faith

Transforming a Jealous Mind

Today’s daily prompt suggested I write an anonymous letter to someone I’m jealous of. But since my particular monster does not have green eyes, I’m reposting this instead.

But If I HAD to write a letter it would read something like Dear Ann Voskamp, I am SO GLAD that YOU have been given the ability to write beautiful words because I am blessed by them. I am thankful that you have been given such a sense of artistry and poetry because the photography in your one thousand gifts video brings strength and joy to my fragile heart.  Dear Beth Moore, I am SO GLAD that YOU have been given the awesome gift for teaching that I would love to have. This way I can sit in the audience, relax and soak it in – while you do the prep work, travel and carry the burden….

See? How can I be jealous of the gifts others have been given when they are also a gift to me?

Light & life

I used to think jealousy was a victimless crime. I thought it only hurt the perp.  And that might be true as long as it stays a soul-gnawing emotion.  But, as I shared in a previous post, once it takes action it does all manner of damage.

So how do you get jealousy under control?  How do you transform a gnarly thought before it morphs into a gnarly action?  Here’s what I do:

1.  I remind myself that there is enough to go around.  I used to scratch my head at my older sister’s manipulative attempts to push my other siblings and me out of our mother’s heart.  She seemed to believe that if we weren’t there, there would be more room for her.  Her logic made no sense to me.  Even as a small child I knew that mom’s love for one would not diminish her love for the others.  A mom…

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life, war on women

Fifty Shades of Regret

Growing up you probably heard a variation of “That will rot your teeth” as you took a bite of something sweet.  But did anyone ever really explain it to you? Did they instruct you to brush your teeth after every sugary treat, or did they just lay a phrase on you and walk away? As a kid it was just a phrase, a vague guideline. But at fifty, it became harsh reality. It became me sitting in the oral surgeon’s chair, hearing his opening words: “It all started with that first Snickers bar.” Don’t get me wrong, I brushed my teeth every morning after breakfast and every night before bed. Apparently that isn’t enough.

Sometimes we need people to explain things to us a whole lot better than they do. Especially when we are young. Especially when it comes to sex. Which is why I go out and talk to kids. And which is why I am going to talk to you.

I was in Bible study last October celebrating a 90th birthday and watching a Beth Moore video. I received quite the education with my cake when Beth said this:

All sex was meant to be safe sex. All of it was. Not boring. Some of you, “If it’s safe, it’s boring.” You have to live out there in that adrenaline zone where you just barely make it and live most of your life down in a cavernous pit. I have been there, too…

What women are putting their bodies through to keep up with the appetites that are being created by pornography. I’m going to tell you something, if we can make it to 60 and 65 and not be incontinent, it’s going to be a miracle… It was not meant to tear up our bodies… Just because you are in a relationship with him doesn’t mean that everything he wants to do you need to do. You do get to say, “I’m not comfortable with that.” Even to your husband if you know that its going to tear up your body. It’s a dangerous, dangerous day when we’ve got the kind of growing need for more and more and more and more perversity. And our bodies are just getting abused and misused.

Even to your husband.

I have lunch once a year with an old friend. We used to go to the same church. Two years ago she told me her marriage was a wreck and she was contemplating jumping ship. I was very surprised. I had always viewed her and her husband as a strong, happy couple. The things she shared over salads revealed a whole different story. She told me a lot that day but she didn’t tell me everything.

At last year’s lunch she said her life was a bit better. She had decided to stay in the marriage on one condition: Her husband would have to take “no” for an answer. I’m sure my mouth was agape as she told me what he had been doing to her. When she would object he would say that it was her “Christian duty.”  After years of putting up with it, she finally said, “Christian duty or not, you’re not going to do that to me anymore.” She finally had nothing to lose and he finally stopped. I believed her when she said things are better between them, but how much better can they be with a man who would insist on harming his wife for his sexual gratification because the teachings of the church gave him the idea that he can.

This is why I keep hammering away at the church’s erroneous teachings when it comes to women.

