Afraid Of My Children… Part Two… The Cause And The Solution

I detailed in my recent blog post, https://graceinthemoment.wordpress.com/2015/05/26/afraid-of-my-children-part-one, we can fear that which we cannot control and our need for control is indicative of a fear problem.

Our need for control isn’t just indicative of a fear problem; it is indicative of a trust problem.

Understanding the cause and specifics of our trust problem will also lead us to the solution.

Healing isn’t just the absence of the problem, hurt, or sin.  It’s the presence of the opposite: new life, peace, joy, the power of His Holy Spirit.  It’s the Presence of God.

In other words, when we have a problem in a specific area it means that we don’t just have a problem with fear, for instance.  We have a problem with faith — more specifically with our relationship with God. 

When we have a problem with our identity, it means we have a problem with seeing ourselves as God sees us.  We have a problem with our relationship with God because you can’t see yourself as God sees you, if you don’t know personally how God sees you.  (I am not talking about what others say, what your church has said, what books say.  I am talking about what God specifically says and what you believe about it.)

All problems stem from the same cause: a problem with our relationship with God.  There may be layers to it, but healing is intrinsically tied to our relationship with God.

Before you think I am just one of many people come to preach at you and tell you something you have already heard or read, stick with me.  I am going to share with you some things that I have learned through the “school of life experience” and what God showed me in the midst of my own darkness.  (To read this in greater detail, feel free to read my blog: https://graceinthemoment.wordpress.com/2015/05/18/the-second-part-of-my-testimony-the-second-most-incredible-experience-of-my-life.  Warning: it’s heavy reading.)

In Exodus 15:26, it says, “I am the LORD, who heals you.”  Julie Ackerman Link says in Our Daily Bread, “…no healing takes place apart from God.”

The reason why so many people are not being “healed” by God is because: they. are. trying. to. do. the. healing. in. their. own. strength.

You might ask, “What about all the prayers I have prayed, all the books I have read, all the sermons I have heard?  It’s not like I haven’t tried.”

Yes, YOU have tried.

When your “connection” to God is “broken” or “clogged,” it is impossible to rely on God’s strength to claim victory over whatever negative patterns (thoughts and/or actions) you have going on in your life.

Just praying a prayer, reading books, and listening to sermons does not guarantee or ensure that your relationship with God is where it needs to be.

Our relationship with God starts in the heart/soul — not in outward actions.  The outward actions will flow correctly out of a correct heart relationship.  (For greater detail on this, see my blog post: https://graceinthemoment.wordpress.com/2015/05/18/being-or-doing.)

For me personally, my relationship with God wasn’t where it needed to be, and I didn’t recognize this at first because I knew (in my head) all the right answers.

The root cause for me began when as a teen I had to face some hardships that I shouldn’t have had to face.  In the midst of those hardships, I began to believe that I had to protect myself.

This was the first and greatest lie Satan tries to get us all to believe.  It’s the lie, called self-preservation.

If Satan can disconnect us from God, he has succeeded in disconnecting us from our source of power, life, healing, peace, etc…

That’s what Adam & Eve did in the Garden of Eden when they ate the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good & Evil.  They began to look to themselves to make the decisions for what was best for their lives, instead of to God.  Not only did they become disconnected from their source of life, but they got the opposite of what they “wanted.”  Instead of getting true “knowledge” of good and evil.  They got only their own deceived and twisted view of these things, that only had their own experiences, desires, and logic as its source of interpretation.

When we look to ourselves to interpret “knowledge” and “truth,” we are limited by the scope of our own experiences, desires, and logic. 

For me, I began to believe the lie that I had to protect myself, which meant I turned away from God and became, in essence, my own god.  I did a lot of the “right” things.  My heart was still wanting to do what was right, but my heart wasn’t fully engaged in it.  The problem that I hadn’t recognized was that I was trying to walk in God’s power, while still trying to walk in my own.  It doesn’t work.

