Saying “I’m Sorry”

Those three little words can be tough . . . OK, so it’s two words if you use the contraction, but you get my point. I’ve had a really hard time with them over the years, especially if I wasn’t to blame. 

Now, you’re thinking . . . “What, you say you’re sorry even if you’re not to blame?” 

Well, not every time.  There are those exceptional occasions when another person caused the whole offense, and I had no part in it. Unfortunately, they’re rare. If I’m honest, I can take responsibility for some part of every disagreement, misunderstanding and event that requires an apology.

But the most frustrating part of the “I’m Sorry” saga is watching people who never take responsibility for anything. You’ve met them, the perfect ones. They don’t need to change a thing, they have it all figured out. It’s frustrating for me as a leader in a church because those folks are stuck.

All my life I’ve lived with men who can fix anything. First my Dad, then my husband and Father-in-law. Yep, if it’s broke they can fix it. The problem is they can’t fix it if they can’t tell it’s broke. When I was young, I remember my mom having some car problems, but when Daddy took it for a drive, the car ran perfectly. There was nothing he could do because he couldn’t see or hear any problems. After I married, I discovered it wasn’t just my dad! My husband and Father-in-law had the same difficulty. I’ve come to believe that a car knows whose driving it, and will not make the noises when the mechanically inclined are behind the wheel. 

Whatever the reason for the car running soundly for the men in my life, the fact they couldn’t diagnose the problem didn’t mean there wasn’t one. It just meant the car couldn’t get better. 

It’s the same for us humans. Just because we don’t take responsibility for our mistakes doesn’t mean we didn’t make any. Coming across as perfect doesn’t make me respect a person more, it makes me suspicious. When a person has an answer for everything and never has a story that includes how they messed it up, I start looking for the place in their life journey where they got stuck. 

Let me give you a few examples:

Divorce . . . it takes two people to make a marriage strong. If you’re on the road to divorce and you didn’t do a thing to damage the marriage, you’re stuck. (Unless, of course, you’ve been beaten, physically or emotionally. You should never take responsibility for someone attacking you, with their fists or their words.)

Parenting . . . that’s one of the toughest jobs out there. Even if your kids have turned out better than anyone could have possibly hoped, if you’ve never taken stock of things you wish you’d done different, you’re stuck.

Friendship . . . (or the end of one) If you have a friendship that ended and it’s all the other person’s fault, you’re stuck.

In every relationship, every situation, you could probably do something different to make it smoother. Perhaps what you did was your best, you didn’t know any better. That’s OK. Take responsibility for the fact you could have done better and move on. Don’t beat yourself up for it. Don’t even relive it until you think you figured out a better way to have done it. 

But DO admit it. DO embrace every bit of your responsibility in something gone wrong, whether it’s an automobile accident or a relationship mishap. (Yes, your insurance agent would prefer you don’t take responsibility until after the police report is filed) In order to grow and become the best person I can be, at some point admit I have to admit that even if it was for the most part the other person’s fault there may have been something I could have done differently to avoid the damage.

Book Review – A Texas Brides Collection

I got this book from #NetGalley as a free download in exchange for an honest review . . . so here goes:

If you enjoy romance novels, you’ll probably enjoy these short stories. I discovered about 1/2 way through I just don’t care for the predictability of these kinds of reads anymore. Although written by several authors, the first five of the nine stories were quite similar . . . too similar for my taste. I found myself a bit bored. The final four did redeem the series for me as they offered a bit more variety even with their predictable romantic slant.

Each story is pretty short. I could read one an evening. So these would make great reads for a plane ride or waiting room. They were well written. Just not really my cup of tea.

Book Review – The Rise of the Mystics

I was honored to be part of the launch team for “The Rise of the Mystics”.  I think I’m glad I wasn’t able to get “The 49th Mystic” (book 1 in the two book series) right away because it put less time between reads, and I really didn’t want to wait!

Although you’ll see in my review, you can read “The Mystic” series without reading “The Circle” or “The Forgotten Way,” I highly recommend you read them all first.  I’ll put links for The Circle below, but you can only get “The Forgotten Way” from Ted’s site.  (Click the title for details.)

Here’s my review:

I fell in love with Ted Dekker’s work when I read the very first book in the Circle Series, and he didn’t disappoint this time.  Although he continued the story of the Circle in these new books, a person could easily pick them up and not be lost, because he elaborates the things you need to know from the earlier books, just enough to get a new reader up to speed without sounding repetitious to those of use who’ve read the former books more than once. Having read “The Forgotten Way” not too long ago, I was also excited to see themes from that book woven into the adventure. And an adventure it is. Just when I thought I might know where he was going next, Dekker took an unexpected turn and kept me up late a few nights. I highly recommend “The Rise of the Mystics” as well as the first book, “The 49th Mystic.” The characters are well developed. The plot is rich with adventure, mystery and surprises, and as always Jesus Christ is honored in such a way that even those who aren’t interested in the faith will enjoy the ride.