I just hope she doesn’t wind up incontinent.

fifty shades of no

I sat in an assembly of tenth graders about ten years ago listening to Dr. John Diggs give a talk on sex. The boys were not shy with their questions. One asked about anal sex. Dr. Diggs explained that the anus is not nearly as elastic as the vagina. It doesn’t need to be: Bowel movements are never as big as babies. And because they are not as elastic, they tear more easily. Which is why AIDS spread so quickly among homosexual men – HIV is spread through blood and small tears in the anus gives the virus all the entrance it needs.

I really didn’t know anything about Fifty Shades of Grey except for a vague knowledge that it had something to do with kinky sex. The other day my daughter told me it is about S & M. She said there are Christians on tumblr who believe S & M is fine between two healthy married adults. Except, as my daughter so astutely pointed out, “there is nothing healthy about two adults who enjoy violent sex.”

Hear, hear sister! I mean daughter.

“And to make matters worse,” she said, “ I heard the guy falls in love with her at the end.”

“Oh great,” I said. “Way to feed that dangerous fantasy.”

When I first started volunteering at a pregnancy help center, I had a client whose boyfriend was pressuring her to have an abortion. After sitting with her and listening to her sob for 20 minutes, I finally said, “Joni, you don’t have to have an abortion.” My statement jolted her from her sobs. “You don’t have to have an abortion.”

Her boyfriend kept telling her that if she didn’t abort he would take the baby from her. “Why would he take it from you if he doesn’t even want it?” I asked. She just looked at me. Sometimes you have to apply a little logic.

She had followed him to our state from Oregon and she didn’t know many people here. She had written the phone numbers of a few of her co-workers – – including one male co-worker – in her phone book hoping to make some friends.  When her boyfriend saw it he pounded her head into the floor.

“Why do you stay with him?”

“Because deep down I know there is goodness in him, I just have to find the key that unlocks it. If I stay with him long enough, try hard enough, show him enough love…”

“No, sweetheart.”

Over the course of several counseling sessions I finally convinced her to reconcile with her family and return home to have the baby. Her boyfriend volunteered to drive her back to Oregon. And on the way there he tried to kill her.

I don’t ordinarily ask you to share my posts, but if you know someone who is at risk, I hope you will share this one. Or at least take the time to really explain that fifty shades of grey is fifty shades of danger, fifty shades of regret and fifty shades of incontinence.

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life

Dotty & Beth

I’ll never forget Dotty Schmitt.  She was the speaker at a retreat I attended 22 years ago and she was magnificent.  She spoke of Moses and Elijah as if she knew them personally.  She told their stories as though she had walked among them.  Listening, I felt as though I was walking among them, too.

Her storytelling inspired me to go beyond the stale reading of Scripture and get to know those whose words I read.  That weekend I silently asked God if I could have Dotty’s mantle when she was through with it.  He began training me to one day pick it up.

Beth Moore said two things that I have saved as sticky notes on my computer:

speaker

writer

I ask for an anointing every time I prepare a talk.  No point speaking without it.

There is an author whose books I really like.  He tells a great story.  But his blog often annoys me.  When I come to the end of his posts I want to say, “Quit telling me what to do and just tell me a story.”

Storytellers shouldn’t try to be admonishers.

To be a great story teller:

  1. You have to know the story, really well.
  2. You need an anointing.
  3. You should just tell the stinking story and let me come to my own realization of what I should or shouldn’t do.  If anything.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/spinning-yarns/

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Jesus, Light, love

Of Course He Does

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My daughter was in her crib napping and I was on my bed wrestling.  Weeping, wrestling, clutching my Bible and searching.  Searching for answers, searching for relief, searching for a way out of the wilderness.  I felt like Israel, wandering in the desert, forsaken by God.  But how had I gotten there? What fatal mistake had I made?  In what ways was I a worse wife than the others in my young marrieds class?  One of them had an affair.  Why was she still married and not me?  I asked God, “Am I Israel?”

He nudged my thoughts to the New Testament and to verses that spoke of His love for me.  Forget those, I thought, because clearly He doesn’t.  I kept turning my attention back to the Old Testament wilderness passages trying to find the way out.

