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!

Saying Yes to Christ’s Return

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I’m feeling incredibly frustrated because I’m doing all these crazy things, and I don’t understand why I’m doing them, but I don’t seem to be able to stop. If I could understand why, then maybe I could make myself stop doing it. At least that’s how it feels anyway.

So what am I doing that feels so crazy? Well, for one thing, I can’t seem to make myself go to bed before 7 or 8 o’clock in the morning, and sometimes even later. And I’ve become obsessed with this TV show called Say Yes to the Dress on The Learning Channel (TLC). It’s a show devoted to women who are engaged to be married, and their search for the perfect wedding dress. The whole show takes place at Kleinfeld Bridal, a store located in New York City.

The reason my obsession with this TV show feels crazy is because I’m not engaged, nor am I dating anyone. I have no interest in getting married, and I have no desire to find someone to date so I can marry him. Marriage is the farthest thing from my mind. It always has been and probably always will be.

So why do I feel compelled to watch this show when I have no one to wear a wedding dress for?

I’ve been preoccupied with why just as obsessively as I’ve been fixated on watching the show, and I can think of a couple of different reasons. For one thing, when a bride comes to Kleinfeld, she always brings an entourage of people to help her find her perfect dress. And the entourage for each bride is different depending on who she is, and the kinds of people she surrounds herself with.

Almost everyone brings one or both parents, plus various and assorted sisters and sisters-in-law, along with ~ sometimes ~ brothers and/or brothers-in-law, and every once in awhile, a fiancé or two. The show is a great example of interpersonal and family dynamics in action. It brings out the best, and in many cases, the worst in relationships between the bride and her friends and/or family.

This show also brings out the worst in me, because I spend a LOT of time yelling at the friends and families of the brides that come to Kleinfeld when they’re on Say Yes to the Dress, as I mentioned that I do in a previous post (I Yell At My Television Set). The reason is that many times the bride becomes dependent on their opinions, to the point that she won’t make a decision unless they approve of her choice. And oftentimes she’s expressed a preference for the particular style of dress she likes, yet her entourage will tell her that what she likes is ugly or stupid, and they’ll then go and find dresses in styles that are completely opposite from her stated preferences. And they’ll tell her that what they’ve picked out for her is what she should be wearing. If she says she doesn’t like their choices, they’ll tell her that she’s wrong, and her “taste sucks,” and other equally derogatory remarks.

My problem with these interactions is that these people who are bossing the bride around act like they’re the ones who will be wearing the dress, but they aren’t. If they were going to be wearing the dress, then it might be appropriate for them to be voicing such strong opinions. As it is, ofttimes they treat the bride like what she wants and needs is irrelevant, when in actuality she’s the most important person there. So I spend a lot of time yelling at them, telling them to stop being so rude to the bride, and telling them that they don’t have to wear the dress so their opinion really doesn’t matter.

 Another possible reason for my interest in Say Yes to the Dress could be that the Bible talks about the church ~ and by inference, its members ~ as being the bride of Christ. Paul, the Apostle mentions it rather clearly in 2 Corinthians,

For I am jealous for you with the jealousy of God himself. I promised you as a pure bride to one husband—Christ. ~ 2 Corinthians 11:2, NLT.

Other translations render the word “pure bride” as “pure virgin”,

For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy, because I promised you in marriage to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ. 2 Corinthians 11:2, NET.

In thinking about this, I don’t see myself as being married to Christ like a Catholic nun, but rather, in terms of anticipating the return of Jesus. Christ told us to watch and be ready for His return in the Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins in Matthew 25,

At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep. 

At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’ 

Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’ 

‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’ 

But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut. 

Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’ 

But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’ 

Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour. ~ Matthew 25:1-13, NIV.

So I’m to eagerly await the soon return of my Lord. I tell you, I can hardly wait, and my anticipation grows stronger every day. And if that’s why I’m compelled to watch this show, then I say, bring it on!!

E’en so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!! ~ Revelation 22:20.

2020 Vision In 2020

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It’s New Year’s Eve, December 31st, and it was pointed out to me earlier this morning that the New Year, which begins tomorrow, and perfect vision have the same numbers ~ 2020.

