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.”

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

I Love You, Too

My husband does construction for a living. Yesterday he was in an accident that knocked his truck out of commission. It’s ok though. He’s fine and we have an SUV we’ve been saving for the boys, once they get their license.

It’s not his favorite vehicle to drive, but it will get him to and from his work until we know if his truck can be fixed.

This morning, as I was waiting for my life group to start, I was talking to two friends who asked how Mike was doing.

I explained he was sore, but otherwise doing fine. He was upset with himself for what had happened, but he understands accidents happen, so he wasn’t beating himself up over it. “It’s just a truck”, he says. It will get fixed.

As I was filling them in on what had happened, they both shared how their heart ached for him when they had learned what had happened.

Mike doesn’t ask for much. All he’s wanted was a truck and nine months ago, he got one. And it’s not one of those brand new, great big fancy dancy, 4x4s. No, but it was nice and it was his.

They offered to let him borrow one of their trucks until his was fixed, but I explained that we had the SUV for him. Although, we were concerned about the tires. We knew they needed to be replaced before any of our kids drove it, but since no one seemed very anxious to start driving anytime soon, we just hadn’t gotten around to it.

I left knowing we had a back up.

After my life group, I came home to tell my husband about the offer, as I waited until noon to pick up some chairs from a friend.

This last Fourth of July, we had a great big celebration at our house that included 90 of our closest friends. This friend had offered to let us borrow some of her chairs for the event.

Earlier this week I had learned that her family was moving to take advantage of a great opportunity that was offered to them. They were selling everything. I gave her a call and asked if by chance she was selling those chairs. She was.

Before leaving to get the them, I asked my poor sore husband if he would like to ride along with me. Not really feeling up to it, but knowing how much I enjoy his company, he agreed.

We jumped into the SUV.

Now my friend doesn’t live far, but it was farther than what he was expecting. I had forgotten he didn’t know she and her family had just moved a few months ago.

As we pull up to her driveway I suddenly remembered when I picked the chairs up the first time, I was in my four-door sedan. We didn’t need to drive the SUV. But Mike quickly reminded me, if we took the car, we would have had to empty the trunk.

Oh, that’s right.

I jumped out, got caught up briefly with my friend and her husband, then grabbed the chairs from the side of her house where I had dropped them off a month ago.

I joked with her that it would have been more convenient if I was one of those friends that held on to things they borrow for months so then I could have just dropped off the money since the chairs would still be at my house.

After loading up, my husband and I were back on our way home with me filling him in on the amazing adventure my friends were about to begin.

Then there was a POP!

You guessed it. A flat tire.

I quickly pulled into the first driveway. And my husband went to town on changing the tire.

Quick little side note…

Praise God for kids who don’t bring their beach towels into the house after swimming trips from Grandma’s. And Homeless Packs that have umbrellas in them.

Mid day blowout in the Arizona sun, they were a lifesaver, although my husband still looked like he might die.

As I watch my amazing husband fast at work I couldn’t help but thank God.

Thank you God for keeping my husband safe in his accident.

Thank you for blessing us with an extra vehicle to get him around.

Thank you for awesome friends who offer us their vehicle.

Thank you for letting me forget I didn’t need to bring the SUV.

Thank you for giving me an opportunity to drive the SUV a short distance from our house.

Thank you for not letting my husband drive the SUV to work on this tire.

Thank you for letting my husband ride with me.

And most importantly, thank you so much for allowing my husband to pick me. I think he’s awesome. I think he’s amazing. I think he’s humble. I think he’s strong. I think he’s brave. I think he’s caring. I think he’s the best man for me!

Lord, thank you. I see what you’ve done here. Thank you.

I love you, too.

Overwhelming Grace

Sometimes the grace of God overwhelms me.

I was almost done with my first job of the day. I reached in my purse to pull out my work phone.

The verification form that documents where I was and what I was doing needed to be signed.

However, before I opened it. I noticed my husband had tried to call me. That’s weird, since he only calls my personal phone.

Not too concerned, I got the signatures I needed then proceeded to the nearest bathroom.

Once there I pulled out my personal phone that was completely blown up with alerts. I had notifications from social media, email, private message, and two missed calls.

