Daddy

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I love my dad.  As a matter of fact, I’d go so far as to say that anyone that doesn’t like my dad has some kind of mental deficiency.  One of my closest friends, who knows my family well, agrees.  Is it because he is without his faults?  No…but don’t tell him that 🙂 .  One of the things that bothered me most growing up was how he handled emotional upsets: he laughed.

For instance, I had a cat named Stripes that followed me around like a dog.  Short of being able to bark, I think he thought he was one in the canine family.  He sprawled on the keyboard while I practiced my music lessons.  Mum let him in my room to greet me every morning.  If I wasn’t out of bed yet he’d wrap his body around my head like a pair of ear muffs and purred until my eardrums vibrated.  Wherever I was, there one would normally find him.  Then came the morning that Stripes did not come.  He would never come again.  My dad scooped him up and buried him before I saw his demise but this is how my dad handled it: “There was Stripes on the road this morning.”  I can smile now but I found it highly disconcerting at the time.  Being an adult, and having a husband of my own now, I guess I understand better why Dad handled many of the hard things of life with jokes, teasing, and laughter.  I honestly wonder if serious conversation was modeled to him in his own life.  I wonder if men in general are equipped to handle life’s heartbreaks for themselves let alone those around them.  

My dad was my hero.  And in many ways, he still is.  I remember the evenings we spent counting out the hits we exchanged while swatting a birdie back and forth in the front yard playing badminton.  When I needed a chocolate fix, we hopped in his pickup truck and he took me to the little local restaurant where I had my choice candy bar.  In retrospect, I think he took me for his own sake as well as mine– a young woman needing chocolate can be quite contentious.  He attended my chorus concerts.  He verbally blessed me (and my brother).  He was welcoming.  It was not unusual for us to link arms when we were out shopping.  Though he was a terrible pick–often leaving me to cry, “Mum, make him stop!”–I loved him and knew that he loved me.

My dad has given me many wonderful and memorable gifts over the years.  But the ones I consider most precious are those which are priceless.  Dad gave me his time.  Our home had a lot of laughter that was enhanced with his mining tales that began, “There I was…”  One of the most cherished gifts he gave me is tears.  My dad has unashamedly cried in worship, in prayer, and in repentance in front of me.  Even though he may not have initiated “deep” conversations, I didn’t doubt that I could go to him and trust him with my heart because he made himself totally transparent in his tears.  Our society today has done a great disservice to men and everyone in their circle by the stigma that a man who cries is weak.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Men who are willing to pull back the veil and cry, and let others witness it, are the strongest men out there.

Jesus wept.  John 11:35  KJV

“Oh, that’s just Jesus,” some say.  “He was weak.”

No, He was meek.  Meekness is power under control.  There’s a vast difference between weakness and meekness.

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I don’t know too many men who would voluntarily suffer rejection and humiliation for ungrateful people.  I don’t know any who could endure beard plucking, hair pulling, spit in the face, punches to the body, 39 lashes with a whip that most likely contained pieces of bone, shards of pottery, etc., a crown with at least inch thorns pressed into his skull, and spikes driven into the hands and feet.  Now that is a strong Man.  And that strong Man wept.  He walked in gentleness.  He forgave.  He loved to the tune of His own selfless pain.

Jesus, the Son, was the true image of God, the Father.  God gave everything, everything, so that He could be our Father.  He gave His perfect, beloved Son so that we could be adopted as children.  What are we doing with His great grace?  Ignoring it.  Wallowing in our own wounds and our own pain instead of taking it to the only One who can do anything about it.  It cost God everything so that we could crawl into His lap and get rid of all the sin, shame, disappointment, unmet expectations, festering wounds– everything and anything that would hinder us, but we won’t do it.  It has been my observation that men in particularly won’t yield because it’s a “sign of weakness”.  No, seeking help, leaning into God the Father, is one of the greatest appeals to strength that there is.  To not know God as Father is to never truly know who we are.  If we don’t know who we are, we will not know where we are going.  If we don’t know where we are going, we will never arrive.  

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We had been outside playing in our big back yard.  Our then 2 1/2- 3 year old twins were adorable in their jackets and matching black fleece “Amish” hats.  It was cold and time to come in.  I brought up the rear, following with my camera, and snapped one of my favorite pictures.  My 6’3″ husband had a girl, one tiny hand clasped by one of his “bear paws” on either side of him.  They were dwarfed by him, but they were safe in his hands.  Nothing or no one would dare harm one of his little girls while they were at his side.  What a picture of total safety and trust.  And love.

Many of us have the understanding that Jesus cried out, “My God! My God! Why have You forsaken Me?” because God could not look on Him in our sins that He took upon Himself.  This may be so.  But I heard another take.  God could not look on Jesus in that moment because if He did He would have removed Jesus from the cross and wiped out mankind because of what we’d done to His only begotten Son.  But He didn’t do it.  Why?  Because He loves us.  You.  Me.  But we won’t receive it.  Why?  I don’t know.  Maybe, like me, you had a great dad but you have trouble receiving the love of God because you feel undeserving.  Maybe you have issues with your earthly father that prevents you.  Maybe their failings, their abuse, their being absent emotionally/physically has distorted your view of what heavenly Father looks like.  Then it’s our duty, all of us, to find out who He really is.

