Stand Tall in Your Truth

30 Oct

It’s been a busy fall and while I have been focusing on my book, I have not been blogging or painting as much. As we approach the holidays, my heart goes out to all the ACONs who are struggling with family drama. I think the most difficult thing to do is stand up for yourself when people disrespect you, but the truth is the only way to gain self respect and the respect of others is to stand in your truth.

Giraffe-in-Pink-Clean-WM

It won’t be easy to do, but having good boundaries will help you realize when someone is pushing your buttons and you have the right to say thus far and no more. That might look like leaving the building, or not calling or refusing to attend family gatherings. Chances are the people who do not respect you at holiday dinners will also not respect your choice to spend this time with people who do respect you.

When your family doesn’t respect you, the best thing you can do stand up for yourself. Respect is the foundation for every relationship and even if others treat you with disrespect, you can still respect yourself. Sometimes it takes this for others to realize that you deserve respect, but you have the right to treat yourself kindly even when they don’t.

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.
-Eleanor Roosevelt

When you realize how much you are worth,
you’ll stop giving people discounts.
-Unknown

I made this art especially for a reader named “One Escaping Goat” and hope it is a blessing to her and all of you who deserve to stand in your truth. It’s okay to say no. It’s okay to say I am worthy of relationship and if you do not respect me, I will go where I am celebrated.

I hope each of you have a wonderful holiday season standing in your truth.

Why I Support Women’s Ordination

14 Oct

The church I am a member of and grew up in is discussing women’s ordination today and hopefully they will vote on it next year at the General Conference. Even if this doesn’t happen, I am not planning on leaving the church, but I do feel it’s important to discuss this and let our voices be known to stand up for not only women pastors, but for women everywhere because the way the church treats women sets a precedence for the rest of the world. I believe this is a human rights issue.

This blog has always been about freedom from dysfunctional families and religious abuse. I believe the way women are treated in church influences the way women are treated everywhere else, but don’t take my word for it, listen to Jimmy Carter and the Elders from all over the world:

“The justification of discrimination against women and girls
on grounds of religion or tradition,

as if it were prescribed by a Higher Authority,
is unacceptable.”
-Jimmy Carter and the Elders

 

Annointed-WO

Little Red 23rd–He Anoints My Head With Oil

I believe God created man and woman in his image. Some argue Adam was created first so that means that he should lord over Eve, but the animals were created before Adam, does that mean they should be in charge of Adam?

I believe male headship is a result of the fall. Because of sin, someone had to take charge or they would both fight to lead, but when Jesus came and lived among us, He showed us how a true leader leads by serving others.

Jesus came to set all captives free and restore what was broken in the fall. Despite living in a patriarchal society, Jesus loved and called women.

It was a woman who announced the coming of the Messiah and carried Him in her body for nine months. It was a woman who raised Jesus and taught Him from the Scriptures. The woman at the well was the first missionary. Jesus defended Mary’s right to sit at His feet like a student learning from a rabbi. It was Mary who anointed Jesus before He completed His most difficult task and Mary was the first to announce to the world that Jesus had risen from the dead.

If Jesus allowed women to sit at His feet and proclaim His most important announcements, who are we today to stop women from following His call? If we are truly Christ’s followers will we not treat all women as Jesus does?

Having said all this, I don’t believe women’s ordination should be forced on everyone, but that each conference should be able to decide for themselves what will best meet their local needs to spread the gospel.

I believe women’s ordination is more than church politics. The way the church treats women sets the bar around the world for the value of every woman and girl. Because there are still societies where women are abused and treated as nothing, the church as Christ’s representative on earth should set the standard and proclaim to the world that a woman in the eyes of God is just as important as a man.

When church leaders follow Christ, it brings hope and sets the standard for every woman and girl that someone in this world represents Christ and values her as much as her male counterparts.

Losing My Religion for Equality by Jimmy Carter

Andrews University Statement The Unique Headship of Christ

Here is a great book I just read that answers many questions about Women’s Ordination:

2014-10-06-QA_WomenOrdination

Make Art, Not War

9 Sep

There are two kinds of people in this world–those who make art and critics. Making art is more than just putting paint on a canvas; it’s the way we choose to live our lives.

