Boldness: A Look at Genesis to Revelations

Back in September of last year I started a new Bible study on what it looks like to be bold. Fearing I am never good enough because I am always anxious about whether I am doing anything right prompted me to learn how to be bold. What I learned has amazed me. So many assumptions I had, have been wrong. I am so grateful for the opportunity for God to lead me on this journey, and I can’t wait to see how it manifests in me.

In the beginning I learned every decision we make is bold. Being a jerk, is bold. Being nice, is bold. Even not making a decision is bold because there are still consequences with not making a decision. Standing by and letting someone be a jerk to someone, is bold. Everything comes with risks. Everything comes with consequences.

Originally, I thought boldness had to do with a lack of fear. However, I learned pretty quickly the boldness that comes from Christ, really has nothing to do with fear. It is possible to act boldly but still be fearful.

And in fact, the boldness that doesn’t come from Christ, probably has everything to do with fear. I’m afraid someone is going to take advantage of me if I don’t show him who is boss. I’m afraid if I don’t jump at this opportunity I may not be successful in life. I’m afraid if I don’t take control everything will fall to pieces.

The fear is about me. Not about Christ. I can feel fear. It’s not the sin. The sin is letting it control me. When I allow my fear to control me, I am taking back my life from Christ. I am no longer letting him be my Lord.

Once I hit the New testament I realized the boldness I wanted to inherit comes from God. Without Jesus or without the Holy Spirit it is impossible to please him. Again this boldness has nothing to do with fear. Boldness, like courage, is feeling fear and doing it anyway. It looks foolish to the world. It looks like weakness. It looks like defeat.

I found faith as a better way to describe boldness. Boldness allows you to do something, because it’s the right thing to do, not because you weren’t afraid. Your faith in God, makes you bold. Without faith, it is impossible to be bold for Christ.

I’m not sure if boldness is the same as faith, but I definitely believe it is a result of it. Boldness is your demonstration of your faith. Faith is a verb, and it looks like boldness. The stronger your faith, the bolder you become.

I want to live a life that displays more than my salvation. I want to spend my days living a life worthy of my Father. One that points to who my Father is. One that honors him. I don’t just want Christ to save my life. I want him to use my life. I could not do this without inheriting the boldness his Spirit gives.

With his boldness, I am able to live in this world without being a part of it. I am able to look forward to eternal and heavenly consequences, rather than earthly consequence that may be immediate but will one day disappear.

Once His Spirit enters me, my will to live is gone and the desire to do His will is birthed. I am transformed. I am no longer the same person. I am a new creation. I have access to a boldness I never had before. It starts small, but with practice and devotion, it grows. The less there is of me, the more of him there is.

The Bible is full of instruction on how to mature your boldness. The Holy Spirit enables you to be bold, but it won’t magically make you bold. It will require your commitment, your dedication, your faith.

Like the Israelites who spent 40 years in the desert being sanctified, learning how to be God’s Holy people; I have my time on earth to do the same thing. With the boldness the Lord gives me, I am learning what it means to stop being a product of this world and start being a product of a heavenly one. I’m grateful he has given me more than 40 years, but now I feel the urgency to make up for lost time. Cuz honestly, I’ve only recently started this whole sanctification process.

I live for the Day of Judgment when my salvation has been made evident, and I am rewarded for my boldness. And reward enough for me is to hear my Father’s words, “Good and faithful.”

Giving It All Away

Giving everything you have to the Kingdom of Heaven, is bold.

You are trusting God to fulfill all his promises; that he loves you, is watching out for you, he’s going to provide everything you need, so that your resources he gave you in the first place, can go to help others know him as their father as well. He didn’t give us all this stuff so that we could live a comfy life. All this stuff is suppose to empower us to do his work; to show his love, to be his hands and feet. We were never supposed to horde what we have. We were never supposed to collect riches, things, or prestige. He puts us in position to help, and watches to see if we are investing it into others.

There are people out there who work twice as hard, five times as hard, as I do and yet, their income does not reflect mine. No one deserves what they receive. Wealth is not based on the amount of your effort, like you are somehow more special, more deserving, more gifted. It’s all a gift. A gift that was meant for others. It’s a privilege.

