Learning to Embrace the Pain

It’s late (or early) and I’m awake.  I tossed and turned for as long as possible.  I thought it was close to waking up time, but it wasn’t.  And so for the first time in many months I sit here in the stillness of night and I think about Kate’s word this week. 

The word “embrace.”  I’ll admit it.  I’ve often struggled to embrace the trials that God has allowed in our lives.  Recent struggles and  struggles in our past. I have to remind myself often hat it is not for me to make someone do what I think they should.  It’s for me to love them, to pray for them and even to embrace them (if they’ll let me) and for God’s will to be done in their life and mine.

I have to remember that God could make do them do the right thing but he won’t because he IS.

The sin of others has caused great pain in our life recently.  But I know under the facade their pain is greater.   They hold too tightly to their law.  Unfortunately, they won’t let go much like a child holding their little critter.  If they squeeze too tightly for too long the little critter suffocates and the child doesn’t understand why it died.    The law is much like this.  When we use it to control us and others it  suffocates but breathe brings freedom.

I don’t want to embrace the struggle. Really I don’t.  I could whine and cry and kick and scream but I won’t because I want to grow!  I want to be more like Jesus every day.  Even if it takes the struggle to do it because I’d rather live my life through the struggles and live for Jesus than to live my life for myself and live in the world.  BTDT, no thanks!

STOP

As I heal, I find a different pain.  Not my own pain but pain for the others. Pain because they have blind eyes and cannot see. Pain because their fruit is bearing and it’s not pretty.  Pain because I fear they’ve walked to the mirror, turned away and forgotten what they look like.

I’m healing but they’re still wounded.  Instead of growing, these kind of people stand on their holy hill pronouncing judgement where God gives no judgment.  They condemn others so they can puff themselves up.  They blame shift so they can feel better about themselves but most often they are only more miserable and their desire to look perfect keeps them from admitting their pain.  It keeps them from falling on their face in humility.  It keeps them from falling on their face in worship to their Creator.  It keeps them locked in a prison of their own making when they could be free!

The pain of consequence is real. The threat of bitterness is real.  I’ve seen first hand what the fruit of bitterness can reap and I want no part of it!   I’ve been asking God to help me to forgive.   To help me love when I want to hate and to see these people through his eyes.

We’re all unacceptable.  There is nothing good within us without Jesus Christ and yet we often make our own rules.  We often attempt to define what is and what isn’t acceptable.   We make judgements and we become the jury.  We pronounce the sentence when it isn’t our job. Or we embrace universalism where God’s love is defined by the absence of consequences.  The absence of eternal damnation and all are acceptable to Him; but my friends that is a false  and dangerous theology.

We cannot live for Jesus and determine to make Scripture fit our belief system.  Christ in us compels us to desire that our lifestyle fit the Word of God.  We cannot claim to live for him when we only look for proof texts to justify our choices.  We must let the Holy Spirit work in our lives to conform us to the image of Jesus!

Lord Jesus help us to lovingly confronting those living in opposition to the Word.   Holy Spirit prick our hearts and show us our failures so we can humble ourselves and repent.  Lord Jesus you showed us how to forgive when you walked this earth.  I pray that we will follow your example when people hurt us.  I pray that we will show them your love in spite of their actions.  I pray that you’ll keep us humble before your throne.  I pray that we’ll stand firm for your truth but that we will also show grace to those around you that are blind.  Open eyes to see Lord Jesus!   Draw us closer to you in the pain.  Heal us Father. Love us Father with your perfect love.  Forgive us Father for our sin.  Thank you Jesus!  Thank you for suffering in our place.  Thank you for being the perfect spotless lamb and the only acceptable sacrifice once for all. Thank you for embracing us in our sin so we too can be spotless before our Father.  In Jesus name.  Amen!

Have a wonderful Friday friends!

