Tag Archives: Jesus

Why this Christ Follower is over Christmas…

Christmas 1987.
I was seven and I was very aware of some things going on in our home.
I knew that we were very poor, not destitute, but only one missed day of work from it.
I knew that my dad was worthless in the fiscal department, making him my Momma’s third child.
And I knew that Christmas was stressing my momma out.
I watched her whole demeanor change shortly after Thanksgiving. She went from being okay to being depressed. Her “can-do” attitude transformed to the “give-up” attitude. And at seven years old, I knew why: She had no idea how she was going to afford presents for my sister and I. She was going over her bills in her mind thinking of which one she could skip, even though she knew the snowball effect from it would devastate the delicate ecosystem of “getting by” that she had designed. She didn’t have credit. Daddy had ruined that for her long ago…right along with her pride. She couldn’t ask her family for help either because they all needed the same. So, there she was, depressed, working her fingers to the bone, wondering how the hell she was gonna give her little girls something for Christmas. And as much as she tried to pretend everything was okay and as much as she tried to hide her tears….I knew.
And as much as she had tried to redirect the true meaning of Christmas back to the priceless birth of Jesus, her family had already bought into the secular aspect of it.
Three days ago, I stood in a store in front of a lady, waiting for her to ask my friend and I, “can I help you?”, but she couldn’t put her phone down long enough to bother. I stared at her with my aggravated eyes, not bothering to listen to what she was saying to the person on the phone. I thought to myself, “I’m gonna ask to speak to her supervisor as soon as she puts that phone down”, but then I saw it. I saw the look in her eyes. It was a look of panic and stress. It was a look of defeat that I had seen before and I knew. I knew because I had seen that same look every year in my own Momma’s eyes at this time. Then I begin to listen to what she was saying, right in front of me, to that person on the phone, “but sir, I cannot send any money until after the first of the year”, “yes sir, I understand, but I just can’t send anything until then”. I wonder which bill she wasn’t paying to buy presents for her family? I wonder if she even knows why we celebrate Christmas? It didn’t look like much of a celebration to her. She looked like she couldn’t wait for the holidays to be over. I wonder if anyone has ever told her that it’ll be okay if you don’t meet the standards of the world? I wonder if she knows that it’s okay to just give love? I wonder if she knows that just meeting the basic needs of her family should be gift enough for them? I wonder if she realizes that every time she looks at the gifts she gave her children, she will think, “that toy was my light bill money”? I wonder if she knows that she’s already bitter about this season? I wonder if she knows that her children will still love her even if she doesn’t get them the latest and greatest gadget? I wonder if she knows that the smiles and appreciation she will receive after the gift is given, will be temporary?
I wonder if she’ll ever grasp the real reason of it all…
I wonder if she knows that every good and perfect gift comes from Him?

It’s the expectation that I’m over. It’s the fake, “it’s-better-to-give-than-receive” bull crap saying that people tell themselves as they swipe that overused credit card, that I’m over. It’s the pressure to meet the standard that I’m over. I’m over it for the people that can’t bare that pressure. I’m over it because my Buddhist friend and my atheist friend both have freakin Christmas trees up in their homes. What exactly are they celebrating? The spirit of giving? I’m over what it does to hard working people like my momma and the lady behind the counter.
I’m over the secularized version of Christmas. Over. it. Don’t do it. Don’t buy into it. Don’t let your kids buy into it.
If your Christmas has become anything other than the celebration of the birth of Christ, please, please, redirect it. I’m not saying, “don’t buy gifts”. I’m saying, “don’t buy into the pressure of meeting the standards of what the world has made Christmas”.
It’s free.

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The Morning After

Naturally, we congregated and there we sat, the morning after, still in a daze.

Confused.

Shocked.

Remembering.

Grief etched on our faces and heard in every word spoken.

God?

It’s hard to see You through this pain, this grief, this wailing wall,

this interim.

This interim of time between grief and heaven.

Because we all feel it, right? At some point or another, we are in that time. That time of in-between.

Remember in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John the day after Jesus dies on the cross?

In Matthew, it just says that the priests (the same priests that yelled “CRUCIFY”) went to Pilot to have the tomb where He lay, sealed and guarded.

That’s the only account of the in-between Jesus dying for you and the resurrected Jesus to give you life more abundantly.

What did the disciples do?

