Unexpected Change

This morning I woke up thinking about how we often get frustrated when things do not happen the way we had planned.  Many years ago I was in Army basic training at Fort Jackson. Our “class” (battalion) consisted of five groups (companies). Four of the five groups were ready to graduate on time, but one of the groups (Charlie company) was behind and had to catch up. The rest of us did nothing for a week as we waited.

This delay caused me to miss my other class (advanced individual training) at Fort Sam Houston, so I had to wait for nearly a month for the next class to form. I was upset and annoyed by this but there was nothing I could do to get into the class I missed.  The three of us from basic training that arrived early were given the job of checking in new people and assigning them to rooms. There were three shifts. I chose the “midnight shift” because I didn’t have to wear a uniform and I could sleep on the couch in the office.  

One night I decided to go to work early because I had nothing else to do. About 20 minutes later, this guy walks in. He complained about how one of his buttons had fallen off and he seemed tired and a little grouchy.  He was the cutest guy I had ever seen and his eyes were a beautiful shade of olive green. 

FranArmy

Long story short, that guy became my husband. I would never have met him if I was not delayed and my plans were changed unexpectedly.  Sometimes things don’t turn out the way we expect and we feel angry or disappointed at the time, but if we believe that God is in control of everything then He is allowing these changes to take place for a reason. I am just reminding you to wait and see why it changed—you might be very pleased that it did.  

Copyright © 2018 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

The Three Biggest Things I’ve Learned from Being Married for 33 Years

Yesterday my husband and I celebrated our 33rd wedding anniversary. We’ve come so far considering we could have been a “statistic” based on the factors we had: only teenagers when we married, we only had a high school education, we had our first child within the first year of our marriage, my parents were divorced, we only knew each other for a few months before getting married, we had a long distance relationship (me in California, and he in Florida), and we had terrible conflict and communication skills.

We had our “ups” and “downs” over the years, and I was even on the verge of getting a divorce earlier in our marriage. Yes, we saw a counselor and took marriage enrichment classes/seminars, but the turning point of our marriage was when we turned everything over to God. I’ve learned so much these past 33 years, and these are the three biggest things that I learned:

  1. I learned that I had to stop trying to be “right,” and to realize that no one is perfect so I had to be more forgiving.

It seemed that I was in a competition with my husband all the time. I wanted to always prove that I was right to a point where I would get angry about it. I spent more time arguing my case that I never really listened. When my husband did something wrong, I would use it against him and bring it up when we had arguments.

No one is perfect (especially me). If I don’t want people to expect perfection from me, then I shouldn’t expect it from other people, most especially my husband. Since I make mistakes all the time, I know that my husband will make mistakes too so I have to forgive him, just as I would want him to forgive me. I’m not always right; I had to listen more and talk less, and I had to realize that just because he did things differently that it doesn’t mean that my way is “right.”

  1. I learned to “pick my battles,” to let the “little things” go, and to choose my words carefully when there is a real issue.

I remember arguing about how the toilet paper should be placed on the holder, and how that argument would expand into other issues from the past. Does it really matter how the toilet paper is put into the holder? No! I realized that there are more serious issues. When these issues arise then that’s when I have to say something, but I had to choose my words (and tone of voice) carefully so that my words can be received.

  1. I learned to truly love my husband, to appreciate him, and to build him up as often as I can.

It used to make me so jealous that my husband had a photographic memory. He breezed through the doctoral program and graduated with a large dissertation after four years, while I struggled and nearly dropped out. The two years that followed his graduation were extremely difficult for me, but he encouraged me when I felt like giving up, he proof read my work several times, and he picked up the slack at home. I graduated after six years of being in the program, and I could not have done it without him.

I’ve come to appreciate how much smarter he is compared to me; and even though he is smarter, he never rubs it in my face. He brings out the best in me, so I try to bring out the best in him. I encourage him by pointing out the positive things about him, or about the positive things he has done or is doing. I am there if he is having a bad day and he needs someone to listen to him. When he gets a migraine, I massage his head until it goes away. I also tell him that I love him every day (they say action speaks louder than words, but words are still important).

