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#God

The Violence Question

When we weep, God weeps.

Horrible events have occurred here in the United States in the last few months in such rapid succession it is hard to comprehend. From a mass shooting in Las Vegas, to an ISIS driven attack in New York City to the most recent mass shooting at a small town Baptist church in Texas. It leaves me thinking of my huge  church, where inside hundreds of family members gather weekly and daily to serve Christ. I fear for our safety, yet then I remember how many times in the Bible God tells us not to fear.

(Its 365 times. By God’s design there are 365 days in a year.)

Times like this also lift up the question, “Why does God allow such horror?” If you’re a Christian, you’ll get asked that in your lifetime. So we must remember that in times like this…. God weeps.

God isn’t allowing this suffering to happen. This horror and pain entered the world on the back of sin in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve chose sin over God’s loving guidance. The next question that will come flying at a Christian is, “Then why did He allow sin into the world?”

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. ~John 16:33

That’s when Christians tackle the tough task of explaining how God loves us and how He wanted us to have free will. In order to be in a unique relationship with every son and daughter He has, He gave us individual choice. Without that, we’d be carbon copies of one another, marionettes for God instead of children of God. With our freedoms we have the ability, daily, to choose God’s love or to choose not to love.

“Then why can’t God just stop it all?”

The truth is, in my opinion, God surely can. Just as He opened his mouth and spoke light into existence He can speak sin out of existence.  But then… when would God be able to stop? Take away one sin there is still another to deal with, then another, and another and soon a world of sin to discipline. Pretty soon humans are nothing more than those marionettes with God constantly intervening to correct our thoughts and movements, instead of humans learning from our free choices.

Look at it this way; as children, didn’t we learn from our mistakes? A parent who constantly scolds and corrects the bad action of a child is not teaching, they are controlling.  If children behave there is no need to correct them, yet once they misbehave then the correction must occur.  It is a learned process to live right, think correctly, and do the right thing.  Had sin not entered the world back when it did, learning right from wrong wouldn’t be an issue. The world would have known only right, good, and love.

God’s world.

Now consider the fallen world we live in since sin entered and look at  your neighbor. Would your rather be exactly like them, in all ways, the good, bad and ugly or have the ability to choose how you want to behave? Would you want to be controlled, or free?

“But He took care of getting rid of sin early in the Bible so why not now? Answer that one!”

When the world was created, when Mankind was just taking its baby steps, there were a lot of miraculous ways God showed His power. He had to. In order for the race He created to understand His great love, and their mistakes, God had to perform many signs of His power, even if it meant things like the Great Flood. Today… He doesn’t have to. His great faith is evident in the millions of followers of Jesus worldwide.

I sadly heard this morning that someone somewhere said loud enough for the news to pick up on it, that praying at times like this doesn’t control or change anything so why bother. I disagree. It doesn’t make tragedies easier to endure knowing about free choice. But understanding that God gave us wills of our own can help us pray over tragedy. Pray that those impacted have  hearts that remain rooted in the love of God, and that God’s spiritual warfare is present in their lives so that Satan doesn’t get a grip on them in the wake of their sadness. Just as the horrible choices of one person  changed the lives of the victims and their families and friends forever, their individual choices after a tragedy can have impact good or bad too. Do we want them to fall prey to all the horrible feelings Satan wants them to experience in this time, or do we want  a hedge of protection to envelope them to know God’s loving guidance even more?

God wants us to use our free will to make the right choices. He wants us to choose to make disciples who make disciples who make disciples. We have the choice to  pray for the sinners of this earth to turn to Christ so other horrific events don’t happen. So, praying in my opinion changes everything.

When we weep, God weeps too. Spiritual growth occurs in the valley and in that sorrow He loves us  harder than before.

~Jennifer

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#God, #life, Family Life

Three Strands.

You and I against the world; this statement is pretty new as a concept in our marriage.

We’ve had our ups and downs. I think both of us got caught up in our own inner conflicts and baggage from each other’s past so much so we couldn’t see or comprehend that, basically, marriage is two people coming together as a bond not even this world can break. We’ve come to find out it’s not really each other we’re fighting against. In our case it’s the ghosts in each other’s pasts, the lies we tell ourselves, and the illnesses and conditions we have that haunt us.

When you start looking at the issues and problems between you and your significant other as the enemy rather than your significant other, it’s a game changer. Ryan and I have adopted the point of view that we’re going to join forces and fight against the things coming in-between us. Doing that forms a sense of unity. It creates a feeling of having each other’s back and always being there for each other. The more you put this tool into practice the more it  strengthens and grows.

Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. ~ Ecclesiastes 4:12

This is so important when issues arise that threaten your marriage because then both of you can come together and stand firm against them. Ryan and I have been going to SoulCare. It’s a type of therapy based upon the values of the Christian faith. Our pastor/counselor, who is certified in SoulCare, uses the book Biblical Foundations of Freedom: Destroying Satan’s Lies with God’s Truth by Art Mathias. SoulCare teaches techniques and ways to apply the Bible’s teachings and truths into everyday situations. We really do feel that it’s helping our marriage as well as our individual wounds. It brings those scars out into the light where they are dealt with, prayed over and hopefully left behind.

I’m hopeful about our future. I do believe through SoulCare and doctor prescribed meds (God gave us doctors to help us) Ryan and I will gain the tools we need to weather any storm that comes our way. We will be able to live a long and very happy life together. Come to think of it, it’s not Ryan and I against the world, it’s Ryan and I and Jesus against this world.

How can we fail?

#God

Some morning comfort if anyone needs it….

Just because I love it, along with a healthy dash of I-don’t-want-to-edit -what-I need-to-edit at the present time, I thought I’d pop in over here and share this picture with the world.

I first saw this portrait of Jesus on my first Alpha Retreat when I was a participant and it has been a comfort ever since. I’ve just returned from my third Alpha, this time as leader, and wanted to share praises for it over here on the blog. Maybe it will bring comfort to someone who stumbles upon it.

Alpha is a life changing experience. It’s a Christian course offering a safe place for anyone, whether an atheist or a mature biblical Christian, to ask questions about where they are in their faith walk.  We all fall short sometimes in walking the right path and need to get our priorities straight, after all.  Alpha is a huge step in the right direction. It is offered all over the world for roughly 13 weeks, including  one weekend retreat that becomes a graduate level course in the Holy Spirit. You know…. that part of the Holy Trinity usually glanced over or tacked on to the end of prayers? It’s the One who doesn’t get much attention and who many, like this Sunday school kid, thought of as Casper….

(Come to think of it, I dressed as Casper one Halloween. What were our parents  thinking with those masks?)

Large eye holes so to see the flames coming at you on Halloween night. How we survived without suffocating is beyond me.

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you~ John 14:26

In realty the Holy Spirit is the comforter, the counselor, and the helper. It’s God’s love and spirit living inside of us guiding our every move toward the right direction. It’s that voice in the back of our heads, our vulnerabilities, and the navigator of our change. Cooperating with the Holy Spirit and being aware of the ways He uniquely works in our live is how we learn spiritual growth.

If anyone is curious about Alpha, give it a try. Drop a comment or use the contact link and I’d be happy to tell you more about it and even help you find one in your area.

~Jennifer

Mental Illness, Self-Esteem

I Got “The Look” Today

I pretty much look this way over most things….

I got “the look” today.

You know… the look you get when you don’t know if you’ve just over shared. I’m at a place in life where I can be open about my OCD. It’s my hope that by doing so I can help someone else get over the stigma of saying they have a silent illness.

I’ve been taking a training this week about how to initiate “critical conversations.” Those types of conversations that are uncomfortable but often necessary to have. Communicating correctly is a skill  dying in this digital age. After being in this training for awhile, I shared a thought with my workshop partner a total stranger until this class. We were speaking on how personalities can get in the way of conversations and brainstorming strategies to overcome that roadblock. I shared that I’ve been told by friends that when they first met me I seemed… cold. Once they came to know me though, they shared they were happy to find I was the complete opposite.

I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.~Psalm 34:4-5

What they didn’t know with their first glance is that I have a mental illness. My aloofness is nothing more than  finding a safe place for me to be. I have to study people and new situations to make sure I’m  comfortable. Last thing I want is to be triggered  into a state that has me in tears and a cycle of obsession. My workshop partner looked on me  as if to say, “you’re mentally ill?” I could tell by his expression and body language that he was trying to figure out how he didn’t know that from day one.

If anyone has  the honor of ever meeting Linda, you’d know from the start that she has cerebral palsy. It’s evident in her left arm and hand, her limp and her speech. These are cues anyone can take to deduct that she has a story to tell. It’s not that way with the silent diseases. It’s not always comfortable to be candid and admit, when appropriate, that I’ve OCD. But I think it’s vital. Here’s why…

Later my partner asked if I thought the seating assignments would be rearranged for the next class.  I said  I hoped not… it messes with me. I’d have to get used to the change, and spend time getting comfortable all over again.

