Category Archives: God Loves Me!

A Cross Stitch, New Kitties, and Two Smoking Needles

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I am now the proud owner of two new cats ~ well, kittens, really ~ they’re three months old, and litter mates. I’m going to name them Charlotte (which means “freedom”) and Margaret (which means “pearl”). I love naming my pets somewhat improbable names, and Charlotte and Margaret were the most improbable but beautiful names I could think of. Plus they have great meanings, and names with good meanings are important to me.

I adopted them from a PetsMart near me, and they are both a bit shy around strange people and places. So I’m keeping them in the bathroom, as that’s the smallest room in my apartment, and hopefully there will be less in there to frighten them. I’ve put a bowl of food and another of water in with them, and a litter box should they feel safe enough to venture out of the carrier long enough to use it if the need arises. .

Aren’t they beautiful? Charlotte is a lynx-point Siamese (Siamese-tabby mix) with blue eyes, and Margaret is a grey and white tabby with greenish-brown eyes that seem to change colors depending on the light she’s in. Charlotte is more shy than Margaret. They’re huddled up together in the back of the carrier at present, and Charlotte is squished behind Margaret. Anytime I glance in on them, Margaret looks up at me and hisses as if to show me how brave she is. It’s very sweet.

I’ve been working very hard on my cross stitch, and making great progress on it. The frustrating thing is, twice in the last three days I’ve lost a needle. I’m really excited and glad about the progress, but I can’t be losing needles right when I bring home two new cats! Needles and cats definitely don’t go together. So I’ve been frantically praying that God would show me where they are, or just plain bring them back to me before either Charlotte or Margaret has a chance to come in contact with them.

My most recent WIP.

Love Lavished, Etc.

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This will a bit of a hodgepodge, because I’m writing it in the middle of the night, and I want to get it published so I can go to bed, plus I’m sort of train-of-thought writing, which means I’m meandering. I could separate the different parts into discrete posts, but that would take more time, and I don’t want to expend that much energy. Plus I’m finally writing again, and I don’t want to break my momentum.

I’ve become more aware recently of God’s love for me in a number of tangible and real ways. I had a portrait painted of Lily, and I was prepared to pay for it myself. But when I told some friends I was doing it, one of them said she wanted to help me pay for it. And then she surprised me even further by paying for the whole thing.

It’s a wonderful work of art. The artist really captured Lily’s essence. Her name is Rita Kirkman, and here’s her website: https://www.ritakirkman.com/works. Lily’s portrait is located under the Pet Portraits category, and you can see it below.

Lily redecorating my hair while I sit at my desk. This was her favorite thing to do.

Rita Kirkman lives in Texas, and I chose her because she works in pastels. I’ve always loved pastels, because it’s the closest thing to working in pure pigment. I think this portrait is beautiful, and absolutely perfect. It looks just like Lily, and I love it. If you want to have a portrait of your pet done, Rita Kirkman is the artist to go to, that’s for sure!

I’m extremely grateful to my friend, Helen for her wonderful gift. Thank you, Helen!! You are such a blessing to me!!

I love looking at it everyday. It fills me with delight everytime I see it, and it reminds me of all the goofy things Lily used to do. Having it hanging on my wall so I can see it all the time makes it so I don’t miss her so much, and for that I am very glad. That was a good part of the reason I wanted to have it done in the first place. Now I’m pretty much ready for a new cat. I just have to come up with the money to pay for it.

It turns out that I have pay a $500 pet deposit to my apartment complex this time around. I didn’t have to when I moved in with Lily. I don’t know why they’re placing that added burden on me this time. $500 is a huge amount of money to come up with all at once, plus I have to pay $50 pet rent every month. That part I knew about, because I had to pay that every month for Lily ever since I moved in here. It’s the $500 that I have the problem with. I’ll just have to trust God to come up with the money, because I need a cat.

God is blessing me in so many amazing ways. Lily’s portrait has been a big one, but other than that, it’s been a lot of small, simple things. I’ll see a beautiful flower, and I’ll be reminded of how marvelous God’s creation is, and how He’s given us the ability to appreciate beauty. Or I’ll see an interesting cloud formation as I’m driving along the freeway, and I’ll think about how God put it there.

The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display His craftsmanship. ~ Psalm 19:1, NLT.

There are so many amazing and wonderful things to see and think about in God’s beautiful world. Certainly there is a great deal of ugliness out there. The devil is alive and well and trying to deceive people into following him. But there is also a great deal of beauty as well, because, while the devil may be at work, he’s not more powerful than God, and ultimately, God will have the last word.

But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. ~ 1 Corinthians 2:7-8, NKJV.

I love the above passage of Scripture. It’s so full of God’s wisdom! I love that last phrase, “…they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory.” That’s talking about my precious Lord Jesus.

I can’t wait to meet Him, to see Him face to face, to know Him even as He knows me now!!

E’en so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!!

Hope Deferred, or the Unfulfilled Could

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Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life. ~ Proverbs 13:12, NLT.

I wanted to be a doctor since I was in the sixth grade. It was my lifelong dream, and I never considered any other occupation or career. My grandmother spent years fostering that desire by giving me books of medical illustrations (The Ciba Collection of Medical Illustrations by Frank H. Netter).