Think about the ramifications of not humbling ourselves before God.  Think of the effects on our lives.  If we’re not willing to approach Father God with this prayer for ourselves, couldn’t we at least do it for the sake of those broken around us?

“Dear God, my father here didn’t look like You, not much if at all.  But I want to know You, the true You.  I need a dad who really loves me for who I am, my junk and all.  I need somebody to be in my corner.  I need somebody to tell me that they’re proud of me.  I need somebody who actually believes that I have a future and it is a good one.  I need hope.  I need love.  I need forgiveness.  I need to be made whole.  I need to be a light to those around me.  And I need Someone to teach me how.  Will You do this for me?  Please be my dad.  Show me who You are so that I know who I am.  Lead me where You will.  In Jesus’ name, thank You.  Amen.”

Before you uttered His name, your heavenly Father was off the throne (in the form of the Holy Spirit), racing to you with open arms.  All He ever wanted was you, just as you are.  All He ever wanted was to be believed and accepted and loved.  When will we give Him what He wants, so that He can fill us with all of the good things that we want, that He desires for us?  We were made for so much more.  When will we realize this and walk in it?

Join me today in going to God as Father while it is still light.  There is a day approaching when darkness will be upon all the land.  I beg of you, don’t wait until that day to seek Him.

 

Restoration

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They killed it.  The big, picture-perfect maple in my neighbor’s front yard was sawed off to a 6 foot stump.  I thought, “You have got to be kidding me!  A gorgeous tree like that and you go and destroy it.  For what?”

Our great old oak with its gnarly looking bark and some dead branches gets more respect than that beautiful maple.  We are doing what we can to see that the oak goes by way of nature or it doesn’t go at all.  That’s how much we respect and appreciate our tree.  I feel the same about our huge black walnut tree.  We see creation for what it is: a marvelous gift from a loving, benevolent, infinite Creator Father who appointed us as caretakers.  Looking at that flat-topped, bleak stump in my neighbor’s front yard made me feel a little sick and a lot sad.

Fast forward.  I was admiring my neighbor’s tree yesterday.  I do that often.  The story I told you happened years ago.  I thought they killed the tree, but they didn’t.  It grew back in record time.  I couldn’t believe it.  It’s grown to be as big and beautiful as it was before it was chopped.  It remains picture-perfect and gorgeous.  Maybe even more so to me now that I know what it went through.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about broken people and things that look hopeless.  That stump of a tree is a picture of how I feel about some circumstances I’ve run up against in my own life.  I find that I’ve been grieving for things that I desperately longed for that haven’t come to pass, things that look like they’ve been chopped off.  At times I have limped through life without having quite the beauty of the types of relationships and the things that I dreamed of.  And hope….I guess I’m in a battle between two pictures in my mind: the sawed off stump and the big, gorgeous tree.

The vision of the sawed off stump kind of makes me feel like this clip from my all-time favorite movie, The Princess Bride.

 

The picture of the restored tree is much like a scripture I revisited today.  I love how this passage is written under the title of “Seven Blessings”.

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Joel 2:23.  You children of Zion, rejoice exuberantly!  Rejoice in the LORD your God!  For He has given you the Teacher of acts of loving kindness and 1 the Teacher will cause the rain to come down for you, the former rain and the latter rain as at the first.  (Double Blessing)  24. 2  And the floors will be full of wheat and the vats will overflow with wine and oil. (Abundance) 25. 3  And I shall restore to you the years that the locust, the canker worm, the caterpillar, and the palmer worm have eaten, (Restoration) My great army which I sent among you.  26. 4  And you will eat in plenty and be satisfied, (Never a Lack) and praise the name of the LORD your God, Who has dealt wondrously with you, (Miracles) and My people will never be ashamed.  (Respect)  27.  And you will know that I AM in the midst of Israel, (Divine Presence) and I AM the LORD your God, and no one else is, and My people will never be ashamed.    Joel 2:23-27  ~The One New Man Bible 

I read this and I think, How, LORD?  How do you restore the stolen innocence of a child?  How do you restore the love between husbands and wives who have caused each other so much pain?  How do You restore the faith of someone who lost a loved one prematurely?  How, LORD?  How do You take shattered hearts, and splintered hopes, and broken dreams, and make them whole?  How do You restore years?  That one there is a total mystery to me.

Actually, it’s all a mystery.  But I recognize some steps I can take to prepare for the process of restoration, something I look forward to experiencing.

  1. Walk in forgiveness.
  2. Continue to love even when I feel it’s impossible.
  3.  Fight for faith when I feel all faith is gone.
  4. Speak the Truth despite what I feel and see.
  5. Wait.

Those are my responsibilities.  The how isn’t up to me.  I’m glad it isn’t because I’d screw it up.  Not to mention, I kind of look forward to seeing how God is going to do this.  How Look around at the splendor, beauty, and diversity of His creation.  He is a God who definitely thinks outside of the box.  If He can do wonders with trees, what will He do for me?  For you?  For we are the crown of His creation. 

I humbly come to you today, Dear Heart, and tell you that I have been facing the death of so many dreams recently.  Despite the pain of this grief, I choose to believe.  I continue because of His Word, because He who promised can not lie.  I continue to cry out to Him, to lay my brokenness at His feet, because He alone can restore.

