Category Archives: Pleasing God

No Average Joes

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God created each one of us in His own image and after His likeness, and I believe He made each person unique and individual, like no other human being ever created before or after. God broke the mold, as the saying goes, after He was finished creating each person. So no one is average, no matter how boring you think you are. If you think you have nothing special to offer, then you need to ask God, and He will show you. EVERYONE has gifts and talents, regardless of how you see yourself.

God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. ~ 1 Peter 4:10, NLT.

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.

The word, “masterpiece” in this verse comes from the Greek word, poiēma from which we get the word poem. I understand that to mean that God made me uniquely in His image, a masterpiece of His choosing, unlike any other person that He ever created before or after me, and all the other people who He created are also masterpieces.

Just as an aside, I think that’s why murder is such a terrible crime. When you kill someone, you are murdering someone who was created in the very image of God, so you’re acting like God when you take someone’s life, and only God should be able to decide someone’s time of death. God is the author of life, so He should be the author of death.

13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit them together in my mother’s womb. 14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! It is amazing to think about. Your workmanship is marvelous—and how well I know it. 15 You were there while I was being formed in utter seclusion! 16 You saw me before I was born and scheduled each day of my life before I began to breathe. Every day was recorded in your book! ~ Psalm 139:13-16, TLB, The Living Bible.

When I was little, every time Harry abused me, he told me he had to do it because God hated me. He also told me that I was as ugly as if someone had thrown acid in my face. Those two statements were like a litany repeated over and over into my mind until they became part of the wiring of my nervous system. It took an act of God to break them down so I no longer believed them, terrible lies that they were.

I’ve come to the conclusion that Harry probably felt those things about himself so he projected them onto me. It took many years as an adult for me to be able to believe that God loved me, and many, many more before I could believe that I wasn’t ugly.. What did the trick was changing my name back in 1980.

I decided I wanted to change my name so I could rid myself of the legacy of child abuse. So I went to the Bible to find Bible names with good meanings. I knew I wanted my first name to be Sarah, because it meant Princess. Then I found Abigail, which means “a joy to the Father.”

Then all I was lacking was a last name, so I started flipping through Strong’s Concordance. I happened to open it to a page in the Greek section where the work “kuriakos” appeared at the very bottom of the last column on the left-hand page ~ the very last entry at the bottom of that column. I think God put it there so it would be easy for me to find. And it turned out that “kuriakos” meant “belonging to God”.

How cool is that! I had my whole name! Sarah Abigail Kuriakos. God’s Princess, a Joy to the Father, Belonging to God. I thought I had never heard such a beautiful name in all my life.

Then I decided I wanted to do it legally, because it felt like a legal name change would be the only way for it to feel real to me. So I went to court and changed my name legally from the name I was born with to Sarah Abigail Kuriakos.

Changing my name has made a tremendous difference in my life. Every time I hear the names, I hear their meanings. Hearing the meanings has been like feeding a new litany into my nervous system to break the wiring created by the old one and replacing it with this new, healing one. I could almost feel the healing process as it was happening over the years.

So that’s that! I’m beautiful! I may not look like Raquel Welch or Marilyn Monroe, but I wouldn’t want to. I have a hard enough time being me, much less trying to be someone else. Besides, God didn’t make me to be Marilyn Monroe or Raquel Welch. He made me to be me, and for the first time in my life, I’m fine with that.

I love knowing that because God thinks I’m beautiful, I can accept and believe it about myself, and feel beautiful because God thinks I am. It’s marvelously freeing, though it took me several more years before I could get to that point, even with that wonderful and amazing name.

Finally I realized that God Himself had given me that name. And if He gave me that beautiful name, He must think I’m beautiful. And if God thinks I’m beautiful, then I must be beautiful, because God NEVER makes a mistake.

Think about that. God NEVER makes a mistake, so I must beautiful.

Hallelujah!! Thank you Jesus!!

