Friday, October 22, 2010

An Unquiet Mind

But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty. 2 Cor 4:2

Well, whew, it’s been busy over here at the Seven Story House. We once again have had some toddlers running around…such fun! They’re the one year old and two year old sons of a friend- a joy and a challenge, as probably all children are- I know mine were and are!

I’ve had many ideas of what to write here swarming around in my head and I have a limited amount of time to write….I’ve decided to write about why (the swarm in my head) that is…I think it’s because I’m BiPolar and have what Kay Redfield Jamison PHD, calls, “An Unquiet Mind”.

I’ve always just been straightforward in my writing, I don’t beat around the bush, I call a spade, a spade. I love Joyce Meyer (who is also straightforward) and I listen to her CDs about everyday, when I’m driving around to pick up my kids or working out in my basement. A few months ago, she sent an offer in the mail of a DVD of her testimony; it’s about her being sexually, verbally, mentally and physically abused by her dad. I highly recommend this DVD or any of her materials! In this offer came an usual book mark- it was transparent- made of plastic – you could SEE through it- and it says, THE POWER OF TRANSPARENCY- at the bottom is a verse from the book of Revelation, “They overcame him (the enemy) by…the word of their testimony….” (12:11) Just as Joyce does and Kay, I’m hoping my testimony will help someone else. I once spoke with a Christian singer who had shared that God healed him of BiPolar and he was able to go off medication--- well, I just hope and pray no BiPolar person hears this, goes off his medication and dies! I said, it was fine how this man shared HIS testimony, but he should add that God doesn’t heal everyone the same way and perhaps he could say he met a woman in Warner Robins Georgia who was healed through medication. I feel as though, instead of being “out of control”, not sleeping etc. my “Unquiet Mind” is “harnessed”, so to speak and I can better use this controlled “fire” to glorify God! I hope and pray so! I’m so happy that I’m not what I was when untreated! I'm glad I can say as Lewis Carroll (“Alice in Wonderland”) said, “I can't go back to yesterday - because I was a different person then.” Sleeping well is really great too! “He gives His beloved sleep” Ps. 127

Kay Redfield Jamison says, “I have no idea what the long- term effects of discussing such issues so openly will be on my personal and professional life, but, whatever the consequences, they are bound to be better than continuing to be silent. I’m tired of hiding, tired of misspent and knotted energies, tired of hypocrisy, and tired of acting as though I have something to hide. One is what one is, and the dishonesty of hiding behind a degree, or a title, or any manner or collection of words, is still exactly that: dishonest.”

Father, cleanse me from twisted thinking and deceptive ways so that I will come to love truth and reflect it in my thoughts, in my actions and in my words. Give me the courage to speak the truth, the selflessness to relinquish concern about pleasing people. But let me speak truth only in love. Catherine Marshall and Leonard LeSourd, “My Personal Prayer Diary”

Lord, as Your light of understanding penetrates my unconsciousness , I am discovering how much “acceptance” of dishonesty has crept on me unawares. I have not always been vigilant against deception, in fact, have sometimes condoned it in others when I saw my own desires mirrored in them.
Thank-you Lord, for making it clear that it is only as I stand firmly for open honesty in my personal life shall I be free to confront dishonesty wherever I find it. Catherine Marshall and Leonard LeSourd, “My Personal Prayer Diary”

'But I don't want to go among mad people,' said Alice. 'Oh, you can't help that,' said the cat. 'We're all mad here.'
Lewis Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland"

Here is my most recent post about Bipolar Disorder: Monsters

My first book is finally out! Get it on Amazon here:   The Seven Story Tree

Friday, September 24, 2010

Average Girl

I wrote this awhile ago---no time to write something new this week....
I want to dedicate this to Mrs. D and all those who encourage young people! Little did she know I'd remember her remark over 25 years later! Think about that, don't hesitate to say something nice to a child or teenager! You may never know the difference it will make in their life!

Photo: Me @ 15 years old. Are we having fun yet? I'm at Disney World with my sis and her boyfriend here--- really!

Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 2 Timothy 2:22

I’ve heard that the Native Americans when they killed a buffalo would use every part of it and not much, if anything was wasted. I think that God does this with our lives and the seemingly “wasted” or “useless” parts, sometimes even very painful parts, can become useful lessons to us and others. After all the Bible does say, All things work together for the good of those who love Him.... Romans 8:28. It doesn’t say, some things but all. So with these things in mind, I’d like to share with you some of my experiences dating while I was in high school. There are many things I regret and I’m thankful for God’s forgiveness and I hope I can keep young girls from making the mistakes I did but I also hope they’ll be inspired to guard their purity and imitate the things I did right.

