Truth…

I can’t let this year slip by without sharing how hard it has been.

When the ice storm hit North Texas, we were hit hard.

Financially and emotionally.

We were without electricity for 6 days and that led to approximately $15,000 in damage, not covered at all by insurance. I went unpaid for a week from work and received legal papers for one of my worst nightmares the same week. To say it was hard, would also be an understatement of the year. My heart and nervous system broke all over again.

The costs of home repairs and lawyers added up. The emotional toil and despair and stress took over in ways I wish I could forget, not to mention how badly I wish some of my loved ones could forget.

In the midst of this, I got a tattoo. This one. The word “Truth” on my right wrist. Because the enemy did all he could to take me out during this time. I couldn’t express to others the pain I was in. I also knew there was nothing anyone could do to make it go away even if I could. It was too much for words. But, God.

He didn’t take the bills or the difficulty away. He stood back when I asked Him to. “Is what I say true?” “Do I still love you?” “Even if. In all these circumstances, you lose. Do you lose Me?”

The Truth of that is “No. I don’t lose You.” I can’t. Because the Truth is found here. In You. About me. About others.

“Nothing can separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.” Romans 8:38 (NLT)

I’ve never felt the powers of hell as strongly as I did this year. Because of that oppression, I am even more aware of how strong God is. How He fights for us in a spiritual realm. And what He allows us to go through. I felt the darkness of the battle. This was my way of putting on and tightening up the belt of Truth (Ephesians 6:14). And keeping it on. To stand my ground in it. And trust it. Because the alternative was death to my soul.

After our ice storm fiasco and the legal difficulties that I thought might kill me, both of our air conditioners went out. Another $20,000 later and we could only surmise we lived in a money pit.

Our beautiful home was eating us alive. And truly testing our marriage. What else, Lord? As I know that is not a test you want to give Him. Read the book of Job.

This is after I’d written a book about the love of God. This is after I’d hosted seven years of Bible study. This is after I thought I’d survived the worst. With Him. Oh, how much more He longs to draw close. To make it even more personal. To provide peace and make us His own. To draw us close to His chest and fight demons on our behalf.

This is proof that when we think we’ve been through the worst, we have no idea what else is coming. Right around the bend. So, lean in sons and daughters. Look to our Father who loves us most in the best and worst of times.

On the other side of this time and tattoo, I can also attest that to the extent there is pain, there is also joy and relief. Relief that it’s over. Lessons learned, and changes made. And love still. Stronger because of it. And that His Truth still stands.

Neither of us lost our jobs or our homes or our children or each other. We are well aware of these blessings. And grieve with others who have.

For us personally, 2021 made 2020 feel easy as hard and strange as it was. I know we all have our own experiences. I’m just sharing ours. Hopefully, this also helps you with yours. When the next valley arrives… The Truth doesn’t change in it.

He walks through our flames with us and brings us others who will too. It might be a smaller group than ever before. It might even be just you and Him. But, if that brings us closer to Him, So be it.

I love this tattoo more every day. I never thought I’d get one. I couldn’t imagine what I’d want on my body as long as I had it. But, this one. To see and remember. The Truth.

What He brought me through. How low I actually got. What I considered in my worst moments. The fact that He loves all of me. The good and the bad. My mistakes. My kids. His provision and grace. His strength. Not at all my own.

That my identity is not just Mom, as much of a gift that that is. I am His beloved daughter no matter what. Even if I were to lose my children. And as hard as that is to write, it’s Truth. And, I pray they know that about themselves too.

This tattoo is on my right wrist. Easily seen by me and others. Near where Jesus took His nails to save me. And easily placed over my heart when it needs reminded.

The Truth sets us free. And never changes or fades. This tattoo may change or fade over time more than the truth itself. And, for that, I’m thankful. He sustains me.

Even when the enemy wages war on our hearts and minds. Even when the deepest sadness sets in. Even when it seems no one understands. Even when we are schemed against and plotted around. The enemy wants to take us out. But, God says… “Nothing can separate us from His love.” Nothing.

I don’t know what’s coming next. But, I want to keep His Truth tattooed on my heart for it.

Remember September…

20 years…

I remember having Good Morning America on in the background as I got ready for work like usual.

I remember hearing Charlie Gibson announce breaking news that one of the Twin Towers was on fire.

