Revenge Is Sweet, Or So They Say

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That I can remember, no one has ever asked me if I’ve wanted to exact revenge against my father for everything he did to me when I was a child. But if anyone were to ask me, my answer would be an unqualified, categorical no.

I don’t remember ever wanting revenge against him or any of the people who hurt me. It’s certainly not because I’m holy or anything like that. I’m definitely no saint. I mess up on an extremely regular basis, and 1 John 1:9 is a well-worn and much-loved verse for me,

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

Another favorite, and something I cry out to God all the time, is,

O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? ~ Romans 7:24, NKJV.

Thankfully Romans 7:24 is followed immediately by 7:25,

Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin. ~ Romans 7:25, NLT.

And again straightaway after that comes Romans 8:1,

So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. ~ Romans 8:1, NLT.

I apologize for that little rabbit trail, but I’m trying to make a point. I am a sinner because I was born in sin, and because I was born into a world that belongs to Satan. Thank God, Jesus rescued me out of that world by dying on the cross for me, so that now I’m forgiven, and I no longer belong to the devil, I belong to God. But I still commit sins, even though I desperately don’t want to. That was my whole point in quoting the above verses.

Avenging a wrong committed against someone is something that really should be left in God’s hands. God is the only one who knows what really happened, the only one who knows the true motivations of the people involved, and the only one capable of dispensing perfect justice to all the parties connected to the situation.

Seems to me, if someone gets revenge, they’re trying to get justice for a situation on their own, taking control of it out of God’s hands. And while God does know all the facts, the person taking justice into their own hands will only know about the situation from his own perspective, which will always be skewed, because there’s no way any human being can know everything about what happened. Only God can know that. That’s why God says,

Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the LORD. ~ [quoted from Deuteronomy 32:35, NLT]; Romans 12:19, NLT.

I think people take vengeance into their own hands because they get impatient. They don’t want to wait for God to do it (if they believe He exists), or the legal system (if they trust it). Nowadays people don’t trust the legal system, or if they do, it moves too slowly for them, so they decide they have to do it for themselves.

If you think the legal system is slow, God is slower. You have to wait for the person you want justice for to die before you’ll get it. That’s why I say people get impatient. They don’t want to wait for God’s justice. Now, sometimes God will act through the legal system, but oftentimes He chooses to wait until the Final Judgment after the person dies.

I don’t know why that is, and it’s probably not for us, or specifically me, to know, at least not this side of Heaven ~ God’s sovereignty, and His higher ways (Isaiah 55:9-10), and all that ~ though sometimes I really wish God would clue me in.

But He doesn’t, and I have to trust ~ I choose to trust ~ that God is better at being God than I am, something I already knew, by the way, as I wrote about in a previous post (I Would Make a Terrible God). Because, as I said in that post, being God is God’s job, not mine.

So I’ll let God do the avenging for me. I’ve done the best I can to forgive those who need to be forgiven, and certainly there are many on whom I could get revenge, but I firmly believe that’s God’s job, as borne out by Scripture. I’ll let God be God and do my avenging for me. It makes my life much easier. I already have enough to think about without adding that!

Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. ~ Matthew 6:34, KJV.

Loneliness In All Its Combinations and Permutations

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I hope you will indulge me in a little goofiness here at the beginning . . .

Here I am again, trying to fill a blank page. Reminds me of the phone bills I used to get with pages that were blank. And then, if you look more carefully, you see this ridiculous phrase planted in the middle of the blank page that says,

This page intentionally left blank.

Which automatically invalidates itself, because by the presence of that phrase, the page is no longer blank.

At this point I’m giggling helplessly because it’s so illogical.

I think I get why they put it there ~ because if they left the page blank without telling you that it’s blank on purpose, they’d probably get all kinds of calls and emails from people wanting to know if there’s a mistake on their bill because there’s a blank page, and the phone company wants to avoid that if they can. Kinda silly, if you ask me.

Enough of this foolishness. The whole blank-page-in-the-phone-bill thing is something I’ve wanted to mention to someone for years, but never had an opportunity before. But now I have my own platform of sorts. So you all are the (unfortunate?) recipients of my meandering thoughts.

Lucky you! Now on to more serious matters.

Last Sunday was Father’s Day. When I hear people talk about how amazing their dads are, I get all jumbled up and confused inside, and of course, I hear people’s stories about their wonderful dads everywhere on Father’s Day, and on the days leading up to it as well. So I spend the entire week before Father’s Day wanting to hide because I can’t stand how muddled I feel inside. It really kind of sucks, but there’s nothing I can do about it. I just have to ride it out, and look to God, who is my real Father.

But that’s the problem. Even though I love knowing that God loves me, and that He loved me enough to send Jesus to die on the cross for me, I also know that His love for me is spiritually based. And that’s amazing and marvelous and wonderful. It saved my life, both here on earth, and best of all, for all eternity. When I die I’ll get to meet Jesus face to face, the best reality imaginable.

