Friday, December 21, 2012

Christmas Blessings from Afar

Every year, I prepare and send out a number of Christmas cards.  Many times, I make the cards myself since I am an avid paper crafter. This year's card was plain and simple, pictured here, with a verse on the inside.

One of the greatest things about Christmas cards is receiving them in the mail. And we get a lot of Christmas cards in the mail. A good number of these cards come from members and former members of the churches my husband was pastor of at one time. Being in pastoral ministry has allowed us to make life-long, true friends along the way and it's one of the biggest blessings of my life to have continued contact with so many we have ministered beside.


Although being in the pastoral ministry can sometimes be trying and difficult, the ministry blessings - the people we learn to love and cherish, the eternal decisions we get to see people make - make it all worthwhile.  We are indeed blessed to have made so very many eternal friendships!

Merry Christmas!
~Tricia

Monday, December 17, 2012

When Words Aren't Enough

What can we say further about the tragedy in Newtown, CT this past week? Words are insufficient to express our horror, grief, outrage, anger, disbelief, frustration, etc., etc.......the list goes on. We simply cannot express ourselves to a satisfactory place in the face of such as this.

Some people cry out for more gun control.
Some people cry out for less gun control.
Some people shake their fists at God.
Some people cling to God.
Some people use this to promote their own interests.
Some people lose interest in everything.
Some people become confrontational.
Some people seek out a hiding place.
Some people become angry.
Some people become fearful.

There are too many reactions to list here.  Everyone handles things differently. There is no right or wrong way to feel.

One thing - and one thing only - is certain in this event. Jesus Christ is certain.
He continues His steadfast love and grace in their lives.

As much as we cannot possibly comprehend it, God's grace is all-sufficient for even the families who lost their little ones. He is the Great Counsellor; He is the Great Comforter.  He will hold them in His hands. In that, no words are really necessary.

As I watched the news all weekend, sometimes it was hard to watch and listen to. I realized that while I could turn the news off, those families of the people killed could not ever turn it off. And I wept for them. And I prayed for them.

I'm so glad God's grace is sufficient for them, because our human words just aren't.
I am committed to continued prayer for these families.
~Tricia

Saturday, December 8, 2012

A New Multi-Ethnic Ministry Blog

My hubby started a wonderful multi-ethnic blog today!  He will be uploading his sermons from the last seven years, along with several sermons from other multi-ethnic pastors.  Some upcoming sermons will be bi-lingual with Spanish interpreting. It's worth a look and a listen.

He also plans to write and feature articles concerning all aspects of multi-ethnic ministry. Multi-ethnic ministry is unique, exciting and fast-moving.  It takes dedicated people of all ethnic backgrounds to make it succeed.

Be sure to check out Multi-Ethnic Ministry Today, and learn.

~Tricia


Monday, December 3, 2012

Jury Duty Observations

I had to report for jury duty this morning. I was summoned last week, too, but that appearance was cancelled at the last minute.  Today, I had to report. It was an interesting experience and I want to share a few observations. Being a people-watcher and curious about human behavior, I always find encounters and activities with strangers rather fascinating.  A few observations include:

I took a cup of coffee with me.

When I checked in, no ID was required; they took my word for who I was.

They would not allow me to have my coffee in the court room where we waited for instruction.

I threw my coffee down the sink in the ladies room.

In the court room, a group of about 30 of us waited for further instruction, sitting shoulder-to-shoulder.

My feet did not reach the floor as I sat on the bench. I was glad because it's more interesting to swing my feet. I felt bad for tall people who rarely get that privilege.

A woman behind me was popping her gum loudly; apparently gum is allowed, coffee is not.

It occurred to me that no one in the room had been required to show any form of ID.

A woman to my right yawned loudly 15 times within 10 minutes (I counted), never once covering her open mouth or trying to quiet the yawn. (At this, I thought about the fact that I'd taught my kids to tone that sort of thing down and cover their mouths. I was thankful I'd taught  my kids this.)

The man to my left was very nice and we talked easily. His dad was a Lutheran minister.

A man sitting 3 people down on my bench openly stared at me. When I caught his eye, I held it, smiled slightly to break the awkwardness, and he immediately looked away. I caught him staring at me 2 other times.

When one of the court workers, both older women, came into the room, everyone got very quiet, even if the court workers said nothing.

There were a lot of awkward silences. I broke them by chatting with the man next to me. When I broke the silences, everyone else started talking.

The mood in the room was of anticipation, yet nothing happened for long periods of time.

A court worker apologized for the wait, which I found hopeful since we had not been waiting as long as it felt.

I suggested aloud, to no one in particular, that having music would be nice. I was tempted to play songs from my smart phone, but remembered I'd been instructed to shut it off, so I thought better of that idea.

When a court worker came to tell us the case we awaited had been settled out of court, I was inwardly overcome with relief and felt very eager to get out of the room. This was not because I didn't want to serve, it was because the gum popping/chewing and the loud yawning had taken their toll on me.

I'm glad to be home.
I might have to serve again before the month is out. I'm considering taking ear plugs if I am.
~Tricia

Friday, November 23, 2012

Black Friday Thoughts

I'm not normally a participant in Black Friday shopping, but I do have to confess that I did go shopping today. I dropped my daughter off at the grocery store where she works and, while there, went inside and bought some paper towels. I'd run out of paper towels, and we needed a grocery store receipt to get a discount on gas for my car. Win/win.

So, while I did shop on Black Friday, I didn't go out for special deals that were "Black Friday only." My reasons are not noble; I'm just too lazy to get up early and fight a crowd. If I weren't so lazy, I might go to save a few dollars. My warm bed, especially on the day after Thanksgiving (which I spend on my feet cooking) is too comfortable to abandon for a shopping trip.

One thing I noticed about this special shopping day were some negative comments on Facebook and a few other social networking sites concerning the Black Friday shoppers. I can understand the negative comments; I watch the news.  People are doing crazy things for a deal on something. I know the value of a deal. I'm on the tail end of rearing eight kids - believe me, deals have fed them many times! I have two teenage boys - and all you moms of teens know it's nearly impossible to keep food in the house with growing, active teenage boys around.

Sometimes the only way people can afford a certain item is to get it on a super-great deal. I've been there, done that.

As I watched the news stories about Black Friday and saw all the masses of people clamoring for the sale items, only one thought crossed my mind.....and I don't mean to be clichè......but I thought "What would Jesus do?"  Whenever Jesus saw masses of people, He was instantly moved with compassion. Compassion ruled His heart when He walked on this earth and He was moved to tell them of His love for them, to reach them with the Living Water which would satisfy their thirst forever. And they did, and do, thirst. (Hence, they shop.)

He came into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world, through Him, might be saved.

The world is already condemned; they need to know about the Savior.

We will, no doubt, see masses of people clamoring for sale items again and again. No need to condemn them, but real need to pray for them.