When you are trying to do things in your own strength, self is still in control.  When self is in control, there isn’t room for God in your life — not fully.  This can be so confusing because you can still have self as your god and yet still be doing all the “right” things.

When self is in control, circumstances will have a way of revealing this and showing the inadequacy of our god (self).  Take tragedies: natural disasters, disease, deaths, financial ruin, etc…  That’s when people often will cry out to God.  They suddenly realize the inadequacy of their own god of self.

For me, it was the simple situation of not having enough strength and wisdom in myself to know how to deal with two other little people who had minds and wills of their own and so many needs.  I “tried” to look to God, but I had already begun to believe the lie that I was a failure, not good enough for my kids.

The truth is I wasn’t enough for my kids — not by myself, in my own limited resources of power, strength, and patience.

What I didn’t fully believe was that I did have enough Strength at my disposal — the power that comes from being “more than conquerors through Him that loved us.”

I couldn’t believe the truth because I was not fully trusting God.  Remember, what you believe is revealed by what you live — not what you know.

In the book, Think Differently, Live Differently, by Bob Hamp, it says:

“Our thoughts have the power to instigate and even inflame our feelings, but conversely, our feelings have the power to reveal what we really believe about a given situation or person.

… I am convinced that our feelings will always tell us the truth; not necessarily the truth about reality, but the truth about what we believe.”

In recent months, God revealed the specifics that led me to believe the lie that I had to protect myself.  Once I finally “saw” when I first believed the lie, I was able to then ask the Lord to forgive me for believing the lie that He wasn’t enough.  I also had to forgive a specific person.  Once I was able to do those two things, I was finally able to let the “little girl inside me” run to Abba (“Daddy”, God).  When I did that, my heart finally came “home.”  My relationship with God was healed, and I was able to completely rest in Him.

It was at that time, I felt complete Shalom (true peace that comes from a well-being of soul).

Having my connection to God healed has meant I have been able to be receptive and responsive to His voice and am able to rely on His power.  I will catch myself beginning out of habit to repeat old patterns, but God quickly reminds me of the truth.  I am able to adjust my thinking and beliefs to accept the truth and to reject the lies.  This means keeping a very close connection with God. 

In Think Differently, Live Differently, it says, “At the root of any fearful thought is the lie that, somehow, God doesn’t love me.”

In a future blog post, I want to address this very important question, “Where was God when such and such happened?”  This may be the key to helping individuals (you) finally be able to trust God.  So often we don’t ask this question because we are afraid…

I asked that question recently, listened, and was finally able to hear the answer.  I was a blubbering mess, following what God showed me.

I didn’t ask this question or receive the answer until the following three things happened:

  • I first acknowledged the lie I had believed: that God wasn’t good enough.
  • I then “allowed” God to replace it with the truth: that He is my Provider, Protector, Healer, Truth, and Life.
  • I then chose to surrender my heart to God — before knowing the answers to the question I would later pose to Him.

I recently read in a book, and I can’t remember which one because I have been reading so many lately, that freedom and healing isn’t the absence of something but the presence of Someone.  Finding freedom from fear isn’t just ignoring the thing you are afraid of or distracting yourself from the fear.  Finding freedom is actually replacing it with the true thing itself: Shalom (well-being of soul). 

True peace isn’t reliant on our external surroundings: music, scents, colors, physical positions.  True peace comes from our spirits being aligned with God’s Spirit, which in turns heals our souls (mind, will, emotions), which in turn manifests itself in our physical bodies.  True peace can happen no matter where we are, what we are doing, what is happening around us.  True peace isn’t physically-related; it’s spiritually-related.

True peace doesn’t come from emptying our minds of fear.  It comes from the Presence of Peace Himself.

Stay tuned for an upcoming blog post on the question, “Where was God?”  Until then, may you begin to ask the question, “When did I first begin to believe the lie of self-preservation?”

