Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A wealth of wisdom from my faithful blog readers....

I got a WEALTH of wisdom from the comments/e-mails sent about this morning's blog! I finally think I have some answers to my questions! But this stuff was too good NOT to share so I'm going to let you all in on the secrets I was told. Don't worry I PROMISE to protect the identities of the wise ones in the bunch.

"Write down the things that you are holding onto...things that you are fearful of flowing out if your dam gets too full. Put them in a bucket and burn them your way of handing them over to the Lord. Watch the smoke go up to the you trust the Lord to do HIS THING.)" I liked this idea... If a hurt is coming back to "haunt you," this seems like it would be a good idea for dealing with it. Symbolic… Final… Bringing closure…. I’ve been seeing lately how good closure can feel. So I pocketed this idea for use in the future.

"…the acquaintances in your life that ask you how you are. I don't think that they really want more than ‘fine.’ However, if someone comes and says, 'No really, how are YOU?' They are ready and willing to listen and maybe help. You shouldn't shrug that off, God may be using them to help lift your load." This was a good kick in the pants to me… Many, many, many times when we were struggling last fall, someone would ask me how were we doing, and I could tell, I could just TELL that they really did NOT want to hear how we were REALLY doing. But there were also MANY times someone asked me how we were doing…. How we were REALLY doing… and I was too scared or numb or angry to answer. I should have seized the opportunity that God had given me….

Have I ever mentioned before how bad I am in person??? I am fairly adept at written communication, but in person, verbally, I STINK! In writing I have the chance to go back and read (and re-read) what I’ve said…. To make sure it conveys my point appropriately…. To make sure my words were presented in a Christlike manner… Not so much in verbal conversation… No chance to rewind and reword something. I get nervous because verbal communication takes away my delete button and what typically happens is one of two things: 1. I start to cry 2. I get diarrhea of the mouth and start to babble. THEREFORE, I am much better on paper than I am in person. Still this is NO excuse to ignore the prompting of the Lord. I vow from now on, if someone wants to know how I am doing.... how I am REALLY doing... I will be transparent even if they are asking me in person and not in e-mail.

"Once burnt.... twice shy..." I think this is an adage I should employ more often. I know I've talked before of being accused of being too forgiving. While I do not think there is such a thing as "too forgiving," I do think that I tend to move too quickly back into relationship with people who have hurt me and that I need to practice this saying a little more in order to protect my heart. Which leads me to a second comment, which I think goes hand in hand with it…. "When someone has done something horrible it's ok to say. 'I'm working through the process of forgiving you, God is helping me through this, and I'm not yet ready to resume a relationship.'" Taking this a step further, I now am starting to believe it is not only possible, but sometimes also the wisest choice available, to forgive a person and NEVER step back into relationship with them.

"I have wrestled with continuing in relationship with someone who ALWAYS sees the worst in me." I have decided that I have WAY too many people like this in my life…. People who are quick to assume the worst in me. People who standing before something I did or said will typically interpret it negatively and assume I meant to hurt them. People who seem unable to give me the benefit of the doubt that I did NOT mean to hurt them. I struggle and stay in relationship with them because maybe God wants me to be an example to them and help them see how to expect the best in others??? Maybe I’m supposed to put on my cheerleader smile and think the best of them and change the situation??? Here I think is the crux of the situation I am dealing with…. When I continually extend a hand of peacefulness, believing the best in someone and I am continually met with their negative opinion of me… it HURTS like Hades! That is the gunk that builds up…. I try and try and TRY to cover over that hurt with love but it tends to build and build and BUILD…. But this leads me to:

The winning comment…. DING! DING! DING! DING! We have a WINNER over here! Here was the comment that most completely ministered to my angst. The one, complete solution to my dilemma "simply to say out loud 'that hurts my feelings' or 'it makes me angry when...' once you verbalize it, the feelings dissipate. I think the key to being Christlike is to verbalize the emotions in a calm manner. " And that folks was the closing act! That was exactly what I needed to hear! Exactly what revealed my problem. I thought that being Christlike included admitting to myself something hurt me or made me angry and hashing it out with God honestly… but I could not figure out what to do with that leftover feeling of anger and hurt so they built up in me and were causing extreme emotional distress… Now I feel like Louis Pasteur gazing in wonder at penicillin… This is going to be life-changing… this is going to be earth shattering! If I can learn to simply without accusation or viciousness of any kind, say, “It hurt my feelings that...” or “It makes me angry when…” I think I will be slowly releasing the pressure behind the dam…. Nothing will be allowed to build up for it would be expressed as soon as it happens… Not only will the dam of Christ's love make a difference on my outside… It will be changing the inside of me too… AND or the glorious AND… I will finally be able to feel that I am being honest… really truly honest about what I think and feel… Gone will be this nagging feeling that I am somehow being disingenuous.