As we close out this Black Friday, those are my thoughts.
~Tricia

Thursday, November 15, 2012

A Guest Post of Gratitude

My oldest son, Mark, wrote this guest post. I'm incredibly proud of him and gladly feature his writing:


THANK YOU

Last Friday night I was sitting in my living room, preparing to go to bed and get some rest in preparation for a busy weekend. Being somewhat of a news junkie, I picked up my iPhone to check the latest local headlines before retiring for the night. I was hoping, in particular, for a positive update on a story I read earlier in the evening; that two Chicago firefighters had been seriously injured on the job. Throughout the evening, my mind flashed back to the morning of December 22, 2010 when I watched a live television feed of Chicago firefighters desperately trying to rescue their colleagues from an abandoned building that had collapsed in flames. Corey Ankum and Edward Stringer lost their lives that day trying to find people that may have been trapped in the building. I hoped for a different outcome this time, but a few hours after the story initially broke, a lone headline appeared on the first page of my display;  A HERO FOR OUR CITY.

A career as a public servant can be the most challenging and gratifying, yet still most frustrating experience in the life of a person who chooses that path. At the time of this writing, I have completed a little more than half of a “Citizens Police Academy” offered by my village police department. It’s a 30-hour class, spread across 10 weeks, designed to educate community members about the many facets of law enforcement and police operations in this Chicago suburb. To simply say this experience has been eye-opening would be quite understated. I’ve gotten to know and respect the person behind the badge. I understand better the complex and immense responsibilities that come with that badge. I learn of officers who put their personal life on hold for decades because of their unwavering dedication and tenacity for the job. I hear their stories of success, of failure, and of sheer terror as they recall events that escalated out of control and placed them in grave danger. I try to understand how they cope with these pressures while facing the ever-flowing spigot of criticism which comes, often rightfully so, from those who they have sworn to serve and protect.

All our public servants, from our local police and firefighters to our President, face a level of intense scrutiny that most of us never will. The election season produces a staggering amount of criticism, misinformation, disagreement, and even vitriol. There is no end to the stories of those who have failed in their civic duties and deserve their downfalls. But there are also countless stories of heroes that will never be told. This month, as we make important decisions about our public leaders and celebrate the national holiday of Thanksgiving, we should remember those who have set aside their own interests for ours.

Throughout the weekend that followed, the details of Friday night emerged. Captain Herbert Johnson had been recently promoted to his position after more than 30 years of service. “Herbie” was so well-known and loved by his colleagues that he “didn’t need a last name.” He traveled to New York after the September 11th terror attacks to assist with the rescue efforts at ground zero. During his career, he received the state’s Medal of Honor for bravery, the highest honor given to Illinois firefighters. He was the first one to enter the burning home on the city’s south side, and without hesitation, he climbed the stairs to extinguish the flames at their source. But even a veteran with decades of experience could not predict the next moment. The local news coverage noted the cause of Captain Johnson’s death in sanitized terms – smoke inhalation and airway injuries resulting in cardiac arrest. The raw truth was that he was caught in the attic as it exploded in flashover, the 1000-degree heat burning through his protective equipment, scorching his face, and searing his lungs shut. He likely died in unimaginable agony. While these details are difficult to hear, they are possibilities that every firefighter knows he may face someday, and they offer a stunning reminder of the bravery and selflessness that characterize our rescuers.

Thank you, Herbie, for your willingness to help others at any cost. Chicago will be grateful forever. Thank you to all the other heroes whom I’ll probably never have the privilege to meet or to hear about. I may hear hundreds of accounts of politics, failure, and criticism in my lifetime, but yours are the stories that I will always remember.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

My Hero, My Son

Today, as I think of the 237th birthday of the United States Marine Corps, I can't help but think of the two of my kids who served in the Corps. My oldest daughter, Marilyn, served for four years, stateside. My son, Michael, served for five years, including two tours of duty in Iraq.

When Michael went to war, it was the most unreasonable thing I had ever experienced. I fought this with all my might, yet God sustained me, him and our entire family as we endured his deployments, one of which had him on the front lines in the Battle of Fallujah.

When he came home, I wrote a poem.  In honor of our USMC and our Veterans, whom we celebrate on Monday, I'd like to share my poem. I'm not much for writing poems, but my Michael said that, as far as poems go, this one's "pretty good."



My Hero, My Son

You say you’re not a hero,
I beg to differ, son;
You went into the war zone,
Carrying your gun.

You faced all of the danger,
Without even looking back;
You did what you knew God wanted
You didn’t one time slack.

You followed your heart;
Did what you thought was right.
You just kept pressing on,
Did not give up the fight.

Oh, you really are a hero,
A hero fair and square.
So far from home, you dared to go,
You didn’t think of where.

Now that you are home,
Oh, so safe and sound,
I will not forget the others,
The ones who aren’t around.

The war zone was relentless
They paid the highest price,
I know you would have done the same,
And made that sacrifice.

But, God allowed you to come home,
He has work for you to do.
It’s His will you must seek,
His calling you must pursue.

Follow Him with all your heart,
And a hero you’ll remain.
Don’t look off to the right or left,
And His reward you’ll someday claim.

You’re my hero, yes, my son,
I’m proud as I can be.
Thank you for what you have done,
You’ll always be a hero to me.

Love, Mom

Next week, I'll be sharing a guest post by one of my other sons.
~Tricia

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Together Again!

Today, we had the very honorable privilege of participating in the first service of our new Hispanic church plant here in Austin, MN. We were so pleased to find a packed house in their new location. The building seemed to vibrate with energy and love.



Pastor Moises Rodriguez led the service, interpreted by Abril. What a great team!


Pastor Ephraim, here from Sedela, MO for the kick-off with his wife, Gisele, provided special music by playing and singing one of his favorite songs.  What a treat!




Pastor David Johnson opened God's Word, preaching from II Timothy 4.

 

Abril did a great job interpreting, as usual!


Five pastors, working together to further the Gospel of Jesus Christ. From left: Pastor Bob Ray, Pastor Ephraim, Pastor Jeremy McMillan, Pastor Moises Rodriguez and Pastor David Johnson.



Five pastors and their wives and families planting churches - 3 so far!


We will remain faithful.
~Tricia


Sunday, October 28, 2012

An Unshakable Bond

Two pastors, one from Mexico, one from Canada, working together at church planting with an unshakable bond which exceeds elementary understanding. These men of God, from opposite ends of the North American continent, are working together for the cause of Christ, plowing through language and cultural barriers that would sideline most.  What a privilege we had today to meet together in Whitehall, WI and work together with the new church plant there.  Pastor David Johnson preached through an interpreter at the main service, while Pastor Moises Rodriguez, who made the 2+ hour drive after leading his own morning worship service, taught the children in the children's ministry.


After the service, the group gathered to share a meal and more time of learning, fun and fellowship.



