Week 3

Taking a journey of self discovery is everything I’d hoped it would be and nothing like I thought it would be. In just a few short weeks, my thinking has shifted so tremendously that I am literally experiencing the course of my life changing from “have to” to “want to”. I feel like I am starting to learn who I really am. Not only that, I am realizing that who I really am is a beautiful person and that God’s will for me is to let that beauty shine. Little by little, I am learning how.

A Wife’s Prayer

Dear God,

Please help me to win my husband’s affection every day. Show me what I can to do remind him why he fell in love with me and why he loves me more each day. Help me to be the woman of his dreams, the woman he married, the woman he wants. Grant me the confidence in myself that I know he has in me. Guide me as I strive to make him happy every day. Please grant me patience in my thoughts, words and actions when I interact with the man I love. Help me find the strength and courage You have given me when I need to be his anchor.

Thank you for his love, support and encouragement. I am blessed to have found something so genuine in what we share and believe that what we have is truly sacred.

Lord, please forgive me when I sin against Our covenant. May I speak sweetly, love earnestly, fight fairly, and forgive always.

Amen

“God is what we need!”

The following was copied from a Facebook posting. The speech is attributed to Darrell Scott, the father of two victims of the Columbine High School tragedy. According to snopes.com, Mr. Scott did make this statement before a House subcommittee, but additional claims in the email that circulated this speech in 1999 are false. Still, it echos what I’ve been thinking and how I’ve been feeling on the subject of God and public school lately, so I have re-posted the statement here:

Darrell Scott, the father of Rachel Scott, a victim of the Columbine High School shootings in Littleton, Colorado, was invited to address the House Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee. What he said to our national leaders during this special session of Congress was painfully truthful.

“Since the dawn of creation there has been both good & evil in the hearts of men and women. We all contain the seeds of kindness or the seeds of violence. The death of my wonderful daughter, Rachel Joy Scott, and the deaths of that heroic teacher, and the other eleven children who died must not be in vain. Their blood cries out for answers.

“The first recorded act of violence was when Cain slew his brother Abel out in the field. The villain was not the club he used.. Neither was it the NCA, the National Club Association. The true killer was Cain, and the reason for the murder could only be found in Cain’s heart.

“In the days that followed the Columbine tragedy, I was amazed at how quickly fingers began to be pointed at groups such as the NRA. I am not a member of the NRA. I am not a hunter. I do not even own a gun. I am not here to represent or defend the NRA – because I don’t believe that they are responsible for my daughter’s death. Therefore I do not believe that they need to be defended. If I believed they had anything to do with Rachel’s murder I would be their strongest opponent

I am here today to declare that Columbine was not just a tragedy — it was a spiritual event that should be forcing us to look at where the real blame lies! Much of the blame lies here in this room. Much of the blame lies behind the pointing fingers of the accusers themselves. I wrote a poem just four nights ago that expresses my feelings best.

Your laws ignore our deepest needs,
Your words are empty air.
You’ve stripped away our heritage,
You’ve outlawed simple prayer.
Now gunshots fill our classrooms,
And precious children die.
You seek for answers everywhere,
And ask the question “Why?”
You regulate restrictive laws,
Through legislative creed.
And yet you fail to understand,
That God is what we need!

“Men and women are three-part beings. We all consist of body, mind, and spirit. When we refuse to acknowledge a third part of our make-up, we create a void that allows evil, prejudice, and hatred to rush in and wreak havoc. Spiritual presences were present within our educational systems for most of our nation’s history. Many of our major colleges began as theological seminaries. This is a historical fact.

What has happened to us as a nation? We have refused to honor God, and in so doing, we open the doors to hatred and violence. And when something as terrible as Columbine’s tragedy occurs — politicians immediately look for a scapegoat such as the NRA. They immediately seek to pass more restrictive laws that contribute to erode away our personal and private liberties. We do not need more restrictive laws.

Eric and Dylan would not have been stopped by metal detectors. No amount of gun laws can stop someone who spends months planning this type of massacre. The real villain lies within our own hearts.

“As my son Craig lay under that table in the school library and saw his two friends murdered before his very eyes, he did not hesitate to pray in school. I defy any law or politician to deny him that right! I challenge every young person in America , and around the world, to realize that on April 20, 1999, at Columbine High School prayer was brought back to our schools. Do not let the many prayers offered by those students be in vain. Dare to move into the new millennium with a sacred disregard for legislation that violates your God-given right to communicate with Him.

To those of you who would point your finger at the NRA — I give to you a sincere challenge.. Dare to examine your own heart before casting the first stone!

