Questions

A thousand thoughts racing through my head, yet none that seem coherent right now. Maybe it’s the time, busyness and exhaustion, or just the fact that I’ve birthed humans into the world, and “mom brain” should be allowed an excuse since one’s first conception.

Questions. I get asked a million a day it seems, yet the moment I try to think of a few asked recently to start this blog post, my mind goes blank. It seems that my oldest comes up with a whole new set of them as soon as she’s supposed to be in bed. Ugh. Not again. I’m not going to lie, she probably gets that from me. I’m always questioning everything. I wish knowing that gave me more empathy during the unending questions.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately how much God wants us asking questions and seeking. How much He wants us to be like little children, and little children are wired with a surplus of questions. I think it’s a problem when we get to the point that we don’t think that there are any questions left to be asking. If you don’t ask questions; you won’t seek. He promises that if we’ll seek; we’ll find. In the last few weeks, I’ve read “Face to Face with Jesus: A former Muslim’s extraordinary journey to Heaven and encounter with the God of love” by Samaa Habib and Bodie Thoene and “Only Love can Make a Miracle” by Mahesh Chavda (a former Hindu). Since Sunday, I’ve been reading “Something Other than God” by Jennifer Fulwiler (a former atheist). All three of them were seekers, wanting to know purpose and meaning in life. They were open and vulnerable, or at least got to that place over time.

I feel like no matter where I’m at, I’m always seeking more. I always have questions. It seems like so many don’t have questions and seem ok. I just don’t understand how others get to that place. When I feel complacent even for a little while, I feel like life seems so meaningless. I guess I don’t ever question whether God’s real, just because I’ve had some miraculous healings and experiences that I can’t deny. I feel like to deny He exists, is to deny myself in a way. I don’t know how to separate the two. I tried to once, but the hopelessness was so unbearable, that I didn’t think life was worth living. I realized that period of time stemmed more from being angry at God for allowing me to walk through years of what seemed like a dark tunnel with no end in site and what felt like an inability to breathe. I felt so incredibly uncertain of His love for me or my ability to improve anyone or anything’s quality of life at all. Thankfully, despite all that, God gave me a second chance, and a fresh new start. With that came even more questions. However, I’ve come to realize it’s good to be uncertain. Being uncertain keeps one humble, keeps one asking questions, and keeps one seeking. You can’t find what you don’t seek.

Keep. Asking. Questions.

Questions of Existence
Everyone’s bound to have an off day,
But what about more than two?
What if you spent the last few years
Realizing off-days are what got you through?

What do you consider an accomplishment?
How do you measure success?
What questions of life are you answering
When ignoring the Creator’s test?

Why do you drown out the silence
Whenever your thoughts run too deep?
Why do you ignore Purpose’ whisper
When asking you to take faith’s leap?

Why does loneliness hurt you so?
Seeking happiness from meaningless lovers
And when you find they’re just as selfish
You go searching for another?

And how do you view yourself?
Is happiness only found with perfect body size?
Then why are countless models killing themselves
After listening to society’s lies?

Have you ever wondered what you’re seeking
When your soul always hungers for more?
What are your reasons for living
When you have nothing you would die for?

Is life supposed to be an endless chase
To reach happiness on the “come-and-go?”
And while going this false route
Why does your conscience hurt you so?

Is life meant to be this painful?
Is love supposed to hurt?
After living your meaningless life
Do you just decay into dirt?

When you don’t know where you’re heading
Which direction should you go?
Are these questions you’d like to keep asking
Or would you really like to know?

And if someone found true answers
Would you take it as reason enough?
And would you be willing to keep on going
When the going gets real tough?

And what if one that found Truth
Said Jesus is the only way
Would you follow ’til it wasn’t so easy
And then again be led astray?

And now that you’ve heard truth
Have you counted the cost?
Between a life of gain
And a life always lost?

What’s it going to be,
Your response to His call?
Will you live a life worth living?
Or one worth nothing at all?

-R.A.D.

On Learning

I love this guy & his intelligence! When Bella first chose to do schoolwork rather than take naps when she was 4- those were her 2 options & I was kind of hoping she would choose a nap originally 😉 & I had read most of the book “How to Teach Your Baby Math”, I had learned a lot about how kids learn & actually crave learning, but the way we usually teach & our attitude towards education makes them start losing interest. I usually tried to make things fun for her & the days we were having bad days, we just skipped it as she wasn’t even kindergarten age yet & there was no pressure. There have been some days as she has gotten older where I would tell her we might have to work through the harder times or work through something she started even if it’s not so fun to teach perseverance, but for the most part, learning should be fun! When Bella went to a good school with a waiting list as a kindergartener, the teacher told me that she’s so far above everyone else that she had to come up with extra stuff for her. Most kids were learning the abc’s & trying to memorize a few sight words while Bella was reading American Girl books on her own & very fluently. Bella would always tell me how all the kids in her class started going to her to ask how to spell words rather than her teacher. 😛 (She had an AWESOME teacher so definitely not knocking her in any way at all!) One of my favorite memories though was when they got a picture of all the students & were supposed to describe everyone. For almost every single kid she would say beautiful or nice or handsome or funny & for herself she put “smart” & was so proud to show me it. (Not so fun dealing with just how “smart” she can be & thinks she is though some days- still working on the humility thing at times & feel like I’m already dealing with a teenager… 😉 😛 )

However, as I started this homeschool year for what I consider the technical first time though she was taught a lot already at home just not really school age, I started putting so much pressure on myself to make homeschool like what I grew up with in school. There was so much busy work involved. My kids were no longer enjoying learning & I was putting so much pressure on them to complete so many different assignments when originally they begged for the curriculum books at Costco & couldn’t wait to do those the same night we got them on their own on top of their other school work. It was as though I forgot all I had learned the more pressure I put on myself to get different books completed to have something to show for what they were “learning”. My 7 year old daughter whose favorite movie in kindergarten was Akeela & the Bee (a spelling bee movie where Bella kept asking how to spell every ridiculously long word that after a while I told her I don’t know to look over & see her writing every word down in a notebook! *haha*) & who absolutely loved learning, writing books, art, reading on her own, & just learning anything she could get her hands on, started dreading it. She started misspelling words in definitions she even copied from the book & hated for me to look at her work as I was quick to point out her mistakes as I didn’t understand how she of all people could be struggling with that as she originally LOVED spelling. I was absolutely killing their love for learning. Austin already had enough of a hard time with wanting to know as much as Bella did but not realizing how much work we put in to get her there & he just started absolutely refusing to do schoolwork some days because he dreaded it so much. I’m not one to take that attitude from my kids, but nothing was cutting it. I told Drew I could “spank him to death” metaphorically speaking & it would do nothing for this & there’s not much of a fitting punishment I could think of. I started praying & just had absolutely no idea what to do. Wanting to do what I set my heart on well, I felt like a failure. I didn’t want them to go to public school with the common core, I couldn’t sign up for a parental involvement school where you volunteer so many hours per kid with nursing my youngest & being unable to bring him, & we just didn’t feel like we could realistically pay for a Christian/private school. I felt absolutely stuck & at the end of my rope. People would think that I was this amazing mother because I was homeschooling here which isn’t as common as it was at our last church (where I didn’t fit in so much sending Bella to a good but public school there… I just don’t fit in anywhere 😉 ) , & all I could think about was how they didn’t know me clearly because I felt like I was a failure. I wanted to be transparent with my failure, but it’s one of those things where people think you’re just being modest & I really wasn’t. I just was failing. Period. I was taking my kids’ love of learning & squashing it. You pretty much can’t fail teaching more than making your students hate learning. I started crying out to God at that point & sometimes just crying to be honest. I don’t know why it often takes me getting to the end of my rope (“I’m at the end of my rope & now it’s starting to show that if I’m going to survive, I’m gonna have to let go”… Seven Day Jesus 😛 ) & why I continually try to be self-dependent by this stage of my life, but it does & God’s still working on me in that area…

It wasn’t until that point of realizing that something has to change & feeling at the end of my rope that I started cutting their load almost in half & telling them after reading, a bit of math, throwing in some more cooking “classes” for those who wanted to learn, & once a week a verse for them to copy to practice spelling & penmanship & their daddy reading to them from a history book occasionally at night (& sometimes a few other things but these were the more consistent ones) & telling them they can go play more often after their work that I started seeing them THRIVE again. Austin seemed to figure that was more doable & stopped refusing to work & often wanted more! He ended up finishing the entire Kindergarten & 1st grade curriculum books from Costco a month before school ended & LOVES math! Before I changed my ways, he could maybe read around 10-20 words a minute on a good normal day & seemed to greatly struggle with MAJOR dyslexic tendencies not only passed his Victory Drill Book with 72 pages that get much harder by the end, but starting the 2nd time around started reading around 60 words/min. consistently (shorter words that they hope kindergarteners can read around 25 words/min. & improve by 5-10 words/min. each year) & Bella was reading around 80 words/min. consistently in list form even through the more difficult pages, though had gotten 109 words/min. at one point (they hope to 100 by 5th grade) & I realized in paragraph form she read even more & wanted me to time her & she passed 200 words/min.)! Instead of dreading writing assignments, she came to me with excitement the other month & told me she had such a great idea for a book & wrote 4-5 chapters with around 11 pages each within 2 DAYS & made her own book cover! I started seeing how much she loves fashion (& often ask her advice when I’m having a hard time deciding 😉 ) & just tried to let her know I think she has a gift that if she wanted to develop, i would support her work. She has now learned some sewing & crocheting thanks to asking her aunts Laurie & Laura, a tiny bit of help from me in the sewing part from my youtube learning, & thanks to her Aunt Becky & her headband-making skills & supply of headband stuff as a birthday gift & my fabric glue, has made her own money selling headbands for “$1 or more” as she says to her customers around the neighborhood. 😉 haha. She also LOVES to cook & made banana bread mostly by herself the other day. I have so many more examples from both of them, I could go on & on.

I’m honestly not trying to brag at all, because clearly I was squandering their love of learning for at least half a year & holy cow am I aware of my kids’ issues because they are definitely not perfect & have just as many issues as the next person along with myself. I was so excited to homeschool at first with all the ideas I had, but then just resorted to “dry” teaching & what I’ve seen a lot at schools & honestly, I had some pretty amazing teachers that did their best with some of the textbooks they had to work with. I started finding out more about Charlotte Mason this year & her work as well & so recommend “The Charlotte Mason Companion” & “How to Teach Your Baby Math” I mentioned before which is actually a fascinating book that talks about how babies & kids learn. Until they get into the nitty gritty details, it’s a super fast, really interesting, & enjoyable read. 🙂 I just wanted to share for anyone else who has thought about homeschooling & was overwhelmed by that thought or who is homeschooling & dealing with similar issues. There is hope! Educationally speaking, I am by no means qualified to be a teacher. I didn’t even technically finish the whole first year of college as I stopped showing up to some classes the last couple of weeks when we thought originally we were getting married that summer & I was trying to finish paying off all my school loans & to help with our wedding & figured I didn’t need it to be a stay at home mom or artist or writer that I wanted to be. I don’t even technically know how many college credits I have as I didn’t take all the finals because of that fact so, not sure if my credit hours actually counted. I have taught kids how to read following some of the steps I remember from a super amazing teacher i had in first grade who stayed after school to teach me & a few others who were behind how to read after I learned no phonics at a public school & The Victory Drill Book (the best phonics/reader book I’ve come across & HIGHLY recommend). I worked my way up to be a paraprofessional the first year of my marriage though they usually use people with at least 2 years of college & it was amazing seeing the improvement of some of the troubled kids I assisted. People have seen some of my kids’ work & complimented me, but honestly, I feel like they’ve learned more the less strict I’ve become (as far as learning, still strict in other ways 😉 ).  Here‘s another amazing video which also only confirms that theory.

I think we put so much pressure on ourselves & our kids wanting the best for them or just by feeling the need to compete with others & their kids as validation for ourselves. I hope me sharing about my kids isn’t another thing for others to feel the need to compete with. I completely know that struggle. The more kids I have, the less pushy I am with their learning as I know they’re all different, it takes time, & frankly, they need to have the drive themselves to enjoy it. My youngest is now a little over 14 months old & just doesn’t want to walk on his own quite yet. My oldest would fall down & get herself back up & keep challenging herself on her own & started walking at 10 1/2 months. They’re all different. I figured my youngest just wants to exercise his brain a little more with his crawling. 😉 haha. It is hard though, as a parent, & especially as a Christian parent with a strict upbringing that’s always been taught to “train up a child in the way he should go & when he is old, he will not depart from it.” It’s so incredibly hard to not put so much pressure on ourselves or our kids to validate us. It feels like an ongoing struggle for me. Maybe it’s because I’m a stay at home mom & even more so a homeschooling stay at home mom now that I feel like they’re basically the work I have to show for, but I feel like it’s at least partly a universal feeling. Obviously, there is so much judgement on the mother when kids do anything to act up. It’s all over the media & parenting is just so tough in general. I used to have the verse “A tree is known by its fruit.” on our family branch at our old house, & at our new house, I made a family tree, & I told Drew, I don’t want to put that verse because I don’t want people to think that some of the attitudes & actions our kids are portraying come from me. 😉 haha. A super sweet dr. lady at the wellness center I had to go to for a while was telling me some amazing feats her son had accomplished, & I remember complimenting her by saying how much that speaks about her as a mom. She said something along the lines of how heavy of a burden that would be to carry for a person & how he did that all on his own accord & how he’s a person just like anyone else. He’s made some bad choices & mistakes as well as good ones & he’s a whole different person. To carry the burden of another person & their choices is too heavy of a load for anyone to carry. Those weren’t her exact words & I so greatly wish I had a recorder to record her wisdom, but I couldn’t help but try to glean from it. It’s such a hard thing to remember at times, but I want to always remind myself of it when my kids make bad choices at times which they often do, it’s not a direct reflection of me & that I need to stop being so harsh with myself when they do that in fear of what other people think of me.

I never really considered myself to act as a fearer of people as I try to conquer those types of fears at least; however, the more kids I have, the more aware I am of how much we stand out & the media’s portrayal of bigger families (4 isn’t even that many no matter what people say & I happen to love a lot of way larger families!) & of course the more accidents that are made, the more messes that happen, & the more my patience & anger & self-control is tried, & frankly, I got a lot of crap to work on & all these kids just make it all the more obvious. I mean, I could just have less kids & not have as many issues brought to the surface, but then less issues would be brought to the surface that I need to let God shine His light on. Plus, whatever I allow God to teach me, hopefully my kids will learn even sooner & better & become world changers like this world absolutely needs. That is my hope. I am so far away from being the perfect parent a couple people have told me lately. In fact, I lost my temper a LOT today due to a lot of sleep-deprivation from painting my friends’ cabinets the last few days & apologized a lot, but I basically told the kids to not look at each other or talk to each other or be near each other quite a bit today after they continually fought & told on each other for looking at each other & hurt each other. Then after they settled down a bit & I could barely keep my eyes open, let them watch a movie while I napped before painting again. So yeah, far from a perfect parent. Yet, God still showed me so much grace as even after all that, Austin told me “you’re the best mom ever” & hugged me. *Phew*, my eyes are tearing up thinking about my reactions to them & his reaction to me- after he got out his anger for his sisters & my reactions of course. 😉

Blah blah blah… about that teaching & what becomes from my lack of sleep apparently 😉 , all this is to say, what I’m learning & hopefully teaching, is to allow some grace. I have only the weight of carrying my choices. Yes, parenting well & training them up in the ways of God are absolutely encouraged, but these little kids are people. They were granted free will that’s often selfish just like the rest of us. God doesn’t control our every action & He isn’t a bad Father just because His children make bad choices. I need to cut myself some slack when my kids make bad choices. It’s not necessarily a reflection on me just like my lack of making good decisions isn’t a reflection on God. This might not seem like it has to do with the learning I started speaking about, but eh, it’s what I’m learning lately. Learning doesn’t end just because school does, and learning often happens outside of school. I just know that I know from speaking with others & feeling the weight myself how easy it is to pick up the weight of the little people in our lives not just physically but metaphorically speaking. There is hope when it comes to parenting. Our little people can become world changers & if you want, you can be an amazing teacher. We often need to take the pressure off of ourselves to perform & our kids to perform up to the world’s standards (ha…standardized tests :-P) to uncover the gifts that are waiting to be developed right in front of us. And honestly, who doesn’t want to know more about the things we’re passionate about? I can easily get addicted to watching HGTV or listening to good music or good poetry or truth being shared. We want to develop our passions. That’s natural. What’s unnatural is how much we’ve tuned out our passions for “living” & how much we’ve tuned out learning for “education”.

PASSION DRIVE
Passion gives life to my soul
To not live out of it
Would put death to my life’s role
Why do people choose routine?
Why live life so serene?
When passion wishes to take the scene
And I know that each attempt I would make
To live a life so fake
Would never be me
I refuse routine
As my false identity
Passion drives me
It’s what I live for
Nothing less
Nothing more
Passion’s taking over me
I’m not putting my life in cruise control
Passion is the engine of my soul
The tire,
That will have its roll
The wheel,
That’s taking control
It drives me
-R.A.D. (a poem I wrote as a teen…technically as RAJ 😉 )

Imperfection & If You’re Still Trying, You’re Not Failing

My daughter was around 9 months old here I think & I was 6 months' pregnant with my 2nd.

My daughter was around 9 months old here I think & I was 6 months’ pregnant with my 2nd.

*Again, a Facebook status that grew.*

Sometimes i just want to hug other moms. I want them to know they’re not alone. I want them to know that I’m FAR from perfect & while there are times I definitely try to stay on top of the cleaning & laundry & cooking & such-only because I know how hard it is to get caught up again-my house isn’t even close to being clean somedays. We have even more updated on our house than the pics I posted, but those areas are too messy to want to photograph or clean now-& not because I don’t want to be transparent (I think people who really know me know I can be a little too transparent at times 😉 ), but because I just want people to see the beauty of those areas the first time without the mess all around. I’ve told my sister & husband that any time I do any type of art project or work on one area, even if the cleaning was caught up before, I look around & don’t know if I should be upset or impressed with just how messy it can get in such a short amount of time & I even have my kids clean up most of their messes so I can’t even imagine if I didn’t have them do that.

I have 4 kids now obviously, & while some things are going to be just more stressful at times due to the increase in number, there are things that are also easier. Jesse’s probably our happiest baby yet simply because he has so many older siblings who love him & want to play with him or even that I “force” to hang out with him if I need to cook or do a load of laundry. (They mostly seem to fight over him when they don’t need to hang out with him & then when I need them to, nobody seems to want to hang out with him & I always tend to remind them of that fact. :-P) Seriously though, having 2 babies a year apart was one of the hardest times in my life. Having a newborn with a COMPLETELY reversed schedule & a 1 year old who needed me up during the day & marriage & life struggles & crazy-messed up hormones & more sleep deprivation than ever before (& I am very sleep-deprived at times) can make someone feel like they’re going to go insane. I went through some really dark times & I didn’t handle them well at all. Sometimes I wish I could do them over wanting to love my little cuties or hubby better, but there were so many times I felt like I was going through hell that I just don’t want to go through them again at all. You don’t have to have babies a year apart though to feel that way, and whatever you are going through, you are not alone.

The fact that you’re even concerned about whether or not you’re a good mom or good wife usually means you’re a great one & that you’re trying your hardest-even on days you HAVE to not try & do nothing just so you can catch your breath. I’ve been posting a lot of art lately & working on a lot of art these days because I feel like God’s finally answering some prayers I’ve had for decades-for real (I’m so excited for this). However, in order to do so, it usually involves me either not getting much sleep & having to kick my kids out of their toy room because we haven’t figured out a good designated art space yet in our new house & then feeling bad for not letting them in their toy room & letting them watch more “educational” videos than I usually would & because of my lack of sleep, trying to sleep in while nursing & starting school much later-like after lunch time even some days. I usually have to make all the meals here & try to cook pretty healthy, but especially while working on my art & being so busy lately, I asked Drew if he’d just pick up groceries last time & asked him to pick up all the easiest meals he can find where he can just heat them up for everyone & have often done the dishes the next day. Yesterday I helped paint at our church & I hadn’t showered since Wednesday when we last went to church. Not that unusual for me, to be honest.

I just want to share that I’m far from perfect. Really far. I usually only wear makeup at all when I go to church or someplace nice-which is not often & usually just because any time I decide to go a month or so without it, I have a hard time wearing anything even close to nice then because I’m an all or nothing person & when I’m on my “nothing” days, I look an awful lot like a homeless person. Unless I work out or have someplace to go, I probably haven’t showered either because I don’t see a point when I’m just hanging out with kids/homeschooling, cleaning/cooking/doing laundry, or painting/working on projects & as soon as I shower, I hate doing things that can make me dirty again so I usually avoid it so I can get more done. Seriously, I had days at the end of my pregnancy last year where I was working on so many projects on our house to sell it that I would just throw on Drew’s sweatshirt in Indy’s warm weather just so I didn’t have to put on a bra to pick up Bella at school & hoping nobody would notice. 😛

Maybe this is too much info, but I share all this because all my life I wanted to be like the Proverbs 31 woman because I not only felt like I needed to be her growing up in a Christian home, but probably had a huge insecurity that if I wasn’t this version of a perfect woman in my head, that there wasn’t much lovable about me. I have grown up with a huge spirit of rejection & I love a good challenge so much that I didn’t ever read about the Proverbs 31 woman as unattainable, but as a challenge to conquer. I’ve gone to so many women’s Bible studies where other ladies have written books about what they thought it looked like to be the Proverbs 31 woman & would often seem like they were bragging about how they seemed like one-so much so that they never even seemed to be at rest around their own husbands because they didn’t want to waste any time. Luckily for me, part of what they said being a Proverbs 31 woman was like was making their homes nice & some other gifts of mine, but as I started looking at all my unique & lovable friends who have different gifts which don’t look anything like that, I started thinking that I didn’t think they were failures as women; they just have different gifts. Why do we put so much on women or people in general to look & act a certain way & if they don’t, then they’re not being who God created them to be? My friends who are gifted differently can be just as close to God & just as much like a woman of valor with the gifts God has given them & they’re not failing when they don’t look like someone else’s version in their head. We’re all trying the best we can with what God has given us & if you’re trying & sometimes just surrendering (to God), you’re not failing.