I don’t know if this little journey through Jami’s struggle has ministered to anyone else, but I feel a peace in my heart that this was NOT all for naught. God used all of YOU to lead ME to a revelation this time (and some of you didn’t even have to go public with your musings J). But don’t be deceived… that knocking sound you hear is my knees colliding because I am trembling in fear over my first dose of honesty. Oh Lord give me strength!

Go with God y’all! And try as hard as you can to walk in complete honesty… I have a feeling it will be good for all of our souls.

More on honesty....

Mmmkay even though I got some really good insights after my last post they still didn't really answer my questions. I think I didn't ask them right. So I'm gonna try again....

Back when John had brain surgery, and people would ask me how we were doing, there were times I wanted to SCREAM, "I'm terrified I'm going to lose my husband!" or "I'm hacked off that for the past four months we have been walking through the fiery furnace and EVERY time we absorb one blow another blow is RIGHT there!" or "I'm sad that this terrible situation had to enter our life." But being the good Christian girl that I am, most of the time, I put on my cheerleader smile and cheerfully uttered a Biblical platitude, "His grace is sufficient!" "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!" "Rejoice in the Lord always!"

So tell me my faithful friends, how honest am I when everything in me wants to rant and rave at someone, "What you did to me was AWFUL! You hurt me and I wish I could sock you in the face!" But instead I gloss over my feelings with a smile and forgive 70 x 7? How honest am I when I want to scream I'm doubting God, my faith is floundering, and I'm tired of standing strong in Christ. But instead I calmly say, "Blessed be the name of the Lord?"

I guess that was what I was trying to say the other day about honesty. Lately I've been pondering how to reconcile letting Christ's love filter my feelings with the commandment to not bear false witness. Aren't I bearing false witness when someone wounds me and I want to scream, "Ow! That hurts!" Yet instead I show kindness and gently forgive?

Then taking that situation a little further.... For someone like me who consistently denies her anger, pushes aside her fear, instead donning the love of Christ... How do I combat the tide of negative emotions that surges against the dam of godliness I have erected. When there are just a few negative things pounding at the dam, I'm fine. But the year I have had has been like a monsoon, and the waters behind my dam are dangerously high!

Recently after MONTHS of extending grace, covering a sin over with love, and forgiving a grievous hurt done to me, a raindrop of accusation came my way and I WENT OFF! The floodgates were opened and the bile and anger the dam had been holding back SPEWED from me and all over the person who had hurt me. See I know THAT was not the godly way to handle those feelings, so what is? We are only human! When someone hurts us, even if we put on love and forgive them, there will be pain.... There must be a godly way to open up the floodgates and release some of that buildup... but how?

So I've reasked my questions:

How do we stay truthful about what we are feeling while being Christlike at the same time? Especially how do we do that when what's been done to us and our feelings about it are ANYTHING but Christlike.


What do we do when we have a backup of un-Christlike feelings in our heart which is a result of filtering them out of our words and actions? How do we release those in a godly way?

If you have any more insights or ideas... PLEASE give them to me because I am still a bit befuddled.

Monday, May 24, 2010

The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth....

I have been struggling to reconcile two Biblical mandates in my heart lately. Writing always seems to help me get my thoughts together so here goes:

"Thou shalt not bear false witness..." Exodus 20:16

Honesty.... It is a good idea to be honest, because God commands us to be. It is also a good idea, because it is difficult for people to trust us if we are not honest. So we all agree.... It is GOOD to be honest.

I've never really had a problem with honesty. As long as I can remember I have been a TERRIBLE liar. My mom loves to tell the story of how when I was about fourteen or so she picked me up from a party. I got in the backseat and started WIGGING out. I told her I had done something really bad. She was freaking out! "Is she pregnant? Does she smoke pot? Did she knock over a liquor store?" These thoughts were racing through her brain. Nopes! I was at a party where there was drinking and smoking, and I had a beer and a few puffs on a cigarette. I freaked out and fessed up the second I saw my momma. She was SO relieved because it was just one beer and a few puffs of a cigarette! So as you see lying has never really been a problem for this girl. I couldn't lie well to save my life.

But the Bible also commands us:

"...instead speaking the truth in love," Ephesians 4:15

God wants us to put on love above all things... to be kind and gentle, and I am VERY good at filtering my comments through the love of Christ. Therefore I EXCEL at the "in love" portion of this command, but sometimes at the expense of the "speaking the truth" part.

See sometimes the truth is ugly and nasty and not kind or gentle. Sometimes the truth of how we feel or how we see something is COMPLETELY changed when covered over with love. Sometimes the things I feel in my heart pass through the filter of Christ's love and upon exiting look NOTHING as they looked upon entering the filter. I used to always see this as good, assuming it showed that I had self-control in this area and was able to deny my sinful urges. But lately I'm not so sure.

Being so good at employing a filter has made it VERY difficult for me to not only say what I am really feeling, but even sometimes to even KNOW what I'm really feeling. Recently John challenged me with this thought, "Are you being honest when you have such an EXTREME filter in place?" I don't know.

