Tired of Perfect

Recently I’ve asked myself WHY am I not writing? I can think about writing all the time, but then when I finally sit down at the screen, I feel as though I’m empty-handed. The words just do not want to cooperate with me. Is there anyone else out there who can relate??

I didn’t realize how much I dealt with perfectionism in my mind until I discovered how much it prevented me from making a lot of decisions. (Well, the truth is I didn’t realize it until someone pointed it out to me, and I noticed how much I was allowing this idea of perfection to control what I do . . . or not do.) I’ve been avoiding writing blog posts, moving forward in finishing my novels, and stressing over simple decisions (like where to eat or what to wear).

Perfectionism is often the cause of writer’s block for me. My mind’s been doing back flips over trying to figure out the “perfect” post, or the “perfect” ending, or second-guessing if what I’ve written is the way things are “supposed” to go.  Especially when my writing doesn’t end the way I’d originally planned or flows the way I thought it would. (I know I’m not alone in that experience!) Then I wonder if what I’ve written is the perfect solution for the problems I gave to my characters . . . or if my blog post contains the perfect message of encouragement that someone else needed to hear. And here we are, weeks and months later, and I still haven’t written a thing. I haven’t even looked at my computer, which shows the great lengths I’ve gone to avoid this issue.

Another way I noticed perfection was creeping up all over is through teaching my son how to write his letters. We don’t do this all the time, maybe once or twice a week for about ten to fifteen minutes. I give him the time to go at his own pace, because I want learning to be fun for him. Typically, he’ll pick out whichever letter he wants, and either traces the letters in his practice book, or draws the letters on our white board. But there have been a few times when he asks me to do it instead, or he says he can’t do it. I’ve been quick to tell him, of course you can do it, you’ve done it before. Just try it. When he does, he’s excited and wants to keep going. He sees that he can still write letters, even if they’re not “perfect.”

After a few weeks of us going back and forth on this, I realized he wants his letters to look like mine. In his mind, my letters look perfect because they look like the letters in the book. He gets upset if he doesn’t draw the straightest line, or if his letters don’t look like the ones in the book. Then he doesn’t want to try anymore. I’ve told him we practice to get better, and of course I praise him for all of his efforts. I also don’t expect him to be perfect, or excel at his attempts because he’s learning . . . and he’s 4.

But I did see a bigger lesson. How can I teach my son that it’s okay to make mistakes, his work doesn’t have to be perfect to be great, if I am not holding myself to the same standard? I certainly don’t expect perfection out of my son, and yet I hold myself to this non-existing standard of perfection that no one else is holding me to. Haven’t I been doing exactly the opposite of what I tell my son? When will I consider my work great, even if it’s not perfect? Should I just stop writing all together because it’s not perfect? Of course not.

How can I tell him to not give up, to keep trying, you’re still learning, you’re doing a great job, you’re making great progress, working hard, etc . . . if I am not going to believe one iota of it for whatever I’m doing? If I don’t want my son to worry about being perfect, I need to model it for him daily. So I decided to start with today, and just write a dang post! What does matter is that I’m putting forth my best efforts. Of course I want to grow and learn, and I know anything could be improved. But I’m settling for less than perfect.

My name is Angela Sheffield, and I’m not perfect. I am tired of trying to be perfect. How about you?

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Hey, I’m still here!

It’s been almost two years since I posted something here. It’s truly amazing how fast time passes by when you’re in the middle of parenthood! Speaking of which, I can’t believe my son will turn 4 this November. Wow! Being a mom is the hardest and best thing I’ve ever done, and I wouldn’t change it for anything.

My son has taught me a lot in these few years. I’ve learned that I can function on zero sleep (although, not well) and how much fun I can still have as an adult. My husband and I have laughed so much with our son. His sense of humor is priceless. He’s also very intelligent, and is quick to point out driving directions to church, his grandparents’ house, friends’ houses, the beach, our favorite ice cream place, or miniature golf.

One thing my son’s taught me is how to slow down. Before he came into our lives, I felt like I was always in a rush. That everything needed to be done right now. But of course, with a baby, and now toddler, I’ve learned that getting everything done, right now, is not possible. And it’s okay. The world hasn’t ended because I haven’t finished my to-do list.

How freeing that is! Now, as he gets older and I can do more things, that doesn’t always mean I should. The more time I spend doing other things, the less quality time I spend with him, my husband, or other loved ones. But it usually takes me a couple of go-rounds before I realize I’ve overloaded my schedule . . . again.

And I wonder why I don’t have time for writing. Currently, I’m trying to finish a couple of novels, but that won’t happen if I continue mixing up my priorities. Of course, I’m not saying that household responsibilities and such aren’t important, but they’re not THE most important tasks. By slowing down my pace, I can focus better on finishing one task at a time . . . even if it takes all day. I enjoy it when my son interrupts whatever I’m doing. He’s growing up so fast, and I don’t want to miss out on anything.

Last night he came to me while I was in the middle of cleaning up the kitchen from dinner, and I would’ve preferred to just finish it so I wouldn’t have to think about it anymore. But I welcomed his interruption and what I got out of it was a strong, sweet hug around my leg; and, music videos of him singing songs that he just randomly made up. These videos are ones we’ll laugh at for days and weeks to come. Man, it hurts a little in my heart knowing what I would’ve missed out on if I told him “not now” or “wait.”

