People over things.

A page from my private notes.

It took me a while to understand what was happening within myself in response to the horrific event on February 14th.  I had the experience and presence of mind to know that we were all navigating through a collective state of shock in the immediacy of the shooting.  I know some of us still are.  As my true feelings began to permeate the shock, my mind was forced to face the sadness of the finality and reality of what had occurred.  These beautiful souls were no longer here in the flesh for their loved ones to interact with, kiss, hug, touch, watch grow.  Though their spirits will always be here,  family and friends have to adjust to their physical absence.   As much as I knew that in my mind and I experienced the deep sadness that it brought, I knew there was another level of pain waiting for me when my heart and mind would connect and I would truly begin to feel.   The longer it took to connect, the more I knew I was in a funky state of waiting.

Eventually it clicked —my heart and mind were having trouble reconciling this horrific reality, because it never should have happened.  This great loss wasn’t due to a sickness, a natural disaster or an accident (even unexpected).  This was preventable, and I know I am speaking for many when I say that it made it more difficult to accept.  Sure, we were initially met with incomprehensible grief, but there was also a righteous anger that came too, competing for its place in our hearts and minds as we processed this loss.

I have not watched the news.  I typically read the news versus watching anyway.  For the last month, I have purposely protected myself from watching, because I was living the news.  I didn’t need any outside source to tell me what I was watching, experiencing and processing first hand.

But just because I didn’t watch, that didn’t mean I didn’t hear.  I heard of young voices demanding change.  I heard of angry parents publically demanding answers.  I’m glad that they’re using their voices, but I worry about their healing in the midst of it.   They shouldn’t have to choose between fervently putting energy towards their battle for healing and their battle for change — their battle for something like this to never, ever so easily happen again.  It was too easy.  I have a problem with that.  It should never have been that easy.

I had a conversation with my sister a couple weeks ago.  She lives in Massachusetts, is a trauma nurse and knows first hand the destruction the path of a bullet can leave.   She also works as a bereavement counselor for parents who have lost children.  She has taken the losses she has personally experienced and directed that journey of enduring heartache to finding hope and healing into helping others walk through theirs.   While catching up with her, she noted that many of these families are challenged with what she terms as “distracted grief”.  I was immediately marveled by the label that so accurately described what our community was experiencing.  The sudden or any loss of a child is hierarchically the greatest pain experienced in life.  Losing a child and having other things interfere with wrapping one’s mind around that loss, impedes on working towards healing.

A message.

Through my processing, I wondered what would happen if we all took 10 seconds to attempt put ourselves in the place of these parents’ shoes, these wives’ shoes to receive such devastating news.  Even in the greatest contemplative conception of that nightmare, we wouldn’t be able to truly touch the pain they are feeling.  And we would barely be able to bare the heartache our imagination would produce.   If this had been you, would you fight with a righteous vengeance to ensure it didn’t happen again?  Fight for the implementation of increased safety measures — tangible improvements on the ones that failed your son, daughter, spouse?  Through the pain, yes we would choose to live on.  We know deep down our loved ones would want that.   We would not, however, be permitted to forget how their lives changed, how our lives changed, and take action to ensure that they were not lost in vain – we’d fight to find purpose through our pain.  As we seek to heal, please do not forget the horror we felt on that day.  It really could have happened to any one of us.

Some encouragement to our tenacious fighters.

Common sense would tell us that this fight has little to do with an elephant or a donkey.  With so many battles in our country to argue or debate over, we shouldn’t argue or debate over the protection of life at all levels.  People should always matter over things.  It seems foolish to argue over what I get to have versus who gets to live.  That will never be a logical argument to the sane.