However, until that becomes my reality, I’m stuck here on earth, and while I’m here I still need the physicality of a hug, or a spoken word from the mouth of a friend-in-front-of-me. It’s not that I don’t value my relationship with God. It’s the most important relationship in my life, and I can’t live without it. But there are times when you need something tangible, and you can’t get a hug from God.

This is especially true during the times of coronavirus, where we all have to stay home, and engage in social isolation and all that stuff. Enforced loneliness gets a little old after awhile, as much as I like being alone.

I have a close friend whom I haven’t seen in months because of COVID-19, and I miss her terribly. We used to get together on Thursday nights to watch Doc Martin on TV, and we haven’t been able to since sometime in March because of the pandemic. We talk on the phone and text back and forth, but it’s just not the same. You can’t hug someone through the phone or in a text. And you can’t see someone’s facial expressions in response to what you say to them through the phone or in a text.

There’s something about being able to see someone’s laughter when you tell them a joke, or see someone’s tears in response to something you said that saddened them. You don’t realize how important visual cues are in relating to people until you’ve been deprived of them.

And it’s all well and good if you’re quarantined with family, but I’m not. It’s me and my cat, and she doesn’t speak English. She also doesn’t laugh or cry. The most I get from Lily is purring. And don’t get me wrong. Her purring is great. She has a wonderfully loud motor, and it doesn’t take much to turn it on.

But I have no control over Lily and her motor, and she picks the most inopportune times to give me affection ~ like when I’m trying to cross stitch. Invariably when I want to cross stitch is when she decides it’s time to get in my lap. And there’s no room for both stitching and cat, so cat takes precedence.

I should just tell her to get lost, but I feel guilty when I do. Plus if I do that, she will get down, but then she comes back and we go through the same routine later, again and again and again. She’s gonna get her way, come hell or high water ~ or my cross stitch. And I can’t let her sit there while I stitch because if I do, then my stitching ends up full of cat hairs, and it’s a mess.

So what all this boils down to is, even people who like being alone get lonely at times. At least this hermit-person does. It doesn’t happen very often, but it does happen. And the cool thing is, I get to see my friend tomorrow night!

WAY COOL!! YIPPEE!!

Yup, I have a doctor’s appointment in Orange County tomorrow morning, and it’s an in-office visit, and my friend lives in Orange County. So after I’m done seeing my doctor, I’m going to goof around for awhile, and then I’m going to my friend’s house for the evening. We’ll watch Doc Martin, we’ll eat dinner, and we’ll talk about all the things we haven’t been able to talk about all these months. And we’ll hug each other, and we’ll look at each other, and we’ll LAUGH long and loudly.

I can’t wait, and neither can she. She told me so when I called her to tell her I was coming.

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. ~ Proverbs 17:17, NKJV.

Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful. ~ Proverbs 27:6, NKJV.

As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend. ~ Proverbs 27:17, NLT.

Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. ~ John 15:13, NKJV.

So I guess what I’m learning out of all this is that it’s okay to be alone, but it’s also okay to need ~ and want ~ the fellowship of others.

Thank God for my friends!!

And maybe my blank page goofiness at the beginning was an expression of loneliness, because the page, when completely blank, might have been lonely in all it’s white blankness, and when they added that ridiculous phrase, maybe the words made it feel less lonely ~ if an inanimate object can feel anything at all.

Here’s to a little laughter during COVID-19!

My Brain Has Flown the Coup, and Then Come Back Again

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At the beginning of my last post, Ideas Flitting In and Out, I suggested some possible titles I was thinking about using for a blog post. The above was one of them. I kind of liked it so I thought I’d use it, considering I’m having trouble gathering enough thoughts to create a sentence, much less a whole blog post.

Lily, my cat, has decided that right now is the time for her to crawl into my lap and be affectionate. So that’s what she’s done, purring loudly, with her head nudging my right elbow, as I’m trying to type. Of course it’s almost impossible to concentrate, much less write down what I’m thinking about, with her doing all that, but it’s hard to turn her away because her motor and her beautiful blue eyes are so appealing.

Just thought I’d let you know what fun I’m having while I’m trying to write! Lily has always been a gift from God, and I love her dearly, but it gets interesting when she wants me to pet her right when I’m trying to write.

Back at it, Lily notwithstanding…

I’ve been feeling less depressed since that memory surfaced last Thursday while I was writing, and I’m very relieved about that. It’s extremely difficult for me to function when I get that depressed. It’s hard for me to blink and breathe when it gets that bad, so I can’t get anything done, not even reading my Bible. 

Fortunately, as I said, I am feeling a bit better, so I’m blinking and breathing easier and more often, thankfully. It’s kind of like a boil was lanced when that memory came up, to use an analogy. I do think I’ll need to explore the well from that memory with McT, because I’m not sure I’m done with it yet. Thankfully I’m supposed to have a phone appointment with him this afternoon.

