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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20 Years Ago Today…

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June 10, 1999

This was me 20 years ago today. I graduated high school with my class ’99 with honors thanks to CHIP empowering me to stand up to everyone who thought I should stay in high school! I hated Individualized Education Plan (IEP) meetings because it was more like “Plan Steph’s Life” meetings, but Chip was my boyfriend then and came to these meetings with me giving me the courage to stand my ground. I don’t think anyone but Chip and I wanted me to graduate with my class. I would have been SO UNHAPPY not graduating especially when I was in the National Honor Society, and as you can see, graduated with honors!

I went on to Waubonsee Community College, and had a wonderful counselor who encouraged me to take Psychology which led me to be an early childhood professional with my Master’s Degree. No, things haven’t worked out exactly how I wanted but I am getting my children’s book illustrated by Candace Lyon, and I will get my 2nd edition (non-religious) of Gentle Firmness out on Amazon and keep advocating for children.  Eventually I will find my place.

I have always had to fight for everything, but I am blessed to have a wonderful man to fight with me to accomplish what I am supposed. I’m glad I don’t have a boring computer job that everyone but Chip tried to push me into!

May we teach children to never give up!

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Why I Share My Story Of Abuse

April is Child Abuse Awareness Month and anyone who knows me or has been following me or has my first edition of my book, Gentle Firmness, knows that child abuse is something I am extremely passionate about.

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Tattoo by Candace Lyon

I am a child abuse survivor.  I was physically, verbally, and emotionally abused by my dad and various other adults until I was 17 years old and finally told people that I was being abused.   All abusers make their victims feel shame and guilt.  One often thinks, “If only I did better,” or “It’s all my fault.”  I still struggle with this and have recently learned of additional abusive behavior that I’ve continued to endure as an adult that I was either unaware of and/or denied it was real.  Unfortunately, I continue to get confirmation that this abuse and manipulation is real and am putting a stop to it.

Mental illness runs in my family most likely due to the horrible cycle of abuse.  Genes may also play a part in the mental illness of my family.  My Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) score is a 7, which is pretty high, and I struggle with anxiety, PTSD, and depression every day. But every day I work towards healing and helping people.

To not share my story and pain would be like not sharing something that, unfortunately, is a part of me.  It would be like denying that I have severe cerebral palsy.  While I don’t allow either of these things to define me, I have wounds and scars from my trauma and I believe in using my pain to help others—others who were abused, others who are trying to break the cycle with their own children, and others who need to know that we’re not alone in this. And if I can prevent one child from abuse and heartbreak from the people who are supposed to love them, then it’s all worth it.

Another reason I share my story is to show that there is hope even when it doesn’t always feel like it.  Some days are harder than others for us survivors, but we are survivors.  There is no shame in getting help professionally.  There’s no shame in creating healthy relationships to support you.  Abusers and their defenders will make you feel like a horrible person for opening up about your abuse but don’t let them win.  This is typical abuser behavior.  Unless the abuser gets help, nothing will ever change.

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I hope also try to help people understand that even “normative spankings” are abuse in that corporal punishment can make children at a higher risk of being physically abused.  When a parent spanks/hits a child and the child doesn’t obey, the parent may decide to spank/hit even harder.  This is a risk for physical abuse even if one doesn’t consider corporal punishment as abuse.  No child ever deserves to be hit.

And countless other studies show that corporal punishment is harmful to children and it often includes emotional and verbal abuse because the child is told how “bad” he/she is and how he/she “deserves the spanking.”

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My dad hit me because of my spasms, which are involuntary muscle movements due to my severe cerebral palsy.  He also hit me for other things.  He was verbally and emotionally abusive as well. He passed away in 2003.  

After extensively researching narcissism as well as conferring with a colleague that knows more about this mental illness than meI do, I now believe that both of my parents very likely had/have this disorder.  In addition to refusing to admit they were/are wrong, they exhibited/exhibit other key characteristics of narcissism such as a lack of empathy, “an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for excessive attention and admiration, troubled relationships” (Mayo Clinic, 2019).

I have been over-analyzing my own behaviors because I am absolutely terrified of getting this mental illness.  It’s important to realize that it’s human nature to occasionally be selfish and self-absorbed.  It is also human nature to want recognition for accomplishments or to not to want to always admit when we are wrong.  Sometimes, like children, we want our own way and lash out when we don’t get our way.  This is not narcissistic as long as we recognize these tendencies and can admit that we do some of them occasionally.  I know I do these things sometimes but I always admit it.  I will always apologize if I am in the wrong.

