You don’t have to have it all “together”!

 

I read a passage from a new book: 100 days of thanks this morning.

“You Don’t Need To Have It All Together.”

It’s a somewhat unique perspective in this crazy, out of control, race to the top, mad dash world, but it’s a concept that more people need to embrace.

You’ve likely heard the phrase “God’s Grace covers a multitude of sins.” – it’s a good reminder to hold onto. God’s grace is boundless. He knows better than anyone that we are far from perfect. Of course He doesn’t expect us to be perfect. Many people seem to think this only applies to being a Christian. But God doesn’t put limits on His Grace. He knows we need it for more than just sin. We need it for every day life too.

Remember that the next time you worry about your house not being perfectly clean or your kids not getting perfect grades or one of the other thousands of things the world around us judges us on daily.

GOD loves you… just the way you are and He does NOT expect you to be perfect.

Just do your best and leave the rest up to Him.

 

©Naomi Claire 2018

When a book is NOTHING like you expected…

 

When. . . seriously. . . WHEN did it become socially acceptable to spew foul language absolutely everywhere?

It is is bad enough to pick up a book with “adult” content, and find some there, but to pick up a book written for teens and find nasty language and sensual behavior that really belongs behind closed doors, it’s no wonder our kids don’t understand how to be adults.

They think they have to talk that way because their friends do – or the characters on TV, in video games, and even in books.

Sadly, teens are not learning to handle real life situations from books and movies and video games. They’re learning all about the worst possible ways that teens handle things – and only seeing the consequences of those bad choices.

We should be giving our teens uplifting stories that empower them, stories of hope, stories of good triumphing over evil, stories of teens making good choices and earning the rewards of doing things the right way!

 

Sadly, this does not bode well for my reading habits.

 

I used to pick up young adult novels because I knew they would at least be clean reads.

Since that is no longer the case, I will be reading less and less YA novels – and recommending less and less to others as well.

©Naomi Claire 2018

When #METOO is the only thing you can say. . . [for mature audiences]

 

Written through tears. . .

Breath shuddering and fingers shaking with every keystroke. . .

The words are not enough. . .

The story is not enough. . .

No promises or life changes or time can ever erase the scars of something that destroys so much of you. . . things that you can never get back. . . and somehow, no matter what you say, no matter what you do, no matter how long it’s been, you will never be the same person again.

And, NO ONE who hasn’t actually been through it themselves can ever, will ever, truly understand that mile in your shoes.

How could they?

 

#METOO

 

It’s a start.

 

Sometime last year I saw this hashtag for the first time. It was a movement on social media, a way for women to reach out to each other, to say with as few words as possible that they understood what someone was going through, that they were there to support each other. It’s possibly one of the most important messages that social media has ever carried.

It’s a rally cry, a stand that only some of us can take, a way of telling the faceless. . . nameless. . . women and children and even men that they are not alone, that someone else has been through the same hell they have.

 

YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

 

People ask me how I can have faith, knowing that God allowed me to be in that situation, lose that much of myself, experience that horror. . .

It hasn’t always been easy. I would be lying if I said otherwise, but God is and was just as horrified at what happened to me as I was. . . am. . . GOD is the only one who knows just how it feels. . . just how it felt. . . just how it still feels when I remember or when the nightmares come. HE knows because HE was there with me, beside me, behind me, in front of me, helping to protect me as much as HE could without taking away my free will. . . my free will that means I made a choice that caused me to be in that situation.

I made the decision to be in the relationship. I stayed in the relationship until I had no other choice. I even fell for the lies and the empty promises again years later.

But I also made the decision to leave when it happened again.

 

The devil is a cunning liar. He may not know everything, but he is a study of human nature and with thousands of years of experience, he knows how to read people. He knows what to whisper to the instrument of his abuse, what the victim needs to hear; to stay, to feel trapped, to feel lost, to feel that there is no other option for them.

 

We still make the choice, but I do not believe it is as cut and dried as most people believe.

 

I am here, standing with each and every one of you, the ones who can say “me too” and the ones who can’t. . .