I want to encourage the fighters who feel like you are in a war zone fighting for the simplest and most fundamental rights we have – you are not ill-equipped.  Your fight is right and it is just.  Thank you for allowing your youth to remind us of what we lost on our journey to adulthood – fervor, zest, hope in our unified power for change.  There is no argument that can stand against the right to protect your life and win.  I understand and value our historical right for freedom, but there is no good win in a fight for freedom that values things over life.  Our constitution was created and progressively amended to ensure inclusion of rights for all, not for some.  The fight that you are in, has been modeled before you and the resistance that you feel has been overcome before you.  Keep fighting the good fight, you’re on the right side of this and you are not alone.  Your courage is contagious and moves those in the back row further towards the front, as they become empowered by your relentless effort to keep pushing forward and your tenacity in not succumbing to distraction or resistance.

Final thoughts

This battle of the human heart has just begun its restless struggle of wrestling with the convictions we used to so easily pacify with apathy.  My hope is that we are not comfortable with remaining passive and do whatever we are uniquely called to, to fight for what is right.

One week from now, people will gather worldwide with a singular message.  A single agenda.  People matter more than things.  They should have always mattered more than things.  Somewhere along the line we got this out of order and now these kids are leading us back to the place where we got lost, simplifying the direction of our narrative.  We are sorry that we did not fight for the children of Sandy Hook like we are fighting now for our own and those to come.  I implore every reader to fight with conviction as if this had happened to you.  I cannot imagine a household that would stand for inclusion of access to this type of weapon if it had indiscriminately taken the life of your child or spouse.  There will always be sickness and evil in the world.  To say this was a painful wakeup call for all of us is an obvious understatement.  Now we are faced with responding – would you rather fight for evil and sickness to lose ground, or selfishly hold onto your “mine”, ignorantly thinking you will be protected the next time evil indiscriminately strikes?

I’ve been humbled to join the fight begun by others, #neveragain.

 

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What a year may bring

Last year around this time I was in great anticipation of my 40th birthday.  I had planned an intimate gathering, but I was excited for life beyond the celebration.  I was excited to live out the mantra that had first entered my mind in my late teens/early twenties, "when I turn 40 I will become a woman".  It was an odd thought I knew, but I knew it to be true.  It was a thought that would continually present itself over the course of the next two decades.

I hadn't deferred my growth leading up to this year, but I will tell you I've known for nearly two decades in my spirit that my life would take a dramatic shift…and it did.

40 was immediately met with the death of my father, which unearthed a hunger for authentic living.

40 brought a little less patience for nonsense, but an unbridled boldness for walking in truth.

40 solidified the importance of planning aggressively for what's to come, while living actively today.

At 40, I reminded myself of the value of doing one thing at a time.  Multi-tasking dilutes performance.

Leading up to 40, I learned to fine tune my ability to drill deep into the singular voice of Discernment over the chaotic volume of the masses.

I moved beyond just trusting my gut, in my personal life, to blindly following my gut.  In turn, I found myself constantly walking in the blessing of doing what discernment called.

At 40, I learned that the overnight changes in my metabolism only created necessary changes in my overall view of health.  From there I found food freedom and it was just that — freeing.

This year I made time to write, to write, to write and to share.

I took the time to send that text, make that phone call, have that coffee, show up for the things that mattered and gave myself a break for not always being available for the things that I could not.

I purposed myself to plan time to rest my mind.  I prioritized decompressing and refueling daily as highly as I did sleep, and I reaped the benefits of renewed energy each morning.

At 40, I sought out new challenges and adventures and chose to do them even if I was afraid.  I intuitively knew each accomplishment was enabling me to achieve higher heights.  I know I am still climbing.  I hope to always be climbing.


My hope is that each of you finds your '40', and purposes yourself to live your best life knowing there is no ceiling that limits you other than the one that you create.  I hope you break through and break down the obstacles that stand in your way — that you not be content with remaining hopeless and muted, knowing there's a world that awaits your participation.  Your participation may just be the game changer the world needs.

Joycy

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can Faith & Fear Coexist? Update!

