Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Children: Life May Not Be Fair But God Is Good

It promised to be a weekend of fun.

My kids had their younger cousin in town for a couple days. It turned out to be two glorious days filled with chocolate chip pancakes and sticky fingers with syrup, story time, jump rope, Chuck E Cheese, a green bean eating contest, massive train layouts and basketball.

But it also required a trip to the store.

Specifically to Target to fetch a few necessary items such as milk, eggs and ingredients to make spaghetti. As I carefully wove my way through the store with my little entourage of three following close behind I heard small mumbles of grief amongst them begin to increase in volume. As I slowly wove my way through the crowd in the refrigerated section I heard a very distinct and loud....

"It's NOT FAIR!!!"

Very soon agreement that each one of them had been treated with great injustice during this shopping trip was vocalized by each of them.


I looked warily at the grandmotherly woman shopping near me and caught her facial expression. It was one of sympathy toward me and then it precariously verged on slight horror as she clearly counted I had THREE children trailing behind me whining about their slighted selves. I knew what she was thinking...

THREE?! Are you crazy?! You poor thing!

Feeling like a walking ad for Xanax I pulled the cart over and grabbed a family size tube of Pilsbury chocolate chip cookie dough. Mommies always need something on hand for when whining threatens to send us over the edge.

With the tube of cookie dough in my hand I knelt down and addressed the kids. "Listen up guys...here's the thing...not everything is fair. Just because one of you got ear buds today does not mean its everyone's day or everyone's turn. There are different needs for each of us. Not everything is exact."

They didn't like the truth any more after I spoke it yet it was the truth. A three year old needs more sleep than an eight year old. An eight year old needs more sleep than a fifteen year old. One child may need sound canceling headphones due to sensory/auditory issues but his sibling might require goggles at bath time if water is an issue. A daughter may only tolerate gluten free foods but a son may be able to consume wheat. Children and adults alike all have needs and each of their needs are different. We can help our children with this struggle when we point out individual needs.

From the moment we are born into this world it's clear it's an unfair one. Why are some families poor and some families wealthy? Some people eat right, don't smoke, exercise and yet have many health problems while others eat and smoke with abandon and enjoy excellent health. Some people work hard every day just to make ends meet while others never work a day in their life. Why do some families suffer great loss? Miscarriage causes great grief and is not fair to each and every woman who lost her baby.

Yet it's better to accept that life is not fair. Likewise, God never promised a life on earth without pain or grief. Man's court of law is no substitute for God's. With man's law there may be some justice found but if a murderer is punished by a court of law for his crime is it really still fair the victim died to begin with?

God tailors his plans for each and every one of us. He knows us better than anyone. We may not understand his viewpoint on our life but we know he's concerned with what's best in chiseling us. We can all rest assured he will not cut corners on his plans for our life....







© gps-gracepowerstrength.blogspot.com ~ 2013 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Life Trials, Hurts & Losses: They Aren't Contagious

It's not contagious. 

It had been a couple weeks since my sister had passed away unexpectedly by a drunk driver. A warm October evening, it was nice to be relaxing outside under the stars on the wood deck. Children's laughter and cries of glee traveled across the expansive backyard and I took a sip of tea from my glass.

My thoughts went to earlier that day and what had transpired during a play date for the kids....

"Do you have siblings?" the other mom had asked me.

I had hesitated. I honestly wasn't sure how to answer this question. I didn't want to say "One." because it felt just wrong. Acknowledging only one sibling seemed to act as though the one I'd lost never existed. Yet how was I to handle this? I wasn't ready to explain anything and yet I felt trapped by her question.

"Yes." I'd finally uttered reluctantly.

"Do they live here? Sister? A brother?" the questions came at me despite my wanting them to halt.

Ugh, I'd thought. What a time for this.

Drawing in a sharp breath, I had replied "I have two siblings. One recently passed away."

Awkward silence ensued and I had changed the subject.

She hadn't known what to say.

It wasn't a moment either of us wanted or had counted on happening.




Illness or Cancer

Developmental Disorders

All these issues can sometimes cause people to shift uncomfortably when they know someone who is experiencing them. They may pull back, become distant and even choose to terminate the friendship.