Also I have recently realized that when I feel an icky feeling and process it through the filter of Christ's love, the icky part goes somewhere too. It's like the filter of Christ's love has this refuse container.... Have you ever used a juicer? You know you put a piece a fruit in and fresh juice comes spurting out? Well, opposite the side that's squirting out fresh juice is a side that is shooting out the skin and flesh and seeds and all the part of the fruit that is NOT juice. It is the refuse container. This past year I have had so many things pass through my filter of Christ's love that it is almost broken because the refuse container is OVERFLOWING!

So that's my dilemma and actually writing through it really hasn't gotten me towards any clarification. Speaking the truth in love.... obviously both the truth and the love parts are important or God wouldn't have commanded it this way.

***But how do we know how much truth and how much love is right in the equation?
***AND by adding a little love to dilute the truth have we made it less true???
***FINALLY, what do I do with this overflowing refuse container? how do I empty it out?

I don't know, and I would LOVE it if you would all comment and give me your thoughts on this. Let the teacher become the student... or the blogger become the reader, because I need INPUT this time for I haven't worked through it on my own!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Free to be me.....

I'm back from the edge of the abyss of exhaustion (I think). Maybe I should never blog at night because by the end of the day I am SOOOOOOOOOOOOO wiped out that I just don't have the energy to pull out my cheerleader smile and put a positive spin on things. However, that being said... I do think that last night's, "Woe is me" blog ministered to at least one dear friend. See, she too needs a few fruity drinks delivered by Mr. Vin Diesel. This blog is for you, my friend, and don't forget there are like THREE houses for sale in my neighborhood ;)

At twenty years of age I'm still looking for a dream
A war's already waged for my destiny
But You've already won the battle
And You've got great plans for me
Though I can’t always see

But You've already won the battle! All this crud we struggle through... it is TOUGH! All this pain we have to endure... it HURTS! Healing and restoration are NO FUN! Sometimes you really feel you are losing every skirmish around you, but do NOT forget: He's already won the battle! He's won it! This stupid stuff we are dealing with seems so all-consuming, but it is but a mist, but a vapor... and what is really important.... what really matters... He already took care of that, and it's a victory for our side!

‘Cause I got a couple dents in my fender
Got a couple rips in my jeans
Try to fit the pieces together
But perfection is my enemy
On my own I'm so clumsy
But on Your shoulders I can see
I'm free to be me

But perfection is my enemy! It's okay that life's not perfect. It's okay that life's hard. Some of us need to give ourselves (and our lives) a break, and realize that perfection is not all it's cracked up to be. Imperfection has it's beauty too. Imperfection is what brings us to Jesus. Without imperfection we don't need Him. I, for one, am SO glad I need Him.

But on Your shoulders I can see.... I'm free to be ME! Climb up on those big shoulders of your Daddy and be FREE! You don't have to walk anymore when you're up on His shoulders. You don't have to climb. You can just be FREE to be yourself... to not worry about falling... to have your load carried.... to be FREE!

When I was just a girl I thought I had it figured out
My life would turn out right, and I'd make it here somehow
But things don't always come that easy
And sometimes I would doubt

But things don't always come that easy.... Things don't always go that easy. For some of us they are harder still. This earth we live in is not our home. It is under the dominion of an evil, crafty, vicious enemy. He tries to steal our joy. He tries to kill our hope. He tries to DESTROY us! See he doesn't believe my first point. He doesn't think that God's already won the battle. He thinks there is some slight chance that he can win in the end, and he is NOT going to give up until he has given all he has got to obtain his objective.

Sometimes I believe that I can do anything
Yet other times I think I've got nothing good to bring
But You look at my heart and You tell me
That I've got all You seek
And it’s easy to believe
Even though

Sometimes I believe that I can do anything.... There are days when you feel like, "I am woman hear me roar." Relish those days! Use them to shore yourself up. Bask in the feeling that together you and God can do anything.

Yet other times I think I've got nothing good to bring.... We all have those gloomy, Eyeore days... Days when we feel like everything is just wrong. Days when we feel like WE are just wrong. On those days, don't forget that the truth never changed. Together you and God can do anything.

But you look at my heart and You tell me that I've got all You seek.... He doesn't want our perfection. He doesn't want our strength. For HIS strength is made perfect in our WEAKNESS. All He wants is a heart that loves Him. Once again, my favorite character in the Bible is David. He has always been my favorite. Wanna know why? Because after ALL he did: adultery, murder.... God STILL calls him a man after His own heart. When it is all said and done that is what really matters.... not the rips in our jeans or the dents in our fenders, BUT a heart that loves God.

So my dear friend.... this one was for you. I feel some of your pain. I've yet to travel the other. But still I know this one truth: if your heart is following after Him that's all that matters.

Cherish those dents in your fender. Relish in those rips in your jeans. They are battle scars that remind you, His grace is sufficient and His power is shown in our weakness.

Love you much! (and don't forget about the houses for sale!)

