Jona’s Emotions

My 2 year old son Jonathan is an emotional little guy. Actually, both of my boys are, but my focus is on Jona in this moment. If something doesn’t go his way, he is liable to scream and growl and cry real tears. This guy gets upset!

Because my husband and I both have come from backgrounds that have not taught us how to effectively deal with our emotions, we don’t know what we’re doing. That being said, I am grateful that we are not merely doing what was done in our family (of origin), with our children. We are forging a different path, in hopes of breaking cycles of abuse and dysfunction, and it is hard.

I am one who looks at a thing from every angle that I can. This often makes things a bit more complicated.

Yesterday, Jona got upset and yelled and my husband quickly got angry and told him to go upstairs (to cry). This boy can scream. Here’s what I see.

For my husband, he has had whatever type of day he has had, and the boy starts yelling and crying about something that to Jermaine is minuscule. It’s frustrating to no end.

For Jona, he is 2 years old. His vocabulary and cognitive reasoning abilities are very limited. He is trying to communicate his needs and desires and is often misunderstood. I mean, the baby talks funny. We don’t know what he is saying, but he is clearly saying something because he says it the same exact way every time. (This is one of the reasons we sign with our babies, to enhance our ability to communicate during these tougher phases.) So, Jona wants something or something goes wrong, no one understands, he gets frustrated and angry and naturally, blows up. Who wouldn’t feel the way he does? The fact that it is about his kindle being dead is irrelevant, he has a problem that for him, is very serious and very real and I for one, respect and honor that. Yes, he’s a child, but he’s a person, deserving honor and respect, which unfortunately is a foreign concept for many adults. Insert eye roll here.

When I see Jonathan reach his limit and cry, it is upsetting. He is loud and I just want to help him. One thing I talk to my husband about is how we as adults need to learn to stop making the child’s behavior about us. Parents take offense, get angry and yell, curse, punish, hit, or whatever, not realizing the impact of their actions on the child long term.

Not only are you not teaching the child how to deal with their strong emotions, but when you do any of what I mentioned above and send them away, you teach them that you are not available when they need your help, something is wrong with them and their emotions (insert shame here) and so much more. Then, we wonder why so many adults have no clue about how to process their emotions. You have a grown man who, when he feels angry, stuffs his feelings because he doesn’t know what else to do with them. How long does that work, until he makes himself sick or harms someone else and ends up in prison or dead?

I’m not saying I have the answers, I don’t. I know Who does though, and I go to Him and get help on how to help my son and family with these issues when they arise. With God’s help, we can change things for the better for ourselves and future generations. The abuse and neglect has to end here. I am tired of it.

Write More? Maybe

My 3 girls either write and/or draw every day. Watching their progress, and hearing about how this experience is going for them is making me want to write more too. I often feel I don’t have much to say, but I realize it doesn’t have to be some enormous epiphany that I write about, although these days seem to be filled with them. I am also noticing a trend lately. When I speak with friends and think I’m just chatting about things everyone knows about and that’s not the case. Those are things I could write about too. I also need to let go of an idea of needing to write a certain length of a blog post. I have all these “rules” in my head and am now realizing they are just stupid.

One epiphany that has come around again for me is how deeply entrenched I am in not being very comfortable with being on the receiving end. I can handle it easier if there’s a way for me to pay it back in time or even if I have given ahead of time, I can deal with that a little bit better. Receiving in a manner where it is appropriate to just receive, without any reciprocation needed, is very hard for me, especially if it is something that involves a process. The more time passes where I am on the receiving end, not giving at all (because it isn’t the time for giving or perhaps inappropriate), I feel more and more uncomfortable. I feel I am at a time in my life where God is working on this with me.

Another thing that comes to mind as a reason to not write so often is that I am perhaps afraid of sharing more of myself for fear of rejection or abandonment. I am naturally a more open and authentic person. I don’t care much for superficial conversations or relationships. I don’t like to make time for such things. But, I am at a time in my life where I am ready to be fully me, fully present, with no apologies. Anyone who leaves, great, I didn’t have to give them the boot, they can weed themselves out. This is how I am choosing to look at it.

All this to say, maybe I will write more often and share more of my life and what’s on my heart. We’ll see.

Nourishing Traditional Food

My friend Patrice Lanzner-Brown was right. One of the ways I love my family and really everyone, is to feed them food I have prepared.