Because medicine was my dream, all throughout high school and college I took classes that furthered my goal, plus I spent time reading articles about medical subjects that piqued my interest. And once my grandmother had started buying me medical books, I decided to buy them for myself as well, only the ones I got for myself were on different subjects.

I bought books on biology, cell biology, and biochemistry, in addition to the medical books that my grandmother was giving me, plus I had the textbooks from my classes that I added to my burgeoning library as well.

I loved having all those science books. They made me feel smart because I understood the information contained in them, but I’ve come to realize that that’s a lousy reason to buy a book. I’ve spent thousands of dollars over the years buying books solely because they made me feel smart. The problem was, once I had them I never did anything with them. I didn’t read them, I never even opened them, except for initially, right after I got them home.

Right after I bought them I had to play with them (what I call inspecting a new purchase). I would open the book and check out the table of contents to see if any of my favorite topics were there, and if so, where they were located. Then I would leaf through the book to see if I could find any interesting illustrations or diagrams, and scrutinize them to see if I could understand them, and if I could recognize any of the words in them ~ and I usually could.

The only books that were different were the books of medical illustrations that my grandmother gave me. Once I had them I didn’t ignore them like I did all the other science books. I still have those wonderful books. Periodically I still open them and peruse them. They remind me of how amazing God is, of what a marvelous Creator He is, and of what an extraordinary thing He’s done in designing our bodies.

You formed my innermost being, shaping my delicate inside and my intricate outside, and wove them all together in my mother’s womb. I thank You, God, for making me so mysteriously complex! Everything You do is marvelously breathtaking. It simply amazes me to think about it! How thoroughly You know me, Lord! You even formed every bone in my body when You created me in the secret place; carefully, skillfully You shaped me from nothing to something. ~ Psalm 139:13-15, The Passion Translation.

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.

Then, after years and years of buying books and taking classes, and hoping and desiring and preparing for a career in medicine, I started having memories of horrific abuse that happened when I was a child, before dreams of medical school ever began. Just the process of remembering was so disabling and debilitating that I couldn’t function. I tried to take the MCAT (the Medical College Admission Test) and did very poorly on it, but I decided to apply to one medical school anyway, even though my test scores were poor, but I wasn’t accepted.

So now what? It had never occurred to me that I might not be able to be a doctor. I always assumed that this was God wanted me to do with my life. How better to serve God than to be involved with healing people? I never really asked Him about it, I just assumed. (Bad idea, by the way. You should always, always talk to God before pursuing a career path.)

You know what they say. If you want to make God laugh tell Him your plans. Well I guess God had a good, long laugh at my expense, because I spent years telling Him my plan to go to medical school and become a doctor, all without knowing about my past and the destructive effect it would have on my life and ability to do things like go to school and study hard subjects.

Because I was drowning in the disappointment of losing medical school I couldn’t see beyond the disappointment to let go of that so God could lead me to something else. Even more, it never occurred to me that what God had planned for me would be even better ~ lots better ~ than anything I had planned for myself, including medical school. Plus, in the process of going through the emotional archeology of my childhood ~ a necessary endeavor, to be sure ~ I came to understand that having to touch people’s bodies as a doctor really turned me off. In some respects it actually frightened me, notwithstanding all the reverence and awe I feel for God because of His amazing creation.

And once I realized I had to give up on medical school, I spent years, and I do mean years, trying to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up. I tried music for a couple of years, but I couldn’t stand the idea of all that practicing. Then I figured out I could draw, so I tried graphic art and 3-D animation, which was a lot of fun but not where I was supposed to be career-wise. I also thought I might go to graduate school and become a therapist, but that didn’t pan out either, again because of my background.

Fortunately, God isn’t moved by such obstacles, and He always had a plan for my life. The problem has been cluing me in to what that plan was.

It’s only been a few days since I’ve come to realize all this, so I’m still processing what it means. But I think one thing I have to do is release the whole medical school thing: my lifelong desire to go, the disappointment in losing that dream when I had nothing with which to replace it, and all the years of wandering around blindly since then trying to land on a productive life, all without success.

I’m 68 years old now, and it feels like it’s too late to begin a new career, but somehow I don’t think God works on the same timetable as humans do, thankfully. I think I need to trust that God, Who loves me beyond all imagining, and always has my best interests at heart, will have a plan for me that I will love and that I can do, even at my age. I need to trust that God’s plan for me will be a good plan, a fun plan, and a productive plan that will help me to serve Him and bring Him glory ~ my fondest desire, by the way ~ while at the same time providing for my needs.

Because at the end of the day, God is a GOOD God, and He only has good plans for me. I choose to believe that!

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. ~ Jeremiah 29:11, NIV.

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!

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!!

Loneliness In All Its Combinations and Permutations

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

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

This page intentionally left blank.

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

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

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

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

Lucky you! Now on to more serious matters.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WAY COOL!! YIPPEE!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank God for my friends!!

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

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

Ideas Flitting In and Out

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

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

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

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

What did I do wrong?? 

What did I do wrong??

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Beauty of the Cross

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

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

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

How amazing is that??!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What a RELIEF!!! 

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

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

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

I think so!

Joyful Celebration and Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream

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

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

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

Plight-of-Fancy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God is SOOO GOOD to me!!

God is good ALL the time!!

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.