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Random Thoughts This Monday
It is 7:30 here on a Monday. It's light out and the sun is finally shining, after a week of hiding. I wish it made me feel more energized. Instead I feel like I am stuck inside a gigantic to-do list.

I don't have any big-tent thoughts today that are worth writing a big blog post on, so I thought I'd just tell you a few of the things that are on my mind right now.

First, Hallowe'en was weird this year. We had more kids than last year (we live in a subdivision and people come from all over to trick or treat in our neighbourhood). But I swear half of the kids we had (and we had at least 200) were over 12. And quite a few of the girls were dressed like strippers. It was disheartening, to say the least. For a while my kids were giving out candy, but it got a little embarrassing giving stuff out to kids who were older than them. Someone really should put a stop to this. Don't know how, though.

I'm a little overwhelmed with that to-do list I mentioned. A choir from the orphanage we support in Kenya is in town, and I'm hosting a fundraiser tomorrow night. Their story is amazing, and we're heading over in 2010 leading a medical team. I love doing something that makes a tangible difference, and my children have so benefited from participating in trips to Kenya. So I just have to remember that if my regular stuff doesn't get done this week, in the broader scheme of things it doesn't matter. We're making a difference, and that's what counts.

I'm finding it very difficult lately to balance different forms of ministry. I've been very involved with the youth in our church this year, and many of them are going through hard times. So I've wanted to be there for them. Then I've been speaking a ton, which eats up a lot of my weekends this time of year. I have extended family that really need attention. But I'm also a big believer in having neighbours and friends over for dinner. We haven't done that in ages because I just don't seem to have time. So I've been praying that God will give me a vision, even if it's just on a week by week basis, of where to place my ministry emphasis. Because quite frankly I can't do it all, and I need some downtime.

I've been pondering marriages lately. Not my own, but just the state of the institution in general. The truth is, marriage is tough. Really tough. And I'm starting to find that some marriages can't be saved, except by an amazing work of God. I wish people could face reality earlier, and deal with their issues before it rips their family apart, but few have the honesty to face their problems when they can still coast. I do think, though, that the typical Christian response to pressure for reconciliation at all costs can be misplaced. Reconciliation without fully dealing with the issues will not work; it just delays the breakup and makes it worse when it occurs. We need to, instead, surround the people with love, help them to grow in Christ, and help them both to be honest and to learn to love. As they learn to love, they may turn to each other again. But they may not. And if someone has grounds to leave the marriage, we need to give them the space. No one else really knows what goes on inside another person's marriage. Obviously we'd all like all marriages to succeed (as does God, I believe), but there is grace if one has been so hurt that for one's own sanity and the preservation of one's spirit that one has to finally say enough is enough.

The problem is that many say it too lightly. They say enough is enough when the real problems are more minor ones. But when they are about a controlling personality, suffering from major addictions, and violating the marriage vows off and on throughout the marriage, eventually the hurt spouse may have to just get out, even if their spouse isn't cheating at that very moment. It may have taken several years to build up the strength to get out. And I believe God gives grace at that moment. Our challenge, as a church, is not necessarily how to save the marriage at that point (I think we need to minister to each spouse and show grace, but not force reconciliation). Our challenge is how to save marriages like that five years before that happened. How do we identify marriages in trouble and help them before it gets so bad? I don't know, and I'd really like an answer.

Here's another question: Do all children automatically love their parents? I heard that again this week as a woman was giving a really touching testimony of being raised in a dysfunctional family with a dad who was rarely there, and who was often drunk. She said, "but I still loved him, because he was my daddy. And I wanted him there." I've heard that mantra all my life: I loved him because he was my daddy. And even though he was terrible, I yearned for him in my life.

The truth is, I didn't. Does that make me a bad person? I've never had problems loving others, but I feel very little emotion for my father, and that's always been the case. Perhaps it's because I didn't see him from the time I was a baby until I was about 4 or 5 I think, and then I only saw him for a week a year. Maybe I just failed to attach to him, which other children, who saw their parents more often, may have done, even if their parents were terrible. My dad wasn't terrible, he just wasn't there. So I'm having issues with this idea that kids automatically love their parents. Any comments? I'd really love to talk this one out.

Finally, I really would like some comments on my Saturday post, right below. What do you think on that take on things? Have Christian books become increasingly strange? What about this emphasis on happiness? What do you think about the emphasis on success in the career realm? I found the whole thing so bizarre, but it doesn't seem like anyone agrees. Perhaps I didn't write the post well enough, but please humour me and say something!

