Saturday, August 31, 2013

Hopeful Redemption

*Just a moment of faith in the face of disaster.  We exercise it every day, but don't always take the time to record it in verse.  

I once beheld aurora spread
Across a blighted sky
And hoped that brightness wakening
Would raise my spirits high

For they had dropped in anguished pain
Into a blackened dread
and yearned anew to soar again,
Recalled from helpless dead.

I trust the light will call me back 
From heart and psyche's grave,
Reward my faith now purified
And ever spirit save. 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Feel Like a Woman

As I look around me at this bizarre and mixed up world, one thing that tends to stand out as particularly strange is the fact that men and women have learned how to forget their personal identities and try to become the opposite gender.  Ladies, when was the last time a guy handed you his phone number and asked you to call him?  Last week?  Yeah.  I thought so.  Gender blasphemies of that kind are continually on the rise and it often seems rather unchecked.  Women often face expectations of forgetting the natural motherly instincts God gave them until they have proven themselves competing against men in the workplace.  My friends, let's go back to a very basic truth that we all know almost from the cradle but for some reason in adulthood tend to forget.  

Men and women are different.  Hello!

This really ought to be self evident, but in truth the distinction is becoming less and less clear.  So let's reestablish the facts.  Brethren, I respect you tremendously and recognize that I am hardly qualified to tell you how to be a man, but I can remind the women of who they are and were meant to be.  Ladies, one of the most powerful aspects of character that we have naturally inborn but tend to forget is how to feel.  We are often told that in "real life" women's emotions mean nothing.  May I remind us all that a woman's intuition is usually right even when it flies in the face of immediate logic?  How many people have been uplifted, how many solutions discovered and even how many lives have been rescued because strong, intelligent women have followed their gut instincts?  Countless.  And yet we are told that our emotions and inner spirituality do not matter as much as our abilities to do a man's job in the workplace. 

My dear sisters, we have the powerful and passionate gift of being guardians of the hearth, nurturers of the future, and beacons of compassionate light to the weary.  So take a moment to thank God for making you what you are and rendering you the divine inspiration to be an extraordinary woman. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

When I Pray for You

I have for many years had people ask me to pray for them or for loved ones who have fallen to the wayside or have some tremendous struggle in their lives.  Countless mothers have asked me to pray for their wayward children and never have I turned them down.  And with all this prayer one might expect that I have learned a thing or two about how to pray, effective prayers to render and the like.  There are some things that I have learned in the many years I have prayed for people that I had not considered before but have discovered to prove absolutely groundbreaking.  Allow me to share these ideas and attitudes with you.

Frequently people ask me to pray for someone's salvation.  I applaud that they pray for salvation!  I myself have come to pray somewhat differently and I will tell you why.  Let us suppose we have someone who is not interested in going to church, not interested in religion and the like and you just can't get him or her to take these very serious things seriously.  When it is someone we love we have the tendency to panic.  We want them to turn around immediately and immediately see results so that we can rest more easily.  I have seen loving relatives of wayward souls resort to desperation, coercion, coaxing, pleading, and threats without any change in their beloved's behavior.  That is because we panic and think, "Oh, but if I could just get him into the pearly gates, even if I had to drag him there, everything would be fine!"  My friends, I invite you to trust God more deeply and take a deep breath.  As stated, I never pray for people's salvation anymore.  Why?  Because doing so is like fixing the symptoms of a disease and ignoring the infection itself.  I pray that this person will look deeply inside him or herself and bring that natural God given potential to the surface.  When we do this, we remind ourselves that this is a journey and that God, who created this person, is at the helm.  We remind ourselves that this person is not ours to control but has an independent destiny and we learn to respect it.  Also, I truly believe that every person has the power to be a mighty force for good.  What is a better option?  To drag someone kicking and screaming through the gates of heaven or inspire them to stand on their own feet and valiantly not only make their own way toward God but bring many others with them?  When we fulfill our own potential, we become a massive powerhouse of spiritual strength and it uplifts those around us.  I have counseled countless people through their problems and I have never known this principle to fail. True, it takes some patience, but are we not already losing patience that our beloved is not immediately doing everything we think he or she should be doing?