Join me today in faith believing that the battles that are ripping our guts out now will bring great glory to Jesus as we triumph over them later.  We are not meant to live in brokenness, Beloved.  We are meant for so much more.  We were made to be whole.  I’m so glad He’s not done, I have much more living and loving to do.  And so do you.

To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the LORD has planted for his own glory.  Isaiah 61:3  NLT

A “Wenting” We Will Go

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Years ago, I had a wart on the bottom of my foot.  The wart itself didn’t cause me an unbearable amount of pain, but it didn’t feel good, either.  I wanted it removed and was willing to do what was necessary despite the harsh nature of the cure.

Every night I religiously soaked my foot in warm water and used a sanitized safety pin to dig at the wart until it hurt too much to dig anymore.  It irritated me, I was irritating it.  I don’t remember how long this went on but I still remember the pain.  I faithfully dug hoping that every night would bring healing.  When I reached the point of squeezing my eyes shut or my jaw ached from clenching it, I put away the pin and ended that night’s session of self-inflicting pain.  Then, lo and behold, one evening I saw a little thing that looked like a broken splinter.  I dug it out along with white flesh and marveled at how tiny it was, this root that caused my grief.  My foot remained a little tender due to all of my digging, but it healed relatively fast and there was an immediate amount of relief simply because the root was gone.  Thank the good LORD, the wart never did come back.

This is the story that came to mind when Mum told me she thought she knew what I was doing.

Mum says to me several weeks ago rather cheerily, “I think I found out what you’re going through–you’re ‘wenting’!”

She has a book she’s been reading forever, (I think avid readers and the studious all have at least one “forever” book), called  A Cry for Miracles by Lindsay Roberts.  When she picked it up this time it was about Lindsay and her battle of faith concerning the healing of her gall bladder.  Boy, was it a battle!  Finally, her father-in-law basically says to her, “I think I’ve got some insight for you.  I think you’re wenting.”

Even before Mum explained I had an inkling.  Here’s the verse that it’s based on:

 As he entered a village there, ten men with leprosy stood at a distance,  crying out, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”

 He looked at them and said, “Go show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed of their leprosy.  Luke 17:12-14  NLT

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Later, Lindsay was given a powerful word from the LORD in a make-up  room.  Lindsay was about to testify to a healing she definitely did not feel, wondering how she was going to get through it, when a young girl spoke to her.  She said the disease was cut off at the root but there were still green leaves, a little life left that satan could try to use to cause her to doubt God’s word and His touch pertaining to the healing of her gall bladder.  The thing could be nursed back to life by Lindsay’s words if she received the doubt, but it was dead and it would remain so if she maintained her faith.  What an extraordinary revelation!

The word Lindsay received was reminiscent of my day on the trampoline, looking at the remnants of the poison ivy.  I knew I heard the LORD.  I knew I was healed.  So why was I still looking at such ugly skin?  Because the war in my body was over but healing takes time.

I was encouraged…then satan immediately came to steal this liberating word.  I fretted, wondering if I’d given life to remaining green leaves on dead plants.  Just as immediately, Holy Spirit reminded me of a little heart-shaped plaque I have that simply reads: What God reveals, He heals.  Every time I read it, it reminds me that He reveals what I need when I need it.  These words of “wenting” and green leaves are in perfect time.  I have not harmed myself.  I must trust that He protects me until He brings revelation and I can receive it and guard it.  Then His words become part of my fabric and give me the strength to continue to believe until I see the manifestation of that which I’ve held onto for such a long time.

So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.  Romans 8:1  NLT

We have been going through so much lately, but the point is, we’re going through.  “Wenting” can be a lot like digging at that wart.  It physically hurt!  But it had to come out.  With discipline, consistence, determination, and sheer grit, I met that end goal, I plucked out that root.  I immediately had relief and in a couple of days one would have never known the suffering my poor foot endured.  Freedom from that wart was not an illusion, it was a reality.  But I had to persevere through a painful process to see that reality.

That’s how faith is.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.  Hebrews 11:1

I didn’t see the root, not until it surfaced.  But I believed it was there and knew it had to come out if I wanted to be healed.  So as painful as it was, I persisted.  Belief, and living out that belief, can be very difficult, but that’s the only way to bring to fruition the promised word.

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In 1 Samuel, Chapter 16, David was anointed by Prophet Samuel to be king of Israel.  It didn’t happen right away, though.  As a matter of fact, he wasn’t anointed king of all of Israel until 2 Samuel, Chapter 5.  Here’s the highlights of what happened until then:  He appeased an angry King Saul with his harp.  He went back to the fields and killed a lion and a bear who came to destroy his sheep.  He fought and killed a giant named Goliath.  He hid out in caves while being hunted down like an animal by an envious King Saul.  His merry band of men threatened to kill him when they returned to find their city burned and their families taken captive.  This was his “wenting” from the field to the throne.

Some of our lessons are absolutely necessary to position us for our destiny.