Artists put flowers from the garden on the table, an extra little gift on a gift and fresh herbs and care into making a meal. Life is art and it’s up to each of us how we will use the tools we’ve been given.

Critics, on the other hand are not as concerned with building life as they are judging what others have created. Critics always find a problem with someone else’s design. They can’t tolerate the freedom of other people to create. They feel they need to correct their theology, adjust the table decorations and tell other people what to wear.

Critics have no time to contribute to the world because they’re too busy complaining about how the art of others should be corrected. Criticism brings pain, discord and ultimately death into this world, while art brings hope, resilience and life.

Peace-WM

Some critics question how can we sit around playing with colors on paper when terrible things are happening in this world. They are concerned about starving children, Ebola virus and terrorists who chop off children’s heads. For a moment I listen to such critics because I too am appalled by the terrible things happening in this world, then I remember how the Nazis plundered art during World War II.

Adolf Hilter was once an artist or at least an artist wanna-be. He applied and was rejected by the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts, but somewhere Hilter stopped making art and became a critic of the arts. When he became chancellor of Germany in 1933, he began to call art that did not pass his approval “degenerate art.”

Degenerate art included most art that was not from the old German masters. In Hitler’s quest to purify a nation, he started by stealing the freedom of artists to express themselves and eventually stole life from those who did not meet his standards. Perhaps history would have been different if Hitler had focused on making art, instead of trying to sculpt an entire race.

Art represents freedom and individuality. Most critics are not interested in the freedom of others, they simply want to control the outcome of someone else’s art. Whether the art is on canvas, or artful patterns of living, critics feel they need to adjust the freedom of others. We can follow the critical and destructive path of Hilter, or we can offer the beauty of freedom and hope to a world filled with despair.

So what business do we have enjoying life, painting pictures while such horrible atrocities are happening to our fellow humans? The truth is we are not on the position to stop every terrible thing from happening, but we can do something in our own neighborhood. We can express hope through color and individual expression and bring beauty to the lives around us. Making art is a form of resilience to the pain of living in a broken world.

God didn’t create selfishness or sickness. All of this pain is the result of God’s enemy. If this world still operated the way God intended, we would all be making art of some kind. It would be the norm to be designing, decorating, singing and playing. We would craft amazing gardens and compose beautiful symphonies because the pinnacle of our existence is to reflect our Creator. We were designed to add beauty to the universe with our individuality for God’s glory.

Our lives can be summed up by the way we contribute to the world around us–we either do this artfully, or we do it critically. Art is what we do with the tools we’ve been given. Art is what we create out of the chaos of our lives. We might temporarily live in a crippled and dying world, but as long as there is a God and life, we can make art and live artful lives and this is how we honor Him.

Thank you to everyone who participated in my Birthday Week Contest.

Here are the winners of the drawings:

For sharing on Facebook:

Jered Kostenko

For commenting on my blog:

One Escaping Goat

And for leaving a comment on Etsy:

Deborah Stevens

Please comment below or email me at CherilynClough.com with your address and I will put your art in the mail.

To read more about Nazi plunder during WWII:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nazi_plunder

What it Takes to be Brave

5 Sep

This piece of art was inspired by my brave friends. Those who are dealing with relationship problems or a rough diagnosis or struggling to make a living or those who wonder if they will ever find love in this broken world. Whatever our trials, they never seem small when we are going through them. Living and acting on the life we have is an act of courage and defiance to the evil in this world.

Brave-Soul-WM-Etsy

Here’s to the many brave people who get up every morning when they’d rather pull the covers over their head. Here’s to those who walk with pain or carry a painful heart as they go about their work, church and school. These brave souls realize the secret to being brave is not how we feel, but the action we take in response to life’s trials. Whatever happens, brave souls never give up or give in, they keep on looking up for the silver lining.

I especially want to dedicate this to all my friends who have had to deal with cancer this year. I send healing wishes and prayers for all of you! Bravo for fighting a good fight! And sometimes the fight is not about having a longer life, but having a better quality of the life we have today. Today is all any of us really have so let’s make it a good one.