Christy

Let’s Be Friends and Love Each Other

I’m linking up with Kate at the gang at Five Minute Friday today.  Where most of us break the rules, but realize that the writing is more important than the rules.   I did set my timer today, but what I wrote about wouldn’t fit into 5 minutes.  I did edit, but I just can’t ignore blatant misspelled words, especially when that squiggly red line is glaring from the computer screen.   Today’s word:  Friend

START:

A while back I attempted to enter another community to improve my writing skills. When I began writing there, I really had no idea, but I quickly found that I was definitely in the minority.  I don’t remember exactly what I wrote that brought a friendly letter from one of the moderators telling me that they had removed my post because it didn’t fit the guidelines.  We chatted back and forth by email and I thought we had come to an understanding.  In an effort to show the community that I was in fact not a hater, and could love a person even if I did not agree with their lifestyle I wrote a factual story about my first ballroom dance partner. He was my friend who died of complications from AIDS in 1985. It went over like a lead balloon. The next letter I received was not so nice. It was then that I realized that there was nothing, could have been nothing that I could write to convince him, and the community, that I was not the enemy.

A few months later, I was at a salon in Knoxville. It’s an upper end cosmetology school that I love to visit when I’m home.

Forgive me for daring to stereotype,

STOP

but in order to tell the story, I must. This young man was extravagant. In some ways, he was more feminine than me. But you know what? I didn’t think about it, and I’m sure he didn’t either. We talked, we laughed and we had FUN!  Bonus?  I got a great cut from an up and coming stylist.

When he walked me to the desk to settle the bill, he hugged me. I mean a full on body slamming hug. I admit I stepped back a bit. But it wasn’t what you might be thinking. I was a bit startled because I’d never had a stylist hug me before. I wasn’t expecting it. He explained that he loved hugs, I agreed because I think hugs are better than melted butter on warm toast.

We didn’t discuss his sexual orientation, or mine. If we had, it wouldn’t have changed anything.

Sadly, that’s what the guy in the other writing community didn’t understand. And even sadder, nothing I could have said (and I tried) could have convinced him otherwise.

His mind was made up. He had concluded I was one of “those” evil haters.

Yet, who was really the hater?

He stereotyped me based on his fear not on facts. The fact is, I never gave him, or anyone in that community, a reason to believe I hated homosexuals. It’s  not the first time I’ve been stereotyped and sadly I’m sure it won’t be the last.

It is sad really. So many people walk  around paralyzed by fear. They’re on the defense looking for those they falsely think wish them harm.

I wish I could convince those that walk in that kind of fear that most of us don’t walk around looking for someone to hate. We are not that consumed with their lifestyle choice. We’re too busy taking care of our own life. Yes, of course there will be exceptions. But there are enough haters in this world without stereotyping an entire people group based on their religious conviction without even attempting to understand that standing in opposition because of conviction doesn’t equal hate.

Because of the actions of few, many  problems are created where there aren’t any.

What happened to niceties? What happened to “live and let live?” What happened to “coexist?’ Why can’t we think the best of people instead of the worst? Why can’t we agree to disagree and move on and enjoy each other?  And yes, I know why…sin entered the world through one man.   But still, it seems like we should be to live at peace together.

Somehow, I wish that I could have met this man before finding the online community he helps moderate. I wish we could have had a pleasant friendly interaction. I wish we would have enjoyed each other’s company so much that we hugged.  I wish we could have found common ground and even been friends.

Unfortunately, I doubt that would have convinced him that I wasn’t a hater.   In fact, somehow I fear it would have made things worse.  In these kind of situations there isn’t a way to win.  My words, my actions, my friendship would have been twisted, and fear would have won instead of friendship.

Sad really isn’t it? Friendships lost before they’ve begun. Walls built because of stereotypes.

And in the style of our friend Andrew, I’ll leave you with a music video today.  Come on people now, smile on your brother…

Christy

And if you’d rather watch the hippy version:

 

The Trash Compactor

There’s a scene in Star Wars Episode IV  where Luke, Leia Chewbacca and Hans have been forced into the trash compactor to avoid the storm troopers.  Ewwww…

And some strange things begin to happen.  Some sort of garbage creature grabs Luke, and then the walls start pushing in. Will they escape?  Will they survive?  They panic and we panic right along with them.

Several things have been pressing in lately.  Although I’m not at liberty to discuss the details, I can say the similarities are almost scary.

Arrogant people. Deceived really. Twisting the truth, manipulating and blame shifting each situation for their own purpose.  And these situations are so absurd I’m not sure you’d believe me if I told you.

And because of our relationship with each situation, we are caught in the middle.