Blah. Enough of my long, never ending rant that trailed off way more than I planned, but probably not more than I expected. 😉

Some other super awesome articles to read: this & this one -that I was reminded of that are so encouraging & not at all like a rant like mine & written much better.

Random Thoughts

625449134810a0c8ae7be761a0ed627dI had a very vivid dream this morning followed by some random thoughts that I can’t get out of my head so thought I’d share. It was just going to be the first paragraph or so on a status & kept growing so here it is on my site. 😉 This is to no one in particular-for real- just in general & to myself even.

If you feel like you HAVE (meaning you have absolutely no desire to, but feel the need to, not that you must because of a great desire) to share the gospel, maybe you still need to hear it yourself. The gospel by its very definition means GOOD NEWS. If what you have to share isn’t good news, then it’s not the gospel & could very well be intermixed with the shackles of a religious mindset. I don’t know about other people, but when I have good news, I have a really hard time holding it in. The people who were touched or healed by Jesus in the Bible did too- even when He told some to try to keep it to themselves or just share with their family. That’s just what good news does. It begs to be shared. The people who have it have a hard time keeping it in & the people receiving it usually want to hear it.

Jesus is the desire of the nations (Haggai 2:7). The nations DESIRE Him. If you’re a Christian; at one point, you did too. Remember the darkness you were in when you first heard of Him, & put yourself in other people’s shoes. We were comforted in order to comfort others. Share what He did for you, & in so doing, wants to do for somebody else. There is NO one too far gone-even yourself. If you have a hard time believing it over yourself, but would never tell that to anybody else, maybe you need to forgive yourself. I know I do & have had to many times.

“The testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of prophecy.” In Revelation, the saints overcome the accuser of the brethren (Satan), by the blood of the Lamb & the word of their testimony. Nobody can take your testimony from you. That’s your personal experience. Many would love for it to be shared! As I’ve shared before, when I was around 6, I broke my collarbone so badly that the dr. told me he wasn’t sure if it would fully heal. I went to a church that night with my mom & people were sharing their testimonies how after being in a drought, their nation repented & God healed their land. They had vegetables bigger than people’s arms from what I remember. Nobody even prayed for me. I just thought while watching it that if God could do that for those people, surely He can heal my arm. As soon as I thought that, He did. I felt it & raised my arm with no pain & excitedly yelled without thought of where I was, “God healed me!” & remember the whole church gathering around me praising God for what He had done. That’s the power of the testimony of Jesus. If God did it for someone else, He can & wants to do it for you. Don’t be jealous over God’s blessings; receive them for yourself! God is no respecter of persons!

It’s not God’s will that ANY should perish. Jesus’ name means “God saves”. God doesn’t need us, but He WANTS us. God cared about us so much that He stooped down to our level & came in the form of a baby- Jesus, for the very reason to seek & save those who are lost. We’re ALL lost without Him. If you don’t believe that, then you’re believing a lie.

Also, if you’re wasting time accusing people who could be your brethren, you’re wasting your energy & might just be following the one you call your enemy as he is the accuser of the brethren. Jesus said, “Whoever is not against us is for us.” My pastor just spoke about sectarianism yesterday & it’s probably the best word I’ve ever heard on it & a little of what I’ve been talking to my husband about lately after seeing different Christians accuse others of being false teachers. He shares it so much better than I could so please listen (part 6 when it’s added- it is OH SOOO GOOD, everything I’ve heard has been though-so feel free to listen to others as well!).

C.S. Lewis put it this way:
“Talk to me about the truth of religion and I’ll listen gladly. Talk to me about the duty of religion and I’ll listen submissively. But don’t come talking to me about the consolations of religion or I shall suspect that you don’t understand.”

John 13:35 says, “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” I’ve seen a hurtful, manipulative status shared that has accused others of not being Christians just for disagreeing with the way to deal with Syrian refugees. Honestly, I’m on the fence with that one. I see wisdom on both sides regarding the issue. I don’t believe it’s ever been the government’s job to take anyone in. It’s the government’s job to protect us. I can see why so many people don’t trust our leader (though I do believe that God calls us to respect him in his position) & seeing his reaction to different governors wanting to protect their states has felt really manipulative. I do feel it is our Christian duty to love others & do unto them what we want done to us & maybe God is calling different Christians to invite others into their homes & love on them. If God is calling you to do that, please do. I don’t think it’s okay to force that on others though or to say they’re not Christian if they don’t feel the same way as you do on that. God has called different people to do different things. The legs of a body aren’t called to do the same things as the hands. We as Christians are the body of Christ. To say someone isn’t being a part of the body because they don’t feel called to do the same thing as another part of the body is just silly. If you’ve seen “Inside Out”, you should know that all the feelings are an important part of the body. 😉 We all need to work together & love each other. When we pick apart each other, we’re doing exactly what Satan wants us to do & isolating each other so he can attack easier. We lose our strength. There is strength in love, strength in joy, & strength in number. Don’t isolate others just because they’re called differently than you.

Along the lines of what my pastor shared yesterday, God is so big, we can’t even comprehend Him fully. We’ve only seen glimpses of God. Surely He can give others a different experience than we’ve had. Surely He can speak to others different aspects of Himself than He has to us. That’s why we need each other & to hear others’ testimonies to see more of the whole picture. Honestly, I’ve had a hard time understanding how God can give different people so much love for the refugees but not their own brothers & sisters in Christ. Frankly, if I were others looking in at how we’re treating our family, I wouldn’t want to be a part of it. Maybe your brothers & sisters are being Pharisaical. Maybe you are. Maybe I am. Anais Nin said, “We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.” Maybe we should stop wasting our energy trying to decide who’s being what & doing the job they’re supposed to do & just focus on what we are called to do. I feel like I have to tell my kids that on a minute by minute basis at times! “Stop focusing on whether or not others are doing what they’re supposed to be doing & just make sure you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing.” I know I struggle with that at times, but I’m trying to improve & maybe these thoughts are doing the same things I’m saying not to do. I don’t know. I just know I’m called to love God & love others & share the things I feel like God wants me to share. I couldn’t shake these thoughts this morning & thought maybe I should share them. Maybe we are supposed to allow refugees over here, & maybe we aren’t. I don’t think calling other people who don’t agree with us not Christian is going to change anybody’s mind, & even if it did, it would be in a controlling, manipulative, unhealthy way & nobody would enjoy being led that way. We’re better than that. We’re God’s children & Jesus’ brothers & sisters as He’s the firstborn among many brethren. Maybe we should just do our best to follow His example, & in so doing, people will want to follow us, just like they wanted to follow Him. We just need to be making sure WE are following the way, the truth, & the life & leading others to Him. All else is just meaningless, joyless, perverse (devoid of truth). The truth sets people free. We are supposed to set people free as Jesus did.  Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. Who doesn’t want to be free? I know I do. I think others do too. 🙂

Let the Little Children Come Unto Me

3 of my kids in all their silly glory. ;)

3 of my kids in all their silly glory. 😉

“Let the little children come unto Me…”

I awoke as if to the sound of a whisper, yet knowing there was none to be heard. I couldn’t tell you what I dreamt about last night, only that when I awakened, my thoughts couldn’t be quieted.

That verse along with memories of my mom taking me to different Bible studies, prayer meetings, nursing homes, churches, and even a small group at our house as early as the ages of 2 or 3 popped into my head, yet knowing she probably took me even earlier than that. I don’t know if back then they had child care or not. I know at times I didn’t want to be there. However, I also know that I am so thankful she took me. I don’t know that I would have realized that God was all around us loving His children or that I would have wanted to give Him kisses and hugs at bedtime if she hadn’t. I know my memories of dancing and singing to “Sing unto the Lord a new song”-my favorite song at the time-would be erased. My collarbone that I broke around the age of 6 could very well still be broken, just like the doctor said. I don’t know if I would have had any of the experiences or memories I have at such an early age if it wasn’t for my mom bringing me along with her. There are so many more that I cherish every time I think about how God had His hand upon my life even at an early age-especially at an early age. How, even then, He was romancing me. Sometimes I feel like my memories then are stronger than my feelings of His love are now. When I start doubting at times, those are often the memories I turn to.

~*Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth,
Before the difficult days come,
And the years draw near when you say,
“I have no pleasure in them”:*~
Ecclesiastes 12:1

Yesterday, my 3 year old daughter was about to eat her tortilla soup, and before eating it, grabbed a few chips, put them partially in, and started crunching them up with her spoon. Her older brother and sister laughed, asking if she was trying to be like me. She said, “Like mommy!” I smiled and asked if she wanted to be like me, she responded with, “Mmhm, just like mommy!” Now, sometimes that thought scares me, but I couldn’t help but smile last night. I started envisioning a year ago or so when I would turn on some praise music and dance and sing, seeing her right along with me, raising her hands, twirling, and praising God. It was the most beautiful sight to behold. “Just like mommy.”

There are so many kids wishing to be “just like mommy” or “just like daddy”, yet I wonder how often we turn them away for fear of them becoming just like us or just for the sake of wanting to be alone. Completely understood by me, by the way. Being introverted with 4 kids 6 and under right now who like to walk in on me every time I use the restroom can be extremely frustrating to say the least. However, I also know that at other times, these kids really need me.

I often wonder what message I’m sending them, that we’re sending them. My husband and I have recently had the invitation to attend 3 different groups-a couples’ group at one church, smaller life groups at our church, and a parenting class at my sister’s house. They all seem awesome. The people seem awesome, the topics seem awesome, but in every single one of them, the kids are separated-left in child care. Part of me wants to welcome the break of getting at least 2 minutes of uninterrupted speech, yet my husband and I both thought that 3 groups, or even 2, is too much now with him working longer hours, and the fact that they need him as well, and we as a family need each other together. And frankly, meeting 3x a week with any group of people on a regular basis is too much for me-even if they are awesome. Honestly, I don’t see anything wrong with getting a break from my kids and greatly need it at times.

However, I wonder sometimes if kids get the impression that they’re just a nuisance or a burden. I wonder if they think that God and His Holy Spirit are just for older people. If God enjoys worship from their parents better than from them. If they really think that God’s light in them is smaller just because they are. If anything, God’s Spirit often seems to shine brighter in a smaller vessel because it fills it more fully. There are less deceitful beliefs to diminish and overcome.

I don’t know what God wants it to look like for the little children to come unto Him at this moment. I just feel like sometimes kids aren’t given the opportunity to brilliantly shine as they are called to.

One Heck of a Mess

for love covers a multitude of sins.

for love covers a multitude of sins.

“Would you like me to cut you up an apple too?” The words slipped from my mouth as I could hardly even recall the last time I had taken the time to do to my husband what I would want him to do for me. I remembered a moment in time several Christmases ago when as I was getting myself something to eat, I asked he & his friends if they would like something too. As one of his friends looked shocked, my husband said, “That’s just the kind of person she is.” Or something along those lines. And I was. For many years.

Somewhere along the way, I’ve started acting like an entitled brat.

There was a hard 8 years my husband put me through what seemed like hell in many ways. It wasn’t all that way, there were some good times he likes to remind me of when he thinks I only remember the bad. However, through the roller coasters of dishonesty, pain, & extreme selfishness & manipulation at times, it was hard to think that the good times weren’t somehow just a rug put over the accumulating mess that needed swept up. Somewhere along the way, God got a hold of my husband’s heart, & I was left dealing with the mess left behind because I had let my heart grow too calloused to ever allow God to disrupt my self-sufficiency. But the thing is, being self-sufficient isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. It’s making a god of myself because I forgot that God cared about me anymore. It was thinking that I could take the reigns & do a much better job than He did.

But I couldn’t. I can’t. Nobody can.

For years, I tried to act like I could overcome all the mess. Like I could clean it up on my own. I did all the wifely duties & then some. I thought if I just did this & this, then my husband would love me. If I just do a little more, then he would appreciate me. I started playing my own manipulative games unaware of the enemy’s hands I was playing into. Looking in from an outside perspective, my husband didn’t deserve the treatment he was getting. If I were a guy, he would have been told he was lucky to have me. Being the girl in the family I grew up in, I was just doing what was expected of me. Which really didn’t help. When I was told by those who didn’t know all I did for him & all he had put me through how lucky I was if he helped out in the least, it made me furious at times. I wanted to share with them my story, what I had gone through. What I was put through. As though I had no choice in the matter. And truth be told, in ways, I felt very stuck. Like I had no choice.

My husband was dishonest about a lot of things until we were engaged. When I found out, I didn’t want others to think badly of him, & kept it to myself. Originally, I felt awful & then furious at Satan that my husband would think I wouldn’t accept him completely as he was, that he felt the need to hide who he was from me. But after getting blamed for his dishonesty due to my lack of trust at a time I was completely vulnerable, I was just blindsided. I didn’t know what to do with it, so I bottled it up. I lacked any knowledge about boundaries. As my findings of more dishonest areas grew, so did my confidence in the fact that God brought us together. I tried to run away from the relationship. I gave him back the ring many times & was just told to put it back on, & I did. Part of me knew I was supposed to marry him, but I knew it shouldn’t have been under these circumstances. And my lack of boundaries & my growing insecurities didn’t help. The rockier things became and the more lies surfaced, the more I wanted God to come through, & when it didn’t feel like He did, the more I started building a wall around myself to protect myself from the hurt. I felt if I couldn’t physically separate myself from the pain without leaving him & ruining our marriage & in a way, our kids’ lives through divorce, the only way I could stay in it, was if I mentally separated myself from it with my imaginary walls. The problem is, when you build a wall around yourself to protect yourself from pain, you also trap yourself from ever feeling love too. Or any good thing.

And I didn’t. For many many years. My walls became my prison. When I didn’t feel hurt, I felt numb. Nothing could get in. Or go out. My dreams became tormenting. I could literally feel when another lie was about to surface from the tormenting dreams I would go through, & my walls would go higher. If that’s not hell on earth, I don’t know what is. When my walls cracked & let some of the pain get in, I would get controlling. I wanted to control our circumstances because I felt like I physically, emotionally, & spiritually couldn’t handle another hit. And truth be told, I couldn’t. I was already in survival mode & I was drowning. I read once that a person with my personality’s body often manifests on the outside what they’re going through on the inside. It didn’t matter how controlling I became with my food or how much I withheld from myself or how much discipline & hard work I put my body through, my physical body went into survival mode. There was a point in time, I didn’t know if I was going to make it. And it wasn’t even the time I tried not to.

That’s what bottling in pain & becoming a victim can do to a person. It’s not pretty. It often feels like hell on earth. It’s scary to even admit I allowed myself to get so deep that I couldn’t even see the surface.

And the even harder part was having tasted intimacy with God in the past. If I didn’t know what could be, I might not know I was missing out on so much. But I had. To know how good & great God is, & then to go through almost a decade of intense tongue lashing flames with no God in sight, is agonizingly painful. I was ashamed of who I had become. I felt He would no longer accept me. I didn’t want to be where I was. Who would? I cried out to Him. I just cried at times. I tried and tried. And tried harder. Hoping He would accept me. Playing the same manipulative games with God that I started playing with my husband. GOD, PLEEEASE ACCEPT ME. LOVE ME. FORGIVE ME. I CAN’T GO ON LIKE THIS! I NEEED YOU! The pain was unreal. I gave to Him, I gave to others, I obeyed all I knew how. I honestly wouldn’t wish what I was going through on my worst enemy, yet at times wished someone knew what I was going through so I could have someone who could relate. But all I felt was alone. And in a way I was. I was crying out to this wonderful amazing gentle lamb of a Father, yet all the while knowing He can seem like an untamed lion at times that could allow me to go through this dangerous “adventure” & I was too terrified to truly let my guard down. To let Someone so wild that didn’t have to answer my growing number of questions in. Knowing some questions might never be answered in this life. And I didn’t know if I could deal with that.

Yet despite my growing pharisaism, God completely ruined me one day in a good way. He burst right through my built up walls, and lavished His love on me in a way I can’t describe. I was literally trembling and a complete puddle of a mess for a whole day. He showed me the beauty He saw in me & what He imagined me to be despite the beast that was growing inside. He brought back this innocence and childlikeness I had long forgotten. I thought it was too wonderful to be true. Yet, it felt so real. More real than anything I had ever experienced. Too wonderful to experience on this earth that I thought He was going to take me to be with Him then. I wrote my family and some old friends just in case so they’d know what happened to me & what He had in mind for them as well. It might seem crazy, but nothing felt more real. When it happened, I knew that all I had gone through was for a reason & forgiving my husband & others seemed easy. I lost 14 pounds in the 2 days following just confirming what was going on spiritually & the burdens I was carrying so long were starting to be lifted after not being able to lose any weight for almost 2 years & going to doctor after doctor who couldn’t tell me why my body wasn’t absorbing any nutrients I was eating & one told me how I couldn’t fix all the problems I had physically even if I had all the money in the world.

But despite it being the most wonderful thing that ever happened to me & despite it giving my husband & I a second chance on our marriage, there was so much that happened after that made me afraid to ever let it happen again. I started realizing how much I cared about what others thought after all. I enabled a spirit of rejection to grow stronger than my love of God in my life, and the areas that I had swept up & cleaned, but not yet allowed to be filled with God’s love & His spirit, I only allowed something 7x more ugly to start growing in my life. And being put through a hard miscarriage, 2 cysts rupturing, being told by a dr. what I mentioned before, almost 11 weeks of bleeding & severe pain after my miscarriage worse than any of my natural full-term births, followed by a super busy reffing & athletic directing season on top of teaching my husband had, a super hard pregnancy I had, followed by all the changes mentioned in the last post, I have felt wiped. And while I’ve felt wiped, I haven’t given much thought to how any of this has affected my husband either. I’ve been too busy attending to my own wounds. Too busy trying to convince myself that none of the insecurities I feel have to do with my identity. Too busy trying to convince myself that while my security & stability seem to have been severely shaken, my husband’s a new person.

God got a hold of him.

My sister reminded me how all our lives we had a really nice grandpa. He made us feel so loved. He was married to our very bitter grandma who we never felt loved from. Apparently, he acted stupid early on in their marriage & the rest of their lives she could never forgive him. He grew up to be this amazing, loving family man, & the beauty she once possessed seemed long forgotten.

It’s kind of been passed on through the generations.

I don’t want to be like that.

My husband was stupid. Apparently, a lot of guys start out stupid. It takes a long time for some to grow up, even if they are 6 years older. But he has. He’s grown up. He’s become an amazing man. I don’t need to remind him how stupid he’s been. I don’t need to keep re-hashing all the negative years to make myself feel better about how far I’ve fallen or to allow myself to keep my victim mentality. If he’s allowed God to change him & I’ve seen him at his worst, then I can allow Him to change me too. You jump; I jump, hubby. 😉 I don’t need to be an entitled brat. Nobody should deserve what I went through, but in a way we’re blessed when we don’t get that. Only Jesus dying & paying our price has even made Heaven on earth & beyond attainable. My husband doesn’t owe me anything for all the years of selfishness & pain that affected me. And I don’t have to go the rest of my life acting like he does.

I want to love recklessly again. I want to break the chains of bitterness & unforgiveness of past generations. I don’t want to pass it onto my children. And boy, is it strong. But my God is stronger. 🙂 And God’s love can even pour through this dried up wasteland of a person I’ve become. He can make these dry bones live again. 🙂 And you know, giving is just the kind of person I am (as my husband once said)-the person God created me to be, that I’ve buried for so long. It’s time to let Love in-& you know, out too. 😉 And if He can do it through me, you better believe He can do it through you because I’ve been one heck of a mess.

 

~*Weathered Heart*~

You left your heart open
For far too long
Thought it was invincible
Couldn’t be more wrong

You didn’t use an umbrella
To shelter it from rain
You didn’t know storms
Could weather so much pain

Now you’re left
With a torn, weathered heart
You’ve tried to mend it some
But it’s easily torn apart

And your heart
Once thought to easily survive
Is just dying
Dying to stay alive

In an attempt to
Rescue itself from more pain
It closed itself up
To shelter floods of rain

And the door of your heart
Was shut to many-a helpful knock
And in order to survive
It would have to unlock

It would have to open up
To see blue skies again
And it would need to let the Son
Take the place of sin

It would have to risk dying
In order to survive
And it would have to open up
If it ever wanted to thrive

And with one last gasping
Breath of air
It cried out with strength
You never knew existed there

It cried out for mercy
It cried out for grace
It cried out for healing
To take place

It cried out for forgiveness
Of not opening up before
When the Helper chose
To knock on its door

And it opened up
Wider than ever
It chose to risk everything
If it was its last endeavor

And the floods came
And the rain
But it wasn’t like ones before
It washed away the pain

And the Son came
He helped your heart thrive
And with His help
Your heart will always survive

You leave your heart open now
Never to close
Sometimes storms may come
But they leave with rainbows

-R.A.D.

Changes…

So, in the past 3 months, we had a baby, sold our house, moved 11 1/2 hours away, my husband not only got a new job but a new profession, stayed in a rental for a month & a half, got a new church, & 13 days ago moved into our new house. Things have been slightly CrAzY & my emotions have been on a roller coaster lately, but God has been so faithful through it all. My parents are actually visiting us tonight-REALLY soon, so I just thought I’d share a few photos of our new house since at least the main area is clean right now 😉 & some photos of it turning into our new home. 🙂

BEFORE

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& it was all...beige... I have a beige house with a beige window...& everything was so beige...haha...

