When The Hand That Feeds You Has Claws

“Don’t bite the hand that feeds you”, I have heard that a lot. But what do you do if those providing for you have claws and sometimes scratch you up pretty good? Now, I don’t mean physical abuse. That requires getting away and protecting self and any children. That is a matter left for the law, and I recommend them for such issues. And I am not necessarily talking about parents or spouses. The hand that feeds you can be an employer or friend or mentor or parent or spouse. I mean that you are consistently being slashed/spoken down to/berated/lied to/etc. by a person in a position of authority or provision over you. What do you do? The first step is an assessment. By assessment I mean really take a close look at the heart of the problem. For instance, if an employer for instance always criticizes your work, look first at, am I doing bad work? Am I to blame? Sometimes we are, if we can get ourselves to look objectively at it. If yes, fix yourself first and the problem may clear up. If no, look at why? Is he being critical for a particular reason? If nothing obvious jumps out or does, move on to step 2, which is to determine the level of maturity of the other person involved. Ask a test question hypothetically and gage the response. For instance in this example, ask the boss what you should do if another employee was being very critical of your work. If they get angry or charge off or start defending themselves or demand to know who is doing this, probably not a good idea to discuss this real situation with them. If they respond with “Well, you should talk to them and if that doesn’t work, come talk to me”, well you can have a heart to heart at the right time and should make an appointment to speak with him. If speaking with them isn’t a viable or wise option, here is step 3. Assess the situation again in terms of a damage meter, meaning how damaging is this behavior to you long term? Is there some way to separate myself from the damage? Can I live with it or do I need to suddenly become more independent and work towards taking care of myself another way? This is a serious line of questioning and should only be embarked upon with great wisdom and prayer and Bible study. God does not intend for His children to suffer needlessly. However, you had better be certain you have a back up plan and wise counsel/advice from an older Christ follower you know and trust who can be sure the damage is not inflated too much in your own mind. Prayer precedes decisions always. Step 4 is acting. After you have planned for a back up plan, confront the person with their behavior. If the Lord wants you to stay there, He will assist with and provide a positive response. If He wants you to go, you will be met with such a negative response that you will know the situation will only deteriorate your health over time and you must go away from the situation and explain why to the person. It is very giving of you to give them an opportunity to change themselves and we are supposed to be giving. These 4 steps I believe are sound Biblically and require much prayerful discernment and advice. We should have boundaries of protection around us, even from those who meet needs of ours because our dependence is first and foremost on God and He will provide all our needs according to His riches and glory. We are responsible to take care of His dwelling place, ourselves.

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The Used vs. The Users

There are certainly people who give and people who take in this world. To some extent, we spend much of our existence going back and forth between the two, but overall some give more than they take, are characterized by giving, those we term “generous”. Then there are those who end up taking more than they give, sometimes a good deal more, and I call them the “takers”. These people have developed a distortion of reality and skewed mindset where they sometimes honestly believe they deserve things. When taken to its natural selfish and narcissistic end, these takers become Alison known as ” users”. People are in their lives to serve them and to be used for what you can get out of them. Many politicians and other high ups of all varieties live with this misguided and illogical thinking. The givers give and end up being the “used” by the users. This seems to be how the world works. This is also how the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. My Dad, a farmer and machine repairmen and former Marine, had a saying, “The rich don’t get rich by giving it away”. There have been some great philanthropists throughout the centuries, however, so that blanket statement is not without its flaws. Also, rich people hire poorer people to do their work and as such poor people do benefit inadvertantly. All that detail aside, we are commanded in the Bible to be givers. There is no example of Jesus Christ taking. He gave, even His own life. He commanded us to give. And why? Did He want us to be poor, to be dupes of takers and users? On the contrary, when we give, we are the free ones spiritually. This is why we see so many unhappy takers/users. They get, thinking it will satisfy and make them happy and bring them peace so work diligently for that next taking to find it, constantly chasing after the wind. When givers give unbegrudgingly, you have peace because you are obedient and humble and God always rewards that. Nothing we have is really ours anyway, not even those placing such great value in it. God owns everything! We give and can never out give God and He will give back all you need and life and joy and peace. Better a saved and blessed pauper than a miserable and cursed tycoon. Those who are poor are the rich ones in God’s kingdom. The first now shall be last then and the last now shall be first. There is no arguing that, it is truth. So don’t feel yourself a victim when used because in that situation, you will be blessed and provided for and have the distinct advantage in that situation. Maybe thank them for giving you an opportunity to have greater spiritual riches now and vaster riches in heaven. They will wish they were more like you then.

