It Can’t Rain all the time

Sorrow is a part of life. Death, divorce, strife, rejection, shame, and abuse are prevalent during these last days. It’s always sad when someone dies, particularly someone viewed as a hero in one’s eyes. I had just watched a Christian movie, Clancy, written and directed by Jefferson Moore. It is about a meek, docile and very brave 12 year old girl named Clancy who runs away from her apartment where her alcoholic abusive mother also resides. She befriends a homeless vet Nick who has fallen on hard times with a regretful past. Clancy has a strong faith. She teaches the homeless vet about the love, grace, mercy and forgiveness of Jesus Christ as well as other truisms. Unfortunately a corrupt mayor gets wind of the social services case against the girl’s mother and how it is linked to the reported runaway. He frames the homeless man as a kidnapper holding the girl hostage so he can make it look like he rescues her in order to get reelected. He sends a law enforcement team to capture the homeless man. Nick comes out and stands outside a dilapidated shack with broken wood and openings while Clancy ducks inside. The homeless man ducks as some of the police officers take aim. Unfortunately, Clancy gets shot due to the bullets making it in through the openings. Nick’s police officer friend clears everything up and the mayor gets charged for corruption. Nick gets to visit Clancy in the hospital. She appears to be on the mend while plans to adopt her go underway.

Alas, this precious child with strong faith never gets adopted. She dies before Nick has a chance to visit her again. Nick goes through another period of grief, but then replays in his head some of the things Clancy taught him. He overcomes and rises above his grief and finds a good job. It’s a happy ending for Nick. Clancy goes home to be with Jesus.

I bawled when the end credits started rolling. I hugged Mercy and shed tears onto her neck. My passion for helping at risk youths has only gotten stronger. I have not been able to cry that often, so why did this movie make me cry? It could be because I am still sad about deaths in my own life, including that of my dad. My heart breaks for disadvantaged children. Only this child had found Jesus. She was at peace and content, not afraid to die.

I then went to bed. I woke up in the middle of the night thinking about another movie I remember seeing long ago that I had a similar reaction to. It had been brought to the forefront of my consciousness. Over 20 years ago I saw the movie The Crow starring Brandon Lee. The story plot is not of the Lord. I watched it at a friend’s house when I was not as mature in the Lord. I remember Brandon Lee and how handsome he was. It was sad how Brandon Lee’s character died in the movie especially since he also died in real life at the same time. I remember how I felt when the end credits rolled at the end of that movie and the song “It Can’t Rain all the Time.” by Jane Siberry played. To say I was feeling sad would be an understatement. I felt sorrow and grief since the movie was so melancholy. The movie did not glorify God, however Jane Siberry’s song is so beautiful for she sings about love prevailing and grief not lasting forever. It really tugs at your heartstrings.

The Bible promises that death is not forever. According to 1 Corinthians 15:54, death is swallowed up in victory. Jesus defeated death on the cross. Psalm 30:5 says that crying may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning. According to Revelation 21:4 God will wipe every tear from our eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or pain, for the old order of things have passed away.

I choose to praise God for the joy that is ours in Christ Jesus.

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Childlikeness is to be cherished

Children are naturally outgoing. They enjoy laughing and their hearts are merry as they reach out for connection. That’s how God wired them. Having someone value you and treat you like you matter and that you have worth is a precious gift. Children still need to learn kindness, sharing and caring, but it seems to come easy for mentally healthy children to be friendly. I believe I too used to be friendly. My mom told me I used to say hello to people as a two year old. However, I have been painfully shy for as long as I can remember. I can’t remember the specifics, but I believe I was shamed for my friendliness towards others by someone, who didn’t want my company. I recently saw a video put out by the Campaign to End Loneliness of children befriending stranger adults in a coffee shop.  It really resonated with me. It hurts to be alone and not in relationship with others. Spending time with others is my love language, yet it has hardly been spoken to me. It is great to commune with others over a meal for example. Gatherings and parties where people celebrate and cherish one another are beautiful things. I long to be in connection with others. It is a gift of God. I know that our relationship with God is of upmost importance. Childlikeness, which includes enjoying being in relationships and spreading good cheer is something to be cherished, not frowned upon. We can learn a lesson from these children instead of shunning them like children were in the old days when they should be seen and not heard. It hurts a child to reach out to someone that matters to them only to be shown that they do not matter. This how division starts. Children get penalized for being happy, then for being sad, and then their spirits end up getting crushed. We could learn a lot from children instead of trying to fit them into our mold. Nowadays we have too many people suffering from loneliness and rejection and made to feel that they do not matter or have value. Not just adults hurt children via emotional abuse or neglect, but other children too in the form of bullying. Today, 50% of teenagers are depressed between suffering from accusations and assaults on their character, and being rejected and jeered by their peers as well as facing this overall harsh and brutal culture and values that surround them.

