Category Archives: The Love of God

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.

Loneliness In All Its Combinations and Permutations

Standard

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

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

This page intentionally left blank.

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

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

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

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

Lucky you! Now on to more serious matters.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WAY COOL!! YIPPEE!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank God for my friends!!

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

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

Ideas Flitting In and Out

Standard

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

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

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

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

What did I do wrong?? 

What did I do wrong??

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Beauty of the Cross

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!!

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.

It’s All About Gratitude, Difficulties Notwithstanding

Standard

I did it. I finally took a shower.

I’m very grateful to God for helping me to finally get it done. I played worship music the whole time, and doing that made it so much easier.

I find that an attitude of gratitude makes things so much easier, especially the really hard things. Over the years, being grateful to God for all that He’s done for me has helped me to put my life into perspective in so many ways.

Anything bad that happens to me now, regardless of how bad it is, doesn’t hold a candle to the bad stuff that I had to endure when I was little, because now I’m old enough and strong enough to be able to handle it. When I was a child I didn’t have the resources, physically or emotionally, to be able to deal with the onslaught of terror and horror that constantly overwhelmed me. Sometimes I feel like I can’t handle it now, but if I think about it logically, I know I can, especially if I keep my eyes on the LORD, my God, my Jesus.

As long as I don’t take my eyes off Jesus, and keep on listening to that still, small voice of the Holy Spirit (see 1 Kings 19:12), and keep on trusting in God and leaning on His strength and not my own, I know I’ll be alright.

And most of all, I thank God for the Cross!