He laughed and said, “I hate it too. Things like that are what really stirs up my–,”

…. and it’s that pause that is so essential. The odds are he was going to say “his OCD” for it looked like he had it perched on his lips.  If I had a dime for every time someone used OCD as a designer term for a quirk or a preference, I’d be a millionaire. Only on a rare few occasions have I met someone who legitimately shared my struggle.  Instead, he stopped and said it “bugs” him.

I’m left to wonder…. was he one of the millions out there suffering with OCD and unable to trust their vulnerability enough to share it? Or was he one of the few to learn  that this is a serious illness and deserves respect? If it’s the former, I hope my vulnerability helps him find courage  to speak his story. If the latter, kudos and thanks for rephrasing.

I show my vulnerability to helps others. I’ve seen the power speaking out can have in helping others find their path to healing. Linda bears her soul to prove what abilities hide in the weaknesses we THINK we have. Shame can be turned to a strength if all trust and faith is placed in God.  I think I speak for both of us when I admit that in each of our struggles came a healthy dose of feeling shame. Stepping outside of that prison and sharing a story, can open doors. We need to be in authentic relationships with our neighbors and we hope we can spread that awareness.

~Jennifer

#life

Quality of life vs hang-ups

I haven’t been writing as much lately because I’ve been sick. I’m just over a sinus infection and life has a way of getting in the way.

For me, illness is not just a case of going to the doctor, getting antibiotics and within ten days feeling better. It’s a case getting auras  24 hours a day (the feeling that I’m about to go into a seizure), doubling up on my epilepsy meds and having side-effects from them. Those side-effects include feeling light headed, dizzy, sick to my stomach, and having severe brain fog. After which, I’d take an antibiotic (which lower your threshold for having a seizure) then wait to see if I have any more auras. If I do I go through the agonizing process all over again.

The epilepsy drug I’m on is the only one in a long list that I’ve been on to keep me seizure free. There’s a drug on the market that’s basically the same as the one I’m on now, but with the perk of having no side effects. But, guess what…?

My insurance won’t pay for it because according to them it’s not necessary due to my treatment regime.

My immune system feels nonexistent. I’ve always become sick; quite often and easily at that. Even the common cold hits me twice as hard as your average Jo-Smo. I’ve an appointment with a specialist who can hopefully boost my immune system so that I don’t have to go through this hell every couple of months.On top of all this  is that the menstrual cycle and being pre-menopausal, (which, you guessed it, I am) can greatly lower the threshold for having a seizure. The only thing I’ve found that helps my auras and keeps me out of bed for the entire day is smoking pot. It relieves the auras and I’ve no side effects from it.

So then each of us will give an account of himself to God. Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.~Romans 14:12-13

Last month I was so miserable I went to my doctor and asked if she knew any physician who prescribed medical marijuana. I’ve an appointment in January with a neurologist that does. I truly can’t wait! I know there are people out there who are hard set against pot. For the life of me I don’t know why. If it can improve my quality of life and make it so I can be the wife and mother I so desperately want to be, then why not? It has no side effects other than making you hungry… and maybe making you notice every spec of dirt on the ceiling transforming into giraffes riding white puffy clouds across a bright blue sky.

I digress…

I saw a documentary on epilepsy and marijuana not too long ago. From it I learned of a little girl who was having 300 seizures a day. I cried my eyes out because I know that agony. Her doctors put her on a cocktail of meds which, in time, made her catatonic. She couldn’t feed herself and stopped moving all together. On top of that she was still having seizures. Then, her parents moved her to Colorado. There they put her on daily cannabis oil and took her off all meds.

Today she’s a normal little girl who is laughing, eating, playing, and running around. She has only one seizure every month or two.

That right there is my answer. I believe that quality of life should be way more important than any hang up a person might have.

Family Life

History Matters

This past week and weekend starting Wednesday night and ending Saturday night my home town of Warwick, NY celebrated its sesquicentennial, 150 years.

Festivities included outdoor concerts at Railroad Green which is the town square, games in the park for the kids, a watermelon eating contest, best mustache, beard and side-burn contests and, of course, a parade and fireworks on Saturday night. The town also dug up a time capsule, first buried in 1967. The contents of it are on display at the Legion Hall.  When town officials dug it up I did see there were letters, plates and cards inside, but as yet I’ve not had a chance to go look at them.

Remember the days of old; consider the years of many generations; ask your father, and he will show you, your elders, and they will tell you. ~Deuteronomy 32:7

I saw friends and people I knew growing up that I haven’t seen in decades. One friend, Tracey, who used to live next door but has  since moved, returned and spent the weekend with us.