But He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will BOAST all the more gladly about my WEAKNESS, so that Christ's power may rest on me. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Another fruity drink please, Mr. Vin Diesel

Sometimes I literally and truly wonder if I will make it through all of this. I mean SERIOUSLY what kind of person can handle THIS! I'm not some sort of super human.... I'm just a girl... One puny, measly, fearful, insecure, little girl!

"Send in the reinforcements! Shore up the line! The B team MUST take the court! For this front line fighter is done! Toast! Spent!"

I want a break! I need a vacation from all this misery! I want to plant my big white butt on the sand in Fiji while a cabana boy who looks like Vin Diesel brings me fruity drinks with umbrellas in them! I'll come back and fight the battle later. I'm not deserting FOREVER! I just need a little hiatus from the hassling... Just a tiny little lull in the character shaping... A small pause in the healing...

Don't they give burn victims a break in between skin grafts? When someone suffers extreme trauma aren't there MULTIPLE surgeries so they can have time in between to heal? For goodness sake even this one little tooth implant they want to give me has to be done in two parts so the screw thingy holding the fake tooth in place can grow into the bone or something like that.

Alas.... there is no white sand beach in my near future.... People have said John looks a little like Vin Diesel but I'm not sure John has any little umbrellas at his disposal. So I guess it is back to the grind for this peasant. I just hope God remembers this one thing, "I'm just one girl."

"Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling." 2 Corinthians 5:2

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Shame is NOT God's game....

We've been down to the bottom, stories we've got em
When we hit rock bottom
If you been there put your hands in the air
So let the lost know that someone cares

I've been thinking a lot about shame lately. In that Karen Kingsbury book I finished last week the main character was overwhelmed by the shame of a ten-year old sin. She even fretted God would punish someone if she prayed for them, because her sin was so grievous.

You know what? We've all got sin. None of us is exempt. We all have something we wish NO ONE knew, and we fear EVERYONE will find out. And trust me... God is not put off by our ickiness... "While we were still sinners...." (Romans 5:8) That's when Christ died for us!

Shame is just such a silly waste of time! God doesn't want your shame or guilt. He wants you to be convicted. He wants you to turn away from your sin. But wallowing in shame.... That's the devil's game... Not God's.

If you have a sin in your past (or even in your present) don't waste time on the shame game! Confess it! Turn away from it! And start your journey away from it. That's God's game.

Monday, May 17, 2010

The valley of the shadow of death....

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. (Psalm 23:4)

I know a thing or two about valleys. I've traveled through my share (and maybe a few other people's share too...) Therefore, I feel qualified to tell you a few things I have learned about journeying through a valley... a sort of JLK TripTik to help you navigate your way.

He is with you. The first stop along our way is the no-brainer. It is right there in the verse I opened with, "for you are with me...." God is with you. Even though it feels as if you've been abandoned, even though you cannot always see Him there, He is WITH you! Right there in the valley, right there as you're saying goodbye to a loved one, right there as the bank is foreclosing upon your house, right there as the judge signs the papers on your divorce, HE IS WITH YOU. Whatever you do, do NOT let the enemy convince you this is not true. In order to make it to the other side of this deep canyon, you HAVE to hold tight to this truth: HE IS WITH YOU!

Stand.... or fall down too, but do not give up! When you are walking through a deep, dark valley, feeling discouraged is understandable. When your life is falling apart, you will feel despair. When your dreams are lying in a pile of rubble at your feet, your broken heart will ache. But no matter what you do, do not give up. "....and after you have done everything, to stand." (Ephesians 6:13b)... Sometimes standing is all you can do. Sometimes it is good enough to just NOT fall down, Sometimes you even fall down, and it is good enough to just get back up. To say to God, "My heart is in ruins but I will stand." Brooke Taylor in Facing the Giants.... broken hearted facing her bareness and crying out, "I will still love you, Lord!" Just don't give up! It's okay to stand still. It's okay not to move. But do NOT give up!

This too shall pass... No matter how endless the valley you are traveling feels, there IS an end to it. There will come a day when you will look back on the valley. There WILL! For those of you who are in the valley RIGHT NOW, you will find my next words hard to believe, but someday you may even long wistfully for the valley. Just this past weekend I was longing wistfully for a few of the darkest times in my life:

***The year when I was pregnant with Hannah through her birth, we were walking through a valley of the shadow of financial destitution that was pretty much unmatched by ANYTHING else we had ever faced. I remember how terrified I was. I remember the power was shut off that summer. But this past weekend, I looked back and remembered how it was in the middle of that valley that God blessed me with this beautiful baby girl who is so much more than I could have ever hoped or asked for. We were involved in the birthing of a church that year, and we were integral in the support system of that church, and we BELONGED. I also remember that year we were coaching a cheer squad that was more family than team. As I look back on that valley, what I notice most are the flowers scattered along the way.

