Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Getting Your Family Back After Abuse

I have watched and counseled with parents whose children were taken by CPS, spouses who necessarily were taken away from their families due to domestic abuse, a plethora of other similar situations.  My heart has bled for these people who have engaged in abuse and neglect as they have felt the frustration of trying to regain their lives and I have listened hour upon hour to their sobs.  They have told me how hard they are trying to turn their lives around and meet the standards to regain their families, and I have noticed a pattern and thus a solution to their sorrow.  Please allow me to share that with you now. 

Initially virtually every single person who has lost their family due to their own abusive actions or neglect has begun with weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth, crying out, "It isn't fair!  I should have my family back!  If only I could get my family back!  That's all I want and I should have rights!"  Really?  Abuse negated those rights, because they tread on and shred the basic human rights of others.  We first need to understand that.  They have feelings too.  I see these people trying to jump through hoops trying to get their way.  IT NEVER WORKS! It will never work for long because if that is the case, we are forgetting two very important aspects of this equation.  We are forgetting the person's relationship with God and their relationship with themselves.  We are also being dishonest with ourselves and thinking that our behavior wasn't that bad and that the people affected are not really feeling humans but our own pawns to use and control.  I had a dear friend whose children were taken by CPS.  I tried to get her to focus not on the situation swirling around her but on her relationship with God and in cleaning up her own life so she could be happy and filled with the Spirit.  God help her!  I have no doubt she tried her best but thus far has lost everything, sank into an abyss and my heart aches for her precious soul.  Another woman I know lost her children due to neglect.  She also tried furiously to get her kids back to no avail.  Then she calmed down.  She focused on making herself a better person, not for the sake of getting what she wanted but for the sake of being a better person.  She let go of the need for having her way.  Today her kids absolutely adore her and though her situation ended in divorce, it also resulted in her children loving to be around their strong, kind, and very involved mother. 

And we have to make concessions sometimes.  Whenever abuse or neglect has occurred, we have to recognize that there may be eternal consequences to our actions, which makes it even more necessary to focus on the person inside first.  A man abused his wife for years, went to a psychiatrist where he blamed his anger on his wife instead of accepting his responsibility and because he was trying to lie, blame her and still have his way the situation worsened until she became mentally crippled from his abuse.  It was only after the truth was made known in every corner of his life, his counselor, his family, his parents, his children, his pastor and everyone else knew, and he was necessarily removed from his house that suddenly a miracle occurred and he realized he needed a relationship with himself and God.  I have hopes for him personally, though only God can undo the disaster and heaven only knows if he will have his family back the way he wants it.  

When we engage in abuse we need to remember that we have not only offended those around us but we have offended God and our own spirits.  We have injured our own selves and sinned against our Maker.  Our first priority should be to turn to God in repentance, recognizing we have stained our souls and pleading for a way to be forgiven of Him.  It isn't about getting what we want.  As Rhett Butler said, "You are like the thief who isn't the least bit sorry he stole but he's terribly, terribly sorry he's going to jail for it."  That kind of thinking can't get us anywhere.  But God can pick up the pieces and give us, perhaps not what we want, but certainly what we need. 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Curves and Junk

My favorite Zumba class features an amazing teacher and occasionally a song with the repeated lyrics, "All the right junk in all the right places."  Ooo la la, right?  I'm going to be the dissenting voice here, but if you have ever read any of my posts, gentle reader, you probably aren't surprised.  

Call me a picky English major if you will, but I love language and it is incredibly important to me.  As a human and an intensely feeling woman, sex is also extremely important to me.  So it stands to reason that if you want fabulous sex, you use fabulous words.  Unfortunately, I often hear the words, "dirty," "naughty," "punish," and the like used in terms of sexual intercourse.  Think about this for a second.  Does it make sense?  Is that really what you want?  The way we describe sex and our own bodies is in one sense a reflection of how we see it and ourselves and in another sense it illustrates which direction we are headed.  Forgive my outrageous, outlandish arrogance but I eat healthily, work out regularly and, ummm (looks down) this body ain't exactly junk.  I have known one man who in a conversation described sex as "bliss."  He expressed the word with such delicious conviction and with such an ear to ear grin it was impossible not to wonder what amazing secrets he had up his sleeve.  He also enjoyed using the words "good thoughts" in reference to sensual fantasies and had a tendency to lean on the word "glorious" in general conversation. 