My daughter’s death will not be in vain! The young people of this country will not allow that to happen!”

– Darrell Scott

Please share this with your friends!

I Found the Secret

Even though I was baptized and confirmed Catholic, studied religious education and/or at a parochial school from elementary through high schools, and attended Mass on a fairly consistent basis during my childhood, I’ve always struggled with religion, spirituality and my personal relationship with God.

For far too many years now, I have missed out what I am discovering to be an amazing spiritual life. I have believed in God all my life because I knew in my heart there are too many miracles in the universe for there not to be a Higher Power. Yet, I struggled with things like not always agreeing with the Catholic Church’s teachings or not knowing how to connect with/feel/speak with God in a way that felt genuine to me. This left me feeling empty inside, as though I was lacking a crucial part of my life. I didn’t correlate this void with my emotions and behavior until recently. I’ve come to realize that when I feel most sad/depressed, lonely, angry, anxious, fearful about things, I let my emotions and thoughts take over my actions. This repetitive negative behavior cycle was destroying precious parts of my life. Though I yearn to feel and act differently, it has been extremely difficult breaking the cycle. For a while, I thought I was purely struggling with the transition from young adulthood (being guided and supervised by a parent) to full-on adulthood (hello, sink or swim: marriage, parenthood, bills, career path…). Then, I realized that it wasn’t parental guidance I was craving so much as it was God’s guidance. How did I realize this? From reading a book, of course! And not just any book, but THE book… the Bible.

With all of the reading I have done in my lifetime, I have never picked up and read the Bible of my own accord. Sure, I’ve dissected passages in a Christian Studies course and heard the Gospel at Mass on Sundays, but just sitting down to read it had never appealed to me. This was mostly because I had a horrible time understanding what it says. Lucky for me, my husband found me a Bible that has footnotes throughout, translating the ancient words into modern explanations. Now, I love reading the Bible because it is filled with the instructions on how to live a happy, healthy and peaceful life. It feels like I have discovered the secret to living the life I have always dreamed of but never knew how to obtain!

One of the recommendations Joyce Meyer makes most often is to get to know the Word in order to get to know God and live a godly life. After hearing this a few dozen times, it finally started to sink in — if I didn’t read His Word, I would never be able to receive His message. For the past several weeks now, I have been finding time most every day to spend at least 10-15 minutes reading the Bible. This normally leads to a few moments of personal meditation and prayer, where I reflect on and thank God for my blessings. Before I know it, I have a lighter mind, a happier heart and a better outlook on life – a.k.a. my own personal relationship with God as I know Him. My positive thoughts and attitude leads to pleasant words and kinder, gentler, more loving behavior. The best part is the peace I am beginning to experience in my heart and in my life. It is a slow and steady process, but I am making progress and that is the important part. My days are still far from perfect, but they are getting better and I am getting stronger in faith every day.

My Merry-Go-Round

Okay, so clearly I have a problem with consistency. I feel like I’m running in circles with my fists tightly gripping the bars of a merry-go-round that I can’t quite get the hang of riding. I know that the goal is not only to be able to ride the merry-go-round without falling off, it’s to be able to enjoy the ride, too. Attaining that goal is not as easy as it sounds. There are more factors at play than meet the eye. First, in order to get the ride moving, you have to put in the effort of getting it started. This requires holding onto the bars, taking a running start and then hopping onto the platform. Then, you get to spin around and around as the circulated wind rushes over your face. Eventually, the ride will stop unless the passenger hops off, runs with the merry-go-round and hops on again. That is, unless a fellow adventure-seeker comes along and then you can either work as a team to gain some serious speed, or take turns enjoying the ride while the other maintains its momentum.

[I can see how a merry-go-round is a metaphor for a lot of things in life.]

The merry-go-round in my life is a metaphor for living a balanced, happy and healthy life. In order to take the ride (or maintain balance in my life) I have to put in the work. For me specifically, this means following the routines it takes to keep up a healthy and happy life. This is what creates a stable and consistent home. My problem is that I did not grow up in the kind of home that want to create for my own family. This raises two issues. First, I never saw a positive example of what I am trying to achieve. It is hard to attain something when you aren’t exactly sure how to get there. Second, since I did see negative examples, I picked up on negative traits that are now deep rooted habits that prevent me from achieving the harmony I seek. Getting back to my metaphor, it’s like trying to learn how to ride the merry-go-round the right way when you’ve only witnessed it being ridden wrong or in ways that resulted in injury to the riders.