To have Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), one must exhibit at least 5 or more of these characteristics to an abnormal level and not be able to admit that he/she is doing any of this.  People with NPD will deny that they have it and will make their victims believe that it’s the victims’ fault, not theirs.  And as with any kind of illness, there is a spectrum wherein each individual lies.  Some people have narcissistic tendencies and some have NPD.  Unfortunately, because people with narcissistic tendencies or NPD will absolutely not seek help for this mental illness, it’s very difficult to diagnose.  These people usually seek treatment for depression or anxiety but not narcissism (Bressert, 2019).  In addition to this, NPD and other personality disorders can have the same kind of characteristics.

It has also been suggested that the stigma of mental illness can be associated with narcissism (Arikan, 2005, https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/aadd/5cd265bcaeeaff77d9ce4fe16abf4ad39dc8.pdf).

I forgive my parents and other abusers and their defenders, but I cannot remain silent.  This is now a part of my story and I will tell it in a respectful manner.  Because people with NPD or narcissistic tendencies are masters at manipulation, one must put up strong boundaries and stand firm.  Otherwise, through manipulation that isn’t always obvious, these people will break the boundaries.  Walking away from them is the best way to protect oneself and hopefully get them to get help.  But nothing is guaranteed with this mental illness.

One can and must forgive his/her abusers because the forgiveness is more about setting oneself free from harboring anger and resentment towards them.  However, this does not mean letting the abusers off the hook.  I can’t do this myself.  Forgiveness also does not mean that you have to reconcile with them.  It just means you are able to work through the pain and heal.

I also don’t believe that all abusers are narcissistic or have a mental illness.  The cycle is so hard to break especially when the community is actually encouraging the abuse and the silence of the children and adults.   I’m aware of many abusers and/or pro-spankers that have realized that they were wrong and have apologized for it.  They change the way they parent or interact with their grown children.  Change is possible!

I am learning how to not be in toxic relationships with people who continue to hurt me.  This is far from easy but having healthy relationships is crucial for healing and recovery.  Getting psychotherapy is a must.  And I heal from getting tattoos so I recently got the tattoo below.  It was very emotional for me but reminds me that I am a SURVIVOR!  I need this on the days that feel impossible to get through.

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Narcissistic survivor tattoo by Todd Bass

Gentle parenting is prevention for child abuse. If parents understand typical child development, then I believe that they are less likely to spank/hit or otherwise abuse their children.  Therefore, I will never stop sharing my story.  It is a part of my healing process.  I don’t do it out of spite.  I do it because I understand the pain and struggle after trauma and abuse.

May we value children and stop child abuse someday for good!

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References:

Arikan, K.  (2005).  A Stigmatizing Attitude Towards Psychiatric Illness is Associated with Narcissistic Personality Traits. Psychiatry Relat Sci Vol 42 No. 4 pp. 248–250

Black, R. (2019).  Personality Disorders: A Guide to the Ten Different Types.  Retrieved https://www.psycom.net/personality-disorders-10-different-types/

Bressert, S.  (2019). Narcissistic Personality Disorder.  Retrieved from https://psychcentral.com/disorders/narcissistic-personality-disorder/

Goodtherapy.  (2018).  Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE).  Retrieved from https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/psychpedia/ace-questionnaire

Psychology Today.  (2019).  Narcissism.  Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/narcissism

Mayo Clinic.  (2019).  Narcissistic Personality Disorder.  Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/narcissistic-personality-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20366662

 

4 Key Tips for Gentle Parenting When You Have a Disability By Ashley Taylor

Another post from Ashley Taylor about gentle parenting with a disability.

Being a parent is never easy, but when you have a disability, several aspects of the job can become a whole lot more complicated. For the approximately 4.1 million parents with disabilities throughout the country, the usual questions of parenting are compounded by worries about how they will keep up with their child, keep them safe, and educate them. Whatever your disability, the following tips can help you deal with these questions as they arise.

Focus on Home Safety

As a parent, one of your most important jobs is keeping your child safe and healthy within your home. Parents with disabilities have to be particularly careful, as they are not usually able to keep up with a small child’s energy or react quickly enough if something dangerous is about to happen. Therefore, the key to parenting is prevention.