David and I were honored with a special cake, made by one of the ladies, and a generous gift for our future:


Pastor Moises Rodriguez and Pastor David Johnson are blessed with a special bond which has allowed them the privilege of planting three Hispanic churches!  We're very excited to see what God will do next. I praise God for the high privilege of being a part of this ever-growing, ever-changing ministry God has allowed us to be involved with.


It is truly phenomenal to see God at work in the lives of the men, women, boys and girls He puts in our path.

~Tricia






Friday, October 19, 2012

A Confrontation Gone Right

Confrontation is hard for most people. Fear is usually the reason why.  Personally, I am not afraid of confrontation; I rather like it. I like it because it gets stuff done. Confrontation heals relationships. It makes a path for open communication.  It's a good thing, but it's a hard thing. It requires listening, grace, patience and tolerance for another person.

I remember the first time I had to confront someone about my kids.  Elaine* was a deacon's wife in my husband's first church.  She had raised three kids, I had just had my 2nd. My little boy was acting up in church while I fussed with his baby sister and Elaine had had enough. She turned around, told my son she'd throw him in the baptism water if he didn't settle down, then turned back around to face the front. I was appalled!  I told my son in no uncertain terms that she was not going to throw him in the water.  I then tapped Elaine on the shoulder and calmly asked her to please not speak to my children like that, nor tell them things that aren't true.

This sent Elaine over the edge for a while.  For three weeks, she shunned me in church (this is a common tactic of a lot of women in churches). I did what I always do; attended regularly, remained faithful in all I did and prayed. And waited.  I would try to speak to her each week at church, but she strongly avoided me, making it impossible.

After three weeks, Elaine and her husband stopped by our house.  Elaine told me she was sorry, that she should not have spoken to my son like that. She expressed how she was just exasperated with his behavior. I reminded her that he was only 2 years old and I had my hands full with his baby sister. This church had no nursery. She saw my point, I saw hers. Little kids can be exasperating. She began to help me with the kids. It was very sweet.

Elaine and I are friends to this day. I have a tremendous amount of respect for her because even though she hated confrontation, she was willing to learn from it and heal our relationship in the process.  As friends, we have never looked back.  She learned that deacon's wives can't go around telling the pastor's wife how to raise her kids.  I learned that standing up for my kids is always the right thing to do.  And we were both rewarded with a friendship that has lasted 28 years!  Imagine!  This is what confrontation can accomplish.

This is a good thing.
I am so blessed to have her in my life.
~Tricia

*Not her real name.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Decisions, Decisions

Some decisions are harder to make than others.  Captain Obvious strikes again! That is a "Duh" statement.... Of course some decisions are harder to make than others. The majority of our decisions aren't so hard, however.  Quite frankly, we make some of our decisions harder than they need to be.

Think about streamlining your decision making and simplifying things for yourself. It's easier if you base your decisions on a few non-negotiables.  Here are a few of mine and how they play into my decision making:


Do the right thing no matter what.

Sometimes, this can be as simple as getting up and getting a shower.  Sometimes, for me, it means make dinner for the family even when I don't feel like it.  Or clean the bathroom even if I don't feel like it. Other times this can mean defending someone who has been or is being wronged. This always means being honest. Just last week, my son and his wife enjoyed a nice dinner at a favorite restaurant.  When the bill came, my son noticed it was $15.00 short.  He immediately told the waiter and had it corrected, even though it would have saved him $15.00 to keep quiet.  He acted on principle, not on convenience for himself. He did the right thing. This was not a hard decision for him; it was a given. Acting on principle and not emotion or convenience gives clarity to decision making, taking the mystery and confusion out of some decisions. And you'll sleep better at night.

Put others first.

This is always a good idea. When we put others first, we can often see the right decision better than we can if we are constantly focused on ourselves. It's amazing how putting others first ends up helping our decisions fall into place. It gives us an unselfish motive and we become genuinely more concerned for another person than ourselves. This shows in our decisions; this shows in our lives. Part of this is realizing the decisions we make affect others and not just ourselves. No one is an island unto him or herself. When we decide to build someone up, it affects the person we're building up as well as others who hear. On the other hand, when  we decide to gossip, it affects the person we're gossiping about for sure, but it also affects the person we're gossiping to. They are dragged down and often left wondering what we're saying about them behind their backs. Building someone up actually makes your character shine and you'll look better than one who beats people down. Maya Anjelou said people rarely remember what you say, but they do remember how you treated them. This is a good thing to remember.

Act, Don't React

Every day is filled with things we can react to.  We can get so caught up in our reactions that we fail to act on our own plans, motivations and, well, decisions. Acting on life, rather than reacting to it, is a great way to help focus and make rational decisions. When we are being reactionary, we can't make rational decisions because we're too focused on either defending ourselves or feeling burdened by whatever it is we're reacting to. Acting on principle takes away the urge to react to things, giving clarity. I remember once when we were visiting a family in our church and their young daughter came up behind me and put her hamster on my shoulder.  I think she, and her family watching, expected a reaction.  You can be sure, I was unnerved and certainly did not want a hamster on my shoulder.  What I did next surprised her entire family, however. Instead of screaming and running away, I looked at the hamster, then calmly moved my eyes to this young girl's face and, without raising my voice, said to her, "Rodent on my shoulder.....never a good idea."  She immediately removed the hamster and never did that again. (I can't say I would have had such a controlled response had she put a spider on my shoulder, however!) Acting on your own, internal principles instead of reacting to things and people around you is one of the most empowering things you can do for yourself and this practice will give you decision-making clarity.

Take Responsibility for your Choices

Even if you make the wrong decision and have to endure consequences, take responsibility for those choices, learn from them and don't fall into a pattern of blaming others. When you know internally that you own your decisions, you will be more likely to take your time in making them, thus avoiding negative consequences as much as possible. Taking responsibility and owning decisions is a key trait of successful people.  Instead of blaming others and acting as though they had no choice but to react to something, successful people own their decisions, good or bad, and learn from them.

So, there are a few things which help me make decisions.  This list is not exclusive to leaning on the Word of God, acknowledging the LORD in all I say and do (Proverb 3:5&6), but that's a "given" with me and what all these other things stem from.

Happy Monday!  May your decisions benefit others all throughout this coming week.
~Tricia




Monday, October 1, 2012

A High Privilege

Last week, I had the privilege of attending the Mosaix Global Network Retreat in downtown Chicago with my husband and a number of others.  I call this a privilege because it was by far a privilege for me to have the opportunity to attend such an event with people such as these whom I met there.  


This group is highly motivated to identify and overcome any and all difficulties, hardships, cultural biases and any thing else which could possibly get in the way of reaching the lost for Christ.  More than life-long friends, I will spend eternity with these men and women who are sold out and committed to the Gospel of Christ and determined to tell the world about His great gift of salvation to all.

Why do I feel so privileged?  Because, growing up, I never thought I could be part of something so much bigger than myself, let alone do this work for the Lord God Almighty. I was spent as a child, wrapped up in survival as violence and fear dominated my life and caused me to shrink in the presence of anyone at all, let alone leaders of a pioneer movement to unite the world through ethnic outreach.

