A Necessary Daily Reminder…

Your flesh is not going to fix someone else’s flesh.

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What Lice Taught Me

taking out lice

(FreeImages.com/MarceloTorterello)

Writing about last week’s “adventure” makes my head want to crawl…

Last Wednesday, I had two kids complaining of itchy heads.  Immediately, the mom alarms were sounding in my head.

As soon as I was home, I sat down at the computer, Googled lice, and read everything I could in order to identify them and their signs.  I then checked my itchy kids’ heads.  My examination revealed that sure enough, our family had two confirmed cases of lice!

I had never dealt with this before so armed with all the information I could find on the internet, I began the grueling task of treating my kids, preventing the rest of the family from becoming infected, and making sure the house was also not infected.

When you have a large family, it would be so easy for this situation to quickly take on epic proportions and become an epidemic!

The next three days were invested to wash 30 loads of laundry, vacuum every bed and piece of furniture, vacuum every vehicle, wash every piece of bedding and every item of school clothing, clean suitcases from a recent trip, vacuum every rug, spray every mattress and piece of furniture and vehicle with repellents, wash every stuffed animal and blanket, treat every head in the family, and pick through every strand of hair several times to insure that no nit or louse remained.

At the same time that lice were discovered, my husband was also leaving for a business trip.  He bought me the treatment stuff and special nit-removal combs but had to leave me to deal with the situation on my own.

As the day progressed, I frequently found myself forgetting why I had gone upstairs or why I had gone downstairs because I would quickly get distracted by about five other jobs that needed to be done at the same time.

As the hours ticked, I knew it was a race against time.  I had so much to do before the kids could return to school, and I wanted to get some sleep that night.

Throughout my day, I kept muttering, “God, help me.  Have mercy on me!  This is too much for one person.  I can’t do it all.”

Later, the Lord would reveal to me how He truly had been there with me throughout my exhausting day.

It’s been nine days since we first discovered the lice.  Thankfully, I am fairly certain we got rid of it all.

Yet, I remain vigilant.  I make my kids change their clothes as soon as they arrive home from school.  I wash their bedding every day, vacuum their carpets and beds every day, and vacuum our main rugs and furniture every day.  I check heads at least once a day (first week, I checked heads twice a day).  I did a second treatment for lice on the infected kids.  I continue to be on high-alert, hoping to avoid any infestation again.

As I tediously examined each strand of my child’s thick hair, I couldn’t help but think how thorough I have been in protecting my children from lice and to rid our home of the creatures.  I have done everything possible to insure that no infestation will continue or occur again.

It struck me with the probing questions, “I am thorough in protecting my children’s heads, but how thorough am I am in protecting their minds and hearts?  Am I just as careful to insure that no harmful ideology, mindset, or attitude remains?”

As I continue to vigilantly guard against lice, my heart is also awakened to the need to guard my children against more insidious dangers of the heart and mind.

My kids may not always understand why my husband and I say “No” to certain games, activities, movies, music, or media outlets, but I know that there is more at stake than simply protecting against bugs and an itchy head.

The trajectory of their lives will be influenced by the things that shape the way they think and believe.

 

The Attraction Of The Familiar

Hands

(FreeImages.com/MarcoMichelini)

I sat beside him, breathing in his scent.  It’s subtle, but I love it because it’s his scent.  It’s familiar to me.

I remember reading years ago that there are pheromones that we all release and that part of being drawn to someone is also this subtle pheromone attraction that has to occur.  (See http://abcnews.go.com/Health/story?id=116833&page=1.)

When he calls on the phone, I recognize immediately who my caller is, based on his tone and the timber of his voice.  I love listening to him sing with our worship team at church because I can always distinguish his harmony apart from the others.  My ears are drawn to him.

During the night, my body instinctively tries to locate his body by touch.  If we are hot, it might be just my feet against his feet.  Typically, a part of me is always touching a part of him.  I like his touch.  It’s comforting.  Studies show that physical touch releases a powerful hormone, called Oxytocin.  (See https://bebrainfit.com/oxytocin-love-hormone/.)

My eyes are also drawn to him.  I can pick him out in a crowd from a distance because I have memorized his height, physical characteristics, and even habits.  I am familiar with him.

There is a definite measure of comfort in the familiar.  It is predictable, known, hopefully safe, and there are many memories built within the familiar.