Let me tell you a little bit about his love life.  His wife is so hung up on him, their relationship is so strong and they each individually strive to follow God's commandments that their sexual relationship is the craziest I have ever heard of, and it is in many ways also the best.  Literally, all she has to do is think of his broad shoulders and almost immediately she is all but crying out in sensual ecstasy.  He doesn't even have to be in the room!  The mere thought of being with him overpowers her senses completely.  She feels herself totally all his and despises the foul idea of any other guy laying a finger on her.  Ladies, how would you like a guy who could inspire that in you?  Brethren, how would you like the woman you loved to feel that way about you?  Both are devoted to God and it is evident that He has helped this relationship reach the point it has.  I fully believe no relationship can be what this couple has except it be through the power of God.  It was He who brought them together against all odds.  It might seem strange to include God in our relationships and the like, but since He understands...bliss...better than any of us do, it seems to me to make perfect sense.

Let Your Man Do Whatever He Wants!

I was seventeen when my boyfriend of two and a half years decided to give into his friends and puff away on a cigarette for the first time.  His nickname for me was Ms. Standards because my moral standards were so high and his friends worried that Rex's mean old, boring girlfriend wouldn't let him continue smoking.  This was his report to me when he called me up and told me he had taken his first step into smoking.  "You probably won't let me smoke, of course" he concluded.  Little did he know me. 

"No, that's okay." I replied.  It has never been my goal in life to be a jailer or my boyfriend's mother.  He can do whatever he wants!  His shock and subsequent joy proved overwhelming.  "But you're never kissing me again," I added nonchalantly.  It stands to reason that while I am not interested in being a drag, I'm also completely uninterested in making out with an ashtray.  Simple logic, really.  

He quit smoking.  I'm not sure why, exactly.  

Later, in fact years later, I found myself stretching out on a mat at the gym when a man I did not know terribly well came over and struck up a conversation.  He leveled an X rated sentence at me, pertaining to the idea that I looked very attractive whilst doing yoga.  Cautiously, he examined my face and asked if I was offended.  I responded, and felt impressed to respond, that as a disciple of Jesus Christ, I find it a Christian's duty not to get offended easily and that I strive not to get personally outraged about anything - it is difficult to anger me.  However, on those same grounds his language was not morally right.  Since he hadn't known where I stood on matters of morality, I was not justified in engaging in any kind of punishment.  However, now that he knew, if he ever did it again it would be my moral duty to kick him in the head.  Logical.

I'm not sure why an ear to ear grin suddenly spread across his features.  He has never attempted to drag down my moral standards since and we are on pleasant, respectful terms to this day. 

You see, I have never believed in trying to micromanage a guy's life.  No one should.  Every man is his own man and can do exactly as he pleases.  Rex could have continued to smoke - I would not have broken up with him for it.  But just as I allowed him to do as he wanted I also held for myself the right to refrain from kissing a smoker.  Not being overbearing, just being real.  The other man easily could have continued to make sexual comments about me.  I couldn't have stopped him if he had been extremely determined.  But for some reason or other he simply decided to stop.  Curious.  So yes, my ladies!  Let your man do whatever he wants!  And inasmuch as you are also an important half of the relationship, make sure you take good care of yourself, too.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

My Own Spiritual Beginnings

Until five years ago I thought my spiritual journey through this life proved typical to the point of downright boring.  I assumed that everyone experienced the same kinds of things I did as a child and took it for granted that we were all on the same page.  Knowledge of the world changed my mind and I have felt from time to time to disclose some of those intrinsic understandings and spiritual manifestations that have helped cultivate my character and person before God and in life.  

