Michelle Buck

A little peek at things I love

Parenting to Connect

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I’ve been really enjoying Connected Families, a Christian organization that puts out blog posts and Facebook statuses teaching parents how to discipline their children biblically. When I say biblically, I don’t mean corporal punishment. I mean heart training. I mean grace. I mean looking at yourself as a sinner first instead of trying to control your kids and make them into robots that behave well and have to earn your love. The framework for Connected Families really makes a lot of sense to me. Here is a graphic, or read more on their site:

 

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Note the “Common Approach” and the “Thoughtful Approach”. The Common Approach never works!

 

I signed up for their newsletter and got a free e-book that I’ve been reading over the past few days.  The basic idea are simple messages we want our kids to hear when we discipline. They are simple to remember and they produce real results. In fact, I’ve been implementing it at home and I’ve seen my kids open up to me instead of shut down and they are now willing to listen to me because they trust me. Here are the 4 Messages kids should hear:

  1. You are safe with me
  2. You are loved no matter what
  3. You are God’s Workmanship
  4. You are responsible for your actions

I was at the store yesterday and I witnessed a mom and her son, about age 9, arguing with each other. The boy wanted something and the mom didn’t want to give it to him and so they started this back and forth argument in the middle of Target. The first thought I had was that neither of them cared about the other–they just were reacting and being selfish. I have seen a lot of parents do this though. The child doesn’t act the way Mom or Dad wants, so the parent is harsh and acts insulted by their actions then doles out a punishment and says something like, “I’m the mom. I get to make the rules“.  Most of the time, this just makes the child resentful. It also sends the message that they are accepted and loved when they act like good kids. Shouldn’t we instead want our kids to know they are always loved and that even if we don’t agree with what they are doing, we will forever be for them?

I feel like most parenting books I’ve read have always been about control. If you want well-behaved kids, control them with spankings, power words, and consequences. It’s never about holding them responsible for their actions, letting them make choices, or empathizing with their problems. It’s always about enforcement and “You are the parental figure. They must respect you.” Over the years, I’ve found parenting to be a struggle as I listen in the church and in “biblical” books about how to parent. Some of them stress dealing with the heart, but most deal with punishment in the form of physical force. Some of them use addressing the sins of the heart and discipline with the rod. The point is, everyone has their own idea of what discipline should look like either in the form of an actual stick or rod, or in the form of questioning, or in the form of consequences with no real heart change. I feel like Connected Families addresses real heart change and grace, just as God himself wants heart change and loves to show us grace.

Yesterday my son was running in Karate class and his dad pulled him aside and reprimanded him. He said that if he ever did that again, he’d not go to his next karate class. The karate teacher was upset about the running because another kid had joined in and it was distracting. This was during a break. So the solution that my husband decided was best was to be harsh with him. When they came home, my son was downcast. Dad was upset and irritated. My son had discouragement written all over his face. So when I called him in my room to speak to him, he said “I know. I always mess things up.” I knew this was not the message I wanted him to go to bed with, so instead I asked him what happened and he told me. I said “I bet it was fun running around that room, wasn’t it?” He shook his head. “I bet it wasn’t so much fun being told to stop. I wouldn’t like my fun ruined either. That would make me kind of sad.” This was me empathizing with my son, trying to see things from his point of view. His demeanor changed when I started empathizing with him. Suddenly, he was more talkative and less downcast. His mom understood him. Isn’t that what everyone wants? To be understood?

I told him I loved him, even if he made a mistake and through our conversation, I realized that he had never been told not to run in class. No one bothered to tell him the rule at all. So I told him that now he knows, I’m going to expect him not to run in class next week and if he does, then he should expect not to attend the next lesson because we had this conversation. He was responsible because he knew the rules. I also didn’t want to usurp my husband, so I kept the consequence that he had given to him even though I didn’t particularly agree with it. Sometimes you have to work around the hard stuff.

I also said, “You know what? I think you are really good at running. I think you have lots of energy and you make people laugh and you know how to have fun. Is there a way that we can use that to do good?” We discussed him using his energy to do well with his Karate moves and to work hard in class the whole time, but not to run around and be a distraction. Instead, he could encourage the other students by having fun with karate and doing a good job. He seemed really excited about this option. So he told me next week, that was his plan. I think it’s easy to point out negatives in your kids, but when you point out the good–even in a bad situation (there is always something good if you look hard enough), the child is given the grace to use that energy towards being a blessing to others instead of being rude, unkind, or disobedient.