And the consequences of each of these situations is great.But it doesn’t seem to matter.  It seems they’d rather have their way than repent for their part in the wrong. The damage left behind looks much like the muck in the Star Wars scene.

And many relationships damaged beyond repair.

And we are left to explain to our children what we do not know or understand ourselves.  And that is the hardest part.  How do you explain what you yourself don’t understand?  How do you explain what you yourself cannot imagine yourself doing?

Then there is social media.  Where you learn all that you didn’t want to know about people. And your perception of them changes. I’m not ignorant.  I know it goes both ways, I’m certain people have learned things about me through my Facebook that they didn’t want to know either.

Images of people that used to be in our life with sagging pants, and lonely eyes.  Looking for love in all the wrong places because they didn’t get what they needed earlier in life.  Yes, this I can speak to, because I lived that life.  I can tell them that living for themselves won’t fix their problems.  Living for themselves, giving their bodies for worldly pleasure won’t fill the empty places.  It will only drive them to darker despair.  I can tell them that we still love them and desire healing for them.

Legalism doesn’t fulfill.  A list of rules added to God’s word only makes it impossible to please Him.  Salvation isn’t something you have one minute and whoops!  You sin, and lose the next.  It isn’t something that blows about with the wind.  It is sure.  Certain.  If you are His child.  Legalism pushes people to rebellion.  Or to arrogance.  If you can’t keep the rules, you decide to break the rules.  And if you keep most of the “important” rules you convince yourself that you’re better than most and look down your nose at those that can’t.  Then you begin to judge them.

Permissive religion doesn’t fulfill either.  Universalism where everyone goes to Heaven makes religion worthless.  It belittles the Cross.  Why would the world need a Savior to take sin if there is no sin?

And the consequences are great.  Locally and globally.

Our family is having to face some tough choices because of the sin of others.

We’ve lost friends. (or maybe better to say, many we thought were friends).

We’ve lost family.

I personally, know I’m in danger of following in the footsteps of those before me in becoming bitter, and yet I am determined to cling to Jesus.  I am determined to cling to the Author and Sustainer of life.  For I am reminded that our battle is not against flesh and blood.  I will put on God’s armor and trust him to protect me.

I am reminded of 2 Corinthians 4:

1Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. 2Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. 3And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,”a made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.

7But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. 12So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.

13It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.”b Since we have that same spirit ofc faith, we also believe and therefore speak, 14because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself. 15All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.

16Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

I’ll admit it.  There are days I feel like Paul.  Overwhelmed and befuddled with grief.  Watching those around me make poor choices.  And not just poor choices, but life altering choices.  Some of those choices have affected me, like the ones I mentioned above.  Others, don’t directly affect me, but grief me nonetheless.  And I have to admit that there are days being in the trenches is hard.  Standing for truth is hard.  I find myself questioning myself.  Am I being legalistic, or judgmental, or arrogant?  Am I guilty of what I see in others?

And if I am to answer truthfully, I’d have to say yes.  I’m certain there is some legalism, judgemental attitudes and arrogance within myself.  But, I can also say that I pray fervently that God will give me (and Shane + 4) balance.  That God will reveal our arrogance, or legalistic attitude.

I admit it.  There are days that make it extremely difficult to fix my eyes on the unseen. But with God nothing is impossible.

Christy

 

 

Abandoned Dreams

Sometimes God knows better and we are forced to trust His way for our lives even when we dare to think they might be wrong. Just like most newly married couples, we had hopes and dreams for our future. We thought we knew what God wanted for us.  We thought we were gonna change the world.  We were gonna live our dream.

But things change.  And over the years, we’ve had to abandon many of those dreams.  Sometimes that has been easy, and other times it’s been difficult. But this one thing I know.  I know God is changing us to be what He wants us to be. And He will not abandon us.

We’ve learned a lot through the struggles of our almost 23 years together.  We’ve grown closer to each other and closer to Jesus through it all.  I don’t know about you but I’d rather abandon every dream I have and be a strong family that seeks to honor God than anything else we might have pursued.

And we’ve wondered if that is why the dreams must be abandoned.  God knew the desires of my heart.  The desire to be married for life, to have the family that I didn’t have.  To give my children parents who love each other and stick together through thick and thin.  He gave me someone with whom I could live out that dream.  God’s ways are higher than our ways.  He knows.  In a church or on the mission field, that might not have happened.

