Monday, September 24, 2007

Choosing My Life

So the last few days - week plus - have been a little crazy for me. I've had so much on my mind and yet no time to write! So frustrating!

The Myrte front is a good place to start.

Things have been, for the most part, encouraging in this area. I was complaining to my darling husband the other day that God seems to have (very unfairly in my eyes!) been teaching Chris and I some extremely hard lessons in our own personal lives that are coming back to play in relation to Myrte! There are so many times she has had a question or a problem that has come up that we literally have just worked through or really gotten to a better understanding of in our own lives. And we have a good answer with Scriptural bases and real life examples for her.

Saturday was interesting because she had hit a hard point where she was struggling with wanting to keep going in this battle. My heart breaks for her sometimes because she has such lies that the Devil is feeding her, and when she's frustrated or restless, she becomes so blind to truth because these lies are all she can see. And she has lived with some of these lies for so long, it's hard for her to break away. We spent several hours talking with her...the end result being that she decided to not leave us and give up. When Chris and I walked away from the situation though, I felt like I had been talking to Myrte but for half of the conversation Satan had been answering back. Thank God for His angels surrounding all of us.

One of the big issues we have discussed over and over again has been that of control. Not just self-control, which obviously is a factor in all this, but the dangers of allowing other things to control you, and how even a little tiny thing can actually be exerting terrible control over us if we are not wary.

I have really been dealing with this issue myself lately as the Lord has shown me that in my frustration and even anger towards a situation that has been a part of our lives for some time, I am allowing that situation to control me. Now, I know, in regards to this particular issue, that I cannot exert control over the situation. Only God can do that. However, I do have the choice of either responding so strongly to what occurs that it controls me and my life and my emotions and even my joy. Or, I can forgive and then, by the grace of God, make choices and take actions that - to the best of my ability - control my own responses and attitudes and words. The situation may never change. But I don't have to live a life controlled, manipulated, disgusted, or discouraged by it.

And that is where both Chris and I are at. For those of you dear readers who know what this situation is, please continue praying for us. We are trying to make the best choices we can, not allowing all of this yuckiness to control us but choosing to take certain actions, steps, and even say certain things that will change what we allow to impact our lives. This may be seen as confrontational to the other people involved, and we are putting up some tighter boundaries than we have in the past out of the necessity of protecting ourselves emotionally, but we are not trying to hurt or respond out of anger or even frustration. We are wanting to forgive and, yes, love, while simultaneously taking the actions that will put a stop to some of what is going on at least while we are around. It is a tricky line to walk, and we are praying for the wisdom of God in navigating it successfully.

That is the short version of my jumbled mess of a brain lately. I'm sure I'll be back with more!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Myrte Update

Well, one week down, and things are going pretty well.

Myrte seems to be settling down into the idea of living with us, even though it's definitely challenging. There are some severe behavioral changes that have to happen, never mind the mental and emotional challenges facing her. Fortunately, she's not trying to pretend that things are fine when they're not, and she's being very open and honest about the times when she is struggling and needing help, etc. It's involved an occasional few less hours of sleep than I normally like to have, but hey, I'm willing to sacrifice that!

Talking to her and trying to help her work through her very thought-processes in relation to some of these issues is definitely one of the most challenging yet rewarding parts. It's interesting to talk to someone who has grown up in the church, yet who seems to be missing some of the vital keys that make Christianity so different from any other religion - legalistic or not. And I must say, Chris' experience with Lakeland has been so perfect because he knows not only the right questions to ask but also how to provoke an actual thought out response and not the "Sunday School" answer per say.

I must say, I have breathed some very thankful prayers over the last week or so (not for the first time - mind!) for having grown up with parents who were willing to allow me to stretch my brain and experiences while I was young so that analysis of not just faith but my entire process is quite a natural experience for me. I've needed every bit of analysis and self-honesty I've been able to muster up the last few weeks!

Saturday, September 8, 2007

I'm in Mourning

I just found out Madeline L'Engle died today. And I am very sad. She is an individual I always wanted to meet. Her books always amaze me, from her children's stories to her journals. Her way of thinking and her presentation of faith and Christianity has challenged me over and over again to analyze my thought processes, how I see life, the important things in life, even my writing style. A great author has died leaving behind a fantastic collection of writings...I wonder what I will leave behind when I die?

My Rebellious Teenager

So, life update. I have a friend of mine who has been really struggling with her life lately. For the purpose of my blog I shall call her Myrte (my rebellious teenager). These struggles have led her down many, many paths that are both harmful to her physically but have also been destroying her emotionally and mentally...putting every relationship into jeopardy, and pushing her farther and farther from God. Truthfully, it has been quite frightening to watch her rapidly free fall into one of the most degenerate lifestyles I've personally had to deal with.