I'm excited, thrilled, humbled and highly eager to be part of this movement and this group of dedicated people. Praise be. Praise. Be.

~Tricia

Friday, September 21, 2012

Flexibility - the Name of the Game

Flexibility is one of my favorite things about home schooling. Over the years, we've been able to schedule vacations after the crowds have gone back to school, we've been able to attend family events when others have had to be in school, and we've been able to schedule school around life instead of scheduling life around school.

In our home school, "school" is just part of life. It's not something we do separately from life; it's just part of our natural learning in life. It's just naturally flexible and that works well for our family.

As our home school has progressed over the years, I have become more relaxed about my approach and how I set up the expectations and academic goals I have for the kids.  This has paid off. This year, my 16-year-old entered college and his course counselor said he had a real advantage because he was home schooled.  That's what every home school mom wants to hear! Even his college classes fit into the flexible mode I've created because they are all online.

Our flexible home school has been especially helpful given my husband's profession. He's a pastor. People have needs. Sometimes, I need to be with him to help meet some of these people needs. Flexibility in our home school has allowed me to do just that.

Flexibility is more than just a wonderful luxury. It has given my kids a more independent spirit; they simply don't go with the flow. They are not used to being herded with a crowd, so they don't go along with a crowd.  They do not have a crowd mentality. They participate with youth group activities, but never blindly, always with forethought.

This is highly due to flexibility.  We do not have to educate the way the world does. We do not have to fall into the patterns of education we see around us. We are free to learn on our own terms, in our own timing and on our own turf.  Flexibility has given us freedom in learning and while that is against the grain of the world, it's favorable to Godly living.  My kids are less likely to be victims of abuse because they think independently, not as the crowd, and that's key to avoiding abuse.

Flexibility. I like it.
~Tricia

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Who Are Those Men?

I heard male voices.  I looked at my husband and said, "Who are those men?  Who's talking out there?"

We were on vacation, my husband, myself and our two youngest sons, ages 14 & 16. No one else was at the cabin but the four of us, so hearing these deep male voices was a surprise to me.  I listened. A minute passed. The men kept talking.

Then I knew.

Those men are my little boys!

My, oh, my. In an instant I was taken back to the time, when my oldest son was 12 years old and I awoke to a man's voice in the house.  I was frantic for a minute, jumping out of bed and running down the stairs to see who the kids had let in the house without my knowledge.  As I got down the stairs, breathless, my 12-year-old said, in a deep, unrecognizable voice, "Hey, Mom."

What?  I demanded, "Why are you talking like that?"

"I'm just talking, Mom, not 'like' anything."

My boy.  There was no cracking of the voice over a months-long process of his voice changing. It was overnight. Instantaneous. Irreversible.

My, oh, my.

My now 16-year-old, my 4th son,  has had his deep voice for some time now, as has my 14-year-old. But something clicked inside me when I heard the two of them talking and sounding like men.

I see many of my younger friends on facebook expressing how overwhelming their little ones are at times. And I smile, but I also remember.  It IS overwhelming.  I remember when I had five kids in seven years' time. I remember when I had three in diapers at once - and I used cloth diapers!  I remember when I could not keep any food in the house.  I remember when all eight kids lived at home and we went through 16 gallons of milk, 23 large loaves of bread and five dozen eggs a week!  I remember baking everything from scratch, baking nearly every day, because cookies must be had and Little Debbie was too pricey for our family.

I remember.

And I smile.

And I thank our gracious God for His generosity to me in giving me eight healthy children, yes, even my little boys who are now grown men.

Overwhelming?  For sure.  But beyond rewarding.......this motherhood thing has eternal rewards.

My word.

Young moms, savor.  The time is flying. Savor even on the days you want to pull your hair out.

~Tricia

Saturday, August 4, 2012

33 Things I've Learned in 33 Years of Marriage

Today, my husband, David, and I are celebrating 33 years of marriage.  33 years!  Whoa!  It blows me away!  33 years & 8 kids.  I do think I've learned a few things and thought it would be fun to list 33 things I've learned in 33 years of marriage. One thing not listed is a given.....put God first. Put God first not only personally, but as a couple. It's only through the power and grace of Jesus Christ that any of us can love another in the first place.

Here's the rest of my list, in no particular order:

1. I don't own him.
2. He does not own me.
3. One spouse needing a little space does not equal personal rejection.
4. It's not about stuff.
5. Friends are important....individual friends as well as together friends.
6. It's not my job to change him.
7. It's not his job to change me.
8. "Even Steven," that old man who has to have everything evenly distributed, was put out the door at the very beginning for us......it's best not to keep track of stuff.
9. Conflict is going to happen.....be kind when it does.
10. Fight fair......keep to the issue at hand and don't bring up anything from the past.
11. From time to time, tell your spouse you like them.  You might say "I love you" every day, but it's sweet to also hear that you're liked.
12. Listening with intent to understand rather than intent to respond will add volumes of depth to a marriage.
13. Have fun. Life is hard work, add fun intentionally.
14. Realize that your spouse can't "make" you mad....you choose anger.....and sometimes anger happens, just deal with it wisely and with kindness.
15. Keep private stuff private.
16. It's never good to participate in spouse-bashing. I've heard a lot of that.....and I am happy to say I never once participated.
17. Showing respect at all times is vital.
18. Treat your spouse like a person, not a punching bag.
19. Be honest, but kind.
20. Don't make assumptions. Ever.
21. Smiling works wonders.
22. Choosing happiness over being right is highly rewarding.
23. Letting go of tradition is very liberating.
24. It's ok if you disagree with your spouse.
25. It's ok if your spouse disagrees with you.
26. Laugh daily...... with each other.
27. Sticking together as parents will give a family stability.  David and I were outnumbered by our kids early on, so we had to stick together or quickly be conquered.
28. Stuff happens......act on stuff without reacting to stuff.  There's a difference.
29. Be a good sounding-board.....let your spouse vent to their heart's content while listening with all your heart. At times of venting, it's best not to try to "fix" whatever's wrong; just listen with empathy.
30. Nurture a good relationship with your in-laws.
31. Let your spouse spoil you if they want. I'm totally spoiled....I never pump gas, rarely fill the dishwasher, never have to deal with spiders, wake up to juice on my nightstand every day, etc.
32. Spoil your spouse.
33. Getting pregnant is much easier than I thought it would be. :)

Happy Anniversary, David!  It's been a great 33 years!
~Tricia

Monday, July 30, 2012

A Shameless Plug

My husband is an excellent preacher.  He preaches exclusively expository messages, bringing forth the Word of God as It ought to be preached.  He focuses solely on God's Word when he preaches, avoiding his own opinion and/or possible filters.