2020. How cool is that!

Now you’d think I would’ve caught it on my own, because I love little details like that, but I didn’t. Someone pointed it out to me. But it doesn’t matter how I figured it out. The point is that the two are the same, and it seems to me that God wants to make something of that. He wants to bring things into focus, and I’m all for that.

Yup. I’m all for God’s wisdom more in focus in me, and increased knowledge of His Word, and greater understanding of who He is in my life. And if that means a greater awareness of my sin, so that it can be eradicated, then so be it.

Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. ~ 2 Corinthians 3:17-18, NKJV.

Some translations say, “being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.” (the ESV, NET, and RSV), and the NIV says, “being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory,“.

The point is that as we continue to feast on God’s Word, which would cause us to increase in His wisdom and also to know Him better and more deeply, we will be transformed and become more like Jesus, who IS the Word,

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God… And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. ~ John 1:1, 14, NKJV.

Becoming more like Jesus. That sounds pretty good to me!

I Yell At My Television Set

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Yup, I do, sometimes even loudly and passionately. I do it because I have all this anger and rage that needs an outlet. So instead of taking it out on myself, which would be completely inappropriate, I yell at the people in whatever TV program I’m watching. Of course, a lot of the shows I watch are about crime and all it’s ramifications, which is already a sensitive subject for me, so I have lots to yell about.

One of my favorite TV channels is Investigation Discovery, which is a channel of nothing but reality TV shows, and all the shows are True Crime stories. I’ve had a fascination for all things criminal for as long as I can remember, I think because I’m perpetually trying to understand what made my father tick, and more to the point, what made him do all the terrible things to me that he did. I think if I can understand why he did it, it will be easier to forgive him.

So I spend a lot of my time while I’m watching TV either talking to the people in the shows I’m watching, or yelling at them. If I can see that they’re going into a dangerous situation, I’ll yell at them to go a different direction, or tell them not to answer the door because the bad guy is there with a gun to kill them.

Logically, I know they aren’t real-life people, but in my imagination they’re as real as if they were standing in my livingroom. I may see them as substitutes for interactions with real people, and the thought occurs to me that interactions with imaginary people such as I’ve described are safe, because I can program in advance what people will do and say, and they will only utter what I tell them to.

The frustrating thing is that the people on TV never say what I want them to say. If they would only say what I think they should say, the story would have a much better outcome ~ at least it seems that way to me.

If only life were as easily controlled as that! Even more, if only you could dominate God like that! But then, if you could, God wouldn’t really be God, would He? I wouldn’t want to be able to rule over God. That would make me God, and I’ve already figured out that I would make a terrible God (see my previous post, I Would Make a Terrible God). God is far bigger and much better than anything human beings try to make Him out to be, and that’s the way it needs to be. Any time human beings try to put God in a box, it won’t be a box that He designed, and He won’t stay there.

So maybe the people on TV not doing what I want them to is a metaphor for the way God works in my life. Hmm… I only just thought of that. I can’t control what the people on TV are doing, and I certainly can’t control God, nor do I want to. I guess that’s the difference. I’d like to be able to control what the people say and do on my TV shows, but I don’t want to control God.

I love God just the way He is: majestic and beautiful and wonderful and amazing and marvelous and unfathomable and best of all, mysterious.

“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.

Wherever You Go, There You Are

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There have been many times, especially around the holidays, when I’ve wanted to run away, but whenever I think about doing so, I realize that running away won’t help, because when I get to wherever I choose to go, I’d still be there with whatever pain I’m trying to escape. You know, wherever I go, there I am? I’m stuck with me no matter where I am. I can’t escape myself, so trying to run away is an exercise in futility. And by the same token, trying to run away from God is also useless,

Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into Heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me. If I say, “Surely the darkness shall fall on me,” even the night shall be light about me; indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You, but the night shines as the day; the darkness and the light are both alike to You. ~ Psalm 139:7-12, NKJV.

Not only is it impossible to run from God, but it’s also impossible to hide from His love, which makes sense if you think about it, because the Bible says that God is love,

We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love,* and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. ~ 1 John 4:16, NLT. *Emphasis mine.