I do have a *few* minutes of free time, so I’m going to get back to work. To be honest, I’m extremely tempted to toss in another load of laundry, and pick up some of my son’s toys so I can vacuum. But if I push those things off until tonight or tomorrow, it doesn’t change a single thing. But it will take away from the little bit of time I do have to write. By taking this brief time to work on writing, it will help me to feel at peace and therefore, I’m a more peaceful person to be around my son later . . . which benefits us both!

I want to encourage you to slow down your pace for a short while and see what that could do for your inner peace and creativity, even if you don’t have a spouse or kid(s).


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Women’s March 2017

I’m glad that women are standing up for themselves. But I have a few questions:

Where’s the same outrage over places like Hooters or Twin Peaks?

Where’s the same outrage over strip clubs?

Wait, you may argue well those women CHOOSE to subject themselves to men’s lewd, objective, disgusting comments, groping, staring, lap dances, etc. But why should these jobs even be an option for women to provide for themselves? Are you kidding me?

If you’re that outraged over Trump’s words and behaviors, why do we allow these businesses that earn MILLIONS of dollars to exist . . . solely to glorify the objectification of women’s bodies?

Where’s the same outrage over SEX SLAVERY and TRAFFICKING?

Where’s the same outrage and protest over RAPE?

If we were truly fighting for ALL of women’s rights . . .  Why do we accuse RAPE VICTIMS of some sort of ridiculous wrongdoing? Rape Myths shouldn’t even exist at this point.

If we’re protesting offensive comments, attitudes, and behaviors toward women, where are you when we hear of women being attacked outside of shopping malls or public parks? Where are the masses during criminal trials? Where are the masses when these men go to prison?

One of my friends was attacked and brutally raped. The man who violently assaulted her nearly MURDERED her. He was charged with ATTEMPTED FELONY MURDER. Where were the protesters then? Her family and close friends and I BEGGED for support . . . Do you want to know that some people had the NERVE to say they had to work or were simply TOO BUSY?!

A few showed up to support her, but we were SHOCKED by how little people showed they cared. And you know what the worst part is . . . most of these WOMEN GOSSIPED about her . . . they asked what was my friend doing at that time of night, why was she alone, etc. WHERE is the sense in that?! Where’s the outrage?!

I’ve been asked the same questions . . . why this and why that . . . but the questions are never first about THE MAN and WHAT HE DID WRONG! And, the FEMALE prosecutor did not take my case because she didn’t want to believe me. She believed I asked for it because she couldn’t comprehend how he overpowered me. So, my ex got away with what he did to me . . . Yes, my ex got away with RAPE.

Why aren’t more women reading and sharing my novel about my RAPE story? Why aren’t women threatening to blow up the house where my ex lives? (not that I advocate violence in any way, I’m just making a point here.)

Why did my friend and I LOSE friends and LOSE support, (especially since I published my book)? Yet you want to scream and protest and holler about women oppression?

Now I’m outraged . . . outraged at the hypocrisy, outraged at how women tear each other down, gossip, judge each other, etc. We need to fight for our rights, sure. But doesn’t it make more sense to FIX how we treat our own gender too? To support every woman who reports sexual assault? To lock arms with those suffering from Rape Trauma Syndrome, Battered Women’s Syndrome, or PTSD?

Of course, I have to acknowledge all the women and men out there who are in the trenches fighting for women’s rights in these areas . . . going to 3rd world countries to rescue sex slaves, fighting for better sex crime legislation, the #NoMore campaign, etc . . . but it distresses me how we do not have enough support on these important issues.




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Keep Dreaming

Repeated dreams often mean our subconscious is trying to tell us something, right?

My dreams are typically vivid and detailed, and I remember most of them. Of course I’ve had dreams that are complete nonsense. But there are times when I’m in the dream and I just know it’s significant in one way or another.

Dream 1: For the past few years, I have this dream where I’m back in high school, which is weird since I never dream about college or law school (and law school was a 3 yr period of constant high stress). Anyway, I have to go to either English or Math class. I never talk to any of my teachers or classmates. When I get to class, I sit in my seat and then realize there’s a big paper due and I didn’t do it. All I can think about is: why didn’t I just look at the syllabus? Why am I unprepared?

A slight variation of this dream is that I’m registered for classes and there’s 1 class I keep forgetting to go to. When the realization hits me, no matter what I do, I know I’m not going to make it to class on time.Of course, there’s also a big assignment due. I don’t know how I’m going to complete it when I’ve missed almost the entire semester of that class.

In reality, this scenario didn’t happen. If I ever needed more time for an assignment, I simply asked a teacher for an extension, which was rare. I find it weird that I keep having this dream.

Dream 2: This dream repeats almost as often as the other one. I have to go somewhere – usually to either NY or FL – and I have too much to pack. There’s stuff – clothes, toiletries, and etc. everywhere. I don’t know how I’m going to fit everything in the suitcase and still catch my flight.

Slight variations of this dream: I can get everything to fit, and I can close the zipper on my suitcase; or, I arrive at the airport but I can’t find my flight information. Sometimes I make it to my destination, and other times I wake up before I do.

In reality, these situations haven’t happened either. I mean, sure, I’ve packed more than I needed for vacation or something, but it never stressed or worried me. I’ve also never missed a flight.

