About Me

I'm not really a superstar, except maybe to my husband, who I happen to be deeply in love with. My life: following Jesus, learning to live and love like Him. He is in the driver's seat, and I am on an adventure.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

20/20 hindsight

Today marks 20 years of marriage.  I have never been more fulfilled in my life and I am thankful beyond words. This past weekend, Timm surprised me with a gathering of friends and family, a renewing of our vows, and the perfect gift of a slideshow reflecting our life together - ending in the announcement of his plan to take me on a trip to Austin Texas for the Austin City Limits music festival! WEEEEEEEEE!

In the heat of the moment (literally – it was over 90 degrees and humid) I was a bit overwhelmed and unsure of what to share with dear family and friends.  I don’t even know what I said.  Now that I have had time to soak in the moment, reflect, and let words scurry through my head, I want to say more. 

I love words.  I love to speak them out, write them down, read them, rearrange them, listen to them, share them.  Yet, I can also find myself overwhelmed and unable to verbally express the depth of emotion.  There are some things that words simply can not touch; things that transcend. 

My state of mind about Timm and our marriage and this weekend are falling into that category.  I can’t seem to articulate what I want to express.  Yet, I can’t seem to stop myself from trying. There is a saying that hindsight is 20/20.  For me, it is fun to look back with clearer vision. 

What I may have shared if I had time to think ahead.  A little bit of our love story….

I’m not a person who believes in “soul mates” or in waiting for the perfect person to complete you.  But, I do believe that God brought Timm into my life and that he is exactly the person God knew would be good for me.  None of us can really imagine how our life would have gone if not for certain circumstances.  But, I find it impossible to imagine a life without Timm in it.  Even if I try, I can’t even consider that there would have been another person I would have wanted to spend my life with.

Timm invited my BFF Dana to come up for the weekend, all the way from North Carolina, to celebrate our 20th.  Apparently he told her that it was important for her to be there because, if it weren’t for her, we probably would not have ended up making it as a couple.  Let me explain.

On the beautiful slide show Timm created of our life, he highlighted our “first date”.  That’s in quotations for a reason.  We became close friends at CMU, and while I was moving along to do my internship, he was staying back at CMU to goof off and figure out his path.  OK, he eventually figured that path out, and I wouldn’t change a thing.  But, anyways…the Fall semester had ended, it was now January, and I was moving into an apartment with Dana.  Timm came to see my new place and to say goodbye before making the two and a half hour trip back up to Mt. Pleasant the next day. We went out for the evening, and somehow, we crossed the line of friendship and did some kissing!

Naturally, I panicked.  Knowing what time he was planning to leave for CMU the next day, I waited until I thought he would arrive and I called him.  Ugh, that was a long 3 hours of waiting to call –this was long before cell phones and texting and voicemails! And I didn’t want to leave a message on his answering machine for his roommates to hear!  Whew, I was relieved when he answered.  I immediately breathed a sigh of relief and blurted out my very rational thoughts about the situation.

“Please don’t tell anyone what happened between us last night, our friends will make a big deal about it and it will be awkward for everyone!  It’s already going to be awkward for us.  Please let’s just pretend it didn’t happen.”

Timm’s response was something like

“What are you crazy?  I ALREADY TOLD EVERYONE.  We’re not gonna pretend that didn’t happen.  We’re going to start going out, this is AWESOME!”

What the what?

I asked who he told, and he had in fact already told EVERYONE! Oh my gosh, all of our friends think we are dating, now what am I going to do? I went on to explain to Timm that we are not dating and it was a mistake and he shouldn’t have told anyone and we CAN’T BE DATING because it would ruin our friendship. 

I can still remember being on that old phone receiver, which was connected to the boxy table top telephone by a swirling cord that only allowed me to pace about 4 feet in either direction in my state of confusion. 

This conversation went round and round.  I tried to explain to Timm that he can’t tell me I’m dating him if I tell him I don’t want to.  He would then question me about why I didn’t want to and I would repeat that I didn’t want to ruin our friendship.  He would then tell me that was a ridiculous reason and that he needed a better one if he was going to even consider taking me seriously.  I finally gave up, and our conversation ended with me saying “We are not a couple.  We are not dating.” And him replying “Hmmm.  OK.  I’ll see you this weekend.” 

