Search This Blog

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Jesus is NOT all I need


One year has ended and another has begun. For many people, a new year signifies new life, new hope, new dreams and goals. For others it is a reminder of things now gone, loves lost, and the struggle that is awaiting them.

For me this new year feels different from others. My birthday is new years eve and usually this means that there is fun, presents, and all the good stuff of birthday's, as well as the joy of being on holiday and also getting to celebrate the turn of the year with everyone on the same day. It is usually a great time.

This year, not so much. Not because anything really changed around me - I still got presents and all that - but because I feel different about it. Maybe it was because I was working for the first time ever on my birthday and now also on New Years Day. Maybe that made it feel just like another day rather than anything special like years past.

Or maybe it was because I am now in my 30's. Last year I turned 30, which is always a big celebration, but this year I am 31. No big celebration around that, I have just officially become a 30-something year old. This has triggered a small emotional crisis for me for several reasons:

1. I am in my 30's but my husband is still under 25. Now we have different numbers at the start of our ages it seems like such a bigger age gap than before. I feel like telling people our ages now will get even more of a reaction than it has before.

2. I still feel 24! Maybe it is because I am at the same level as my hubby, but I feel his age rather than mine. The fact that I also became sober around 23/24 after drinking since 15 means that I have developed slower emotionally than others my age - this is a proven thing that happens to addicts - and the fact that for many years I was mentally unwell means that I feel those years are missing and in my memories I am much younger than I feel. Or maybe everyone feels this way when they get older...who knows!

3. For some reason leading up to 30 feels like you are still growing up. Birthdays are still exciting and  you are still considered young. Now it feels like birthdays are less about growing up and more about getting older. Maybe popular culture has sold me the idea that it is all down hill after 30, because now it feels like it is all downhill from here.

4. I don't feel like I have accomplished as much as others my age. I have a friend who I have known for pretty much all my life. She is a trained lawyer, has a house, several investment properties, a husband, 2 kids, and a dog. I have a husband......and that is it. I am not in the job I trained for, have no kids, don't own a house, etc. Though I know I shouldn't compare my life to others - as I have gone through things that she hasn't and vice versa - it makes me feel like I should've done more.

Perhaps these are common things for people to feel as they get older, and I certainly hope I am not the only one who feels this way! Or maybe the year Luke and I have had has put me in a melancholic mood. 

We have had a tough year emotionally, spiritually, mentally and physically. We have moved cities, jobs, houses, churches. We have been in traffic accidents, faced the mortality of loved ones, struggled with our own health issues, and tried to understand God in the midst of suffering. It has been the toughest year we have faced as a couple, and we are both glad that it is over and a New Year has begun.

In the midst of all of what we have been going through, one thought has been playing around in my mind. It was spawned by listening to a Christian radio station and hearing so many songs about how Jesus is all I need. The songs basically all say, no matter what, no matter how crappy life is, Jesus is really all we need, ever.

Though these sentiments are probably helpful for many people, I find them somewhat difficult. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life but not even he said that he is the only thing we ever need. He said we cannot live on bread alone, but need the Word of God, and that he is the Water of Life and those who drink from him will never be thirsty, but did he mean that he was all we need for every situation?

I would argue that no, he is not. Because Jesus himself commanded us to love God with all our heart, mind and strength, and to love others as we love ourselves. Jesus can't be all we need because we are made to be in relationship with others. You can have a great relationship with Jesus and he can be your solace in times of pain, but without other people you are still lonely. You are not being fully human to only rely on Jesus for all your emotional needs.

God created us to be together. Even when he created Adam, who was in perfect relationship with God and walked and talked with God, God saw that humans should not be alone. It is only in relationship with others and with God that we are complete. Yes, these relationships are distorted in a fallen creation, and yes, these relationships can draw us away from God if we let them, but they can also bring us closer to God through our love for others and their love for us.

If we begin to face hard times with the belief that Jesus is all we need, then we do ourselves and others a disservice. We do not allow others to minister to us, to show Jesus to us in our hurt, and we also do not allow others to see God at work in our weakness. By blocking out others as something we need, then we block out an aspect of God at work in our lives also. Faith then becomes about the individual and not about the church; about how I feel about God, and not about the witness of others; about my personal relationship with Jesus at the expense of vulnerability and humility in our communities.

I have had a tough year, and I am going through an emotional crisis, but it is my relationship with others and with God that helps me get through these things. It is in my dark moments, when I am incapable of feeling the love of Christ because of my pain, that it is the love of others that ministers to me. It is through their words, their actions, and their care of me that I see and hear God. It is also when they tell me off or tell me I am not listening to God properly because of my pain that I realise that God himself is speaking to me. As iron sharpens iron, so the members of the church sharpen each other. 

So next time you are thinking God is all you need, look at what God says about that. Love one another as Christ loved the church. Lay down your life for each other, carry each others burdens, feel each others pain, and minister to the weak, wounded and hurting around you, and let others do the same for you. We are the bride of Christ and need each other just as much as we need our Saviour.

Jesus and the church are what I need.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Haters Gonna Hate (or Disposable Relationships)


My husband is 7 years younger than me. While this doesn't seem like much at first, when you realise that the same year I got married for the first time (at age 19) he was in intermediate, suddenly the age gap becomes very very large!

One aspect of this age gap is that, in this rapidly changing world, he grew up with technology that I was only discovering in my late teens/early adult years. This means that, despite having done my Masters thesis on video gaming, I am constantly hopelessly behind him when it comes to understanding technological trends of youth. I know I sound ancient right now, but it is true, and he laughs at me all the time about it (I would like to remind you all that I am only 30, but technology is developing so fast that having grown up with it as second nature gives you a distinct advantage).

But one trend I am on top of (yay me!!) is this overwhelming belief that relationships that don't work should just be ditched. This trend is particularly popular through quotes on facebook.



By and large these quotes - of which I have chosen a few of the lest offensive to display - are basically stating that if you have ever hurt me, insulted me, misunderstood me, made me angry, broken my trust, or any other infraction on our relationship be you a friend, a partner, or anyone except my children (who are always completely above reproach) then expect me to pull the finger and walk away whistling with no regrets for ending our relationship.

As someone who has divorced a husband and hasn't had contact with her parents for 5 years, I understand what letting go of relationships is all about. I understand walking away from destructive and hurtful situations, and I really do not hold anything against anyone who chooses to do so.

BUT....

I would never ever ever say that I have no regrets, that it was simple, or that these people have been dropped because they didn't treat me the way I deserved.