Have you had any dreams repeat lately? Have you had a dream(s) similar to mine? If so, what did it mean for you?

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Wow, it has been a long time since I’ve written a post.

It wasn’t my intention to let this blog fall to the bottom of my priority list, but it did. I’ve spent the past (almost) 2 years trying to figure out how to be a mother and still be myself. Just when I think I’ve got a routine down, my son changes it up on me. I’ve learned to become more flexible, but it takes me a few days to adjust to new.

I love being a mother. Yet I’ve learned I need to carve out time for myself, and do the things I love . . . otherwise I’m too caught up in chasing my toddler, tackling mountains of laundry and dishes, watching Veggie Tales and singing kids songs.

I’ve even let my appearance slide. Many of you know I have a serious commitment to fitness, and I can’t believe I’m going to admit this: I’ve forgotten about make up, heels, hairstyles, and I’m sure I’ve broken a few fashion laws. I’m so thankful for a husband and friends who love me, and remind me that I’m a better mother when I take care of ALL PARTS of myself.

But this also meant I needed to keep writing. I owe it to myself and my career to continue writing blog posts, too. I know I won’t be able to post as much as I used to, but any posts will be better than zero.

Since last year, I spent a lot of time in my novel, Rage.I revisited scenes that bothered me. I talked to my characters. I had always known they had motives for why they did what they did, but I never asked them. When I finally did, what came up surprised me. I dug deep, deeper into my soul than I ever imagined possible. I went through some dark places to pull the truth out. It wasn’t easy, but it brought me through another level of healing.

I completed what would be considered the second edition for Rage. I’ve submitted the manuscript to literary agencies, hoping and praying to be picked up for representation. If I do, then the next step is to pray that the agency will sell Rage (and future novels) to a traditional publisher. I’m aware that the chances of this happening are slim to none. But I can’t let what is probably impossible stop me from trying anyway.

I should have done this before attempting the self-publishing route. In the past year, I’ve learned 2 things: one, I didn’t have enough confidence to run after what I truly want, and God wants me to stop trying to live life on my own terms: independent from Him and anyone else.

I don’t like to ask for help. I believe that I’m strong enough to do everything on my own. I’ve learned that is a stupid mindset to have. We were created for relationships. We have friends with talents different from ours, who can help. I saw examples of such when I did publish Rage. I had help from very talented friends and family, and I didn’t want to let them down. But I realized, if my dreams are ever going to come true, I needed to ask for help on the giant (and scary) scale: agency & publisher representation.

It may be too late for this series, and I’m okay with that. At least I can live in peace knowing that I gave it my all. While I wait to hear back from agencies, I have been editing the sequel, Resolve, so that it lines up with the changes I made in Rage. If I don’t end up getting a contract, then I’ll self-publish Resolve and get it out to my readers as quickly as I can (and release Rage, the second edition). I’m not wasting time while I wait, I’m moving forward and doing the work Resolve needs to get it ready for whatever will happen next.

I also don’t like waiting, and I’ve had to wait a long time to figure out what the heck I should do with my books. But I haven’t let the waiting slow me down. I’ve focused on raising my son, squeezing in as much writing as I can during his naps, and focusing on staying healthy. I also work part-time because I want to help my husband provide for us. I’m serious about getting out of debt. We want to be healthy physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and financially.

So there you have it. I’ve been very busy, but I’m excited for the future. I believe my hard work will pay off. Here’s to hoping I’ll be able to share some specifics soon! Thank you for being patient. 🙂

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My Bella

It is with a heavy heart that I must now share this news. My 15 year old sister, Gabriella, was diagnosed with Ewing Sarcoma, bone cancer, in the fall of 2014. She had three rounds of chemo before the end of the year. With each round, it made her sick and after a few days home, she had to return to the hospital because of a fever (due to zero white blood cells). The tumor was in her tibia bone, which the dr removed in mid January; and to prevent the cancer from spreading, they had to do a full knee replacement. Her brace keeps her leg locked, she’s worn it for 3 weeks and has 3 to go. The drs ran some tests and it turns out that the cancer is metastatic meaning that it’s aggressive and can spread. She has some spots in her lungs and they don’t know if they are cancerous or not, but to be safe, she’s scheduled for surgery in mid March. Dr will remove any spots they find, and if it’s not cancer, then they don’t have to do surgery on the other lung. Instead of being almost finished with chemo, she has a month-long round in March and will continue to have many more through August. My parents have been trying to work, and switch off to take care of her full time. She’s been very ill with the new rounds. She hasn’t been in school since October, but her teachers are doing everything they can to tutor and help her pass. My family has started this fundraiser for her and my parents.The fundraiser is for all of the expenses that aren’t covered by insurance, some of those details are posted on the fundraiser site, Please pray for her and our family. Any amount will help. Thank you! I will post updates when I can.


I know that many kids are battling cancer and it just breaks my heart. I know that many people create fundraisers to help pay for the costs of this fight. My parents would not ever ask for help, so that’s why our family has come together to do it for them. If you aren’t comfortable in donating, I completely understand. Please pray for her, which she needs more of anyway! Help us get the word out.

I know that many of you are surprised because I haven’t said anything about it to too many people. It’s just too hard for me to talk about and process; but, her needs come first! I love my sister so much, and I’d do anything for her. I’m praying for a miraculous healing!