I didn’t use any fancy techniques on this picture, I just painted a brave girl’s face and wrote the truth, but she caught the eye of a therapist friend who just opened a new practice near Seattle, Washington. Congrats to my friend and favorite therapist Lisa Boyl-Davis who will be putting this in her new office!

Talk about therapy–Jason Mraz has a great song that describes what it takes to be brave. Three things to do when your life falls apart. Enjoy!


EXTRA FOR MY ARTIST FRIENDS:

Here is how I package my art. When you sell online, it is all about the buyer’s anticipation. They have to wait to receive it, so it’s nice to make it worth their wait by dazzling them a little. You can do this by wrapping it cheerfully and adding an extra surprise for them.

1. Start with a business card. (These came from Moo. I punched a hole in them and added a string of hemp and a bauble for fun.)

photo (48)

2. Add an extra surprise–I think a greeting card is perfect because it adds very little weight, is valuable for them and shows the great quality in case they might like to purchase some.

photo (47)

3. Write the recipient’s name on the back of the picture and sign it (be sure to ask if it is for them or a gift).

4. Then I lay all of these inside the back of the picture and wrap it in tissue paper.

5. I write a personal thank you on a postcard and attach to the package with curling ribbon.

photo (49)

6. The last step is to wrap it in bubble wrap before slipping it into a US Postal Service Mailer.

photo (45)

Note: By charging $12 for mailing, I can afford the USPS mailer and tissue and insure it for up to fifty dollars.

Feast In Front of My Enemies

4 Sep

When Rose discovered a more loving picture of God, she rejected her parents’ harsh religious views, but her narcissistic mother did everything she could to get Rose to agree as she had been raised. Rose had seen the light and for her there was no going back. After many lengthy arguments, her mother packed up Roses’ belongings and kicked her out of the house.

Shut out and with very little money she had no choice but to rent a studio apartment in a questionable part of town. Rose’s first supper was a can of green beans eaten out of the can with some plastic silverware she bought at a local convenience store. Rose had never dreamed she would be put in this situation and as she ate her green beans, tears rolled down her cheeks. She was lonely and scared and thought of all the things she needed to survive.

A-Table-in-Front-of-My-Enemies-WM

Little Red 23rd–A Feast in Front of My Enemies

Rose had a job, but no iron or ironing board to iron her uniform for work. She had no glasses or dishes or curtains. Her only transportation was a bike and she wondered how she would be able to carry the stuff she needed to outfit an apartment without a car. Exhausted, she said a prayer and went to sleep on the drop down bed in her new home.

The next day her brother showed up at her work. She hadn’t seen him in years because her mother had told him to stay away from the family home. He gave her a ride to the store and helped her buy the things she needed to live on her own.

Once again, the Good Shepherd not only supplied Rose’s needs, but prepared a feast for her in front of her enemies. This feast was not a physical meal; it was spiritual nutrition as her new understanding of the Good Shepherd nourished her soul and soothed her fears.

Rose is not alone. I have experienced such a feast myself and many other people who have been under all kinds of persecution and pain have discovered they can survive on less than green beans when they are fully awake and aware of the Good Shepherd’s protection and provision.

This happened many years ago. When Rose told me her story, she added throughout the decades, the Good Shepherd has never let her down. Even when we feel all alone and the cupboards are bare, we can endure such circumstances because the Good Shepherd has never abandoned us–He always protects, always plans for us and always prepares a feast for us even in front of our enemies.

Be a Giraffe

4 Sep

Many AcoNs* have been awake and aware long before the rest of their family. This causes them to be ostracized and scorned for speaking the truth and trying to help the rest of their family find healing. Often the one who sees the dysfunction first is labeled as the scapegoat, but there is good news for the designated scapegoats.

You might not be a goat at all, you might just be a giraffe. Listen to the video at the bottom where Dr. Karyl McBride explains how giraffes stick out their necks and see the world through possibility and move forward while they can observe the past and the future. This piece of art was inspired by the short video below. Thank you Dr. McBride.

PS If you think you might be the daughter of a narcissistic parent, Dr. McBride’s book Will I Ever be Good Enough–Healing the Daughter of Narcissistic Mothers is a must read.

*ACoNs-Adult Children of Narcissists

UPDATE: This picture sold as soon as it was posted, but if you want a giraffe picture of your own just let me know and I can make you one and give you the sale price of thirty bucks–which is a good price for an original handmade piece of art.