I do regret things. Every relationship breaks down because of things both sides have done. No one 
person is ever 100% in the wrong. There are always two sides to a story. I regret hurting people I care about, I regret not trying harder at times. I regret not speaking up sooner when I first noticed problems.

And it hurts. It hurt then and it hurts now. Though I am happily married to someone else, my divorce still cuts deep. It is a sadness in my very soul for the two people that we were and what we were able to do to each other. It is a grief for two young people, children really, that thought they could face anything together. It is a sadness for the loss of innocence and of love. It is mourning for family moments not shared and sadness over ones that were shared but went so wrong. There is anger there too and shame.

Would I choose differently now?No, I believe I acted in the best interests of everybody, but it wasn't because somehow these people were just haters who hurt me once, or even people that I was sick of.

Because relationships, even the difficult ones, are not disposable.

In a culture that moves so quickly on to the next thing, we have begun to treat our relationships the same way. Just as we line up for the newest iPhone when our old one is still working just fine, so too do we start moving on to the next relationship before we have even given our current one time to heal and to grow.

People hurt each other. There is no relationship you will ever have were you won't be hurt. My mother-in-law use to tell me that hubby would never hurt me, until one day I told her that that simply wasn't true. He would, already had in some ways (though not marriage destroying ways) and that it was OK because relationship is about forgiveness, trying to find solutions and working through tough issues. Otherwise it isn't a relationship!

If you are looking for family, friends, partners that will never hurt you then you are going to be disappointed. It is how we respond to pain and to hurt that defines our relationship. Flipping the finger and walking out anytime something bad happens merely shows how little you valued the relationship in the first place. It says more about you than about the other person. It takes time to work stuff out, sometimes years, but love is about the long haul despite the pain involved.

Jesus is the perfect example of this relational dedication. For three years he hung out with the same group of 12 mates. In particular he was ultra close to Peter. They were close in a way that makes me think of my husband and his best friend Kent. They are like brothers from another mother. Close in a way that makes me envious of what they have. At times they tell each other off but they are always there for each other for any reason, day or night.

Jesus and Peter live together, eat together, share every day together. They are close. And yet when 
Jesus is arrested Peter runs away and then, out of fear of being arrested himself, denies he ever knew the man.

Jesus reacts in a way that we should try to emulate. He forgives Peter. He returns to him after he is resurrected and embraces him. Peter then goes on to be the founding leader of the Christian church, which 2000+ years is still going strong.

Instead of reacting out of anger (which he would have been entitled to do!), despite facing torture and death alone and betrayed, Jesus shows grace and understanding. There was nothing but love and mercy for his friend. Perhaps as we meditate on Jesus this Christmas season we should ask for his grace to forgive and love those who have hurt us, and the opportunity to heal relationships that have been damaged.

May forgiveness be our focus this Christmas.

Note: If you are in a relationship that is abusive in any way - mentally, physically, sexually, or emotionally - then remove yourself from this. Forgiveness and reconciliation can happen at a distance, but the priority is your safety while you walk that journey. There are some things that we can confront head on, and others were we need the space and safety first. Please see my blog on forgiving family for more conversation around this.




Sunday, November 8, 2015

Trudging when you want to Fly


I have this amazing friend who I love a lot. She and I are very similar in some ways and in others are completely the opposite. We use to live next door to each other and would see each other all the time for coffee and catch ups, but now we are in different cities and I miss seeing her and being able to chew the fat.

She is an incredibly talented and passionate woman, but she suffers from a debilitating illness. It is one of those illnesses that doesn't show on the outside so often people don't realise that is just a struggle for her to get out of bed some days. If she does make it out of bed, that is an epic win! But she doesn't feel like that. She feels like she is trudging when all she wants to do is fly.

Her and I were talking about it about it last night, and I really feel like I know where she is coming from. I too feel like I am just doing the daily trudge at the moment. Though I do not have an illness as severe as hers, I do get migraines that throw out my plans. I have to watch how much I do, how often I rest, and when I take my medication. I feel like my life is dictated by me head.

I also know how she is feeling when she asks me what God has planned for her and how it is possible. I sometimes feel like I have done all this study and research and now I am not using it or working in the field I am most passionate. I feel like I just live from day to day waiting for the opportunity to do something else, something more.

Our experience of church is very much dictated by our experiences of life; we both find it a struggle to go to church. We find it hard to do small talk with people who don't really know how we are struggling silently. We find the music often contrite and dishonest to how we are feeling. We can find the sermons boring and/or rip them apart mentally due to our theological training. So we tend to avoid church, or go very unwillingly.

We are trudging, but oh how we want to fly.

During these times it is the story of Joseph that really sustains me. If you know the story, fell free to let your mind wander as I summarize it for those who do not.

Joseph was the second youngest of 12 brothers. Though usually the eldest brother was the most loved, the most favoured, but Joseph, the first child of two children from the favourite wife of Jacob, was the most loved by his father. We was doted on and, frankly, was a little spoiled and outspoken to boot. He annoyed his brothers by telling the of dreams he had where his whole family would bow down to him. In a fit of rage, the brothers took Joseph, intending to kill him. Instead, they sold him to slavers that then took the young boy to Egypt to sell. He was sold to Potiphar, an important man, and he worked hard to please his master. However, his master's wife took a little too much of a liking to him and, when he didn't reciprocate, falsely accused Joseph of rape. Joseph languished in prison for 14 years, working hard and earning the respect of the guards of the prison in the process. When fate brought two men of Pharaoh's household to the prison, Joseph was given the opportunity to interpret their dreams and, in the process, asked them to remember him to Pharaoh. The dreams came to pass as he said, with one man being killed and the other being reinstated in his former position. It was another two years before Pharaoh had a dream and the reinstated man remembered his promise to Joseph. He told Pharaoh about the now fully grown man, and Joseph was released to interpret the Pharaoh's dream. He did so correctly, thorugh the Spirit of God, and was made second only to Pharaoh in all of Egypt. Eventually a famine struck the land for 7 years and Joseph's brothers were needing food. They went to Egypt to ask for grain from Joseph, who had been preparing for the famine for years after being warned in Paroah's dream. It was then that the dreams of seeing his family bow before him were fulfilled. Joseph forgave his brothers and brought his whole family to Egypt and died an important, wealthy and loved man.

That was a very brief explanation of the story. If you want more look it up in Genesis and have a read. It is worth it.

Anyway, back to my point.