I looked at the missed calls first. Both were from my husband, but he didn’t leave a message. I’m thinking maybe something happened with one of our kids and was checking to see if I was available to pick him up.

Earlier this morning, as I was filling up the dogs’ bowls, one of our kiddos informed me he had taken two of the little pink pills for his allergies.

“Good luck dude. Those are Benadryl. They’re going to knock you on your butt.”

I was sure the school had called my husband asking if someone could pick him up to sleep it off.

After responding to each notification their icons, one by one, disappeared.

But wait a minute. There’s a text message I hadn’t seen. It was from my husband. Oh, he did leave a message. But it wasn’t to ask if I could pick up a kid.

No, he had been in an accident. He was ok, but wanted me to know.

I immediately left the office to call him.

No answer. No answer. No answer.

What is going on?

I call my scheduler at work. No answer. No answer.

I call my supervisor. No answer.

Oh my gosh! Some people need to answer their phones!

I finally get ahold of someone. She clears my day, so I can attend to my husband, who finally has called me back.

He’s ok. His big beautiful truck is not. The other driver lost her car too, but was otherwise fine, aside from being shook up and a wrist burn from her airbag deployment.

Everythings ok, all things considering.

We have insurance. We have Gap. It’s Friday, and he’s off tomorrow.

“Are you ok?” he asks me.

I am. I am. But I’m not.

Fear has crept in.

What’s going to happen? What does all this mean? What do we need to do?

All these thoughts fill my head as I try to calmly, but urgently drive to my husband.

The traffic thickens. Slows. Eventually comes to a stop. And now I sit on the freeway.

Great.

Inch by inch. Foot by foot. Then slowly but surely we all start to move again.

What was that?

I glanced over across the median, at the traffic going to opposite direction.

Cars are facing backwards, sideways and metal everywhere.

Suddenly this HUGE wave of love rushes over me.

Why, God? Why do you love me so much? Why is it, every “disaster” I face, I feel your protection?

My eyes swell up with tears.

It’s his grace.

His undeserving grace.

I joke that I’m his favorite. I JOKE. I know he has no favorites. But seriously? I’m not this lucky.

I am overwhelmed by love.

Who I Am, is Much Bigger Than Me

Someone recently asked me, how I did it? How can I be so involved? How can I have a job and a family and still do more?

Well…

I was once told serving Christ; being a Christian was a full time job. Well, it’s actually more than that.

I have a full time job. I’m an interpreter, and it’s the best job ever!

I meet new and familiar people, everyday.

I get the honor of being apart of someone’s health care team.

For most of what I interpret for, it’s to share information that will improve the quality of someone’s life.

THAT’S PRETTY AWESOME!

But it’s only a small part, a very small part, of who I am.

I’m a wife and mom.

This is a bit bigger than a full time job.

Even sometimes when I’m doing my full time job, I am called away to be a wife or mom.

I’m always on duty. During the day, and in the middle of the night.

And it’s great!

I get to serve my husband so he doesn’t have to worry if his house is in order, or if his children are safe.

And I get to raise my children in a way that they may one day become the men and woman that God intends for them to be, to do the things he intends them to do.

SUCH HONORS!

Being a wife and a mom is much bigger than my full time job, but it’s still just a part.

Being a Christian; being a follower of Christ, THAT’S SO MUCH MORE!

Take my full time job away.
Take my husband.
Take my children….and what am I?

I’m still a Christian.

I’m still a follower of Christ.

Would the remainder of my life still look like it?

My identity is in Christ.
Not in being an interpreter.
Not in being a wife.
Not in being a mom.

Being a Christian is EVEN BIGGER than my much bigger than full time job, of being a wife and a mom.

It’s who I am. All of me. First and foremost!

So does my life reflect that?

I hope so.

To Change the World

I want to change the world.

For me, my world is not the people on the streets, or the children living in poverty on another continent, oceans away from me.

That world is much too big for little o’ me.

No, my world starts with those people who are the closest to me.

My family, my friends, my coworkers, my former schoolmates, my neighbors, my acquaintances…

People I interact with and do life with everyday.

I want to be surrounded by so much love; by so many people who live life for others.

I want my children to be brought up in a community that is for each other, and not against.