I remember seeing it burning in a split screen on TV and thinking it was an indoor fire that had started and gotten out of control. Maybe a coffee maker or microwave gone awry. I felt so sorry for those inside. I could only imagine their panic. Wait, it was a plane? What an awful accident! Something must have happened to the pilot. What about all those people?

I remember hearing the second tower got hit by a plane on my way to work. What was happening?

I remember walking into my office and all the televisions were on. Most of our patients didn’t show up that day, but the ones who did crowded around them with us. Other than the sound of news and sirens, it was eerily quiet in the office. We all just looked around at each other… watched and waited.

I remember calling my insurance company to update my car insurance like I had originally planned to do. Attempting any business as usual and the agent asked me if I knew what was going on. I did. And didn’t. Just like him. It felt like the world really did stop turning.


I remember calling my dad after the Pentagon got hit. And asking him what to do. Should I go home? He said to stay where I was unless instructed otherwise. I did.


I remember feeling like a sitting duck. No one knew when or where another plane might fall out of the sky.


I remember watching fire and police rushing in and up those towers as everyone else was doing what they could to get down and out. The ultimate bravery.


I remember my mom calling me from the airport. She had plans to fly that day. All flights were canceled and they had turned off all monitors in the airport. She waited hours to get her bag back because they went through them all. She remembers ATF and their dogs ascending on the airport in such force that she wondered where they came from. She remembers being the only car leaving the airport when she did and how strange that was in the middle of the day. Her 9/11 ticket is framed to this day.


I remember her confusion and fear. And mine.


I remember she drove straight to my office. We went to lunch. Like two deer in the headlights not knowing what on earth else to do.


I remember waiting to hear if my cousin was in his office at the pentagon that day. And the relief when we found out that he wasn’t.


I remember the deep sorrow followed by anger and helplessness we all felt as the facts and people were uncovered.

I remember the shock, grief, confusion, fear, and uncertainty.


I also remember the patriotism that followed. And the heroes who emerged. A sense of unity and comradery. That we would come back stronger, wiser, more determined to take care of each other. As Americans. But most of all, as fellow humans.

I remember…

How God Works…

When we think He’s not. When we think He can’t be. When we don’t understand how. When we are convinced He must be losing to His adversary. God works.

This year has hit us like a ton of bricks. So much so, that I haven’t had the words to share. But, this is how He works. When attacks, betrayals, loss come out of the woodwork. When it shows it’s ugly face. When it corners you into the shadows. Hoping fear will break you. When heartbreak comes that you never knew possible, even after all you’ve already been through. This is how He works. To take you to a new level. To level up, as they say. Even closer to Him. He’s still there.

This year, I look at the difficulties, but also realize how deeply blessed I am because of them. How, in the betrayals and straight up shock, true friends and relationships have shown their lovely faces. Wouldn’t you rather have even two reals, than ten shallows? Wouldn’t you rather have even one who lets you share freely and doesn’t condemn or tell you to pray harder. But instead, prays for you. Intercedes because they know you don’t have the words or the strength. That know you are being beaten into oblivion spiritually. That goes to war with you.

Wouldn’t you rather have a marriage that you know can been tested? Can withstand? Will withstand? How would you know without the tests? He allows some really hard things to come into our lives to also show us how blessed we are. In the relationships that withstand the fire and come out so much more pure and rock steady in our hearts. The hard stuff shows us that. They can handle it and their love doesn’t change. They see the war you’re in and actually admire you for it. They know God is up to something special because of it. Because it’s just too hard for us humans. So, we lean harder.

When the ice storm rolls through and causes damage insurance won’t help with. Damage you never saw coming or could have budgeted for. When your office closes and won’t pay you because of it. When finances come crashing down and pressing in in a way you’ve never seen before. At no fault of your own. He works. He increases your courage.

When we think all hell is letting loose in our lives, our personal faith is being tested.

This year, I realize how when we ask God to get closer, it usually comes in ways that feel like He’s moving away. It feels like He actually CREATES these valleys. “God what are you doing? I thought we were passed this?” He asks us to press in. It’s not over.

