Author: Karen Steele
Guilt - feeling bad about something you've done

Shame - feeling that you are a bad person for having done something

A friend posted a TED video on Facebook a while back addressing the issues of guilt and shame.
And I've come to realize something that was not addressed (or at least I don't recall it being addressed) in the 20-minute video snippet.

I've probably observed this a number of times.
I'm sure I've done this myself.

It wasn't until today that it really stuck in my minds eye what I was seeing.

Have you ever watched a child who does or says something mean and hurtful and gets in trouble.  They will have two reactions.  Either they will feel guilty and remorseful and become teary, OR they will become ashamed and lash out in anger.  No one wants to feel like they are a bad person.  It's not enjoyable.  It's not fun.  Some people internalize it, others let it fly out.

Adults do this as well.  You do something you know you shouldn't have done.  It may have hurt someone or damaged a relationship.  The injured party reacts with anger, pain, disbelief, and shock.  You feel horrible about what you've done.  And then, perhaps you start to feel ashamed for being the type of person who could have done something to hurt a friend or loved one.

It is the actions that have caused the pain.
Your actions DO NOT negate your worth or goodness as a person. (Unless you repeatedly do these actions with reckless disregard or lack of care that it is hurtful.)

If the olive branch of reconciliation has been offered, take the steps to grab it and don't let go.  If someone can move past the pain you have caused them and wants to retain the friendship or relationship, they are worth holding onto with all your might.  It is popular opinion to hurt those who have hurt us, or let them drift out of our lives.  It takes empathy, grace, compassion and love on the part of the wronged person to move past the pain that has been experienced and make a conscious decision to move towards reconciliation.

However, there are some people who take the shame they are feeling and become angry.  And unfortunately, sometimes this anger is directed at the person whom they have hurt.  And that hurts even more.


Author: Karen Steele
Sunday was a bad day.  Actually, it started on Saturday. 

Actually, to tell the truth it started about 3 weeks ago, but that's beside the point.

Saturday was a very busy day, harried even, hopping . . .
and I was without my watch.
Then there was the promised watch which never materialized.
But that's beside the point.

My head started hurting.  I believe it was  a combination of things; stress, physical exhaustion, lack of sleep, angst, fear, anxiety and maybe even a bit of the blip in the head was involved.

Sunday, I woke up (thankfully!) but I was in EXTREME pain.  Narcotics didn't help.  Anti-nausea meds didn't help.  Anti-inflammatories - nada.  Anti-emetics - ha!  Heat - no relief.  Blocking the light - that DID help. . . a little. (Thank you Ryan!)

This is Ryan.  He can reach the top of the window.

For one of the few times in my life --
I called in sick to work.

There were tears.  Crying never helps a headache, but in this case, I couldn't imagine it would make it any worse either.

I even remarked that I get tired of being the "poster child" for people with cancer when asked to speak with patients who are going thru difficult diagnoses, or facing cancer, or undergoing chemo.  Usually I don't mind talking with patients.  Cancer is a difficult diagnosis to say the least.  It carries all kinds of emotions and fears with it.  And in many cases it ends with a not-so-happy prognosis.

Facing one's mortality is never easy, and for those who don't have a strong faith in an eternity with Jesus or who have absolutely no faith in an eternal life, it can be downright frightful.  The idea of going from what is known to maybe absolute nothingness?  Scary stuff to ponder.  I HAVE a strong faith and a stronger God and a blatant disregard for modern medicine's statistics.

However, even "I" am allowed to have a pity party every once in awhile.  Ryan told me I could refuse, that I don't have to discuss my diagnosis with anyone I don't  want to -- and he's right.  I don't have to.

