The Stuff of Life

Can you recall the moment when you realized not everyone thought, behaved, or lived like you?  I remember back to first grade when I was able to ride the bus home with a friend.  So cool.  We jumped off the bus and skipped down the dirt road leading to her house.  My friend opened the back door, we stepped into the kitchen and were greeted by an inviting smile from her mom but most importantly – a snack.  The cookies were yummy!  I took a sip of the milk and…ICK.  What-is-this?  Who knew any family would drink unprocessed whole milk.  What is wrong with these people?

My family doesn’t do it that way.

Through out my childhood I found to my continual surprise and sometimes envy, other families lived life in various ways from mine.  Some went to church, mom and dad worked outside the home, some didn’t have set bed times, others ate food I’d never heard of  and each spent their free time differently than what I was accustomed to.  From home decor to the family dynamic, each was unique.

We don’t do it that way.

Getting married brought the same predicament.  The menu served on Thanksgiving. Best Food mayonnaise or Miracle Whip (soooo good).  The Christmas tree – Douglas Fir or silver tipped, colored or white lights, large lights or small bulbs.  The direction the toilet paper rolls (from the top!),  where to grocery shop, owning a dog or a cat… seemingly simple, non-issues of life.

This dilemma brought me to the question:  Is this a matter of who is in the right?  Horror of horrors, does it make me wrong?  Do I need to be defensive?  In my most insecure of moments I confess I have succumbed to slamming differing ways down to prop mine up.

Because I’ve always done it this way.

Let’s face it, my thoughts, my opinions, are a direct result of what I have learned from others, education and life experience.  Add those together with all my choices, equals me.

Are you familiar with Oswald Chambers? His writings go beyond the devotional titled My Utmost for His Highest.  I highlighted and saved this quote from the book titled The Moral Foundation of Life:  A series of talks on the ethical principles of the Christian life:

Never run away with the idea that it does not matter much what we believe or think;

it does.

What we think and believe,

we are;

not what we say we think and believe,

but what we really do think and believe,

we are;

there is no divorce at all.

Considering Chambers words I wondered: Just how much of what I believe, how I think, remains from someone else?  If I ask God to search me O God and know my heart (Ps. 139:23-24), would He in His search, find someone else?  Would God find more of my husband, a pastor, a parent, a friend, a politician, a talk radio person, a teacher, an author – more of them, than me?  Just how much of me – what I think and believe – is my own?

What we think and believe, we are.

I’m talking about the things of everyday life; the things that aren’t written in black and white.  Examining the motive behind the stuff of life that has become automatic and taking the time to understand why.  Am I following someone else’s lead or have I come before the Lord and asked Him what His will is for me?  It feels a bit risky;  I mean, what happens if I discover I’ve been just going with the flow without investigating why?


It is quite the challenge to allow the tension between what I’ve always been told to be present and listen to another point of view (Prov. 18:2).  I wonder if I can withstand the uncomfortable feeling, allowing the tension to push me to learn instead of immediate rejections or quick judgements.  But, also be able to dismiss tension born from knowing something is not right.  You know, when the red flag is unfurling and beginning to wave!

What we believe and think, we are.

I often pray to grow in grace and knowledge of the Lord; it seems I’m being called out of my comfort zone to uncover the motivations behind the actions; sorting through the ‘we don’t do it this way’ I can be prone get in line with.  I have no delusions of grandeur, I have been and will continue to be humbled by this process.  I am ever reliant upon the word of God, starting here in Matthew 22:37-39

You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.  This is the first and the great commandment.  And the second is like it:  You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

This is a command, the greatest one (Matthew 22:38).   But I believe it’s an exceedingly generous invitation into an intimate relationship with The Almighty God.  This relationship includes the small things; maybe not how to stuff the turkey or decorate a christmas tree, but the habits, attitudes and the bias’ I’ve accumulated, which add up to the stuff of life.

For when the math is done on what amounts to me, I want the first influence to be God’s word, learning from the life of Jesus and the leading of His Spirit; not me defaulting to ‘this is just how I’ve always done it’.




Do You Know The Difference?

We glance at something and the obvious escapes us; tucked neatly in this photo of the sheep is a great perrines.  The photo makes us smile, but there are situations when not understanding what is different isn’t so funny.

There was a time if I sensed tension building between two or more people, I’d shift into “I need to make everyone happy” mode by making a self-deprecating joke or attempting to change the subject.  I had ample opportunities to perfect this craft; my dad was a very angry man.  Whenever something irked him, be it an expression, a word or a gesture, I’d hope to find cover, because I’d seen this movie before. The location or occasion would very, be it in the bleachers watching a game or making our way through the grocery store parking lot. First, came the verbal assaults, then the threats, leading to the grand finale – throwing punches.  As I type this, I can easily recall others pulling my dad off another person; remembering the pit in my stomach and how embarrassing it all was; he refused to admit he was wrong and never apologized.  As I grew older, I avoided being in public with him like the plague.  If someone said “are you _________’s daughter?, I would wince and say I hope he hasn’t said or done anything to you.

In my youth, I vowed to never succumb to this evil emotion as it caused nothing but pain, humiliation and fear.  However, as an adult I had to admit that I was capable of being angry and learn this emotion did not condemn me to a life sentence of bullying and brawling.  I had to learn and believe that some things are worth the emotion of anger, like:  Child abuse.  Bullying.  Domestic Abuse.  Injustice.

Anger is a God-given emotion.