I have been fussing at this entity we call hindsight lately, lol. (I am admittedly nutty in that way.) Looking back, I have no idea why I am just now, at 42 realizing that I have a passion for cooking and baking. I am one who takes great pleasure in the smallest of things. Feeding people good wholesome food, prepared with love, makes me downright giddy and teary eyed.

Right now as I type this, my heart is full. I love experimenting in the kitchen and am willing to try things I’ve never heard of (only to find out later it is a thing with a name). I enjoy learning from the results. We have a month old sourdough starter. Instead of looking up sourdough recipes, we decided to experiment and make up our own (again) and make a sourdough banana bread loaf. It is almost done and looks fantastic. I also got out a bag of apples I bought yesterday and peeled, cored and cut them to make a fermented apple sauce that will be ready in a few days. In the meantime, there’s a pint of fermented apple sauce for my family to enjoy and benefit from.

I also started the process of making more cultured butter for my family. My heart swelled with pride and joy to see my oldest take out some sourdough waffles we made an froze a few weeks ago. She gave them to my 2 sons, who happily gobbled them up with some maple syrup (which reminds me that we need to make more pancake syrup). It’s like a scene off some farm somewhere.

For me, food has to be prepared with real ingredients. This means I don’t do too much processed food. I enjoy making things from scratch that some never consider making. I am also big on making delicious fermented foods for optimal gut health. It pleases me to no end to bake a cake a bread, make fruit leather (like fruit roll ups) and more and have it be from fully soured dough for optimal digestion or fermented fruits and vegetables and see it all devoured happily.

I think I will eventually teach some of this to people around me. I tend to live in a bubble and think everyone knows all these things but I am finding more and more that this is not true. People have no idea that the oatmeal they are eating, thinking they are eating healthily, if not pre soaked, is actually not doing their body as much good as they presume.

I loved setting the record straight when my dear sister, upon seeing pictures of foods I prepared, assumed I had time on my hands that I surely don’t. She was shocked to learn how little actual laboring time I spent on the foods she saw pictured on my Facebook page. Anyone can prepare foods in a healthy manner and reap the benefits.

Anyway, I’ll stop here and just say I am happy to have finally realized how much I love preparing good, healthy food for others. I want to teach my children while young how to develop healthy eating habits. I hope they carry it with them and teach their children as well. And, I hope you’re eating well too.

Sacrificial Praise (& Worship)

God bless those who deal with pain day in and day out, with no definitive end in sight. I must say first, that I don’t believe this is God’s will for anyone. Jesus said we would have trouble in this world but he also said he has overcome the world. He didn’t say he, Holy Spirit and the Father were conspiring together, figuring who they would dole out what ailment to for this amazing “opportunity for growth” or something else that we like to make up when we don’t understand another’s suffering. If sickness and death were God’s pleasure, he’d be downright crazy to have sent Jesus to take care of it all. No, God is not crazy, and I don’t pretend to understand much beyond His being a good God and giving us the ability to heal.

That said, today marks 16 days of dealing with pain from back spasms. I’m not sure how I managed this, but I did and boy does it hurt.

At first it was a pain that I ignored. Then I took notice of it but still kept going as normal until the pain jolted me to respect its presence and had me crying because I couldn’t do much without feeling it.

Once I was in bed, I began to feel sorry for myself and even got angry. I am not good at sitting still, and frankly, I didn’t. I still managed to make a sourdough cake, sourdough pumpkin bread, apple cinnamon bread, lasagna, hummus, tuna dip, sourdough crackers and more. Again, I am not a good patient.

Thankfully, a friend introduced me to a Christian talk show called Better Together. One of the women on the show reminded me of how, when we get to Heaven, there will be no more pain and suffering. The type of praise and worship we are able to give here on earth, the sacrificial, sweet smelling aroma, born of pain, trials and tribulation, will no longer be something we can offer our Heavenly Father once we are gone from this earth. That gave me another jolt, albeit a nicer jolt than the back spasms provided.

I suddenly had an opportunity! Instead of wallowing and being angry about the pain and having to be still, I could offer a sacrifice of praise to my dear Abba. No, I wasn’t thanking Him for the pain, that’s stupid and weird, plus He didn’t cause it. I could spend that time however, praising Him and loving on Him in spite of it all. It reminded me of the last miscarriage I had before giving birth to my youngest son, Jonathan.

I was literally contracting, and could feel when my baby left my body. In that moment, something changed as I stood before a crowd, leading worship with my daughter and my dad Russ, singing Great Are You Lord to my Abba. It felt amazing. By the time I got home, I had bled through everything and found the remains of my child. Thankfully, my pants were black so no one noticed.

