Posts in "Tough Love" category

Powerlessness

2 Chronicles 20:12 / 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

O our God, will You not judge them? For we are powerless against this great multitude which is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on You.

But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you (My loving kindness and My mercy are more than enough — always available regardless of the situation); for (My) power is being perfected (and is completed and shows itself most effectively) in (your) weakness.”

Therefore, I will all the more gladly boast in my weakness, so that the power of Christ (may completely enfold me and) may dwell in me. So I am well pleased with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, and with difficulties, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak (in human strength), then I am strong (truly able, truly powerful, truly drawing from God’s strength).

“When we are powerless to do a thing, it is a great joy that we can come and step inside the ability of Jesus.”  ~ Corrie Ten Boom

Powerlessness in Merriam Webster:

  1. Devoid of strength or resources
  2. Lacking the authority of capacity to act
  3. Being powerless to help, unable to do something or stop something

Synonyms: hamstrung, handcuffed, helpless, high and dry, hog tied, impotent, impuissant.

Insert from me, Deb, here: my new favorite word is impuissant. I didn’t want to admit this year (or in others) that I was powerless (without God) so I kept fighting harder, digging in and trying to do it (protect myself and others, including my children) on my own. I failed in too many ways, in more ways than you want to know about. But get this! I learned, finally, to let God and His Angels do the fighting for me. As for me, I will keep growing and of course will keep standing up, just not on my own as I’ve done in the past. Join me?

Admitting you need help, that you are even weak, is nothing to be ashamed of, not when God is on your side – – the Captain of your team, your General. Read on for more by Rev. Jack Lenza. Yes, there is a connection with him although we haven’t yet met. My mother told me about him after she got to know him and his wife through their church in Florida. When I started reading his daily messages she forwarded to me, I nicknamed him Pastor Jack in my posts. I hope you’ll read the thoughts he shares, and learn about his story. I know God sent him to me and to my mother!

“God cannot prove Himself to be powerful in your life until you
recognize you are powerless without Him.”

For those of us who just endured hurricane Irma, we experienced times of powerlessness. Being shut in with nowhere to go. All communications cut off. Home battered by destructive winds. Humidity…unbearable. Feeling frustrated, impatient, bored, fears rolling over your mind and tongue with, “What if?”

Minds flooded with negative input. And the enemy was ever so eager to give an assist. Could there be lessons to be learned in these powerless situations? I ask you, what is it the Lord has revealed to you in your power shortages? We get so caught up in the toys of our technology, accomplishments, and resources only to realize we are helpless, hopeless, and needy. If you were in the storm’s direct path, I am sure Irma (or Harvey…) drove you to your knees. Prayer is an acknowledgement that our need of God’s help is not partial but total.

We must remember that God designed us to be dependent on Him, not on ourselves or on our stuff. He is our ultimate Power-Source. If and when He allows certain things to happen to us that bring us to our knees, it could be that He is giving us time to get focused on who really matters & to reconnect with them. Especially with Himself! He wants us to be empowered and infused with supernatural strength to get us through.

Many things bombard our lives, our thoughts, time and space each day.  Many distractions, interferences only Satan could concoct and spin, our misplaced priorities, the worries of this world, anxieties, and media / technology (the world’s toys), etc.

God has to get our attention and all of creation is at His disposal. There are many calamities going on around the world right now. Catastrophic hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, terrorism, nuclear threats. I just heard there are two typhoons – – one heading to China, and the other to Japan. God gets blamed for much of the bad things that are happening. The Devil is also responsible. And let’s not rule out we live in a fallen sinful world. Whatever God allows is still under His control. We must leave all those details where they belong, in His capable hands. There is no way we can answer all the questions of life, because there is no way we can plumb the depths of the infinite. He tells us to trust Him and not rely on our reasoning. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

I think it was Warren Wiersbe who said, “We do not live on explanations, we live on His promises. Our feelings change, but God’s promises never change. Promises generate faith, and faith strengthens hope.  There is a teacher in every mistake that you have made in the past that holds the lesson to some future plan of God for your life.”

It’s time for self discovery.

God allows us to experience those low points in life in order to teach us lessons that we could learn in no other way. God did not bring you this far to leave you. Things might be hard for you to handle, but God is still saying, “I will make a way for you.”

I have endured, I have been broken, I have known hardship, I have lost myself. But here I stand, encouraging you, still moving forward, growing stronger each day. I will never forget the harsh lessons in my life, they have made me stronger. May you never forget those vital lessons God is teaching you in your circumstances. Here’s a thought I hope you’ll never forget:

Worship will get you through the hardest times in life, because it shifts your focus from the problem to The Problem-solver. I have been doing much of that through Irma and the Holy Spirit has clearly been encouraging and strengthening my faith in His promises. He has reminded me of spoken words He previously revealed to me. Why not use this time to be still and listen to the voice of the Spirit who is always speaking to you? I don’t know what your plans have been. But I have found that God is faithful to wreck your plans before they wreck you. What have your plans been before you found yourself in this powerless situation?