Please join me in welcoming today’s response to this week’s question of the week from a fellow blogger Jennifer Salazar.Q&A


Not too long ago I found myself at the crossroads of a life changing decision that without a doubt was guided by God.  While gathering the courage to make this decision I realized that this was going to be a season where I needed to trust God like never before.  I needed to surrender to God and have the faith to let go and let God.

The same day I made the decision to walk on faith, fear became my intolerable companion.

During this process of spiritual growth I found myself asking if it was possible for faith and fear to coexist.  After thinking about it for a while I considered that the right answer was NO.

So at this point, not only did I have my intolerable companion fear, but shame (fear’s BFF) decided to join the party.

Why, when I was guided by God and decided to walk by faith, could fear still affect me so much?

I had to go deeper to understand what was going on and this is my conclusion:

Faith is the shield that God gave us to protect ourselves and to put an end to the enemy’s attacks.

In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  Ephesians 6:16 NIV

…and God didn’t give us a spirit of fear.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7 NLT

Yet it was clear to me that fear was a way to test my faith and when our faith is tested our perseverance is made stronger.

For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.  James 1:3 NLT

So there is no room for shame.  All this is a process where God is teaching me to be more like Jesus.  Now I know that the minute faith kicks in fear leaves the room.  I have become certain that faith is a real power —that faith in God is the cure for all my fears.

These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.  1 Peter 1:7

So the next time you are facing fear, remember that you are human and it is normal, lean on God’s power and understand that you too are working out your faith.
∼Jenny

Wow!! Thank you so much Jenny for the question this week and your response!!  One thing I learned through the process of contemplating this question is that faith is not hope.  Although hope is great, it comes with hesitation.  Faith is belief and I cannot believe and have fear (doubt) at the same time.  Thank you all who shared your thoughts and experiences – I look forward to connecting with you all later this week! 😉 Joycy

Update – Do you think crying is a sign of strength or weakness?

Thank you all for joining the conversation on facebook and twitter! We learn from each other :)).  

I am going to respond to this week’s question with two simple words: Jesus wept.

Jesus was anything but weak.  Jesus was fully man and fully God. (If you need further explanation on this – you can ask Him when you get to heaven 🙂 ).  I know many of us have heard this verse before.  Today I want to examine the context of this verse to understand the necessity and purpose of our tears.

The Death of Lazarus

11 Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”

When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days, and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”….

11 After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.”

12 His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.” 13 Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep.

14 So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, 15 and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” (John 11, NIV)

Jesus waited until Lazarus had been dead four days before he arrived to wake him from the dead.  There is always purpose and layers of purpose in His actions and movements in our lives.  This story is no exception.  Here Jesus needed those who were watching and following to understand with certainty the fact of Lazarus’ death.  15 and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe.”  One layer here is to demonstrate the power of Christ through the Father.  Interesting enough, Jesus did not doubt the power within Him to raise Lazarus from the dead.  Yet, as we read further along in the passage, we see Him modeling His humanity as well – the second layer.

32 When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked.

“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.

35 Jesus wept.

36 Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”

Jesus wept.  He felt sadness and allowed Himself to express it.  That was not weakness.  Those in observance attributed it to the depth of His love.   Jesus allowed Himself to weep and to feel the sadness, BUT He did not stay there.  He continued to move, as He was called, to fulfill the Father’s will.  But nowhere in here was this seen as a sign of weakness — it was a natural emotion considering the death of His beloved friend (even knowing He was going to bring him back to life).  Some commentaries say that He was grieving the lack of faith from those who followed.  I think that we become scared of allowing ourselves to feel sadness or pain because we are worried that we will become stuck there.   The reality is if we do not deal with our pain, it will ultimately hold us back.  Nothing irritates me more than the “encouragement” that comes in the form of this statement, “Be strong” when it reinforces not showing emotion.  If strength is seen as an avoidance of feeling, then I do not want any part of that.  True strength comes from facing our heartaches and trials head on and dealing with what comes…like Jesus did in the days and weeks leading to the cross.  He cried out to God while there, demonstrating that He felt the pain, He felt the burden of our sin,  He felt the absence of the Father under the weight of our sin, AND He kept on moving and endured the cross for us and for God’s glory.