That memory is bittersweet, obviously because I miscarried again, but it is a very sweet memory because I was making a statement and taking a stance that all of hell likely shuddered to witness. Yes, I was hurting, both physically and emotionally, but I was still worshiping my God right in the midst of it all and receiving a healing that I can’t begin to describe. And it was no coincidence that the son God named and promised me I would have, is called, Jonathan, “Yahweh has given”.

Again, I’m not saying this is a good thing to be able to be in pain to praise God. I know how to praise Him when I am not in any pain too. But now, when I feel the pain from these muscle spasms (which has greatly diminished, thank you Jesus), I will use it as an opportunity to worship. I won’t be able to worship this way when I get to Heaven, so for now, I am taking advantage of it.

My Girls

I have been bedridden for the past several days and thought to share what my three daughters are doing as I am of course, a proud mama. Jaiela (pronounced Jayla) is 21, Jenai (pronounced Jenay) is 16 and Jasmine is 12.

Jaiela is doing an apprenticeship program and is excelling in it as she prepares to eventually work with a start up company sometime in the coming year. You can find Jaiela’s blog and more here.

Jenai loves art and working with her hands creating a wide range of things. Jenai is currently working on an annual project called Inktober where she creates digital art work based on the theme given for each day. You can find her work here.

Jasmine also loves art and is coming into her own. Jasmine is very well spoken in person. She’s pretty amazing at conveying her thoughts in ways that can easily make you forget she is only 12. She is working on her writing and art here.

In addition to my girls, I have two little boys but they’re 5 and 2 and are just busy being amazing littles these days.

Warning Dreams

I want to apologize for my downer posts. It’s my knee jerk reaction. It’s the conditioning I received growing up. The message is that I should be careful to not get in the way, be it, physically or emotionally so. The message was that I was to care for the needs of others and not have any needs myself, because who wants to bother caring for mine? No one, I was told. I was told I wasn’t wanted by anyone. I was reminded from time to time, in front of my children, of the time when I was around 8, when I was told that my father nor mother wanted me. It was said that no one wanted me and my mother proceeded to pretend to call the police to come and get me because she was done with me.

That story did not need to be repeated. I never forgot it. I took that message in deeply, along with the many others I received before and after that time. I had no idea that the call to the police never happened. I was too young to know that, had they been called, they would have come. I had no idea that any moment I did anything at all that set her off, they wouldn’t come and take me away forever. The problem was, I didn’t have to do anything to set her off. It could happen at any given moment for reasons unknown (and unrelated) to me.

I wont’ apologize for waking up, feeling down this morning. I have feelings as everyone else does and I refuse to pretend I don’t any longer. I will deal with my feelings, pray and ask for help as needed. Just like anyone else, I deserve love and care. I had a bad dream, again.

The thing is, God gives me warning dreams. I like to call it Holy Intel. I may have just awakened from one such dream and it grieves me.

I need a hug.

What I am dealing with is so wrong. The last warning dream I had, happened a few weeks after I dreamed it. I handled it very well and feel proud about that.

I felt very prepared and loved by God for the warning. I don’t want to do this again/anymore, but I will if I have to. It’s just heartbreaking.

Another thing God is doing is bringing things to my attention that I was not aware of, concerning this situation with my mother. Things I was made fun of and ridiculed for, were totally orchestrated by her, unbeknownst to me. There were many insidious set ups.

I am surprised, but grateful that God has helped me to not succumb to it all, allowing it to change who I am at my core. I see people who are forever changed, in horrible ways from such experiences. And although it feels wrong and akin to a betrayal to speak and write about such things, I will do it anyway, for as long as God wills it.

The Singer Who Rarely Listens to Music

You know how music makes you feel things? I rarely listen to music because I don’t like to feel things. Most songs from my childhood end up having me in a state of grief. I know this isn’t a bad thing. I need to grieve what I once thought I had but never did and likely, never will. There are times that I feel led to play music that I know will lead me to grieve a bit. When I feel that nudge, I do it. Otherwise, I avoid music altogether.

The other day, someone in the house played El DeBarge’s “Love Me In A Special Way”. I sat in the kitchen and just cried uncontrollably. I remembered myself as a very little girl, singing that, not knowing what I was singing but doing so with all my heart because singing is one of my gifts and I used to love to sing.