Giraffe-WM-Etsy

He Even Sees Me in the Dark

3 Sep

This is one of my latest works* which is very personal to me, but I just listed it in my Etsy shop in case there is someone out there who would like a reminder that God always sees them no matter how dark it seems.

Writing about my childhood this summer has reminded me of how much I used to be afraid of the dark. It might have been because we moved so much, or it could have been the fact that I am near sighted, but whatever the reasons even as an adult I used to sleep with a flashlight.

As I grew up, I began to see there are worse forms of darkness than not being able to see while you are supposed to be sleeping. Ignorance is always a form of darkness which in many cases leads to the even greater darkness of racism, prejudice and hate.

 

Dark-1000-WM-Etsy

While darkness comes in many forms and can be related to our spiritual condition. We all go through times of darkness. Sometimes people refer to depression as a darkness, but I think the worst darkness is to know what is true and right and shut out the light.

As Eugene Peterson so beautifully recaps in the words of the Psalmist to God in the Message Bible, “Darkness isn’t dark to You.”

This is true because there is no darkness where there is light. Jesus is the LIGHT who comes into all of our darkness.

May you always know you are seen and safe in the Light no matter how dark it seems.

Thanks for stopping by,

Cherilyn

*I am still learning to find my own artistic footprint and so I am experimenting with different styles.

Just a reminder, I am having a drawing for all who add a comment to my blog.

And also another drawing for all who share this on FaceBook and  tag me.

And if you should buy a piece of art from my Etsy shop and leave a comment there, I will enter you into a drawing for a five pack of Little Red Survivor Cards.

One Week Only 50% Off Sale on My Handmade Original Art

1 Sep

Another year gone by and my birthday is only a week away. I haven’t accomplished all I wanted, but hey, I am grateful for another year of life with my wonderful husband and friends and many of my FB friends and readers have become my family, so I wanted to do something to bless you. I am selling all of my original handmade art on Etsy for half off–THIS WEEK ONLY!

PicMonkey-Collage-for-website

So if you’ve ever had your eye on a piece of my art or thought of giving it as a gift, this is the time to do it. And since I’ve barely begun to sell on Etsy, I will also be giving away a couple of things.

To begin with you don’t have to buy anything to enter the first contest. If you like this post or share it and tag me on FB, I will enter you into a drawing for a free art giveaway of Let the Sun Shine.

Let-the-Sun-Shine-1000
If you are an ACoN and comment on my blog, I will enter you in the drawing for an original free Flying  Monkey give-away.

Here is the Flying Monkey up for grabs:

More-Heart-WM

If you buy a piece of art in the sale and give me a review on Etsy, I will enter you into a drawing for a set of my Little Red Survivor Thrive Card set. Each set of five cards has special quote that is healing for survivors. You can read the quotes on my Etsy site. Thank you for sharing my blog and art this year and for commenting either in private or on my pages. It’s going to be a great week and I hope I can bless a few people.

 

Shine set

How to Let Your Parents Grow Up

1 Sep

There is an imbalance between ACoNs* and their parents. ACoNs have high levels of empathy and their parents usually have extremely low levels. One man explained it this way—“My father can only feel concern for other people if they are suffering in the same way he has suffered. He can relate to the bum in the gutter because he is often drunk and out of work, but he cannot relate to the pain he caused me when he beat me.”

The Empathy Trap Book gives an explanation of how some sociopathic and narcissistic parents might groom and use their most empathetic children to fill their needs. Of course no parent wants to admit this so narcissistic parents will deny it and accuse their children of lying and do everything they can to ruin the child’s reputation to save their own–which of course is once again putting themselves over their children.

Dr. Henry Cloud in his book Changes That Heal explains the growing up process. How children start by looking up to adults and end by becoming equals with adults. Narcissistic parents do not want this to happen so they try to keep their kids one down even after they become adults.

Freedom-Lemons-WM

Some ways that parents try to keep their adult children in the one down position include using criticism, shame and guilt. I firmly believe criticism has stunted as many lives as careless gun play. It’s a slower death, but many adult children are crippled by the criticism of their parents to the point they never finish school or stick with a project to completion. The only healthy direction you can go with a critical parent is to move farther away.