Romans 8, one of the most amazing and beautiful chapters in all of Scripture, talks about the faithfulness and steadfastness of God’s love,

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?… For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. ~ Romans 8:35, 38-39, NKJV.

I just love this passage of Scripture! I had also read about His promise that He would never leave me nor forsake me,

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for He has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” ~ Hebrews 13:5, ESV.

And about the fact that God never lies and always keeps His promises,

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.

And then there’s the promise of His never-ending mercy and faithfulness,

This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. ~ Lamentations 3:21-23, NKJV.

These promises mean so much to me now, because throughout my childhood I was lied to at every turn, betrayed by both parents on a regular basis, and made to know that I couldn’t trust anyone to ever keep a promise. 

Once I realized God was on my side and not against me, I began to understand that maybe He was someone I could actually trust, and once I realized I could trust Him, I began to think maybe I wanted Him around me. I wanted to feel His Presence. I wanted to experience a relationship with Him. I had already started reading His Word on a daily basis, and had figured out that the Bible was the best place to go if I wanted to learn about Him, so I began reading it as if it were delicious food, gobbling it up voraciously. And when I finished reading it through, I started over and read it again,

When I discovered your words, I devoured them. They are my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, O LORD God of Heaven’s Armies. ~ Jeremiah 15:16, NLT.

I’m still doing that ~ reading it from beginning to end, then starting over, etc., etc. I’ve done it twelve times, and benefitted greatly from it every time. It’s harder now, however, because I’ve let pride creep in. I can hear the devil whispering in my ear, telling me, “You’ve read it so many times now. You already know it. You don’t need to read it anymore!”

I’m ashamed to admit that I have those thoughts, but there it is. And I’ve gone for long periods of not reading because of it, even though I still use my Bible during those times. Even when I’m not reading I use it all the time. When I’m writing an email or blog post, or talking to a friend, and I want to quote a Scripture, I have to remember where it’s located, so I use Blue Letter Bible to find it.

Blue Letter Bible is easier than searching through my Bible, because sometimes all I can remember is a word or part of a phrase, and since my memory is almost always imperfect, my Bible almost never yields the verses I’m looking for, and Blue Letter Bible almost always finds the Scriptures I’m seeking. And always, I pray that God will lead me, through whatever means possible, to what I need to know from His Word.

And through it all, wherever I go, there I am, with God and with His Word, and that’s the most important thing to me, that I have God’s Word with me wherever I go and wherever I am.

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

No More Secrets

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I’ve always had an extremely difficult time talking about being raped, especially if I’m talking about it with a guy. There’s something about saying the words that makes it too real, and makes me terrified it will happen again. So I never talk about it with anyone, not even with God, though technically I don’t need to talk about it with Him, because He already knows about it, and He knows my needs before I ask,

When you pray, don’t babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again. Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him! ~ Matthew 6:7-8, NLT.

Even though I don’t need to talk about it with God because He already knows about it, I feel like I should talk about it with Him. It’s a matter of trust rather than foreknowledge.

The real reason I don’t like talking about being raped with God isn’t because I know that He already knows about it. It’s because I have a hard time trusting Him with it. He allowed me to be raped the first time, and not just once, but multiple times, by the one person you’re supposed to be able to trust in all the world ~ your own father. So if He allowed it once then how do I know He won’t allow it again? You know, God’s sovereignty and all that.

But then there’s the whole thing about Harry’s free will, and here’s where I get confused. God is sovereign, but He can’t go against a person’s free will, otherwise He wouldn’t be just. So He couldn’t go against Harry’s free will. But what about my free will? Harry chose to rape me and beat me within an inch of my life, and I had no choice. I guess from a human standpoint, the one who wins is the one who’s the strongest, and that definitely wasn’t me. It was Harry. He was bigger than me, and stronger, so he was always able to overpower me. It definitely wasn’t fair, but it’s the way things were, and I was stuck with the consequences.

