Author Archives: sarahjesusnlily

About sarahjesusnlily

My name is Sarah Abigail Kuriakos. I come from a background of extreme child abuse, and it almost destroyed my life. My mother tried to kill me while I was an infant, my father threatened to kill me if I told anyone what he was doing to me, and I tried suicide nine times as an adult. Fortunately, God had other plans, and none of the attempts on my life succeeded. The purpose of this blog is to chronicle the progress I'm making as God heals me from my childhood, while making sure that God is glorified in the process. I'm a voracious reader, and I enjoy crocheting, doing counted cross stitch, and creating art. I also enjoy playing with my cat Lily, listening to Christian music, and watching movies. My favorite books are, first and foremost, The Holy Bible, then Jane Eyre, David Copperfield, The Count of Monte Cristo, and To Kill a Mockingbird. I also love Christian apologetics. The most important thing in my life is knowing and serving Jesus Christ, and telling people about His great love for them. People need to know that God loves them!

My Face Has Turned to Cement.

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I was actually able to cry about Lily this afternoon, something I haven’t been able to do since she died, and I’m wondering if my inability to cry is why I’m still so depressed about it.

When I’m sad or depressed my face feels like it’s turning into cement. My eyes feel like they’re buried in my forehead, which is probably why it’s hard for me to blink and breathe, and my face feels like it’s fading into a cave and disappearing ~ all because I can’t seem to let myself feel anything about her being gone.

What triggered the tears this afternoon was an email I was writing where I was telling someone how amazing she was, accompanied by a photograph, and I included a link to my last post where I talked about her life and death (No One to Rule My Roost, Or the Holy Spirit In a Cat). After I sent the email I started thinking about how much I missed her, and then, to my surprise, I found myself crying.

Crying has always been hard for me. When I was a child tears were so unacceptable to those around me that I had to create a separate alter whose sole job was to cry whenever any of the rest of us were hurt, afraid, or angry. Unaccountably, her name was Crybaby, and she only came out when it was safe to cry, e.g. when we were alone.

Crying when Harry abused us only made the abuse worse, so tears were to be avoided at all costs around him. It was just too dangerous, and over the years stuffing negative emotions like tears became such a strong habit that now, when I want or need to cry, I can’t. The only negative emotion I’m able to express is anger, and that only at myself, unless it’s vented at the TV ~ which is probably circuitously directed at Harry.

But then I’m reminded that Jesus too felt anger and sadness. The shortest verse in the Bible is found in John, Chapter 11, which is the story where Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead:

Jesus wept. ~ John 11:35, NKJV.

Three verses before that, in John 11:33 and also in John 11:38, it says that Jesus goes to Lazarus’s tomb, and when He sees Mary weeping there, He groans in the spirit,

Then, when Mary came where Jesus was, and saw Him, she fell down at His feet, saying to Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” Therefore, when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, He groaned in the spirit and was troubled. ~ John 11:32-33, NKJV.

And some of them said, “Could not this Man, who opened the eyes of the blind, also have kept this man from dying?” Then Jesus, again groaning in Himself, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. ~ John 11:37-38, NKJV.

In the Greek, the word, to groan, in both 11:33 and 11:38, is translated, “to snort with anger”. To me this means, for one thing, that it’s okay to get angry, because Jesus was angry at what had happened to Lazarus, and at the pain Mary and Martha experienced because of it. It also means to me that Jesus was angry at what happened to me, at least that’s what I got out of it.

It also says in Ephesians,

Be angry, and do not sin”; do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil. ~ Ephesians 4:26-27, NKJV.

And in Psalms,

Don’t sin by letting anger control you. Think about it overnight and remain silent. ~ Psalm 4:4, NLT.

All of this is to say that anger in and of itself isn’t a bad thing. It’s what you do with it that’s so bad. If you use it to become bitter because you’ve held it in for years and years, you can make yourself physically ill. People with ulcers, cancer, high blood pressure, and/or heart disease can attribute at least some of their problems to the bitterness of long-stuffed anger and rage. If you use it to exact revenge, that’s another no-no. Revenge is God’s job,

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. ~ Romans 12:19, [Deuteronomy 32:35], NLT.

So the upshot of all this is that I need to let myself freely cry when I think about Lily, and when I think about missing her. I need to allow myself to feel angry at Harry directly, instead of yelling at the TV. If I could permit myself to cry openly when I’m feeling sad about losing Lily, I might be able to move through the grieving process more quickly and stop feeling so depressed all the time.

And if I allowed myself to feel the anger that I justifiably feel at Harry for the horrific things he did to me, then I might be able to move on from all of that garbage, and walk in new freedom from my past. I might get angry at myself so often, and I would find it much easier to forgive myself for all the dumb things I do. Because I can do some really dumb things, like we all do. But if I could forgive myself instead of hating myself, my life would be SOOO much easier.

Because we all make mistakes, and doing so doesn’t make us bad people, or any less lovable. It just makes us human. Christ died for me, mistakes and all. He died for me, not inspite of my flaws, but rather because of them. He loves me, not inspite of my imperfections and faults, but rather because of them ~ because they’re part of what make me unique, in addition to the strengths He created me with.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith ~ and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God ~ not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. ~ Ephesians 2:8-10, NIV.

