Emotional Roadblock

Yeeyum is turning three. Another mother would be happy about it. Another mother would be proud. I am neither. And I am torn.

When Cupcake turned three, she had a three month old baby to fuss over and love. If not for the Incident, Yeeyum would have an eleven or almost twelve month old shadow trying in vain to keep up with his older brother. But he doesn’t.

I cried myself to sleep last night. I’ve spent the day stifling my emotions and saving face, because I’ve been shopping with my mother for the birthday. I can’t explain that I’m sad about a baby who doesn’t exist in front of a child who does. It’s not right.

When I was sixteen, my mother and I shared a car. I would drop her off at work and head to school. When school was over, I’d pick her up. One day, as I approached the same road that my house was on, I thought, I should drop off my backpack. Then I thought, That’s silly. I’m going to drop off my backpack, get back in the car, and go get mom? I should just keep going. Even as I drove past the road, I felt like I should go, but I ignored it. I ended up getting hit by a car full of drug impaired people who had just bought drugs from someone. I was hit across three lanes of traffic. Two cars hit me before I ended up hitting a car in a parking lot. The wrecker who got my car gave my parents his condolences. When my parents told him I was alive, he could hardly believe it. The entire car was smashed. The back end of the car was occupying the back seat. I thought, God kept me alive for a reason.

Now I don’t know.

Am I making a difference? Have I helped anyone? I have no idea.

But that is not for me to know this side of heaven, is it?

All I know is the solitary thing keeping me from coming completely unglued is the knowledge that God loves me completely, deeply, unconditionally, and unfathomably. The love for me that led Jesus to die on the cross is still in effect. Even when I am fighting against the riptide of sadness.

Thirsty Thursday: Forgiven Much

I have two newly pregnant friends. One is married. One is not. I have been sharing as much as I can with both of them, because being pregnant is hard and scary and everyone deserves support. I’ve been through some serious stuff, so I know I have the ability to be a comfort. I message them both with things that are relevant to pregnancy and sent both of them Mother’s Day cards. One is extremely thankful and the other one doesn’t give me the time of day.

Which one would you guess is the thankful one?

It is not the married one.

I am not reaching out to these pregnant ladies for applause or for attention. I do not expect any thanks. I am doing it out of a genuine hope to be helpful and ease the pain of a stressful time. But it brought something to mind.

Jesus was invited to dinner at an important, religious man’s house named Simon. While they were dining, a woman who was known to have a bad reputation, came into the house. She cried so hard at Jesus’ feet that His feet got wet. She wiped His feet with her hair, kissed His feet, and even broke an expensive bottle of perfume and poured it on His feet. Simon thought, If Jesus was who people say He is, He would KNOW who this woman is and He would NOT let her touch His feet.

Jesus then told him a story about two people who owed debts. One owed 500 denari and the other owed 50. Neither could pay their debt, so the moneylender decided to cancel their debts. Then Jesus asked him which he thought would love the moneylender more. The religious man answered that he thought it would be the one who had the greater debt.

You have judged rightly. Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven–for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.Luke 7:43b-47

When I was younger and dumber, I mean, less perceptive, I thought, Oh no! I don’t sin that much, so my love for God isn’t going to be great.

Wow.

I would find it funny if it weren’t so shamefully embarrassing.

I read that we have on average 82,000 thoughts a day. Let’s say all your thoughts for a single day are sinful. Jesus paid the price for 82,000 sins. Let’s say your thoughts are sinful for a week. That’s 574,000 sins that Jesus paid for with His blood. Let’s say your thoughts are continually sinful for a month. 2,542,000 sins covered by Jesus. Let’s go crazy. We’re going to suppose your thoughts are sinful for a full calendar year, 365 days. Jesus wiped away 29,993,000 sins through His death on the cross.

That’s just thoughts, people! I’m not even going into words you say or actions.

I know that I wrestle with my thoughts on a daily basis.

We should not let our socially acceptable sin blind us to the fact that they are sins and that we are sinners in need of a Savior. We all have fallen short. We all have been forgiven much. Don’t let pride get in the way of seeing how good you really aren’t and how great God really is.

Thirsty Thursday: Socially Acceptable Sin

Sexual sin as a whole used to be social taboo in puritanical North America. Unwed mothers used to give their babies up for adoption, leave them on doorsteps of churches, or have their families raise them as a sibling. Marital infidelity was something shameful and if such a behavior were found out, it would cost the adulterer their job or their position or even an election as a political official. Homosexuality was seen as perversion. No one would admit to being homosexual and if they did, a person could be arrested or worse. All manners of sexual sin are socially acceptable today. The only two I can think of that are not socially acceptable are bestiality and incest.

