Wednesday, November 30, 2016

A Slave of Fear

Over Thanksgiving, our family traveled to visit one of our children and two of our grandchildren. We had a wonderful visit: Playing at the zoo and the beach, Hiking up a small mountain, and Preparing the Thanksgiving meal together. It was a time of creating memories and enjoying each others' company. I pray that you had similar opportunities over Thanksgiving; family is such a blessing!

We had one other amazing experience while away from home: We worshiped together at their church. Now, it's always delightful to worship with my pastor husband; we don't get the opportunity very often! But this service touched me deeply. The Bible was preached strongly and effectively. Praise music filled the air to begin the service. In particular, "No Longer Slaves" by David and Helser touched my heart. The lines from the song that brought tears to my eyes were, "I'm no longer a slave to fear. I am a child of God."

You see, I was a slave to fear for much of my life. That happens when a child is raised in a home with an abusive parent. My fears blossomed, even after a divorce which freed me from physical abuse, because my remaining parent was severely depressed. She even attempted suicide when I was nine years old. It wasn't explained to me because all the adults thought I didn't know, but I did. And I spent the rest of my childhood fearing to do anything that would upset my mom because then she might kill herself, and I would have to go live with my dad.

This was totally unhealthy, as I'm sure you recognize. And since no one knew my fears, no one could reassure me. When my mom remarried, my fears eased but didn't disappear entirely. I went off to college, still deeply afraid to make waves of any kind. This no longer made any rational sense, but the patterns that we develop as children are hard to break.

I ended up dating and then marrying a controlling, arrogant man. It felt right to me because I was so afraid of making mistakes. He knew what was right, right? Well, as it turned out, not so much. He ended up sexually abusing at least one of our children. Thankfully, I didn't listen to my then-husband's counsel about keeping the secret in the family. I knew better. I reported him; he went to jail. We got divorced.

And still, I was afraid. My faith was growing, but my fear wasn't diminishing. I was afraid of being alone, afraid of changing things, afraid of making decisions that might upset someone else. Finally, I began to ask God to remove my fears. After all, His Word says "Fear not, for I am with you" (Isaiah 41:10).

And He did. As I turned my fears over to Him, asking Him to remove them from me forever, He did. I began to turn to God and pray instead of being afraid. In the past 12 years, God has freed me! I am no longer a slave to fear. I am a child of God. When I heard those words in the song last Sunday, I recognized how fully true they are for me in this season of my life. God completely redeemed my life and my soul, bringing me to this life full of love and peace... and no fear. A life where I am serving Him with joy and thanksgiving.

Thank you, God, for this gift of redemption.


Sunday, November 20, 2016


Yesterday, our family celebrated Thanksgiving at an extended family gathering of a church family. They have graciously invited us to celebrate several holidays with them, and we have been blessed by each gathering. Later yesterday, we joined a different family to celebrate a child's birthday.

We are delighted to be so often invited to participate with friends and family in various celebrations here. It strengthens our ability to minister, and it bolsters our spirits.

Thanksgiving is a time to share our blessings and express our gratitude for them. And people are definitely our greatest earthly blessing. It is, of course, a greater blessing to have eternal life through our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. But here on earth, the people in our lives are delightful gifts.

I am thankful for all of our family, and we have many family members! Even though most of them are far away, God promises in Mark 10: 29-31 that those who leave family, land, etc. for His sake and for the sake of the Gospel shall be rewarded. And He has done so. We are able to visit our families; we can talk to them regularly; and one of our siblings has joined our household! It's wonderful to have extended family here with us.

In addition to extended family and friends, I have personally received the blessing of many children in my life. I am teaching our daughter and two Jicarilla boys full-time. Plus, I teach a Science class and a New Mexico History class to an additional 6 children. Following class, they all play together before going home. This has made my life bountiful in so many ways! I am teaching in the most flexible and joyful circumstance ever. My three full-time students also participate in a larger homeschool co-op that focuses on outdoor education and experiences. I have made many friends among the parents there.

And, of course, there are the blessings that come with marriage and parenthood, neither of which I expected at this point in my life. My first family ended in a "nuclear blast," which landed my first husband in jail. I never expected the joy of a God-given, God-respecting marriage; it goes beyond all of my previous understanding! Even after I remarried, my husband and I never planned to be parents together. We have been blessed beyond all expectation, beyond all hopes, in a way that only God could have conceived! What complete JOY to parent this delightful young lady!

There are, of course, physical blessings in this world that I am thankful for, as well. But truly, the people in my life, here and elsewhere, are my greatest earthly blessing. Thank You, God, for these exquisite relationships in all their complexity.


Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The End of the World

A few days ago, I wrote about the upcoming election. Today is "the day after," and we know who won the presidency. But honestly, I think if either major candidate had won, the situation would be the same. It turned out that Trump is the successful candidate, but if Hilary had won, it would be the same cries of despondency from a different group of people.

The winner's proponents are celebrating the "saving of America." And the losing candidates' supporters are bemoaning "the end of the world," or at least the end of the world  as we know it. I supported neither major candidate, choosing to vote for someone rather than against someone. (If you personally believe I "wasted" my vote, that's your opinion; I strongly believe that I should vote for someone that I want to see in office.)

At any rate, no matter who won, the sentiment would be the same: the opposite camp would be declaring that the election ended the world as we have known and loved it. In my previous post, I explored the idea that the disintegration of our nation was happening long before the election. In this post, I want to say something different.

To those of you who are celebrating today:

Please be sensitive to the insecurity that is being widely felt by racial and religious minorities today. Even in the best light, Donald Trump has said and done some things that rightfully make many fearful of his intentions. Our almost-10-year-old asked if her birth dad and her sister (both Black) would be okay since Trump was elected. She had seen some hateful speech video and is fearful for her loved ones. Thankfully, she hasn't seen the video of Trump discussing women as objects for sexual conquest, but many worry about how to explain these things to their children.

To those of you feeling like it's the end of the world:

Please don't jump to the conclusion that every Trump voter is racist, sexist, cruel, and/or narrow-minded. I'm sure those voters exist, just as those sorts of people existed before Trump came along. But the vast majority of Trump supporters voted for him in spite of  his unsavory characteristics. They voted based on what they felt would be best for our country, either in future Supreme Court nominations, fiscally, or some other issue(s).

To Everyone:

Americans have collectively spoken in this election. Donald Trump, no matter your views on him, is the president-elect of our country. That means that the next four years will be shaped, in part, by his policies. It does not mean that only those Americans who supported him in the election have a share in the work to be done during those four years.  You are not off the hook for the future of our nation if your candidate did not win!

Let me say that again: You are not off the hook for the future of our nation if your candidate did not win. (Or if he did!)

The future of our nation is not in Donald Trump's hands, nor would it have been in Hilary Clinton's hands had she won the election. The future of our nation is in our hands. Our working hands. Our loving hands. Our praying hands.

If you are cheering today, make plans to join in the efforts to achieve what you believe in!

If you are grieving today, make plans to join in the efforts to achieve what you believe in!

And no matter who you've supported or how you're feeling today, lift Donald Trump and Michael Pence in prayer. 1 Timothy 2:1-4 says, "First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." 

We can all do that. Pray for our elected leaders at all levels of government. God can work in (and through) anybody!

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Who Will Win on Tuesday?

On Tuesday, we Americans will elect our next president. Many people believe that our nation will disintegrate following the election of the "other" candidate.

 I think our nation is disintegrating already. We are treating one another with disrespect while discussing the election, to the point of losing friendships and normalizing hatred. Police officers in Iowa (and other places) are hunted down and assassinated. Suicides among children are the highest ever. Our African American loved ones are terrified of being stopped by the authorities.  The Standing Rock Nation, and all indigenous peoples, are continuing to face hostility toward their inherent right to exist and thrive. They face the marginalization that has marked the US response to Native peoples for centuries.

And that's just the problems in the USA that come to mind without thinking!

Wednesday won't be much different. Neither will next January after the inauguration.

Things won't get different until we get different. Until we remember that among the United States' fundamental beliefs are:

1. Out of many, one (people);
2. In God we trust;
3. Liberty;
4. Equality; and
5. Diversity.

Until we begin to live like we believe that others are as important as ourselves and that being different doesn't mean that a person is worse, our country will continue to disintegrate. And yes, I deeply believe we all need to trust in God, but I also respect the rights of others to believe differently than I do.

As a Christian, there is one more vital thing to remember as we approach the election: God is in control. Always. In all ways. We know how this story ends; we know that we are in God's arms. So let's rest easy in that fact. Let's treat people who trust the "other" candidate with respect. Let's not get into arguments about which is the "Christian" candidate. Let's not try to bully others to agree with us.

Make your decision. Remember it's yours.

And vote, so that your voice is heard.

And alongside that, treat each other with love, as Jesus commands, and with respect, as Jesus demonstrated through his life.

God will still be in control on Wednesday, no matter who wins on Tuesday.