So where does my free will come in? My will comes into play once I reach adulthood and the abuse stops. At that point I can choose what I want to do with what’s been done to me as a child. I figure there are a number of different paths victims of child abuse and child sexual abuse can take. You can become bitter and seek revenge on your abuser ~ never a good idea as far as I’m concerned. It’s been proven that holding on to bitterness and unforgiveness will make you sick. Plus, the Bible says that God won’t forgive you if you don’t forgive others,

If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins. ~ Matthew 6:14-15, NLT.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I don’t ever want to be in the position where God is refusing to forgive me because I haven’t forgiven someone for something they did to me, when all I have to do is forgive that person.

Now you might say to me, But you don’t know what they did to me! It’s true, I don’t, but I’ve had to forgive people for some pretty egregious and horrific things that were done to me. Just read Am I Afraid of Anger, or Do I Get Angry at the Fear? and you’ll see what I’m talking about. I wasn’t able to forgive anyone on my own. I could only do it with God’s help, but that’s the point. I had God’s help, and with His help it was entirely possible. Without His assistance I could never have gotten it done. Not ever. But with God all things are possible (see Matthew 19:26 and Mark 10:27).

I’ve had a great deal of time to think this through, and I spent years being enraged at God in the process, because I couldn’t understand why He would allow me to be abused so horrifically. It just didn’t seem fair to me. Why was Harry’s free will acknowledged and allowed to run roughshod over me ~ another human being with a will supposedly just as free as Harry’s ~ while my will was ignored and tromped on at Harry’s expense and for his pleasure.

The conclusion I’ve come to is that my view of the situation is extremely limited, and I need to trust God, Who can see the whole picture. I need to trust that He can see the whole picture, and that He has everything well in hand,

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. ~ Proverbs 3:5-6, NKJV.

It’s taken me a long, long time to come to the point where I can release it into God’s capable hands ~ and recognize that He is able to take care of it, and that He does know what He’s doing ~ and He knew what He was doing all along, even when He allowed the abuse to happen in the first place, though I still have a hard time with that idea. But if I realize that He created me with the strength to handle it, with His help, then I can ~ sort of ~ see that He knew what He was doing from the beginning.

Once I can allow myself to trust God, and I mean really trust Him down to my deepest core, and with my innermost secrets ~ which He already knew about anyway ~ then it will be easier to allow myself to trust other people. At least I think this is true. I know I’m getting better at trusting McT, and at talking about hard stuff with him, and maybe that’s an extension of trusting God more.

I hope so!

No more secrets is my goal, since God knows them all anyway.

Resolution? What’s a Resolution?

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I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. I never have. I don’t do it because I know I won’t keep them, and I don’t want the sense of failure that I know I’ll feel once I’ve fallen short of the resolutions I didn’t keep.

What I do instead is commit in my heart to work each and every day to grow in the wisdom, knowledge, and understanding of God. This means I cultivate a discipline of daily reading and study in God’s Word, as well as doing my best to remain in fellowship with Him by praying constantly, which I think of as simply talking to God. I don’t always get the reading done, but it’s constantly on my mind, and I use Scripture all the time in different contexts. So even if I’m not actively reading and studying my daily chapters, I’m still wrestling with interpretation and meaning as I’m talking about it with others, or posting verses on Twitter or Facebook.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, ESV.

And probably more important to me than anything, I pray for God to continue healing me more deeply and fully from my childhood.

I don’t want to sound like I’m holier-than-thou by talking about the way I worship God, because I most assuredly do not see myself in that way. I’m well aware of my sinfulness and need for a savior. But this blog is about my progress as God heals me from my past, and it’s also about my life with God as I learn about Him and grow to know Him more and more deeply. And as such, if I don’t talk about myself and my life, and what I’m doing to grow and heal, then it might be a little weird, seems to me.

I could be wrong about that. I’m wrong about a lot of things, but I don’t think so.

But that’s neither here not there, because, as I’ve stated, I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions. And thus far, I’m doing well. Exceedingly well, in fact. This year I’ve had some pretty significant victories, the most exciting of which is that I’m no longer hitting myself. Yup, the self-abuse has stopped. For good.