Stop

Sometimes I still struggle.  Sometimes I still wonder why, but ultimately I know.  I know I can trust God for his best for me and for my family.

Christy

Linking up with Kate and the gang today at Five Minute Friday.   Please forgive me for not popping around to visit y’all. I know I’ve neglected many of my friends there.   I’ve needed to step back and regroup from some things that have happened in our life and I knew my frame of mind would not be encouraging to you.  I promise, I’ll start replying to comments and visiting again soon.  I appreciate this community very much and am thankful for your love and grace.

 

Where We Grow

Good is a good place to be, right? Life flying on.  Positive, encouraging Christian radio, feel good theology where everything is rosy, God is love and your particular brand of politics is in power. Nothing negative, you won’t allow it.

Everything is peaceful, almost perfect…and yet.

I understand, I get it.  We want a happy life.  We want easy street.  Who wants pain really? Suffering?  Uh, no thank you!

Not only is it not realistic, but when there’s no suffering there’s no growth.

A chick must peck through a shell to hatch.

A seed must push it’s way through the ground to bear it’s fruit.

A caterpillar wrapped in a cocoon must grow and change to be what God ultimately designed it to be.  Once transformed, it must push it’s way through the cocoon.

Friends, it may be eutopic to believe that we should shield ourselves from the ugliness of the world, but the fact is we can’t shut out the negative.  It’s all around us.  It’s impossible to ignore and why would we want to? The negative is oftentimes where we grow.   In my last post, I mentioned Jonah.  In the belly of a big fish.  God had something to teach him that could only be taught in the dark, stinky belly of a whale.

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God may have something to teach you in the middle of a dark place. God often uses adversity to grow us.  When things are good, by our standards, it’s easy to find complacency. It’s easy to ignore the Father.  It’s easy to think we’ve got ourselves together.  Yet even on our best day, we are pathetic, helpless creatures.  Lambs feeding on grass, being protected from the big bad wolf by the Great Shepherd.  The lamb believes life to be perfect, but the wolf lurks nearby and the lamb gives no thought to even to wonder about danger.

Do I dare go far enough to say that when we want to live only for the good stuff, only for the stuff that makes us happy we are in a dangerous place?  Do I dare go far enough to say arrogance and pride may be our friend if we refuse to think of the evil and ugly things around us? If the beautiful things in life is all we want?

If we shut out the negative, we must also shut out Jesus Christ on the cross suffering.  If we shut out Jesus on the cross, we shut out a significant aspect of the Gospel.  For you can’t get to God’s love without the Cross.

Jesus Christ wasn’t lovey dovey, oooey goey.  He wasn’t a modern day hippy wearing Burks, drug rugs and tie dye.

He came to wage war against Satan in this world.  He came to FIGHT!  This battle is not against flesh and blood that we can see, but against the things we can’t see.

When we face adversity. Whether it’s 3rd world adversity or 1st world adversity, we grow.

Yes, that’s where we grow.  in the ugly, dark, musty places.  We grow in the places where we can’t find breath.  When we can’t dare to even know the next step.  Whe

If you’re complacent.  If life is sailing smoothly.  If you have no worries, and no cares.  I would challenge you to examine yourself to see if you are truly living the Gospel.  If you truly understand the fullness of Christ on the Cross for your sin.

I would also challenge you to examine yourself if you are being bombarded with burdens and trials.  Are you arrogant, prideful?  Are you harboring unrepentant sin? Are you striving for the mark of Jesus.  Do you desire the prize of Heaven or the accolades of men? God may be trying to get your attention.

I don’t know your exact situation.  It may be that your garnering the consequences of past sin, or the sin of others.  Maybe you’re not where you need to be and God is working to get your attention.  I urge you to pray for wisdom.  Pray and ask God to show you where you have sinned.  Where repentance is needed.  Where change is needed.

The hard places are not easy.  The growing is not easy.  But the hard places and growing make us stronger.

 

 

Faulty Foundations

I’ve driven by many a farmhouse that once were showcases. In their day, they must have exuded comfort and elegance.  Big front porches, beautiful architecture, great roof lines.   When a house sits empty for a lifetime, when care is not given, when upkeep is neglected they start falling apart. Oftentimes, they end up showcasing broken windows, crumbling porches and leaky roofs. These are the things that can be seen.  But what about what can’t?  What about the foundation of such grand homes that have been neglected?

