Saturday, April 28, 2012

Hardships That Hang On

I do not feel like writing... but I do want to share this bit from Joni Eareckson Tada:
Hardships That Hang On(by Joni Eareckson Tada)

Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me... But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." --II Corinthians 12:8-9
 I will never forget the day they moved me from "acute care" to "chronic care" in the hospital. As they wheeled my stretcher under the sign, I got a lump in my throat. It meant "the doctors don't know what else to do and I won't regain use of my body." My condition was chronic.
 Why do some hardships never go away? You pray and plead until your knees are sore; yet the pinched nerve doesn't heal, the multiple sclerosis doesn't halt, the Alzheimers doesn't regress, the marriage doesn't get better, the job promotion never comes, and the engagement ring never arrives. After decades in a wheelchair, this is my conclusion...
 The core of God's plan is to rescue us from sin and self-centeredness. Suffering - especially the chronic kind - is God's choicest tool to accomplish this. It is a long process. But it means I can accept my paralysis as a chronic condition. When I broke my neck, it wasn't a jigsaw puzzle I had to solve fast, or a quick jolt to get me back on track. My paralyzing accident was the beginning of a lengthy process of becoming like Christ.
 May I share with you one of my "chronic" Bible verses that won't go away? James 1:2-4 says: "When all kinds of trials crowd into your lives, my brothers, don't resent them as intruders, but welcome them as friends! Realize that they come to test your faith and to produce in you the quality of endurance. But let the process go on until that endurance is fully developed" (Phillips). When that finally happens, the only thing that will be chronic is joy! 
2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4. ESV.) 
Lord, help me to embrace the chronic conditions in my life. I want endurance to be fully developed in my life. Help me to hang on. 
Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him and He will do it. (Psalm 37:4-5)

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Friday, April 13, 2012

Faith. Hope. Love: Chapter Twelve

My coworker’s room had an ocean view. Mine did not but that was okay with me. It faced a courtyard and lodging on the opposite side however if I leaned forward a tad and turned my head to the right, I could see the water. The patio emptied out to a footpath which ran the length of “The Esplanade” street. On the opposite side of which was the shore line then the Coral Sea.

“The Esplanade” was lined with restaurants and shops leading to the wharf. “The Pier” shopping was filled to the brim with stores overflowing with swimsuits and sarongs. I found a blue and white two piece, halter top number that tied at each hip and a kangaroo wrap around the size of a blanket towel with tassels at the ends. (I also brought with me a black, one piece with lace at the top and low cut legs.) I was ready to get this vacation started.

Waking up in Australia was one of the most amazing things I have ever experienced. Each morning was reminiscent of a jungle or an aviary filled with a multitude of birds all calling at the same time like a lunchroom filled with chattering people. (Though I have to say, I do not recall it as well in Queensland than New South Wales (NSW).) The loudest, in my opinion, were the Cockatoos and the most distinctive were, of course, the Laughing Kookaburra!

Whether it was five or six o’clock in the morning I welcomed the twitter as it filtered through the window into my room. It filled my ears like a breath of fresh air would my nostrils. It was music and pure delight. The Laughing Kookaburra was my favorite (while in NSW). Sometimes I would look out the window and catch him sitting on the neighbor’s roof. “Shoo!” I would tell him. “Come back at a better hour.” But to be honest, I truly did not mind. I loved his cackling song.

Normally I do not mention the names of businesses while writing however, during my travels in Asia and Australia there were two that have a special place in my memories. The foremost is “Johnny Rockets” and the second is “7- Eleven”. The latter will come into play in Taipei. The former I stumbled upon for the first time at “The Pier”. Originally, I thought this establishment could only be found in Australia but have since discovered it in multiple locations in the United States including Daytona Beach, FL and at a hotel/casino just outside Albuquerque, NM. (I think it is actually an American restaurant.)

My draw to this place is not necessarily the food (it is a hamburger, fries, and shakes joint) but rather the ambience. The friendly, inviting staff welcomes you as you breeze through the door and grab a seat in the comfortable surroundings. A little jukebox is on every table and at each booth. The servers dress the part from head to toe (complete with paper short order cook caps). I feel as though I am going to bump into Alice, Vera, or Mel. Or that Flo is going to come to our table and say to us, “Kiss my grits.” I order a vanilla shake and grab a straw from the dispenser. When I lift the lid they fan out as if to show me the entire selection from which to choose. I ask for melted cheese on my fries because that is how I roll. Perhaps I will get a glass of water or crisp soda pop after I finish my shake. The chef salad I ordered comes fresh, crunchy, and vibrant with color. The ranch dressing is creamy and gentle against my tongue instead of bitter like some companies serve. The plump smell of cooking hamburgers flits about and would make my mouth water if I liked burgers…especially ones shrink wrapped with oozing, warm cheese.

Faith Hope Love: Chapter Twelve

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Bullying: Part Thirteen - Do Not be Overcome by Evil, but Overcome Evil with Good

The body is absolutely amazing!  Once again I say, "Fearfully and wonderfully made!"  As I continue reading Lt. Col. Grossman's book ON COMBAT, I cannot help but think of my beloved Uncle Richard who served this country in three wars.  And, I thank God for the unbelievable way He designed our bodies.