Here’s the link: http://www.gofundme.com/mk57pc

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His Birth Story

While my 8 day old newborn son is sleeping away in his crib, I thought I’d take just a few minutes to share his story.

Many people told me that as a first time mom, I’d probably deliver every close to if not later than my due date. However, I’d politely nod and tried to believe that I’d need to be ever so patient for the little one to arrive. My body had been telling me otherwise. I can’t entirely explain it, but I had a feeling that he’d arrive sooner, and it’d be the perfect time.

Sure enough, at 37 weeks, the Braxton Hicks contractions that I’d been feeling for months had changed. They felt more like period cramps…yeah, I forgot about those guys. Anyway, when I went to my doctor appointment a couple of days later, she confirmed what I had been wondering: my son was 80% effaced, and I was 2-3 cm dilated. My husband and I looked at each other, surprised and happy to hear the news. I was also relieved that there was an explanation to the changes I felt in my body.

My husband and I were in constant communication with one another over the next few days because my doctor said that active labor could start at any time. But, after the weekend had passed, I began to wonder (and heavily Google search) how long one could be at the early labor stage. I had my 38 week appointment on Tuesday (the 11th) and I couldn’t wait. I had started timing contractions but they remained irregular, and I could not stop obsessing over when everything would officially start.

As I made my way into her office, countless people passed by me saying that I looked ready to have him, and they were right. During my exam, my doctor said that my son was now 100% effaced, still 2-3 cm dilated and to get ready. He was coming, and it would not be more than a few days. We were thrilled. We went home and counted contractions until I fell asleep. I tossed and turned a bit, and couldn’t get comfortable. Just when I thought I had hit the golden rule: 60 second contractions 5 minutes apart for an hour, they’d almost stop completely.

Wednesday began the same way. By the afternoon, I had been going crazy. I think I cried too because I was so uncomfortable and quite impatient . . . especially since my husband had been scheduled to work and I didn’t want him to stay home if he didn’t have to. By the time he had to leave, the contractions stopped again. So, we figured that we had more time. Then, about 5 hours later, I suddenly had pain that ran from my lower back up to my bra line on both sides. Now, as someone who’s had back pain before, I considered dismissing it but I knew that it was probably labor. I knew my mom had back labor with my brother, so I called her to describe my symptoms. She also thought it could mean labor was starting, and to be alert for the next hour to see if anything changed.

I took a quick shower because I figured if labor was starting, I wanted to feel clean going into it. Well, the back pain completely disappeared. I was relieved, but I didn’t know what to do. I grabbed a snack and got into bed. I tried to sleep but the contractions woke me up. I started counting all over again. The back pain returned slightly and I thought: “Okay, this is probably it, and I’m going to call the doctor in an hour.” To kill some time, and relieve some of the pressure, I got on all fours (on my bed) to do some pelvic stretches . . . when I heard a pop! I knew my water had broken and I ran to the bathroom. I called the doctor and while on the phone with the office, a REAL contraction hit. I could not think or speak, and I thought, “Oh, that’s what everyone is talking about.” As soon as I hung up, I called my husband and told him to come home. Then the doctor called back and she gave us the green light to head to the hospital (well, even if she didn’t, we were going). That was at 12:45 a.m.

I called my parents to tell them, and I’m glad I did. I had no idea how fast the contractions were coming, but I could barely tolerate them. My parents talked me through it and reminded me to breathe, tried to get me to focus on something else, and literally kept me sane until my husband got home. I hung up with them and the screaming began. My husband grabbed our stuff and helped me to the car. I couldn’t believe how much it hurt, and all I could tell myself was to breathe so that I wouldn’t pass out or throw up, and that as soon as we got to the hospital, I’d get the drugs.

Worst car ride of my life. My husband tried to avoid every bump in the road and went as carefully as he could around every turn. We finally pulled up to the Emergency Room and he grabbed me a wheelchair. The ER nurse paged the maternity ward, and almost panicked as I couldn’t help but scream with each contraction that seemed to hit every 2 minutes. Finally, someone came to bring me up to maternity, and brought me to an exam room. The nurse wanted me to get on the bed, and I almost yelled at her. I couldn’t move, so she and my husband helped me change and get on the bed. I started begging for drugs and she had to wait in between contractions to check me . . . I was already at 10 cm, and that was at 1:30 a.m. It was too late for drugs, and I couldn’t believe I was going to have to endure natural childbirth. She rushed me to my room and other nurses came in to lift me over to my bed (that I would deliver in and then recover in).

They were waiting on my doctor to come in, who happened to be delayed by random construction. Everyone was telling me to breathe and not push, but I’d never felt such a stronger urge, and I just could not help it. The pain was unbearable and I couldn’t do anything other than scream profanities and push. The nurses were gloved up watching and waiting to catch him. For what felt like an eternity, she arrived and they put me in the stir-ups. Surprisingly, the urge to push decreased but the contractions were coming so fast, and I couldn’t stop yelling. I was begging God to let it be over soon. It felt like my body was going to rip in half.