 

©Naomi Claire 2018

When Someone shows their true colors. . .

 

Making friends [true friends. . . lifelong friends. . . friends who are with you no matter what] is perhaps one of the most difficult thing to do in this life. Some of us don’t even have one that we can think of. We have friends, sure, but not the kind who we know really have our backs, the kind who are there for us – and with us – no matter what.

In fact, I often wonder if we can even fully understand that kind of love, the kind that Jesus has for us. Sure we would give our life for our child. We might even give our life for our husband or wife. But how many of us actually have this kind of love?

“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” ~ John 15:13 KJV

 

And sometimes, someone we consider a friend, whether they be lifelong or just someone we enjoy chatting with on occasion, will show their true colors – and you will see that they are not your friend. . . that they never were. . . and that you are so much better off without them.

However, because we’re human, it still hurts to experience such a shock, such a pain, such a loss.

Even if it is all for the best in the end.

 

For example: the recent experience of a friend actually reminded of such an experience in my own life.

In my friend’s experience, someone they greatly admired, someone they thought the world of, someone they thought was a friend, showed through obvious and obtuse behavior, that they are not and have not been a friend – or indeed, someone to look up to.

 

In my own experience, the person was someone I met through a Christian organization, so it follows that I expected Christian-like behavior. For a time, I saw such in our interactions. However, in one tiny misunderstanding, all of that evaporated and their true colors shone through blindingly.

At the time, it hurt. I could barely breathe for how much it hurt. I was broken. . . absolutely broken, and not just because of the shock over their behavior or how quickly they turned on me, but for how tiny the misunderstanding truly was. It was one of those things where a real friend would look at you with an odd expression and say something like “WOW, really?” and you would then realize what you said and explain what you meant and then you would both laugh over it and go on.

In this instance, the person maligned me publicly, repeatedly and then ignored me completely, cutting off all forms of communication so that I could not even explain.

TRUE COLORS SHOWN

 

And, even though it still hurts a bit – especially when I run across something I would love to share with said person and cannot – I am mostly the better for it. At least I know now who they really are and I can move on with my life for the most part.

 

When we witness these types of shutouts, it is more important than ever that we lift up the injured party. They will need all the friends they can get in that time. And for the injured party, it is difficult, but we need to remind ourselves of the good friends we still have; those who lift us up, those who understand who we are, those who treat us the way they want to be treated.

 

I am really looking forward to the time when we don’t have to wonder anymore. . . when we will know that everyone is being honest. . . all the time.

That day is coming.

 

©Naomi Claire 2018

The filter that is the enemy of TRUTH!

 

My brother and my mother have a more than somewhat rocky relationship…

They have for years.

And now that I have a teenager, I am beginning to deal with some of the same insanity that she did–and I have realized that one part of that insanity is the filter that our nastiest enemy puts between us–the filter that is the greatest enemy of truth.

Because of this filter… words that are spoken, change… tones that are used, get mangled… ideas are twisted… and everything becomes misunderstood, mixed up, and messed up–and truth is lost.

And, even though I personally witnessed it so many times between my mom and my brother, I never seem to see it happening between myself and my own son… until it already has.

 

This filter is the enemy of truth because it happens at the absolute worst possible moment, because you never see it coming, and because you have no control over what it changes.

Truth is, to some degree at least, about perspective–and when that perspective is being twisted up and messed with during an intense conversation or argument, it is nearly impossible to fix because that experience will always be colored by the emotions and perspective of the moment.

And once that perspective has been experienced, you can’t change it.

It just is.

And it can be the largest stumbling block between a mother and son… between a husband and wife… between a mother and daughter… between two friends… and so on.

 

It’s a relationship killer.

 

And so far the only thing I have found that helps even a little is prayer.

 

©Naomi Claire 2018

Walking a mile in someone else’s shoes…

 

I see posts every day that talk about not judging parents of autistic children… not judging parents of adopted children… not judging parents of children with disabilities…

But like so many other aspects of this world, I have to ask myself why it stops there.