& it was all…beige… I have a beige house with a beige window…& everything was so beige…haha…

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AFTER

Let’s just say, beige will soon be a thing of the past…


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Identity Crisis

1234202_766438165028_1791408816_nThere’s been a huge identity crisis going on in our world. Not just in the world but in the church too, and I feel like part of the problem is coming from us in “the church”. For a long time, many in the church have put people on pedestals causing many to be shocked by sin, almost to the point that people feel afraid to even admit that they struggle with different sins. For too long, people have felt as though they need to put on a mask to even go to church or they will be judged un-rightly. Often this judgment is even worse for leaders as they are often put on the biggest pedestal of all. Yet, we often forget that the whole message of the gospel is the fact that we were deserving of death for our sins and yet, Jesus died for us WHILE we were still sinners and that our testimonies lie in His goodness and nothing that we’ve done or earned. Some of us have walked with God for a while, but have forgotten where we started on our journey. We’ve forgotten that while sin may be pleasurable for a season, it is absolutely miserable to feel as though God doesn’t care for us. It is that sin that makes us feel that we’re enslaved to something that is often a huge burden. We often act like the older brother of the prodigal son. It upsets us when God saves someone who clearly didn’t deserve His forgiveness, forgetting that we too never deserved it. This realization has been causing a rift among Christians. We oftentimes forget to extend the same grace to those who are in the place we just came from. Maybe you’ve never been guilty of that, but I know I have.

As wrong as I have been, I’ve been having an even harder time with so many Christians accusing others in the church of being unloving for calling a sin a sin. I feel like the church should be the safest place to be open and “come out” of whatever sin we’re struggling with. There, one should be able to get help from others who have been forgivensometimes for the very sins or temptations others are struggling with. I feel like Christians should be the most transparent and open and honest, and not be afraid to ask the most questions. These questions should lead us to seek; and when we truly seek God, we will find Him. I’m all for that. God’s all for that.

I’m all for loving everyone. God is love. The Bible tells us that the two greatest commandments are to love Him with all our heart, soul, and mind, and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. We’re even told to love our enemies and do good to those who hate us, persecute us, use us, etc. As far as the Bible’s concerned, we’re not off the hook when it comes to loving any person. However, I never thought that calling sin what it is would be considered hateful and that defining someone by their sin would be considered graceful and loving. If anything, if someone were to define me by all the sins I’ve struggled with, I would feel discouraged, hurt, and hopeless. And if something in my life was causing a separation from God, I would hope that a loving friend of mine wouldn’t be afraid to point out what I was unaware of. All of us have struggled in some way or another. We’re all undeserving of God’s love. Right now, there’s been such an identity crisis going on that it’s understandable why the amount of people struggling with homosexuality and transgender issues seems to be on the rise. Why are so many struggling with these identity issues?

There are plenty of reasons for this. First, what used to be thought of as innocent child’s play and curiosity has now led many parents to believe that their child is gay. In an attempt to show love, they have accepted this belief and spoken it over their kids. Secondly, there are many more kids who are being raised in broken homes or who have been physically or sexually abused. Some are belittled at a young age for being “different” than what others consider the norm. Others feel undesirable among the opposite sex. Many are tempted with same sex attractions. Many don’t know how to have close friendships with boundaries. The media’s lies definitely haven’t helped, etc. (Not all of these things will lead to someone struggling with homosexuality. These are just some of the things that can clearly lead to that struggle and temptation and are clearly causing an identity crisis).

It’s really sad that so many are growing up not knowing who they are. Those same kids are being defined by their struggles and a lack of understanding on our part. For a long time, if you were to say to most Christians that a person is born gay, they wouldn’t have believed you. It was clearly a chosen lifestyle.

Somewhere along the way, many of us have accepted the notion that people are born gay.  I’ve actually heard some Christians who use the argument that we’re born sinners that I addressed yesterday so they guess some people can be born gay. There was a huge article written and shared by a Mormon (I think?) that was spread widely in the past year or so. He said that although he’s married to a woman, he knows he’s gay because he’s attracted to men, yet has never acted upon those attractions.  Obviously, there’s a difference between being tempted, entertaining and lusting after those thoughts, and acting upon them. As I addressed yesterday, if being tempted alone made someone a sinner, then Jesus would be considered one. Yet as the Bible says, Jesus was tempted in every way, yet was without sin. Being tempted just means we’re human. I always wonder if the people spreading the article would consider someone a liar who is tempted to lie, but has never lied?

When Christians use the same lie that people are born gay, we are only contributing to the bondage they are in. If God created people to be born gay, then it would be wrong for Him to ask them to go against their nature. The question then becomes, what is natural? What did God plan from the beginning? Is homosexuality what He had in mind for anyone?

Genesis 1:27, Genesis 5:2, Matthew 19:4, and Mark 10:6 all say that in the beginning God made mankind male and female and Genesis 2:20b-25 goes on to say:

~*But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him.

And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place.  Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man.

And Adam said:

“This is now bone of my bones
And flesh of my flesh;
She shall be called Woman,
Because she was taken out of Man.”
Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.*~

First off, the Bible makes it pretty clear that He created man to be male and female, and that a man and his wife-woman shall become one flesh.

Genesis 1:26-28 says:

~*Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all[b] the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”*~

Second, God tells man to be fruitful and multiply. Can homosexuals be fruitful and multiply?

In Ephesians 5:25-33 it says:

~*Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body,[a] of His flesh and of His bones. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”[b] This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.*~

Third, not only does it share about husbands and wives/men and women becoming one flesh again, but also states how our marriage is supposed to be a picture of Christ and the church (which I agree, very few marriages look like today). Satan hates anything that is a picture of Christ’s love for the church, and it makes sense why marriages are under such an attack today.

But really, what does the Bible say about homosexuality in particular? I know many say that the verses stating that homosexuality is an abomination in Leviticus don’t qualify as they were mainly written for the Israelites and how not many people follow all of those laws anyway, so let me use some others.

Romans 1:18-31 says:

~*For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.

Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.

And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality,[c] wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving,[d] unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.*~

How are God’s invisible attributes clearly seen since the creation of the world and understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead (what many refer to as the Trinity though it’s never mentioned in the Bible and the Godhead is mentioned three times)? Why would God say that people are without excuse because of this? What are God’s invisible attributes clearly seen and understood by the things that are made SINCE the creation of the world? Remember, Genesis 1:26-28 says:

~*Then God said, “Let Us (the Godhead) make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all[b] the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.*~

In other words, man made in God’s image- male and female, being fruitful and multiplying, filling the earth and subduing it, and having dominion over every living thing that moves on the earth should clearly show His invisible attributes and His eternal power and Godhead since the creation of the world and it is understood by all that is made.

For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.

What does natural mean? Some definitions from Merriam-webster.com says:

-existing in nature and not made or caused by people : coming from nature
-not having any extra substances or chemicals added : not containing anything artificial
-usual or expected
-based on an inherent sense of right and wrong <natural justice>

a : being in accordance with or determined by nature
b : having or constituting a classification based on features existing in nature
-implanted or being as if implanted by nature : seemingly inborn
-having a specified character by nature

I could go on. If it wasn’t clear enough, a man and a woman’s body fits together naturally. Our God- our Creator, created us in a way we naturally fit together. It says that

~*…God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts (not love as many argue), to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen*~

And that BECAUSE man served the creature rather than the Creator, He gave them up to vile (evil) passions. What is a picture of those evil passions?:

~*For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust (not love) for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.*~

If God made nature and everything that is untouched by humankind is what is inborn and natural, and God made man in His image, male and female, then how could He have created people gay when it clearly says that goes AGAINST nature?

It goes onto say that God gave those who did not retain Him in their knowledge a debased mind to do those things which are not fitting (and lists all kinds of wrong-doings), but goes on to say, who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.

Does God ever say that homosexuality is deserving of death besides in Leviticus twice and a few other times in the Old Testament? Here are just a couple of the times, though there are more.

1st Corinthians 6:9-10 says:

“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals,[a] nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.”

1st Timothy 1:9-11 says:

“knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine, according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God which was committed to my trust.”

Sodomite: a person who has anal sex with another person : someone who practices sodomy

Clearly, God is opposed to homosexuality. Clearly, it goes against what He intended. However, does that mean people who have chosen a homosexual lifestyle are without hope? Absolutely not! Ist Corinthians 6:9-11 goes onto say:

~*Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals,[a] (some translations even say those who practice homosexuality-showing that it is a choice once again) nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.  And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.*~

There’s hope! First off, since people aren’t born gay and it’s unnatural unlike being born as a man or woman, black or white (God’s variety is a beautiful thing!), He can lead us back to what He had intended in the beginning. He can and wants to wash us and sanctify us and justify us in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of God of whatever sin is separating us from Him– and yes, one of those is homosexuality. Should we love homosexuals? Certainly! Like I said, we’re not off the hook to not love anyone. If anybody should be best at loving homosexuals, it should be us because we should know how undeserving we are of love and should be the most grateful. However, like I said, I don’t find it loving to ignore the fact that someone I care about is heading down a path that leads to separation from God and all sorts of other consequences. I also don’t find it loving to say they don’t have a chance to head down the right path because they were “born that way” and will not continue to speak that lie over them. And I most certainly don’t find it loving to define someone by their sins or struggles. If that person has asked for forgiveness, as far as I’m concerned, they’ve been clothed with Christ’s righteousness and God now sees Jesus when He looks at him/her. And did He not create us from the beginning in His image?

Newborn Sinners?

17967_533563951818_7237959_nWhen are we considered sinners? At what age after birth? Do people believe that newborns are capable of sin? Are we sinners at birth? Does being human and having human attributes qualify someone as a sinner?

I know my answers to these questions, but I honestly wonder what others are, especially among Christians. I get it. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” And I’ve read the passage from Psalm 51:5: “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me”, but does it mean what so many of us have been taught for so long? I think this does an amazing job of sharing what I believe God has been showing me in the past year that is just one of the lies I’ve never understood. I always wonder how people can claim that newborns are born sinners, or that we’re sinners from birth when Ezekiel makes it pretty clear we don’t inherit our parents’ sin. Or the fact that if newborns are born sinners, would not Jesus be considered among them as He came in the flesh? Does temptation alone make someone a sinner? Does it not say that Jesus was tempted in every way, yet was without sin? Does sinning not require an act on our part or even entertaining sinful thoughts? Which sin has a newborn baby committed? Was it when he/she had to cry to communicate that he/she was hungry, tired, or went potty? Is that not how God created us? Did He not look on His creation and say it was good? Did He not make us in His image?

Or here’s another angle: when He talks about being born again or being a new creation, what would be so great if we truly believe that being born automatically means we’re sinners? I whole-heartedly believe that our goodness is nothing apart from God and that we are born with a selfish nature, but does that mean that by just being born the way God made us, we are sinners? There have been so many who have shared that we cannot know if a baby is going to hell or not because of this. Yet God said to Jeremiah: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you;” and through David: “For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb.
I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.” Does the Bible not say that John the Baptist was filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb? And after we have been forgiven of our sins and walking in the Spirit, is God/the Bible a liar when it says we can overcome sin?

I had a really intense spiritual war/dream that was going on in my head last year that I had to seriously pray through and ask for clarity for quite some time that night and I felt like God was saying how we will act out what we believe about ourselves. In essence, if after we have been born again, we believe the accuser of the brethren and believe that we’re not who God says we are, we will act out of those lies. If we believe that Christ’s blood wasn’t enough, that His forgiveness isn’t enough, that we’re still sinners, then we will act out of that lie. However, if every time we are tempted, we believe what Jesus says about us, in Christ, we can overcome that sin. Will we still be tempted to sin? Of course. Do we have to fall every time we’re tempted? No. And if we do fall, are we then defined by our sin or by His righteousness? That’s the problem we’ve been encountering. All it takes for someone to sin is believing a lie-about God and about ourselves, thinking we know better than God, rather than whole-heartedly trusting Him. Are we capable of that even after being filled with God’s Spirit? Yes. However, we are not defined by our weakness anymore. We are defined by His righteousness. And as we walk in the newness of His Spirit and are born of God, we cannot sin.

Faith Like a Child

One of my favorite photos of me as a baby. :)

One of my favorite photos of me as a baby. 🙂

Sometimes I wish upon everything to have the child-like faith I once possessed. I think sometimes it’s easier for kids to understand more about the Kingdom of God than we adults do. Sometimes I feel like I need to strip off all the things I’ve “learned” that have led to self-righteousness at times and go back to the foundation that caused me to hunger for God in the first place. I’ve shared some of my desire for God at a young age due to my mom’s hunger for Him and her constant prayers over my siblings and me, but God really made Himself and His love known to insignificant me when He healed my collarbone at a young age.

When I was a young kid-I’m guessing 6 or 7, the two neighborhood boys my age and I were taking turns on the slide. Of course, as it is with kids, they got so excited about going down that one of them started getting way too pushy. I wanted to go backwards that time and asked if he could scoot back, but instead he pushed me off. I still remember glimpses during that time (almost as if I had an out of body experience where I can still see my mom looking out at me through the kitchen window and almost as though I can see myself falling from her point of view). With the weird angle of being mid-trying to turn around, I fell on my collarbone. At the time, my dad thought I was just making a big deal out of nothing, and moved my collarbone that I told him I could not move on my own when he asked. Of course, I screamed like a baby. I remember them temporarily setting it and later wheeling me into St. Francis hospital since any movement was painful with all that the collarbone’s connected to, only to hear the dr. say that it was broken so badly, it may never fully heal. My mom had a habit of going to a Word of Life Church (or Word Alive?) occasionally in addition to the church I regularly went to and brought me with her that night. It was no accident-purely Spirit-led as they ended up having a video (yes, at the time, it truly was still called a video) they played with a TV and VCR they had wheeled in.

I still remember watching what the Holy Spirit was doing in the country that was being shown. After turning their country over to God, they had huge vegetables the size of people’s arms and bigger where there was once a famine and as I was watching it, my faith in God grew knowing that if He could do that for them then surely He could heal my arm; and when that happened, I remember getting feeling in my what-was-then-casted arm and lifted up my arm in the middle of the video, shouting, “God healed me!” I still remember the whole crowd of people at that church coming around me and praising God for healing me!

I had a huge desire to share how good God was after that. I told the neighborhood boys all about Him and invited them to church with me; but after a while, while I still had a huge desire for God, my experience and the things I saw around me didn’t seem to line up. While I learned more about God and the life He calls us to live in the Baptist school I went to, I had forgotten His great love for me and dwelt more on all the things I could or should be doing for Him. I grew insecure in His love and tried to earn it by living the best I knew how and when I still wasn’t confident in it, I lost my desire to live. Even at a young age, I struggled greatly with depression and sought to find purpose in life.

It wasn’t until I was 12 1/2, the youngest allowed to go to a church camp to Philly we called boot camp that I was reminded of God’s great love for me, was filled with the Holy Spirit and true Joy, and was given a reason for living. This was my first poem I wrote after being filled with the Holy Spirit when I was 12. I saw others who reminded me of my passion when I was younger, and it made me yearn for that again. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times God showed up on my behalf and made Himself known to me since then-sometimes even in the smallest answers to prayer. From healing me of a sudden-popped out jaw during boot camp that was hurting immensely, to ANY time I needed $5 for a meal at work & didn’t have cash for it (I used a debit card for everything)-sometimes I would just happen to get 5 different random people tipping me $1 each  when nobody usually liked paying more than the then $19 charge to park and was told nobody tips garage cashiers to a stranger handing me $5 just in time or even someone dropping off a meal & telling me I didn’t need to pay, to a reader of my old blog I didn’t know who was on the other side of the country saying she felt like God wanted her and her husband to give me their tithing money of $200 that week after my sister said THAT day she could come to my high school graduation if I could get half the plane ticket that would cost $400 & I never told her I needed that amount, but she had sent me a $200 cashier check just in time. I’ve mentioned before how my husband and I had a really rocky relationship for years, but I knew that God brought us together from Him answering some crazy prayers I had from years before I met my husband where I had asked God to specifically lead my husband to do different things in a time of confusion in past relationships and we had many prophecies as well from different churches and people that didn’t know our situation that only confirmed us being together. God knew I needed every singly one of those confirmations during the rough years and I can’t thank Him enough for giving them to me or for helping us get to the place we are now that I had lost all hope for. There were so many more that I could go on and on.

Life definitely wasn’t “easy” growing up-in fact God seemed to show up most in the most difficult times, but He made Himself so real to me and gave me a reason for being and true joy in the midst of some of the hardest times during my teen years. I never doubted that God answered prayers or that He was real because of how real He made Himself on my behalf, and I knew it was all due to Him and His goodness. I couldn’t take any of the credit. I wasn’t anyone special, and I knew He wanted to answer prayers and be that real for everyone and loved sharing Him with anyone I came across. I wrote Him almost daily in my journal-a continual reminder of His goodness in answering prayers, would dance in worship to Him in my room and even at a Spirit-led Tuesday night worship service at my church I often walked to, and read the Bible for fun as I loved hearing from Him and knowing all I could about Him.

Around that time, I prayed that God would do whatever it takes for me to become even closer to Him. I wanted all He had to offer, to grow closer to Him than ever before. I shared some of my struggles since then, but not all. Along the way, I lost a lot of my child-like faith in Him and saw a huge decrease in my prayers being answered. After almost a decade of feeling like I screwed up too much for God to accept me after being so close and turning my eyes more on my circumstances than on Him, God has been reaching out to me in ways only He could. For the past year, God has been revealing so many things I’ve allowed to get between us. Most Christians might say these things are good as outwardly I continued to try to do a lot for Him and others and didn’t rock the boat so to speak, but as I’ve shared, a lot of it has come from an insecurity in His love for me-almost as though I felt like I could earn His love if I just tried harder or did more. But I know better now-or at least I’m re-learning that NOTHING I can do can earn His love. I already have it. You already have it. We just need to accept it and walk in His love for us and walk out His love for others continually reminding ourselves of all He’s done for us and where we were without Him. Only then will our love not grow cold. Only then can we sustain a faith-filled walk seeing Him answer prayers on our behalf. Only when we fix our eyes on Him and His goodness and remember where we came from and share our stories/testimonies, knowing He wants to do for others what He’s done for us, and sharing what He’s laid on our hearts for others through seeing them through His eyes can we be effective in our walk towards Him. Everything else just leads to self-righteousness and makes us think that we’re better than others who are struggling in other areas than we do or makes us feel like we can earn His love by something we do because we aren’t already secure in His love. Trust me, I’ve been there for so long. I’m not entirely sure I’m completely out of that mindset yet as it seems to be a continual struggle for me, but I don’t plan on stopping here. I know there’s more out there- and He is so much more real and powerful and amazing and awesome than we could ever imagine because I’ve only seem glimpses and tasted samplings and it’s always enough to lead me to come back for more. 🙂

I read these verses this morning:

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Mark 16:14-20 New King James Version (NKJV)

The Great Commission

14 Later He appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen. 15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; 18 they[a] will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

Christ Ascends to God’s Right Hand
19 So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. 20 And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen.

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A few things popped out at me that I put in bold. First off, Jesus rebuked the unbelief and hardness of heart of those who didn’t believe those who had seen Him after He had risen. Then He told them to go into ALL the WORLD and preach the GOSPEL to every creature. Then, it says that whoever believes and is baptized will be saved and that these signs will follow those who believe- in Jesus’ name, we will cast out demons, speak with new tongues, take up serpents, if we drink anything deadly, it will not hurt us, and we will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover. A couple verses later, it shares that as they preached EVERYwhere, the Lord worked WITH them and CONFIRMED the Word (His Word will not return void) through the accompanying signs-all the signs He said would follow those who believe.

It just makes my heart cry out, “Oh God, help my unbelief!” Like I said, the more I struggled and focused my eyes on my circumstances rather than on God, the less I saw my prayers answered. However, I know there’s more out there because not only does God say there is, but also because I’ve experienced it. I’ve been so blessed to visit a few churches this past year-a couple in Minnesota and 1 here and am always so blessed to read and hear what’s going on at Bethel Church in Redding, CA where God has been moving and confirming His Word with accompanying signs and my heart has been burning within me for that again and let’s just say, the tears have flown freely during those times causing a desire and passion for God that had been dormant for some time. I’ve heard from many and read articles saying that we should be happy with JUST the Word of God and how anyone who’s not satisfied with that is just looking to be entertained, yet Jesus Himself said the accompanying signs followed those who believed. Also, in Matthew He said how if the mighty works/miracles had been done in Tyre and Sidon and Sodom as they were done in Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes and remained ’til that day and their-Tyre, Sidon, and Sodom’s (very wicked places) judgment would be more tolerable than those cities He performed mighty works in that weren’t turning their hearts towards Him. There’s just something about God moving and confirming His Word with signs that shows people His realness and His heart towards them that they cannot deny is God and it makes them face their Maker. Without it, we’ve only reduced the gospel to mere words. God is looking for true worshipers who will worship Him in Spirit and Truth. He inhabits the praises of His people. He desires to make Himself known to us.

Jesus says to the Pharisees in John 5:

36 But I have a greater witness than John’s; for the works which the Father has given Me to finish—the very works that I do—bear witness of Me, that the Father has sent Me. 37 And the Father Himself, who sent Me, has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His form. 38 But you do not have His word abiding in you, because whom He sent, Him you do not believe. 39 You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. 40 But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life. 41 “I do not receive honor from men. 42 But I know you, that you do not have the love of God in you.

Sometimes I just wonder if we limit God because the circumstances of our lives have drawn us away from keeping our eyes on Him that we no longer truly believe He’s alive today and still wanting to make Himself known and is bigger than His Word. Sometimes I wonder if we’ve forgotten His love for us and go back to trying to earn His love by the things we do and no longer have the love of God in us just like the Pharisees lacked it. We always equate the scribes and Pharisees to hypocrites and horrid men-after all, Jesus called them hypocrites, but do we ever see ourselves in them? These guys, while we know what the Bible says about them, knew Scriptures-shoot, the scribes were the only ones who were taught to read and write, they loved money, and justified themselves before men, but God said He knew their hearts and what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination to God. Are we ever like that? Am I ever like that? Do I try to justify myself before men and reduce God to Scriptures instead of allowing Scriptures to point me to Him Who gives life? Do I forget all He’s done for me and lose sight of His love for me and others? Do I try to live and hold others to an impossible standard to earn His love rather than allowing His Spirit to take root in my heart and bear His fruit? Do I readily accept His Kingdom as a child does or do I look at those who are seeing the fruit of His Spirit and His mighty works with envy and turn it into skepticism all in the name of Christianity? If anything, as far as I can tell, skepticism and unbelief are the opposite of what Jesus taught and out of the mouths of babes and nursing infants He has ordained strength and perfected praise. May God give us the faith, strength, and praise of a child who readily acknowledges and accepts Him.