***Last fall our valley was having a portion of John's skull removed in brain surgery and living with none of his income for a few months. I remember the exhaustion of those long, labor-intensive days. I remember the fear of ending up homeless because we could not pay the bills. I remember fighting back the worry that I would be widowed well before I got to be that cute elderly couple holding hands at the grocery store. But this past weekend, I looked back and remembered the AMAZING blessing of being together as a family (all six of us... and just the six of us) for nearly two months. We were cared for by the body of Christ in a way that BLEW MY MIND. We learned more lessons about God and about each other than I can even catalog. As I look back on that valley, what I notice most are the flowers scattered along the way.

So please believe me.... no matter how science-fiction like it sounds... there WILL come a day when you too will look back on this valley and see the flowers scattered along the way.

I wish that none of us had to face valleys. What a pleasant trip this would be if it were a skip down a rose-lined path on a sunny day! However, that's not what I have found from scripture: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." (Luke 9:23) The description Jesus gives of following Him includes crosses... not roses. It is also not what I have found in life. People die. Finances go south. Hearts get broken. But these things I know about traveling through a valley:

He is with you.
This too shall pass.

If you are in a valley right now, I pray this has ministered to you. If you are not in a valley right now, maybe you want to bookmark this page, because eventually you will be. The valleys in life are inevitable... I just hope this little TripTik will help you a little in yours.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Dancing with Cinderella.....

So I had this HUGE day ahead of me yesterday. TONS on my to do list and time ticking away. I was in the shower sopping wet, and I heard my phone ringing. It was John's ringtone. He doesn't typically call me on the drive to work so I knew there was something wrong. "I need you do come pick me up. I'm on Hwy K." With those words my whole day was turned upside down.

[This blog is NOT about the issues which left him stranded on Hwy K, but because I know I will field ZILLIONS of questions about this if I don't put it out there: all is fine and taken care of.... God prepared a solution before we even had the need. Now focus on my lesson PLEASE!]

It reminded me of a scene in Evan Almighty where Evan says something about what his plans were. God (Morgan Freeman) says, "Your plans?" and then proceeds to bust a gut laughing. See so often we get so caught up in OUR plans, but there are MANY times when God's plans aren't the same as ours.

My plans for Friday, May 14th included errands, work, schooling and TONS of cleaning. God's plans for me for Friday, May 14th included an emergency call at 7:03 a.m., an unexpected expense, and a tax return being deposited on THAT day so the expense wasn't a big deal.

Yesterday reminded me not to be so caught up in MY plans that I am not receptive to His plans. Yesterday ended up being a GLORIOUS day: unexpected time off with my hubby, ALL the errands done much easier then if I had done them myself, and most of my to do list accomplished. Sometimes when we are pitched a curve ball that turns our day upside down we are not very graceful. However, we have to constantly remind ourselves God knew EXACTLY how that ball was gonna curve.

Hannah keeps throwing me one of those curve balls lately. She keeps asking me, "Mommy will you dance with me?" Typically when she asks this, I'm not at a point where I have time for frivolous things. Although truth be told, I NEVER have the time for frivolity. However, in the few seconds after that question is asked, ZILLIONS of things run through my mind. See the question ALWAYS reminds me of the song Cinderella by Steven Curtis Chapman.

So I'll dance with Cinderella
While she is here in my arms

I'm sure many of you know the tragic story of his daughter Maria.... killed in a terrible accident at the tender age of five. I think of the fact that even if I do not lose my Hannah at a young age, every day she is growing up and I am "losing" my baby a little bit. Sooner than I like to realize, she and I will be fighting over how much stomach that t-shirt shows (or whatever other teenage battle we'll engage in), and I'll be longing to hear her sweet little voice saying, "Mommy will you dance with me?" So every single time, no matter what I'm doing: chores, work, stealing a few selfish moments for myself, I drop it, and I gather that precious little Cinderella in my arms and I DANCE! I bury my face in that soft blond hair. I inhale of her big girl sweetness. I memorize the feeling of those tiny little arms squeezing my neck. And I dance.

That's what I tried to do yesterday. After all the stress and struggle and juggling, I reached over and took my husband's hand and danced. I enjoyed being alone with him. I enjoyed being at home with him. I danced.

I hope you take some time to dance today too. You won't regret it.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

I *heart* Karen Kingsbury!

I don't think I've written much about Karen Kingsbury in this blog. I believe it is because I don't find myself having much time for reading anymore. But I LOVE Karen Kingsbury. In fact, if I had more time, I think I'd stalk her. She is the BEST author I have ever in my life encountered. Many times, John has found me huddled in the bathroom (because I didn't want my sobs to wake him) at 2 a.m. finishing one of her books. However, last night her writing did something new for me. The sobs which emanated from me as I read weren't just sobs of empathy. They were sobs which brought waves of healing that I needed SO badly. This time her writing did not just make me feel something, her novel brought me healing. The topic at the root of the book was not something I could relate too, but every issue that spring out of that main topic hit me hard.

***I was convicted about my propensity to sit up on my high horse when I've been wronged and think how LUCKY the person who wronged me is that I extended my royal scepter and deemed to forgive their lowly butt.
***I was humbled by the reminder that no matter how sorry we are about a sin we can't go back and change it and its consequences will be endured no matter how contrite we are.

