Unconditional

How many things are truly unconditional?  It’s almost Christmas and we tell children that Santa will bring them presents if they are good.  We put Elf on the shelf so that they know he is watching them for Santa.  I know that some families play games with this toy but many people don’t.

Love is supposed to be unconditional but it often demands things from others or it’s removed when the child misbehaves—no matter how old he/she is.  Christian doctrine teaches that God is love but one must say the “right prayer” to avoid going to “Hell.”  I feel like true unconditional love is rare. I have seen both in my life and now it’s even more apparent with the pandemic.  Love for our neighbors means doing everything we can to protect them from COVID-19 by wearing masks, social distancing, washing hands frequently, and staying home for Christmas with immediate family.

And children should have presents just because they are loved; not because they were good.  The real St. Nick gave to the poor and helped the oppressed because he was kind and loving.  He didn’t expect anything from them. Here’s a wonderful video on the history of Santa.

Have you ever just given something to someone without telling anyone or given something to a complete stranger who needs help?  These have been the most rewarding experiences for me.  This is loving people unconditionally.

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I believe that respect is earned but love is not.  Love, especially for children, should never ever be earned.  This doesn’t mean that we have to be involved with toxic people.  Love them by walking away from them.

I understand that some people have very high-needs children and it is really hard but they should love their children for who they are.  Speaking from my own experience of being a very high-needs child as well as having a parent ask in a Facebook group about what to do to prevent damage from not being able to meet every single need, I believe that it is more important to explain to the child that we are trying our best and validate the child.

However, coming from an abusive, narcissistic home and struggling to come to terms with my own mother being narcissistic and and that she will never be able to be a good mom to me, what hurts is parents not talking about it in a healthy way.  I have severe cerebral palsy and even my husband can’t meet every emotional need I have and sometimes he gets frustrated which is human but it triggers me. The difference is that he is truly trying and admits to his shortcomings.  I do the same.

But with narcissistic parents, they don’t care and won’t admit that they are falling short.  In these cases and other abusive situations, the love is not unconditional.  I think as long as one has a good connection with his/her child and teaches healthy coping skills, the child may need help later on in life, but he/she shouldn’t have the same amount of pain and damage that us who were abused by our narcissistic parents have.

Accepting that one’s child is different than the parent is unconditional love.  When this happens and children have very different personalities than the parents, the best thing that parents can do is accept it and support the children.  Get involved with at least one activity that the child enjoys.  And share each other’s interests with each other knowing that it’s ok to be so different.  Yes, it is hard at times but the key is to validate and accept.

This Christmas, with so many people sick and dying from COVID-19, let’s remember the little Baby that came to Earth to try and teach us what unconditional love is.  Or if you don’t celebrate Christmas, please think about how you can make this world better by loving people instead of being selfish.

Have a peaceful Holiday season.  We remember all who we lost this year.  May 2021 eventually be a better year!

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Guest Post: How to Support Your Pregnant Loved One During the COVID-19 Pandemic By Emily Graham

Emily Graham is from Mighty Moms. I hope you find this helpful.

Photo via Unsplash
Photo via Unsplash

Do you have a friend, sister, or relative who has been trying to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic while pregnant? There’s no denying that pregnant women have dealt with many unexpected challenges during this pandemic. Whether your loved one is looking for helpful parenting resources like Disciplining With Gentle Firmness or guidance as she aims to protect her health (and her baby’s!) during this difficult time, these tips will allow you to give her the support she truly needs.

Memorable Milestones

Has your loved one cancelled celebrations because of the pandemic?  You can mark these milestones with virtual events!

  • Bring your friend’s baby shower online by planning a virtual shower with her — you can still celebrate while social distancing.
  • Has your loved one considered calling off her gender reveal party?  Host it over video chat instead!
  • If your loved one wants maternity photos, help her stay on the safe side with suggestions for a DIY photo shoot.

Outlining a Birth Plan

Your loved one may be wondering whether or not she should plan for a hospital birth with the ongoing pandemic. These resources can help her decide.

  • Is your friend considering a home birth because of the pandemic?  Research the pros and cons to see if it’s a smart choice for her.
  • Will your friend be heading to the hospital when the big day rolls around?  Help her go over the precautions she should take to stay safe.
  • Remind your friend that no matter what she decides, her unconditional love for her child is what matters most.