Oh, but I understand how great the temptation is to hold onto everything. To be selfish and then justify it by saying I deserve it. I don’t. We don’t. We don’t deserve any of it.

Now the flip side to this is there are those who refuse the gifts of God. They don’t take up their righteous place in his kingdom. They don’t want to listen to the instructions he provides, so they never find themselves in a position to help others, to do his work, to show his love, to be his hands and feet. They are victims to their circumstances. They blame others, instead of themselves. So his resources are never offered. Actually, they are offered, but they’re not accepted. Maybe they don’t know another way, maybe they’re too proud to follow any other way.

But there’s hope. He always leaves his door open to anyone who wants to come in and take up their inherited position he has set aside for them.

So he trusts us, those of us who have already inherited the Kingdom of God to lead those who don’t know him, and they in turn, use their inheritance to lead others too. It’s a beautiful cycle of love he gifts us; those of us who participate. The joy he gives out does any comfort we can horde here on Earth.

He commands nothing, but he asks for it all. He’s the kind of God I want to serve. He doesn’t need me, but he wants me anyway.

Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has given more than all the others who are making contributions. For they gave a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she had to live on.” – Mark 12:43-44

This is All I Know

If even Peter was weak and let Jesus down, how can I possibly not??? He lived with him, spoke to him. Saw his miracles. Heard him teaching. Walked on freakin’ water with him! And yet, he still denied him. THREE TIMES! IN THE SAME NIGHT!!! I am so screwed. We are all, so so screwed.

Maybe I need to accept that I fail at following Jesus, miserably. Even when I do good, I’m still screwing it all up. My ways are not his ways, and my thoughts are not his thoughts. I have trouble understanding people here on earth. So no, I don’t know exactly what God expects from me. But I know in my heart I want to spend the rest of my life figuring it out. Even if I’m doing it all wrong. I still want to pursue him, because he gives me hope.

He tells me I am loved even when I’m unlovable. He gives me peace knowing he is watching over me, guiding me, giving me a way out of the traps I keep setting for myself. He makes me new. He erases all the false messages I’ve heard about myself from others and gives me truth. Truth that I am a screw-up and he loves me anyway. He made me this way, and I am honoring him, by accepting who I am. A child of God.

I know my place; I know I’m not worthy. And only because Jesus says I am, I am. I am saved by his grace. Not by my works.

If I know anything, this is what I know…

For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. – John 3:16

This is My Mission

I am convinced that I will live for all eternity. I am 47 and when I am 87, I will say, I am only 87 because in terms of forever, it is just the beginning. I will not live like I am used up, for my lifetime has just started. I will not use excuses, focus on limits, or diminish my worth or value. My time here on Earth may be done, but that does not mean I am done. I will transition.

Therefore, I will talk about the future. I will imagine my life in 100 years, 200 years, 1,000. I will plan. I will dream. I will prepare.

I am here training. I will continue to build my faith because I am convinced it will serve me well later. I will build relationships and compassion. I will walk beyond my comfort zone. I do this because I truly believe the amount of effort I put forth now will determine the quality of life I will live forever.

This time here is oh so temporary and such a short time with so much to do. I pray the Lord will cram as much training as I can possibly handle into my few years I have left. Life has not plagued me with death, destruction or trauma. He has kept me fed, kept me warm, kept me safe. Blessed me beyond measure. I have not had to be distracted with life tragedies. He has protected me from such things, yet what have I used my time for? All selfish things, I can assure you.

It has all been for my comfort, and not for his purpose. I have suddenly been awakened with conviction that I have been living on borrowed time. This time was not meant for me, but for the work of the Lord. And I have squandered it on selfishness. I promise you, this will happen no more.

I pray I stop being the obstacle of my growth and development. I pray I am able to make up the time lost on selfish endeavors, and get to what really matters. I pray for maturity. I pray for conviction. I pray for the day when I see my Father and he tells me, “You did great! I have so much to show you. So much for you to do. I’ve had this planned for you all along, and I think you are ready for it now. Come. Let’s get to work!”

This is the plan he has for me. This is what he is talking about in Jeremiah 29:11.