You can’t imagine how amazing and marvelous and exciting and wonderful that is to me! I struggled with this problem on a daily basis for about forty-five years, and I had no control over it. The least little frustration or the silliest mistake would cause me to fly off the handle and hit myself or scratch myself badly enough to draw blood. There were times where I gave myself a black eye, and the scratches on my face or arms looked like I’d been attacked by a wild animal.

It was incredibly embarrassing, because it was only infrequently that I didn’t have some kind of injury on my face or body, and they were almost always visible. If I was able to go a whole week with no self-abuse I would begin to hope it had gone away, and I constantly prayed to God to take it from me. I also constantly repented for doing it in the first place. Basically I felt like I was living in Hell all the time, and I couldn’t tell anyone about it, because it was just too humiliating.

Then about six months ago, at the end of June, it stopped. I don’t remember what was going on around that time, and no one prayed for me about the self-abuse, but I had continued to beg God for freedom from it. I was playing my online games, mainly June’s Journey and a couple of others, something I talked about in a previous post (Go To Forgiveness, Go Right To Forgiveness. Don’t Pass Through Guilt, Don’t Go To Condemnation.), and one day I realized that the frustration of making mistakes as I played no longer bothered me. I was able to tell myself that the mistakes didn’t matter, that it was just a game, and so what if I made a mistake.

So what, indeed! I finally realized that, given what happened to me throughout my childhood, anything that occurs now is so insignificant by comparison as to be irrelevant. Seeing my life from that perspective makes it so much easier to understand in terms of the overarching theme of God’s loving involvement and protection, while placing the day-to-day events where they belong ~ in the larger tapestry of my whole life, with no single occurrence assuming greater importance in God’s overall scheme of things.

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 2:10, NLT.

I love this verse! The word “masterpiece” in the Greek is ποίημα or poiēma. Most other translations use the word workmanship, while the NIV uses handiwork. We get our English word poetry from it.

So my life is God’s masterpiece, a beautiful tapestry of His design, while individual day-to-day events are threads woven in, but they don’t influence the overall outcome, unless it’s to enhance the beauty even more. And it’s all in God’s hands and according to His design.

So this was my big victory for 2019, and I’m grateful every day for it. To be free of something that had tormented me for about two-thirds of my life is a truly huge weight lifted from my shoulders. It was a bondage that made me feel like Sisyphus forever having to push his boulder to the top of the mountain, only to watch it roll to the bottom, where he’d have to start all over again.

I can’t thank God enough for releasing me from that oppression!

I’m eagerly looking forward to another resolution-less year of knowing God more profoundly, loving His Word more deeply, and receiving more healing at His hands. Plus I’m hoping to lose some weight, because I got this cool machine called a StreetStrider, which is an elliptical that can be used both indoors and outdoors. I’m also considering looking for a job, maybe maybe just maybe, though that’s pretty scary.

Just means more healing is needed…

Ever onward with God!!

Christmas Without Christ Is Just mas: A Reprise

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I originally published a post with this title on December 25 of last year, but it’s important that people know the real meaning of Christmas, so I decided to reprise the title but rewrite most of the body. I don’t know if this time around is any better, but I said what needed to be said.

What that means is, if you remove the word Christ from the word Christmas, all you have left is mas, which isn’t even a word.

In other word, Christmas without Christ is just another day.

That is to say, Christmas without Christ is meaningless, and yet more and more, people as well as businesses and institutions are attempting to do that very thing: remove Christ from Christmas and turn it into something it was never intended to be. It makes me feel very sad that it’s happening, because, in doing that, people are missing out on the greatest blessing they could possibly imagine, if they would only receive it.

And all they have to do is acknowledge that Jesus, God’s amazing gift, is the real reason we celebrate Christmas. All you have to do is look at the word “Christmas” to see the truth of that. The word has nine letters, and “Christ” comprises two-thirds of them.

For all the joy that Christmas is supposed to bring when its true meaning and purpose are understood, and when Jesus is placed at the center of the celebration, every year at Christmas I go through hell, because I feel disjointed and fragmented and out of sorts ~ anything and everything but joyful.