There are a few key safety modifications that can make the everyday tasks of parenting easier and safer. These can include adaptable products such as chairlifts, modified sinks, and adjustable furniture such as changing tables and toilets. When you have a small child, a child safety gate can be invaluable, as it keeps them out of dangerous areas and can help you keep track of exactly where they are at any given time.

Learn to DIY

Any piece of furniture or kit you can think of for raising a child has a wheelchair or disability-friendly version out there. However, these can often be very expensive. For example, cribs for disabled parents that open from the front can cost about $2,000, but if you can DIY (or know someone who can), you can easily make one yourself.

Another area where DIY helps is food. Opening baby food jars can be difficult for people with cerebral palsy, arthritis, or similar disabilities. Making your own can be both healthier and easier as long as you have a good food processor. These recipes can give you some inspiration.

Teach Them Compassion

Your children will experience a rare benefit from growing up with a disabled parent: They will automatically develop empathy and compassion for those who are differently abled. However, you should still actively teach them about these matters as well.

This article by Parent Map outlines the ways in which parents can speak to non-disabled children about disability. While it is written from the perspective of a non-disabled parent, much of the advice still applies, such as being open to answering questions and teaching them that not all disabilities will look exactly like yours. 

Also, you can use your disability to teach them about compassion in other areas of life. Growing up with someone who is considered “different” will help them see the many ways in which “difference” is used to mock, bully, and demean people. You can use this to start a conversation about bullying and how they can prevent it, both in themselves and the people around them.

Know Your Rights

Parents with disabilities will sometimes run into problems with social services or the law because people wrongly believe that they are unable to take care of their children. This isn’t necessarily likely to happen, but it is still a good idea for you to be informed of your rights as a disabled parent. This toolkit by the National Council on Disability is an invaluable tool for this.

Parenting with a disability doesn’t necessarily mean everything is suddenly harder, but it does mean you have to think about certain matters more carefully than other parents. You will have to plan your everyday life in more detail and remain aware of how your experience is shaping your child’s world view. However, a disability will never stop you from having a beautiful, supportive, and loving relationship with your child — if anything, it can sometimes bring you closer.

 

Christmas, Bullying, And Raising Kind, Compassionate Children.

I can’t believe it’s Christmas time again. Well, it was when I began writing this post.

If you’re anything like me, you enjoy helping others in need all year-round, but especially this time of the year.  There are so many people in need and we are called to help them.

Unfortunately, this time of year also brings out the greediness in many.  You usually see this on Black Friday (which starts on Thanksgiving night now) and just before Christmas when people fight over the products that they must have.

Our children are aware of all of this.  They are also aware of when we are unkind to each other and them. Conversely, they’re also aware of our kindness and compassion for each other.

This is why I was sickened and angered by this dad who forced his daughter to walk to school which is miles away while he videotaped her in order to punish her for bullying.

Punishment is also a form of bullying because it teaches children how to force people to do what they want.  It is a temporary, ineffective solution to any behavioral issues, but especially for bullying.  Most bullying is the result of bullies feeling powerless because there’s either too much control in the home, i.e. authoritarian parenting (very controlling and punitive), or not enough care and acknowledgment, i.e.neglectful and permissive parenting. Some children (and adults) are so desperate for control and power that they will target seemingly weaker people. They push and push until they get the reaction they want and then they feel powerful being over the other person.

While I completely understand the seriousness of bullying as I have been bullied and made fun of my whole life, and I just dealt with a cyber bully, I feel like the dad just reinforced the bully mentality by making his daughter walk to school and video it. 

What did it teach her about kindness and respect? NOTHING! And his demeanor was very punitive and bullyish. Forcing her to walk in the cold while he followed her in his truck and videoed the whole thing is punishment, not a consequence of her actions. And SHE was also bullied herself. Think maybe she was trying to exercise power over others like they had done to her? There is no excuse for bullying, but you have to understand all the reasons why a child is behaving in a certain manner so that you can work with him/her and teach him/her.

Children learn what they live.  As I said, I just recently had a cyber bullying incident that I had to report to Facebook.  Both children and adults get behind their screens and say things that they usually wouldn’t ever say to the other person’s face.  I have not been a bully but I have been harsh online and have had to apologize for my behavior.  Saying anything cruel and calling names is bullying and verbal and emotional abuse!

