Communicating

My pastor and his wife came to pick my daughter and I up early, one Saturday morning. We were going to a couple of house dedications for Habitat for Humanity. As I entered the vehicle, he immediately handed myself and his wife a sheet of paper that had the time, date, and location of the houses we were going to speak at.

As we drove off we laughed, and joked and kid, about life and what was going on in it, when suddenly my pastor asked for my address.

I froze. I thought, what an odd question considering he just picked me up from there. I got about half way through my home address before it hit me, he meant the address of the house I was suppose to talk at for the dedication. We all started to laugh.

It was funny.

My son went to his dad’s house wearing a shirt that was too small, stained, and honestly was just weird looking. His step mom text me commenting about the shirt, saying Fun says he doesn’t have any clothes over at my house so she’s going to send some shirts back with him.

I was stunned and furious (with Fun) at the same time. I thanked her for the offer, but explained the child had plenty of clothes. He just chooses not to put them in the dirty hamper to get clean, so when it’s time to go to his dad’s, he has no clean clothes that fit.

Not so funny.

Communication is so vitally important to any relationship. It is easy to hurt someone’s feeling over a lack of communication. There is the potential for so many misunderstandings because we don’t know how to talk to each other.

How many times has a there been a broken relationship because of it?

I know, for myself, my first marriage disintegrated because we didn’t know how to communicate.

We just didn’t do it right. We didn’t talk. We didn’t speak up when feelings got hurt. We didn’t stop to explain our reasoning behind something. We didn’t listen. We assumed the other should have known, they should be able to read my mind by now.

For whatever reason, communication just didn’t happen.

So now I find it funny, two people who sucked at communicating one-on-one, find themselves in a second marriage with kids and step kids and exes (possibly two) and a new spouse.

No wonder second marriages have a low success rate. If two people could not communicate the first time, what makes them think this second time…with more variables, is going to be any easier?

Now we have kids’ schedules to arrange between school, and home(s), sometimes work. Half days, and holiday breaks. Activities they go to. Grandparents to see. Homework to do. Projects to get done. School supplies to be bought. Doctors’ offices to be visited. Churches to attend. Friends to play with. Birthday parties. Christmases.

UGH!!!

For the sake of our family, marriage, kids and our sanity we have to, really have to, learn how to communicate if we’re going to make this all work.

Here is a list of my suggestions I have found to be helpful when trying to communicate with my new family, and blending this mess.

– Talk
Never assume the other person knows stuff. Even if you’ve already told them, tell them again. And don’t be upset with them if they forgot. At the same time, don’t get upset if they tell you something again, and again, and again. Getting upset does not help with communicating.

– Listen
Listen to what the other person has to say, even if you don’t like them, can’t trust them, it takes too long, or you already know. Don’t interrupt. Don’t rush them. Be mindful.

– Assume the Best
Assume this person means no harm. Assume they love your children just as much as you do.

– Encourage
Use kind words. Build them up. If you can’t say something nice, then don’t say it. Don’t even think it and certainly if you can’t say it to them because it’s not nice, don’t say it to anyone else.

– However, You Can Express How You Feel
Use “I” statements. “I feel disrespected when you pick up and drop off the kids without telling me in advanced.” “I feel you don’t care as much for Peter and Mary because you don’t ask them about their day, like you do with James and John.” Instead of, “Changing the kids schedule without notifying me is disrespectful.” Or, “You don’t even try to care for Peter and Mary, because they’re not your own kids.”

– Avoid Words Like Always and Never.
Seldom does someone ALWAYS wait until the last minute to do something, or they NEVER help around the house. It takes just one time to turn you into a lair and now a battle of honor is about to pursue.

– Keep Your Emotions Out of It
Do not text, email, or call while you are angry. Walk away. Figure out why you are so upset. Calm down. You want to respond, not react. Usually our first impulse is to show them how we reacted to their message. They don’t need to know that. It’s often not pretty and not how we want to be viewed. Instead, don’t say anything. Process your feelings. Talk to someone to help get all your reaction out. And then respond maturely, calmly, and respectfully.

