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. 🙂

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.

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.

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! 🙂

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.

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

DSC_0256

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! 🙂