If I can create a rhythm of hopping off, running, and hopping on and practice until it becomes natural for me, then perhaps I will be able to maintain the consistency I’ve been attempting to reach. I am learning that I don’t always have to burn myself out trying to keep the merry-go-round moving. Sometimes, I run too fast and become short of breath, quickly wearing myself down. Other times, I am exhausted and barely move for too long , resulting in me growing lazy. Sometimes, I let everyone else crowd the ride and I try to do all the running myself. Even though the load is too large, I often refuse to ask for and/or accept help. Still other times, I stop doing the work and the merry-go-round slows to a complete stop. This is when I feel my life has become dull, lonely, and purposeless.

I am learning the tricks to maximizing my merry-go-round experience.
I’ve learned that “slow is steady and steady is fast” – there is no need to sprint; I need only keep moving. Like the Energizer Bunny I must keep going and going and going and going……. regardless of what life throws my way… rain, shine, snow or hail… just keep moving.
I’ve learned that I am going to have days where I fall off, grow tired, or make mistakes. There are also going to be days when I can run a little longer in place of someone else who needs it, enjoy the serenity of a solo ride on a warm, sunny day or help someone else figure out how to ride their own merry-go-round.
I’ve learned that it is okay to ask for help if it gets too hard to handle alone and to take my own turn at enjoying the ride while others do the running.
I’m learning it’s more fun to ride with others, and family and friends are your best co-riders.
I’m learning that through it all, God has got my back.

Personally, I’ve never been a fan of merry-go-rounds. I have never liked spinning in circles. Maybe it’s vertigo; spinning makes me dizzy and nauseous and faint. I could never figure out what it was about merry-go-rounds that people loved so much. I could not see how people get a rush from the feeling of freedom as they spin around and around. I couldn’t find fun in the hopping and running and hopping, then spinning and spinning and spinning. I couldn’t see past the “work” of it long enough to just enjoy the fun of it.

Lucky for me, I am learning to love the ride.

My Story

Like most, my life is far from perfect. It didn’t have a perfect beginning but I have spent its entirety working toward a more perfect middle and ending. I experienced a childhood that shaped me into a strong, independent and passionate woman. Much of what I experienced in childhood also shaped me into a negative, isolated and doubtful little girl, confused, lost and angry at the world. I recall reading somewhere about how connecting with your inner child can help you achieve a more balanced life. I was having difficulty finding my inner child until I recognized that maybe I knew her all along, I was just ashamed to face her. My inner child is a sad and scared little girl, cowering from the world with her back against the wall of a dark cave. She’s naive, distrusting of most and juggles between being filled with anger and being completely hopeless.

Your inner child greatly influences your actions as an adult. Think about a child’s behavior: it is impulsive and impatient, prone to throwing a tantrum if he or she doesn’t get what he or she wants. As an adult, we have to learn to act more mature, postponing immediate gratification and acting civilly even though we’re throwing a tantrum on the inside. If your inner child hasn’t learned how to act properly, it’s going to be reflected on the outside – by your behaviors. Since my inner child is negative, my behaviors as an adult are negative.

I am learning how to help this hurt child inside me become the happy, healthy and thriving adult I want to be – the kind of person that I hope I’m raising my own child to be. So far, realizing all of this has been my biggest step. I always felt like I understood my past because of years of therapy, but I could never figure out how it was affecting my present. It turns out I was missing a vital key in my life, the puzzle piece that connects all the other pieces: I was missing God.

I’ve never been an especially religious person. I called myself spiritual because I’ve always believed in a Higher Power, but I had difficulty making an actual connection with God. Over the past few years, He has continually placed a woman named Joyce Meyer in my path in the form of both books and televised sermons. This woman has introduced to me to God. It’s as though I have always felt His presence, but my inner child was too afraid to turn around and introduce herself; even though she knew He was there to help her, she was too shy to ask for the help. Now that Ms. Meyer has done the hard part and we have been introduced, my inner child and I are learning together how to live in the Spirit of God, where I know I will find true freedom.

For me, this means maintaining a healthy, happy and balanced life. Some internal reflection has made me realize my truth – I am not living a very healthy life. So my focus is on becoming healthier physically, as well as mentally, spiritually, intellectually, and emotionally.

American Dream Maker is where I am going to record my trials and errors, hypotheses and experiments, successes and failures along the way. I am in the middle of the unfolding of my own personal love story (in the works of being told as a novel currently entitled Becoming Mrs. Casey). I have searched for and found my prince and the road to happily ever after began. Now, I’m learning how bring the happy to the ever after as we bring our American Dream to life. And you, my friend, are invited along for the ride.