When we ask for stronger relationships, He allows a problem to work through. When we ask for patience, He allows delays we can’t control. When we ask for better communication skills, He gives you a reason to talk. When we ask for more earthly defenders, He allows something that needs defended. So, they too, can come out of the woodwork. He works in us and ultimately for us. But, not always in the ways we “hoped” He would. Rather, in ways that promote longevity for change in our characters and desires in others.

Do we want honesty, compromise, openness, dignity? Then, He will remove those who don’t or can’t. He will teach them in His own way in their own hard stuff. This is hard and it hurts when we wish it could be different.

He promotes healthy relationships who want that in others too. He shrinks our circles. For His Glory and our good. He graciously and lovingly shows us knowing full well it will hurt, but exposing truth anyway. God works through pain. This is how He wounds, but also binds us back up (Job 5:18). Because that’s who Jesus is. Grace AND Truth.

Like the saying goes “The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.” We get angry because it hurts. No one likes to hurt. And a lot of times the truth does just that. Reality hurts sometimes. And sometimes it’s the most beautiful thing we’ll ever see this side of heaven. He opens our eyes to this in the hard stuff. BECAUSE He loves, He let’s us see the truth.

Well, we got through that, we can get through the next thing. He let that person leave, but shined His light on this one over here. The hard stuff. The stuff we wish were different or that we didn’t have to walk through at all, He works.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 (NIV)

In all things. In the losses, in the shadows, in the ring, in the hard stuff….Do you love Him? Then, He’s working for you. Trust deeper.

Approval…

I just came across this verse and it blew me away. I had to look it up in multiple translations. Could it be true?? Is this REALLY in the Bible? Yes, yes it is.

Your approval means nothing to me,  because I know you don’t have God’s love within you.” John 5:41-42 (NLT).

Wow, now this was Jesus speaking, not John. He does KNOW all things, so I trust Him that he knew. Seems like an extremely “judgy” statement for any human to say to any other human though. Who are we to judge? But, this was JESUS. He KNEW they didn’t and He had the authority to state it. He was speaking to the Pharisees after they were harassing him for healing the blind man on the Sabbath. Breaking the Sabbath rules.

In my journey to seek God’s approval over people’s, the text I tend to refer to is this one:

Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.” Galatians 1:10 (NLT)

Paul wrote that after basically cursing anyone, including himself, if they preach a different kind of Good News than the one they did that day, about Jesus being the only way ANY of us can receive salvation.

I love his boldness for Christ. And, I know he’s right. But, when I found the text Jesus spoke to the Pharisees today, I was reminded that if their approval meant nothing to Him because He knew they didn’t have the love of God in their hearts than seeking approval and guidance from those we know DO can’t be a bad thing. Rather a tool.

How do we know who does? Do they portray the fruits of the Holy Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22-23? And give Him the credit for it? Do they apologize when they don’t? Do they lift Jesus above themselves? Will they hear you out and pray that God speaks to your heart like they know He can, because He has? Do they love like Jesus? And admit He is the ONLY way?

Another way we can know who to seek guidance and approval from would be to ASK God. He promises to give us wisdom when we ask Him for it.

Do any of you need wisdom? Ask God for it. He is generous and enjoys giving to everyone. So he will give you wisdom. James 1:5 (ERV)

Ask Him who has the love of God in their hearts. This doesn’t mean God doesn’t love everyone. He loves everyone. But, not everyone has received that love to love themselves and others with it. Even if you have ONE of these people in your life, you are blessed.

In the same vein, stop asking those who don’t.

A person who HAS the love of God within them will not tell you what to do just as long as it benefits them. They may share their experiences and what they’ve learned through something similar. From pain comes wisdom. They may share something they receive after asking Him, but they’ll want you to receive that confirmation and peace in the answer too. They will ultimately pray His will and relationship into your life even if it’s not what they themselves would choose.

They may have Godly advice, but they will turn the hardest choices and decisions over to God speaking to you. They will KNOW He knows best, not them. They KNOW that your life path is supposed to be different from theirs. They KNOW you have a purpose to fill where God places you. And they’ll want you to experience the joy and peace and adventure that following Him over anyone else will provide. Even if it seems like the harder path, and it usually does. They’ll also know that you doing what He calls you to do brings us all one step closer to Jesus’s sweet return, because you will be getting His Word out wherever you go.

Jesus KNEW the Pharisees didn’t have the love of God in their hearts and actually said it, out loud. Ask HIM to help us know who does.