We know some people that are rehabbing an old farm house.   It  sat empty for at least one lifetime. It’s one of those houses.  The houses you drive by and know it used to be beautiful in it’s day.   If the walls could talk…

I don’t think they really knew how deteriorated everything was when they bought it.   The termite damage was so bad they had to rebuild many of the interior walls.  The first winter, you could see cracks of light through the walls from the outside.

Over the past couple of years they’ve done a lot of work.  They’ve reconfigured the floor plan, rebuilt interior walls, found some fantastic bathroom fixtures, installed a wood stove, replaced the dilapidated shingles with a bright shiny metal  roof.  The attention to detail is phenomenal really.  The main floor is truly beginning to look like a work  of art.

Except they haven’t repaired the foundation.  Okay, they’ve repaired some of the foundation, but it’s a big house.   When we were last there, they admitted that the floor was separating at the base of one wall, and I don’t remember what was going on in their bedroom but something was beginning to give way.  As we drove up the road toward their driveway both my husband and I questioned what looked like a subtle dip in the roof, or maybe it was just a shadow from the nearby tree?  We knew the foundation problems hadn’t been addressed.  I wasn’t too keen on even being in the house, but I figured God was big enough to protect us for a few hours; since I’m here writing today, you know He did.

There are a few situations in our life right now that are much like this house.  On the outside, everything looks good, maybe even beautiful.  But the foundations are crumbling.  Sadly, instead of investing in the foundation, those living in those houses are running around doing damage control and are still trying to make things look pretty while the foundation is rotting away.

These situations have caused us deep pain.  We’ve been accused falsely of ugly things.  We’ve been told “if only you would have done ______” by people that have no idea.  We’ve been told how we must change without the other parties accepting any responsibility for their wrongdoing.

And we’ve wondered if there’s something in ourselves that we’re not seeing.  We’ve prayed, we’ve cried out to the heavenly places, to the God of the universe to show us how to fix it.  We’ve humbled ourselves (as best as humanly possible).  We’ve asked God to show us our part in these situations and have repented when necessary.  But in each of these situations, the sin appears to have taken root, and there is no resolution.

My husband is one of the most godly men I know.  He moves slowly, prays about everything.  Nothing he has done in any of the situations we’ve found ourselves in the middle of has been done without a lot of prayer and meditation on the “best way with the most information we have.” Yet none of these situations have turned out in a way that honors God because the sin continues. We’ve lost relationships that will likely never be repaired.

We’ve attempted reconciliation in every way possible without subjecting ourselves to playing a part in the sin. We’ve mourned, in fact we’re continuing to mourn.  And yet, we walk on.  We continue to ask God for wisdom to know how to proceed.

Our desire is to honor God above all else, but we also know that we must stand up to blatant sin.  We must protect our family from potential harm.

Sometimes boundaries are not enough.  Nothing you say will matter, the other party has made up their mind.  Sometimes they close the door on the relationship and sometimes to save yourself from the insanity you must walk away.  I’ve never been afraid to admit my sin or my struggles and I’m not gonna stop now.  I’ve struggled with anger and bitterness.  Shane and I have lashed out at each other at times when the pain overwhelms us.  I’ve shaken my fist and asked why.  And mainly we wonder how  things spiraled so far out of control.

I know we’ve not handled these situations perfectly.  I also know we have attempted every effort to right the wrongs without success.  The consequences of sin sometimes run deep.  The consequences of  unrepentant sin runs deeper.  We are not alone.  Many others  have also been deeply wounded.  We are just the most recent receivers.  At times the pain has been so bad that I’ve wanted to pack up and run away.  I’ve wondered if we can we join the witness protection plan? Just how far away can we move to make the pain stop? How far away would we have to go so the world won’t shrink? How long Oh Lord?  When will this be over?

Mercy isn’t permissive.  When sin of epic proportions are involved it takes more than “sorry” and a hug to make things right.  Mercy doesn’t respond with “oh, it’s okay” and everything’s wonderful again.  No! Mercy can be hard. Mercy desires repentance.  Mercy desires obedience.  Sometimes mercy doesn’t look merciful.  God was merciful to Jonah and it involved the belly of a big fish.