Lt. Col. Grossman writes,
Under stress, the body tends to tune out all senses but one to avoid sensory overload and confusion.(Grossman, Dave, Lt. Col. ON COMBAT. 2008. Warrior Science Publications. Pg. 61.)

Have you ever experienced that before?  I feel it is similar to that of being in "the zone" (as I have heard it called before).  The director shows it in the film "For Love of the Game" when the pitcher was on the mound.  As a young gymnast I used to become so focused on my beam exercise (especially) that everything else would get "tuned out" in that moment.  The experiences about which Lt. Col. Grossman writes though are so much more incredible than my example!  How the body was created to protect itself is beyond words.

Don't Just Stand There, Do Something!

In his book THE TAO OF BRUCE LEE, author Davis Miller tells about his experience of being bullied in school and how he responded.  In addition to receiving verbal assaults, things got violent when a classmate challenged him to a fight and (what he thought were thousands of) spectators attended.  He describes "faces, full with a mean kind of joy."  Further he writes,
I lowered myself into the deep, strong, bent-legged horse-stance I'd practiced for what seemed endless hours in karate class...and chambered both fists in the inverted hachiji-dachi position on the waist...exactly the way Sensei had taught....

[Alvin] pushed his open left palm into my nose, pulled it back.  I kept both fits at my sides. He slapped me across the mouth, and again.  I tried to deflect the second blow with the rising, looping, outside ageuke block I'd been taught in class.  It was too stiff and too slow.  Alvin jabbed, closed fisted, and hooked off it.  The punches didn't hurt, only numbed my face.  I kept both fists chambered at the waist.  Alvin slid two more jabs into my chin; my head twice slammed the back of my shoulders....

Alvin tackled me at the waist; I fell jarringly onto my shoulder, then rolled down the hill.  He followed, jumping onto my chest, pinning my arms, and punching both sides of my face.  I felt the first shot bounce my head off the grass to the left, the second one to the right, before I managed to yank my arms free and grab his wrists, which I held, white-knuckled, until somebody screamed, "Teacher."

What could have been done in this situation?  Davis Miller had been attending a karate class but that particular one did not train him properly to defend himself.  Not to mention his heart was probably pounding which, according to Lt. Col. Grossman, would have caused "vasoconstriction", making "fine" and "complex motor skills deteriorate".

How to Handle Destructive Individuals

It is my opinion, the more serious the bullying, the more important it is to have a plan of action...especially when/if it gets to a life or death status.  Keep your mobile phone readily available.  Practice dialing 9-1-1 so it becomes muscle memory.  If there is a bully in your home and you feel your healthy and safety is at risk, licensed counselor, national speaker, and author, Leslie Vernick, suggests leaving a packed bag in the garage incase a "time out" at a hotel (away from the bully) is in order.  She also suggests the five steps in dealing with a "toxic, destructive" person in her paper "How to Handle Toxic and Critical People".

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord." To the contrary, "if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:9-21 ESV)

Monday, April 09, 2012

Differences Without Jeopardizing the Relationship?

When it comes to "until death do us part" one should know who he/she is marrying. John Piper has come up with some "Questions to Ask When Preparing for Marriage". He includes:

Theology
Worship and Devotion
Husband and Wife
Children
Lifestyle
Entertainment
Conflict
Work
Friends
Health and Sickness

But also states,
In each of these sections one item could be added that I have not listed, namely, How do you handle and live with differences? How do you decide what can remain differences without jeopardizing the relationship? So as you deal with each subheading, include that in the discussion.

Click here to read the article.

I Love You

Whoever sees this, "I love you."

Resurrection Sunday: Sunrise Service

For me, there is nothing quite like sunrise service on Resurrection Sunday (Easter).

Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. (Matthew 28:1 ESV)


And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. (Matthew 28:2, 3 ESV)


And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. (Matthew 28:4-6 ESV)


Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you." So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. (Matthew 28:7, 8 ESV)


And behold, Jesus met them and said, "Greetings!" And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me." (Matthew 28:9, 10 ESV)

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Bullying: Part 12 - Being Bullied Makes the Heart Rate Go Up

"...it's okay to be afraid.  If I didn't think you had fear, I'd think twice about you.  But it's learning how to operate with that fear, and break through it,..." - Command Sergeant Major Bob Gallagher

When Jesus was in a place called Gethsemane, He was under such stress as He prayed to His Father "his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground".  If Jesus's body responded in such a way to stress, so will mine.

And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. (Luke 22:44 ESV)
 (Jesus was "in an agony" because of God's wrath not because of man.  And the bible states we should not fear man...but I feel though the brain receives that message the body does not always get it.)
 
It is my understanding many things happen to the body physically when under fear or survival stress.  (I feel being bullied falls into this category.)