Giving Gifts

Nothing will cheer up your loved one like a thoughtful gift. Check out these ideas to find the perfect present.

  • Put together a basic postpartum gift basket, which you can drop off at the hospital or your loved one’s home.
  • Before her due date, give your friend a cozy labor and delivery gown so she can stay comfortable during labor.
  • Cook up healthy meals for your loved one, which she can reheat when she’s too tired to cook after the baby arrives.

Pregnancy isn’t always smooth sailing, especially for mothers-to-be who are trying to avoid unnecessary risks during this pandemic. If you have a pregnant woman in your life, now is the time to lend a helping hand. She will definitely appreciate having someone to lean on!

Interested in learning about effective disciplinary methods that don’t involve spanking? Sign up for one-on-one parent coaching with author and parent coach Stephanie G. Cox today.

“Frozen” Gratitude

Tomorrow’s Thanksgiving and it’ll be a different one than usual due to a hiccup in my current trauma recovery, but I am slowly learning what true love is.

In the movie, Frozen, Else has a special gift of being able to create ice and snow.  Unfortunately, while playing with her little sister, Anna, she accidentally hurt her with her special power.  From that day on, she was told to not show her power to anyone and it was treated like a curse.  She was separated from her sister and her little sister didn’t understand why due to the memory being erased.

Fear triggers Elise to create ice in a dangerous way.  But after she finally becomes free, she learns to use it for beauty and in the end, a single act of true love is the only thing that will undo Anna being frozen.

We want our children and the world to become kinder and more loving.  I believe that the only way to do this is to practice true love.  And to let the children be who they are as long as they are not hurting anyone.

Love and kindness cultivate a grateful heart whereas harshness and hate create anger and bitterness.  This Thanksgiving, and year round, let’s do our best to create love, kindness, and gratitude!

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Do You Resent Your Child?

I hear that being a parent is very hard work and I agree even though I am not a parent.  Most of my friends have children.  My husband has a son. Therefore, I see and hear about all the sacrifices that they have gladly made.  I get to witness some of these sacrifices my friends choose to make for their children.  It’s not always fun but they do it out of love.

Teachers also make sacrifices for the children in their classes.  I did.  I had to do my best to be at my best for the children I worked with.  Did I get exasperated when a toddler was high spirited or had behavioral problems and needed extra attention?  Yes!  Did I feel stressed out when I worked with infants and they all started crying at the same time with only my aide and me in the room?  Yes!

However, I never held it against them because I chose to be a teacher and I understood that they were just being themselves.  I understand how the child brain works so to hold that against them would have deeply hurt my connections with them.  Children are also very perceptive.  They can feel our stress and negative vibes.

I am severely physically disabled and I understand that I am a lot of work.  It must be even more difficult to parent a child with a disability because he/she requires even more care and can’t always do activities that typical children can, especially children with sensory issues such as aversion to loud noises.  Should it be held against a child if he/she gets overwhelmed by crowds or loud noises?  No, of course not, because it’s out of their control!

According to dictionary.com, the definition of resentment is:

noun

the feeling of displeasure or indignation at some act, remark, person,etc., regarded as causing injury or insult.”

So a person who feels resentment towards his/her children believes that the children have caused “injury or insult” to him/her and holds it against them.  These people are not able to let it go.  Let’s face it, children will hurt us sometimes but they usually don’t truly mean it.  And children are born with the ability to love unconditionally.

They didn’t ask to be conceived and born.  They didn’t ask to have an immature brain that doesn’t allow them to have total impulse control over their behaviors.  And children with disabilities didn’t ask for it either!

I know parents don’t ask for their children to be disabled or high spirited.  However, by choosing to become a parent, parents should be ready for anything even if this means asking for help when they are overwhelmed and don’t know what to do or are exhausted.  I understand that getting help and support isn’t always easy and our country has much work to do in supporting families of every type.  Organizations also need to step up the resources and support for families.  But help is out there.

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Your screaming baby isn’t screaming just to drive you to tears.  He/She needs you and may not be able to sleep.  It’s not the baby’s fault.  Your preschooler isn’t hitting you and having meltdowns just to embarrass you or make you crazy.  He/She just don’t have the ability to deal with big feelings without your help.  The child needs you to gently but firmly guide him/her through the process.  It’s not the child’s fault.  Your teenager isn’t saying mean things to you because he/she truly means it.  Teens still require help dealing with strong emotions and it’s not their fault. Children need discipline and care.