What is that supposed to mean?

So, then I turned to my roommate Dana to express my outrage about how Timm could think he could tell me what was going to happen! Sure, I wanted him to come visit the next weekend, but he can’t come!  He can’t be around me and think that he can force me to be in a romantic relationship with him.   I believe Dana’s response went something like this…”So, you like this guy so much that you don’t want to jeopardize your friendship or lose him.  You get along great.  You love being together.  You laugh together.  He treats you with respect.  You both can’t wait to see each other. (insert the most sarcastic tone you can conjur up) Yah, I can see your problem!!!  You poor thing! What are you going to do?”

I was a bit stunned.  Did that just happen?  I was losing my bearings!  They were ganging up on me! No one was listening to me!

This went on all week.  After Timm and I would talk on the phone, Dana would casually ask who that was.  I would answer and she would say “mmmmmm.  Ohhhhh.  OK. But…..he’s NOT your boyfriend.”  Then she would walk by while I was scribbling out pages of writing on looseleaf paper  and she would ask who I was writing to.  I would hesitantly admit that it was a letter to Timm and then brace myself for the response of “ohhhhhh.  Hmmmmm.  Your FRIEND Timm, who you already talked to today?  How many pages is that letter to your FRIEND?”  She was relentless. 

Timm never wavered.  I allowed myself to give in and to start a dating relationship with him.  But, then I panicked again about a month later and I was tortured about how to tell him.  I worked up my courage all week, and then on a weekend in February, I told him we needed to talk.  Through pain and tears, I choked out the truth to him.  I can’t do this!  I can’t date you.  I’m so sorry.  I never should have let this happen!  I tried to stop it.  On and on I lamented.  And he just sat there nodding and asked “Why?”  So again I had to explain that I didn’t want to lose him as a friend and I hope I didn’t already screw it all up.  He assured me that I didn’t screw anything up.  I was starting to calm down and feel better and then he went on to tell me  that he would be happy to break up if and when I had a good reason to do so.  But, if my reason was because I like him too much and don’t want to risk losing him, then that is ridiculous and doesn’t make any sense.  He gave me another opportunity to come up with a reason that he felt was legit.  He even gave me some good reasons to consider breaking up with a person.  But, my reason continued to be that I didn’t want to ruin what we had.  So, he just sat there and said “Nope.  That’s not a good reason.  We aren’t breaking up for that.  What do you wanna do tonight?” 

I’ll be honest.  This happened one more time in those early months, and I finally gave up on trying to weasel out of it and started to just enjoy our relationship as "boyfriend and girlfriend". 

After almost 3 years of this fun, long-distance relationship, I was in my comfy place.  Then Timm threw me another pitch that I tried to dodge.  He started a conversation about us getting married.  GULP!  I felt that panic creep back in and the voice in my head screaming “Not safe!  Run away! Just keep things the way they are!  Don’t risk!” So, as I saw that pitch whizzing straight for my head, I ducked.  Whew.  That was close.  We had the conversation, and I remained calm. Through a casual smile, I explained to Timm that I just wasn’t ready to talk about this and that I would appreciate it if we just kept things the way they were.

The next day, he showed up with flowers, a poem, and a ring….

Come on!  Who does that?  I just can’t imagine another person having the unique characteristics of confidence and compassion to call me out like that.  Without any actual psychoanalytical techniques, he was showing me something about myself that I couldn’t see.  He was loving me enough to not let me  avoid getting close because I couldn’t risk the loss.  I didn’t even know I was actively avoiding that risk.  It’s incredible to me to think back and see so clearly how God was using Timm to help me see parts of myself that I was blind to.  And I am so eternally grateful.  Because this has continued for the past 23 years.  He has continually and consistently held up a mirror that reflects the attributes I would not otherwise see. The absolute trust I have in his love for me has allowed me to see some of my insecurities, habits, behaviors, and tendencies in a new light.  Instead of keeping those things in the dark where they are safe and unseen, Timm has been able to gently pull things out of that hidden place and into the undeniable light so that I am able to face them .  Having a  person that close to me is at once scary, painful, embarrassing, transforming, redeeming, and beautiful. He has never given me a reason to doubt that he is safe, trustworthy, and always for me-not against me.  I’m not saying that I have never doubted!  Trusting is tough stuff for me.  But, I am saying that he has never given me reason to doubt.  That has changed me.