One of those is an increase in heart rate.  Lt. Col. Grossman gives the example (which I am going to use here) of someone who has the "shakes" after a car accident or being pulled over for a traffic violation.  He writes,
"Such symptoms are a result of early stages of vasoconstriction, a condition that restricts the flow of blood to the extremities."(Grossman, Dave, Lt. Col. ON COMBAT. 2008. Warrior Science Publications. Pg. 32)

He goes on to explain,
Cardiologists tell us that at a certain point an increased heart rate becomes counterproductive because the heart is pumping so fast that it cannot draw in a full load of blood before pumping it back out.  As the heart rate increases beyond this point, the effectiveness of the heart, and the level of oxygen provided to the brain, steadily decreases.(Grossman, Dave, Lt. Col. ON COMBAT. 2008. Warrior Science Publications. Pg. 43.)

He also gives several examples of people who were placed in a situation where they needed to dial 911 for help but could not.  Either their fingers or brain was not working properly because of their increased heart rate.  His suggestion, practice dialing 911 so it becomes "muscle memory" and/or try to stay calm because,
What you rehearse is what you will do under stress.(Grossman, Dave, Lt. Col. ON COMBAT. 2008. Warrior Science Publications. Pg. 47.)

Maintaining a lower heart rate also goes for trying to talk to someone who is truly frightened or angry.  Lt. Col. Grossman writes,
"To connect with him, you must first calm him down."(Grossman, Dave, Lt. Col. ON COMBAT. 2008. Warrior Science Publications. Pg. 44.)
 
The Emotional Side of Being Bullied
 
Author and consultant to professionals, Lundy Bancroft, states that 1/3 of relationships are abusive.
 
It is my opinion a lot goes into interacting with a bully.  It is not all about "survival".  On the other hand is the emotional side of it.  We are made in God's image and though all struggle with sin, I believe men/ women on a whole are "good"...the light in most of us out weighs the darkness.  Or going back to the way Lt. Col. Grossman put it, we do not go around expecting others to attack us.  We approach strange dogs cautiously because it is in their nature to bite.  We do not engage with human "strangers" in the same manner.  So, when confronted with a bully, I feel we want to believe the best of him/her.  Maybe we even tell ourselves things like, 1. He/she doesn't mean it. 2. This time will be different. He/she has changed. 3. I must have misunderstood. 4. It's me, I'm the problem.  5. I need to change myself.  6. I don't want to hurt him/her.  7. God wants me to love and forgive him/her.  (This is where Pastors John Piper and Mark Driscoll's messages come in, by the way.)
 
With all the physical and emotional repercussions of being bullied, it is no wonder our youth (and even adults) struggle terribly because of it...some to the point of depression or destruction.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Bullying: Part Eleven

Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. (1 Corinthians 7:5 ESV)

Distance: Thou Shalt Not Separate?

The word of God does not speak against separating for a period time if it is absolutely necessary. I use 1 Corinthians 7:5 to illustrate this idea for myself (though I know this passage is speaking of the inmatcy between a husband and wife). Let's say the bully is someone close to you like a parent, family member, spouse, etc. or maybe even a boss at work. If there can be a mutual, amicable agreement to take a "time out" for a limited time to clear your head, assess the situation, pray, ask God for wisdom, study His word, etc; but then come together again, so satan may not tempt either of you in any way, shape, or form, the scriptures do NOT forbid that! God sees your heart. If your intentions are good and pure, I believe, He will bless you. If your motives are wicked and bad in nature your sin will seek you out and testify against you!

NO ONE CAN CONCEIVABLY GRASP WHAT YOU ARE GOING THROUGH! It is my opinion being bullied is very personal. No one processes, feels, or responds in the same way. Some can handle higher levels of stress than others. No one, but you, lives your particular bullying. Each case is different. Not even a fly on the wall could get a full picture. We are all wired uniquely. No one can accurately advise you so be careful, be WISE, and be safe! If it is a life or death circumstance get out of the way of danger! Go to a secure place (and distance), free from harm first! Then proceed from there. "Better safe than sorry!" Though the world says, "Innocent until proven guilty." Show cause later. Move out of the path of destruction immediately.

Manipulation Tactics and Personality Descriptions

After six years as a court appointed child advocate, I came across a man named Lundy Bancroft, as I continued to try to understand bullies. My burning question was not only, "Why do they do this?" but also, "What makes them tick?" How do they operate? I could find no logic in their seemingly erratic behavior. Mr. Bancroft's studies helped me with this. (He mainly focuses on men --- with the basic principle women are the weaker vessel --- but I feel bullies can also be women.)

In addition to pointing out general tactics bullies use (like how close they stand to an individual to get their desired reaction) he also describes personality types. For example, there is the [bully] who thinks he/she is ALWAYS right and everyone else is wrong. There's the one who talks calmly but the words are damaging leaving the recipient feeling icky afterward. There is the screamer, the kind who strikes terror into the heart of his/her target, one who has a sad story of how he/she has it so hard and everyone is against him/her, etc. Mr. Bancroft makes the argument that the models he describes in his books are people who are very controlling, cunning, calculating, disrespectful, master manipulators who feel they are entitled. Though a bully may play coy or place blame on others he/she knows what he/she is doing.

Pray For Wisdom

"Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! (Matthew 7:7-11 ESV)

To be continued. Next, Being Bullied Makes the Heart Rate Go Up

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