And why, if Christmas is supposed to be so joyful and happy, is it so difficult for so many people, and for so many families? Because the holidays are characteristically the hardest time of year for many people. When people have to gather with their families, typically they experience more depression, especially if they were already struggling with it.

I don’t think there’s a family in existence that doesn’t have problems, so any family member with issues who comes to a Christmas celebration with their problem-laden family will be disappointed if they expect a time free of conflict.

I have some idea of why I have so many problems with the holidays, but I’m not sure if what I know is everything about why, and even if it is, it doesn’t necessarily mean I’ll be able to deal with them better. The way I’ve dealt with it in the past is to do a whole lot of avoiding and escaping, but it never really worked very well.

Why can’t I just enjoy Christmas for what it is without all the turmoil and confusion? And “for what it is” means celebrating it as Jesus’ birthday as God incarnate, and God’s Gift of salvation to humanity. I’m beyond exhausted with all the confusion and inner tumult and chaos I go through every year. I just want it to be OVER WITH!!

Thankfully, gratefully, God has been healing me in the last couple of years so that the tortuous, tormenting depression I used to struggle with is no longer such a huge problem for me. 

I don’t want to do what other people do around the holidays. You know, race around like a maniac, trying to find the most expensive gifts for all my friends, because the best way to celebrate Christmas is to spend as much money on each person as possible.

Nope! Not going to happen!

Jesus will always be the reason for Christmas for me, because Christmas is still meaningless without Christ. It’s still just another day as far as I’m concerned, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. ~ Isaiah 7:14, KJV.

For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. ~ Isaiah 9:6, NKJV.

THIS is what Christmas is all about, and I’m so grateful to God for His amazing Gift, and for His Word with the prophesies that foretold of the coming of Jesus Christ, His one and only Son.

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. ~ Luke 2:14, KJV.

You are My Everlasting God and Constant Hope

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I’ve been trying to get a post written for almost two weeks, without success. I just can’t seem to get focused enough to write coherently. It’s extremely frustrating. Hopefully by the end of this post, all that will change.

So I think I’ll just start writing. About anything and everything. But thus far it’s not going very well, mostly because I’m trying to do too many things at once. Things like watching TV and writing, or playing games and writing, or looking at my mail and writing. Obviously if I combine any of those activities with writing, I’m not going to produce anything but a blank page. So I have to turn off the TV, put down my iPad, and get rid of the mail ~ and focus on the WordPress app on my laptop! Which is what I’m doing now, and why these sentences are finally being written.

PHEW!!

What a relief!!

I’m actually writing something down! Of course now, when I’m actually making progress, is when Lily decides she should come and sit in my lap, and lick my hand.

Looks like she changed her mind. Another sigh of relief. I mean, I love her dearly, but there are times when it’s better for her to leave me alone, because I can’t get anything done if she’s perched in my lap, other than pet and stroke her ~ which I’m sure is exactly what she wants. She loves being the center of attention!

As this is turning out to be a stream-of-consciousness post, I’ll continue to write about whatever comes to mind, and what I’m thinking about at the moment is that Reinhard Bonnke died earlier this week, on December 7th. For those of you who don’t know, Reinhard Bonnke was an evangelist to Africa who regularly had over a million people attend his crusades. He was called “the Billy Graham of Africa” by some because of his record-setting crusades.

The reason I’m writing about Reinhard Bonnke is because his death hit a good friend of mine particularly hard when she heard about it on Monday. In fact she was so upset by the news of his death that she texted me about it at 5 a.m. Monday morning. This friend is a solid Christian, and she knows that Bonnke is with Jesus in Heaven. She was hard-hit with his death because she’s been following his ministry, Christ for All Nations, for quite awhile. When Reinhard Bonnke retired in 2017, he appointed Daniel Kolenda to take his place as head of CfaN, and Karen has been following him as well.

When a Christian dies, I find myself thinking more about the idea that they’ve gone to Heaven than about the fact of their physical death. My reasoning is that when a Christian dies and goes to Heaven they get to see Jesus face to face,

For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. 1 Corinthians 13:12, NKJV.

