Friday, January 27, 2012

When the New Year rolled around I thought about making a New Year Resolution. I decided instead to have a focus for the year. Resolutions suggest to me will power, and mine seems lacking!  For the year 2012 I want to fucus my thoughts to see if I can learn to think like God thinks. I know I'll never fully "get there," but the effort is worth it! I believe the Lord orchestrated the first lesson!

Into my lap dropped a lesson by an Israeli, Rabbi Landau on the Jewish concept of comfort, or menucha [men-uw-chah]. It sounds like the English word minutia, which comes from Latin "minutiae," meaning trifles, small or minor deatils. But the Hebrew doesn't mean anything near the English meaning of minutia! (Warning: There is as much Hebrew as there is English on this YouTobe video, so it is sometimes hard to understand.)

The Hebrew word [men-uw-cha] Gen. 49:15 is translated as rest, comfort, comfortable, or taking one's ease. Strong's H4496.

NIV: 14 “Issachar is a rawboned[f] donkey lying down among the sheep pens.[g]
15 When he sees how good is his
place and how pleasant is his land,
he will bend his shoulder to the burden and submit to forced labor. 

KJV: 14Issachar is a strong ass couching down between two burdens: 15And he saw that rest (menucha) was good, and the land that it was pleasant; and bowed his shoulder to bear, and became a servant unto tribute.

When you see how good the place is that you have inherited and how abundant the provision, on the natural and spiritual planes, you willingly put your shoulder into the task and work hard; you willingly do whatever it takes to gain and maintain the inheritance on the spiritual and natural planes, or dimensions. You are willing to work hard in the day to day, bearing the burden of tending to and defending the details of your life because you are looking forward to Shabbot--the time of peace and calm--the time with your God! There is nothing hanging, nothing left undone up to this point that would cause you to worry or be distracted.

For example, on Friday the shop keeper locks the door and enters Shabbot, he enters his rest; he enters God's rest...There is nothing hanging to cause him to worry or distract him from his time with God because he worked hard all week! He took care of all the little details. That's not to say that there is nothing more that can be done--there is a lot more. But every detail that needed to be taken care of up to this time has been done. There is noting to cause him worry.

The Rabbi told a story of another Rabbi who studies Torah at his dining room table and is able to learn despite 7 children roaring through the house in play. He is not disturbed; he lives in a state of menucha. He is "in the zone." It is a state of mind whereby one's body lives and moves in this world, but the spirit is connected to God, resulting in a flood of peace and calm [menuwchah]. The activity, noise, and the cares of this world do not penetrate the menucha. We can live in the world but do not have to be affected by it. From that state of calm and peace we can make righteous decisions and choices. We are not flustered or confused because we are plugged into the source of peace and calm. We can sit at God's table, commune with Him and learn from Him in the midst of bedlam! I believe that we will need to learn how to maintain this kind of peace and calm as our world becomes bedlam.

How to attain menucha? That is the question I will be exploring and sharing what I find. I'd like to hear your stories of what helps you keep peace and calm in the midst of a storm. 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Book Review: Journey to Fulfillment

Today I would like to share a review of Theresa Franklin's Journey to Fulfillment. It is the story of one woman’s life journey and faith in God that will be an inspiration and encouragement to many. Theresa and her husband, David, were both somewhat ill equipped for life having been raised by parents who were adult children of alcoholics. Alcoholic  grandparents missed passing on many essentials to living successfully. Which means nonalcoholic parents passed on those same "blank spots" to Theresa and David! In spite of gaping holes where there should have been fences, they managed, with the Lord’s help, to agree on many issues, raise Godly children and remain financially solvent!  Often they came to their decisions by looking at the holes in their own upbringing and wanting NOT to do that!

 A source of great triumph and fulfillment for Theresa was being able to become a teacher, then to transition into working with emotionally disabled youngsters. The fulfillment she received from teaching and seeing it make a difference in children’s lives kept her going. Being a teacher myself, I thoroughly enjoyed the many stories of classroom episodes!