In high school I was in Band. I want to tell you about some “band guys”. The first “band guy” I want to tell you about is: Christian, his real name! Christian wasted no time asking me out. School had not even started and we were at “Band camp”. It was my first year in band and I was a sophomore. Christian was a senior and he played the tuba. He was a Baptist and he said to me “My name’s Christian and that’s what I am…a “born again” Christian!” Do we use that term too loosely? Are we taking “the Lord’s name in vain”? Then I said to Christian, “I’m a Christian too.” [I thought I was because I believed in Christ and went to church but I had not realized my sin and asked for Christ’s forgiveness] We Presbyterians [what I was] don’t use that term “born again” that much, though, too fanatical sounding! But isn’t that the term Jesus uses? “You must be born again…” John 3:7

Christian liked to “make out”. I thought it was OK too, no one told me otherwise. I wish someone had. My dad had said when I was about 11 or 12 “don’t let anyone make you do anything.” Something like that, anyways, I knew what he meant: “Wait until you get married.” But, WHERE to “draw the line”- I had no clue! I think my dad saw that I inherited he and Mom’s good looks. The gifts God gives can be used for good or for evil; I’ve tried using my looks for my own selfish reasons; to be popular or to have a boyfriend. This is not fulfilling. It is better to imitate the godly and beautiful women in the Bible like Sarah and Esther, among others. God has created many beautiful people but it’s only that “inner beauty” which glorifies God that counts. (1Peter 3:3-4, Prov.31:30). As my grandma used to say, “Pretty is as pretty does.”

Dad wasn’t too happy about me having a “boyfriend”, it was the first one that he knew about. But he didn’t have to worry long because Christian broke up with me in a few weeks…I think he found someone else. This guy was a real heart breaker, he must have been cute. Uh…well…no… Christian was just “average” looking. He was just a “sweet talker.” I got no explanation…just dumped. Why? Could it be that I’m not pretty enough? I thought it must be my personality, or lack thereof. I was too quiet or too dumb? What!? I finally realized something: Christian had a string of girlfriends; he was called “the heart-throb of the band”. The first one, that I knew about, was Christine, a pretty blonde, she also played flute. Her and Christian “went steady” for a long time. Then there was Cathleen [she played flute and then was also a flag, like me] who he went out with for a while. Cathleen told me that Christine, who was not a “Christian” and never claimed to be, had pressured Christian and pressured Christian to have sex with her. This reminds me of how Delilah did Samson in the book of Judges chapter 16, in order to find out his weakness. Christian had finally given in, much like Samson. [he lost his virginity to Christine] When Cathleen was telling me this I didn’t think to ask her what happened when SHE went out with Christian [also for a long time –and after Christine]. Cathleen could have been called “the heartthrob of the band” also! She also wasn’t very attractive. I mean, she wasn’t ugly; she was just average looking. According to some standards, though, she was overweight. I considered myself overweight because I compared myself to overly thin models in magazines. But I actually was not overweight. Did Christian break up with me because I wasn’t as pretty as Christine or Cathleen? No…I began to think it was because I didn’t DO what they did…

After Cathleen went out with Christian for a long time, she started dating William, he played the trombone, was in the honor society, on the year book staff and he had a car AND a motorcycle! He was much better looking than Christian. “You’re doing better Cathleen,” I thought. He was a junior. Cathleen was a sophomore like me and she was in my English class. That Spring [‘82] Cathleen and William were going to go to the Jr./Senior Prom. But they had a fight and Cathleen didn’t want to go with him. This is where I enter the picture, to complete the “love triangle”. How do I get involved in these messes? By being insecure and just wanting a boyfriend, that’s how! I guess in the heat of Cathleen and William’s argument William said, “I’ll just ask Susan to the Prom then.” Why was I never was told what this argument was about?
So, Cathleen said, “I’ll ask her for you!”
We discussed it in English class; “Do you want to go to the Prom with William?” she asked me.
“You don’t care if I do?” I said.
“No” she said. William had already ordered Cathleen’s corsage and it was yellow, so I had to get a yellow dress to match it.

I already knew the horn section had been talking about me. I think that’s why William picked me. And I was, “clueless”…perfect! I was told by one of them that they had voted and picked me, out of all the girls in band, as the one with the best back side. They probably had a list of other girls with the best…. The one who told me this, also tried impressing me with his knowledge: he said my Sassoon jeans logo [the “OK” sign] was the hooker’s signal in Europe. Then he tried complementing me by saying I’d make a good hooker! That was not a complement! It wasn’t even true- how could I make a good hooker? I wouldn’t know what to do. I was a virgin. Weren’t all the girls in high school? Since I was insecure I liked this attention, however at the same time, I was also disappointed that no boys seemed to like me because of who I was on the inside.