– Don’t Let Them Turn You into a Person You Don’t Like
It would be better to not say or do anything at all, than to say or do something you are going to regret. Stay true to you, and don’t give them that power over you.

– Do Not Ignore
Do not throw your hands up in the air in defeat, saying, “I just can’t communicate with this person.” Figure it out. Even if they do everything wrong; for your marriage, and your kids, figure it out. If it was easy, you probably wouldn’t be divorced in the first place.

– Practice Grace and Mercy
Everyone messes up. It is not unusual for people to suck at communicating. You don’t need to remind them. You don’t need to tell them how horrible they are at it. Assume they are learning. Assume they are practicing. Assume you suck at it too!

I am confident there are many more good tips to consider. These are just a few I try to practice and fail at, daily. Maybe they can help someone else too. Maybe you have some to share with me.

Until then, happy blending and keep communicating!

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Deaf and Blind

Today I was interpreting for someone who was having trouble with her eyes. This is a huge concern for anyone, but even more so for someone who is Deaf.

I’ve met quite a few Deaf/blind people, and I have to say, they are among the most impressive people I have ever known.

But for someone who’s been Deaf all their life to suddenly lose their sight, it can be quite devastating.

During the exam she had to expose herself to tests that took away her already poor sight and made her virtually blind. She kept asking me to come closer and closer as if she wanted me so close that she could mold me into her own eyes and replace them within her own.

She didn’t like this vulnerability. I can’t say that I blame her. She had no control of her outside world and any information that it was trying to communicate with her.

She grabbed my hand to feel the signs I was using. She wasn’t terrified, but she was definitely trying to take control.

I wanted to reassure her that everything was ok; that she was safe. I didn’t. Although it would have been very compassionate of me, it wouldn’t have been professional.

The most I could offer her was remaining calm, getting as close to her as I possibly could, and letting her feel my presence.

By the time we had left the office, she had regained enough of her vision back to feel in control again and safe.

I left her, feeling confident that she no longer needed my services but she hasn’t left my mind all day.

On a physical level, I can’t possibly pretend to say I understand how she felt. It would be insulting if I did.

To be somewhere in between, being physically somewhere but completely disconnected to the environment around me. It would have to be terrifying.

Imagine the amount of trust one must have. Trust that even when you are not in control, that someone else is. Trust that no harm will come to you in a vulnerable state.

The amount of confidence one must have to maintain any quality of life. Confidence that would overcome your fear to get up everyday and move. To see what kind of impact you can make, in a world that you are disconnected from.

Perseverance. How much perseverance you must have to try and try and try again. To develop the mindset of not giving up but of endlessly trying something one more time; learning how to do something differently.

Physically, I can only imagine, however, spiritual I can say I have felt this deprivation.

I have felt disconnected from my world. I have felt out of control. I have felt vulnerable. And I have felt the need to reach out to find peace.

I live in a world that doesn’t make much sense to me. I don’t understand it’s hate. I don’t understand it’s greed. I don’t understand it’s motive. I feel very much, lost, somewhere in between; in between this world and the world of my Father.

Lord, I want to trust in you. Trust that although I am not in control, you still are. Trust that you  will keep me safe when I am vulnerable.

I want to shine your light. Give me your confidence that even though I don’t understand this world I live in, I can still relate to it. I still have purpose. I can impact it not because of my confidence, but with confidence.

Perseverance. This world is pretty brutal. I get knocked down quite a bit. I have bumps and bruises and even scars but I ask for strength to go on. Because you have asked me too. I have been sent on mission. Your mission of love in this world of hate.

Thank you for remaining calm when I feel out of control. Come close to me. May I share the eyes of your son so I may see you.

Let me feel your hands and bring me peace. I take comfort in your presence.

Lord, I am deaf and blind. Your Word says Jesus came so I might see (John 9:39).

Make these eyes of mine, see and my ears hear. All for your glory, in my spiritual blindness I say, amen.

