Can You Share Just Ten?

What would our lives be like if every person thought of others before themselves? Because this blog is on “giving” as well as gratitude and gratefulness,  my volunteer work with victims of domestic violence and child abuse has “gifted” me some excellent seminars and workshops providing tools to work with these victims.

Recently, I attended a workshop on Trust Based Relational Intervention, from this time forward referred to as, TBRI. It is a method of dealing with our interactions with others. It involves three principals; empowering, connecting and correcting.

I would love to say “if only” I had some of the skills I learned recently that perhaps the relationships in my life would be different. However, I absolutely comprehend that when a person chooses to dissolve a relationship, no amount of pleading or love can change their mind. Nonetheless, by sharing some of the knowledge I have gained, perhaps may assist you with current interactions with others.

The workshop reminded us to spend at least ten minutes each day in “one on one” time. Even though this discussed time with our children, what about with other family members? During this time there would be no teaching (or correcting as so frequently happens), no questioning and no instruction. How often have you asked someone to pray for you and without hesitation they are mandating what you should do? You didn’t ask for their judgement or opinion, but merely a simple statement of “will you please pray with me?”

What if we all gave even ten minutes of our time to just “see, hear and listen” to the other person? How wonderful would it be if you gave even an hour to another person? I recall countless times during my 44-year marriage counselors recommended a “date night” with my then husband, Charles and me.

Time and again, he mocked and jeered at that; citing no way would he do anything with me as a date. Yet while I was still his wife, Charles began taking his “new woman” on dates and now over seven years later, they remain as  “one.” Where would our family be “if only” that same amount of time had be given to us?  TO BE CONTINUED:  Luke 6:31 NIV “Do unto others as you would have them do to you.”

You Will Have Blue

As I opened my Facebook page yesterday, I read a posting by a friend written by Lynne Brace Lapp:

Green Eyes

Green is the rarest of eye colors, naturally occurring in only 2% of the world’s population. It is the only eye color that changes; becoming more green, gray or blue based on mood, weather and surroundings.

People with green eyes are often leaders. They tend to be good listeners and excellent speakers, attracting other people like magnets. Naturally curious and very intuitive, the green-eyed person is always easy to talk to and makes an excellent lover. Tough, quick-witted and caring, they also make wonderful friends.

As I read this, my own green eyes immediately filled with tears. Even though not all of these traits accurately portray me, some do. Nonetheless, I was taken aback in time over 40 decades earlier when the very topic of my eye color was one of those melancholy memories which remains indelible on my heart.

My then husband, Charles and I had recently arrived in Ft. Benning, GA for his basic training as an officer in the US Army.  I had been awaiting him in our car while he completed the required forms for entry onto the base. As Charles returned, he handed me the papers, requesting that I “hold them.” Scanning the documents, I realized there was also personal data pertaining to me. As I continued to read, the portion of the form which stated, “color of eyes”, Charles had written “blue.”

I immediately queried him. Sobbing, I asked “why did you list my eyes as blue?  Have you never looked into my eyes?” I was pregnant with our first child. We had been married for almost 3 years. My mind was racing wildly. I queried him again, asking if he had ever looked into my eyes.  I thought of the dozens of compliments I had received over this God- given asset during the past 23 years of my life. Anytime I wore a green garment, the green in my eyes appeared more vivid.

My tears, cries and pleas for an understanding were all received with Charles’ typical antagonism toward me. “I wanted you to have blue eyes”, so that is what I wrote. I cried for what seemed like hours. Why did he so blatantly change something about me?  I never knew until this very minute that when given the opportunity, he would change his dislikes of me to satisfy his desires. I attempted to remind him, that “writing blue” didn’t alter the color of my eyes.

That was only one of hundreds of excruciating insults from him. It alerted me then and for the duration of our 44-year marriage, that I wasn’t the wife Charles desired, but I was the person God created. Psalm 139: 13-14 NIV “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”

Stitches of Love

As I pulled away from Children’s Hospital today, my heart was once again filled with gratefulness that I could be a part of doing and giving to others. Once a month, a group of us gals gather with our sewing machines, sergers, cutting boards, rotary cutters, irons, ironing boards, smiles, laughter, loving and happy hearts to make pillowcases for the youngest patients; those at Children’s Hospital in Oklahoma City. We then rotate the delivery of these heartwarming cases.

This foundation, caseforsmiles.org was begun by a mom whom herself lost her child to cancer when he was a teen. She realized that having a bright, happy, pillowcase each time he had to go to the hospital added a small ray of sunshine to otherwise dreary events. This organization is now a nationwide foundation, making hundreds of pillowcases for thousands of children.