There were a few truths with which I feel I was born, one of which was the absolute certainty that this world is nothing but a speck of dust in the overarching realm of eternity.  There seemed to be two worlds before me in my young mind - the so called "real" one, which consisted of parents and siblings, and the spiritual one that to me seemed so much more tangible and important.  I could almost remember heaven in my infancy and those memories crowded my mind, drawing me toward them and separating me as it were from the temporal world around me.  In conjunction to this truth was the fact that God was my Father and that I came from a higher and purer world than this planet we call earth.  I could feel it, know it, almost remember it, and it played into everything I thought and believed.  Contention was deplorable to me, particularly in the home, for I felt that this was surely not the kind of life I had once lived before coming to this fleshy existence via birth.  I recall countless times weeping into my pillow for hours from sheer homesickness and it often seemed that I couldn't bear to be in this temporal world another minute.  The other events of my life seemed mere frivolous details to me; this longing for a home with my Father and my God was the real meat, desperate need and almost constant focus of my life.  

Another fact that I seemed to immediately and fully comprehend was that of the reality of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  I admit it took nearly twenty years to gain the kind of testimony of Jesus Himself that I possess today, but from the beginning His sermon on the mount seemed to me a road map for life.  My young and inexperienced mind could not comprehend how people claimed vehemently and even contended passionately that Jesus's doctrines were perfect but then would argue just as passionately that they didn't apply in real life circumstances - that loving an enemy was unrealistic and that turning the other cheek was weakness and wrong.  Perhaps it sounds like self righteousness, as it obviously did to those around me at the time.  In truth I was not meaning to be offensive, but was simply a child who in many ways operated out of cold, unbending reason, honestly confused at the seeming duplicity I found in the world around me.  It seemed logical to me that if God, who knew all things, gave a command He did not give it as a suggestion or an idea of what might apply sometimes.  Either the doctrine was true, or it wasn't.  If it was true, then we must put the cause of God first in all things and behave in a Christlike manner regardless of the circumstances, trusting that God would fight our battles, or if not, be ready to die with clean hands and pure consciences.  Maybe the idea seems reckless, but I have used it many times and believe it just as much today as I did as a child.


Friday, January 16, 2015

Which Authority Do You Follow?

Some weeks ago I overheard and was invited into a debate raging between two young cousins (not my own).  The argument was one of which authority a person ought to follow.  One cousin, who I know was raised by very excellent parents, staunchly held the idea that you obey your superiors and particularly your parents.  The other brought up the point that the parents might be mistaken or acting by their own personal weaknesses.  The first cousin's attitude melted my lips into a smile, for he clearly believed his parents had no shortcomings.  I will most definitely let him hold that heartwarming opinion.  

I declined jumping into the conversation but the topic is one that has preyed on my mind most of my life.  The solution proves a remarkably simple one.  If there is a conflict between two authorities, always follow the higher one.  One might immediately assume that the highest authority, especially for a young child, ought to be the parent.  I agree, with one tiny little wrench thrown in.  Which parent?  We each have our earthly parents and also our Heavenly Father.  Which authority ought we follow?  The higher One.  I have had many experiences in which parents, professors, and other powers that be have tried to lead or push me into doing things that I felt was not what God wanted me to do.  I have sometimes had to go behind the earthly authority's back in order to satisfy my conscience before God, which choices, though painful, have never brought me regret and often have led to overwhelming miracles.

The fact is that while our parents love us, there is One who loves us more.  I often bear in mind in raising my children that though I may often think I know best, God knows and loves them far more than I possibly can and I frequently pray about how to handle situations with my children.  Recently I have dealt with my son's inability to sleep due to a great deal of stress in his life.  At first I thought I would make sure his lights were out and his audiobooks turned off by bedtime, especially on school nights, because when life is crazy and stressful, a child often needs structure and discipline to help them through it.  To my dismay and exhaustion, the Lord did not agree and impressed me to let him continually listen to his favorite books series until 11pm every night.  Rethinking the situation, perhaps in this particular case, Josh needed a strong distraction in order to handle his present frustration and required wholesome entertainment until he was too exhausted to think or reflect.  Whatever the case, he has been a night owl of late but probably doing better generally than he would have had I failed to petition the Lord. 