I dream of a day, where we all move as one body, doing the works of Jesus. Bringing heaven to earth, to reach out to the people on the street, and the children living in poverty on another continent, oceans away from me.

I don’t care what church they go to. Or don’t go to.

I don’t care, what city, state or country they live in.

I don’t care who they voted for. Or if they did.

I want to see my community move, not because the church tells them, but because Jesus moves them.

I want to see a community where the Spirit dwells within them, richly.

I want to change the world by encouraging, supporting and showing.

It’s so simple, but it’s not so easy.

Many people are full of good intentions or excuses, but good intentions and excuses do not fulfill transformation!

The Spirit of the Lord is not silent, still, or too busy.

I dream of a day where my community not only reaches up, but also reaches out. A community that not only listens, but obeys. A community that stops acting like sheep and starts shepherding.

Every. Day. All day.

Serving the Lord is a full time job. It requires overtime. Sacrifice. It’s sometimes grueling, but most the time rewarding.

It’s a lifestyle.

It’s a lifetime.

And one day the opportunity will be gone.

Make this day, and everyday, count. They are numbered and are running out.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. – John 10:10

Is the thief stealing, killing and destroying your time? Or are you living your life to the fullest? Are you living out all the opportunities Jesus has made for you?

So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless. – James 2:17

My life is not my own. I was not put here for my own gratification. I am not here to see how successful I can become, how many riches I can aquire, or how much freedom I can possess.

May the Lord use me as he sees fit. May he take all that I have for his glory. May I be emptied so that He may fill me. May there be less of me and more of him.

I live only so that one day I may hear, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

So are you with me? Can you help me?

If someone reaches out to you, will you pick up the phone? Will you help them move? Or watch their kids? Will you ask those who are hurting, how you can help? Will you LOOK for who has a need, and fill it? Will you welcome those who are pushed aside, or shunned from society? Will you give second chances and offer forgiveness? Will you cry with your neighbor? Will you do more than just pray for them?

Will you stop being offended and serve them instead? Will you stop sitting in a pew and start representing our King? Will you stop saying, I’m too busy?

Because, we can all can ask, and we can all listen, and this IS following Jesus.

We are on assignment!

Will you be the church with me Every. Day. All. Day?

I want to change the world. And my world starts with you!

I Want to Read My Bible, but…

I recently started a woman’s Bible study. We’re reading through the book, A Woman After God’s Own Heart.

Many years ago, once I returned back to the church I questioned how I was suppose to act as a Christian woman. I didn’t have role models in place to glean from, then. So I took to reading.

I picked up the book written by Elizabeth George, A Woman After God’s Own Heart. It radically changed my life. And little tips from the book helped me start making new habits that helped me grow as a Christian woman.

My group and I are presently in chapter two. It’s about reading our Bibles daily.

I have to say way back when I first read this book, this part was super hard. I wanted to read my Bible, but it was too complicated for me. And it was a great book, but I just didn’t see how it applied to my everyday life.

So I set out to find a way that one, I could understand and two, was relevant to my life.

Here is what I found that worked for me.

There are many, many ways to read the Bible.

I’m certainly not suggesting this is the only way, or that it will even resonate with everyone. But what do you have to lose?

1) Pick a topic you would like to learn about.

The Bible is packed with lessons. You can’t learn them all at once. Pick one.

Some beginning suggestions.
The face of God: What does God look like?
Women: How was I designed to be?
Fear: What does God say about Fear?

More focused suggestions.
Christian Living: How should I be living?
Mental illness: How does God feel about my son?
Honor your mother and father: How can I honor my mother, if I don’t like her very much?

2) You don’t have to read every. single. word.

Skim, with caution. Will you read anything about, Fear in the genealogy of Jesus? Probably not. But do be careful. Once you narrow your search and become more focused on a topic, you will find lessons sprinkled out all over, in places you never saw before. It’s so exciting to find hidden treasures!

3) WRITE IN YOUR​ BIBLE!

You’re going to miss stuff. You’ll want to remember stuff. You’ll want to go back and find stuff. You’ll want to reread stuff. You gotta, gotta, gotta mark up your Bible.

God won’t get mad. He’s thrilled! He wants to encounter you there. Let him. We’re stupid. We can’t see him through all the other words. He’s talking to you, so make his words stand out and speak.