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If you want to be really challenged and encouraged, you should watch this:

Sunday Morning 1/25/15-Bethel sermon

Salt and Light

My youngest last year on our table when left to roam for a second. ;)

For the last year, God has really been shaking some false foundations of my spiritual life. It has been freeing in so many ways, but also painful in others and I’ve found I’ve been way more in need of His Comforter-the Holy Spirit. I’ve written some posts that have addressed some things God has shown me this year and might expand on some experiences I’ve had more later, but for now, I started a poem last night and finished this morning that shares a little more depth of what God’s been showing me. I do hope that no one reads any of this in a judgmental light, as me saying “we” includes me in it. I’ve just been realizing how much we as a church (and no, not just my church…I mean the body of Christ, including me) has been putting God in a box in so many ways. In the past year, let’s just say that God has broken my box down and taken me out of my comfort zone and I’ve realized I can let His Spirit consume me or I can keep trying to hold onto my false idols and comforts. I’m not going to lie, I’ve tried many times since to hold onto the luxuries I’ve enjoyed in the past, but deep down, I don’t find any of it enjoyable anymore. I don’t see the purpose in so many things that I put so much effort in and like I said, it’s been freeing and yet uncomfortable in so many ways that I don’t even know what to do with all of what God’s been showing me-so in this case at least, I’m resorting to writing poetry again that I pray is Spirit-led. As I’ve been doing, I put in as many links with verses and such that popped into my head so if any part doesn’t make sense to someone else, I hope the links help expand on those thoughts that drove me to write a lot of this. 🙂

Salt and Light

Desire of the nations
By Your flesh and blood You fed
Yet we feed only rations
Of our stale old bread

We eat just enough
Of our religiosity
That we’ve forgotten what it means
To be truly hungry

We try to stave off the desire
Of the forever starving
For their works are revealed through fire
Threatening our mediocrity

So afraid of heretical fakes
We dare not cross a line
Terrified of mistakes
Any risk we decline

So we tiptoe in shallow water
Forgetting You walked on the deep end
We’d lose our control if we went farther
And on You, we’d need to depend

Intimidated by darkness
We cover our eyes
We no longer love recklessly
To our own demise

We’re called to be the light of the world, a city on a hill,
The salt of the earth
Now, we’ve lost our flavor
We’ve lost our worth

We’ve forgotten Living Water
Won’t be contained in a box
And any attempt to put You in
Neglects to feed Your flock

We live in false luxury
Pushing away Your Comforter
Or choose false humility
Accusing many-a law breaker

We’ve forgotten our strength is our joy
And the gospel means good news
Our salvation never came by works
Yet that is the life we choose

We are to be known by our love
And love never fails
Yet we’re known by our rights
And all that entails

Or we take another route
And encourage any sin
Meant to walk in spotless purity
Of the world we’re in

We don’t question anymore
Playing know-it-alls
The gods we’ve built live in
Any of our four walls

We need to tear down religious idols
Our minds we need You to refresh
We are the circumcision meant to worship in Spirit
Having no confidence in our flesh 

We want to be salt to the earth
We long to be the light
Our playing small never served our world
Nor put up any fight

The safest place is in Your will
And that’s where we long to be
Led by Your Spirit
However daunting

-R.A.D. 12/13/14 (ha. Just realized the date. 😉 )

*Currently reading: How Heaven Invades Earth by Kris Vallotton and it is highly recommended!

Words of Life

"He has made everything beautiful in its time." (One of my newest projects.)

“He has made everything beautiful in its time.” (One of my newest projects.)

When I was younger, my mom used to take me to not just our normal church building, but all kinds of churches with her. There was such an outpouring of God’s Spirit in so many different churches at the time, that people were not only getting healed but speaking in tongues they didn’t understand and people from other countries were being told the gospel through their native tongues that the people praying over them didn’t even understand, but God’s Spirit was doing the work and people were being saved and would just weep that God cared so much about them.

At most of these places, my mom would ask for people to pray for her eyesight so she could see without glasses. At the time, I used to be so embarrassed because she was never healed. I think I thought maybe God didn’t want to heal her or else He would have. However, the testimonies from these churches and even my mom’s persistence that God’s heart was so good that He wanted to heal her caused me to have a deep longing for God at such a young age. I remember knowing that God was present and still working and as a young girl sleeping in a bunk bed with my sister, I remember praying every night telling God how much I love Him and saying that since He’s here, I would love to give Him a hug and kiss good night and would often kiss and hug the air knowing He could feel it because I knew Him to be a loving Father and wanted so badly to show Him how much I loved Him in return. This poem was written years later from that memory.

Honestly, I didn’t even remember about my mom asking for prayer for her eyesight until this past week, and when it was brought to my memory, I was actually sad that as far as I know, she doesn’t do that anymore. It made me sad that we as a body have stopped the flow of the Spirit so much that people don’t think God wants to heal them. People aren’t leaving the church because people are so evil, but rather the church is only giving people a God that’s being proclaimed only by mere words, and God is so much bigger than that. The verse: “My soul, wait silently for God alone, For my expectation is from Him” popped into my head. I love that David said his expectation was from God. Do I believe that? That my expectation is from God?

I just finished the book Release the Power of Jesus by Bill Johnson and was so incredibly encouraged and moved in so many ways. At one point, he shared how it seems that people are always either building a case for God or against God. There are times that things happened that he didn’t understand like a leader’s wife’s baby dying in her womb even after they felt like God was going to heal her baby and spoke life over her child and a person close to them dying of cancer after they had prayed for healing and thought God was going to deliver him from cancer. He said they could keep dwelling over things they don’t understand and think that maybe God doesn’t want to heal people or they could dwell on things they do know, and what they did know was that God came to bring life and healing and deliverance and they were commanded to speak words of life. Since then, they have had multiple testimonies of babies who were proclaimed dead in the womb who were brought back to life as well as multiple testimonies of people being completely delivered from cancer. However, he doesn’t know that they would have had that breakthrough if they dwelt on the things they didn’t know or understand.

The world is full of things we don’t understand. There are so many things in my own life that I don’t necessarily understand why they happened. Reading that, I was so convicted because there are some things that I have been praying for and healing I have been desperately crying out for and realized I had let my heart grow cold to God. Bill Johnson shared how some people will come up to him and say how they’ve been prayed for up to 100x and prophesied healing over by so and so and still haven’t been healed, but would he please pray for them. He tells them he will only agree to it if they act as though it’s the first time because they’ve already started building a case against God and hardening their hearts to Him, that if healing doesn’t come, then God basically doesn’t want to heal. After agreeing to that, many have seen breakthrough.

I was reading some of Jesus’ words today in John 12:49-50 :

“For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak. And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak.”

Jesus said that He only speaks what the Father commanded and His command is everlasting life. I’ve been so convicted of that. Do my words bring forth life or death? God’s Word says death and life are in the power of the tongue. Are my words and thoughts building a case for God or are they causing me and others to doubt His goodness that leads others to repentance?

I shared in my last post how God’s been really challenging my faith this year and whether or not I believe what I say I believe and 3 different times being shared the verse about how much more our Father wants to give good things to those who ask of Him. This summer has been an even greater challenge as I’ve felt led to pray for people I honestly might not have had the courage to pray for, yet God had just given me a heart for them. Most people gladly receive prayer, and I’ve been thanked, blessed, hugged, and seen some crying and thanking God. It has been so encouraging at times, though it’s been also sad to see the only refusal I’ve had in a church building. To be honest though, I get it. Like I said, I had a hard heart towards God thinking that maybe He doesn’t want to heal and building a case against Him. I was afraid to pray for people for a while because I was afraid God might not answer their prayers like He wasn’t answering mine. I didn’t want others to grow hard towards God as I was growing hard towards Him. I don’t understand why God doesn’t answer all our prayers-there are some reasons given in the Bible, but I won’t stop praying. I know that He is good. I know that He is life and the giver of life. I know that He commands us to speak everlasting life just as He commanded Jesus to. I know that my expectation is from Him. I know that sometimes it takes praying multiple times to see breakthrough, and God is looking for people who are willing to recklessly abandon themselves and make a fool of themselves to show their love for Him. God’s Word will not return void even when we don’t always see the fruit right away, and I realized that even if my prayers aren’t answered over others, they know that I actually believe what I say I do and at least I can point them to Him.

Don’t give up on praying! You will see breakthrough as you remember His promises and dwell on His goodness and His testimonies! Someone shared this with me along with the verse I was reminded of a few times and as she did, it was so moving that as I watched this, it brought tears to my eyes again. Only God knows how many tears I’ve cried as I’ve prayed to Him, and while this doesn’t share it, there is a verse that shares how God keeps all our tears in His bottle that came to mind as she was sharing this analogy with me:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aqG9_acZbZA

Be blessed in the name of Jesus! 🙂

Me, faithless?

My youngest daughter looking skeptical...taken by her Aunt Laura. :)

My youngest daughter looking skeptical…taken by her Aunt Laura. 🙂

For the past year, I feel like God has been really challenging my faith. In essence, I’ve been challenged with questions such as “Do I really believe what I say I believe? Do I really believe God is who He says He is?” And not only that, but “Do I believe I am who God says I am?”

For so long, I have been faithless. Not faithless in a sense that I’m disloyal, but faithless in a sense that I’ve lost faith in God’s ability and my ability through Him. I lost faith in what He clearly says in His Word. I realized that everything I did, while they may have been “good” things, were really things that I could do on my own apart from Him-nothing I did really caused me to go beyond my ability into His ability. Yeah, I could work hard and maybe had talents that others might not have, but a lot of that can just come through hard work, practice, or might be said to be a hereditary trait. Anybody can come up with something to give to those in need, save their first kiss for their spouse, tithe, keep a nice house, etc. Although with young kids, the whole keeping a nice house is a little easier said than done. 😉 Anybody can even pray for the sick. Honestly, none of those things really require faith.

However, to speak healing over someone requires faith. To believe that I am the bride of Christ when I have been so faithless requires faith. To believe that I am dead to sin and alive to God requires faith. To believe that when Jesus died on the cross, He not only died for my sins, but all power over sickness and death was handed to Him and that He later handed all that authority to us requires faith. I could go on and on. I read today how He didn’t just say or rather, command us to pray for the sick, He told us to heal the sick. By the way, in those verses, He also tells us to raise the dead. Talk about requiring faith!

Like any good parent, God doesn’t do everything for His children, but rather equips us and gives us the tools we need to accomplish what He has commanded us to do. Yes, there are boundaries and rules just like in any loving household, because there are consequences when rules are broken. For instance, having a rule to not touch the stove top, is not to keep a kid from fun, but rather to protect them from being burned. A toddler might not understand that, but the older they get, the more understanding they’ll have. It would be unloving to just watch them do that without saying anything! However, it’s a sad state when the church speaks more about the rules and what not to do than about the loving Father behind those rules.

Colossians 2:20-23 says:

“Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations  “Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,”  which all concern things which perish with the using–according to the commandments and doctrines of men? These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.”

When I was younger, I was fairly dramatic-ok, so not much has changed. 😉 As with most kids, there were many times I questioned my parents’ love for me, yet was given a lot of chores. I did them and would later write in my diary how I felt like they only had kids to be their slaves (pretty humorous and yet humbling to read my old journal entries). My mom used to even boast that she didn’t have just one dishwasher, but five and then would state our names. I was taught to do different things because they were the right thing to do. Nothing wrong with that, but it definitely helps an attitude to know the love behind those commands. Many people aren’t able to realize that until they have kids of their own.

I remember when God first really made Himself known to me, I started asking my older sister to use the restroom and maybe bring a book in with her, then would try to surprise her with doing all of her dishes. My older brother used to pay me to clean his horrific room in the basement, yet after God touched my life (I’ll go into more detail in another post), I remember trying to give what little money I had to clean his room just to bless him. I know what you’re thinking, what a sister! 😉 I remember wanting to do everything unto God and I truly loved blessing people. I remember standing at the kitchen sink trying to envision Jesus coming into our house and wanting to clean and make things nice for Him. Talk about a major change in my life and attitude! What used to seem like slavery became a way of worship!

However, it wasn’t until I realized just how much God loved me-silly old me with my dramatic attitude, and that He cared about even the little things in my life! His love for me entirely melted my perception of Him and of life. Rules no longer seemed burdensome and I knew He gave me my parents and wanted what was best for me even when I didn’t always understand or feel it from my parents.

Like most people, I’ve had things happen in my life that has led me to question God’s goodness. I think it’s interesting that when the serpent spoke to Eve, he didn’t say that God didn’t say to eat of the fruit. That was an obvious lie. He knew the rule was there and he knew Eve knew the rule (though obviously she didn’t entirely know it as she said God said to not eat or touch of it, when he only said to not eat of it), but he knew he could get her to question the reason God gave her the rule. He knew he could get her to question God’s goodness. Breaking the command might have been the sin, but what led to her sinning was questioning God’s goodness and thinking He was holding out on her.

Recently, I was led to read Matthew 7:9-11 that says:

“Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!”

Within less than a week, 2 other people shared that same verse with me! I knew then that God really wanted me to read it! It’s caused me to start hoping again when I pray. I know it may seem silly, but for a long time I had grown so disappointed with God and His answering of my prayers that while I may have asked at times, I wasn’t truly able to do it in faith. The Bible says that whatever is not done from faith is sin.  It saddens me that I had been sinning so long without even realizing it. I started building on a foundation that God maybe didn’t want to heal everybody, maybe He didn’t want to answer every prayer, yet when I read in the Bible, not once did Jesus turn anybody away who asked of Him in faith. Not once did He not heal someone who knew all He did was have to say a word or if they could just touch His garment, they would be healed. It was the Pharisees around Him who said that the people’s sickness or blindness was a result of their sin and that God was trying to punish them, not Jesus. He doesn’t teach people lessons by striking them with sickness, disease, or blindness. Obviously, those can sometimes be natural consequences for certain actions and He may allow them (and promises to redeem them for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose), but it’s Satan who came to steal, kill, and destroy and Jesus came to give life abundantly!

What I find even more mind-boggling is that Jesus told us that we would be able to do even greater things than that-even greater than someone touching His garment and being healed, even greater than raising Lazarus from the dead, even greater than calming the storm. Sometimes I think I’ve always pictured Jesus as a super human in a way-not in the sense that I thought He looked like what we perceive a superhero in movies, but in a sense that He could do anything He wanted to do. Yet, even He says that He had no power in Himself, and only does what He sees the Father doing.  I think sometimes we think it’s heresy to believe that. Yet, God says that those who are born of the Spirit of God, are not only children of God, but heirs, and that Jesus would be the first among many brethren. God’s word requires faith. He didn’t just come to save us from our sins, but to make us heirs and co-heirs with Christ. Christ in us is the hope of glory! When are we going to allow God to adopt us as His sons and daughters? When are we going to believe His Word? All of creation is longing for it!

Through Love

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“Through Love”- My hubby & youngest daughter 2 Christmases ago-absolutely melts me! 🙂

I actually wrote this in an old blog post on July 24th, 2006, but I recently came upon it and thought it was really fitting today as well. Kind of like the last post, no matter where I am in my journey, God keeps bringing me back to this:
*****************************

In the book of Job, Job and three of his friends started having an argument/discussion about who God is (sounds familiar in Christian circles, eh?). They all have their own thoughts and some seem pretty good in fact. However, none of them really knew who God was- not even Job- whom God proclaimed that there was none like him in all the earth, being a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil in chapter one. Job didn’t even know exactly who God was. So finally God spoke up for Himself and proclaimed who He is in Job chapter 38-40:2 (I originally had copied the verses, but in order to make this shorter, added the links-though it would be awesome if you wanted to look it up in your own Bible.)

Job responds in Job 40:3-5:

Then Job answered the Lord and said: 4 “Behold, I am vile; What shall I answer You? I lay my hand over my mouth. 5 Once I have spoken, but I will not answer; Yes, twice, but I will proceed no further.”

God’s response in Job 40:6-24; Job 41.

Job’s final response to God in the book in Job 42:1-6:

Then Job answered the Lord and said: 2 “I know that You can do everything, And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You. 3 You asked, ‘Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. 4 Listen, please, and let me speak; You said, ‘I will question you, and you shall answer Me.’ 5 “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, But now my eye sees You. 6Therefore I abhor myself, And repent in dust and ashes.”

The end of the story from Job 42:7-17 (which I noticed something new tonight that I highlighted in bold print):

And so it was, after the Lord had spoken these words to Job, that the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “My wrath is aroused against you and your two friends, for you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has. 8 Now therefore, take for yourselves seven bulls and seven rams, go to My servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and My servant Job shall pray for you. For I will accept him, lest I deal with you according to your folly; because you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has.” 9 So Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite went and did as the Lord commanded them; for the Lord had accepted Job. 10 And the Lord restored Job’s losses when he prayed for his friends. Indeed the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before. 11 Then all his brothers, all his sisters, and all those who had been his acquaintances before, came to him and ate food with him in his house; and they consoled him and comforted him for all the adversity that the Lord had brought upon him. Each one gave him a piece of silver and each a ring of gold. 12 Now the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning; for he had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, one thousand yoke of oxen, and one thousand female donkeys. 13 He also had seven sons and three daughters. 14 And he called the name of the first Jemimah, the name of the second Keziah, and the name of the third Keren-Happuch. 15 In all the land were found no women so beautiful as the daughters of Job; and their father gave them an inheritance among their brothers. 16 After this Job lived one hundred and forty years, and saw his children and grandchildren for four generations. 17 So Job died, old and full of days.

(I just love that God didn’t restore his losses until he prayed for his friends-you know, the ones who kept falsely accusing him of doing something wrong and saying that’s why he was being “punished” by God because of their poor misunderstanding of Him. I just think it’s such a picture of God’s love and how it works that I never really noticed until now!)

Onto my old post:

So, what was the point of all this? I realized something. I don’t know God. I may have heard or read a lot about Him. I might know parts of Him from spending time with Him, and I may have seen glimpses of His majesty, seen glimpses of His healing and saving power, seen glimpses of His beauty, but there’s SO much more that I have not yet even touched of Him.

If I can be enticed by sin and ever think of it as a good thing when it’s settling for less than God’s best and will for my life and is something that can hurt Him and hurt me, if I can be enticed by such a disgusting thing, I must not know Him or His greater plans for my life.

If I can purposely cause a child of God to stumble by the way I dress or act, I must not know that God cares so much about His children that it’d be better for me to have a millstone hung around my neck and me to be tossed into the sea than for me to cause a child of God to stumble.

If I can walk around with bitterness in my heart and unforgiveness towards another, I must not have experienced His complete forgiveness and will not until I forgive the other person just as Christ forgave me.

If I can go but a moment thinking only upon myself and not caring about others, if I cannot be absolutely disgusted with abortion and praying against it, I must not know His heart.

If I can ever look upon someone and think myself better than them and let a prideful look cover my face or enjoy and linger upon a proud thought, I must not know that it was not my hand or my righteousness that saved me, but His.

If I can go one whole day without being in awe of something He has done for me THAT day, I must have looked out to appreciate even a glimpse of His beauty. It’s EVERYwhere!

If I don’t believe He can heal someone or even me right then, right now, the moment I lay my hands upon that person or myself in His name, I must not believe in His healing powers.

If I can be more concerned with receiving love than giving love, His love must not be real in me, not all the time at least. If I can ever go a second without knowing I am completely and utterly loved, then I have not experienced His fathomless, unconditional love for me.

If I can judge someone before taking the plank out of my own eye or believe the worst about someone instead of believing the best, I must not love that person as He does because Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things and never fails.

If I can ever let fear overpower me, I must not know His perfect love for it casts out fear and I must not trust He has everything in His hands and that everything’s under control.

If I am afraid of death or do not know that I am going to Heaven after I’ve given my life to Him, I must not believe in His Word and what He says.

If I can ever doubt Him, I must have forgotten His uncompromising faithfulness.

If I cannot look upon the least of the least and see Jesus, I haven’t experienced the beauty of seeing through His eyes.

The fact is, we proclaim we know God. I say I know God. We get into little divisive arguments/discussions about who God is, and we maybe have seen a glimpse of Him. We may have seen a glimpse of His beauty and love through the eyes of a child, but we have yet to see all of Him. We have yet to show all of Him either, but that’s what we are called to do, and we do it through Love.

~*For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.*~

~1st Corinthians 13:9-13

Love Conquers All

My 2 baby girls when my youngest was 11 days & my oldest 3 1/2.

My 2 baby girls when my youngest was 2 days old & my oldest was 3 1/2.

Do I know how much God loves me? I mean, really  know deep down in my heart and soul? It doesn’t matter where I’m at in my journey with God; He keeps bringing me back to this. And with that comes the question, “Do I love others and see others the way God loves and sees them?”

I re-read through the New Testament this year and as always before I read anything, I asked God to speak to me through what I was reading. I found myself underlining so many verses about Christ having compassion on the people. It was such a beautiful thing. These were people most other law-abiding people turned away or condemned and accused. Jesus loved the least of the least, had compassion on them, and healed them! And that’s what He’s called us to do!