I have always instinctively known that we are first and foremost children of God, eternal beings with endless potential and born with our own divinely given spark of inner fire.  There is a part of your soul that your earthly parents didn't put there.  They couldn't have.  They may want what is best for you but they cannot always see your mission in this world, the upcoming trials of your life and they may not be able to see with perfect clarity who you were truly meant to be. Your Heavenly Father put that passionate, eternal spirit into you, so when there is a conflict of opinion, always follow the One who knows and loves you best!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Harmony After Divorce

Sounds impossible, doesn't it?  It's not.

Recently I chatted with a woman who had spent a great deal of time and energy in attempting to befriend her ex husband's new wife.  The new wife had been kind and generous at first but then grew bitter and jealous of my friend's good fortune.  My friend recounted how disappointed she was that they could not coexist harmoniously and just focus on raising the children together.  I felt impressed at the time to tell her that she had done her part and that I was proud of her.  Sometimes that is all the present moment holds - the satisfaction of knowing you have done your part and that you can have peace within your own conscience. 

Some time ago another friend, also divorced, wrote a scripture reference on his facebook status, referring to John 14.  I had long pondered the mansions that await the faithful on the other side and indeed had previously had a dream in which I saw an exquisitely beautiful home which I felt would be my own.  I saw many, many people living and working there.  Were they all my family?  Well, since we are all children of God, are we not all family already?  The scripture reference, my dream, and the fact that this friend was divorced but trying to live in as peace loving a manner as possible led me to consider something I think we either forget or don't realize could be possible.  The innocent children who face life with divorced parents are just as beloved of the Lord as anyone else and certainly they deserve to have a home intact in the eternities.  Impossible?  Consider this a moment.  A massive mansion, filled with acre upon acre of rooms and grandeur, could surely house a righteous child in the middle, a father and step mother in one wing of said palace and a mother and step father in another.   The children would have both parents under roof, and the parents would be able to go forward with their lives in a manner necessary to them.  Upon much prayer and pondering I feel convinced that such a thing could be so if needed and if both parents turn to the Lord and make it to the blissful heights of paradise.  Why not? 

Sometimes it doesn't feel possible in this lifetime.  Maybe it won't always be possible in this lifetime, but when life gets rough and you have to dig deep to plaster on a cordial smile when you really want to strangle the ex, ex in law or what have you, remember that you have a vision in mind.  You have a purpose.  I sometimes think that those who love God and yet have a divorce in their lives, whether that of themselves, their parents or children, have an amazing opportunity to reach further into themselves with heaven as their goal and proceed forward to make the impossible achievable. 

Rate Yourself: Are You a Sexual Expert?

I gaze across the social horizon at the massive industry that pours out XXX rated movies and teach the masses how to exploit one another's bodies in new and unheard of ways.  It is arguably the most profitable trade in the United States, if not in the world.  Everything from whips and chains to magazines and lingerie emerge into the world of pornography, enriching the CEO powers that be.  And as I ponder the leaders and most seasoned of these devilish tempters, a single thought irresistibly arises in my head.

Amateurs.  

There is a reason that a man or woman addicted to pornography needs more and varying tools, props, and the like.  It is because lustful, self centered, casual sexual relations simply don't satisfy.  It is not uncommon for a pornography addict to reach a plateau in his or her sexuality and them completely lose interest and need something harder and often more grotesque to reach the same state of sexual passion they had before.  Rapists and child molesters do not become who they are overnight, but start small down a road of disappointment (ie: pornography), requiring more and more intense "drugs" to stimulate their systems, eventually leading them to where we find them - behind bars and lost within their own sexual addictions.  

So let's pull the other way and consider, say, a woman who has never engaged in such behavior and has no desire to do so.  She doesn't listen to the crowd; she listens to herself and her own heart.  Rather than viewing a counterpart merely as a piece of meat to be used and thrown away, she loves him, body and soul with a passion and adoration untainted by the shallow, marketable ideas of the world. (But don't worry.  She drools over every last inch of his body with a voracious hunger - that is part of love, people!)  She listens to her own God given sexual instincts and does what feels absolutely blissful without caring about the latest and so called greatest from the outside powers that be.  She thinks and feels for herself instead of having a shallow, unloving, money grubbing company think and feel for her.  Maybe I'm just crazy but to me, a person like that knows more about love, passion, and sexual intimacy on a heavenly scale than all the harlots on the Las Vegas strip.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Ah, the Joy of Doing Laundry!

