Why I Worship

Believe it or not, last night was the first time I have ever been to a Christian music concert. Well, actually still haven’t really attended one. I was there as a volunteer for World Vision International. That was my first time too.

It was cool to see so many people worshipping God in one place. The verse that came to me as I stood up high in the upper seating of the Talking Sticks Resort Arena, looking down was,

For the Scriptures say, “‘As surely as I live,’ says the LORD, every knee will bend to me, and every tongue will confess and give praise to God.'” – Romans 14:11.

No, the arena was not sold out, but still there were hundreds of people sitting and standing with their arms held high, not necessarily because the band was good (which of course they all were) but because the message was.

You are not alone. Press into him. You are loved. He has overcome death. You are saved.

For four hours, hands were held high. Sometimes the artist would back away from the mic so you could hear the worship of the crowd. It was surreal.

I remember, years and years ago, seeing commercials for WOW Hits. They are music CDs performed by Christian artists. Now this was before I became a fully committed follower of Jesus, but there was something about those 30 second videos that had me memorized.

For 30 seconds they would show crowds of people on their feet, lifting their hands to Jesus, and praising him. I would sit in my living room and feel compelled to raise my hands too. But never would.

Last night, I felt I to got to experience my own WOW moment. It was amazing.

I have to be honest though. That wasn’t the coolest part of the night.

No, the coolest part was being able to help 23 children become sponsored, through World Vision International.

For fifteen minutes I got to walk up and down the vertical aisle, with my hand held high, holding a picture of a little boy or little girl, and seeing Jesus work in two places, thousands and thousands of miles apart, at the same time.

THAT WAS THE MOST AMAZING PART!

Twenty-three, TWENTY-THREE little kids, and their families, are going be greatly impacted because 23 people committed to serving God’s children, and Jesus let me be apart of it.

I can’t tell you how grateful I am of that. You see, I was blind, but now I see.

There was a time my life when I couldn’t see Jesus. My life was dark. I felt no hope.

But he saved me!

Now I see him every time I open my eyes. I look for him. I hunt for him. I seek him.

And he lets me see him!

He went up to the open coffin, took hold of it, and the men who were carrying it stopped. He said, “Young man, I’m telling you to come back to life!” The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother. – Luke 7:14-15

Jesus is still resurrecting people to this day. I am one of them. And I will search, and seek him to the day I die. Never ever will I allow the darkness to overshadow me again.

My prayer, is in my search, others will follow, and I will guide them to the one who saves.

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. – Ephesians 2:4-5

I worship him, not because he demands it, but because he is worthy of it. I once was lost, but now I’m found.

Thank you, Jesus!

How it’s Suppose to Be

It’s been five months now, that Tunes has left our house. I miss him a lot.

A few weeks ago my husband cleared out his room. It was time. What he didn’t take with him are packed in bags and secure in our garage.

We played around with ideas about what to do with his room. I even briefly dreamt of a craft room for myself, but know I still have too many kids at home for that.

Ultimately, we decided to separate our next two oldest boys. They’re both in highschool now and could use the space and privacy. It was a good decision.

When the room was cleared out, my awesome husband also patched his walls and painted. This last weekend he ripped out all the old carpet that came with the house when I bought it, and laid down the same flooring he installed in the other public areas of the house. It looks very nice, very clean.

We bought some room darkening shades he’s going to install and he mentioned we still needed to buy a ceiling fan because it got so hot in there while he was working.

I agreed. Tunes often complained how hot it was in his room.

(Deep sigh.)

I told my husband I loved everything he’s doing to the room. It looks great, but it also upsets me.

He immediately tried to console and told me what he was doing in Gamer’s room, he also planned to do to the other kids’ rooms as well.

That wasn’t it.

This was Tunes’ room. For eight years my little boy slept there, changed there, was sent there. He lived there. It was his.

There were holes in the wall where he hung his TV up, only to move it and to move it again.

There was a big pink stain from some kind of an experiment he was working on that he couldn’t get cleaned up, or hidden.

The curtain rod was wobbly and bent from all the weight of the many blankets he would drape over it to block the light out and then, since his bed was up against the window, would lean on and pull down. I swore he was going to fall through that window some day.

I just feel sad. I feel I let him down. I never got around to making his room nice before he left. I wanted to do that for him. Just like so many other things I wanted to do for him but didn’t. He was in too much of a hurry to get out.

I hope he knows I would have. It wasn’t that I didn’t love him, or didn’t think he was important. I just thought I had more time.