Afraid Of My Children… Part One

Recently as God was dealing with me in the area of fear, He began to reveal specific fears I had.  I knew I was a fearful person in many ways.  It started when I was quite young.

As a child, I can remember hiding behind my mother when meeting strangers.

I remember crying when I had to get my first job.  I know, sounds silly.

There is nothing silly about fear though. 

Fear is very real and very powerful in the way it affects our lives.  It can cripple our living and hold us hostage to its impact.

I struggled with fears about storms, loved ones dying, disease, financial ruin, growing old, you name it…

One of the fears that I began to recognize I had and that God wanted to help me overcome was the fear of my children.

Yes, I was afraid of my children.

My guess is that I am not the only parent who struggles with this, and that’s why I am writing this blog…

It began soon after my first child was born.  All of a sudden, the reality of life “hit me in the face” when I had a newborn who began to display a temper soon after birth.  He was not happy when he had to wait for my milk to “let down” in order to guzzle his dinner as quickly as he wanted.  I quickly learned tricks to settle him down so he could nurse, but I had already begun to feel like motherhood was not so easily controlled as I had envisioned. 

That lack of control was not only something I feared, but my “need” for control was also indicative of a fear problem.

Becoming a mother personally was a bit of a rude awakening.  I had held this “Cinderella” view of motherhood, and the reality just wasn’t like the fairy tale dreams.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved being a mother and I loved my son, but parenting was so much harder than it looked watching everyone else raise their children.

Then came the birth of my second child.  I had two little ones, born 16 1/2 months apart, and they both were so needy.  I was exhausted, was suffering from undiagnosed and untreated hypothyroidism (for the first several months), and began to feel incapable of being a “good” mommy to these two little boys.

Fast forward a few more years and a few more kids.  The challenges kept increasing.  I would seem to figure out a new technique for each new challenge, and then a new one would present itself.

With some challenges, it didn’t seem to matter how many techniques and methods and principles and advice I heard and read.  The challenges didn’t seem to diminish or even to be improved effectively.

I became weary of bad or ineffective advice.  I became weary of my own inconsistent and/or wrong application of good advice.  Each new thing I heard seemed to be another “nail in my coffin” when it came to my role as a mom.
I felt like one big “failure.”  I also began to fear my children.

You fear what you can’t control, and you try to control what you fear.  Vicious cycle!

There are a lot of you reading this who think that you have never “feared” your children.

Fear though manifests itself in different ways.

  • For some, fear takes the role of victim.  The victim feels hopeless and helpless and unable to ever succeed.
  • For some, fear takes the role of critic.  As the book, Freedom From Fear, says, “The Critic never feels good about himself or what he has done.  He is discouraged and defeated even before… [the fear] hits.”
  • For some, fear takes the role of the perfectionist.  As the book, Freedom From Fear, says, “They never have any peace of mind because they can never achieve perfection.  Their overwhelming need to accomplish more and more makes them driven, stressed, irritable. … they can’t stand to fail, especially in public.”

Fear of your children manifests itself in two very different ways:

  • You either give up, and your children dominate you. Children in this type of home are rebellious, disobedient, lack self-control, and are privately insecure.  The victim mindset and the critic mindset can fit within this category.
  • Or, your fear causes you to have unhealthy control over your children, and you dominate them.  Your children will be very “controlled,” but the control isn’t healthy.  It’s fear-based, manipulative, and will produce either rebellion or unhealthy dependence in your children.  Your children will “appear” very obedient, but the reality is they have never been given the freedom to think their own thoughts and to determine their own convictions.  You have determined them all for them.  The perfectionist mindset fits in this category.

The root of both manifestations is the same motivation: fear.

It was recently said to me that wise parenting teaches children how to be good stewards of their freedom.

This means giving your children freedom and understanding that we must want our children to live freely the plan that God has for their lives — not that we have for their lives.  It means giving our children the tools to wisely steward this freedom so that they can truly be and live the freedom God intended them to have!