You gotta admit -- Mary was the ULTIMATE "yes" girl -- how many other chicas do you know that would agree to have a baby conceived by the Holy Spirit while engaged to another man?  Can you imagine the shame she must have endured? The rumors? The stares? The finger-pointing and the ostracism?  Have you ever really thought of that, or do you just picture the beatific paintings of Mary with the glowing aura? (Don't even get me started on that whole aura thing either.)
Back in 1992, being the "yes" kind of girl that I am, I promised God that he could use me wherever and in whatever capacity he would lead me.  And so, being a woman of my word, . . . I will continue to share whatever parts of my life or my skills or my time or my compassion or my empathy or my love, wherever it needs to be shared.
I told Ryan last night that if sharing any part of any thing that has ever happened in my life does just one person any good; if it leads one person closer to faith in God; if it brings a ray of light or a moment of goodness to them, then it will have been worth it.  The attention is not for me, but for me to shine a light on God's goodness to me and how even in the middle of bad circumstances good things can still happen.
Today, the kids and I had a conversation about praying and being faithful in expecting an answer to prayer because God can do anything.  Savannah asked if God can heal people and I said that he could, because He can do anything.  And I knew where she was going with this.  Can God heal me? Absolutely!  Will he?  I would be ecstatic if He did.  But that isn't up to me -- not determined by how nice or good or thoughtful or gracious or awesome I am.  There is nothing I can do to EARN being healed.  And if I'm not healed here on earth?  It doesn't mean I wasn't loved by God, it means that my healing comes in eternity.  It doesn't mean that God wants my kids to lose their mother, it means that the plans HE has for them just might not include me, but until that time they are . . . ahem . . .
stuck with me!!!

All I can say is that if it weren't for my faith, my family, Ryan and my friends and co-workers
There would be a LOT MORE pity parties.


**Disclaimer -- although I used the word awesome to describe me, this is NOT how I see myself.  I threw that in there because Ryan is always telling me I'm awesome --that one's a blatant wink at him.
Author: Karen Steele


Those are the feelings that come with a sense of betrayal when you find out that your world is not as you thought.


Those are the emotions and beliefs that are stolen when someone lies to you about their activities or the weight and connotations that their actions carry.


These are the words that describe how you feel when a relationship takes a wrong turn, even when it's not for any reason.


This is what you are left with in varying degrees as reality sets in about the situation and you struggle with decisions.

Author: Karen Steele
Ever feel like there's a huge gap between you and God?
Or a wide expanse -- like looking out over the ocean and not be able to see the other side?
Or even worse, a deep chasm that you cannot get across?

Many times when we go through a circumstance which includes major life changes . . .
such as a separation,
        or a divorce,
            or a change in careers,
                   or a change in location. . . . or all of the above . . .

There seems to develop a rift between ourselves and our relationship with God.

I have gone through all of the above situations, and there have been times when I have attempted to pray and closed my eyes only to see an endless ocean behind my eyelids.  And I do mean endless.  As far to each side and as far out as I could see in my mind's eye, just water and wide open space and myself as if I had been set adrift.  No sense of God's presence at all.  It's a very lonely feeling.  Sometimes it lasts for a long time.  Weeks.  Months, even.  You can read my previous posts from 2009 and hear the pain and indecision as I realized that my marriage was failure and that I would have to file for divorce.  It was not an easy decision, nor one that I took lightly.  It took years, and much prayer and discussion and exasperation and realization that things were not going to change.

However, an all-knowing God who knows what we are going through, and what our emotions are, and at what point we are in life has promised to never leave us nor forsake us.  So when our choices lead to life-changing circumstances and we feel that distance, my question is this?

Who creates the distance?

If we feel guilt, shame or remorse because of our choices, do we allow those emotions to overshadow our relationship with not only God, but with others as well?  As we beat ourselves up with regret, and self-hate and loathing, do we not begin to believe that others view us with those thoughts as well?  And does that include God?  And as we begin to project those thoughts onto those around us, it can insinuate negativity into every aspect of our lives and begin to strangle our creativity and liveliness causing fear.  Fear of making more mistakes, fear of not doing it right, fear of not being good enough, fear of being disliked or hated.  And the distance grows wider.