It was 16 years before Joseph was set free. He didn't know if he would ever get out of prison alive. He didn't know what the plan was or how God would get him out of it all. He had a terrible experience as a child and now he was locked away for something he didn't do.

If I was Joseph I would have despaired. There seemed to be no hope, no light at the end of the tunnel, no justice.

Even though the story doesn't end that way, it is this part I want to focus on. The part where for 16 years Joseph trudged through everyday in prison.

He had dreamed he could fly, and was made to trudge with no end insight.

But it was he did in prison that impresses me so much. He worked so hard and so faithfully that the head of the prison made him his right hand man. He was put in charge of other prisoners and earned the respect of both them and the people paid to keep him locked up. He didn't give up, he just found another way to serve God.

This challenges me. So often I ask God what his plan is for my life and when will it come to fruition. But really, all God calls us to is to live faithfully in loving him and loving others where ever we find ourselves


Whether we are trudging or flying, our purpose is the same. Whether we feel defeated or elated, our response to God and to others is meant to be the same. We are meant to live faithfully in love. Maybe our circumstances will change, maybe they won't, but that should not determine how we live or what God is asking from us.

We may feel like we are trudging, but it is living out our faith in Jesus that brings us to flight, whether we feel it or not.

Remember that it is the sacrifice and love of God that makes us fly, not what we do or where we are headed. We may feel like we are in a prison and that we will be in it for life, but it is how we live and how we respond to God that will define us.

I look back at the last ten years of my life and see how far I have come, even though most of it has felt like one long trudging slog. I remember that this time a decade ago I was in an abusive marriage, was alcohol dependent, was in and out of psych wards and suicidal. Today, I am loved, happy, healed, and 7 years sober. It was a long hard walk, but I am flying, whether I feel it today or not. God's work in our lives is not dependent on our feeling it. However, it is our hope in God that keeps us going everyday.

You may continue to trudge, but remember that it is our hope that makes us fly.



Monday, October 26, 2015

Ambitious Christianity

This week I said goodbye to my mentor and friend, Dr. Rod Thompson. After 12 years in this fine country, and 5 as principal of Laidlaw College, Rod and his lovely wife Rosie are heading back over the ditch to Sydney to start a new chapter in their lives.

I have been privileged enough to call this man my friend. He has been an unwavering support to me as I have struggled and fought my way through the past years. He was always there to turn to, to seek advise from, and to be admonished by (when necessary). In many ways Rod and Rosie have been surrogate parents to me over the last five years and I will miss them terribly.

I was fortunate enough to get two precious days with them before they headed Sydney-side. They are extremely busy people yet they still made time to come spend a weekend with us (and spoil us rotten in the process) and I basked in the moments I had to absorb Rod's wisdom...who knows when the next time will be.

One of the things I have always admired about Rod is his unassuming manner. He never makes you feel like he has accomplished more than you (though he has), that he is better than you at theology (though he is), or that he wants anything more than to share in your triumphs and your suffering (which he does). He and Rosie are two of the most loving people I have ever met.

So how does a man who appears to place no value in position ever get to be the principal of New Zealand's foremost Christian theological college? How does someone who appears to have no ambition climb the ladder so high?

Before I answer that question, let me deviate for a moment and turn back to what this whole blog is essentially about.....me!

I am a very competitive person. I may hide it well behind jokes and laughter, but I have always been out to win, be the best, take no prisoners.

There are people who won't play board games with me anymore because I can get....let's say a little enthusiastic. It's also why I don't like team sports much; I always hated having to rely on other people to win.

This competitiveness also drives my ambition. It is why I started my own business at 30 rather than going on a benefit when I had no work. It is what drove me to finish my Masters thesis (and what made me cry when I didn't get the mark I wanted). It is what keeps me motivated when it seems all my dreams will take years to accomplish.

But I have always felt that ambition is largely looked down upon within church circles. It is OK to be ambitious, as long as you don't bring it to church. If you say you want to be the best preacher, best song writer, best pastor, then people look away almost embarrassed.

I asked Rod about it this weekend. I asked him if it was wrong to be an ambitious Christian. Was it wrong to want something and to strive for it? Was it bad to want to be the best at something?

I was expecting him to say "yes, it is bad." Instead, he once again blew my mind.

"No," said Rod, "as long as it is not ambition for ambition sake."

What he was saying was that I had to check my motives. Why did I want to be the best? Was it because I needed other's approval? Was it because I wanted to lord it over other people? Was it so I could check the boxes and mentally congratulate myself?

Or was it because I was trying to do the best with what had been given me?

I know what it is to not be able to do what I wish I could. I know what it is to have my mind not work well enough to do anything.

So now, I really really want to do the best with what I received back. I want to honour God by doing the best that I absolutely can.

I don't care if I get rich along the way. I don't care if other people like what I do. I don't even care if I make it to my goals.....well, maybe I care about that.

But I do care about being lukewarm, so half-hearted and humdrum. I care about what I will say when I meet my maker and have to give account for my life. I want to say that I did my best, I tried my hardest, I didn't give an inch, and I worked towards the dreams that I placed before my God.

I believe that Rod got the jobs that he did because he always placed God first and did his best to bring glory to his Creator. He tried hard with what had been given to him because that is the only response to a grace that gives freely. It is the only response in the face of a world where so many people do not get the opportunities we do. The only response to overwhelming love is to love with everything we have.

If that is ambition, then I am ambitious.

And I am OK with that.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

How far is too far?

It seems like every time I write a blog post there is something new and exciting happening in the world of Christine and hubby. This month's instalment is that I have started my own business (Check out The Admin Company on FB or go over and look at www.theadmincompany.co.nz).

I have been loving this process. I am excited by the prospect of working for myself, of doing something I enjoy, of picking my own work etc. It has been a ride opening the business, making a logo, getting the company registered, and promoting myself.

But there is a really hard side to this that, though I knew about it, I didn't think it would be as hard as it is.

It takes time.

It takes time to build your brand reputation.

It takes time to get a customer base.

It takes time to get the word out there.

And time is money. It really is in this case. Because I work for myself now if I don't make money then my bills don't get paid.

This has meant that hubby and I are down to the wire with our money for rent and food. I can't get a business loan as I have nothing to secure it against. I don't want a loan shark loan. I am trying to raise funds on a funding website (check that out here) and I have looked into any help that can be offered by the government, but all to no avail.

This means that I am still looking (never really stopped) for any type of employment, even if it means I have to run my business in the evenings or weekends until it is economically viable.

But from a faith point of view this whole thing has been a roller coaster.