My next blog post will address what the solutions are for finally overcoming this fear and finding freedom from it.  Stay tuned.

Remembering Yesterday… Today

Yesterday, I held that sweet bundle of plump adorable “babyness” and marveled that I had a son.

Yesterday, I watched that same son kick the ball into the net that scored the winning goal.

Yesterday, I saw that same son bravely stifle cries while the doctor wrapped my son’s broken wrist in a cast (from a bike accident).

Yesterday, I saw the tears that made muddy tracks down my son’s cheeks as he cradled a bird with a broken wing in his hands.

Yesterday, I was so proud of my son when I heard how he had defended a girl who was mocked in school for her curly hair, glasses, braces, and plumper form.

Yesterday, I saw the grin on my son’s face as he haltingly told me that he thinks he’s going to marry the girl with the curly hair.

Yesterday, I tried to hold back my own tears as I watched my son stride across the platform to give the class valedictorian speech and then to accept his diploma from highschool.

Yesterday, I could hardly take a breath as the strong arms of my son wrapped me in a big hug and told me to pray for him as he left for Marine boot-camp.

Yesterday, my son came for a visit, dressed in the proud colors of his military uniform.  He left that holiday visit, leaving behind an adoring fiancee with a diamond ring, glistening on her finger.

Yesterday, I got the news that my son was being stationed overseas in one of the most dangerous areas possible.

Yesterday, life as I knew it ended, and I forgot how to breath.

Yesterday, I received the news that my son had been killed in action, while rescuing a young boy trapped in a bombed house.

Today, I bury my son…

Yesterday, I was the little girl, wearing her chic sailor dress with shiny patent leather shoes, jumping into the arms of my tall, handsome father.  He twirled me in his arms while my curls, pulled back in bows, bounced in the breeze.

Yesterday, I choked back sobs as I waved good bye to my father as he headed off to leave for a distant place, called “Germany.”  My mother’s face looked white as she bravely waved good bye.

Yesterday, my mommy and I read the letter that Daddy wrote when he was on the ship heading to Germany.  He said that tomorrow they’ll come ashore on the Normandy Beach.  He hopes they’ll end the war soon so he can come home again.

Yesterday, we heard the good news that the Allies are defeating the Germans.

Yesterday, a soldier came to our door with a telegram.  My Momma shut the door so I wouldn’t hear the conversation.

Yesterday, my grandma came over.  She seemed extra sad as she opened her arms and my mother ran into them and began to cry.

Yesterday, Momma told me that my Daddy was a hero.  She told me that he fought bravely to protect our country and to rid this world of evil and that he gave his life for our protection.  She told me that Daddy is now with Jesus.

Yesterday, I couldn’t sleep.  I lay on my pillow most of the night and held the doll my daddy gave me last Christmas and smelled his favorite work-hat that I hugged in my arms.

Yesterday, there were a lot of people at my house, bringing food and flowers.

Yesterday, I watched the flag-draped casket being lowered into the large hole in the ground, and I knew that Daddy wasn’t ever coming home again.

That was “yesterday”…

Today, I remember my Daddy, waving good bye as he boarded the train, never to return home again.

Today, I say good bye to my son, never to see him in this life again.

Today, I remember yesterday… with all of its many precious memories.

And some tomorrow, I look forward to being reunited in Heaven with two very special people and with the One Who loves us most of all, Jesus!

Today, I say “thank you” to all of those brave men and women who sacrificed their lives so that we can be the home of the free…

Today, I say “thank you” to all of those sons and daughters, wives, mothers, sisters, and brothers who said final “good byes” to loved ones in order that we might enjoy the liberties we hold dear.

Thank you.

(This is a story, written in honor of all our military personnel, their families, and loved ones.)

Thinking Of The Victims…

I recently wrote a blog, addressing the recent Josh Duggar sex scandal.  I wrote it to those of us who are tempted to condemn the Duggars, but it was not written to the victims.