While teaching she also managed to tend to her own family needs. One thing people struggle with who have grown up with alcoholic parents is to know what “normal” is. Theresa, like so many, lived with some abusive elements in her home and did not recognize them for what they were for a very long time. There were some very stressful times! Faith and “her kids” kept her going. When the stress accumulated to a tipping point, the Lord would come through! Time and time again she would feel she could not go on, or that “this was too much” and the Lord would arrange people and circumstances to an outcome she could never have imagined.

I would heartily recommend this book to young mothers, to working moms, to anyone who struggles to rein life in to the point it is manageable, or to those who struggle with their relationship with God. By her own admission Theresa was ill equipped for life. If you know someone like that this book would be a great gift!

 To purchase Journey to Fulfillment

Friday, January 20, 2012

To Cuss or Not to Cuss!

Being highly sensitive means that I experience whatever I do on multiple levels at the same time--sort of like a surround sound experience. Even reading a book--it isn't just print on a page. I see the print, yes, but I feel the atmosphere of each and every scene. I hear not only the words of conversation, but sense the emotions beneath the words, hear and feel the percussion of music or the smells, tension and bustle of the kitchen. Recently, I lifted the cover of a newly acquired book. Cigarette smoke curled up out of its pages, clung to my hair, wrapped itself around my shoulders and tickled my nose till I sneezed. I'm allergic to cigarette smoke and the smell of stale liquor makes me gag. I don't like jazz, and I really don't like sultry jazz. I knew this author classified herself as "Edgy Christian. I hadn't considered the impact of the content when I agreed to read her novel with a view to writing a review. Hmmm, would I be able to do it?

Then a very lively discussion erupted amongst the writer's of John 3:16 about profanity in writing--some okay with it, in context, and others of the mind that it is uncalled for and inappropriate, period, end of discussion. I popped off without taking time to think or pray and said, "Profanity is simply the mark of a small vocabulary!"

Well, it is. As I mulled it over I realized that there are times when all of us have a reduced vocabulary--times of severe stress such as one experiences during abuse, or your garden variety character building difficulty. The discussion helped me sort things out to see where I stand.

Reporting of such things in the course of telling one's story does not offend me. I believe we need to be gentle and tender toward those who have survived such circumstances and extend grace. Any nurse will tell you that infection must be expressed for healing to occur. Trauma must be expressed to heal or our emotions become infected and inflamed.Those who go after the battered ones to minister to them and bring them to Jesus may sometimes look and smell like the very ones Jesus would go looking for Himself! Judging and/or holding judgmental attitudes toward hurting people, or their ministers, who use such vocabulary disturbs me. That business of being slow to speak...

But the gratuitous use of profanity? Now that is offensive. When there is absolutely no stressful situation and still an individual is throwing it out like bird seed, I believe they are polluting their own spirits as well as fouling the environment, leaving a deposit of defilement wherever it lands!  Profanity is not to be substitued for punctuation or to be used like capitalization in a sentence. Grammatically speaking, profanity is not an essential part of speech. A cuss word is not necessary to complete a sentence! Even sailors are capable of cleaning up the potty mouth!

I'm not going to be using profanity, but neither am I going to throw stones if someone else does. When it becomes gratuitous profanity, I close the book. Now, if you will pardon me, I need to change into some Holy Spirit garment, take a deep breath and dive back into that smoky bar scene to see what Jesus is up to! Happy reading!

Blessings, Carol

Friday, January 13, 2012

Oaks of Righteousness... : )

While on errands today my husband noticed a stand of trees that still had their leaves. All the other trees were absolutely bare. "Those would be oaks," I replied. "They hang onto their leaves till the bitter end, until spring when the new life kicks them off!" In my mind I heard the Lord and LOL'd right then and there!

"And that is one of the reasons I called you "Oaks of Righteousness!" I can feel God grinning. Yup, they stand right there all winter long hanging on to dead stuff--things that have no value any more. How often we do the same thing! We hang onto things that served a purpose at one time, maybe a really good purpose; but that purpose has been served and it is time to move on. Instead of moving on, we hang on--to the known, to the comfortable, to "mine," to the established procedure...until new life comes! The old, dead structures cannot resist new life. One by one the old falls away and the new bursts out.