Your child with disabilities isn’t trying to hold you back because he/she requires your constant care.  The child needs you!  It’s not his/her fault!

Children learn a lot from the adults around them.  They must learn about empathy, grace, and unconditional love in order to give it back.  It’s true that parents will get angry, frustrated, and exasperated with their children.  They will need breaks and self care.  But parents have chosen to be the child’s parents, therefore, to hold everything against the child is not appropriate.  If a parent is feeling resentful of the children, then he/she must seek help from professionals.  If not, then the relationship with the children will be tainted and may even become abusive.

Parenting is the hardest job in the world.  Believe it or not, so is being a child trying to learn and navigate through this new world.  Respect the children and the children will respect their parents unless they have a mental illness that needs addressing. Respect begets respect.  Resentment begets broken relationships.

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Feeling True Love

I haven’t been writing much lately due to my new trauma, so here’s a short post with thoughts about a recent meme from my meditation app Calm.

It is really sad some people don’t know how to truly love. I believe that we love unconditionally as infants and young children but how we are treated as children can literally rip this ability away and cause mental illness that will not allow us to continue to truly love unconditionally.  This is so sad because they miss out on true love and end up hurting the people that they “love.”

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True Unconditional Love: Letter To My Possible Future Child.

I’m not pregnant and not adopting yet, but I have been thinking a lot about unconditional love and thought I would write this since it is almost Valentine’s Day and every child deserves true unconditional love.

 

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Dear my precious child,

I wanted you since I was a child myself and you are a dream come true.  I promise to try to never make you feel unwanted.  If I do, please tell me and I will make it right!

I will always love you unconditionally!  Nothing will ever change that!  If you ever question my love for you, I will do everything I can to help you feel my love for you!

I know I am going to make a million mistakes while we work together to get through this life but I promise to always apologize to you and truly mean it!

I will teach you how to handle your big feelings and I will always do my best to validate your feelings.  I will have my own feelings and may mess up by not remaining calm, but I will always apologize for yelling or saying anything that hurt you.  I hope you will always feel safe enough to see share all your feelings with me.

Yes, you will have appropriate limits and boundaries that you won’t always like.  I will do my best to be appropriately flexible with you.  Sometimes I will have to hold firm in the limit but I will always listen to you.  If you want to do something differently, I will be open to that.

Our relationship will be built on mutual respect and trust.  I will always apologize if I disrespect you or break your trust in me.  Of course, the same will go for you too.

I will allow you to have self-expression as long as it’s not hurting anyone.  I may not be into something you are,  but I will never put you down for being yourself.  Be yourself!

I will never ever punish you by hitting/spanking you, time-out, taking away your stuff arbitrarily, or shaming you.  I will apologize if I do.  There will be natural consequences for you and I will help you understand them.

You’re always welcome!  I will want to see you!  You always come first!

I will never manipulate you for any reason.

My precious child, this is a cruel world sometimes.  You’re heart will be broken and my heart will break every time yours does.  I am here for you.  You will know how loved you are by me, your dad, your Heavenly Father, and others.  It’s ok to protect yourself from toxic people and relationships. But please don’t lose your loving, vulnerable heart.  It’s worth it to love.  I will help you through this.

I won’t be a perfect mom.  Just know that you are my world and I will do everything I can to love you as you deserve.  You’re a beautiful person.  Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!

Love you,

Mom

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The Story Of Samoset

Actually I emailed this to close family and friends over a month ago.  He is now 6 months old and things are continuing to progress slowly but surely.

On July 11th we adopted the sweetest, craziest kitten ever. Ever since our sweet boy, YP, went Home, on top of other 2 major back to back losses, we’ve been in a dark place and trying to get out of it.  I know very few people understand the depth and love we have for our kitties, but, for us, they are our kids.

After an almost adoption went terribly wrong last October, we had agreed that Patches, our 12-year-old female calico, would be our only kitty until the horrible day she crosses the rainbow bridge into Heaven.  I grieved that loss of hope but accepted it until late this spring. Even Chip started talking about getting another kitty but was in absolutely no rush!  And I mean no rush. 

I respect my husband so I did my best to let it go. I stopped looking at shelters and told people not to send us kitties who needed homes…Until sometime in May when I started occasionally looking at shelters but Chip wouldn’t really look at anything, yet, he kept talking about getting a new kitty and what age Patches would be more likely to accept. We were quite concerned about Patches adjusting to a new kitty despite getting along great with YP except for after the vet she’d get mildly aggressive with him for a day or so until the vet smell subsided.