This past Wednesday as I was sitting in church, enjoying the worship music, I suddenly realized how familiar God’s presence has become to me.  I am beginning to recognize Him more and more — in His Word, in His creation, in how He speaks through His people, the many ways He communicates with me, the comfort of His Presence, the holiness of Who He is, His love, etc…  I was thinking how precious God is becoming more and more to me because of my familiarity with Him.

He is no longer this God from afar — removed from me in thought, in concern, in involvement, in love…  He is a present God, intimately involved with every detail of my life.

Lately, I have been made aware of how many ways He cares about even the smallest detail of my life.  It amazes me how much He cares to be involved in even the silly and mundane parts of my day.

He sees me when I am vacuuming for the upteenth time, changing poopy underwear off my toddler for the countless time, paying bills, and even the simple look I just gave my child.  He sees when I am discouraged, overwhelmed, sad, worried, and lonely.

I remember just last week when I was extremely overwhelmed with a situation.  I felt so alone with my burden of responsibility.  I kept muttering, “It’s too much!  This is too much for one person.  I can’t do all of this.”  Later, God revealed that He never intended me to do it all myself.  He was right there with me.  Every time, I cried out for His mercy, and even when I didn’t, He was helping, loving, and watching over me.

I love the attraction I have towards my husband and the comfort he is to me!  There is something so precious about that.

I also love it that God, the Creator of the Universe, is becoming more familiar to me!!  I love that He is not Someone I blame for the bad things that happen.  I know Him too well to associate Him with the consequences of bad choices people make and of the results of an earth that lives under the fall-out of the consequences of human choices.

I find that I am drawn towards this God I have come to love.  I want to know Him more!  I want His breath, His presence, His tone, His touch to be so familiar to me that I can distinguish Him in the dark, from a distance, in a crowd, and His voice above all other voices begging for my attention.

The Gauntlet

Monument to Alexander the Great in Skopje 1

(FreeImages.com/aljabak)

The gauntlet has been thrown!

Last night, a number of dear friends, my husband, and myself gathered for hours of prayer. The prayer time was absolutely amazing — so fervent, and we prayed for whatever God was placing on our hearts. We prayed for so many things, but one prayer stood out to me: for a wave of love, healing, reconciliation to sweep our nation. God was speaking so clearly to our hearts, and I am still basking in the peace and joy from His presence.

At the end of our prayer time, I received a text with very tragic news from a family member. My heart has been burdened for them, but I am walking in the hope that God can bring beauty from ashes.

Anything we surrender to Him — including our worst sins or deepest wounds or horrific trials we may be facing — can become the soil in which He sows His most precious seeds that nourish and heal souls.

There is so much happening to derail us, to divide us, to distract us, and to intimidate us.

Warriors though never look at their enemy to decide on their next move; they simply listen for the commands of their officers. It is the captain’s responsibility to direct, protect, and orchestrate victory moves.

Today, I refuse to be intimidated by the fear, hatred, bitterness, and destruction of the enemy (not referring to any specific people, groups, or religions). Instead, I will tune my ears and focus my eyes even more for the next command from the Captain of my Soul.

The gauntlet has been thrown, and it is not about political parties, denominations, races, or genders. It is the challenge between good and evil, hate and love, bitterness or forgiveness, grace or pride, selfishness or selflessness, and truth or deception/compromise.

Is It Possible To Not Believe In Evolution And Still Hold A Position In Academia?

Leaf Fossil-Tracheophyta-vascular plant Tulsa C

(FreeImages.com/DaveDyet)

Check out this story.  It’s an old one, but it is so interesting to me that we so quickly dismiss someone’s observations or findings simply because it doesn’t fit with our belief system.  And yes, evolution is every bit as much of a belief as creation is.

Once again, a scientist is dismissed because of his personal beliefs rather than academia being willing to admit he might possibly hold evidence that support his beliefs because it is contrary to popular opinion. 

The scientific community, for the most part, is dead-set against believing in the validity of intelligent design and a young earth.  This then hinders the ability to actually perceive evidence accurately because a certain outcome has already been determined, and therefore, there is no room for viewing evidence with any other interpretation than according to the determined outcome.  This will indeed impede accuracy and transparency in science and the interpretation of scientific findings.

http://blog.godreports.com/2017/08/university-settles-lawsuit-with-scientist-fired-after-he-found-soft-tissue-in-dinosaur-bones/

http://www.nature.com/news/university-sued-after-firing-creationist-fossil-hunter-1.16281 — Interesting!  Yet, where are evolutionists trying to disprove evolution or an old-age theory?  The answer is, “They don’t.”

