Category Archives: the Cross

Fibber McGee’s Closet

Standard

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

 

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

Standard

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

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

So here I am…

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus wept. John 11:35, NKJV.

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

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

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

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

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

WOW!! PRAISE GOD FOREVERMORE!!

Revenge Is Sweet, Or So They Say

Standard

That I can remember, no one has ever asked me if I’ve wanted to exact revenge against my father for everything he did to me when I was a child. But if anyone were to ask me, my answer would be an unqualified, categorical no.

I don’t remember ever wanting revenge against him or any of the people who hurt me. It’s certainly not because I’m holy or anything like that. I’m definitely no saint. I mess up on an extremely regular basis, and 1 John 1:9 is a well-worn and much-loved verse for me,

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. ~ 1 John 1:9, NKJV.

Another favorite, and something I cry out to God all the time, is,

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

Thankfully Romans 7:24 is followed immediately by 7:25,

Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin. ~ Romans 7:25, NLT.

And again straightaway after that comes Romans 8:1,

So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. ~ Romans 8:1, NLT.

I apologize for that little rabbit trail, but I’m trying to make a point. I am a sinner because I was born in sin, and because I was born into a world that belongs to Satan. Thank God, Jesus rescued me out of that world by dying on the cross for me, so that now I’m forgiven, and I no longer belong to the devil, I belong to God. But I still commit sins, even though I desperately don’t want to. That was my whole point in quoting the above verses.

Avenging a wrong committed against someone is something that really should be left in God’s hands. God is the only one who knows what really happened, the only one who knows the true motivations of the people involved, and the only one capable of dispensing perfect justice to all the parties connected to the situation.

Seems to me, if someone gets revenge, they’re trying to get justice for a situation on their own, taking control of it out of God’s hands. And while God does know all the facts, the person taking justice into their own hands will only know about the situation from his own perspective, which will always be skewed, because there’s no way any human being can know everything about what happened. Only God can know that. That’s why God says,

Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the LORD. ~ [quoted from Deuteronomy 32:35, NLT]; Romans 12:19, NLT.

I think people take vengeance into their own hands because they get impatient. They don’t want to wait for God to do it (if they believe He exists), or the legal system (if they trust it). Nowadays people don’t trust the legal system, or if they do, it moves too slowly for them, so they decide they have to do it for themselves.

If you think the legal system is slow, God is slower. You have to wait for the person you want justice for to die before you’ll get it. That’s why I say people get impatient. They don’t want to wait for God’s justice. Now, sometimes God will act through the legal system, but oftentimes He chooses to wait until the Final Judgment after the person dies.

I don’t know why that is, and it’s probably not for us, or specifically me, to know, at least not this side of Heaven ~ God’s sovereignty, and His higher ways (Isaiah 55:9-10), and all that ~ though sometimes I really wish God would clue me in.

But He doesn’t, and I have to trust ~ I choose to trust ~ that God is better at being God than I am, something I already knew, by the way, as I wrote about in a previous post (I Would Make a Terrible God). Because, as I said in that post, being God is God’s job, not mine.

So I’ll let God do the avenging for me. I’ve done the best I can to forgive those who need to be forgiven, and certainly there are many on whom I could get revenge, but I firmly believe that’s God’s job, as borne out by Scripture. I’ll let God be God and do my avenging for me. It makes my life much easier. I already have enough to think about without adding that!

Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. ~ Matthew 6:34, KJV.

Of Life and Death, and Life Again

Standard

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.

The Beauty of the Cross

Standard

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!

Of Thoughts and Knots

Standard

This post will be a bit of a milestone because it’s my 100th post. How cool is that? I hope it’s been as meaningful for you as it’s been for me!

I haven’t posted in a while, mostly because I’ve had lots of thoughts zooming around in my mind, but no way of getting them beyond my skull. So I finally decided to start typing and see what falls out.

So here I am…

As of today, April 7th, California has been on lockdown for 20 days. I’ve been out three times ~ or is it four, or maybe five ~ to buy food or go to McDonald’s for a mocha frappé during that time. I was able to get groceries via Instacart on my birthday, and I’ve ordered embroidery floss online from Amazon and DMC so I can work on the samplers I got myself for my birthday.

Aside from that, I’m watching TV ~ Say Yes to the Dress, and a couple of fun shows I found on the Home and Garden Network, namely Fixer to Fabulous, and Home Town.

I’m also reading my Bible, about four chapters every day. I just finished the Book of Hebrews and the Book of James, two of my favorite books, along with Romans, Genesis, Jonah, and the Gospel of John.