Well, as YP’s first anniversary of going Home approached (July 5, 2018), the desire for a new life started to grow to the point of desperation and I was confused, angry, and really hurting.  Losing YP just absolutely devastated us like losing Sara, my first kitty did! But YP was special in the way he loved us. He was/is one of our soulmates.  I thought I would eventually lose the desperate desire for a new kitty after we got through his first anniversary but it didn’t subside.  It only got worse and Chip started talking about getting one in the fall.  That confused me and even angered me.  Grief is so hard and weird.  So I started researching the different local animal shelters just for the heck of it.

I would look at kitties and think, “sorry, not for us.”  THEN on June 28th I was looking at all the pictures of adoptable kittens and found this picture of Samoset and immediately started laughing at his nose and felt a HUGE connection.  I tried to show Chip, but he barely looked at it and I emailed it to him asking him to pray about if God and YP might be sending him to us.  Yes, I truly believe that there’s so much more going on in the spiritual world than we can even imagine, and I believe Sara and God sent us Patches because I didn’t want another girl kitty back then because I didn’t want to replace Sara in anyway but they didn’t give me a choice.

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The picture on the shelter’s website.

I tried to put him out of my head so hard but ended up asking the shelter if he was still available and he was. “Great! That was so stupid of me,” I thought with a few expletives.  I prayed he would get a good home. I meditated to try to let go. But I couldn’t!  I was in love with him.

Finally the Monday after YP’s first anniversary of going Home, I blurted out that I was in love!  Chip said he’d think about it and finally actually really looked at the picture and he said maybe Thursday we can go see him and talk to them about helping Patches adjust. I cried but then I was worried about him being adopted before then, so later, I explained that this is a very bittersweet, emotional thing and we should not try to combine it with other errands. I got him to agree to go that Wednesday.

That day you would have thought I was having some major surgery or something.  With my brain/emotional make up, I knew I could easily get my heart broken again and I was extremely anxious about Patches adjusting to him if he did choose us. I don’t believe in forcing cats to come home with you if there’s no connection. There was a very real possibility of him either not liking us (some kitties are afraid of me due to my wheelchair and involuntary movements because of my severe cerebral palsy.), already being adopted, or the staff not recommending this with Patches being an older cat (12).

So I had Chip talk about weird things to distract me from my anxiety.  But then signs from loved ones in Heaven started occurring. Again, there’s so much more to the spiritual world than we can ever understand on Earth. First, we had music on and Chip’s mom’s favorite song, “What A Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong played which I thought was weird and I acknowledged Mom2 in tears.

Then heading to the van to leave, I looked up and there was a heart shaped cloud in the sky.  I asked Chip, “Is that a heart?”  He agreed. A sign from God.  Obviously, signs were happening but I didn’t know what they meant.  I didn’t know if they were good or trying to comfort me.  I now know it was both.  Then we go by a bright red corvette. Grandpa!

We arrived at the shelter and I was having a little PTSD because it was the same shelter we adopted Patches and YP from, and flashbacks of YP confidently locking eyes with us and walking across the counter into our hearts and arms flooded my mind, so I kept focusing on my breathing to keep calm and telling myself that I was gonna have to accept whatever was going to happen.  But my husband, who had to be dragged to the shelter, started acting goofy and excited. I was like what the heck is up with you.

Deep breath and in we go. They greeted us and said that we could go in the cat room and meet him but that they had been sick so the kitties were confined in their cages. I started to freak out a bit because I needed to get him out of the cage to make sure he wasn’t afraid of me and they said he could get out but not on the floor.  Yay!

The second I found him and we made eye contact, for a split second, it was like I was looking at YP again. Samoset gave me that look of pure love and immediately started to come to the door to get to me/us.  I cried.  Unconditional love is major for me due to being abused throughout my childhood and rejected and hurt by people throughout my life.

He got on my table, did a nose kiss to my nose, and bit on my glasses.  I cried again. He snuggled with Daddy too.  Of course, he jumped on the floor before we could catch him but Chip apologized.  He’s a fast little booger.  We have so many nicknames for him already.  So we told the staff about Patches and her mild aggression with YP after vet visits and that she is 12. They said it would take her longer to adjust to him but if we move slowly, she will eventually get there. One staff member told us about her experience with adopting one of the kitties and there was howling and fighting for over a month and she was afraid she was going to be one of the people who relinquished the animal after adoption, but she covered the crate and eventually it stopped and they are fine.