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

THIS! This is my mission!

The Valley of Blessings

The Valley of Blessings

This is where I live, and it’s ok. Yes it’s in the valley where we struggle the most. But I’ve been told you’re either on your way out of the valley or on your way in. We never spend much time on the mountain top. And that’s ok too.

As long as I know I’m not alone once I get there, I know I’ll be ok. In fact, I praise God when I’m there, because I’ve also been told he is close to the broken hearted. So I would rather be broken with my savior in the valley, than be living the high life, alone.

Jehoshaphat was terrified by this news and begged the Lord for guidance.  – 2 Chronicles 20:3

This is what the Lord says: Do not be afraid! Don’t be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God’s. – 2 Chronicles 20:15

Believe in the Lord your God, and you will be able to stand firm. – 2 Chronicles 20:20

On the fourth day they gathered in the Valley of Blessing, which got its name that day because the people praised and thanked the Lord there. It is still called the Valley of Blessing today. – 2 Chronicles 20:26

Day 2, Again

Father,

Thank you for being there with me as I try to guide my son. Thank you for your words. Thank you for your peace. Thank you for pushing me to be the mom you want me to be. And thank you for intervening, when I screw it up.

Lord, I know I need you everyday. We need you everyday. Please let us see and feel you, everyday. It feels like a scab that has been pulled off and we’re both raw, and hurting. Afraid to ask tough questions and afraid to give answers, I’m sure.

It is unbelievable how incredibly powerful, Trust, is and yet, how incredibly frail. Please help us get there again, even though trust wasn’t even broken.

He was most truthful, and honest and trusting, than he has ever been. Yet, that was only because he was confessing how untrustworthy he really was.

I see his struggle, God. I can’t even imagine his pain. Please bring him mercy.

I can’t express how much I love this child, how much pain I feel when he hurts. Please Lord, mercy. Give us mercy.

With all the love I have,

Kim

My Favorite Day!

I have a message for all my friends!

All my friends who are struggling right now…

To my friends who don’t know how they are going to pay rent in a couple of days,

To my friends who have a loved one in the hospital,

To my friends who have lost a child,

To my friends who have lost their freedom,

To my friends who are stuck in an abusive relationship,

To my friends who struggle with their mental or physical health,

To my friends who can’t find a job,

To my friends who are moving from sofa to sofa,

To my friends who live in fear of the unknown…

TODAY IS GOOD FRIDAY!

It is my most favorite day!!

Today, the most important man who ever lived, died over 2000 years ago for me (and for you)!

No one else has ever done this for me. No one has ever sacrificed their life for me. No one has ever loved me THIS much. Even before I knew I was a sinner. Even before I knew I needed a savior…

I lived without hope. I found myself in a life I never expected or wanted. Not only did I feel trapped, I felt undeserving of anything else. I felt dirty. I felt the weight of the world. I felt responsible for every wrong doing. I had no worth. I was lost.

And before I even felt all this…a man took this all from me! He saved me! He gave me hope!

He LOVED me!!!

He loves you too, and I haven’t even gotten to the best part yet!

HE’S COMING BACK! I swear to you, I know this to be true.

And because he comes back, everything he said was true. He is the son of God (Matthew 3:17). He is the way, the truth, and the light. No one can come to the Father except through him (John 14:6).

So, although I don’t know how any of you are going to get through the day, I do know that you are loved (John 3:16). And that God sees you (Proverbs 15:3). He made you for his glory (Isaiah 43:7). He cherishes you (Psalm 139:13-16). He has a plan for you (Jeremiah 29:11). He will never leave or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5). He is for you (Deuteronomy 31:6).

You will get through this! And not only will you survive this, you will become better, wiser and stronger. You are becoming your best you!

Today, Jesus died, and in three days he will be back. If he’s not, then call me crazy. But if he does, then fall to your knees and praise him. (I think I stole that from someone. Whoever it is, he’s much smarter than me. You should listen, cause he’s not wrong.)

God is good.

All the time.

I love you.

Better yet, JESUS LOVES YOU!

Oh Shoot

Today I took my momma to one of her doctor’s appointments. It was downtown.