I didn’t leave “my” house until I was 23. I was working and going to college. But by then, my mom had already left. My parents were on the path of divorce. Which was fine with me. She had lived there, but really she had been gone for years.

Maybe that’s the difference. I’m here. I’ve always been here. I’ll always be here.

I don’t know. Maybe this is the way it’s supposed be.

He’s doing really well, from what he’s told me. He’s struggling, but managing.

Everything he’s doing just seems really scary to me. I’m glad he’s not controlled by my fear. I’m proud of him for facing his own.

Today, Justice came home from his dad’s and saw what has been done to the room. He joked with me and asked,

“Hey mom, what’s Gamer doing in Tunes’ room?”

Yeah, I don’t really know. But I’m happy for him. I’m happy for them both.

Prejudice, the Absence of Love

To end prejudice, I believe it takes more than teaching our children not to hate.

We really need to teach them to love.

Love, especially those who hate you.

But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! – Matthew 5:44

I never taught my children to hate. I never taught them to be prejudice, but they have learned it just the same.

Due to circumstances of a divorce, three of my boys went to an inner city school where they were of the minority who were targets of prejudice. I’ve written about their experience before.

And although my daughter never went to the same school, she too, has similar experiences at another one.

My biggest regret in that whole season of our lives, is I never taught my boys to love; to love those who hate, to love those who are hard to love.

My daughter on the other hand, I taught her to pray for those who teased her and called her names.

After trying to fix the injustice for my boys by talking to their teachers and going to the principal, I learned nothing was going to change. I felt helpless and hopeless. And even though they were getting a great education, I transferred them to a lower performing school so they could feel safe.

But they never did feel safe again. They had already learned fear. They had already learned not everyone supports them. Not everyone cares for them. And in fact, there are those who are out to get them and mean them harm.

All of that has followed them into their new schools even though the threats are gone and have been gone for a long time.

So when I learned of my daughter experiencing something similar, I became heartbroken. I immediately felt helpless and hopeless all over again. I knew there was nothing I was going to be able to do to fix this, to make her feel safe.

I told her we’re going to have to take this to God. We were going to have to pray for those who hurt us, because we know those who hurt, are hurting too.

Since then my daughter has shared stories with me of her classmates; horrible stories. Stories of pain and suffering no child should hear, much less experience. Stories of neglect, and abuse. Stories of children living without a home. Stories of children living without a mom or a dad. Stories of homicide and of suicide.

Stories that I would never allow my child to watch on TV or see in a movie are being lived out in real life by my child’s classmates. These are eight, nine, and ten year olds sweet children of God.

My heart hurts.

These children are hurting. These children are lashing out. These children need to be loved on, not punished. These children need a hope for their future.

Maybe that’s why my boys didn’t receive much sympathy when I tried to address the issue. In light of what other children were experiencing, our concerns were small in comparison. And to resolve our present situation would require the situations of other children to be addressed as well. And for that, they had no answer, no solution.

But in school, there is no hope of a solution because there is no God there.

So I taught my daughter to pray.

If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also. – Luke 6:29

One day I was sitting in the principals office talking about a little girl who was threatening to cause my daughter physical harm and two weeks later, as I was driving up to the school to drop her off, she was yelling this little girl’s name out the car window, implying for her to wait for her.

I was surprised. I was confused.

In the matter of two weeks of prayer from my little girl for this little girl, God revealed a story that softened my daughters heart to show love instead of hate, and from that love grew an unlikely friendship.

I’m so proud of my daughter. Her strength amazes me. It is not easy to pray for someone who hurts you, and yet she still does. Every night at prayers, I listen to a long list of names she has asked God to share his grace and mercy with.

I know there is not a lot we can do as individuals, but maybe some little girl or boy who is living a nightmare right now, can see a glimpse of Jesus’ love through the prayer and actions of my little girl. What if through a little girl, who looks different than them, showed them genuine love, like no one who looked like her, ever did before?

What if there were more little boys and girls like her? What if we all showed more love instead of the absence of hate?

Accepting Who I’m Designed to Be

Last week I posted something on my social media about a very striking, yet larger woman, I had seen. I commented on what she was wearing and how fabulous I thought she looked. I mentioned I really wanted to tell her how great she looked, but I knew that I wouldn’t.

2016-07-25_07.01.25

I received lots of positive feedback, encouraging me to do it, but I didn’t.

I didn’t because I really didn’t think God was trying to give her a message, as much as he was trying to give me one.

She was beautiful. She was graceful. She walked with confidence. She felt good about herself. I could see that. To say anything would be insulting.

I was envious of her. And even though she did not fit my box of what beauty should look like, she still was.