Our local chapter is one of the most active in the country and we have received several monetary donations because of our abundance of time and devotion for these precious children. In addition to the time our group spends together, there are dozens of other women in our state, making pillow cases and bringing them to us.  I began sewing with this group years ago. Life doesn’t always permit that I can meet with them monthly, but when I do, no matter the challenges and heartaches I walk in with, I truly leave with “cases and smiles.” While sewing for children whom may never see another week, month or year of life, it puts a new perspective on what we value

Because our sewing is a day’s event, we share lunch as a “team.”  Today as one of the fellow sewers was sharing of her child being hospitalized when he was young, she began crying.  Her son had a minor surgery, while the family in the bed next to his was losing their child. Life is truly so fragile, and it is for this very reason that I have struggled so immensely with the demise of my own marriage and family.

Whether sewing, knitting, crocheting or making anything with one’s hands to give to another, it is done with much love and mindfulness. The only two quilts I have completed were both given to my then husband.  One of the quilts I gave him was after he left me, but in commemoration of our betrothal and marriage.  I was humiliated and disparaged when I realized with every cut and stitch, that quilt was filled with love and prayers for him; yet even while his wife, his heart and life were with another.  Acts 20:35 NKJ, “…And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

God’s Gift of Physical Love

As I began a new bible study this week on Song of Solomon by Tommy Nelson, Pastor of Denton Bible Church, I was somewhat tentative. With my current status, I didn’t aspire to hear of what I didn’t have during my marriage and since. Nonetheless, it is a “gift” of what God ordained and desires for each of us in marriage.  King Solomon had hundreds of wives and concubines, but this biblical book speaks of one wife. This example of love for one another is to be an example for Godly marriages.

What causes us to marry? Do we marry because of mutual physical attraction? If so, as noted during the study, “looks deceive” for in time they will decline. The most beautiful you will ever be is when/if you marry at a younger age. Did your partner possess character and looks or merely looks?  Were you seeking the deeper “inner beauty” in your mate? Did you marry for convenience or to have someone take care of you? Perhaps you married for an additional income.

Often it doesn’t take long for the true person to be revealed. If the truth reveals deceit, do you remain in the marriage or walk away? Wouldn’t it be astonishing if all persons whom marry had the same goals and desires? There would be very few affairs and divorces. What if both parties took the vow to remain until death?

Some persons should never marry. If they are unwilling to walk with God prior to the marriage, the marriage often times will fail or at least will be abusive and dysfunctional.  Tommy Nelson states, “A man can’t be a husband until he’s been a bride. A man can’t lead until a man follows…a man has to first submit to God.”

Why is mutual respect such a vital key to attraction?  The answers are varied, but perhaps some of the paramount are: makes the relationship stronger, treats one another equally and eliminates physical and emotional abuse. If you respect your mate, you don’t choose to harm them.

A reminder during the study of broken vows is that it is worse to be married and live alone, than to be single and live alone. When living alone as a mate you are reminded daily you are not the chosen one. Physical love is indeed a gift God granted us for our mates. For some that gift from God was never bestowed by their mates.  Song of Songs 1: 4 NIV”…We rejoice and delight in you, we will praise your love more than wine.”

Who Are You? -Conclusion

As we continue to recognize “Who Are You?”, you may think of your life over the years. You began as a young child, “kin” to countless people in your life. Then you became a friend as you entered school and one of the greatest friendships you may have experienced was to be “the one” friend; your first love. I’m personally moved when I hear of those seniors whom had the “first love” and only love decades later. That is a rare, but blessed gift.

There are also times when we must change the person, we were by circumstances out of our control. Parents lose children to death or estrangement. That doesn’t negate we are/were parents, but that bond has been removed.

Recently I watched a movie on seniors whom had spent their entire adult lives establishing their home, rearing their children, struggling with the challenges of life, career relocations, financial struggles, the joys and sorrows of life and countless other memories. At the end of their lives, the husband was suffering from Alzheimer’s.  This causes all in one’s sphere to sincerely question “Who Are You?” For the despair in that, is the person it affects sincerely can’t answer the person they are.

There are also those times when the person you identified with for decades is suddenly taken from you; the loss of a spouse through death, martial betrayal and/or divorce. Even if a marriage can withstand infidelity, does the betrayed mate ever know whom they truly are? No matter the duration of the marriage such betrayal leaves the “remaining” mate seeking their reality.

Perhaps during this time of introspective reflection, you may participate in hobbies or adventures you had “put on hold” or never experienced, as you gave of your time and life to your mate and family. In my personal experience, I’ve had the opportunity to give to others in need whom are walking similar paths as I walked previously and presently. I would never have been able to give the gift of my time, support and emotional love, had I not experienced some of those sorrowful happenings.