I love that we are God’s handiwork (the New Living Translation says “masterpiece”), which is poiēma in the Greek, and is what we get the English word “poem” from. I also love knowing that it’s solely God’s gift, that nothing I do can change that gift. That is quite freeing, because I don’t have to worry that I might mess up or make God mad at me, and cause Him to withdraw the gift from me. I feel incredibly grateful for that.

Jesus has done everything for me! I wouldn’t be alive if it weren’t for Him! So regardless of any sadness I’m feeling now, I’m confident that God is still with me, and will never leave me nor forsake me, and in the fullness of time I’ll be able to experience the full joy of the Lord again.

You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness, that my soul may sing praise to You and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to You forever. ~ Psalm 30:11-12, NASB.

Thank you Jesus!!

No One to Rule My Roost, Or the Holy Spirit In a Cat

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There’s a saying, the human pays the rent, but the cat rules the roost, or in my case, I pay the rent, but Lily rules the roost.

Lily died on Saturday (today is Wednesday, five days later). My apartment feels empty and silent, even with the TV on, and I feel sad because she’s not wandering around talking and purring, weaving around between my legs, and bringing me paper wads to throw for her. And besides all that, now there’s no one to rule my roost. Below right is a closeup of Lily, taken when she was about two years old. She has small black spots on her nose, which the vet said were called freckles, and as she got older they became more pronounced, plus they increased in number. Below left is Lily as a kitten, right after I got her.

I know Jesus is the Lord of my life. I know He’s as close to me as my next breath, but He gave Lily to me as a gift, and now that she’s gone I miss her terribly. There’s a void in my apartment and my life, and I don’t know how to fill it ~ or even if I should.

If I allow myself to pause long enough to feel the void of Lily’s absence, and the resulting silence in my life, the pain becomes acute. I felt so much pain yesterday and today that I didn’t think I could stand it. I even considered running away. As usual, however, when I think of running, I remember that trying to escape is a useless endeavor, because the pain will go with me wherever I go.

Lily was twelve years old when she died. I got her in September of 2008 when she was about four months old. She was such a wonderful little fur-person! One of the most amazing things about her was that she fetched, something she was doing when I got her.

She’d bring me wads of paper, and drop them at my feet, expecting me to throw them. And when I did, she would chase them, bat them around, then bring them back, expecting me to throw them again ~ and the process would repeat itself again and again and again, until she tired of it.

Sometimes she would drop the paper wad too far away for me to reach it, so I’d tell her, “Lily, it’s too far away. I can’t reach it. You have to bring it closer.” And if I said all three sentences she would bring the wad of paper close enough so I could reach it and throw it for her again. I tried saying only one of the phrases, or two of them, but that didn’t work. It was only if I said all three of them in that order that she’d bring it back to me, and we’d go through the whole thing all over again.

She was very selective about which paper wad to use. I used to throw a wad on the floor for her to chase, but she’d ignore that one, and go get another that was, to her mind, much better suited for her purposes. I never did figure out what characteristics she was looking for, but she certainly seemed to have something in mind.

Then there were times when she’d put the wad of paper in my shoe, and I wouldn’t find it till later when I went to put on my shoes so I could go out. I’d try to put my foot in the shoe, and ~ oops! I couldn’t put it on. There was something in it. And I’d reach in and find one of Lily’s paper wads.

Lily could make me laugh better than almost anyone. One of her favorite things used to be redecorating my hair. She’d climb onto my shoulders and start chewing on my hair, usually after I’d washed it and it was still wet. I would have combed it out and arranged it the way I wanted it, and that was when Lily would get up there and start rearranging it, so it would look completely different when she was done. Sometimes she even changed the side on which it was parted, and I’d have to go back and re-rearrange everything once she’d finished her work.

On the right, she’s on my shoulders redecorating my hair, one of her favorite things to do. On the left is Lily and me on my couch in January of 2018. She’s lying on me so my face is covered and all you can see is my hair. Usually, she didn’t like having her picture taken, but this time she wanted to be the center of attention.

Silly funny kitty! I loved her so! I miss her so! My apartment is so empty without her!

I’m grateful for many things with regard to Lily, and all the cats God blessed me with over the years. Rosie and Lily were the last two, and they probably had the most significant influence. God used Rosie to save me from killing myself, and also to rescue me out of the suicidal mindset I’d been in most of my life.

It took about five years, but having her to care for made it so I wasn’t always focused inward and constantly thinking about my pain ~ because I was in pain. I was in agony because God hadn’t started healing me from my childhood yet. That process didn’t really begin until I got Rosie. Once I had her I had someone other than myself to focus my attention and energy on, who actually seemed to love me, even if she was just a fur-person, and not human. I realize now that God was loving me through her, because I wasn’t yet able to accept God’s love directly.

Over the years I’ve come to appreciate that the fur-people of this world are better at loyalty and loving than most humans. They’re somehow closer to God because they’re unadulterated by sin.

Both Rosie and Lily were a blessing many times over. They could make me laugh at the silliest things, and in addition to rescuing me from suicide, God also used them to teach me about gratitude.

Gratitude is a vital ingredient for physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health, and it took furry creatures who can’t speak with words to educate me on this fact. I’m so grateful that I finally know about it, however, because it’s knowledge that I use everyday, even when I don’t feel like it.

The LORD strengthens and protects me; I trust in Him with all my heart. I am rescued and my heart is full of joy; I will sing to Him in gratitude. ~ Psalm 28:7, NET.

Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. ~ 1 Timothy 6:6, NLT.