Well, we know they congregated, because on the third day, resurrected Jesus was among them.

I bet they were the same as us: dazed, confused, shocked, grief-stricken, wailing, hopeless.

Remembering.

Questioning.

Still following, but maybe struggling with the follow.

Waiting.

Waiting for the in-between to be over.

One of my most favorite verses in the Bible: “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall run and not grow weary, they shall walk and not faint” Isaiah 40:31.

Some versions use the word “trust” instead of “wait”.

They that trust.

They that trust in the in-between, shall renew their strength.

So, whatever you’re in-between…

Sickness.

Deployment.

Terrible twos.

Marriage woes.

Divorce.

Finances.

Grief.

Trust Him.

Wait for Him.

Hope in Him.

Sometimes it’ll be hard.

But, keep on keepin’ on.

Because you know what?

On the third day…

He rose.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Loving yourself

One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.

Mark 12: 28-31

But what if you don’t love yourself? 

Think about that for a second. 

A bad image of yourself, or not loving yourself, will affect every other aspect of your life—but especially your relationships with others. 

No one wants to NOT love themselves, but we do—and I’m not talking about a narcissistic kind of loving yourself, either. 

Maybe you are not happy with how you look. 

Maybe you are not content with your lot in life. 

Maybe you weren’t brought up in a loving home. 

Maybe you don’t know how to love yourself in a healthy way. 

Maybe loving yourself seems way to selfish to you.

Maybe you compare yourself to everyone else, robbing yourself of joy. 

Maybe you’ve made mistakes and can’t forgive yourself. 

Whatever your reason…

Start looking at yourself through the cross. 

You are made in His image…

fearfully and wonderfully made. 

You’re not a mistake: He knit you in your mother’s womb and He knew you before you were born. 

You are spotless, you’ve been forgiven. 

You are His child. 

You are seated with Him in heavenly places. 

You are His masterpiece. 

He does not condemn you. 

He cares for you. 

He loves you—every part of you… 

He loves you!

Forgive yourself. 

Change what you can, but change inwardly, first. 

See yourself as he sees you. 

Love yourself. 

It’s okay, I promise. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The day I was healed…

I had been suffering for about three years.

I would have some good days, but the bad days outweighed the good, making it hard to function regularly in society.

I had an issue, but it wasn’t something I could be open about.

Luckily (or not), my issue had symptoms that would mimic other issues…and after a few trips to the emergency room, I finally learned what I had.

I had to hide it though, mainly because attached to this issue are stigmas that follow you the rest of your life.

I’d like to take a time out right here and thank society (in my sarcastic font) for that. 

My symptoms were this:

rapid heartbeat, accompanied by palpitations

left arm would go numb

shortness of breath

chest pain

trembling all over my body, but mainly my legs

All the signs of a heart attack, but seeing as to how I was only 16, there were some questions.

My mental symptoms:

I felt like I was dying and dying was all I could think about.

I only thought about all the bad things that could happen to me or a family member throughout the day.

That first attack changed the course of my life forever.

Trying not to die became the focus of my life.

I would think “if I can make it to next Friday’s big event…”

Fear ruled my world.

And distraction became the king.

I would calculate the risk of everything I did, to include basic, everyday tasks.

Normal 16-year-old stuff, I didn’t do.

I was too scared.

Medication was out of the question as my momma was sure that I would get addicted.

Counseling was not an option either because I’d be seen going into the “crazy center”.

So, there I was, 16–dealing with shit I had no idea how to deal with.

I learned a little trick though: if I could get my mind focused on a movie/relationship/book/anything, my panic would subside long enough to fall asleep.

And I dared not to pray, that made me even more fearful.

The first time I had an attack, I went downstairs to get my mom up, because I was positive I was dying. Her response: well, are you scared you’ll go to hell?

Um, no.

I’m scared that I’m dying.

Anyway, fear ruled my world for three years.

During that time, I was in the most unhealthy, abusive relationship ever as it served the purpose of distraction for me.

I spent over 1000 days like this.

My favorite story in the Bible: the woman with the issue of blood.

Why? Because I was her.

So there I sat, in the middle of fear, stuck in a religion that would have condemned me further had I even admitted what was going on, all alone and too afraid to turn to Him.

No one noticed.

No one noticed that I couldn’t be alone.

No one noticed the bags under my eyes from lack of sleep.

No one noticed the weight loss.