Some, well, aren’t.  They’re a product of our own doing.  The Israelites weren’t supposed to circle the mountain for 40 years.  The journey from Egypt to the Promised Land would have been 11 days.  But instead of digging out the bad roots, such as doubt, complaining, forgetting God’s goodness and coming against those who believed, they circled and circled and circled until all of the doubters, whiners, and naysayers died.  That’s not exactly the way I want my story to be written.  How ’bout you?

Amazingly, I’m finding greater veins of joy and peace in the process of “wenting”.  The things of God are becoming rooted deeper and deeper even as He tears up the roots of the things that don’t belong.  Although this process can be incredibly painful, I’m excited to see the end result.

Like David, God desires to take us from the back fields and seat us on the thrones in the kingdoms of His choosing, those places He has hand-picked that we may fulfill the plan and purpose He has for us.  Are we willing to “went” like David did?  Are we willing to face the lion, the giant, the envious reigning king, and those closest to us who turn on us?  Are we willing to let Him remove the roots that would prevent us from our Promised Land?  Will we remain steadfast in what He has called us to do, forsaking all, so that we can live in the peace of being in His perfect will?  Tough questions indeed.  Questions that beg to be answered.

Join me today as we consider the before mentioned questions.  And let’s seek direction and discernment concerning root digging and “wenting”.  I don’t know about you, but I do not wish to “went” any longer than necessary.

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Remember: As counter-intuitive as it seems, praise is key while digging and “wenting”.

Let’s raise a sacrificial HALLELUJAH while He sees us through the process.

 

 

God bless you in your “wenting”.

Label Me Not

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Ours is a thrifty family.  We are huge fans of yard sales and second hand stores.  Even if I could afford to buy the moon one would still find me in places with the permeating scent of storage.  I thrive on the the thrill of the hunt for finding that unique item that screams my name or the name of someone I love.

I’ve noticed an irritating thing as of late.  People hosting yard sales are beginning to point out brand name items.  Much to my chagrin, stores like Goodwill have been doing this for years and charging ample fees to go along with the name–despite the fact that it’s used.  But, at yard sales?  Look, it’s your business if you want to pay $100 for your purse but I’m not paying more than $5 for it, brand name or not.  I  don’t care what label it bears.  The question is, Do I like it?  I don’t buy names.  I buy style–mine.

Years ago we had a friend who had brothers.  One was diagnosed with cancer.  Ever since requesting prayer for him, when our friend would speak of his brothers, he’d say, “You know, the one with cancer.”  It didn’t sit on me quite right then, but links to people such as this have become even more aggravating to me.  With negative diagnosis, bullying, harsh criticism, and the like seeming to be more and more prevalent, so are the relationships between people and labels.  It’s maddening.  I mean, who wants to be known as, “The brother with cancer”?  Why not the one with the great personality?  The wonderful sense of humor?  Or even, the one that’s older than me?  Why, “the one with cancer”?

Listen to people talk.  Hear them tell of their relationship to others.  My friend who suffers from depression….My aunt who committed adultery….My father the drunk….As a follower of Christ, am I not adding to spiritual chaos and people’s demise, and perhaps my own, by participating in unholy labeling?

The LORD really began talking to me about this some months ago.  I could hear Him saying, “Don’t let that become your identity.  My people have got to stop letting certain things become part of their identity.  You’re giving too much away.”

As if to reiterate this, while this phrase was strong on me, I was watching a Christian program that I often view.  A woman was sharing her story of how she was diagnosed with, you guessed it, cancer.  Do you know what the LORD told her?

“Do not let this diagnosis become part of your identity.”

To obey, she posted scriptures all over her home and saturated her mind, her mouth, and her heart with what God said pertaining to her.  She battled and she won.

Our enemy has sunk his claws in even deeper.  At Bible study one night, someone mentioned grandparents living here in the United States who were anxiously awaiting the birth of a grandchild in Canada.  When the blessed event came, the couple refused to tell the grandparents what sex the child was because they wanted “it” to decide.  That’s so much better, letting a child be an “it” until “it” can figure out what “it” is.  That’s right, leave it to adults to cause mass confusion in a child’s life from birth.  Let me help you out: if “it” has certain equipment and/or certain chromosomes, “it” is male or female.  “It” may be confused, most likely thanks to you, but “it” most assuredly has an identity.

I feel sorry for people who truly struggle with this type of thing due to circumstances beyond their control.  Maybe they were born with multiple sex characteristics.  (However, scientists state that despite multiple sex characteristics, children will naturally gravitate toward the sex they were created to be).  Or maybe they were abused in such a way that they feel they are shielding their identity by changing it.  That pain is real and my heart goes out to these people.

What I can’t wrap my mind around is adults, parents, doing this to babies whose sex organs and chromosomes are clearly evident.  Doing this to a child, made with a distinct identity and purpose by God, is like telling a watchmaker that he built a rowboat.  You can say what you want all you want but it won’t change the truth.  A boy is a boy.  A girl is a girl.  A watch is a watch.  A rowboat is a rowboat.  Each destiny will never wholly be fulfilled if the purpose has been distorted.

So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.  Genesis 1:27 NKJV

We are playing right into our enemy’s hands with this mentality and we’re doing it to another human being from birth.  Isn’t life confusing enough, hard enough, without trying to figure out what sex you are?  Did we have to add something absolute onto the pile of unknowns that they are going to face?  What if this child is diagnosed with cancer like our friend’s brother?  Like the woman on the t.v. program that I watch?  With what will they fight when it took them so many years to decide what sex they are and perhaps they aren’t sure even now?  Where will they get their clarity?  From what will they draw a solid identity?