No, I am not being sarcastic though the title makes me grin a little. 

Two weeks ago and for much time beforehand my children's rooms looked like a tornado rolled its way through their closets and scattered its contents arbitrarily on the floor.  It was impossible to tell the difference between clean and dirty clothes and I found myself many times having to remind myself that I wasn't exactly a perfectly neat child either and that this too would pass.  My kids would trudge off to school in heaven only knows what and I was too exhausted to care.  I was all but allergic to ironing and "laundry day" seemed to drag on into a never ending, all consuming week.  You know what I'm saying - most of us have been there.

But some time ago in a fit of frustration and looking for a positive way to vent I turned my wardrobe upside down and restructured my thinking.  I spent an evening planning outfits and hanging them in order in my closet.  It burned off the frustration of what was transpiring in my life at the moment and I ended up excited about the cool styles I'd be donning all week.  Then last week inspiration hit with a "eureka!"  I taught my daughter the words "fashion diva" and everything changed.  Now hanging in her closet instead of scattered all over her floor and falling out of her drawers are perfectly matched outfits for the next ten days.  Every morning she wakes up feeling like a princess with the idea of "Oooooo!!!  What am I going to wear today?  Will it be pink and graceful or bling and bright?"  And the floor is clean.  Gone are the arguments of "Honey, that shirt has holes everywhere - you can't wear that to school" or "Darling, you wore that yesterday.  It's filthy.  Change into something else, please."  My son's closet sports a similar look - ship shape and slick.  He doesn't bother flinging the contents of his drawer on the floor looking for a clean shirt - he grabs a hanger and dresses. 

How does that effect the miserable chore of laundry?  When the clothes leave the dryer, I am there burning off stress by being creative with my own wardrobe and that of my kiddos'.  Maybe I can pair this up with that, or maybe I can throw something new into the mix by rearranging an old idea.  There is now a perpetual ironing pile but that's okay.  I save it for a night when the kids go to bed early and I need to do something creative to forget stress.  I walk away from it feeling productive, accomplished and creative.  And it helps to feel like you look like a million bucks!

Shattered Vases

Some years ago I walked through a house my company was building with the client who commissioned it while he told me how inferior he believed our craftsmanship proved.  He was particularly upset over the fact that if he were to kick an interior wall as hard as he could with his army issued steel toed boots the wall would have a hole!  Outrageous!  Please let me firstly say that we could have built his home with masonry, rammed earth, or concrete walls, but he had chosen and paid for standard framing and drywall.  I have an acquaintance whose rough treatment of his wife led her to veer toward divorce.  His sister advised that he buy her flowers and treat her nicely.  This behavior worked and the wife seemed happy.  Then the husband told his sister that being nice was very difficult and asked how long he had to be nice to his wife.  She answered, "Well, as long as you want to HAVE a wife."  Another man I know abused his wife unmercifully until it was absolutely necessary to separate the two in order to save her life.  She was of a resilient temper with the help of God and an excellent nurse soon began to fill her life with uplifting hobbies and put her energy into happy, creative interests.  He spoke to her on the phone, accusingly saying, "You're moving on with your life without me!" as though it were the most universally evil, unforgivable act imaginable.  

My friends, actions have consequences.  Let us say a person acts out in a fit of anger and flings a priceless and unique crystal vase on the floor.  Can he or she be surprised when it shatters?  Perhaps in the heat of anger they really wanted it to shatter.  Well enough, for they got what they wanted.  But then let us suppose that the same person who broke the vase cries, "It's not fair!  I wanted to put flowers in that vase!  I want it back!"  A crystal vase, shattered into hundreds of tiny pieces is mighty difficult to glue back together.  The person may say, "I am so sorry for what I did.  I will clean up the mess and pay for it."  That is well, but being sorry and paying a sum of money isn't going to fix that particular vase.  It may clean up the difficulties surrounding it, but it cannot restore the vase.  Moreover, let us say that said person was in the habit of smashing things when angry.  Even if we could fix that priceless vase, should we let it back into the same hands that smashed it unmercifully?  Should a person with such a temper seek for it, or should she say, "I don't want to be guilty a second time.  Please help me by taking it away and putting it somewhere safe."  Such an attitude would and should bring only compassion, appreciation, and aid from all involved. 