Fight or flight sets in…. 
 and like a deer caught in headlights 
they just want to flee the scene.

Ignoring it is awful and we all know that if we were in their shoes we wouldn't want a life trial we were facing to be ignored ...or us.

We aren't going to "catch it"...it's not contagious. 

No, not even the cancer. Sometimes people can begin acting really wary of anyone they know going through something big. But we need to have compassion and show empathy toward others who are suffering as this is the way of God. Yes, we may truly not know what to say and struggle. For some, words come easily and for others it's tougher...and that's okay. But if words don't come easily for us, it's up to us to find out what is the compassionate thing to say.

In general we shouldn't ignore them. We can call, text or email them and admit it sucks and we are sorry to hear about it. That simple acknowledgement will mean so much. In general we can't tell people not to be sad, angry upset etc. They have to go through the emotional process. Acknowledge how they feel and validate their feelings.

What We Can Say...

It's a long grueling process. Ask how the kids are doing. Life is changing and with it often brings great change like moving, counseling and new jobs. Offer the name of a great therapist, realtor or job opening...it will always be greatly appreciated. 

A hug, a card, some flowers, a nice meal dropped off do wonders. Suggestions for alternative therapy like dousing your body in green tea isn't helpful.

Your hamster or your pet fish just died? It's not the same. So many people are there in the beginning of a loss and then drift away. Make a point to invite them to lunch two months out from the date of their loss, six months, etc. If you aren't hearing from them they may have symptoms of depression. Don't give up. 

Pushing for them to date again....even if you vehemently believe they were married to a certifiable a-(hem) -hole and could do way better... they need to go though their grieving process before they are prepared to date. Instead point out how strong they are, how you know they will persevere, and you will be there for them. Hug them. Don't hide your own struggles, allow them to support you also and lift you up...distraction is a wonderful thing. Keep reaching out. 

Discussions of how your Aunt recently got over shingles or Pneumonia. It's not the same as cancer. But we can ask how they are doing, how their treatments are going and offer transportation to and from the doctor. They will gladly take some extra help and a laugh or two wouldn't hurt either. 

Someone is trying to explain their child's disability.... whether its physical or learning etc it isn't helpful if you say "He looks normal. I don't see any issue." This isn't comforting. No one wants to feel their concerns are dismissed, that they are being pegged an over anxious neurotic parent, or ignorant. Behind closed doors there are struggles, doctor appointments, therapies, evaluations, stress, advocacy, and sometimes isolation and depression. Listen and listen some more. Try to understand what they are going through. Be encouraging through words and actions. Plan a play date for the child with yours. Learn about differences and teach your own children to have empathy towards others.

Death & Life Are In The Power Of The Tongue…
Proverbs 18:23

We all have the ability to encourage. To offer uplifting words with our tongue that bring life not despair to others. When we take the time to find out what words are most pleasing to God we are able to grow in new ways, drawing people closer to us not further away. They are not contagious....When we speak in love to someone who is struggling the love it has reverberates. This is a powerful act and God sees the positive effects it has on many which pleases him.

© gps-gracepowerstrength.blogspot.com ~ 2013 

To My Readers: 

Thank you for reading, 

commenting and sharing! 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Roots: Who Is At The Top Of Your Family Tree?

Trees take root and grow stronger each and every year. 

The branches multiply and become stronger as do the roots below the ground. 

A tree is often compared to the roots and growth of a family. Often great grandparents or ancestors even further back in our family line are placed at the top of the family tree. But who really belongs at the top?

Great Grandmother may have been known for her German Strudel or skilled at sewing but should surely not be placed before God. When we make God the head of our family tree we are making a commitment to put him first and foremost. We are showing our children and grandchildren what and who is important to us as a family.

We all have roots. Family roots that grow deep with meaningful traditions we hope to pass on to future generations. Memorable recipes, hand-sewn projects made with love and a grandfather's well worn chess set are all wonderful things to pass down.

But we can all ask ourselves what else are we passing down?