I can’t think of anything more amazing, marvelous, or beautiful than being able to see Jesus face to face, and knowing Him as He knows me now. Can you imagine that, how wonderful that will be? It’s beyond my wildest and best dreams, and the thing I hope for more than anything else,

For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die. For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. ~ Philippians 1:20-21, NLT.

Before he died Billy Graham used to say,

“Some day you will read or hear that Billy Graham is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it. I shall be more alive than I am now. I will just have changed my address. I will have gone into the presence of God.” ~ Billy Graham Quotes

I love that perspective, and that’s exactly how I feel. I used to be terrified of dying, but not anymore, because I’m fully assured of my place before my Father and my God. I know He loves me, and I know that will never, ever change, because I know He’s always been with me, keeping me safe, protecting me from the worst of the abuse, and saving my life when it was necessary.

I never thought I’d be able to say, and mean, that God loves me, and here I am saying it with great peace and joy! I’m amazed and gobsmacked at everything God has done in my heart to heal me.

And He’s not through with me yet!

I can’t wait to see what He’ll do next…

Lily and Gratitude to God On Thanksgiving Day

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In a previous post (The Itch to Write), I talked about having to take my cat, Lily, to the vet. Well, I did it. That was a week ago today, last Thursday. They kept her for four days, until Sunday. The doctor diagnosed pancreatitis, and said that I may have been feeding her the wrong food, something she had originally prescribed for Lily several years ago for various reasons.

So I picked her up after church on Sunday, and the vet had a prescription for a new kind of food, as well as instructions on how to deal with any flareups from the pancreatitis, because she said that would come and go from time to time.

Now that she’s home, she’s much happier. She’s only vomited once, whereas before she was vomiting all the time, and she really likes the new food a LOT. Once she forgave me for taking her to the vet, as evidenced by the fact that she stopped avoiding me about five hours after we got home, she was back to her old self ~ cuddling with me while I watched TV, following me into the bathroom whenever I went there, and talking to me about anything and everything as she walked around my apartment.

I’ve wondered from time to time if my love for the various cats I’ve had over the years is something that’s pleasing to God or not, but then I found this verse in the Book of Proverbs,

The godly care for their animals, but the wicked are always cruel. ~ Proverbs 12:10, NLT. 

Once I’d read that, I knew it was okay with God that I love and care for my various and sundry pets, and in fact, it would be wrong if I didn’t.

Even though it cost me over $800 this last time at the vet, the doctor gave me a number of discounts, which she always does, so it could have been even higher, plus I’m always very pleased with the way she handles Lily. She’s always extremely gentle and unfailingly kind whenever she touches her, and the staff is the same way, even though Lily is well known for being a bit of a spitfire and a biter while she’s there. The biting is only because she’s nervous and afraid because I’m not there, and I hate that she does that, plus she doesn’t do it with me at home, except very infrequently when she’s mad at me. In addition the staff doesn’t seem to mind ~ I always apologize, and they always tell me not to worry about it. I’m not that bothered by the cost, because I have faith that God supplies my every need,

But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. ~ Philippians 4:19, KJV.

I love this verse, and I repeat it to myself all the time, a sort of meditation, kind of like a cow chewing her cud. The whole of Philippians 4 is full of rich nuggets, and Philippians 4:19 is just one of many.

In this verse, the Apostle Paul is talking to the Philippian Church, and he reminds them that the same God who meets his needs will also provide for them, and all of it will come from His riches in Glory through Christ Jesus. You can bet that’s a LOT of wealth, because, as the Bible says, God owns all the cattle on a thousand hills, and all the gold and silver are His as well,

For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills. ~ Psalm 50:10, KJV.

‘The silver is mine and the gold is mine,’ declares the LORD Almighty. ~ Haggai 2:8, NIV. 

I especially like Philippians 4:19 in the New Living Translation,

And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus. ~ Philippians 4:19, NLT.

So, in summary, Lily is better ~ thankfully ~ and God, being my source, is still on the throne of my life ~ where He will remain forever and always ~ even more thankfully.

 

A Shiny New Lexus or Jesus. Which to Pick?

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The answer is Jesus, of course. For me, there was never any question.

The holidays are approaching, always the most difficult time of year for me, though thankfully, they’ve gotten a whole lot easier in the last couple of years since God has been working in me.