Many tend to give the “peace out” sign when it comes to seeking approval or guidance from anyone. But, remember, He did give us each other to be His hands and feet and ears and hearts. I am blessed to have some people who I have no doubt have the love of God in their hearts. I can tell by the way they love Him and me. So, these people are safe to ask. These people are safe to share with. Because I also trust they know I want a heart like theirs (His).

2020

What a weird year.

I know of some with family on hospice, some in the hospital, some mourning the empty chair, some thankful their loved one has recovered and is finally home, and some in quarantine.

Some in a brand new home, some who can’t pay the mortgage on the one they have, some who’ve never had one.

Some who are celebrating baby’s first Christmas, and some who are grieving the one they lost or can’t seem to have.

Some with new precious pets and others grieving the ones they had to part with this year.

Some who are so thankful for any time off this weekend and some who wish they had a job to go to.

Some who will be working on Christmas Day and many who will be separated and home instead.

Some heading to divorce court and some celebrating their first Christmas as a married couple.

Some who have all their kids home for the first time in what feels like forever and some who will be missing theirs.

In many ways a strange year. In others, it’s just like every other. Read it again… and recognize the ups and downs of life.

2020 just brought it to the forefront.

“There is no one who has tried to enjoy life more than I have. And this is what I learned: The best thing people can do is eat, drink, and enjoy the work they must do. I also saw that this comes from God.” — King Solomon
‭‭Ecclesiastes‬ ‭2:24-25‬ ‭(ERV‬‬)

What a weird (eye opening) year.

Shedding Skin…

This year has been one for the books. Not JUST Covid and I work in healthcare. Not JUST this election year and I cringe at both options. Not JUST tackling distance learning for the first time ever…

For me personally and in other ways.

This year my daughter graduated from the private school she attended for the last eight years. I am so thankful for that option and am still counting the blessings and friendships she formed from that opportunity. Time to pick a new school.

This year, both girls went to a public school in their dad’s district, not mine. You can imagine how hard this transition was. If you can’t imagine, consider yourself so grateful for that. So much fear. Fear of losing them. Fear of what others would think. Fear of change. Fear of public. It was hard. The legal decision was mine to make, but still made in this direction, for now. With all the fear and angst my body could feel, it went forward. With boundaries shared and more prayer than I knew was possible, I followed the Lord. In a direction I never thought we’d take.

This year, even before Covid hit, I started therapy. To help my current and heal my previous relationships. To help process why I struggle with certain things and determine what is mine to own, mine to fix, and mine to let go of. So much hard work. But, I was ready. It is no one else’s job but our own to get the help we need to better our relationships or to let go of the ones we need to.

This year, I asked both of my parents for better relationships. And what that would look like to them.

This year, I feel like a snake shedding its skin. That skin of fear. Fear of how I’m perceived. Shedding the fear of change. To set a boundary. To concede when necessary. To compromise for the chance of better relationships down the road. To give even myself grace if it still comes crashing down or goes another way. To honor my own intentions even if misunderstood by others. To ask for help. To extend love anyway and to appreciate love received more than ever before.

This year, because of Covid, changing schools, and churches, relationships have changed. Shedding skin. Wishing the best, welcoming the new, and appreciating the constants. Giving back and letting go. Loving from afar and looking ahead.

I credit my God and my current husband for this shedding. The love that covers it all and helps the shed to take place. I’ve never felt so loved in my life. The healing, strength, and action that can occur in this environment. An environment I pray all of our kids feel married or not. And that I also pray that I can be part of. To love them this well. To help them shed.

I don’t like snakes, my husband is more of a fan. He knows quite a bit more about them than I do. He told me that before a snake sheds, its vision gets cloudy. Because it can’t see well, it tends to perceive everything that encounters it as more of a threat. Makes sense. It can’t make out the difference. Oh, how I’ve been there too. Like a cloudy eyed, itchy, uncomfortable, irritable snake that feels everyone and everything is out to get it. But, it’s also necessary for a snake to shed in order to grow. Time to shed.

“Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly”. Similar to a cocoon experience. “What’s happening? I can’t see? Am I dead?” No, time to shed. And to fly.

The devil appeared as a serpent in the Garden of Eden. The serpent instills fear. His greatest tactic is to let fear have its way. But, beautifully I’m reminded.

