The Hardest Blog I have ever Written~

I started blogging many years ago to take the simple experiences of life and see how, if I paid attention, they were profound in my life.  Seasons and Assignments has been my way to express my thoughts and hopes, hurts and growth, and deeper messages for over 8 years. I have appreciated those who have followed me and my thoughts.  

Today I am feeling that I must express a deeper honesty as I watch what is happening on the political scene and as I continue to be astounded by the lack of kindness in our country.

I need to engage you in an honest conversation.  If you have not walked a mile in my shoes then I actually don’t want a response from you; but if you have~ I want a forum with you.

It was 1977, I was 17. I was celebrating my graduation by attending a “Keg Party” being held on someone’s property far from my hometown. Poor choice. Bad choice. My choice.

By 10:30 at night I had been “date raped” while I laid there passed out by drinking too much hard alcohol.  Those who have trusted me as a leader are now aghast and possibly standing in judgement, yet this is a truth of both my life and faith journey with God.

As a virgin I was devastated, broken, angry,  and disappointed in myself!!! 

WHY had I gone there? Why had I made myself so vulnerable? Oh Lord, …..I am broken.

It was even more shocking when I learned that I was pregnant weeks later………I was scared and in need of much council.  I was from a very religious family and I decided on my own that they would hate me and ask me to leave my home; I have learned over the years that was simply not true!

With nowhere else to go; or so I thought,  I went to Planned Parenthood where a nurse played into all my fears and encouraged me, if not pushed me to do the “right” thing as a single 17 year old to abort my baby; having a baby would ruin my future opportunities.  They assured me it would cost me nothing; they could get finances in 24 hours!! (imagine that!!!)

The following day I entered the waiting room and looked into the eyes of 16 other teens who had also been “advised” that Planned Parenthood could “fix’ this problem.  ALL of them had scared, sad faces and their eyes matched my own.

Following the “procedure” I saw them again in the recovery room; many of them crying, despondent, and seemingly broken.  NO mother ever wants to take the life of her baby! How does a young girl reconcile that choice?

As you vote this year and you STAND for women’s rights please be very careful not to assume that Planned Parenthood is all about women; they are not. They are about income!

I was never, ever offered counseling or any post checkup after the “procedure” Never a phone call……..nothing. They had already made their money off me! I was now very unnecessary, as were the 14 to 16 year old teen girls who visited their office almost every week.

What people never talk about is the sadness, depression, self- medication, and suicide that follows a young girl who is led into this “best choice for your life”….to take the life of your child. As a teen you are simply afraid….you don’t have enough maturity to have hindsite.

I wanted help, mature conversation, and support; but I was simply a financial commodity. NO Compassion, NO concern, and No help.

I spireled emotionally for years.

I bravely share all of this simply because in the arena of politics I am seeing women standing steadfast for Planned Parenthood without every really understanding what they are about………I  grieve that I had the “procedure”…..I wish I had given my child life and a healthy family…..I wish…..I wish…… I wish I’d have had a Pregnancy Resource Center to guide me rather than Planned Parenthood every day of my life.

God is my refuge; he has healed me and given me grace to heal and I am grateful everyday. I just please don’t want anyone assume you know the intent of Planned Parenthood……there is so much you do not know and do not want to know.

……only respond it you’ve stood in my shoes…..otherwise I appreciate your silence.

Kindergarten taught me all I need to know~

Kindergarten! Remember your first years of school? I do! We had cool desks, recess was fun, I loved it when my teacher read books, and when we had a tiny rest time after lunch we were awakened by a Princess wand–It was magical to me.

Kindergarten is where we all learned some of the basics of life: Share everything, Play fair, Don’t hit people, Don’t take things that aren’t yours, Say sorry when you hurt someone, don’t say naughty words, Flush the toilet, and taking an afternoon nap is really, really good!