And the kicker was, she looked more like me than she did like any other beautiful woman on TV or in a magazine.

What I really wanted to tell her was, “Teach me how to be fabulous too!”

Of all the comments I received, I had one friend who knew that there was more to this encounter than meets the eye. She encouraged me to journal about it.

And I did.

Thank you Ms. Sandra; here it is.

Maybe the sin isn’t in the overeating, but in letting it stop you from being who you were design to be.

I haven’t owned this statement yet. I’m working on it.

I’ve written in an earlier post, I’m not lazy and I don’t typically over indulge. And yet, even when I restrict my diet and become more intentional about moving, I always and forever, gain all my weight back.

I can lose it. I can’t keep it off.

I could have surgery. But I don’t have the health problems that would warrant it.

Maybe, physically, I’m suppose to be exactly how I am. But I fail emotionally.

If Jesus accepts me how I am, why do I feel I need to be any different?

Why am I telling him, he’s wrong?

I know this isn’t going to change my attitude over night. I’m still going to struggle. Letting go of an ideology I’ve grown up with is not easy to let go of.

I wish I never read that book that defended I was overweight physically, and underweight spiritually. Maybe it’s not true.

Maybe it could be, for some. But maybe not for all.

I think Jesus is probably more disappointed in how I let my self-image prevent me from doing the things he’s called me to do.

I think he may be more disappointed I’ve let my weight occupy my thoughts as much as I do. Whether I am 200lbs or 130, thoughts and ideas of my weight consume me.

I have replaced my God.

They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator–who is forever praised. Amen. – Romans 1:25

Oh how I praise my Self when I have lost the weight. And oh how my Self punishes me once I put it back on. How I strive, and struggle to make my Self happy.

I worship it. I have given myself over to it. It rules me. It consumes me. It lords over me.

I keep thinking if I was smaller, things would be different. People will look at me differently. And when I say people, I mean strangers. They will respect me more. They will take notice of me more often.

Many years ago, I had seen a study (how scientific, I don’t know) that tested how people reacted to people in fat suits. It was horrible. They were ignored, they were passed over. They are shown to be in a lesser class.

This worried me. Because for some reason, I care what other people (strangers) think of me. And I “knew” I had the power to change how people look at me.

I could change it, by changing me.

But I’m starting to realize something. I’m learning that perhaps I’m not suppose to be a 130lb woman. I’m not even suppose to be a 160lb woman. Because even when I am, I’m not.

Why do I continue to strive to be someone I’m not?

Lord, please forgive me for my sins. I am sorry I have bought into the lie that my size is a reflection of who you are. I am even more sorry that I’ve aided in spreading a false message that isn’t from you, to others.

You do not condemn me for being who I am. I do that to myself.

Please wash over my thoughts and cleanse them from anything that does not come from you. Rid me of the false messages that tell me I’m not worthy; that I could be better.

Forgive me for putting my Self above you.

It would be my honor to continue serving you, while still being me; the me you’ve designed me to be.

Amen.

My Distraction

I’ve been so distracted.

Not that what I’ve been doing has been a bad thing. I just haven’t been able to do everything I want; everything I have been doing.

Stuff that I had been doing, good stuff, like walking five miles a day, making sleeping mats for the homeless, reading my Bible; looking for scripture for the Peacemaker idea, and writing consistently on my blog, has not been getting done.

What have I been doing instead? Mostly? Creating. Crocheting, specifically, but ultimately creating.

I love creating! Taking a long piece of yarn and turning it into something useful. Turning it into something beautiful.

Often when I’m trying to make something my first time, I end up taking it apart like at least five, six times. Ok, probably more. I just want it to be right. And I’m ok with taking it apart if it’s not. My first hand bag took me a week to finish it. My second one, only about a day. It’s because I’m not afraid to start over if I make a mistake. It’s good practice.

Sometimes I laugh at myself and think, God created the world in six days, yet it takes me seven to create just a bag. Quickly I am put in my place.

I don’t stop, though. I get so excited once I finish something. I just want to show everyone. I show my kids, who by the way, can’t care less. I share it on my social media, where everyone thinks I’m awesome and don’t see all my mistakes.

And I picture God being the same way with what he’s created. He probably showed, I don’t know, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, his creations after each day and he probably said, “That’s so cool! I wonder what else I can make?”

See, I don’t think God only looked at the light, after making the heaven and the earth, and thought that it was good. He probably thought, that’s STINKIN’ AWESOME! Cuz I know how excited I get after I’ve completed something out of nothing and I know my excitement has come from somewhere.

And by the time he finished making man he was probably just like DONE with it. I’ve been there too.