They still had our adoption applications from Patches and YP which is over 11 years old.  They were so sorry about YP going Home.  We filled out a new application for Samoset, known at the shelter as “Katio,” and they called Lakeside, our animal hospital where the vet is, for a reference and he was ours. Yes, I cried.

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They wanted us to take him home that day which we thought he would have to go to the vet first like YP and Patches but that’s not the policy anymore since he was already neutered. We just had to get him to the vet within 7 days so if he had any life altering diseases, the shelter would cover the vet care for that.

Unfortunately, we didn’t have a carrier nor any kitten supplies so we said that we could get him the next day.  They were fine with that. We told him we would be back tomorrow but he looked sad watching us leave the kitty room.  Patches looked like that as did YP leaving them. Animals have feelings and know more than we think they do.  Just like children. We underestimate the innocent so much.

I had to shut my emotions off and just focus on him both that day and the next day because the room was full of kitties and even some in the lobby.  Please adopt from shelters and spray/neuter your animals to help stop the overpopulation problem.  Thankfully, there are more and more no kill shelters but healthy animals are killed just because there’s no room for them. I’m grateful all the shelters here are great about not killing animals and finding foster homes for them and making sure they are adopted.

I wish I could have adopted all of the kitties in there so I just acknowledged them and focused on my new baby!

On the way out to the van after adopting him but not bringing him home, a yellow butterfly fluttered at Chip’s hand. He almost waved it off until he saw it was a butterfly, YP’s sign from Heaven. More tears and a whirling mind with emotions and thinking what we needed to go get at Petco. On the way to Petco, the funeral home had a sign about the shelter needing food.  Ok, we get it God.

It’s been wonderful having him here. We did the separation of kitties for quite a while then with a gate and now he’s out of the bathroom a lot of the time but he still goes in there to sleep at night and then when we cannot watch them.  They’re slowly adjusting but we just had a little incident because he wanted to go to the top perch and Patches was in the second level and didn’t like his tail flicking in her face so he is getting fed in the bathroom and time to let them chill.  They’ve had other incidents but he is out here almost all the time and they eat together. Gentle parenting works for kitties too.

Overall, he loves to snuggle, sleep in my arms, and play. He’s hilarious.  Patches is coming around but I will be happy when alpha kitty is established. Plus, the age difference is harder for her to adjust but we’re respecting them so we’ll get there. He’s getting better at sleeping out here but still sleeps soundly in the bathroom so when he is pushing it, we know he is getting overtired.

He plays and runs and attacks us. He’s learning not to bite hard and limits. He’s smart but still a baby. Yes, gentle parenting works for kitties as we don’t believe in spanking/hitting animals either or even punishment. We just remove them while saying “No” firmly and redirecting him. Sometimes I bop them due to my spasms and even Chip has accidentally stepped on them and then we immediately comfort them and apologize. They just know more than we give them credit for.

Thankfully, he is afraid of outside and is being good about getting away from the door. He loves to run into other rooms like Patches does and YP used to but not outside.  Yay. Kitties are safer and healthier indoors only.

I still get anxious about Patches as stress isn’t good for older kitties, and I still feel like leaving YP and Patches at the vet, even though they get excellent care at Lakeside, for over 2 weeks when my grandpa went Home could have gotten YP’s diseases going. I know, it’s probably unlikely, but it still haunts me so we won’t be leaving them for more than a week at a time. They’re our babies.

Before I end this, how did we pick the name Samoset?  All my kitties are somehow connected to each other and I picked Patches after the name of Sara’s favorite toy which I had named Patches as a child as Sara ripped the eye off one of my pound puppies and my mom sewed a patch over its eye so I named Patches Patches. YP was named after a ham radio friend who encouraged us to adopt 2 kitties when we were ready after Sara went Home.

With Samoset, we watch the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving show and used to be goofy and give each other roles. Most years YP played Samoset so we decided that our next boy kitty would be named Samoset.