I’ve learned that I can be grateful for what God has given me even when I’m feeling sad, like right now, because even though I miss Lily terribly, and it’s been many years since I felt this much pain, the fact is, she brought a great deal of joy into my life. I will always have those memories to fall back on. She will always be able to make me laugh because I can look back and remember the goofy things she did. I’m just hoping that the pain, especially the really intense anguish I’ve been feeling over the last few days, will decrease so I can function.

I thank you, Lord, for all the marvelous gifts You’ve given me! I’m so grateful for everything You’ve done in my life!

“…The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD. ~ Job 1:21b, NKJV.

I know this post is quite long, but I had a lot to say, given Lily’s demise and all. So please forgive me for giving you so much to read. I hope you enjoy it!

What’s In a Kiss, But How Would I Know?

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I can always tell when I’m dealing with a difficult subject, because when I start writing about it, all of sudden I can come up with every excuse in the book to not write for days, weeks, or even months at a time.

It turns out kissing is just such a subject.

There are a lot of things about romantic relationships that I don’t get, and one of the big ones is kissing. I just don’t get kissing. I don’t understand it at all. It makes no sense to me. In fact, it grosses me out, especially the kind where someone sticks his tongue down your throat.

I know God thinks kissing is okay, because it’s mentioned a number of times in the Bible, in both Old and New Testaments:

O that you would kiss me with the kisses of your mouth! For your love is better than wine. ~ Song of Solomon 1:2, RSV.

Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you. ~ Romans 16:16, ESV.

All the brethren greet you. Greet ye one another with an holy kiss. ~ 1 Corinthians 16:20, KJV.

The Apostle Paul says the same thing in 2 Corinthians 13:12 and 1 Thessalonians 5:26, at the end of both books. One thing I’m trying to understand is, what’s the difference between an ordinary kiss and a holy kiss.

McT says there is a difference, along the lines of the difference between agape love, or God’s kind of love, and eros, or physical, sexual love. The exact Greek word, eros, doesn’t appear in the Bible, but the concept does, in both Old and New Testaments, and most specifically in The Song of Solomon.

I’ll be taking my Scripture references from Chapter 4 of The Song of Solomon, the New Living Translation. Chapter 4 was written after the two lovers had wed. He calls her his bride and treasure.

You have captured my heart, my treasure, my bride. You hold it hostage with one glance of your eyes, with a single jewel of your necklace. Your love delights me, my treasure, my bride. Your love is better than wine, your perfume more fragrant than spices. ~ Song of Solomon, 4:9-10, NLT.

Everything the two lovers say to each other are compliments concerning their physical appearance, how beautiful each of them is to the other, which, if I can get past the physicality of it, is actually quite enchanting.

Young Man: You are beautiful, my darling, beautiful beyond words. Your eyes are like doves behind your veil. Your hair falls in waves, like a flock of goats winding down the slopes of Gilead. ~ Song of Solomon 4:1, NLT.

That sounds like a strange analogy to me. I would have compared her hair falling in waves to, I don’t know, a waterfall cascading, but having never seen the slopes of Gilead, I really have no basis for comparison.

Silly me! I think I’ll keep my opinions to myself, aside from what I’ve said here. It’s the poetry in the verses that matters, and who am I to question what God motivated Solomon to write. I mean Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived except for Jesus.

I’m done with my little parenthetical aside, so back to what I’m supposed to be doing… Hehehe!!

The young man doesn’t miss a chance to woo his bride. He has something nice, even beautiful, to say about every attribute of her body. He doesn’t miss any part.

Would that every husband was as wonderful to his wife as Solomon was to her!

Your neck is as beautiful as the tower of David, jeweled with the shields of a thousand heroes. Your breasts are like two fawns, twin fawns of a gazelle grazing among the lilies. ~ Song of Solomon 4:4-5, NLT.

Further along in the chapter Solomon gets even more graphic,

Your lips are as sweet as nectar, my bride. Honey and milk are under your tongue. Your clothes are scented like the cedars of Lebanon … Your thighs shelter a paradise of pomegranates with rare spices ~ henna with nard. ~ Song of Solomon 4:11,13, NLT.

A paradise of pomegranates?? What does that mean?

Given where it’s located according to Solomon’s narrative, maybe I shouldn’t ask. I’ve never even tried a pomegranate. All those seeds, you know, and for all I know, it’s the seeds he’s talking about. Pomegranates do have a lot of them, and that is where the guy plants his seed to create new life in the woman.

Then, last but certainly not least, Solomon lays claim to his bride as his own, a bid for faithfulness from her that every spouse has the right to expect from their significant other:

You are my private garden, my treasure, my bride, a secluded spring, a hidden fountain. ~ Song of Solomon 4:12, NLT.

God also expects and desires faithfulness in marriage, which He makes clear in Malachi, Chapter 2.

Didn’t the LORD make you one with your wife? In body and spirit you are His. And what does He want? Godly children from your union. So guard your heart; remain loyal to the wife of your youth. “For I hate divorce!” says the LORD, the God of Israel. “To divorce your wife is to overwhelm her with cruelty,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. “So guard your heart; do not be unfaithful to your wife.” ~ Malachi 2:15-16, NLT.

Obviously, there are times when it’s the wife who strays, so the verses could be altered to say, “So guard your heart; remain loyal to the husband of your youth…” and etc.