No one noticed the blank stares.

But, one day, in a last ditch effort to get me back on the path of righteousness, my momma took me to some conference in Missouri.

I have no idea what the conference was about nor do I know who was speaking (although I think it was Kay Arthur or Beth Moore).

That’s not the point though.

We went to this conference that I remember nothing about with five other women from a different church.

There was this woman there:

Her name was Pat.

She looked like a “Pat” too. She was shorter, with short strawberry blonde hair.

She didn’t know me and I didn’t know her.

I was miserable that trip and it all came to a head on the third night.

I had  skipped the big meeting at 6 because I was in full on panic attack mode.

It was worse than the first one I had.

I couldn’t calm down, my thoughts raced along with my heart.

So I decided to go find my mom and make her take me to the emergency room.

My trembling subsided as I looked for her, because I knew we’d be going soon to the place that would assure me everything was okay.

But I met them all in the hallway and out of the clear blue, Pat looked at me and said “God told me to pray for you.”

Huh?

I’ve done been prayed for Lady.

I just looked at her like she was crazy.

But, I thought “hey, why not?–It can’t get any worse. And Lord knows I’m tired of this. And why not me?”

So I let her.

I let her, because I was done.

I was emotionally spent.

I was desperate.

I was the woman breaking through the crowd trying to touch the hem of his robe.

I was broken and through all the mess, I still had enough sense in me to know who my healer was.

I don’t remember what she said.

I didn’t see angels or feel a tingle.

I didn’t fall out.

I didn’t even cry.

She prayed and that was it.

And then I waited.

By then, I thought my distraction had payed off.

And I waited.

It didn’t happen.

No trembling.

No thoughts.

No fear.

No palpitations.

No nausea.

Nothing.

Could it be?

Healed?

Totally healed.

And I knew it.

AND PRAISE THE LORD!!!

Shame has kept me from telling this story for many years, not because of what He done, but because of what I went through.

Mental illness sucks.

There’s hope for the hopeless, though.

And I’m living proof.

Jehovah Rapha, the God that heals.

In Him, I am whole.

Amen.

Jesus and the Septic Tank

There is a source of stress that comes with owning my home that causes me a butt load of stress and worry, time and energy, and money. 

It is my septic tank. 

I hate it. 

With every fiber of my being. 

For. Real. 

It steals my joy. 

I worry about it everyday. 

Will it fill up today? 

Will it back up? 

Am I going to be $300 less today? 

When overnight guests are here, I worry that their shower is too long or that their flushing habits are a little too much (gross, I know). 

I am a water saver. 

Every appliance, toilet, and faucet are also water savers. 

I do not have a “laundry day”, I have a “one load per day” policy. 

Showers aren’t enjoyed, they are spent listening for the toilet to bubble. 

I’m over it. 

I’ve been over it. 

I deal with it by myself…always. 

I have spent MUCHO BUCKS to have it fixed…to no avail. 

It’s not the tank, it’s the land. 

But that’s not the point of this post… 

I recently wrote a post about “the one”–not a very uplifting post either…

Well, “the one” called me last Thursday night and told me they would be passing through town this weekend, so they wanted to stop by. Of course I’m not going to say “no”, because #1 I love him and #2 he’s a pretty great guy when no one else is around. 

But, I was still filled with dread. 

Completely filled. 

I prayed “Lord, help us to be a light. Let there be peace”. 

Still dread. 

“Lord, help me to have a better attitude”. 

Still dread. 

Negative words were spoken and thought. 

And Friday, he came. We made it through the night without incident. 

Zero eggshells were broken during that time:) 

And then Saturday, shit hit the fan…

literally. 

It poured rain all night Friday and half the day Saturday. 

The septic, well it couldn’t handle the pressure as it’s been freaking raining here for two years straight (feels that way, anyway). 

So, here I am plagued with what to do when “the one” gets up and says “what’s going on?”. 

I tearfully explain. 

He gets up, puts his boots on, and goes to work. 

Did I mention that “the one” is a general contractor? 

He’s digging, calling out orders, has people on the phone, and works from sun up till sun down. 

And now it’s fixed and he saved me a ton of money that I didn’t have to begin with. 

And here I type, humbled by the blessing he turned out to be when I was so dread filled. 

Coincidence that my brother in law was here at the time my septic decided to lose it? 

I think not, people. 