I shared the insight with my massage therapist who enjoyed it as well, but then she added this! Some plants hold onto the old as a way of protecting the new growth. If the old is taken away too soon the new growth will not come.

Hmmm, that makes it very important to not judge, in the sense of condemnation. And, it makes discernment, being able to distinguish between, also very important--indeed! What may look like a person is hanging on to something useless could be the Lord prompting that individual to not expose a growth point until it is ready to be exposed. Should the enemy see that tender place of growth he would try to kill it. The Lord may hide the new behind an empty useless structure until the new growth is ready to be exposed...until it can sustain life in the midst of the daily barrage.

Lord, help us identify the old dead leaves in our lives that serve no purpose, that would actually do more good in the compost pile! Help us to know when You would have us initiate pushing the old off and when we should wait for the new life to make that happen. At the same time help us understand Your ways and value how You protect our tender growth places so we do not condemn ourselves or others. Open our eyes to see your parables all around, every day. Help us to discern and not to judge.

Blessings, Carol

Friday, January 6, 2012

Sensitivity--It's Across the Board!

Today I want to share a struggle I am having because it relates to high sensitivity. I mention in The Mystery Of Spiritual Sensitivity (p. 26) that sensitivity is an across the board thing and has nothing to do with worth, value or status in the Lord's eyes. We are highly sensitive spiritually because we are highly sensitive--our central nervous system takes in more sensory data than those who are not so sensitive, period. If you are highly sensitive spiritually, you will probably be highly sensitive emotionally and/or physically. And, God made us this way for a purpose. Our job is to determine what that purpose is and cooperate with Him in it.

My struggle right now is a physical sensitivity and I am just flat out not used to that! My body has just been there for me and I have not needed to give it any special consideration or care. Sometime this summer my sinus started to run...down my throat, and caused a horrible barking cough. I sound like someone's racoon hunting hound barking "treed!" I live in a basement apartment and my elderly mom upstairs can hear me "barking" all the way upstairs!

We have tried everything we can think of! We found a hunk of mouldy carpet pad, got rid of that and treated the carpet. The cough improved but persisted. Then we had the ducts cleaned to get any errant mould spores. Again, the cough improved but persisted. A friend owns an ionizer so we borrowed that. We took out the plants and grandma for the day--ozone will kill anything biological! Again there was an improvement but the random postnasal dump persists. Environmentally I think we have done what we can do. Now I have to start eliminating stuff from my diet one by one and see if there is something I am eating that I am sensitive to! When I find the offending item I will then pursue God for the spiritual signifigance of that item. What a pain! (I am beginning to suspect sugar. Ugh. Just try to eliminate that!)

As I go through this process of elimination I am attempting to look for God's perspective, to see it through His eyes rather than rail about the inconvenience. What can God teach me through this process? I am convinced that the lesson is important or He would not allow the trouble! One benefit is strengthening of persevernence. The Lord has crafted a situation where I will persevere...or spend my days coughing my head off! I would rather have bulging muscles of perseverence than spend my days coughing. Living with the cough is certainly making me more compassionate toward those who struggle with environmental pollutants of all sorts! Increased compassion is another benefit, sigh.

I share this to remind some of you of the sensitivies you are already aware of but may have let your vigilence slide. It is easy to brush them aside because of the inconvenience of a rigid regimin. I also share to alert some that we are vulnerable to be so distracted by the spiritual aspects of our lives that we forget about the physical and the need for balance. I share to remind us all that sensitivity is sensitivity--it all goes back to the neural hardware. Finely tuned nerves = sensitivity in many different areas. When there sensitivity in one area, it points to other areas as well.

If any of you would like to share how sensitivity impacts your life I think it would help us all! I'd appreciate your leaving a comment.