An Attitude of Gratitude ~ Part II

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Adopting an attitude of gratitude has been more helpful than anything else I’ve tried as I’ve recovered from my childhood. It was easy to focus on how awful I’d had it as a kid, but that didn’t help me to grow and heal. In fact, it only made me feel worse.

I spent years being angry at God for what had happened to me as a child. In fact, that’s all I could see or think about. I devoted a great deal of time to informing Him about how badly He’d messed up my life by allowing Harry and my mother to abuse me as they had, by even placing me in that family in the first place.

What I didn’t understand was that God, because He’s GOD, and therefore Creator and Ruler over everything, including me, had the absolute right to do whatever He wished with my life, just because He’s God. What that means is that He didn’t have to ask my permission before He did something in my life. Specifically, He didn’t have to ask me, or explain to me, why He was placing me in the particular family that He put me in. He’s God and therefore sovereign, and doesn’t owe anyone an explanation about anything.

Woe to the man who fights with his Creator. Does the pot argue with its maker? Does the clay dispute with him who forms it, saying, “Stop, you’re doing it wrong!” or the pot exclaim, “How clumsy can you be!”? ~ Isaiah 45:9, TLB (The Living Bible).

I love the way this translation words it, because that’s exactly what I was trying to do. I was trying to tell God that He had done it wrong by giving me those specific parents. As far as I was concerned, He should have given me much better parents. Parents who were nicer and more loving, as if God, Master of the Universe, Creator of All Things, had made a mistake. And I felt very angry, even enraged, about it too.

Looking back, I can see how incredibly arrogant and presumptuous I was in thinking that. I was displaying the same kind of arrogance Satan did when he decided he would assume God’s throne and overthrow Him, which of course, was impossible. The result of his presumption was that he got tossed out of Heaven forever, and thrown down to Earth.

“How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.’ ~ Isaiah 14:12-14, NKJV.

Then the seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.” And He said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. ~ Luke 10:17-18, NKJV.

What I didn’t realize was that if He had given me different parents, then I wouldn’t be me. I’d be someone else with different DNA, a completely different genetic makeup, and completely different reactions to everything. Even more, I would also have a different relationship, or perhaps no relationship at all, with God, and the thought of that horrified and terrified me. I can’t imagine a life where God isn’t a part of it, nor do I want to.

So it seemed I had a decision to make, whether or not I was consciously aware of it. I could hold onto my anger at God, and reject Him and the salvation He offered through Jesus Christ. Or I could be smart and let go of my anger, and accept the grace, and the free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ.

I knew that letting go of my anger meant accepting my past and the terrible suffering that went with it, but there was suffering either way, whether I stayed angry or let go of it. I’d already begun to feel like I was losing my mind because the anger had such a tight grip on me. I was breaking things (the windshield of my car, and one of my tires had fallen victim to my rage), and it felt like there was band around my head that grew tighter every day because I was so angry all the time. In addition, I’d begun to fear that I would lose my salvation if I didn’t let the anger go, because I was yelling and cursing at God almost constantly, and while God is extremely patient and long-suffering, I couldn’t imagine that He’d put up with my childish temper tantrums forever, all the Scriptures to the contrary notwithstanding.

And then I heard James Dobson say something on a Focus On the Family broadcast that brought me up short, and made me think that maybe I was barking up the wrong tree. I don’t remember what the subject of the broadcast was, but what Dr. Dobson said was, “We don’t have the right to hold God accountable.”

What that meant to me was that I didn’t have the right to question God’s sovereignty, which is exactly what I was doing. Human beings don’t have the right to question their Creator’s plan for their lives. God loves us, and because He’s Perfect He really does know what’s best for us. Being Perfect means He doesn’t make mistakes with regard to our lives, and in my case, with regard to my life.

There are times when I have a hard time with that concept. When I consider the absolute Hell I went through as a child, and the love I’ve gone without, because neither parent was willing to meet my emotional needs in any substantive way, which left me feeling like I was starving to death emotionally most of the time.