There were so many life applications I found in this novel that I literally had to sit still a few minutes after turning the last page. I was a bit stunned, and my head was spinning. God was whispering SO many things to my heart that I didn't know which one to allow my brain to settle on first. I am still in the process of working through all of this, but here is the part I wanted to share with all of you.

A few days ago I blogged about my struggle with the concept of forgiving and forgetting. Remember I talked about the salt (like our sin) being completely dissolved in water?? Well in processing the thoughts and feelings I had after this book, I came to an understanding about a new facet of forgiveness that I would like to share. Here is is.

As previously stated, I don't believe forgiveness is forgetting. I also don't believe forgiveness and healing are synonymous. I don't believe I have to be completely over a sin to forgive it. I don't believe that I have to never ever bring it up or mourn the consequences of it in order to have forgiven it. I think that forgiveness means choosing to continue loving in spite of the sin. I think that when someone hurts us we can IMMEDIATELY let go of that sin and FORGIVE. I believe that forgiveness can take place instantly. But depending upon the magnitude of the sin, it make take us a while to heal from the wound of it. It may take us a while to rebuild. But needing time to heal or slowly rebuilding these things do not indicate an absence of forgiveness and in order to heal and rebuild we must REMEMBER.

Here's my analogy:

Imagine being sinned against is like an earthquake in your life. Forgiveness is your choice to go on living. You may have lost loved ones in the earthquake. Your house may be rubble and your livelihood may be in ruins. But you make a choice to forge ahead. As you forge ahead, you may need time for the injuries you sustained to heal. Rebuilding your home and reestablishing your livelihood will not happen overnight. The pain of the loved ones you lost will sting for a very long time. However, none of these things mean that you are not going to continue on living.

When someone sins against us, we can make the choice IMMEDIATELY to forgive. We may have lost innocence or trust because of their sin. Our hearts may be rubble and our spirits may be in ruins, but we make a choice to forgive. Forgiveness isn't a magic wand that makes everything "okay." We still need time for our injuries to heal. We still need time to rebuild trust and to whittle away bitterness and anger. The pain of what was done to us will sting for a very long time. However, none of these things mean that we have not forgiven.

More then a decade ago, I was sinned against in a grievous way. What made matters worse was the sinful thing was done to me by a fellow believer in Christ. I was not just hurt by that single incident. My world was rocked by the thought, "How can part of the body of Christ DO THIS?" I was not as good at forgiving back then, and it took me awhile to get to the point that I even wanted to forgive. Yet to this day, nearly twelve years later, when I look back on that situation, I cringe a little at the memory of the devastation it wrought. I do not believe that means I did not forgive. I believe that means that I suffered a PAINFUL betrayal and the more painful the betrayal the longer it will take to heal from it.

I guess that is all I wanted to say for today.... I already feel a blog for tomorrow building in my heart... Wish I had a good teaser for it, but I don't want to give anything away...

See you tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

On sin and salt water....

I was searching this morning for an analogy. See one of my pet peeves is the saying, "Forgive and forget." Because I find it literally IMPOSSIBLE to forget the big hurts in my life. I think I am a pretty forgiving person. In fact, on occasion, I have been accused of being too forgiving. However, STILL I have never been able to transition from forgiveness into that state where I literally do NOT remember the offense. I just don't think it's possible. Hence why that statement peeves me.

This morning I was trying to come up with one of my famous analogies to explain the fact that even though a sin is forgiven the consequences of it still remain. It's still a part of you. I was sorting through comparisons like oil and water which I didn't really like because to some extent the sin we dabble with is more completely dissolved in us, more like salt dissolves in water.......

When I hit puberty, I started losing my knobby kneed, emaciated look in a BIG way. My gymnastics coach took notice of this and began lecturing me on how fat I was becoming. My response was to request bathroom breaks from gymnastics practice to go to the bathroom and make myself throw up. My disorder grew throughout high school and college, crescendoing when I was in Denver for my first teaching job. It was there that through counseling and eventually a miraculous healing that I conquered my eating disorder. However, even still I carry with me a little bit of that 13-year old girl in a leotard bending over the toilet. Now in a season of life where I have lost control of my fitness and weight I still am haunted by her. Even still if I overeat, I am tempted to shove a toothbrush down my throat. Even in healing I am somehow a bit different than someone who never forced herself to throw up to try to be thinner.

I was searching for the analogy to illustrate this enigmatic quality of sin, when I came up with the salt in water concept. I started working it. When we taste of forbidden fruit, when we dabble in sin, it's like pouring salt into a glass of water. The salt dissolves and even if we stop sinning, even if we stop pouring more salt in the water, the salt is still there. It's a part of us. When all of a sudden from out of NOWHERE God hit me with a science lesson out of the kids Abeka text book. They had to boil salt water to learn that salt from the ocean doesn't evaporate. I heard God whisper to me, "I can boil you. You will become a water vapor leaving your salty sin behind." WOW! It ministered to me in ways I cannot explain. And it reminded me of a truth from my very favorite movie EVER (Facing the Giants), "With God all things are possible!" He can remove the salt of sin from my life. Whether I poured that salt in on my own or whether someone else poured it into me, God can REMOVE it. It won't be easy. The analogy of being boiled away does not seem like a walk in the park to me; however, "desperate times call for desperate measures."

