Category Archives: Obstacles

Slightly burnt toast

I am enamored with the phrase “slightly burnt toast”. Although, I am not entirely sure why. There’s a parallel somewhere in there between my life experiences and the phenomenon of slightly burnt toast. I’m gonna see if I can suss it out.

I love toast. Golden, crispy, all melty with butter (and sometimesb jelly). There’s something about well-made toast that just makes me happy and all melty inside. I’m a little fussy about how my toast is cooked. I don’t like it undercooked. I don’t like it overcooked (Sam I am must be around here somewhere). I like it to be the perfect shade of golden brown.

I don’t own a toaster due to the fact that I have about 1 foot square of counter space to do all of my cooking and dirty dish stacking. So, we cook our toast in the oven under the broiler. This can be a little precarious if one gets distracted easily(ahem) and forgets they are cooking toast in the oven. Sometimes my toast gets all crispy and black. Yuck.

I’m sure you can imagine my disappointment if I burn my toast to the point of carbonization.

But I’m not talking about toast bricks here. I’m talking about toast that is slightly burnt. Not quite black, beyond golden brown, but still somewhat edible (Especially if I slather it with cream cheese and jelly). Slightly burnt toast is not quite perfect in my mind. It is slightly left of my ideal. Not burnt enough to hate, but too burnt to fully love.

I realized the last time I made slightly burnt toast (which involved a little bit of whining to myself), that sometimes I feel the same about myself as I feel about slightly burnt toast. Not bad enough to hate, but not good enough to fully love. Tainted, slightly to the left of center, just a little off, a little too sinful, a little too burnt.

Sometimes I don’t feel good enough to be loved. By God, or by other people (mostly other people). I’m not perfect enough, pretty enough, popular enough, witty enough to be loved. I’m slightly tainted with my sins, idiosyncrasies, weirdness, genetic makeup, acquired habits, weight problem, opinionated mouth. The list goes on.

Don’t get me wrong. I realize that I am not perfect because only one Man on this Earth was ever capable of being perfect. I also realize that I am a mostly okay person. But that slightly burnt feeling keeps me back from fully being who I was created to be. It keeps me back from fully expressing myself. Mostly because I crave to be loved by people. I am pretty sure God loves me the way I am, although sometimes I wonder. But that’s another story for another day

Sometimes I wonder why so-and-so doesn’t talk to me. Or why such-and-such (I have changed the names of people to protect the innocent) won’t even look my way. I imagine that it’s because I am slightly to the left of what I need to be to be their friend. But my Friend won’t let me settle there with my tent and campfire, burning my toast and cursing myself for it.

I get the feeling best place to be is right where God has me right now. Not looking for approval from those that aren’t meant to be my friends. Not comparing myself to my imagined “ideal” person. Instead, He pushes my thoughts towards the friends who approve of me. The ones who like and love me despite my deficiencies. The people who pick me up when I am down. The ones who make me tea and imperfect toast when I am sad. The ones who celebrate my successes with parties. The friends who take my delicate dreams carefully into their hands to encourage me. The ones to whom I can pour out my appreciation love and reciprocate with tea and toast. The people that God has put in my path. These folks help me to feel perfect, even when I’m not.

So, friends, don’t look for friends in the wrong places. Don’t compare yourself to your imagined ideal friend of those who don’t notice you. Rather, celebrate the friends you have. Make them tea and toast. Wipe their tears (or cry with them). Shout with joy at their successes in life. Tell them about your successes. This is what makes life golden and perfect.

5mf- A single ray of light

It’s easy to forget in the deepest, darkest moments how connected I am. Connected to my immediate family, my church family, all the I have touched, and all the people I will touch. Pain can be overwhelming and convince you that you are alone, that going on with life is hopeless, it might as well end now before more suffering occurs. But if I take a moment to reflect on how severing those connections would hurt those I am connected to, the pain of leaving is great enough to keep me here. Connections are what is keeping me here fighting my way through the muck, the mire, the agony, the hopelessness and despair. Life is so hard all on it’s own. Life is harder when one is forced to deal with pain inflicted by other people who were bigger and stronger. The strongest connection of all keeps a small ray of light shining ever present in the darkness, in the deepest pain, the lowest despair. That connection calls me to take another step, no matter how much it hurts, even if I think my legs are broken, or my muscles torn. A single ray of light offering me hope. “Stay connected”, He says, “don’t give up.”

