Category Archives: Knowing God

I Am That Wretched Man (or Woman).

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

Paul was writing this about himself, but in reality it could be said about anyone who is willing to admit that they are sinful and desperately in need of God’s saving grace. I am one of those wretched people, which is why this post is entitled as it is. I am the wretched person spoken of in Romans 7:24, as is every human being, whether they’re willing to admit it or not.

Thankfully, however, Paul didn’t stop at verse 24. Verse 25 follows immediately thereafter,

Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin. ~ Romans 7:24-25, NLT.

This tells me a couple of things. Most obviously, it reminds me that I am a sinner, and then it emphasizes to me just how much I need Jesus and His saving grace. I thank God for His grace! I’d be dead without it! One of those nine suicide attempts would have succeeded had it not been for God’s efforts on my behalf.

7 But I must not be too proud of the wonderful things that were shown to me. So a painful problem was given to me—an angel from Satan, sent to make me suffer, so that I would not think that I am better than anyone else. 8 I begged the Lord three times to take this problem away from me. 9 But the Lord said, “My grace is all you need. Only when you are weak can everything be done completely by my power.” So I will gladly boast about my weaknesses. Then Christ’s power can stay in me. ~ 2 Corinthians 12:7-9, ERV (Easy-to-Read Version).

I like this translation best because it emphasizes the fact that God’s power works best when man’s weakness is fully acknowledged. And something that God showed me is that I don’t have to have a physical infirmity like Paul’s thorn in order for this to be true for me. All that’s needed is for me to recognize my total dependency on Him. I don’t find that hard to do, because I’m confronted many times everyday with how much I need Him.

As I stated above, I wouldn’t be alive if it weren’t for His working in my life from the beginning on. Either one of my mother’s attempts to kill me would have succeeded, or one of my own suicide attempts would have. And I like knowing that I need God that much. God has never failed me. He’s always kept His promises to me, He’s never lied to me, and He’s never betrayed me, unlike the humans in my life. God is completely dependable. He always has been, and He always will be.

There’s never been anyone like God in my life. Everyone I’ve ever known has betrayed me and let me down to one degree or another. So when I discovered that God was with me from the beginning of my life, protecting me from the worst of the abuse (the worst meaning Harry would kill me, which he threatened to do any number of times, or my mother would kill me, or the cult would), and keeping me alive until I could grow up and make my own decision to serve Him or not.

Of course I chose to serve Him after all He’s done for me!

So I may be that wretched woman, but I don’t mind, because Jesus is redeeming me every second of everyday. And God’s Word is true for me all the time, and is the foundation of my life.

I LOVE knowing that!! I LOVE being able to believe that and stand on it!!

Untried Yet Guilty, Not Guilty Yet Condemned.

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I have a VERY difficult time trusting men. I think I’ve long since established that, but, considering that I’m using it as the premise for the rest of this post, I feel like I should say it again.

Because of my background I seem to be predisposed to see every man as a child molester, regardless of who they are or what they do. If I see a father with his daughters in a restaurant or walking the street, I feel afraid for those children, even though I have no reason or evidence to suspect that anything bad is happening to those daughters at all. It’s especially true for girls, but boys incite fear in me as well, because the statistics say that boys are abused as well as girls, though the incidence is less. 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys is a victim of childhood sexual abuse, according to the National Center for Victims of Crime.

When I’m thinking logically I realize this is an unfair characterization, but I don’t seem to be able to change my way of seeing things.

This is just an observation, but it’s something I’ve been aware of for awhile, and something I would like to change. I could never think of being married to anyone, especially someone with children, because I’d constantly be afraid he was abusing his kids, and the marriage would quickly become intolerable, above all for my spouse.

There may be a few, a very FEW, who have escaped this unjust condemnation from me: God (and of course Jesus and the Holy Spirit); my therapist, McT; my pastor, Pastor Jack; and maybe Dr. Phil are probably the only ones who’ve made that list and haven’t fallen off by blowing it.

I’m always waiting for the other shoe to fall any time I begin to trust someone of the opposite sex, and in the past, they’ve never failed to fall short. Certainly Harry was the archetype for all the other people who were added to, and then fallen off my list, but there have been many other people since then who’ve also looked like they might be trustworthy, and then proven to be otherwise.

And it’s almost worse when someone starts out looking trustworthy, and then proves to be otherwise, because of the pain I feel when I find out they aren’t. There’s all the betrayal and abandonment I feel, plus the self-condemnation because I should have known better. I mean, I should know better by now, right?? After all these years you’d think I’d get it!

Thankfully, God is always trustworthy and faithful, though it took me many years to realize that and believe it. But I now know and fully believe that He is ALWAYS good, and ALWAYS faithful, and ALWAYS trustworthy. I now know that He will NEVER lie, that He will ALWAYS tell the truth. I’m so grateful for those facts!

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.

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. ~ John 14:6, NIV.

Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. ~ Lamentations 3:22-23, NKJV.

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 and creating 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, and of course, 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 were 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. I even thought I’d go into forensic psychology ~ and racked up thousands of dollars in student loans to pay for the schooling, only to discover that I couldn’t handle the work, once again because of my background. The classes just stirred up too many memories.

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 short time 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, thankfully, I don’t think God works on the same timetable as humans do. 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 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.

Fibber McGee’s Closet

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And eternal life is simple enough to acquire,

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

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

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

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

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

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

*The Meaning and Origin of Fibber McGee’s Closet

 

Thinking God’s Thoughts After Him

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

His sovereignty is a good thing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So here I am…

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus wept. John 11:35, NKJV.

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

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

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

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

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

WOW!! PRAISE GOD FOREVERMORE!!

Of Life and Death, and Life Again

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kinda scary, but I’m doing it.

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

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

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

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

Enforced Hermit-hood Makes Me Feel Rebellious ~ Sort of

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let me explain.

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

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

And,

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

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

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

God is amazing!

How cool is that!!

Joyful Celebration and Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream

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

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

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

Plight-of-Fancy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God is SOOO GOOD to me!!

God is good ALL the time!!