4) Whenever you come across something that has to do with your topic you’ve selected, underlined it. And move on.

You don’t have to stop and meditate on it (unless it really hit you, and you want to). Don’t assume everything has some great, Aha! moment. It won’t. But accumulatively, it will.

5) Start anywhere.

I like to start from the beginning, but I guess you don’t have to. Just make sure you don’t miss anything. If you start in the New Testament, make sure you finish in the Old. We may not be under the old law anymore, but there is still a lot of lessons to be learned, or supported in there. And don’t jump around. You start the book of John, finish the book of John before you move onto something else. Again, you’ll miss stuff.

6) If you don’t have time, read until you can underlined something, then put it away until tomorrow.

A common excuse for not reading the Bible is, I don’t have time. You don’t need a lot of time. But I can tell you, there’s been plenty of times where I thought the same thing so I decided I would only read until I found the next section that talks about my topic, and then when I look up I’ve realized I’ve not only done that but find myself several chapters passed it and 30 minutes late. Don’t even care. I’m on fire!

If you don’t have a lot of time, be disciplined, not neglectful.

7) If you have questions, write them down.

Then call or email your pastor. They love this kind of stuff! They want to know you are reading. Another common excuse for not reading the Bible is, it’s too hard to understand. Pastors’ want to be there to answer any and all of your questions. Sometimes it means they gotta go searching for the answer too. That’s good. It keeps them on their toes.

8) Don’t do more than one topic at a time.

It may take you a year to get through one topic, but that’s ok. You need to stay focused. If you start different Bibles with different topics, you’ll get lost again. It won’t be as meaningful as one topic would. You don’t have to mediate on everyday readings, because once you start reading about the same thing everyday it starts sink in and changes stuff inside of you. Narrowing your focus is important.

So, when you’re done, guess what?
YOU’VE READ THE BIBLE! THE WHOLE BIBLE! That’s huge! Not many can say that. Ask yourself,

“What did I get out of that?”
“Did I encounter God?”
“What is he trying to tell me?”

And if you don’t know, flip to anywhere in the book and look at what you’ve underlined.

Now wasn’t that just the coolest thing, EVER!?

What do you do from here?

9) We’ll pick up another Bible, silly.

But remember to lable your topic in the front of each book. I’ve learned this lesson the hard way.

You’ve got a lot that God wants to talk to you about. He’s just waiting for you to listen.

Let me know what works for you as you’ve read your Bible, and if you try what I’ve suggested, let me know how that went too. I’d love to see how you grow!

The Drunk, the Crack Head, the Lazy Fat Girl, and the Fabulous and Over the Top Drag Queen with the Beautiful Dress and the Gorgeous Hair

This is the post I may lose friends over. However, no one really reads my blog, so whatever.

Yesterday, I was listening to a conversation between two of my friends. One of which is a lesbian, and hearing her beliefs about life and death, God and sin.

My heart broke.

I wanted to share my beliefs too, but I knew it wasn’t the time.

I could hear she had already been verbally beaten up by other Christians by her use of, “hate the sin but love the sinner.”

She added, “But I don’t think I’m doing anything wrong. I am not sinning.”

Now she knows what a Jesus freak I am. But it’s not because I’ve ever shoved him down her throat.

When asked, I have shared. During this conversation, I was not.

But if I could have said something, it would have been this.

I don’t believe our bodies that we have today, function the way God had originally designed them. There are diseases, disorders, anomalies, deformities and so many other mutations, people everywhere are living with.

It may be caused by pollutants, genetics, or accidents. But sin is everywhere.

Sin is the absence of God.

We live in a fallen world.

We have ever since the garden.

Sin is everywhere around us and even inside of us.

There is no escaping it and things have definitely changed because of it.

That’s why God sent his son; to save us from it.

I am fat. I can diet, I can exercise, and I will lose weight. Yet ultimately, I always go back to being fat.

Trust me when I say I don’t choose to be. I don’t want to be. But as much as I want to be thin, my body just doesn’t want to be.

It is a battle I fight everyday.

I don’t believe I was designed to be overweight. But where other people don’t give much thought about their weight, I obsess about it, all the time. Even when my weight is down it is something I still always have on my mind.