I just felt led by the Lord to look at the lyrics because I woke up this morning with that song playing in my head. I didn’t really know the words, but part of the lyrics struck me as I read them this morning…

“Love me in a special way
What more can I say 
Love me now
Love me in a special way
What more can I say 
Love me now (love me now)

‘Cause I’m special
Not the average kind 
Who’d accept any line
That sounds good
So reach into your chain of thoughts
Try to find something new
Because what worked for you so well before
For me it just won’t do.

Love me in a special way
What more can I say 
Love me now
Love me in a special way
What more can I say 
Love me now (love me now)”

I am beginning to feel differently now, more authentic, more un-apologetically me. Manipulation tactics that worked on me before, just don’t any longer. Not because I didn’t catch them before, I caught them, I just ignored them and pushed through because I thought I was here to make others happy and comfortable. I thought I was here to take care of people and leave my own needs for some other loving soul to hopefully, prayerfully see, take pity on me, and take care of them for me. Now that I know I am responsible for taking care of my needs, not others’, I refuse to continue to let myself down.

There’s still a little girl inside of me. She is incredibly wounded and afraid. I have carried her with me all my life, yet, I have ignored her needs and wishes, in order to favor others. She couldn’t depend on anyone to meet her emotional needs. Sure, she was dressed nicely. She was fed, but she was also starving for real and unconditional love.

She needed care that just wasn’t offered. She was psychologically and emotionally beat down behind closed doors. She was lonely, and lived in survival mode, because back then, she had to. Not anymore. Now I get to care for this gem of a girl. I get to love her unconditionally. I get to accept her tears, her fears, her grief, her anger, and not just her love, her generosity and care because it feels better and suits me.

I accept her wholly. Little by little, I am gaining her trust, and whatever she does in my chest that makes it feel so uncomfortably tight, whatever she is doing that makes me feel like I am struggling to breathe at times, is lessening as I remember how to care for her.

That little girl will no longer need to sing those lyrics from a state of grief and desperation. If she sings it at all, she will sing it for the love of singing, because she has a beautiful voice. You should just hear her.

Passions And Self Betrayal

One thing I have learned about myself is how little I’ve truly known myself. Because of the conditioning I received growing up, I did quite a bit of fitting into molds prepared for me, no matter how ill fitting they were.

I only felt valuable when I was doing something others thought to be good or useful. I needed to always be ready and available, no matter what. I needed to make others feel good about me, that was where my sense of self worth came from. It was an exhausting and terrifying way to live and I didn’t even realize I was doing it.

I have lived, as long as I can remember with what I can only describe as a tightening in my chest. It would just sit there, flaring up when I was asked or told to do something that I didn’t want to do, but felt I had to do. I would ignore it and push through, thinking I needed to keep people happy with me.

What I didn’t realize was that I was betraying myself over and over again. I was putting others needs and wishes ahead of my own. The wounded little girl inside of me, who still desperately needs and craves love, compassion and care, was yet again being pushed aside, in favor of what others wanted. I refuse to continue to mistreat myself in this way. I’ve had enough of that and won’t keep abusing myself because it’s familiar.

I am having a good time learning to take better care of myself and in the process, the wounded little girl is healing and the tightness in my chest is decreasing.

I am learning, or remembering what I am passionate about. I have discovered that although I do many things well, they aren’t necessarily passions I hold. Singing for instance, is something I do well but it does not always bring me much joy. Too often, it has felt like a chore. It was something I needed to do because I could and it made others happy. I do remember times, especially in high school when I would sing arias, where I felt like I was a bird. It felt amazing. I liken it to flying higher and higher and floating and soaring. It felt wonderful at times. Other times, it was just expected of me so I did it, even when I didn’t want to. I felt selfish for not wanting to do it when it obviously makes others so happy.

I have no idea what God will do with me concerning that particular talent but I trust Him to lead me in the right direction. He always has; I know He won’t stop now.

In the meantime, I will enjoy discovering what really brings me joy. One thing I think is a passion for me is cooking and baking. I am having a blast making things for people. My niche is traditional cooking and baking. I like making things people don’t necessarily think to make themselves. Syrups, jams, butters, extracts (like vanilla), fermented foods like salsa, sauerkraut, kimchi, water kefir, sourdough, fruit leather, goat cheese, yogurt and more! I even make my own spice blends.

I am eager to see where God leads me next, especially when it comes to my passions. I have new burdens on my heart that aren’t heavy or hurtful but are for sure from Holy Spirit. I look forward to exploring them and doing something with them as well.

