Archive | June 2013

Sierra’s Song

Sierra is from a broken home.   If some thing is broken, most of the time it is pretty hard to fix, and there are times when it is broken beyond repair.  Such was the case in Sierra’s family.  There was no remedy or repair possible for her parents marriage.

The divorce  happened when Sierra was a junior in high school and she wondered if it might have been her fault.  She wondered if her Mom had a boy-friend or her Dad had a girl-friend.  But, she really did not know or understand why it happened until later.  But it had a tremendous impact on her young life.

One of the things that happened to Sierra as a result of the break up was that she began to be a caretaker.  It became her responsibility to take care of her siblings, since she was the oldest child of five.  There were four girls and one boy in the family.

When she graduated from high school, instead of going off to a four-year college or university, she enrolled in a tech. school to learn computer programming.  She was able to take her classes at night, and even though it took longer to get a degree, she was able to fulfill her responsibility to her siblings while pursing a career for herself.

Now you may wonder where her mother was all this time, well, one of the reasons for the break up of the marriage was that her mother had a nervous breakdown and was hospitalized for a month.  She was then put into a group home for another three months, yet it took years for her to fully recover.  Nowadays, having acquired a degree in psychology and having become a licesensed minister, she helps others find their way out of bondage.

Sierra’s Dad was a controller.  You may have heard the term micro-manager, well he micro-managed his wife until it drove her to a breakdown.  He would leave for work and tell her what he wanted done during the day and when he came home at night if it wasn’t done, there was hell to pay.  Eventually,  she couldn’t even think right.  Over the years of abuse she lost herself.

Sierra is very much like her Dad, they understand each other, consequently, when her Mom fell apart, Sierra just picked up her mother’s responsibilities and went with it.  And, because she is like her Dad, she did it the way he wanted it done and they were both satisfied with the arrangement.  They remain on friendly terms today.

You may wonder how I know so much about this situation, well, I met Sierra at church and we became friendly.  I quickly discovered that she loved to talk and she loved to tell people what to do and when to do it.

You should know that I went through a period of time when a friend, I thought she was my friend, controlled me for almost a year; it was the most miserable year of my life.  I vowed when I came to myself that I would never let anyone do that to me again.

So today when we were helping Sierra’s mother move, I saw first hand the family dynamics and let me tell you, it wasn’t pretty!  Her Dad walked in and announced that he was the ex-husband and demanded to know where her mother was.  Wow!  Between Sierra and him things moved quickly and peace flew out the window.

Sierra has no idea what she is doing, she really believes that she is doing good.  From her point of view, everything that she does for and with her mother is for her mother’s own good, and she does not realize that she is dishonoring, controlling and manipulating her.

So, at one point when she was fussing at her mother, telling her that they should move in together, I stood up to her and told her that her mother can make up her own mind without help from her.  As you can imagine this did not sit well.  She accused me of slandering her and told me that I simply did not understand the situation and that I had now ruined any chance of them moving in together.  Wow, that’s heady stuff, I didn’t know I had that kind of power…….

Really?  I can clearly recognize when one person is trying to control and mnipulate another, even “For their own good”.

The human personality can be so deceived, as scripture says, “All the ways of a man are right in his own eyes, but the Lord tries the heart.”  How true!

Sierra was young when her family was broken and because of that, and her life experience since then, she has a lot of hurt and many open wounds in her soul.   She is an angry young woman.  When I told her mother what she said to me, she told me that Sierra cannot take any criticism.

No doubt, as I was the brunt of her anger today for daring to tell her the truth, and she no doubt blamed me for hurting her when, according to her way of thinking, she was doing all of this for her mother’s own good.

Scripture truly says that “there is none good, no not one.”    It is God’s “chesed”, His  loving-kindness, that will heal those hurts and wounds, but we must realize that “in us, that is in our flesh, there dwells no good thing.”  Oh, that we would be able to live and move in the humility and compassion of Jesus as reflected in the gospels.

What happened today was an eye opener, in one sense.   Control and  manipulation is demeaning.  No doubt the controller would hate having it done to them, yet they are blind to their fault.  In fact, the friend I alluded to previously accused her sister of the very thing that she herself was doing.  How interesting!

Dearest Sierra, so many wonderful leadership qualities.  So capable, and yet so needy.

God, I pray that you will love Sierra to life, that she might wake up and put away the pride that parades itself as caring and yet demeans those who appear less worthy than herself.  Have mercy, oh Lord.   Amen!

Lovingly,

Joy

Song of Surrender

Jesus

invade my life

today!

Cleanse my temple.

Produce Your life

in me.

I give all that I know

of myself

to

You.

Restore what  is

broken.

Heal that which

is

sick.

Deliver me

from

me-centeredness.

Thank You that

I

can

trust You to do it.

You

are my

JOY!

I love You

Jesus!

Painting by Thomas Blackshear

Painting by Thomas Blackshear

Jonah’s Story

Jonah felt like he was out-of-place from the beginning of his memory, the black sheep of the family. He grew up in a family of three boys; he was in the middle.  As sometimes happens, his older brother was a diligent hard-working leader type and baby brother was a comedian who kept everyone entertained with his jokes and keen wit.  Jonah was just in the middle with no particular skills, wit or drive to make him a stand-out, he was just Jonah, or so he thought.

Life has a way of going on and on, even when you want to say, “Stop the world, I want to get off.”  Jonah often felt like that recently, in fact he used alcohol to get some relief from the sense of worthlessness that he felt, even if it was only temporary relief.

I have seen low self-esteem, pride and rebellion reflected in many lives.  This seems to be more often the case in men than in women, and usually is because a person feels that they don’t fit in, or they feel worthless, or they feel that they are different.  I believe, this is the case with Jonah.

From the first days of his life Jonah was sweet-tempered with an easy smile.  He loved hugs and gave them freely.   He loved to play outside with his older brother and the neighbor boys.

He found his world an interesting place as a little boy, a bug or some other thing would  fascinate him; he would run in the house to his mother and ask her to, “Come and see what I found.”

When Jonah was five years old he prayed with his mother, asking Jesus to come into his heart.  The next day he told her that Jesus said that he would be a pastor when he grew up.  He denied this in later years, even telling his mother it was her idea.

As he grew, his interest in the world around him, and especially other people, also grew.  At school he had a hard time focusing on doing school work because of this.  He often day-dreamed and did not respond to any correction the teachers tried.  He often asked his mother if they could pray for children in his class or their parents.  God would answer those prayers.

School work was easy for Jonah, but he was not interested in school, most of the time he would follow his flights of fancy, neglecting his homework.  He still got decent grades, without really trying, yet he had the ability to be a straight A student.

When he graduated from high school, his parents wanted him to go to college, but he did not want to, choosing instead to get a job.  This lasted for about a year and at that point he decided he wanted to have a profession, so he applied to a tech school to learn carpentry.

It was at the school that he met his future wife.  She was learning to be an ultra-sound technician.  Her background was dissimilar in many ways to his, but as often happens, “opposites attract”.  The relationship was rocky from the start, but they seemed to be drawn together and it was not long before they were “in love” and wanting to be married.  She became pregnant shortly after that decision.

Mary got her degree from the tech school, but with a wife and a child on the way, Jonah could not continue.  He had to find a job.

At that time, finding a job was a challenge for someone without a college degree, and the only thing available was manual labor.  Another challenge for Jonah was finding a job in the small town they lived in.

Up to this time, Jonah did not give God much thought, but when times get hard and your back is up against the wall, you have little else to turn to and alcohol was only a temporary fix.

Jonah prayed and God provided a job.

The baby was born in the heat of summer.  He was a beautiful boy, so sweet.  He looked a lot like his mother, but with his dad’s disposition.  they named him Jesse.

For a time all seemed to go well, but time marches on and stuff happens.  There were four more children born, a different house purchased to accommodate the growing family.  The company Jonah was working for went out of business and a new job was begun.

At this point in Jonah’s life, he was addicted to cigarettes and alcohol to an increasing degree.  His marriage was shaky and he began to have health problems.  Jonah believed the lie that he was somehow less-than and in his pride, he would not admit that he was wrong and that he had made some bad life choices.

Some people have to hit rock bottom before they realize that the life they have chosen has left them bankrupt and they have no one to blame but themselves.  The Lord God, designed us for a relationship with Himself,  and He said:  “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.”, yet we serve many gods, not the least of which is our own self.

I wish I could tell you the end of Jonah’s story, but the jury is out.  The day will come when Jonah must make a decision, we all get there.  Jonah is called by God to be an under-shepherd, a high and precious calling, one which many have answered and been blessed.  Jonah has run from the call as hard and fast as he could.  Sinning and loving the sin he is in.  Yet miserable in the middle of it all, because God never takes back the call.

People often think that they have time to choose to live for God, but sometimes time runs out before they can make that choice.  Others just don’t make a decision and no decision is a decision…it is, No!

Joshua told Israel as they were preparing to enter into the land that God had promised Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, “Choose this day whom you will serve, as for me and my house we will serve the Lord.”  It is a choice.

What about you friend, are you prepared to enter into eternity?  That is the promised land for every person who has chosen to receive Jesus as the promised Messiah, the lamb of God.  His blood, through His blood, is the only entrance into Heaven, and mental assent will not get you there…you must be born-again, born of the Spirit of God as Jesus said.

I write because I care, because I trust that someone needs to hear, to read, to see, and maybe that someone will turn around and leave their sinful life behind and run to the Lord, maybe that someone is you?

Prayerfully,

Joy