musings on life, love, and the world in general

My husband and I were talking about where I wanted to go with my newfound skills of speaking, and whether or not I was going to delve into the topics of Christianity and a healthy and fulfilling sex life. And he jokingly said I could call my next blog post “Maybe You Could choke Me Just a Little”, to which I replied, “You know I’m going to call it that now”, and his face was like, oh crap! Well hence the title. This whole conversation began after I had told him about talking with a girlfriend that was reading 50 Shades of Grey who was embarrassed to tell me she was reading it. Not because she was really embarrassed to be reading it, but, because she was embarrassed to tell me, the “pastor’s wife”. To which I replied, “Oh I read it, and it was rather juvenile”.

I do not know if people think that as a Christian, that all topics sex are taboo and that we are very proper or what. I have to say that I am of the mind that God gave a husband and wife each other to enjoy, in any way they choose. I read several Christian blogs and authors that feel the same way. One site I like is call “One Flesh Marriage” and they cover all sorts of topics about sex and marriage. It is open and honest and filled with wonderful thoughts about marriage and the marriage bed. I also like much of what Sheila Wray Gregoire has to say. She is frank and informative and shares intimately about what few will say out loud.

Any of you that know me personally know that I have little trouble saying what I think out loud too, unless I think it will affect my husband adversely. So I have been quiet on the topic of intimacy for the most part. But I am through being quiet. I have heard too many people rage against the whole idea of the dominant/submissive lifestyle in the bedroom. I have heard self-proclaimed experts say that all of this “abnormal” behavior in the bedroom is due to victimization, sexual abuse or negative esteem on the part of women who are seeking this outlet. It is also said that any of the activity that falls outside the “norm” (whatever that is) is abusive and what kind of person would ever like any of it anyway? Like that is not the most judgmental and critical thought process one can put off on another woman. I wonder how many of those experts raising the roof have ever read anything about healthy intimate dominant/submissive relationships much less experienced one.

I am rather irritated by all the talk from Christian women railing against the fake relationship of 50 Shades Christian and Anna as being wrong and sick, as we are judging this from a Christian lens. First of all these characters are as far from being Christian and living a lifestyle of Christianity as anyone can be. They certainly do not live by my Judeo-Christian standards, that said, let’s leave them totally out of it. What do we as Christians really think of a married Christian couple that is intimate, open, honest, and has a flourishing sex life? What would we think if they practiced some of the more, shall we say, spicy sexual acts in the privacy of their own bedrooms?

I for one do not think it is any of my business what goes on with a couple behind the doors of their bedrooms, but, if it makes them closer, more open, more in love, and makes them truly one, I, for one, am all for it. I was once talking with a close friend about her husband and she wanted him to know something very intimate about her. I told her to just tell him, and she said, “Oh, I could NEVER tell him that.” I looked her in the eye and said, “This is the man who you will get naked with and share your body, but you will not share with him your heart, or your desires”. This is where the true tragedy lies. Not in the way we choose to make love, not in ways we connect physically, but in the lack of finding a true union of body and soul. In finding that we can share all parts of who we are with another person.

I am not one to tell people to do anything that makes them uncomfortable, but I am totally in favor of telling the one you love the things that might bring you joy both in and out of the bedroom. Instead of looking to shame and judge what others find pleasurable, I think we can all look at our own relationships and find ways to build on them so they are what God truly ordained for a husband and wife, oneness, both in and out of the bedroom.
m.

Listening.

Sometimes life gets in the way of writing. I miss my times when i can just sit quietly and let my words flow out of me. I have had so many wonderful things going on that I find writing falls by the wayside. I am working with a new Bible study group and planning to facilitate two others. It feels like such a different place than I was in not too long ago.

I think there are times when you feel you have things to do, things God is calling you for. But, you are not ready so you go on trips of avoidance. Diversions from the path that would probably be of the least resistance, however in the end these side trips can be huge learning experiences. Positive and negative, but still things to learn from. I have had a life full of lessons, whew! I think sometimes I want to be done with all of the learning and growing, but then I would not be who I am today. And today, I like me.

I am reminded a lot of the role that focusing outward plays in the level of my contentment. It seems when I look back at the times when I was lost in despair, I was filled with me. My hurts, my pain, my trials filled my mind to the point of becoming lost in despair. I am not minimizing my struggle, it is hard to be very ill while trying to be a good wife, a good mom, a good employee and a good full time student. Trying to do all of that up to an acceptable level in my mind, which was perfectly! Of course I was bound to fail, and in that failure, I was quickly bound even more deeply in despair.

I of course look back now and know I was no failure. In fact, the way I traversed all of this was quite courageous, however I failed to notice that at the time as I could not see anything on the grand scale. I see now as I have become involved in life, in others pain too, that it is all just a journey. A journey we can travel together to support one another and to give assistance when asked or get it when needed.