It used to be that from the beginning of October through the middle of January I would fall into a deep depression that was so bad that it was hard for me to get out of bed, and it was difficult for me to blink and breathe. I’m so grateful to God that He’s healed me enough that I don’t go through that anymore. Now the worst it gets is a mild sadness, and sometimes a feeling of anger at people in general for the fact that they’re missing out on the real meaning of Christmas by focusing so much on the material aspects of it.

Of course it’s not hard to understand why people are so focused on spending money to buy the most expensive gifts possible. Seems to me there are a number of possible reasons.

The biggest reason, in my opinion, is that focusing on surface issues like how much to spend on gifts distracts people from looking at the deeper issue of the true meaning of Christmas, which is that God sent Jesus Christ as His Gift to mankind to set us free from our sins, and bring us back into relationship with Him. Most people don’t want to be reminded that they’re sinners. They prefer to deny that fact by spending lots of money on all their friends. If they buy expensive gifts for everyone they know then they can say, “Look what a good person I am. I just bought you this snow white Lexus for $30,000 and parked it in front of your house with a giant, ostentatious red bow on top. Aren’t I wonderful? I spent more on you than I did on my children!”

That thought process reminds me of the passage in Matthew 6 where it talks about doing good deeds,

Watch out! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven. When you give to someone in need, don’t do as the hypocrites do—blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I tell you the truth, they have received all the reward they will ever get. But when you give to someone in need, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you. ~ Matthew 6:1-4, NLT.

I could be wrong about that. I’m wrong about a lot of things, but if advertising trends are any indication, then I’m not far off the mark. Every year Lexus trots out the same ad with the same ostentatious red bow on top of a shiny new Lexus, with someone handing over the keys to an ecstatic soul, who now loves their new best friend, whether that friend is the new car or the person who bought it for them.

And then there’s the Great Christmas Light Fight put on by ABC. Season 7 begins on December 2, and ABC is so sure of its success that they’ve already scheduled Season 8 for December of 2020. Basically it’s a competition to see who can come up with the most outlandish Christmas light display, and entries are accepted from all across the country. My problem with it is that, as with the Lexus ads, they’re missing the whole point of Christmas.

As far as I’m concerned, the whole thing is utter madness.

The purpose of Christmas is to celebrate and honor, and express our gratitude to God for His one-of-a-kind and precious gift of Jesus Christ to mankind for the remission of our sins.

There has never been a gift like this, and never will be again. I mean, Who gives His own and only Son, who allows Himself to be murdered in the most vile, shameful, and painful death ever known, even though he’s a completely innocent and perfect human being, because He’s taking the punishment for the rest of humanity for our sins.

Who does that? Only God, Who did it because He loved us SOOO incredibly much.

And in the process of dying, the Son has to experience the abandonment of His Father because He has to take on Himself the sin of the whole world, and His Father can’t look at Him at that point because the Father is too holy and pure to be able to look at sin, so He has to turn His back on His Son.

I think that was the most painful part of the crucifixion for Jesus, and why He cried out from the cross,

Then at three o’clock Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” ~ Mark 15:34, NLT.

This post started out being about Christmas, and it’s ended up being about Easter, and while that wasn’t necessarily a conscious thing on my part, I think it was on God’s, because Jesus came to earth so He could die on a cross for our redemption, and three days later He was resurrected from the dead, once again for us, so He could return to Heaven and sit at the right hand of the Father, where He intercedes for us always,

Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. ~ Hebrews 7:25, NKJV.

Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us. ~ Romans 8:34, NLT.

We celebrate Christmas and Easter as separate holidays, but I think they could easily be celebrated as one huge observance commemorating the Birth, Life, Death, and Resurrection of Christ. It could done over a two week period, with a few days devoted to each period, and then a final huge bang-up party at the end.

I know this will never happen, because people are way too entrenched in their traditions. Plus, in reality, the Life of Christ should be lived out and celebrated in our everyday existence all the time.

I know this is kinda long. Sorry…

I think I’m done with this rant for the time being, but I’m sure I’ll have more to say at a later time.