Tried working on a pair of shoes this weekend. Yeah, they didn’t go as planned. Let’s just say, I didn’t look at them and say, “It is good.” It was more like, “Yeah, I’m done.”

They were hard and complicated. I was a little over my head too. They frustrated the crap out of me. I eventually gave up. Brought me back to my place.

I may like to create, but I’m not God.

I’m sure he didn’t feel we were all that complicated. He wasn’t overwhelmed. But I do believe he gets frustrated with us, just the same.

But look what he’s done. He created the heavens and the earth, day one. Separated the water from the sky, day two. And he made land and trees, day three. He made the sun and the moon, day four. Birds that fly and fish that swim, day five. And on the sixth day be made man to rule over all the animals be made earlier that day.

Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good! – Genesis 1:31

He was stoked, I tell you. I know this because he created me in his image. We’re all able to create something. And those feeling we get after we do…well they come from him!

Think about that the next time you make something. You are sharing the feelings of God. What an awesome experience that is! Does it bring you closer? It should.

He’s right there…inside of you.

What an awesome distraction!

Deaf and Blind

Today I was interpreting for someone who was having trouble with her eyes. This is a huge concern for anyone, but even more so for someone who is Deaf.

I’ve met quite a few Deaf/blind people, and I have to say, they are among the most impressive people I have ever known.

But for someone who’s been Deaf all their life to suddenly lose their sight, it can be quite devastating.

During the exam she had to expose herself to tests that took away her already poor sight and made her virtually blind. She kept asking me to come closer and closer as if she wanted me so close that she could mold me into her own eyes and replace them within her own.

She didn’t like this vulnerability. I can’t say that I blame her. She had no control of her outside world and any information that it was trying to communicate with her.

She grabbed my hand to feel the signs I was using. She wasn’t terrified, but she was definitely trying to take control.

I wanted to reassure her that everything was ok; that she was safe. I didn’t. Although it would have been very compassionate of me, it wouldn’t have been professional.

The most I could offer her was remaining calm, getting as close to her as I possibly could, and letting her feel my presence.

By the time we had left the office, she had regained enough of her vision back to feel in control again and safe.

I left her, feeling confident that she no longer needed my services but she hasn’t left my mind all day.

On a physical level, I can’t possibly pretend to say I understand how she felt. It would be insulting if I did.

To be somewhere in between, being physically somewhere but completely disconnected to the environment around me. It would have to be terrifying.

Imagine the amount of trust one must have. Trust that even when you are not in control, that someone else is. Trust that no harm will come to you in a vulnerable state.

The amount of confidence one must have to maintain any quality of life. Confidence that would overcome your fear to get up everyday and move. To see what kind of impact you can make, in a world that you are disconnected from.

Perseverance. How much perseverance you must have to try and try and try again. To develop the mindset of not giving up but of endlessly trying something one more time; learning how to do something differently.

Physically, I can only imagine, however, spiritual I can say I have felt this deprivation.

I have felt disconnected from my world. I have felt out of control. I have felt vulnerable. And I have felt the need to reach out to find peace.

I live in a world that doesn’t make much sense to me. I don’t understand it’s hate. I don’t understand it’s greed. I don’t understand it’s motive. I feel very much, lost, somewhere in between; in between this world and the world of my Father.

Lord, I want to trust in you. Trust that although I am not in control, you still are. Trust that you  will keep me safe when I am vulnerable.

I want to shine your light. Give me your confidence that even though I don’t understand this world I live in, I can still relate to it. I still have purpose. I can impact it not because of my confidence, but with confidence.

Perseverance. This world is pretty brutal. I get knocked down quite a bit. I have bumps and bruises and even scars but I ask for strength to go on. Because you have asked me too. I have been sent on mission. Your mission of love in this world of hate.

Thank you for remaining calm when I feel out of control. Come close to me. May I share the eyes of your son so I may see you.

Let me feel your hands and bring me peace. I take comfort in your presence.

Lord, I am deaf and blind. Your Word says Jesus came so I might see (John 9:39).

Make these eyes of mine, see and my ears hear. All for your glory, in my spiritual blindness I say, amen.

A Special Kind of Stupid

I’m a black and white kind of gal. If it pertains to something I care for, or am passionate about, I need to know the details.

What are the rules? Something is either right or wrong, and I need to know which.

There is no, it’s something like, or kinda, and certainly not, it doesn’t matter. EVERYTHING matters.

It’s how I am.

So when I study my Bible and I read about the Israelites escaping Egypt, to cross the wilderness so that they may enter the Promise Lands and all the hardships they overcome, I think to myself,

“Man, they must have been some special kind of stupid.”