Lawsuit: CSUN Scientist Fired After Soft Tissue Found On Dinosaur Fossil

I don’t know much about the above scientist.  Up until his personal beliefs became apparent, it does seem that he was a respected scientist with a secure employment in academia.  That quickly changed once his personal beliefs became apparent.

I challenge all creationists to try to disprove creation, young earth, and intelligent design, and I challenge all evolutionists to try to disprove evolution.  It might be an interesting study!

A Divided World, A Divided Nation, A Divided Church, A Divided Home, A Divided Marriage, A Divided Soul…

Crack

(FreeImages.com/AndrewHildebrand)

There is so much that can unify us, but when I look around, I see so much division!

I see a divided world: first-world countries versus third-world countries.  I see a divided nation: very clearly defined differences in ideologies/beliefs and political systems.  I see a divided church: legalism versus grace versus faux-grace and one denomination against another denomination.  I see divided homes: parents warring against children and vise versa.  I see divided marriages: marriages that elevate one gender against the other and one belief system against another.  I see divided souls: people that walk in confusion, doubts, unrest, and inconsistency.  I see divided identities…

I see a world that reflects nations that reflects churches that reflects families that reflects marriages that reflects souls.

I see so many divided souls because the pains/wounds and mistakes of the past still imprison the present and the futures, unless truth/life is allowed to bring healing.

This can seem to over-simply things, but it is not a simple process.  It takes layers of healing to occur before we begin to stop living from the past and begin to live from the future.

We experience pain in our past, and we decide to live differently.  In fact, we will often pick something very different from our past and think that choice and system of belief will guarantee that we have moved on.

We understand that the systems of our past were broken and faulty, but what we don’t understand is what wholeness looks like. 

Without understanding wholeness ourselves, we will hop from one broken system to another.  They may have a different name, appearance, and message, but the crazy thing is they can often be just the other side of the coin that we had in the past.

Just picking a different system does not guarantee that we are headed into true life, freedom, and healing.

The problem is that when we are wounded, we will choose something different, but the different is not necessarily all whole and good itself. 

At first, the different feels good, safe, and liberating.  It’s a break from those things and people that wounded us in the past.  After awhile though, we begin to realize that throwing off one yoke doesn’t mean we haven’t picked up another yoke with which to replace it.

In fact, the nature of woundedness means we will often pick up another yoke just as heavy or heavier than the one before.  It just looks different and feels different so we don’t realize that it is still a yoke.

And… Freedom is not living a life free of any constraints, responsibilities, expectations, structures, or truth to guide us. 

Something in life is always compelling us.  It’s either others, a system, a belief, or ourselves.

We hear that we are to live freely for ourselves — that we dream our biggest dreams and allow no one to hold us back.

We think that by breaking free from others we break free ourselves.  There is some merit to this.  We don’t want to live to please everyone else, but on the other hand, we don’t want to live to please ourselves or that is the ultimate form of narcissism.

How do we therefore break free from people and at the same time break free from ourselves?

When you have felt the bondage of control and manipulation by others, you often think that freedom means the absence of accountability, structure, or response on our parts.  You think it means that you are free to live and believe however you choose.  To a huge extent, you are.  We are free to choose what we believe and how we live, but we are never free from the outcomes of those choices — just like, thank God, neither are those who have hurt us!

Do we really want a world that is devoid of consequences or accountability? 

Do we really want a world that chooses to live for self in order to liberate self?  Does that really make sense?

Can we be liberated if we live in bondage to the whims and desires of self?

Ultimately, we will also hold others captive to our own selfish desires.

…And… Can we really live free when we merely live in a reactionary state from the past?  Is that not still living under the influence of the past?

The point is we may choose something different because it is different, and maybe we will find something true and good in the process, but maybe we won’t.

If we are simply living from reactionary mode, our decisions are not based on clear and truthful thinking.  Reactionary mode means that we are unable to accurately position ourselves and our beliefs on a foundation of clear and stable thinking.

What then is the answer?

Find healing.  Be aware of your sources.  Find God for Himself rather than the twisted examples perhaps you were shown.  Find Him where He reveals Himself: creation, His Word (take off others glasses when reading it), simply communicate with Him.  Talk with Him, ask Him your questions, and listen.

Know that freedom is more than throwing off bondage.  It’s replacing it with truth. 

Truth is actually the surest form of freedom there is.

I hear though a lot of people who react to the word truth.  There are several reasons for this response: reaction to their past (haven’t healed fully yet), they are still in the state of living ultimately for themselves, they are reacting to twisted thinking that was portrayed as “truth,” and they don’t actually understand what truth is.