Ryan was in the parade as one of Warwick’s firefighters.  Anaia and I were excited to see him in the truck rolling down Main Street.

True talent, right here….

Although… she was so exhausted from the other fun happenings in town that she fell sound asleep right on the sidewalk waiting for the parade to begin!

The parade was the best one  I’ve ever seen. There were bands, bagpipers (which promptly woke Anaia up), mounted police, and Uncle Sam shaking hands with everyone. There was a float with a dancing apple, followed by local orchard owners on tractors, and farmers riding field equipment. Town officials proudly waved to the crowd. The mayor of Warwick England (our sister town) and his wife were even there. People were dressed up in old time clothing, too. Anaia was really excited when she saw the clown that was at her birthday party goofily dancing down the street.

It meant so much to me. I’m very proud to be part of this close knit community. I’ve family members that go back in Warwick to the Revolutionary War and are buried in the town cemetery. Now I’m raising my daughter in the same town I grew up in. It doesn’t get much better than that. She sees the same sights I did when I was a child. She swims in the same lake, plays in the same park, goes to the same firemen’s carnival and runs around in the same yard as I did.

I’m grateful for every moment like that. I truly know how special it is. My greatest gift that I can give Anaia is wings and roots; Wings to show her what she can become, and roots to remind her where she came from.

Family Life

Turn! Turn! Turn!

Ahhh…. summer

What’s been going on at the Denerley household this summer? Lots of excitement, some sadness, tons of projects…

We started the summer getting a season pass to Greenwood Lake Beach. It’s a spot in a nearby town where one can swim, grill and enjoy a small playground. All of us really love going there. Along with the good times at the lake we’ve had some sadness as well.

A few weeks ago Ryan’s grandma, and Anaias great-grandma, passed away. She was the kind of person accepting of everyone. In her long 90 years she took in and cared for her sons and grandchildren for many years. She always had a smile and a kind word, and she could most definitely bake her little New Englander housewife butt off!

Alice Denerley, you will be greatly missed by many.

Anaia also went for a week to, Son World, a vacation bible school focused on making good choices at a local church. It was based on Joshua 24:15 and set in a made-up adventure park. Anaia had a blast playing games, making crafts, and singing songs.

I also found out that I, yes little old, handicapped me, holds a state records in squat, bench, and deadlift! The record is 79.3 lbs, bench is 71.6 lbs and deadlift is 187.3 lbs. I’m continuing to train hard for my next competition in the fall or early winter

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven…~Ecclesiastes 3:1

I’ve lived in the house I grew up in, the one we now call home, on and off my entire life. The curtains in the family room were older than me and, well, the entire place looked like the 60’sand the 70’s heaved all over it. A few weeks ago I was blessed enough to have Jennifer and another college friend, Robin, come for the weekend.

While Ryan took Anaia and Robin’s daughter to the lake, Jennifer and Robin went to work on my family room. We had so much fun! We went “shopping” in my basement, which is filled with amazing old furniture and unique antiques. They moved out chairs, and brought up a very cool corner cabinet that was a perfect addition to the dining room. It gave the place that old country feel I was going for.

We put slipcover on, added new throw pillows, and Jennifer, with her art and museum background, rehung my paintings so they’d be pleasing to the eye. We hung new lace curtains on new rods, rearranged the furniture, and painted a wall the most spectacular shade of blue. My family room is beautiful! It’s amazing what small changes can do to spruce up a home.

Thank you Jennifer, Robin, and Ryan for going above and beyond the call of duty to help me achieve what I envisioned. Now Ryan is sanding, taping, and priming our kitchen so it can be painted a different color. We also plan on getting new flooring. How exciting!

Not my living room but thank God I’m a country girl…. see what I did there?

Maybe that’s the secret to finding happiness? Little changes? Maybe doing something a little differently each day can reveal something within you that needs to come out. I had no idea what kind of style of decor I wanted until I got into changing it. With a ton of help from Jennifer texting me photos of different styles and me picking out what I liked, I somewhere along the line found out I loved primitive country and some country-chic.

I had no idea what those styles were at the beginning but now they make me extremely happy and calm inside. I’m finally making the house I’ve always lived in and known to be my parents’ house mine and I did it in a very simple way.

More importantly I find myself going to that room more often to do more than eat and watch television. I find myself getting up early before anyone else and thanking God for all the blessings He has put before me. I talk to Him more. I sit and just be quiet with Him more often now, trying to get closer.

That, my dears, is a very good thing.