Timm has helped me to see that life is an adventure and there is no other way I would want to approach each day than to anticipate the unexpected and enjoy the ride.  He has taught me how to speak the truth in love, using my words to encourage and grow, not to tear down and destroy.  He has helped me learn to enjoy the present, not just prepare for the future.  He continues to support me as I learn how to embrace vulnerability and invite closeness with others in my life.  Beyond that, he speaks genuine words of affirmation to me and serves our family with his works daily.   

So, yah, I don’t really believe in soul mates and love at first sight and all that romantic crap (just ask my poor girls how I feel about their exposure to romantic stuff potentially misleading them into false expectations of what real love is! Let’s just say they didn’t grow up with the “Disney Princess- Happily Ever After “stuff). But, I still can’t imagine my life without the gift that Timm has been to me.  And I thank God every day that I have been given this opportunity to join our two lives together as one.  And I pray that we would be given another 20 or 40 or 50 healthy years together this side of eternity to grow and learn and give and love. 

Happy Anniversary Timm

Friday, February 12, 2016

What I can learn from PTSD

I wrote the following post in September 2015 but never published it.
I'm not going to take the time to read it and edit it, so it may not make sense. But, why not hit the publish button?

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
 It became more real to me recently.
One of my closest friends experienced multiple traumatic events, leaving her in a serious state of poor mental health.  It was fascinating, because she was able to identify and articulate what was happening, but the symptoms of the stress continued.  Some things she experienced were a sense of dread, a lack of excitement or hope about the future, and fear of a catastrophic event happening to someone she loved or to herself.  I'm using past tense, because she has already been able to recover from the worst stages of this.
But, at the same time that she was experiencing some of the worst symptoms, both physically and emotionally, I was struck by something.
I felt like there should be a term that could be used as the exact opposite of PTSD.  I can't come up with something that would work exactly.  But, something like Post Joy Peace Condition.  Because, the peace that comes from the depth of my faith and trust in God as my loving creator, savior, redeemer seems to be directly related to experiences that have happened.
Just like a traumatic experience can sometimes affect a person in a way that changes their perception of reality, causes changes in body chemistry and function, and changes their reaction to things that occur - an experience of intense joy can greatly impact a person.
Probably more than anything else, this experience of joy in my life has impacted my faith.  In other words, I could read and study and learn and pray and think and discus and read some more...but none of it has the same power as real encounter with the living God and the deep joy of that experience.  Once I experience that, I am changed.  It's like the opposite of a traumatic experience.  I am changed and I can't help but find myself feeling hopeful, at peace, expectant, loving, and without fear.  It's not the information that produces that condition in my heart and mind, it is my actual experience with this love of God. Just like trauma does for a person with PTSD, it changes my perception of reality, causes changes in my body chemistry and function and changes my reaction to things that occur! But the changes are for the good!
So interesting.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

What if Jesus really is good news?