It’s very important to realize that people of any age that act poorly usually feel poorly.  If one feels good about oneself, usually they don’t have the need to exercise control or get a reaction from another person.  There’s no need to purposefully hurt another person when you have healthy self-compassion.  Bullies are trying to get/do one of two things:

  1.  Exercise control over a weaker person to feel powerful and inflict pain so that someone else can feel the pain that they are feeling.
  2. To get a negative reaction from the victim as well as attention from others.

I would be very upset if I had a child and my child ever bullied another child. Social media and other media outlets are showing bullying to children. So the first two things I would ask if my child was being a bully is “What have I been doing to contribute to this?” And, “Why is my child feeling like he/she has to bully?” There is a reason for all unwanted behaviors.  I would work on the connection between my child and me.

I would limit screen time for my child and insist on knowing every account they have.  Many children and adults have secret accounts for bullying and other inappropriate things that they don’t want anyone else to know about.  It is crucial to be an active participant in our children’s online activities.  We need to stop cyber bullying and teach children that cyber bullying is also never okay.  If they see online bullying, they should put an eyeball 👁 emoji in the comments.  And cyber bullying must always be reported!

I would have many long discussions with my child about why it’s NEVER ok to bully. I would read books with him/her about people who were bullied. I would role play to teach kindness. I would have him/her do community service with me.

Teaching children unconditional kindness is so important.  Unconditional kindness is when we do something kind to someone without expecting any type of reward or credit for it .  This is true kindness.

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Another critical thing I would do is teach my children about all different people and not do anything to criticize differences.  When disability, culture, religion, age, race, and sexuality differences are understood, there’s less bullying because children learn that we’re all humans and we deserve equality and respect no matter what!  This is why I wrote my children’s book about my cerebral palsy which is currently being illustrated.  When we understand someone very different than us, it leads to kindness and compassion (unless the person is mentally ill and unable to be kind).

Finally, I would take the child to and from school and check in with her/his teacher until I could trust him/her again. Gentle parenting is more work than just punishment. Most parents don’t do anything because they don’t know how.

This is an excellent article about helping bullies become more empathetic and compassionate with others.

Understanding what drives bullies is crucial to both stopping and preventing it.  Teaching children empathy and compassion is so important. And Christmas time is a great time to really teach this so it will continue year-long.  When children see and are involved with more giving than receiving, they’re taught about empathy for people who aren’t as well off as they might be.  It also teaches gratefulness and that they are not entitled to get anything.

Christmas and New Years’ is a time to get involved with different charities.  It’s also a time to reflect on our relationships with our children and other people.  Children need our love and a deep connection with us.  They need to see healthy relationships with people.  This is vital for teaching empathy, compassion, and love towards others. They also need us to teach them healthy coping skills for their negative emotions.

I believe most bullies can be reformed if they are worked with for a while.  It may not happen overnight but we have the power to show them what empathy and compassion looks like. We can soften a harden heart by helping them deal with their own pain that is causing them to bully. We can teach them gently that greed and entitlement are bad.

Here is another excellent article about how to deal with bullying.

Children who witness bullying should always report it to a trusted adult.  If they are being bullied, they should do their best not to react and walk away to report it.  I believe teaching children self-defense is also important.  Taekwondo and karate are wonderful ways of accomplishing this!

This Bible verse came up in my devotional recently during my cyber bullying incident. It comforted me and applies to everyone even if one isn’t a believer.

“But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men” (Luke 6:35, NASB).

As we enter the new year, may we use gentle parenting to prevent bullying and raise kind, compassionate children!  I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and will have a happy, healthy, blessed New Year!

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No Mud, No Lotus

 

For my birthday, I got a beautiful hand tattoo which, is in and of itself, a major accomplishment for someone who has severe cerebral palsy, with the phrase, “No mud, no lotus.”  I really wanted it on my hand in order to always be able to see it and take comfort in it.

This tattoo is especially meaningful to me after everything I’ve been through.  There has been so much darkness and pain, and yet, I am growing and fighting my way to the light out of the mud. This phrase was part of a recent meditation session and it really hit me hard because that’s how I feel. I am growing and changing; doing my best to become a better person while acknowledging that I am far from perfect. I’m learning to love myself and get away from toxic relationships even when it hurts.

I’m trying to be like Christ without all the religious stuff. Without the mud (darkness and pain), there’s no beautiful lotus. I’m trying to get to the blooming flower and I AM getting there. There’s always going to be be pain and darkness throughout life, but it can always eventually turn into something beautiful!

