Tuesday, May 19, 2009

White Lies...Big Lies

Lies seem to come in a variety of sizes and color. For instance we all know the phrase "little white lie". It is supposed to mean its a lie, but not necessarily a BIG or "harmful" lie, but none the less, still a lie. Is it ever ok to tell a white lie? I am certainly not going to point any fingers because I think we are all guilty at some point in our lifetime of telling a "white lie, whether it was to get out of trouble, not hurt someones feelings or just because we don't want to deal with the conversation or situation at the time. Sometimes we tell white lies because we want a particular response from a person. Whatever the reason you can usually convince yourself it was "ok", even though it isn't.

Then there are the BIG lies. These lies are sometimes unbelievable and sometimes very believable. Sometimes these lies hurt you more than the lie itself. It can ruin relationships and trust. Usually you can't justify these, but some how they still come out. I think there is usually an underlining reason for these lies. In all honesty I think there is even a reason for the "white lies"....you are covering up something that you are either ashamed of or you feel the need to make yourself look better in someones eyes. Sometimes people don't want to deal with the issue. Its harder to dig deep and deal with things head on, but lying only puts it under the rug. Its still there. It hasn't gone away. The truth is still there underneath the lie.

A lie no matter the color or the size is sin. The Bible doe not have a measure of which sin is worse the liar, murderer,the stealer, or the gossiper. Sin is sin. We are all sinners (but we have grace, mercy and forgiveness of God at our finger tips) The real point of lies is that whether it is a white lie, big lie or the in between lie, lies hinder you from getting to the real heart of the matter. I encourage you the next time you hear yourself trying to justify a white lie- stop and just be honest with yourself. Ask yourself why? what am I hiding from? how is this really going to help the situation? What do I really need to deal with? and if you find yourself in the unfortunate scenario of a big lie...admit your lie and ask forgiveness directly from the person you lied to and then ask yourself the bigger questions....what do I need to deal with within myself. You will find freedom in honesty. Freedom sometimes comes at a cost but it is worth it.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Asking For A Blessing To Marry

A few weeks ago my daughter's boyfriend asked if he could take my husband and I out to dinner. We already knew why, but we enjoyed the formality of it all. This is also a once in a lifetime moment, so I want to soak in every aspect I can. We set May 13th as the day and it was a moment in time I will treasure forever. After small talk and eating a delicious meal together, he sat nervously across from us and told us his feelings for our daughter and how he would like to have our blessing to ask her to marry him. Since we knew their relationship was heading in this direction we had already discussed questions we wanted to ask, as well as topics we wanted to talk about.
It was important to us to know why he feels Lauren is the one for him. As my husband likes to say..."does she check all of his boxes". What makes her so special to him. Why does he want to spend the rest of his life with her. Does he really want to spend the rest of his life with her? is divorce ever an option for him. Both my husband and I have been previously married. We married without really knowing who we were as individuals nor what we really wanted in a spouse. We also married the first time for all the wrong reasons. (this topic is for another time & our story is in my book....A Scarlet Cord Of Hope...soon to be published summer 2009)

We asked him to tell us what marriage means to him. We asked him personal questions that clearly were none of our business and we gave him an "out" telling him sincerely that he could feel free to tell us, I am not comfortable going there with you or I prefer not to answer that. He remained very open with us answering and commenting on everything we put out on the table. We also asked him to tell us how he views the role of husband as well as the wife and what his feelings and lifestyle choices reflect in the financial area. I wanted to make sure he understood that we support God's ideal for marriage and the leave to cleave part but that we are still connected as a family. The same goes for his family. We have an incrediable opportunity here to not only gain a son in law but also a whole other family connection. The same goes for him.

We also asked Lauren these same questions at different times over the past months. Once you walk in the shoes that we have, you don't want your children to make the same mistakes, this is why it was so important to us to hear their answers and hearts. It was also meant to cause them to think.

We have had many opportunity's to get to know Stephen (and we have watched and listened ALOT), and we have a pretty good idea how he would handle certain aspects like conflicts and anger (fair & Biblical) and do his actions speak louder than his words (yes), is he a man of his word?(yes) is he a man of integrity?(yes) is he capable of taking care of our daughter and future grandchildren (yes), is he a man who will honor God and lead his family by his example (yes). We still talked about these areas though. We shared openly with him about parts of our own testimony as well as where we are now (for the past 13 years).

While I don't want to divulge much more information because somethings do need to stay within the family limits, I will say that I was very impressed with how he thoughtfully answered each question no matter the topic. He was also very good at letting us know he heard our hearts- he understood and respected us. One thing I will share is one of his reasons to our question...what attracted him to Lauren and why does he think she is the one...he answered that he of course was attracted to her, they also shared similar values and morals, but more than that, as he got to know her he saw that family was important to her and he loved the fact that she has a close relationship with us. This was important to him.