Gluttony and being lazy is a sin, and day in and day out I fight against it. My weight is an everyday struggle.

I don’t believe being homosexual was apart of the human design but for the same reasons that I’m fat, some people are gay. I don’t believe they choose to be. I don’t believe they want to be. But ultimately, they are.

Now they could fight it. They could hide it. They could marry, have children and try to disguise it, but the struggle would still be there. The sin is still there even if they don’t act on it.

Even when I hit my goal weight, I am still worshiping food.

But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. – Matthew 5:28

A sin, only needs to be a thought.

An obsession one thinks about everyday.

There’s no escaping it.

Sin is everywhere.

Sin consumes all of us.

But that’s why God sent his son.
He knew this would happen. He knew sin would keep us from him, so he sent his son to take it from us.

The most perfect sacrifice gave his life to bare our sins. All had been forgiven. So no longer will me being overweight keep me from him. And no longer will people who are gay be secluded from him.

Ours sins have been paid for!
All of them!
Everyone’s!

So although sin is still all around us and in us, we do not suffer the eternal consequences of them.

He loves us. All of us.

Now I don’t know how he will judge my friend because I do not know if she had accepted Jesus as her Lord or not. I don’t even know if she has been given accurate information about him to be able to make that kind of decision, but I do know her being gay is not going to determine her fate.

He loves her. He wants to spend eternity with her. And I would be more afraid for those who try to lead her astray by saying she is not welcomed into the throne room of God.

But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to have a large millstone tied around your neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea. – Matthew 18:6

Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check. – James 3:1-2

There is an entire community of people who have false ideas about who God is, and who they are as his children; and it’s the Christians fault.

The community has been told God doesn’t accept them. God doesn’t approve of them. God doesn’t love them and they are all going to hell.

Well, I wouldn’t want to believe or trust in a God like that either. Why would I make him my Lord and Savior if he died for everyone but me?

It’s almost as if they’re not allowed to believe in Christ.

Oh, I would be very worried if any word came from my mouth that would push someone farther away from God, rather than closer. I would be very very afraid.

Jesus loved sinners. He hung out with them; like all the time. They were his favorite people. He hung out with the people, who people despised the most.

Tax collectors were hated by the Jews because they were Jews who not only worked for the government that oppressed them, also but stole money from them as well.

Samaritans were half-breeds. They were not from a pure bloodline of Jewish descent. In the Old Testament they were repeatedly commanded not to intermarry between other nations.

You shall not intermarry with them, giving your daughters to their sons or taking their daughters for your sons, – Deuteronomy 7:3

With their flocks and herds they shall go to seek the Lord, but they will not find him; he has withdrawn from them. They have dealt faithlessly with the Lord; for they have borne alien children. Now the new moon shall devour them with their fields. – Hosea 5:6-7

Yes, today Jesus would be kickin’ it with the falling down drunk, the crack head, the lazy fat girl, and the fabulous and over the top drag queen with the beautiful dress and the gorgeous hair. You know why?

Cuz they’re fun!

Well that’s not why, but they are.

Because he loves them.

Flaws, sins and all. They are his children too.

He’d hang out with them just like he hung out with the tax collectors, prostitutes, adulterers, and Samaritans.

So I think, we as Christians have a lot of work to do. We have a whole community of people who don’t know the gospel. Who don’t know the good news!

Jesus loves you! Jesus died for you! He accepts you and all your brokenness life in this fallen world has given you. There is room for you in his house.

And we need to get busy.

I’m tired of having to apologize for Christians everywhere who should know there stuff, and yet, preach hate.

Jesus gave us TWO commandments. Love God and others, and to go out and make disciples. That is it.

Why are we making this much more complicated than it really is?

The Mom I Needed to Be

Years ago, I had asked my boys’ dad if I could have three of his old shirts he doesn’t wear anymore.

I wanted to turn them into pillows, so the boys would have a part of their dad when they were with me.

I had a friend of mine, who knows what she’s doing, come over to help me. Remember, I’m not a crafty homemaker by nature. And it didn’t help I had a sewing machine that belonged to my mother, and in my lifetime I know had never been cleaned.