It seems a strange thing to relate but indeed, we live in a society that teaches us to forget that our actions have consequences.  We live in a world that encourages unsafe and casual sex, overwhelming credit card debt, and a plethora of other irrational behavior.  While we all want to make our children happy and often think that shielding them from consequences is the best thing, sometimes the compassionate thing is to let them feel the consequences of their actions on a small scale so that they will learn early and not have to feel negative consequences on a large scale.  It is not a happy person who has a distorted view of life and then wakes up to a cruel reality later, but a person who is taught the value of good and bad consequences in a manageable, loving way early in life and is therefore empowered by knowledge and understanding enough to face life head on in adulthood. 

Saturday, January 10, 2015

I Might Have Another Child

Several years ago when I was meditating on having children I felt very strongly that I would have two daughters.  The feeling was so strong, in fact, that my home was built and situated with the idea of two little girls in mind.  As life progressed, however, I fell terribly ill with post traumatic stress and violent seizures to the point that after having a daughter and son, it seemed as though being able to conceive another child would prove impossible.  The thought of having another girl dissipated in the reality of illness and melted into the background.  Battles for my life ensued and I felt perfectly content with the two children I had, thinking that my health certainly did not admit for even considering another.

I confess, I have fought and attempted to shake off an impression that has been of late pressing on my mind.  Over and over I have felt that there is another daughter who is to be born to me.  The illness I have completely prevents my being able to physically conceive or bear a baby and yet I feel the overwhelming impression to get ready for pregnancy and delivery.  Moreover, I feel that the child already has not only a soul of her own but a name picked out for her and that I ought to search for it in the Old Testament.  The name Ruth keeps hammering in my mind as appropriate and requisite, which name I had never before considered for a daughter.  My children are extremely excited about this idea, and in truth, have been baby hungry for years already.  Perhaps they knew something I didn't?

My friends, I cannot lift even the smallest finger to bring this about.  It would require a miracle no less powerful than God's parting the Red Sea to bring the Israelites to freedom, and I am not pursuing this in any manner, for if I place my own desires and follow my own will rather than surrendering to God's, not only will it not come to fruition, but I would stain my soul by so doing.  Nevertheless, I feel it the will of God to recognize the possibility and wait patiently with an open mind to accept His will as it unfolds in my life. 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

What's in Vogue for 2015

In the early hours of New Years morning my sisters and I curled up on the couch in front of our parent's big screen and watched The Devil Wears Prada. Basking in the beauty of Chanel, Gucci, Versace, and the like I couldn't help but enjoy many aspects of the flick.  A lady could get into an artistic high just staring at the various outfits that Anne Hathaway sports in virtually every scene.  But something was wrong.  I couldn't altogether relax. 

There are a couple things in that movie which I have to say will never be in vogue.  Anyone who has watched The Devil Wears Prada recognizes that the attitude of Miranda Priestly and the other supermodel types proves absolutely out of fashion.  Obviously one of the great points of the movie is to expose how people become unnaturally obsessed with worldly success, fame, and the meaningless things like keeping up with the latest styles.  However, there was another sin against class and sophistication.  I cannot argue too harshly about the state of the models' voluptuous lips and their detailed attention to liner, gloss and the like but what came out of their mouths will never be in good taste.  I inwardly cringed at the repeated obscenities.

Listen up, my friends.  I have been an avid poet for two and a half decades, studied English in college, and read literary classics as fluidly as my daughter reads comic books.  I have traveled four continents including Europe and am in a position to inform you right now that no one in their right mind will ever look down on a person who employs clean, uplifting speech.  A person who uses modest language can stand with confidence in any court, museum, cathedral or palace on earth.  Interested in being the highest and best in the fashion world?  Think tall, chin up, smile bright and keep away from what is quite rightly described as "gutter language."