For the Christ-followers, bad things happen in the world because sin and satan are in it. We are not born evil.  God is the Author of only good things.  Children really need to be taught this so they don’t think they are inherently bad or that God causes “bad things to happen.”

 

Since today is mental health awareness day, this morning’s meditation session was wonderful!   I still struggle with anxiety and PTSD. This week has been especially rough for my bathroom anxiety.

It’s sad that physical pain is widely acknowledged and supported, but when it comes to mental health issues, there’s still a stigma which can, and often does, make people feel isolated and alone. Nobody expects you to “get over” physical illness or pain, but they certainly expect you to hurry up and “get over” emotional pain.

I truly believe emotional health begins at birth or even before. Children are able to pick up on our vibes. Therefore, they definitely require responsive, respectful care to be able to have a better chance at emotional health.  After all, emotional health is just as crucial for a healthy society as physical health is.

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Pain And Heartbreak: Finding Oneself

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This is a rough week for my husband and I as we commemorate the birthday of our sweet kitty on the 4th of July.  He would have been 12. Then the 5th marks the first year since he went Home to Heaven.  We love our animals like family, so this is hitting us harder than we expected.

The Bible says to endure hardship as discipline.

“You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin; and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons,

My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
Nor faint when you are reproved by Him;
For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines,
And He scourges every son whom He receives.”

 

It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness” (Hebrews 12:4-11, NASB)

Unfortunately, many Christians take these verses to mean corporal punishment.  But if you read the Proverbs section of this blog, it has nothing to do with spanking/hitting children or hitting anyone.  It just means that growth and discipline is not always pleasant and easy.

And being a Christ-follower, I take to heart what Jesus said,

“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.”
(‭‭John‬ ‭14:27‬, NASB‬‬).

After much research, and guidance from the Holy Spirit, I truly believe He that one of the many ways He does this is through His gift of cannabis, and the appropriate use of alcohol (see 1 Timothy 5:23, Ecclesiastes 9:7, and Psalm 104:14-15 also references cannabis).  Of course, the Bible makes it clear not to get really drunk, but to relax and relieve some medical issues, alcohol use is perfectly fine and encouraged throughout the Bible.  In fact, one of Jesus’ first miracles was turning water into wine at a wedding in John 2:1-11.  Please see this post for a link to the use of cannabis during Biblical times.

Yes, we go through hardships throughout our lives and these hardships should make us grow—and grow closer to Him. I truly believe we should use discipline to help everyone grow, opposed to using punishment which keeps us stuck in the place we are in, no matter how old we are.

For example, children may appear to be growing despite being punished, but it’s really them learning to hide things from their parents in order to avoid getting punishment.  For adults, such a punitive attitude and belief system can trap them in harmful legalism and toxic relationships.  They can’t see Who Jesus really is—love.

My husband and I watched the movie Reincarnated about Snoop Dogg changing his life to one of peace and love. He went to Jamaica and he became a Rastafarian.  While we don’t agree with some of the Rastafarian doctrine, we love the way they love all and respect all people no matter what they believe.

They use cannabis as both medicine and to grow closer to God.  I have absolutely fallen in love with this song:

Yes, heartbreak will hopefully and eventually lead to growth. It is not God punishing us.  It’s life. We, as Christ-followers, must learn and understand this.  We must teach this to our children so they can truly grow in Christ.

One last thing about cannabis: I have severe cerebral palsy and use it medically for spasms, pain, anxiety, and PTSD.  As the result of being blessed by this sacred plant, I truly believe I am growing in Christ.  I’ve become more open to more encompassing love and grace. I am still very imperfect and make mistakes, but I am slowly getting better at loving others.

For years, I bought into the doctrine that marijuana is “evil.” It’s anything but.  In fact, it allowed me sit here with fireworks going off next door, and I was not jumping as much and not being anxious about the next boom. I am looking forward to going to the fireworks on the 4th. I will be using cannabis, thereby remaining more clearly aware of  and the Holy Spirit’s guidance and comfort to continue to deal with my heartbreak.  I am hopeful that cannabis will continue to ease my spasms and other ailments.  Yay for Cannabis!

As the line in the song says, “so raise a glass to the memories, set em free, and fill up all those ashtrays.”

In memory of Sara (January 27, 2007), Grandpa (May 2, 2016), my father-in-law (June 29, 2007), YP (July 5, 2017), Penelope (July 6, 2012), my mother-in-law (August 8, 2015), Sadie (October 6, 2011), and the rest of my loved ones in Heaven.