A Special Kind of Stupid

I’m a black and white kind of gal. If it pertains to something I care for, or am passionate about, I need to know the details.

What are the rules? Something is either right or wrong, and I need to know which.

There is no, it’s something like, or kinda, and certainly not, it doesn’t matter. EVERYTHING matters.

It’s how I am.

So when I study my Bible and I read about the Israelites escaping Egypt, to cross the wilderness so that they may enter the Promise Lands and all the hardships they overcome, I think to myself,

“Man, they must have been some special kind of stupid.”

God rescues them from their captors. He guides them as a cloud by day, and fire by night. He parts the sea for them to cross and orders the waves to crash down at just the right time, thus killing their pursuers and ending their slavery.

He provides them with food. He provides them water. He keeps them safe.

He then gives Moses all kinds of rules. Laws that explain in great detail, how they should live. What is right. What is wrong.

And he eventually brings them to the outskirts of the land he is giving them!

So I’m thinking, PERFECT! Not only had God shown them, daily, he was with them; he also provided them with the run-down of how they should act and where they will live.

So how on earth could this great group of people, not once, but continually screw this up and forget who God was, need more proof that he was with them, and for the love of Pete, question his intentions and their safety?

I just don’t get it!

Until I look at myself…

I struggle with my weight and eating healthy.

I know ALL the rules. I’ve read all the books. What to eat. What not to eat.

I’ve talked to several professionals about weight loss and exercise. I know what I’m suppose to do and why.

I have friends who are nutritional specialists and friends who are personal trainers.

Everything I need has been laid out before me. The science behind all of it is extremely black and white.

And yet, time and time again I find myself broken, exhausted, and crumbling with self-doubt, disappointment and feelings of failure at the feet of Jesus, in a big fat puddle of special kind of stupidness.

I just can’t do this. Oh, I can for a little while. But as something I must do day after day? Forever? No, I can’t.

Even with all the rules I fall short, everytime.

Why God? Why does this happen?

God sent the Israelites into the wilderness for 40 years to sanctify them. To transform them from slaves into his chosen people. They had to learn what sets them apart, by being set apart.

Maybe that’s why I’m here too. Maybe my issues with my weight are to sanctify me. I need Jesus to transform me from being a slave to sin, into being, saved by Grace.

With Grace, there are no rules. There is nothing for me to do. God sent the laws to his people to show them they cannot live by them. The laws are not what saved them; what made them right with God. No, he sent his son to save us from sin; to make us right with him.

I don’t understand Grace. It doesn’t play by the rules. It is often, something like, kind of, AND whatever.

We don’t live by the law of the Old Testament anymore. We’re not judged by it.

So when I look at me and my weight. And I try so hard to follow all the rules, I get so frustrated because I can do the rules for a little while. But eventually I always, ALWAYS fall back into my old habits and gain my weight back again. Just like the stupid Israelites.

Maybe God is trying to teach me Grace, while I’m trying to force myself to live by these ridiculously hard and impossible rules that I’ve set up for myself. When Jesus is right here telling me, “Kim, what are you doing? Who are you doing this for? I love you just the way you are.”

Knowing that God sent Jesus because we can’t live by rules, and we can’t save ourselves, brings me some kind of relief.

What kind, I don’t know, but I feel relief from something.

Regardless of my weight, I am not lazy, I am not a pig, and I am not a failure. And the Israelites were not stupid.

We are all in need of a savior. And God says, his Grace is enough (2 Corinthians 12:9). So this is what I will try daily, to understand. And I will accept it, even if I don’t ‘get’ it.

Great is his faithfulness;
    his mercies begin afresh each morning. – Lamentations 3:23

Praise God for THAT!

I Was Not Prepared

There is a full fledged war raging against our children. Between drugs and pornography, I was not prepared for the fight.

When my kids were little, my job was to teach them what was right and what was wrong. My influence was unchallenged.

However, as they grow, I’m finding I’m not only still teaching them what is right and what is wrong, but I’m also in somewhat of a tug-of-war with something that is pulling them away from what is right.