What should have taken a couple of hours, if I remember correctly, took the entire day and then having my friend take them home to finish them on her machine.

The important thing was they got done.

But here I am, years later, and one of my sons asks if I could re-fluff his.

Seriously? You still have it? It’s not destroyed? But you destroy everything? Why didn’t you destroy this?

Yep, he still has it. But to save face I have to tell you, it’s never been washed in all the years he’s had it. Gross.

So this morning, before work, I find myself looking around the house for my seam ripper.

As I sit down at the kitchen table with his deflated pillow and my ripper, we banter back and forth about how much work this is going to take me and that he should not make me do this, and how I’m a mom and it’s my job to do this for him, because I love him.

In walks one of his brothers, and guess what? Now I have to fix TWO of them!

Why can’t you be like your other brother? His is probably in one of the garbage bags of crap that he left behind, and is in the garage somewhere. He doesn’t care anymore. Why do you?

But if course, I don’t mean it. I don’t mean any of it. True I’m not looking forward to talking on this project, but only because it makes me feel incompetent. What would take other moms an hour to do, it will take me four.

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But it grows me as a mom. It’s challenging, and difficult, and I don’t particularly enjoy any of it.

But I love my boys.

Anyone who has a child becomes a mom. Qualifications are pretty low. But the opportunities are limitless. You get to be the mom you want to be.

God knows this.

He knew I would struggle as a mom. He knew I wouldn’t particularly love every minute. He even knew I would have a hard time enjoying a lot of it.

But he knew I would step up and do it. Even if I didn’t want to.

In high school, classes would debate abortion. They probably still do. What I remember back then was I didn’t feel I really should have a say in what another woman did with her body.

I didn’t particularly like the idea of abortion, but I could think of reasons why others might have them. Rape, incest, mother’s safety, I’m sure there were others.

But as an adult, once I got older, once I found myself not living in the garden anymore, I found myself not in one, but two not ideal pregnancies.

For most of my friends, I could probably say, there was no decision to make, but really…how many of them were in my shoes?

When I found out I was pregnant with the first one, I had already had a five and one year old, and I had just left my husband, a week earlier.

We were getting a divorce and I was living back with my dad and his wife, in their three bedroom little house.

My income was around $24,000 a year.

My one year old was already showing signs of some kind of a disorder, but I had no idea what.

And remember, I wasn’t suppose to be a mom in the first place. I had no desire, growing up to be one.

(And before you say it, I was on birth control with two of my kids. The only one that was planned was the middle one…the one who has stretched me most as a mom.)

Now I’m going to be doing it alone.

Second time, I had three rambunctious boys. Oldest one was eight, youngest one was two, and my middle one was four; still not talking, destroying everything during frequent meltdowns and beating his older brother in rage and constantly fearing he would hurt his younger one.

I am unwed, and in an emotionally, verbally and quickly escalating into a physically abusive relationship.

I needed out.

So twice I asked myself, what the hell are you going to do?

I can’t say it was a hard decision to make. Of course, ultimately you all know, I kept the two babies. But it was still a decision I had to make. Or, I should say, it was a choice I felt I had.

However, although I didn’t feel very close to him at the time, I still knew God. I knew deep in my heart, he still had a plan for me, and he had a plan for these babies too.

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. – Jeremiah 29:11

Oh my gosh, it took years, YEARS, for me to stop feeling like I was being punished.

God doesn’t punish.

But I finally came to the realization, that out of all the women, in all the world, that I was the only mom who could raise these kids the way God wanted them to be raised, so that they could grow up to be the men and woman, he intended for them to be.

And they didn’t need a mom who loved to bake cookies, or could sew all their clothes. Heck they didn’t even need a mom who could or would cook half way decent food.

They just needed a mom who would try.

So here I am, sitting at my kitchen table, cursing up a storm in my head but teasing my son about having to re-fluff a pillow, when it hits me…

I needed them, as much as they needed me!

Never, ever would I have felt the need to learn to cook, if I didn’t have to cook for them.

I wouldn’t have realized I needed to start standing up for myself and not let people take advantage of me, if I didn’t have to teach them the same thing.

I wouldn’t have learned I had a voice, if I hadn’t have had to shown them they have one too.

And I wouldn’t have learned to love, if I didn’t have someone, or someones to love.