I’m still working through all the steps, but I wanted to say one more thing: Yes, the message I want my child to hear is grace, but I still want them to understand their need to be forgiven. Of course that means that we have to see our sin as sin.  I’m not at all suggesting we sugar coat our sins and not face the issues of lying, disrespect, and on and on. We do need to call sin what it is. I think the child already knows they are sinful otherwise they wouldn’t feel so terrible. I tell my kids when they feel like that it is because of conviction, brought about by the Holy Spirit. If we feel bad, we need to ask for God’s forgiveness. With that said, I know there are better ways to parent than acting like an authoritarian and bossing our kids around. That is why I am so glad I found Connected Families and will continue to address these issues with much grace, prayer, and discernment. At the end of the day, God is patient towards us, slow to anger, abounding in love, empathetic to our needs, and correcting us with grace and mercy. If our children never experience grace from their own parents, then how will they understand God’s grace? How will they give grace to others?

Liar, Liar

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I’m reading the Excellent Wife by Martha Peace, but I really can’t recommend this book. My main issue with the book is not that I don’t agree with MOST of what she says, but the way she makes her points are very weak.

Before I say what I want to say, let me begin by stating that all my life I’ve been fed lies. As a kid, I was given a version of God that was not biblical or correct. I grew up thinking God hated me and wanted the worst for me. I thought Jesus was a nice story, but didn’t even get the point of his death until I became saved at age 28. So whenever someone gloats about this author or that speaker, I don’t ever jump on the bandwagon of groupies and jump all in. I’m a skeptic by nature. I question everything. I put it to the test. And then when I’ve worked it out–me and God, wrestling and searching, then I am the biggest supporter of the truth. Or one of the biggest anyways ;)

So with that said, I have been wrestling with her book. I’ve read Chapters 1-7, and I’m convinced she is very black and white and very opinionated. Her main points are made by picking and choosing bible verses about random topics and using them for marriage. Maybe she is correct in her assessments, but her explanations do not jive with me. I need concrete. I need firm foundations. I need to be able to convince another person I believe this stuff. And her book just doesn’t do the topic justice.

Here is an example and as you can see, I argue on the sidebars:

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Her first point is why women need protection is because of the influence the world has on her. She states 1 John 2:16. This is true of men too, not just women! If you are going to make a point about why women need protection (from men) but then use a verse that is applicable to all people, it makes very little sense.

I agree with her assessment that I fall victim to the influence the world has on me, but last I checked, so does my husband!

On the next page she says this:

2.) The Devil

Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. Therefore take up the full armor of God, that you maybe be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Ephesians 6:10-11, 13

Satan is against everything that God establishes. So he tries to undermine the home and the wife’s role….One biblical requirement of your obedience is for you to graciously place yourself and remain under your husband’s authority (unless he asks you to sin). If you do not, you are out of God’s will and have not done everything biblically to “stand firm”.

Overall, I don’t disagree with what she is saying here. But again, she using this as evidence for why a husband needs to protect his wife. Does not the devil also attack the husband? Is he immune to Satan? I think not. Doesn’t really convince me that I “need” protection from my husband. It just shows me I need to seek God’s protection.

Last and my least favorite is point 3, in which she states that a woman is “often more easily deceived” and she uses 1 Timothy 2:12-14 to make her point. I have no idea which Bible version she used because I tried to look it up and I can’t locate it. But this is what the books says (i.e. The Bible according to Martha Peace):

But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being quite deceived fell into transgression. (underlining and emphasis courtesy of Martha Peace)

But look it up in the NIV or even the ESV or the NASB and you will get this kind of language instead:

I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. (NIV)

So from this simple verse about church leadership, she makes the assumption first of all that women are  quite deceived, more so than a man. Secondly, she jumps from church leadership to marriage. When I first read this, I said to myself, “How do you get all of that from these few verses?” because I didn’t see one thing in here about marriage. It was all on church leadership. And the “quite deceived” version is new to me. Nice additions though, Mrs. Peace.