We may have roots from numerous places and find we are a cumulative combination of many different roots. Having German roots, Irish roots and English roots, I find genealogy extremely interesting and have spent countless hours researching my family roots. But I don't ever want those hours to overshadow my time studying God's word and spending time with him. Because my roots with him are way more important.

Each time we spend time with God we will become stronger, we will bear greater fruit and persevere. It's when we are not bearing good fruit or have taken steps backward we must be pruned in discipline by God. By following God's word we can produce great fruit in our lives... love, kindness, peace, faithfulness and more. We can remind ourselves we are merely the branches, God is the vine and without him we are nothing. With God we can each grow roots so deep that our branches bloom with beautiful life year round no matter what the season or weather.

© gps-gracepowerstrength.blogspot.com ~ 2013 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Four Letter Word: Rape

 names in this post have been changed or withheld

Bao stepped forward to introduce me to the male in the background who had been quiet and still. He'd had his body half turned away from us and was smoking a cigarette. Dunhill cigarettes I would later learn. They were a luxury cigarette made by the British American Tobacco company and were exported mostly in Europe, South Asia and Indonesia. The glossy burgundy box with gold trim that they were sold in would soon become a familiar fixture to me but I didn’t know that yet.

He heard Bao speak to him in Vietnamese and turning he immediately flicked his cigarette to the ground, stamped it out with his dress shoe and turned to look at me. I looked up at him. He was tall, especially for a person of Asian descent. This man was nearly six foot with broad shoulders and built. It would be years later in 1998 when the movie Replacement Killer’s was released in theaters and as I watched it I would know who he looked like. Chow Yun Fat. They could have easily been twins. He was wearing khaki slacks, casual brown dress shoes, a brown belt and a chambray blue Ralph Lauren button dress shirt. His dark hair was smoothed back in place with a slick hair product. 

My circumstances while being gone were about to change.  It wasn't Bao's fault. He didn't know what would happen. If he had known he wouldn't have dared let me go. Bao had never taken advantage. He had always tried to protect me however deep in sin himself. Situations or opportunities may arise in life and unfortunately not every individual will choose not to take advantage of such and the people in them. 


It is an ugly word. 

It's fitting it's a four letter word. 

It's a dirty word but...

The girl who was raped isn't. 

You aren't less than. 

It's not your fault. 

You aren't tainted.

You are LOVED.

God will heal your wounds. 

You are perfectly beautiful and LOVED by a perfect God. 

"The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and
 He saves those who are crushed in spirit" 
~ Psalm 34:18

Galatians 3:26 

© gps-gracepowerstrength.blogspot.com ~ 2013 

To My Readers: 

Thank you for reading, commenting and sharing! 

Monday, January 21, 2013

Life & Divorce: When Plans Change

When plans change.

Many of us have plans for our life that through some circumstance, either sin or merely misguided free will, has the ability to alter our plans sometimes temporarily or even permanently. This can be due to our own doing or others. Other times perhaps its simply due to tragedy or events outside our control.

Whatever the cause, it can be understandably incredibly frustrating when our plans change. Each of us have so many plans for our life and yet our plan might not always be the best plan for us or what we had expected.

Time passes and experiences help shape us and God
 can use the most horrific, the most ugly and the most seemingly 
hopeless to make something beautiful that in turn can help others.

We all have so many plans for our lives. 

We may carry them around in our pocket on a yellowed piece of paper as a bucket list of sorts. We may have them stored in our iPhone or journaled in a pretty notebook on our bed stand. Or we may simply keep a mental list in our head that we periodically add or subtract from. Whatever your plans are know that they are important and that we each have the ability to do something amazing with them.

When we dare to dream and make big plans we not only push ourselves to reach out further but we inspire others to also.

I have plans....

to publish a book

to continue to raise my children to know God and know his love for them

to help women and teen girls know that their worth does not come from what they look like, a man, or their past, etc.... but from God

to go to Paris

.... and so much more. 

I've always wanted to go to Paris. I want the kiss in front of the Eiffel Tower. I want that beautiful moment and a snapshot of it. And now due to life changes I'm wondering who on earth one day I will go with. I can be happy being alone anywhere in the world but being alone in Paris just doesn't seem right…it would be wonderful to share it with someone.