When my contract job finished 3 weeks ago, Luke and I both felt very strongly that God was telling us we would be ok. But job application after job application kept getting rejected. 

As I started my business I felt God very much behind it. But so far nothing has happened with it.

Luke did look at work, but we both were overwhelmed by God telling us that Luke needed to focus on his music, a career that has no income at the moment. This seems like pure madness to us but we both feel so strong that this is the right path for Luke, and we can't ignore it.

And now we have 1 week of money left and then we are really up the proverbial river with out a paddle.

Stress has now kicked in. I can be reduced to tears in a heart beat because I feel so overwhelmed. Though I keep telling myself that today we are ok, today we have a house and food, I still panic about the future.

And yet, the question "How far do you trust Jesus?" keeps resonating in both our heads.

Do we trust Jesus only until life gets hard and then give up?

Do we trust what we know God is saying to us, until we can't handle the stress and then do the opposite?

Do we trust God to provide as promised, until we don't want to lose our house and then do it our way?

Or do we keep trusting, even if we lose the house, even if we end up with no job, no home, and no way of paying for food?

Do we trust God even though it is hard and we don't like it?

Even though this situation is hard and frankly a lot of what we feel God is saying doesn't make sense to us on a financial scale, we both feel an underlying peace with what we have chosen. We both know it makes no sense to others around us, or even ourselves, but there is this sense of peace that somehow we will be ok. 

Our instinct is to do it our way, to run the show and to ignore what we feel to be right. 

But how far is too far when it comes to trusting Jesus?

Sunday, June 28, 2015

The Heart Is Fickle (or Why living by feelings alone is stupid)

I have been noticing a worrying trend growing in Western culture.


It is the idea that we should do what we feel is right, that we should love who we feel we love, and we should follow our feelings in everything we do in life.


I call it "Attack of the Feels" and frankly, it terrifies me.


It may not seem that big of a deal to you, but then you would be feeling that it is ok to do what you feel, rather than using your logic to work this scenario out to its fullest extent.


Before we do that though (and yes, by the end of this I am hoping you will be as scared of feels as I am) let me look at some examples that are currently bombarding our news stories, facebooks, twitters, and all the other media out there (including blogs...woah, inception moment..)


The most obvious one is the "you can't help who you love" argument behind legalising gay marriage etc. (and again I must iterate that I AM NOT A HOMOPHOBE, nor do I think it is wrong that there is a secular understanding of marriage that is open to all people, I just don't think that it is in line with Christian teachings, but I have written other blogs about this so lets all just hold hands, sing Kumbayah and not hate on anyone for thinking differently ok?)


I understand what people are trying to say when they argue "you can't help who you love." They are saying that love is an overwhelming feeling that can hit you right between the eyes, and who does anybody think they are to allow some people the right to feel that and deny it to others?


I get that. Love IS powerful and overwhelming and it does hit people in different ways.


BUT, and here is where it gets tricky, let's follow that line of thinking down the track a wee ways.


This is the same argument that NMBLA uses. NMBLA stands for the National Man-Boy Love Association. It argues for peadophilia being legalised. It is a real thing. They argue that peadophiles can't help who they love - namely, small children - and seeing as paedophilia use to be accepted in ancient Greece and Rome, surely it isn't that bad. Scary thing, this is very similar to arguments used in pro-Gay debates.


The same arguments are also used for polygamous and polyamourous relationships, incest relationships, and even bestiality (the research on this depressed me no end).


THE ISSUE HERE is if you allow this argument for one lot of people, how can it be denied to another? According to some stats, there are more paedophiles per population than there are homosexuals, so are they not allowed a voice? But even if we discount them because it is involving children (just remember the legal age of consent in some countries is twelve, so they are not considered children) are we prepared to permit polygamous relationships? What about marrying yourself (which in some places is legal), does that mean you can apply for benefits for married couples? Where does that leave religious institutions who refuse to marry people in this way? Persecution? Do we open this up to so many different understandings of love that the meaning of what a relationship is completely disappears?


If it is all about how someone 'feels' the laws become open to debate by anyone who feels differently. There is no stability, no way to maintain any law or standard that keeps the understanding of relationships and family in such a way that structures like benefits, legal adoption/guardianship etc make sense.


Another Attack of the Feels is that to do with gender. I recently wrote a blog on this, so I won't go into too much depth, but being able to question your gender because you feel differently than what you are, would not long ago have got you psychiatric help. Now it is seen as a right that anyone has to change their gender and sexual idenitity.


Again, let's follow this through. That means nationality and race come up for question as well. If I feel I am a black man, how is it ok for me to change my gender but not my race? I may identify with black people more than white, and it is about what I feel isn't it? Because if it is not, then what grounds do I have to change my gender?


Religion is also becoming more and more about feels and less about truth. If I tell someone I am a Christian, well that's ok because I am allowed to feel that there is a God and I feel that Jesus was telling the truth. But if I try and tell someone that it is the Truth and that I can intelligently explain why, then that's not cool because how dare I push my faith on someone else when they don't feel that way.


If we follow that to it's logical end, then we will get to a place where there is nothing that is true, no one can claim an objective truth in anything. No law, no court, no statement can be believed as the Truth. No teacher can tell their students that something is true, because what classifies it as true? History? But history is open for interpretation and can be understood differently depending n your race, gender, creed etc. And if we have none of those anymore, then how are we to understand history? And if we cannot trust history, then we cannot trust that it can teach us anything.


So the deeper we get into living off feelings the more and more we HAVE to as we have nothing left to base anything on anymore.


There are many more examples, but just using these three a picture begins to emerge.


It is a picture that is distorted and confused, with no grounding on what is true and right and good.


There is no point to marriage because if I wake up feeling differently one day, the marriage should end ("I love him, I am just not IN love with him"). There is no commitment or loyalty as feelings are fickle and don't work like that.


There is no point in working as if I ever wake up feeling like I don't like my job (everyday...) then I will quit, because again, there is no sense of permanence, loyalty, stick-to-it-ive-ness.


There is no point in families, because even the word family has become so distorted and confused no one knows what it means anymore.


We are left with children who grow up not knowing truth or where to find it.


They will have no understanding of loyalty, permanence, relationships.


They will not understand sex, gender, or sexuality as it will be so fluid that being called a boy or a girl will mean nothing.


They will not understand what it means to be wrong, to be told, "no, you can't do that" or that something is false. None of those words will have any depth or conviction behind them.


Our children will grow into a world that can offer them nothing more permanent than how they feel each minute of everyday.