I don’t know if you would call it influences or forces or just evil, but I’m finding it is much stronger than me. Or should I say, it is a crafty opponent that cannot be arrogantly dismissed as not a threat to my children’s future and wellbeing.

I’m no longer fighting with the forces that are inside my house, but I’m finding there are forces outside my house that are not only trying to get in, but are trying pulling my kids out.

And they’re not good forces. They’re not safe. They are tantalizing my kids with promising fantasies. Lying to them. Manipulating them. Taking advantage of their youth and maturity.

And scaring the living crap out of their mother!

If there is an immunity to them or it, I’m not aware of it. My kids were raised in a Christian home. Well, half Christian. And maybe that has something to do with the struggle now. I don’t know.

But my kids were taught well; they were trained in the truth, but are still finding it hard to battle these outside forces. Do they even recognize the battle???

This world is big, ugly, and scary. How do we even stand a chance?

I so don’t even have an answer for you. The only thing I know is I put my trust in God. He has never let me down. Not to say I haven’t been disappointed, but my survival rate thus far has been 100%.

I know I am not promised an easy life because of Christ. In fact, if anything I should expect a more difficult one.

You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. – Matthew 10:22.

But I still live with hope because I am assured,

We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies. – 2 Corinthians 4:8-10

My kids are going to face bumps, scrapes and scars from life and this world. I hate that, but so does Jesus.

So my only advice I leave you with is this, trust your children with the Lord, never stop praying for them and be aware the war for them is real.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33

To Trust

It was just over two years now that I remember sitting next to my sons in a large church service. One of them had his ear buds in and the other was slouched forward with his elbows on his knees and head in his hands.

They came, out of respect for me, but here they sat in total disrespect of their King. I thought to myself, I can make them come, but I can’t make them worship.

I looked at them and knew they weren’t getting anything out of this. Actually I stopped myself. That wasn’t true. They were getting something out of this.

What they were getting was mom who was making them come, and one day when they turn 18, they were never going to step foot inside another church again.

They sat there with their minds closed and by making them continue to go, I saw that I was adding the concrete to seal it shut.

I decided I wasn’t going to force them to go any longer.

Sadly, they haven’t gone with me for the past two years.

Well, our family now goes to a different church. There is nothing sparkly or sexy about this one.

We meet in our pastor’s house but it’s mostly just to disciple our kids. Our tithes go towards what we do, rather than where we meet. Our spiritual meat comes from doing life together in small groups during the week and by serving.

My sons know this and do you know what happened today? Justice, the one I only get two weekends a month, wanted to come.

Now I’m not going to try to read to much into it. He came, but sat in with the little kids. But he still came. It gave me hope.

You want to know what I was learning in the next room? That God is pretty big. That on the first day, he made the heavens….have you heard about the heavens? Yeah, it’s pretty big too. All the galaxies that are out there, the stars, their sizes, their sounds. Yeah, the make sounds too.

…and then he made the earth. And on that little earth, he made a little man. And that little man did a great job of screwing everything up, but instead of flicking him out of existence, he sent his son, who was beat, buried, and rose.

Three days after he laid in ground, God spoke, and from our shame, our guilt, our sin, his son rose up and said, trust in me and I will give you life.

This God is pretty big indeed. And if he could do this with his son, and that little man, I’m pretty sure he can take care of my son too.

I don’t need to be any of my sons’ Savior. They have one already. That is not a role I have to play anymore. I don’t have to be their Savior, or Healer in Justice’ case.

I don’t have to worry about his treatment or his moods, or his illnesses. I don’t have to be in control of his attitude, decisions or behaviors. I don’t have to be afraid.

So, what is my new role?

I get my son two weekends a month. My role is to stop being the person he’s running from and learn how to be the one he’s running to.

God didn’t do it by force. He made himself known and let us make a choice.

As someone who has learned to control things her whole life, this is pretty hard to let go of over night.

Maybe, just maybe I have been given four days a month to start practicing. Because it’s going to take time to change something I’ve been doing for a life time.

I can trust God. I’ve heard he’s pretty big.