I knew I would need to pick her up an hour before her check in time, just because it was so far and she doesn’t move all that fast.

I try to ignore the condescending remarks, like “You’ve got this all figured out now, don’t you?” Like I’m twelve and that don’t normally driver to this very same hospital about three times a week to interpret.

During the long drive, she brought up all the regular people from her past, just as she always does, and asks why she can’t talk to them anymore, again.

There’s my brother, and her ex-husband, and occasionally my dad. She asks if I’ve talked to any of them.

Then she goes on to tell me how badly she wants to get out of her assisted living facility. It doesn’t matter how many times, or how many examples I give to show how nice her place is, she always tells me, “I know. I know.” And the next time I see her, she’ll tell me again.

Today, I ask her what she would do if she didn’t live there. What would she like to do?

“I have no idea.” Something else she also, always tells me. “I just feel lost.”

We talk about her brain, and how it’s not her fault. We talk about how this appointment is not going to fix her; we’re just hoping for her to stay the same.

Not mentioning that today she is better than what she’ll be tomorrow, and yesterday, she was better than what she is today.

For someone who struggles with talking, she always has something to say. After unsuccessfully searching for the right words, she ends up settling for, “… Oh shoot.” I keep listening and help out when I can.

After agreeing with her new specialist throughout the thirty minute appointment and reassuring the young doctor she didn’t have any questions, we walk down the hall and she asks me, “Did we find out anything?”

“Not really.”

“Oh, shoot.”

“It’s ok. You’re ok.”

We get back in the car and start the long trip home in rush hour traffic, this time.

Trying to console her, I reach over to hold her hand. She grabs it with both hands and as if by instinct, or possibly habit, she reassures me, “I know, Kim. It will be ok.” She pats my hand.

Concealed behind the tint of my sunglasses I start to cry.

I imagine, one day, when we’re in heaven, she will hold me close after being healed from all this life has thrown at her. And she will tell me, “You did good, Kim. I didn’t make it easy for you, but you did really good.”

I drop her off, text my brother to call his mom, then drive home to make dinner for my family.

Being Released

I’ve been wrestling with God since my last blog. I also have been trying to take care of myself because the days to come could be brutal if what he has planned isn’t what I’m mentally prepared to handle.

I’ve started Holy Yoga, which I have to be honest, is nothing like I expected. I’m signed up to retake a 12 week Codependency class. I’m meeting with a counselor throughout the month. I’m praying and have been asking for prayers. And lastly reading; scripture, yes, but also books and articles related to dementia and Alzheimer’s.

This is what I have learned.

  • We live our lives looking to men to be our God. Doctors make us feel good or feel better. They give us answers. They prolong our lives. But when the time comes, there will truly be only one God who can make us feel good or better. Only God can offer us any hope or purpose to why life is how it is. In the end it will only be me and Jesus.
  • God doesn’t like Alzheimer’s, but he will use it to show himself.
  • Those inflicted see Jesus in their caregivers. And if opened to it, caregivers draw on God’s strength, peace, and wisdom. He transforms them to look like Jesus.
  • Jesus served. And so shall I.

The change happened when I felt in my heart, my past relationship with my mom was done.

There is nothing to add or take from it.

You could say, I released her. That’s what it feels like.

Today, is a new day, a new start, and I have been called to continue refining my character by moving on with my Christ-centered life.

My identity, my worth, comes from serving my Lord, not replaying unforgiveness of the past.

I still have a lot of work to do. I have a lot of growing, while I’m here. I have been called to be the hands and feet of Jesus. I have been called to let people see Jesus through me, not for my glory, but his.

I have sinned against my mom. I have not brought her comfort when I could have. I have chosen to pull away, instead of moving closer. I have made things harder on her by not helping her carry her load. I know what a touch does to her soul, but have not been around. I know how affirming words lift her spirit, but I have kept them to myself. I’ve known what she’s struggled to say, but I’ve made her continue searching for the right words. I know how much her family means to her, and I’ve kept them away.

To continue to ignore how God would want to use me, would be deplorably wrong. It would not only be a sin against her, but him.