You might be thinking it's ridiculous for me to make such a claim as I can't possibly be objective enough to weigh in on this topic.  That may be true, but think about this: Even when I'm mad at him for something at home, I still gain from his message.  His preaching is so focused on God's Word that even I am able to "overlook" the man while he's preaching.

He just finished a series in the Book of Philippians yesterday and we are making plans to publish his outlines in a book as a study guide for Philippians.  There are 20 messages in the series, walking through the entire Book of Philippians from start to finish.  All sermons are available for your listening ear on our church website. Well worth the time to listen, too.

Until next time,
~Tricia

Friday, July 27, 2012

Calm Waters/Violent Rage

The water was calm, not a ripple to be found. But a mother knew something wasn't right.  She waited. She became keenly aware of the slightest hint of anything unusual. She waited more. She watched. She became intently focused on the calm water.  Suddenly, without warning, her body erupted from the water in a rage of violence! In a sudden wrestling match, she successfully fended off a dangerous perpetrator who was an immediate danger to her kids.

She sprang into action before any harm could be done to her family.
She didn't seek anyone's permission or approval before she struck.
She did not hesitate for even a moment.
Her actions were quick and deliberate.
She successfully fought off the perpetrator, protecting her kids, even to her own harm.

The mother was a lioness.
The perpetrator was a crocodile.
The kids were her cubs.

The comparison is real.
Don't mess with my kids.

A special Thank You to photographer Pia Dierckx.

~Tricia


Saturday, July 21, 2012

Senseless Tragedy, Triumphant God

In the wake of the senseless tragedy which happened in Aurora, CO this week, I'm as shocked as anyone. I've cried out to our merciful God in gratitude and pleas as I see the faces of those who lost loved one, whose loved ones are still hospitalized and suffering.  I've been praying for them and will continue to pray for them.  I will pray every single day.

It's senseless.  It's tragic.

This article, written by a woman who was there, really says it all.  She received advice from her former pastor in the wake of this awful tragedy.  The advice was the best he could offer.  He advised her to worship. He said, "Before the weight of this becomes unbearable....................worship."

Worship.

The article also said,

"God is always good.

Man is not.

Don't confuse the two."

How do people confuse the two?  People worship their worship............instead of their God.  That's why, even in the Name of Jesus Christ, people still sin.  If we are worshiping our living God, we will not have time to do the evil our sin nature entices us to do.

There are plenty of sins the author of this article could fall into in response to what happened.  Self-pity. Gossip. Bitterness. Hatred.  If we are worshiping our living God, we will not have time to do the evil our sin nature entices us to do. If we are all about our God, we will not give place to any of those self-serving sins, even in the wake of tragedy.  Even in the wake of anything.

This mom and her girls will be ok. They will feel effects of this tragedy, but they will be ok because, already, our living God is seeing to their hearts. His grace is all-sufficient, all the time.

"God is always good.
Man is not.
Don't confuse the two."

Get your eyes off man.  Get your eyes on God. There is much work to be done.

~Tricia

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

One Conversation = Me Undone

I work part-time as our church's administrative assistant.  And when I say part-time, I really mean part-time... only 6 - 8 hours a week.  Every Monday, I prepare copies of our service dvd to send out to different people, and I also mail our weekly bulletin and prayer list.  The vast majority of people I mail these things to are shut-ins who can't get out to church any more.

Yesterday as I was preparing these mailings, one of our young deacons came into the office to use the dvd copier.  Since I was already using it, he had to wait, so we chatted while I prepared the envelopes for the mailings.  As I put the address labels on, he was asking about the work I was doing, then he looked at an actual label.  He saw a lady's name on a label, but he didn't recognize the name.  He asked me, "Who is that?" I told him her name, even though he could read it on the label. I explained how this particular lady is quite elderly and could not get out to go to church, so we send her a bulletin and things so she'll still know what is happening in her church.  He said, "I don't know her."

I said, "No, I don't suppose you would know her."

He said, "How long has it been since she came to church?"

Me: "Oh, it's been quite a while. Years."

Him:  "I have to meet her!  I have to know her!"

Me: "Of course!  That's a great idea! Pastor Dave will take you and you can meet her. I know she would love to meet you!"

Him: "If I go see her, she might feel good. She might think, 'Oh, he came to see me!' and be so happy and I could cheer her up.  I really need to go and meet her and visit her."

Me: "Yes!  Go see her. Cheer her up!  She would love it."

And he went on to ask me about each name on each label, wanting to know their stories and why they can't come to church. His heart was touched; he was nearly overcome with burden for these people, many of whom he'd never met.

And I was undone.  He has a real heart for ministry.  He has a real love for people. His heart is tender and open.  He feels a personal responsibility to each and every person on my mailing list and only saw what HE, himself could possibly do to lighten their load. He was overwhelmed with burden for them because to him, not being able to go to church is a devastating idea indeed.

James 1:27 says, "Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this: To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world."  The Bible, Itself, does not mention the word "religion" very much at all.  That makes sense since Christianity is not a religion. But, in this verse, it is summed up very well.  The context is being hearers only of the Word, but not doers, thus deceiving ourselves.

As the preacher's wife, my perch beside my husband often has me viewing the not-to-pretty side of ministry. This conversation with this young deacon helped me reset my priorities. I do believe I have a lot to learn from this young man and I am humbled at the very idea. The focus is Jesus Christ. His focus is people in genuine need.

My word.
Praise be.
~Tricia

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Blessing of Teaching

One of the highlights of my week is the Ladies Bible Study I teach at our church.  I LOVE teaching this Bible study!  I learn so much and seem to grow with each study we do.  When my husband and I prayed about starting this study just over five years ago, our goal was to ground ladies in the Word of God.  Being grounded and staying grounded in the Word is an ongoing process; it's not something any of us accomplish then get to walk away from.  Thus, this study keeps me as grounded as it keeps the ladies who attend.

The ladies who regularly attend this study are godly women who want God's best for their lives. They are committed to the Scriptures and the Truths which lie within those pages. I can't even tell you what a blessing that is in my life!

We don't use a "Bible study book" in our studies.  We use the Bible.  We use a concordance and a lexicon to help us in our studies.  We take a book of the Bible and go through it verse by verse, digging out what God would have us learn.  We've learned, and taught each other, that God's Word is alive and you can see His transforming power in the lives of each one who comes and commits herself to the uncompromised study of the Word of our Living God.

Thank you to all you ladies who come and have made such a difference in my life!

Praise Be.
I am so blessed.
~Tricia

Friday, June 29, 2012

An Identity.......Crisis? I Think Not!


Until I was 18 years old, my name was Patricia Kaye Marcum.  At 18, I was all set to get my driver's license. I had my Social Security card. I had my record of Driver's Ed. I only needed my birth certificate and I was all set.  So, my mom gave that to me and I was ready to get my license. I was excited! I'd already bought a car.  Then, I looked at my birth certificate.  Wait a minute.  "Uh......Mom?"  I was very hesitant to ask my mother to explain my birth certificate. I was always hesitant to ask my mother anything.  Not because she was unavailable; quite the contrary. It was because she always had so much on her plate; I simply hated to bother her.  She was raising eight kids under the horrid shadow of our dad's violence brought on by alcoholism.  I hated to add problems to her already full plate.