My sin is socially acceptable. No one can see or hear my thoughts. Because of this, I am perceived as a “perfect person.” As a “model citizen” no one is going to point their fingers at me or wave signs of hatred in my face. My doubts and my fears go under the human radar, but blip loudly on God’s.

All sin is unacceptable to God.

ALL sin.

That is why Jesus had to die for us. God cannot associate with sin. So when you’re sitting over there lusting at the girl behind the counter, God sees it. When you think mean things about a family member, God hears it. When you break the laws of the land by surpassing the number on the speed limit sign, He knows. And it hurts Him. Having sex with your boyfriend is practically encouraged in American society, but you are disobeying God and breaking His heart. Only Jesus can wash your sin away.

Jesus has washed my sin away, and I ask for forgiveness when I stumble. I ask for forgiveness when I am not faithful. He is just to forgive me every single time. Have you asked Him to wash your sins away? He can even take your socially acceptable sin.

Thirsty Thursday: Peace

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. John 14:27

These are the words Jesus spoke to His disciples before His arrest, before His crucifixion. How could Jesus be so calm? How could He tell His closest followers to not be afraid or troubled when He knew the horror of what was coming?

Jesus said to him,“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6

Because Jesus is God’s Son, He knew the BIG picture. He knew He had to die to save the world. In order to save you and me, He would die.

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23

I cannot have a relationship with God without Jesus. You cannot know God without Jesus. Jesus is the only way. We cannot have eternal life without Him. We only have eternal death.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

There’s one catch. You. You have to pray. You have to trust. You have to admit that you are not perfect and you will never be perfect. You have to admit that you do the wrong thing. You sin. I sin. Everyone sins.

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

Believing that Jesus died on the cross for your sins and for my sins will save you. Only then can you truly know peace.

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7

Thirsty Thursday: The Greatest Bond

I saw an article about addiction on The Huffington Post website. In the article, the premise as to why some people become addicted to substances and others do not is because of their need to bond. According to the article, humans are bonding creatures that crave bonding so much that they will bond with substances if needed. It hypothesized that if people with addictions had families and friends that loved them and people who did not judge their actions, they would not use substances.

I was totally 100% in agreement with the findings of this article until God reminded me of someone. Someone who had a successful business. Someone who had a loving wife and loving children. Someone who was respected in social circles. This person had everything the article said a person should need to refrain from addiction and yet this person abused alcohol. This person was my Grandfather.

The one bond this person did not have is the one bond that can save him. It is the only bond that can save. It is the bond between us and God. A bond that can only be achieved through Jesus Christ.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except by me.” John 14:6

We can’t love anyone enough to help them. We can’t love ourselves enough to change. We need God to do that. We can’t get to Him without Jesus.

Thirsty Thursday: A Word on Pain

Hunny and I have been through more hardships in the almost six years we’ve been married than the average person experiences in a lifetime. There have been times when I wondered why God kept allowing pain into our lives. I wondered why God did not intervene on our behalf.

But He did.

By allowing pain in our lives, God has shaped Hunny and me into more compassionate people. We are more loving people. We are more forgiving people. How could we be reflections of our Father in heaven without being loving, forgiving, and compassionate? It would be impossible.

Paul wrote to the Romans:

For I consider the sufferings of this present time (this present life) are not worth being compared with the glory that is about to be revealed to us and in us and for us and conferred on us! Romans 8:18 (Amplified Bible)

Paul knew a thing or two about pain. He was shipwrecked, stoned, beaten, and jailed. He felt like his sufferings were nothing compared with knowing Jesus Christ (Philippians 3:8).

Besides, I am not the only person on the planet going through a hard time. The Bible says that as Christians, we should bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2). How can we help someone else if we’ve never been through difficulty? How can we support someone, how can we show God’s love to someone, how can we encourage someone if our lives are always perfect? Who would be able to relate to us? No one.

You may be going through a difficult time in your life. Look at it as the blessing it truly is, because when this storm is over, you’ll be able to help someone else through their storm. God will use you to be His arms to hug, His feet to go, and His mouthpiece to speak life and truth and love.

Thirsty Thursday: Operation Christmas Child

Have you heard of Operation Christmas Child? The first time I did, Hunny and I were dating. Even though the organization had been around for fourteen years, I had never heard of it and I didn’t quite understand it.

Operation Christmas Child started in 1993 to help the children who were facing the effects of the war in Bosnia. It started as a way to show the Love of Christ through a simple gift box. Now over 113 million children have received shoebox gifts and countless lives have been changed.

National Collection week is a month away. It’s never too early to pray for the shoeboxes, volunteers, and families.

Thirsty Thursday: Totally Unprepared

You know how I’m always talking about how God answers prayers? Well, God answered a prayer that has left me an emotional mess. So much so that I have been trying to write this post (and others) for weeks and have found myself completely incapable of writing anything.