This week I was upstairs in my home and I heard people being calling names, saying “shut up” and “You are stupid” from my living room. I was so shocked I ran into my living room to handle the situation and realized that these behaviors and words were coming from two men who want to be the leader of our great nation. My heart sunk as I realized how far we’ve slid in our rhetoric and interaction at the top leadership of our nation!!

I would never have allowed a 7 year old watch two men act in a way that in their young lives would cause them to be disciplined AND I would not have wanted them to think for a minute that this is the BEST America has to offer!!

It doesn’t matter where I ,or you stand politically I am grieved by how we represent ourselves on the world stage. America is better than this, America is full of incredible people who learned very early on how to be a considerate , respectful human beings.

Normally when I write I want to give one or two action steps to move toward greater growth; for me it is to NEVER be contentious in my personal life and to never set an example for my kids and grandkids that would look like these candidates in any way.

By the way, one of the last things that kindergarten taught us was that warm cookies and milk are really, really good! I agree, especially chocolate chip!

Hazardous

Much of California and Oregon have been experiencing smoke-filled skies for weeks and it’s been dangerous and unhealthy. The fires causing the dark skies have been even more devastating; heartbreaking.

As we would watch the weather app to check out the health of our outdoor air one term showed up day after day after day- HAZARDOUS!! This meant to warn us to stay inside! Don’t go out! In thinking over 2020 I believe the word HAZARDOUS is a good description for the majority of our experiences!

Within two weeks all our lives turned upside down! COVID became a reality and with it we were to withdraw into our homes, stay in small family clusters, shut down schools, stores, eating venues, and churches. We began wearing masks, being severely cautious of everyone around us, we stopped hugging, shaking hands, and sadly even looking at one another!

During this time the political rhetoric became louder and louder; friends and family members were pitted against one another on Facebook and in private. Anger at police started a long series of both peaceful marches and angry riots around the nation; it continues even today.

Then, thinking we couldn’t handle another crisis, wildfires consume thousands and thousands of beautiful NW towns and forests displacing whole communities and even causing loss of life.

Forgive me for the seemingly negative blog but when we take a look at the challenges all of us have collectively experienced it’s just stunning and I often think that many of us a a bit numb, at least I have found myself there from time to time.

I have missed life as I knew it, I have missed gathering with those I love, I have missed traveling to see friends and family living far from me, I have missed joy-filled conversations that now seem to center around the challenges we are facing, I have missed smiles between strangers out and about in stores and public places, I have missed hugs and handshakes- though I have to admit I have not hesitated once to hug those I love when I get the chance to see them.

In this time I have not found God to be distant, He has been my strong source of encouragement and hope each day and yet I have still needed to grieve the changes surrounding my life and others. I have had to allow myself to be sad and grieve numerous times to be truly honest.

I don’t know when life will look like it did before or if we will simply live in a “new normal”. What I do know for sure is that in the midst of this past HAZARDOUS year and also in the season to come the people we love and care about will always be our richest source of joy. I have learned to truly treasure those with whom I share my life with such a greater appreciation than ever before; making a priority to care for those who live close and regularly reaching out to those who are far away. Jesus has always called us back to loving people because He knew that we need each other- that’s not going to change in the coming season.

Friends, 2020 has truly been like the twilight zone in many ways but we are resilient, God is good, and we have one another! And…..if you need to cry every once in awhile give yourself grace; you are human.

Perhaps there is someone needing to hear from you this week. Could you take a moment our two to reach out ? It could make the difference between HAZARDOUS and GOOD in the life of someone you love.

You will find what you focus on!

A couple of years ago, after a 4th of July head-on collision I decided that my small car would not be enough to make me feel safe anymore; I needed something bigger!  I went into the Toyota lot and saw a brand new 4 Runner; still in plastic wrap without even one mile on it and I said “ I’ll take it”.

Heading home I felt like I was so lucky because I hadn’t seen very many royal blue 4 runners around!  Once I bought it I saw them EVERYWHERE!!  Because I was focused on mine I saw a car just like mine almost every day!!