Others will try to shame you by saying things like “I sure wish you wouldn’t do this” or “Why did you have to go and do that?” This is usually a manipulation to get you to do things their way. Once again run far away. You are an adult now and should be able to both own your choices and not allow others to dictate how you will live your life.

Parents who try to make their adult children feel guilty are some of the most sinister because only God can judge and tell each of us what is right for us. God Himself doesn’t manipulate us into being good, so why allow your parents (or church busybodies) to do what God Himself doesn’t do?

To try to shame or guilt or criticize their adult children is a parents’ attempt to stay in control, but it is also an indicator that their own life is out of control. When people are in control of their own lives, they can afford to allow others to make their own choices and even mistakes.

So how do you tell your parents to grow up? Writing a letter is useless. Most narcissistic parents will either ignore your letter or write a nastier one. You might be inspired to write the letter because you have had this stuff on your heart for years but trust me, your parents do not want to hear it. If they wanted to hear it they would have paid more attention to how you reacted years ago.

So here it is—the best way to let your parents grow up is to grow up yourself and stand in your dignity. Stop allowing them to dictate what your style of clothing or religious beliefs should be. Don’t let them criticize your spouse. Inform them talking down to you or your special someone will cause you to leave and that will be it (and make sure you leave.)

And don’t look back—unless they call with a true apology. You can forgive them from a distance. You can wish them well from a distance. You can send them a birthday card from a distance, but you cannot allow them to manipulate your life choices anymore.

And that means don’t let them make you feel sorry for not meeting their needs. One woman wrote to me and said, I can’t stop feeling sorry for my parents. This was after they did all number of abusive things to her and tried to ruin her relationships with her entire family. I told her my story. One day I realized that if my grandparents had done to my mom what my parents did to me, she would have quit speaking to them, but because I was an empathetic person, I kept trying to get them to meet me halfway and it never happened.

Don’t let them make you feel sorry because they feel so bad when you explain how they hurt you in the first place. It’s ironic how narcissistic parents don’t want to admit their mistakes but they want to take over your conscience and tell you how to live your life. People who abuse us are not in the position to speak into our lives. Just say no.

And don’t let them send the Flying Monkeys in either because you don’t have room in your life for Flying Monkeys. If people want to talk to you let it be from their own hearts not from a third party’s manipulations.

So you took a stand and now your parent is playing the victim. Victim or not, they have choices.

1. They can apologize and rebuild their relationship with you.
2. They can ignore your choices and move on without you.
3. They can slander you and tell everyone how mean you are.

Chances are they will do the last option, but don’t worry, this will be your opportunity to grow up and let them do whatever they want while you actually live a life. Carpe Diem.

*ACoNs-Adult Children of Narcissists

In the Valley of the Shadow

29 Aug Through-the-Valley-WM

Many ACoNs* feel abandoned. They were raised by parents who were consumed with their own needs, so they find it hard to trust anyone–let alone their Father in heaven. But no matter what has happened in your life, the gentle Shepherd cares and will make a path through the wilderness for you.

Some people think this verse refers to being seriously ill and while health trials can seem like a very dark shadow at times, the Shepherd longs to brings comfort and healing into all of our darkness.

When people are depressed they often speak of a dark valley. At such times the Shepherd guides us through our despair and offers the light of hope to bring us out of such darkness. Often those who walk and breathe are spiritually dying inside while they are barely aware of their condition. This is when the Shepherd gently wakes them up.

Through-the-Valley-WM

Sometimes when we’ve been focusing on ourselves for too long we discover we have gone to a very dark place–much darker than we ever intended to go. It’s at times like these the Shepherd calls us by name. He will keep calling until we hear Him and reach for His help.

The gentle Shepherd passes no judgment. He simply offers a lifeline. He holds up the lantern of truth to guide us up through the brambles, out of the ravine and over the pass to bring us safely home. Throughout all of our valleys, the Shepherd offers comfort.

Even though I walk
    through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.
-Psalm 23:4

*ACoNs–Adult Children of Narcissists

As a long time Newsboys fan, I just have to add Peter Furler’s Psalm 23. Enjoy!

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