God bless you Dear Reader, Patrice

Getting To Know Myself

I’ve not written here in a while, and it’s not because I have nothing to say, I have lots to say; I simply don’t know where to begin at times. The topic on my mind at this moment has to do with self awareness.

I love that my relationship with God lends itself to me not being able to get away with being ignorant about who I really am and the role I play in different relationships.

I have given God a pass to show me myself, and help me to be the best Patrice I can be in this world. He has not let me down and it has not been easy at all to come face to face with myself. What I have and am learning has been nothing short of fascinating and amazing.

I am learning to process my anger very productively. Anger was one emotion among many that I was taught to stuff or shrug off because my mother was not comfortable or able to handle it. Now, I am able to process it and let it pass. I can look at what I am doing to hurt or betray myself and my findings are nothing short of amazing. I’m using this as fuel to help me change things so that I show up for myself and don’t continue to betray myself as I have in the past.

I don’t want to be more concerned about others than myself anymore. I don’t want to live my life, trying to please, or assuage another person’s feelings. That’s not my responsibility. I understand that now. I am responsible for my own feelings, that’s it, and it’s such a freeing thought.

At this time last year, I was literally shaken, terrified, confused and angry. I was enraged. I cannot say I am “all better” now, but I can say I am a lot better and getting better every day as I learn, or remember how to love myself and treat myself with compassion, kindness, respect and care.

Today, I am far more self aware than I was last year. It’s been a hard rode to travel. I have upset people. Some have expressed as much to me. Some probably won’t ever say a word, but I wouldn’t trade this journey for anyone or anything. I’ll make an effort to come and speak about things more often. For now, I bless you and pray all is well for you.

The Jesus Bandaid

Giving credit where it’s due, the concept of the Jesus bandaid came to me from someone very dear, an amazingly strong woman named Athena Moberg of the CPTSD Foundation.

The Jesus Bandaid is basically what some Christians like to quickly apply to problems that arise in other Christian’s lives. Here’s what it looks like, you come with a problem, they reach into their handy dandy sack O’ quotes and Scriptures, slap it on the situation and bam! Problem solved! Feel better? Won’t He do it! All you needed, was for them to come with the Jesus bandaid, then it would all be better.

Now of course, I have nothing against bandaids and certainly not Jesus- we are tight- but let’s sort through this in a simple and practical way…

If a person has a physical wound of any sort, we don’t just reach for a bandaid and slap it on, considering it a job well done. That would be stupid and could be dangerous as well. We look at the wound first, don’t we? We inspect it, see what we are dealing with. We look at the state of the person with the wound in order to determine the first course of action. Do we need to go to the hospital? Can we take care of this right where we are, or do we need additional, expert assistance? In no instance, would we slap on a bandaid and leave feeling we’ve done something great, yet people do this to others with emotional wounds too much of the time.

One thing I have learned with this healing journey I’m on, is the clear line of where I and my responsibilities begin and end with regards to others. There’s so much freedom in just that. I don’t have to look at others as having problems I need to try (and fail) to fix.

I can see someone hurting and sit with them there. I can actually do what Romans 12:15 says and rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who grieve. I don’t have to pull an answer out of my hat. I don’t need to jump to that Jesus bandaid. I can just be with them, right where they are in that moment. I can accept them, love them and validate their feelings without trying to fix what’s wrong.

Let me tell you, validation goes so much farther than a bandaid. People want to feel cared for and loved. Most have the ability to say that they want help with fixing a problem if that’s what they need. If they don’t say so, it’s wise to ask first if you know you are one who loves to reach for that Jesus bandaid. Immediately jumping to that bandaid feels dismissive, rude, and in some cases, it can be traumatizing to a person who may already feel traumatized.

I like thinking things through, sometimes probably excessively. I wonder if this bandaid thing stems from a lack of empathy and/or pride. Pride might be at play and make a person feel that their quote or Scripture will fix the situation, right? Maybe… A lack of empathy might be what makes a person just want to get to the solution and leave behind all the rest. Perhaps they can’t empathize with others.

I’m not saying that if you see someone with a gaping, bleeding wound, you’d not take action. What I am saying is, you’d still quickly assess what you’re being faced with, even if the assessment took all of 5 seconds. It wouldn’t be skipped over, in favor of putting on the bandaid and leaving. There’s a process. Let’s not skip any part of it. Let’s truly love others the way we would want to be loved. Let’s validate what can be validated- not everything is valid, but that’s another blog post for another day. Let’s not skip over Roman’s 12:15. “Celebrate with those who celebrate, and weep with those who grieve (TPT).”