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Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them, I will show you whom he is like:  He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock.  But he who heard and did nothing is like a man who built a house on the earth without a foundation, against which the stream beat vehemently; and immediately it fell. And the ruin of that house was great.”  Luke 6:47-49  NKJV

We are to derive our identities from the Word of God because it is a solid foundation.  We are to hear His sayings and do them so that we will not be shaken.  So you come from a family of alcoholics, does that make you one?  So you were abused, does that mean you will be an abuser?  So you were plainly born a female, are you suddenly a male?  So you grew up “poorer than dirt”, as we country folk say, does that make you poor?  Not necessarily, not according to God’s Word.  If we hear His Word and do His Word we won’t live in alcoholism, abuse, confusion, or poverty.  We might have visited those places, but we don’t have to live there.  Those places might come to visit us, but we don’t have to let them stay.

I remember inquiring about a home years ago.  The woman asked where I live.  I told her.

She said, “No one living there could afford my house.”

My spine immediately stiffened as she judged me simply by my address.  “You have no right saying such things,” I said in rebuke.  “You don’t know me.”

“You’re right,” she acquiesced, “I don’t know you.  I guess someone living there could afford my house.”

Guess what, even if we could have afforded that place 😉 I wouldn’t have given her the pleasure of selling it to me.

Aren’t ya tired of being put down?  Aren’t ya tired of doctors cursing you with your family’s medical history every time you see them?  Aren’t ya tired of satan, your accuser, going before God saying he has a right to you because of something your ancestors did a 100 years ago?  Aren’t ya fed up living according to the world’s system, accepting their distorted ideas, when you could be filled with the Truth?   I am.  We must listen to God.  What is He saying about us?

Satan comes to steal, kill, and destroy.  He is looking to label us.  Ultimately, he has come to steal our identities.  And he is doing it through: grim diagnosis, unjust words, past mistakes and/or outright sins, family history, ignorance, political correctness, the list could go on.  How do we combat that?  Listen to God.  He came to give us life and life more abundantly.  Say that rather than anything else.  And post it all over the house until you get this:

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”  Romans 12:2  NKJV

Do what the lady with cancer did, dig through the Bible and post the words He gives to you.  Meditate on them, say them, believe them.  Let them become your identity.

Join me today in getting the Word of God concerning us personally in our heads, seal it in our hearts, and speak it from our mouths.  That’s the only way we’re going to triumph over the enemy of our souls.

I’ll close with a song from Lauren Daigle pertaining to what God has to say about us.  LISTEN.  Have a blessed day.

The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.  John 10:10 NKJV

Stand Fast

 

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My jaw fell open.  It stayed that way for so long that a colony of flies could have taken up residence.  I felt frozen, standing there in front of my canned foods, cradling the phone to my ear.

Another Christian down, two of them.  One known only in our circle, the other is well known.  No longer Christians.  No longer followers of Christ.  Two things immediately came to mind:

Now the Holy Spirit tells us clearly that in the last times some will turn away from the true faith; they will follow deceptive spirits and teachings that come from demons.  1 Timothy 4:1  NLT

A falling away from the church was my first thought.  And the second, a picture.  A picture of Jesus at the Last Supper, telling His disciples one would betray Him.  They all asked, “Is it I, LORD?”

Whenever I am tempted to elevate myself in my self righteousness, yes the temptation does come, I think of this statement based on 1 Corinthians 15:8-10: But for the grace of God, there go I.  There go I to the brink, the abyss, the precipice, that place of precarious balance where I find myself when my heart is melting within my chest because of the crushing blows that life sometimes brings upon me.  If not for His hand…there go I…to the bottom….

Judge those who leave the faith?  No.  I’ve walked on what felt like hot sands with no shoes.  I’ve been put to the fire; I expect it will be thus for as long as I live.  So deal another blow to one who already hasn’t the strength to pick up their head?  No.

I couldn’t wait for the morning to come after the devastating news, the loss of more followers of Christ, to sit and talk with Jesus.  I needed comfort and wanted to comfort my LORD.  I sat with a cup of tea, the Word open upon my lap, tears streaming down my cheeks.

“I’m sorry, LORD.  I’m sorry You’ve been wounded yet again by someone turning away from You.  I’m sorry for all of the times I have been angry with You when You have only had my best interest at heart.  You have always loved me even when I have been angry and faithless and so incredibly bound by selfishness.  Forgive me!  Forgive these ones who have gone away.  Turn them back to You, LORD, and keep me from turning away.  I could, You know.  But I don’t want to.  I don’t know how to live without You and I don’t ever want to know.”

I’m still crying.  I feel the loss as if they were my own.  And aren’t they?  Aren’t we, who have accepted God as Father and Jesus as Savior, brothers and sisters in Christ?  Uh, the anguish….