I know I’ve only had small glimpses of Christ’s love, but it’s enough to keep me coming back for more. It’s amazing how freeing seeing through the eyes of Love can be. For too long, I had lived under the weight of feeling like I had messed up too much to be loved by God. I would never speak anything like that over anyone else’s life, but I believed so many twists of the verses in Hebrews 6 about falling away from salvation, that I thought I who once tasted God’s incredible gift had fallen too far from His grace. I became like the people described by J.S. Park trying to earn Christ’s love:

” I meet Christians who are super-glossy, picture-perfect, law-abiding people, but they are absolutely miserable and difficult to be near. Their every movement is dictated by a strict rigid ruleset that is motivated by a desperate fear. If your efforts are not driven by grace — that God absolutely loves you no matter what — then you will punish yourself towards an invisible standard that looks like success but feels like slavery. Such a standard might work for a little while to conform your behavior, but it will never become a part of you: it’s just an apparatus that imprisons you. Only grace can truly be internalized to melt your heart, and though it can take longer, a truly tenderized heart follows God with all joy and perseverance. This is motivation by grace and grace alone. ”

I was miserable. There were many times in my marriage that I looked like a modern-day Proverbs 31 woman on the outside, but as I mentioned before, a lot of it came from a striving out of an insecurity that I was unloved. I would see and hear about all these women who were overwhelmingly loved by their husbands and while I’ve always wanted other women’s husbands to show their wives love, because I wasn’t loved even with how much I was “doing”, I would look at them and wonder what they did to be loved like that and why what I was doing wasn’t enough, why I wasn’t enough. I felt like something was inherently wrong with me deep down. I was jealous that these women could be so loved without the performance. The more unloved I felt, and the more my husband sought other things than me, the more I felt the need to control our situations. I’m still not perfect in this. There were so many years of dishonesty, I’ve developed some ugly habits. But the more love God has shown me, the more freeing I’ve become, and the more God has been able to work in my husband’s heart. My husband has told me that the times he’s sought other people and things, it wasn’t because of a lack on my part, but a dissatisfaction he had with God. The more he’s satisfied with God, the easier it is to turn away from any temptation, and the love God has given him for me and really for and through both of us as I hardened my heart a lot during that time has been better than we’ve ever experienced. It’s a beautiful thing that could only come from God’s unconditional love and grace! (We’re definitely not perfect in this though!)

Too often I’ve seen that we as Christians seem afraid of speaking of God’s unconditional love and grace. We may speak of it to people who haven’t heard of Christ, but it’s almost as though once someone receives salvation, we expect performance or if people who have known God’s love screw up, we immediately condemn them and forget that God’s a God of second chances and thirds and fourths and nothing can separate us from His love!

I often wonder if we speak so much about performance because it seems easier to love others if they’re doing what we want or if we ourselves have forgotten the wonder of His love for us. We put sin on such a pedestal and act terrified of it and speak about the Bible as though it’s a book of rules we need to follow without getting to the heart of it. We expect people who don’t know God’s love to perform as though they do and act as though the good news is about looking perfect and following the rules. Yet, God says that LOVE is the fulfillment of the law and whether we can speak with the tongues of men and of angels but have not love, we’ve become nothing but sounding brass or clanging cymbals. And though we have the gifts of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though we have all faith, so that we could remove mountains, but have not love, we are nothing. And though we bestow all our goods to feed the poor, and though we give our bodies to be burned, but have not love, it profits us nothing!

I love how David says in Psalm 119:32:

“I will run the course of Your commandments, For You shall enlarge my heart.”

God enlarging our hearts with His love is the only way to fulfill the law. Walking in the faith of His love for us and our pursuit of Him is the only way to please Him! You can be the best preacher and have the most appealing arguments until you’re blue in the face, but only God’s goodness will lead people to repentance!

God humbled Himself and came in the form of a man and brought Himself to our level to show us His love for us and defeated Satan and all powers of darkness through that love and that is our greatest weapon because love conquers all and never fails! When are we going to take up His weapon of choice and fight all manner of darkness? When are we going to love the least of these? When are we going to remember the depths of our sin and remember the wonder of His love for us and show that same level of compassion and grace and love to those around us? When are we going to soften our hearts enough to love as Jesus did?

This is Your Time

 

This is Your Time

This is Your Time

The other day, I was taking a quiz called Which Biblical Character Are You? I’m not going to lie; I enjoy most personality/character quizzes just to see who I can supposedly relate to. After all, according to the Myers Briggs Personality Type Test, only 1-2% of the population has my personality. Sometimes it’s nice to know I’m not the only one with all these crazy thoughts if you know what I mean. At least 1-2% of the population can relate to me, and I with them! Hallelujah! 😉

But onto the Biblical character quiz…(I got John the Baptist if you must know); after I took it, I had this strange thought, “I don’t want to be John the Baptist…or Esther, or David, or Joseph, or any other Biblical character. I want to be Rachel Dittmer because that’s who God wants me to be.”

Every time I put my kids to bed or pretty much every time I pray, I always end up praying something along the lines that God makes each of us in our family who He created us to be. He knows better than I do; and frankly, I’d much rather Him accomplish the work He’s started and envisioned than the one I have in mind because my vision is so limited sometimes. After all, His ways are higher than my ways and His thoughts higher than my thoughts.

Yet, I started thinking about how often we in the church compare ourselves to those stories in the past; how often I do. And I just had this vision of when Jesus said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan!” I know; it seems so harsh. He had just told Peter that he was going to be the rock upon which Jesus built His church and then several verses later, after Jesus shared with Him what’s going to and needed to come to pass, Peter wants to stop it. I honestly think Peter thought he had Jesus’ best in mind. After all, He didn’t want Him to die. Isn’t that the right thing to not want your friend and the one you look up to so much to die? And yet, Jesus responds to him with, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.”

He wasn’t telling Peter he was Satan. He was saying that Peter was allowing Satan’s plans to be spoken through him. Satan didn’t want Jesus to die. He knew what it would lead to. He wanted to keep us his slaves forever. God’s plan was to set us free. Peter thought what He was saying was thoughtful, yet he didn’t have the vision God had. He was only seeing with man’s limited vision.

I feel like in a way, when we compare ourselves to those stories in the past, we’re only seeing with limited vision and in a way, I feel like God wants to say the same thing to us as He said to Peter. “Stop limiting Me! Stop only seeing through your eyes and pray that you can see through Mine! That’s not what I have in mind for you!” So often, I feel like we glorify those Biblical “heroes” in the past in the same way that we condemn the Catholic church for glorifying Mary. Of course, we would never admit to it, and maybe not everyone takes it to that extreme, but I just feel like God wants to say, “Wake up! The hero in those stories is ME! Why on earth are you glorifying these people when even they knew that what made their stories great is Me?” David even said, “O my soul, you have said unto the Lord, my goodness is nothing apart from You.” Yet, how often do we put David on a pedestal because after all, he was a man after God’s own heart? I mean, we think God must have really loved him so we want to be like David so God will love us in the same way. Yet, that verse right there has David’s secret. He knew his greatness was nothing apart from God. That’s not false humility. That was why he was a man after God’s heart. He could see himself through God’s eyes and realize that God was the One and the only One who gave him his goodness, and he was going to allow God to do whatever He wished through him.

We forget that God already loves us so much. He said we’re worth His only Son’s blood and while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. We don’t have to earn His love! We already have it! We just need to walk in it and believe in His love for us and realize that just like Esther, we’re all made for such a time as this! If we weren’t or if we were supposed to be in any other time, He would have made us someone else in some other time. He’s the only One who makes any of us great and when we are so focused on comparing ourselves to those in the past, we’re not being wise! He said that over and over again. The beginning of wisdom is to fear God and realize that all of this, everything is to glorify Him. And then, realizing His perfect love for us should cast out any fear of Him we might have when we want to return that love and glorify Him. That’s wisdom-not comparing ourselves to those who commend themselves. We need to stop making idols of mere people and put God on the pedestal in our lives and see how He wants our lives to glorify Him just as we are, in the story we’re in!

He wrote it after all. He put us here after all. We’re made for this time, in this place, and as 1st Corinthians 1:26-31 says:

“For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called.  But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty;  and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are,  that no flesh should glory in His presence.  But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption—  that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.”

That’s the only reason He used the stories He did in the Bible. He wanted to say, “Look at this guy who stutters. I had him talk to Pharaoh on behalf of Me and made him a great leader of all My people. Look at the short, youngest brother of a bunch of taller, stronger men. He’s a man after My own heart and I’m going to not only use him to kill this giant that all of My people are afraid of, but I’m going to help him kill 100’s of thousands of men for Me and be the King of Israel. Look at this guy who speaks before he thinks. He’s going to be the rock upon which I build My church. Look at this kid I gave strange dreams to and who has a problem with pride. I’m going to allow his brothers to throw him into a pit because of jealousy and sell him and his dreams off into slavery and allow him to go into imprisonment for something he didn’t do, and still turn this story around and help him forgive his brothers and make him ruler of all Egypt and 2nd only to Pharaoh. Look what I can do!” You can do that with any story in the Bible because God is the One doing it! He makes possible what man thinks is impossible! His strength is made perfect in our weakness! He wants to show His strength through each one of us! Look to Him! See Him! Stop comparing yourself to those in the past!

Also lately in the same way, I’ve been convicted to let go of comparing myself to the Proverbs 31 woman. I’ve made such an idol of her at times in my life. I wanted to be her. She’s basically so many church women’s (and men’s- wanting their wives to be like her) idol. We want to be her because she’s the perfect woman to so many of our imaginations. Yet, I’ve been realizing lately that a lot of me wanting to be like her was out of an insecurity of mine that I’m not loved. (As a side note- recently, I’ve actually wondered if that’s why Bathsheba told Solomon to marry a girl like that too. After all, she’s his mom. I can’t even imagine how badly she must have felt after she committed adultery with King David-you know, the one we put on a pedestal- and the man she committed adultery with had her great, respectable husband killed in an awful, dishonorable way and then, the son she got pregnant with as a result of their sin ended up dying. So, she paints this picture of a woman that’s entirely different from her and who she thinks is this perfect woman and tells her son to marry a woman like that. Yet, so many of us base our worth on this perfect, unattainable woman-who had servants I might add. 😉 ) I have often thought that if I was just like her, maybe I would be loved-by God, by my husband, by whomever.

Yet, that’s not God’s heart towards us. Over and over again in scriptures, He reminds us that He loved us first. Before He formed us in the womb, He knew us and knit us together. He loves us. He envisioned us. When Jerusalem was left in an open field to die and saw her in her blood, He took her and cared for her and said to her, “Live!” When Adam and Eve sinned, He clothed them just as He clothes us with Himself and righteousness when we sin if only we accept Him and repent of our sins. If only we own up to who we are without Him, then He can do His work! He wants so badly to show us the vision He had in mind when He made us, yet we’re stuck on the mess we are instead of realizing we’re all messes without Him or maybe even we think we’re something apart from Him! He doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called, and He’s calling us and yearning for our hearts to turn towards Him just as His heart is for us. It is His goodness that leads us to repentance! It is His goodness that is the only thing that makes ANY of us good! Apart from Him, we can do nothing! He’s waiting for us to allow Him to write His story through us! This is our time! We need to live like it and become the sons and daughters that all of creation is waiting and groaning for with birth pangs together until now to be revealed! When we become stuck in stories of the past, we don’t allow Him to write a new story through us. We make ourselves clones, when God makes new creations! This is the time to let Him shine and do His mighty works through us!

Embrace Your Mess

     ~*Art grows out of each particular situation, and I believe that artists are better off working with whatever their environment throws up.*~
                                                                          -El Anatsui (Artist)

As an artist, I normally have a vision in mind when I create something. It’s that vision that always gets me started, and it’s that vision that carries me through the tedious, monotonous, and often draining process that creating can often have. Sometimes I embrace those times and enjoy the process, but part of me gets so excited about my vision finally coming together that sometimes it can just seem so draining during the long process it might take to make the best masterpieces. Often, I get a vision and think, “I can do this. If it can be done, I can do it. God’s given me that gift.”

As with any piece of art, before it really starts coming together, it doesn’t look anything like the vision I had in mind. Sometimes it looks nothing short of a big mess. If anybody else sees my unfinished piece, I often find myself either feeling like I need to explain my vision or reassure them and myself, it won’t look like this in the end. Often, I start doubting myself and my abilities during that time and wonder what in the world I got myself into. Thankfully, the vision I had in mind and the passion God has given me or sometimes even just the fact that I have to get my artwork done helps push me to finish the final steps of my creation. I never regret it when I do.

There have been times that the piece might not be entirely what I had in mind, but I’ve grown to learn during those times that they can always be corrected and perfected. All artwork can be. Some of the greatest masterpieces in museums were done over an old piece of art due to the lack of money an artist might have had during their time- as the term “starving artist” didn’t come out of nowhere and most artists weren’t made famous until after their lifetime.

As a perfectionist, there have been times I’ve feared my mistakes or the messy part of art. There have even been times I’ve dreaded my gifts or hated that other people knew of them. I grew to resent them because when you create something great at a young age, then people just expect greatness all the time or expect you to get even greater. Sometimes it was myself and my own expectations- which can lead to a fear of mistakes and the process it takes to get better.

However, to become a great creator, you can’t fear the mistakes and the messy process. Often, as mentioned before, the greatest masterpieces come from the worst beginnings. I experienced this firsthand when I created my latest piece, “The Heavens Declare” when I decided to do acrylic underneath of oil. Paintings often require many layers and it was my first time using acrylic paint on canvas and I decided to use it originally because I knew that it dries faster and I had a quick-approaching time frame, but also grew to realize I could use it with the oil paint to create the effect I want for the angels. However, the first few layers looked like a huge mess and I was embarrassed when we had two different visiting families at our house during the unfinished process and kept reassuring them and myself that it wouldn’t look like that in the end. Thankfully, it doesn’t and ended up being better than I could fully envision. Here’s the final product:

THE HEAVENS DECLARE. Original is 36" x 36", 2013. Oil over acrylic on canvas.

THE HEAVENS DECLARE. Original is 36″ x 36″, 2013. Oil over acrylic on canvas.

 

My husband- who hasn’t always appreciated art- thinks it’s my best piece. *smile*

Sometimes I forget that God’s a Creator too. Obviously, He’s the Creator of the universe, but sometimes I think people forget that He’s not just the Creator of the universe, He functions as a Creator as well. Only He not only has a vision for each of our lives, He also has the whole picture in mind. Each of us are His masterpieces. Often, we go through messy times in our lives or we might go through a tiresome or draining season where we forget the vision of ourselves He has in mind. We forget that we are His creations and He has our best in mind and we get fearful of the messy process He’s leading us through or the fact that He has our whole picture laid out before Him and has the passion and vision to carry Him through our messy process. He will always finish a work He’s started in us.

Oftentimes, during these seasons, others who can’t see the vision over their own lives or who just have a hard time believing the visions God has spoken over them try to discourage others from believing God’s vision. Maybe it’s because He started a work in them in the past and the difficult seasons were too much that they couldn’t see the visions He had in mind for them anymore. Maybe their unbelief caused them to doubt the new creations God was starting as they were once new creations and they felt the need to speak their unbelief over the new creations. Maybe it was jealousy over another creation’s beauty after not seeing the beauty God had in mind for them. Maybe it was just not understanding God had to bring others through a messier season to create the work He had in mind for them. Maybe it was just hurt.

The messy seasons are HARD. So hard. It’s hard to keep the vision God has in mind for us sometimes when nothing in our lives looks like the vision He has spoken over us. It’s hard to see ourselves the way God sees us when not only do we have a hard time believing, but others are speaking their doubts over us and have a hard time envisioning the final picture as well. People often act out what they believe about themselves and it can be a very harmful thing to speak words of death over God’s creations no matter the reason. God wants us to trust Him with the process- even with the messy seasons…especially with the messy seasons.

suffering quote

It isn’t always other people though. Obviously, it normally comes off as an attack from a person, but we often forget that we’re fighting in a spiritual battle and we take what others say to heart not realizing they’re fighting their own battles. In case you haven’t noticed, Satan hates God’s creations and seems to especially hate new life/creations, creators, and life-givers (you can be a life-giver without being a physical mom. I believe that with all my heart.) It seems like during the messy seasons, he uses his army and others to try to take away the vision God has given us. Unfortunately, with how discouraging these seasons can be, many of us place our trust in what Satan or others speak over us rather than continuing to trust in God.

I know I did for a time. Like the prodigal son, I stopped believing in my Father’s love for me. There were a lot of people believing and speaking lies over me and I was in a really oppressive environment and I started believing them and acting out those lies spoken over me. I stopped hoping for the vision God had for me, and I know I had a hard time at times even being around other people who were already beautiful creations or who had the joy that new creations have, thinking that if only they experienced what I had gone through, they would understand. It was very dangerous and very harmful. I don’t know that I actually spoke those lies out loud, but I know I believed them over myself and others at times. I wanted so badly to believe what God had spoken over me during other seasons of my life, but I lacked the vision He had. I couldn’t see the whole picture.

When God started restoring my husband’s life, he said he was praying for me and he felt like God was saying how all these hard things I was going through were needed for me to become God’s beautiful bride He had in mind. At the time, I wanted so badly to hope for that and loved the thought, but was also so hurt by the messy seasons in my husband’s life, it was so hard to see. However, my husband’s extreme transformation started getting me to hope again. One of the greatest changes I saw and felt in his life was how much freer he was to be around. He didn’t feel the need to be controlling anymore and realized God can use anything. It was that freedom that I experienced that helped set me free.

While I wouldn’t wish upon anyone some of the things I’ve gone through (not just in my marriage)-and I know some others have gone through worse- and would have a hard time choosing to go through those times again with how hard it was to keep God’s vision, I’m so so thankful that nothing I did ever worked. While I know I’m a pretty good artist at times, God is the absolute best. I couldn’t have created the masterpieces He has given me with my husband and kids and I’m so thankful for them.

Sometimes, it seems that the more we do “for God”, rather than allowing God to do the work in and through us, we forget that He makes all things new. We limit Him to creations He’s already done, to books He’s already inspired, not realizing that He only included the testimonies and stories that are in the Bible to show us how vast His creations can be and how nothing’s impossible for Him. John 21:25 says:

Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.”

So, please allow Him to write a new story in and through you. Ask Him to give you His vision for yourself and others. Be a life-giver, not a life-taker. Be a visionary like Him, not an accuser of the brethren. God wants to free us and help us free others-not hold others captive by our fear of the messy He’s working in us or other people’s lives. He doesn’t fear it and neither should we. He makes all things new and some of the greatest masterpieces start out with the messiest lives.

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P.S.~ I just stumbled upon this video and it has so much that God’s been laying on my heart lately and went so well with this, that if you have 40 or so minutes, it is so worth it! *Not for those listening to a religious spirit, or maybe especially for those with a religious spirit.*

The Transforming Power of Love

My husband and I on our wedding day.

My husband and I on our wedding day.

I read this article the other day. As always-at least from pretty much all that I’ve read of his, Matt Walsh was spot on. I was challenged to be the best for those I love. I read it for me-for me to grow and become a better person through it. I can’t say that I’ve always read things like this for me. Sometimes I’ve read things like this and wanted to take it to my husband and say, “See, I’m not the only one who thinks this way and why can’t you be more like this or understand this?” It would have made me feel even more justified to withhold love from him. As I was reading through some of the comments, I noticed a lot of people weren’t reading it for themselves. They were reading it for their significant others or just people in general, thinking what a narcissistic generation we have being raised up. And when we think that way, I think that we become part of the problem.

While it may not seem related, I’ve never really understood why people don’t go to church because of the hypocrisy that’s there. I know it’s there. I know it’s hard to be around people who are hypocritical. I’ve just always thought that if you see things you don’t like, you should try to be part of the solution not the problem. So, if you don’t like hypocrisy, make sure you’re not being hypocritical and make sure you’re being the picture of Jesus you wish to see in the church. Merriam-webster.com defines hypocrisy in this way:

hy·poc·ri·sy

 noun \hi-ˈpä-krə-sē also hī-\

: the behavior of people who do things that they tell other people not to do : behavior that does not agree with what someone claims to believe or feel

So in a way, any time someone claims he/she won’t go to church because people who go to church aren’t acting like Jesus, I have to question what one thinks Jesus would do and whether or not he/she is doing what Jesus would do. Luke 4:16-21 says what Jesus did:

16 So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. 17 And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written:
18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,[a] To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; 19 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”[b20 Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. 21 And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

Not only did Jesus go to the synagogue (kind of like our modern-day church), He also spoke of what He came to do-what we should be doing. By saying we won’t go to church because others aren’t being like Jesus-who by the way, was surrounded by the Pharisees-the people Jesus even called hypocrites, I think in a way, we’re being hypocritical. We’re not acting like Jesus either-whose custom was to go to the synagogue on the Sabbath day and not only that, He wasn’t part of the problem looking down on others, He took the responsibility to be part of the solution. Actually, He is the solution.

In the same way, I think when we read these articles thinking about what others need to do rather than for ourselves, we’re being hypocritical and part of the problem. We’re on dangerous grounds then because we’re doing exactly what Satan would have us to do as an accuser of the brethren. We become so blinded by the plank in our own eye and instead start pointing to the speck in someone else’s eye. We let a root of bitterness grow up in our lives that defiles many. When you instead focus on other people’s problems rather than taking responsibility for your own actions, you take Satan’s side and start accusing people that God wants to redeem. Your love grows cold and can no longer have the affect that love has. As Martin Luther states:

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

I think that it’s an honest assessment at times to say that a lot of “Christians” are hypocritical. I think a lot of us resemble Pharisees more than people who have been redeemed. I know I have and am truly sorry for it. I know there are times I still forget and continue to act hypocritical. It sometimes seems that the longer a Christian “serves” Christ, the more entitled we feel. We become like the jealous brother in the prodigal son parable forgetting that all our Father has is ours. We forget that while sin may be pleasurable for a season, it only leaves us absolutely enslaved to it. We become addicted. I don’t think any Christian man or any man with a conscience that hasn’t been seared can honestly say that he truly enjoys being enslaved to the addiction of porn. It might seem enjoyable at first, but the longer you look, the more your lust grows to even things you would have originally been mortified over in the past, and the more you become enslaved. It’s a fix for them- just like any drug addict or any person stuck in sin can attest to.