So, I need to get back to ripping two pillows apart, so I can continue learning how to love my sons.

And I can give them a hard time about it later. Cuz that’s the kind of mom they need. And that’s the kind of mom God has made me to be.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight. – Proverbs 3:5-6

Redemption Through Shame

I can’t remember which of these happened first, but they haunt me just the same.

I was once with a man, who on the surface, could be quite charming. He had the right words, when he needed them. He was a fast talker, and a risk taker.

He made me feel important and loved, but I hated who I had become.

Back then, I’d say he had a big heart. He would drive up and down the freeways, looking to help someone in despair. He would change their tire, bring them some gas, give them a lift. One time even, he gave someone our spare tire.

Well… he didn’t give it to them. He sold it. Come to think of it, 99% of the time he was given money for his “good deed.”

One time he was given a check for a couple hundred dollars from a driver of an RV. They were on their way home to California when they ran into trouble. Yeah, he brought it home to me and guess who ate the fines once they got home and cancelled the check?

But the tire… it wasn’t our tire. It was my tire.

Oh, he always promised to get me a new one. He promised a lot of things.

Everyday, in fact, up until the day we found ourselves on the side of the road with a flat and no spare.

It just so happened, on this particular day, we pulled off the side of the freeway behind another vehicle who had been abandoned by it’s driver; in search of help I suppose.

What are we going to do? I was furious we were in this predicament. I was frightened, because I didn’t know how we were going to get out of it.

By this time, I didn’t have any friends that I could turn to, and he had pretty much ran off my family. There was no AAA. He didn’t have any support. All of his friends had become wise to his ways, and no one owed him any favors.

We were stuck.

I could drama it up, and say it was a hot summer day and we had a van full of kids. But honestly, that’s not what I remember about that day.

He had this great idea.

Well, I never thought it was great, but it was an idea, and I didn’t see any other options at the time.

He took the jack from the trunk of my van, walked up to the abandoned vehicle, and proceeded to steal one of its tires.

To this day, this memory still haunts me.

Why would I allow him to do this?
Why would I have not told him, no?

“Didn’t I tell you I’d get you a tire?”, he would say.

He always had a way of twisting things. This was somehow going to make everything alright. And it did.

We got home and I’ve never spoken of it until today.

A different day, maybe before the tire fiasco, maybe after. My time with him is pretty much a blur.

This morning, we had one of his sons with us.

He had four children, but only one of them he was allowed to spend any time with.

We went to an IHOP for breakfast. I enjoyed spending time with his son. It made him look normal to me. I saw a good dad, because I wanted to.

At the end of our meal his son and I were going to use the bathroom. Not realizing they didn’t accept any cards for payment, he told me to give him my debit card, and he would use the ATM by the front door, then meet us at the car.

We were maybe two, three miles away when he asked me how I liked my free meal. What was he talking about? I gave him my debit card, it was anything but free.

“I didn’t use the ATM. Here’s your card back.”

WHAT!?

I felt sick to my stomach. I had never done anything like this before. Who was I turning into? And why wasn’t I telling him to turn around?

I can tell you why, now.

I didn’t know my worth. I didn’t know I had value.

I thought this was the best I was going to get. I was over 30, single, and had three kids.

He was handsome, charming, and interested.

Oh, he saw me coming. He knew exactly what to look for.

There are many things that had happened during our relationship that brings me shame, but these were the worst. These made me, him.

I wanted to share, because I know I’m not alone when it comes to doing something we’re ashamed of.

What we’ve done, may look different, but I assure you the feeling is the same.

Shame robs us of our feeling of worth and value. But I have to tell you, what you do or don’t do does not give you your worth.

It is who you are.

A wrinkled up, faded, crumpled $100 bill has the same value as a crisp, clean, freshly printed one. If you don’t think so, give it to me!

For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. – Romans 7:18

But I know who I belong to! He is a King. And he loves me not because I’m good. But because I’m his.

Don’t let your past describe who you are. Don’t let it determine your worth. There is nothing you can do that would increase or decrease your value. You don’t have that kind of power.

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. – Romans 8:38

Lord,
thank you for your grace, forgiveness and love. For now I know my worth.
I am Yours.