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Free-Falling into Cushy Faith

21 May
Eames Lounge Chair by Charles and Ray Eames

Eames Lounge Chair by Charles and Ray Eames (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do you sometimes freak out over concern that a chair won’t hold your weight?  If you do, you’re either a very rare person or you’re struggling with extreme obesity.  The fact is that most of us sit all of our weight in chairs every day without a second thought, and the furniture holds us up just fine.  I believe that this “chair” principle is a perfect example of how life is meant to be lived when our faith in Jesus is genuine.

My situation recently got very scary.  I actually had good reason to believe that I had a limited amount of time left in which I would be physically capable of using my hands to work on a keyboard.  Every job I’ve ever had involved typing either on a typewriter or a stenograph machine or both.  With my elbows also problematic and my hands in bad shape, how many jobs fit my capability?

So between the chronic pain and the descent of a loved one into the proverbial bottom of the barrel, life has been extremely intense and stressful.  My response at some point was to simply jump off of the cliff I was clinging to and into the arms of God.

I’ll tell you right now that it’s safe to leap into faith feet first.  Jesus caught me.  In fact, He was with me through the entire ordeal and never left me.  What was missing was my complete trust that I can rest in the Lord as comfortably as I rest my tucas in my favorite reading chair.

My hands have improved tremendously, and I have two new employers who, together, are prepared to keep me working as a writer full time for good pay.  Wow!  And praise the Lord, right?  My loved one is the subject of prayers every day, and I’m trusting and resting in the Lord regarding the outcome.

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Back From the Dark Side

20 May
Jesus is considered by scholars such as Weber ...

Jesus seems nearer as I read the new Testament through in a year. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Where have I been?  Reserving my capacity for typing for my job.  My May 1st move was very tough on my health issues that affect my elbows and hands.  I could barely get any work done, and it just wasn’t right to neglect work in order to blog.  I still have to pace myself, but the intensity of the problem has vastly improved.

There’s a lot of technology available that types by speech, and I hope to use that someday, to take some of the pressure off of my hands.  Will that work, though?  Is it in my price range?  I don’t know.  So I’ve prepared a backup source of income; I’m an Avon representative.  Years ago I had success selling Avon — back when I lived in Wyoming.  It’s a great business opportunity, something I can vouch for by personal experience.  If my hands, heaven forbid, become gnarled, an Avon income will help!  Met some super-friendly ladies on my Avon “team.”  They helped me get pumped up, and I already have my website all set up:  www.yourAvon.com/stevie.

The kids and I are truly enjoying our new home, even though unpacking everything is creeping along at a snail’s pace because of my limitations.  Most of the apartment looks great, though.  Something about this new place of ours gives me the oddest sense of being back in my childhood home.  It’s pretty awesome.

There’s a lot to be thankful for.  I have an amazing new employer who needs lots to be written, and he believes in paying writers a good wage for their work.  Thank You, Lord!

My bedroom came complete with a three-way-mirror, and looking at myself full-length several times a day is serving as a great motivator to lose weight!  Not liking what I see.

The best thing that’s going on besides the joy the kids give me every day is my read-the-New-Testament-in-a-Year plan that I’m following through Bible Gateway.  It’s wonderful to start the day reading about Jesus.  I find myself meditating more on the miracles of God these days.

I’m able to blog again, which seems like another of God’s miracles.

Caught between Dorothy’s Joy and a Wicked Witch’s Demise

26 Apr
Cropped screenshot of Judy Garland from the tr...

Cropped screenshot of Judy Garland from the trailer for the film The Wizard of Oz. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My spiritual high Monday, which involved an irresistible urge to pray all day long, was a day which produced an unexpected miracle  cluster.  My daughter Maddie is like the lion in the Wizard of Oz who found his courage.  She was hired for a position which represents a significant raise and promotion; she earned it by working hard far below her pay level for years.  My daughter Emily — like the scarecrow who had a brain, after all —  landed a high-paying job the same day she quit a job in which she was unmercifully used and worked much like a slave in management.  Funds I’ve been waiting for were released to me, and I got hired by a generous employer who actually believes writers should get paid well for the difficult job of writing.  It was a river of relief that seemed as simple as a snap, like when all Dorothy had to do to get her heart’s desire was to tap her slippers three times and say, “I want to go home.”