No matter our stage of life, when someone queries, “Who Are You”, what will answer your reveal? What is important to you? What do you identify with? If you are a child of God, are you proud to include that as a component of your life? II Cor. 6:18 NIV, “and I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”

Who Are You? -Part Two

As we return to the question “who are you?”  I think of the many personas we inhabit. Each of us reading this is someone’s child. We may also be a parent, sibling or a mate. We may be an employee or an employer. We may hold an office in the government or local civic group. The list of “who we are” might be lengthy. Nonetheless the query remains as in part one of this blog. When we share who we are, what do we say?

I was a daughter before I was a grandchild, niece, cousin and sibling.  My parents are now both deceased, but that doesn’t mean I ceased being a daughter. Even though my parents never accepted me for the person I am, they couldn’t deny I was theirs. I spent my entire life attempting to be accepted by them but, was never successful. However, I honored them and respected them as my parents. I didn’t choose them as my parents. God chose them for me.

I grieved the parents I wish I would have had, but they were God’s plan. When I asked why I was not loved nor accepted, each of my parents turned away. Over the years as I sought an understanding, my father always left the room. Yet from the time as a young child until my parents passed at age 89 and 91, when I was in their presence and asked “who are you?”, I would say, I’m Clyde and Moya’s daughter.

This same truth is applied to others I knew. I was a relative, colleague, friend, fellow church member, etc. Do those persons whom we are ever change? For me personally, the person I was at age  5, 15, 35 and now a single senior has never changed. The identity to those in my sphere has changed. For some have died. Others, I’m no longer associated with, but I’m still Jane Hamer Woods, the person God created me to be.

I will never forget years ago several of my counselors noted, as an adult I was the same person I so desperately desired to be as a youth and teen while residing with my parents. Sometimes circumstances and individuals prohibit us from being what God desired for us and created us to be.

I have always had a love for knowing other people, to reach out to others, to be creative and at times a little adventuresome. My parents stifled each of these traits. I was not permitted to socialize with others in my school or community. I was never permitted to invite girl friends for a “sleep over”. I was never allowed to be creative. Nonetheless, those talents, abilities and traits were there. They were what God gave me to use for Him.  TO BE CONTINUED:  Jeremiah 29:11, NIV “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. “

Isn’t He Cute?

I had planned on continuing my blog of “Who Are You”, until I opened my kitchen window today and stood “awe struck” at what I was seeing. There was a “kid” squirrel biting fiercely on my patio rug. My first instinct was that he was being silly for there were no acorns on the patio. As I watched him fiercely pulling and tugging, he was unraveling my rug. What?  I thought he was going to stop at any minute, as this was not a “nutty” taste, but a mouth full of dirty fiber.

He was not stopping. I ran to get my iPhone, as  I was truly amazed to see what he was doing. By the time I returned, his task of totally unraveling my rug was well underway.  He had no immediate plans to cease his actions, as his tiny mouth was filled and overflowing with rug yarn.  I realized my rug would be completely gone if I didn’t intervene.

Even when I opened the door, it took “kid squirrel” a few seconds to decide to leave, but I imagine “big, ole footsteps” might have caused him fear. Due to his small size, I don’t know if Mom sent him on an errand and he opted to stop off for a taste of patio rug or that was his destination. Either way, for that moment, I knew I had to terminate his antics.

In knitting we often add a “life line”, an interwoven strand of another yarn in the event something happens and our project begins to ravel. Obviously, there was not a lifeline on my rug, for it would have been totally unraveled if “kid squirrel.” had his way.

I immediately thought of our lives and how quickly they too can become unraveled. When we first observe Satan in our lives, what he is telling us looks pretty cute or perhaps even quite attractive. However, the tighter his grip and the more willing we are for him to take control, he will have our lives completely destroyed unless we stop him or have a “lifeline” so that he can only unravel a limited amount of our life.

Unlike my patio rug which would have been contained to that one item, when Satan begins unraveling our lives, it most often impacts countless other persons; mates, children, grandchildren, parents and the list goes on. I watched that squirrel for a few moments, but then realizing the damage, found a way to halt him before he caused further destruction. I’ve seen many individuals that believe the cuteness or beauty of what Satan is doing is so grand there is no desire to place a roadblock on his path.

You may then watch as not only your life was destroyed but also the lives of those around you. It might be prudent to add God’s lifeline before Satan starts looking cute to you.  2 Timothy 4:18 NKJ, “And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom.”