Thankfully, our universe has people who CAN write and explain and even teach well and unfortunately it isn’t Martha Peace (but I don’t know–everyone on Facebook seems to worship her, so guess I’m the problem). John Piper states things differently and I tend to agree with him, if only because his logic makes sense and hers doesn’t:

We summed it up with two definitions: of authority (v. 12) and submission (v. 11).

  • Authority” refers to the divine calling of spiritual, gifted men to take primary responsibility as elders for Christ-like servant leadership and teaching in the church.
  • Submission” refers to the divine calling of the rest of the church, both men and women, to honor and affirm the leadership and teaching of the elders and to be equipped by them for the hundreds of various ministries available to men and women in the service of Christ.

These definitions are intentionally parallel to the definitions of headship and submission and marriage which we learned from Ephesians 5:

  • Headship is the divine calling of a husband to take primary responsibility for Christ-like servant leadership, protection, and provision in the home.
  • Submission is the divine calling of a wife to honor and affirm her husband’s leadership and help carry it through according to her gifts.

The reason this is important to see is that both in the case of church order and family order Paul is basing his teaching on God’s original order in creation. Paul is not arbitrarily choosing roles for men and women, nor is he simply adapting to the cultural expectations of the day. He is saying that there is something about the way God set things up in the beginning that makes this kind of order good. In other words true manhood and true womanhood mesh more effectively in ministry—they are better preserved and better nurtured and more fulfilled and more fruitful—in this pattern of home and church than in any other pattern—because God made it to be this way. It is part of his gracious design for the good of men and women.

He goes on to state things further in this way:

The second point from verse 14 is this: “And Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.” Now most commentators in the history of the church have taken this very simply to mean that women are more vulnerable to deception, and therefore should not be given the responsibility of leading and teaching the church. My guess is, from what I have read and experienced, that women are more vulnerable to deception in some kinds of situations and men are more vulnerable to deception in other kinds of situations. (Source: Desiring God, emphasis mine)

Then sums it up, for us non-assumption makers in the room:

I think this is what Paul means in 1 Timothy 2:14. Let me try to paraphrase it to bring this out. “Adam was not deceived [that is, Adam was not approached by the deceiver and did not carry on direct dealings with the deceiver] but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor [that is, she was the one who took up dealings with the deceiver and was led through her direct interaction with him into deception and transgression].”

If this is right, then the main point is not that the man is undeceivable or that the woman is more deceivable; the point is that when God’s order of leadership is repudiated, it brings damage and ruin. Men and women are both more vulnerable to error and sin when they forsake the order that God has intended.

So Paul’s argumentation in 1 Timothy 2:11–14 is that men ought to bear primary responsibility for leadership and teaching in the church (that is, be the elders):

1) because in creating man first, God taught that men should take responsibility for leadership in relation to woman; and

2) because the fall of Adam and Eve shows that the neglect of this divine pattern puts men and women in a more vulnerable position and leads to transgression.

(emphasis mine. Source: Desiring God)

Whether Piper is right or wrong, at least he makes some valid points. That’s my biggest complaint about the book “The Excellent Wife”.  Anyone can state anything they want to, but if you are going to back it up with weak arguments, you are going to lose a lot of people. For me, I am not drinking the Martha Peace kool-aid. She has some good points and I tend to agree with most of what she says, but her points about women and her interpretations of scripture bother me. Did she search these verses out before writing this book? I just don’t know. It seems opinionated, not truthful.

I suggest doing your own digging and come to your own conclusions based on prayer, searching the scriptures, and conviction by the Holy Spirit. It’s been assumed by most that I just am prideful and don’t want to believe what Martha Peace is saying because it goes against my ego. Maybe. But maybe I’m just not wanting to stand on man-made truths and instead, want to stand firm on God’s word–not man’s opinion. Not everything that is questioned is a bad thing. I have found the times I question are the times I grow.

It’s going to be a long 21 Chapters…

Read or listen to John Piper’s sermon in full here: Affirming the Goodness of Manhood and Womanhood in All of Life

When Hearts Are Blessed

The first day of school - 2005

The first day of school – 2005

I used to be self-conscious about homeschooling. I used to dread anyone asking me “Where does your child go to school?”  Sometimes I would sheepishly tell them or I’d just try to maneuver around the question, “Well they are out of school today.” It seemed like a lot of work to have a conversation about homeschool to someone who had very little knowledge about it. Thankfully, I don’t mind all that much anymore if people know I homeschool. I feel like it’s a way for them to see the good things from homeschooling once they know my kids. That sounds prideful, but having had these years to help my kids through some hard things and to learn to love each other as we homeschool has given them a different outlook on life than those that don’t. They are still selfish and sinful, but they know they are forgiven. They still want their own way, but sometimes they actually put someone else first. I guess what matters is they had a good start.

