Monthly Archives: July 2010

Big Scary Dog

Yesterday we went to meet the newest member of our family. He’s small a furry and a mix of yorkie and havanese. After meeting him it was 100% yes. He’s docile, doesn’t seem to bark, and he’s sweet and gentle. He likes to chew though. This comes standard in puppies I hear.

Most people get a dog before kids for practice. My decision was based on Elijah being potty trained and right about now I’m wishing fo another baby to love. That isn’t going to happen ever again, so that is how we came to a long planned decision to get a dog.

Those reasons and that I’m two years cancer free and feel like I’ll be around to see the little pup grow up. I can commit to him.

Charis has also been begging for months now.

Here’s the most challenging part of having cute little cuddly friend.

The two youngest are totally afraid of him. I’m not kidding you. It seems ridiculous, but it’s true.

You can see them climbing up the couch in fear of the beast.

Any suggestions would be great!

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Viva La Femme Friday: Crystal Renaud

(This post is not suitable for children under 18)

When was the first time you saw porn?

Jeremy and I were having this discussion in the car the other day about our first experiences seeing porn.  I remember the exact gas station and who I was with.  I don’t recall how old I was though, but I think I was pretty young.  I wouldn’t have known there was such a thing but my friends father had magazines they had discovered and told me all about them and we all laughed and giggled trying to sneak peaks at nudity.  My second memory of porn was seeing videos as a teenager at the same friends house.  This friend had absent parents to say the least.

I don’t know how you feel about porn.  But here are some statistics XXXchurch lists about porn:

  • 4.7 million Americans visit porn sites in an excess of 11 hours per week.
  • 24 million Americans are classified as sex addicts
  • There are 260 million pornagraphic images on the internet
  • Porn often leads to illegal activities and health issues
  • 1 in 6 women struggle with porn addiction
  • 8% of men are sexually addicted

I remember as a teenager being so curious about sex.  Sex wasn’t a very open topic in my family, so when the opportunity came to watch it in video, I’m pretty sure I jumped at the chance.  I’m sad that my first experiences with sex were the images that will forever stay in my head. 

Sometimes I wonder what sex would be like without those images? 

Would it matter to me less about what I looked like naked?  Would I be as obsessed with my reflection post-mastectomy?  What would I have thought was sexy if I had never seen those images?

I dunno.  I won’t ever know, because those images are seared in my head.  I can’t remove them.

I don’t know what the draw is to porn.  I’m not sure if it’s as much sexual as it is the desire to be needed and loved, or to connect deeply with someone. But I do know it’s:

bREAKING uP mARRIAGES.

                                                            dEVALUEING wOMEN, mEN aND cHILDREN.

                           gROWING rAPIDLY bY tHE dAY.

And even though it seems to be a guys issue, it’s really not.  

That’s why this Friday’s Viva La Femme honoree pick is a woman who stepped out of her comfort zone to bring this issue to the light.  Women are visual too.  I know this comes as a surprise but it’s true (not to my female readers but to my male).  I heard a crazy study the other day that said women are basically turned on by any visual act of sex.  The study sited that how women are turned on is still a mystery, as is how we go in to labor, but that women were turned on by anything involved in sexual activity.  I’m not going to try to find this study for you since it would pull up some scary things, but you get the picture here.

We are visual.  Shoot, we love to dress in pretty colors, style our hair, decorate our houses.  What numbchuck said women weren’t visual?

Dirty Girl Ministries was founded by a young woman named Chrystal Renaud, who first saw porn at the age of 10 when she saw a magazine in her brother’s bathroom.  After that, she couldn’t get enough.

Now she’s helping women who meet regularly at Westside Family Church in Kansas and she has a website with resources and  a forum for women who don’t have help in their own local area.  She’s also available for speaking engagements.

Crystal is my Viva La Femme pick this week for being oh so brave to come forward with her own struggle and addressing an issue that desperately needs attention. 