No fear exists where love is. Rather, perfect love gets rid of fear, because fear involves punishment. The person who lives in fear doesn’t have perfect love. 1 John 4:18 (GW)

I can’t let the fear of people or illness or change stand in the doorway of the joy and courage Jesus wants to give me. All fear does is cloud our vision. Of the abundant life Jesus came to give each and every one of us. Fear gets us uncomfortable in our own skin. Time to shed.

Even if court doesn’t go in our favor, I’m glad we’re going.

Even if the school choice ends up too difficult, I’m proud to have tried.

Even if we get Covid, I’m thankful for medical care and ultimately the hope we have in heaven.

No matter who is elected, God has the final say on when this world will end.

A snake shedding its skin from the fear the deadly serpent wants all of us to wear. No, I cast you out, Satan. Out of my life and into the lake of fire you will one day end up in. You have no power here. I’m leaving that skin behind.

God in a Box

Our Bible study this past week explained how we all tend to put God in a box. What we learned from our parents or didn’t, how they viewed God, our particular denominations, our past disappointments, our personal views on miracles, our certainty of God’s sovereignty, or lack thereof.

When we consider how different each one of these are for each one of us, we can see how our boxes would all look differently too.

I imagine a drive-thru…People with orders that sound something like “Can I get a Baptist with a side of hard to please and just moved here?” Next car, “I’d like two Catholics with lots of questions and fear of letting their family down”…Cars keep coming.

“One child of divorce with two sides of scared and extra hope.”

“Two previous churchgoers with a childhood of abuse, add a side of adultery and not sure God’s even real by the way they’ve been treated.”

“One I survived a brain tumor only for my baby sister to die in a car wreck with three little girls to raise and I don’t know why.”

“One divorcee who swore it would never happen to her, topped with the loss of a child and a sadness she can’t explain.”

“Five pregnancies with still no baby to hold, add a whopping struggle of misplaced blame.”

“A Sabbath keeper who felt the Holy Spirit for the first time ever in a Sunday church down the road.”

“Three shots of still single and wondering why…extra hot.”

Each one is given a box. And the options are endless.

Broken hearts. Questions. Assumptions. Teachings. Personal experiences. Each one a different story to share.

Testimonies come from these stories and boxes turned upside down.

God is hoping that one day we see how confining that box is. If we don’t in this life, we all will when He returns.

He’s not a genie in a bottle. He’s not carried around easily or quietly. He’s all holy. All loving. All-powerful. His character is the only thing predictable about God Himself. His activities and answers are anything but.

When I asked my husband what he thinks his God box looks like, he agreed we all have one. He also bravely shared that his particular God box would be that He is a far off God. That’s He’s so far away, He might not hear or see him. That his prayers seem to bounce off the ceiling at times. Or off into some prayer hole. I loved his honesty in sharing. God wants my husband to know He’s close.

A peak inside his box made me consider mine…

If I have a God box, it would be that I KNOW He’s capable of all things. I KNOW He is able, but I also tend to think that He probably won’t…for me. Others, yes, because I’ve seen it. But for me? Probably not. Which is strange because He’s also already given me so much. Maybe it’s because He answered differently than I’d hoped for in a past situation.

Still, He wants to bust open my box as much as my husband’s. As much as yours. He wants me to know that He not only can, but will. When it’s in line with His will and plan. His bigger picture. He will, for me too.

God wants to turn our boxes upside down through the circumstances that we face. He’s bigger than our questions and doesn’t expect us not to have them. We’re human. He’s God. Only He knows it all.

He’s bigger than what we’ve been told or how we feel. He’s bigger than a political persuasion, the thorn in our flesh, that thing we can’t seem to get over, that conversation we wish had gone differently, that character or physical flaw we wish we didn’t have.

When our lives are shaken up, He is shaking up that box. He’s hoping we see how much bigger He is. Because only then can we realize, He’s not something we just carry around and stow away. He’s not under the tree or stacked up in a corner. He’s not limited by what we think His limits are. He’s just waiting for us to see how small we’ve made Him. Because of our box.

“May you experience the love of Christ, though it is TOO GREAT to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish INFINITELY MORE than we might ask or think.” Ephesians 3:19-20 (NLT)

TOO great to understand fully. MORE than we might ask or think.

