December 14, 2013

Giving with Esteem

I know I skipped a day.  I was making merry on my birthday, and a blog just wasn't in the program.

Yesterday, I was reading my Language of Letting Go Daily meditation, and there was a great post on giving.  It was talking about healthy giving.  If you struggle with codependency, this is another tough area.  I like the definition of healthy giving, which was giving with esteem for both the giver and the receiver.  Giving is note the same as caretaking.  We can give with esteem.  I want to explore this topic today. 

The Giver--Real giving requires sacrifice.  However, it is sacrifice of a thing of value not my value as a person.  It is sacrifice of something I might enjoy, such as money or time, for the other person.  When I am a giver, I am showing love for another person.  We give with esteem for ourselves when we don't give what we cannot afford.  Here are ways you could give without esteem for yourself, the giver:

December 10, 2013

Book Review: Language of Flowers

Jonquils, the flower of desire
Since I have been writing about a lot of heavy topics lately, I am going to take a post to talk about something that makes me really happy.  One of the books I read this year and really enjoyed is called The Language of Flowers (2011) by Vanessa Diffenbaugh.  The plot revolves around this woman, Victoria, who has come out of a painful past.  She was a foster child who only remembers one positive home experience.  She lived with this woman for a time who wanted to adopt her, but after a myriad of events involving this woman's own past, Victoria ends up moving on to the next home instead of with the woman she almost considered to be her mother.

Victoria is now emancipated from the foster care system, but has nowhere to go.  She ends up living homeless in a park.  She honestly feels more comfortable by herself, so it feels safer there.  Her path towards healing and love begins because this park is near a flower shop.  Victoria ends up getting hired to make floral arrangements.  The boss is very impressed with her skills.  But the business takes off like crazy when Victoria begins using her knowledge of the language of flowers to make special bouquets for her customers that say just the right thing.

This language of flowers thing is nothing new. 

December 09, 2013

Toxic Relationships

Toxic relationships suck the life out of you.  I have had my share of toxic relationships.  When you are in one, you can find yourself losing all self-respect and begin to doubt your sanity.  They are the opposite of what God wants for us.  God created us for relationships, and the best relationships are those that mirror who He is, a God of love, slow to anger.  Good relationships bring out the best in us and make us feel like we can be more and do more than we ever imagined.

I like Natalie Lue's definition of a healthy relationship.  Natalie is the author of the Baggage Reclaim blog.  According to Natalie, a healthy relationship has these landmarks: Intimacy, commitment, consistency, balance, progression, and shared values, plus love, care, trust, and respect.  Natalie mostly writes about romantic relationships, but I think this is true of any relationship, whether it's family, friends, or a love interest.  When some of these characteristics are not part of a relationship, it's time to end it or at least suspend it.  

December 07, 2013

Rust and Bone Movie Review


In order to train a wild animal, you have to do two things: one, you establish trust with the animal and two, you show the animal that you are stronger than it. There is a scene in the film De rouille et d'os (Rust and Bone in French) that demonstrates this beautifully. Ali is in the middle of a street fight, and he is taking quite a beating from his opponent. He is down for the count, and they are about to call the winner, when Stephanie steps out of the car that brought Ali to this fight. We see her fake metal legs first, and then we see her face, strong and determined, beautiful and brave. The expression on her face is like metal, rusted but sturdy. Ali sees it, and all the sudden he is up again. Ali goes on to win his fight, inspired by this woman who he knows is strong than he is.
In Rust and Bone (2012), we meet Ali (Matthias Schoenaerts) and Stephanie (Marion Cotillard). Ali is a disengaged man who finds himself raising his son. He likes to fight for pay and looks for women willing to sleep with him. He isn't close with anyone. He treats his son like an inconvenience, and, currently, he is living with his sister while he works as a security guard. Stephanie, on the other hand, is an orca trainer. She also doesn't seem to have much of a social life, but she seems to really enjoy her job. Stephanie and Ali meet the first time at a night club where Ali is working. He and Stephanie have a chance encounter that doesn't really impress either one of them.
Fate steps in, however, and in a horrible accident with the orcas, Stephanie loses her legs. She doesn't really have a support network, so she calls Ali for companionship.

December 06, 2013

How Pebbles Came to Be My Cat

I came from a family that never owned pets, or never meant to own pets.  I had a father that didn't want to mess with the responsibility that comes with taking care of additional creatures besides the wife and 3 daughters he already had.  However, in my later years, we came to own two dogs and a cat, completely through circumstance.

The two dogs were my aunt's dogs, and when she became ill, we took on the job of caring for them.  My mother had promised she would do this, despite my father's protests.  The cat came into her life when my older sister came to live with us after moving out for a short time.  While she lived on her own, she adopted a beautiful black and white tomcat that we later named Samson, Sammy for short.

When I moved out on my own, I never thought of owning a pet.  It was enough for me that, at the time, my parents owned 3 pets I loved.  I guess I was like my father in this way.  I wasn't sure I wanted the job of taking on the job of mothering a pet.  In order to do it well, I think you need to take care of them, and sometimes I have trouble taking care of myself.

However, fate stepped in and brought me and my kitty girl together. 

December 05, 2013

Stories about Pebbles the Cat

The last few days I have been in mourning for my cat, Pebbles.  She was put to rest on December 1, 2013, after 13 loyal years as my companion.  It's amazing to me how I am feeling.  To be honest with you, for the last couple years I have grown increasingly annoyed with this cat.  Don't get me wrong.  I loved her, but it was not always easy owning such an animal.

May 16, 2013

Movie Review: Place Beyond the Pines (2013)

From the moment we see Luke (Ryan Gosling), we like him. Is it because he makes a striking figure? He does, with his bleached blonde hair, muscles, and tattoos covering his body. He is all muscle and power, yet he's quiet and reserved, not eager for the spotlight. Is it because he's talented at driving a motorcycle? He is, and that's interesting, but he's no daredevil. The motorcycle he travels on isn't so much a vehicle to get around with as it is an extension of his body. He's not much of a talker. He communicates with the bike. He uses it to show who he is and how he's feeling. He rides the bike with two other stuntmen in a small metal cage. He slams it through the forest when he's frustrated. He's no bad boy. Not in the way that you think.
No, I think we like him and are affected by him because he's a walking wounded. We like him for the same reason we like his son 15 years later. A boy without his father is like a cat without his whiskers: blind and easily caught. An easy prey for pain. The bond and interdependence between sons and fathers is the major theme of this movie. Fathers needs their sons and sons need their fathers. Any break in that chain and you have a wound so deep, it's almost insurmountable.
Director Derek Cianfrance has written a modern Shakesperean tragedy in 3 acts.

April 16, 2013

The Importance of Self-Care

This past Sunday morning, the pastor at my church said something very important and did something very important as a leader.  He asked another member of the body to give the morning sermon.  He said today, he was just going to soak in and let someone speak into his life.  Today, someone else would give the sermon and he would receive.  This was such a great example to the Body.  Especially when you are serving and pouring out, if you don't take in, as well, and do things that will feed your soul, you have the potential to suffer spiritual burnout.

This has been on my heart for awhile for the people of my church, and maybe for every church out there.  I believe that, as Christians, we do not take the importance of self-care seriously.  This is an important lesson and one that is sometimes learned only through experience. Being in ministry has a tendency to bring out the best in us and the worst in us.