We aren't always prepared for the times when our plans change even if only temporarily due to death, loss, divorce, addiction, sickness, jobs, etc. But we can be assured of one thing if nothing else: God has a plan for us. It may not be our plan. But it's his plan. We can all remind ourselves that...

God's plan will be bigger than anything we could dream.

God's plan will reach further than ours.

And through us he can inspire others.... 

to dream big and reach further too. 

© gps-gracepowerstrength.blogspot.com ~ 2013 

To My Readers: 

Thank you for reading, commenting and sharing! 

Friday, January 18, 2013

ADHD: Perfectly Imperfect

I was diagnosed with ADHD in the spring of 2012.

It was a diagnosis that was a long time coming and it brought much relief to finally have a valid explanation for my symptoms I've had all my life. In second grade I was tested for ADHD but the school's results came back stating I didn't have it. That mistake contributed to costing me a lot academically.

Last spring I started Vyvanse, a stimulant medication used to help manage the symptoms of ADHD. And did it help! What a difference it made! I was beyond excited to finally feel on top of things. I soon found myself much more organized and decided whoever invented the label maker was practically genius. I was able to remember things better because I listened better to begin with. Before medication I'd become distracted during the prompts on an automated call and then have to start all over! On Vyvanse I was on time to appointments which let me tell you is a major accomplishment. If I was ever going to be fired from a past job it would have been because it was like pulling nails for me to be on time. My entire adult life had held the same theme: "Hurry, hurry hurry...Oh, and by the way...Hurry!"

So with Vyvanse for the first time everything seemed to fall into place. I enjoyed this new way of life where I actually remembered what I needed to and could stay focused to do it. Miraculously I was on time. My new way of life continued for months and was filled with organization. The frenzied moments of me running around with my head cut off were in the past. But then in December I had to have surgery. The surgery went off without a hitch thank goodness. But during the surgery my resting heart rate soared to 130. The doctors, nurses and anesthesiologist took note and blood was taken for testing. My blood work came back fine but doctor appointments ensued. I wore an electrocardiogram for 24 hours to monitor my heart rate. As I sat in my doctors office while he went over the results with me, he spoke.

"Your results came back fine. We can't figure out what happened. But... you have no business being on a stimulant. I'm afraid you are going to have to go off the Vyvanse. It's too risky."


Ultimately I knew he was right. He's a great doctor and I trust him. He was looking out for me and pointed out that putting my overall health at risk just to manage my ADHD symptoms was ludicrous. I agreed.

So now I'm back to managing without medication. Yet it's different this time. I've noticed the striking difference with my ADHD not being managed with meds... there is more laughter, more humor, more moments that leave me shaking my head with amusement. We can all benefit from being able to laugh at ourselves and not take everything so seriously. Yes, my kitchen is covered in sticky notes now, my calendar is filled with things to do and my iPhone constantly dings to remind me of appointments. I'm usually on time but I'm back to searching for my glasses only to find them on my head...

But then I laugh and realize life is much more interesting this way.

I'm reminded once again that not everything has to be perfect.

Even if on medication.

It never will be.

We don't have to be perfect. It's not possible. Because with the quirks and the funny moments we can laugh at ourselves. These moments remind us that every day we need God by our side. We all slip up, forget things and run late occasionally. There are times we will lapse. But we don't have to worry that God will fire us. He sees our intent and our heart. He undoubtedly even appreciates our ability to laugh at ourselves. God made each and every one of us with love.

We are all perfectly imperfect...

and that is perfectly okay.

© gps-gracepowerstrength.blogspot.com ~ 2013 

To My Readers: 

Thank you for reading, commenting and sharing! 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Relationships Do Not = "Let's Make A Deal"

Marriage Vows.

"I, ____, take you, ____, to be my lawfully wedded (husband/wife), to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part."

Marriage vows are when we make a covenant before God. Each person vows to show their love for each other through purposeful acts of love. But sometimes marriage vows and the covenant they create are confused with contracts.

Contracts are about "Making A Deal." So what happens if marriage becomes comparable to making a deal? When does a seemingly innocent favor asked of "You scratch my back....I'll scratch yours" go into questionable territory?