Let’s look down into our own boxes and then look up to the One who sacrificed His Son to make us His own. The One who has always been and will always be. The One who is close, can, and will one day bust them wide open.

End of the World?

I like to take walks when my schedule allows during my workday. The fresh air is wonderful and the sunshine warms my face and fingers. It feels good to get the blood moving when I’m in a cold office all day. Usually, I’m listening to music. This particular day, I was listening to Christina Aguilera, singing, knowing I sounded nothing like her and also glad I didn’t care.

Walking, I noticed the sky. A beautiful path of sunshine shining through a darker cloud. Breathtaking, but also a pale comparison to what I imagine the clouds will look like when Jesus returns. When the skies open up for all to see. When life as we know it will be forever changed for those who believe. Our bodies made new, our debts paid, and our future secure in His presence forever and always. The end of our world.

I took a quick picture and kept walking, thinking about that glorious day in our future. I sampled a few filters on my photo but went back to none. It looked the best. A glimpse of Glory in real life.

As I continued to walk, I noticed cars driving into a recreation center nearby. It was surrounded by political signs and I saw a line of people waiting to get in. It was the line to vote.

This year, 2020, has been tumultuous, to say the least. So much unrest. So much change. Unprecedented closures and restrictions. Viruses and protests. Anger and sadness. Fear and change. Loss and political bias.

This year’s election feels exceptionally electrically charged. Emotional. Like it is THE cause and THE cure for all our problems. Like the outcome of this election may very well be the end of the world to many. Like they won’t be able to bear living here if one or the other is elected. Both sides. Like it’s the end of the world.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t vote. I’m not saying our votes don’t matter or make a difference. I’m just saying the outcome is not the true end of the world.

I feel like God pointed out the legit end of this world to me when He drew my attention to that little bit of sky opening. Like His kind heart was reminding me and hoping to remind others, that what seems so important and life-altering won’t change one iota of His plan for us.

He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.” Revelation 21:4-5 (ERV)

THIS will be the true end of our world.

With voters in line on my right and the sky opening on my left, perspective was graciously given. An eternal perspective. A reminder that God is bigger still. Just like the picture I took shows a glimpse of what His return will be like, this election pales in comparison to what His plans for us are. Regardless of who gets elected. God already knows and His plans won’t be deterred because of it.

The devil would love for us to think that whoever our next president is will fix everything or ruin everything. And hang our lives on it. But, just like the rest of us, they are both fallen human beings too. And they won’t have all the answers or perfect solutions.

Problems will still be here. Death will still be here. Crime will still be here. Corrupt cops will still be here. Racists will still be here. Because sin will still be here.

Our country’s next president pales in comparison to what God did for us and will do for us through His Son, Jesus Christ. HE is bigger than all this and HE is coming back and bringing with Him the real end of this world.

May we lean into that joy and promise when the grief, confusion, or disappointment of this year takes hold. The enemy wants us to think the end of our world is coming on November 4th, the day after. My gut tells me we’ll still be counting or recounting ballots, although I hope not. My gut and my Bible also tells me things will only get worse after this election. Regardless of who is elected. Until His glorious return. That’s how it’s written. But, for those of us who claim Jesus as our Savior, we GET to look forward to those clouds parting. When it’s all said and done. When God says so.

So, for those who think the world will end if your guy isn’t elected, I say “I hope so!!” Because that means the clouds will open and future elections and airborne viruses will be no more. And we’ll be on our way to a place where donkeys and elephants will lie as peacefully together as lions and lambs. With the rest of God’s creations.

Continue reading “End of the World?”

The Greatest Gift…

Tomorrow is my birthday. Another August 22nd on the horizon. And, I’m already thankful for it. It’s the first one I can remember that has organically fallen on a Saturday…when I have my kids. All of them except my bonus son who will be at work.

I plan our lives (and all our birthdays) knowing we have specific weekends with and without the kids. As they get older, I recognize that even this starts to change. So, getting to wake up knowing they are home, that I don’t have to rush and leave for work all day, that my husband will be home too, and that my family is coming over is the greatest gift. Time. A day together.

I’m thankful for the other family members we get to celebrate tomorrow. I’m thankful for the house and space and health to do so. I’m thankful for the lessons learned this year and the desire to learn more next year.