I have an opinion about those who support Socialism

Saturday we worked to make the walkway between our garage and house look nicer. As I dug dirt so there would be room to put the drain pipe in so the water will stay out of the garage, I developed some opinions about those who support Socialism.

I’m assuming if you think Socialism is a good idea, then either:

  1. You are lazy
  2.  You have guilt ridden wealth OR
  3. You don’t think for yourself

I just can’t figure out any other reason a person might believe that someone who does no work at all should have all the same things as someone who was willing to sweat and hurt the way I did Saturday.

Now, before you get all defensive . . . I’m not talking about those who are disabled. In fact, everyone I know who has some sort of anything that others would call a true “disability” works as much as they can or wishes they could. There are no lazy disabled people in my life. Maybe I live in a fairy tale world, but that’s the truth.

I’m not even talking about those who are working full time, but can’t quite make ends meet. Nope, I know several people who are using the welfare system the right way. They are doing as much as they possibly can, and then getting a bit of help so they can feed their kids.

I’m talking about true Socialism where everyone lives on the same amount of money and the government decides who needs more and who needs less.

Doctors go to school for years and give up sleep for a lot of those years. They have skills that few have, so yes, they are going to make more money. And yes, I wish firemen and police officers could make the same, because they are every bit as valuable; however, taxes pay their wages. Truth is, if we really thought they should make more, we’d take some of what we make and donate it to the city earmarking it for those wages.

When I was out there sweating, using the shovel and rake, digging a ditch, shoveling limestone, wishing I could get a shower, I figured out why Socialism can’t work. Cause the truth is this: if someone not willing to work that hard can have exactly what I have after working that hard, I’m not gonna work that hard. Period. End of story.

It’s not that I’m all about myself. I like to help others. But I like to help others who need a hand UP, not a hand OUT.

So  . . . just my two cents . . . and I think it’s a little bit Biblical since 2 Thessalonians 3:10 says “The one who does not work shall not eat.”

A new day . . . a new diagnosis

I have to wonder if anyone really ever reads this stuff.  Fortunately, I just like to vent and this is a good place to do it.

So . . . today I went to the specialist. A Rheumatologist. I guess I expected too much.

He’s not sure I have polymyalgia rheumatica. Since I went on a cruise in January. He wants to test me for MALARIA. Even though I had NO symptoms until at least a month later, and none of those symptoms are even remotely related to the symptoms I’ve explored for Malaria.

Next . . . let’s test for Hep C. Again . . . the symptoms don’t really match up, and I’ve never been exposed.

He’s also looking at Lyme Disease. The most probably of the three; however, I contracted it in February . . . in the middle of the coldest month of the year. Pretty sure there were no ticks in my back yard as I walked across it in my boots and ear muffs.

Why would he search for another disease?  Because I’m too young for this one. Most people don’t get it for at least another five years.  Obviously he has no idea how good I am at breaking through the statistics.

And when I asked, “Will the Vitamin C I take for my seasonal allergies compete with the Prednisone?” (Since Prednisone suppresses the immune system and Vitamin C ramps it up). His answer was a confident, “I don’t know. I’ll have to look that one up.” And he didn’t look it up while I was there, so I still have no answer.

I feel frustrated . . . like I wasted $60, half a tank of gas and half a day of my life.

I’m going to go back one more time to see if he’s any better the second time around, but so far I’m not impressed.

He did give a little more advice on the Prednisone dosage, so I’m hoping that’s better.

Other than that . . . it was a bust!

More on the Polymyalgia Rheumatica

Just in case you subscribed to my blog to keep up with this crazy disease, let me share a bit.

Tonight I’m writing because I’m miserable. I need to vent, and I hate to talk about it to folks around me. I know they care, but they can’t do anything about it, so why do they want to hear.

At the beginning of July I had managed to work myself down to 10 mg of Prednisone once every other day. I was so excited! I thought maybe it was due to being in the sun more often. Those first two weeks of July were so nice I was in the pool almost every day. Some told me it was probably the exercise, but I don’t really swim. I do get a little workout when we play pool volleyball, but other than that it’s mostly floating around.