It seems to me that if the relationship between a husband and wife were as close and romantic as the one described between Solomon and his wife in Song of Solomon Chapter 4, then theoretically at least, faithfulness wouldn’t be a problem. Trust between the two spouses wouldn’t be a problem. However, I know that both spouses are humans, each with a mind, free will, and emotions of their own.

That’s all I can think of for now, and, given that I’ve used words and ideas that I usually can’t even think about, much less write down or talk about, I think I’ve made some progress.

Goodie for me!! Praise God!!

You Can’t Have One Without the Other

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I would like to propose that the ugliest event in all the world, and all throughout time, is also the most beautiful. That event is the crucifixion of Christ.

See, my servant will prosper; He will be highly exalted. But many were amazed when they saw Him. His face was so disfigured He seemed hardly human, and from His appearance, one would scarcely know He was a man. ~ Isaiah 52:13-14, NLT.

The scourging alone caused significant disfigurement, because the whip that was used was actually a cat-o’-nine-tails, and each cord of the whip had pieces of bone and metal embedded along its strand. Each time the whip struck its target, in this case the innocent Son of God, the pieces of bone and metal attached to the cords would dig into His skin, and more deeply into muscle, jerking pieces from His body as the Roman guard pulled the whip back to inflict another blow.

And as blow after blow dug more and more skin and muscle from His body, He lost more and more blood, and became increasingly disfigured, and appeared less and less human, and ultimately looked like not much more than a mass of quivering, moaning flesh.

But that wasn’t the worst of it. I think the worst of it was when He was on the cross, and was bearing the full weight of the sin of humanity on His shoulders. At that point God, being completely holy, could no longer look at Jesus, and had to avert His eyes. I think this was when Jesus cried out,

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.

It’s always seemed to me that what Jesus feared more than anything (when He was in the Garden of Gethsemane, sweating drops of blood [Luke 22:44] because He was in such anguish over what He knew was coming) wasn’t the physical torture of the scourging and the crucifixion. It was having to face God’s abandonment after having such close fellowship with Him over the three years of ministry, not to mention the whole of eternity past before He came to earth in the first place. That would be real torture, it seems to me, but He was willing to endure it if it meant regaining fellowship with humanity.

Jesus Christ had ~ and has ~ the most beautiful heart of all, and I’m grateful for His willingness to sacrifice everything for me to gain fellowship with the Father.

Love in action is beautiful, but it’s not a beauty that’s materially discerned, or discerned with the eyes. Love in action is perceived with the spirit.

This is my commandment: love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. ~ John 15:12-13, NLT.

I’ve discovered from my own life that God can take ugliness and turn it into something lovely,

“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me, because the LORD has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn, to console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.” ~ Isaiah 61:1-3, NKJV.

I’ve come to realize that beauty without accompanying scars is only skin deep. It’s beauty that hasn’t been earned, so to speak.

But the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the LORD does not see as man sees for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.'” ~ 1 Samuel 16:7, NKJV.

I know this to be true from hard personal experience. God has shown me that, while I might not be that attractive physically, I have a beautiful heart.

It used to bother me that I’m not physically very attractive, mostly because Harry used to tell me all the time that I was as ugly as if someone had thrown acid in my face. But it doesn’t trouble me anymore, because God showed me that He thinks I’m beautiful, and I’m much more interested in God’s opinion than I am in Harry’s.

If God thinks I’m beautiful, that’s all that matters to me. If God thinks I’m beautiful, then so do I. I like the idea of having a beautiful heart. It feels so much more meaningful than just having a pretty face, plus it makes all the pain and suffering I’ve experienced worth it, knowing that God was aware of my situation and was there, protecting me and keeping me alive through it all.

“They have built pagan shrines at Topheth, the garbage dump in the valley of Ben-Hinnom, and there they burn their sons and daughters in the fire. I have never commanded such a horrible deed; it never even crossed my mind to command such a thing!” ~ Jeremiah 7:31, NLT.

It’s very comforting for me to know that, according to Scripture, God didn’t want me to be abused, but because He gave my abusers a completely free will which He couldn’t violate, He had no choice but to let it happen. However He kept me alive and protected me from the worst of it, and I can accept that. As long as I know that God was there working to help me, I can forgive those who abused me ~ especially because I know that they will have to stand before Him come Judgment Day, and they will get their recompense for everything they did to me, and it won’t be pretty.

I don’t want bad things to happen to them. I would much rather they turn and accept Christ as their Savior, but if they don’t they will be judged for what they did.

Well, I guess that’s it. I can’t think of anything else, and I’ve taken a lot of space and words to say this much. But it all needed to be said, I think, even if it is long.

At Least She’s Pooping!

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Sometimes a reality is so odious you’d rather it didn’t exist at all, but if you look at it from a different perspective, it turns into a silver lining.

Lily is my cat, and she’s twelve years old, plus I think she’s showing signs of aging. She throws up a lot, and she’s started pooping outside her litterbox, though fortunately, I’ve never stepped in it. Also, she meows a lot more, and more loudly, than she used to.

This is Lily. It’s an older photo, but it shows her blue eyes and her orange coloring. The vet says the black spots on her nose are called freckles. They’ve become much more pronounced since this picture was taken. She’s a flame-point Siamese. I think she’s beautiful!

Lily From the Side

I took her to the vet about a year ago to try and resolve the vomiting issue, and she said Lily had pancreatitis. So she changed her food, and said she might become constipated with the new food, and if she does I can use Miralax. The only problem with that is, she didn’t tell me how to use the Miralax, and I felt embarrassed at the idea that I’d have to ask her how to use it. Silly, I know, but that’s how I felt, because Lily has become constipated. I don’t know how badly, but she’s not pooping everyday. So I’ve started praying to God that He keeps her pooping.