The lessons that young happy children teach us are profound. We need to value one another and celebrate an embrace one another, treating one another like we are important and that we matter. The word communication actually means common meaning making. We need to be in harmony and in unity with one another. People need acceptance and respect. The country is more divided now than ever. People cannot speak up for what they believe in, lest they be condemned, so they suffer silently. A lot of people particularly the mentally ill, the downtrodden, the poor and the oppressed do not  have a voice and are not being heard. We are taught to put up and shut up. There is a lack of respect and trust as people are not being listened to or shown that others care. When people do not feel accepted, it is a major cause of loneliness in children and adults alike. The lesson here is that people want to feel that their company is enjoyed and that they have worth. Cheerful sweetness has been wired into our hearts by God but sadly, as we grow older and/or emotionally abused as children or as adults, we suffer from a lack of enthusiasm about being around other people even though we long to be shown we are loved. Jesus says “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 8:3. Children long for security and safety and since they have a natural affinity to express themselves, they need an environment where they can be cheerful, sweet and playful as well as cry when something is wrong without fear. Sweetness, tenderness, beauty, nature, adventure, intimacy, are attributes of the kingdom and of heaven and children instinctively enjoy these things and they should not be withheld from them.

Adults long for the beauty and sweetness of heaven deep down as well as relationship, since God wired all people that way. Sadly there are brokenhearted adults whose childhood was not happy or they experienced severe emotional abuse in their adulthood or both. Even if these people did not get the respect (given the freedom to be happy or express happiness) or security (given the freedom to cry or seek comfort and receiving needed comfort) and have suffered arrested emotional development as a result, they still need grace, mercy and unconditional love. Although, they may have some measure of immaturity or childishness in addition to childlikeness, their voices should still be heard. They should still be listened to and taken seriously and believed in. If they have dreams especially those placed on their hearts by God that can be achieved by normal people, but are not yet equipped, or still do not have the skills or the know how or are unsure of the steps to take, or still have not figured it out, etc., then we still should believe in them, even if we cannot mentor them or invest in them for the time being. God does not call the equipped, He equips the called. If adults with mental illness due to unresolved hurts or brokenness have a dream that God put on their hearts even though there is a big chasm between where they are and where they need and desire to be to serve in the capacity God called them to, they still need our support rather than being disregarded, dismissed or written off. God will send a divine mentor to invest in their lives when the time is right, and if God is laying it on your heart to help a broken hearted person make their dreams come true, please heed Him.

Usually children who are allowed to be kids and play and have fun are more likely to be successful when adults and better servants, contrary to what many parents might think. Some parents, particularly authoritarians, withhold fun from their children and make  slaves of them for example, or if they are at least disciplinarians including those who suffer mental illness themselves will shame them for being what God made them to be like I was unfortunately, inhibiting them from healthy growth and development and becoming sound capable adults. The last things adults with improper upbringings need is more lack of grace and shame and accusations dumped on them.

We live in a fallen world with many broken, hurting troubled people who need our help. We need to be like the children in the video and live by their example and value all people from all walks of life, giving them love, respect, grace, mercy, compassion and tenderness, and showing them that they are valued and that they matter. God qualifies a willing heart who wants to love others by serving or cheering them up whether a child or an adult. In other words those who want to love need to be loved back by helping them love using the language given to them by God. Their motives should not be misjudged or misunderstood, but welcomed and appreciated. If they lack the skills to serve in the way they are willing to, yet are teachable they deserve and need our support and our time. Let us love one another right now.