People change their lives for the better when they are loved to the very center of their souls and that person who loves them also tells them the potential of who and what they can be.  They change when they feel they are being accepted for who they are and that all you want is to give them more happiness and joy than they could have had otherwise.  When they understand that they will pick themselves up voluntarily and follow the beckoning light before them. 

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Born That Way: A Word on Homosexuality

The idea for this post has been cruising around in my mind for weeks but this morning, though I generally do not post on Sundays, the Lord has impressed me so powerfully to do it that I think I had better lay everything else down and get writing. My friends, there is not one of us in this world that is perfect.  There is not one of us that has all the answers, has overcome every obstacle of life, or learned all there is to learn for the human soul and mind.  But life and God have taught me one principle that underlies much of what we face here in this temporal, mortal realm.  Who we are is determined by what we choose, not how we are born.  

Take this principle from one who knows this well.  Both my parents were born very poor.  They now enjoy a tremendous amount of wealth.  I myself was born with depression.  It was something I never thought I could overcome and which haunted my every waking moment for two decades.  Anyone who has seen my facebook posts in the last week and a half can readily see that there isn't a shred of depression left in me, and in truth, there has not been depression in me for years now.  I have never taken medication nor seen a counselor about it, and yet it is gone.  I have a friend who was born exceedingly bipolar.  Again, without medication or counseling from a certified therapist this friend now leads a relatively stable life.  How is this possible?  My friends, with God anything is possible.  

Our society likes to pose the idea that we must define ourselves by those passions and feelings with which we were born, particularly the immoral ones, and frequently says that if ever we have ever experienced homosexual feelings then that is who we are.  Not so.  We are what we choose to be.  I have always known without doubt that we are eternal beings who are powerful beyond mortal comprehension and are crammed into this mortal earth life where we do not have the mobility to recognize immediately our true selves.  I believe that people who have homosexual feelings are in great measure those spirits who have an overwhelming amount of natural love in them and a heart wide enough to embrace all mankind.  And I know by experience that if we choose to live by the laws of God, He will make us something better than we could have imagined.  He can take that exquisite virtue and make it manifest in a manner more powerful than we could have by following what the world tells us or following our own poor senses of direction.  And fear not.  Our trials are but the groundwork for the mansions in which we will eventually reside.    

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Beauty From the Inside Out

My dear friends, I feel obligated to begin with a rather shocking confession.  This blogger who some of you have come to know as ever focused on the soul, natural beauty and the deeper aspects of life has for some years technically been a Mary Kay consultant.  No, this does not make me a hypocrite.  It simply means that I recognize that as our souls need nurturing and self love, our bodies do as well and Mary Kay focuses not so much on physical beauty as it does on inner beauty and bringing women's divine potential to the surface.  Can't argue with that.  I have rarely employed this ability, though for many reasons I feel moved to begin selling cosmetics more frequently from now on.

But even as a cosmetics salesperson, let me tell you the real place from which beauty comes.  It comes from within.  Even physical beauty comes from within.  I myself wear precious little make up.  At the most I will wear lipstick, fill in my eyebrows a touch and if necessary dab a bit of concealer.  That is all.  But I have found that exercise, healthy eating habits, and clean living makes itself manifest in one's skin, hair, nails and the like.  Love the inner body and the outer body will to a great degree take care of itself.  And as to Mary Kay products, there are many fantastic creams, serums, etc that work from the inside out and which I frequently use.  Take care of the skin by cleansing and conditioning it, and you will have less and less need of make up to cover it.  It doesn't really extend its products to hair but the same concept holds true.  Refrain from burning it with irons and distressing it with dye - in other words, accept yourself as God made you - and you will find it shinier, healthier and fuller.  My hair tends to shed a bit when I am under stress.  Again, take care of the inner soul in meditation and trusting the Almighty and stress will damage the outer shell with less vehemence. 