Telling my story…

My stomach is in knots right now.  I have never publicly stated my story before today.  But, I promised that I would write about what did, or did not happen, this past Saturday.

I was supposed to meet with a gifted counselor to work on an important issue, only, it didn’t happen.  Right now I am trying to deal with the reality of this issue moment by moment until I find release.  Meanwhile, it is only by the grace of God that I am functioning normally right now.

I have suffered with dissociative identity disorder (I offered a link to Wikipedia here, but feel free to read about it wherever you like) for many years.  Not in the Faces of Eve kind of way, I do not move in and out of full-blown personalities regularly.  I am not Jane, or Jim, or any other person.  I am always me.  For me, this means when something traumatic happened, I would squirrel away a part of my personality somewhere safe in my subconscious.  This has meant that sometimes, if a particular personality was present, I would only be able to see things from that perspective.  I was still me, but my thoughts were one-dimensional.

In 2000, through some intense therapy, the Lord integrated 5 personalities.  This was both good and strange.  I no longer had 5 voices in my head, I had one voice, my integrated voice.  It took a couple of years to get used to feeling multiple feelings at once.  11 years later, I can say I  have successfully handled all the feelings a person can have in any given situation at once.  I thought that this was the end of that episode of my life.

Recently, I have become aware of a personality.  It hangs out on the edge of my consciousness.  It is waiting to be brought back into the fold, if you will.  Because the Lord has done this in the past, I know He can do it again.  And, I feel certain he will.  Just not yet.   Excuse me while I remember to breath.

This personality is my sexuality.  I experienced sexual abuse starting at around age 3.  I know for certain that this stopped when I was 11 because my mother and stepfather moved us out to the East Coast.  I had multiple abusers, but my father was most consistent offender.  My childhood is fraught with confusion and pain.  In the moments of this chaos, I hid away my sexuality somewhere else.  And, this part of myself has stayed hidden all this time.  God in His wisdom has decided that now is the time for this last piece of myself to be reintegrated into me.  Because of this, my sexuality has been handicapped.  It’s not quite all there.  I cannot fully express myself.  Some of what I have experienced as an adult has been broken, twisted, and tainted.  I have fought to overcome Satan’s version of my sexual identity.  Thoughts and feelings that I did not understand would crop up.  I always knew that things were not quite right, but I did not understand until recently the full extent of my need.  I need to be healed and put back together.  And, only God can do this.

This is the last piece of the puzzle.  I look forward to the day when I can welcome this last part of myself back to where it belongs.  And, I hope that day comes soon.

 

Milk

I had no ideas about what to write so I asked the Lord for something to write about.  Four words came to mind: milk, honey, plenty, and promise.  These words obviously go together (Promised Land anyone?), but I believe I am supposed to write from heart about them individually.

The word milk automatically makes me think of the Promised Land.  Moses was sent to bring his people to the land “flowing with milk and honey”.  Evidently God sees this as a good thing.  The one thing that speaks to me about the Promised Land was that everything that the Israelites was available to them in this land, if they just did what God told them to do.  The Israelites had a hard time doing this because it took them 40 years to get there.  But they did get there.

I often see myself as one of the wandering Israelites waiting to get to what God has promised me.  In my mind I can just see over the cliff, just enough to know that the promise is there.  I wonder when I will ever get there.  I ask God, “Haven’t I done enough now?”.  I am so ready for the promises.  I am so ready to be there in the Promised Land.  When can I go Lord?

It occurs to me that perhaps I am already there.  I am like a blind beggar sitting in the lush landscape begging for a scrap.  Satan has feed me enough lies that I believe in my blindness as my reality.  I can just smell the flowing milk and honey, but I have yet to taste it.  Perhaps if I stopped believing I was blind and poor, I might be able to partake in the feast before me.