The beginning of July was also my Muscle Biopsy, used to make sure I don’t have close sister to Polymyalgia Rheumatica, Polymyositis. The biopsy was every bit as wonderful as it sounds; however, I was able to walk normal by the next day. After they stuck me with an awl seven times and removed seven pieces of deep thigh muscle, the test came back negative, I have no muscle deterioration, so it is Poymyalgia Rheumatica.

As July moved on, the Summer got rainier, so I can’t get out as much. By the end of July I’m back to 10 mg every day. But now, mid-August, that’s not kicking it. I just took the second 10 mg for this 24 hours. It should kick in by midnight so I start to feel better, but right now my eyes hurt, my hips hurt, my shoulders ache and I feel miserable. My throat is sore too, but I can’t tell if that’s due to the disease or I’m getting some kind of throaty thing . . . so I upped the Vitamin C just in case.

I hate to complain. I know so many folks have it worse, and the pain I have tonight is still NOTHING compared to what it was like when I was first diagnosed, but it’s hard for me to concentrate and create.  I just don’t feel like myself.

I’ve spent a lot of time in prayer, and I will always ask for a healing .  . . not because I expect God to do whatever I ask, but because I know He is able . . . I know for a fact my Savior can. So why wouldn’t I ask. If He says, “No,” I’ll wait to find out how He’s going to make this into a Romans 8:28 thing. Until then your prayers are appreciated, and I’m just grateful there is a med I can take to make the pain go away!

The Cumberland Bride – Book Review

Shannon McNear did an excellent job keeping my attention. A little adventure and a little romance made it a truly enjoyable read. I always enjoy these historical fiction. This one even made me get my tablet out and do a little searching to find the path the family took. So far I’ve enjoyed this entire series! I’m looking forward to the next one. #TheCumberlandBride #NetGalley

Book Review – The Patriot Bride

I enjoyed “The Patriot Bride” just as much as I’ve loved the other books in this series. The historical background is excellent, and the plot and characters are well developed. I truly enjoy the main characters interactions with real life historical figures, and appreciated the insight into the part many civilians played during the Revolutionary War. This story kept my attention throughout. I highly recommend this book!

Pain

I’ve been told I’m a bit philosophical . . . and I guess that’s a true statement. I’ve also decided that I’ve finally lived enough years and seen enough to have some opinions that may be worth listening to. For the last half hour or so I’ve been contemplating pain.

Perhaps you’ve read another post in my blog, and you know I have this autoimmune disease called Polymyalgia Rheumatica (at least that’s what the docs believe it is – I still have a bit more testing to go through). Whatever it is, it causes pain and muscle weakness. My shoulders ache, I have to lift my legs with my hands to get into my car. It seems to effect my throat and my eyes, and it makes me tired.

So, today as I was folding clothes with my shoulders starting to burn, I thought about pain in general. And it occurred to me that everyone has pain. Some is physical, some emotional. There’s psychological pain and even phantom pain. Many would like to think their pain is worse than another’s, but after watching many people who I know live in pain, and then living it myself, I believe that it’s not so much the degree of pain as the permission one gives the pain to control life.

Yes, pain can be debilitating. However, I know folks who’ve had and have pain, crippling pain (yes, literally crippling). But it never stopped them. I didn’t think too much about it when I was ten and watched my grandmother’s body turn on itself. I saw the physical effects the pain had on her body, the twisted fingers and the fragile bones. She never stopped, and she never complained. I was ten. I assumed it wasn’t that bad. In fact during the sixteen years I was privileged to know her before she died, I don’t know if I ever realized she had pain.  And in the past 50+ years I’ve met many like her, people whose pain caused visible disability yet were never stopped by it.

On the other hand I’ve also known people who every ache was a complaint. The pain was/is disabling. Their life completely stops because of the pain. I can’t say whether it’s worse pain than my grandmother and others like her have experienced. Even if these people sat next to my grandmother, there’s no way to know which pain is the worst . . . except perhaps a SED rate . . . that might be an interesting test.

What I do know is the pain for this second group of people has more power. And after years of watching people, I’m inclined to believe it’s power granted by the one who suffers.

Everything I’ve ever heard or read from a medical professional says that those who quit moving because of the pain will experience more pain. And more pain means even less movement for these folks. And this is my experience as well.

Those who dwell on the pain, those who allow the pain to be in control become more and more controlled by the pain. Those who refuse to stop because of the pain, still have pain, but it seems more bearable.

This is not to say we don’t need medicine for the pain. Whether it’s physical, emotional, psychological or other, often we need help. And there should never be any shame in doing everything we can to make it better. But God has created us with a great capacity to heal, and much of that healing seems to be taking authority over the pain. To not allow it to control us anymore than it needs to. (and even that will be different person to person)

There’s no way for me to tell if you are allowing your pain to control you more than it should. However, I have determined that those who talk about their pain more seem to be the ones who give the pain more power.