And what kind of world will children like that build?


God help us all.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Abortion and Sex Changes - A Feminist Issue?

Wow, it has been a long time since I have written one of these. My bad. I hope there are still some readers out there and I haven't been forgotten lol.

Today I am going to tackle a subject that will no doubt ruffle a few feathers, cause a few arguments, and generally put my fine ass on the line.

But I have to write about it. I wouldn't be me if I could stay quiet about such things.

What I want to talk about is the female reproductive system; namely the uterus and the vagina.

Firstly, the uterus.

What a wonderful amazing gift the uterus is. Despite once a month hating the very existence of mine and wishing I could chop it out, it is a wonderful thing.

Why?

Because it nurtures and brings forth life.

Just think about the amazingness of that for a moment.

If you are a woman, the ability to make children (even if you choose not to) is a wonderful amazing gift. For those who can't have children, the fact that it doesn't work can be devastating. It can bring into question your very womanhood.

This ability to nurture and grow life sets us apart from men in a way no other thing really can. You can take hormones to grow boobs, you can get a vagina made, but you can't create a working uterus. It is unique and precious.

It's very design is formed to cradle a baby in a way that keeps it safe, warm and fed.

So abortion really grinds my gears, as it is a invasion and desecration of something amazingly beautiful and precious.

The topic of abortion is one that is really difficult to address publically if you are not pro-choice (NB: pro-choice means you want women to have the right to choose whether to keep the baby or not; pro-life means you believe that every baby conceived should be given the chance to live). The pro-choicers are loud and aggressive and we pro-lifers are often shouted down. We are called bigoted, anti-feminist, and basically terrible people.

Apparently abortion is a feminist issue in that women should be given the right to choose what to do with their bodies. I would argue it is a feminist issue for a very different reason:

If a woman's body is created to bring forth life when insemination happens during sex, then if you consent to have sex, you are consenting to whatever the consequences of sex are. To put it in a way people may understand, if I consent to eat heaps of chocolate, I also consent to the fact that I may get very fat. You can't have one without being prepared to deal with the other.

So when women have sex, knowing that they could get pregnant, even when using protection, then they are letting their bodies work the way they were intended to. To then let a person stick foreign objects into you in order to stop the body doing what it should is an invasion not only of the foetus' body, not only of your uterus, but of your very womanhood.

It is ripping away from your body the right to do what a woman's body should do.

It is a feminist issue because woman's bodies should be given the opportunity to do what they were made to do. When a woman's body is artificially stopped from completing what it naturally does, then it is a feminist issue. It is a feminist issue as it speaks to the right of the woman's body to work properly. It is a feminist issue as it speaks to the equal right every human has to live in freedom without being hurt, and the baby is having that taken away from them.

The argument that abortion is a woman's choice because it is her body is also suspect. A foetus is genetically different from a mother as soon as it is conceived, so it isn't your body you are messing with, but the body of someone completely different from you.

Feminists are meant to stand for equality for all people. This must, it just has to, include everyone who you can differentiate from yourself. THAT INCLUDES UNBORN CHILDREN. To argue otherwise is to undermine exactly what feminism is meant to fight for.

And speaking of feminist issues:

Recently Bruce Jenner has been all over the news for getting sexual reassignment surgery. Apparently he is becoming a woman.

And that last sentence annoys me more than anything else I can think of right at this moment (ok....child abuse, poverty, slavery, sex trade.....there are many more things that piss me off more than this but just work with me here).

The reason that this annoys me is that NO MAN CAN BECOME A WOMAN.

"But wait," I hear you cry, "he is having hormones to grow boobs, and is making his penis into a vagina. Surely he is a woman."

NO!

Vagina does not maketh the woman.

Whether my innie is and outie or vice versa does not actually make me a woman or a man. Because outward appearance does not equal gender.

For example, if hubby lost his genitalia in some freak accident (much easier to use a guy in this example, can't think of an accident that could happen where I would loose my genitalia), I would not think he was less of man. He may feel like he is, but he wouldn't be. He would still be a man, my man. Because he isn't a man simply because he has his junk all in tact.

Let me do some basic genetics with you.

Inside every cell on every person is a nucleus. And inside that nucleus is our DNA. Our DNA is like the code that makes us look the way we do. This code is called our genome or genotype. The outward appearance of the genotype is called the phenotype.

The phenotype, or outward appearance of a person, is caused by a combination of their genotype and their environment. Your environment can have an impact on how you look. You can change your face and body through surgery and this means that your phenotype has changed, but your genotype is always the same.

In other words, it doesn't matter if you chop your bits off and make new bits, your genetics will still state that you are a man or a woman. If you spill blood at a crime scene, it doesn't matter if you dress like a woman, the blood will say that you are a man.

So Bruce Jenner will still be Bruce, even if he changes to Barbara.

And as a woman, having a man claim that they are woman kinda annoys me. No man can know what it is to be a woman. They don't understand periods. They don't know what it is to be inside a woman's head. They don't face our challenges or triumphs. And the same is true of a woman becoming a man.

Sex changes are a feminist issue as it is the uniqueness of women that is to be celebrated. It is our challenges that we fight for. To have someone simply pick up our gender and state they are who we are is a slap in the face for every woman out there. It is saying that what we are is like a new outfit that can be picked up and dropped at will. It refuses to recognise that there is something deep within us that cannot be copied or surgically inserted.

Being a woman is far more than looking like a woman.


(Disclaimer: I do not hate cross-gender people. I understand that there is something much bigger going on for these people than I understand. I also do not hate those who have had or will have abortions. I know people who have had them. I have studied what happens and the other options out there when I was teaching young girls about sex. I just think we need to think bigger than 'me' and 'my body'. I have also avoided religious arguments as I know not everyone has the same standards as Christianity does. But as a side note, I believe ALL life is precious, from conception to death. I also believe that we are created by a God who knew who and what we should be: to mess with that is to mess with a Divine creation).




Saturday, March 21, 2015

Will we now abuse the abuser?

Hubby and I finally managed to get our act together and have officially moved cities. After an eventful move that included our truck tipping over on the motorway and our car getting stolen, we arrived in one place, found jobs, bought a new car, and have got ourselves a house. All that is left is the final unpack, buying a kitten or two (because...KITTENS), and finally sitting in our own home with a nice cold glass of something and curling up into the foetal position until the next time someone
needs us.

I have moved many times before, including moving cities on four separate occasions, so I thought I knew how this all went, and wasn't too worried about anything going wrong. 