Blessings, Carol

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

I received the following endorsement of my book, a couple days ago and I thought I would share with you. I appreciate that this person took the time to write; I enjoy hearing from readers. When I receive such a lovely endorsement it melts me and amazes me that God has actually, authentically used me. He can turn everything to good! He truly does do above and beyond all that we can imagine with our little loves and fishes!

Hi Carol
I have posted the following at Glory of Zion: " The Mystery of Spiritual Sensitivity (2008) – Carol A. Brown, Destiny Image. This book is well worth the effort of ploughing through its 348 pages. As a human resources and higher education scholar, I found Carol’s well researched insights powerfully informative. A suitable tool for studying the spiritual or emotional intelligences that makes for effective practice in Christian counselling.

Though not presented as a typical scholarly text, The Mystery of Spiritual Sensitivity carries comparable weight. It would make a useful reader for a postgraduate diploma course or a 2nd, 3rd year psychology major. I’d also recommend it to frontline HR professionals, HE administrators and tutorial faculty, careers counsellors and relationship advisors – as well as pastoral advisors, spouses and parents. In fact, anyone who wants to nurture healthy relationships with those around them, or simply understand themselves a little better.

Carol Brown is to be commended for her candidness and obvious courage in walking through what she has written. Her tenacity in putting together such a comprehensive work is also to be admired. Thank you, Carol."

If you know someone who struggles because they are "so sensitive" this book would be a great help to them in understanding why they are the way they are and the blessings that came come to us collectively because they are that way--not crazy, just different! And that is a good thing!

Blessings, Carol

Monday, January 2, 2012

Growing Up Is Hard To Do!

Remember that old song, "Breaking Up Is Hard To Do?" For some wild reason it popped into my head today but with a twist. I heard myself singing "growing up" instead of "breaking up." I thought that was funny but then I heard the truth in it.

You can cite all kinds of problems in society, but what hit home for me was not society "out there" with  temptations and dangers, but right here, in the home. We have vulnerabilities that we don't often think about. In particular I am thinking about the breakdown of marriages that leave children without the support they need to develop solidly into the self they were designed to be with support from both a mother and a father. A child needs to be both fathered and mothered; it's also possible to get too much fathering (translates as strictness) or too much mothering (sometimes called smothering).

I have heard the rationalization that "children are resiliant; they will be all right" when a marriage fails. That is a half truth. Children are resiliant, but make no mistake, every child needs to be fathered as well as mothered. I have thoroughly enjoyed the posts of Arthur Burke and the feedback threads on the subject. It is Arthur's belief that moms can also father! The essence of fathering is to apply enough pressure so the kid will reach inside him/herself and unpack the treasures that are in there. Moms cannot unpack their children, but they can give support with firmness which is a fathering behavior!

As kids are in the process of becoming teens we moms need to dial down the urge to meet all their needs, which is the essenece of mothering. They need to increasingly take on responsibilities and sometimes need to reap the consequences for their choices. Sometimes we need to let them learn the hard way.

Recently a mom told me how her son had gotten himself in a mess with his grades. He hadn't made the connection between doing homework AND handing in his assignments with receiving good grades. All the social lights in his brain were firing--he was hanging out and having fun. Homework was not even on the radar! That is until Mom saw the grades. She connected with teachers; she required the books come home. She gave up time with husband and sat with son to ensure the work was done--she ignored the treadmill!

Son was working at the kitchen table, so with back to him she asked how all this business with the grades happened. He thought for a while, then said, "I think basically it was lack of work on my part and just not getting assignments in on time." Dad left what he was doing, came into the kitchen and gave him a big bear hug and told him how proud he was that son could not only see the connection, but verbalize it! He owned it! Dad was mothering with the hug and the affirmation. Mom's keeping the pressure on because it is a new learning. She is not being mean; she is being supportive, like a cast to a broken bone. That's fathering! Sometimes it's painful--growing up is hard to do. Appropriate pain produces good fruit.

I am so glad for God's wisdom in sending/allowing the right mix of blessing and pain to stretch and grow us all into the likeness of Jesus! That silly old tune put all that together in my head! Amazing how our minds work.