However, I appreciate how Christ gave me time to heal. I appreciate that he didn’t condemn me for taking so much time in my pain. I appreciate how he didn’t let me sit in my sorrow, nor run from it, but nudged me to keep searching for something I didn’t know what I was searching for.

I have made up my mind to follow Christ. I will pick up my towel and serve him, by serving my her.

Day one, he has erased my hard feelings. That doesn’t mean they won’t come back, but for today they are gone.

I have had a meeting with my family and have asked for their support and understanding and what’s even cooler, is they have decided to come alongside and do it with me.

We will learn together how to have someone who can quite possibly, although not purposely, hurt our feelings but still have a place in our life. We will learn what Alzheimer’s looks like and adapt to its changes. We will choose to love even if we don’t feel loved.

We will learn grace, together.

It is an honor to be given the opportunity to act out my faith in obedience.

However…

I’M SCARED! I’ve already lost my mom. She died 16 years ago when she had her last stroke. I’ve already grieved that part, and if I let her back in, and I love her, I’m going to have to eventually grieve her again.

But I will, because as awful as that day will be, more tragic would be walking away from the gift she could be giving me.

Maybe things happen in my childhood that shouldn’t have, maybe she could have been better, but maybe she’s been given a second chance. I can still learn and grow from her.

I have always searched to become the woman I was supposed to be.

And to not take advantage of this opportunity could mean walking away from my destiny.

Settling for something less.

Allowing unforgiveness to steal my birthright.

Maybe we both have been given a second chance. Maybe she can finally see Jesus. And I can finally become the woman God designed me to be.

I Just Don’t Know.

Recently, I took my mom to get the results of her MRI and memory test, as well as recommendations from her doctor.

My whole goal of taking her was selfish. I have become so bitter towards her over the past 12 years. I don’t want to be bitter anymore. I don’t want my mom hating me when she dies. I don’t want me hating her when she dies, either.

Everyone keeps telling me I need to get over it. I need to ignore what she says. But inside of me I’m fighting so hard for her to hear me. She makes me feel unloved, unvalued, not important, not special. I wanted her to cherish me and to put me first or at least consider me, but she never has. And now that I’m an adult and I finally realize what I’m looking for in our relationship, it’s too late. She’s not the woman who raised me.

My mom died over 16 years ago. And oh how I loved her so much then. She was my best friend. I wish I could love her like that again. I forgave my mom for things she did, even if I didn’t understand what she had done.

I look at her now and I’m afraid if I continue to forgive; if I don’t call her out on how she makes me feel, if I don’t tell her she’s wrong every. single. time, that she’s going to take my self-worth away, again. I’m afraid I’m going to turn into the person I used to be. The one who let people walk all over me, who people took advantage of. But that won’t really happen. If she says she doesn’t like my hair, it doesn’t mean I’m not pretty. If she criticizes my clothes, it doesn’t mean I don’t look nice. If she complains I don’t help her, it doesn’t mean its true. If she doesn’t like my driving, it doesn’t mean I’m a bad driver. I can hear and identify the guilt she’s trying to make me feel, but I don’t have to feel it.

The first thing the doctor says, as he walks into the room was, “I’m impressed…but not in a good way.” He then proceeds to explain that my mom’s brain is riddled with extensive damage. I tell him we figured she has had about five strokes. By looking at the results of the MRI, he says he believes me. He shows me pictures of a skull that has more holes than anything else.

He then looks at her memory test. He explains that 80% of her deficiencies come from her strokes. It is that bad, but the other 20% is coming from signs of Alzheimer’s and depression.

It’s why she’s getting worse.

He recommends referring her to a stroke clinic as well as adding another antidepressant, considering the one she is on does nothing to treat the depression she has.

I am numb. I feel nothing but continue to ask questions as he is quite literally, walking backwards out the door. His answers all become, “The Stroke Clinic will help you.”

She gets to start the new antidepressant, but we wait for a referral to the clinic.

I’ve been struggling to come to peace with mine and my mom’s relationship for a long time. It was important for me to understand the messages I was internalizing as a child, to be able to break free from codependent relationships I was drawn to, felt comfortable having, so that I can become healthy and break the dysfunction I was used to. I blamed my mom for everything.