Thank-you Crystal!

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Walk Away

I like to be liked.  Who doesn’t.  I get rather envious of people who really don’t care what other people think.  I’m an ENFJ on the Meyer’s Brigg’s test, and I’m scary high on the third letter.  If you don’t know what F stands for in this test, let me enlighten you: FEELING.  So yes, I am highly moved and grooved by outside sources.  I try to find this as a blessing but quite often it is a curse.

When people are critical of me I want to crawl in a cave and hibernate.  I want to hide away from ever putting myself out in the open to be hurt again, and again….and yet again. 

But I do. (somehow the E part of the ENFJ wins over since I am a natural extrovert and need people)

Not too long ago I had someone attack my character.  In a discussion I made a statement about how I felt about a particular situation that I felt was unfair and I got an ear-full of character flaws.  I won’t go in to details, but it hurt me. 

I suppose with every accusation there is an ounce of truth, so I’m weighing what was said and trying to let the rest roll off my back.  It’s hard to do.  But here’s what I’ve started asking myself when someone hurts me like that:

1.  How much does this person know you?  If they know you well, they might have poor presentation (It’s ok to say that to them) but the information might be good, albeit hard to hear.

2.  How much does this person care?  If they don’t know you very well and aren’t willing to invest some time in to helping you change for the better, you might not want to dwell on it too much.

3.  Disagree with the situation, not the person.  If someone says, “well, I didn’t like it when you did this,” and you let out a barrage of accusations about their character, it solves nothing. 

4.  Everyone comes in to a conversation with their own baggage, stress and experiences.  Try to remember this and give them some grace.

5.  You aren’t alone.  Every day, somewhere, someone is experiencing a hurtful situation, a bruise to their self-esteem, and a comment made without thinking.  It’s the challenge of human-ness.  We try to be kind, but we fail often.

The Bible might be the most popular book in history, but Jesus wasn’t liked by everyone either. (I know this surprises you) He was rejected in his very hometown.  They didn’t like what he was about.  They didn’t like the changes he was making.  They were fearful of what he was doing and claims he was making.  He spoke truth, but they weren’t quite ready for it yet. 

I want to share a passage with you that I was looking at recently.  It’s in Luke, from the beginning of Jesus’ ministry.  He show’s up in Nazareth, his hometown to teach and preach.  He’s been preparing for this, fasting in the desert, listening to God.  He was the hometown boy, now 30, ready to start his ministry, but things don’t go very well….read this….

He answered, “I suppose you’re going to quote the proverb, ‘Doctor, go heal yourself. Do here in your hometown what we heard you did in Capernaum.’ Well, let me tell you something: No prophet is ever welcomed in his hometown. Isn’t it a fact that there were many widows in Israel at the time of Elijah during that three and a half years of drought when famine devastated the land, but the only widow to whom Elijah was sent was in Sarepta in Sidon? And there were many lepers in Israel at the time of the prophet Elisha but the only one cleansed was Naaman the Syrian.”

 That set everyone in the meeting place seething with anger. They threw him out, banishing him from the village, then took him to a mountain cliff at the edge of the village to throw him to his doom, but he gave them the slip and was on his way.” (Luke 4:24-30)

Here’s a couple interesting thoughts about what Jesus is trying to communicate here in this unassuming passage.

1.  Elijah wasn’t sent to an Israelite.  There were lots of Israelite widows who may have believed Elijah.  But instead he was sent to a non-Israelite or a Gentile.  This means the God of Israel has sent His prophet to be assisted by someone who does not serve the God of Israel.  Yet, if you read in 1 Kings 17, Elijah asks her to go and use the very last of her flour and water to make him bread, because this is what the Lord wants, and she does, with very little hesitation.  

2.  Jesus is pointing out to them that God shows up in to people who don’t necessarily fit the criteria, in ways we don’t always understand, to people we don’t understand, not just the Israelites, but people like you and me.