God rescues them from their captors. He guides them as a cloud by day, and fire by night. He parts the sea for them to cross and orders the waves to crash down at just the right time, thus killing their pursuers and ending their slavery.

He provides them with food. He provides them water. He keeps them safe.

He then gives Moses all kinds of rules. Laws that explain in great detail, how they should live. What is right. What is wrong.

And he eventually brings them to the outskirts of the land he is giving them!

So I’m thinking, PERFECT! Not only had God shown them, daily, he was with them; he also provided them with the run-down of how they should act and where they will live.

So how on earth could this great group of people, not once, but continually screw this up and forget who God was, need more proof that he was with them, and for the love of Pete, question his intentions and their safety?

I just don’t get it!

Until I look at myself…

I struggle with my weight and eating healthy.

I know ALL the rules. I’ve read all the books. What to eat. What not to eat.

I’ve talked to several professionals about weight loss and exercise. I know what I’m suppose to do and why.

I have friends who are nutritional specialists and friends who are personal trainers.

Everything I need has been laid out before me. The science behind all of it is extremely black and white.

And yet, time and time again I find myself broken, exhausted, and crumbling with self-doubt, disappointment and feelings of failure at the feet of Jesus, in a big fat puddle of special kind of stupidness.

I just can’t do this. Oh, I can for a little while. But as something I must do day after day? Forever? No, I can’t.

Even with all the rules I fall short, everytime.

Why God? Why does this happen?

God sent the Israelites into the wilderness for 40 years to sanctify them. To transform them from slaves into his chosen people. They had to learn what sets them apart, by being set apart.

Maybe that’s why I’m here too. Maybe my issues with my weight are to sanctify me. I need Jesus to transform me from being a slave to sin, into being, saved by Grace.

With Grace, there are no rules. There is nothing for me to do. God sent the laws to his people to show them they cannot live by them. The laws are not what saved them; what made them right with God. No, he sent his son to save us from sin; to make us right with him.

I don’t understand Grace. It doesn’t play by the rules. It is often, something like, kind of, AND whatever.

We don’t live by the law of the Old Testament anymore. We’re not judged by it.

So when I look at me and my weight. And I try so hard to follow all the rules, I get so frustrated because I can do the rules for a little while. But eventually I always, ALWAYS fall back into my old habits and gain my weight back again. Just like the stupid Israelites.

Maybe God is trying to teach me Grace, while I’m trying to force myself to live by these ridiculously hard and impossible rules that I’ve set up for myself. When Jesus is right here telling me, “Kim, what are you doing? Who are you doing this for? I love you just the way you are.”

Knowing that God sent Jesus because we can’t live by rules, and we can’t save ourselves, brings me some kind of relief.

What kind, I don’t know, but I feel relief from something.

Regardless of my weight, I am not lazy, I am not a pig, and I am not a failure. And the Israelites were not stupid.

We are all in need of a savior. And God says, his Grace is enough (2 Corinthians 12:9). So this is what I will try daily, to understand. And I will accept it, even if I don’t ‘get’ it.

Great is his faithfulness;
    his mercies begin afresh each morning. – Lamentations 3:23

Praise God for THAT!

Unlearning This Fear

Why am I so afraid?

Even if God wanted to bless me, I wouldn’t make it easy on him.

I always live like everything could be gone tomorrow.

My husband wants to buy a new truck. He needs a new truck. Could we afford it? I don’t know.

I don’t feel we’ve exhausted all of our options.

What does that look like?

We dump all kinds of money into an old beaten down vehicle only to find out there no hope to resuscitate it.

So I, for some reason, believe I have to dig hole before we even know if we have to start digging; a hole that we might not even have had to dig if we had just bought something in the first place.

It’s as if I don’t believe I deserve nice things and if I get them, I should be punished for them, not celebrating it.

This is so not Christ-like.

Christ, does not punish (Romans 8:1). He does no harm (Jeremiah 29:11). He provides for our needs (Philippians 4:19). He showers his children with love and blessings (1 Corinthians 2:19b).

Why is it so hard to accept a gift?

I am acutely aware that everything can suddenly turn south and we could lose everything. I know that everything he gives, he could also take away (Job 1:21).

But I don’t believe this is how he intended me to live. Not in fear.

Fear of the LORD is the foundation of true wisdom. All who obey his commandments will grow in wisdom. Praise him forever! – Psalm 111:10

But…

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. – 1 John 4:18

So what this tells me is, yes, everything we have we can lose, but he loves us still so much, that he would continue to provide for us.