Difficult Decisions

What truly makes a decision difficult is most often us. Our uncertainty, lack of faith/trust, distractions, input from others, masks or just plain pride are the accomplices to the crime of difficulty but the gunman is generally just a focus on the details so much that God’s big picture and will are shadowed. Often it is really an easy decision shrouded in emotional or spiritual baggage. What really makes us have difficulty with a decision is the enemy. He works overtime on causing distraction and loss of focus and even procrastination and evil influences of others. He takes pride in steering us the wrong direction and loves to see us sweat it out while his plan is going strong. The decision whether to do right or wrong is never a gray decision, never difficult. However, if the enemy has his way, he tempts us to a myriad of shades of gray until little compromises are made. Usually, big decisions are difficult when they involve the future of other people. In that case, the big picture thinking comes in handy. If you are not cut to see the big picture, maybe you know a fellow Christ follower who is and can help see that big picture you need to make the decision. And if you don’t have such a person in your circle, or even if you do, here is a revolutionary practice… Pray about it and read your Bible and then have ask some questions in your head and you will be surprised how many times God’s Holy Spirit answers your question in your head or heart OR the opportunity that shows up soon after. God is not dead. He is absolutely alive and active and His Holy Spirit dwells/lives in every person who is saved. So, with His help decisions cease to be difficult or ugly. They clear up when you ask the Lord for help and are open for His answer.

My Life in an Oldies Rock & Roll Band

As a hobby and where I met my husband, I play the keyboard and sing in our oldies rock & roll band called Smooth Sentiment Band. We perform standards and classics (usually hits of the time) from the 50’s to 70’s. It is good clean fun for us and the mostly clubhouses in Central Florida venues we play in. I thought other people who do not have the opportunity to be in a band might be curious as to what it is like. There are two phases of description: one is the inner workings of a band and the other is stage performance. Phase 1: inner workings of a band. Here is the fun work. This is where each band member works independently on their part of the song, sometimes figuring out your part on your own from listening to the song about a million times or you can cheat and get it from sheet music or YouTube. Once you have your part, hopefully by the next band practice/rehearsal, all the band practices their parts together with the singer(s). The more this happens, the better the band gets together at reading the band members’ individual cues or playing style and it starts to gel or click. This is where the band stops being a group of musicians playing together and starts being family. In fact, we are often closer than a lot of family because music has a way of promoting community and acceptance and mutual respect in a band. Of course, I have been in bands where this never happens because of immaturity or egos, but we are honored to be in a band now that has clicked. Yay! Phase 2: stage performance. Here is the work going from behind the scenes to presentation. This part is where the rubber meets the road, the reward for the hard work. We arrive an hour before the gig starts to set up and later will stay an hour after and tear down. If it is a dance, we play an alternating 2 fast and 1 slow songs. This generally keeps dancers on the floor without exhausting them hopefully. It also keeps things interesting. If it is a show, we dress the songs up a bit and play entertaining tunes that may not be easy to dance to. It is always great fun! Many bands are nervous before a performance always and forever, but I grew up on stage and don’t have stage fright, thank the Lord! The reward is the good times people have who hear us as well as the money they pay us. It validates our hard work. I hope you have enjoyed learning a little bit of behind the scenes of bands.