When my husband sinned against God that I let have an affect on me, I grew really bitter and unforgiving. While I tried to do everything right on my own, the more he sinned against me, the more justified I felt to be unloving. What hurt the worst was when my husband would sin and hide it from me-always believing it wouldn’t have an effect on me if I just didn’t know, not realizing the wedge it was creating between us. Then, he would often tell me, “Well, if you don’t forgive me, God won’t forgive you.” It was absolutely selfish and disgusting and not apologetic at all. Trust me, if anybody can say that they married someone with a narcissistic problem, I can. I wasn’t given an apology and I wasn’t given time to heal; and to make matters worse, I knew he was right. God says that if we want forgiveness, we have to be forgiving ourselves. Instead of becoming forgiving, I felt justified in my anger because what he was doing was absolutely wrong; and I knew it, and I continually tried to get him to know it. It didn’t matter how many times I told him what he was doing was wrong, that I wouldn’t even wish this on my worst enemy; it didn’t change him. It didn’t matter if I tried to be everything others deem as the perfect wife, my actions could not penetrate his heart. If doing everything perfectly on the outside made someone lovable and led people to repentance, then the Pharisees would be the most lovable people of all and have had the greatest influence. And like I said, I knew God brought us together and I grew really angry at God for ever bringing him into my life. I had never been treated so badly in my life- and I haven’t always been treated so well. Instead, I could have just continually taken it to God and allowed God to soften my heart more and become more like His perfect bride.

Unfortunately, it took me a long time to do that. God’s still releasing me from the strong hold I’ve had over my life. I lost a lot of trust in God during that time although He’s always only remained faithful to me. My view of God became tainted with how my imperfect dad had treated me growing up and how my husband was treating me. I lost sight of the fact that people are flawed-all of us, including me. The only blameless human to walk this earth was Jesus. I started trusting my own strength to protect myself rather than casting my cares on God, and became overly sensitive and hurt to all the sins my husband committed. I became controlling of the situations we were going to be in, and became fearful of the times that I couldn’t control.

Even if I could manage my husband’s actions during that time, I couldn’t change his heart, and I knew that. It was a painful realization. I could never draw his heart to me by anything I did, and it made me fear never being loved. Because I stopped trusting God, I didn’t have a stable foundation and the more uneasy I felt about different things (I had the worst nightmares during that time-was seriously tortured during my dreams), the more controlling I became and the more I felt like I had to find out if my husband was being unfaithful because he wouldn’t be straight with me. While it was painful to find out the “truth” of situations, it was also relieving to me to know I wasn’t feeling uneasy for nothing. It became a fix for me. It was addicting and very damaging. I would have given anything to just be completely set free from it. I felt like there was no way out.

Thankfully, nothing right I did changed my husband’s actions and heart. If it had, I might have continued to trust my own strength instead of turning to the only One who has the power to save. The only One who can redeem all of us. I would have been trapped into believing the lie and sin that my works could save me and others, rather than God’s grace. I would have thought that I could produce the same fruit that only a life connected to God’s vine can produce. We are only branches. When we disconnect ourselves from the Vine, NOTHING good can come from us as God is the only One who is good who can produce goodness. And it is that goodness that leads people to repentance.

The fact that nothing I did and the fact I couldn’t do it on my own-literally, I couldn’t handle it; I was driven mad and on the verge of insanity with my un-forgiveness and bitterness- although I was good at hiding it at times- made me come to the end of myself. While I had cried out to God to fix all my problems before, I cried out to God in a whole new way. I needed Him. I wanted Him. I couldn’t do it on my own and I realized that. I realized that I had gone down a path of sin that was leading me to Hell and I feared the One who has the power to send me to Heaven or Hell, but I also knew He loved me and a broken spirit and a contrite heart, He would not despise. He has always remained faithful to me and never denied Himself despite my many infidelities/sin. It was His love and goodness that led me to repent to Him, and I could trust in His forgiveness over me because of His lovingkindness and faithfulness that never fails.

Because I had been forgiven much, I’ve been set free to love much. I have been set free to love in a way I’ve never loved before. And my husband, holy cow, he’s like a whole new person! Yesterday, I was again reminded of that fact as we were walking on some ice and he, without my asking, held my hand to make sure I wouldn’t fall. He’s written me numerous letters apologizing for the way he’s treated me (obviously, a far cry from how he was before) and yet so grateful for the way God has used Satan’s plans he intended for evil over my life for good. He’s become the biggest blessing in my life and my best friend! I often feel like he’s too good for me now! Only God could do that! Only the transforming power of God’s love can do that! Yeah, we still screw up at times. We still fall back occasionally. We’re still human and we haven’t fully “arrived”, but we know what that path leads to and are more aware right away when we start heading down that path. We can turn to God and ask for forgiveness from Him and each other now and know we’ll be forgiven. Because we’ve both been forgiven much and can love much more freely.

We all have a choice. We can keep reading articles and the Bible and think of others and point fingers and feel justified with where we’re at in life or we can look to Jesus and allow His perfect transforming love and the fire He tries us with to melt all the impurities in our lives. There’s always going to be someone worse off than we are. But pointing at others who are worse off than we are doesn’t make us any better ourselves and doesn’t produce the change we wish to see in them. Only love can do that. Only by seeing ourselves in light of Jesus and His truth will we be able to freely allow Him to do the work He wants to in us. Only by His power can we love our enemies (sometimes people who shouldn’t be our enemies), do good to those who hurt us, bless those who curse us, pray for those who spitefully use us, and that’s what God has called us to do.

Like I said in my previous post, God wants to be glorified in any and every marriage. He doesn’t want us to separate what He has joined together. Yes, He’s called husbands to love and serve their wives like Christ does the church and to wash their wives with the word. But women, even the best husband isn’t God. He’s going to be imperfect and have flaws. The only way we’re going to have our “happily ever after” is when we get to see Jesus face to face. Don’t expect from an imperfect man what only God can deliver. We’re still called to respect him even in his failures. Don’t withhold love because your husband isn’t who God created him to be at the time. If anything, that’ll just drive him more into his sin as he’ll feel justified in his sinful mind to keep sinning since he’s not receiving love at home. Men, please don’t wait for your wives to be all God’s called her to be either before you start loving her. Withholding love from her will not produce the fruit only God can do in her. You can go your whole lives waiting for the other person to do what they’re called to do and I know personally many people who have done that (I wrote this poem after attending the funeral of one of those people) and wasted the rest of their lives in bitterness and some who are still doing that.

Who you are, what you do, and how you react are all things you’re going to have to answer for yourself someday when you face God. We don’t answer for others, only ourselves. We need to make ourselves in right relation to God and allow His Holy Spirit to work through us and the fruit that comes from that is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. You can try hard and seem to have some of those on your own, but if you’re not allowing God’s Holy Spirit to work through you, your “fruit” will not last through the storms of this life. We all face storms. Some of us are fortunate to have more loving marriages from the start, but everybody faces battles in this life. We can allow those battles to harden our hearts to God and others around us causing our love to grow cold and unusable, or we can allow God to allow that fire to shape and mold us to be the people we’re created to be and soften our hearts to Him and extend the grace and mercy we’ve been given to others. What choice are you going to make? Are you going to join all the others waiting for others to get their acts straight or are you going to become responsible for your own actions and become transformed by allowing God to love you and use you to love the unlovable? It is impossible to do that on our own and when we do that, God gets all the glory and we are here to bring Him glory!

*There’s a story I want to share where this lady has clearly brought God glory and allowed God to extend a love that most of us can’t even comprehend in an extremely difficult marriage where most of us would have told her to leave and felt very justified in doing so. Because she allowed God to use her to love the unlovable, she has allowed her life to glorify God and reach others in a way that wouldn’t have been possible had she not responded in the way she did. When I first read this story, I think I was in high school and bawled like a baby praying for God to give me a love like this but hoping I wouldn’t have to go through something like this to produce that kind of love. I almost forgot about the story though since it had been a while back, until my pastor read this story this past Sunday during his message (really good if you want to hear it) when he talked about marriage and divorce. Again, I couldn’t hold back the tears at all. This story is such a beautiful illustration of God’s love and it is so worth reading! It’s only 3 pages in the book “Larger Window” by DeVern Fromke (HIGHLY recommended-pretty much anything by him as he is a great man of God) and I know it’ll make this post seem super long, but if you read anything today, I hope it’ll be this.

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Could You Have Loved as Much?

Bob Considine writes…

Edith Taylor was sure that she was “the luckiest woman on the block.” She and Karl had been married twenty-three years and her heart still skipped a beat when he walked into the room. As for Karl, he gave every appearance of a man in love with his wife. If his job as a government warehouse worker took him out of town, he would write Edith each night and send gifts from every place he visited.

In February 1950, Karl was sent to Okinawa for a few months to work in a new government warehouse. It was a long time to be away, and so far. This time no little gifts came. Edith understood! He was saving his money for the house they had long dreamed of owning someday.

The lonesome months dragged on. Each time Edith expected Karl home, he’d write that he must stay “another three weeks.” “Another month.” “Just two months longer.” He’d been gone a year now, and his letters were coming less and less often. No gifts…she understood. But a few pennies for a postage stamp? Then, after weeks of silence, came this letter:

Dear Edith,
    I wish there was a kinder way to tell you that we are no longer married.

Edith walked to the sofa and sat down. He had written to Mexico for a mail-order divorce. He had married Aiko, a Japanese maid-of-all-work assigned to his quarters. She was nineteen. Either was forty-eight.

Now, if I were making up this story, the rejected wife would fight that quick paper-divorce. She would hate her husband and the woman. She would want vengeance for her own shatter life. But I am describing here simply what did happen. Edith Taylor did not hate Karl. Perhaps she had loved him so long that she was unable to stop.

She could picture the situation. A lonely man. Constant closeness. But even so, Karl had done the easy, shameful thing. He had chosen divorce, rather than taking advantage of the young servant girl. The only thing Edith could not believe was that he had stopped loving her. Someday, somehow, Karl would come home.

Edith now built her life around this thought. She wrote Karl, asking him to keep her in touch. In time he wrote that he and Aiko were expecting a baby. Maria was born in 1951; then in 1953, Helen. Edith sent gifts to the little girls. She still wrote to Karl and he wrote back: “Helen had a tooth…Aiko’s English was improving…Karl had lost weight.”

And then the terrible letter. Karl was dying of lung cancer. His last letters were filled with fear. Not for himself, but for Aiko and his two little girls. He had been saving to send them to school in America, but his hospital bills were taking everything. What would become of them?

Then Edith knew that her last gift to Karl could be peace of mind. She wrote that if Aiko was willing, she would take Maria and Helen and bring them up in Waltham. For many months after Karl’s death, Aiko would not let the children go. They were all she had ever known. Yet what could she offer them except a life of poverty, servitude and despair? In November 1956, she sent the two girls to Edith.

Edith has known it would be hard at fifty-four to be mother to a three-year-old and five-year-old. She hadn’t realized that. in the time since Karl’s death, they would forget the little English they knew. But Mariah and Helen learned fast. The fear left their eyes; their faces grew plump. And Edith, for the first time in six years, was hurrying home from work. Even getting meals was fun again! Sadder were the times when letters came from Aiko: “Aunt, tell me…if Maria or Helen cry or not.” In the broken English, Edith read the loneliness, and she knew what loneliness was. She knew that she must bring the girls’ mother here too.

She must make the decision, but Aiko was still a Japanese citizen, and the immigration quota had a waiting list many years long. It was then that Edith Taylor wrote me, asking if I could help. I described the situation in my newspaper column. Others did more. Petitions were started, and, in August 1957, Aiko Taylor was permitted to enter the country.

As the plane came in at New York’s national airport, Edith had a moment of fear. What if she should hate this woman who had taken Karl away from her? The last person off the plane was a girl so thin and small that Edith thought at first she was a child. She stood there clutching the railing, and Edith knew that, if she had been afraid, Aiko was near panic.

She called Aiko’s name, and the girl rushed down the steps into Edith’s arms. As they held each other, Edith had an extraordinary thought. “I prayed for karl to come back. Now he has- in his two little daughters and in this gentle girl he loved. Help me, God, to love her, too.” (B.C.)

From DeVern:
I feel sure many wives would have exhorted Edith:
“Forget him! Get on with your own life.”
To some that may seem like sound advice, but that is not what Edith felt God wanted for her, and we appreciate her decision. She might even have questioned in weak moments: “Was it really God telling her to forgive, and forgive some more?” Yes, she chose to send her roots deeper into the river of his grace: And God responded by giving her two daughters and a close friend.
It is awesome! When God writes the last chapter, for whatever He writes is good…good for all. The Psalmist seems to know this:
“I will bless the Lord who hath given me counsel: my reins also instruct me in the night seasons. I have set the Lord always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh shall rest in hope… Thou wilt show me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” Let us be assured…
“…weeping may endure for a night,
               but joy cometh in the morning!”

Father, I am sure that I could not endure as Edith did, but I remember that You are the One Who provides special grace for those Who choose Your best. I now choose to become Your channel for loving all the “Aikos” and their children around me, who are helpless victims of sin and lust.

Every Wasted Second

Engagement photo of my hubby and me.

Engagement photo of my hubby and me.

There he is. He’s hurt you countless times. You can’t even remember the last time you only had good memories. Every offense brings back a painful wound that has never seemed to fully heal, and yet he expects to be loved. He hopes to be forgiven. Oh, the nerve of him! How dare he! Doesn’t he know you have a right to be mad? A right to get even?

You. You’ve been so good to him. You take care of his kids. You clean his house. You fold his laundry. You work out and try to look nice for him. You even pack his work lunches on occasion. You even look forward to time spent in the bedroom and you hear that’s rare. You’ve been the perfect wife.  Anybody would be happy to be with you, but him, obviously. I mean, if he were happy, how could he do this to you? He’s the luckiest man in the world and he takes it all for granted. He takes you for granted.

You’ve never done that to anybody, have you? Surely, you’ve never treated anybody so badly, especially not someone who’s treated you so well; or, have you?

I think sometimes we forget, sometimes I know I forget, that there is Someone who we have all betrayed who has only ever loved us. Someone who’s been nothing but good to us and yet we’ve nailed His wrists time and time again. Someone whose forgiven us way past the 490th time. Yet, somehow, we turn our eyes to other things-things we know are going to hurt Him. We know in our heads He has our best in mind and yet fail to really know in our hearts.

Somehow, we forget just how many times we’ve failed Him over and over again when He’s never deserved it. Somehow we forget that throughout all our mistakes, all our purposeful failures, all our faithlessness, He’s been faithful and He will never deny Himself. He’s our Anchor and support when our whole world crumbles.

Then, a spouse, a significant other, a child, or even just a friend, fails us. How could they? We’ve never done anything to deserve it. We haven’t failed them. So we start keeping mental records of the times they’ve hurt us and feel justified in not loving them. We forget that love suffers long and remains kind and keeps no record of wrongs. We forget that love never fails even when everything else does. We forget that Jesus will never leave His bride, the church; yet think that He’s all for a separation when we’re not treated fairly as though He was and is treated right. We forget that nobody’s perfect and we’re debtors ourselves in need of forgiveness; yet, we turn to those “in debt” against us and act just like the unforgiving debtor in the gospels of the Bible.

I understand. I’ve been there. In fact, I lost so much hope for our marriage and over myself and knew I would beat myself up if I ever got divorced my whole life, that I just tried to end my life instead. It was an ugly mess. Honestly, I knew there were issues -major trust issues before we got married. I couldn’t stop shaking and bawling and could barely force myself  into my wedding rehearsal and needed major prayer from my sister and her husband just to get me through the doors. I know it might seem weird that I didn’t call off the wedding. Believe me, that thought crossed my mind plenty of times. I even gave the ring back probably 10x while we were engaged and was told to just put it back on and I did and I pretended like we were happy and not many people knew anything I was going through because of it. I didn’t want anybody to think badly of him and I stopped talking to any of my guy friends because I knew I was vulnerable. And somehow, through all the mess, I had to lean on the fact that God did show us, plenty of times actually, that He had a plan over both of our lives together. With all the trust issues, I started doubting those promises God made over us, but I knew that He did make them and He’s always been faithful to me, and I knew He never gave me peace to end it.

While I didn’t go into my marriage blindly, I didn’t realize just how badly the sins were that we were both entangled in. His might have seemed worse at the time, but I was believing so many lies myself and I grew angry at God for ever bringing us together because I knew He did. I had read “Created to be His Helpmeet” (read with caution if you choose to read it please-there are definitely pros and cons to it as I have grown to realize) about 4x before marriage and even again after marriage and was determined to be the perfect wife. Somewhere along the way, I started taking up burdens not only over myself and my actions, but over my husband’s actions and his salvation. I definitely never meant to be manipulative and honestly normally had a heart for my husband the majority of time, but when he would hurt me again, you would have never known it. And he knew that. My husband knew my “love” wasn’t strong enough to love him through his flaws because I lost hope in God and started trying to love him out of my own power, which was limited. I grew so hopeless and so angry at God that my works weren’t producing the results I wanted. I couldn’t make my husband love me. I never felt loved. Our love was flawed and imperfect, and honestly still is, yet God has slowly been redeeming lost time and giving us a marriage we had long ago lost hope of ever having. Our love has grown immensely for each other in the last year! That itself is a miracle!

Time can’t heal our wounds, but God can. When we walk in His wisdom, God can redeem lost time.  Un-forgiveness and bitterness are not worth it. Trust me. It’s a death trap. Literally. You cannot live fully when you have un-forgiveness and bitterness in your heart, no matter who you’re with. The Bible says divorce covers one’s garment with violence. I get it. There are issues you might need to separate yourself from until you and maybe even your kids can heal, but please even then, pray for your spouse from afar and lean on God and His strength that never fails, and seek wise, Godly counsel from people who fear God before making such a huge decision-if not even just for the protection that might be needed in those circumstances. You never know what God can do through you being willing to stay, even without the word at times, by your chaste conduct, accompanied by the fear of God. God says whatever He has joined together, let not man separate. He wants to be glorified in any and every marriage and wants us to show the mystery of God’s covenant love for the church. God can restore the most difficult marriages and use your struggles to help others going through similar situations. And when He restores difficult marriages that would have completely fallen apart without Him, He gets all the credit.

I wrote a new poem tonight kind of through my husband’s eyes when I felt justified to bring up his wrongdoings, but also through eyes that have been hurt just by not being loved well. We all want and need Love and are lost without it. However, we cannot love without receiving love from the unending Source of love. You may be right in feeling justified to not love someone; but in the end, it won’t do anybody any good and you’re wasting your time. Anyways, my husband seemed to enjoy it and I hope you do too.

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~*EVERY WASTED SECOND*~

You talk to me, mentioning
All the mistakes that I’ve made
The last thing I need to hear
Are all the times that I’ve strayed

I wish I could take back
All those painful memories
I wish I could say sorry
In a way you believe

I wish to be forgiven
Through all my mistakes
We need to cast an Anchor
Whenever our world shakes

You’re right to be mad
You’re right to accuse
But every second we waste not loving
Is a second we lose

I want to love you
In the good, the bad, the in-between
I live to want you
When you’re nice and when you’re mean

I need to hold you
In the times you want to leave
I’ll give you a reason to smile
When all you can do is bereave

I want to be loved
In the good, the bad, the in-between
I live to be wanted
When I’m nice and when I’m mean

I need to be held
In the times I want to leave
Give me a reason to smile
When all I can do is bereave

Can we move forward now?
Not dwell in the past
Every second not loving is wasted
And the years go by so fast

-R.A.D. (me) 1/25/14

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*If you have been divorced, please know that God can and wants to forgive you and restore you and especially with my past actions, it would be silly of me to ever think less of you!

**My hubby has read this (honestly, I have him read all my stuff- normally before, but sometimes after if he’s not around ’cause I normally need the reassurance and he’s been gracious to give it to me!) and even said, “You’re on a role.” 😉 God has truly transformed him far better than I ever could have done if I had my way! Thankfully, for the most part, I’ve been learning to get out of God’s way; though, occasionally, even tonight, I struggle at times remembering to do that. Live, screw up, and learn all over again I guess. 😉

***If you want to read any poetry on screwing up in relation to God, go here.

A Burdening Lie & the Power of a Testimony

Original is 24" x 48", oil on canvas.

GOD IS IN THE RAIN. Original is 24″ x 48″, oil on canvas.

My whole life I’ve felt like a burden. There isn’t any one thing that I can attribute to this, but rather a whole lot of little lies I’ve believed from different experiences I’ve had. I won’t go into specifics because I don’t want people to think badly about others because I know that even when people have hurt me & made me think those things from my experiences, it was really because they were going through different battles of their own & often believing the same lies they were saying out loud to me.

I caught myself not long ago telling my kids that I was embarrassed by how they were acting in front of others. They asked me what that even meant & when I basically explained in kids’ terms what it meant & realized it was because of me feeling ashamed of how others  might perceive them & ultimately me, I realized I was feeding into the same lie I’ve always believed over myself & putting that on them. It was a fear of man that I hadn’t really realized I had & right away, felt the need to apologize to my kids & tell them they are not an embarrassment to me, but rather a blessing.

My little blessings loving on each other November 1st, 2013. :)

My little blessings loving on each other November 1st, 2013. 🙂

Believing the lie that I’m a burden has led me to go down some very troubling places in my life-ones that are shameful to even admit sometimes because who knows what someone might do with that information? I try to be honest to a fault for the most part & I’ve lost friends from experiences I’ve had or had people-friends, I thought- literally put me down & say how ridiculous or disgusting I am for sharing different parts of my story with them. It’s caused me to shy away at times from who I share my story with or only disclose different parts to those I can really trust. And worst of all, it’s fed into the lie I’ve believed over myself that I’m just a burden.

And that’s just it. It’s a lie-a lie from my enemy who only came to steal, kill, & destroy my life. I realized that I walked right into his trap when I tried to take my own life over 6 years ago & had to spend over 10 hours in the ER just waiting for my aspirin level to start going down some. I experienced the after-effects physically for 3 days, but of course it hit me hard emotionally & spiritually for quite some time. But honestly, it was a wake up call for me- & my husband. Neither of us had fully realized just how low I had gotten, how enslaved I was to the lies I was believing until I hit rock bottom.