When I accepted Jesus into my heart, I had access to the abundance of God.  Yet, my heart believed that I was not good enough, or clean enough, or whatever enough to take what is rightfully mine.  I could not tap into the infinite and good resources available to me because I believed the darkness more than I believed the light.

Today, I ask you Lord to take the scales from my eyes so that I can see and partake in all that you have given to me.  Amen.

Jesus-colored glasses

Well Just Write! is over.  But, I had the urge to sit down and write something.  So like Mary Kathryn says looks like our experiment worked for me!”  Hear, hear!

In life, so much of how we behave is based on perception.  In psychology (of which I am an undergrad student), learning and behavior typically go hand-in-hand.  Psychologists have been trying to figure just how learning works.  It is basically understood that our brain is a plastic mechanism that takes in information, processes it according our experiences and our genetic make-up and spits back out a reaction, or behavior.  When we are conceived, God chooses our eye color, hair color, personality traits and characteristics, and etc.  We are born with a basic construct.  For those of us who believe that we inherit spiritual factors at conception, we are born with both the good and the bad from our family lines.

As soon as we are born, we start learning.  We learn the smell of our parents, which voice belongs to which face, how to get what we need (i.e. crying for just about everything), and etc.  From birth on, our basic personality structure and learning experiences color how we react to our environment.  For example, my own basic personality has stubbornness/persistence woven into it’s structure because I inherited the physical genes that make me this way from my mother and my father.  I used to be just plain stubborn, now I am persistent.  I used to be stiff-necked and unyielding, now I (mostly) use this trait to help me keep pushing forward into a better place in life.

How I perceive this trait in myself depends on my perception of myself.  How other’s view this trait depends on how other’s perceive me based on their own experiences.  We sometimes call this a filter.  We receive information about our environment, our brain filters the information according to our understanding of things and says “Okay, this input is like this experience, and this is what you usually do”.  We are more likely to react a certain way in any given situation because of our experiences.  Sometimes we are aware of this, and sometimes we are not aware of this.  If I perceive myself as stubborn, I will more than likely behave in a stubborn fashion.  If perceive myself as persistent, I will more than likely behave in a persistent fashion.

How we react all depends on how we see the situation.  This is where Jesus comes in to the picture.  As a Christian, I have a choice; I can either choose to see life and myself wrongly, or I can choose to see life and myself through rightly or according to the truth.  As a Christian I understand that Satan wishes to convince me to chain myself to lies so that I am useless to God and behave wrongly.  Satan wants me to see life through Satan-colored glasses.  Satan will strive to convince us that we need to keep believing his perception.  Believing in lies never gets us very far with God.  Instead, I need to learn the truth because Jesus wants me to view life from his perception (i.e. THE TRUTH), or through Jesus-colored glasses.  It’s our choice everyday in every moment whether we believe the lies or we believe the truth.

If we take off the lies from our eyes and look at things from God’s perspective we understand what is happening from a different point of view (i.e. THE TRUTH).  Life, ourselves, and others begin to look different to us.  We begin to see that person that used to irritate us the way Jesus sees that person.  We begin to understand that persons difficulties.  With God’s help we begin to feel compassion for that person and react to them with grace.  If we allow the truth to permeate our being, we react differently to our circumstances.  We start to behave in way that brings life and light to our life and other’s life.  God’s truth starts to shine through for others to see.  When we allow ourselves to life from a God perspective the kingdom of darkness loses another soul and THE KINGDOM OF LIGHT WINS.  Satan no longer has control.

Isn’t that worth putting on Jesus-colored glasses?

Last day of the Just Write! campaign- Marriage

Today is the last do of the Just Write! campaign hosted by Mary Kathryn Tyson at Beauty of Ashes.  The idea was to prompt us stuck creatives with a single word.  MK would give us a one word prompt (much like Gypsy Mamas five minute Friday) and were to write for 5 unedited minutes.  What has come out of this brain has been interesting.  For the last day of this campaign, I am going to use MK’s prompt but write for as long as I like.

Marriage

No one said coming together for a purpose was easy.  People coming together in a church, a friendship, a project, or a marriage requires some sense of “we” and less sense of “me”.  A sense of “we” means that one must put down one’s own ideas about how things should be.  Growing together is a messy business because we all want our way.  We want our ideas and needs to be higher than other’s ideas and needs.  We want to be first and noticed and to get the credit.  This is because people are inherently selfish.