But my birth certificate presented a problem I felt she might be able to explain, or at least shed some light on. So, I asked, "Uh.....Mom? What does this mean?  This isn't my name."  It read, "Patricia Ann Marcum."  Not my name.  

She looked at the birth certificate, frowned, then smiled and said, "Oh!  That's right! I forgot about this. The nurse made a mistake on your birth certificate and I completely forgot to change it."

"You forgot?"

"Yeah. It's no big deal. You are Patricia Kaye, though."

"Well," I responded, "Uncle Sam thinks I'm Patricia Ann since my birth certificate says so.

"Don't be silly. You are not Patricia Ann! I think the song Patty Ann was playing on the radio when the nurse filled out your paperwork. I named you Patricia Kaye, so you are Patricia Kaye."

"Mom, I can't be one person on a birth certificate, then another person everywhere else!"

Mom just smiled and patted my hand and said, "You'll figure it out."

So, I filled out paperwork for the IRS and had my Social Security card and record changed to match my birth certificate. It costs a lot to change a name legally and I've never felt justified in spending money on that, so I legally became Patricia Ann.  

Thus began my confusion over my name. To this day, when someone asks my full name, I hesitate for a few seconds till I decide which one to use in that given situation. Just last year, my 14-year-old said, "Mom, what's your full name?" I immediately asked him if he could please ask me an easier question.  Then, noting his confused look, I told him the story of my name.

When my mother died, my oldest sister was settling her estate and there was often paperwork all eight of us kids had to sign.  All the paperwork my sister sent to me read, "Patricia Kaye Marcum Johnson" and I signed them accordingly.  When the final piece of paperwork was sent, signed and sent back, I called my sister and told her that wasn't my legal name. She had no idea.  I didn't tell her earlier so as not to cause issues with the settling of the estate; I didn't want her to have to change all the paperwork.

To this day, every single time I have to use my legal name for any sort of documentation, I mutter under my breath, "That's not my real name," and I feel a little better.

Today, I read an excellent essay by Dr. Kevin Bauder, all about identity and idolatry. It touched my heart because it reminded me of my real identity not being tied up in a name, right or wrong, but in the Person of Jesus Christ.

Praise be.

It's a good read. I recommend it, even if you have no identity crisis....:)
~Tricia

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Why I Still Miss Her so Much

Linda was my sister-in-law, one of my husband's older sisters. She and I had a rocky relationship over the years, sometimes not seeing eye-to-eye on things, sometimes arguing, etc., but mostly loving.  My background was the polar opposite of hers.  She was raised in a Christian home where Christ was front and center. Her parents were missionaries in Ontario, Canada, and Linda learned the ropes of ministry growing up. Before her parents went to the Canadian mission field, they served in pastoral ministry in the US.  My background was filled with violent alcoholism, abuse of all kinds, and no mention of Jesus Christ except in a fit of rage.

Over the years, through our ups and downs, Linda became my true friend.

True friends are hard to come by. I am blessed to have some true friends in my life even to this day, including my four wonderful sisters. (Sisters are beyond special, but that's another blog post!)  But I no longer have Linda.  Linda died young - at age 54 - and that was more than 7 years ago.  I still miss her. I still long for her friendship at times.  Sometimes I'm angry with her for leaving me....as though it's all about me.

Let me tell you what I miss most:

1. I could call Linda any time, night or day, and she never once asked what I wanted or why I was calling. Think about that.  How often do we want people to state their business so we can get off the phone? Linda treated me as though she had been sitting by the phone, waiting for my call, and had all the time in the world, just for me.

2. Linda always, without fail, pointed me to Jesus Christ. We would talk about our burdens, our kids, our extended families, our ministries, etc., and every time, we came back around to Christ.

3. Linda didn't keep track of stuff.  She never kept track of who called who last, how long it had been between calls (we lived 750 miles apart, calls were not always frequent).  She didn't keep track! That meant she didn't keep score.  "Even Steven" did not exist to her and thus, friendship was free to flourish. And flourish it did.

4.  Linda had patience for my past.  What I mean is, none of my problems were ever too much for her to bear with me. I came from a pretty ugly place; it stays with you. It's a rare person who can allow you to feel all the stuff that coming from there leaves you with.

I could go on and on.  What a great gift her friendship was to me!

When she was sick, in her last days, I called her every single day, sometimes twice and three times a day. I had to hear her voice.  She knew she was dying.  She would ask about my kids, each one by name. I could hear the smile in her voice. And when I hung up the phone, I cried. Every time.  I knew I was going to miss her terribly.  In one of our last phone calls, she said, "I love you."

My word.
Praise be.
I will see her again!
~Tricia

Saturday, June 23, 2012

An Adventure in Doing Right

I'd been an active crisis pregnancy intervention counselor for about four years when I met Grace.* Grace was pregnant, wanted to avoid abortion and wanted to put her baby up for adoption.  Because her resources were limited, I would often drive her to her doctor's appointments when needed.  On one such day, I had driven her to her appointment and was in the waiting room, waiting.  As far as anyone there knew, I was just her ride.

While Grace was in the exam room, I helped myself to some coffee that was offered free at a table set up for that purpose. And that's when it happened. Her young doctor, Dr. Mer,* approached me and wanted to know who I was to her.  I told him I had given her a ride.  He replied, "You are more than that to her."

I said, "I'm also her friend."

He said, "Nah, you're working with her."

I said, "Ok, well, even if I am, why do you need to know?"

He replied, without hesitation, "I want this baby."

"You can't have this baby."

"I have people who will pay upwards of $20,000.00 for this baby. I want this baby."

"You can't have this baby. What makes you think you can just have this baby?"

"I know she's putting this baby up for adoption. I know you're involved. I want this baby."

"Then apply to adopt."

He turned to leave, glancing back and saying, "I want this baby."

I was shaken. Stunned.

I took Grace home, went home and discussed the issue with my husband, then called the hospital's chief administrator, requesting a meeting.  I met with him and told him exactly what had happened.  He immediately reassigned Grace to another doctor within the medical group, took protective measures to cover Grace's needs and I heard nothing more.......

......until it was time to pick up the baby.  I was the go-between with the adoptive parents. As I sat in the hospital waiting room, waiting for the baby to be brought out, a very pregnant lady came and sat down beside me.  As I normally do with strangers, I greeted her, smiling at her big belly.  She sat down hard with a sigh and said, "I just can't believe it!"

I said, "What?"

She said, "I came for my doctor appointment with Dr. Mer and I walked into his office to find it completely empty!  Nothing!  It's like he just vanished. A gal caught up with me and redirected me.  I'm so frustrated because at this late date, I have to work with a whole new doctor!"