Last week I was able to listen to someone talk about his faith and it was just what I needed to hear.  His faith was not from a book, it was not handed down or passed along.  He did not simply hear about it and accept it as true.  He EXPERIENCED Jesus, and developed his faith.  It was his own. That's the only kind of faith that makes sense.
When I seek God, I find Him!
I find the King of Kings, the all powerful, true, loving Father.  The real, true and available Jesus.  He came so that I could have fullness of life.  He came not to condemn, but to love.  His kingdom promises peace, love, joy and goodness.  His love encompasses ALL.
If I do not personally grasp why the gospel (the message of Jesus) is GOOD NEWS, I will never understand how to share it with others, nor will I ever believe that it's worth sharing.
Is it "good news" that there is  God and He wants us all to belong to a certain "club" and if we don't join that club, He will personally use his infinite power to throw us into a physical lake of fire and watch us burn in torment for all eternity?  Um, what is good about that?
I guess it's good for those who have joined the club and have agreed to the membership criteria (comprehend and agree with enough of the theology to be considered "in" and not "out").
What if the good news is that Jesus is the light of the world (John 1;4-5) and that He came so that we could have life to the full (John 10:10) and that He wants us to come to him like children - full of wonder and questions, embracing mystery instead of demanding intellectual understanding (Mark 10:15).
What if Jesus offers the kingdom of heaven to all of us right now, not after we die (Matthew 4:17)? And what if he promises blessings for the poor in spirit, the grieving, the meek, the persecuted (Matthew 5:3-10)?
And what if His love can't be earned because it's a free gift he wants us to simply accept (Eph 1;6-10)?
And what if he gets angry with those who claim to earn his free gift, accusing them of being hypocrites and of seeking honor among men (Matthew 6)?
And what if Jesus is the full revelation of God (John 14:6-9, John 10:30, Col 1;15) which means that all revelations of God (scripture, holy spirit, spoken words) could be viewed through the lens of Jesus and his character and truth?
And what if many things remain a mystery to us, because we are not God and our minds and imaginations remain limited (Col 4:3)
What if, when we are questioned about our faith in Jesus, we could confidently answer "I don't know" when we Don't Know!?
And what if our true measure of faith is not certainty that we have access to absolute truth and can win any argument, and answer any question, but that we are sure of what we hope for (Heb 11:1)?
Jesus is GOOD NEWS.
Jesus asked that his disciples would make more disciples by sharing the good news.
We can only share something if we have it to share.
If we walk around thinking we need to have all of the answers, then we fear we may not be able to share because someone else might out wit or out question us.
That's true.
Because Jesus didn't ask us to go out and make converts to our way of thinking.   He did ask us to go and make disciples.  And Peter did suggest that we always be prepared to give an account for the reason for the hope that we have (1Peter 3:15).
How can we give the reason for our hope?
We need to HAVE it to SHARE it.
Jesus is GOOD NEWS and I have no shame in sharing that!  He is the reason for the hope that I have, and why would I ever shy away from sharing the reason for my hope?

Monday, March 2, 2015

Do we want wisdom?

Found myself in the Proverbs today.
Words from Solomon, who God blessed with unsurpassed wisdom.
Sure, I'll take some wisdom!  Who wouldn't want some more wisdom?
Actually, I think if we are honest, we don't always want more wisdom.  We might say we do, but do we really?
Today it really blew me away when I considered what Solomon did.  If we are familiar with the story, it probably seems trivial. But, it's remarkable!
In 2 Chronicles 1:7 God says to Solomon "Ask for whatever you want me to give you." And, what does Solomon ask for?  He asks for "wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people".  And here is the part I found interesting today.  God responds to Solomon saying "Since this is your heart's desire and you have not asked for wealth, riches or honor, nor for the death of your enemies, and since you have not asked for a long life, but for wisdom and knowledge....it will be given you..."
The way I see it, God is granting Solomon wisdom, but if he had asked for the other stupid stuff, he probably wouldn't have gotten it! When I looked more closely at God's words to Solomon, He didn't say "Ask me for whatever you desire and your wish is my command" (like a magic genie).
So, when I was reading in Proverbs today, it struck me.  It says "turn your ear to wisdom - apply your heart to understanding - call out for insight - cry out for understanding - search for it as for silver or hidden treasure...THEN you will understand and find the knowledge of God.  For the Lord gives wisdom."
How much prayer time do we honestly spend seeking wisdom, understanding, insight, knowledge?  And how much time to we spend reciting a list of wants, needs, desires, hopes and answers?
I don't think there is anything wrong with asking God for things! There are times when all we can do is cry out for God to do something, and I know He loves when we express our hearts to Him.
But today I am reminded that God promises wisdom and understanding.  He promises that if we seek HIM we will find HIM.
James 1:5 says "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God who gives generously without finding fault."
Wisdom is not just knowledge, but understanding and discernment.  The ability to make wise decisions. Seeking wisdom is seeking God himself, not just "the answers".  When we seek God for the sake of seeking HIM and not just "answers" he promises us wisdom.
But I think we often want a crystal ball or a magic genie, and not more of God himself.  We want to fill our minds and hearts with answers and solutions and plans instead of wanting to fill our minds and hearts with the revelation of God himself.
But the very thing we crave and desire - to fill our hearts and minds - can be met by seeking God.  He delivers.  And when we find him, we find everything.
When we find that love, purpose and truth, it guides our decisions, plans and actions.  It transforms our own desires into His desires which are PURE and free from pride, selfishness, greed, and fear.
That's what we get when we seek Him!  We get the desires of His heart! It may not always match the desires of our own hearts.  But, He can change our hearts to be like His.  That's what I really want!
But, in order to believe this, I need to believe that He is Good.
I need to believe that He is trustworthy.
Otherwise, I simply hold on to my own desires, plans and hopes and desperately pray for Him to conform to what I demand Him to be and do for me.
Is that the God I really want?  A God who leaves it all up to me?  Or do I want a God who has proven to be all loving, all powerful, all trustworthy, all true, and beyond my wildest imagination of complexity?
I want more of him, and less of me - whatever that looks like.
If any part of me is transformed to be more like Him and more like the me he created and designed me to be for His purpose - that is my greatest JOY!
I want more of Him.  That's what I seek.
I wonder what would have happened if Solomon had asked God for something else like power? Or if he had asked for wisdom with a selfish motive, rather than a desire to lead people and honor God?