3.  This made the Israelites angry.

4.  Jesus walks away. 

People aren’t always going to like what we’re about or what we say.  I try to imagine what brought me to the intersection in that conversation the other day that would make this person lash out and say the things they said.  Was it fear?  Was it the inability to see beyond a single perspective?  Did they need to hide something?  Was it how I said it?

I don’t know.  Nor do I really understand why the Israelites in this passage were worried about sharing God’s goodness and blessing with a non-Israelite, or why they were fearful of Jesus?

But I do know what happened when Jesus realized the information was not being taken well.

He walked away. 

He didn’t stay and fight.  He didn’t argue his case.  He didn’t put them in their place.

He walked away.

What mis-information do you need to walk away from today?  Did someone say something recently that hurt you and attacked your character? 

Take an ounce of what they say for good measure.

And walk away.

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6 Words or Less

Last year someone mentioned coming up with my “life testimony” in 6 words or less.  As I was driving home tonight after having an hour to myself, the DJ on the radio mentioned this 6 word testimony thing again.  My old history professor at Greenville College despised wordiness.  I probably have him to thank for cleaning up my writing in college.  Although he would probably have a heart attack if he read my blog, because I am very wordy.  I create words.  Call me George W. Bush.  But I’m probably way less (even that was too wordy) wordy than I would have been had it not been for dear old Dr. J.

So as I was driving home I was thinking about what I would say if I could give a six word testimony.

And I was thinking how hard it would be, for me, to say anything in six words or less.  It may be impossible.

My first inclination is to lean toward something like:

“dark chocolate, dark coffee, dark men.” 

(My husband gets a healthy tan BTW, just for the record)

But that would be way too shallow, and I don’t want to admit that at times I lack depth.

So my second try might look something like this:

“Cancer scary, ministry scary, life scary.”

But this seems far too negative and redundant, but man, do I feel like this sometimes.  It seems like life is more scary redundant than not these days.  (If this makes sense to you then you have had repetitive hurts in your life and we are bonding through this blog right now.  Hugs dear one.)

And then I noticed that the skies were getting dark and it was about to rain, and this occurred to me:

“Weather volatile, shelter in the Son.”

And I liked it.  So that’s my six word testimony today.  Tomorrow might be different since I’m prone to changing my mind.

What’s your six word testimony?  I’d love to hear it?

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Viva La Femme Friday: Hannah

When I was younger, my pastor nabbed me for ministry.  In my teen years, when I was busy planning and organizing events for my youth group, I’d drop by his office to ask really deep theological questions.  He was the first to begin planting seeds that I should consider being a pastor. 

So last summer a friend of mine contacted me and told me how her 4th grade daughter has decided she wants to be a pastor.  I love it.  I was more concerned with my bright white roller skates with big puff balls and groov’in to “We Are Family” by the Pointer Sisters in 4th grade than I was with sharing my faith.  Sure, I invited my friends to church, but because it was fun, not because I thought they might like Jesus. 

What can I say, I was a late bloomer.

Not Hannah.  This girl has it together, I can tell.  A few days ago her mom contacted me again, to tell me that Hannah was STILL talking about being in ministry.  So this wasn’t some passing phase.  And not only that, who needs to wait till you’re an adult to really be in ministry?  Not Hannah. 

Her mom sent me this interview about an organization Hannah has started called “Hannah’s Hope.”

You need to listen to this interview.  Seriously.  Please.  (Then you can hear how mature and cute she sounds)

(Hannah’s interview on Way FM)

Here’s what I love about Hannah.  First, she’s cute as a button. 

Second, she reminds me that you don’t need a degree, you don’t need lot’s of money, you don’t need to be 23 and you don’t need a fancy seminary degree to spread the message of Christ’s love for us.

And so, for my Viva La Femme Friday pick, I choose Hannah. 

And would you do me a few favors? 