I think not. 

God is good. 

 

Ocean

“Who else has held the oceans in his hand?” -Isaiah 40:12

I love the ocean, the beach, the smell, the sound. 

I long to go there. 

We try to go at least once a year to a beach. 

But there’s one in particular place we’ve gone.

Three times. 

In all honesty, some people may think I’m crazy for loving it so much and I can’t really explain why this one was any different from any other beach we have went to. 

The first time we went, I remember seeing it…

that first glimpse. 

There it was, in between the buildings, my eyes filled up with tears! 

Blue water! 

Waves! 

And white sand! 

I rolled the window down to smell the salt air, to feel the moist wind. 

I was in love and I just had a glimpse! 

The second time, I didn’t really expect the same reaction, but there we were, rolling down a hill and THERE!!! I saw it! In between the buildings! Blue water! Waves! And White Sand! 

Tears streamed down my cheeks. 

The last time, before we got to the bottom of the hill, before I could see in between the buildings, I heard a faint whisper: “For you, my dear”. 

What? 

All this for me? 

Did you really have ME in mind when you made this? 

“Yes.”

More than tears came that day. Love filled my heart for Him afresh and anew. 

 

LOOK AT IT!

So, I was in the Word, looking for a word and I got one! 

I love when I get one and my eyes are opened and I’m excited all over again like it’s the first time I’ve ever received one! 

My family is in a valley right now. 

I’ve not been feeling well and add that to the military picking my main man to go…well, it’s been a pit. 

So, my word came in Numbers. 

Numbers is not usually my “go to” book of the Bible. I’m more of a John, Psalms, and Proverbs type of gal…but, there I was and there it was…

A WORD! 

So, the Israelites are wondering through the wilderness in Numbers. 

Let me set the stage for you: 

Aaron, the priest has just died and his son, Eleazar has been made priest. 

The Israelites have mourned for thirty days and you know that mourning was not just moping around and crying—for these people, it’s intense. 

THEN, they GO TO WAR!!! 

The Canaanite king knows they, the Israelites, are coming, so he attacks them and takes some prisoners. 

Well, what did the Israelites do? They made a vow to God that if He would hand the Canaanites over, they would completely destroy ALL of them and their towns. So He did and that’s what they done. 

So they were mourning and warring and walking. 

And then they started complaining: “whyyyyy did you do this to us? WHYYYYY can’t we just stay here and die? WHHHYYYYYY??? We’re hungry, this BREAD FROM HEAVEN isn’t good anymore and the WATER GOD HAS PROVIDED isn’t enough….” wah wah wah! 

Yeah. 

I won’t even get started on the whole complaining issue because you know better. 

The next verse is interesting though: 

“So the LORD sent poisonous snakes among the people, and many were bitten and died”. 

Hold the phone. What? 

Yeah, that happened. Numbers 21:6. Read it. 

What do you think the Israelites did then? 

They cried some more! They ran to Moses and said “we have sinned by speaking against the Lord and against you. Pray that the Lord will take away the snakes.” 

Moses prayed. 

And this is what the Lord told him to do: 

“Make a replica of a poisonous snake and attach it to a pole. All who are bitten will live if they simply look at it!”

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Look at it. 

And live. 

Those were the instructions. 

Moses made the snake out of bronze and attached it to a pole so that anyone who was bitten could LOOK AT IT and BE HEALED!!! 

Now, how many Israelites do you think died anyway from a snake bite? 

How many Israelites do you think were so consumed with their pain and fear of the bite that they couldn’t look up? 

It was that easy. Look at it. Live. 

And this is where it got ME! 

The WORD!!! 

The Israelites asked Moses to ask Jesus to take the snakes away. 

But that’s not what He did. 

No. 

He didn’t take them away. 

He gave them an out. 

He came to their rescue. 

Get bitten. 

Look at the snake on the pole. 

Live. 

That simple. 

Friends, you still have that same opportunity today. 

The devil will strike you like a snake. 

He seeks those he may devour. 

You have an out. 

But instead of looking at the snake on the pole…

you have Jesus hanging on the cross. 

Refocus. 

Pull yourself away from focusing on the issue. 

LOOK AT IT! 

Don’t wallow in it. 

Don’t be embarrassed by it. 

DO NOT BE AFRAID!

LOOK AT IT!

Look at the cross. 

Live. 

That simple. 

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