My doctor told me to push. Everyone in the room coaxed me through it, encouraged me when they saw his (hairy) head, and when it was time to push the rest of his body out, she helped pull his shoulders out . . . which was good for me because everything started to burn and I didn’t think I could actually push anymore. It was like my body was done moving but I had to. Then I heard the cries of my son and they put him on my chest. I couldn’t grasp what had happened, and I was happy to see he was okay, but delirious from the experience. They asked if my husband wanted to cut the cord, and he did. Then they took him to check on him and get him ready for me to nurse him. I tore some, and while the doctor stitched me up, I thought it was never going to end. It hurt badly, even with the numbing medicine, but I couldn’t believe how much better my abdomen area felt, and that made a difference.

My son was born at 3:05 a.m. at 6 lbs 9 oz and 20 inches long, and according to the doctors and nurses, it was super fast and I did a great job . . . which was nice to hear because I didn’t know what to think or how to feel. I had said throughout my pregnancy that I wanted to do it naturally, but oh my, I had no idea what I was in for. And, I will never do that again! If and when we have another baby, you can be sure that I will not be waiting for drugs or the magic rule for contractions (within reason, of course). Everyone says that the next one comes faster, so I’ll need to remember this story so I don’t have to endure natural labor again.

The past 8 days have been such a wonderful roller coaster of fatigue, joy, not knowing what to do, bonding, crying over his cuteness, crying over how I worried I am about everything, and crying over how beautiful and sweet he is and how much we love him. My husband and I are also very grateful that our son arrived early, and healthy! I know that every parent says that this is the hardest, but most rewarding job there is . . . and I can see what they’re talking about. That’s exactly how we feel.

I also have to take time to acknowledge God, again. He got me through it. I know He allowed things to progress quickly and smoothly. If you know my past, or read my book, I have to praise Him for victory! He miraculously healed my body and my heart . . . I had a perfectly normal pregnancy, I labored and delivered well, and I’m healing just fine. No thought of my past was even close to entering my mind, I haven’t had nightmares or flashbacks or triggers. Only God could orchestrate something so incredible . . . that I could experience normal life without holding back. As much as giving birth hurt, I DID it!!! To be honest, I feel like a champion ;). I am not bound to my past, my chains were broken, I have been set free. If that’s not proof that God exists, or that He didn’t send His son Jesus to die for us so that we may have freedom, redemption, healing, and everlasting life with Him, then I don’t know what is. Thank you, Jesus!

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End the Violence

October is a month known for many “awarenesses.”  All are important; however, I am going to talk about only one: Domestic and Dating Violence.

DV knows no social-economic-racial bounds.  While many of us are happy to get home after a long day, some women (a few men), and children are terrified to do so TONIGHT.  Their definition of “home” doesn’t include the words: safe, peaceful, refuge, or love.  Instead their definition may include: abuse, neglect, hunger, shame, anxiety, beaten, control, pain, bruises, alcohol, ER visits, screaming, loud, hiding, no sleep, stress, and fear.

We’ve got to stop blaming the victims.  We need to focus on the abuser who is in the wrong.  We need to help the victims believe that they are worth saving, and are loved.  Instead of questioning why she won’t leave, we need to look at the psychological abuse that started way before the first violent act took place.

From the research I’ve gathered over the years, too many people see DV as a person in a happy relationship, then bam, one day the violence comes, and then they want to know why the victim won’t just up and leave.  This drives me up a wall.

Control is the biggest factor.  By the time the violence becomes physical, the victim is already in trouble.  The victim has already been told over and over that: “no one cares about you like I [the abuser] do,” “you’re no good,” “I promise I’ll never do it again,” “I didn’t mean it,” and etc.  The emotional and psychological abuse is just the beginning.

See the scary thing about DV is that it starts so small i.e. subtle hints that the victim isn’t good enough or doesn’t deserve anything nice.   Here’s an example of how the cycle of abuse works:

The abuser (although occasionally a female, for my purposes I will refer to the abuser as a “he”)  sometimes starts with controlling how the victim feels about herself.  He noticed that she’s gained weight.  The scale used to reflect 122.  Yesterday it said 124.  He accused her of not eating enough.  She felt sorry for herself and indulged on some ice cream, so he called her fat.  He met her friends, but he continues to convince her that her friends are fake.  She brought him to a family reunion and he charmed everyone. A few told her that they didn’t like him, but no one said why. She defended him. She said that they don’t know him like she does.

They go out to dinner.  He accused her of flirting with the waiter.  They fought and made up.  She wound up pregnant.  What should have been exciting news, it sent him off into a tirade.  He blamed her and told her that he doesn’t want it.  She believed that he would be happy once the baby arrived.  Her morning sickness changed the meals she prepared for them.  He constantly complained about her choices.  He decided to do all the grocery shopping.  He made her stay on the couch.  He returned from the store with his favorite items -ones that she couldn’t tolerate.  She believed she was powerless.  Her opinions were no longer important to him, the same for her preferences.  If she asked him for a favor, he turned it into a big deal.  He cursed and yelled at her because her favor caused him too much trouble – like the time he had to fix the garage door.

Then he started to control her freedom and finances.  He said that she’s not allowed to hang out with certain family members or friends, especially other men.  Then he developed a routine of telling her when she has to be home, and quizzing her about every step she took while she was out.  He did not believe her story of going to WalMart, the sitter’s house, or to the post office.

He would twist her words around, and every argument was her fault.  Baby number two arrived.  He seemed indifferent.  He started to hate spending time with either child – who were always on his nerves.  He had zero patience for any misbehaving. They had to be perfect 100% of the time (which is impossible for anyone).  There weren’t any bruises yet, but the wounds were there.  She and the kids had to walk on eggshells because they noticed his temper flared up more often than it used to.