On Saturday I realized all of a sudden that this is Easter Week. I don’t know how it slipped by me, but it did. It will be strange not going to church for Easter Sunday ~ actually Resurrection Sunday would be the proper terminology, seems to me. But because California is still on lockdown, and will probably remain so for the foreseeable future, online church is what we’ll have. However my church’s live-streamed services are really good. Even before everything got all messed up they were live-streaming the services and posting them on Facebook Live as well. But now they’ve really ramped up the online stuff.

Every weekday the online church has something going on every hour from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m., and every age group is represented in the activities. My church is kind of a megachurch in southern California, called Calvary Chapel Chino Hills, and by megachurch I mean that regularly about 1500 people attend each service. My pastor, Jack Hibbs, is a wonderful preacher who teaches right from the Bible.

About eight years ago, in 2012, I was looking for a new church. I had started listening to Jack Hibbs on the radio, and I really liked his preaching, because he didn’t mince words and taught straight out of the Bible, and I very much liked that. So I decided to check out one of their services to see what they were like. And when I got there I knew immediately that I had found my church.

The two things that really captured my heart were first, that Pastor Jack loves babies. He does baby dedications every service when the country isn’t on lockdown, and babies trust him enough to go to him. And second, Pastor Jack isn’t afraid to address political issues from the pulpit. I really respect him for that.

I’ve made a tradition for myself of watching the movie The Passion of the Christ every year sometime between Palm Sunday and Resurrection Sunday. It’s a very difficult movie to watch, but I’ve found it to be the most accurate depiction of what Christ actually endured during His trial and crucifixion of anything I’ve seen, and I feel a need to remind myself of what He suffered to save my soul. And this is my way of doing that.

So that’s my main job for this week ~ to watch The Passion of the Christ. I might watch it more than once, depending on when during the week I watch it the first time, partly because it’s done with subtitles in two or three different languages, none of them in English, and I find it interesting to watch without and again with subtitles.

This post is turning out to be train-of-thought writing, which is partly why it’s taking me so long to finish and publish. As something occurs, and it seems important enough to write about, then I have to figure out the best way to say it ~ and then, of course, write it down. So everything is coming out in dribs and drabs.

Would that it came out in a river, so I could write and publish it all at once!

It’s so frustrating when it feels like I’m writing slower than molasses in January!

Oh well… I guess I’ll just keep word, word, wording along until I reach a finishing point. Hopefully that will be any word now!

Ever onword…

I started working on my cross stitch sampler. You know, the one I got myself for my birthday? I showed you a picture of it in Joyful Celebration and Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream. As I was stitching this evening one of the strands of thread got a knot in it, one of the most frustrating things that can happen to someone who does counted cross stitch. I still can’t figure out how it happened, because I wasn’t stitching when it happened. I wasn’t touching the thread at all.

It must have been magicSo now I have to try and get the knot out, because otherwise I’ll have to throw that strand of floss away ~ and I HATE wasting embroidery floss.

GRRR…

That’s how I feel about that knot. HARRUMPH!!!

So now I’m working on letting God have the problem of the knot so I can go to sleep.

And I think I’ve finally reached a point where I feel like I’m done writing this! Yippee!!

This post has been pretty disorganized, and I apologize for that. More than anything it’s been a chronicle of my week in quarantine ~ and it’s been a disorganized week, thus my disorganized writing.

And now to turn out the light…

In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, LORD, make me dwell in safety. ~ Psalm 4:8, NIV.

Update: when I woke up the next day, I took the embroidery floss that had the knot in it into the bathroom to see if I could get it out, and lo and behold, I was able to after much prayer. God showed me how by using two needles to tease it out by gently working on different parts of the knot. Oh my goodness, but I was SOOO HAPPY when, all of a sudden, the floss was knot-free, because the knot vanished just as unexpectedly as it had appeared.

Also, I never managed to watch The Passion of the Christ because when I went to put the DVD in the machine, I couldn’t find the disc. So

But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. ~ 1 Corinthians 15:57, NKJV.

Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! ~ 2 Corinthians 9:15, NKJV.

Joyful Celebration and Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream

Standard

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

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

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

Plight-of-Fancy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God is SOOO GOOD to me!!

God is good ALL the time!!

When Faith Becomes Sight

Standard

I crave beauty in all its various forms. I can’t live without beauty in my life. As a consequence, I’ve spent a lot of money on paintings, art glass, and other kinds of art so that I’m surrounded by beauty at all times, no matter where I go.

That said, God is the author and creator of all beauty. Not only did He give human beings the ability to make beautiful things because He created us in His image (see Genesis 1:26-27), but the plants and animals He created were (and are) all unique and beautiful as well. All you have to do is look at a bird or a flower to see that a Being of supreme intelligence created it. Here are some examples:

In the top row, from left to right, we have a Gouldian Finch, which is native to Australia, and a Fiery-throated Hummingbird. In the bottom row, from left to right, you see a Passion Flower, and a Habenaria Radiata, aka a Dove Orchid.