This free fall has been speeding up over the last six months or so. The whole time she was getting deeper and deeper into garbage, she would swing from one side to the other saying she desperately wanted to change, wanted to get her life back to normal again, was ready to change this time, was "getting better"....and then she would turn around and be right back to what she was doing the day before - and generally even more. One thing she did realize early on was that she is not capable of conquering any of this on her own. Months ago, Chris and I offered to open our house to her as a place she could come and stay and change her life, but that offer came with very specific conditions and stipulations. And we told her that if she was not capable of following and agreeing to those stipulations, we couldn't help her because it meant she really didn't want to change. Well, despite everything, she's always been pretty honest about what she's doing and thinking - confused and not necessarily honest to herself - but honest as far as she could see the truth. She told us she didn't want to change enough to follow those rules.

Well, a few days ago, she had a demonstration of God's love and forgiveness and redemptive power from a very surprising source. This demonstration shook her so much, she finally realized what she was doing to her life (which all of her friends and family had been desperately trying to get her to understand for months), and she came to us and asked us if we would consider taking her into our home - all stipulations intact.

Well, we are doing so. And I feel like I have suddenly gone from having no children to having a rebellious teenager in my home (even though she's actually a month older than I am!). We have written out a contract detailing our expectations of her and the standards by which she has to live to stay here. This is going to be witnessed by several individuals both as a safety measure for us as well as a physical representation for her of what she is choosing to do with her life. If she ever decides she can't handle this anymore, she is allowed to sign and date and close out the contract, but she has to physically sign her name to it and tell us she no longer wants to follow an appropriate lifestyle.

It's scary. I won't pretend it's not. I know that Chris and I are taking on a huge job which is a weird one because she is an adult and not a child, and ultimately, every decision is hers. We're asking for lots of prayer right now for wisdom on what to say, what to do, what not to say, when to pressure, when to lay off, what reactions to have to things, and lots and lots of patience. She will literally be going through a moderate physical detox as well as a mental and emotional detox and transformation of her life.

I don't begrudge her any changes I have to make to my life to assist her in this long as we are actually benefitting her somehow. And I pray we do.

So, that is a huge change in our life right now. And, Lord willing, it will all be worth it.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Ren. Fest.

So, today I got to do one of my favorite things...go to the Kansas City Renaissance Festival. This is a medievalesque festival that my Amber introduced me to back in my Sophomore year of college, and I love to go to every year. Unfortunately, the last few years we have not been able to afford to go...but today, at last, I got to go back.

Ren Fest is a fun place to be. There are all sorts of crazy people dressed up in fun costumes, having random conversations, selling fascinating things, and basically just having a good time. There are tons of crafts and interesting musicians (the best ones this year were easily a group of "Scottish" bagpipe players - great group!). Of course I have my renaissance dress that I bought several years ago, and it's a great excuse to dress up (I guess I never will grow up in that regard - I love dressing up!).

This year I had a moment of sadness, however, as the beautiful fairy grove that used to be located in one part of the festival grounds has been transformed into a barbarian camp where they have mock battles with fake swords. :( All the fairies have been forced to wander randomly amongst the crowds. It was a very sad moment for me.

Of course one of the big things with Ren Fest is the food. They have amazing food. Way over-priced, but still amazing :) Turkey legs and crepes are my favorites (especially the dessert crepe with strawberries and chocolate and ice-cream!). We brought a friend of ours with us this year, and he introduced me to a rather odd meal I had never seen before - Scottish eggs. Namely a hard-boiled egg, wrapped in sausage, and deep-fried. Looked disgusting, but apparently he thinks it's amazing!

I also got a henna tattoo. For those who don't know, henna is a plant grown in India, South Africa, and the middle east (those are places I know of) that has been used for years as a type of temporary dye for the skin. The tattoos last about 2 to 4 weeks, so for those who never actually want a real tattoo, but like the look of a temporary, non-rub on type's a fun option. I've had a small one done on my hand before, but this time I got one on my back. Much fun :)

One of the best parts was just getting out of Springfield for a day. Spending the day in the sun with much entertainment, good food, good company, and a relaxed atmosphere. Yay Ren Fest!

My henna tattoo...when it's actually dried, it will be a dark brown and not black.

The Captains Jack and Barbosa look-alikes at the fair this year. Captain Jack did an amazing job impersonating Johnny Depp's character portrayal.

The rather revolting looking Scottish egg!

A fairy :)

Chris having a lot of fun terrorizing the sheep at the petting zoo!

One Year Ago Today

On this day, one year ago, we completely changed our lives. We drove away from jobs and home and loved ones to a new adventure of the very m...