So I had my appointment with McT, and it was, as always, a really good conversation. He is so easy to talk to! He just makes things easier. You know, things. Things that are hard to talk about. Things that hard to think about. Things that are hard to see, or hard to hear. I’m more and more able to trust him with the really hard stuff, the bits and pieces of my life that I’ve never been able to tell anyone.

The reason it feels like my brain has flown the coup is because, even though I’m feeling less depressed, most of the time my mind is blank, without thoughts ~ thoughtless, as it were, and I can’t figure out where they’ve all gone. I seem to be able to think enough to speak, so where are my thoughts when I want to write? It’s very frustrating and distressing.

I hate feeling like I have to wing it without knowing what’s going to come out when I say something. I have to trust myself, and that’s even harder than trusting God or McT. I have to trust that I won’t blurt out something stupid or obscene, or that I won’t say something that goes against what I believe or that dishonors God in some way.

I learned early on that I couldn’t trust my own reality, something that’s common amongst abuse survivors, because no one believed anything I told them. Plus Harry forced us to lie about what he was doing to us.

There’s a certain point at which someone who is forced to lie all the time begins to believe that the lies she’s telling are actually true. I think that happened to me, and was probably at least partly why I repressed the truth and remembered the lies. I couldn’t have survived otherwise.

But now that I’ve experienced so much healing at the Hand of God, I’m beginning to learn that I can trust myself and my reality. It’s been a hard lesson to learn, even harder than learning to trust God. I’ve always had the Bible to show me I can trust God, but I’ve never had anything on which to base any ability to trust myself, other than just… myself. Which didn’t make me feel confident at all. I mean, I wasn’t able to trust myself before, so why would I trust myself now? And no one else trusted me, so why would I trust myself?

However, as I’ve gotten stronger and more and more healed, I’ve grown more and more confident. And I’ve learned that my voice is worthy of being heard, and that I no longer have to remain silent. I can trust that what I have to say is just as meaningful and useful as anyone else’s message, because I have God on my side, and He will always come first.

It’s taken me over a week to write this post. I started on June 9th, and I’m almost ready to publish it today, nine days later. It’s evolved through a number of topics ~ as I thought it would ~ and in the process I feel like my brain has flown back into the coup.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. ~ James 1:17, KJV.

God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through? ~ Numbers 23:19, NLT.

Trust is a big thing for me. It has to be earned, and I’ve tried hard to earn the right to trust myself. I’ve tried hard to earn the right for God to trust me, if you can do that. I hope you can, because I desire that God would trust me above all else.

But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. ~ Hebrews 11:6, NKJV.

 

Ideas Flitting In and Out

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I’ve tried to think of a good title for this post, and I finally came up with the above offering. I thought of My Brain Has Flown the Coup or possibly, I Have No Idea. Or Is It Ideas? Or maybe, Depression Is a Mack Truck and I’ve Been Mowed Down.

That last should tell you something about my state of mind, and it’s also the main reason why I haven’t posted in almost a month (my last published post was on May 14th ~ Of Life and Death, and Life Again). The main reason I’m so depressed seems to be because of the death of Ravi Zacharias, but I don’t really understand why that would be so. I know where he is, and I know that I will get to meet him in person one day, as well as, and even more importantly and marvelously, the fact that I’ll be able to meet Jesus and greet Him face to face ~ always my fondest and deepest desire.

But for some reason I just can’t seem to shake this deep funk of a depression that I’ve fallen into, and it started when I heard the news that Ravi Zacharias was dying, and then that he had died.

It feels like I’ve fallen ~ or been pushed or thrown ~ to the bottom of a deep, deep, waterless well, from which there is no exit. And if I cry out for help the only answer I get is the echoes of my own shrieks and cries. The darkness is so thick that I can’t see my hand in front of my face, but if I feel for the walls, my fingers touch slimy stones up as high as I can reach. I feel like I’m about four years old, and I’m terrified. Someone has thrown me down here somehow, and abandoned me here, and I don’t know why.

What did I do wrong?? 

What did I do wrong??

What I’ve just described has all the earmarks of a memory, and I wish, oh how I WISH, I didn’t have to be alone while it’s coming up!! I know God is with me. He’s always with me, but it would be so much easier if there were a physical, trustworthy person here. I haven’t seen McT in person ~ in his office ~ since the quarantine began in March. I’ve had phone appointments with him, and I’ve so appreciated his willingness to do that, but there are times when you just need a physical presence. He does read these blog posts, however, so I know he’ll find out what’s going on soon enough.

In light of what just surfaced, and from what I’ve come to understand about Ravi’s position in my life, if I can word it that way, vis à vis him being one of only two or three positive male role models that I’ve ever had in my life, maybe this depression has been about feeling abandoned when he died. While I know that Ravi didn’t abandon me, I think his death triggered this memory, and the abandonment contained therein.

