Category Archives: My Story

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 whomever I’d be married to.

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 know, 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.

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.

To Publish Or Not to Publish, That Is the Question.

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I haven’t been able to write much in awhile. I’ve been working on a post, but it’s too long, and I can’t figure out how to shorten it. I’m trying to decide if I should just publish it as is and let you all read it, and hope you won’t be bored. The problem is, it contains details that feel important in telling the story that I’m trying to tell. I know I’ve published long posts before, but this one is longer than the others.

So this post is going to be about whether I should publish the other post. Silly, I know, but that’s where I’m at. And in the process of making my decision, I may meander around a bit here, because sometimes that’s how I think. So if some of what I write here sounds irrelevant, it will only sound that way.

The battery on my laptop died, so I had to purchase a new computer. I got a really fancy new iPad. It has a separate keyboard, and a huge hard drive, At first I didn’t think I’d be able to retrieve anything from my laptop, but God has been resurrecting the battery at different times, so when that happens, I get the things I want and send them to myself in assorted emails. It’s been working quite well. There were a number of Long Dog Sampler charts that I had saved on my hard drive, that I needed, so I was able to send those to myself, plus some of the things I need so I can finish the sampler I’m working on (it’s called Pandemic, and it’s also a Long Dog Sampler design).

There were a whole lot of photos I’d saved that I really wanted, so I’ve been able to get a lot of them as well. I’m still not done, but I’m making progress. In addition, there were a number of papers I had written for various classes that I didn’t want to lose, and I was also able to retrieve them.

It’s been a lot of fun getting all the stuff transferred from the old to the new, and I’m grateful to God for making my laptop available so I can do it. It’s a time-consuming task, but an enjoyable one.

At some point in the near future I’ll post a pic of my cross stitch that I’m working on. I’m thoroughly enjoying myself. It’s a huge project, probably the biggest piece I’ve ever made, but I think it will be beautiful once it’s finished.

I think I’m going to publish that post as is with only a little more editing.

See? Meandering around in my thoughts while I’m writing about seemingly irrelevant stuff helped me decide! Thank you, Jesus! And thank you, everyone for being patient with me as I figure it out. I love you all!

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!!

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!!

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!

The Monster Is Dead

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I just got a phone call from my cousin. It seems that Harry, my biological father, died yesterday. He was 93 years old. I haven’t seen or heard from him in about forty years. Basically he wanted nothing to do with me, and had made me persona non grata to him. It felt like I had ceased to exist for him.

As far as I’m concerned it was his loss.

This news is a bit of a shock to me, and I find myself a bit unsure of what to do with it right off. I’m fairly certain that he wasn’t saved, though I prayed for him on multiple occasions, that God would send laborers across his path to minister the Word to him. I believe God answered those prayers, but as long as I knew anything about him, he was an atheist. I can only hope that any seeds that were planted bore fruit before he breathed his last. I have to trust that God did exactly that, because He’s the One who makes His Word bear fruit,

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.

As I said, I don’t know what to do with this information just yet. While he was alive, I had the hope that I’d be able to reconcile with him, that I’d be able to tell him that I’d forgiven him for everything that he did to me. (For those of you who don’t know what that means, my post, Am I Afraid of Anger, or Do I Get Angry at the Fear?, will explain it to you.)

I find myself feeling kind of fragmented and jumbled up as I think about this. For one thing, I find myself feeling more grief at Harry’s death than I ever felt when my mom died. It’s not that I loved Harry more than I did Mom, not at all. If anything I loved him less because he made himself so incredibly unloveable. I always felt a great deal of ambivalence about both my parents, and about my stepdad as well. Even when all three of them were alive I felt like an orphan most of the time, and now that they’re all gone, at least biologically, I am one. Spiritually I’m not, because God said He would be a Father to the fatherless, and I can always feel His presence with me,

A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. ~ Psalm 68:5, NIV.

I’m wondering if the reason I feel more sadness with Harry’s death than I did when Mom died is because I was able to resolve things with Mom much more than I was with Harry. Plus Mom always wanted me around, and Harry didn’t, so I spent many, many years desiring a relationship with him ~ a desire that I was never able to bring to fruition. Plus I’m fairly certain that my mother is in Heaven, where I don’t have that certainty at all with Harry.

Now that he’s gone, my prayer is that God will grant him mercy in His dealings with him at Judgment Day. If he must end up in Hell, then let him go to a level that’s not as bad as it might be, if such a thing is possible. But maybe, just maybe, he’ll end up in Heaven ~ just maybe!!

I can only hope, and I trust in God’s goodness and mercy.

You are My Everlasting God and Constant Hope

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

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

PHEW!!

What a relief!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Before he died Billy Graham used to say,

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

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

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

And He’s not through with me yet!

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

The Gospel Without Jargon

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Jargon is defined as special words or expressions that are used by a particular profession or group that are difficult for others to understand. This phenomenon is common in Christian circles, and is known as Christianese (in legal circles it’s called legalese, for example).

One of the common Christianese phrases I’ve heard, but never understood, is, “more of Him, and less of me.” What does that mean? The picture that comes to mind when I think about it is one of me turning into a round mass of jello on the floor when I become less and Jesus becomes more, kind of like someone who has no muscles, so they turn into a ball of flesh and become completely ineffectual.

I can’t figure out if it means I’m supposed to become invisible, or just what it means. If I’m invisible, then how can I, or God for that matter, anything get done ~ like witnessing, for example? Jesus isn’t going to come and do it Himself. He told us to do it. It’s called the Great Commission,

Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” ~ Matthew 28:18-20, NLT.

It doesn’t say that Jesus will go out and make disciples, and take us with Him as He does it. It says that we are to go out and make disciples, and He will go with us. And if I’m invisible, I doubt that anyone will want to listen to anything I have to say, because they’ll be too busy running from me in terror because they’ll think I’m a ghost.

Then recently, one of my favorite Christian artists, Casting Crowns, came out with a new song, called Only Jesus, that showed me the answer to my problem. Below is one of the verses from the song that sorts it out for me:

Did I live the truth to the ones I love? // Was my life the proof that there is only one? // Whose name will last forever // Only Jesus.

And the chorus from the song reminds me of what’s most important:

And I, I don’t want to leave a legacy // I don’t care if they remember me // Only Jesus.

In other words, and this is where less of me and more of Him comes in, I want people to remember Jesus when they think of me now, and after I’m gone, as well. I can’t save anyone, or heal anyone, but Jesus can, and His name will last forever, while nothing I say or do will last beyond the minute I’ve said or done it. Jesus is the One to remember, not me.

ONLY JESUS!!