But I’ve come to realize that God didn’t make a mistake by giving me these parents, as difficult as my life with them was. He had a plan. I think that plan was that I would be able to form a relationship with Him that would be so far above and beyond anything I could ever imagine, one that would never have happened had I been born into any other family.

I’ve come to value my relationship with God far more than any other affiliation in my life, and I wouldn’t be willing to give it up for anything. Thankfully I don’t think He expects me to.

Even though I feel like there’s a gaping hole in me emotionally, I know there’s only One Person who can meet that need, and that Person is Jesus Christ. So I will eagerly await His appearing, and long for the time when I can see His beautiful face, and know Him as He knows me now.

E‘en so, come quickly Lord Jesus!!

The Right to Say No

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The phrase, “free will” isn’t found anywhere in Scripture, but the concept can be found from beginning to end throughout. It’s contained in the power of choice that God gives us in just about everything.


“Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!” ~ Deuteronomy 30:19, NLT.

God gave man a choice to follow Him from the very beginning.

The LORD God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it. But the LORD God warned him, “You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden—except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.” ~ Genesis 2:15-17, NLT.

Inherent in God’s commandment to Adam was the choice to not eat of the tree, or to eat of it, and God made very clear what would happen if Adam ate the fruit. He would die.

Then God created Eve from Adam’s ribs, but Adam didn’t give Eve the identical instructions that God had given him. God told him that he couldn’t eat the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. But Adam told Eve that she couldn’t eat it or even touch it (at least that’s how she interpreted what he told her).

The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the LORD God had made. One day he asked the woman, “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?” “Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,” the woman replied. “It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.’” ~ Genesis 3:1-3, NLT.

My point in focusing on man’s ability to choose in the Bible is that we have to make choices all the time, probably hundreds or thousands of times every day, many of them choices we aren’t even aware of. But people who have survived rape and other kinds of abuse may be more aware than most.

Whenever someone is subjected to a violent sexual assault, their right to refuse that person’s advances is snatched away from them. And if that person is a child, and her attacker is someone she has to trust in order to survive because he provides her with food and shelter, then she’ll be forced to submit to his demands, no matter how horrific, just to keep her most basic needs met.

The betrayal inherent in that situation is unimaginable for anyone but the child experiencing it, and the only reason it’s not impossible for her to think about is because she’s forced to live it.

The betrayal mentioned above has a name, betrayal trauma, which term was introduced by Jennifer Freyd, Ph.D in 1994. Betrayal trauma is defined as a trauma perpetrated by someone with whom the victim is close to and reliant upon for support and survival. Jennifer Freyd called it betrayal trauma theory because she intended it to address situations where the victim forgets, or represses, the abuse, and the element of betrayal is the most important aspect of the abuse that precedes the repression.

The closer the attacker is to the victim (for example, father to daughter), the greater the likelihood that the trauma will be forgotten and repressed. It’s a matter of survival. The attacker is someone who provides his victim with food and shelter, and other basic needs, and if it were to come out that the perpetrator were committing these heinous acts against this victim, then the support provided by the perp would be threatened, or even removed altogether, which could put the victim in even more danger than if the molestation were allowed to continue.

I know this hard, painful reality first hand because it happened to me throughout my childhood at the hands of my father, and I couldn’t say no to his advances. If I did I was severely beaten, and the rape was even worse than it would have been had I simply given in and submitted. He forced me to lie and say that nothing was going on. He threatened to kill me if I told by playing Russian Roulette with his revolver between my legs, and I had no choice but to believe him, because I was too young to know that he probably had blanks in the gun.