I don’t understand how people can be so cruel! What could a four year old child possibly have done that would have warranted being treated like that?!?!

I forgive them. I forgive them. I forgive them. I forgive them! I FORGIVE THEM!!!

I forgive them, and I ask God to forgive them. I pray that God forgives them.

Now I just feel inexpressibly sad. Sad for the little girl that was me, who had to live through such hell. I used to hate her, but now I love her soooSOOO MUCH!! She was so incredibly brave and courageous! I’m crying now at how valiant and lionhearted she was throughout the years of her existence. If it hadn’t been for her the rest of us would never have made it. That was Catherine Belinda for you! I celebrate you, Catherine Belinda, and I thank God that He created you!! I thank God that He created you first!!

God is good. God is good ALL the time, and I love Him so!!

God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. ~ Ephesians 2:8-10, NLT.

Of Life and Death, and Life Again

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This will probably be a bit of a hodge podge post, at least at first. It’s been a long time since I did any writing, here or anywhere else. I don’t know, being quarantined seems to be messing with my mind. I’ve been having a hard time concentrating.

I’m signed up to take an online class with RZIM (Ravi Zacharias International Ministries). I thought it would provide structure, and give me something to do with my time, but it doesn’t seem to be working. I can’t concentrate on the lectures enough to learn the material. Plus we had an assignment for the second week of class, and I couldn’t generate enough interest to make myself do it. In my own defense, it was kind of a complex assignment, but I could have gotten it done with a little planning. So, in summary, I’m probably going to have to drop the class, which I really hate having to do. I hate giving up on anything, especially something I’ve paid for, and especially something academic.

I’m terribly disappointed in myself because of it, but I don’t know what else to do.

At the moment I feel like nothing more than a huge ball of boiling emotions. If someone were to ask me a question right now I probably wouldn’t be able to answer them, because all these feelings would get in the way.

Ravi Zacharias, the head of RZiM, was diagnosed a few months ago with cancer. He’s been receiving treatment at a cancer hospital in Houston, Texas, but last Friday, his daughter sent out an update saying that his doctors are sending him home because they’ve done all they can for him, and no other treatment options remain, as his cancer is very rare in it’s aggressivity.

Which basically means they’re sending him home to die.

Ravi Zacharias is someone I’ve grown to greatly respect in the years since I began taking courses through the RZIM Academy, and even before that I’ve always held him in high regard for his stance on the Bible, and his general wisdom and Christian worldview. But since I began taking these courses, I’ve grown to love him even more, and this news saddens me greatly.

As I said, I feel incredibly sad, but I know I should be rejoicing, because, while he will die, death isn’t the end. It’s not like he’ll die and then just be a corpse rotting in a grave someplace. He’ll die and then move to Heaven, and he’ll get to meet Jesus face to face, which is the best of all possible realities. I can’t think of anything more wonderful, marvelous or amazing than to meet Jesus face to face. It’s my fondest hope and greatest desire. But I’d always hoped to meet Ravi in person here on earth, and if he dies that won’t happen.

I’ve come to realize that Ravi is one of maybe two or three good male role models I’ve had in my life, even though I’ve never spent any time physically in his presence. Just his wisdom and insistence on following Jesus and only Jesus have been formative for me in so many ways. McT is the same, as well as being my soft place to fall when I need it.

There could be more, but this is the first time I’ve ever allowed myself to think about having a male role model, because I’ve never permitted myself to trust anyone of the male persuasion enough to allow them to be a role model to me. I’ve never let anyone who’s male to get that close to me before.

Kinda scary, but I’m doing it.

Big step! Yay for me, thanks be to God!!

Considering that it’s probably taken me two weeks or more to write this, I guess I’ll finish now…

…that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. ~ Philippians 3:10-11, NKJV.

For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ. So I really don’t know which is better. I’m torn between two desires: I long to go and be with Christ, which would be far better for me. But for your sakes, it is better that I continue to live. ~ Philippians 1:21-24, NLT.

The Beauty of the Cross

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This is Passion Week. For Christians it’s possibly the most important week of the whole year, with the possible exception of Christmas.

I am writing about this because, aside from it being vitally important to the church as a whole because of its central place in church doctrine, it’s what gives my life meaning. And it’s that meaning that I want to focus on here.

The Cross. The Cross of Christ. For me there is nothing more beautiful than the cross and the crucifixion. All my hope rests in the cross, because that’s where Jesus took my sins upon Himself. He bore the punishment that I deserved. The innocent Son of God was willing to leave His Majesty and Heavenly Throne, and all that that entails, to come down to earth and assume the body of sinful human flesh. He was willing to come here and be tempted in every way the same as we are, and yet He would do it without giving in to temptation, without sinning. Not even ONE TIME!!