Challenging us to examine our own hearts in relation to how we view the Duggars does not mean that there is no appropriate place for justice and for accountability.

  • Grace understands that forgiveness does not excuse or justify sin.
  • Grace does not minimize the pain and wounds of the victims nor does it shove a message of “easy forgiveness” down their throats.
  • Grace embraces the wounded and allows healing to occur in the process it requires.
  • Grace comes to sinners at a huge price!  Jesus’ horrific death on the cross grants forgiveness to all, but the sinner must first repent and accept that forgiveness in order to walk in it. 
  • Grace does not negate all consequences of sin.
  • Grace sees the ugliness of sin and deals truthfully with it.
  • Grace allows the victim(s) to fully acknowledge the wrongs committed against themselves so that they can eventually see themselves as no longer “the abused” but as the free, the pure, and the beautiful!

One cannot fully get past the past, until the wrongs from the past are considered and acknowledged.

Praying for all the victims…

Olivia, I Noticed…

KnightFamilyShoot(62of180)(Picture taken by Laura Patrick Photography.)

Dear Olivia,

I noticed the first time I held you and marveled that I had a daughter!!!  That was so surprising after having three sons.  I had to change your diaper extra times, just to make sure you were “still” a girl.

I noticed what a beautiful little girl you were, even as an infant.

I noticed how in awe your “big” brothers were of you.

I noticed how you love princesses, dresses, fancy shoes, and jewelry but also love to collect bugs with your brothers.

I noticed how you love to try on my shoes and parade across the bedroom in them.

I noticed how delighted you were to wear my necklace to preschool one day.

I noticed how you are not afraid to jump on top of a pile of wrestling brothers.

I noticed how you love to pick dandelions and to hand them to me to put in a vase.

I noticed how you love when Daddy takes you on dates.

I noticed how you loved when I painted your nails for the first time.

I noticed how you lovingly say, “my boys.”

I noticed how protective and nurturing you are of your little brother.

I noticed how independent and yet sensitive you are.

I noticed how you love Jesus and talk about Him.

I noticed how spiritually-sensitive and aware you are.

I noticed how you love to help me cook and clean.

I noticed how you love to have me rock you and how perfectly you fit on my lap still.

I noticed how tall you are getting and how I want to treasure these moments as much as possible.

I noticed how accomplished you are at helping me put together puzzles and how you won “Candyland” and “Chutes and Ladders” when we played last.

I noticed how your preschool teacher said you would be a great mother because you were protective and nurturing of everyone in your class.

I noticed how your preschool teacher said that when you grow up, you want to be a princess and marry the king — not just the prince.

I noticed how you have a great sense of fashion and color-coordination.

I noticed how you are quick to apologize when you do wrong and to give hugs.

Precious daughter, I treasure these times when I can watch you enjoy the sweetness of princesses, dolls, and tumbling with your brothers.  I love the fact that you are my daughter — in all of your femininity and strength!  I love your courage and your kindness!  You are and always will be, a princess to Daddy and me!  I love you.

W-2, I Noticed…

Dear Son,

I noticed the first time I “fell in love” with you.  It was the day you were born, and the first time I held you in my arms.

I noticed what a contented baby you were and so calm.

I noticed how you loved people and began to “knowingly” smile at people at only two weeks old.

I noticed how you loved to laugh and to make others laugh at a very young age.

I noticed your long eyelashes and knew you were going to be a “heart-stopper.”

I noticed your determination to finally conquer the skill of walking, after months of challenges.

I noticed how you love our neighbor’s dog that is three-times-your-size and how he loves you.

I noticed how you have a great imagination and love to make your animals kiss each other and talk to each other.

I noticed how affectionate you are with your kisses.

I noticed how you love to greet strangers and to make them smile.

I noticed how you brought tears to a young man’s eyes due to your friendly greeting.

I noticed how you like to help clean up your toys and then dump them out again.

I noticed how you have learned to sit at the top of the stairs and wait for someone to get you.