I was stunned, again. Even though I'd heard nothing more from the hospital administrator, he had taken quick and decisive action against Dr. Mer and protected the women of our city.  Following this incident, there were letters to the editor heavily criticizing the hospital for not being able to keep "good" doctors.

I felt bad for the women who wrote the letters, because they did not know the full story. But, on the other hand, I was so happy for them because their families were protected from a baby snatcher and all was well. I found out even later that Dr. Mer had been involved in a large baby-trading ring.

Sometimes, doing the right thing is hard, especially when other people don't know the full story. I was not in a position to tell them the full story, so I had to learn to rest in the truth, knowing that God's sovereignty would care for the rest.

I'm very glad I spoke up.

~Tricia

*Not their real names

A Great Article


The Illiberality of Liberalism

This is a fantastic article by Dr. Kevin Bauder  Kudos to Dr. Bauder for writing this! It is well written and speaks volumes.  Short post today, but in actuality, there is plenty to read!

~Tricia

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Why I Listen to My Inner Voice

I listen to my inner voice, that gut instinct that tells me something is wrong.  I listen to it every time, without apology or explanation.  And this is why.  Read this entire article.  Watch and listen to the entire interview. Then ask yourself, "What if this had been taken seriously?"

The airline passengers involved in this incident were practically shouting out their red flags.  James Woods, the actor in first class with them, sensed something amiss.  He was right.  He acted on it.  Kudos to him!  I am very moved by this story since my very own son fought in Iraq with the 8th Marines, more than once, risking his very life as a result of 9/11.

People, listen to your gut instinct. That inner voice is there for a reason.  If you suspect something is amiss, don't worry about what other people think.  Act on it.  Speak up. Say something.

I know the risks involved.  I've avoided danger because of my outspoken ways and my determination to act on my suspicious.

I will continue.

~Tricia

Saturday, June 2, 2012

25 Things I Learned in 25 Years of Home Schooling

Here are 25 things I learned during 25 years of home schooling my 8 children:

1. Home schooling is not mysterious, nor is it hard.
2. My relationships with my kids were not hindered by home schooling. That's not to say we have always been problem-free, it only means that we were not able to run from those problems, teaching us all to hit problems head-on, as they ought to be hit, and solve.  It works.  All my kids are good problem solvers and are not afraid of confrontation.
3. Home schooling is easier than I thought it would be.
4. Life is school, not just our "school hours."
5. Education is like a balanced diet.  You might not see results immediately, but you will over time.
6. Letting each child learn at their own pace is really the best way to go.
7. Relax, let the curriculum do the work.
8. Relax, let the children do the work.
9. When frustration sets in, don't get upset. Frustration is normal. Take a break when it comes. It will come. It is temporary.
10. The world's model of education is not necessarily the best model for educating your kids. Even though the entire world revolves around a school schedule, you get to break out of that and follow your heart instead.  It's much more fun, educational and beneficial to follow your heart rather than a school schedule created by the world.  We created our own and it worked.
11. There will be people who will not agree with your decision to home school. Oh, well. There were plenty of people who did not agree with me even having "so many" kids, let alone home schooling them.  I suppose they got over it........
12. It's vastly more important to instill a passion for learning rather than attempt to impart knowledge.
13. When it came to socialization, home schooling provided the best and most well-rounded opportunity of anything else I saw around us.  My kids got to visit with the elderly at nursing homes, develop deeper relationships with neighbors of all ages, interact with adults more and serve others more often, all because of our home school flexibility.
14. Home schooling is cheaper than public school.
15. Grammar matters.
16. Manners matter.
17. Wildlife activity outside the window trumps book work every time. Without fail.
18. Snow days are ok any time of year.
19. Storm tracking is science.
20. Boys can do laundry.
21. Girls can do mechanics.
22. Boys and girls can both cook.
23. Kids learn from example. My passion for reading often translated into me packing up and taking the kids to the library, where we spent hours at story time, reading on the floor, hauling massive numbers of books home to read and meeting other families.
24. Field trips equal fun and learning.
25. It's important to get the basics, but it's equally important for the kids to run with their passion, whatever it may be. They will get all they need along the way.

So, while there is much, much more I learned during 25 years of home schooling 8 kids, these 25 things ought to give a family considering home schooling for themselves a lot to think about.

I say go for it.  Do it.

~Tricia

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Dealing With Bullying

Captain Obvious would say bullying is a big issue in today's society. Captain Obvious would be right. But, he ought not overlook the fact that bullying has always been a big issue; it's just getting more attention in today's world.  With blogging, vlogging and social networking a big part of many people's lives, bullying is being spotlighted more today than at other times throughout history.

It's about time!

If you are being bullied, there are steps you can take to insulate yourself from its onslaught.  I KNOW how hard it is to take. I KNOW how it leaves a person feeling.  But, I also KNOW the God Who, Himself, was bullied and dealt with it squarely and forcefully, in His Word.

Look at John.  The book of John is filled with incidences of bullying and it gives us a great pattern for dealing with it. John's first encounter with his bullies happened right in the first chapter, in verse 19.  It was no secret that his teaching was radical in the eyes of the spiritual leaders of that day.  A group of priests and Levites were sent from Jerusalem to ask John who he was.  Their intent was to trap him, as the intent of bullies always is.  They were sure he would claim to be the Christ, but he did not. The exchange takes place down through verse 28, and they quizzed him again and again over who he was.  They asked him questions like, "If you aren't the Christ, why are you baptizing people?"  John responded by quoting Isaiah, so they jumped on that.  "Are you Isaiah?"  

The lessons in this brief passage are many:

1. John kept his focus on Jesus Christ. For every question they asked, John pointed them to Christ. You can do the same thing with your bully.  John had a job to do....he was sent to bear witness of One coming, the Man Christ. (John 1:8)  So, John had his own agenda and did not allow his focus to be derailed by his bullies. You can do the same.

2. John never claimed to know more than he knew.  It's best not to claim anything when dealing with a bully because the bottom line is, they've already made their decision about you and what you know, think and feel.  The bullies did not believe John, as further reading in the book of John shows.  They kept on. 

3. The priests and Levites didn't have their own words for any of their dialog, but used John's words, taking them as their own.  As soon as John quoted Isaiah, the bullies latched onto that and started quizzing him about being Isaiah.  That had not been their thought before they got there. John introduced that thought to them and they took it as their own. Your bullies will no doubt start using your own words to attack you.  Someone with a valid concern in your life will have their own words, not have to use yours.   Listen to your bully.  You might notice that the bullies in your own life don't have their own words for their plans. They think it's highly effective to use your own words against you.  They usually take your words out of context, too.