How amazing is that??!!

That gives me hope that there’s someone out there who understands me. Who understands what I’m going through on a day-to-day, minute-to-minute basis, because He’s experienced the same things, yet somehow He managed to get through them victoriously.

Now you might say, “Well, of course He was victorious! He was God!”

But let me remind you, yes, He was God. He was 100% God, but He was also 100% human. So the human part of Him had to endure the temptation, and I’m sure it wasn’t easy. The divine part is what helped Him succeed, but there was always that human part too. We can never forget about that.

So the divine part of Jesus knew what the outcome would be. That He would triumph over death and Hell, over all Satan’s plans. But the human part still felt the need to pray that His Father would take the cup away in the Garden of Gethsemane if it was at all possible, and He sweated drops of blood during His prayers because He was so stressed about it.

Then, accompanied by the disciples, Jesus left the upstairs room and went as usual to the Mount of Olives. There He told them, “Pray that you will not give in to temptation.” He walked away, about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, “Father, if You are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from Me. Yet I want Your will to be done, not Mine.” Then an angel from heaven appeared and strengthened Him. He prayed more fervently, and He was in such agony of spirit that His sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood. ~ Luke 22:39-44, NLT.

Also, the divine part of Christ knew that He would have to be separated from the Father during the time that He would take the sin of the whole world upon His body, because God cannot look on sin, so He couldn’t look at Jesus at that point. But when Jesus was hanging on the cross, the human part of Him was in agony because of being abandoned by His Father for that period, even though the divine part understood why,

My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? Why are You so far from helping Me,
and from the words of My groaning? ~ 
Psalm 22:1, NKJV.

And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”) ~ Mark 15:34, NIV.

I’ve come to believe that the cup of suffering Jesus prays about in Luke 22:42 isn’t so much the physical suffering inherent in the scourging and the crucifixion, though granted, they are agonizingly and excruciatingly painful all by themselves. Rather, I think the suffering Jesus was praying about was the abandonment from the Father He had to endure while He was on the cross once He took on the sin of all mankind.

Think about it. The entire time Christ was on earth He experienced extremely close fellowship with the Father. The rest of us should be envious of that kind of fellowship! He could talk to God anytime He chose, and have no problem hearing God speak to Him. How many of us have bemoaned being able to hear from God like that? I know I have!

Many times He spent all night in prayer, and I’ll bet it wasn’t a chore, because He was talking with His Father. After one of those all-night sessions, He chose His twelve disciples,

Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. And when it was day, He called His disciples to Himself; and from them He chose twelve whom He also named apostles: Simon, whom He also named Peter, and Andrew his brother; James and John; Philip and Bartholomew; Matthew and Thomas; James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon called the Zealot; Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot who also became a traitor. ~ Luke 6:12-16, NKJV.

So the divine part of Jesus had the hope of the resurrection in mind, but the human part of Him experienced fear ~ for example when He was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane (see above, also Matthew 26:36-46, Mark 14:32-42). His divine part would have enabled Him to overcome the temptation to give in to the fear felt by His humanity, but He felt it nonetheless. Plus God sent an angel to strengthen Him, which probably helped a lot,

Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. ~ Luke 22:43, NKJV.

I wonder how many times we’ve had angels helping us and we didn’t even know it!

My pastor, Pastor Jack Hibbs, said something during his sermon this morning that made a whole lot of sense to me, given my life, and given what I’m writing about here. He said that people lose hope when they become afraid. I think that’s part of what’s happening during this pandemic we’re all going through right now, but it’s also relevant to me.

When he said that, I realized that’s why Harry was able to steal my hope throughout my childhood. He put me in constant fear and terror of being beaten and/or raped, plus he kept threatening me with his revolver if I ever told anyone about what he was doing to me. And he made me think that God hated me as well. So I was always afraid of him and of God, of being physically harmed and/or dying.

Then I found out that everything he’d ever told me was nothing but a pack of lies.

What a RELIEF!!! 

I didn’t have to be afraid anymore. God wasn’t who Harry had made Him out to be. All of a sudden I could hope again.

HOPE is the OPPOSITE of FEAR, and I received hope from the cross when Christ took away my sins and broke the power of death over my life. And at the same time He broke the power of death over me, and gave me hope, He also broke the power of fear over me.

Isn’t that the most beautiful thing you’ve ever heard?

I think so!

Of Thoughts and Knots

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This post will be a bit of a milestone because it’s my 100th post. How cool is that? I hope it’s been as meaningful for you as it’s been for me!

I haven’t posted in a while, mostly because I’ve had lots of thoughts zooming around in my mind, but no way of getting them beyond my skull. So I finally decided to start typing and see what falls out.