Why is it only parents of children who look disabled or disadvantaged who call for no judgement? Why is it only minorities and disadvantaged groups who deserve no judgement?  Why can’t we stop judging each other entirely? And why does the world require an official “diagnosis” to see that a child deserves special treatment?

 

As a sister who watched her brother’s life nearly destroyed by the “diagnosis” of ADHD… As a woman who narrowly escaped a similar diagnosis herself… As a mother who refuses to go down the same path with her own son…

 

I really wish the world worked this way already…

©Naomi Claire 2018

Truth-Filled Fridays: A Frightening Trend Among Christian Authors, Bloggers and Publishers

 

This is a subject that can be quite difficult to approach. . . mostly because no matter what is said, it sounds [looks] like finger pointing. However, as mostly an outsider looking in, I feel I have somewhat of an advantage.

So, I’m going to give it a go.

 

Publishing is an ever-changing thing that can, at times, be impossible to actually keep up with. And, while I understand that Christian Authors, Publishers and Book Bloggers have to make their way through this digital minefield and make a living and/or a name for themselves if they hope to survive, there have been some very alarming trends that have leeched over from the non-Christian world of dog-eat-dog, cut-throat, back-alley, under-the-table type dealings that we as followers of Christ are supposed to avoid at all costs.

In the last few years especially, there have been more and more Christian small presses popping up all over, filling the void left behind by the large presses that have either gone under or been swallowed up by the big 5. For the most part, they put quite a lot of effort into sticking to a mission statement, but there are more than a few (I will not name names, but if you look around a little, it’s not hard to figure out who is who) who proudly proclaim themselves to be a Christian press. However they only publish a handful of actual Christian fiction.

Sadly, the story is usually about the bottom line. They publish just enough Christian fiction works to get on the lists of the Christian Author/Publisher/Agent organizations’ lists and then they publish whatever they darn well please, while still putting out the occasional Christian fiction title (or edgy Christian fiction – as the term stands now) solely to keep up appearances so they do not lose their footing in the Christian fiction world.

And, sadly, that is the least of the reprehensible behaviors I am exploring today.

Next I would like to shine a spotlight at the bloggers who are on an ever-present slippery slope of trying to make just enough waves with their snarky “critical” reviews, while skating the line between truth and complete fabrication with either the authors or the publishers they do not want to fall out of favor with.

It’s a slippery slope to slide down, trying to make yourself sound more professional by tearing down authors who are published by small presses, while blatantly fabricating praise about others just so you’ll continue to receive free books and not fall out of favor with big-name authors.

It’s also a dangerous game to play with the emotions of authors who are notoriously an unstable bunch to begin with. To rip their work to shreds simply because you did not enjoy the formatting their publisher picked (which means they had ZERO control over it personally) or you don’t find enough murder and mayhem or drama between the pages of a book that specifically states it contains none of the above is not what it means to be an impartial or “honest” reviewer.

And the worst is yet to come. . .

Leaving aside the personal habits of Authors of Christian fiction who should be setting a Godly example, I am going to focus solely on their behavior within the realm of the Publishing world.

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but there is a fine line between writing a book on a particular subject because it is currently popular, and taking someone else’s ides, tossing in a few name and place changes and calling it your own, especially when it is at the expense of a single mother who is struggling just to make ends meet. Sadly, this is happening more and more with authors who are small-press or Indie published–and because the mainstream authors have a large following and a big house behind them, no one bothers to notice that their stories are a blatant rip-off of someone else’s work. And if the Indie author ever pointed a finger, not only would they end up mauled by the social media monster, they would be effectively putting an end to their own career in the process.

 

It is a sad state of affairs indeed.

 

The bottom line here is that God calls us to lift each other up. . . not tear each other down or use, abuse and then leave behind an empty, bleeding shell of a person like the man from the well-known parable of the Samaritan.

 

 

©Naomi Claire 2018

Truth-Filled Fridays: Difficult words about a difficult subject…

There have been a lot of conversations lately about abuse, especially sexual abuse – and since this is an area I deal with in some of my work, I thought I would take the time to talk about it a bit.