It is in hearing these things that I begin inspection of my own spiritual life.  How am I doing?  Am I sinning?  Am I unrepentant?  Am I hurting and unwilling to talk to God about it?  Have I quit being vigilant where the Word is concerned?  Have I allowed false doctrine to enter in?  Am I rejecting Truth in any way?

lest we forget cross
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Listen, this is not an introspection as unto condemnation.  Christianity was never supposed to be about condemnation.  It’s about a God, a Father, Who gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever would believe in Him would not perish but have everlasting life.  Christianity’s foundation was and is meant to be love for God is Love.

People forget that He is a Father with laws.  Guess what?  I’m a mother with laws.  I forbid my children to cross the street alone when they were little.  Do restrictions make me unloving?  No.  It is because of my love for my children that they were and are not permitted to do certain things.

People also confuse God with people.  He is not a person that He should lie.  He is faithful and true.  It is not His fault that people commit horrible acts.  “Oh, but He could stop them.”  Can I prevent my children from using illicit drugs?  No.  “But God can do anything.”  He will not go against the will of man.  Will He protect me from the will of some men?  Yes, and He has.  And I believe we have been spared from things that we will never know about ’til the other side of glory.  But will He go against His own Word?  His character?  No.

All He ever wanted was to be loved.  All He ever wanted was a family.  In the quiet of the evening, He walked and talked in the garden with Adam and Eve.  I believe He looked forward to that fellowship more than they did.  I say that because I know my own heart.  I know how busy I can become, how easy it is to say, “Later, LORD…Tomorrow, LORD…  Not now, LORD.”  Then I realize days have passed since I have sat in the quiet and listened.  How long has it been since I sat in His presence and breathed?  Thanked Him, adored Him, worshiped Him, appreciated Him?  How long?  See?  See how it goes?

We would have God be the villain of all.  How soon we forget that we have an adversary who hates mankind simply because we are made in the image of God. He’d have us all for lunch it weren’t for God’s staying hand.  Look around, satan is eating more and more of humanity everyday.  Why are we surprised?  We don’t need God anymore, at least that’s what we told Him.  Despite the heavy traffic, we’ve decided to jeopardize our safety and cross the road without Him.  What’s so hard to understand, then, as to why there is so much evil in the world when we are rejecting the only One Who was/is truly good?

That is why when news comes of someone leaving the faith, and it comes more frequently than I care to hear, I re-evaluate myself–get myself a spiritual check up.  I’d rather get it all done on this side of Heaven than the other side.

So fear the Lord and serve him wholeheartedly. Put away forever the idols of your ancestors… Serve the Lord alone.  But if you refuse to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors….? Or will it be the gods… in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.”  Joshua 24:14-15  NLT

Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!  Deuteronomy 30:19 NLT

If you have not chosen Jesus, if you have not chosen life, I sincerely pray that you will.  Warning: Living for Christ is not a cakewalk.  You will be persecuted.  Promise. However, God will never leave you nor forsake you and you’re in good company–no one was persecuted more than Jesus Christ.  Life’s hard anyway, you might as well travel with the only One who loves you unconditionally.

If you have chosen Jesus and you’re on that precipice, please let Him hold you.  Please.  Please do not forsake the One Who has never forsaken you.  I know it feels impossible, but it isn’t, because with God all things are possible.  No matter  what you’ve done or what’s been done to you, you are loved and you are not alone.

Join me today for quiet, personal reflection and prayer for the weary and the lost.

 

Rainbows, Fairy Dust, and Unicorn Poop

 

As our goodly priest said up above, marriage is what brings us together today.  If you’re single, perhaps take today’s post and consider it thoughtfully and prayerfully.  There’s a lot of good nuggets here for the taking.

I was in a thrift shop last year and happened upon a hand full of women who I would guess were aged 50-60.  They were grousing about their husbands/exes.  I was tucked away between shelves quietly listening.  One woman, obviously a divorcee, said, “And good riddance!  The best thing that came out of that (marriage) was the kids.”  The others assented.  I felt so bad that these women had such animosity toward marriage.  Then again, I did sympathize.  Marriage isn’t all rainbows, fairy dust, and unicorn poop.  Sometimes it feels like a lot of poop.  Period.

Two statements come to mind when I contemplate marriage.

  1. I remember visiting a newly married, nearly fresh out of high school friend in her first home.  Hubby’s at work, baby’s doing what babies do.  She says to me, “My dad tried telling me that marriage isn’t all peaches ‘n cream.  He was right.”
  2.  I was sitting in a side room at a great aunt’s funeral, newly engaged,  when my Aunt Valerie gave me some sage advice: “Just remember, Christi, the grass isn’t greener on the other side.  You’ll just be trading one set of problems for another.” I don’t know what made her tell me that, but I never forgot it.  I think of it often when the peaches ‘n cream run out.

It’s funny now to look back and see how naive I once was.  I figured with God’s grace and the strength of our love, Bob and I would surpass all other couples–including Princess Buttercup and Westley.  Boy, was I dumb!  By the end of the second week of marriage, I was thinking how nice it would be to go home when the stark realization that my home was now with Bob smacked me full in the face.  I want to make it clear that it wasn’t anything that Bob said or did, but the plain shock of it all.  This is not an argument to advocate shacking up before one gets married.  Want to complicate marriage further?  Throw that into the mix and see how far it gets ya.