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Shame off You by Denise Pass a Must Read!

24296798_1172849322850524_666260400305388602_nI met Denise Pass at a women’s gathering through NorthStar Women’s Network studying a Christian book with several women sitting at each table. I did not actually meet her face to face at the gathering, but I remember her standing up at her table to answer for her group. After the gathering, Denise sent an e-mail to all of those who attended the gathering encouraging them to get in touch with her on Social Media. So I found her on FaceBook and friended her right away and she friended me back. I told her I was at the women’s gathering. I went to her home page and subscribed. I checked my e-mail periodically and my FaceBook. Since I signed up on her website for updates, announcements, etc., about a little over a week later, I got an e-mail announcement. I noticed that she had a conference on the 25th. I went back on FaceBook to find her and gather more information. At the time, I did not realize she had a Launch team FaceBook group for the release of her book. I wasn’t going to join at first, because I did not see myself as someone who was qualified to join the team. I saw a post she made saying that people would be entered to win prizes if they shared a photo. I tried to share the photo and she sent me a private message to inform me that I made a boo boo. I wrote back and had additional questions for her including her upcoming conference. We chatted for a while and she convinced me to sign up for the Shame off You Book Launch Team Facebook group. She also said that she hopes to see me on August 25th for the Unstuck from Shame conference at her church. Since then I have been closely following her on FaceBook and checking the Shame off You Book Launch Team group for updates. She asked her team members to paste her announcements to their FaceBook walls. One of the reasons why I got on board with Denise’s cause without hesitation is because I do often feel rejected, misunderstood, judged, shamed and unimportant like I don’t matter and that I am undeserving of God’s blessings. I got an advanced reader copy of her book and read it. While waiting for it’s arrival, I enjoyed communing with Denise on FaceBook, reading her posts, reading her blogs, listening to her podcasts, and watching her video presentations as well as commenting on them. I liked and loved her posts and she liked my loved my posts. Of course I also chatted with her from time to time via private message. Her warm radiant face as could be seen on her videos captivated me. I enjoyed her sweet, compassionate demeanor and her passion for setting women free from shame. I loved seeing her smile and her laugh is just wonderful!

Setting others from shame has become my passion too even though I still struggle with it. In fact my struggling with it makes me all the more adamant about changing lives in the way my life needs to be changed. I have promised God that I will pay it forward to others when He helps me and that I want my pain to become my passion when he rids me of my hurts, which are shame based. As for Denise’s book, it taught me a lot. This book speaks of the heartbreaking life she has had to endure. She reveals truths as to why we react with shame including not being accepted for example. She challenges readers to believe what God says about you instead of seeking approval from others. She explains why shame is rooted in fear of man, pride and insecurity, which cause us to believe we’re not good enough. She says how you need to read the bible about what God says about you since His opinion is what matters most. She uses biblical truth to show us how to change our beliefs about ourselves. A must read.

I finally attended her Unstuck from Shame Conference yesterday. It was wonderful finally meeting her face to face and hearing her speak. The worship songs were wonderful. Her teachings during the conference is based on her book, and I learned some new things as well. In summary, her definition of shame is an accusation against our soul that who we are or what we have is not enough. It was touching seeing how she spoke of God as her advocate as she recalled her time in court. I turned to her afterwards with some of my concerns and questions. She was gracious but firm when I told her that the voices of my past cause me to be susceptible to the formation of new messages in my mind when things don’t work out thereby causing me to feel that I do not deserve the things I am hoping for or wishing for now. She prayed for me, for she could see that I had a lot of baggage. It was awesome. I am still struggling to heed some of her teachings, but will not give up until I am fully freed from shame, healed of my hurts and made whole. It’s a matter of unlearning what I was taught and reprogramming my mind according to Romans 12:2, thereby changing my thoughts and beliefs. I visited her church this morning as well. Sadly, my husband and son had to leave during the service because of my son crying, but Denise was still very gracious telling me they were having breakfast downstairs and for my husband and son to join us. It was great introducing her to my son and husband. She tenderly said hello to my son even as he was wiping his eyes, and understands that he has autism.

I was so tired when I got home since I had to shop for school supplies and groceries on the way home from Denise’s church in Culpeper to my home in Manassas. I took a nap but not until I prayed to God about a few things. When I awoke from my nap, I discovered a new private message from Denise. It said:

“Praying for you still, Janet. God wants to heal you from all the damage of people who have shamed you your whole life. I pray that he will set you completely free. You are on the right track and God loves you so very much. Thank you for coming to church today.

I’m so thankful that God blessed me with this new divine connection, a sister in Christ. I had been begging God to bring divine connections into my life and Denise is an answer to prayer. It’s definitely a God thing! I hope to join forces with Denise in sharing the Shame off You message especially as I reclaim my identity as a daughter of the King.

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The Poor need encouragement not a lecture

I am just so infuriated and disappointed at the lack of compassion and grace the evangelicals who claim to follow Christ have by blaming the poor for their situation. Based on my research and with hearing other Christians speak, they blame the poor for lack of morals, principles and virtues rather than systemic injustice or lack of help. They seem to expect the poor to get out of their deep ruts on their own without help and get a job.

At the very least people who call themselves Christians need to consider that the poor are most likely brokenhearted and hurting and should be given love and encouragement and need to be lifted up and empowered by letting them know they have worth and value and that they matter. They need grace and support to get back on their feet. No, we don’t want to enable them, but nine out of ten people who are particularly concerned about enabling the homeless really don’t care about the help that would truly change their lives for the better either.

I want to start a ministry that truly ministers to the homeless in a way that really changes their lives instead of just what is needed for one night, food, a bed or worse kicking them out of their tent cities. If a homeless person succumbs rather than overcomes, the Christians are the first to blame them for making the wrong choices. You cannot judge what is in their hearts. Only God can do that. 1 Samuel 16:7. The homeless need people to care about what is on their hearts, whether they were hurting their whole lives or are merely discouraged and depressed about being homeless or about what happened to them before they became homeless. They need to have their stories heard and then take the steps to really lift them out of poverty in a way that works.

The sad thing is that I have no idea what to do that would give the poor and homeless a new leash on life. I am crying to God to give me the idea and resources as well as the connections and education needed. I just know deep down that there is something wrong with the attitudes a lot of Americans including Christians have towards the poor. I am at risk of falling through the cracks myself. I have a hurting, broken heart myself. I have a good paying job that pays the bills, but too much can potentially go wrong in this society and brutal economy where people care so little about whether you have enough and/or think you do not deserve to be paid well. I know how it feels to be brushed aside as though I do not matter. I know how it feels to be alone and excluded. I choose to forgive those I deem to be heartless, uncaring, cold, mean, unloving etc. and those who hurt me personally. I was having peace about my own life, trusting in God’s provision and no longer fearful about my finances when God once again burdened me about the poor and homeless. In my last post I wrote about how I visited the homeless with Mercy.

What does God really want American Christians to do? Are they really doing what God commands in His Word? Why do top Christian leaders seem to support corrupt business practices since they think the little people do not deserve to be valued and treated better for a job well done for example when they should be allied with the poor and fighting unjust treatment against them? Why? My heart is crying about this and it hurts!

I was taught my whole life that Jesus cares for the poor in the church where I grew up. I have learned over the years more and more about how evangelicals feel about those who are not blessed like they are and the poor. I understand the principles of Solomon, but it makes me heartsick when Christians judge others for not following what scripture says about money and wealth before taking the speck out of their own eyes first. They may have followed the principles for wealth and God has thus blessed them for that, but they still don’t get the heart of God’s whole message. God expects those he rewards for good money management and hard work to also roll up their sleeves and get the poor what they need to get out of poverty as God also commands.

Anyway, I crying for hope. Hope that God will come intervene and lay it on the hearts of American Christians what the real compassionate gospel of Jesus Christ is and what it means to truly help people. I promise God I will do what I can to help the less fortunate when He equips me with what I need to do so.

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Homeless man overtaken by the love of Jesus

Mercy and I went to a Presbyterian church in Vienna Virgina where they were housing some homeless for the night. We visited with other volunteers in the Veterans Moving Forward program. Mercy and I will eventually be visiting veterans in the program including troops coming back from overseas.

Tonight, I wanted to share with you an amazing experience of witnessing a man who was deeply touched by the love of Jesus that Mercy and I got to be a part of.

First, Mercy and I went around the room to visit with and meet with people. We went around and said hello and shared the love of Jesus with various people. It was a jovial atmosphere. There were a couple of guitarists playing praise and worship songs. It was such beautiful music.

There were people enjoying the music, and one man in particular was caught up in the sound of the music that was so glorifying to God. Mercy and the man met and immediately, the man fell in love with her. Mercy showed her sweet affection towards this man as he shed tears of joy. Mercy licked his face and nuzzled him as he put his hands around her burying his face into her. He also reached and grabbed my hand. The love of Jesus was moving this man through the music and Mercy as well as my willingness to hold his hand. He was so overwhelmed by the love of Jesus, that he gradually let himself fall to the floor. He laid there still for a while, and the nurse on duty ran over to see if he was all right. He got up again and continued to worship God and sing along to the music.

This was such a lovely experience, one that I will remember for a very long time.

 

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Common Attitudes

The outcome of the election shows how people are not as accepting as I hoped. It is a common attitude to get people to conform our else be excluded. Sadly, too many American Christians are acting just like the world in their lack of compassion, lack of kindness, and lack of tenderness particularly towards those who are oppressed and downtrodden.

Jesus said that blessed are the peacemakers. Taking a stand for the less fortunate, minorities, the mentally ill and the outcast and promoting peace tends to run counter to the Evangelical movement. Taking a stand for justice is not a priority for the American church like I hoped. It seems as though the gospel and peacemaking are at odds with each other.

As someone with mental illness, I have come a long way, playing by the rules as best as I can. Many will think that mentally ill people who sincerely follow their passions need to adjust better to society. I agree that healthy people who are less needy are more able to function well in society, but that is no reason for healthy people to look down on others who are struggling. We are all mentally ill to one degree or another. Mentally ill people are challenged to adapt to the ways of the world, including excluding others who don’t measure up or conform. I believe adaptation goes both ways. The mentally ill in America still deserve more respect and support than they are receiving.

There are still people being judged despite doing the best they can, who are rejected and discriminated against needlessly. We need to take a stand for justice and for civil rights as well as be more compassionate to those who have trouble adjusting instead of looking down on them.

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Comfort in the midst of conflict

I was taking Mercy for a typical walk as the sun was setting. We went through the playground like we have so many times before. There is a group of kids that often come out to pet Mercy. She had her typical interactions with the kids, a few girls and a small boy. The small boy tries to climb on Mercy and so I gently correct him so as for him not to climb on her. Mercy was smart enough to walk away this time.

Suddenly, I heard a woman raise her voice, using profanity as a boy ran off of the playground. Apparently, she was infuriated as to how he was treating the other kids. “He’s just a boy.” said one of the other adults. I am not sure if the person defending the child was his father. The woman continued to yell using profanity as she walked our way. She quietly slipped past Mercy while the other kids were stroking her, obviously in need of her comforting prescense. One of the girls petting Mercy was the woman’s daughter actually. The argument between the woman and the other adults then escalated. One by one the kids bid Mercy farewell.

As I left I could her her yelling and asking her daughter to get her father.

My heart breaks over kids having to witness loud exchanges, or arguments, which can sometimes escalate into domestic disputes. I wish to minister to children and adults who have been victims of domestic violence.

Disputes and conflict, unfortunately, are all too common. It is possible that the lad the woman was yelling after had been bullying other kids. Kids needs to learn responsible behavior and to be taught not to mistreat others, however, it is also not okay for adults to verbally abuse children, regardless of what they have done. I am determined to do something to promote peace, unity and harmony and decrease strife among peoples after I get my counseling degree. I am passionate about peace and I wish to make my contribution to the world by helping others resolve conflict with or without a dog at my side.

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