I noticed how you have a quick temper but also an eager willingness to love people.

I noticed how loved you are by everyone in this family, and how they all love to play with you and to hold you.

I noticed how you love to look at books.

I noticed how you absolutely love music, to dance to it, and have great rhythm.

I noticed how you call me, “Momma,” and I absolutely love it!

I noticed the time you sang to me, “I love you,” and it melted my heart.

Son, I noticed that you were an unexpected but absolutely wonderful blessing from God, for which I am completely and unashamedly thankful!

I love you.

L-Son, I Noticed…

 

Dear L-Son,

I noticed all of the times you would pick dandelions and other flowers and give them to your sister or myself.

I noticed the times you shared your only gift cards to buy me a special treat.

I noticed all the times you made special bracelets and gave them away.

I noticed the times you defended the “under-dog” and comforted the hurting.

I noticed how you play with your younger siblings and share your special toys with them.

I noticed how athletic you are and how you won the first place award for top boy athlete in your class of 21 students.

I noticed how passionate you are about life and how you put your whole heart into whatever you do.

I noticed how you wanted to be baptized, along with your brothers, last Sunday.

I noticed how you love to read books and read well.

I noticed how willing you are to work hard to help others, including moving in new neighbors and shoveling the neighbors’ sidewalks.

I noticed how you looked out for your great grandmother and held the door for her and made sure she was okay getting in and out of the car.

I noticed how you love to fix your sister’s hair and love to see her wear pretty things.

I noticed how you love people and make friends easily.

I noticed how you love back-rubs and talking time.

I noticed how give great hugs and sloppy kisses.

I noticed how you get scared easily but will courageously stand up for someone in need.

I noticed how spiritually-sensitive and aware you are.

I noticed the time when you had been hurt by someone, and I encouraged you to picture putting all the hurts in a garbage bag and then handing them to Jesus.  I noticed how I asked you then what that made you, and you said “free!”

I noticed the time you were so upset because of forgetfulness on your part and as a result, your little brother had gotten hurt.  I noticed how when I asked you why you wouldn’t let me comfort you and what the lie was you were believing, you said, “That I am not to accept love… because I didn’t deserve it.”

I noticed how much better you seemed after I explained to you that was a lie and told you the truth: that you are forgiven, precious, and loved by God.

I noticed that you are an excellent student and received the highest award for top grades.

Son, I noticed that you are sensitive, caring, a fighter for good causes, enthusiastic, energetic, and affectionate.

Son, most of all, I noticed how thankful I am that you are my son — my sweet “light-bringer.”  I love you!

D-Son, I Noticed…

IMG_2467

Dear D-Son,

I noticed all the times you sat W-2 brother down beside you and practiced piano while he banged on the keys.

I noticed all the times when you unselfishly played with and entertained your younger siblings.

I noticed all the times you gave your special toys and trinkets away to family and friends.

I noticed all the times you curled up against me at church.

I noticed the time you took my hand to walk with me at the field trip because you were so happy to have me present.

I noticed how eagerly you introduced me to your friends at school.

I noticed how hard you tried to run, throw, and jump at your school’s Field Day.

I noticed how you worked to learn the rest of the 24 memory verses in order to earn a week at boys’ camp and learned them weeks before they were due.

I noticed how you studied in school and got straight A’s all year.

I noticed how you tried so hard to pay attention and to get a good report on your behavior, and I noticed how tears filled your eyes whenever you were reprimanded.

I noticed how hard you worked to make your science poster turn out well and how delighted you were when you got first place.

I noticed how you have such patience and perseverance in making crafts, building stuff, and with everything you do.

I noticed how your eyes twinkle with a love for life.

I noticed how you giggle and how you protest vehemently against being tickled.

I noticed how you journal and love to write thoughtful notes to people.

I noticed how you love to read and are prolific at it.

I noticed how you are so much like your daddy and want to be an engineer just like him some day.  And I can see that happening.