Samoset was an Abenaki sagamore and the first American Indian to make contact with the Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony. — Wikipedia

I strongly believe that animals should be a part of every child’s life even if it’s a fish. Having a life to help care for teaches children responsibility and teamwork because the animal is a family member.  It also helps teach children kindness and empathy as we help our children learn to respect the animal and treat it gently.  Lastly, pets provide another source of love and support for the children as they can talk to the pet and love on them.

Anyway, that’s the story of our new wild man, sweet baby boy like YP. He’s a lot like YP so we know God and YP sent him.  I’m so grateful for new life and experiencing happy firsts instead of sad firsts after 3 years of fresh grief. Please keep praying for them to co-exist more and more.

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Art Print for Children and Parents Carl Reichert A by elvistudio

Why I Am No Longer An Evangelical Christian. Plus, Drag Queens And Kings Are Cool!

Interesting title, huh?  I’m glad I got your attention.

I have been moving away from the dogma of the evangelical Christian community for quite some time now. The closer I get to Jesus Christ and His teachings, the more I have trouble dealing with evangelical Christians.  Why?

They use the Old Testament and parts of the New Testament that were written in a completely different time, culture, and historical period to oppress groups of people who don’t subscribe to their dogma.  These people include:

*Children

*The LBGTQ community.  Drag queens and kings are cool!

*People of different races and ethnicities.  Missionaries are simply supposed to teach the love of Christ to them but end up totally changing their culture.

*Immigrants

*Cannabis consumers.  Believe it or not, marijuana was used during Biblical times up to the prohibition to help heal people.

*People with disabilities

*People who choose to decorate their bodies with piercings, tattoos, and unique hair styles and colors.

Basically, the conservative evangelical Christian will preach love to draw people in, but then use verses out of context to abuse, hurt, oppress, reject, and even torture people.  I am not ok with this.

I used to be an evangelical Christian. I used to be legalistic.  I used to think the written Word was infallible. But I don’t anymore because when you take time to research different topics and what the original text said, it’s written for the people of that time but, through the Holy Spirit, we can gain much insight into Who God is by reading and studying the Bible.  I just don’t think the Bible is the be all, end all for the issues of today.

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I think the main thing God wanted all of us throughout the entire earthly time until Jesus’s return to gain from Him and His Word is LOVE!

If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails; but if there are gifts of [prophecy, they will be done away; if there aretongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:1-13, NASB).

Did you read this?  Whatever we do, if we don’t have love, it means nothing to God. And I know that many Christians will tell you that they’re doing everything “in love” but love doesn’t hurt people!  And love is the greatest of all.

Jesus preached love. He died a horrific death for all of humanity in love.  He sure didn’t suffer and die for His health!

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16, NASB).

And:

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8, NASB).

The Bible is a Book of love and redemption.  It was never intended to be used to oppress, abuse, hurt, or even kill people.  We’re supposed to be breaking the yoke of oppression.

“To loosen the bonds of wickedness,
To undo the bands of the yoke,
And to let the oppressed go free
And break every yoke?

‘Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry
And bring the homeless poor into the house;
When you see the naked, to cover him;
And not to hide yourself from your own flesh?

‘Then your light will break out like the dawn,
And your recovery will speedily spring forth;
And your righteousness will go before you;
The glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.

‘Then you will call, and the LORD will answer;
You will cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’
If you remove the yoke from your midst,
The pointing of the finger and speaking wickedness,

And if you give yourself to the hungry
And satisfy the desire of the afflicted,
Then your light will rise in darkness
And your gloom will become like midday.

‘And the LORD will continually guide you,
And satisfy your desire in scorched places,
And give strength to your bones;
And you will be like a watered garden,
And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.

‘Those from among you will rebuild the ancient ruins;
You will raise up the age-old foundations;
And you will be called the repairer of the breach,
The restorer of the streets in which to dwell'” (Isaiah 58:6-12)! NASB).

Jesus quotes some of this in Luke 4:17-19.  And if you really read through the Gospel, it’s full of teaching about treating the “lowlife” people in society with love and freeing them from their oppression, not separating children from their parents and holding them in cages because their parents are seeking asylum, not telling the LBGTQ that they are going to Hell, not treating people with disabilities patronizingly or thinking their disabilities are due to sin, not picking certain people who need help while ignoring or rejecting others that don’t fit the “criteria,” not promoting child abuse and corporal punishment, not judging people with tattoos or piercings, and not stopping and insulting people who are using a God-given plant to help heal themselves and grow closer to Jesus.