If you want to know truth, find God.  Seek Him.  Ask Him to reveal Himself to you and then listen, observe, and ponder.

Luke 20:21

21 Then they asked Him, saying, “Teacher, we know that You say and teach rightly, and You do not show personal favoritism, but teach the way of God in truth:

John 1:14

The Word Becomes Flesh

14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

John 8:32

32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

A Birthday Letter To My Son In Heaven…

Love

(FreeImages.com/JukkaLamminluoto)

To my precious Josiah, who would have been 13 today:

Son, I never held you in my arms, I never heard your voice, or was able to decide who you favored the most in looks and personality.

Your life here on earth ended before you ever left the haven of my womb and before we could ever behold your face.  A lot of people would tell me that your short life on earth was pointless, but it wasn’t,

Son. I just want to say that your short life here was noticed and to say that I am so happy for you — that you have spent the past 13 years in the presence of God!!! I am a little jealous that you were able to behold the face of Jesus before me. 🙂

Son, your two earthly parents and five siblings can’t wait to meet you someday! I am so happy for you that you are experiencing only pure joy, love, and peace! Shalom, my Son… until we meet again!

Love,

Mommy

Feel Like You Are The Checklist?

Check list

(FreeImages.com/Fanginhoon)

I awoke this morning and told my husband that I felt like I had become a checklist to people.  I felt like I consisted of a checklist of boxes of things I had accomplished or had not, and that was the summation of me in the minds of others.  (Note: feelings are not necessarily reality but indicate something that needs attention.)

This morning, I cried out to God, knowing this was an attack from the enemy of my soul to turn my focus on myself — to make me feel rejected, inferior, empty…

I told God straight up (no need to sugar-coat with Him): “God, I am feeling this attack again to believe the lies that I am not enough. S.O.S.!”

God’s response was a bit unexpected but brilliantly profound as always:

He asked me the question, “Am I enough?”

“What does that have to do with me not feeling like enough?”

The wisdom in His response was like a blinding flash!

The real issue behind me not feeling enough was that I am in essence not believing or living like He is enough.

When God is enough, there is no room for discontentment.

You can be in a prison, like Paul and Silas, and still be praising God, or…

You can be like my 91-year-old, adopted grandmother whom I drove several hours to visit yesterday.  This woman has been a widow for close to 21 years.  Her husband was a man who cherished his wife and treated her like a princess.  (You know she misses him.)  This woman is almost blind and almost deaf.  She can’t drive anywhere.  She can’t attend church.  Hardly anyone visits her or remembers her.  She doesn’t have any grandchildren.  Most of her family has already died.  Most of her friends have died.  Yet, this woman knows the meaning of contentment.  I was in awe over this woman who so kindly talked to my kids, who wore a continual smile on her face, who never spoke a single word of complaint over her circumstances.  She was a woman fully content and at peace.  …and I cry as I write these words.

This woman probably doesn’t match up to a lot of people’s checklists.  She can’t do much of anything.  She isn’t publishing books, speaking to large groups of women, playing with grandchildren, and being visited by hoards of people.  She lives in a simple house, with simple decorations, wearing simple clothes, with a simple life, but this woman has learned the richest truths/treasures that so many of us haven’t or will never learn.

This woman has lived fully loved and loved fully.  This woman has learned the secret of contentment.  She doesn’t walk in fear, rejection, or complaining.

What is the secret of contentment?

It’s that He is enough.

So, back to God’s question again:

“Am I enough?”

The question isn’t whether I am enough; the question is whether He is enough.

God gave me these verses this morning that I am “soaking in”:

Psalm 34:10

10 The young lions lack and suffer hunger;
But those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing.

Psalm 34:22

22 The Lord redeems the soul of His servants,
And none of those who trust in Him shall be condemned.

 

Too Much Focus On Identity?

shame

(FreeImages.com/JV)

There are some amazing books that have been recently published on identity, and this seems to be a common thought in women’s ministries today.

But, is there too much of a focus on identity?

Has it become more self-focused rather than God-focused?

I recently read this article: http://faithit.com/dear-womens-ministry-stop-calling-me-beautiful-phylicia-delta/.

I liked this one line, in particular, that she said:

“They leave our churches knowing all about themselves, and knowing little about Christ.”