#1

write a comment here to encourage Hannah in her passion for ministry and spreading the message of Jesus.  And,

#2

Keep your eyes open for young girls in your community that show leadership and passion for Jesus, and encourage them to consider serving Jesus in whatever capacity they feel called.

#3

Encourage your church leaders to make sure our young women see older women in leadership roles, including praying, singing, preaching, decisions making teams, children…anywhere, and everywhere. 

Yay Hannah for encouraging my spirit this week!

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Faith Communities

Some days I feel like having a little more freedom in worship and raising my hands and swaying my hips and I think about joining the Vineyards.

Sometimes I crave a bit more friendly  debate on relevant issues and I think about visiting with the United Methodists.

Occasionally I get tired of worrying about how I’m dressed and I think about going to a church where the leadership all dresses the same to remind me of a unified front against poverty and I think about joining forces with the Salvation Army.

Some times I desire a bit more reverence and communion with God and I think I should worship at the local Catholic Church.

I get curious once in a while about people who worship with emphasis on speaking in tongues, and although I might be uncomfortable at times, I think that might be good once in a while to worship with the Pentecostals.

Then I visit the Evangelical Lutheran Church website and I see the way they emphasize caring for the disenfranchised and I want to know more about how they’re making a difference around the world.

And then sometimes I get tired if the weight of denominational chains that slow things down and I wonder if there really is more freedom in a non-denominational church.

And sometimes I wonder about my own denomination, the Free Methodist Church, and I want to be a part of the re-awakening of a denomination that has a rich history in standing for what is right and just.

At times, the fighting I see on tv, in my neighborhoods, among family and across the ocean seems too much and I want the peaceful community of the Society of Friends.

Sometimes it seems like there are churches that focus on who not to like rather than who to love, but I wouldn’t put the Presbyterian Church (USA) in that group.  They seem to like everyone and I like that.

And sometimes when I realize I’m not treating my body with the respect that God desires, and I think about the Seventh-Day Adventist and I appreciate the discipline they emphasize in their lives.

But mostly I want to be in community with people who love Jesus and give evidence of that love. 

Do you need to be challenged by one of these faith communities?

“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles.  All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:42-47)
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Dear Mr. H

Dear Mr H,

What a very interesting experience it was running in to you the other day.

Since my son is three, it doesn’t shock me for him to experiment in touching things. This is pretty normal for three year olds. But what did shock me was your response when he knocked down the books next to you. I’m pretty sure it shocked my son when you hissed “Jesus Christ” loud enough for half the library to hear. You see, we tend to only use that name in a respectful tone or in prayer.

So it didn’t surprise me that he ran back to me quickly.

But it did shock me….again…when you were waiting for me with my three children after we were at the help desk to get right in my face about how my son knocked books down, or how when I walked to pick them up you followed me to continue to berate me. Like you needed to make sure I knew you thought I was a bad mom.

I was shocked and numb by your actions. If you were hoping to upset a random mom in the library, you did a good job. If you hoped to ruin a young mom’s day by ridiculing normal three year old behavior, you succeeded.

But what you didn’t probably expect is that I knew you, Mr. H. You see, I took music lessons as a child from your wife. And more recently I was the woman who welcomed you to the yoga class at the cancer center and spoke positive words to you about your diagnosis and treatment. I don’t think you remembered that, or me for that matter, but I remember you.

I want to thank you Mr. H, for ruining my day, and reminding me, following cancer, that every day is a gift. Every day I have the power to do good. My words can hurt or heal. I thank God for every day that I have to be a positive influence in someone’s life.

I’m sure I shocked you when I told you I knew you from the cancer center. I did so to remind you that life is far too short to worry about someone’s else’s child knocking some books on the floor.

Or spilled milk, or being late, or what you should wear that day.

And I meant it when I told you that “you could have chosen to be nice but instead you chose to be mean.”

Thank-you cancer and thank-you Mr. H for reminding me of this.