I’ve been told my kids are naïve. In a lot of ways, I’m naïve too. It’s not that I have a bunch of restrictions (no rock music, no tv, ect) but I do encourage them to find things to watch and read that are honoring God. Some things don’t. The Hunger Games, for instance. But there is a definite theme of good vs. evil and what happens to a society when children are treated like pawn pieces (abortion, anyone?). Or Divergent. My kids liked that movie too and again, there is a theme of good vs. evil and a fight for what is good. So although it’s not labeled Christian, there are things in it that I think are worth the watch (or read, if you read the books which are better than the movies BTW).  But overall, they haven’t been around a lot of public school kids (or even other Christian kids) that are what I would call “worldly”.  They have enough problems without all those influences. I honestly can’t imagine parenting a teen with all that to deal with — sex, homosexuality, bad language, perverseness, disrespectful, rude, lying, stealing, greed, laziness, peer pressure, and on and on.

The days sometimes are long when I homeschool. And sometimes I feel like I’m hitting my head against a wall. But overall, I enjoy homeschooling. Sometimes it’s tiring and hard. Then there are times that are pure joy, such as:

  • Watching your child grow in an area, or overcome an obstacle
  • Watching them persevere through a trial
  • Witnessing their love for each other
  • Watching selfless acts of love towards others
  • Witnessing their thoughtfulness
  • Helping them achieve a goal
  • Allowing them to grow and learn at their own pace
  • Letting them stand on their own two feet and learn independence

I see ways in which they could grow so much more, but lately God has been showing me the little ways in which he’s protected them from a world that wants to chew them up and spit them out. They have had these years to be nurtured, loved, and to grow in their creativities and interests. Sometimes I’ve squashed their creativity and have felt like I did them a disservice, but God has grace when I mess up. When my oldest hated writing, I bought all these expensive curriculums and tried to get her to write well and none of it worked. I gave up on it and through her own methods, she decided she loved writing. Then nothing stopped her. She still writes and is now doing Creative Writing as an elective for high school. When my middle child would scribble all over her papers, I used to get upset. Then I realized she was still listening even though she was drawing, so I let her scribble. Today at age 12, she can draw better than most adults can! When my youngest son (age 8) was struggling with reading, I literally threw all the books at him. But then I decided I was trying to hard and relaxed. You know how he learned to read? A video game. He would write all the words on the screen on a piece of paper and then he’d ask me how to spell other words and then it developed into writing sentences. Today he read me a book from his science book with minimal mistakes. They learn despite my failures!

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My daughter’s drawing – The Hunger Games

I am extremely thankful that God has allowed me to homeschool all these years (in my 10th year!). This is the longest thing I’ve ever done, more than any other job or experience. It’s been the hardest “job” I’ve ever had, but also the most rewarding.  I know I could be doing other things with my time, but nothing is more important to me than seeing my children walk in truth. And in this day and age, we need our children to know the truth of God’s word, not fall prey to what everyone else is saying and doing. I continue to pray for my kids to love and serve God only and to always put Him above all other things. I pray the next 10 years will be better than the last as God has taught me so much through my kids. I trust He will continue to be good to me through the rest.

A Little Detour

I have a lot rolling around in my mind these days and God is teaching me a lot, but it’s hard too put it all into words, so I’m taking a detour to a lesser appreciated subject for a little bit: Health.

I can’t remember a time when I ever felt like I fit in my own skin. With the exception of being a child, my teen and adult years have always felt scattered with random illnesses, fatigue, depression, and generally feeling unwell. I haven’t had a life-threatening illness or a chronic disease, but overall–I’ve never felt energetic, high-energy, or ambitious. In life, we can’t always blame those things on the spiritual realm. We also can’t always blame them on the physical or biological realm either. It’s a mix of both sometimes.