William and I “went steady” for a short while. But I was beginning to realize something: It seemed I was being used. Cathleen would tell me everything about my dates with William! He was telling her to make her jealous! Some man at Denny’s where William and I went after a movie complimented William on his date, saying I was “pretty”. William told Cathleen and Cathleen told me in English class on Monday. When I broke up with William he said, “I was going to break up with you soon anyways.” That was especially mean because I didn’t realize why until later. I thought, “Gee William, what did I do?”

It was OK, because William’s mom made up for that mean comment later. She called me about a month or so after that. She was inviting me to a surprise party for William’s birthday. I told her the whole story: she said to take whatever Cathleen said “with a grain of salt”. She said William still liked me. I told her “I don’t think so…he’s still stuck on Cathleen.” I will NEVER forget what she said next,
“Susan! You have more class in your little pinky than Cathleen has in her whole body!” Thanks, Mrs. D! You see, mom’s DON’T like those “Delilah” girls who take away their son’s innocence! Did I go to William’s party? No! He could have his easy- average girl! Rachel Scott who was martyred at Columbine High School in 1999 had written on the back cover of her journal [which got a bullet hole in it] “I WON’T BE LABELED AS AVERAGE!” She wasn’t. She had class.

D.C. Talk (back in the day) sang about the kind of girl they were looking for : “Well, I’m looking for a girl who’s virtuous. ‘Cause God’s laid it on my heart to search for this…The kinda girl you meet behind the doors of the church, God will bring her to me so I don’t have to search…‘Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, A woman who fears the Lord she ain’t playin’…” [“That kinda Girl” from the “Free at Last” album].

There’s one more “band guy” I want to tell you about. I do have one good example: Mike. He was new to Band and our school when I was in the 11th grade. I was a flag to start off with this year, then a rifle. I should have stuck with flute or flag though- I was a lousy rifle! We were always reminded of how many points they take off our score when I dropped my rifle at competition. I couldn’t take the stress! I was always trying to get my grades up too, but I didn’t learn to work in middle school and it was hard trying to develop good study habits this late in my schooling. I wanted to get good grades but I lacked the discipline to do it. I was a “good girl” and never tried drugs, so I reached for the rocky road ice cream instead! I put on about 5-10 pounds, which is horrible when you’re already an insecure teen! One night we were leaving band practice and Mike wanted to talk to me. “Here we go again,” I probably thought. “Now what does he want?” It seems the trombone section (some of the same guys were in it) was still enamored with me (at least certain parts of me). Mike said “Don’t wear those shorts again…I don’t want to hear them talking like that about you anymore…I won’t even repeat it.” It was because of those few pounds; my shorts [already pretty short] were now way too short! I was impressed and thanked him. I got rid of those shorts. This is how guys should behave.

One night I received some “flack” for my good reputation. It was Halloween and the band was in a parade and we had to dress up. My friend, Liz [a rifle like me], was going to be the Devil. I didn’t know what to be, the whole “Halloween thing” made me uncomfortable. I wasn’t a Christian yet, but I THOUGHT I was and I was actually a great actress! So I decided to be an angel. I should have just put a “kick me” sign on my back! Liz thought this was great: she said it just fit both our personalities and she was going to be opposite me in formation in the parade. Well, that evening after the parade a few guys joked, “It’s time for our virgin sacrifice!” and indicated I was it.

I hope I’ve inspired you to not be average. Be extraordinary. Here is a song that goes with this, written by three extraordinary sisters who make up the band Barlow Girl:

"Average Girl"

So what I'm not your average girl
I don't meet the standards of this world
Chasing after boys is not my thing
See I'm waiting for a wedding ring

No more dating
I'm just waiting
Like sleeping beauty
My prince will come for me
No more dating I'm just waiting
'Cause God is writing my love story

Boys are bad that's certainly not true
'Cause God's preparing one for you
If you get tired waiting till he comes
Gods arms are the perfect place to run

Sleep that's the only thing
For me 'cause when I sleep Gods
Preparing one for me

Recommended reading:
I Kissed Dating Good-bye by Joshua Harris
Passion and Purity by Elisabeth Elliot

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

What Are You Pursuing?

As the deer pants for the water brooks, So pants my soul for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God…Psalm 42:1-2

I was sharing something at our small group once about how I dealt with a certain situation. We were doing a series by Andy Stanley called “Take It to the Limit” about having “margins” in your life, as opposed to spending all your money, using all your time etc. We were on the session titled “A Time to Run” about “fleeing sexual immorality”. I shared that once (a long time ago…at different church than where we are now) I was uncomfortable with a man at church that kept winking at me and how I dealt with that. After praying about it (I also actually talked to an older Christian woman about it too) I decided to simply avoid eye contact with him. I didn’t have to do this for a long time, like never look at him ever again, but for a while and when I started to acknowledge him again, he stopped the winking and the uncomfortable feeling I had around him went away. Now what I didn’t share is that I enjoyed this affirmation from a good-looking man. He also seemed a very serious Christian and I don’t know that he meant anything bad by his winking at all, perhaps it was nothing. It was just me. God seems to always be reminding me to not desire the praise of man, over His praise. Not long after this incident I was reading, A.W. Tozer’s, The Pursuit of God, and as I read it (esp. the part I’ll quote later) I felt God’s love and approval and wept and I was so thankful to God for the unique ways He shows me His love!