So if you have sin in your life, and it feels like you just can't get the last of the saltiness out, ask Him to boil it away. It won't be easy. It won't be comfortable. You'll never be the same... but isn't that what you wanted in the first place?

Saturday, May 8, 2010

The kind of mother I have....

My mother has a second mother, Auntie Marge. Auntie Marge and her husband Uncle Joe helped my grandmother (a single mother in the 1950s) raise her twin daughters. As a result my mother has always treated Auntie Marge as her mother too, and for the first time in many decades, my mother won't have to settle for sending Auntie Marge flowers or a fruit basket. This year she gets to spend Mother's Day celebrating with Auntie Marge. But first my mother and I had to negotiate getting Auntie Marge into town for the celebration....

"But I don't want you to have to pack up and lug all the kids on a special trip into the city just to bring me Auntie Marge."

"It's okay mom. I don't mind. Besides.... I would like a chance to see my mom for Mother's Day."

"It's just so far to come for no reason. Don't you have any errands in the city."

"No mom but I wanted to come into town to see you too."

"Hmmmm.... maybe Dad could meet John halfway before he goes to work at McDonald's."

"I want to come into town or meet you halfway, so I can see you for Mother's Day."

"Okay, but I still feel bad that you have to lug the kids out."

I have to admit the conversation left me feeling a little frustrated because I still didn’t feel she had heard me. However, the next morning’s call rectified that….

“I feel so silly. I FINALLY get what you were saying. YOU want to spend some time with YOUR mother for Mother’s Day.”

(with a smile on my face)…. “Yes Mother, I would like to spend some time with MY mother for Mother’s Day.”

“Fine then let’s meet halfway for lunch.”

See that is the kind of mother I have….. I have a mother who is so wrapped up in honoring other people, that she doesn’t realize someone is trying to honor her. I don’t have a mother who is obsessing over what her children are going to do for her for Mother’s Day. I have a mother who is obsessing over what she is going to do for her mothers for Mother’s Day. And that is just the way I want it.

What a wonderful heritage to have handed down to me! And what a daunting task to pass it down to my children. Put others first. Don’t concentrate on what you’re getting; concentrate on what you’re giving.

I hope you are all as lucky as I am, but even if you didn’t have a sacrificing, amazing mother like I did, you can still be a person who puts others first. I’ll let you in on a little secret…. The people who are consumed with blessing others are much happier than those who are consumed with what others are doing for them.

Happy Mother’s Day Mom, and thank you for modeling a servant’s heart for me!

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.

Philippians 2:3

Friday, May 7, 2010

The sound of silence...

Silence is not really something I know much about. I've always been a gregarious person with a HUGE mouth. Every parent/teacher conference my parents ever had included the words Jami, talks, and a lot. Most of the time I'm not sure I could even pick silence out of a line up. My life is SOOOOOOOOOO loud. We always joke we are "The Loud Family," but it really isn't a joke. My house has a constant din that seems to be the soundtrack of my life. Last summer when we moved in to this quiet, country neighborhood in the boonies, we kept saying, "There goes the neighborhood," because we are ANYTHING but quiet. However, this past month I have really been called to a time of silence.

I'm not entirely sure why, but God called me to silence my fingers this past month. At first it started out as just busyness. To my normal load of mother of four with a husband still recovering from brain surgery who telecommutes and homeschools, I added caring for an elderly Aunt in my house full time and traveling to the city to care for my elderly Grandmother twice a week. Plus I was planning a HUGE birthday gala event for Hannah. Finally, John and I were walking through a bit of a valley (not really a valley... more like a culvert) of fear related to a significant increase in his pain level accompanied by a return of some of his Chiari symptoms. (Visit to the Neurosurgeon earlier this week put all our fears to rest, and switching up of his medications has eased the symptoms and pain.) This all made for a busy time which did not allow for much blogging. I felt a little guilty about leaving you all hanging and not blogging; however, after a little time I realized that I had NOTHING on my heart to blog about. It wasn't that God wasn't moving all around me, but I could tell that there was nothing He was pressing upon my heart to speak about. Then earlier this week the dandelions burst open the dam in my soul, and I could feel my writing pressing upon my heart again. I'm happy to be back, but I'm also contemplating what all that silence was about.

I have a sneaking suspicion that the silence was to shore me up. I am about to enter several months of "one year ago todays." Anniversaries of the most difficult things I have ever in my life dealt with will be hitting me over and over again this summer, and I suspect that (knowing me more intimately than any one else does) my Creator knew I needed a little silence to rest. Only time will tell if that is the truth or not, but I have a sneaking suspicion I will look back on April 2010 as a fortifying time.