Boy, was I wrong on that!

Everything that could possibly go wrong did. Though no one got hurt, the mental and emotional stress that we have been under is insane. Today, after we signed the contract for our house, both of us immediately felt exhausted. We had done it, but it had been a hard road.

God is good though, and through it all we have been blessed.

We have been blessed by the fact that we could stay with our parents and store our stuff for free in their garage while we sorted life out.

We have been blessed by the help we have received from family and friends in moving and through prayer and love.

We have been blessed that it really didn't take as long as we thought it would to get settled here.

Everyone, including ourselves, had predicted that it could take months to find jobs in a small town, and those jobs would probably pay a lot less than our jobs in the big smoke did. But this has not been the case. Both of us found jobs within a week of moving down and both jobs are at better pay than what we had previously!! In our minds this fact cemented that we are doing the right thing.

I am working now at a charitable trust for Maori. I process grants which help encourage the health and education of the local iwi/tribe. Though i may sit behind a desk, I find it very fulfilling knowing that I am helping a people that have had much work against them.

Hubby is working as a supervisor as the local Alternative Education centre. This is a centre for kids aged 13-15 who have effectively been expelled from the local high school and yet, by law, have to still be enrolled in school. They are all from rough backgrounds, most are related to gang members, and 95% of them are Maori. His job helps give my job even more meaning.

Needless to say, his work stories are far more interesting than mine, and far more heartbreaking.

He comes home with stories of drug use, abuse, crime, kids not having lunches, being picked up by the police, and getting in fights. They are hardened criminals, who also turn into excited little children when he teaches them ukulele. 

I breaks my heart when he tells me these stories. I mean, these are little kids and yet he laughs if I offer to invite them round for dinner. My instinct is to mother them. Yet, if I did that, we could/would be targeted by gangs intent of burglary or other devious crimes. They are children on the outside, and yet their lives have taught them only violence and crime as survival instincts.

I feel hopeless when I think about this. The reality is that these children are going to grow up and be, whether willingly or forced, part of a gang system that will feed them nothing but hate and drugs. And there is nothing I can do about it, because I can't get involved. Even hubby has limits as to what he is allowed to do within his role.

So how do you help a kid who you can't give things to, who it isn't safe to bring back to your house, and who you know is vulnerable and needs love? 

Does my safety trump bringing them home?

It messes with my mind when I try and bring my sacrificial faith face to face with the reality of what would happen. And I know what would happen. Hubby's mother works in the police down here and knows the families of these kids well. She knows what they would do. And it wouldn't be pretty.

So I pray, and I cry, and I physically ache for these kids. And I try my best at a workplace that would try and change the inevitable for these families. But mostly, if I am really honest, I try not to think about it. I don't want to feel hopeless and helpless, so I block it out.

Until I read an article like the one linked here.

If you can't be bothered reading the link, here is the cliff notes:
1. abuse is bad
2. here are some signs of how abusers act
3. abusers are out to get you so watch for signs
4. we will help you if you are in an abusive relationship

Now I agree with 3 out of 4 of these points. And point 3 is not explicitly stated, it is more the way that the author talks about the abuser, as if they were purposely acting in such a way in order to fool you.

I don't think this is the case at all.

When I hear about the kids at the AE centre, what I hear about are children who have been brought up in an environment perfect for producing an abuser.

They own nothing.
They lack love.
They respect no one (especially women).
Figures of love use violence.
Violence is how they solve their issues.
If they want something they take it.

This list is exactly what happens in an abusive relationship. But I don't think an abuser looks a someone and thinks "right, I want to abuse them, so I need to con them into loving me and then beat the s**t out of them."

Rather, what I think happens is that they are genuinely looking for love, it's just that they have been taught that love is possession and control. It's not that they necessarily WANT to hurt someone, it's just that they have no other tools in their emotional toolbox to deal with relationships, jealousy, love, anger, or anything. So they use what they know.

The sad thing about our society is that we demonise those that abuse. Yet they have often been at the hands of abuse for so many years that nothing short of extreme, extravagant, loving help is going to make any difference. 

But instead of help, they receive misunderstanding. Instead of compassion, they receive death threats. Instead of love, they receive hate layered on top of hate layered on top of hate. They are told they are devious and wicked, instead of being told that they too are a victim. They are told they are as bad as socio and psychopaths, instead of being nurtured into healthy communication. 

Society is trying to heal hurt and anger with segregation and hate.

It won't work.

And yet we persist in this kind of thinking and acting time and time again. Even if we go to something less extreme as abuse, and look at bullying, the same response dominates how we treat those who victimise others.

Case and point is the X-factor debacle that dominate NZ headlines recently. Cliff notes again, judges said nasty things to contestant, judges were fired. From that one, very brief, story, news agencies around the world went crazy.

And so did the responders to the judges. 

It is unfathomable to me how we can yell against bullying, but then do it by bullying the judges themselves!! Hate messages, mail and tweets poured out towards these two judges who, to be fair, had been told to be harsh to make good tv. What was said about them was worse that what was said by them at times.

Society thought it was permissible to abuse an abuser.

Why?

Why do we think that pouring out hate towards those who have shown hate can possibly rectify a situation?

Is it still a form of 'a tooth for a tooth' mentality? 

Because that is not what we are called to. Jesus refuted this way of thinking by calling humanity to something greater. Not a tooth for a tooth, he said, but love your enemies. Bless those who curse you. Turn the other cheek to those who hurt you.

I AM NOT CONDONING ABUSE IN ANY WAY SHAPE OR FORM.

If you are in an abusive relationship then get out, so you can get help, and so that they can get help outside of the volatile situation that is your relationship. Neither of you will heal or grow if you stay where you are.

But as a society we are not called to defend the honour of victims by making more victims. We are called to show love and understanding in order to offer arms of healing. We can point out bad behaviour by refusing to take part in it. 

Be better than those who hurt others. Don't stoop to their level by showing only hate and refusing help.

I would like to finish with a quote by Martin Luther King Jnr. that pretty much sums up everything I want to say about this; why try say it better when a master has captured it so eloquently.

"The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, 
begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. 
Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it.
Through violence you may murder the liar, 
but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. 
Through violence you may murder the hater, 
but you do not murder hate. 
In fact, violence merely increases hate. 
So it goes. 
Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, 
adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. 
Darkness cannot drive out darkness: 
only light can do that. 
Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that."


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Face I Can't Forget

There has been a lot of talk recently surrounding the upcoming movie '50 Shades of Grey'. There is an equal amount of disgust and excitement among people that I know. I have got involved in some online discussions about it and the role of sex in media (me? in a debate? shocker!).