Thirty-three years seems like such a long time, but I still have a lot to learn. I don’t think we ever get to that point in our marriage where we can stop trying to love, to support, and to serve our spouse.

Most of all, I continually thank God for His intervention in my marriage, and thank Him for the wonderful man He has given to me to be my husband.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights… Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger… No foul language should come from your mouth, but only what is good for building up someone in need… serve one another through love… And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ” (James 1:17, 19, Eph 4:28, Gal 5:16, Eph 4:32, CSB).

Copyright © 2017 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

Who are you standing or kneeling for?

I’ve seen nothing but this kneeling and standing controversy on Facebook for the past couple of days. Sometimes people just want to get mad about something, and they’ll argue about things that have nothing to do with eternal things—Satan is so clever.

Yes, I was in the military, I love this country, and I think there are people who have been discriminated against, but all I really see is a bunch of people who need Christ. Satan divides— there should be no “us” or “them,” “kneeling” or “standing”— we are all the same; everyone is made in the image of God.

If you are a Christian, then kneel for Christ; if you are a Christian, then stand for Christ—kneeling or standing for anything/anyone else is just a distraction that causes division.

Christ should be first and foremost in a Christian’s life— the flag is not eternal, this country is not eternal; in fact, nothing on this earth is eternal so stop wasting your time and energy on the temporary things.

Be “the light” in this dark and fallen world so that people can find their way to Christ, and be “the salt” in the world that is full of death and decay so that they can be restored and regenerated by Christ.

Who are you standing for? Who are you kneeling for? I hope it is for Christ!

Copyright © 2017 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

 

Choices

One of my classes has a discussion about “free will.” It made me think about how out of all of God’s earthly creations, humans are unique because we have free will, and we have the ability to think and to rationalize. My cats cannot accept Christ as their Lord and Savior, and no matter how smart dolphins or certain primates might be, they cannot be a follower of Christ. We are the only ones made in the image of God and we are the only ones who can be called “the children of God” (Matt 5:9). Since we have free will, we can choose how we respond to a life circumstance– we can praise God even when things are not so good, or we can “curse God and die” (Job 2:9). We can choose to follow God or not (Josh 24:15). The choice is ours. What do you choose?

God is good, even when things are not good

This morning I woke up thinking about my childhood and feeling sad and angry.  In the past, I had wondered why God would allow evil things to happen, and now I can remind myself that this world is corrupt and people are sinful so that’s why bad things happen. Even though I know this, I still wonder why people would do horrible things to children.

My past isn’t very unique. Unfortunately, there are many people who have encountered similar things. I was fortunate to have forgotten most of it. I remember hearing one of my teachers, Dr. Bill Cutrer, say that if we can’t remember a traumatic experience, like our minds just blocked the memory of it, then we should consider it a blessing. I never thought about it like that. I kept thinking that I had to deal with memories, even those that were deeply buried in my mind, in order to be “healthy.”

I have to admit that even though I don’t remember everything, I remember enough. My memories are like puzzle pieces— even though I don’t have all the pieces, I can still see most of the picture and fill in the blanks. The picture is very ugly and disturbing.

Why didn’t anyone protect me? Didn’t anyone care?

I suffered for several years. There were times that I wished that someone would have called child services and place me in a foster home but no one ever did. Instead, I endured it. This is what makes me sad— that no one cared enough to help me, and that those who I was supposed to trust were the ones that were abusing me.

This week, I saw two news stories about children being raped— one was killed and the other was basically left for dead. This is what angers me. I want to vindicate these children—I want to physically punish the people who did this to them, but I can’t.  All I can do is pray to God that the child that is still alive will recover completely, and that justice will prevail.

I am a grandmother now. When I was a mother I was able to protect my children, but as a grandmother, my powers of protection are very limited. All I can do is pray for my grandchildren.

So what was the point of bringing this up? Just that sometimes we remember our past and we cry about it, we see things in the news and we get angry about it, and many times we have no control over circumstances, but we have to give it all to God. We have to believe that He will take the bad stuff and have something good come from it.