Mr. Bill & Mrs. Peggy are Cupcake and Yeeyum’s third set of grandparents. They work in the nursery at church and brag on the kids as if they were their own grandchildren (or great grandchildren). Mrs. Peggy became like a grandmother to me, which was wonderful considering I lost both of mine in 2009. It was nice to have someone to give advice to me and talk about when they were young and care about me.

Mr. Bill & Mrs. Peggy’s family live in the mid east and they have had their house on the market to sell for four years. We have known them almost two years and have been praying about their house selling for as long as we’ve known they wanted to move. Mr. Bill would always say, “We’re never going to move,” and jokingly, “Maybe I should pray to the devil and see if he answers my prayers.”

Even though I was praying for them to be able to move, I kept hearing Mr. Bill say they would never move and I started to doubt. People would look at their house and not make an offer on it. Or they would have a viewing scheduled and the people wouldn’t show up. One couple offered way less than the asking price, and Mr. Bill & Mrs. Peggy had to turn down the offer. When Mrs. Peggy told me last month that their house sold and that they would have to be out in a month, I jumped up and down, hugged her, and burst into tears.

Last night was the final time I would see them before the move. I didn’t know what to say other than I love you. Having them move away is like losing my grandmothers all over again. Painful, emotional, and difficult to discuss.

I don’t know when we’ll see them again. I do know that God will continue to answer their prayers, your prayers, and mine. And I’m praying that God will provide a way that we can visit them!

Thirsty Thursday: Keep Swimming

The 5th & 6th graders needed someone to fill in for their teacher on Sunday morning & I volunteered. They didn’t remember what they were studying last week and the curriculum wasn’t in the room. I listened as they talked among themselves and found an in: MOVIES. I had them name a movie, summarize the plot in one sentence, and share how that relates to the real world, the Spiritual realm. At one point, they were talking all at once and one student quoted Finding Nemo, “Keep swimming, keep swimming, keep swimming.” I was unable to elaborate on that because it was someone else’s turn to speak and before long we were discussing outcasts.

I want to encourage you to keep doing what you’re doing.

There will be times in our lives when everything goes wrong. You pray about it, you keep being faithful, and things do not improve. Months go by. Years go by. Nothing seems to change. Hardship after hardship rain down on you. You feel like you cannot make it one more day.

You can.

You can do all things through Christ (Philippians 4:13).

You can overcome.

Do not give up doing good (Galatians 6:9).

Why?

People are watching. You can be living proof that God is bigger than our circumstances. You can be an example of faith. You can show someone else that God is worth trusting (HE IS!). God is using you through your circumstances. The people around you are getting a front row seat to God’s majesty. When good things finally come our way, you can proclaim God’s faithfulness. You can be living proof that God’s word never fails.

Don’t complain (Philippians 2:14).

Even when times are tough, you are being used by God, the Alpha and the Omega, to shape eternity. Eternity, people! How can we complain when we have such an important role that stretches from this life on into the next?

Keep trusting. Keep praying. Keep swimming.

Thirsty Thursday: The Lesson

Sometimes the lessons we think are for others are actually for us.

Cupcake disobeyed and had to be punished. We were in the car and I explained that when we were home, she would be punished. As we were approaching home, I felt like God wanted me to punish Hunny in her place.

Wow! What a great picture of what Jesus did for us on the cross! I thought.

Once home, I whispered to Hunny the plan and he loved it. Pointing people to Jesus is such a thrilling experience. Especially when you know that it is something out of the ordinary.

Cupcake understood that Hunny was receiving her punishment. She didn’t seem moved when Hunny explained that Jesus took our place on the cross. She did not seem effected at all. But that lesson wasn’t for her. It was for me.

It was excruciating to punish Hunny. He had done nothing wrong. Cupcake disobeyed. As he was being punished, I was torn up inside. Afterward, I just cried and cried. Punishing Hunny instead of Cupcake was a picture of what God went through when Jesus died on the cross. Because Jesus was the sacrifice, we always look at it from His perspective. He was beaten beyond recognition, He was flogged, He was spat upon, He had a crown of thorns hammered into His skull, and He was hammered into the cross. But what about God?

Imagine you’re at a trial. A criminal broke into your house, beat the person you love the most within an inch of their life, stole all your possessions, burned your house down, and left your beloved for dead in the burning house. The judge says this person is to be executed. You stand up. “Execute my beloved in their place.”

That isn’t the half of what the Maker of heaven and earth went through so that you could have the chance of an eternal life with Him and freedom. He went through the pain of losing a part of Himself for you.

God loves you.

He wants you.

He went through literal hell for you.

You are worth it to Him.