Sometimes I wonder what God was thinking by ordaining marriage.  Take two willful, selfish, totally different, broken people and yoke them together for life.  I might add, that any spouse that won’t confess to being these things needs counseling right away.  They might need counseling anyway, but if you’re a man you won’t get it because you don’t have a problem–or so I’ve heard from reliable sources–men 🙂 .

close up photo of gold wedding rings
Photo by Glauber Torquato on Pexels.com

Marriage is hard work, harder than giving birth.  At least labor pains eventually end.  The pain of being married, because it is intended to last a lifetime, does not.  That’s why we make commitments in front of God and everybody, to anchor us.  That’s why we say things like, “For richer or poorer, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, ’til death us do part”, only we’re supposed to mean them, too.  Being willful can have its perks, especially when it wills you to do something you don’t feel like doing, like staying when everything within you wants to go.  Marriage can feel like quite the grind when it’s mostly the will involved instead of feelings.  Sometimes I like to feel a little.  Sometimes I do.  Sometimes I do not.  Face it, there’s nothing romantic feeling about dirty dishes or dirty underwear.  Most people live lives where the thought of romance is as far removed as sunshine is from a cave.

Romance takes time.  It takes effort.  It takes remembering.  It takes action.

Remember what drew you to your mate in the first place?  Okay, I’m going to get real here.  I loved Bob’s eyes.  I called them cat eyes and the shade of blue, gray, or green reflected whatever color shirt he wore.  They still do.  Oh my gosh, when he wears denim blue does his eye color ever pop!  I need not mention that he was a tall, lean-muscled machine.  I need not mention it, but I have anyway.  That is not what drew me to him at the first, though.  On the contrary, it would be some time, and some comments from relatives and friends before I would notice how truly handsome he was.  I’m serious.  I think God ordained it to be so that I would not be led by my emotions.  That’s a flat out dangerous way to make decisions.

Back to remembering….The initial thing that lured me to Bob?  His tenderness toward God.  Bob didn’t know Jesus when we met but he didn’t object to me talking about Him.  Bob’s lifestyle was far removed from godly.  He would later confess to me that he was well on his way to being an alcoholic by the age of 15.  Yet he still possessed tenderness and had a sensitivity about him even though he experienced a lot in his young life that could have hardened him.  He was sincere.  He defended and literally fought for the nerds, the overweight, the outcasts.  I admired that.  Personally, he made me feel beautiful.  He made me feel safe.  He was a one-woman man.  And I don’t know that I’ll ever forget Mum telling me, “Bob loves you, Chris.  He truly loves you.”  And he still does…even when I’m mean…or so he says 🙂 .

Romance takes acting.  Now that we’ve remembered, let’s do something.  Write a note,  whisper sweet little nothings, give a massage, bake that favorite dessert.  Without spots of romance here and there, marriage is drab.  So is life in general.  We all need romance.  We all need a feeling of mystery, surprise, and excitement outside of the mundane whether we admit it or not.  Then, too, none of us could live in a state of euphoria (especially the one we have before we are married); it would kill us.  Ergo, commitment.

Marriage is hard work.  Some days it can feel like there’s little pay for the intensive labor it calls for.  Payment may not always come in ways I desire, it may not come by way of romance, but it is worth it.  I have a good husband.  He is faithful.  He would die for me and the girls.  He goes to church and worships with us.  He works hard.  He’s providing for our retirement.  He can be quite humorous.  His knack for repairing things is astounding.  He’s a wonderful heater on cold winter nights.  Despite how he feels about himself, he’s still wildly handsome and desirable to me.

Make the time.  Make the effort.  We need to remember.  We need to take action.  We need to remain committed.  Life’s too short to let little inconsequential things build up and pile up until we can barely see the things that really matter.

Join me today in setting aside unrealistic expectations and appreciate the spouses we have for who and what they are.  Marriage may not always resemble the vision we had before we were wed.  But I’ve got a notion that if we let it, it will be the best, blessed reality that God designed it to be.

I leave you with our wedding song.  Hope you enjoy it.

 

 

 

Again with the Hamster Wheel

beautiful clouds country dark
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“SHUT UP!!!”  I exploded.  “If you don’t be quiet, I’m pulling over and you can hitchhike the rest of the way home!”

The silence between my husband and myself the rest of the way home was deafening.  I don’t normally drive when we are together but he had an appointment with the surgeon and it was doctor’s orders that I drive.  Driving Bob after a surgery isn’t bad.  He’s whooped and doped up from the procedure so has little to nothing to say.  He obviously had clarity of mind and most of his strength back on the day of his follow-up because his regular, horrible passenger self turned up.  I’m not one usually given to explosions, I internalize more.  I’d rather not speak until I can think things through.  And I rarely utter “shut up”.  I don’t like it.  It seems incredibly rude and just, well, rude.  I don’t want to hear it so I refrain from saying it.  But that day, oh, that day, I had had ENOUGH.

Poor Bob couldn’t know that his grousing would be the cause of my tipping point.  Unfortunately for him, it was.  I had stuff, lots of stuff, weighing me down. He didn’t know it, or forgot it, or simply didn’t think much of it (since, naturally, his only and main business was recovering) but they were stresses to me.