I blamed her for my abusive relationships. I blamed her for feeling bad about myself. I blamed her for being treated as a doormat. I blamed her for every single bad thing that has happened in my life. And I still blame her.

But I am an adult now. I’m not a child. I have found my voice. I know my worth. Yet, I’m still here hating her. Hating someone who isn’t even here anymore. And when she passed, she meant everything to me. There was no hate, only compassion. I knew she wasn’t perfect. I knew she did her best.

But as this new person started to walk around in her old body that looked just like the mom, I knew I was becoming angry because she’s not my mom. She couldn’t make me feel loved like she used to, even as dysfunctional as it was. And then I started looking within me, trying to figure out why I was the person I was. And I grew angrier realizing the consequences of an unhealthy, and equally broken person who raised me, had on me.

And I was robbed again, because I couldn’t yell at her, at the mom who raised me, because she wasn’t her anymore.

Dammit Kim, why can’t you let this go? I look at a picture of her when I was young, and remember feeling love, but I look at a picture of her today and even though she’s not capable of trying to hurt me, I feel anger. This isn’t even the woman who had screwed me up! But I’m making her pay for it.

Within the last year, I have started praying that God would show me my mom through his eyes. The first time I realized how much he loved her was when I was explaining my mom’s unsafe relationships, to a friend, and she tells me, “Wow, Kim. I really thought you were going to tell me how someone was taking advantage of her, but honestly, it sounds like the other way around.” She’s not lying. You hear stories all the time of people luring vulnerable people into unsafe settings to either rape, beat or rob. But not my mom. She has found another male, not to rape, beat or rob, but definitely to manipulate and take advantage of. Shows how lonely he is too. But I saw for the first time how much God is protecting her. In fact, he always has.

And not only always has, but if I didn’t know any better, I’d swear she was His favorite instead of me!

She lost both her parents when she was young. She and her sister bounced around family until they were of age. My aunt explained to me they should have been in foster care.

Then she gets pregnant with me when she’s 17. She marries my dad right out of high school and six months before I am born.

Her aunt shames her by not letting her wear white.

She makes a ton of bad decisions with my dad, while raising two kids. She leaves us, divorces my dad. Makes a ton more bad decisions. Meets, falls in love with, and marries someone who’s seven years older than me! Oh, she continues to make different but still bad decisions, but this man loves my mom like no other.

And then she has her stroke, the last one. She’s 49. Within a blink of an eye, my mom is gone, but she’s not. Her shell survived. But her brain, her brain has more holes than not. And it takes a while, but she starts walking again, and talking again.

But still, he dotes on her like a queen for the next ten years or so. But now things start to change again. She’s not the same woman who was my mom, nor the woman who was his wife and now more things are changing in her, things she can’t control, and Alzheimer’s has begun and she’s making more bad decisions, but like I said, it’s not even her anymore. She tries to kill herself on her 60th birthday.

But she’s His favorite and her shell still survives. Oh my God, why? I know it’s not because she’s a fighter, but it’s because she’s His favorite too.

She’s moved into an assisted living facility. She’s bitter, angry, resentful, lonely and eventually divorced; again.

Is she His favorite, or is she cursed? She has pushed every single person who has ever loved her, or she has loved away. And aside from her two sisters who live very far away, she has one daughter who still has anything to do with her, and this daughter is angry and bitter but trying desperately to forgive her mom who has left long ago, so she can honor the shell she was left with. The shell that once, before 46 years of bad decisions, gave life to. And even that bad decision produced four amazing people who call her grandma.

One last thing, before the doctor leaves us sitting stunned in his exam room, “If she was right handed, she wouldn’t be able to talk.”

Immediately a different reality overwhelms me. Yes, I lost my mom over 16 years ago, but by the grace of God she can still speak simply because she is left handed.

Maybe, just maybe God loves her so much that after all the tragedy she has lived, she still has something to say. Maybe something I need to hear.

I don’t know. I just don’t know.

God, I need you. I am here, once again on my knees, my face to the ground. Help me. Help me to love my mom. Soften my heart. Make this feel right. How can I possibly be there for her, and for what is to come, when I feel as crummy as I do?