Sincerely,
Jen

(1 Peter 1:5-7)

“So don’t lose a minute in building on what you’ve been given, complementing your basic faith with good character, spiritual understanding, alert discipline, passionate patience, reverent wonder, warm friendliness, and generous love, each dimension fitting into and developing the others. With these qualities active and growing in your lives, no grass will grow under your feet, no day will pass without its reward as you mature in your experience of our Master Jesus. Without these qualities you can’t see what’s right before you, oblivious that your old sinful life has been wiped off the books.”

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Viva La Femme Friday: “Come to the Water” Women Clergy Conference

I’ve mentioned before that the denomination I’m affiliated with is called the Free Methodist Church.  Besides being a theologically Wesleyan in background, our church is also part of a larger group of churches called “holiness” denominations.  I know you’re asking, “what does that mean?”  So in a very brief way I’ll tell theologically what a Wesleyan Holiness type church would believe:

Through faith, Jesus draws us in to relationship with him.  Once we believe He is who He said He was, and we believe He has broken the power of death over us by submitting to the cross, we are free to follow his example to be more like him.  The strength He gives us to overcome sin is only through His Holy Spirit.  This is called sanctification.  It get’s confusing because most people feel they can never reach what is called “entire sanctification,” because it sounds like you would be “entirely perfect,” right?  And that is surely how it sounds, and of course there is much friendly debate over this even in holiness churches.  But the best way to look at it is that a person who desires holiness, to be more like Christ, is one who desires any pattern of sin in their lives to be broken.  And to be entirely sanctified would mean it would no longer have power over you.

Like the Free Methodist Church, most of the Holiness denominations took root in the late 1800’s.  Most of them were shockingly considered liberal and progressive for their day because of their outspoken concern for social welfare.  The Free Methodist Church began in upstate  New York during the same time as the Women’s Suffrage Movement was taking place.  It is not a surprise then that the founder of the Free Methodist Church took the time to write a book called “Ordaining Women.”  Other social concerns at the time for BT Roberts and his followers were the following “Freedoms.”

1.  Freedom from Slavery.  The founders of the Free Methodist Church were opposed to slavery.

2.  Free Pews.  No person should be denied a seat in church because they could not pay for it. (it was a custom at the time to get better seat the more you paid to the church.)

3.  Freedom from secret societies.  We believe everything should be done openly and not in secret.

4.  Freedom in worship.  Worship should be fluid and not rigid. 

Other holiness denominations grew in much of the same way, with special concern for those who were socially disadvantaged and disenfranchised. 

Several of these Wesleyan Holiness denominations support women in ministry.  I know this surprises many people, but many evangelical denominations do not support women in pastoral leadership positions.  Consider the Salvation Army, who’s co-founders over 100 years ago were William and Catherine Booth, and the way the Salvation Army continues to battle oppression of the poor.  In many ways it is almost harder now for a woman in ministry than it was in the late 1800’s simply because many evangelical denominations have only recently spent much of their time working against women in leadership.  Consider the organization that sounds so supportive of women, but is not, called The Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.  The sad thing is that so many hurting people are waiting for human touch, support, a clean cup of water, yet many people are entirely way too concerned with “who and who should not,” minister to them. 

Several of the holiness church got together to start an organization to support and encourage women who are considering, serving, or trying to serve in pastoral leadership within a holiness denomination church.  The denominations included in this effort are:  Free Methodists, Wesleyan, Nazarene, Salvation Army, Brethren in Christ, Church of God (Anderson), and the Evangelical Friends Church.

This event, called “Come to the Water,” takes place every 3 years.  The next gathering is schedules for March 31, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. 

Today my focus wasn’t on one specific woman, but many who serve in the holiness denominations.   I am proud of my denominational heritage and am thankful that even though some would try to pull us from our Biblical roots in equality for men and women, that our denominations continue to support women who feel called to leadership. 

If you are a woman who is considering pastoral leadership, this is an excellent opportunity to meet other women who share the same joy, frustrations, fears and challenges.   There are often scholarships for students so check the web site and contact them through email if you are interested.