Our conversation went from light and easy to deep and emotional. I feel like we each opened our hearts and we also heard each others heart as well. He has made it clear that Lauren checks all his boxes (and he checks all hers as well). We ended dinner with a hand shake and hug! (the hand shake was more in fun but the hug was real!). Welcome to the family Stephen (and I look forward to the day that I can officially call you my future son in law.
Stay posted for the actual engagement...Lauren doesn't know when, how, or where, but we do and my lips are sealed until then

* my soon to be future son in law is in the medical field but his passion is in music. He is a very talented musician and song writer and he has written a special song for Lauren you can hear it at

Friday, May 8, 2009

A 28 Mile Walk and the lessons I learned

My son will be graduating from elementary school. He will move on to intermediate school. For the past 17 years, the school he attends has given the 4th graders a rite of passage as they leave elementary school a 28 mile- two day walk. Every student at this school looks forward to this. Every year as the 4th graders triumphantly return the entire school is outside (kindergarten-3rd grade) waving signs and cheering. The 3rd graders look longingly at the 4th graders and dream of their own triumphant entry next year, as the lead teacher smiles and shouts to them "this can be YOU next year"!
In an attempt to prepare the children for the two day event they have walk practice four days a week. They walk three miles in approximately 45 minutes, with the exception of Fridays, each Friday you walk an additional 15 minutes. The last Friday you walk 2 hours. I assumed if I participated in these practices I would be more than ready. The first two practices were very eye opening to me. I assumed "walk" meant like how I walk in the neighborhood with the dog. I was wrong. Walk practices were fast paced and intentional. I knew it would important to go to as many practices as possible, and I did, although I would soon realize these practices would not fully prepare for me for what lay ahead.

There was speculation that the walk may be postponed due to the severe rain we had the past several days. The morning of the walk it was not raining and it was decided we would go ahead with the plans. We started off at a nice pace walking on the road. My husband and I were walking along side our son and enjoying our time together. We walked several hours and then we stopped for lunch. After lunch the group ventured off the road and into the trails. At first it was wonderful. The views were breath taking. The colors, fresh air, the scenery and even the colorful insects....but somewhere all of that stopped. We had to leave the trail because of flooding. We were now in areas that were filled with gooey mud and very narrow "paths". We had to climb uphill in the mud and rocks. Our group got way behind the main group because of the challenge of climbing over dead trees, going down hill in steep mud and complete inexperience (us as well as the most of the children). Before I knew it the teachers who were behind our group were now directly behind us telling us we had to move even faster to catch up! I asked them to please tell the lead teacher to slow down and wait for us...their reply was that we have to push and keep moving faster. While I understood that we needed to be out of the woods before it got dark, I did not understand why the sudden turn of events. How did we get so off track. We apparently needed to make up time and the only way to do that was to move faster. We were already moving as fast as we could. Our eyes stayed fixated on the mud as we looked for the safest best place to step, trying to move FAST, trying to stay safe, all the while going up and down hills in mud. At this point it was no longer enjoyable. Eventually one of the experienced dads realized we were very far back and he came back on his own to lead us to the group. I felt like we were in boot camp. No sympathy, no stopping, no enjoyment, just push through until the end. We continued to climb and slosh in the mud walking in areas that I am sure were never intended for 100 people to walk through. Eighteen miles later and we finally made it to the destination. I have never been so relieved to see a road and waiting vehicles. We were driven to the school that we were staying overnight in. Everyone was exhausted and sore. My right leg was very sore. Even though I was tired, sore, and the day did not at all meet my expectation of what I thought it would be like, I was proud of myself, my husband and our son, we made it....we walked 18 miles, surely the next day with only 10 miles would be a piece of cake compared to today.

After a good nights sleep we were ready for day two. The reality of the last ten miles was that they were far worse than the first eighteen. Extremely narrow "paths" were filled with more mud and there were more steep inclines. Maybe it just seemed worse because I was so sore from the day before. If I ever climb another hillside sideways in the mud it will be to soon! This is also the day that I received the only injury in the family. As we were sloshing through thick mud on a narrow path that was filled with jagged rocks I lost my balance and fell forward onto my right shin. I sat down on a rock and wanted to cry. I said to my husband, " I am done!", but I had to get up and keep going there was no way out except to move forward. I kept reminding myself once we make it to the lunch destination the rest of the "walk" is on the roadway. It will be easier. We made it to lunch and then we started out on the road towards Heart Break Ridge a very steep incline that leads to a road stop where you can see a spectacular water fall. Our group was second and I was determined not to fall back. It was only a matter of minutes (ok seconds) that I realized I didn't have the energy to push hard any more. My leg was very sore by now and before I realized it other groups were passing us. We kept encouraging each other....we can do this! we can do this! but 3/4 of the way up the hill my leg was hurting so bad I was almost in tears. It was then that I knew I needed to stop, after all this was not the Sheryl Griffin walk! it was the 4th grade walk!. There is no shame in stopping. None of the teachers are even going to notice if I make it or not and what good will it do for me to really damage my body....all for what? so I told my husband and son I surrender, but please go on and make it for me! I got into the car that was tracking us and drove the rest of the way up hill into the falls area. My husband and son made it and went to see the falls. I knew it would not be a good idea for me to try to go down there, so I sat and rested my leg and dreamed about a hot shower, ibuprofen, and my pillow!