Proverbs 16:9 tells us: We can make our plans but the Lord determines our steps. Never underestimate God’s hand in all your plans. God is working in your life right now in ways you cannot understand. God’s plan is always the best for you. Sometimes the process is painful and
hard. But don’t forget that when God is silent, He is doing something in you and for you.

Someone said: Write your plans in pencil and give God the eraser.

Tony Evans says, “Sometimes God let’s you be in a situation that only He can fix, so you will discover that He is the one who can fix it.”

Let me say this in closing: whatever lesson God is teaching you when in a powerless situation, cry out in intercession for others who are in need. We are surrounded by broken people in need of an encouraging word.

Rev. Jack Lenza

Rising Above It All

Can you imagine being asked to help someone who has fallen on hard times?  Yes, of course.

But what if you helped that person and they betrayed you?  It uncomfortable, but life happens.

Bear with me – this gets a bit more intense and strange.

What if the person you helped actually staged photos of your home, without your permission, and posted them online to use in promoting their cleaning services?

Doesn’t feel good, does it?

Now – imagine this person saw an opportunity to better their position in life and in business by using photos of your home to help someone else.  Think betrayal – as in the photos are given to your opponent in a court case while you are kept in the dark, unaware that this relationship has formed and that this person who made you believe she is here to help you is actually acting to cause you harm.

Where would you start?  How do you address such unscrupulous behavior?

Of course you turn first to how you can keep things peaceful for your children; the less drama the better, right?

But what if the person you trusted to help you at home decides to become involved in taking your children from you?  What do you do then?

Do you expose the situation publicly, or do you let karma take care of it?

#BuyerBeware

 

RIP Donna Kristofak, Beautiful Mother

It is beautiful but cold outside here. Hopefully warm & beautiful in your home and in your heart.

My heart is sad today as it is Donna Kristofak’s funeral…

My only thought today is to share what a teacher put in my son’s school folder:

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”

Believe in God or in the Bible as the Word of God or not, but regardless, please heed these words and ACT on them.

(Proverbs 31:38-9)

Leaders in law enforcement, policy, community, business, healthcare:

I ask you to join along with family court professionals and press in asking the right questions around this tragedy. This did not have to turn out this way, but the foreshadowing of this is what led to the creation of My Advocate Center. There are currently other cases heading down this same path, and we need your help in intervening…for the sake of the children involved.
Thank you in advance. If you are not sure what YOU can do, please email and ask.

This IS personal for me, as I knew Donna and John – as neighbors and parents and members of the same church. I saw in Donna’s face and eyes how she felt, and now it is too late for her, but not for others. Today is a HARD day. But tomorrow is a new day and the work begins. This “story” is far from over.

If you know someone like John, or think someone you know is like Donna, and are reacting to a gut level alarm going off, now is the time to reach out for help on what to do. Just do something. Either way, you can help THIS family – their sons – by donating to the fund set up by friends of the family.

This is my Tough Love message for now to those of you around me in East Cobb, Marietta, Atlanta, Georgia… More to follow.

Slaughter of Children

Few words are needed.   Dismay, shock, horror…those about cover it.  Unnecessary loss for so many. I wish I didn’t feel the need to write in response to school shootings or to reference other situations in which children are damaging themselves or others.

As a parent and human being your heart and mind reach out to the parents who lost their precious young children, the ones who deserved no harm and who deserved to be able to grow up and live out their lives.

This tragedy appears to be bringing many together, as well as firing up debate over causes and preventions.

It is making me even more determined to help a few understand how their decisions, or a lack of appropriate decision-making around how “high conflict” personalities are managed, are affecting children.

Much of what I write is geared toward a few —  some who want ideas, support, tools & resources with which to help awaken and drive change – and to others who are curious but haven’t yet accepted that they are a part of the problem…and that I am asking of all:  please become a part of the Solution.

The mental state of the shooter of these young children reminds me of another disturbed young adult – really a child in so many ways – and the process during which his mental and emotional state declined to where he is now.   Where he is now is sad.   Angry at the world, lacking in self-worth, and lacking in regard for how his behavior and addictions affect others.   Coping skills learned when support and nurturing and accountability and structure were removed from his life.  (Of course that is the consolidated explanation.)

This young adult who started out as a sweet child caught in a very high-stress conflict, is now a raging addict with an arrest record that would make you cringe.   There isn’t much hope for him to turn it around, but I hope I’m wrong.  I believe it could have been prevented – if proper legal and psychological counsel had been provided.

Legal counsel is invaluable where it recognizes the Needs of Children and works accordingly, upholding laws, rules as well as Fiduciary Duty.   When those things are lacking, more children are left unsupported and exposed – left to their own devices in the wake of a crisis, and that doesn’t always work out so well.

If you are uncertain and want to know more about a real life example of how poor case management, and withholding proper counseling and support can all play out for a child caught between dysfunctional parents, please email via My Advocate Center.   Connecting the dots for you is simple.