I didn’t have a great family growing up, but I have one now. God gave me a loving and supportive husband, and together we have our own family. I wasn’t a perfect mother, but I loved my children, and I cared and protected them.  If any good could come from a terrible past, it is that I learned how to be a real parent, and I hope that the faith I have in God has been instilled into my children. God is good, even when things around us are not good, and only God can make something good come from something bad: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good…” (Gen 50:20, NLT).

Copyright © 2017 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

What Are Dreams?

I remember when my children were babies and I would watch them sleep. Sometimes their eyes would twitch then they might let out a quick cry, like they were frightened; and other times I would see them smile. I often wondered what babies dreamed— they hadn’t been in the world for too long so why would they frown, whimper, or smile when they slept? Could they be dreaming about future events? Could that be why we sometimes have that feeling of “déjà vu”?

Is it possible to see a glimpse of the future through dreams? I’m not sure. Many years ago I had a dream where I saw myself walking on a hill surrounded by children in tattered clothing. They were smiling and welcoming me— some were reaching up to hold my hand. I appeared to be 70 or more years old— my hair was all white and in a bun. The dream was brief; it ended when I saw what I looked like.

I have had dreams that made me wonder why I dreamed such a dream. I’ve had a couple of dreams like that—  once, where an imp tried to convince me that the Bible wasn’t true but I told him that Jesus would come back as He said He would, then another time when I saw the sun split in half and everyone was terrified because we were all “doomed” and God saved us.  I came to realize that dreams like that assure me that I have a real faith in God.

There are yet other dreams where I actually talked to people I have never seen before, and I wondered if that person was having the same dream about talking to me— I guess a lot of people have experienced this because I’ve seen movies and TV shows about that.

Then there are dreams when I feel like I’m watching a movie, where I’m not even in the dream— I think that’s when my mind just wants to rest and not solve an issue in my life.

So what’s the point of writing this? I guess it’s to say that sometimes dreams can be important (like when you are struggling with something and you want to figure out what to do), and sometimes dreams can help solidify your personal beliefs. The only one who can sort that out is you, so stop turning to books or articles that tell you what your dream means because dreams are personal and can’t be generalized. If you really need help understanding your dreams then ask the One who is the maker of dreams— God.

Copyright © 2016 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

The True Church

I think many Christians would agree that life can be difficult and that we will all struggle with something at one time or another, but often people do not realize that those “in the ministry” suffer from the same struggles.

To some degree, those in ministry suffer from depression, anxiety, fears, etc. Most times, people in ministry will not admit that they struggle because they are afraid of what people will think about them—that maybe they will think less of them.

The truth, though, is that there are people in the Bible who struggled—for example, Elijah the Prophet, and Paul the Apostle. Experiencing some of the struggles that people in the congregation encounters is a great way for those in ministry to connect. I think it also helps the congregation to realize that they are not the only ones struggling, and that just because they are struggling it doesn’t mean that they are less of a Christian.

We are told to “carry each other’s burdens” (Gal 6:2) and to “encourage one another” (2 Thess 5:11). These Scriptural passages would not be in the Bible if personal struggles were not a part of our lives. So in our struggles, we should turn to one another for encouragement and support. We should also draw closer to God: “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (Jn 16:33). We have to do both—draw closer to one another and to draw closer to God.

Perhaps if people were more open about their struggles and we supported one another through these struggles then we can have the True Church—“All the believers were one in heart and mind… And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all” (Acts 4:32-33).

Be the “True Church”!

Copyright © 2016 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

Adventures on a Movie Set

Yesterday, I had an opportunity to be an “extra” at a movie shoot (I’m not sure if I am legally allowed to divulge the title so I won’t mention it). I had envisioned what it would be like to be on a movie set—somewhat “glamorous” and maybe a chance to talk briefly with a “star” or at least take a distant photo of them, but it was nothing like I had imagined.

I knew ahead of time the outfit I needed so I made sure I had it—long black gown, glittery jewelry, a small black purse, and dress shoes (I was supposed to be an attendee at a black-tie event). After the costume director looked at my outfit and approved it, I then headed to hair and makeup. I had arrived with an “up-do” but the hair person changed it into a wide bun on the back of head—not the kind of hairstyle I would normally wear; in fact, it kind of reminded me of Evita’s hairstyle (http://www.panam.ru/main/argentina/info/1.html), except I had bangs.