So here I am…

As of today, April 7th, California has been on lockdown for 20 days. I’ve been out three times ~ or is it four, or maybe five ~ to buy food or go to McDonald’s for a mocha frappé during that time. I was able to get groceries via Instacart on my birthday, and I’ve ordered embroidery floss online from Amazon and DMC so I can work on the samplers I got myself for my birthday.

Aside from that, I’m watching TV ~ Say Yes to the Dress, and a couple of fun shows I found on the Home and Garden Network, namely Fixer to Fabulous, and Home Town.

I’m also reading my Bible, about four chapters every day. I just finished the Book of Hebrews and the Book of James, two of my favorite books, along with Romans, Genesis, Jonah, and the Gospel of John.

On Saturday I realized all of a sudden that this is Easter Week. I don’t know how it slipped by me, but it did. It will be strange not going to church for Easter Sunday ~ actually Resurrection Sunday would be the proper terminology, seems to me. But because California is still on lockdown, and will probably remain so for the foreseeable future, online church is what we’ll have. However my church’s live-streamed services are really good. Even before everything got all messed up they were live-streaming the services and posting them on Facebook Live as well. But now they’ve really ramped up the online stuff.

Every weekday the online church has something going on every hour from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m., and every age group is represented in the activities. My church is kind of a megachurch in southern California, called Calvary Chapel Chino Hills, and by megachurch I mean that regularly about 1500 people attend each service. My pastor, Jack Hibbs, is a wonderful preacher who teaches right from the Bible.

About eight years ago, in 2012, I was looking for a new church. I had started listening to Jack Hibbs on the radio, and I really liked his preaching, because he didn’t mince words and taught straight out of the Bible, and I very much liked that. So I decided to check out one of their services to see what they were like. And when I got there I knew immediately that I had found my church.

The two things that really captured my heart were first, that Pastor Jack loves babies. He does baby dedications every service when the country isn’t on lockdown, and babies trust him enough to go to him. And second, Pastor Jack isn’t afraid to address political issues from the pulpit. I really respect him for that.

I’ve made a tradition for myself of watching the movie The Passion of the Christ every year sometime between Palm Sunday and Resurrection Sunday. It’s a very difficult movie to watch, but I’ve found it to be the most accurate depiction of what Christ actually endured during His trial and crucifixion of anything I’ve seen, and I feel a need to remind myself of what He suffered to save my soul. And this is my way of doing that.

So that’s my main job for this week ~ to watch The Passion of the Christ. I might watch it more than once, depending on when during the week I watch it the first time, partly because it’s done with subtitles in two or three different languages, none of them in English, and I find it interesting to watch without and again with subtitles.

This post is turning out to be train-of-thought writing, which is partly why it’s taking me so long to finish and publish. As something occurs, and it seems important enough to write about, then I have to figure out the best way to say it ~ and then, of course, write it down. So everything is coming out in dribs and drabs.

Would that it came out in a river, so I could write and publish it all at once!

It’s so frustrating when it feels like I’m writing slower than molasses in January!

Oh well… I guess I’ll just keep word, word, wording along until I reach a finishing point. Hopefully that will be any word now!

Ever onword…

I started working on my cross stitch sampler. You know, the one I got myself for my birthday? I showed you a picture of it in Joyful Celebration and Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream. As I was stitching this evening one of the strands of thread got a knot in it, one of the most frustrating things that can happen to someone who does counted cross stitch. I still can’t figure out how it happened, because I wasn’t stitching when it happened. I wasn’t touching the thread at all.

It must have been magicSo now I have to try and get the knot out, because otherwise I’ll have to throw that strand of floss away ~ and I HATE wasting embroidery floss.

GRRR…

That’s how I feel about that knot. HARRUMPH!!!

So now I’m working on letting God have the problem of the knot so I can go to sleep.

And I think I’ve finally reached a point where I feel like I’m done writing this! Yippee!!

This post has been pretty disorganized, and I apologize for that. More than anything it’s been a chronicle of my week in quarantine ~ and it’s been a disorganized week, thus my disorganized writing.

And now to turn out the light…

In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, LORD, make me dwell in safety. ~ Psalm 4:8, NIV.

Update: when I woke up the next day, I took the embroidery floss that had the knot in it into the bathroom to see if I could get it out, and lo and behold, I was able to after much prayer. God showed me how by using two needles to tease it out by gently working on different parts of the knot. Oh my goodness, but I was SOOO HAPPY when, all of a sudden, the floss was knot-free, because the knot vanished just as unexpectedly as it had appeared.

Also, I never managed to watch The Passion of the Christ because when I went to put the DVD in the machine, I couldn’t find the disc. So

But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. ~ 1 Corinthians 15:57, NKJV.

Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! ~ 2 Corinthians 9:15, NKJV.

Enforced Hermit-hood Makes Me Feel Rebellious ~ Sort of

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As much as I like being alone, I’ve found that it’s a different feeling when you choose to be alone, as opposed to when you’re forced to be alone because of a government-enforced quarantine.