And perhaps the thing that makes us the most physically beautiful is our own confidence and self respect.  It creates an aura around us that affects our posture, our walk, our mannerisms and which can never come from anything outside our own souls.  The realization that we are special, precious, divine creations in the image of God can and ought to prove the foundation of our beauty regimen.  And that is something that poverty, stress, mockery and disease can never take.  The power to be exquisitely beautiful is already within you.  And as to the rest, feel free shoot me a message if you like and I'll see if I can get you a deal on fantastic "inside out" beauty products from Mary Kay!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

"Just Call it a Solo"

It isn’t often that one hears extraordinary pearls of wisdom on a dance floor, and certainly when I sauntered into my hip hop class some weeks ago I hadn’t expected to meet a beautiful, fun, passionate and wise substitute taking lead of the class.  As a gesture to help everyone feel welcome and to relax those who may have had some shyness or self consciousness she headed her lesson with a brief introduction and told us not to worry if we couldn’t master all the choreography immediately.  In her words, “If you start to go the wrong way” here she shrugged with dramatic hip hop indifference, “just call it a solo.”

Isn’t life like that?  Not one of us is perfect, and surely there is so much we could say about our imperfections.  We could allow ourselves to sit miserably contemplating our shortcomings and in so doing allow the whole of life to pass us.  I have heard some people say, “But this person or that is so perfect and never makes any social blunders.”  Let me tell you about two people - the only two people I know, who have never to my knowledge made an accidental social blunder.  My goodness, what miserable people they are!  One of them had longed for a certain blessing all his life and then when he had it in the palm of his hand, he looked around and in order to keep up a perfect image made unwise choices that caused this treasured blessing to slip out of his hands in a way that can never be restored.  The other prided himself so much on being right and never saying anything except what was “cool” by the world at large that he descended to the lowest circle of depravity in trying to destroy other people’s lives in order to make himself look better.  He mocked people’s ideas, mannerisms and even religion without any check on his behavior.  He made enemies of those who were most honestly eager to love him, and surely anyone who understands what he does can readily see that this behavior does not mean he is socially graceful but at the heart of himself is insecure beyond belief.  

Now, I don’t know about you, gentle reader, but I myself appreciate being around open, kindhearted, honest individuals who can be themselves even if it means that not every word that leaves their mouths is perfectly polished.  We are all human and we all have our own inner fire and natural charm.  And as for myself, imperfect being that I am, I make a great many accidental blunders but I do not see that such things ought to stop me from living, cause me to shrink in shame or give up in being the best person I can be.  Even if my whole life may prove one massive social mistake, hey, I’m going to “just call it a solo.”

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Though Our Sins Be As Scarlet

We all have things about our personalities that do not come from the teachings of our parents or experiences in life.  Some aspects of character simply exist within us, and they are so much a part of who we are that certainly we would cease to be ourselves if we were without those personality traits.  I have one such trait, or rather I might term it a passion and belief that no one necessarily taught me but which is the driving force of much of what I do and who I am.

I have always passionately known, even from my earliest memories, that all human beings have endless potential and the ability to change for the better.  It is a belief upon which I have acted in what would seem like absolutely reckless and even dangerous manners, but never once have I found this idea to prove altogether untrue.  I recall one person I insisted upon befriending, even though I had to do so somewhat in secret to avoid extreme persecution because the world around me was howling that she was a lost soul and would never be a decent person again, and battering against me for my efforts.  It took over two decades but she is now a striking lady with reverence for God and a determination to be the best woman she can be.  I have counseled would be murderers and helped them make peace with themselves and those they have injured.  I have watched truly hardened and hateful people turn their lives around and give themselves to the service of others, and I know for a perfect fact that no one is exempt from this ability.  No one.

My friends, not one of us is perfect.  I am surely very far from it.  But each one of us without exception has the inner light and power to be a force for good in this world.  And those who have done the most damage, the most wrong and injured the most people have an extraordinary opportunity to turn around and not only change their own behavior to goodness and strength but help those who face the same temptations and setbacks change theirs. 

Friday, August 16, 2013

Why I Fight

I have for quite some time had people conjecture as to why I harbor such an undying passion in speaking out against pornography.  Please allow me to explain that there may be no confusion.  Pornography is often called a victimless crime and treated as an allowable and harmless diversion that is amusing and even beneficial.  Nothing could be further from the truth, and while I can I will tirelessly work to point out the very real dangers surrounding this social, spiritual and emotional disease.

When I was in high school I thought much as you may.  I considered it normal for boys around me to engage in pornography and though I knew it was wrong I simply accepted it as an inevitable fact of life.  

Then I grew up.