We plan to go to church in the morning. It’s the first weekend it’s been open in awhile and I’m thankful for that too. Not only that we can go and worship with others, but also that my daughter asked to go. No greater gift than that. The desire to worship and time together. Makes me think of heaven one day. Nothing but worship and time. Togetherness with no awkwardness, no grudges, no paranoia, no shame, guilt, or blame. Only what we love and desire about togetherness. Peace and harmony.

I don’t expect this tomorrow. I expect food, family, and some fun. But, I also realistically expect a house full of people, littles, and teenagers. In all it’s imperfection, I say thank you. To each one. Even if the choice isn’t theirs to be there, I am thankful they will be. Because we never know how many birthdays we have left. Especially ones that fall on a Saturday.

 

 

Got Haters?

Man, just when all hope seemed lost. I prayed, I asked for prayer. I cried. I fought it. I was shown relief. Again.

By a woman I just started following this year. A woman who lost her daughter. A woman who has been blamed for the publicity she’s received over this devastating loss of her daughter. The publicity she would give back in a heartbeat. For her daughter’s heartbeat. The hardships and the lessons being shown during and because of it has touched me deeply.

Today, she shared the story in the Bible about the friends who brought their friend to Jesus. Through the roof. Heads down, not worried about what others thought or what the homeowner would think. By the work it would take. By the degree of difficulty. Not deterred by the people in the crowd probably thinking (like we all have)..”Really?? How dramatic can you be? We’re all here to hear Jesus!”

Not deterred. Not afraid. Unrelenting friends. Who bring their friend to Jesus, even though we’re sure they had their own issues they themselves wanted help with. They didn’t ask Jesus for help first. They didn’t ask Him for help after because of their efforts. They just wanted to help their friend. They couldn’t fix his problem, and knew of only One who could. May we all be and have some of these friends!

Jesus had haters. Everywhere He went. They followed Him. They watched Him. They hung on His every word, even trying to trip Him up over and over again. They didn’t care that He literally healed people. They just looked for problems knowing full well they couldn’t. Anything to bring Him down.

What bothered them the most was when He said He forgave sins. The blasphemy!! Even when they didn’t say it out loud, they thought it, and Jesus Himself would point it out. He called out His haters, time and time again.

Why did He do this? I think one of His reasons was so we’d know we aren’t alone when we have them. And, to let us know He sees our hearts too.

 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.” — John 15:18 (NIV)

Short. Simple. Clear. We will have haters. Even if we love them. Even if we try everything we can for reconciliation. Even if we ask them not to be. Even if we apologize for our human part. Even if…

Jesus didn’t have anything to apologize for. He knew their hearts. And called them out.

The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, “Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, “Why are you thinking these things in your hearts?  Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? — Luke 5: 21-23 (NIV)

He knew EXACTLY who He was. He wants us to know who we are too. To Him. To others. To ourselves. And WHO is in charge. We think we have so much control over all these things. We only have control of ourselves and when there are demons running through our bodies and veins, not much of that. (Which He healed and still does too).

Today, a friend prayed with me. Another texted me. I know my husband prayed over me. Another new friend posted a Bible study. One I needed to hear and see so badly. God made sure I was online to see it. It spoke straight to my heart and I’m so grateful.

These friends carried me to Jesus today. Through the roof, through their own uncertainties and needs, no matter what, not worrying about others, only me and Jesus. “Here, Lord, have her, heal her, comfort her, remind her” was their cry.

These people are gifts because they were pointing me to the Greatest Gift. The One I try so hard to show others. The One who I often times in all my hard stuff, forget is still ministering to me so that I can still minister to others. Just like the woman who tragically lost her daughter and the man who couldn’t walk for who knows how many years can share in a way only they can after Jesus met them there…

That He’s still MY Hero, not just everyone else’s.

That even when our haters might be our own children or spouse or sibling or parent or one we hoped was a friend, He STILL loves us more and most.

In those times when you don’t just FEEL turned on, but ARE turned on. He’s asking you to draw nearer. To come closer. To let Him love you. And to trust that one sweet day, because of what HE did for us, all the hate will be gone too. That hate that hurts His heart even more than our own.

Until then, remember…. Jesus had haters too. So much so, they eventually killed Him.

Yet, He still loved each one enough to die for. And, He did.