Abuse – even sexual abuse – is nothing new. Thousands of years ago, in Biblical times, it existed. It was often punishable by death and in many cases ruined more than just the victim’s life (as it does now), but it’s nothing new. Unfortunately, the practice of covering it up or hiding it away is nothing new either…

The most difficult part of abuse (speaking from personal experience) is often how the victim feels that their family and friends will perceive them once they let that secret out. It’s nearly impossible to get up the nerve to tell family and friends – or in the case where they already know – to make yourself open up about it and talk over the event.

It’s easy to say that people need to be forgiving and accepting and gracious about speaking to the victim, but in my own personal experience, ultimately it wasn’t my family and friends’ reactions that made me feel ashamed and unimportant and dirty. It was the abuse itself. No amount of gracious acceptance can make you feel less ashamed when you have been abused – and sadly, many victims are never able to move past that feeling of shame… no matter how much time passes.

In my personal opinion of the subject, though it is a fine goal to educate people on finding a way to show compassion to the victims of abuse, a much more important (and often ignored) goal would be to educate our children on what abuse is, why abuse is wrong, and how important it is to NEVER put themselves in the type of situation that could lead to abuse.

We cannot just pretend that it doesn’t happen… in the dark, in the places where kids go to be alone. We need to shine a light into those dark places and bring the truth out where it can be seen and dealt with. And our kids need to know what can happen, and what does happen every day.

Pretending something doesn’t exist does NOT make it go away!

No, it’s not easy, but then, nothing about being a parent is.

Nothing about being a human is easy. It’s a hard world… and a hard life, but it’s worth living.

And yes… what makes it worth living for me just happens to be God. But that’s me.

What makes your life worth living?

 

 

©Naomi Claire 2018

What far too many people miss about FAITH

The world we live in is changing… rapidly… and for some of us, it is becoming more difficult to recognize our beloved country, much less to find the morals and ideals that it was founded on in the things happening every day all around us…

In my own personal opinion, the thing missing from far too many lives is FAITH!

And one reason for that is (I believe) what has become the default view of faith-based beliefs.

So many… Too many… people in our dazed, confused, frightened and abused world look at what they think of as FAITH and see only the negative: that you must believe in someone you can’t see, hear, taste, touch or feel.

This is all true.

However, what is also true is that to believe in the opposite requires so much more FAITH than any Christian in the world has.

Science is always telling you that you have to look at the world logically. So, my question is this: why don’t they?

Logically, when you compare the two sides, you have on one side:

Plan… Purpose… Pattern… Beyond perfect timing… Design… A continuous and ever-moving intricate and delicate cycle of life and death, destruction and rebirth, growth and decay, nurturing and letting go…

On the other side:

There is no purpose, no reason, no plan, no structure, no explanations… only chaos and questions…

So, my question is WHY?

Why do non-believers give believers so much grief about FAITH, when they clearly have so much more than we do – to believe in something that they can’t see, touch, taste, feel, hear… or even understand…

 

What do you believe?

 

What do you prefer?

Is it better, in your opinion, to put your FAITH in an idea that not even the scientists who support it fully understand – or in a loving Heavenly Father who has a plan for everything and everyone?

And if you put your FAITH in a loving Heavenly Father and in the end you’re wrong… what have you lost if there really is no heareafter?

If there’s nothing to gain, there’s nothing to lose by giving God a chance…

But that’s just my take on the situation.

Think about it.

©Naomi Claire 2018

“That Still, Small Voice”. . . What does it sound like?

My previous blog post inspired a question that–when I tried to answer–I realized it needed more than just a simple comment–mostly because I cannot fully or technically explain the still, small voice of God’s spirit in a few sentences.

So… In order to do this question justice, I am writing out the answer in a post all its own.

 

First let me say that I am not a Biblical scholar so I can only answer from my own personal experience. I should also like to note that my relationship with God has nothing whatsoever to do with religion and it is incredibly complex, impossible to fully explain in a comment. . . thus this post.