Monday, January 5, 2015

A Woman Has Needs

"I need a cigarette.  Come over and chat with me."  An old friend of mine beckoned toward the front door of the gym.  I followed.  Tim and I are exact opposites in many ways and trying to convince him that God exists or that traditional moral standards are a good thing proved nigh impossible.  Still, we could disagree without being disagreeable and each stood ready to respect the other.  

Our conversation drifted into the realm of what relationships need and what are appropriate physical limitations in dating.  He mentioned some of his experiences with his girlfriend and seemed quite staunch in the opinion that physical intimacy should exist before marriage.  He seemed for a moment about to cross the line of respect for my standard of chastity in dating and said as though it was an obvious fact, "You know, men have needs!" 

I've mulled over that phrase repeatedly since that conversation about four years ago.  I wish I had had a ready answer, and I have since become rather annoyed at how frequently that phrase arises in order to convince women to cheaply sell their precious bodies before marriage.  Here is my answer now.  It is true that men have needs.  I honor that.  But what we rarely consider is that women have needs too and one of the strongest and most paramount is the need for commitment and emotional security.  Are we not half the relationship, too?  If a man expects a woman to give herself entirely to him, shouldn't she also, as an equal human being, have the right to expect his devotion in like manner?  If he is not devoted to her, is she in any manner required to keep him happy by giving her whole person to him?  I think not.  And if both decide that the relationship is the right one and are both committed, what can the man have against marriage? 

I would further consider that marriage is a man's need just as much as it is a woman's.  Let me back up a moment and remind my gentle reader that I am talking about a man.  I have heard it said, "Boys will be boys" in defense of the masculine tendency toward unfaithfulness and pornography.  A male friend once said in answer to that, "Man up, kiddies!"  A man, a real man, believes in commitment and wants to live a full familial life in a morally upstanding way.  A man finds marriage exalting, ennobling and satisfying.  A boy is the type who will play around and the ironic thing is that a boy who doesn't strive toward honor and marriage isn't a real man, so his defense of "men have needs" clearly doesn't apply to him in the first place! 

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Who Michelle REALLY is!

"Now, Michelle, you need to understand that it is okay to be yourself!  Who cares what other people think of you?"  a well meaning relative once told me.  This comment preceded a very kindhearted tirade about how people just need to be themselves no matter how offensive their behavior might be.

"Do what you know you want to do, Michelle!  Who cares what people think of you?!?"  Another well meaning relative told me in a very loving explosion of annoyance at my long suffering Christlike behavior.

"She didn't tell you about the sins she has committed and she has pushed you out of her life because, you know, she feels you will judge her."  At this point I returned with, "Seriously, I have a life.  I don't have time or inclination to judge anyone!  All I want to do is love her, of course!"  This speech met with a shocked expression of disbelief.

It has repeatedly returned to my mind that people often judge me wrongly, assuming I care about public opinion or that I am attempting desperately to maintain a false, saintly image.  Makes me want to smack my palm to my forehead.  I love people in general and to disabuse the public mind, let me just explain who I really am.

My childhood was filled with a great many intense spiritual experiences too numerous and sacred to discuss, but which filled me with the unshakable knowledge that we are engaged in a great spiritual battle between good and evil.  It is passionate, vibrant, very real and rages all around us every single day.  We are part of it whether we want to be or not.  The decisions we make aids either one side or the other.  I have always been something of a deep thinker and felt that relationships between man and woman were so far beyond wonderful, amazing, exquisite, and sacred that it proves a high honor for both parties to be wanted physically of the other.  Reckless lust has really never been in my vocabulary.  It's not.  Just born that way.  I also knew from a very young age, perhaps from birth, that we are luminous, eternal beings and learned for myself that all people have divine potential and that no one is beyond saving.  I have felt many times that I was too dark and vile to be within the reach of God's love.  I was wrong, and because my perspective of myself has changed, I cannot look at anyone else, regardless of what they have done, as beyond help.  I believe a woman, to be a real woman, is someone who sees the divine in herself and strives to reach out in a nurturing way and help others see it in themselves as well.  Sometimes living with this perspective can be exhausting.  It requires strength and passion every day.  It requires the courage to maintain a calm and loving temper when horrible things happen to you.  It requires completing the near impossible task of extending forgiveness to all men every single day regardless of the situation. It is an intense way to live, but that is who I am.  