Apparently according to a few teachers who have done this walk many times, this year was the hardest most challenging walk they have ever had. Now that it has been a few days and I am rested and no longer limping around, I am so proud of our accomplishment and I am grateful that my husband and I were there to experience this with our son. It truly was one of the hardest things I have ever done but I am glad we did it.

Lessons I have learned:

1. Its important to always be prepared....taking this on a spiritual level....this is why it's important to keep your armour on and keep it well maintained-you never know what kind of condition/challenges you may run into

2. Don't be afraid to challenge yourself but also know when to stop

3. Its ok to say that I am not an outdoors adventurous person (and I am glad my husband isn't either- God put us together for a reason!) :) I don't have to be all things to anyone nor do I have to be what someone else is or thinks I should be

4. Life will always be easier if you stay on the path you are supposed to be on (and if you have to take a detour-that is ok-just get back on as soon as possible)

5. If you have faith the size of a mustard seed you will tell this mountain move from here to there and it will move, nothing will be impossible for you. Matthew 17:20 (*I wish I would have remembered this verse then! but in all seriousness...this is a verse that speaks volumes to me...two times I wanted to sit down, cry and just go home....but I pushed on and prayed that God would give me the strength and stamina to make it, at that moment, I felt like my faith was the size of a mustard seed and still God heard my prayer!)

6. Sometimes a walk really means a hike...be prepared

7. Never give up on the goal before you

8. I am stronger than I thought I was

9. It is important to take care of our body's (and our spiritual and emotional self as well)

10. Sometimes its ok that you don't know the exact way things will actually happen- if I had known this walk was going to be the way it turned out to be, I would have never agreed to go-at least not both days- I would have clearly missed out on the experience (even as hard as it was) with my son and husband-the end result was... we made it!

I will end with one of my favorite scriptures...this walk was not nearly as extreme as this verse but it is a reminder of His promise to all of us!

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you: And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you. Isaiah 43:2

Friday, May 1, 2009

Healthy Boundaries

I want to put a disclaimer out....I am not a professional and I am only sharing from my own experiences, opinions and from my heart. It has been a process for me. I had to learn new behaviours and attitudes in regards to healthy boundaries. Its a work in progress. I have not figured it all out. Its one day at a time. One situation at a time.

For me, it was important that I learned to recognize and acknowledge certain things in my life:
A. happened

B. I made choices (good, bad or indifferent)

C. I was not/am not responsible for other peoples choices, actions, feelings or expectations (unless of course I have done something-that is a whole other topic-asking forgiveness and forgiving)

D. I have a choice

E. Its ok NOT to put things under the rug (I am not a confrontational person so this has been hard for me-my nature wants to ignore "it" but my mind and heart say, no wait a minute this is not right, or that hurt my feelings-you will find as you get stronger in this, it may offend people but it is better to be direct as long as you go about it in a firm but gentle way-the goal is not to become over bearing or self righteous-again its that balance)

F. Take responsibility for choices and actions I make/made

G. I don't have to allow other peoples issues, drama or problems, to become mine (there is a balance for being compassionate, helpful and loving-finding that balance is sometimes hard but when you find it you will know in your heart)

H. Create a plan of action and stick to it (if you don't then the person you are creating these boundaries with will get mixed signals and it wont be helpful to you or them)

I. I am powerless to change anyone except myself (although I can continue to pray for that person!)

I admit it is sometimes hard to find that line of being Christ like, but not a door mat. Or compassionate but not taken advantage of. Or even loving but firm. Its a balance.
When I first began to realize it was ok to have healthy boundaries I felt guilty. I had been conditioned my entire life to take on other peoples issues, to serve and protect them, to put my own feelings and choices aside, I took responsibility for things that had nothing to do with me at all. I had to learn it was ok to acknowledge the situation but as I said before I don't have to dance the dance with that person.
I chose the photo of a leopard in a cage because as a visual learner I loved the visual concept this gave me....the cage is a healthy boundary- healthy because if I choose to visit a Zoo the cage keeps me safe from a wild animal and it keeps the tiger safe from those who would want to harm it. The boundary benefits us both. Its the same way when we create boundaries in relationships. The definetion of a boundary (according to Webster) is something that marks or fixes a limit.

If you are struggling with putting up healthy boundaries I want to encourage you that it is ok and it is possible. Remember it's one day at a time and one situation at a time.
Isaiah 41:10, 13 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.