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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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Disappointment, Competition, And Community. The Value In Learning About All Three.

Being an author, artist, athlete, or any other professional in which one is forced to compete is not an easy thing. As an author, I continue to have to deal with rejection and disappointment.  And sometimes, as a part of business, I must reject and disappoint others.

Writing books and finding an illustrator for my children’s book about my life with Cerebral Palsy has turned out to be much more difficult than I thought.  I hope to be able to contractually secure an illustrator for my children’s book this summer and still have it published in the fall, but nothing is guaranteed.  I may be disappointed again and/or have to disappoint someone else if the samples of illustrations don’t fit my vision of my children’s book.

Since this is a children’s book about me, it’s an absolute requirement that the cartoon character depicting me both as a child and adult is accurate.  I want young children to see what severe cerebral palsy looks like while showing them how much one can accomplish despite the disability.  I also want other children with cerebral palsy to be able to relate to the book.

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All of this got me thinking about disappointment, competition, and community.  I am 36 years old and I still don’t handle disappointment as well as I would like, yet we expect young children to deal with it better than we do. When they have a meltdown due to disappointment, we punish them instead of helping them learn to cope with disappointment.

And, at times, we even set the children up for disappointment by expecting them to do things that they are not ready to do like compete at a young age or go to a candy store without getting any candy when we know they can’t control their impulses.

Children are put in sports or other competitions and are expected to compete.  Even going to school has become a competition to see who can get the best grades and who can be the most popular.

While there’s a movement to give everyone trophies in competitions, I’m not sure if that’s the answer either.  I absolutely hate the way many conservatives talk about this; that giving everyone a trophy is turning them into “snowflakes (too sensitive).”  Yet, this culture and life requires hard work and earning things through hard work and talent.

Plus, children should be able to enjoy the journey towards their goals and accomplishments.  It is often the journey—whether or not it results in success or failure—that teaches us all important lessons.  We should not take this away from children by making everyone a “winner” or trying to shield them from all rejection and disappointment.

I love this meme from Calm:

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I believe that learning to work hard and how to cope with disappointment is very important for children. I also think for young children, there’s nothing wrong with getting a certificate of participation for participating in an event.  Teaching children that while everyone may not be able to be the best and win, it’s still important to be inclusive.

Then there’s community. Community is very important to teach children.  Having a communal attitude can go along way in helping this society to be more united. Children must be taught that, in basic human terms, everyone is equal no matter what!  Celebrating individual talents is fine but that doesn’t mean anyone’s “better” than the other when it comes to simply being a human being.

In many other countries, the culture is alll about community and putting others first. Children learn this from a young age and have been known to run together to reach a prize and then share it.  The children don’t believe that one can be happy if the whole group isn’t happy.  This is another great argument that children are not born sinful!  They act how they live. We are their teachers.

I recently attended an event with my husband and friend which was very community oriented. Everyone was happy, loving, and peaceful. It was very refreshing that there was no judgment or anything negative. We did play a game but it was all in fun and we were happy for the people who won.

I guess there’s a time for disappointment, competition, and community. However, we must teach children how to cope with disappointment and not push competition on them. Playing should be fun while teaching children about teamwork which is community. Disappointment is a part of life. We must teach them how to deal with their big feelings in a kind, compassionate way.

I must also point out that the Church is failing in community because the Church tends to pick and choose who they allow to be a part of the Church. The Church has been known to reject, be oppressive, and even abuse weaker groups of people of all ages.  Yet, Jesus calls us to love, help, and include everyone in the community.

But most of all, may we teach children community and inclusion. That looking out for everyone is what truly matters.  Working hard together and understanding that everyone has different talents is more important than anything else.

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Children’s Book Update

Good news!  My friend has a friend with a 14-year-old artist and the girl agreed to do the illustrations for my children’s book. We have to figure out all the details, but her work is amazing so it looks like my children’s book will hopefully be out in the fall on Amazon. No unethical publishers anymore.

I still have to work on the 2nd edition of Gentle Firmness and get it back out on Amazon, but the children’s book is ready except for the illustrations so I’m excited.

The book is about life with severe cerebral palsy and I hope many children will love it.  Stay tuned and let me know if you want one of the LAST signed copies of Gentle Firmness. $10 with free shipping—USA ONLY.

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