After years of feeling awful and being in and out of doctor offices, getting poked, prodded, and questioned and coming up empty handed, last year I decided to take my chances with a naturopath. There were a few things I liked and disliked about the process, but overall, she helped me get my life back. Unfortunately, I started eating junk that isn’t good for me again and now I’m back at square one. But when I was eating well, I felt like a million bucks. I lost 30 pounds and felt years younger. I was able to do the things I wanted without taking a nap or laying down. But I thought I could handle eating like everyone else again and now I’m paying for it. This time I don’t need an expensive naturopath though. I simply am choosing to fill my body with food that helps me instead of harms me.

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Summer 2013 Photo of me

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Summer 2014 – After losing 25 lbs (Montreal, Canada)

The one thing that I have come to realize about myself is that I react to foods slowly. That is, foods tend to not affect me at first bite or even 10th bite. I sometimes have no symptoms other than feeling “not right”.  Then it gets bad. I start noticing joint pain and more rarely, a closed throat. I gain weight and my menstrual cycle gets jacked up (50 days between cycles! Yikes!).  Then I get stomach pains and gastrointestinal issues. It’s no fun. And as much as I love bread, dairy, and caffeine, it has to go. The process has been a painful one, but well worth it.

Last March I plummeted into “diet hell” and removed everything bad for me: dairy, yeast, peanuts, gluten/wheat, corn, sugar, some fruit, some spices, and even chicken and turkey (all these things showed up as allergies on a food test).  First I didn’t realize how bad it was. I thought I just had Leaky Gut Syndrome which is where you start becoming allergic to all sorts of foods because your gut is out of whack. You have to heal it and then add foods back in. But the stinger of it all was, at the point of where I was supposed to add food back in, I realized I wasn’t getting better. The worse culprit was Candida yeast overgrowth. We all have yeast in our bodies, but when in overgrows, it’s bad. I can tell you. All the symptoms I mentioned above and then some can be contributed to yeast overgrowth. So I removed all sources of yeast (not at all easy!) and I took supplements to kill the yeast. I was sicker than a dog for like a week, but then after that I felt like a million bucks. I had a 3 week period where I started losing my eyebrows too, but realized it was from the supplements I was taking! Thankfully that was towards the end of the diet and I just stopped taking them. So I kept that diet for most of the summer months and then added foods back in. The idea is that you will notice a reaction and then you know to stay away from those foods. The problem for me is (and was) that I don’t react right away to foods. Instead, over time, it builds up and then I’m pretty much done for. So now, here I am, back at it again.

So now I am focusing on changes again. This time, I am finding replacements because going cold turkey is almost impossible. I don’t know how I did it last time, but this time seems harder in the sense that I don’t have the will-power to change so many things all at once. But I have the tools I need to do it and that means a lot when trying to change your diet and health. Here are some things I changed in the last week (and have the detox symptoms to prove it!):

  • Instead of coffee and creamer, I drink dandelion root tea which flushes out toxins and promotes healing
  • To further remove toxins, I have been taking Diatomaceous Earth for the last 3 weeks. I started taking this even before I started eating better to kill off any toxins in my body and also to add silica, a much needed supplement in our bodies.
  • I haven’t been eating much bread, but pizza is my downfall. Instead of eating pizza, I prepare enough left overs from the night before–a breadless, grainless meal (meat, veggies) and eat a nutritious lunch instead of calorie filled one.
  • I cook with good fats: real butter, coconut oil, bacon grease, and other fats that help me stave off hunger.
  • I drink lots of water
  • I try to get as much rest as my body tells me. I don’t fight fatigue. Instead I give into it. This is hard especially when I homeschool, but my adrenals need the rest and if I don’t give in, I’ll pay for it later.
  • I try to keep a routine sleep schedule.
  • I prepare foods that are free of bread products and I limit dairy and processed ingredients (liked boxed or canned stuff)
  • Even though I’d love to completely eliminate sugar, I’m not there yet. At some point in the process, I will probably limit it, but not completely remove it as this is near impossible.
  • I drink Kombucha or Kefir and bone broth. These are wonderful for my stomach and have provided much support in the flu season.
  • I see a chiropractor 2x a month and the adjustments help me a lot (Had a migraine last time I went in, went away right after my adjustment–What a life saver!)
  • I avoid taking aspirins and over the counter medicine. This just wreaks havoc on my gut. Instead I look for more natural remedies.