Thanks, and have a great Monday!

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At 8:14 AM , Blogger Sheri said…

Let's see if I can remember what I wanted to comment on:

1.) Halloween/teens/trick or treating. This does not phase me at all. I figure they are probably good kids out having fun with friends. I'd rather them trick or treat than vandalize.
2.) Identify marriages in trouble? I have no idea how! But I think we can build strong marriages by example. (
3.)Daddys love: This is a tough one. I love my dad, he's a great person. He's funny, loving, caring and kind. But, I think as adults, we have to figure out how to be friends with our parents. And sometimes that's difficult.


At 8:29 AM , Blogger Tara said…

Thanks, Sheri, for bullet pointing the comments. It helped me remember what to write!

In all of my friends' experience T/Ting was down this year. Most of the little kids did it at the early end (6-8ish) and the olders were out later (9). As for the kids dressing as strippers, well, that's just horrible and sad. All three of my older nieces and nephew dressed in yucky black scary costumes. That comes down to parental involvement. My oldest son, just a few months younger than his cousin, dressed as Popeye and his friend was Olive Oyl. :) Parental involvement! (I hope...)

As for not feeling love for your father, I wouldn't say your emotions make you a bad person. I have a friend who's husband left her for another man. Their daughter was still supposed to have visitation rights, as a toddler, in Texas. We live in Minnesota. She had to take her toddler daughter to that sort of situation several times a year (may have even been every other month, I can't remember now). The daughter of course was VERY upset to have to go to a stranger's house all the time. She hated it. I cannot say what their relationship is now, but I don't think she has to go visit him anymore. If she doesn't claim love for him now I surely wouldn't blame her one bit!

Your feelings for an absent father are perfectly normal. I admire you and your parenting in breaking the cycle and raising your girls in a loving strong Christian home with an involved father!


At 8:49 AM , Anonymous Heather said…

I found your post difficult to read through to the end since it was so negative. My favouite quote is 'Like unto itself is given' so focusing so much on the negative aspects of all those things will simply bring you more overwhelming thoughts.

How about following it up with the positive side of each of your points? I bet it makes you feel better able to manage your challenging workload.


At 8:59 AM , Blogger Sheila said…


Good point! Didn't even realize how negative I was becoming. Isn't that funny?

I guess the truth is I'm not negative per se about my own life, but I am feeling overwhelmed by others' needs and my own responsibilities. I've just had a week where everyone around me is in crisis, and all the stories we're hearing at church/family/neighbourhood have been about crises, and I've been trying to help a whole lot of people.

I think if I could just coccoon with my own family for a little while I would feel so much better! So how's that for something positive? I love my kids. I absolutely adore my husband. We have a wonderful time together. It's the rest of the world around me that seems to be falling apart, and I don't know how to deal with that. I know I should help, but I so want to just shut it all out and be with those I love because everything is so easy at home. But I don't think that's the right response.

Besides, many of the people in crisis I really love, and I like spending time with. It's just the weight of it all at the same time. Sigh. I think I just need a soft blow of God's grace today to make things feel as sunny as the day looks!


At 2:14 PM , Blogger Herding Grasshoppers said…


I've felt the same way about trick-or-treaters for years. I'm tempted to put up a sign, like the reverse of what you'd see at a theme park. You know... "You must be SHORTER than this mark to ring the doorbell!"

Regarding kids automatically loving their parents... NO. I don't think that's valid. I think it's natural for lots of kids NOT to attach and love their parents. I've seen it in action.

We cared for my niece for almost a year, from about her 2nd b'day to around her 3rd. She had been so neglected she refused to look at photos of her parents. On the rare occasions one of them would call she would drop the phone and run from the room yelling, "No! No! NO!" For awhile she called every adult woman (of any age or color) "Mama". Very sad. Very very sad. But very understandable.

My personal opinion is that the folks that say things like that, "I've always loved him, even though he (fill in the blank with some horrible wretchedness) because he's my Daddy", are a perfect of example of wishful thinking.

They want to have a daddy they could love and have a good relationship with, and they're projecting that onto the person who is their biological father.

Now, obviously, I'm thinking of one end of the spectrum (the truly horrible, wretched folks, like the parents of my niece), and there are others who maybe aren't so terrible, but aren't great either.