 

Second, in my quest to answer the question more fully, I asked my mother and my daughter about their own experiences with the voice of our Heavenly Father and both of their answers were slightly different–both from mine and from each other–so it follows that everyone may have a slightly different experience with it. Ironically enough that just makes it more difficult to properly explain. . .

 

The voice of God is not audible.

What do I mean by that–and this is important because it deals with the meat of Sam’s question. Well, I mean exactly what I said… the voice of God is not like your mother’s. You do not hear it out loud like you hear your kids or your friends or your earthly parents. I hear it in my soul. My mother hears it in her head (sort of like a thought, but not exactly). And my daughter says it’s just like her own thoughts, only she knows it’s not her thoughts.

Again, different people experience this in different ways which A) makes it difficult to explain… and B) makes it impossible to prove.

Sam also asked about how you know it is God who is speaking (nudging). The problem with this is that you don’t always know. We have a deceiver (the enemy of God: the devil) who also likes to whisper things to us; trying to frighten us, trying to confuse us, trying to convince us it’s OK to do bad things. And it’s not always easy for Christians (even the most devout) to tell the difference because… he’s a liar and he’s REALLY skilled at it. The only real way to combat this is to first ask yourself if what you’re thinking feels like the right thing… and then pray about it.

 

The voice of God is not easy.

“ask yourself if what you’re thinking feels like the right thing… and then pray about it.”

That sounds easy, but it’s not because sometimes we confuse feeing like the wrong thing for feeling like a scary thing. Sometimes God asks us to step out in faith and do something crazy, something that takes a lot more courage than we think we have, sometimes even something that feels like it could be a really bad idea.

It’s not that doing the thing God asks could hurt someone or go against His law… more like it could cause you embarrassment because God wants you to start up a conversation with a total stranger and you’re the most introverted person on the planet.

 

It’s all about FAITH.

And this is where Faith comes in. At the end of the day all we have is Faith.

Yes, even non-Christian scholars and historians admit the existence of Jesus Christ, but He was (to them) just a man and they don’t admit that his existence automatically means there is a God or that “our” God is the only one.

It takes faith–and having faith is hard. Sometimes it feels impossible and Christians lose their faith or struggle with their faith all the time.

 

Religion

Now, I don’t know if this makes a difference or not, but looking at the name of our questioner’s blog makes me think it does… I can assure you that my hearing God’s voice has nothing whatsoever to do with having been indoctrinated to think I could. Even though I was brought up in church, there was never one thing I found within those four walls that drew me to God.

No, I never doubted His existence because, when I look around at the beautiful, amazing, breathtaking world we inhabit, it has always made more sense that it is the product of Grand design rather than some ridiculous, unpredictable, unexplainable cosmic accident. But I did not get that attitude from church, and I was not even able to properly express it until adulthood.

My faith is the result of a life lived on one end of the spectrum: little miss goody two shoes –Yes, that was actually my nickname in school… then life lived on the other end of the spectrum; as far away from how I was brought up as physically and emotionally possible. I was the bad, bad, bad girl; the kind of girl even my friends were embarrassed to introduce to their mother. I did things that I don’t even want to know about myself.

And then God’s plan stepped in. He took the wreck of my life and He gave me a chance to dig my way out; to start over, to have another chance. By all rights, I should not have survived some of the things I got into, but God had a plan for me and He was not done with me yet, so He used the circumstances I gave Him and He gently (or not so gently depending on how you look at it) nudged me back to the path He wanted me on.

And while I am not the perfect little miss goody two shoes now, the things I have changed in my life are things I changed because I wanted to, not because someone in church told me to and not because it’s what my parents wanted me to… because I personally felt a desire to do so.

 

I chose to listen to the still, small voice in my soul that told me I was worth more, that I could do more, that I could be more, that I had a purpose in this life. I started leaning on my loving Heavenly Father for help and support through life’s storms and I will never regret making that choice.

And I hope that you decide to listen too–because God Loves You and He wants what is best for you in this life… and the one after!

©Naomi Claire 2018