What really helped me get out of that place was being able to share my story with a friend I could really trust who wasn’t shocked by the ugly places of my heart & how low I had gotten with the lies I was believing- feeling like a burden was just one of many. Before, I felt like I had to keep all those ugly places-all my ugly sin & all the ugly sin others had committed against God (that I felt like were against me)-hidden because of the experiences I had been through in the past which only led me to being more enslaved to my sin & my enemy than I ever thought I could get-which was pride for me. Somehow I felt like all my past experiences & my seeking whole-heartedly after God made me exempt from falling so hard, but it didn’t. 

You might think that this story is sad, hopeless, or depressing, but it doesn’t end that way. Because I fell so hard, I was able to realize that my goodness could never save me. It didn’t matter how much I sought whole-heartedly after God in the past. it didn’t matter that the only guy I ever kissed was my husband. It didn’t matter that I tried to give cheerfully & really wanted to bless others with my life. Nothing I did could ever save me & it was only by falling so hard, that I was able to fully realize that. I could never ever get myself out of the mess I was in, but God could. Only Him sending His blameless Son on earth to take my punishment of sin was able to defeat death & the power of sin over my life. But you know what? He already did that! He did it for all of us to free us from the power of sin over our lives! THAT’s the good news! We no longer have to be enslaved to our sin & walking the path to eternal damnation-hell! How can we not be joyous over that?! Our joy is our strength! Because ONLY God & what He has done for us in this hard life gives us true joy that can overcome & last through the hardest trials of this life! That joy that was set before Jesus, helped Him endure the cross!

If you don’t have joy, it might mean you’re carrying burdens you weren’t meant to carry. While God has given me true joy & saved me from so much, I know that I’ve taken up burdens I wasn’t meant to carry at times. God’s been helping me realize that I have taken up a lot of burdens I was never meant to carry & has recently been helping set me free from them.

Any time I feel “embarrassed” by how my kids are behaving, I’m taking up the burden of other people’s feelings/opinions. Any time I believe what other people might be saying about me, I’m taking up the burden of the fear of man, rather than only fearing God- the only One I’m meant to fear. Any time I’m worried about weight gain from pregnancies or being able to take care of one more child, I’m taking up a burden that’s preventing me from allowing God to bless us with a gift of life that’s so precious to Him & that can be used for His Kingdom & His work on earth! And to think, almost a month after I tried to take my own life & follow the path Satan had for me, God put another life inside of ME-someone Satan was trying to get rid of! My 3 little blessings wouldn’t be here if Satan had his way with my life! Honestly, we could probably do this about pretty much any subject. The only thing I’m called to do is the work that God sent me here to do, just like Jesus. No more. As long as I follow His lead, I’m doing exactly what He wants me to do & it’s so freeing!

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I know this may seem a little unrelated & honestly, I was thinking about this last night before I ever read this article or watched the video with it, but I was about to share it on facebook & started to write this as a little commentary on the video, but instead decided to just share it on this post:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=7ZVWIELHQQY

“Really good video. I wish more people realized this, especially in the church. I know whenever I’ve put someone down in my life, I felt awful afterward just realizing that those people are human & I’m no better than them. We ALL have different issues we deal with. You never know where you’d be if you were in their story dealing with their issues. You can’t say that you’d be better than them ’cause you haven’t walked in their shoes. Nobody can argue with your testimony & while I can’t say Craig Ferguson is a Christian as I don’t know him personally, his personal story he shared can only be seen with respect from me. Hidden sin always grows. When you’re willing to share your story & come into the light, you’re either looking for help & a way out or you’re finally free & looking to help others who aren’t. THIS is what the church needs more of- personal testimonies. It makes my heart hurt every time people bash others trying to make themselves look better. “We don’t see things as they are. We see them as we are.” -Anais Nin”

And I felt these were both a little related. So, that’s all. I’m always open to hear others’ stories & thoroughly enjoy people who share them. I think God uses our stories in powerful ways & wish more people shared them!

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~*When you realize your story was never about you but all about God, you lose your leading role as the hero or the victim.*~

“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Genesis 50:20 (NIV)

Being Set Free of the Burden of Being Right

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God has been releasing me lately of the burden & stronghold of “rightness” that I have been carrying for so long. I think all too often, we start off with joy wanting to do what God wants & then somewhere along the way make our story all about us & doing “what’s right.” If you’re not being led by God, no matter how “right” something is, it’s not necessarily what God wants you to do with your life as God’s Spirit overcomes the law/rightness. Yes, His Spirit doesn’t contradict anything in Scripture, but it overcomes any idea that it could be about us. I think as a church, He wants us to FREELY follow Him & realize the grand adventure it is when we give everything over to Him & cast our burdens on Him because He cares for us. That freedom is what attracts sinners to His goodness! Righteousness is not a burden we were meant to carry. We’re only to follow His lead. And that freedom is what gives us abundant Joy! The fact that we no longer have to look after the care of ourselves or worry about what others think of us & only fix our eyes upon Him- the Author & Perfecter of our faith who offers abundant joy & eternal life! 🙂


~*By realizing the reality of our Prince within us, we are never bothered again by the fact that we do not understand ourselves, or that other people do not understand us. The only One who truly understands me is the One who made me and redeems me…It is a tremendous freedom to get rid of every kind of self-consideration and learn to care about only one thing-the relationship between our Prince and ourselves.*~

~Oswald Chambers

~*THE RIGHT ONE*~

We sit in lines
With empty eyes
And a program that can’t soothe
Our hearts’ cries
And we wonder what You meant
When You became flesh
And dwelt among men
Never lacking in grace
Never lacking in truth
Yet, we think we show You
By all the “rights” that we do
We’re feeding off yesterday’s bread
Eating crumbs of yesteryear’s meat
Unaware You offer fresh manna daily
As we sit at Your feet
And we read You meet needs
You set captives free
But we’re busy hiding the chains
We don’t want seen
So we hide behind a smile
Yet we’re naked in Your sight
We ignore any thoughts
Of this being a spiritual fight
We’re blinded by principalities of “rightness”
So desperate, we welcome Satan’s kiss
No great relationship is about doing everything right
But rather, abiding with the One who is

-Colossians 2:11-3:3

See also, my poem “The Least I Could Do” for more on this subject that God has been teaching me lately.

**Just a heads up, my hubby & I plan on sharing some of our marriage testimony in an upcoming post (maybe when he’s not so busy with ref season). I’m SO excited for his contribution to this blog & so excited to share the amazing testimony God has given us! It’s taken me a long time to finally hand over the burdens I have been carrying so long in our marriage & release them to God as I was reminded that our story has never been about me & my glory & only about Him! It’s allowed Him to do a mighty work through our very difficult marriage. But PRAISE GOD for His faithfulness & I hope any who plan on reading will be encouraged in their marriages as well! 🙂

New to the Ava Anderson Non-Toxic Team!

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Slowly, Drew & I have been getting into more natural products after my youngest, Maddie, had some skin issues since she was a baby & the kids have been wanting to help clean at times, & I’ve just wanted to make sure the products were as safe as possible. We started getting some Honest Company products & then learned of Ava Anderson by his cousin. Not only are the products even a little more pure than the Honest Company, they have more options, especially along the lines of facial, cosmetic, and fragrance products; but they still have body and household  cleaning products as well! I figured we use these things every day & I had been wanting to try a few of their products ever since I saw how well it worked for Drew’s cousin & after much thought & consideration, thought, “Why am I not just selling this as I would want to be ordering more anyway & I can get an even better deal if I sell it?” So, a new e-mail address for business (rachelanndittmer@gmail.com) & a new site have been set up tonight & I just wanted to share it with you! If you have any questions or concerns, just let me know! 🙂 They have some of the most reasonable prices I’ve seen for a pure-ingredient company & I’m actually super excited to join their team! I honestly never thought I’d be saying that about anything to do with sales! I’ve just become so passionate about this kind of stuff that I really am! 🙂

     So please, feel free to ask away, & check out some of their products on my site: avaandersonnontoxic.com/rachelanndittmer & if you are interested in buying, please buy it under my name or if you might be interested in hosting a party or becoming a consultant yourself, just let me know! 🙂 They sell products in the Skin, Body, Hair, Face, Sun, Baby, Home, Scent, Candle, & Pet (Phew! A lot!) categories! So, check them out already! 😉
                                                           Thanks so much!,
                                                                    -Rachel

The Lies We Believe

"LOST IN THE WOODS". Original is 20" x 16", oil on canvas. Done in high school. 4:5 ratio.

“LOST IN THE WOODS”. Original is 20″ x 16″, oil on canvas. Done in high school.

For length purposes, I won’t go into all the details, but after what I believe to be a couple of encounters with a witch-who by the way was a very nice lady-not at all what I expected (not really sure what I expected, but nice wasn’t really one of my expectations), and hearing her messages and how interlaced they were with all kinds of other messages out there that honestly sound great and true by the world’s standards, and reading an article like this last night, I have been really stirred up lately.

Articles like that sound great, right? There shouldn’t be a reason for me to be stirred up against it, should there? I mean, we can’t love our neighbors as we love ourselves if we don’t love ourselves first, right?

Did anybody have to tell you to wake up this morning (or sleep in if you so preferred)? Did anybody have to tell you to feed yourself when you got hungry-or shower, shave, workout, put on makeup, or do whatever you do to get ready or not do just because you didn’t feel like it? Did anybody have to tell you to put on more clothing to keep yourself warm from the cold? Anybody have to tell you to take a drink when you were thirsty? No? Or how about when you had to be around someone who has hurt you badly-did you cringe or try to get back at them or even just try not to be around them ’cause you wanted to shield yourself from more hurt? No? Interesting. So, in other words, it came naturally to you to protect yourself and take care of yourself. There’s nothing wrong with that. God made us that way.

This might be a long stretch, but I’m guessing that’s why He said that we should love our neighbors AS we love ourselves (Mark 12:31-though it’s in all the gospels) because we do not need to be told to love ourselves. We already do that. In fact, I think there’s too much of that. Murders, drunkenness, envy, strife, divisions-those do not come from loving others too much, but rather acting out of our own selfishness.

This witch I met, like I said, was really nice to me. She spoke all about having self love, about finding your center and truth in yourself, unleashing your inner power, finding your inner strength, teaching about the circle of light that “we all have within ourselves”, making vision boards to learn from our past, and she wanted to act as a guide to help others find that same truth and strength inside of themselves and apparently was very intuitive and knew all about other people before they even shared things with her. I’m very intuitive and can understand that, and all these things sound great, don’t they? I mean, you hear things like that in yoga, in Kung Fu Panda, in holistic practices (I’m all for being natural and using homeopathic remedies, by the way), really, it’s ALL around us, over all kinds of internet articles, and even from different teachers/pastors that are supposed to be speaking God’s truth. So why would I have a problem with it?

My problem is with the source of that strength and power. Psalm 16:2 says:

~*O my soul, you have said to the Lord, “You are my Lord, My goodness is nothing apart from You.”*~

Nothing good comes from us. NOTHING. Apart from Him we can do NOTHING. Our strength does not lie within us, it lies within Him.

In fact, my pastor just brought up some verses on Sunday (so thankful we have a pastor who is not afraid to speak the truth whether or not it’s popular or easy to hear!) where Jesus was saying we’re to love God so much that it would seem like we hate ourselves in comparison to how much we love Him (Luke 14:26-27).

Do I think God really wants us to hate ourselves? No, I don’t. I do, however, think that if we love God first, and others as much as we love ourselves, and in humility serve others as we would ourselves, and are willing to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him that we’ll finally find the life that we were searching for all along (Luke 9:23-27). Not to mention, you cannot truly love until you have received love from the Source of true Love who loved us first-whose love does not run dry-meaning you can love people who don’t love you back and who don’t deserve it since we don’t deserve it from Him.

God’s message is not a popular or easy one. We’re not meant to carry the weight of trying to do it though. By His grace, we can give Him our burdens and take on the burden He gives us where His yoke is easy and His burden is light. When we cast our cares upon Him, He will take care of us and you can realize just how much HE loves US that we don’t have to worry about taking care of ourselves since He does such a good job of it already. The Creator of the UNIVERSE cares about US that much-SO much He sent His only begotten Son to die for us-He thinks we’re worth Jesus’ blood-& He sent His Son to die for us while we were still in our filthy sin! This is amazing news! He does think we’re valuable and He wants to be with us! Can you even fathom that?! Seriously-the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the Creator of ALL good things wants to be with us!!! It’s seriously giving me goosebumps and tears writing that.

To say that He doesn’t want the best for us is a lie from Satan and exactly what he made Eve believe in the garden-that God was holding something back from her, that He didn’t have her best in mind. It might seem that we can discern between the knowledge of good and evil, but the world’s wisdom is foolishness to God. If you’re trying to find truth outside of God’s Word, you’re only deceiving yourself, because Jesus is (not was, is-past, present, future!) THE way, THE TRUTH, and THE life-you cannot find it or any of those apart from Him.

~*SUBSTITUTING THE ABSOLUTES*~
How easily we substitute
Every lie for every absolute
Because we’re free to believe
Our own truth
How easily we’ve been deceived
Every religion clashing with what we believe
Forming different beliefs by every book we read
Every example we see
And every person proclaiming truth
With opinion
We think to be free
Means to state our mind
Claim our rights
And we ignore the liberty
That Jesus Christ died to set us free
And we’re binding our own wrists
We’re banging our fists
We’re chaining ourselves down
But all the while, we’re claiming
A new freedom we’ve found
Because love,
Yeah loves makes the world go ’round
Or at least that’s how musicians put it
And we believe every minute of it
And there’s maybe some truth to it
But the truth is, we’ve substituted
Fact with feeling
Separation from God with healing
And it’s got me wondering
When did the serpent speak to us?
Or did he ever leave us?
Because we’re substituting
People with God
Beauty with immodesty
Worshipping with TV
And I don’t think we even realize
We’re being deceived
Lust of the flesh
Lust of the eyes
The pride of life
Satan always appears as an angel of light
And somehow, we think
He has our best intentions in mind
Because nobody, not even the devil
Could be so evil
Murderer, Thief, Father of Lies,
Stealer, Killer, Destroyer
He’s got us all blind
And somehow we’ve substituted
Satan’s lies
For Jesus Christ
Now’s the time to open our eyes
Substitute the absolute lies
With absolute Truth

-R.A.D. (me)

 **I have all kinds of Bible verses in those links because I don’t want to speak on my own authority and so if you want to have an awesome Bible study through it, I already did all the hard work for you. Hopefully though, it’ll make you thirst for more of His living water. 😉

The Least I Could Do

"I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." -John 15:5

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in Me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing.” -John 15:5

I couldn’t sleep at all last night. Not that that’s unusual, but I had way too much on my mind. I still have a lot on my mind, but after writing a poem today, I feel a little relieved. After reading a few different articles & comments about Joel Osteen & this quote, & my husband & I having a good, long conversation last night about different things that have been stirring us up lately-ok, mainly that’s been stirring me up lately ;), & reading the other night in the Bible about the rich young ruler in Luke 18:18-29 that keeps coming to mind, I just couldn’t get everything out of my head. So, today, after not getting hardly ANY sleep (seriously, my hubby came down at 3:30 this morning & asked if I was ever going to come to bed…not usual, ’cause I normally try to go to bed at the same time & the few times I don’t, he’s fast asleep ;)), I still couldn’t sleep after my hubby & kids woke up although this is the 1st time in forever I could have slept in-you know, if I didn’t have so much on my mind. So to relieve it, I decided to pray & just ask God to speak through me. Hopefully He has & hopefully He does to you through this. I think this is the 1st time I’ve had a poetry draft with no cross-outs-which can be good or bad however you look at it. 😉 This is the 2nd poem I’ve written in a long time (the 1st one last week-God’s really been putting stuff on my heart lately & I’m ready & listening more now! :))  & I think it might be better more as spoken word poetry (as most are), but not knowing how that’s gonna happen, this will have to do. 🙂

~*THE LEAST COULD DO*~

Eight steps to a better life,
How to be a great wife,
All these laws I’ve kept from my youth.
“These aren’t about me, I’m living for You!”
Just do my best;
I’ll be just fine.
I’ve got a ticket to Heaven,
Better get in line.
I’m gonna get dressed
In my Sunday best.
I’m gonna look good;
You’ll be impressed.
I’ve done everything I can;
I’m Your best man.
Everybody knows
Where I stand.
I love those who love me.
Those who hate me are surely
Just filled with insecurity.
I workout,
I eat clean,
I do everything I can
To live green.
I do my part,
Yet I still look cool.
I follow all Your rules
And call it old-school.
Surely, You’ll be impressed.
I’ve got a track sheet 6 feet long,
And nothing to confess.
Truly, I deserve this;
I kept Your list.
I even saved
My first kiss.
What?! Of course it’s about You!
I did all the good I could do!
Why are You saying
You’re beginning to think
I’m looking more and more like
A pharisee?
Why are You calling me
To something I can’t do,
Saying that’s how I best glorify You?
I heard You’re a God of love!
Nobody said tough love!
Not any club
I’m a part of.
Those sugar-coated messages
Were way easier to hear.
I felt so good
When they tickled my ears.
How dare You say
I can’t do this on my own?
How is it good news
I can’t do this alone?
You know me!
I don’t like to depend on anybody!
How could You say I dried up and died
The second I disconnected from Your vine?
Everybody said I was living the life!
So why aren’t You satisfied?
How could You tell me
I was worshipping self-
The biggest idol of hell?
And why would You say,
‘The best I can do
Has never pointed to You?’
That’s all I ever wanted!
I wanted to follow Your call!
But what’s in it for me,
If I gave up my all?
…And took up my cross,
And followed You.
Let You be my boss;
The least I could do.
But that’s what You want,
Isn’t it?
To call all the shots-
Be the biggest hit.
Let me bask in Your glory,
As You walk before me.
And finally walk free,
From the chains that have bound me.
That’s the reason You died.
May You be glorified.
If it’s not about me,
Then You get the glory.

 -R.A.D. 10/12/13

Who’s getting the glory in your life?

Does God take a stand against homosexuality?

Just 2 people who have made the commitment to choose to love each other no matter what, through good times and bad-though we fail MISERABLY at times. :) However, we don't plan on ending it until Christ ends His relationship with the church. ;) ("The Sacred Marriage" by John Piper is a great book that talks about that!)

Just 2 people who have made the commitment to choose to love each other no matter what, through good times and bad-though we fail MISERABLY at times. 🙂 However, we don’t plan on ending it until Christ ends His relationship with the church. 😉 (“This Momentary Marriage” by John Piper is a great book that talks about that!)

Earlier, I wrote a comment on this article after someone had said that Christians are basically hypocritical in only forming their beliefs against homosexuality from Leviticus & how we don’t follow all the other rules in Leviticus. I had only planned on sharing verses from the Bible when I wrote:

Not Leviticus so much as Romans 1:

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.

24 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, 25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

26 For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. 27 Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.

28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; … who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them. -Romans 1

**********************************************************************************************************

Of course, that stirred up ALL kinds of comments & questions though & I just decided to respond to them all (though, I can’t seem to get my comment to post right now!) & thought I would put my response on here because I think it is an important topic & while I have my beliefs, I do understand why people are backing up both sides & why I believe the way I believe as I know that many “Christians” (not saying that those who believe differently aren’t, just that as a whole, not necessarily everyone who claims to be is) don’t necessarily agree with me. Well, here it is:

I guess I’ll just answer all those questions in one & be done. Sorry for the length, just trying to fit it all in. I understand not everybody will agree with me & that’s ok. I have nothing against you. This is what I believe. This is coming from someone who grew up in a family that had I not experienced God personally would be VERY turned away from Him. Thankfully, God loved me through all of that, has healed me miraculously-even of a broken bone the very night a dr. told me it might not ever heal it was broken so bad, and has been there for me at times when I literally had no one else to turn to. I understand not everybody has been miraculously healed like I have & many people’s experience of God has only seemed like heartache when He’s allowed you to go through times that no human should ever have to face & He has seemed silent when you wish He would make His presence known as some painful, discouraging situations I’ve had to face even & even with all God has done to & for me at times, I fail to always obey & think He has my best in mind so I can only imagine it would be much harder for those who haven’t had some of the experiences I have. I can only pray that God will be able to meet your needs & reveal Himself in a way that shows you how much He loves you & hope that He’ll use me to reach some of you through this or else there wouldn’t be any point in writing back. So please just understand my heart through all of this as I have no hatred towards any of you. Really.

Now to answer those questions…

Romans is in the new testament. Those laws you talk about were given to the Israelites in the old testament & while honestly I don’t understand why He gave all of them, I know He has our best in mind & He had their best in mind at the time. If you don’t have a standard or a stable “moral compass”, what do you go by to determine what’s right & wrong? People change all the time & different opinions are formed & based by what people experience in life. God & His Word do not change & if I don’t use something I believe to be the reason for mine & everyone else’s entire existence, all you’re hearing is my opinion or others’ opinions & like I said, they change. Who’s to say one’s opinion is more important than someone else’s? You speak of tolerance & yet you have no tolerance for these owners or me who believe differently than you.

To answer your question earlier of what’s the difference being “born” gay…I don’t believe people are born gay, just like I don’t believe people are born liars. Black, white, color…those are not choices. Lying is a choice. Choosing to live out a gay lifestyle is a choice. Albeit, I know that those who normally do choose that & are prone to that sin have normally had a hard past that has made them more prone to that sin, just like I struggle with sins that you or people who struggle with a gay lifestyle might not struggle with. Honestly, I have 3 friends who have chosen to live that lifestyle & I love them dearly & knowing their pasts makes it very understandable why they struggle with it & even in the church- especially in the church, I would hope they could be honest with their struggle with that sin & loved through the struggle & loved for who they are-struggles & all. Just like I hope I am. Unfortunately, until gay people choose to “come out of the closet”, a lot of people don’t even realize they’re struggling with the sin & being human, might not love them like they should, but know that the sin is wrong & judge them foolishly. I’m sorry for the times I have judged people foolishly as I know I have my own struggles & sins.

