Thursday, April 30, 2009
I attend a weekly "Face Out Group" at church (while Teagan is at Promiseland / Children's Choir). The group I choose to attend is a small group made up of parents. The current topic is a multi-week focus on suffering and evil in the world. Basically a "why does God let bad things happen to good people" kind of focus.
I've been with the group for several weeks and been very vocal in the discussions.
Last night, the subject focused specifically on the devil.
Does the devil exist?
Modern Christians consider the Devil to be an angel who, along with one-third of the angelic host (the demons) rebelled against God and has consequently been condemned to the Lake of Fire. He is described as hating all humanity, or more accurately creation, opposing God, spreading lies and wreaking havoc on the souls of mankind. Other Christians consider the devil in the Bible to refer figuratively to human sin and temptation and to any human system in opposition to God. In the Bible, the devil is identified with the serpent in the Garden of Eden, the dragon in the Book of Revelation (e.g. Rev. 12:9), and the tempter of the Gospels (e.g. Mat. 4:1).
So is the devil a literal figure? A symbolic figure?
I started out not sure of my beliefs when the questions were being asked. Do I believe in the devil? Do I believe that the devil is responsible for evil? I was raised to believe in a very literal devil, a very literal hell. All mistakes, sins, wrong choices, bad things, evil... all was on the shoulders of the devil and his doing and the weakness of humans in their choosing between the devil and God.
I was unusually quiet for much of the conversation. I was listening, observing, absorbing.
Towards the end, I finally got to a point that I needed to put my thoughts into words. I wish I could have had the subject ahead of time because I do better writing and preparing than flying off the cuff in certain discussions. It took some digging to get my point made clearly. But here's what it boiled down to for me.
I know one Absolute Truth. God's love. His love is never ending, all encompassing, complete, and perfect. It is the greatest gift He has given me. He has given me love so that I can show others love. I strongly believe that my purpose is to share that love. With everyone. Period. Loving all people. That the ultimate goal is to love others the way God has shown me love. Which means without judgement, without fail, with sacrifice, with giving. This, of course, is impossible by human standards. But it is what I carry in my heart and what I feel I am working towards.
Does this mean I never get angry? Nope. Never gossip? Nope. Never feel jealousy? Nope. Never make bad choices? Nope. Never judge? Nope.
I am human. I am not perfect. I make mistakes, I sin, I choose poorly, I don't stay connected. But I pray and meditate and stay focused on doing my best. Some days I do better at that goal than others.
But my temptations, my mistakes... that's between me and God. It isn't for anyone else to judge or decide. It isn't for anyone else to determine if I am choosing the devil vs God.
And most importantly... it isn't my place to determine where someone else's bad choice is coming from. That's between them and God.
So does the devil exist? Maybe. But I don't need an answer to that.
Also brought up was the "Oh! So you mean like a love the sinner, hate the sin thing?"
Love the sinner. Stop.
That's what I mean.
It doesn't matter if you are black, white, gay, straight, married, single, childless, Jon & Kate + 8, or whatever. God is love- for you and everyone. And we are all sinners. We all mess up. Love the sinner.
Is my thinking flawed? Absolutely. So is anyone else's who tries to answer this topic. I don't have all the answers. I only have one.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Monday, April 27, 2009
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Saturday, April 25, 2009
Friday, April 24, 2009
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
The reason I joined the group was in the hopes of maybe finding some people that I knew in elementary school.
Why does that matter?
My childhood is full of holes. It is unendingly frustrating to me that I cannot have a full set of memories of my childhood. I know why my mind is swiss cheese but the recovery part has never happened.
Warning- this is a really serious post. Just a heads up...
I am a survivor of sexual abuse. It started when I was 4 or 5 and went on until I was 10. I often don't trust my memories of all of it. In the course of a lot of hard therapy- including inpatient and outpatient hospital treatment- I underwent hypnosis to try and unblock what my brain was protecting me from. We got a lot of information from the hypnosis. Unfortunately, a well intentioned but adle brained nurse thought she was protecting me by taking the tape home and recording over it. That's a whole different story.