For one, he had his surgery.  The stress of sending a loved one, no matter the procedure, to unconsciousness and the knife is bad enough.  Add to that some old fart in the waiting room condemning your loved one’s recovery because she had a bad experience.  I rebuked her out loud in the name of Jesus, by the way, told her Bob was covered in prayer, and got an “AMEN!” from someone sitting behind me.  Still, that was an upset.  I’m certain satan sent her.

For two, our family had appointments of one sort or another every single day but one of the week of Bob’s surgery.  Run, run, run.  And in the midst of the running, I was planning/preparing extra healthy meals to aid him in healing and giving instructions to whoever was left with him as to what to do while I was gone.  Then I was right back to caregiver as soon as I returned.  The girls were great nurses.  And I applaud Bob.  He may be a horrible passenger for me but he’s actually not too bad a patient.  The fact is, I rarely know anything’s wrong with him unless he seems exceptionally irritable for no apparent reason.  I’d rather he just told me he didn’t feel good.

alone bed bedroom blur
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For three, I was not feeling quite well myself.  Probably stress wearing me down.  Physically, blah, but it was the emotional, mental crap that really dragged me down.  My reflection has not been my friend as of late.  I caught sight of myself in a full length mirror  recently and I was shocked.  The added pounds, the long, frizzy looking hair–just who was this run-down woman staring back at me?

On top of that were my feelings of inadequacy.  We’d had a chance meeting at a relative’s office (long story).  Witnessing her in her “place” punched me in the gut that I’m not in mine.  At least, I don’t feel like I’m in mine.  I love my role as homemaker, wife, and mom, but nothing I do helps pay the bills.  Nothing alleviates the financial weight my husband alone bears.  And my “place”, my writing, I love it but I don’t know what to do with it.  And tell Bob all of this?  No.

person holding a sticky note
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As of late,  he’d been an incredible source of pain to me.  I’d been feeling like I couldn’t do anything right by him.  It wasn’t because of anything particular that he said, it rarely is.  Maybe because of how he speaks at times, but it’s mostly because of what he doesn’t say that I feel ground to powder.  I admit that I  wonder, if I should die before him, what he’ll say then.  Will he utter the words that I ache to hear now, while I am alive, but he won’t say it because he’s “not like that”.  Not like what?  Not capable of being the man he was before we were married?  The one who talked with me for hours about random stuff?  The one who wasn’t afraid to bare his heart?  The one who made me feel like the most sought after woman in the entirety of the world?  Yeah, sometimes I wonder if he’ll wait ’til I’m dead and that makes me sad.

Bob’s back to work.  My place is restored in my glider rocker chair in the corner of the living room.  I had a sit-down with the LORD.  I dumped on Him.  I poured out my judgments, anger, and resentments against various people.  Some of what I prayed kind of surprised me as it had been hiding in a dark corner somewhere.  Nothing surprised me more than unearthing some anger that I had towards God.  I’ve encountered this before.  I admitted and repented of a lot of garbage and our relationship had been running pretty smoothly between us for quite some time.  I honestly don’t know when I started collecting rocks again concerning Him.

I heard a minister say he doesn’t understand how anybody can be angry with God.  That could bring condemnation, but I don’t let it.  Here’s the thing: Is not this a relationship that I have with Him?  How many people cruise through their relationships totally anger free?  I don’t.  My anger is not a reflection on Him, it’s a reflection on me, and my need to let Him cultivate the kind of love that He has inside of me.  I am hoping and praying that I mature to the place, and my love is perfected in such a way, that I no longer become angry with my Creator, but apparently I’m not there yet.  And you know what?  He knows that.  So why pretend?  All it does it create chasms between us.

After confessing, repenting, and crying, I felt better.  But there was still poor Bob.  The stuff he puts up with.  Then, of course, the record starts playing in my head about what an awful wife I am, yada, yada, yada.  Then I remind myself that he’s no peach to live with all of the time either, blah, blah, blah.  Then I wonder why, Why, WHY, can’t I permit myself to be human?  My efforts to live in the divine make me crazy sometimes.  I try too much in my humanity to do what only God can do spiritually.  If I’d just let Him do His work life would be so much easier for me.  For Bob.  For everyone in my sphere.  There I go, trying again.

Know what’s encouraging?  I’m catching these things earlier.  I’m becoming more pliable in God’s hands as I loosen the grip of my own.  I’m forgiving myself and others quicker.  Offenses are becoming less and less as I look at others through eyes of compassion.    What have they suffered?  What have they gone through?  How would I like to be treated when I am hollering, “SHUT UP!!!” on the highway?  Do I want grace?  Absolutely!  And I’d like the luxury of having a melt down periodically while someone comes afterward to tell me that they love me anyway.

Join me today and be soothed while listening to Jonny Diaz’s “Breathe”.

 

I close with this:

It’s going to be all right.

I don’t know why, but that calms me.  Maybe it’ll do the same for you.

And because nothing has clout like God’s Word, I leave you with these scripture verses:

Isaiah 40:28-31 English Standard Version (ESV)

 Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
    his understanding is unsearchable.
 He gives power to the faint,
    and to him who has no might he increases strength.
 Even youths shall faint and be weary,
    and young men shall fall exhausted;
 but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
    they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
    they shall walk and not faint.

We may be struggling now, Friend, but there’s coming a day when we will soar.  ‘Til then, just breathe.