However, I digress.... the point is what lesson should the sound of silence bring? To someone like me who can hardly find silence in the din of children, work, and other related chaos, it sometimes becomes a dirty word. Silence! Ha! It tastes a bit bitter like the word Atlantis to the treasure hunter. I know it exists, but my inability to find it makes that word feel icky on my tongue, in my mind. But silence can be the Holy Grail to your soul. In this case, I feel the blog silence was to strengthen me. See as much as I love to write, and as much as I love all of you, sometimes my blogs bring me nothing but trouble. It often feels like no matter how much I share someone always want to know more. Furthermore, sometimes my intent... the moral of my story... is so completely misunderstood, I am left feeling like a failure for not getting my point across more appropriately. Yet while I suspect the main purpose of all this silence was the shoring up thing, there was a hidden agenda too. I discovered that while I hear lessons from God all around me, sometimes the chaotic din is blocking out lessons too. The little lessons, the quiet things are easier to find in the silence.

Well consider yourselves forewarned.... the silence is over! I feel blogs backing up in my heart like cars in a traffic jam on a Friday afternoon. Yet I'm hoping to hold on to the fortitude God brought through this season of silence and striving to remember to seek out the silence with my whole heart so that I can hear the itty bitty lessons He has for me too.

Hope you have a GREAT day and that you can find a little silence today too.

Thursday, May 6, 2010


I have become such a John Deere girl! (Okay my riding lawn mower is a Yard King or something like that, but you get my drift right?) See it's become my job to mow the mammoth of a yard we now have. John works so much. Every night (except Monday) he arrives home between 8 and 9. Saturdays he works a full eight hour day. His only real day off is Sunday, and that is church day and a well-deserved Sabbath too. So it has become the Momma's job to mow the 1.89 acre lawn, and guess what? I actually LOVE it! Idk why... I think cuz it's mindless and no one can interrupt me, and because the lawn stays neatly mowed just a little bit longer than the kitchen floor stays spotless after a mopping.

Anywhoo... I was mowing on Tuesday, and I came up over a hill in the backyard and caught sight of a beautiful patch of overgrown grass polka-dotted with bright yellow dandelions. At first the beauty of the sight took my breath away, but very shortly thereafter, God hit me with a POW! of a lesson. Even as my eyes took in the beauty of the green with splashes of yellow and my heart swelled at the appreciation of the beauty of God's creation, my brain started to kick in and say, "Ummm Jami... Those are weeds." I thought about how just a few weeks ago there wasn't a dandelion in sight. Then one day, Elijah brought me a fistful of "flowers." I thought, "Hmmm dandelion time." Before I knew it... there were patches everywhere. Dandelions were covering my lawn.

God got me thinking about sin. One minute everything is hunky dory. Then sin pokes its head up and if you don't do something about it, before you know it, your whole "lawn" is covered with dandelions.

I've had several applications of this thought called to mind the past few days, but here is the one that is screaming out the most and hitting me HARD in the heart. It has to do with relationships.

I am very good at filtering the thoughts that occur in my mind before they reach my lips; however, because of this I tend to keep my mouth shut a little too much. I let little irritations with people fester until they become huge grievances crippling my entire relationship with them. I see this happening all around me in other people's lives too. People who should have spoken up when something was small and manageable allow it to grow and thrive until it takes over their entire relationship with their spouse, their family, a friend, their church. Before you know it the dandelions have taken over their yard and they have some MAJOR work to do in order to get control.

Kinda like this:

Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
James 1:15

So what's the plan of action then? I used to think my response was simply to root out that weed of sin every time it popped up in my heart and my relationships. However, this week looking around I realized that even if I had rooted up that very first dandelion, it likely would have been too late. That one weed would have likely already had little friends about to pop up all over. So here's what I advise when dealing with weeds (in your yard and your heart):

1. Root them out! Definitely yank that bad boy outta your yard or heart as soon as possible. The sooner the better! When your hubby's voice has a bit of an edge to it, when your BFF forgets your b-day, when your church fails to pray about your illness... address the hurt and pain but then LET GO and get rid of it!

2. Sprinkle some weed killer all about. It's not good enough to just root out that weed. You also have to take action against any friends that weed may have lurking about. I suggest when you root out a sin you IMMEDIATELY bathe your spirit in the word of God. If you are struggling with the sin of lust say. Turn your eyes from that person/thing you are lusting after the SECOND you realize you are lusting. Then immediately find all the scripture you can about lust and soak your spirit in those truths.

3. Protect your yard from your neighbors dandelions. Here's where my analogy goes a little off track, because you can't really do much in a yard situation. You can't pick up your yard and move it away from your neighbor's yard, BUT in life, you can physically remove yourself from the people around you who have weeds in their "yard". Surround yourself instead with people who's lawns are weed free and flourishing.

Well I hope my little rabbit trail on weeds got you thinking. Are there any weeds in your yard today? If so, I hope and pray you will root them out! spray some weed killer! and move your yard away from other weedy yards!

Have a GREAT day!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...