I had dinner with a sweet friend tonight and she used the example that we find what we are focused on; what we are looking for and I heartily agreed! What we focus on we find!

Why does this matter? Well, because in this interesting season in history there is pain and there is joy, there are disappointing people and there and amazing heroes, there is hope or there is hopelessness, there are opportunities to dream again and there are ways to get stuck……we will find what we focus on!

What are you looking for in this season?  What are your eyes focused on?  Are you downcast? If so you will find reason to be so.  Are you hopefilled? If you are you will find opportunities to walk out hope!

What we focus on we will see more than ever before!!

Can I be honest?  The past 6 months have had some of the sweetest moments and some of the most challenging times of hopelessness; of sadness.  I am learning to look for what/who is inspiring, live in hope, and begin to dream again.

In our collective sadness let’s try to focus on what is good, what is lovely, and what is hopefilled…..and then let’s pass it on to everyone we meet!! Want to join me???

So I have a sister………

This story began when I was 6 years old and I had a broken arm.  It was summer and I attended Vacation Bible School at Pajaro First Assembly.  There were many, many children that attended that year but there was a really nice girl who I met.  She helped me carry things because of my broken arm and we became new friends.

Even after Vacation Bible School was over we continued to spend time; I would invite her over to my house to play on our 54 acres of apple trees. We had such fun and became good friends.

The story is long and involved but after seeing the need in her life; as well as that of her baby sister, my parents were given legal guardianship of both girls and my family grew from four girls to six overnight.

The reason I share this story is because I find it fascinating how God’s plan in our lives can be so creative.  Over the years she and I have grown as “sisters”. No, we don’t share the same blood as she is a mix of Spanish and Native American  and I am Irish and Scottish yet we share the same heart and love for one another.

Alberta Wray has been my friend, confidant, coach, and encourager throughout my life; God in His wisdom knew I would need her in my life.  As you look at your life in hindsight is there someone God gifted you with in a creative or surprising way?  If so , thank Him for it because it shows that He knows what you will need; who you will need to navigate life!

Alberta has impacted the lives of hundreds of people all over the world, she is a wonderful human; I’m glad she’s my sister.

5 Truths about Life~

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This has surely been a season of learning, hasn’t it?  So many of our lives and the way we have lived our lives has been turned upside down.  Nevertheless there are some life truths that remain the same no matter what season of life we find ourselves in!

There is no mistakes, only lessons to learn.

The challenges we face are an incredible opportunity to find our grit, to stretch and to grow IF we allow them to! An incredible part of this learning is that we can then, in turn, support others when they face similar challenges.

Life is a journey, not necessarily a destination.

Our lives are full of seasons and assignments.  Our lives are full of experiences, relationships, memory making, as well as challenges.  If we live our whole life to finally make a million dollars we will ultimately miss out on all the journey has to offer if we are blinded only by the goal.

If you don’t believe in YOU, it will be hard for others to.

If you don’t see good in yourself, if you constantly talk about your flaws it may become all others can see in you. And it is true that if we don’t believe in ourselves we will make choices and act on our negative self-focus.  Work on loving yourself, believing in yourself, and choosing to focus on the talents and gifts you bring to the world. If you believe, others will too!

There is a big difference between loneliness and solitude.

During this pandemic I have learned something new about myself.  I actually like being alone and I’ve had a great opportunity to test that out.  My life has always been lived in a very social way and yet this time of solitude has been good for me.  Being lonely is a different experience because it speaks of the absence of people who care and who love you~just feeling alone. Loneliness is painful, solitude can be life-giving.

The world is full of voices but not necessarily inspiration.

This unique season in our culture has created an opportunity for there to be many, many voices.  There’s opinions, rants, education, politics, news, and medical updates but there’s not a great deal of inspiration.  I am always moved when I read an article or see a post where people are doing good, where senior couples are still crazy about each other, and when children show love to everyone regardless of the color of their skin! We need more inspiration…always.

Everyone deserves a fresh start.