One of Jesus’ great commands was to “love one another as I have loved you” (John 13:34).  Jesus is the perfect example of what it means to be in unity with another person.  He shares the responsibilities of the Godhead with the Holy Spirit and the Father.  He did not put what he wanted first in his ministry and said “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.” (John 5:19).  Jesus did what was best for the team and for the recipients of his ministry.

Marriage is really no different.  Two people coming together for the purpose of becoming one requires a lot of effort.  Whether or not a marriage can survive this process depends on the attitudes of each person going into the relationship.  Some people think of marriage as a agreement to live as separate entities with separate lives.  While others think of marriage as being completely enmeshed in the other person.  Either model produces unnecessary pain and suffering.  And the pain becomes the focal point out which all interactions occur.  Marriages tend to polarize when people become stuck in their views of the person.  People forget why they got together in the first place.  This is because marriage and partnership involves grafting and blending.

God intends for marriage to be a grafting process that blends together to separate and unique individuals.  Jesus says that when we accept him as our savior, we are grafted into the vine that is God.  Grafting involves cutting from one tree a cultivar, and cutting the host tree for a place to put the cultivar.  This sounds a bit unpleasant.  The beginning of a marriage, that is after the honeymoon, can be messy when one is confronted with all the realities of this other person.  Yet, there is hope.

When a portion of one fruit tree is grafted into another fruit tree, a new species or variety of fruit is produced.  The fruit of a well blended marriage is beautiful to behold.  There is something special about a couple that weathered the worst of the grafting process.  They look at each other with true friendship and love in their eyes.  Their children exemplify the love that exists between.  And most importantly, God is glorified.

Lord, make my marriage a beautiful

Day 8 and Day 9 of Just Write!

Yesterday was kind of a fog of recovering from the weekend + Monday, and some kind of little stomach bug.  So I never got around to doing the post.  I actually miss not writing, so this experiment must be working!  So I am going to write yesterday’s and today’s in this post.

One

One day I will see you again

One day I will be forever yours

One day I will look on your face and feel bliss

One day I will no longer be worried, or frustrated, or angry, or sad, or in pain

One day LOVE will wrap me up in warmth, and comfort, and peace

One day earthly concerns will no longer matter

One day my prayers will be answered

One day I will understand it all

One day it will be you and me and everyone else

One day the mysteries of the universe will unfold themselves to me

One day Jesus will be my bride(groom)

One day the Holy Spirit will no longer be invisible to my naked eye

One day EVIL will be vanquished forever and ever

One day (and already know) I will be in eternity where there is no beginning and no end

One day I will receive the crowns that are mine

One day I will touch the center of the universe

One day I will be filled with joy unending

One day the struggle will cease

One day I will have a job in heaven that is perfectly suited to me

One day I will be with you, and you will be with me.

Peace

Peace that passes all understanding seems so far away from me.  I struggle, I fight, I yearn, and I bleed.  Yet, God promises these things to me.  They are mine for the taking, if only I would reach out my hand and take them.  I understand this with my head, but not necessarily with my heart.  Some days it seems that I like the struggle and bleeding more than I like the peace.  Perhaps the fighting gives me a sense of power.  Perhaps bleeding shows I am alive.  I don’t know, but most of the time I would like to be at peace.  With people like me, sometimes being at peace means being dead, because peace eludes us so easily.  However, I have work to do on this earth before I die, so dying must wait a while.  I’ll go when it is  my time, and not before.  Oh Lord, show me how to reach out and grab peace like a climber grabs a rope to get back up the mountain after a scary plunge from the sheer cliff.  Help me not to squander your gift for me.  Help me to surrender to your ways and your peace in this lifetime.  Help me to know when to pick up my sword, and when to lay it down and rest.  Help me to know true peace that passes all understanding. Help me to know this before death takes me to you.

Eyes- Day 7 of the Just Write! campaign

If  you have been following this at all, you know the drill about what I am doing.  If not, click here.