I got started thinking about this in the first place because I watched two movies on TV. The first one was called, You Can’t Take My Daughter. It’s based on the true story of a woman, Analyn Megison, who was raped and then became pregnant as a result. She subsequently decided to keep the baby. Six years later her rapist found her and sued her for custody of the child. You wouldn’t think that would be possible, but when this movie was made, it actually was in many states, because, as Analyn was told many times, a rapist father is just as good as any other father.

Fortunately, she won her case, because her rapist, who was never convicted for what he did to her, eventually stopped pursuing it. In the movie, he raped her in the first place because they took the same taxi home from a bar, and when the taxi dropped her off, he suggested that he could come in for a nightcap, but she said she wasn’t interested. So later on, in the middle of the night, he came back and knocked on her door. When she opened it, he pushed past her and shoved her up against the wall, saying, “You shouldn’t have said no,” and then he violently raped her. Her body was covered from head to toe with scrapes, scratches, and bruises the next day.

The other movie was on the Investigation Discovery Network, and, while I don’t remember any details, it was the story of a single mother who went to a party on the rough side of town someplace in New Mexico, and never made it home that night. When they finally found her battered and bruised body several days later, the story came out that she ran into someone at the party who came on to her, and she turned him down, but that enraged him, because he was someone you just didn’t say no to. So he beat her up so badly that she was unrecognizable by the time he was through with her.

Every person should have the right to say no. Violating someone’s most personal space, which is what happens in the case of rape, is the ultimate transgression, the ultimate sin against another person.

God gives us the right to refuse Him, even at the risk of our eternal destiny. and while human beings aren’t risking eternal punishment when they sin against another human being, sexual sin is among the worst of all possible sins, especially if it’s committed against a child.

I’ve forgiven my father for what he did to me, and my mother for not protecting me. I had to so I could find peace with God.

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

I figure if I forgive them, then that releases them into God’s hands to do with them as He wills, and the Bible says that revenge belongs to God, (Deuteronomy 32:35, Romans 12:19, and Hebrews 10:30), so I don’t need to get revenge because God will do a much better job of it than I ever could.

I can get behind that, and I can wait. There are times where patience is a good thing.

It feels like there is much more to be said here, but this is already way too long, so I’ll leave the rest for another post…

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.

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!

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.

Feeling the Divide

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Earlier today I discovered that someone had used my debit card to steal $139 from my checking account using a website in Toronto, which meant that there was also a $1.11 credit card issuer cross-border fee, because the charge was made in a foreign country. The website was one I had used before, but the last time was over a year ago, so I knew this $140.11 wasn’t mine. So I immediately called my bank and disputed it, which meant I had to cancel the debit card and get a new one.

The lady on the phone told me it would take about ten days for the new card to arrive, as well as ten days for the $140.11 to be restored to my checking account, at which point I told her that I needed the card today, because I had to buy new batteries for my TV remote. The last batteries I bought only lasted one month.

Harrumph!! Lousy batteries!! And I can’t take them back to the store where I purchased them because I don’t have the receipt.

Arrgh!! Rats!!

I have a feeling I indirectly brought this on myself. I’m having a very difficult time making it to church on Sundays. I think I’ve mentioned before that I would make an excellent hermit (I Would Make a Great Hermit), and my hermiting desires are making it extremely difficult for me to do what I know is God’s will and get myself to church every Sunday,

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another ~ and all the more as you see the Day approaching. ~ Hebrews 10:24-25, NIV.

I’ve become aware that I’m not requiring enough of myself ~ especially in the area of church attendance. It was kind of like a revelation, and once I understood the problem, I could no longer ignore it. I could no longer skip church on Sundays just because I didn’t feel like going, even if they did live-stream the services ~ which they’d been doing for the last couple of months. I’d been using the fact that they were live-streaming the services as my excuse for not going. As long as I could watch the live-streamed service it was okay if I didn’t attend the service in person. I knew in my heart that I was lying to myself with that excuse, but at least I was hearing the Word being preached.

And then God showed me that I wasn’t requiring enough of myself, and that I had to start going to church again. It was no longer enough to watch the live-streamed service on my computer.

