I ended up with a few misplaced gifts and had to make that proverbial rush to the stores before they closed for the holidays!

That year was no different. The week before Christmas, I was naturally rushing around like a chicken with my head cut off trying to get everything done. My in-laws were coming to visit for the holidays so the white gloves had to come out, plus adding that last minute run to the mall. When everything was done and complete an hour before they arrived, you can’t imagine the relief I felt! Maybe just this once, there wouldn’t be the typical drama created by snide remarks and nit-picking. (I’m such a dreamer… 😉 )

My kind-hearted aunt on my dad’s side was also coming to visit for the holidays, staying with my parents who lived about a half hour away at that time. I was looking forward to seeing her, even though I had a hard time trying to decide what to get her for her Christmas gift. Since I didn’t see her that often, I didn’t know what she would like and I wanted it to be special. The week before (no, she was not one on that last minute gifts list!), I had a brainy idea to have my in-laws bring down a box of specialty chocolates from our favorite sweet shop and I would pay them when they arrived. It was the perfect plan…

But alas…nothing is perfect…and all plans are never full-proof…

Christmas Eve, and the stores are already closed. My in-laws arrived with the box of chocolates. As I started to head back to wrap it up for my aunt, I heard my mother-in-law say, “Oh, when we stopped by the candy store, this was the only box they had left in chocolates, so we brought it for you for Christmas! I’m sorry about your aunt; you can give her something else.”

I stopped…silent…

Oh well, no big deal. I thought to myself, I’ll just hide the box in my room and give it to my aunt anyway, since I wouldn’t be seeing her until after the in-laws left. And…still the perfect plan! But…

(Don’t you just hate the “But” word??)

Christmas Day, after the gifts were opened and as we are cleaning up the paper thrown all over by the overly excited kids, I hear my ex exclaim, “Where’s that box of chocolates? Get it out; aren’t you going to share with us?”

And so…not wanting to be the “bad guy” on Christmas Day, I brought out that last box of chocolates. My mind was racing to figure out what to gift to give my aunt now that the stores were all closed. At least my ex would be happy to satisfy his sweet tooth. As I passed my chocolates around, I thought it would be perfectly acceptable to at least grab a few pieces for myself as they were quickly disappearing. In the assorted boxes of chocolates, most of the pieces have fruit or cream in the center. I have never liked anything in my chocolates except nuts or occasionally caramel. If they would have asked me for my preference, I would have told them to avoid the assortment boxes, but those were the kind my in-laws liked, so that is what they bought…for me…for my Christmas gift. When the box came back around to my ex, he angrily exclaimed, “You took all the good pieces!” Hmmm… And yet…he always liked the cherry filled chocolates which everyone left for him.  **Sigh**

And…just whose gift was it anyway?

Next year…buy me some socks!

“Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” ~Philippians 2:1-4