I was in a group recently and in the midst of remembering how ill I once was, I said “I just don’t know what I would do if I got sick again”. One of the other girls in the group looked at me and said, “What would you do?” I was taken aback, and as I sat there and considered her question, I struggled, struggled with the idea that I may have to face being ill once again and with the thought of what I would do. I sighed, and said “This time, I would ask for help.” It was only a day later that God let me put those words to the test. I awoke with a back ache that was so bad I was having trouble taking a breath. So what did I do? I got up and went to work. I was in so much pain that I was not really not capable of functioning without major doses of pain reliever and muscle relaxants. I sat at work almost in tears and finally realized that I did NOT ask for help, I had relied on myself to get it done, to be perfect, to be everything within myself. I called Jim and asked for help that very second, and I got it!! Yes, sometimes it is just that simple.

I want to be strong enough to ask for help first. I am so good to allow others to need care, to offer aid to others and not see them as anything less because of it. I want to see myself in the same eyes with which I view others. It is in this caring and being cared for that I can be truly open to hear the call from God and rise to the challenges he is putting before me.

m

Looking Back

Sometimes I really want to write. I have things to say, but I struggle with where to start, and what to tell. Is it too much? Is it time to reveal more of me to others? I need to be in a place where I am not afraid of my own story, not fearful that my past, hell, my present, will reflect upon me poorly. Mostly because much of the good that I am now, has resulted from the hard spots in my past. Those spots that some would say are better left alone, hidden, or just plain forgotten. However, I believe that when one forgets the past, it is very easily repeated. So I remember, I look back, but as I once heard someone say, I do not stare.

All of this ruminating was caused from a big anniversary I just had celebrated last Friday on May 15. It was 26 years ago that I had my last drink of alcohol. I remember it was mother’s day when I flew home from a failed first marriage of three years and met my mother in the airport. I was broken, looking terrible and feeling like a total failure. My parents took me home and loved me. It was the first step to healing. They got a lot of advice on how to help me and within a week of coming home, they took me to a treatment facility for a 30 day in patient program. My father looked me in the eye as he walked me to the door and said “This is it. Your one chance to make this work. Then you will be on your own.” I must have known he meant it, because I have been sober ever since that mother’s day all of those years ago.

The treatment center was a gift. It gave me a head start on my sobriety journey, with the added help of being around others with the same problems as I had. I saw I was not alone. I was not the only one that felt different, afraid, and lost. I also saw I did not have to feel that way, there was a host of ways to find support and to not do any of this alone. AA was one wonderful tool and led me to a group of people that cared about me. Furthermore, I got reacquainted with the very strong faith of my youth. I had been running from God for some time. I needed to remember He was always right inside of me and that I could never outrun Him.

Once I was in the treatment facility I began to pick up my Bible, and look for God’s guidance. It was amazing how He showed me things faithfully, just as He always had, but I was listening for once. I remember a graduate from the facility coming to give a talk on her one year sobriety “Birthday”. She was telling us how hard it is to beat the odds and stay sober. She said, “Only 1 in 20 of you will make it to 90 days, and only half of those will still be around at one year. I heard those odds and I thought that will be me”. I listened to her hard, I listened, and I heard a voice inside me whisper, “That will be me too”. And it has been, for 26 consecutive years.

I am so grateful to have the life I do. It began with that journey. The journey of sobriety, which led to other revelations, changes, obstacles to overcome and a lot of hard work that has paid off. Not with material things, not with what I might have thought I wanted, but with more than I ever expected. I continue to walk forward, to journey on, to learn and grow and remember. I continue to look back, but I do not stare.

m.

Beginning Again

I have returned from the speaker’s training I attended. I am tired and glad to be home, but I was filled with so many wonderful new thoughts and ideas while I was away. I want so many things in this life I have been gifted with. I want to have the opportunity to pass on the wonderful lessons my Lord has allowed me to experience. I also want to help others be able to learn from my hardships so perhaps, just perhaps, they will not need to go through the same trials themselves.

I have felt for many years that I was led to speak and open up my heart in a public way. But it has not seemed to be the right time. I have been busy with the needs of my children and also supporting my husband as he was starting his pastoral ministry. It was the right thing to do and I love being a wife and mother, but as my girls become more self-sufficient, I feel ready to begin to do more, more for me, more for those outside of my home and also more for God.

I was afraid of beginning. I did not really know how to start the process. So, off to the speaker’s training conference I went. It was amazing. It gave me tools to bring together my experiences and how to deliver the words so I can give others hope too. Now I need to find the audience. :)

As I went through the week I could see how much my fear has held me back. Fear that I had nothing to really say. Fear that if I did get up to say things no one would be interested, or that I would look silly, or sound funny or a myriad of other things that run through your head as you get ready to do something nerve wracking for the first time. But, I got up to do my first speech in my small group, and it was not bad. I know, right?! I sound so surprised, but it was surprising to me. People were engaged and they listened. I really wasn’t sure if I had it in me. I thought I did, I thought and have thought for some time that God was leading me to tell my story, but it is still fearful. Well, now the fear will be easier to overcome. It will be easier to move forward. I am grateful for this experience.

As I write this, my mind whirls with the unseen possibilities. I look forward to them, I look forward to open doors. So, if you need a speaker at your next event… give me a yell.
m.