God uses anger as:

  1. A normal and healthy release.
  2. A warning sign that something isn’t right.
  3. A warning sign that you are being violated.
  4. A sign that your beliefs, desires, or ambitions are being compromised or taken away.
  5. As a motivator to say NO to what harms us.
  6. As a motivator to say YES to your value or worth. (See ARMS link below)

The bible is full of examples of God’s righteous anger as well as the anger of fools.  It’s what we do with our outrage and how we react; that is what is crucial to understand.

for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.  James 1:20.
Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God,by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.  Ephesians 4:30-31
But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth.  Colossians 3:8.

‘Anger is not always or necessarily sinful, but it has such a tendency to run wild that whenever it displays itself, we should be quick to question its character, with this inquiry, “Do you do well to be angry?” (Jonah 4:9) It may be that we can answer, “Yes.” Very frequently anger is the madman’s firebrand, but sometimes it is Elijah’s fire from heaven. We do well when we are angry with sin, because of the wrong that it commits against our good and gracious God; or with ourselves because we remain so foolish after so much divine instruction; or with others when the sole cause of anger is the evil that they do. He who is not angry at transgression becomes a partaker in it. Sin is a loathsome and hateful thing, and no renewed heart can patiently endure it. God himself is angry with the wicked every day, and it is written in His Word, “O you who love the LORD, hate evil.” (“Morning and Evening,” C.H. Spurgeon, revised and updated by Alistair Begg).

Do you know the difference?

The difference between man’s anger and righteous anger?  Can you recognize God honoring indignation from abuse?  A person can become so accustomed to an unhealthy environment they can’t see the forest for the trees.


You say at first the insults startled you, hurt your feelings, but you excused it as a bad day.  But now bad days are daily.

Do you know the difference?

Unfortunately many women do not.  Some have been told certain behaviors in men aren’t that big of a deal.  Therefore, the woman makes more excuses for the outbursts, put downs and criticism; intimidated and hopeless, a dark emotional despair comes over her.  She now believes the lie, “maybe he’s right, this is ALL her fault”.  This is just the tip of the psychological fall out of verbal and emotional abuse.



Tragically, intimidation and verbal assault remain a shameful secret in many homes.

If you aren’t sure what constitutes this damaging behavior, here are some signs of emotional abuse.

1. They humiliate you, put you down, or make fun of you in front of other people.

2. They regularly demean or disregard your opinions, ideas, suggestions, or needs.

3. They use sarcasm or “teasing” to put you down or make you feel bad about yourself.

4. They accuse you of being “too sensitive” in order to deflect their abusive remarks.

5. They try to control you and treat you like a child.

6. They correct or chastise you for your behavior.

7. You feel like you need permission to make decisions or go out somewhere.

8. They try to control the finances and how you spend money.

9. They belittle and trivialize you, your accomplishments, or your hopes and dreams.

10. They try to make you feel as though they are always right, and you are wrong.

11. They give you disapproving or contemptuous looks or body language.

12. They regularly point out your flaws, mistakes, or shortcomings.

13. They accuse or blame you of things you know aren't true.

14. They have an inability to laugh at themselves and can't tolerate others laughing at them.

15. They are intolerant of any seeming lack of respect.

16. They make excuses for their behavior, try to blame others, and have difficulty apologizing.

17. The repeatedly cross your boundaries and ignore your requests.

18. They blame you for their problems, life difficulties, or unhappiness.

 19. They call you names, give you unpleasant labels, or make cutting remarks under their breath.

20. They are emotionally distant or emotionally unavailable most of the time.

21. They resort to pouting or withdrawal to get attention or obtain what they want.

22. They don't show you empathy or compassion.

23. They play the victim and try to deflect blame to you rather than taking personal responsibility.

24. They disengage or use neglect or abandonment to punish or frighten you.

25. They don't seem to notice or care about your feelings.

26. They view you as an extension of themselves rather than as an individual.

27. They withhold sex as a way to manipulate and control.

28. They share personal information about you with others.

29. They invalidate or deny their emotionally abusive behavior when confronted.

30. They make subtle threats or negative remarks with the intent to frighten or control you.

I understand that’s a long list.  But honey, if your heart is pounding and you’re fighting back tears, it’s worth reading a second time.

Dear one, please hear me loud and clear:

You were created in the image of God, to bear His image, to reflect Him (Genesis 1:26)

You were NOT created to be a target for an abusive man throwing darts or a doormat to wipe his feet on.

If you have reached out for help and came up empty, my heart breaks for you.  

Please do not give up, nor lose hope.

There are professionally trained, Jesus loving, God-fearing people, who serve God by being qualified to walk along side you as God brings healing to the broken places in your mind and soul. One such place is the program called Abuse Recovery Ministry Services, a.k.a.  ARMS, is safe, confidential, and it’s free!

You will also find on this website MANKIND – a faith-based program committed to helping men who have used abusive and controlling behaviors.  FAMILY IMPACT – for parents and guardians who want to gain a underestanding of how domestic abuse has effected their children and gain effective tools in parenting.

I also highly recommend a study called Breaking Free by Beth Moore.  I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it!  Okay, I am guilty of being enamored with all things Beth, but the Breaking Free study has impacted my life on so many levels…did I mention I loved the study?

If you have a friend in need of this information, pass it on!  If this post hits home with you, please pray about seeking professional help.  And after you begin, be patient with yourself.  You didn’t suddenly arrive to this knotted up place in your life; it will take time to unravel it, as only God can do.  Time, plus the Holy Spirit, and an open/willing heart toward the things of God, are essential for healing of the mind, soul and spirit.

Praise God – He can redeem anything – a wife, a husband, a marriage, or an entire family.