Basically, I believe sinning is any time you think your ways are better than God’s ways, thinking you know better than God about something & not trusting He has your (general you) best in mind. He’s our Creator. He knows our purpose & what’s best for us more than we do, whether or not we understand why He tells us what He does. Now that I have my own kids, I feel like I’m starting to understand that on a whole new level. They might think it’s fun to run out in the street & think I’m ruining their fun by telling them they can’t & they’ll get disciplined if they do, but I know that if I don’t train them to not run in the street, they could get hit by a car-it’s a natural consequence of them thinking they know better than their mom. Being older than them & having more experience than them has taught me that. They don’t understand it yet, but someday they will & they’ll know I said not to because I love them.

God makes “rules” because He loves us. We might not understand them right now, but if we begin to understand His heart, we can know He does it with our best in mind. When you let any sin grow, it’s going to ultimately lead to death in some way. “Bitterness makes the heart sick.” Or as others have put it, it’s basically swallowing poison while hoping the other person dies. God says that every other sin is outside the body, but sexual sin is against your own body (1st Corinthians 6:18-20). If everybody chose homosexuality, then the world would cease to exist. There would be no future generations, there would be death. Aids & STD’s would be more rampant. & we wouldn’t have the picture of God’s love for the church that a man & woman are SUPPOSED to be showing when they get married (I know we all fail at that in our marriages though). So, as with any other sins, He’s saying not to do that because He loves us. You could go into this about ANY sins, just already know this is long & to give an example. When we continually choose to sin-ANY sin, not just homosexuality, we’re choosing to believe that our ways are better than God’s ways & to continually walk out in disobedience to God ultimately leads to eternal death-hell. He already sent His Son to take our punishment of sins that we all deserve for being sinners, but if we continue to walk in sin & choose to walk our own way, we’re taking His death for granted & our walking into our own deaths. God made sex to be a beautiful thing within His boundaries because He knows that when you have sex with someone you become “one” with them. Outside of a loving (well, marriage is supposed to be anyways) lifetime commitment, people get hurt very badly-as you can see in the world. He made it to be very enjoyably (obviously), just as He intended this world/His creation to be a beautiful, enjoyable place, but we’ve failed to walk within His good boundaries & listened to the lies of His enemy, Satan that only comes to kill, steal, & destroy (John 10:10) believing God doesn’t have our good in mind & have failed to realize it’s a spiritual battle we face, not one against flesh & blood (Ephesians 6:12).

Why do you think there’s such an attack on marriage? Satan hates ANYthing that can be a picture of Christ’s love for the church & that’s what marriage is SUPPOSED to be (Ephesians 5:21-6:4). He’ll use anything to destroy it- divorce, homosexuality, abuse, pornography, etc. The Christians who believe what God says just know that to “support” homosexuality (a.k.a. sin) is to support something that goes against God’s ways & when you start supporting any sin, you’re choosing to support Satan & his agenda & that ultimately leads to death.

Wisdom

 

My 4 year old daughter's "school work" the other day. My favorite part is the "m" below "wisdom". I had told her the day before when she was copying her alphabet that it looks better if she stops at the red line/margin & she took my advice even when writing part of her verse. :)

My 4 year old daughter’s “school work” the other day. My favorite part is the “m” below “wisdom”. I had told her the day before when she was copying her alphabet that it looks better if she stops at the red line/margin & she took my advice even when writing part of her verse. 🙂

If you were to ask me what I would like to impart most to my kids, it would be wisdom. It wouldn’t be for an easy life or that they would become famous or rich or well-educated or a fit, healthy athlete. Some of those might be nice bonuses, but more than anything, I want them to become wise. I want them to fear God, but then to grow so in love with Him, that they have nothing to fear (1st Peter 4:17-19).

       God has really been impressing upon my heart to teach them wisdom more than anything. This summer, I read both Duggar books & “Shepherding a Child’s Heart” (along with others) that both shared that they read a Proverbs a day to their kids. I thought that was a great idea and this month decided to give it a go and I hope to continue to until it’s no longer just in their heads but deep in their hearts. It’s been amazing to see what they’ve already picked up on and to hear what God has put on their hearts at such an early age. And really, what could be more important to pass onto your kids?

        “My son, if you receive my words, And treasure my commands within you,  So that you incline your ear to wisdom, And apply your heart to understanding;  Yes, if you cry out for discernment, And lift up your voice for understanding,  If you seek her as silver, And search for her as for hidden treasures;  Then you will understand the fear of the Lord, And find the knowledge of God.  For the Lord gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding;  He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk uprightly;  He guards the paths of justice, And preserves the way of His saints.  Then you will understand righteousness and justice, Equity and every good path.”
                                                                            -Proverbs 2:1-9

 

~*THE WAY IS YOU*~

What am I supposed to do?
Where am I supposed to go?
Are there really “supposed to’s?”
I’d really like to know

I’m hidden in a crowd
And I’d like to know my way
I’m going around in circles
That I walked just yesterday

But I saw all the same people
They took the same route as i
Am I the only one lost?
Are we all following blind?

I stopped to ask the woman
Who was next to me
If she could go anywhere
Where would it be?

She looked confused
All battered and bruised
The scars I saw upon her soul
She wondered if you
Could even choose
Which way you would go

We’re not stuck in quicksand
We’re not even blind
We don’t have a dictator
Only limited time
And the experiences we encounter
Always consume our mind
And we’ve closed off truth
To listen to Satan’s lies

And if only one person
Could find that Jesus is the way
Wouldn’t be consumed
With religious play

If only one person
Gave up his rights
Gave up self attempts
Let God shine His light

We would all be led
To live a life beyond ourselves
With purpose, direction
Lives without question
Of whether we lived in vain
Because if people opened their eyes to see
They’d find the truth lies in Jesus
Not you and me

But we all keep following the crowd
Of pointing to ourselves
Our self-attempts at religiosity
And I wonder if we
Ever stopped to think
We’re leading others to our own personal hell

Where would we all be?
If we ever stopped to love Jesus
And others more than ourselves
If we stopped to let Jesus in us
To work through us
And let Him be the light

Instead of dimming His truth
And following blindly in the dark
Or showing half-truths
Because we’re afraid of the stark contrast
We might be among the crowd

When all we want is the light
The purpose, the Truth
To stop hiding because of shame
And we all want to know His name
But we’re to afraid
To say it

Jesus, Jesus, be our light
Be our Guide
Through this thick darkness
That covers the night
Help us find our way back to You
Uncover the truth
That the way is You

~RaCHeL aNN

P.S.~I have no idea why my posts are cut off in the middle of a word & why the format is continually messed up. I don’t write it that way & no matter how many times I try to fix it, it messes back up when I publish it.

Victory Over Complacency

Picture of a cross I took on our honeymoon near San Diego.

Picture of a cross I took on our honeymoon near San Diego.

       Something’s been stirring up in my spirit lately. I’ve been becoming so sick of complacency. So sick of us as Christians caring more about politics and movies and fitting in and lifestyles and fashion and just so many material things than about God. I’m just as guilty as anybody else. It seems that when things are bad, at least, after a while, I run to God. But there are times when things are so good that I just go about enjoying “life” and since there’s nothing to “fix” that I can see, I feel like I have no need of God. It’s really sick, and there’s so much deception there.

       At some point, I started believing our enemy. I started thinking either I know better than God or I’ve run too far from God to go back or like I said, I’ve felt no need for God at times to really dig deeper. Don’t give into the lies. There’s nothing worse than Christians becoming lukewarm and not only not fighting the battle for our souls but for others. And in a way, we side with our enemy then. Don’t become a traitor. God has already won the battle, we just need to claim it.

~*GOD HAS WON THE VICTORY*~

A warrior I once was,
Bent knees,
Tear-stained cheeks,
Fighting off the enemy

I don’t know when I forgot where I was
When this battlefield started feeling safe
When our unrelenting enemy got me to sit back
Take off my armor, not retaliate

I don’t know when I tuned Your orders out
I don’t know why I tried to take command
I don’t know how to give this battle to You
I wish I could put it back into Your hands

I’ve been taken prisoner now
The enemy’s yelling in my face
He’s calling me, wanting me to be a traitor
Wants me to believe I’ve fallen from grace

I don’t want to believe him
But part of me still does
But with my last breath of hope
I cry out, “Jesus!”

The enemy shudders
As You come on the scene
All his demonic troops have left him
Your presence makes them flee

The enemy starts accusing me
Spitting in my face
Silenced by Your scars
You remind him, “I’ve already taken her place”

Tears are shed, the battle’s won
As our enemy leaves the scene
And once again, I can proclaim,
“God has won the victory!”

~RaCHeL aNN

          “He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters.”

                          -Luke 11:23

Beauty’s Journey

July 29, 2012

July 29, 2012-My family and I took a walk through a beautiful neighborhood downtown where I snapped some pictures of my kids with my cheap camera phone.

       Every Monday-Friday morning, my alarm goes off at 5:50 so I can throw up my hair, use the restroom, put on some workout gear, and do a quick but very hard workout with my husband before he goes to work. I love a challenge, or at least the feeling I get after conquering one. Always have. Since waking up earlier now, I’ve even had time to eat breakfast, shower, relax, or get a few things done before my kids get up. While I definitely wish I could take a nap during my two younger kids’ nap time, for the most part, it’s been very refreshing.

       I’ve been thinking a lot more lately how I should welcome challenges in my spiritual life more this way. Obviously it’s not easy to go through any challenge, but if we walked into every challenge knowing that God has called us and is working everything out for our good when we love Him (Romans 8:28) and that every challenge is an opportunity to grow more, I can’t help but think we might just scare the hell out of Satan. 😉 I can’t help but think that if I did that EVERY time I was faced with a spiritual battle, I would get to experience a side of God I have never fully explored and life would seem way more adventurous and meaningful.

My husband and I have had a few conversations lately about some battles I’ve had to face that if I were at the beginning of them and had to choose whether or not I would go through them, I can’t honestly say that I would. They were tough and painful and I had experienced a loneliness I had never known before. However, God knew I needed them, and I’ve seen some fruit lately that may not be if I hadn’t gone through them. Sometimes I wish I could have the same results without all the “work”, but how lasting would that be?

Whatever battle you’re facing today, just remember you’re not alone. If you allow it, it can produce a harvest of righteousness in your life (Hebrews 12:1-7) and a perseverance, character, and hope that you could never imagine had you not gone through it.

“And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”

-Romans 5:3-5

 

~*BEAUTY’S JOURNEY*~

The journey,
How You wish to lead me
Transcends my understanding
Yet life is so demanding

Your ways so holy
Sometimes unravel slowly
But if beauty came fast
How long would satisfaction last?

Oh God, time seems so unkind
So we settle for the quickest find
Going on a journey
You’re not leading
Hoping it will meet our every need
Disappointed, left empty

We all have needs we want to fill
And sometimes ignore that’s in Your will
But beauty doesn’t come without patience
Whoever heard of a hero without struggle, without endurance?

And how much would freedom cost
If it was never lost?
Or being stress-free
If you never had a worry?

And beauty wouldn’t be so rare
If you found it everywhere
And winning wouldn’t be so great
If it was everyone’s fate

So when this journey seems tough
And I think I’ve had enough
I’ll continue on with patience
Remembering You have me in mind
Beauty comes with endurance
And that’s what I long to find

                                                                              -me R.A.D. (a while back)

Flesh and Blood

I think one of the hardest and most important things to remember is that we don’t wrestle against flesh and blood. There’s a real enemy out there that has so easily deceived us into thinking that people are the problem. Somebody cuts us off in traffic, and we go off on them (not that most of them can hear us anyway). Somebody hurts our feelings, does something we don’t like, or just is somebody we don’t like or that we don’t agree with, and how many times do we find ourselves gossiping about them as if we’re better than them or if they just didn’t exist or if we weren’t around them, we would be happier and life would be better?

Sometimes I find myself wishing people or problems away and of course, it just doesn’t work. I’ve not only fought or tried to run away from people or problems at times, but also God. I thought God brought this person into my life and He knows the beginning and end and everything in-between, so why didn’t He just not bring someone into my life who’s going to hurt me so badly?

God doesn’t work that way. He cares too much about us to work that way. He cares too much about me to work that way. I always have to remind myself that. Since when has life been just about being happy or easy? Since when has it even been about me?

If you go into life or marriage or anything really thinking it’s all about making you happy; I’m guessing you’re going to be sorely disappointed. To be honest, I knew this was going to be hard work. Everything good in my life has come from either hard work or blessings or both. Honestly, if I really thought about it, and I didn’t dwell on how hard everything would be, how hard everything is, I’d want it that way. There’s no growth with no challenge. But also, we’re in a great spiritual battle. Not just when we want to be. Not just when we’re ready to be. But always. Always. With each and every decision we make, we can choose to be on God’s side or Satan’s. Seriously, it’s as simple and yet scary as that. Those voices we hear telling us to lie or cheat or look at porn or steal, or basically anything outside of God’s will aren’t necessarily our own fleshly voices, and they’re not necessarily a part of us.

It’s amazing how easily we forget:

 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
-Ephesians 6:12

If you know what it’s like to be tempted, to give into that temptation, and then feel so ashamed afterwards, do you really think it was you telling yourself to do those things? We are in a war! Do you really think our enemy that goes to and fro throughout the whole earth (Job 1:7) is going to let you off that easily-I mean, especially, especially, if you’re doing anything for God, His enemy, or are even in a marriage, what’s meant to be a picture of Christ’s love for the church? He HATES that picture and will do ANYthing and everything to destroy it. If you’re being attacked constantly, maybe you’re doing something right. After all, why would our enemy feel the need to really attack someone who’s not a threat?

And here I am. I’ve been attacked. I’m worn. I’ve been hurt more times than I can even count or even care to at this point, because every time I even think back on it, I just get angry. And I want to hurt the person who’s hurt me. Or leave them. The person who’s sided with our enemy so many times and hurt me deeply. The person I should be able to trust more than anyone and yet I have no safe haven to rest in. Sin ALWAYS hurts and affects people. ALWAYS. There are no exceptions.

But then I’m reminded of all the times I’ve messed up. All the times I’ve hurt God deeply for siding with our enemy, whether I realized it at the time or not. All the times I thought my ways were better than God’s ways and have had to face the consequences. How utterly lonely I was when I would turn from God and have no one to run to, nowhere I felt safe and at home. How completely devastated I was in myself for screwing up again. And again. “Would I ever get this right?” The feelings of being completely ashamed of not being the person God created me to be and running away from my purpose. I could go on and on. Not to mention, all the people I hurt in my path during those times. And how much I needed someone, an anchor, a safe haven to rest completely in then, when I deserved it the least. And God was and is ALWAYS there for me then. When I’ve screwed up the most, and deserved His love the least. And that’s exactly what our enemy wants us to forget. He wants us to forget the One who loves us. He wants to trip us up and then have us be so ashamed that we run away from the only One who can bring us back. The only One who truly, deeply loves us.

And that’s part of what love is. Accepting someone completely after they’ve made so many mistakes you’ve lost count. L O N G suffering. Being there for the person after they’ve hurt you deeply and even when it hurts to be in the same room as them. Doing what’s best for them and others and not giving up despite feeling like you’re going to fall apart and looking to the only One who can hold this fragile cord together. And still giving them your best whether you’ll get it in return or not. This life has never been about me. It’s never been about my happiness. It’s never been easy; and at this rate, I don’t even know if I can hope for it.

But as I make the tough choice to love someone who’s betrayed me once again, dwelling on who God is and what He’s done for me, I can’t help but think of all the times He’s felt this same exact feeling, from me and others. And how hard it must have been. How it would have been so much easier for Him to take away our free will and make us love Him; and yet He knew we would betray Him over and over again, and He still loved us enough to give us the choice to choose Him. He believes in us that much. His love is so strong for us that it can win us over. And I have to believe that when I allow His love to shine through me, it’s strong enough to win this battle.

I’m not giving up. Love never gives up. Love never fails. And while at times it’s easy to forget who the enemy is, and I may direct my anger at the wrong person; I’ve been trying to remind myself that we’re all people. We make mistakes. Sometimes constantly. If we didn’t make mistakes, we’d be God. And we all desperately need Him. Myself included. Especially myself. But God has always loved me in spite of it, and maybe at times because of it. He completes me and He’s transforming me. And when I place my trust in Him, not only is my love unshakable, it’s strong enough to win not only the battle for myself, but my family. And what better picture of Christ’s love can there be?

My Request

I once was so full of passion, strength, & determination for God that I asked Him to do whatever it would take to break me & bring me ever so close to Him. I already was close to Him, I already loved Him more than anything in my life at that point. I wanted to do what He asked of me whatever it cost. I could feel Him in everything, everywhere. He was my everything.

I don’t know if my asking Him that was wise or the worst question I’ve ever asked at times. Nowadays I’m too afraid to ask anything like that again. Because after asking that, I was hit with some of the hardest battles I’ve ever faced for YEARS.

Not that I hadn’t faced some extremely hard battles before; but at some point, I was able to see a clearing, a place I could rest & enjoy the battles I had just endured. I don’t know when it happened. I don’t know exactly when I lost sight of Him. I don’t know what caused me to think I had a better chance conquering the battles alone. I don’t know when I stopped trusting that He knew better than me & knew what was best for me. But I reached that point. I reached the point where I made an idol of myself & placed myself before God. I reached a point where I didn’t think He had my best in mind anymore. I mean, how could He let me go through all this? Didn’t He know how much I was hurting? Where was He when I called for Him?

I think all of us have to endure some extremely hard battles in this life. It may look different for each of us. We all have a different story & we all have different struggles based on what we’ve gone through in this life. And we each have a choice as to what & whom we are going to look to when we go through those battles. We can either look to ourselves & our situation & lose sight of the hope God has given us or we can look to God through it all & overcome those battles. Some of us may experience clearings where we can rest after those battles & some of us may not reach those clearings until our lives on this earth are over. But there’s hope. HE is hope.

Sometimes the battles we go through are a result of our sin or someone else’s sin, sometimes they’re just a result of sin in this world, period. Sometimes God allows us to go through things to teach us & sometimes He just allows us to go through things to draw us ever so close to Him. I think it’s our choice whether or not we allow those battles to draw us closer to God or further from Him. Unfortunately, I could have gotten closer to God through all I faced; but instead, after a while, I lost sight of Him & lost sight of hope. I let the hurt & struggles I faced harden my heart towards Him & others. And hurting people ALWAYS hurt others, whether intentionally or not- just by not being who we were created to be, by not reaching those we were created to reach.

I have yet to reach the point where I’ve allowed Him to completely answer my request of Him. But I have hope that He’s going to answer it someday. Slowly, but surely each battle I’ve faced has allowed me to reach the place where I’ve realized I can’t do this on my own. Nobody can. We need Him. I need Him. More than anything. I can’t do this alone. As I allow Him to break me, to soften my heart, He can finally start molding me again into the woman He created me to be.

Who/what do you look to when you go through different battles? What gives you hope?

A Little about Me

Hey, I’m Rachel Ann Dittmer. You can call me R.A.D. You can say I inherited my artistic gene through my mom’s side as everyone in my family- besides my dad- can express themselves through art; I just have many. My main outlets are poetry, art, writing, & interior design, though too often I play my hand as being a jack of all trades.

I normally find out as I go along that I can do different things & have to learn the hard way most of the time; but if I don’t know & want to know, I try to find out- like this blog (so not an expert & still having trouble even after getting help! *eek! Thanks, Jaime!*)! I just try to believe Philippians 4:13 that I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me- but don’t test me on that! 😉

So basically, this blog is a byproduct of a lot of hard work, dedication- well, persistence at least (!), & maybe a little CRaZiNeSs as I try to juggle all these passions of mine, a home, & a family of 5! But feel at home here! This is a place to kick off your shoes, relax, & enjoy your stay at my pad!

Why the name padorad?

Here I am, FINALLY starting a blog of my own. So, why the name “padorad”? What’s this site going to be all about?

Originally, I was just thinking that there are some great sites where people have basically made a living fixing up their own house (younghouselove, anyone?) & well, I’ve been fixing up our house & have gotten some great encouragement on it via facebook mainly & some from my site on weebly, but being a SAHM of 3 & my hubby a teacher & ref, I figured it’d be nice to make a little extra income (ha. I’m still figuring this out, so we’ll see, but it’s worth a shot!) doing something I love & am passionate about that could help with all of the projects I’ve been doing & want to continue to do & you know, help with the mortgage or the child we sponsor or sending our kids to a good Christian school someday, yada…yada. Plus, when the kids get older & go to school, I would already have a “job” established where I could still be here on sick days or days off from school & still be able to take care of the house & my family. So, if this works, it’d be PERFECT!

Now onto the name. Pad, in slang at least, means a person’s residence. This site, remember, was originally going to just be about my house that I’ve been updating; but then I got to thinking, I’m not gonna have something to write about EVERY day or a few times a week about just my house, especially since I’ve done a lot of different rooms already (they’re not ALL the way done though, for the most part) & interior design isn’t the only thing I’m passionate about. I’m passionate about writing (particularly poetry) & art, in ALL kinds of forms; & while a pad was originally meant to be about my home, it could also refer to a writing pad, a poetry pad, an art pad, etc. So, that’s where I got the idea of PAD. For those who don’t know, my initials are R.A.D. (yeah, how rad is that? ;-P) So, I was thinking PAD of RAD, & if you need it explained a little further- “of” can sometimes be written as o’ in poetry & not only do PAD & RAD rhyme, but the addition of o’ just makes the addition of poetry even more evident in the title (of course, you can’t add an apostrophe in a web address though so it was omitted), & here we are with “padorad” (yeah, quite the maze- how my brain always works!). ;-P Easy to remember, fun to say, to me at least. Hope you enjoy it too!

Fortune cookie I got yesterday after telling my hubby how excited I was about starting this site-perfect! 🙂 (& yes, I know I need to invest in a good camera, this just is a pic taken with my free phone from verizon that doesn’t take the clearest pics, obviously).