Our lives are always in process.  Sometimes people find themselves making wrong choices, causing harm, or breaking the law.  It would be easy to decide that there is just no hope.  But there’s always hope and the story of a persons life is not over until it’s truly over.  God is so good at giving second chances and so should we.

Time to Unpack?~

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We all have baggage don’t we?  As we navigate our lives with people, professions, challenges, and changes our baggage will show up, we can count on it.  Sometimes the baggage with be very evident and sometimes it sits under the surface affecting our choices, relationships and thinking.

Les Parrot and Dr. Neil Clark in their article ” Losing your Emotional Baggage express this thought   “Wouldn’t it be nice if we could simply lose our emotional baggage the same way our luggage gets lost by airline companies? If only we could turn off our emotions and memories that easily.”   “History is what has happened in our lives. Baggage is how we feel about it. Your perspective on your past determines, to a great extent, your personal health and vitality.”


If we are not aware of our Baggage and take good steps to address them they hold the power of negatively affecting our whole life.

Our baggage may come from a traumatic upbringing and yet even those from healthy homes walk away with baggage as well.  The way we experience and perceive the events of our lives; no matter what, can shape the type of baggage that we carry.

So how can we begin to un-pack our Baggage and walk in fresh freedom?

1. Get some outside insight:  Ask trusted friends or family if they can see any “blind spots” that keep sabotaging your relationships or occupations.  Identify the themes and try to find the source of this baggage.

2. Take some time to reflect of past hurts or disappointments.  Are you carrying baggage into this season of your life because you refuse to forgive, haven’t tried to gain real truth? feel like a victim?  Are you bitter?  If we won’t look at these things we will always be a slave to them.  Be brave.  Look at your challenges and ask yourself if being free of the baggage would be worth the effort it will take to move forward.

3.  Choose to forgive.  It’s said that “unforgiveness is like feeding ourselves poison while hoping our enemy dies!”.  When we choose to forgive the people and experiences that “handed” our baggage to us, we open the door to freedom ourselves.  Forgiveness does not mean we minimize the pain, that our offender’s behaviour has been acceptable, or that we have to reignite situations and relationships that are simply unhealthy for us.  It simply means we lay it down.  Piece by piece we drop off one “suitcase” after another until we can stand tall, breathe deep, and experience a hope like never before. In the same article mentioned above the authors express “Letting go is not easy and a person may not deserve forgiveness and may not even ask for it, but you should extend forgiveness because of what it will do for you. You may also need to forgive yourself.”

We are in a strange and emotional season now and a great deal of of baggage could emerge, it would be so wise to be mindful and address baggage as it reveals itself; you are worth that!

May you walk in renewed freedom and hope today!

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The Help~

Four weeks ago in a darkened Theater I, along with my family and my parents, watched the story of Aibileen, Minny, Skeeter, Hilly and a host of other characters unfold with a mix of truth, humor, sadness, and challenge. This was a fascinating story of life from the perspective of “the help”. I don’t think anyone could watch the movie without being stirred within.

What shocked me was how strongly I responded walking into the hallway following the movie after catching my mothers’ eye. A deep cry poured out of my heart as questioning eyes looked at me wondering what was going on……….I knew.

Prejudice. For two hours I had come face to face with the ugliness of prejudice causing my thoughts to reflectively take me back to my first experience with it at the age of 4.

It was in the early 60’s when my parents, while away at a retreat center, committed to the Lord to do whatever He asked them to do. Within a couple weeks they received a call that a teenager from Kenya, Munyi, was in need of a place to live until he could finish his high school experience.  At the time my parents had three little girls ages 5, 3, and 20 months yet they felt certain that this was something they wanted to do.

In preparation for Munyi’s arrival my parents met with a large group at their Methodist Church asking for their relational and emotional support as this young man came to be a part of the family.  The church didn’t want to lend their support; in fact the leaders didn’t agree with my parents even opening their home to him.  At the end of the meeting my mother stood up expressing that, frankly, she didn’t care what they thought. Period.