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The foundation is the most important part of a building.  The foundation is the most important part of a family.  The foundation is the most important part of a church. When a foundation is crumbling it doesn’t matter how much damage control you do up top.  The worst problem is below the surface.  When you ignore the foundation problems, and focus on making everything pretty, you end up with a beautiful cemetery filled with rotting bones.

When the foundation crumbles, the house will fall.

When the foundation crumbles, the family will fall apart.

When the foundation crumbles, a church will die.

It may be a slow death but nothing can stand firm with a faulty foundation.

The foundation of every person is faulty because none of us walk perfectly.  But, when we strive to please God only, when we are looking within our own self, when we are willing to humble ourselves and admit our sins, faults and mistakes, instead of blaming others, the Holy Spirit can work in our lives.

When we’ve so convinced ourselves that we’ve got all the answers. Or that we don’t need to humble ourselves, or when we blame others instead of accepting responsibility for our part of the problem. It causes massive problems.  Problems of foundational proportion.

Anyone that’s ever had to have a foundation repaired knows it’s costly, it’s not easy and it doesn’t look pretty.

Getting to the root of sin isn’t pretty either.  Admitting your sin (sometimes over and over again) isn’t fun.  Humbling yourself to repent (sometimes over and over and over again) certainly isn’t fun, but it’s necessary.  Changing directions, turning away from your sin to Jesus Christ is rarely easy but the rewards are phenomenal.

Remember the children’s song about the wise man and the foolish man.

The wise man built his house upon the rock,

The foolish man built his house upon the sand.

When the rains came the wise man’s house stood firm,

the foolish mans house went

SPLAT!

 

 

God and…

On the way home from our state capital yesterday evening, I passed a church sign.  A lot of the time church signs are just downright silly.  But this one actually struck something in me. Within a word or two, it said:

God doesn’t ask for success, he asks for faithfulness.

We’re gonna fail.  We’re gonna disappoint.  We’re gonna mess things up so bad that we don’t think they can be fixed.  And sometimes they won’t be able to be fixed. At least with humans.  Sometimes the human equation doesn’t include grace.  It includes preconceived notions that influence us.  It means we look through eyes that are skewed.  We are incapable of separating ourselves so much from a situation that we can be absolutely 100% unbiased.

So we try to the best of our human ability and the Holy Spirit in us and leave the rest up to God.

In other words, we are faithful to him.  That’s it.

There is no God and…

perfect obedience

the 10 commandments

“worship the “right” way”

sing the “right” songs

“WHAT!  You drank a beer last night?”

my kids act and look the “right way

baptism

wear the “right” clothes

act the right way

No, it is God alone.

God and faith alone

God and grace alone

God and Christ alone

God and grace alone

and

to the glory of God alone.

I admit, I haven’t always lived to the alones.  So far, I’ve lived more to the God and______. I think we all do that really.  We add this or that little difference and before long we’re throwing our gold in to make a golden calf.  Wandering around in the wilderness looking for what is right in front of us. Or, we end up like the Pharisees.  Making our own laws, adding to His word puffing ourselves up for looking so good when we’re crumbling on the inside.

So what’s your God and…

God doesn’t have the human that factor.  He is God alone.  I AM.  The Alpha and Omega.

God has the Jesus factor.

No matter where you’ve been.  No matter what “God and…” you’ve lived by until now.  It’s never too late to live for “God alone” instead of “God and…”

Christy

 

 

What’s the Purpose?

There are situations that present themselves where it is difficult to find the purpose.  What’s the meaning? Why did we have to face this crisis or that crisis? And we wonder what God is trying to teach us.

Why did we have to go through this specific situation or why did this or that happen? For me, I wondered for a long time why I struggled with health problems.  For years I was angry.  Why did I miss out on so much?  I didn’t understand.

But I think I figured it out.  if I  If I hadn’t have gotten sick I would have micromanaged my kids. And my kids would have bolted when given the opportunity.

God calls us to teach and train our children.  Not to mandate how they live without guidance or explanation.  “Because I said so” can work occasionally; especially when  a child is young, but there comes at time when a child needs more.  They need to understand the hows and whys so they can live their life with their own convictions.