Hermit-hood is a lot harder to maintain when someone else is forcing you to do it. It doesn’t make me want to run out and stage a wild party or anything like that, but I’m finding myself entertaining some unfamiliar feelings. Things like, I don’t WANNA stay inside! Or, WHY do I have to stay inside?! I wanna go out and PLAY!!

Then I did my daily Bible reading from Philippians 3 and 4,

I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through [Christ] who gives me strength. ~ Philippians 4:10-13, NIV.

I’ve read this passage of Scripture many times, but this time God helped me to put a different slant on it simply by reading verse 13 in context with the rest of the passage. I don’t think I’d ever done that before ~ and what a difference it made! Philippians 4:13 says,

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. ~ Philippians 4:13, NKJV.

I say this verse to myself all the time, for instance, when I’m climbing the stairs from my garage to my apartment with a load of groceries. As I’m huffing and puffing up the stairs, trying not to drop the bags of food, I mutter under my breath,

I can do all things through Christ who is my strength (Philippians 4:13, my paraphrase), huff, next step, shift the bags from hand to hand…

I am strong in the Lord and in the power of His might (Ephesians 6:10, my paraphrase), puff, next step, shift the bags again…

God is my strength and power, and He makes my way perfect (2 Samuel 22:33), huff, next step, again, shift the bags from hand to hand…

I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength (Philippians 4:13, NLT.), puff, shift the bags yet again…

Repeat until I’ve made it all the way up the stairs and reached my front door, thank God!

If all that sounds a bit arduous, that’s because it is. I usually have four or five bags of groceries, but I hate, and I do mean HATE, making more than one trip getting them up to my apartment. It just feels wasteful, and ridiculous as it sounds, I feel lazy doing it that way. So regardless of what I have to do, I manage to haul ALL my bags up at the same time. It may take longer because I have to do it one step at a time, but I get it done, Scripture verses and all.

My point in relating that long tale is that I meditate on Philippians 4:13 all the time without really being aware of it, as I’m sure many Christians do, at least partly because I talk to myself (the only time it’s bad if you talk to yourself is if you have to ask yourself what you just said ~ hehehe!). But how many of us have ever looked at that verse in context with the rest of the passage? In context puts a completely different slant on it. It doesn’t change the meaning of it at all, but it takes on a whole new and deeper significance when you look at it in context.

Let me explain.

Taken alone, it’s true that we can depend on Christ to strengthen us so we can accomplish whatever tasks we need to get done. He is completely trustworthy and will always keep His promise to fulfill His Word,

“The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry. It is the same with My word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it. ~ Isaiah 55:10-11, NLT.

And,

God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through? ~ Numbers 23:19, NLT.

So Philippians 4:13 could be taken as a standalone verse.

But you can’t ever take any one verse by itself without considering that verse in context with the verses around it (which I suppose I just did with the verse above. Hmm…). So regardless of the circumstances I’ve learned to be content ~ whether I’m hungry or well fed, in need or well supplied. And I’ve learned the art of contentment because I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.

God is amazing!

How cool is that!!

Joyful Celebration and Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream

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Today, March 20, is my birthday. I turn 67 years old today. I’m not one of those people who is afraid of getting old. I’m proud of my age because it’s proof of God’s work in my life. God has gotten me this far, and I give Him all the glory.

Today I’m going to start working on a counted cross stitch project that I purchased for my birthday. It’s a beautiful sampler from a company called Long Dog Samplers. Long Dog Samplers is based in Great Britain, and is owned by a woman named Julia Line. She’s the one who designs all the samplers, and every one of them is truly a work of art.

I actually bought three samplers from Long Dog Samplers. Originally I was going to buy five or six, but that would have been too expensive, so I whittled it down to three. The one I’m going to make first is called Plight of Fancy, and it looks like this:

Plight-of-Fancy

I was drawn to this sampler because of the vivid colors, plus samplers are my favorite kind of cross stitch. Julia (her friends call her Jools) got her inspiration for this sampler from 17th century European band samplers. I think it’s beautiful, don’t you?

I’m also going to do some reading, and I’m going to see if I can get some ice cream, which, given the current quarantine situation, should be an interesting endeavor. I’m going to see if I can order some Ben & Jerry’s pints. I have two favorite flavors: Boom Chocolatta Cookie Core, and Cookies & Cream Cheesecake Core.

Here’s a little update: there’s this company called Instacart where you can order and pay for your groceries online. Then one of their shoppers will go to one of the local markets, purchase your order for you, and deliver it to your home. So that’s what I did, and my order just arrived!

Way cool! Now I can celebrate my birthday with Ben & Jerry’s!

I think I’ll be using Instacart again. It’s so much easier than leaving and going to the store myself, especially now when everyone has to self-quarantine because of the coronavirus.