Rats!!

like staying home! I don’t want to leave my apartment!!

I made it to church for one Sunday after that revelation, but no more after that. After that first Sunday I knew I should continue going, but I just didn’t want to. I could feel myself making a conscious decision to not go ~ to disobey God and His Word,

To go against what you are told is like the sin of witchcraft. Not to obey is like the sin of worshiping false gods. You have turned away from the Word of the Lord. So He has turned away from you being king. ~ 1 Samuel 15:23, NLV (New Life Version).

I knew I was being disobedient, but I couldn’t stomach the idea of leaving my apartment to go to church, so I stayed home, and asked God to forgive me for not going. Basically I used His grace as a convenient crutch, or should I say I abused His grace, something I’m not proud of.

And then the money was stolen from my checking account.

That sequence of events made an immediate connection in my mind. I don’t think God was punishing me for my disobedience, but I think it’s possible that my rebellion might have opened the door for the devil to gain a foothold. So I picked myself up and repented, truly this time.

And no matter how much I don’t want to go, I’ll make myself go to church!

As this whole thing evolved this afternoon and evening, I’ve felt extremely disappointed in myself, and I’ve had a hard time believing that God will protect me from the consequences of my behavior. I know He’s forgiven me, because His Word says He has, but actions have consequences, and I deserve to bear the brunt of those actions. I deserve the consequences. I don’t want them, but I deserve them, and that’s what I’m struggling with now. That and feeling like God is disappointed in me. That right there is very hard for me to deal with. I hate thinking that God could be disappointed in me!

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

The Continuing Saga of the Monster’s Death

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It’s been five or six days since Harry’s death, and I’ve had some time to cogitate on what that means for me. You wouldn’t think there’d be any meaning at all when someone dies who had pretty much no relationship with me, but he had a hugely destructive influence on my childhood, so regardless of whether there was any current relationship, it’s going to mean something to me when he dies. The problem is to figure out what that is.

The first conclusion I’ve come to is that I’m taking too much responsibility on myself for whether Harry accepted the gift of God’s grace. While Jesus commanded us to preach the Gospel to every creature, ultimately the responsibility for making the seeds of the Gospel bear fruit is God’s problem,

Later He appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen. And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. ~ Mark 16:14-15, NKJV.

As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is My word that goes out from My mouth: it will not return to Me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. ~ Isaiah 55:10-11, NIV.

I love this passage from Isaiah. It says so many things to me. It tells me that God’s Word is alive, and that God will always make His Word bear fruit. It also says that God always keeps His promises ~ that He can always be depended upon to do what He says He’ll do, and He’ll always be faithful to keep His Word. In addition it says that God loves His Word ~ at least it says that to me. He loves it enough, and cares about it enough, that He will work to protect it and make sure it comes to fruition anytime it’s spoken.

So if I’m worried that I should be doing more to make sure that Harry makes it into Heaven, I’m worrying way too much. If nothing else, the decision was made the moment he died. Once he’s gone, there’s nothing more any human being can do to influence Harry’s decision, or God’s judgment about Harry’s destination. Plus a friend reminded me a couple of days ago that when someone ends up in Hell, they’re there because that’s where they want to be.

I guess I have a hard time believing anyone would actually want to be in Hell, because I know a little of what Hell is like, and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone, not even my worst enemy.

All that aside, I’m feeling bereft. I never had what most people would call a father. Certainly Harry wasn’t a father to me, and I never felt loved by my stepdad either. He tried, but I think maybe the damage done by the time he came around was so extensive that he couldn’t get beyond it to relate to me as he would to any “normal” person.

So, as I said, I feel bereft, regardless of the fact that Harry wasn’t in my life, and hadn’t been since he left when he and my mother got divorced when I was ten. It’s strange, because he was never a father to me, yet now that he’s gone, I miss him like he was, though what I’m missing may be the hope that he would become a father to me.