Oh, the things we pray for! I think we must provide God with many occasions for amusement, though thankfully and mercifully, He’s answering my prayers, regardless of how ridiculous they seem to me. Plus just the fact that I’m praying means that I’m communicating with Him, which is always a good thing.

I know I should just break down and take her to the vet. If nothing else I got a notice in my email that she’s due for her vaccinations, so I could take her in to get the shots and while I’m there ask about the vomiting and the constipation, thus killing two birds with one stone. I’ve also thought of asking if she could be in the beginning stages of feline dementia. I didn’t know such a thing existed in cats until I started working on this post, but discovered, unhappily, that it does.

It’s taken me about three weeks to write this. First I couldn’t come up with a title, and then I had too many titles, so I couldn’t decide which one to use, and finally I landed on the one you see above.

The righteous cares about his animal’s health, but even the merciful acts of the wicked are cruel. ~ Proverbs 12:10, CSB.

Keeping a grateful mindset ~ an attitude of gratitude, if you will ~ sort of requires that I look for silver linings when I’m in difficult situations, and it’s become more and more natural for me to think along these lines as God heals me from my past. So rather than bemoan the fact that Lily keeps pooping outside her litterbox, I’ve started reminding myself that at least she’s pooping, which means she’s not constipated, at least not completely anyway.

And if I get upset enough to have a panic attack, I remember that at least I’m not hitting myself, and I’m very grateful for that.

Those are just two examples, and there are others I could list, but these are the only ones I can think of at the moment. I’ll probably come up with more after I’ve published this.

Isn’t that always the way? Oh well. If that happens I’ll have more fodder to write more posts!

I love being a blogger!

So that’s where things are at, and I think I’ve finally reached a stopping point. Thank you, Jesus! I’ve been wondering how I was going to end this. Silly me, but I couldn’t figure it out. But now I have, thankfully. That’s been part of the reason it’s taken me such a long time to write this. I couldn’t figure out how to end it, so I’d write some, and then put it away for a while. Then I’d come back to it and write some more, and yada yada yada…

But now I’m done. Oh, thank you, Jesus. I feel like it’s ending a little weirdly, but at least it’s ending.

I just realized that’s another silver lining!

How cool is that?

Christ Didn’t Die On the Cross to Save Ice Cream, Nor Did Ice Cream Die On the Cross to Save Me!

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In case you can’t tell from my somewhat lengthy title, I’m having a bit of trouble with ice cream. Or more to the point, with idolatry, and even closer to the point, a particular flavor of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream.

 

 

Cookies & Cream Cheesecake Core

I’ve looked everywhere in my local vicinity and no one seems to have it. The Ben & Jerry’s website says you can get it at Target and Walmart, and Stater Bros has always carried it, but none of those places has it in stock, even though the shelf label is there.

You know how you get when you can’t find a product anywhere, so you start to fixate on it, and you get to the point where that’s all you can think about? Well, I’ve reached that point with this Ben & Jerry’s flavor. I’ve been hunting for it for a couple of weeks, and I feel like I’m going through withdrawal because I haven’t had it in so long, and I can’t find it, and I’m getting so frustrated!!

I know this sounds really ridiculous. You can laugh now, because I certainly am, albeit a bit ruefully.

I finally realized yesterday that it feels a bit like idolatry, thus the title of this post. So maybe I need to give up on my search and put my focus back on God where it’s supposed to be.

Then God gave the people all these instructions: “You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea.” ~ Exodus 20:1 and 4, NLT.

It’s not that I don’t want to put my focus back on God. It’s the idea of giving up my favorite ice cream that’s so hard to think about.

No! No!! Rats!! Harrumph!!

Yup, it’s gotta be done.

O taste and see that the LORD is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him! ~ Psalm 34:8, NASB.

How did I let myself get into this position?? I can sort of see it happening if I think about it. First, I eat too much ice cream in general. I certainly don’t need the stuff. I mean, I weigh over 200 pounds.

That’s right, over 200 pounds.

But I like it sooo much!! It tastes sooo good!! And with little else to do because of the quarantine, I’ve taken to eating ice cream everyday. I’ve rationalized it by telling myself that Ben & Jerry’s comes in pints, so the serving size is small.

Well, not really! At 200 pounds even a pint is too much, plus I could feel the Holy Spirit nudging me everytime, telling me to only eat half of it, and I ignored Him.

Uh uh uh, naughty, naughty!! And after awhile He wasn’t prompting me anymore, so I knew I’d blown it.

I like it when the Holy Spirit talks to me like that. It makes me feel like we’re partners. So I repented, and now He’s nudging me again.

Phew!! What a relief! And I only ate half this time.

I’m so proud of myself! Obedience is a good thing. I can feel His pleasure when I obey Him, which makes me smile. 

What is more pleasing to the LORD: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams. Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft, and stubbornness as bad as worshiping idols. ~ 1 Samuel 15:22, NLT.

I don’t ever want to get caught up in anything resembling witchcraft, and it’s always been my desire above all else to please God, so if having His blessing means eating less ice cream, seems to me that’s a very small sacrifice to pay to get it.

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.

That’s right. Pleasing God is more important than anything else, so that’s what I want to do!