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From there I was escorted to the “Holding” area—a large room with chairs. This is where I waited for almost two hours.

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Finally, we were brought onto the set—a banquet hall. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to take pictures of the set. We were there for several hours as they repeatedly filmed the five minute scene from various angles. Finally, the majority of us, the “Background,” were told to go back to holding. After about an hour we were given “Lunch”—that was around 4 pm.

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I noticed that there was a different meal for the crew—they used real utensils and they had steamed broccoli and other fresh foods. Meanwhile, “Background” was given food that appeared to have been frozen or from #10 cans— for example, corn, round-shaped meat with bottled BBQ sauce poured over it, chocolate pudding, etc. The rolls looked good, but were stale.

After “lunch,” we went back to holding then shortly afterwards we were escorted back onto the set. This was a different 5 minute scene, but it seemed to last an eternity due to all the retakes. The leading actor laughed during one of the takes and they had to re-shoot, but he laughed again. I probably would have thought it was funny, but it was past 9 pm at that point and I just wanted to get out of there. Finally, by 9:30 pm I was released from the set.

I don’t think this is something I would want to do again, at least not as a “Background” member. After spending over 12 hours there, I was only paid $64 (base pay, before taxes) and I’m not even going to be seen in the movie. I can’t get back the day that I lost, but at least I can cross this activity off my bucket list…

Copyright © 2016 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

 

My Mother-In-Law

One of the illustrations my son shared in the sermon yesterday was when he was three-years-old and his grandmother jumped into the pool, fully clothed, to save him as he was drowning (https://youtu.be/UyWzb1iBP3I).

It made me think of the time when my children and I were stuck in Daytona Beach during a flash flood. I remember that it started to rain and all of a sudden Ridgewood Avenue was filled with about two feet of water. The minivan I was driving stopped working and I called my husband to help us. A few minutes later, my door opens and my mother-in-law is standing in rapid flowing water with her arm stretched out to help us out of the van. I couldn’t believe she was there!

I remembered some of the other times she was there to help us— like the time when I was in labor with my first child but my husband and I didn’t know I was in labor (I thought they were just very painful Braxton Hicks contractions). My mother-in-law woke up before dawn to drive over a half hour to our apartment just so she could lay a hand on my belly and say, “She’s in labor.”

Sometimes we forget or neglect to show our appreciation for people. Today, I am showing my appreciation for my mother-in-law. Thank you for everything you do, Mom! Love you!

MomwithJamieFrank2

 Mom is pictured with two of my four children: my son who talked about her in his sermon, and my oldest child.

Copyright © 2016 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

 

Run in the Race!

Last year my running had dwindled down because we bought a duplex then we had to fix it, and then clean and clear the other house so that we could downsize; on top of that I still had to work. I had to give up something so I cut down on my running. Every once in a while I ran a 10K, but mostly I ran a couple of miles or ran an occasional 5K.

This year, I decided to start running again. It was hard. I struggled to run a couple of miles. I felt like giving up and using the time to do other things, but I persevered. Today I ran 12 miles. It wasn’t a fast time, but my time didn’t really matter; what mattered was that I didn’t give up.

I think it’s the same way with our Christian walk. Sometimes things come up in our lives and we feel like we have to give up something so we give up church. Then we get used to staying in bed on Sunday mornings and doing other things with the time that used to be spent in going to church.

It’s hard to go back to church after being away for several months or several years, but we start by going to one worship service. Then the following week, we go to another worship service; and even though we might feel like staying at home, we have to get up and go to church.

Why go to church? We go to church because we need to be encouraged by other believers; we need to know that we are not alone in our struggles. Also, as a believer and follower of Christ, we are all a part of His body and a body cannot function if some part of it is missing—we all need each other (Romans 12:5; 1 Corinthians 12:12-27).

So if you have been away from the church for a while, then my encouragement to you is to start going. Let this Sunday be the first of many Sundays to come! Remember that our Christian life is like a race— it doesn’t matter how fast you run, all that matters is that you stay in the race and that you finish!

Copyright © 2016 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti