Present Passive Participle

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I like good news. Somebody I want to meet up with actually commits to a plan. A surprise giphy-2cheque (or check for my American friends) that arrives in the mail. Final grades above 90%… or above 65% if I was in trouble and that’s what it took to pass the class.

What’s the last good news you received?

What about good advice? You should… You need to… Why don’t you do… You have to… Good advice can be helpful but it also can be annoying, worse if it’s unsolicited.

I’ve got some good news for you. It’s a bit technical but that’s what makes it so good.

When the apostle Paul wrote his letter to the Christian church in Rome – we’re talking first century AD – he noted the problem we all face:

“…all have sinned and
fall short of the glory of God,”
Romans 3:23

Now you might not buy into the idea of sin* or even God but just hang on for moment. Paul is saying, we’ve all got a past we’re not proud of and even now, as best as we can do, isn’t good enough; it’s all tainted. Even if you only count the last six of the commandments. we’ve all missed the mark at least once if not several times. (Note that the problem runs very deep – the commandment to not kill includes contempt and the one about adultery includes even lusting after (objectifying) another person.) This sin stuff, it’s messy. It unleashes death, killing us slowly from the inside out. Anyway, the point is, this is our continuous state.

But wait, didn’t I say something about good news? That’s not very good news at all. Well, Paul was simply stating the problem so he could tell us about the solution:

“…being justified
as a gift by His grace
through the redemption
which is in Christ Jesus…”
Romans 3:24

That phrase, being justified, is a Present Passive Participle. The what? This is the technical part. Being justified is a continuous expression related to the verb just before it – have sinned and fall short.

Being justified takes care of the past, the present and the future, too.

But what does it mean to be justified?

It’s a legal phrase. It’s one of the metaphors for talking about how God has done everything to reconcile us to his heart. The key is it’s not just simply forgiveness, although that’s included, it’s not a not guilty declaration, or an acquittal.

Because of what Christ Jesus has done, justification means that you and I, despite our past, our regrets, our shame, it’s as we never did the deed.

Why?

So that you can know, without a sliver of doubt, that you have the full love and acceptance of your heavenly Father who created you.

That’s good news.

* Sin has to do with alienation from God, from creation, and from one another. It breaks our relationships, hinders our fellowship, and ruins our stewardship of the earth.

Manipulation Junction

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“Conjunction junction, what’s my function?” Anybody remember that catchy Schoolhouse Rock Song?

That’s not what this post is about but wouldn’t it be cool if someone made a catchy song about the manipulation junk that toxic people pull on those around them so their tactics would be easy to remember?

Recently, I found an article about some key manipulation tactics that are good to be aware of. I encourage you to check out the whole article but here are the highlights.

Monitoring –  when the toxic person wants to be in constant contact. It’s kind of low level stalking. Watch out, when you are slow to respond, if you get an angry reaction.

Object constancy – on the positive side, this is the ability to still love the person you are annoyed with. A toxic person tends to lack this so when they rage, they lose their affection. Think Jekyll and Hyde. Watch out if you find yourself modifying your words and behaviours to avoid the rages.

Flipping the script – this is when a toxic person tries to continuously wind you up. In the process they may accuse you of the things they themselves do. The point is to confuse and make their victim emotional.

Gaslighting – “Manipulators lie, make things up that never happened, but say things in such a convincing way and with such conviction, that their victims end up believing it is the truth.”

Perspecticide – think gaslighting+. “When the manipulative person has made someone believe so many things that aren’t true, they no longer know what is real.” Watch out if you are compromising your boundaries, your values, faith or family to appease the toxic person.

Trauma bonding – this is conditioning. The toxic person, who is often hostile or even violent, then basks their victim in love and affection. These highs and lows ” can create an addiction in the victim. Watch out for only nice behaviour when you’ve been “good” contrasted with the hurtful words and actions when you’ve been “bad.” (Good and bad being arbitrarily assigned by the toxic person.)

Relationship Risk

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Have you ever cheated on your partner?  I suspect that when you consider that question, regardless of your answer, you were probably thinking some kind of sex. The Biblical view is cheating begins with lusting for someone. (At this time someone will ask, “Isn’t it okay to lust after my partner?” Desire is healthy and normal. Lust is when you objectify someone and use them in your imagination or real life to satisfy yourself. Do you think it’s okay to lust?) Cheating starts long before you make physical contact.

Recently, I found an article that made this more clear. You can read the whole article, “3 Betrayals That DESTROY Relationships (And Aren’t Infidelity),” but here are the highlights.

Emotional cheating – having a friend that you are close to doesn’t mean you’re cheating. Here’s the test: “Would your partner would be upset by the things you’ve shared or would be uncomfortable watching the interaction?”

Conditional love – “Couples don’t feel supported when one partner keeps a foot out of the relationship… Couples that unconditionally love each other live by the motto, “baby, when you hurt, the world stops and I listen.””

Emotional withdrawal – “Emotional withdrawal can be something big, like choosing a work meeting over a family funeral, or it can be as small as turning away when your partner needs emotional support.”
The good news is, this cheating can be overcome. It will take an honest look at what you are doing in your relationship. Your partner will have to do the same. If cheating exists, it will take commitment, work, and honesty to bring healing into your lives.

 

Top Ten Lists

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Do you like year-end top ten lists? You know: top ten movies, top ten songs, top ten sports moments, top ten fails, and so on. I think they appeal to us because we like to reminisce and because we like having life compartmentalized into ranked lists. The thing about all these things we list is, they are fleeting; enjoyable but typically inconsequential.

Recently, I had a few days of blahness which often leads me to be introspective which in turn leads to depression. One of the ways I care for myself when that happens is practicing gratitude. That led me to think about a personal top ten list – who and what have been transformational in my life? So… here’s my list, but instead of ranking my top ten I went sequentially – when the impact was made in my life.

Mom – in a time when being a single mother was unacceptable, when there were few supports, when employment opportunities were limited, my mom, single, 25, trying to go

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My mom and I a long time ago.

to school, chose to have me and keep me. My mom was all about adventures and experiences. Before I started school, the two of us went on a huge camping adventure across western Canada. She stood up for me against abusive teachers and she let me fend for myself when she saw me struggle but not overcome by situations. She was a good mom. The weekend she passed away, I was with her right up until the end. It still hurts that she’s gone.

Adopted – I never knew my bio dad. For several years, it was just me and my mom. I used to make up stories about my “dad” and the adventures we would have. Eventually, my mom met a good man and they decided to get married. I was seven years old. It wasn’t until a handful of years later that I found out he adopted me. It’s significant to be accepted!

Sisters – after my mom and dad got married, I was tremendously blessed with two

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Too difficult to explain what’s happening here.

sisters. I can say that now because I am looking back on this with an attitude of gratitude which colours my memories. (Ha ha) Honestly, there were some challenging moments – I had to change diapers and still haven’t recovered from that trauma. I suspect my sisters can also testify that I wasn’t the best brother. Even so, I love my sisters. Even though I am the oldest and the favourite, I look up to them because they are talented and brilliant women.

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My sisters with my mom (her masters graduation) with our first two kids.

Marriage – I could write two or three blogs about how I became married. In a nutshell, I met this wonderful woman, we became good friends, she took advantage of me with her feminine charms, I loved her anyway, we became married. We have been given the gift of three children and now we have three grand babies. She remains my best friend, my partner in crime (the legal kind) and the person I enjoy going on adventures with. When she really laughs my heart swells with joy. The beauty of her singing can move me to tears. It’s really cool how creative she is. These days she’s making soap and lip balm.

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Summer 2017 at an Edmonton Triathlon Club Event. (Note: How do you know if someone does triathlons? Don’t worry, some how they’ll work it into the conversation.)

Children – we have been blessed with three children. I was present for the delivery of each child which was both terrifying and so filled with love and joy. They are all out of the house now. Two are in post-secondary and one is a fantastic mom. All three are very talented – they get that from their mom. Our oldest boy is taking a fine arts program. He can work in several mediums and puts all his effort into making something unique.  Our daughter has her hands full with babies but she sings like her mom and recently she has begun song writing. Our baby boy just started college. He’s a writer and story creator. I’m very proud of them.

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Oldest, Baby, Middle

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Middle, Oldest, Baby

Baptism and Ministry – after the babies came, I was soul searching. I was essentially an atheist but various small steps happened that eventually led me to accept God’s acceptance of me. I committed my life to the Way, the Truth, and the Life and was baptized. It’s been a wonderful journey thus far and there’s so much more on the horizon.

Not long after I made my choice to be a Christian, I experienced a call into ministry. I was

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This is COME2LIFE and our youth emotional health workshop called The Butterfly Effect.

happily working in the computer systems arena and good at it. One sabbath during worship, the sermon was on Paul and his work spreading the Good News. We were sitting in the noisy section but suddenly, everything went quiet like someone pressed the mute button, and I heard a voice say, “That’s what I want you to do.” Then the noise came back. That began my journey into ministry, a return to university and now full-time pastoral ministry.

Grandchildren – The highlight of my week is when I get to spend time with our GBs. Each one is delightful in their unique way. A huge, life-changing, event with our grandchildren was shortly after GB1 was born. I have already told the story of our miracle grandson. Check it out.

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The GBs 1, 2, and 3.

Velveteen Rabbit – two years ago this very day, a young adult came into our lives and we were changed forever. For various reasons, I can’t say much about her but she gave me

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“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.” Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit 

permission to share her picture. At first, she was just someone we walked with in her pain. Along the way, she took a part of our hearts. I hope she always remembers who she is to us. Our prayer for her is that she will continue to experience healing and will allow herself to be loved into all she was created to be. The blue comfy chair is always there; the door is always open.

Noreen M – when she was in grade 11, Noreen came to our lives and said that more needed to be done for youth mental health. We agreed and together we developed The Butterfly Effect, a youth emotional health workshop. Since then, we’ve transitioned into COME2LIFE. Noreen challenges me and she helps me be even more cool and unconventional! One day I hope to learn from her how to take a decent selfie.

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Noreen at her grad.

Honourable Mentions – Yes, this is a little cheat – like using your third wish to ask for more wishes – but I just want to give a nod to the many people who have been big in my life. Good friends, men and women who helped me in my faith journey, people whose presence was and often is an oasis of grace and acceptance. I hope that as I am in your life, you know who you are, how you are valued, and what you mean to me.

How about you? Do you have a personal top ten list; people, achievements, favourite movies, best experiences? Who or what are at the top of your list?

Carb Wars

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I’m a big proponent of wellness and self-care, particularly when we are in recovery from emotional injury or any kind of abuse. I’ve shared about HALT so you might know that I believe a key component to care is eating well and healthy. To that end, I wanted to share some bits and pieces from an article I found over at Forks Over Knives.

The article is by someone named Garth Davis, MD and it starts like this:

“Can you believe people actually avoid fruit in an attempt to lose weight? There has never been a single credible study showing that fruit consumption leads to weight gain, and yet this concept is as prevalent as any nutrition dogma. I have treated people for obesity for years and I can tell you, nobody is coming to see me because they ate too many apples or grapes. Why do people think fruit leads to weight gain? The quick answer from my patients is because of the carbs.”

His article is worth reading. He notes how the misconnections many have concerning proteins, fat, and carbohydrates that may be negatively impacting our wellness journey.  He concludes with this statement:

 

“Traditional diets high in fruits, veggies and starches have worked for thousands of years, and continue to keep people slim and healthy. But our obsession with counting fat, carbs, and protein blinds us to this truth.”

I Want to Live

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As I read the words, my heart was pounding, my ears were burning, my mind was spinning.

Our adopted daughter had asked to come over because she had something to give us. It had been a stressful week for her in the middle of a stressful year, in the middle of a distressed life. After she arrived and settled in, she handed us a letter.

My eyes scanned the pages; I was trying to stay my usual cool and unconventional self while internally feeling totally overwhelmed and inadequate for what was happening. My mouth went dry, my hands tingled, adrenaline was rushing through me.

She had given us her suicide letter.

We thanked her for sharing and then asked what did it mean that she was giving it to us. She said she didn’t need it anymore.

And what did that mean we asked. It felt like we were holding our breath all this time. Scenarios were running through our heads at lightning speed. No shame, no judgment, support, love, safe right now.

She said, “Because I want to live.” And with that declaration, her tears came rushing forward as if a dam was bursting. We just sat with her, cared for her. It’s all we know to do.

That was Spring 2016. Thankfully, as I write this, she is still alive. We count every new day as a victory. The journey isn’t easy, in fact, it’s downright crushing sometimes but she is a warrior.

If you’re reading this, dear Velveteen Rabbit, our hope and prayer with all the love we can send through the distance between us, is that you keep fighting. Remember your supports, ignore the crap that comes your way, and when you relapse – regroup and press forward. Hang on. No matter what, you can survive and thrive.

And when you’re feeling overwhelmed, rest in what you know to be true: you remain, unquestionably lovely, intrinsically love-worthy, and unconditionally loved.

Signs of an Emotional Bully — MakeItUltra™

This short article is a good read. Check it out, be aware, be safe.

By Eric Perry, PhD-c “Sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me.” ~Anonymous I wish the above quote was true. Unless we are machine or lack human emotions, words and actions have a profound effect on the way we feel about ourselves and the world around us. In our current society we […]

via Signs of an Emotional Bully  — MakeItUltra™

How to Be a Happy Couple

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My partner and I recently had a chance to teach a class on marriage survival. It was a great experience. Then just the other day, I found this article: 12 Things Happy Couples Do Every Single Day.

I’m not sure about trying to follow a list of items to do every day. That might make your relationship a bit formulaic. Still, this is a good list of loving actions that will help your relationship be healthier and stronger. Here are a few highlights:

 

Hugs!

Listen!

 

Find ways to brighten your partner’s day! 

Cuddles! 

 

How about you? What do you and your partner do to keep joy alive and nurture the love you have?

It Happened

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Believe it or not, I used to be a competitive swimmer. I did it for about 2 years. I got my picture in the paper which was cool. I swam a 2 hour, 200 length (5000m), swim-a-thon for some charity and then discovered that people who sponsor kids for events don’t like to pay said kids post event. But I peaked around 10 years of age and moved on to other things, like sleeping in because I didn’t have to go to the pool at 6am.  It’s about priorities.

Anyway, one day after swim club, I was in the changing room and a man with a disability approached me. He was difficult to understand but he seemed friendly. He stuck out his hand for what I thought was a handshake. I went to shake his hand and he proceeded to grab my hand and then he started to undo his pants. I was frozen – shocked by what was happening – and then he put my hand on his crotch.

The incident ended in moments. I pulled my hand away, grabbed my stuff and headed for the door. My mom was waiting for me. I told her what happened.  She told the staff who promptly took action. I’m grateful for my mom who I could talk to. I’m grateful that I didn’t have to keep it secret due to fear of that man or even fear or shame from my parents.

Even so, I don’t talk about it. This is the first time I’ve written about it. When I remember it, I still feel that sense of being trapped and powerless, I still feel my own shame. I decided to take this journey into my past and to share it here because it has become crystal clear to me that when we are hurt like this (and I recognize my experience was really minor compared to most), silence and shame are just as harmful as the initial abuse. They feed it, let the past hold us captive, prevent us from healing.

I would never say one who has been hurt must speak about it. Each person should be in charge of their own healing journey. I would say, don’t let silence hurt you more than already have been. 

I also want you to know I’m listening and I believe you. 

Do You Realize

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Do you realize that it is not your perfect behaviour – your having it all together, your responsibility, or good character that makes you loveable?

Also, do you understand that it’s not in spite of your mistakes and failures – like you have to be put up with – that you are loveable?

The truth is, you’re loveable because of your mistakes, your awkward moments, and your failures; when you’re struggling to be vulnerable and trying to be real.