One of the things I notice in these discussions is how often they get turned away from "people think porn is bad" to "people think sex is bad" which is just an oversimplification of the issue and a complete misunderstanding of legitimate concerns.

People who are opposed to the 50 shades phenomenon (and I include myself in this) are not afraid of sex...well at least, not the people I know. I talk about sex quite freely (probably too freely according to some of my friends). I blog about sex, sex toys, sex issues, porn etc. I am fascinated by the fascination that culture has with sex.

So let me lay out (excuse the pun) my stance on sex before we go any further: I think sex is a beautiful and wonderful thing. I think that it brings joy and pleasure to people. I think it strengthens relationships. I think bodies are beautiful, no matter what size/shape/colour they are. I think the bringing together of two bodies is a mysterious and glorious thing that should be celebrated.

HOWEVER, like anything of beauty, sex can be distorted beyond it's wonderfulness into something dark and destructive. It can be used as a weapon, to inflict pain both emotionally and physically. It can be used to destroy relationships. It can be used to make people feel ugly and dehumanized. It can can be debased and degraded beyond anything that it was meant to be.

I do not think that for sex to be beautiful it must be done in the missionary position only with no experimentation either. Having fun with your partner when you are both so vulnerable is one of the things that makes it so amazing. Because, let's face it, the whole act of sex is one of vulnerability. You are opening yourself up (physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually) to someone else. You are saying to them "I trust you enough to be closer to you than I ever am with a person." That is why I also believe that one night stands and the like are a distortion of what sex is meant for.

But hey, if you want to tie each other up and wear leather then go crazy. But IF and ONLY IF it is within the context of a consenting, loving and trusting relationship where neither of you will end up damaged by it.

Which is why 50 shades of porn....I mean Grey....is so damaging. It is not in the context of a loving, trusting, understanding relationship. Though it could be debated that this is where the relationship ends up, the fact is that when it begins it is one of exploration (and some could argue exploitation) between two vague acquaintances. You couldn't even really say they were friends with benefits. This is just a recipe for hurt and humiliation to abound.

But putting that aside for the moment, my biggest issue with the whole FSOG thing is that it normalizes this kind of violent relationship for many people. It is not like watching or reading about a homicidal maniac: obviously they are crazy and we wouldn't imitate them because taking a life is only done by crazy people or in extreme situations like war. Sex is different. Everyone, or at least most people, will have sex, are having sex, want to have sex. So when we watch something sexually titilating our first reaction to it is "Ew I would never do that" or "Hey, I might like to try that" because it is already within our frame of reference in a way that violence or other acts aren't.

So when FSOG hits big screens around the world there are going to be a whole lot of people who watch it, are aroused by it, and then go home and try it. And it won't be seen as crazy to do that (in the same way trying out or being aroused by a violent murder on screen would be viewed). In fact, it is assumed this will happen as evidenced by the fact that there are now whole lines of sex toys based on FSOG. The makers know and have planned for people trying out this type of sex play.

And that my friends is why it is so dangerous. As the BDSM (Bondage & Discipline Dominance & Submission Sadism and Masochism) community itself worries, this story does not show a healthy form of bondage sex play. It is damaging and hurtful. It portrays the destruction of the innocence of a young virgin woman by a dangerous, callous, and nasty man. It is a distortion of everything that the BDSM community advocates. And when a community that specializes in whips and chains says a story is too hardcore and damaging, you better believe it!!!

It is a distortion that has the potential to hurt those who are oblivious to the danger.

And, as so often happens in these situations, it will be the most vulnerable that will end up the most hurt.

However, the oppositions response to FSOG has often be no more thought out than "I don't like it, therefore it is wrong." No one is going to listen to that.

It reminds me of when prostitution was made legal in New Zealand. For weeks before the bill was passed people were protesting in the streets. There were signs and slurs against prostitutes. People feared that it would make prostitution more prolific, that it would destroy families, and that it would send a bad message to our girls about it being a legitimate work option.

But when I talked to those who I knew opposing the bill, many of them didn't know more beyond "prostitution is bad, therefore this is bad." There was no consideration of the women who would be protected by the bill, by the fact that customers would be legally responsible to wear protection, that the women would receive the health care appropriate for their job.

When I didn't sign the petition banning the bill it was for the same reason I am so disturbed by the FSOG could mean for those most at risk.

For me it comes back to one girl, one face I cannot forget.

I met her when I was 18. I was working in a van giving out coffee and blankets to homeless people and prostitutes working the streets.

She said she was 18. She didn't look a day older that 15. She was dressed in a short skirt and boob tube in the middle of winter, make up caked on her face, her fingers turning blue with the cold. Her eyes welled up when I asked if she wanted coffee.

I sat with her on a cold concrete step and asked how she came to be on this street so young. She told me about her step dad who would beat her if she didn't come home with money. Of a drug addicted mother. Of a younger sister she was trying to take care of. She told me a story of abuse and pain, of customers ripping her off and brothels refusing to take her in (maybe because she was so young?).

When a man, probably in his 60's, pulled up I offered her what ever he would pay her if she would just come home with me, or at least sit for a little longer. She told me she couldn't.

I still remember her face as she looked out of the window at me.

I remembered her face when I read about the benefits for prostitutes. About how brothels would be checked for underage workers under the new bill, about how there would be easier enforcement for police when abuses occurred.

I thought of her when I read that STD checks would be free, that any treatment related to their job would be subsidized.

And I think of her now when I think of the new growing demand there is for BDSM sex. I think of what that will do to the prostitution industry. I wonder what her customers will demand of her and whether she will have the right to refuse or not. I think of her innocence being destroyed.

She is the face I cannot forget, the face that makes me so passionate about this topic.

Because that face made this personal. Her face made it real for me. It meant that now this isn't just fun on a screen, or secrets for the bedroom. There are victims to things like this. She is a victim.

When you want to watch FSOG or any porn or movie that depicts sex in a destructive light, will you simply see it as entertainment, or will you see the people who will be affected by it?

Will you see the women who will be forced into acts by abusive partners who got ideas from a movie?

Will you see the sex workers who have to try riskier and darker acts to entice their customers?

Will you see the teenagers who go from innocent touching to BDSM sex because of images they have seen?

 Will you see the people in porn movies who have to perform more and more twisted acts as the tastes in culture change?

Will you see a face?

 Will you not forget it?