I saw two women that I had long known and loved in anguish because their husbands skipped work to go to strip clubs while they, innocent wives, were pregnant.  I spent a year counseling and aiding an exotic dancer, listening to her troubles, learning of her pain, and finding out about the pornography industry from a backstage perspective.  I found that women who plaster smiles on their scantily clad selves onstage hate the men who come to see them only slightly less than they hate themselves.  I learned that such women often turn to drugs, go mad or commit suicide.  Week after week my friend cried on my shoulder about how cheap she felt and how she hated her clients.  I watched as a woman who had every reason in the world to think well of herself crumbled into dust and nearly lost her mind because of the emotional abuse of her husband, who in a tremendously degrading manner compared her to every other woman he saw, treated her horribly because she was not the kind of harlot he watched on the internet, and treated her in every way with contempt on this point.  I have counseled with many women who have had pornography using husbands and heard how difficult it is for them to maintain some kind of self respect.  I have worked with men fighting this addiction and seen them break down in hysterics from withdrawl.  I have personally helped people struggling with addiction walk away from suicide and reached in to help save their lives when they tried.  I have seen pornography destroy marriage after marriage, and where there are broken marriages there are broken homes, vulnerable parents and shattered children.  This is no victimless crime, for I have held the aching victims in my arms on countless occasions and felt them flood my neck and shoulder with their tears. I think all of us have seen how vulnerable young women are in this society, thinking they have to wear scanty clothes, heavy make up and no dignity in order to gain some masculine affection.  And often young men are treated as a bizarre outcast if they do not engage in morally indecent behavior.

In short, this black and vile issue daily sweeps through not only our country but virtually every nation on earth, destroying love and natural expectations of romance as it goes.  It is beyond a doubt the most widespread and damaging epidemic in the history of the world.  And so, my dear friends, the next time you may wonder and pose the question, "Why does Michelle fight?" I would encourage you to follow it with a second question, which proves pertinent and far more important.  "Why do I not?"

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Celebrating Autism

I sometimes have the opportunity to listen to parents who are beginning the journey of having a child with autism, and I often hear the same concern.  The parent, and often the child, feel a sense of depression, lack of worth, and shame.  Many of my readers know that I have a seven year old daughter named Julia who is a creative, intelligent, beautiful and dynamic autistic angel.  In family gatherings she often steals the show with her love for drama, vibrant imagination and determined personality.  And I am profoundly grateful that God blessed her with autism, which gives her so many more positive attributes than handicaps. 

When I first approached her pediatrician with the idea that she may be autistic the doctor flippantly told me that Julia was not autistic and that her behavior was the result of my being an unfit mother.  Julia being my first child, I had no reason to doubt this and poured more and more energy into helping her deal with her screaming fits in which she thrashed around on the floor and sometimes even hurt herself in the process.  I literally dripped sweat in exhaustion and frustration on a daily basis while little Julia made it evident she didn't want mommy to hold or cuddle her.  But after I had my neurotypical son and observed the difference in behavior between the two and when Julia was three and still could not say verbs or full sentences the doctor saw the error of her ways and loaded me up with resources for autistic children.  It was as though 10, 000 tons had lifted from my shoulders.  

Many people suggested and even insisted that I read book after book on autism, study Dr. Temple Grandin and the like.  I refused.  Having that extra time working with Julia one on one before I gained an army of therapists to help was precious in the sense that it gave me the perspective to better understand one thing.  My daughter is not a textbook.  She is not a problem.  She is not a handicap.  She is herself with a passionately willed personality and a determination to take over the world.  Her autism gives her a creativity and imagination all her own and a photographic memory to help her attain the knowledge requisite to turn her dreams into reality.  Most of the inventors, engineers and scientists in the history of the world were autistic, and in great measure these are the dynamic souls so readily able to think outside the box that makes our civilization as we know it possible. 

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Love Your Enemies

It seems counterproductive, doesn't it?  Why would someone love one's enemies?  And why should we add strength to tyranny?  The Lord showed me the reasoning behind this in a powerful manner that I doubt I will ever forget.  Some years ago I got to know some people in a certain group and saw them frequently due to some similar activities we attended.  They were mostly kind and welcoming and I was grateful to God to see such goodness in people.  It did my heart good to know them.  But there was one exception to this friendly crew - a woman whose name I will not disclose.  She cooled these people from being overly friendly to me, and through her influence in part the beautiful friendship I might have had crumbled into dust and caused me much heartache and many bitter tears.  I heard her at one point inciting those mutual friends to mock me within my hearing.  When she spoke to me it was icy and condescending and with a superior smirk on her very beautiful face, for she was a tremendously good looking lady.  You couldn't help but notice it.  And I think that is one reason she had so much influence. 