The hardest part for me is feeling like a weirdo. I can’t eat like everyone else, but I don’t have a disease that I can blame it on. Some people have made me feel even worse with rude comments but at the end of the day, I know which foods affect me. I have to live in this body of mine and take care of it. I have to do what I think is best with the life God gave me. With this food journey I have been on, I can’t ignore what He’s taught me about food. I have so much more to learn, but in the meantime, I am thankful for the ways in which I can eat an alternative diet that keeps me at my best.

 

God is Infinite

I told a friend today, “You can take 1,000 steps away from God, but it’s only 1 step back“.  After I told her that, I realized I didn’t know where that quote had come from. And it seemed odd that it rolled right off my tongue so easily too because lately, I’ve felt about 1,000 steps away from God myself.

When you step away and go your own way, it’s not like you are reading Tozer or have your head driven into the Bible. In fact, I have been in a constant battle with anything that points out my sin. I have found myself angered by books, turning off sermons, and disgusted with Christians so I tune them out. I don’t even want to listen to “Christian” music and the cheesy, cornball lyrics that accompany their mouths.

With that said, I picked up a book a week ago. I sometimes still do book reviews through Amazon and I selected a book which I thought was Christian, but if I had to label it anything, it’s probably more spiritual and religious than “Christian”.  I read only a few chapters in it and then set the book down annoyed. But the one thing he stated in the book was the quote above about being 1,000 steps away from God. Even a liberal view of Christianity somehow had one good thought about it–and it was one that God used to speak to my own heart.

I have been watching a sci-fi show with my husband lately. I’m not much for sci-fi, but he is and so sometimes we watch it together. There was a scene in one episode where the main character, who is the hero of the show, reveals to another character, who happens to have a criminal past, that his childhood was not all roses. He says “There was nothing idyllic about my childhood….except that maybe I survived it.”  I thought about that for a while. There was nothing idyllic about my childhood either and sometimes I’ve come to resent my past. But it’s true–surviving my childhood, in a way, is idyllic. It’s idyllic because I didn’t die there. And in God’s grace, He saved a wretch like me. Again, another way in which God was trying to remind me of Himself.

I’m going to be honest: I loathe the Excellent Wife book. The more I read it, the more I dislike it. I don’t disagree necessarily with her points, but I am not a fan of her lists, her legalism, her excessive use of exclamation points,  or the way she speaks about women. It comes off as degrading. That doesn’t mean that I think I should rule my husband or that I shouldn’t submit. I’m just not on the Martha Peace bandwagon like everyone else seems to be. I had to have one of the Pastors explain the entire chapter 6-7 to me in a more encouraging tone, because I threw the book against the wall reading it. It was downright oppressive. With that said, I fought against reading it until the Pastor explained the book better to me. I felt better when our full-time pastor said to me, “Yeah, I don’t really like how she writes either”.  Made me giggle. Thank God I’m not the only person who wants clarification.

Before getting clarification, I was watching that same sci-fi show. It had a flash back to one of the characters who had lost his wife. She was laying next to him and they were both crying. She said “I love you. You gave me 3 wonderful boys. You are the love of my life. I treasure every moment with you; every heated word“.  In the middle of wondering if marriage equaled slavery, seeing this little clip from a TV show brought me back again to what marriage is: Love, sharing joys and sorrows, being a helper suitable for my husband, and loving him until the end.  God can use even sci-fi television to get his point across.

I think sometimes we can get so caught up in Christian authors, speakers, musicians, actors, ect., that we forget God isn’t limited by the word, “Christian”. He can reveal himself to us anywhere and anyway he chooses. When I tend to fight against a Christian book, I find myself face-to-face with the same issue but it arises through means I would have never imagined. I’m not suggesting to watch a bunch of immoral shows, but it comforts me to know that God speaks even when I don’t want to listen. He isn’t limited by my thoughts, my deafness, my blindness, or my sin. He will find me, pursue me, and bring me back.