Maybe the following weekend, he returned home from a night out and tripped over the kid’s toy.  He hurt himself, and he realized he has had it.  He vowed to unleash his anger on the next person he saw.  A shove, here.  A slap, there.  Or maybe he arrived home after a hard day at work.  He got home later than usual, so dinner would be slightly overcooked and the baby was cranky.  Dinner wound up on the wall, or in the trash.  Maybe next time he wouldn’t break any dishes.  She was caught by surprise when he helped her clean up.  She felt better when he called for pizza.  He apologized for overreacting.  He kissed her like he used to when they met.  She believed that everything would go back to normal.

Close friends and family started to see the indirect signs/warnings.  The victim canceled on more plans than usual.  Or whenever she and the kids were out, they seemed down/depressed/sad/angry; but they wore smiles on their faces.  Maybe if they acted as though everything was okay, then it would be.  Family & friends asked if they’re alright.  The abuser stepped in and announced that everyone was doing great.  She paid for their inquiries when they got home.  Family & friends were told they no longer welcomed.  He was slowly isolating her from those who really cared.

A few days later, the kids made too much noise while playing a game they made up.  She was at church, which only ticked him off even more.  He didn’t trust anyone at church.  Good thing he didn’t know that the $5 bill she found under a sofa cushion was going into the offering plate.  She returned to find that one kid was crying hysterically from being whipped with a belt, or thrown down the stairs, or had a red mark on his/her face.   She vowed to never leave her kids alone.  Now, she’s almost totally isolated.

He decided to take them out for a movie.  He didn’t ask ahead of time, as the kids had scheduled sport games.  He’s infuriated that she arranged those plans without his permission.  The beating hurts really bad.  The next day, he came home with flowers and promised to never fight with her again.  For a few weeks, the man who she fell in love with came back.  She relaxed and believed that the violence was over.

She woke up on the floor, bruised…she might have broken a rib.  Her head was throbbing.  She couldn’t recall what caused the fight.  She panicked as she didn’t know where her kids were.  She vowed to leave if they were hurt.  She found one crying herself to sleep.  She found the other sleeping under his bed.  The guilt and pain grip her so hard, she feared she was being choking.  She went to the bathroom and was horrified by what she saw in the mirror.  Her face, chest, and arms were black and blue.  She gently washed her face with a cool cloth.  She knew she needed medical treatment.  She shuddered, knowing what he would do to her if she went.  She climbed into bed, and tried to find a comfortable position to lay in.

She thought about a way to escape all night long.  Her abuser nudged her during the night once or twice telling her to do her wife duties.  She pretended to snore, hoping he would believe it and leave her alone.  In the morning after he had gone to work, she called out sick.  She made the kids stay home from school.  She made phone calls.  She found out that nothing was in her name.  The car, the bank accounts, and the house.  She had no idea when the rug got pulled out from under her.  She trusted him.  How could everything be such a disaster?  Where should she go from here?  Her family & friends were angry that she “picked” him over them, and that she couldn’t see or call them anymore.  Forget his side of the family, as they had been brainwashed into believing that she’s either insane, or treats him like garbage.  No car, no job, no money.  So she stayed.  The beatings and the violence intensified.  She feared that she would die at his hands.  She hoped her kids would survive.

Or she might be in a form of “denial.”  She claimed to the police that she did not want help.  He had broken her down emotionally & mentally to the point that she couldn’t stand on her feet.  He was her only source of food, etc.  She believed he would carry out his threat to kill her or her kids.

This is also known as the Stockholm Syndrome.  If she expressed anger at anyone trying to help, including police officers, she may have a psychological bond to her captor.  A great article on this point is:  Stockholm Syndrome

I hope by this combination of fictional and real DV cases (from research, the news, my law textbook, and from my time working at my law school’s Family Law Clinic), that anyone who (doesn’t have any knowledge regarding the truth of DV) reads my post will see how dangerous the cycle of abuse is.  The first step is to break the silence.  Victims remain victims if they can’t speak out.  The second is to help spread awareness – survivors sharing their stories, guest speakers in schools, nonprofit shelters.  The third is to get involved.  Violence will not be stopped unless we engage in the battle to fight for those who cannot stand on their own.

We need to pray for all victims.  We also pray for the abusers – that God deals with whatever issue that drives them to do what they do, so they get help & stop abusing others.  We pray for healing and restoration.  We donate money or clothes or toys or food to shelters.  We learn the warning signs and be that ray of hope for another.


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Worry and Peace, Part 2

I am so blessed and relieved that God had more to say about the season I’m in. During my weekly meeting, not only did God clue us in to what he had been trying to say to us, but he encouraged me to read this book: Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World by Joanna Weaver. I had borrowed the book from someone about a month ago, along with many others. I had forgotten about it. I picked it up last night and knew that God was going to teach me something while I read it.

Oh my goodness.

I have read only three chapters so far, and I had to stop. I had to take notes on what I was reading because the words kept jumping off the page at me. I knew that I had to pay attention. I knew that I needed to stop to process all that I had read. One great way for me to do so is to write about what I’ve learned. I can feel in my heart that reading this book will change my life. God will use this author’s words and insight to change me from the inside out.