I want to end by listing what I’m grateful for. I have SOOO MUCH for which to be thankful!! First and foremost is the cross and Christ’s sacrifice for my sins. If it weren’t for Jesus dying on the cross for me, I would be dead, because one of my suicide attempts would have succeeded. I thank God that none of them did. I’m so glad to be alive that I can’t express it in words.

I’m also grateful for God’s Word. I love the Bible, and I fall more in love with it everytime I read it, because each time God shows me some new aspect of His character, or some fresh tidbit about the way different parts of it are connected to each other. He also shows me in many different ways how deeply He loves me, which is always healing to know.

The law of the LORD is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever. The decrees of the LORD are firm, and all of them are righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb. By them your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward. ~ Psalm 19:7-11, NIV.

So on this anniversary of my birth I have much to be thankful for. I used to think my birthday was cursed because it’s usually on the first day of Spring. In the cult the first day of Spring is a fertility rite, and is celebrated as such. So I used to think that the cult planned my birthday to be on March 20th so I could be used for sexual purposes in the cult, and as a consequence I hated my birthday.

But in recent years God has shown me that He wanted me to be born on March 20th, because it is the first day of Spring, and it’s symbolic of the new birth in Christ. When I understood that I felt much better about it, and now I like the fact that my birthday is on the first day of Spring most years.

God is SOOO GOOD to me!!

God is good ALL the time!!

Feeling the Divide

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Earlier today I discovered that someone had used my debit card to steal $139 from my checking account using a website in Toronto, which meant that there was also a $1.11 credit card issuer cross-border fee, because the charge was made in a foreign country. The website was one I had used before, but the last time was over a year ago, so I knew this $140.11 wasn’t mine. So I immediately called my bank and disputed it, which meant I had to cancel the debit card and get a new one.

The lady on the phone told me it would take about ten days for the new card to arrive, as well as ten days for the $140.11 to be restored to my checking account, at which point I told her that I needed the card today, because I had to buy new batteries for my TV remote. The last batteries I bought only lasted one month.

Harrumph!! Lousy batteries!! And I can’t take them back to the store where I purchased them because I don’t have the receipt.

Arrgh!! Rats!!

I have a feeling I indirectly brought this on myself. I’m having a very difficult time making it to church on Sundays. I think I’ve mentioned before that I would make an excellent hermit (I Would Make a Great Hermit), and my hermiting desires are making it extremely difficult for me to do what I know is God’s will and get myself to church every Sunday,

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another ~ and all the more as you see the Day approaching. ~ Hebrews 10:24-25, NIV.

I’ve become aware that I’m not requiring enough of myself ~ especially in the area of church attendance. It was kind of like a revelation, and once I understood the problem, I could no longer ignore it. I could no longer skip church on Sundays just because I didn’t feel like going, even if they did live-stream the services ~ which they’d been doing for the last couple of months. I’d been using the fact that they were live-streaming the services as my excuse for not going. As long as I could watch the live-streamed service it was okay if I didn’t attend the service in person. I knew in my heart that I was lying to myself with that excuse, but at least I was hearing the Word being preached.

And then God showed me that I wasn’t requiring enough of myself, and that I had to start going to church again. It was no longer enough to watch the live-streamed service on my computer.

Rats!!

like staying home! I don’t want to leave my apartment!!

I made it to church for one Sunday after that revelation, but no more after that. After that first Sunday I knew I should continue going, but I just didn’t want to. I could feel myself making a conscious decision to not go ~ to disobey God and His Word,

To go against what you are told is like the sin of witchcraft. Not to obey is like the sin of worshiping false gods. You have turned away from the Word of the Lord. So He has turned away from you being king. ~ 1 Samuel 15:23, NLV (New Life Version).

I knew I was being disobedient, but I couldn’t stomach the idea of leaving my apartment to go to church, so I stayed home, and asked God to forgive me for not going. Basically I used His grace as a convenient crutch, or should I say I abused His grace, something I’m not proud of.

And then the money was stolen from my checking account.

That sequence of events made an immediate connection in my mind. I don’t think God was punishing me for my disobedience, but I think it’s possible that my rebellion might have opened the door for the devil to gain a foothold. So I picked myself up and repented, truly this time.

And no matter how much I don’t want to go, I’ll make myself go to church!

As this whole thing evolved this afternoon and evening, I’ve felt extremely disappointed in myself, and I’ve had a hard time believing that God will protect me from the consequences of my behavior. I know He’s forgiven me, because His Word says He has, but actions have consequences, and I deserve to bear the brunt of those actions. I deserve the consequences. I don’t want them, but I deserve them, and that’s what I’m struggling with now. That and feeling like God is disappointed in me. That right there is very hard for me to deal with. I hate thinking that God could be disappointed in me!

O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? ~ Romans 7:24, NKJV.