Months after Munyi had come into our home my parents experienced a shunning, hateful responses from the neighborhood and the church; received threatening phone calls, even the church youth pastor who lived across the street would not talk to them.  This was my first experience with the ugliness of prejudice.

Munyi experienced loneliness both in the church and in the High School setting. My parents, in response to that, sought out an International Fellowship at San Jose State to possibly find other African young men to build some friendship with him. Ultimately two young men, Eliston & Dixon, came to be apart of our family.  I had three brothers.  It was a wonderful time and it was such a treasure to share life with them.

As you can imagine, my parents left the Methodist church and we eventually moved to Watsonville, CA where our lives were fully immersed in a multi-cultural growing experience for which I am eternally grateful.  I am most thankful for parents who stood strong in their convictions, never bowing to public opinion! They continue to live the same way today.

Munyi finished High School and went on with his life ~ he expressed in a newspaper article that he wanted to eventually go back to Kenya because he cared about the people there.  Dixon married and opened a successful store in Mariposa, Elliston went on to become Kenya’s Ambassador to Zaire.

Prejudice, no matter who it is aimed at is wrong.  And yet prejudice can be a sneaky thing, seeping into our attitudes and thoughts. Scripture calls us to “Love our neighbor AS we love ourselves.”  Let’s be people who choose love at all costs.

Hawk Nelson~

Jonathan Steingard~

He no longer believes in God!  ( Hawk Nelson)

I read the article about Jonathan Steingard this week and simply pondered the implications.  A man full of passion, talent, and conviction now rejects everything he held dear for year and years.

I was raised in the Assembly of God denomination from the time I was 6 years old; certainly I was indoctrinated more that I could have ever known! No dancing, no alcohol, no make-up, etc!!

I understand how it feels to be dissatisfied with what you see inside the church!  I became a pastor’s wife at 26; life behind the veil was so ugly and hurtful!

But—

Though people hurt me, disappointed me and disillusioned me…..God did not!  God carried me in these times, God provided crazy finances during such dire times, God met me in so many personal ways that I would challenge Jonathan Steingard to look through his life and recognize the Ribbon of Grace that has been present for so, so long.

Faith isn’t simple—it tests us; yet the harder test is seeing people hurting others….it can effect our faith!  People can turn us off to being Christ followers because they are as imperfect as us—ugh!!

Dear Jonathan ~I understand your challenge but…..is it your disappointment with people, or have you never seen God show up for you in a personal way?

At 61- I have seen God show up in my life in incredible ways; healings, finances, opportunities, and so much more.  Oh sweet Jonathan, I think you are disappointed by people and I understand that. But, God is real, God is good, and His shoulders are big enough for your disappointments. I am praying for you.

Today I was just sad~

 

 

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Today I was just sad. I think everything caught up with my heart and I hit a sadness I had not yet felt till today. I am a hugger, a connecter, a people person; that is how I’ve always lived my life. When I read or hear about so many precious people suffering, losing loved ones, and dealing with isolation depression I want to fix the situation for them and I cannot.

I had some sweet phone calls today with precious people offering help if it was needed and I was simply brought to tears by their goodness; by their generosity. This is a season where there is a great deal of kindness being shown and it’s both inspiring and humbling.

We don’t know when this will end and we don’t know how this will end but I believe our faith and resilience will bring us all through to a new place……I doubt we will take as much for granted as we may have before.

When I have to walk through a grocery store it is evident that people are anxious around one another, barely getting eye contact. This is so strange to see one another as a threat instead of seeing one another as family and friends. I pray this stigma does not remain once this is over.

People are scared. People are worried. People are isolated. I am digging deep to try and figure out how I can creatively reach out and be an encouragement. The world has changed but if each of us look for ways to love on and care for those whom we love or those who are suffering we will help make this world a better place and hopefully lift the sadness many are feeling; like me today.

I don’t have any brilliant answers –just wanted to be real.