My defining moment.

Finally He said, “You are going to have to make a choice.  You can believe what your circumstances say about my love for you, or you can believe what I say about my love for you.”  I chose to believe Him.  Months of wrestling came to an end in that one defining moment and, with a deep and cleansing sigh, I curled up and fell asleep.  He knew how my marriage was going to end the day I said I do.  He knew I did not believe in divorce and yet He allowed it anyway.  He loved me and He allowed it.  There were no cracks in His fingers through which I had fallen.  I hadn’t made a fatal mistake.

His defining moment.

I had been a Christian for eight years, and the divorce was my first faith-testing experience.  I wouldn’t have another for seventeen years.  My daughter had just gone off to college, when a sudden fall set off a string of strange neurological symptoms that baffled a string of doctors.  I sat on my sofa day after day trying to distract my fearful thoughts by watching movies as I waited to die.  It occurred to me that maybe God didn’t care about me as much as I thought He did.  Perhaps I had been foolish to think He cared about me at all.  I teetered between hope and despair until He finally reminded me of His defining moment.  The question of whether or not He loves us, whether or not He cares about us, was answered once and for all the minute He said yes to the cross.

One step further.

“Okay,” I thought a few weeks later as I was washing my tear-streaked face, “He loves us.  But does He love me?”  I had always felt special to Him because I loved Him so much, but maybe I wasn’t.

As I grabbed the hand towel He reminded me of the day He called my name.  He reminded me of the following night when He revealed Himself to me.  It was a glorious revealing.  He made me His own.  Knowing that I would let Him down, knowing that I would let myself and others down, knowing every bit of my past, present and future, He chose me.  “Why would I call you into a relationship with Me and show Myself to you, only to abandon you?”, He asked.  I love it when He reasons with me.  He reminded me of everything I love about His character, His plans, His stick-to-itiveness.  He wouldn’t adopt me as His child and then turn His back on me.  He isn’t a bad parent.  He finishes the good work He begins in us.  He accomplishes His purposes.  He isn’t lazy or distracted.

“But Christians sometimes die in their prime, when their ministries are thriving and there is still work to be done,” I countered.  “So there is no guarantee I will recover.”

“If you do not recover, it won’t be because I don’t care or because I am not paying attention or because I am unable.  It will be because it is time to come home.  And if it is your time and my will, you will have peace.”

I thought of the peace He gave my sister – still gives her – as she battles cancer.  And that is when I realized that it wasn’t God who was trying to kill me, it was the author of fear.  If there is fear, then God’s hand is not in it.  And since the presence of fear proved the strange illness was from the devil’s hand, I was going to be okay because God is stronger.  God loves us.  God loves me.  I rested in that and I recovered.

More defining moments.

Job’s defining moments came when he resolved, “Though He slay me, yet will I hope in Him.” and when he realized that “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.”

Peter’s greatest moment came not with words, but with action.  After he denied Christ thrice, after he threw his best friend under the bus to save his own skin, he got back up and walked with Him.  Not as one who was just barely forgiven, but as one who was amazing. (Acts 2:14-41)

Those are the moments the Holy Spirit illuminates when I am struggling.

I wrote this post to say, “Of course He loves you, sweet Shazzameena.”

He sees the ministry that happens at your table, your hospitality.  He gave you gifts and He is not going to waste them.  He is not wasteful, He is perfect. He saw you clambering over stone walls to see the old well.  He saw you noticing the stain-glassed window.  He heard your heart on the way home saying you want to be remembered as a sower of His word and He smiled.  He loves how you love Him.

Beth Moore shared something sweet in the Bible study video I watched yesterday:

God to Beth:  “Don’t say, ‘I love you’ to Me.  Say, ‘I love you, too.’  Because I am always saying it first.”

I like that.

Our defining moments, as tough and heartbreaking and scary as they are, are designed to bring us to the place where we “come to know and believe (once and for all, but with occasional need for reminders) the love God has for us.”  1 John 4:16a

Does God see you?  Does He love you?  He chose you, dear child.  Remember that day? That was the day He answered “Yes!”  Forever.

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