I  skipped day 6 last Thursday because I was in the hospital with a kidney stone.  I actually missed not writing Thursday (despite the tremendous physical pain) and not writing the 5mf on Friday.  I am taking that as a good sign.

So today’s word is Eyes.

Eyes

Your eyes see me and all that I am.

You are not satisfied to let me stay where I am.

Your eyes look at your creation and say “It is good”.

But, you are not satisfied to leave things tarnished and undone.

Your eyes see my hidden and dark places despite my efforts to hide and shelter my pain.

You are not satisfied to let the darkness rule  my being.

Your eyes see the potential I have despite the sin in my life.

And you are not satisfied to let me leave  my gifts on the floor untouched.

Your eyes see my beginning and my end.

Your are satisfied to water, nurture, and give sunlight to the time in the middle.

You are satisfied to make me a priority and to help me flourish.

You are satisfied to help me be more like Jesus more and more everyday.

Because your eyes see me and all that I am.

Self-Control (Day 2 of the Just Write! campaign)

Welcome to day 2 of the Just Write! campaign here at Beauty in it’s time.  Mary Kathryn Tyson is hosting this campaign in an effort to get her creative juices flowing, and other people’s as well.  I have chosen to participate because I need a kick in the rear to get myself writing more frequently.  So,everyday that she does this she will give us a one-word prompt and we “JustWrite!” for five minutes without editing (note: editing for grammar errors is okay, just don’t do a total rewrite). We are not trying to craft masterpieces here, we are attempting to “Just Write!” and get the creative juices flowing. MK has offered to allow us to write in her comments section, or to put a link in her comments if we have our own blog to write in.

Self-Control

Go!

Self-control is the most difficult aspect of Christianity to master.  Self-control is a gift of the spirit, but it’s up to us to control ourselves.  Our hearts are full of evil desires that we must fight constantly to hold back.  This can tire one out.  Fortunately for us, God gives us the tools we need to fight back.  The trick is remembering the sword we have in our possession.  All we have to do is pick it up and wield it in Jesus’ name.  He gives the power needed to defeat the enemy, we just have to be willing to pick up that sword.  We have to say “yes” to fighting back.  We have to say “You will go no further” to the enemy.  One of Satan’s great tricks is to help us to forget that God can help us control ourselves.  Practiced self-control gives the power to keep walking the walk and running the race.  Otherwise, we get caught in the sticker bushes that crowd our path.  We become stuck like a rabbit that was running from the hungry wolf and was not watching where it was going.  Lord I pray that you help me to stay on the path.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this!

5mf Post- Rest

<a href=”

Five minute Friday’s are a stream- of- consciousness exercise hosted by The Gypsy Mama every Friday.  In an effort to get myself writing more frequently, I am going to participate as frequently as I can.  I am also participating in a weekly bible study at Beauty for Ashes onWednesdays, and in “Just Write!” campaign also hosted by Beauty for Ashes.  The 5mf exercise is simple, The Gypsy Mama gives us a word prompt and we write for 5 minutes.  There is no editing and no backtracking.  Just write whatever comes into your mind.  So here goes this week’s edition of 5mf:

Rest

I just got up from a  nap.  I was attempting to rest, because I feel so tired.  I just needed a nap.  Instead of actually sleeping, I thought of all the reasons that I don’t have time to sleep, or that keep me awake.  Secrets about my sins, things that stress me out, physical pain, spiritual hunger, needing more God in my life.  It’s easy to look at someone and say, “You need more rest!” without actually understanding what keeps them from resting.  Truly resting is not an experience that involves sleep.  Truly resting involves trusting.  Trusting that everything will be alright.  Trusting that God’s got it covered, that He has my back.  I struggle and struggle to find this place of rest and abandon.  I struggle to just let go, and let things lie where they in my life.  I want to be able to feel the sweetness of utter and complete rest.  Of lack of control.  I mean, if God is big enough, why do I need to worry?  He says he wants my burdens, so why not give them to Him?  Why not let Him fight the good fight on behalf?  The pain, the worry, and the frustration don’t have to be mine.  Here is a prayer hoping to let go and let be.

Thanks for stopping by!

Steph

<a href=”