Now, you may consider this weakness in me, but I believed that she was indeed more beautiful than I, more socially lovely and generally superior in this her social realm.  I was the relatively shy newcomer to this crowd.  I believed this so much that though I hated what she did I didn't take offense to it.  I assumed it was her right to treat me like a bug she could squish under her heel.  I didn't like it, but I didn't fight her or treat her with anything save respect.  Some weeks ago, as I took my children to the zoo I ran into this woman.  We were both startled to see each other and as our business took us to the same place we cordially greeted each other and stood in the same area.  Soon I heard her talking to one of her friends and I could tell they were making fun of another woman standing a few yards away and twittering with laughter like so many birds.  Then the impression came to me "She looks particularly beautiful today and you know it.  Compliment her."  I confess I thought at first, "but she is so hardened and mean.  Surely it would only make her behave worse."  Again the impression came to compliment her.  Obediently, I stood to my full height, squared my shoulders and nonchalantly, as though discussing the weather, said "You look lovely today."  She literally began stammering.  I ignored this and swept forward with, "but then you always look so gorgeous, so it's par for the course, really."  I said nothing but the truth.  She looked down and muttered, "no I don't." It wasn't a modest, blushing, smiling, kind of looking down and for one instant I could see in her face and hear in her voice that she bitterly and miserably meant every word she said and that it had long agonized her soul.  I kept my calm countenance and walked away as though I had noticed nothing.

But certainly I found in that moment a truth that most of us take by faith but don't really see on a daily basis.  Those who go out of their way to injure others who have done them no harm are truly the most miserable.  I wonder now if she behaved toward me as she did because she felt threatened by how much her friends had begun to like me, for indeed I was fast becoming a favorite until she intervened.  I wonder now if she thought I was more attractive than her and felt she needed to destroy what she perceived as a threat to her fragile ego. Love them, my friends, for they need it most profoundly.  Granted, compliments are not always what is needful.  We may have to walk away or distance ourselves from people we cannot immediately help, or sometimes have to engage in tough love for another's good, but remember that the center of all we do regarding others must be true and vibrant love. 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Sexual Abuse Backfires

One of my sisters recently finished reading a book recounting life as it was in a foreign country in an age now gone.  It recounts how men treated women with little respect and how women were forced into deranged sexual exploits by abusive husbands.  My dear brethren, this issue is still alive and well today and in our own neighborhoods; it may be alive in our own homes or that of our daughters, mothers, sisters, nieces, granddaughters or cousins.  There are men that are heartless enough to injure innocent women and force them to become slaves in this manner, but let me issue a caveat to those men who think that they can force a woman to give herself to him simply because he demands it.

As I have studied sexual abuse and domestic abuse in general, there is a lingering thread that weaves itself around each situation almost without exception.  The abused person lives in fear not only of acting in a manner that will excite turmoil but also has to hide her feelings and plaster a smile to keep her abuser from exploding in anger.  Everything must seem freely given, even when it is exacted with the cruelest of punishments.  Let me throw you a bit of logic.  It is impossible to treat a woman like an object, impossible to keep her under one’s thumb, and also retain her sexual loyalty.  

Why?  Because he didn’t earn it, and when a woman has to plaster a smile on her face and surrender because of fear to her husband, she will, out of a knee jerk reaction, similarly have the tendency to surrender to any other man who shows interest in her, inwardly cowering in fear.  Like Pavlov’s dog, she has been taught by the sword that when a man wants her, she is to submit, no matter how wrong, how degrading, or how much she may hate the idea.  When you make her an object to be acted upon, you immediately lose her, body and soul, in the very act because her psyche will learn to fear and instinctively surrender to the cruel, heartless side of masculinity.  A man may think he is gaining something by treating his wife as a sex object and may think he has her all to himself because of this coercive treatment and her terrified submission but in reality he is willingly, actively forcing her, potentially at least, into the arms of every other man she meets.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Murderous Torture and A Father's Sacrifice