Anyway. I had this handful of memories that gave us enough information to know how bad it was, enough details to know what to work on, enough to heal from.
My hope has always been that the ongoing and constant process of healing would eventually include a flood, or even a trickle, of my regular everyday memories of my childhood.
It's all very sketchy. I don't remember Kindergarten. I don't remember my teachers, my friends. We lived with my grandparents and I vaguely remember my mom walking me to school one morning and I wanted to walk by myself and made her walk a distance behind me. But I don't remember school or family events or any details. I don't remember 1st grade. At all. I don't remember being 6 years old. I remember my 2nd grade teacher's name- Mrs. Kanatzer. But I don't know if that is a "real" memory because I think I still have that class picture somewhere and could have stored that as my memory file.
3rd grade... a blur. 4th grade... a blur.
5th grade gets better. My mom married my dad. He adopted me. I started the school year with Mr. Reid as my teacher. However, he left after a couple of weeks. Our new teacher... don't remember her name and feel it is a real disservice to her (Mrs. Kessler, maybe)... was a bright spot in my life. I remember her giving me a gift on the day my dad adopted me. It was a special and private and loving moment between us. I remember our 5th grade year being different because the school was undergoing renovations and the entire 5th grade (all 3 classes) was situated in the gymnasium.
And I remember moving away from Lexington, KY to Cincinnati, OH.
My mom was finishing dental school that year. My dad was already living in our condo in Cincinnati- doing his residency, I think. Our routine was that my mom would pick me up from school on Friday and we would drive the 90 minutes to Cincinnati and drive back Sunday evening. We were going to move to Cincy that summer.
On a Friday just a few weeks before school was done for the year, my mom picked me up as usual. It had been a hard week because she had injured her back while lifting dental equipment.
The back injury was worse than my 10 year old brain could realize. As we made the drive to Cincinnati, I learned that we wouldn't be going back.
There were no goodbyes with my teacher, my school principal, my friends. No collecting of addresses, pictures, phone numbers. No goodbye parties. No farewells with our neighbors. No last stop at our apartment. Gone. In fact, my parents arranged to have friends go in and pack up our apartment for us. We never went back.
In my mom's mind, it was necessity. She did the best she could at the time, even if it really was not a good choice. Even though it was not a decision that put me first.
Starting around high school, I started to really regret that I had no contact with kids who had known me in my childhood.
As an adult, I long to have connections with people who might be able to fill in some of the gaps in my brain, provide me with some memories, trigger something.
At the time, I don't recall the announcement of our new life being hard to take. It had a lot of positive meaning for me. I was going to finally have a "normal" family. We would live with my dad. There were a lot of growing pains still to come with that situation- but 10 year old me was so desperate for a daddy that I couldn't possibly anticipate the issues that would come.
Biggest of all... the absolute and complete stop to my abuse. I would never again be in a place associated with the things that had been done to me. I would never again be in a position where I could be abused by this person. It was over.
The relief and anticipation of those 2 major life changing events was huge for me. I knew that I was getting a rare chance to really start over. To find people who didn't know me... didn't know about the poor kid... from whom I wouldn't have this associated shame of the things happening to me on the weekends. It was a fresh start with this "ideal family" that I'd dreamed of.
At the time, I felt like I was being saved.
Last night, I did a search on Facebook and found a group for my old elementary school. Glendover. And I read through the list of names of the people who are members of this group. And remembered a few. Heath Hershey. Amy Cooper. George Latham. Vickie Herkamp. I've sent out a few messages and hope to hear back. Actually had a quick message back from George this morning- he lived next door to the family we knew from church that took care of me before and after school. The daughter's name was Libby. She had a younger sister, maybe? The mom was Joan. They had a wire haired terrier of some sort named Heidi. That family was so very important to me and I'm really hoping that George- who says his parents and Libby's parents still live in those homes- can get me in touch with them.