My point in expressing grief and anger is to explain what I know, and that is that certain professionals are aware that how they are treating families is leading to more dysfunction, addiction and abuse in teens and young adults.  We just have to decide that it’s not “fine” and to face the issues like we would face faulty wiring or plumbing that could lead to worse trouble and expense.

Since I wrote this post originally more lives have been lost, including that of the boy described above. Other teens have gone missing, and some are being held in lockdown facilities – not because they need to be there for treatment, but because that is how they can be silenced, and because it is profitable for certain court professionals to send them there.

This is real, it IS close to Home; and there IS something YOU can do about it.   Just ask.

 

Political Fray

It seems like it just doesn’t occur to anyone to shut up and listen to the other side long enough to hear and understand what they are afraid of…or why they seem to want to fight.

Sometimes a dog fight can be a good thing, if you are into fighting for entertainment, but it sure as heck doesn’t accomplish anything except to help the people managing the fight make more money.

Do you really have anything to lose by letting someone else say what they need and what matters the most?  Probably not, but you’ve been trained to think you do.   Attack and take away from them first, before they get you. But don’t complain about getting into a tangled mess that you can’t get out of unscathed.

It’s all about framework.  Who is framing how you think?  Are the issues that matter to you being framed the wrong way by someone who doesn’t want your voice to be heard?  Quite possibly…

A man – and not a very bright one – made a statement about women and God and caused my values to be framed poorly. This caused me to be misjudged as well, so I spoke up.  If you want to divide and polarize people and prevent solutions from being discovered, continue to say stupid things that lead to dog fights. That way no one is served.

If you want to see improvements, consider encouraging open and positive dialogue so that we can move forward and our children can benefit. Take some risk in letting others speak and give yourself time to consider, “What if they are right?” “Does that mean I have to be wrong…or embarrassed by giving in?” What do you have to lose really?

Speaking to the groups focused on damages to parents and children in legal matters:

You say you want reform, correct? But you want only your version of what the improvements should look like?

If you want to see waste and corruption diminished, then talk to the other side so that you face each other and keep more problems from developing between you while your backs are turned to each other.  Our fighting and condemning each other just gives the wrong people and programs a place to hide and go to work – on us.

When we fight and condemn, we close to door to solutions – and we open the door to opportunists willing to exploit us while we are distracted.   That is so much of the political fray, and too many would rather cling to negative emotions than work together.   So helping us fight more and solve less is BIG business.  And it’s NOT a good example to set for kids.  Do you think they are paying attention?  Of course they are…

But thanks to the nastiness on television networks I was able to use this an example for my warring twins to see how little is accomplished, how much we hurt each other, when we refuse to listen and to focus on blame.  We aren’t going to fix their need to fight with each other – their fears and resentments – overnight;  just like we won’t fix anything about politics, race, gender or religion overnight, but if we each choose ONE moment to hold back an attack and find a way to relate, give, compromise, forgive…then just maybe.  Maybe we can hope for something better over time.

 

 

Compassion vs. Practicality

Empathy sometimes misses the point.   And that point is that we all need to evolve, to change for the better.

If you are too empathetic you don’t inspire or motivate the person desiring your empathy to change or find a way to help themselves.

If you lack empathy and rather want to be seen as practical and pragmatic, you can miss opportunities to improve your community and can even do harm.

True compassion is PRO-ACTIVE.  It is forgiving, invites tolerance, but leads with a spark or an intense desire to see someone else’s outcome improve.

The best form of compassion takes that spark and feeds it with some practical measures or steps and actually lends a hand in building something better — something the recipient can work with and carry themselves.

One of the biggest lessons I had to learn was how to NOT do too much too soon for others when I was asked for help.   It took a few too many times to figure out why I was doing that, so yes…painful, but the real challenge was to remain compassionate and open while modifying my reaction.  It led me to a new service offering for parents involved in legal disputes, or what we describe as, “How to Be Your Own Best Advocate.”

Helping others learn how to advocate for themselves is rooted in my many failures, personal ones as well as the gestures made to others.  While it does take more time, patience or flexibility, and often creativity, once you establish this pattern of empowerment and accountability, it will become easier, so think about your world:

~ children and step-children ~ married couples or single friends ~ clients ~

~ facing conflict / abuse, divorce, addiction, money / housing issues ~

We leave our world a better place by empowering others, especially our children, to create solutions and fix things themselves with tools we possibly provide or with tips we reveal.  Then we watch them carry their new and improved self over the finish line.  If you haven’t done this I suggest you try it – it is quite rewarding all around – and it creates confidence while decreasing co-dependency.

So, the next time you are tempted to JUST DO something for someone you feel sorry for, consider taking the extra time, using the extra creative effort and your last ounce of patience, to coach and coax them into figuring out a way to help themselves.   This way compassion doesn’t have to collide or conflict with practicality and PROGRESS.