But speaking of folks who say they "love" their abusive, druggie, drunk, absent, whatever "parents"... that's delusional, in the sense that they're "loving" a fantasy, a delusion.

I don't know your story, but to have a parent like my niece's parents and NOT feel an emotional love/attachment to them is probably a good thing!



At 3:11 PM , Blogger Kelli said…

I do think that we, as Christians, put WAY too much emphasis on being happy. I am not a Joel Osteen fan. I think he might be a godd therapist for some, but his messages (and books) seem to focus on what can make you happy. By reading scripture, you can see that there were so many people (men and women) who went through so many trials...Hannah, Job, JESUS!, etc., etc., etc. and the list goes on. These people learned what TRUE joy was because they endured trials, learned from those trials and learned what God's love really meant. They weren't necessarily "happy", but in the end they found joy, which is even better than happiness. There is a difference.

In terms of Halloween, I do think it's for kids (maybe 10 and under). I personally think that the older children are just out for the free candy and I agree that the costumes have gotten out of control! God doesn't want us to involve ourselves in wicked or evil things. My daughter was Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz and my son was Thomas the Train. My daughter was a pumpkin. We went around (using our manners) asking for candy. Do I think that's evil or wicked. No. There are those who seek out the evilness in Halloween though in dressing in scary costumes and participating in acts of evil. It's sad because they don't know the joy that Jesus can bring. Our family puts little bags of candy together and slips Bible verses in them. It's our way of ministering, in a small, subtle way.


At 7:27 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

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At 9:40 PM , Blogger Tricia said…

Sheila, you sound like you are just overwhelmed right now and a little burned out. I think you are right on about needing some time, like you said, to hunker down with your family. Sometimes our ability to think of things to do and ways to help others outpaces our body's ability to keep up. We have to take time to rest and rejuvenate. God gives us a need for balance, but, I know that in my own case, I often get too busy "doing" and miss that balance.

As far as Halloween, it sounds like your neighborhood was different from ours. We had lots of little ones and several groups of older kids, but they were polite and not dressed in creepy costumes. So I have no problem with that if they are having good clean fun. But I really don't like the horror type costumes or stripper type things - what a sad commentary on our times.

As far as the marriage comments - I could really relate to what you are saying. I have a good friend who is going through that very thing right now, getting out of an abusive relationship that she has been in for 22 yrs. And her church has turned against her and is telling her she is in sin because she didn't have her husband's permission to leave - yes the very same man who has been controlling and abusive for 22 yrs. They have NO idea what has gone on in that home and their rejection of her is piling hurt upon hurt. I really liked what you said about showing grace.

I could go on, but I won't. But I must say that I appreciate your willingness to be honest and vulnerable. Go easy on yourself and remember that there are seasons of our lives for certain things. We can't do everything at once. God bless you and your ministry.



At 10:56 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

Thank you for your comments on marriages in trouble. I just found out in recent weeks that my husband has been seeing prostitutes throughout our twenty year marriage. He was arrested this summer in a prostitution sting and that is how I found out. We tried marriage counseling and throughout the counseling he was dishonest in regard to the length of time of his involvement with the prostitutes. This behavior has nearly bankrupted us. He has repeatedly told me that this behavior has nothing to do with me and that if I truly forgave him, I would forget about it. He has told me I just don't understand how he has no control over his lustful thoughts and I have no idea how difficult it is for him on a daily basis not to cheat on me.
I felt very burdened about the issue of divorce until he told me that he just couldn't promise me that he could be faithful to me, that he could only try his best. When I asked him if he would stay with me if I had had sex with a dozen different men that I did not know over the past two years, he told me that he probably would not.
We are both Christians and my husband has been an elder in our church in the past. I am quite sad over the situation, but I do believe that God's grace will carry me through this divorce. I have two teen-age daughters to consider. I have received support from my family, Christian friends, and his family.
I did not have the experience to recognize the signs of his secret life. I don't know how the church could have helped us.
I've rambled and for that I apologize. But I do thank you for your comments that let us know that sometimes there are situations in a marriage that are too unbearable and unhealthy to live with.

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About Me

Name: Sheila

Home: Belleville, Ontario, Canada

About Me: I'm a Christian author of a bunch of books, and a frequent speaker to women's groups and marriage conferences. Best of all, I love homeschooling my daughters, Rebecca and Katie. And I love to knit. Preferably simultaneously.

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