 

Why I will never be An Excellent Wife

marriagebroken

 

I read Chapter 1 of “The Excellent Wife” and I already don’t like it. First of all, I don’t like books that are cheesy and use exclamation points for emphasis. It drives me crazy, but that’s not really the point (no pun intended). Secondly, she uses too many “holier than thou” phrases that irritate me as I grew up with that and people using phrases no one but church people would understand, drives me crazy. Speak English and be real. The main reason I really don’t like it is it assumes that I’m ready to read another book about marriage. Do you know how many stupid marriage books I’ve read? A ton. And all of them say the same thing–“Michelle, you are the problem so change yourself”.  Oh believe me, I keep trying. But with the bucket load of things I need to change, don’t hold your breath.

I know the book for men is supposedly good but at the end of the day, I’m kind of annoyed that it falls on me to change. Even if I change, what good will it ever do? I’m not EVER going to be perfect and that’s pretty much what you need for marriage to work–or so it seems. It’s not like I hate my husband either. I love him. But we have been married 16 1/2 years. You gotta know that we’ve hurt one another. Anyone who thinks they have a perfect marriage is full of you know what. So pile up all the marriage books in the world and try to do what they say and you still won’t come out the other side necessarily any better than you did before. Maybe you will have a few more tid-bits of knowledge but that doesn’t mean anything except you know how to retain what you read. Good for you. A for effort.

Sometimes it is much easier for me to say to myself “Well, you and I are broken and we will always be broken. You are free to stay or go, but maybe I am the part of the piece that fits your broken side..and my broken edges need your piece to complete me“. But like most things that are broken, it never will fit exactly the same way as a whole piece once did. So there are edges that don’t quite match up. And you know what? That’s ok. A book isn’t going to fix those edges. Listening to a sermon isn’t going to heal an open wound.

Sure I get things “out of” reading a book or listening to a sermon, but being a listening ear has helped me more than any of those things. Sometimes it just helps to be heard, but that is in short supply these days. So I have kept most of my problems to myself. Really, no one can understand the problems I have (I can’t understand theirs either completely) and so any solutions given are going to be flawed as well because they don’t have the complete story or details. Same with a marriage book. Human, flawed guesses at big, weighty problems. I’ll take my chances with my own head knowledge at this point.  And I don’t even need to use an exclamation point :)

 

 

 

 

 

No Free Ride Home

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I hate to be a Grinch, but I’m relieved Christmas is over. Of course, I love spending time with my kids and all the fun things we do as a family, but Christmas is a reminder to me of the sad things too. I got this picture from my sister at Christmas. It’s artwork from when I was like 13 or 14. The top one is drawn by my triplet sister. The middle one is mine (awful, because I don’t draw!) and the one on the bottom is my triplet brothers.

The picture was actually stolen out of my mom’s house when she died by a certain sibling who then decided she didn’t want it 4 years later so she gave it to my brother who told her, “it belongs to the girls” meaning my sister and I (since my triplet brother isn’t alive anymore). She didn’t want to give it to us because she pretty much hates me so she gave it to my older brother, and he gave it back to my triplet sister who then gifted it to me. I think the picture was originally stolen to spite me and so just looking at it makes me kind of sad. 4 years later, I’m still really angry with my family for the things they did when my mom died. They all have forgiven each other and I just am indifferent to them. It’s not that I wish them ill. I just can’t cross the line from here to being in their lives. Some people have told me I’m bitter and hateful for that stance, but it’s not hate. It’s hurt. And it feels like just yesterday that they decided to treat me as they did so I’m not running full force back to them at the moment. If I ever will is another story.

Another sad thing is that the person who gave this picture to my mom originally was the person who taught us art classes. He committed suicide when I was about 22 years old. He was my brother in law and he could draw really well, but his life was a mess. So when I look at this picture, I remember that too. Then I start remembering all the sad things that my family has gone through. Suicides, cancer, infighting, conflict, bitterness, hatred, adultery, divorce, abandonment, DWI’s, kidnapping, jail time, stealing, abuse, drug use, homosexuality, deceit, sudden deaths, broken families, and hopelessness. This is the world to which I was born, to which we were all born, but it affects me every day of my life and I am sad for it.

My siblings gather around each other every December and don’t invite me or my sister. 4 1/2 years later and I’m still the devil to them. My heart misses all the family gatherings and feeling as if I belonged somewhere. But truth be told, I don’t think I ever did. I just told myself I did. How can you really, truly belong where everyone hates Christ? It’s as if I was never meant to belong anywhere and so why start now?

So Christmas is gathering with my in-laws who share their own memories of their childhood while I sit and listen to them laugh and reminisce. It’s hard sometimes to not feel robbed of something.