I commented the following in regards to her statement:

I liked this line in the article: “They leave our churches knowing all about themselves, and knowing little about Christ.” That is the key!!! There is a huge focus on identity because it absolutely makes a huge difference in our lives, BUT we can’t know who we are until we know Whose we are and that means knowing Who He is. That’s the issue.  So many Christians know a lot about God and still remain insecure. I believe the issue is because they haven’t gotten past just knowing about God to understanding how those pivotal truths relate to them in their every day moment by moment living. It’s knowing that in this very moment, God isn’t just merciful, but He is my mercy today. Identity is at a crisis today because as a whole, the world and even the church hardly knows God on a personal, intimate level (reality), and therefore, we behave as orphans, searching for belonging. I agree that so often our focus becomes then centered on just a more spiritualized version of New Age thinking: self-enlightenment and self-glorification rather than on understanding the greatness of God and the greatness of His love and grace for us!!! When you truly understand this, it doesn’t make you proud; it makes you humble. The more I realize the greatness of His love and grace towards me, the more secure I am and the more humble I am!!!

I personally believe that you will never walk fully as a daughter of God until you understand that you are a daughter of God and what that means, which is why knowing our true identities is crucial.

I also though strongly believe that, as the article I quoted from is pointing out, we cannot understand who we are without understanding Who He is.

I want to clarify too that we do need to understand our roots: we are sinners completely in need of a Savior, but if all we do is stay there, we actually have “forfeited” the purpose of the cross in our lives. 

Jesus came to save lost sons/sinners and to restore them as sons and heirs with Him! 

The purpose of the cross wasn’t to emphasize our pasts, our sinfulness, what was lost to us in the Garden of Eden, and what Satan on a daily basis tries to constantly rub in our faces.

The purpose of the cross is what was accomplished at the cross — which is our salvation, our eternity, our redemption, our forgiveness, and the fact that we are no longer sinners separated from God, but we are sons and daughters and priests and priestesses of the most High God!

Let me repeat that statement:

The purpose of the cross is what was accomplished by Jesus at the cross.

I want to end this by restating the last line from my comment because I believe this is the focus with which I want to end:

The more I realize the greatness of His love and grace towards me, the more secure I am and the more humble I am!!!

and…

“…we can’t know who we are until we know Whose we are and that means knowing Who He is.”

1 John 4:19

19 We love him, because he first loved us.

 

Fear Versus Love

Handwriting - Love

(FreeImages.com/BobSmith)

Struggling with fear?

How do you live fearlessly in a world that has hidden dangers, agendas, and impending hurts?

What’s wrong with protecting oneself? 

How do you love fearlessly in a dangerous and abusive world?

How do you trust when it may mean being hurt again?

Trust is essential to any good relationship, but doesn’t it make sense to hold back and keep your “best cards” hidden?

Sound familiar?

Want to know what the answer to fear is?

It’s living loved.

That simple.

How do we live loved though if we don’t believe we are loved fully?

How do we offer what we don’t have or haven’t received (accepted/believed)?

There are some very clear differences between love and fear:

Fear walls against, locks out, controls, tries to predict, measures, withholds, imprisons, incapacitates…

Love empowers, gives freedom, enables, expands, gives generously, is limitless, hopes, receives, believes…

Fear is the scarcity mentality.  It is a prisoner to the past and a prisoner to the unknown and what-ifs.  It fears and expects the worst, instead of believing the best.

Fear holds any new relationship prisoner and answerable to the wounds of the past. The present and future are never released from the wounds of the past.

Fear says that my future is only preserved by hoarding my present.

Fear refuses to be vulnerable and transparent.

Love though is the abundance mentality.  It overflows.  It releases the present and future from the wounds of the past.

Each new relationship is received with the openness that comes from freedom from the past and a hope for the future. 

Love focuses on others rather than protecting self.

Love is able to be vulnerable because to be loved is to be secure.  When there is true security, there is no fear of vulnerability.

Love is an expanding force.  It expands our borders, expands our abilities, expands our hopes, expands our giving and our receiving…

The relevance to understanding the difference between love and fear as it applies to my life and to your life is this:

I.  Fear is rooted completely in self.  It is completely self-centered and as a result imprisoning.  It holds you, your circumstances, your dreams, your life purpose, and your loved ones prisoner to what hurt or scared you in the past and what might hurt or scare you again in the future.

You will never grow, expand, or be “all in” for God so long as you are a prisoner of your past.

II. Love is bigger than self and expands me beyond myself, my fears, my borders, my experiences, my past.

In order to live fearlessly, you must learn to live fully loved.

As I was contemplating this, I immediately thought of the verse:

1 John 4:18

18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.