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July 7

Today I cannot play blogger. I am only mom. I spent the morning consoling a sweet little boy who couldn’t move because his neck hurt so bad. He cried to go to the doctor so I took him to a walk in clinic, who sent us on to Bronson for the pediatric specialists. Thankfully, our fears of meningitis were not realized and he is home but still clingy.

Today I’m thankful for good doctors who were kind to my son, and for the great doctors who put me back together so well that I held a 35 pound 3 year old ALL day and he had nice pillows to lay on.

I love being mom and I love being here on July 7, 2010 to comfort my children.

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If your hand is swelling, take off your ring.

What is your worst fear post-cancer?  This is an easy one.  Of course 99.9% of us would say reoccurrence.  But beside cancer coming back, which of course trumps everything else, is this:

Life Debilitating Issues

Very quickly most women accept, but don’t talk about, the number one fear.  Because most of us don’t really have a choice.  That fear would be losing any sensation in our breasts.  Now granted, we don’t need breast sensation for everyday life, but it certainly is debilitating when it comes to our sex life for sure.

The second fear, of course I’m assuming this because this would be my fear, and that is lymphedema.  Nothing made me more scared pre-mastectomy than seeing pictures and hearing horror stories of lymphedema.  I’ve always been crazy scared of life being debilitating post-cancer.

So a few months ago, one week post-surgery, I had just finished painting my daughters room, when I realized my hand was swollen.  Eek!  I immediately started crying to Jeremy.  You all think I’m really strong but really I’m a big’ol woos. 

I'm showing this picture because this is the one I sent to my plastic surgeon. His first response. Take off the rings. It takes a Harvard education to realize you should TAKE OFF YOUR RINGS WHEN YOUR HAND IS SWELLING...LOL!

There’s a really long story here about me freaking out, and how poorly I handle a little swelling.  But you might fall asleep.  I did learn something through it that I’ll share with you:

A.  Remain calm.  If you’ve never had swelling before, chances are it will resolve itself.

B.  Wrap the swelling and elevate.  I put my compression sleeve on because that is the only thing I’d been given.  It did nothing for the swelling in my hand.  Your local drugstore has tape that sticks a little when you wrap it.  You can unwrap it and re-wrap it.  So wrap in so it’s snug but not too tight.

C.  See your family doctor.  Mine was concerned it might be an infection so he prescribed antibiotic.  But a family doctor can also refer you to physical therapy or a lymphedema specialist. 

D.  Be purposeful about getting that referral.  Here’s why:

For a year or so I’ve had reoccurring pain in my hands.  Both sides.  It felt like the skin hurt on the back of my hands and lower arms and then under my armpits.  I let it go because any time I mentioned it, no one seemed to know what it was.  I started to think it was just something I should learn to live with, after all “I had mastectomies, right.”  I just figured it was the way it was.  I couldn’t possibly hope to be pain-free, right?

Wrong!

That is terribly wrong think’in.  Don’t live with pain.  Haven’t I always said you need to be your own advocate?  Why don’t I take my own advice?  The pain in my arm was probably a sign of circulation issues, even if no one else had experienced that pain.  My hand swelled because it was tired of being ignored.  Another symptom I had was numbness and tingling in my hands….again, just thought I needed to learn to live with it.

I started physical therapy for “thoracic outlet syndrome” almost 6 weeks ago and I haven’t had pain or swelling since.  We’re still working on the numbness.  I can’t tell you what a relief it has been to be pain-free.  Some of the things she’s working on with me is posture.  Without a double mastectomy we have poor posture, but women who have had mastectomies or breast work tend to try to hide it by bad posture.  I’m learning to stand up straight, and who knew I had muscles in my back that needed to be strengthened!

So the moral of this story is: don’t live with pain ladies.  Seek help. 

Oh….and take off your ring if your hand swells!

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