I’ve been hunting for a surrogate father my whole life, and everytime I thought I’d found one, something would happen and he’d go away. I finally gave up looking. I can sort of see why it’s not good to trust in an earthly substitute, but sometimes you need a pair of physical ears to talk to, and a pair of physical arms to give you a hug, and sometimes you need them to be male ears and arms ~ and I could never find that, not anywhere. It turned out to be impossible.

As I was talking with McT about this today, he got me thinking about the few times I saw Harry after the divorce. I can probably count them on one hand. There were two before my stepdad adopted my sister and me so we’d have his last name. Then there was a gap of twenty years or more, until I was about thirty-three. I hadn’t had any memories yet, and my Aunt Priscilla, Harry’s sister, suggested I visit him in West Virginia where he lived with his second wife. I hadn’t seen him in at least twenty years, and the first thing he did after I got there was take me out and buy me five pairs of underwear.

At the time I wasn’t sure how I felt about that gift, but it didn’t feel as truly weird, perverted, and inappropriate as it has since come to feel. When I told McT about it today, immediately his face got all scrunched up, and he said that it was a really inappropriate gift for a father to give his daughter.

I stayed with Harry and Elizabeth for a week, and all I remember about that time, aside from the underwear gift, was that Harry and Elizabeth argued a lot, and it was all about me. All these years I thought it was because she was jealous of me, but as McT and I were talking about it today, it came to me that they were arguing because she was telling him that his underwear gift was bizarre and wrong, and he was arguing back because he couldn’t understand what she was saying. To him, giving your daughter underwear was a perfectly natural thing to do.

EEeeewwwww!!!!

I know someone whose father gave her a red bra for her sixteenth birthday, which I always thought was really wrong. It’s strange how I couldn’t see that Harry’s gift of underwear to me was just as strange until I saw McT’s reaction. I guess I was too close to it to be able to see how weird it was, but now I get it really well!

Like I said above, EEeeeeewwwwww!!! Now it gives me the creeps! Back then it made me feel a little strange, but I had no idea why, because I’d had no memory of being abused by anyone, much less by Harry. In fact, I had no memory at all of the first ten years of my life. Those years were a huge blank for me. Since then God has been filling in the void with substance, though sometimes I’ve found myself wishing those years had stayed empty, because not knowing at times feels better than knowing.

And interestingly, it was after I got home from that visit that I had my first abuse memories, and they were perfectly awful ~ and I was in a therapy appointment with McT when they came out.

The only other meeting with Harry that I remember was a short one. I don’t remember when it happened, except that it was about thirty years ago ~ in the nineties, I think. The only thing I remember about it was that it ended in a fist-bump. Fist-bumps have only been popular in the last two or three years, and when he gave me one thirty years ago, I perceived it as him rejecting me and pushing me away. It felt incredibly off-putting. Now, I think, it’s supposed to be sign that someone is cool. Maybe that’s how he meant it, I don’t know, but that’s not how I took it. So maybe I misread his signal to me in that instance. Maybe I need to ask for his forgiveness.

So now I’m left with what to do with all I’ve discovered, and the first thing I know I must do is forgive. Always forgive. Forgiving has become foundational to who I am, and it’s not hard to forgive Harry, or anyone else who’s hurt me. The only one I have a problem forgiving is myself, though that’s getting easier as well, thank God.

This has been a really long post, I know, but this is a difficult topic, so I hope everyone will read the whole thing all the way through. Mostly, I want to give glory to God for helping me to think everything through with the proper insight, and for helping me to see Harry through the eyes of Jesus ~ as God sees him.

I know Jesus loves Harry as much as He loves me, or anyone else, so I have no right to hold unforgiveness or hatred against him, so I choose to bless him, and I wish peace and healing towards him.

I hope and pray he accepted God’s gift of salvation before he died! Glory to God for the cross!!

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…