This has been a ridiculously difficult post to write. It’s been even much harder to talk to my husband about. How can he possibly understand me?

If it wasn’t for my husband I would be living in rubbish.

He seems to be able to spend money on things that I don’t feel I deserve.

He has replaced our floors, built an additional bedroom to accommodate all our kids, remodeled our kitchen, painted almost every wall inside and out, replaced bathroom fixtures… I could go on and on.

If I was still single I can honestly say none of this would have happened.

My house would be in total shambles, but instead he has turned it into a modest palace.

This weekend has opened my eyes to just how much fear I live in. It is days like this were I feel my faith has been a huge sham. How can there be faith with so much fear?

It saddens me to know my children have been raised in my fear. I know this, because I too, was raised in the same fear.

Everything was just barely hung together. We were not a family of risk takers. If we were, I didn’t see it.

Let’s just play it safe. Don’t get our hopes up to high. If we don’t expect much, we won’t be left disappointed. If things go better than expected, well that’s a bonus.

This is not the ways of the Lord. This is not how he expected me to live. He has much bigger plans in store for his children. I am a daughter of a King!

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. – Jeremiah 29:11

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. – Psalm 3:5-6

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. – Romans 8:28

And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail. – Isaiah 58:11

But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. – Isaiah 40:31

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. – Psalm 32:8

If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. – John 15:7

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, – Ephesians 3:20

Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. – Psalm 37:4

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! – Matthew 7:7-11

Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” – Luke 6:38

You whom I took from the ends of the earth, and called from its farthest corners, saying to you, “You are my servant, I have chosen you and not cast you off”; fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. – Isaiah 41:9-10

And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen. – 1 Peter 5:10-11

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:4-7

Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. – John 14:12

Greater things than Jesus? One cannot do greater things than Jesus and still live in fear.

But this is the kind of life God intended me to live.

Lord, please forgive me for my fear. I know this is not from you and I desire to be released from it. I don’t wish myself or my children to be enslaved by it any longer. Please continue to show me my fear, and help us break this generational chain. May we rise into your glory and show our future generations the kind of life you intend for us to live. Ones that bring you praise. Ones that reflect your Son. Ones that reveal your love. May that be the generational chain that we pass on. In your Son’s name, Amen.

It’s My Birthday!

Nine years ago, today I walked into Celebrate Recovery at a church I had been attending for about a year and a half.

I was there, broken, unable to talk, with hot tears running down my face. I tried to smile as I was greeted outside, but only looked more pathetic.

The older gentlemen, who looked like he had crawled up off the street, with untamed hair, wearing just jeans and a simple t-shirt, smile wildly back at me, “You’re in the right place.”

It was my first day. It would become my birthday.

It was the day I didn’t understand how I had gotten myself so lost but knew I needed to be here.

This day, was the first day of the rest of my life. Nothing was ever going to be the same.

Bill called them weeping tears. He encouraged me to let them to flow.

They were healing tears, he would say.

Oh, I was so tired of the healing tears. They would flow for at least five more years.

He told me my soul was crying out to Jesus and that he would catch every one.

He wasn’t lying.

Step One:
We admitted we were powerless over our addictions and compulsive behaviors, that our lives had become unmanageable.

I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. Romans 7:18 

I was a divorced, single mom, of three small boys and was pregnant with my daughter. I had been in two abusive relationships. My life was out of control.

Step Two:
We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. Philippians 2:13 

I realized I was never in control. My life had become a series of reactions. Nothing and no one was guiding me.

Step Three:
We made a decision to turn our lives and our wills over to the care of God.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship. Romans 12:1 

I wanted the chaos to end. I threw myself down at my Lord’s feet. “Make it all stop! I can’t do this anymore.”

Step Four:
We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord. Lamentations 3:40 

And so I started a list. Things that had happened to me. Things I had seen. Things I had heard. Things I had remembered. Things I had done.

Even unto this day, this list grows.

Step Five:
We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. James 5:16 

My sponsor listened to me. She heard my pain. She saw my shame. And she confided in me, “Me too.”

I am not crazy. I am not alone.

Step Six:
We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character. 

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. James 4:10 

The more and more God heals my wounds, the more and more wounds he reveals. And the more and more wounds he reveals, the more dependant I become on Him.

I will never be completely healed this side of heaven, but I know he does not let me suffer alone. He does not reveal, what he does not intend to heal.

Step Seven:
We humbly asked Him to remove all our shortcomings.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9 

I now praise him for my weaknesses, for through my weaknesses, I grow closer to Him.

Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness. ”So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 2 Corinthians 12:29

Step Eight:
We made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.

Do to others as you would have them do to you. Luke 6:31

Where many never get past step four, I was stuck at eight.

I did not struggle with asking for forgiveness for the things I had done. I had, however, struggled with the fear of seeing those who I had to extend forgiveness too.

Would I be strong enough? Would I fall prey again? Would I play the victim? Have I learned anything?

I made my list.

Step Nine:
We made direct amends to such people whenever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift. Matthew 5:23-24

God kept me safe. It was made clear who I would be able to see, and who remained in the distance.

But regardless, I was still released from the chains of guilt and shame that bound me.

Step Ten:
We continue to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.

So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 1 Corinthians 10:12

Remember step four?

Step Eleven:
We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, praying only for knowledge of His will for us, and power to carry that out.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.Colossians 3:16

Nine years later, and after weeping for five, I continue to search for knowledge. My thirst has not been quenched. I still drink from living streams.

Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.'” – John 7:38

Step Twelve:
Having had a spiritual experience as the result of these steps, we try to carry this message to others and practice these principles in all our affairs.

Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore them gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Galatians 6:1

So I am here! On my ninth birthday, reaching out to you who may be weak, who may be weary, who may be weeping…

I encourage you to take your first day. To make today your birthday. To start living a life that will never be the same.

You are not crazy. You are not alone.

The Good News: A Bible Study

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the POOR.
He has sent me to proclaim that CAPTIVES will be RELEASED,
that the BLIND will SEE,
that the OPPRESSED will be set free,
19     and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.” – Luke 4:18-19 New Living Translation (NLT)

POOR – Worse than is usual, expected, or desirable; of a low or inferior standard or quality. Google

  • – Jesus uses the word PTOCHO which means – you’re so poor you are a beggar, therefore people who inherit God’s Kingdom are spiritual beggars. We come to God for help, for his crumbs, for his forgiveness. –Neverthirsty.org
Listen to me, dear brothers and sisters. Hasn’t God chosen the poor in this world to be rich in faith? Aren’t they the ones who will inherit the Kingdom he promised to those who love him?  –James 2:5 New Living Translation (NLT)
“God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him,
               for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. – Matthew 5:3 New Living Translation (NLT)

 

CAPTIVES – A person who has been taken prisoner that has been confined. – Google

34 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin. – John 8:34 New Living Translation (NLT)
23 For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. – Romans 3:23  New Living Translation (NLT)

 

RELEASED – Allow or enable to escape from confinement, set free. – Google

But now we have been released from the law, for we died to it and are no longer captive to its power. Now we can serve God, not in the old way of obeying the letter of the law, but in the new way of living in the Spirit. – Romans 7:6 New Living Translation (NLT)

 

BLIND – Unable to see, lacking perception, awareness, or discernment. – Google

8 As it is written, “God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that would not see and ears that would not hear, down to this very day.” – Romans 11:8 English Standard Version (ESV)
If the Good News we preach is hidden behind a veil, it is hidden only from people who are perishing. Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God. – 2 Corinthians 4:3-4 New Living Translation (NLT)

 

SEE – Perceive with the eyes; discern visually. Discern or deduce mentally after reflection or from information; understand. – Google

25 “I don’t know whether he is a sinner,” the man replied. “But I know this: I was blind, and now I can see!” – John 9:25 New Living Translation (NLT)
16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. – Matthew 13:16 English Standard Version (ESV)
39 Then Jesus told him, “I entered this world to render judgment—to give sight to the blind and to show those who think they see that they are blind.” – John 9:39 New Living Translation (NLT)

 

OPPRESSED – Subject to harsh and authoritarian treatment. – Google

  • – Someone or a people that is being oppressed is typically under someone else’s control or rule and they are taken advantage of and treated in a harsh or cruel way and so it is seen as the exercise of authority or power over another person or a people and using them for their own purposes in a burdensome, cruel, and unjust manner. It is usually where the people have no control of their own lives and have no freedoms and they are living in a state of bondage. – patheos.com

FREE – not under the control or in the power of another; able to act or be done as one wishes. – Google

For God says,
“At just the right time, I heard you.
               On the day of salvation, I helped you.”
Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation. – 2 Corinthians 6:2 New Living Translation (NLT)

 

I’m a little afraid to write this post today. I’m afraid I’ll come off as preachy, and I know many do not want to be preached to.

But I’m also afraid of sounding like an expert, which I so am not.

This being said, I do what I can to not allow my fear to control me. I believe fear is the biggest threat to Faith and one of satan’s tools.