If a wife feels the need to give sex just to get her husband motivated to accomplish something off his "honey do list" is the sex based on love or "lets make a deal?"

If a husband expects sex because he took his wife to a nice steakhouse for dinner is the dinner tainted?

What if a spouse is constantly keeping a mental note of whether their laundry is done, their favorite dinners are made and if they were thanked for every door they opened?

What happens when a spouse is checking the ledger in their marriage to ensure that all the items in each column are checked to their satisfaction?

Shouldn't the covenant of marriage and how we express our love toward our spouse be based on purposeful love that we want to do? And not based on the trading of "deals"? When love and business or "contract law" are allowed to become interwoven in marriage the ramifications can be damaging to a couples union...resentment can build on both sides.

Spouses may attempt to or make deals with us. The point of marriage may be lost. But God doesn't make deals with us. He doesn't make us feel as though we don't measure up, that if we don't do this or that his love will be taken away. We don't have to live in fear that this will happen. Because for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, he loves us even into death where he will hold us.

God loves us even when we disobey, when we fall short or feel as if we can't keep up. God isn't asking us to "make a deal" with him. You don't have to do anything to get his love....

You have it.

© gps-gracepowerstrength.blogspot.com ~ 2013 

To My Readers: 

Thank you for reading, 

commenting and sharing! 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Children & Connection: Beyond The Basics

image “Family With Two Children” by Ambro via FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Being a parent.

How do you define being a parent?

What does it mean for you?

As parents we do many things for our children throughout our day. We pack lunches, fix hair, help locate last nights homework that is misplaced, drive them to school or ensure they have a carpool or bus ride, help with homework, prepare dinner, remind them to brush their teeth, tell them goodnight and so much more. But what if we just did the basics in caring for our children and didn't meet any other needs they have? We as parents would be short changing our children. None of us would knowingly want to do that yet it happens everyday in some homes. Parents want their kids to thrive in all areas of their life and we can better equip them to if we commit ourselves to go beyond basic care. It's incredibly important to a child's well being that they receive what they need most from their parent.


Taking our child to the park, to go bowling or for an ice cream are certainly fun outings to share but we can also carve out time for quiet moments with our children. It's so incredibly important for us to share a connection with them.

We can ask our children how they feel about school. Are they being bullied? Do they have anything on their mind they need to share? What was the best part of their day? We can ask about their friends. What was their last dream about? We can cuddle with them and share conversations that will grow into a connection that has the ability to last a lifetime. A connection that is allowed to grow and deepen beyond a commercial break during a football game. A connection that can bloom into a meaningful relationship uninterrupted by the ringing of a cell phone or ding that a new text is ready for us to read.

When we put away the x-box, the wii, the cell, the laptop and turn off the television, turn to our child and make eye contact when they speak to us it tells them something:

I'm important.

I'm more important than Daddy's phone call or text.

I'm more valuable than Mom's tv show.

I'm a priority over Daddy's game.

I matter more than Mom's web surfing.

And that is worth more than any day at the park, bowling alley or ice cream outing.

Because you are giving your child a connection.

A connection with the most important person in their life.

A connection with you.

And as for you, brothers, never tire of doing what is right. 
2 Thessalonians 3:13 

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. - Galatians 6:7-10

© gps-gracepowerstrength.blogspot.com ~ 2013 

To My Readers:

Thank you for reading, 

commenting and sharing! 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Dating: When We Are Weak God Is There

1998/1999 ish
names have been changed in this post 


I...I dont know what to say…” I stammered, completely caught off guard by his coarse emotions and anger at me. It was like he wasnt even willing to wait for me to gather up my thoughts so I could speak. He wasnt willing to be patient for me to begin. And yet in that I didnt even know where to begin. At what point? How I felt for him? Or should I begin with my past in high school? I had no idea. I was suddenly so very overwhelmed by how much I needed to tell him. It was enough to write a book. Where does a person even begin who has so much to reveal?