I noticed how you surprised you were when you received the “Christian Character” Award at school this year for your class.

I noticed how you wanted to be baptized this year.

I noticed, Son, your heart for God, and nothing makes me happier!

I love you, Son, no matter where you go and what you do because you will always be my very own precious son!

Thinking Of The Duggars…

Dirt hit the “fans” within media circles this past week.  Once again, scandals were uncovered, involving another conservative, homeschooling family — the well-known Duggar family of the “TLC Series’ 19 & Counting.”

The juvenile criminal record on Josh Duggar, the oldest son of the 19 Duggar children and recently resigned director of the Family Research Council, was recently made public.  In it, the records reveal that Josh Duggar at ages 14 and 16 was charged with sexual misconduct.  (I won’t go into detail.)

Now, 11 and 13 years later, these sins are brought before the public in one harsh wave.  It’s brutal to read about such abhorrent sins, especially among fellow Christians.

There will be many opinions on whether or not Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, the parents, handled this situation correctly.

I challenge us all though that if this were/was our son, how would we have handled this situation?

  • Do we deal truthfully with sins that are heinous to face? 
  • Do we bring appropriate justice to the offender, even if it’s our own child
  • Do we humble ourselves and truly listen and acknowledge the abhorrent wrongs committed against the victims and seek their restitution? 
  • Do we make excuses or try to shield our children from the consequences of their sins? 
  • Are we more concerned with our public image then with the condition of our hearts and our children’s hearts?
  • When our children sin, do we shame them, or do we we seek true healing for them and redemption?

We may never know if Josh Duggar is and was truly repentant over his sins.  Was what he did wrong?

Absolutely, undeniably, horrifically wrong!

What I want to address though is our responses to the offender.  It is so easy to start hurling the “stones” of accusations when we discover that once again a person was caught sinning.

“Hurling stones of accusation” is different than seeking appropriate justice and dealing truthfully with the offender. 

It is the attitude and the goal. 

It is how we view the sinner and whether we seek revenge or whether we seek justice.

Seeking appropriate justice and dealing truthfully with the offender does not negate grace.  Grace never ignores the offense or minimizes the pain of the victim.

We though who preach grace must understand that grace doesn’t just apply to us; it applies to everyone — even to the worst of offenders.

Grace is Jesus. 

He saw all the ugly horror of sin and bore its unbearable weight in life-crushing, soul-agonizing torture.  He brought the hideous to justice by exchanging His own completely pure and sinless “robes of righteousness” with the “putrid” and grotesque sins of even the “worst” of offenders.

We, who are Christians, are not followers of Christ because we are saints and sinless  We are Christians because Christ exchanged our sins for His righteousness.

Christianity and Christian ministry isn’t for non-existent “perfect” people.  Christianity is comprised of sinners who have been redeemed/forgiven.

It is this recognition of our own sin that should cause us to seek not only justice but also to walk humbly before our Righteous and Holy God. A God of truth and grace, of justice and of mercy.

The story of David, in the Bible, is a reminder of the ugliness of sin and its consequences.  It is also a picture of what forgiveness and grace looks like.  David was an adulterer and a murderer.  Consequences from his sins did affect his family.  A son molested his sister.  Another son murdered a brother.  Yet, God calls David “a man after God’s own heart.”  Why?  Because David truly repented.

And because God is the father of the prodigal son, watching for his prodigal sons and daughters to come home.  Because Jesus came to redeem sinners — not the “sinless.”

Did this absolve David of the consequences of his sins?  NoDid it offer him forgiveness and the opportunity to be made whole?  Yes!

Did grace merely trivialize the offense, or did it face the offense and bring it to full excruciating justice?

Did grace offer just a facade or did it offer a complete and total transformation that exchanges heinous sins for Jesus’ own pure righteousness?

Christianity is the Gospel of grace, redeeming and transforming sinners who have repented and been forgiven and have “returned” to their Heavenly Father.