Reading my Mom’s old prayer journals have made me think it would be beneficial for all Christians to keep such a prayer/spiritual journal. Also it seems to show me what really matters when it all boils down…what really matters when it’s all said and done…what really matters after we’re gone…Mom wasn’t perfect…far from it….she would drive me nuts with her criticisms…we argued politics…House-keeping....raising kids….bed time…too much sugar….spankings….ETC. I often felt she was jealous…insecure…prideful…So am I and so have I been. Hopefully, as Christians we recognize these things and learn how to have less of these negative traits and grow more Christ-like as we age. Mom kept reading her Bible and praying- so she kept growing til the end. And I’m happy to say that in her last years Mom and I declared a truce and enjoyed and even closer relationship than we ever had before. When I read her journals, I can see that she was trying so hard to please God and He knew that and He honored that… Like, for instance an entry of my Mom’s I shared yesterday (her birthday) “Father God I praise Your Holy Name. I know that You are God. Fill me with Your Spirit. May I trust You more. Make me obedient to Your will Lord. I cannot do it alone. My body is so weak that I fall by the wayside. And yet Lord, I feel that in many ways I am stronger than I feel. Thank-you for this time alone, may it become a more regular time spent alone with You & Your Word.” Mom 8-18-82

In chapter 8 of A.W. Tozer’s, The Pursuit of God, titled Restoring the Creator-Creature Relation, after Tozer talks about Eli and his sons and how they failed in honoring God and how that resulted in their tragic end (I Samuel 2 & 4), Tozer says, “Now over and against this set almost any Bible character who honestly tried to glorify God in his earthly walk. See how God winked at weakness and over looked failures as He poured on His servants grace and blessing untold. Let it be Abraham, Jacob, David, Daniel, Elijah or whom you will; honor followed honor as harvest the seed. The man of God (or woman of God) set his (or her) heart to exalt God above all; God accepted his (or her) intention as fact and acted accordingly. Not perfection, but holy intention made all the difference.”

How about you? Whose “wink” are you seeking? I pray we’d have this “holy intention” Lord…Let us seek to honor You above all else…..Amen

2015- I'm so excited!  My first book is out! It's called, The Seven Story Tree; A Book of Poetry

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Trust Him in the Dark

My Facebook status was : You can rise from the ashes again You can rise to the morning that breaks in your eyes For what looked like your heart's demise Has turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Susan Ashton

It is really neat how God will get across to me a point from several different sources:

In “My Utmost for His Highest” July 16 (sometimes I read ahead!) Jesus said there are times when God cannot lift the darkness from you, but you should trust Him.
Then in, "God Calling" July 15th-
Many of My disciples have had to stay on in the dark, alone and friendless. They struggled on, singing as they went.
I recently read this in another old treasure I found, “The Disciplines of Life” copyright 1948 by V. Raymond Edman:

Reflections by Florence White Willett
I thank God for the bitter things;
They’ve been a “friend to grace”;
They’ve driven me from the paths of ease to storm the secret place.
I thank Him for the friends who failed, To fill my hearts deep need;
They’ve driven me to the savior’s feet, Upon His love to feed.
I’m grateful too, through all life’s way, No one could satisfy,
And so I’ve found in God alone, My rich, my full supply!

And finally, in E. Stanley Jones, “Abundant Living” copyright 1942; Where I’m at in the book, he’s been talking about, “Making Irritations into Character”, “Making Calamities Serve”, “Gaining Grace in the Dungeon” and “Great Movements Born Out of Troubled Times” Like what I said before in a status; “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” (Friedrich Nietzsche) This is only true if we choose to make it so, you choose! No matter how bad it was! Were you abused as a child? Choose to let it make you better and not bitter! You have to forgive and move forward!
If we trust in God in the “darkness” as Oswald says He can and will bring beauty from our ashes!

Oh my Father, Thou has shown me the indomitable way, even in the hell of frustration and pain Thou art there, inspiring, creating, and making victorious Thy surrendered children. How very grateful I am that the dungeon can do for me what the fire did for the Hebrew children- only burned off their fetters! Free me, even by fire. Amen
E. Stanley Jones