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Understanding the Misunderstood

For those of you who have been regular readers of my blog, you will be aware that I have spoken around the country regarding mental illness and how those struggling with it are treated. 

For those of you who are new here, go and read my first post. The summation of which is I use to be very mentally unwell. Now I am not.

Well, in all fairness my life has been a little more complicated than that. But the reality is that I once was a patient in psych wards and now I am a well functioning, healthy member of society.

As Sheldon Cooper from Big Bang Theory puts it "I am not crazy, my mother had me tested!"

Because of my history with mental illness I am a little bit worried any time I have a really down day ("Am I getting depressed?") or when I realise that one of my memories might not be 'real'.

That's right, you read that correctly. 

Sometimes my mind likes to play tricks on me. Or at least it use to. When this use to happen it would invent scenarios and people and places in a way that was basically as real to me as reality.

What this means is I have memories of things that never happened but, and this is key, affect me the same way and amount that my 'real' memories do.

Along with this little Matrix-esque mind bender for you, the medication I use to have to take by the bucket load means that my understanding of events in my past can be a little skewed. So events that I thought happened right after the other might be years apart, or happened the other way round. There are also huge chunks of my memory that are just not there. I read through my journals now (which I have kept since I was twelve) and don't recognise events or people that I apparently was hugely impacted by.

What this means for me is that my life history can be a huge tangle of crap covered, arsenic laced, memory string. I find a loose end, give it a tug, and the whole thing can unravel pretty quickly (I regularly thank God that I had the foresight to keep a journal. It has really helped me piece things together).

What this means for people close to me is that this process of discovering the truth of things that happened can be a very painful process. I can remember horrible things done to me that people claim never happened. How can I prove that it did if the other people involved say it didn't happen? Are they telling the truth or covering the ass? 

It also means that those more horrible memories that have had a hugely traumatic impact on my life may not actually be true. And that is a very hard pill to swallow. Some of these memories have shaped my reactions to and relationships with people. Some of these memories have taken me to counsellors and psychologists. Some of them have shaped who I am, for better or worse.

And yet they may have never happened.

Despite what this means for me, for the people I love who are impacted by these memories, it can mean the destruction of our relationship. They (understandably) don't want to trawl through dark memories that they do not view as relevant. Whereas I NEED to trawl through them to determine what is relevant.

Some people refuse to walk this road with me, and I really can't blame them.

What I really want to educate people about, especially those who know and/or care for people with mental illness, is that the things that happen in our minds are as important/impacting to our lives as anything that happens outside of our head; perhaps even more so in some respects. These things can't be refuted or proven, but they shape the way we live, think, love, and fear. And this doesn't stop if the illness goes away.

Take for an example someone who was abused as a kid. This memory will shape them throughout their lives. Perhaps they will overcome and be a survivor who takes control of their lives. Or perhaps they will spiral into the role of the victim and live a life of pain and destruction. Either way, the event shaped them.

Now, imagine that the event of sexual abuse had been hallucinated. Does this make it any less real to the person? If it is a vivid hallucination, there is often no way to tell between the image and reality. They look the same, and feel the same. And they have the same affect on their life.

But mental health patients don't often receive counselling or ongoing support for things that others believe they hallucinated. This means that these significant events in a persons life may never get addressed. They will not receive specialized help for this issue. Basically, a person who has been impacted by child abuse (even though imagined) will remain untreated for this.

I know this is hard to comprehend. It is hard to explain. It is hard to make people understand how real these hallucinations can be, or how devastating medication can be on the memory of a person.

But what needs to be known by people who may (God willing) never experience this mental mind-screw, is that these memories need to be acknowledged and addressed. People with mental health issues need to be talked to, listened to, and really heard. If they are taken seriously as people who have pain that needs to be acknowledged then maybe we will all be one step closer to not ostracizing and ignoring the weakest of our society.

So get out there and start listening people!



Monday, January 12, 2015

Cancer F**king Sucks

My mother-in-law has cancer.

It sucks.

I could leave my post at that and people would nod and agree and know that little else needs to be said. But I have always been a verbose kind of person so I have a lot more to say.

It f**king sucks.

If you haven't met my mama then you are missing out. She is an amazing lady. She is funny and sweet. She can be silly. She has the biggest heart for people. She is intelligent and happy and fun loving and wise and kind and everything.

But even if she was the most horrible person ever, what she is going through would still suck.

This last year we have stood with her as she has faced chemo treatment, lost her hair, laughed and cried, went through radiation, and finally finished treatment. Yesterday she went for her checkup and has been told to come back today with a support person. They have also already booked her in with a surgeon. It isn't looking good but we don't know how bad it is yet.

The number one sucky thing about cancer - the almost never ending waiting in limbo for results, for treatment, for more results.

Understandably, we are all shaken by this development. I can't even fathom how she must be feeling, but I know that I feel like my heart is cracking and my stomach is knots. I watch my husband closely, knowing that he is hurting, but knowing we don't know how much to hurt yet. I want to be there for him when it really hits home, but I have no idea what I will do when it does. I want to hug them all and by sheer force of will keep them all from falling apart, but I know I can't.

Sucky thing number two - the feeling of complete helplessness in the face of the invisible enemy.

Luke and I have decided that we need to be near the family during all of this. Every one is emotionally exhausted after the last year of treatment, and we know they will need us if we have to face more of the same. So I have told my work that I will be handing in my notice soon. We are looking at houses to rent. I am applying for jobs in another city. Our entire lives are about to change. I want to do it, I know we need to do it, but I am scared. Not about the move, but about how I am going to have the emotional energy to support my husband and family and also be able to look for new work and housing. And I feel selfish for worrying about my ability to cope, because this isn't about me.

Sucky thing number three - the not knowing what will happen and therefore not being able to plan well for the future.

I am scared for my family and how we will all cope with bad news. I am scared for her and how everyone will keep going. And I am angry that this is happening. And sad. And confused. And worried. Grrrrrrr......I hate this!

Sucky thing number four - watching the people you love suffer.

Today I am taking one step at a time. I am hoping for the best and preparing for the worst. I have written check lists for things that need to be done to make sure I don't forget anything in the days ahead. I am trying to remember to breathe and rest in Jesus.

And I am praying. Praying so hard.

Mama, I love you. You have brought me so much joy and love and I hate that you are going through this. Hopefully our move will make it that much easier for you. As a family we will face this. With Jesus we have hope no matter what the outcome. I wish I could make this better for you, and knowing I can't is hard.

We are on our way Mama. We will be there as soon as we can.