Take Adam and Eve, for example.  When God created them and placed them in the Garden, they were naked and knew no shame.  They had a close relationship with God, speaking with him every evening in the Garden.  However . . . as soon as they ate the forbidden Fruit, they realized they were naked and became ashamed.  That night, as God came to them in the Garden . .  .THEY HID!!!  They attempted to create a distance between themselves and God, as if he didn't already know what had happened. 

Were there consequences of their actions?  Absolutely!  Did God push them away and refuse to speak with them? No.  Have you ever seen a picture of Christ in which he had his arms crossed across his body in a defensive stance?  Or standing with his hand out as if to say "Stop! Don't come any closer!"  I have yet to see one. 

If we are feeling a gap, or a distance or a chasm between ourselves and God when we try to pray or go to church, chances are the distance was created by us and can only be closed by us as we learn to forgive our imperfections, accept them and remember that God still loves us even when we find it hard to love ourselves.
Author: Karen Steele
Who doesn't like Christmas?

It's not my favorite time of year, unless I'm on the isle of Aruba or in Belize, otherwise it's just too cold to be my favorite time of year.  If you don't know, my definitions are 70 and below is Freezing.  80's are good, 90's are better, 100's are perfect and 500+ is just fun. (or it used to be).

But I do like Christmas.  Not the shopping, and the commercialism and the pressured feeling that you must buy, buy, buy and spend, spend, spend.

I like the simple things.
  • Christmas trees in homes lit up at night and shining thru the windows
  • Nativity sets, both outdoors and indoors
  • Christmas lights -- the big obnoxious displays are fun, but just a simple string of lights around a window works for me
  • Christmas movies -- the classics like "White Christmas" and "Miracle on 34th Street"
  • Music, food, and laughter
  • the heater in my car that works quite nicely (Thank God!!!)
  • Advent readings and the lighting of the candles
  • Christmas carols

But most of all, what I like about Christmas is reading the Christmas story in my Bible and imagining how stressed and terrified and tired and exhausted Mary must have been, not to mention Joseph who was doing the unexpected but admirable thing of sticking with his girl who happened to be pregnant with a child that wasn't his. 

I wonder what went through their heads?  Thoughts like, "What am I DOING?"  "I am soooo ready to get my ass off this ass!" "Am I up for this?" "Are you talking to me?!?!?" (Especially when angels appear, knowing your name and give you the heads up)  Don't get me wrong, I like angels.  Our renditions of them are beautiful.  But if one appeared to me in a dream or otherwise, me thinks a shower and a change of underwear would be the first order of business.

Faith and willingness to go with God's program are the key elements here, I believe.  As a young virgin, it must have crossed Mary's mind at least once, "What are you saying . . . I'm going to have a what . . . by whom . . . are you trying to ruin my reputation? My life?"  And Joseph . . .was he agreeable at face value but wondering how he could ditch the situation down the road?  Having never been spoken to by an angel, do you just know immediately that all will be okay or do you have moments of doubt?

Thinks that make you go hmmmmm, right?


Photo by Randall Rausen -  Every Knee Shall Bow
Author: Karen Steele
One of my favorite verses in the Bible is what my pastor, John Payne, preached on yesterday.  From Jeremiah 29:11 --

                          "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper
                            you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

I have quoted many times in my blog posts the Yiddish proverb that states: "Man plans, God laughs."
As we were standing in church, singing, I had already read the reference to the verse that Pastor Payne was using in his sermon, and I already knew what the verse said.  

And although I was standing apart from everyone, I felt a nudging within that asked me,

"If your plans and MY plans are not the same, will you still love and trust me?"

We see our world and our surroundings and our circumstances in finite thoughts.  God sees the big picture.  He knows what's around the corner.  He see's 10-, 20-, 50- years down the road in our lives.  We can't even see what will happen in the next five minutes.  Accidents happen in less time than that.  We have expectations and hopes, but not an assuredness that life will go along in the way we expect.