4. John never answered their questions to their satisfaction.  They asked him if he was Isaiah. He said, "I am not."  They asked him if he was that prophet. He said, "No."  Short, sweet and to the point. NOT what the bullies wanted, so they pushed further.  They tried to pin him down, so he pointed them to Jesus Christ, "I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, make straight the way of the Lord, as Isaiah said."  They asked further, he kept pointing them to Jesus.  What I learned from this is I do not owe my bullies any explanation. Neither do you. You do not owe your bullies any explanation.  Polite, short answers are best when dealing with a bully.  When you stop giving them the expected answers, they stop talking since they were using your words to begin with. Quite frankly, John never did really answer them and tell them who he was.

There's more, but I need time to think.  Keep in mind that a "no explanation" approach may produce awkward silences with your bully.  It's ok.  Awkward silences are not your problem. You are not under any obligation to fill an awkward silence. Let it sit.  More on that to come in another blog post.

Even if you are not one to use and/or read the Bible, you can see patterns of how to deal effectively with bullies throughout Its Words. I, quite frankly, find it the most valuable tool in dealing with bullying.  

~Tricia

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Angels Where You Least Expect Them

Not too many people can really tell when they'll need an angel. I mean, we might pray for God to send angels to watch over us or a loved one, but we don't usually see the need coming on a day to day basis. Who can tell when they'll need an angel? When does having access to an angel occur to us?

There are times it's obvious.  When my son was deployed to Iraq, both times, I prayed for the angels to watch over him and keep him from harm.....and they did.  But, not too many of us are going into battle here in the USA.

That is, unless you're talking about spiritual battles, of course.   They are going on all around us, all the time. God's Word tells us that we don't wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers. Read Ephesians 6:12-18.

After one such recent battle, I was spent.  The battle might have been hard for the average person to even recognize, given the situation, but it was nothing short of spiritual warfare.  I sat there for a while afterward, pondering the situation, and reeling.  

And then an angel came to my rescue.

She seemed to appear out of nowhere, but I knew she'd been there all along. She'd heard the entire battle. She said, "HI. Excuse me. I don't mean to intrude, but I couldn't help but overhear."

I said, "Hi. You're not intruding at all."

She said, "Are you ok?  I heard it all.......... and couldn't leave until I knew you were ok.  I'm so sorry."

I said, "It's a situation."

Her: "I could tell."

Me:  "Thanks for your concern."

Her: "My, my.  You can't win."

Me: "I know. I know."

Her: "Are you sure you're ok? I have to be sure you're ok."

Me: "No, but I will be. Thank you. You are so kind.  Let me shake your hand."

Her:  "I'll have none of it. You need a hug!"

And this perfect stranger hugged me hard and her kindness touched me and left me, yes, even me, speechless. All I could do was thank her again for her incredible kindness, and marvel at her perception. She was a stranger, after all.

I am so incredibly blessed.  God sent me an angel just in time to encourage my weary soul.  Imagine!  She heard the entire thing!  I can't stop thinking about her.  My angel.  My beautiful, brunette angel!

Praise be.

Hebrews 13:2, "Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares."

~Tricia

Thursday, May 10, 2012

It's My Story


It's My Story

During my writing classes, I often read portions of my own published writings to my students as part of my opening presentation.  In this way, my students learn a little about my story of growing up in abuse and violence with my alcoholic father.  Recently, during a class, one student asked, "Do you ever feel funny writing about that abuse? I mean, what if your dad, or any of your other abusers, read it?"

I was prepared for this question and I answered her without hesitation.  I said, "Whatever I go through happens to me, thus making it my story. If my dad, and other abusers in my life, did not  want the story to be told, they ought not have abused me in the first place."  At that, another student, a big, strapping man, began clapping slowly and deliberately.  Quite frankly, I was honored, shocked, embarrassed and pleased, all at the same time that he applauded me. That had never happened before.

I was prepared for the question, not because it had been asked before, it hadn't, but because I have ready answers about abuse.  I know where I stand with abuse and this confidence has given me a sound set of fundamental principles from which I operate when it comes to my past abuse and any abuse I currently face or will face in the future.  My set of principles comes from Scripture.

Abusive people have unwritten rules.   One big unwritten rule is the rule of silence.  I know this silence well; it was a big part of my life for a very long time.  The victim knows the rules of silence and generally complies with those rules for fear of more abuse, or embarrassment by the abuser, which is also abuse.  The silencing plan includes spinning the truth to the point of making it seem like everything is the victim's fault.  This fear keeps the victim quiet.  It's highly effective.

Yes, abuse that happens to me is my story and I get to tell my story.  I will always tell my story of abuse. This includes abuse from my past, abuse from my present and any abuse I may fall victim to in the future.  Any attempt to quiet a victim is quite simply further abuse.

So, I will not be silent any longer.  Hence, I wrote my book, Victory Over Violence.  I will blog about abuse. I will help others who have gone through, or may be going through, any type of abuse.

I am fully aware that there are times when a person has to be quiet for their own safety.  But, later, when someone has been removed from abuse and is safe, the best advice they can get is advice to talk about it in whatever way they can.  Hushing a victim when they need to talk out their abuse is just another form of abuse.  Victims need someone who will listen with compassion and patience.

Oh, wow….I could go on and on here.  But, I won't for now simply because I know people will only read so much in a blog post. 

But there will be more to come on this topic, rest assured.

~Tricia

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Not My Kids

I think the man thought it was innocent enough.  He loved birds and loved to take pictures of them.  We live on the property our church owns, which houses about 110 trees, mostly oak, but some crab apple and a few maples and several evergreens.  So, we have a lot of birds and this man used to stop his van along our property to take pictures of the birds. But, I didn't know he was just taking pictures of the birds and my boys were out sledding and this man stopped his van right near the small "hill" where my boys were sledding.  I had no idea who he was, what he wanted, etc., so when I saw him stopped there, so close to my boys,  then saw him talking to them, I donned my coat, boots and gloves and walked over.

I approached his van and introduced myself.  Immediately, the man was defensive.  I'd said, "Hi!  My name is Tricia.  I'm their mom." (pointing to my boys)

He said, "So?"

I said, "Well, I see that you've stopped near where they are sledding, so I thought it best to come introduce myself and find out what you need here."

He said, "I'm just taking pictures of the birds. I'm not going to hurt your boys."

"Well," I said, "I like to know people who are talking to my boys."

With that, he reiterated that he was not going to "hurt" my boys, but only wanted pictures of the birds. He then drove off.  He started coming less and less, I kept a close eye at all times, wrote down his license plate number and warned my boys about talking to him.  They complied. He no longer stops to take pictures.

The message is loud and clear:  If someone wants access to my kids, they have to go through me. If someone will not speak to me or talk decently to me, they do not get to talk to my kids.

My word. You would not believe how often I have to act on this principle.  My job as their mom is to ensure their safety.  I do not believe my boys are emotionally, physically or spiritually safe around people who will not talk to their mom.  Period.  There are people who will not speak to me but actively try to talk to my kids.  Not gonna happen.  I will do whatever I can to protect my kids from such people, no secrets about it, no apologies given.

~Tricia