Friday, February 6, 2015

Steal and Kill and Destroy

My hope is that I would never waste one single breath of my life dreading the future.
Because, I believe that we live in a battle between good and evil.  And, if I surrender for even a fleeting moment to dread and worry, then I have given victory to the evil one.
I believe that John 10:10 is truth.  It quotes Jesus saying "The thief comes ONLY to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."
Jesus refers to the evil one as "the thief".  The crazy thing is, I invite him in sometimes.  Who, in their right mind, would invite a thief in and let him hang around?  That's insane.  But, I have done it plenty of times.
He is so good!  He is also referred to in the bible as "Father of lies".  He is so good at getting me to believe lies. And, maybe one of his most successful schemes is to get me worrying about the future.
I can remember when my two girls were babies.
Oh, I can clearly recall the joy I felt when Alli, at the age of three, would give love to her baby sister. She would hug her and squeeze her and sometimes I could see that she had to practice restraint to refrain from squeezing her too hard while hugging her. She would actually be gritting her teeth while saying "Ohhhhhhh, I love you!"  Meanwhile, just when I thought my heart couldn't explode with any more joy, there was Liv!  Her toothless smile so big that her big fat cheeks would squish her eyes shut.
I would look at them and think, "It can't get any better than this!  I need to freeze time! I can't contain the joy of this moment, and I don't want it to slip away."  And, it's true that I couldn't freeze time, and the moment would slip away. But, there I would be, in a moment of pure joy, feeling like I could understand the presence of God and his goodness and heaven on earth and the fact that I was standing on holy ground in His presence......and I would allow the enemy to invade!
It would start with a quick panicked feeling that something this good can't last.  Then I would find myself worrying that something terrible might happen to one of my girls some day.  Then I would slowly let my mind drift 5 years into the future...10 years....15 years....  And, before I knew what was happening I would find myself dreading the future.
Although my baby girls brought me moments of ecstatic joy, they were both independent and strong willed and not what you would call "easy".  So, I would allow my imagination to drift far into the future and dread what they might be like as teenagers.  I did that way too often.  I can recall so many times just looking at them and thinking "when you girls are 15 and 12, life is going to be hell in our home."  I hate that I ever spent any time thinking that. But,I did.  And, I am certain it was the thief coming to steal my joy.
How stupid I was!
Because, my girls are now 15 and 12.
And I am experiencing the same moments of pure joy when I am around them.  I love hanging out with them more than I ever have! I thought I would look at babies and longingly wish for those days.  Nope.  I do not.  I see babies and honestly don't even miss when my girls were that age because I am enjoying them SO MUCH as they are right now, blossoming into young ladies!
Being a parent is super scary!  Right now I have a baby who has her driver's permit and will be getting her license.  She has a boyfriend, got her first "real job", and is talking about her plans for college.  I have another baby who is an adventure-seeking, independent, unpredictable soul and she will be entering the teen years where there are lots of opportunities for "adventure".
Sometimes, I am tempted to dread the next 10 years and worry about how it could possibly all play out without major disappointments or even catastrophic mistakes!
But, I resist that temptation whenever I am strong enough and have enough clarity of mind.  And, instead I CHOOSE to rest in the truth of what Jesus said, as recorded in John 10:10.  Jesus wants us to have life to the FULL.  Worry and dread are not ways to have life to the full.
At the risk of sounding a bit morbid, I am dying.  We are all dying.  We just don't know when.  It is possible that this year, or this day, could be my last one on earth.  What a shame it would be to spend my last days imagining or dreading a future that I am not even going to see.  Who knows?  None of us do.  We only have today.  And, God promises us mercies fresh each morning and everything we need for today.  He doesn't say, "I come to give you joy for next year..."  We have to wait and receive that gift when it's given to us.
So, today I want to recognize the crafty thief who wants to steal my joy, and turn my back on him.  I don't even need to fight him off, I just have to let him know he is not welcome.  I'm protected by my loving Father who is much more powerful than any evil scheme.  And I rest happily in that love.
And I smile at my awesome girls and enjoy every moment I have with them.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Appetite Grows By Eating

Wow!  Haven't posted in so long.
I was just in my bathroom and I looked at my two color-coordinated towels, as I do pretty much every time I use the bathroom.  And, as is usually my habit, I straightened out the blue towel which resides on the outer towel bar and wondered how it is that I straighten it every time I wash my hands, yet it always ends up uneven and haphazard the next time.
Anyways, my train of thought went something like this.  "I love the colors in this bathroom...I think it's my favorite room in the house when it comes to decor and colors...I love these towels...I'm so glad we have them...They were a Christmas gift from my parents a few years ago when we lived in our apartment and our nice thick towels were never drying in our tiny bathroom so we got these giant, quick-dry towels in colors that make me happy...I love that my towels match my shower curtain...I remember this summer looking for a towel to replace this blue one because we somehow ended up with some bleached out spots on this one....but I couldn't find an exact replacement and didn't want to mess up the set...but I looked...and I looked...online...in stores...how did i even find time to do that?...And why did it seem important then, but now that seems ludicrous when this towel is perfectly fine, aside from a few light spots that simply make them look like a well loved towel that gets used..."
Yes, all of those thoughts went through my head in about 5 seconds as I dried my hands.
Here is something that occurred to me.
See, we are in the middle of a family decision that will greatly affect our finances.  It's very likely that our income will be decreasing by more than half.  We trust that God is leading us and we know He will provide, so we aren't worried, but we know that the adjustment is not going to be easy.  So, it's on our minds as we move forward.
That was not the case a few months ago.  We were just getting ourselves in a position financially where we could start to anticipate a surplus and start to build up some savings.
I entitled this post "The Appetite Grows By Eating" (A quote by some random French dude) because I think it is so true!  When I was feeling like our finances allowed for me to have more, I craved more.  I had an appetite for stuff.  Since we could afford it, and my purchases are usually pretty frugal, I bought some stuff.  Comforter covers for our beds, a rug for my room, chairs for our living room.  Ok, all of these were thrift store or garage sale purchases, but that is definitely NOT the point.  The point is, the more I fed my craving, the more I noticed things that I wanted.  My appetite was growing.
We are super spoiled by our parents for Christmas.  This past year was no exception.  My parents asked what we wanted, and I had no problem coming up with a list!  I'm not saying there is anything wrong with that, but it's interesting.  I'm a fairly content person, and I found myself seriously wanting the things on my list.
My appetite was growing because I was feeding it.
The same thing happens with food.  A few months ago, I went on a weekend retreat with a bunch of high school and middle school kids.  We were provided with three meals a day, and there was plenty of food.  However, it is my habit to eat smaller meals more frequently.  So, when I went to the meal times during this retreat, I would pile up a lot more food than usual onto my tray because I didn't want to find myself hungry a little while later, having to wait until the next scheduled mealtime.  I'm weird like that.  Anyways, I ended up eating way more than normal at every single meal.  Well, when I got home, I found that I was not satisfied with my usual breakfast of one egg on a slice of toast.  I wanted two eggs and two slices of toast.  My appetite had grown because I fed it!
So this is what occurred to me today while thinking about my towels.  I need to be very thoughtful about what appetite I am feeding.  Think about it.  As a follower of Jesus, it is my desire to know Him more and to receive His power through the holy spirit.  So, I have an appetite for MORE Jesus.  What am I doing to feed that appetite?  And, if the appetite grows by eating, then wouldn't it follow that the more of Jesus I get, the more of Him I will want?
That's exactly how it works.  Spiritual disciplines like praying, listening for the voice of God, reading scripture, praising Him,etc can sometimes feel like they take a lot of effort.  Some people get discouraged because they believe that Jesus is who He claimed to be, and they want to have a surrendered life to Him, but they find themselves neglecting that relationship day after day after day, feeling a sense of disappointment and guilt instead of fullness and peace.  I think it can take some effort at times to discipline our spirit and our body to seek God. But....I know first hand that when you feed that appetite, it GROWS!  And when you find out who God really is and you connect with Him in spirit, you can't get enough!
Jesus identified himself as the "bread of life".  He knew what he was talking about.
I heard a sermon once about feeding on Jesus.  It was so interesting.  The gist of it was this:  If you are hungry, do you want to sing about food?  Read about food?  Talk to others about food? Hear someone teach you more about food? Maybe.  But, ultimately, you want to eat the food!  And that is what Jesus talks about.  He is the bread of life.  He offers us fullness and satisfaction beyond anything we can imagine.  And, it's great if we sing about him, talk to others about him, listen to teachings about him, read about him....but...eventually we need to feed ourselves...and He is the bread that will satisfy. And once we taste this bread, our appetite will grow!
Yay.  Felt good to blab on my blog again.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Am I really a "Christian"?