Yes, it’s hard to understand this kind of grace.  But where would we be without it?

Let’s pray for the Duggars…  Pray that as they truthfully face their own brokenness, they find the grace of God that leaves us humbled, forgiven, and redeemed

Let’s pray for the victims.

May they finally be able to give voice to their pain and may it be acknowledged. 

May they find the grace to begin or to continue in the process of finding true healing. 

May they be protected from more pain while seeking appropriate justice. 

May they finally be able to see themselves as no longer “abused” but as beautiful, whole, pure, and healed.

Finding “Freedom” (Guest Visit From A Good Friend)

Added in support of the flickr-ites in the UAE currently being blocked from flickr by their phone company.

(http://www.everystockphoto.com/photo.php?imageId=25416&searchId=d5aa1729c8c253e5d917a5264855eab8&npos=76)

With permission, I wanted to share a powerful testimony from a good friend.  This is her story:

When I was 13 years old, I was tormented at school. Bullying is what they call it now; but in the late 80’s, it wasn’t even noticed.

I rode the bus 45 minutes to and from school, and from the moment I stepped on that bus, the boys would start barking at me. Calling me a dog, hitting me, flicking rubber bands at me…and hitting my eye. Everyday I was tormented with these “mean” boys on the bus.

I guess if you looked at it from their perspective, I was an easy target. Short, curly hair (“brillo” they called me), big glasses, crooked teeth, and the most “uncool” wardrobe anyone at school had. I was socially a mess.

The entire 7th grade year went this way. I felt so rejected. ugly. unworthy. Fast forward into the high school years, and I finally figured how to fix my hair, got contacts, and some better clothes. I stopped getting teased. I started getting dates. But, inside I never felt good enough. I always felt like everyone around me was staring, laughing and judging me.

When a boy asked me out I always said yes, because I was in TOTAL shock those boys even noticed me. Granted….these weren’t boys from the Varsity team or even what was considered “good-looking,” but I was delighted to have a boy LIKE ME! Sooooo….fast forward into my adulthood.

Figured out how to “fit” in. I did all the “right’ things….hair, makeup, fashionable clothes. Worked hard for a great career of Interior Design. Was doing OK in the eyes of the world. But I could never get rid of this horrible feeling that I never, ever…EVER would fit in.

Compliments were painful; yet, I desired them like I need air. Even though I was a Christian, I wasn’t really walking Freedom. I always (and I mean ALWAYS) felt like someone was laughing at me. Pointing me out to judge. I was overly-sensitive. I was a wounded adult who still felt that no matter what she looked like or what she accomplished she. wasn’t. good. enough. I was mentally stuck…at 13. I’m 39 now, 40 in a few weeks.

Because of our MAGNIFICENT Lord, I do have freedom now!

At Encounter [a conference], I asked [a couple from the prayer team] to pray for me. I felt the Lord pressing me to dump this junk of self-hatred and to walk with Him in freedom.

Sobbing, I recalled specific stories to [a couple from the prayer team]. Pain rushed in like a tornado filling my heart with such angst that I cried from the depths of my soul. I wanted healing so badly, and my spiritual ears and heart were open. And then I heard the Lord calling me: “Daughter, you are beautiful. Daughter, you are mine. Daughter, you are perfect in my sight, washed clean in my eyes!” Then He showed me a white dove flying away. It was beautiful. And as prayer was poured upon me the truth set in!!! I finally GOT IT! I finally understood what my Identity in Christ REALLY IS!

I left that safe huddle of prayer and felt full. Redeemed. And LOVED. I no longer looked around the room, wondering if people were making fun of me!

What freedom to live when you only care about what GOD thinks of you!!!! THAT. IS. TRUE. FREEDOM!  A week out from [the conference], and I still feel so complete. I go into stores now and could care less if anyone looks at me. I am the Lord’s little girl, and He loves me just the way I AM! Thanks for letting me share.