I am feeling contemplative, a little sad, maybe excited today. Nostalgia usually leads to frustration for me due to that swiss cheese brain of mine.
Meri Embry... Meri Mueller. I've had so many names. That's who I used to be. Meri. My first name. Elizabeth is the middle name I chose to take when my dad adopted me. 5th grade was a year of important reinvention for me. But now I want... need... to get in touch with the Meri part of my life... with the positive things that went on. I know my life isn't built only on sadness and hardship. And maybe finding some of these kids will help me connect to my old self, help me find those happy and normal childhood memories that have to be in there... somewhere.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Monday, April 20, 2009
8 Things I’m Looking Forward To
1. Lunch (McAlister's with my mom, husband, friend)
2. Going home/being with my family
3. The weekend
4. Teagan starting pre-K at Little Explorers
5. Watching my children grow up
6. Our next theatre experience
7. Getting back to theatre myself someday
8 Things I Did Yesterday
1. Woke up
2. Made breakfast (scrambled eggs with cheese and sausage)
3. Went to church
4. Picked up KFC for lunch
5. Had a tickle fight/wrestling match with Teagan, Zach, Tigger, and Pooh on the living room floor
6. Went to the library (to get Frog and Toad books, of course)
7. Made chicken quesadillas for dinner
8. Went to bed
8 Things I Wish I Could Do
2. Pee standing up (without making a mess of myself)
3. Wear high heels without pain
4. Blog for a living
5. Cook more often
6. Be invisible
7. Make fudge
8 Shows I Watch
1. Amazing Race
2. Big Bang Theory
3. How I Met Your Mother
7. The Office
8. 30 Rock
8 People I Tag (Going off of the most recently posted list over on the right there)
1. Isabella @ A Look On The Random Side
2. Jackie @ 5th Time's the Charm
3. Heather @ Strangers in a Normal Land
4. Grace @ Living Life with Grace
5. Andrew @ A Long Patience
And some love for my non-blogging commenters- leave some answers in the comments- don't feel like you have to do them all...
6. Non-blogger Lynn
7. Non-blogger C3
8. Non-blogger Nancy
That was only 5. Doesn't it seem like a meme about 8 should have 8 things?
8 Songs on My Music Player (I put mine on shuffle and am just going to share the first 8 that cycle through)
1. Almost Like Being in Love (Brigadoon)
2. Sunset (Bird of Prey) - Fatboy Slim
3. Better Is One Day- Matt Redman on the Veggie Tales Worship Songs CD
4. Groove Is In The Heart- Deee-Lite
5. Hella Good- No Doubt
6. Single Ladies- Beyonce
7. Pocketful of Sunshine- Natasha Bedingfield
8. I Got My baby- Faith Hill
8 Favorite Warm Weather Activities
1. Visiting local splash parks
2. Going to the Zoo
3. Going to Connor Prairie (ok- it is going to be a fave activity this summer, I'm hopeful that way)
4. Playing on the deck my husband built for our family
5. Driving with my sunroof open
6. Riding bikes
7. Taking evening walks
8 Favorite Happy Things
7. Sweet Tea
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Friday, April 17, 2009
Thursday, April 16, 2009
So- here's me at work. No makeup, hair in a ponytail. Yep- I'm high fashion. See my lovely phone and files and my iced tea cup? Big excitement! Ah- the head phones. I listen to music on my phone a lot. But right now, I'm listening to a sermon from Pastor Sam of Dwell & Cultivate. He's C. Beth's dad, in case you didn't know.
So there you have it. Me. As I am. As everyone sees me. And as you guys have seen me oodles of times.
Anyone brave enough to play along? Ready... Set... CLICK!
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
And then repeat it all 2 more times. Whew!
Monday, April 13, 2009
Sunday, April 12, 2009
Happy Easter, everyone!