I admit, I don’t remember much of my kid’s childhood. Thyroid, hormones and adrenals out of whack will do that to a person.  While I am sad, I think I get it.  Tonight, maybe for the first time ever,   I can be thankful for that illness.  You see while I was sick, God was able to work. I couldn’t so He did.  Because I was sick,I was able to let my children grow and learn and explore things that I would never have allowed had I been healthy.  Not only that but Shane was able to teach them things I wasn’t capable of teaching them, because I just didn’t know.   If I had not been so ill, I would have continued to keep the reigns tight on my kids. I would have continued to believe that a+b=c.  But now I know that God works differently. Sometimes a+b doesn’t = c.  Because it doesn’t account for the variable of God’s grace.

STOP

Looking back, I’m fairly certain that I  would have given them a list of do’s and don’t’s and tonight instead of having a mutual respect for each other as human beings, I might be sitting here wondering what had gone wrong.  I know there are parents doing just that.  I’m sorry I don’t have answers, I wish I did.  I wish I could wave a wand and make everything okay, but I can’t.  I do know that whatever happens, where ever you are right now, God can redeem it.  It may look different from what you planned. But I also know his word is true.  His was are higher than ours and his ways are infinitely better.

Lord Jesus, parenting is HARD! None of us are perfect.  None of us are perfect children and none of us are perfect parents.  We make mistakes and we sin.  We fail and disappoint..  Some days we demand perfection from our kids when it is impossible.  Other days we give more grace than we should.  But you Lord Jesus can work it out.  Lord Jesus when we remain dependent upon you.  When we humble ourselves, when we admit our failures and our weaknesses, when we repent of our wrongdoing you can do amazing things in our lives and in the lives of our children.  Today, for the first time,  I am thankful that I was sick.  Even thankful that I don’t remember many things from their childhood.  For I am convinced that had I not been ill, I might not have the relationship I have with my children today. Lord Jesus you know my heart.  You know that more than anything I desired a family.  A husband and children that I could love and that would love me.  Thank you for answering my prayer.  Thank you for giving me the desires of my heart.  Lord Jesus for those that are aching, and in pain, I pray that you would walk beside them.  Gently teach them your way.  Love them and hold them close to  you.

Christy

I’m linking up with Kate at FMF.  The one word prompt this week was “purpose”

 

Homeschool Defined

I am sitting here with my mouth hanging open at the interaction I just experienced.

An innocent comment about the legal definition of a homeschool opened up a can of worms with one lady in a home education Facebook community.

With the venom this woman was spewing at me, I can only assume that she had been condemned and attacked for using a virtual public school. My comment was innocent enough.  I was defining the terms.  From my time volunteering with our state home education organization, I know many think that an online public school is a legal option for home educators.  I was giving necessary information to the person asking about options for home education.   A virtual public school is not a homeschool.  It is public school at home.  It may sound like I’m splitting hairs, but I’m not.  A public school is in charge of the curriculum, grading, schedule and classes.  And even more important, is the legal definition.   Home School Legal Defense will not protect someone that is using an online public school.

And these things are important to know when you’re deciding to home educate.

Along with public school, private school, and home school, virtual public school, is an option for educating our children.  Relatively new on the scene, I personally believe it was designed so public schools could garner funds by presenting themselves as an option to homeschoolers.  And while it’s not technically home education, for a few reasons, I think it’s a better option than putting a child on a yellow bus.

If your child is home, whether it’s home education or virtual public school, they are not being socialized by their peer group.  They are being socialized by you and those friends you choose.  Hopefully, that means that their interacting with all ages which in turn means they are going to be better socialized than the “average” government school student.

If you’ve got your child home, you are better able to monitor the curriculum, and you are able to discuss those things that deviate from your belief system.  Hopefully, it will spark some meaningful discussions between child and parent.

I’m honestly not certain how the classroom  of a virtual public school works, but I have to think that having a lower student/teacher ratio with your student. is going to benefit his academic achievements.

While I would never choose this option for myself, I am not going to judge or condemn someone that does.  In my opinion, it is a better option than putting a child on the yellow school bus.