Fibber McGee’s Closet

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There are times when my mind gets so cluttered that it feels like Fibber McGee’s closet.

Now, I realize that there are those of you amongst my readers who don’t know who Fibber McGee is. Fibber McGee was the main character of a radio show that was broadcast from 1935 to 1956. The show was called Fibber McGee and Molly, and Molly was Fibber’s wife. The reason I know about him is because my mother told me about him, and because of his untidy closet.

The closet came in because Fibber had a hall closet that was used as a running gag on the show, and it was stuffed so full of junk that everytime the door was opened everything came crashing out onto the floor with a huge, loud, racket.*

When my mind gets that jumbled and muddled, I can’t think straight. In fact, I have a hard time thinking crookedly, or even at all. I have a hard time focusing enough to read or watch TV, or even play my game.

And there’s the shock of the world. I play a computer game.

I know, horror of horrors. I’m committing a great sin. You may gasp now, and then maybe you can pray for me. I, like everyone else, can always use prayer.

So when I feel fragmented and cluttered, what I need to do most of all is talk to God, because God is my source of wisdom and healing and light and anything else I might need, especially when I can’t think straight.

And that’s what I do. I cry out to God. He’s my very present help in time of trouble,

God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. ~ Psalm 46:1, NLT.

I have no other source to whom I can turn for help when I need it,

As a result of this many of His disciples abandoned Him, and no longer walked with Him. So Jesus said to the twelve [disciples], “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Simon Peter answered, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You [alone] have the words of eternal life [you are our only hope]. ~ John 6:66-68, AMP.

And eternal life is simple enough to acquire,

This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. John 17:3, NASB.

Imagine that! All you have to do to have eternal life is believe that God is, and that He’s a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him, which is the essence of faith (Hebrews 11:6), and then with your faith, seek to know Him by reading His Word.

I find that to be wonderfully exciting, and even on days when I’m feeling confused and muddled, I’m still sure of my salvation. I know I can always call on God. I’m always sure that the Holy Spirit, the Comforter that Jesus spoke of in John 14 will be there to guide me and remind me of all the things that Jesus said,

But the Comforter, who is the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatever I have said to you. ~ John 14:26, WEB (WEB is the Webster Bible translated by Noah Webster in 1833).

I guess the upshot of what I’m getting at here is that no matter how badly I’m feeling, no matter how jumbled and confused I get, I’m never without hope. And trust me, I know what it’s like to be without hope, because Harry stole my hope when I was a child.

That’s why I was so suicidal for so many years. I tried suicide nine times because I had no hope. But God restored my hope as He healed me from my childhood, and I’m so glad He did!

*The Meaning and Origin of Fibber McGee’s Closet

 

Thinking God’s Thoughts After Him

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Johannes Kepler, the great astronomer and mathematician said that. And of all the thoughts that exist, God’s thoughts are the ones I want to think. However, the Bible says God’s thoughts are higher than ours,

My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts, says the LORD. And My ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so My ways are higher than your ways and My thoughts higher than your thoughts. ~ Isaiah 55:8-9, NLT.

So God’s thoughts are higher than ours. One place where you can find a whole lot of God’s thoughts is in the Bible, which is why it’s such a good thing to read and study it.

If you think about it, Isaiah 55:8-9 is also talking about God’s sovereignty, though if you leave it in context with the verses following, it’s also talking about the fact that God’s Word never fails, and always comes to pass, and part and parcel with that is the fact that God always keeps His promises.

For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. ~ Isaiah 55:10-11, ESV.

The sovereignty of God is one of those mysterious aspects about God that I’ve had a hard time understanding, both with respect to my own life, and with regard to the way things have worked out in other people’s lives for whom I’ve spent time in prayer.

There have been a number of people over the years, who all had cancer of one kind or another, whom I prayed for to be healed. After the first one died, leaving a wife and a five year old daughter behind, I decided I wouldn’t pray for cancer patients to be healed any longer. It was too painful when they died, and I felt like too much of a spiritual failure.

I realize that was probably pretty selfish of me, but I don’t think I can be effective before God when I pray for people if I’m fighting my own feelings of insecurity while I’m trying to pray for someone’s healing. So, while I do pray for people to be healed of other illnesses, I don’t pray for people to be healed of cancer. I direct my prayers in other directions when I’m praying for people with cancer.

Part of the reason for this is that my sister died from colon cancer back in August of 2008. I watched her die ~ and it was horrible!! The cancer metastasized from her colon to her lungs, so ultimately, what killed her was lung cancer. The cancer in her lungs asphyxiated her. Her oncologist said one of her lungs was okay, but the other lung was so bad that he was surprised she could breathe at all. He said her bad lung was one huge mass of cancer and blood clots. It made me hurt just to hear him describe it like that.

In addition to just having cancer, she had problems with her chemo drugs. For some reason they caused her to have hallucinations and delusions, but she didn’t know that’s what they were, so she didn’t ask her oncologist about it, because she was afraid he wouldn’t believe her, but would refer her to a psychiatrist, who she was sure also wouldn’t believe her.

What she did instead was talk to me, because I have a background in psychiatric problems due to my own issues and experiences. It was actually kind of amazing that she talked to me at all, because throughout my life my sister and I never got along. So all of a sudden, we were talking and relating peaceably like friends, with no arguing or bickering. It felt like a miracle.

God used her cancer to heal our relationship, a small silver lining out of the horrors of her disease, and something for which I will always be grateful.