Some People’s Children

Aware of the fact that my kids are very busy children and very active thinkers, I have been amiss in their upbringing as of late. The 9 year old male and the 4 year old female are quite different in some ways because of having different fathers and different life experiences (my son having survived a divorce) yet quite a bit alike both because of their common Mom and birthdays 2 weeks apart. Until today, wondering why the preschooler was acting out so much lately, I realized that I was giving more recognition and support to their similarities and not much to their differences. I will be working on that. In addition, I forgot my trick until today. The trick is to ignore the bad behavior (unless it is direct disobedience or a safety hazard) as much as possible and go over the top with praise and hugs and kisses when behavior is good. This reinforces what you want to happen and gives the kid attention when doing well and every preschooler wants/craves/needs attention. So, I have my work cut out for me and now all I need is more energy for all this extra work. 🙂 I guess we are all a work in progress.

Boxing Glove Christianity

My Dad was a Marine and when he was in the Marines, he was a drill Sargent, heavy equipment operator and boxing instructor. When I was young, I was a tomboy and he and I would watch boxing matches and he would explain things to me and teach me some moves along the way. So, I carried that love of boxing with me throughout life and to this day appreciate a good match. And I got to thinking about my walk with the Lord. All the teachings on love and forgiveness and turning the other cheek always kinda bothered me. And I realized something tonight. I think the Lord put it into my head, as He has a habit of doing. All these teachings are really boxing training because every good boxer knows that you can not be any kind of successful in boxing unless you can block, dodge and take a punch. Good boxers hit well and have agility and strategy, but no matter their skill, they will go down if they haven’t been trained in blocking, dodging and taking a punch. When we wake up in the morning, we put on the boxing gloves and prepare ourselves for our fights of the day/hour/minute. Some fights, unfortunately, are right there in the home. Others, just as unfortunately, are in the church. Most are in the workplace, shopping centers, dark places, roads, etc. There is never a question IF we will be hit and really from where shouldn’t be the priority question. The big question is has my training been extensive enough to prepare me for the fights and am I awake to see the punches coming to defend myself? What spiritual training do we need? Bible reading and prayer and lots and lots of both. And the reason Christ teaches not to hit back is because we might be tempted to think the blow was actually from the person at the other end of the punch, and we know decisively that our fight is not against flesh and blood but against the rulers and powers of this world’s darkness, the enemy. As such, we are not strong enough to take on this supernatural force and have to leave that to the Holy Spirit in us, our supernatural force. And if we are foolish enough to attack the flesh and blood person being used and duped by the enemy, we could crush them completely and harm ourselves in the process, for vengeance is God’s and He will repay. Every person was made by Him, you see, not just you. There is hope if you don’t exhibit pride and weakness enough to fight back foolishly and prove the enemy right. The enemy would win that round. However, if you are strong enough to be humble and peaceable and allow God to fight in the spirit world, where the fight is actually taking place, He has a better chance to not only make it right but also try to save the person from a fate worse than death. Any boxer knows that control of self is essential in any winner. Forgiveness is also relevant here. We are to block punches with forgiveness, pretty limitless, because we have to forgive the way we want God to forgive us and the way He has already forgiven us. Then, especially in the home but everywhere else also, we have a chance of helping save their souls long term. Just a thought.

Love Is…

Love is a smile when the world is frowning.
Love is a soft poem when the world is rapping.
Love is hugs and kisses when the world is abusing.
Love is gentle words first thing in the morning.
Love is forgiving when the world holds a grudge.
Love is accepting when the world is criticizing.
Love is peace when the world is troubled.
Love is natural landscapes when the world is concrete.
Love is butterflies when the world is lifeless.
Love is rainbows when the world is colorless.
Love is service when the world requires.
Love is fruit when the world is stale crackers.
Love is bounty when the world is want.
Love is life when the world is not.