This is a longer post, but I could have easily added more, because I feel that this is a part of becoming unplugged.  By truly modeling our emotions, actions and direction after the One who modeled perfection.  We have become so lost in the ideals of our culture that we have forgotten the origins of how and why we were created.  Continue to seek after your purpose in this life and I believe that you will find true freedom.  I will leave you with this quote that I captured from a fellow therapist, “We need to feel, in order to deal, so that we can heal.”  Be strong my friends and start feeling.

File a Restraining Order

Today’s post is connected to this week’s Question of the week: If you had a friend who spoke to you in the same way that you sometimes speak to yourself, how long would you allow this person to be your friend?

My son is one of the most creative, funniest, left of center, out-of-the-box thinkers that I know.  And I seriously do not say that because he is mine, anyone who knows him would say that same.

  Which brings me to this little gem I found in his backpack: letter2c

Yes, you read that correctly, he wrote (and served) a restraining order!  He’s in middle school and the son of a therapist, so maybe that gives a little explanation as to how he came up with this? lol! (Though I absolutely take zero credit :))  Raising Isaiah has been a wonderful adventure and I am grateful for the opportunity to lead himI will say that when I slow down and press in close enough, he has often taught me.

Now, I have blurred the names to protect the ‘innocent’- 🙂  But I wanted you to have a real visual as to what he did.  When I asked him why he “filed” a restraining order, he said he and a friend had continually asked the classmate to stop bothering them in class and he wouldn’t stop, so they took the next logical step 🙂 and drafted a restraining order, with witnesses and all!  He had a problem, he addressed it directly, that didn’t work and he took it to another level.  (He is friends with the ‘defendant’ in this case, but he just wasn’t going to tolerate the persistent irritation.)  He wasn’t content with the constant negativity that met him each day and he wasn’t going to allow it to become the norm.  We should all do the same – why do we allow our negative thoughts to drive our behavior and dictate our mood?

2 Corinthians 10:5, reads, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”  NIV

That is some pretty strong language there – demolish, take captive…God knew how difficult it was going to be to wrestle our thoughts to make them fall in line with His truth about His creationHis masterpieces.   He gave us directives, not suggestions.  He gives us His word to cling onto to remind us that we do not have to live captive to the lies we tell ourselves.  So today, on Isaiah’s birthday, I present to you the “Isaiah Challenge” and implore you to file a restraining order against the lies that bind.   The lies that tell you you are not good enough, that keep you wrestling with jealousy, that keep you pinned down by the memories of the mistakes of the past…that stifle your voice that prevent you from fully experiencing the freedom that you have been given through a relationship with Christ.  Tell those thoughts where they need to go and what they are and are not permitted to do.  Take back the control over your temperament and your feelings.  If you feel heavily weighed down by these thoughts I highly suggest that you seek out a Christian counselor in your area to help walk you through this process.  YOU DO NOT NEED TO LIVE THIS WAY.  Get your truth in order and serve the devil his papers today!

Do not be anxious about anything

I remember writing this verse on the board one day when I used to teach.  I got halfway through when I gained a deeper understanding of what this passage was really saying.  There is purpose in how the text is presented. “Do not be anxious for anything, but in every situation with prayer communicating and petition asking WITH THANKSGIVING being thankful for what He gives even before it’s given present your requests to God.”

This is where a deeper sense of trust is built – in being thankful IN ADVANCE for however He will respond because we trust He knows best.
“…And the peace of God which transcends all understanding it may not even make sense will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
Go. Ask. Thank. And claim your peace.  Simple formula right?? I dare you to try it the next time anxiety comes knocking for attention…