That being said, I wanted to share with you one of my Bible studies, and how I did it.

So, I’m reading my Bible today and I came across the wildest thing! It’s crazy because it’s something I set out to find, and there it was!

Right there! Imagine that.

Now, don’t laugh. What I’m about to share may surprise you. I feel stupid even mentioning it, but I’m trusting I’m not alone in this, so I’m just going to say it.

I went looking in my Bible to learn what is…THE GOOD NEWS.

I know, shocking, right?

I’ve been a Christian for how long? This is something I should know. I know, you’re right.

Oh, I can tell you a lot of good things about Jesus Christ.

I can tell you why I became a Believer. I can tell you all sort of things he has done for me personally.

But when it comes down to it…when I’m called to go out (which we all are) and make disciples and share THE GOOD NEWS, I really don’t know what I’m suppose to say.

Everything comes out all weird. I sound like a crazy person. I’m all over the place.

Now maybe that works for some people. But it doesn’t work for me. I wanted to find a place in the Bible that says, “This, THIS, is THE GOOD NEWS.”

I have to be honest. In the beginning, I was scared. Now I’m reading from the New Living Translation, and I don’t even see the words GOOD NEWS until Matthew 4:23, which I guess isn’t too bad, except wait.

 Crowds Follow Jesus
23 Jesus traveled throughout the region of Galilee, teaching in the synagogues and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom. And he healed every kind of disease and illness. – Matthew 4:23 New Living Translation (NLT)

Ooo Eee! I’m about to get the memo. I’m about ready to hear what THE GOOD NEWS is. I’m ready. Next verse.

24 News about him spread as far as Syria, and people soon began bringing to him all who were sick. And whatever their sickness or disease, or if they were demon possessed or epileptic or paralyzed—he healed them all. – Matthew 4:24 New Living Translation (NLT)

Wait…what? But what IS THE GOOD NEWS?

Matthew goes on to narrate Jesus and what God blesses. So is that THE GOOD NEWS?

I can already hear your frustration in you voice. I’ve heard it before.

Kim, it’s apart of it. You’re taking this GOOD NEWS THING TOO FAR. Stop being so structured. It’s a lot of things. It’s all of it.”

Oh yes, I know. But the more I have to explain to someone about what THE GOOD NEWS is, the more muttled I am. The more open for debate I feel I become.

Moving on.

Lots of teaching. Lots of good stuff. Salt and Light, the Law, Anger, Adultery, Divorce. All good stuff. But what’s THE GOOD NEWS?

I read all of Matthew.

I read that Jesus announces THE GOOD NEWS about the Kingdom (Matthew 9:35).

He talks about the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 10:7), wha??? One thing at a time, Kim. Keep moving.

I read,

Jesus told them, “Go back to John and tell him what you have heard and seen—the blind see, the lame walk, those with leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor.” – Matthew 11:4-5 New Living Translation (NLT)

Still, I don’t know what THE GOOD NEWS is, but he’s doing a lot of stuff. Good stuff. Amazing stuff! But what’s he saying about THE GOOD NEWS?

Still reading.

35 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it. – Mark 8:35 New Living Translation (NLT)

YES! PLEASE! TELL ME!

It explains, the Kingdom of Heaven is like,

            A farmer – Matthew 13:24
            A mustard seed – Matthew 13:31
            The yeast – Matthew 13:33
            A treasure – Matthew 13:44
            A merchant – Matthew 13:45
            A fishing net – Matthew 13:37
            A king – Matthew 18:22, 23
            A landowner – Matthew 20:1

But nothing specifically about THE GOOD NEWS.

Jesus has returned to Galilee. In a synagogue in the village of Nazareth, he stands up and reads from the scroll of Isaiah. (All of Matthew. All of Mark. Nothing. Now I’m in Luke.)

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
    for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released,
    that the blind will see,
that the oppressed will be set free,
19     and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come. – Luke 4:18-19 New Living Translation (NLT)

And there it is! Did you see it?

THE GOOD NEWS is he has come to proclaim that the captives will be released, the blind will see and the oppressed will be set free

How do I know?

Doesn’t it sound familiar? Back in Matthew, Jesus told John’s disciples to go and tell him what they have seen (Matthew 11:4). But also we see it again in Luke.

21 At that very time, Jesus cured many people of their diseases, illnesses, and evil spirits, and he restored sight to many who were blind.22 Then he told John’s disciples, “Go back to John and tell him what you have seen and heard—the blind see, the lame walk, those with leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor.” – Luke 7:21-22

The time of the Lord’s favor has come!

THE GOOD NEWS!