He gave me one last frustrated dark glance and went to his SUV, climbing behind the wheel. Flustered, I used my key to unlock my apartment door, and I went inside. I leaned against the door crying, completely frustrated at what had just transpired. It was all so unnecessary, I cried. Then there was a knock on the door. It was Jeremy. I opened it and he handed me a yellow balloon from the restaurant hed taken for me earlier that evening. He handed it to me saying Id forgotten it and I took it, letting the long white string rest between two fingers. Yet I mentally cursed the balloon. I didnt give a shit about the balloon. I wanted him to calm down and communicate without barking at me. Jeremy looked at me under the dim porch light and seeing my water rimmed eyes, tear soaked face spoke, Why are you crying?! he asked, his tone more forceful than gentle questioning.

I shook my head unable at that point to speak. I began sobbing and just so completely disappointed in his behavior coupled with being frustrated and disappointed in my lacking abilities to having opened up to him about myself and my past, and not even knowing where on earth to begin, I refused to discuss it any further that night. If he would just calm down, I kept thinking. I wanted to tell him, Jeremy, please come in and relax maybe we could talk. but he was so impatient, so ready to flee the scene and I didnt have the ability to keep him there. It was as if hed already made up his mind it was all over. Why are you crying?! he asked again, this time louder and visibly angry at me. I wanted to run and just cover my hands over my head, bury my face in a pillow and pretend all of this wasnt happening.

I shook my head and whispered Nothing, I faltered, Im really upset. I admitted to him. 

Yeah! Me too! I cant do this anymore! he snapped and retreated to his vehicle. Getting in, he drove off into the now tapering rainfall, his tail lights never braking. I went inside, as if in a trance crossing the living room and walked to the couch where I sat down. Taking a seat on the edge of it, the moonlight streaming in through the slits in the mini blinds, I released the string to the yellow balloon in my small fingers and it sailed to the ceiling as I began sobbing uncontrollably. 

Oh My God, this wasnt happening, I cried. I was losing him.

It was all over. He was gone. 

When we are dating and we have a past that we haven't addressed and dealt with there may be feelings of shame. If we haven't worked through the shame from our past and healed ourselves to a healthy place it is very difficult to move forward into a healthy relationship with someone. If we are dealing with residual issues from the past then they will likely creep into our present affecting our interaction with the one we are interested in. Perhaps we hold back. We don't give all of ourselves in sharing our past and life experiences. I don't believe it's impossible to move into a healthy relationship without addressing our past but it's definitely not without challenges. 

It requires an inordinate amount of patience from the other person in the relationship.  It also requires the person with the hidden past to feel as if they can open up to the other one. If we don't have both it may very well not work. 

But the truth is.... I beat myself up for years for not opening up during that time in my life. I had wanted that relationship to grow into something bigger. I felt certain it could have become something more beautiful. There were so many feelings and words left unsaid. The regret and self imposed resentment toward myself grew to enormous proportions. But as the years went by I began praying and praying about it and asked for peace, clarity and a healthy view of it. 

I finally got the clarity I needed. I had cursed myself for years for the weakness I had shown during that time and the shame from my past I had allowed to take over during that relationship. However, we can't expect perfection of ourselves. We falter, we mess up, we don't always handle everything as perhaps we would if there were no scars, speckled pasts and skeletons. It's nothing to be ashamed of. But regret can eat away at us like a poison and eventually we have to address it and heal from it. We just have to remember that we handled it the best we could based on where we were in our life progress at the time. We can hold our heads up and know our great worth and value in God's eyes. He has seen everything we have been through...the good, the bad and the disappointments. 

We can take great delight in knowing that God knows where we are right now. He sees the progress. When we look back and see moments of weakness it's nothing to be ashamed of. We can look to now and see the strength we have and rejoice that God is always beside us in our walk in life... in the weak moments, in our strength and everything in between. 

For when we are weak...

Then we are strong. 

© gps-gracepowerstrength.blogspot.com ~ 2013 

“For the sake of Christ, then, 
I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, 
persecutions, and calamities. 
For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 
 ~ 2 Corinthians 12:10 

He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak 
- Isaiah 40:29 NIV 1984

To My Readers: 

Thank you for reading, 

commenting and sharing!