As I started reading the book, my heart and mind suddenly felt like deserts in desperate need of water. God is using this season to heal me from things that I didn’t even know about. This is going to be an interesting journey as I read this book and learn things about myself, and about God. I do believe that God will not allow for me to move forward into some blessings that he has in store for me until I get this stuff. I can’t tell you how I know that, I just feel it in my heart.

If you have struggle with the busyness of life, this book is for you. If you struggle with trying to live a balanced life, or battle with doubt, worry and anxiety, this book is for you. If you want to know how to stay calm in the midst of storms, or to have a worship attitude like Mary and still get things done, you need to read this book. That being said, I will post just some of the things that I know I’ve needed to hear and I hope that they will bless you as well.

For a balanced life, we’re to look to Jesus for guidance: “Jesus is our supreme example. He was never in a hurry. He knew who he was and where he was going. He wasn’t held hostage to the world’s demands or even its desperate needs.” I think this suggests that we should ask Him what we should do each day, not filling up our entire schedule without consulting Him first and then asking for him to help us accomplish it all. That’s how we run off course, get distracted (and ultimately frustrated) because we might be doing things that He never asked us to do (or doesn’t expect us to do by ourselves).

“Busyness, by itself, breeds distraction . . . We can get caught up in the same performance trap, feeling as though we must prove our love for God by doing great things for him. So we rush past the intimacy . . . to get busy for him . . . all in an effort to spread the good news . . . But in the end, will he know us? Will we know him?” I realized that I’m guilty of this because as soon as He healed me from my past, I ran right toward sharing the good news to publishing a book to getting involved in ministry and I did not slow down. Well, not until He took things away from me so that I would slow down. I figured that since He healed me and all, I knew enough to do all of these things. God’s not saying that my intentions or passions or activities are wrong. I just forgot that I’d still need to spend just as much time getting know Him. I had forgotten how to be wholly dependent upon him. I need to put spending time in His presence above to trying to accomplish anything, and I thought I had been doing that, but I wasn’t growing much.

I started to have “Martha Overload/Servant burnout.” Some examples are falsely (and probably innocently) believing things like: “There should not be any limits to what I can do,” and “I have the capacity to help everyone.”

Why is worship/intimacy/quiet time with Jesus so important? People commonly say that it gets our eyes off of ourselves and our circumstances and back to God. Why is that? Because we have an enemy: “. . . Satan has resorted to [distraction, discouragement, doubt] to bring down God’s best and brightest . . . Get people’s eyes off of God and on their circumstances.” “He also knows if we’re overly worried and bogged down by duties, chances are good our hearts will not hear the Savior’s call to come.” That’s why I haven’t heard God’s voice lately or felt like he wasn’t answering my prayers. I had been wasting so much time worrying and trying to solve all my problems that I literally was unable to hear God.

“Doubting God’s love doesn’t require tragedy . . . It happens when our will is crossed, when our needs are ignored, or when we, like Martha, are stuck doing the dirty work while everyone else is having fun.” Be careful if you feel this way. “For doubt, left unchecked, can fester into unbelief.” Did you know that “unbelief brought down Judas”?

Often times when I feel discouraged or frustrated, I try to take matters into my own hands. Thankfully, not all of my efforts work out because when they do, I end up making mistakes, just like others in the Bible who got in trouble for taking matters into their own hands. And that is exactly what the enemy wants us to do. “The fact is, until we stop doubting God’s goodness, we can’t experience God’s love.” and “You’ll forever be faced with . . . temptation to take matters into your own hands.”

Did you know that it says “Fear not” in the Bible, some 350 times? The Bible also tells us to not worry or be anxious. Yet we constantly do that. Did you know that “researchers have established connections between chronic worry and weakened immune systems, cardiovascular disease, neurological imbalances, clinical depression, and other physical and psychological dysfunctions . . .”

“We face legitimate concerns every day . . . but . . . instead of worrying, we need to focus on discerning what we can do (with God’s help) and what should be left entirely up to God.”

If you don’t know Philippians 4:6-7, please take a moment to look it up. I never knew/realized this but: “Paul had all kinds of reasons to worry as he sat in a Roman prison awaiting a possible death sentence.” He WROTE Philippians while in prison. He had PEACE in prison. He understood that worrying does nothing for us.

Which is better, worry or peace? Peace does not have any negative side effects. You can have peace in the midst of chaos. Peace does not mean that you aren’t being responsible or being lazy or are ignorant. It means that you are choosing to trust God, that you’re turning to him to take care of the problems that you cannot fix. It means that you are being wise, that you recognize your own limitations. God won’t honor our worrying.

In conclusion for today, I’ve known for a long time that I am guilty of worrying. I’ve also battled with anxiety and fear. I’ve learned that doing those things do not solve my problems, they do not bring deliverance, and they certainly don’t bring quicker answers from God. I’ve come a long way in dealing with those things, and I believe that God wants to pull me out from their traps. For good. People around me, and including myself, may believe that this season is a bad one for me (for my career and my finances, not the pregnancy). Yet, God is intending it for good. He has a lot that he wants to teach me because he loves me. One day, I will look back and be relieved and joyful that I surrendered to this now. I don’t want to keep finding myself in similar situations. I’m not here because God has forgotten about me! I’m here because God wants me to pay attention. He wants to free and deliver my heart from worry, distraction, discouragement, and anxiety. He wants to teach me more about His peace, more about His faithfulness, more about His love, more about His goodness, more about His provision, more about His plans for me.