Jesus was the hardest on the self-righteous teachers of the Law and Pharisees.

“Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to His disciples, saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses; therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them. They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger. But they do all their deeds to be noticed by men; for they broaden their phylacteries and lengthen the tassels of their garments. They love the place of honor at banquets and the chief seats in the synagogues, and respectful greetings in the market places, and being called Rabbi by men. But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ.  But the greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted” (Matthew 23:1-12, NASB).

I just cannot be associated with these evangelical Christians. I will love them from afar as Jesus wants, but many are wolves in sheep’s clothing. Some have just gotten caught up in bad church doctrine and dogma like I was for many years.  I hope that more and more people wake up and teach their children to love above all else!

I really related to a recent meditation session. I’m finding myself. Have been for a few years now intensely and I’m not the “sweet, good Christian little disabled girl” everyone seems to see me as. I’m a badass, humble, loving, kind, Christ-follower who loves to party, get tattoos, free spirited woman who will always speak up for the children and the oppressed.

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Now you’re probably wondering about the drag queens and kings being cool.  A few years ago I wrote this post about transgender children because I strongly believe that they should be allowed to be who they truly are. To deny them of this is child abuse with a very high risk of suicide.

My husband and I recently went to Pride with my friend who is gay.  Our first pride event ever.  It was so peaceful and fun and nobody promoting anything but love and supporting each other.  We went to drag queen bingo and had a blast. So fun. Nothing evil or even very adult only.

I didn’t understand drag queens and kings when I wrote the post to which I linked to above.  These people are simply bringing awareness and poking fun at traditional gender stereotypes. They are not sinning by dressing up as the opposite sex. They simply want people to further understand and respect the LBGTQ community. Good fun people.

So with that, I sign off with what this post is about and why I am no longer an evangelical Christian, but rather, a Christ-follower:

And the greatest of these is LOVE!

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Are Love And Truth Mutually Exclusive And Full Of Tension?

Happy New Year 2017.  As I begin this new year, I find myself relating less and less to the Christian world.  I’m a Christ-follower through and through.  I strive to be more like Jesus and less judgmental.  As I grow in my walk with Christ, the mainstream Christian worldview just feels so harsh and misguided and judgmental.  I’m not seeing much Christ in these people.  That makes me so sad because I’m seeing just how broken the Church really is.

I know we are all a bunch of broken, sinful people but we should be striving to be more loving, compassionate, merciful, peaceful, gentle, forgiving, and full of grace.  In other words, more like Jesus Christ!  But all I’m seeing is harshness, judging, accusations, promotion of being harsh to children and anyone who dares to disagree with you and/or dares to take a less literal interpretation of parts of the Bible.  To dare live outside of the mainstream Christian culture is to go to “Hell” and to be part of the devil’s schemes.

Anyone who has followed me and/or has read my book, Gentle Firmness, knows that I have been struggling with fitting in with the Christian culture because I can see that God never intended for children to be spanked/hit by their parents.  Sadly, the mainstream Christian world disagrees with me and refuses to see the Truth.  And now that I have gotten tattoos, I’m really enjoying that culture because it’s so real, loving, and actually Christ-like, yet, even though nobody has said anything to me, I know some of my Christian friends are probably thinking that I am really backsliding now.  Not only do I advocate for peaceful parenting but I am tattooed.

This makes me feel so sad because I take my relationship with Christ very seriously.  I research the Bible and pray before every huge decision.  I’m not perfect and I sin regularly but I also truly want to do as Christ wants me to do.

So imagine my horror and confusion when I saw a meme with a quote from Beth Moore, a Bible teacher, that seems to be saying that to choose love and become more like Jesus is putting the Bible aside.  That love and Truth are in tension with each other.  You can listen to the quote here as I do not want to put the meme in this post.

I used to really look up to Beth Moore.  God has used her books and one of her Bible studies to speak to me.  I can’t say anything bad about Beth Moore but her recent teachings have left me very disturbed.

The Bible tells us to be more like Jesus (Philippians 2:1-11, John 3:30, Ephesians 5:2).  And Christ gave us The Two GREATEST COMMANDMENTS which are:

“And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him. And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that no one dared to ask him any more questions” (Mark 12:28-34, NASB).

Jesus tells us that love is the most important thing ever!  The love of God and love for each other!  Also, Jesus says that He is the Truth!

Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me'” (John 14:6, NASB).