In Matthew 26:52-56
Jesus is getting arrested and he knows what is coming.  He already asked God to spare him if possible.  But, he knows that isn't the plan.
Peter freaks out and tries to fight.  He pulls his sword and attacks.  That's when Jesus says "Put your sword back in it's place...for all who draw the sword will die by the sword."
See, I am absolutely fascinated by the fact that people who claim to be followers of Jesus land on certain bible verses and seem to use them as ammunition to attack and judge and criticize.  Or they seem to focus on something that justifies hurting others physically or even emotionally.
After all, Christians used the scriptures to defend slavery, prejudice, and racial segregation.
Christians have used scripture to defend war and brutality towards others.
Funny how Christians are so mortified by radical Muslims who feel called to carry out acts of "holy war" against non Muslims based on their interpretation of teachings from their holy book.
Yet, we've done exactly that throughout history - and to this day!
That's why it is difficult for me to associate myself as a "Christian".
Just as I am sure it is difficult for many peace-loving Muslims to identify themselves as having the same faith as the radical terrorists who are literally terrorizing in the name of their faith.
I don't like labels
This is a good example of why I resist being categorized or labeled.
However, I do delight in my identity as a child of God, a believer and follower of Jesus.
Anyways, back to those words from Jesus.
How is it possible to skim over that?  How is it possible to look at how Jesus "fought" and to see his humility, sacrifice, and love and then to turn around and justify hatred, condemnation, violence and oppression and do it in His name, claiming you are honoring him?!
Jesus continually modeled and taught self sacrifice, love, serving, putting others first, being generous, and being submitted to God's will regardless of the personal loss or gain.
This is the Jesus I find consistently in scripture.
Show me the political Jesus who pushes legislation and tries to change laws to force people to do things the way he thinks is best.  Show me the Jesus who oppresses people, violently attacks others to maintain his power, refuses to help the poor if it costs him his own prosperity, fears and ridicules those he sees as sinners, is threatened and hateful toward those who hold differing beliefs.  Show me that Jesus and maybe I will better understand this weird, American "Christianity" that is so prevalent.
If what I see from many Christians who hold influential and public positions in America is "Christianity", then I must assume I am not a Christian.  I do not share their world view.
That doesn't really concern me, since "Christian" is not a word that is found in scripture, nor did Jesus ever call anyone that.
So, for clarity, I prefer to identify myself as a follower of Jesus.  A disciple of His.  And I am SUPER excited about that!  For that, I would lay down my life in radical submission!  It is that identity that defines me and dictates my world view.
And, where it may bring me confusion, embarrassment, and difficulty to imagine explaining or defending "Christianity" to those who have been on the receiving end of oppression, abuse, condemnation, hate, etc.  It brings me passion and joy to share my faith in Jesus and to talk about my love for him.
I don't need to defend Christianity.