I appreciate the love of people who would invite me to fling all that aside and bask in momentary sin and selfishness.  I appreciate their concern for me.   But let's assess.  If I were to engage in blatant, rebellious, immoral acts, would I be being myself?  No.  I would be stepping outside of myself.  I have often found myself wronged and have sometimes been encouraged to speak badly of said offender.  But honestly, when you are already hurting, does inviting more negativity in any way make you happier?  I long for happiness!  I long for peace.  And the shortest road to both goals is to behave in a Christlike manner.  This is just logic, people!  I have been encouraged sometimes to break rules, hurt others, et cetera in order to pursue my own desires and comforts.  Seriously, God is watching.  It's a fact.  And if I want something badly enough, I can't be making detours into reckless vice, which, without God's help, isn't going to work out anyway!  All the blessings we want are contingent on God helping you get it and, call me self serving, I need certain blessings in my life!  

I wasn't sure who I was in junior high and from that time into my twentieth year or so I didn't know if I wanted to be wholly good or strive to be wholly bad.  But with a deep relationship with God I made my conscious decision at last.  I held a conversation with a dear, dear friend some time ago in which I think said friend was trying to figure me out and understand the balance that explained why I do things as I do.  My answer was, quite honestly, "more than anything else in this world, I just want to be a good girl."

Saturday, January 3, 2015

The Duty to be Hot!

I admire mothers who stay at home with their children, who economize, think of their family before themselves and generally behave like the saintly angels they are.  They take very seriously their duty to raise young children into wise, intelligent adults who can make a positive difference in this world.  It is to these stalwart mothers and also morally upstanding wives that I speak.

My dear ladies, yours is a sacred office to raise children, both boys and girls into exquisite, powerful adults and may God bless you for your efforts!  Part of that responsibility, as I find it, is to teach them what beauty really means and one of the ways we can best do this is to emulate the quality in ourselves as best we can.  We can and should teach that beauty comes firstly from inside, and that a wardrobe can be enchanting, stunning, bewitching, classy and unapologetically beautiful while maintaining self respect and modesty.  We can teach that a woman can eat healthily and take care of her body without eating disorders, unrealistic goals, or pulling the opposite way and letting her body go entirely without any restraint.  We can teach healthy self love by doing the best we can to be healthy and then accepting ourselves for who we are and how God made us.  We can embody the principle of thrift by being wise and discerning in what clothes we wear and where we buy them.  I find some of the coolest clothes in my wardrobe come from thrift stores.  We can show that we value ourselves and can express ourselves in attire without having to follow the crowd and ever be on the cutting edge of fashion.  We can express our own creativity fearlessly without having to follow a mold.  The world will teach them differently.  The world will teach them that they have to rebel against the set rules that parents generally set.  How differently will they hear such things if they are already encouraged to express themselves in ways that are modest and morally strong?  

We can teach them to honor themselves and their bodies by honoring our own.  My children think it quite amusing to play with my belly dancing skirt.  They know I practice it at times, but they also know that I do so in the seclusion of my room or if in a class, they know I am more than modestly dressed whilst I practice it publicly as a student in a classroom usually filled with only women.  They know I hold it as an art form first and foremost and not as a way of begging for sensual attention.  I myself think of it as a workout and a form of meditation.  They sometimes join me in practicing yoga and through it learn not only the beauty and grace of the human body but also the fact that we need to reverence it and treat it as a temple.  This is a perilous world and need to be proactive in teaching a proper appreciation and taste in beauty and relationships.  May God's love and blessing go with you as you seek to uplift and teach these precious souls in your charge!