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Worry or Peace? Part 1

Why is it that when we’re struggling with some problem, we believe that we’re alone?

I know that I’m not the only one going through a tough time, and I also know that God is on my side. So why do I hesitate before admitting that life is hard? I don’t really know.

Lately, I face one obstacle after another. I’ve been referring to them as setbacks because that’s what obstacles seem to be, at first. But I’ve been walking with God long enough to know better. Yet, it hasn’t been enough to lift my discouragement. I even told Him that I was giving up. I had enough, and had grown weary of trying so hard to make progress only to find myself back at the starting point. I felt like my prayers were going unanswered and I couldn’t take His silence anymore. I’d been worrying too much.

My bad mood had been building all day. I finally decided that I needed to cry it out for about ten minutes, and then I’d have to move on. I did. Then I went to bed and told myself that I wouldn’t worry about anything, and that my sole task was to just go to sleep. Then something strange happened. I woke up the next day with peace. I couldn’t believe it. How could I have peace when I didn’t have any answers or solutions? How could I have peace when my mind wasn’t interested in being at peace? Although I questioned it, I didn’t dwell on it. I just wanted the peace to last and I was concerned that it would disappear the next day. Except it didn’t.

I woke up with renewed peace each day this week. If a worried thought came into mind, I just refused to dwell on it, and you know what? The thought disappeared. Anyway, like I mentioned before, I knew it wasn’t true, but I felt like my prayers weren’t being answered and certainly not in a way that I wanted. But, the night that I cried out to God, I asked Him for something different: to not just deliver me from my problems, but to change me. To show me what He’s been trying to teach me all this time. I don’t know why I don’t pray that way more often. I don’t know why it takes me until I feel desperate to ask God for his input. Of course, God doesn’t always chose to explain himself to us or answer our “whys” but I think that he responds to us because we’re finally willing to listen to him. During many trials that I’ve endured, once I get to that place, God has been faithful to speak to my heart. Why do I doubt Him in the next trial?

No matter what God had to say, I was going to listen. I also wondered why I assumed that God would say or his response would be whatever my mind conjured up in fear. Anyway, after a much needed conversation with someone close to me, God spoke to both of us. As we talked, God revealed things to our hearts that we wouldn’t have known otherwise. It was so gentle and reassuring. Do either of us have all the answers? No, but I am very grateful for what God did reveal.

God often takes us through trials to develop characteristics in us that no other situation would do, and to teach us about himself. For example, He uses other people and hard situations to teach us about peace, maturity, trust, love, grace, etc. God has a few other attributes that I often forget about: wisdom and faithfulness. God will take us through difficulties to remind us that he is the standard of wisdom and that he is faithful.

As part of my weekly Bible study, I’ve been reading Systematic Theology by William Grudem. I read it in preparation, but the words still did not resonate with me until I read them out loud in our meeting: “It should be our great confidence and source of peace day by day to know that God causes all things to move us toward the ultimate goal he has for our lives, namely, that we might be like Christ and thereby bring glory to him.” How much time to we spend wondering or worrying about God’s will? Well, I find it funny that while He has other things in mind for us, we forget about his ultimate goal. I mean, obviously, I know that my life’s purpose is to become as Christ-like as possible by the end of it. I also know that it’s a relatively slow process, and I think that’s why I forget about it sometimes . . . and I also get distracted by circumstances. We go through circumstances because we are becoming like Christ. If He didn’t escape troubles, we can’t expect to escape them either.

“. . . there will frequently be times in this life when we will not be able to understand why God allowed something to happen. Then we have simply to trust him and go on obeying his wise commands for our lives . . . it pleases Him when we have faith to trust his wisdom even when we do not understand what he is doing.” How often do we cry: “but, I don’t understand,” or “this doesn’t make sense,” or “why can’t I figure this out?” Especially when we are commanded in Proverbs 3:5-6 to not lean on our own understanding? It’s in the Bible because God knew we would try to do the exact opposite. God has not given us the mental capacity or other ability to have our lives figured out all the time. Yet, whenever we’re in difficult situations, we stress ourselves out striving to do so.

God hasn’t been silent. He hasn’t been ignoring my prayers. He’s been trying to get my attention. I’m the one who wasn’t being still long enough to listen.

In conclusion, for now anyway, part of why I am going through these setbacks is because God is developing my character. He’s also all-knowing and can see things that I cannot. These obstacles may very well be preventing me from a disaster or they’re going to be opportunities for God to act on my behalf . . . He is going to work things out better than I ever could imagine anyway, so I have to stop fighting Him on it. I’ve been through many situations with God where I thought life should go in one particular direction and he hasn’t allowed it. By His grace, his provision comes in another way . . . and about 100% of the time, I am so relieved that things didn’t work out the way I thought they should or wanted them to. Yet, that isn’t always enough to stop me from doubting as soon as another situation arises. I am not an all-knowing God, so how dare I think that my ways or my wisdom are better? Time and time again, God has shown me that he truly does have what’s best for me in mind. God is faithful, I am not. The only requirement He has for me right now, (since I literally cannot figure it out the “why” or the solutions around or through the obstacles), is to just believe and trust him – which is less stressful, less exhausting, and I have peace. More on this in the next post.

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