And just to show you that God uses beauty to display His sense of humor, as well as make us laugh, check this out:

Hooker's Lips (Psychotria Elata)

Hooker’s Lips Flower.

I look at these examples of God’s creative power and artistry, and I’m in awe. And sometimes I imagine God as He’s creating the birds and the flowers, and in my mind’s eye He looks like He’s having a lot of fun as He’s doing it.

God having fun? Yes, but not in a carefree or slapdash way as a child might do. I think God was, and is, very deliberate as He creates. I think He has the exact design for what He’s going to make already conceived in His mind, and the fun is in the exuberant colors and shapes He chooses for the creatures He’s making. For example, look at the peacock:

Indian-Male-Peacock-ImageKandarps A

Talk about vivid, exuberant colors!

And then there’s this:

Tiny Peacock Spider

This is a male Peacock Spider, Maratus caeruleus. Peacock Spiders are a genus of jumping spiders, and they’re tiny, about 4-5 mm in length. There are some 79 different known species of these spiders, and each one is different, with a different pattern of colors and shapes on the vertical display. They’re found almost exclusively in Australia, New Zealand, and Tasmania. The colorful display shown above is found only in the males, and only during courtship rituals, along with their raised, fringed third legs. And the cool thing is, the rich, luminous, almost flamboyant colors with which God made this wee spider are also iridescent.

My point in showing you this last creature is that even in the tiniest of God’s designs, He expresses Himself in the most elaborate, even ostentatious ways ~ and I haven’t shown you any of the amazing microscopic examples. I could write a whole post about nothing but microscopic beauty, but that’s for another time.

These birds, flowers, and as much as I dislike them, even this spider, are, to me, extravagant design at its best. God really outdid Himself here, as He always does.

In reality, however, as beautiful and elaborate as these examples are, they’re only a wisp of a shadow of the beauty to be found in Heaven. And I believe the beauty in Heaven is the benchmark for everything else called beautiful, and it’s far beyond anything we could conceive in our wildest imaginings,

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. But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”(Isaiah 64:4, NKJV); 1 Corinthians 2:7-9, NKJV.

God doesn’t think as we do. His ideas are higher than ours could possibly be,

“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 when God thinks about beauty, He thinks in completely different realms than we do,

And the twelve gates were twelve pearls, each of the gates made of a single pearl, and the street of the city was pure gold, transparent as glass. ~ Revelation 21:21, RSV.

That wonderful verse is talking about Heaven. There are twelve entrances to Heaven, barred by twelve gates, and as the verse above says, each gate is made of one, single pearl. Think about that. That has to be one huge, enormous, gigantic, HUMUNGOUS GEM!! And unless God created it supernaturally, which He’s certainly capable of doing…

That is what the Scriptures mean when God told him, “I have made you the father of many nations.” This happened because Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing. ~ Romans 4:17, NLT.

…then the oyster that made each pearl had to have been just as massive as the pearl it produced.

And then there are the heavenly streets, which the above-quoted verse says are paved with pure gold. The purest gold here on earth is 24 karat gold, and, as anyone will tell you, it isn’t transparent, or even translucent. In other words, it’s completely opaque, allowing no light to pass through. But Revelation 21:21 says that the gold in Heaven is so pure that it’s as clear as glass, which says to me that, as pure as we think 24 karat gold is, it actually isn’t very pure at all.

My point in talking about gold is that human beings seem to attach a peculiarly high value to gold and jewelry made of gold. Anything made with gold is considered to be especially beautiful by human standards, and yet in Heaven gold is vastly more pure ~ so much more so that it’s transparent ~ but it’s used to pave the streets. That says to me that God doesn’t place the same value on it that we do. He uses it the same way we do asphalt.

In Heaven, gold is equivalent to asphalt! What’s up with that!!

Once again, God’s ideas and values are very different from ours. So much so that we can’t comprehend it! And by the same token, God’s ideas of beauty are vastly different from ours as well,

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by [Eliab’s] appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The LORD doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” ~ 1 Samuel 16:7, NLT.

To God gold isn’t nearly as valuable as living things, and especially the human heart, because Christ died for human beings. So it seems to me that God thinks human beings, and most of all the human heart, are the most beautiful thing of all.

The Continuing Saga of the Monster’s Death

Standard

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!!

A Shiny New Lexus or Jesus. Which to Pick?

Standard

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I know this is kinda long. Sorry…

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