After my recent trip to Sonora, Mexico and before the Day of the Dead arrives in November I have undertaken to write a book of my Mexican family history to give to the present members of the family.  My family has generally had a strong presence of loving fathers and this is perhaps the pinnacle of them all.  Many years ago, when Apaches terrorized the land near the small town of Cumpas, there lived a man named Jose Vasquez and his young son Miguel.  Jose was my third great grandfather and Miguel my second.  In those days it was very dangerous to leave the village for any reason, as the Apaches were more reckless beyond its borders.  Nevertheless, the day came that these two were obliged to take their chances in the wild for some time, either to gather firewood or hunt for food.  

They were far from the town when Jose heard the bloodthirsty shrieks of approaching Apaches.  Thinking quickly he told his son to climb a tree and stay there, and no matter what happened to stay silent.  Those were the last words he would ever speak to his son in this life.  As soon as Miguel was safely in the tree and hidden from view his father began yelling as loudly as he could and heading toward the murderous band, thus leading them away from his cherished young son.  Miguel watched as the group took and bound his father, lit a fire and laughingly tortured his body, slicing off chunks of flesh and casting them into the conflagration.  But not wanting his son to weep and thus be found Jose went to his death without uttering a cry or complaint.  Later, after the smoke had cleared, the Apaches had gone and darkness had fallen this young boy, not more than ten years old climbed down from the tree, his face streaked with tears and began the lonely journey home.  His mother met him at the door and seeing him alone and with a horrified expression simply said, "It was the Apaches, wasn't it?"  It was more a statement than a question.  

Ten years later, after the Mexican government had declared that Apaches were officially a menace to the state and offered to pay anyone who would kill them Miguel, now about twenty, traveled to the vast metropolis of Tucson and purchased the biggest rifle his savings could buy.  He meandered his way back home to Cumpas, hunting Apaches as he went.  When he triumphantly entered his home again, he announced that he had slaughtered seventeen of them and had thus avenged his father.  He didn't bother getting the reward money; this was a personal mission of his own.  Then he put down his gun and never used it again.  But years later when my grandmother was a child he would gather all his grandchildren around him and tell them the story of his selfless father and show them the massive rifle he had used to avenge him.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Classiest Woman I Know

I have long admired my great aunt Lupita.  She is in my opinion one of the best women I have ever known; indeed, she may perhaps claim the title of the greatest.  What has she accomplished?  You may ask.  Has she traveled the earth, written groundbreaking papers, set an example of high end elegance or been governor of a province?  No.  She has been exceedingly poor her entire life, dealt with hunger, death, illness, abuse, and pain.  And everyone who knows her absolutely adores her.  

Ninety-three years old, she is a pillar of loving, generous matriarchal kindness.  I have often come to her house and been well aware that she had almost nothing to eat.  But never have I set foot in her kitchen that she has not offered me the little she has.  As far as I know, no one has ever left her home without being offered food and gentle hospitality.  She brought into this world 15 children.  Thus far she has also buried five.  And yet she is a tower of strength, refusing to become bitter no matter her trials.  That, I believe, is a greater tribute to her strength than the fact that she locked herself in her bedroom and delivered her own last two children by herself. 

Recently I had the opportunity to sit alone with her and have a one on one chat in her beloved kitchen in Mexico.  She began by telling me "I am 93 years old, and I have something to tell you.  I want you to listen because I have experience and these are wise words."  She proceeded to tell me that she never drank and never smoked and that those who did ran into terrible health problems.  Later in the conversation she told me that some of her descendents were going to school in the neighboring town and learning all kinds of things.  She indicated that the she and the others in her family were dumb and ignorant, which, if you know me at all, I couldn't simply accept without a fight, even though she is so much my superior in age.  I told her that it was true they hadn't learned many things of the world but that they had something far better.  They had intelligence of heart and of soul and not everyone in the universities had that.  I am happy to say I had the satisfaction of her agreement.  There is something far more powerful than the vain things of this world. Though I may not see her again in this life, there is a quiet power of the spirit that suffereth many things with patience, and a dignity and nobleness borne of a life well lived that never dies.