Ravi Zacharias is someone else who died of cancer. I’ve come to realize that he had a profound influence on me, and now that he’s gone I feel like an enormous hole has been ripped in the fabric of my life.

The Bible says that God has numbered our days, and that He knew everything that would happen to us before we were born,

You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. ~ Psalm 139:16, NLT.

I understand that to mean that God knows everything, including when we’ll die ~ and I’m assuming that also means how we’ll die ~ before we’re born. And while I know we have to die from something ~ I mean they have to put something on your death certificate afterall, even if it’s nothing more than cardiac arrest.

However, I know from reading my mother’s death certificate that the immediate cause of death, for example, cardiac arrest, is just the beginning. There’s a secondary cause, and a tertiary cause as well. But if you think about it, cardiac arrest doesn’t mean anything for a cause of death. Everyone dies from cardiac arrest, because everyone’s heart stops when they die, and that’s all cardiac arrest is. So using cardiac arrest as a cause of death is meaningless as far as I’m concerned.

I guess the point I’m trying to make here is that I need to trust God. As hard as it is, I need to trust that He knows what’s best for me, He knows what He’s doing in my life.

His sovereignty is a good thing.

Let me repeat that. God’s sovereignty is a GOOD thing.

Even when I can’t see what’s up ahead, God can, and He always has my best interests at heart. He will always do and plan what’s best for me. I have to trust and believe that about Him.

I have to always remember that God and Harry are two diametrically opposed people and figures in my life. God is not Harry and never has been. And Harry was not God, thankfully, even though he tried hard to make me think he was.

These are truths that I must continually remind myself of until they are fully integrated into my very wiring, they are that much a part of who I am.

So, in closing, God’s sovereignty is a GOOD thing for me!!

Hallelujah!! Thank you, Jesus!! Thank you for birthing that truth in my heart! Please help me to keep it there, and please make it grow!!

Rats. I Just Gotta Let Myself Feel the Pain, ‘Cuz Wherever I Go There I Am.

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ddThe other evening as I was watching the news, they announced that Olivia de Havilland had died, and then later on they announced that Regis Philbin had died as well. While Olivia de Havilland might not be as familiar to many people nowadays as Regis Philbin was, she was very familiar to people my age and older. She played Melanie Hamilton in Gone With the Wind, one of her best known roles, and one for which she received an Oscar nomination. She was 104 when she died.

My point in mentioning these people’s deaths is that when I heard the news of their passing, it hit me rather hard ~ harder than I would have expected ~ and I’ve reached a point with this blog where my first thought when I’m upset about something is to come here and talk about it with you, my followers.

So here I am…

My immediate reaction when I heard the news of de Havilland’s and Philbin’s deaths was to run away. What ran through my mind was that everything was happening way too fast, and I couldn’t control it. And then I reminded myself that I’m not in control anyway, and running away is useless, because regardless of where I go, I’m still with me. Or, wherever I go, there I am, one of my favorite existential statements.

It’s impossible to escape from myself, and it’s also impossible to escape from God,

I can never escape from Your Spirit! I can never get away from Your Presence! If I go up to heaven, You are there; if I go down to the grave, You are there. If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there Your Hand will guide me, and Your strength will support me. I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night ~ but even in darkness I cannot hide from You. To You the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are the same to You. ~ Psalm 139:7-12, NLT.

Though, now that I think of it, while I might want to escape from myself, I don’t want to get away from God, because God is the only One who truly understands me and wants the best for me. And once I realized that I couldn’t run away from the pain of losing familiar parts of my life, and that I couldn’t control how quickly everything was happening, I started to cry, because I realized I had to let myself feel the pain.

And who wants to do that? It’s so very painful afterall, and no one likes to experience pain.

But then I remembered that Jesus allowed Himself to feel pain. He wept when He learned that Lazarus had died, the shortest verse in the Bible,

Jesus wept. John 11:35, NKJV.

And the cross was the ultimate expression of Jesus feeling pain, because on the cross He bore the sin, pain, and sickness of all mankind forever. In fact, that was why He came to earth and assumed human flesh in the first place,

For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And the ransom He paid was not mere gold or silver. It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. God chose Him as your ransom long before the world began, but He has now revealed Him to you in these last days. ~ 1 Peter 1:18-20, NLT.

I love that. God chose Jesus to be my ransom long before the world began. It just boggles my mind that God would plan that far ahead for my salvation, and I love Him for that. That says to me that He was thinking of me for a very long time before I was ever a thought in my parents’ minds, and not only me, but every single human being who ever existed.

And if Jesus can make that choice, can choose to do the hard stuff, even the hardest stuff of all, and experience the excruciating agony of the cross, and even worse, the abandonment of His Father, so that I ~ we ~ can have relationship with Him, well, then I can make the same choice, and allow myself to feel the comparatively small pains of my life.

I thank You, Jesus, and my Father, and Holy Spirit, for giving me that choice, and for giving me the ability and strength to make it!

WOW!! PRAISE GOD FOREVERMORE!!

I Need to Fire the Judge.

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Every once In a while, I mess up really, really bad, and last Saturday (July 11) was one of those times. And when I do I’m incredibly grateful for God’s mercy, and for King David’s ability to encapsulate my feelings in the Psalms. Psalm 51 is a particularly good example,

Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love. Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins. Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin. For I recognize my rebellion; it haunts me day and night. Against you, and you alone, have I sinned; I have done what is evil in your sight. You will be proved right in what you say, and your judgment against me is just. ~ Psalm 51:1-4, NLT.