So in my situation, you’ll probably hear me talk about my pain from time to time because it hurts and I don’t like it. However, if you hear me say I can’t do something because of the pain, go ahead and question me . . . ask me if the activity will make it worse . . . ask me if I want to give the pain the authority to control me . . . because I intend to control my life even when I can’t control the pain.

 

The Importance of Fathers

I’ve been thinking a lot about Fathers lately. I’d like to write them all a letter, especially those dads who come to church on a somewhat regular basis, or even those dads who show up a couple times a year.  I guess I’d kind of like moms to read what I have to say too, because I’ve seen so many women who undermine every move their husband makes.

The thing is most parents, and adults in general, have no idea the tremendous impact they have on a child’s life. And this reality is even more significant in the world of a Christian.

I’ve lived enough years now to say with confidence I know the answer to raising kids who grow up to know Christ. I guess I can’t make any guarantees, but as I look over the vast number of families I use as my “test subjects.” I can’t find one single deviation from my findings.

Those children who had two parents (or grandparents, if the grandparents were instrumental in raising the children) who both were committed to serving Jesus Christ with no compromising, now have a real relationship with Jesus Christ. I’ve also seen the same results with kids who some sold out Christian chose to mentor.

But let me describe these families a bit for you . . .

These families whose children have grown up to love Jesus seldom missed Sunday worship, and the adults truly wanted to be there. I would venture to say these families would not have missed more than three Sundays a year. There were never any excuses allowed for missing church, sports never took precedence.  The adults were actively involved in the life of the church, they attended special events and fellowship dinners. They helped with clean up days and showed joy in serving. They never acted like it was a chore. Serving Christ and Worshipping Him was never a duty, but it also was required for anyone who stayed under the roof of the house.

These families lived Christianity at home. There were no dual lives. Now, this can become tricky because I know some families who LOOKED like they were living the Christian life, but later it came out that one parent was secretly living a lie. And, you know what? In those instances, it had a profound impact on the children in those homes. When even one parent acted like they were living the Christian life, but in their heart wasn’t, the enemy had a foothold and it effected the children.

On the other hand, the families I know with a 100% success rate with their kids growing up with a living faith, both parents (or other very influential adults) had a personal and intimate relationship with Jesus. By that I mean it wasn’t just  Sunday Morning religion. These folks read the Bible for themselves and pray continually. They invited the Holy Spirit to live in their home and most gave their kids to Christ when they were young.

And gentlemen. . . one for you . . . each of these families had a male modeling the life of Christ. Sometimes it was a strong grandfather. I’ve even seen individual children who’ve been influenced by a male mentor in the congregation, but in most of the cases I’ve experienced, the instrumental and deciding factor was a dad of faith, especially in the case of sons becoming sold out people of Christ.

Guys, you have an awesome responsibility. You are more influential than you think. And ladies, when you undermine your child’s father’s influence, you damage your child (unless of course your child’s father is a drug addict or criminal of sorts).

Men were designed to be the spiritual head of the household, you set the standard of faith for your family. If you allow the enemy into your life, you allow the enemy into the lives of each member of your family. If you cheat, that spirit of deception will be in your household and your children will be susceptible to it. You set the bar.

So many men set the bar so low. As the leader of your home, you are the one who gives authorization for which Spirit is allowed in. And sometimes you can give permission by your actions. Your prayer life and the life you live outside of church determine the spirituality of your home. If your wife is living a holy life, but you are not, you are still bringing in spirits that will influence your children, and while your wife has the power to do the same, it seems from all I’ve watched through the years, that in a traditional marriage, the man has more clout in the Spirit world. I know some women who won’t like that, but it’s just what I’ve observed.

It’s not terrible to let your wife do most of the spiritual, biblical training in the home, but your kids should know you support it. They should see you read your Bible, or at least see you carry it and know you value the words in it, even if you read before they wake or after they go to bed. Your family should hear you pray and know you pray for them. And most of all, the Holy Spirit should be the only Spirit you allow into your home.

None of this is to say kids can’t find Christ in a single parent family or with only one Christian parent. It happens! Plus, when single parents immerse their children into a good loving congregation, one which places an emphasis on a relationship with Christ, the odds of their children finding Christ in a real way increase significantly. Which means even you men who have no kids still have a responsibility!

As I write, Father’s Day is only two days away.  The main reason we should honor fathers is because of the power they have in the lives of children.  I pray for dads everywhere that they may recognize the awesome God-given responsibility they have so kids can begin to have a fighting chance in this world.