Adventure awaits?

I sit in anticipation of my upcoming adventure tomorrow. I leave for a speakers training conference. I will be gone for 4 days and I am filled with excitement, fear and sadness. I am totally stoked to go on the trip to learn a lot and get started with a journey into the world of speaking, but am fearful as I have little experience. My sadness stems from leaving my family. Well mostly from leaving my husband. Alexa will do fine on her own and Morgan is having her own adventure in Europe.

It is odd when there’s a pending separate from someone I love, how much I leave them mentally in advance. I pull back subconsciously prior to a being away from them to make the absence easier. I am trying to not let that happen this time, but it is a difficult thing to control. It is a protective thing I guess. But in spite of that I am looking forward to focusing on the training and also a few days with no one else to worry about. That is rare when you are a mom, an employee, a wife and all the other hats I wear.

I love staying in a hotel, it is great when Jim and I get to do it together, but even alone it is a blast. I like the freedom of having nothing to take care of. No cleaning, no cooking and fresh towels and sheets every day if you want. On top of it, this trip I get to learn new things and hopefully begin the next leg of my journey. It has been a long time since I have done something just for me.

So where will my adventure lead? I have no idea, but I am ready. I look forward to seeing where God will take me, because I think it will be great, hard and trying and a lot of work, but great all the same. Just like all the other adventures God has taken me on.

Living In Freedom

Life has been amazing lately. I feel free for the first time in years, free of so many of the struggles that have brought me to places I never thought I would travel. Places of pain, of loss, of betrayal and of fear beyond reason. I want to let those places of captivity go. The places that lack the peace that comes with doing what is right and true to who you are. The joy that is a direct result of that peace is what I seek.

I have made so many mistakes, mistakes that I give to my Lord, mistakes that that have been a stronghold of lies and secrets. I refuse to live there anymore. Secrets come with shame and tear away the fabric of trust that I am building or re-building. I will not live in the dark any longer, I will let the light in, I will allow it to illuminate the shame and turn it to good so I may sweep up all the garbage that holds me captive.

I have been so tied to the belief that I need others approval to be whole. That I need more than God’s gift of love to be a person of worth. That is the biggest lie I live, that I need the validation of others to feel like I am someone, that I am something. It still plagues me so often, but now I have language to combat that lie. It is the language of prayer, prayer to the one who brings peace and joy, who fills up the holes that are deep in my soul.

I need to let go, to be let go. The past brings with it pain and shame. It is not something I want to live in. It is over. It is time to say goodbye.

m.

Worth

I have spent much of the last 8 years of my life fighting to be well. Trying to live a normal life, whatever that means. Around 2007 I began experiencing numerous symptoms which over the course of the next few years would increase in severity and frequency. The journey of that illness is a long story in and of itself, but the result of it, was a loss of self that was astonishing. I had no idea how much of who I am is wrapped up in what I do. What I do for myself and what I do for others. I cannot speak for men, because as you see I am not one, but as far as for the women I have spoken with, it seems that ill or not, this is very common.

As my illness advanced so did my inability to do the things that made me feel like I was a worthwhile individual. All of the responsibilities that included taking care of my children and husband, from doing the laundry, cooking and the multitude of tasks that kept it all in order, to working a full time job and even going to college to get my bachelor’s degree. Not much of an over achiever, huh? But as time went on and I became more physically challenged, so did my ability to keep up.

I remember one Sunday talking with a girlfriend at church about recipes and cooking. She was going on about all that she did for her family to provide them wonderful meals. When she was finished, I said I loved to cook but, because it was so hard on me that I did not do it much anymore. I will never forget the look of disdain that crossed her features. You see, not only do we view ourselves as unworthy if we don’t perform up to the expected standard, but we women, are also very hard on each other.

I have another friend who is working on a screenplay, she is a multifaceted individual who is truly gifted. However when an old high school rival published a book she felt threatened. She did not see the truth that if this woman who was no better than she was could succeed, then why not her? I think the truth of it is that if we have yet to succeed ourselves, it is difficult to encourage someone else. It is certainly beyond me to want another’s success if I have not found it. This may sound selfish and harsh, but I am loath to deny it.

I wonder if the answer may lie in this. That as an individual I must find a way to feel value and to know I am successful in my accomplishments, no matter how small or large I see them. To believe that I am worth IT, whatever IT is. If I can truly do this, I will want for others to feel and experience the same thing.

I find that value in the eyes of God. His opinion of me is the only one that truly matters. In and of myself, and in my own accomplishments I am not worthy anything. It is ONLY because He loves me that I am of value. Now that is a big, soak that in… if I am nothing, yet He loves me… I am everything. HUGE, right?! This helped me to realize that my value to those I truly cared about, my children and my husband was not in what I can do for them, but about who I am, or rather whose I am.

I am pleased to say that my health has greatly improved, and that I am much more able to do things again. But, as I move through life today, I do not try to make it about what I do or do not do, rather it is just about being. Being a child of God, and that is enough.

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