King David wrote Psalm 51 after he was confronted by Nathan the prophet concerning his sin with Bathsheba and his conspiracy to have her husband murdered on the field of battle (see 2 Samuel, Chapters Eleven and Twelve).

And then I asked God to forgive me, because I so desperately needed His forgiveness.

So what actually happened? What did I do that made me feel such guilt and shame? As it turns out I was playing a new game on my iPad, and while the game itself was relatively harmless, at various points during the game it would offer timed challenges where you could earn extra coins if you could complete a level within a certain amount of time, for example, twenty seconds.

Now, I’ve never done very well with arcade-style games, or timed games of any kind, and I don’t play them as a general rule. They put way too much stress on me and have always been sure-fire triggers for panic attacks and self-abuse. When I downloaded this game there was no indication that it was an arcade game, or that there were any timing issues at all, so I thought I was safe.

Then I started playing it and discovered differently, but the timing challenges didn’t happen very often, and they were doable within the allotted time, so I didn’t worry about them.

Until…

Until I reached the upper levels. Once there I ran into a timed challenge that I could not beat no matter what I tried, at which point I absolutely fell apart. It drove me into a panic attack, and I started hitting myself ~ something I haven’t done in many months. In fact, it’s been almost exactly one year, because I wrote a post about God healing me of the self-abuse on July 16, 2019 (Go To Forgiveness, Go Right To Forgiveness. Don’t Pass Through Guilt, Don’t Go To Condemnation.), and interestingly enough He healed me of it in the context of playing a computer game.

So I had a panic attack and started hitting myself. Looking back, I feel a lot of shame about that, because I feel like I should have known better. I should have known better!! The problem is, when I get into situations like that, I can’t see the panic attack and subsequent self-abuse coming. I’m just blithely playing along, trying to complete the time challenge ~ and failing.

I guess that should have been my clue, that I kept failing at it, because I hadn’t failed at any of the other challenges, and I failed at this one every single time I tried. I should have stopped after two or three successive failed attempts, but somehow I just couldn’t see it. I couldn’t see that necessity, so I kept on trying until it was too late and I had reached the point of no return. It was at that point that my face was sweating and I was calling myself bad names, and after that was when I started hitting myself.

Once the self-abuse started, I kind woke up and realized what was happening, and all the rage at myself drained out of me. But I still couldn’t forgive myself. Not yet. Because, like I said earlier, I should have known. I should have KNOWN!!

I’ve always had the hardest time forgiving myself. I can forgive anyone, ANYONE, but not myself. Well, and my sister…

But even she’s easier to forgive than I am. But I’ve come to realize that in making that determination about myself, I’m really saying that I know more about me than God does ~ and that’s simply not true. And I’ve already come to understand that I would make a rotten God (or god; I Would Make a Terrible God).

McT and I talked about this situation during my phone-appointment last Tuesday, and we decided that what’s really going on is that I have a mean internal judge ~ probably all three parents internalized ~ both biological parents and my stepdad ~ who won’t let me accept that I’m human and therefore imperfect, and liable to make mistakes. When I was a kid being abused in the cult, if I made a mistake someone died, and it’s quite difficult to break that connection in my mind.

So McT and I decided that I need to fire the judge. What I really need to do is ask God to break the connection in my mind between the mistakes I was forced to make in the cult and the people who died as a result of those mistakes ~ because the mistakes were unavoidable. I had no control over them. They were forced on me by the people conducting the rituals.

My parents fostered that perfectionism at home as well. I can remember times when I would spill a glass of milk at the dinner table, and my mother would accuse me of doing it on purpose if I didn’t act abjectly remorseful.

Then there was the time after I left college when I decided to enroll in a local secretarial school. I completed the program there with the highest score anyone had ever gotten at that school ~ 99.2% overall ~ and when I told my stepdad about it, all he could say was, “Why didn’t you get 100%?” I was crushed after he said that. I felt like I couldn’t do anything right, like no matter what I did, it wasn’t good enough.

Now, I certainly don’t want to dwell on the past, but these particular events were times that, in essence, branded me. They left scars that only God can heal ~ and I believe He will do just that, just as He’s healed me of all the other things people have done to me. I believe He can and will break the connections between what happened to me in the cult and the consequences of those things, so I’m no longer trapped into doing things I don’t want to do ~ like hitting myself, because God didn’t want me to be abused in a satanic cult in the first place!

You are not to sacrifice any of your children in the fire to Molech. Do not profane the name of your God; I am the LORD. ~ Leviticus 18:21, CSB.

“The people of Judah have sinned before my very eyes,” says the LORD. “They have set up their abominable idols right in the Temple that bears my name, defiling it. They have built pagan shrines at Topheth, the garbage dump in the valley of Ben-Hinnom, and there they burn their sons and daughters in the fire. I have never commanded such a horrible deed; it never even crossed my mind to command such a thing!” ~ Jeremiah 7:30-31, NLT.

It’s comforting to me to know that God didn’t want me to be abused in the cult, that it never crossed His mind! Knowing that has really helped me in my healing process, especially with regard to some of the lies Harry told me ~ for example, that he had to abuse me because God hated me. It’s so easy to forgive him for telling me that, because I know he was seriously deceived himself when he said it.

I thank God for His healing power in my life, and for His goodness to me!!