Jeremiah 29:11 does not say, "For I know the plans you have, plans to try to prosper and stay out of harms way, plans you've made for the future for which you hope."  We like to control things.  We make plans, we have hopes and dreams -- and that's not a bad thing.   But sometimes there is a hiccup in life.

And if we've been paying attention, and if we've kept our eyes and hearts on God's word and stayed in close contact -- we KNOW that those hiccups may be a detour from our plans, or it may be a complete 360 from what we hoped for.  And we either have to fasten our seatbelts and let God continue steering, or we may have to admit that we're in uncharted territory for which we are unprepared and relinquish the control to God.  Or, worst case scenario, we are adamant that we know best and continue to push God out of the way. Can God bless us by NOT giving us what we want or not giving us those things for which we ask or pray?  Absolutely!!

I'm laying down, resting while I type.  (Ryan said I had to lay down, he didn't say I had to go to sleep, altho I will when I'm done writing.) I hate laying down in the middle of the day, but I also hate being tired and feeling as if someone pulled a plug and all my energy drained out.  The week after I finish my chemo is worse than the week I'm taking the chemo.  The medicine is built up in my system and I'm exhausted.  My mouth is dry constantly regardless of how much I drink. 

Despite being tired and everything that goes with cancer treatments, I have prospered.  I have been blessed by not only friends and family, but acquaintances such as the waiter last night who could tell I didn't feel good and made me a fruit shake at no charge to have with my dinner and wished for me to feel better.

So, to answer that nudging, not quite nagging, question that struck me yesterday,

YES!  Even if our plans don't mesh, coincide or parallel each other, I will continue to love and trust God with all my heart.


P.S.  Here is a link to one of my favorite songs.... "Blessings" by Laura Story

Author: Karen Steele
There's a rhythm to being home that you just cannot get anywhere else. 

I don't mean sitting at home and staring at the four walls,
I mean being at home,
   with the kids,
       taking care of the household things,
          and feeling the immense satisfaction when things are done.

Take laundry for instance.  I love doing laundry.  Watching the piles wither and fade with each load (which is a beautiful thing since they take up the entire hallway).  Getting things out of the dryer and folding them while they are still warm.

Dishes are just as enticing to me.  Taking a sinkful of yuck and seeing it all sparkly in the dish drainer because . . . YES! . . . I do my dishes by hand.  Ten minutes tops, and I'm done.

Planning the menu and the meals that are going to feed my family and keep them healthy.  Remembering to get the ingredients out to thaw because I've been to the store and purchased everything to have on hand.  Sending the kids on scavenger hunts at the store to find the items on my list that I made in my handy-dandy notebook. (Sorry, Blue's Clues is playing in the background.)

Listening to the littles playing with each other because their friends are  . . . "in school" where they have to sit and do paperwork.  Listening to them "play" school and watching them create pictures and doodles and paint and build things with Legos and play store and restaurant and horse trainer and builder and learn about life and how life actually happens.

And all of this rhythm stuff came to me as I was kneading bread dough.  It's now cool enough to bake bread for the week without knocking everyone out from the heat in the house.  Savannah was standing next to me watching and talking as I pushed and pulled and turned and pushed and pulled and turned . . .well, you get the idea.  For about 7 minutes as I did this, we discussed why I had to put so much effort into kneading the dough.  As I explained that I was working the yeast throughout the dough to help it rise evenly, she was learning that anything worth doing is worth doing well.

Because, after all, who really likes to eat flat bread.  Especially flat bread that was supposed to be fluffy, not intentionally flat.

So, as much as Sam likes routine in his day, I kinda like it too.  I know what days I'm supposed to do what chores and having that plan in place makes the day go so much better as opposed to waking up and wondering, "What will we do today?"  Not that I don't like my job, because I do . . . but I sure enjoy the time at home.