Sorry for another Need To Breathe song, but this one relates:

 

 

Drive All Night – Need To Breathe

I ain’t lookin for a free ride home
Back to the middle
I need a new locale
I need a girl who calls me baby
I need to know if she can save me
I need somewhere I can drive all night
Out into the darkness
Follow the headlights down
I gotta know if they can take me
I gotta know if they can save me

Focus in on every word
Change my path
Maybe I could leave a mark
Try and prove the poets wrong
There must be time
Maybe we could be the song
To march us on

I ain’t lookin for a free ride home
Back to the middle
I need a new locale
I need a girl that calls me baby
I need to know if she can save me
I need somewhere I can drive all night
Out into the darkness
Follow the headlights down
I need to know where they can take me
I gotta know if they can save me

Beg the book to turn the page
Cause I get stuck where the villains get away
Somewhere in this wretched tale there must be a line
Where the victim gets his way
Just one time
I’ll get mine

I ain’t lookin for a free ride home
Back to the middle
I need a new locale

I need a girl that calls me baby
I gotta know if she can save me
I need somewhere I can drive all night
Out into the darkness
Follow the headlights down
I need to know where they can take me
I gotta know if they can save me

Drive all night
Hold on tight
Close your eyes
Say goodbye

Maybe They’re On To Us

I have a work account on Facebook and I made the mistake of adding a few people back on. Back to being SUPER ANNOYED. I just can’t stand all the drama that is Facebook. And if you want people to know THAT MUCH about your life, write a book. Geez. So I think I’ll delete everyone and have 0 friends and block myself. I just need it for work. I could care less what everyone did at Christmas and how PERFECT their lives are. Over it.

My favorite band, hands down, is NEED TO BREATHE.  They aren’t fluffy. They tell things like they are. And they are super transparent (unlike Facebook which is basically everyone trying to “be real” but just putting on a act–gag).  They wrote this song because they were afraid of people knowing so much about them because their songs are just real and open and they don’t hold back. I can relate to this lately. I feel like just being closed and fake like most everyone else I know. It seems easier to be that way. Otherwise people just use your pain against you. I get tired of being honest in a world that just wants to pretend they are always fine and everything is a hallmark card.

So anyway, I have been singing this song lately and although it really doesn’t have “Christian” lyrics, I love it anyway. It reminds me that I am not alone in this struggle to be honest and open. Plus I really just like the lead singers voice…. :)

 

What if God was One of Us

I know God is everything I need, but sometimes I just wish God could be a human and come down here and speak to me, or most of the time, just love me because life is just really hard.

I know, I know…somehow that is sinful to wish God was human. Whatever. I still wish it. And yeah, I know–God doesn’t need to be human and He loves us even when we don’t know it, blah blah blah. I get it. I still wish he was here in view of my sight and I could feel him and know He was here. It would be easier than always reminding myself.

People don’t know how to love like God. They don’t know how to be quiet when they should. They don’t know how to embrace suffering. They don’t even understand half of what I say. They aren’t mindful of your feelings and past pain. They can try, but really, they can’t be all those things.

The church is supposed to love as Jesus did, but most of the time they are too busy trying to build a fan club. I get so tired of trying to fit in with what seems like a group of elitists. There are some that aren’t, but most days, I leave church feeling more alone than when I came. I can’t tell you how many Sundays I’ve sat by myself during the CE hour. Or you walk past someone and say hi and they barely mumble a “hello” and then walk past you to someone else and shout “hey?! How you doing today?!!”  Apparently I must be a monster or something or I have food in my teeth or I’m just ugly. I have no idea. I’m done trying to “get” people. But I won’t lie, it stings. Because then I think something is terribly wrong with me.

So yeah, I just wish God was here to talk to me audibly and hold me because I don’t feel loved by people at all lately, not even the ones that say they do. They try, but they fail…even the ones who claim they love me and keep hurting me. I just wish I could see God swallow up sin and death and see with my own eyes that He threw my pain into the abyss of His love.

Love

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My son as a shepherd for the Christmas play

What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like.
Saint Augustine

 

My words are few today. Thinking through a lot of things and I know it’s better to just be quiet. Thought I’d share the quote though. It is a good one for Christmas especially.

 

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