For some, it may be the only feasible option they feel they have. For others, they might have looked at all the options, and decided to use a virtual public school program.  That’s the beauty of choice.  The beauty of parenting.  We have choices.  If you chose to put your child on the yellow bus, I may chose to encourage you to think about home education but it’s still your choice.

And that’s the beauty of the freedom we have in the U.S.A.

Christy

 

Pruning Produces Fruit

 

Yesterday, as I sat in my thinking place (the bathtub) writing my heart out to God.  Pouring my pity out to him. Pouring the pain in my heart out to him about losses in my life that I wouldn’t have suspected coming the way they did even 6 months ago.

One Sunday we were (I thought) respected members in our church home.

In less than a week, we were church homeless.  How this happened isn’t a matter to be shared here.  I will say it involved deception, lies and massive egos of those that “should” be serving others instead of serving themselves and leave it there.

The fact is we had already decided that, for us and our family, we would be moving on.  We had set a date because we were dying a slow spiritual death.  For reasons we still don’t understand (and may never understand) God took the decision out of our hands.

The other loss involved a letter I received in the mail a few weeks ago.  It was from someone that doesn’t know how to love.  Once again, false accusations, ugly words and nastiness hurled my direction.

A double whammy!

Back to the bathtub.

I was reminded of a situation that happened many years ago.

I was sitting at the small table in the kitchen of my apartment more than 25 years ago with my Pastor and a friend of mine.  I was a new Christian.  I was sold out, on fire.  I could not get enough of God’s word; often staying up late into the night reading these ancient books like they were the newest Stephen King novel.

This was a friend from my past.  I so desperately wanted him to see what I had seen.  I wanted him to have the joy I had.  The peace.  I wanted him to have the love that I had.

We had our Bibles open.  After a time, I stood up, exasperated.  I plopped my Bible on the table and, almost yelling I said, “It’s all there!  Why don’t you see it?  Everything is there!!!!”

But this man was blind.  Not only did he not see it, he could not see it.  Nothing my Pastor or I could have done would have helped him to see the truth.

For whatever reason, there is a body of people not far from us that has been blinded.

For whatever reason, there is a woman I know that has been blinded.

There is nothing I can do, nothing we could have done to open their eyes.

Only God can open the eyes of those with blinded eyes and hearts that are hard.

This morning I was reading for my Proverbs 31 Bible Study “Finding I Am”  This week is from John 15.

15 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full..

And another epiphany!  God prunes.  God removes those branches that are bearing no fruit.  God prunes the branches that bear fruit.  This doesn’t exclude our lives from pain, but it does enable us to bear more fruit.

Those people that God has removed from my life?  God’s pruning.

Painful?  OH YES!  There are branches of me lying on the ground.  Severed. An a gaping wound.

But painful for a purpose.

Right now I don’t know what purpose, but I know I will abide in Him.  I know that it is part of his ultimate plan for my life.  Part of his ultimate plan for His glory!

God has pruned these two branches from our lives.  The branch is experiencing new growth.  Sometimes the scab is scratched off and the pain returns–painful still but less pain than before.

Why did God prune those two branches?  I have no idea.  I have no idea what fruit is forthcoming.  But these two things I know;  it is coming and  I will abide in Him.

Chapter 15 of John continues.  It calls us to love one another.  We loved and we lost.  That’s in God’s hands.  In thinking back to that table long ago, it was probably not prudent to plop my Bible down on the table all those years ago, and in actuality it might have been more of a slamming down. Either way, as far as I know, it didn’t bear fruit in that mans life.

Jesus continues in John 15 and tells us that if we are his, we will be persecuted.  In this country, we don’t face persecution the same as in other countries.  But we will still be persecuted.  Persecution comes in many forms.

And then He says this:

26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. 27 And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.

Right now?  I look at this verse and find comfort.  I feel capable of moving forward.  I feel like I can face the giants with confidence.

Last week, not so much.  It was HARD!  Four flashes from those painful situations faced me.

Part of me was back on the ground.

Pruning.

Grief comes in many forms.  It doesn’t take a body to face grief.  Sometimes the grief is worse because there’s no finality.  It’s unending.

Tomorrow?  I don’t know.  Later today?  I don’t know.  Parts of me may be lying back on the ground.

For right now, I’m settled enough and interested to see how my branches will grow.  What does the future hold.  What “better” fruit does God have for us?

Christy