Then 1 John 4:8 states:

“The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (NASB).

And finally, Ephesians 5:1-2 states:

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma” (NASB).

Love and Truth go hand in hand.  Jesus also said that the Truth will set us free (John 8:32).  So if Jesus is the Truth and is Love according to the Bible, then how is loving people “putting the Bible aside and forsaking the Truth for love a part of ‘the devil’s schemes?'”

Another thing to consider is that the Bible is just one way that God speaks to us.  The Bible is a bunch of beautifully God inspired words.  It’s just a small piece of information that God wants us to have.  However, we must study and look at the original language, historical culture, and the context in which passages were written. The Bible wasn’t written TO us, it was written FOR us!  Big difference!  Most Christians believe the Bible is written TO us.  And the Bible is often referred to as a love letter from God.

Jesus is The Word!

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it” (John 1:1-5, NASB).

Jesus also told us that He would give us a Counselor to help guide us after He ascended into Heaven in John 14:16:

“I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever;” (NASB).

This Counselor is the Holy Spirit.  He dwells inside us and constantly guides and speaks to us if we will listen to Him.  Therefore, even if we don’t read the Bible, God is still able to speak to us.  Don’t get me wrong, studying the Bible is very important!  But if I were to somehow never be able to read and study the Bible, I have no doubt in my mind that The Word (God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit) would continue to teach, guide, correct, love, and speak to me.  We just need to be open to Him!

I used to be a judgmental, legalistic Christian who thought it was my job to correct and save people from their sins.  I thought obeying the rules were of utmost importance.  I told people that they were headed to Hell if they didn’t listen to me and get Jesus.

Guess how many people I helped save by being all about the Truth but not about love?

Zero!  That’s right!  Nobody wanted anything to do with this Jesus guy and it hurt my relationships.

We stand in the Truth by being more like Jesus.  Love is how we reach people.  Jesus was the hardest on the Pharisees and the Teachers of Law because they were all about self-righteousness and legalism and not wanting to hang out with the sinners.  They even criticized Jesus for hanging out with sinners all the time.  Jesus raised the status of all of the oppressed including children, women, people with disabilities, people of different races and ethnicities.  He died for everyone!  If that’s not love, I don’t know what love is!

I’m sorry but I don’t think that Jesus wants us running around condemning people and shaking our fingers in their faces to stand for Truth!

”Then you will call, and the LORD will answer;
You will cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’
If you remove the yoke from your midst,
The pointing of the finger and speaking wickedness,

And if you give yourself to the hungry
And satisfy the desire of the afflicted,
Then your light will rise in darkness
And your gloom will become like midday” (Isaiah 58:9-10, NASB).

I don’t think He wants us to judge others (Matthew 7:1-6).  I don’t think He wants us to spank/hit children.  I don’t think He wants us to force people to follow Him out of fear.

Rather, I truly believe that Jesus wants us to love as He loves. Yes, sometimes that means correcting someone gently if they are going down the wrong path, but gently is the key word as otherwise, people just get defensive and dig in their heels.

Therefore, there is no “tension” between love and Truth unless we put it there.  Love and Truth go together very easily.

I believe that, sadly, teachers that say that positive Christianity and love are of the devil are the ones who are truly entrapped in satan’s schemes.  After all, satan hates love.

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Presents Are To Show LOVE!

We’re just a couple of days from Christmas and once again Facebook is full of posts about threatening to take children’s Christmas presents away if they misbehave or pretend to burn them if the children misbehave.

Then there’s the horrible elf on the shelf meme that says that they didn’t have elf on the shelf but rather a belt hanging on a hook to make them behave.

Why must we use Christmas to manipulate and threaten children to behave?  If you do Santa, fine. But please don’t seriously make children believe that they won’t get any presents from him if they are “bad.”  There are many poor children who won’t get any presents. Let’s not teach children that they were “bad.”

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I love this article about doing Santa in a way that encourages kindness and doesn’t have to disappoint them when they are older.

I strongly believe presents are given out of unconditional love, not because children  “deserve” them. After all, Jesus gave us the unconditional gift of forgiveness and love and mercy and grace when *we* didn’t deserve it!

Our children are only young once. Let’s do our best to keep Christmas magical for them as well as use it as an opportunity to teach them about unconditional love, the Bible calls it “agape love,” kindness, and giving!

Merry Christmas!

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