But my financial relief and physically taxing relief aren’t quite here; and, sparing the details, the pressure on me could be compared to being that wicked witch that was unfortunate enough to have a house land on her.

In moments like this, though dramatic, I think of all that Jesus suffered when he was beaten and hung on the cross.  The movie The Passion of the Christ gives a glimpse of what our Savior suffered through.  But the result of all that horrific difficulty and pain was a glorious resurrection and the opening of a stairway to heaven for all who believe in the Son of God.

Through my wincing, I believe that on the other side of this trial is an even bigger breakthrough than what my family experienced on Monday.  God is good, and He doesn’t let His children suffer without good reason.  The life of a Christian is a life of purpose which puts an anticipation of joy into every sweat drop of human suffering.  My rejoicing by faith doesn’t look like much on the outside right now; but on the inside, I’m giving God and His goodness a standing ovation.

 

 

Clipped by a Nasty Wave

18 Apr

Today I was swimming along through my day just fine.  Then suddenly it was as though a huge, unexpected wave knocked me off my feet and had me gasping for air.  When I finally quit struggling, it was like I sort of washed up to shore, emotionally and physically drained.

What do you think that was?  Well, since I had finally started walking in a much greater measure of peace, I believe it was that old spiritual struggle in which Satan is always trying to knock us down and God’s angels always pick us back up.

I imagine that my efforts to pull out of the ruts of my life are like the last leg of a marathon race.  Never raced in a marathon, but it’s got to be painful and sometimes numbingly so.  It probably is completely true that to finish strong in life or in a race, there must be some level of pain.

At times like these I ask myself what there is to be uptight and overly stressed about.  My dependence is upon God, though I do have to work really hard to take care of my responsibilities with the excellence I’m striving for.  The good Lord will give me the strength and provision I need day by day.

All any of us have to do is keep treading water until our feet touch bottom or somebody throws us a flotation device.

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“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.  Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.  For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”  Ephesians 6:10-13  NKJV

A Grieving Toddler Deals

16 Apr

We made a donation of gently used baby toys to KinderCare, the daycare where Aubrianna spent most of her first 2 ½ years.  She was greatly loved at her little school, and she loved being there.  After we said hello to the last teacher she had, who genuinely misses Aubrie, we got back in the car to go home.  Just before we pulled into our driveway, Aubrie started crying, “I want my school!”  She wailed for a few minutes.  I could feel her grief.

Three seems like a young age to experience grief, but that’s not the only sorrow this little girl knows.  After all, I have adopted her and Logan.  They love me and are happy to be with me, but they also love their mother and know their dad.  It’s got to be confusing.

I’m actually glad that grief is part of the human experience.  If we didn’t have deep sorrow, we may never reach for heaven, where there will be no sorrow or grief.  There’s no one I pity more than a person who has never had an inclination to say a prayer out of desperation; God is found by people who pray those kinds of prayers.

The deeper the sorrow, the greater the joy that follows.  Jesus taught this principle when He was criticized for allowing a woman of poor reputation to wash his feet.  And He also made the point strongly throughout His ministry that the religious people who thought they didn’t need God’s Son were missing out on God’s salvation.

Aubrie wailed for only about 3 minutes; and then she pulled out some learning books, because that’s what she misses most.  Her grief has a served a good purpose today.  I’ll redouble my efforts to inject teaching time into our daily routine.  Memorizing Bible scriptures may be a perfect place to start, since her daycare already taught her all the basics, such as colors, shapes, and letters.

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Luke 7:36-47

New King James Version (NKJV)

A Sinful Woman Forgiven

36 Then one of the Pharisees asked Him to eat with him. And He went to the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to eat. 37 And behold, a woman in the city who was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at the table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of fragrant oil, 38 and stood at His feet behind Him weeping; and she began to wash His feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head; and she kissed His feet and anointed them with the fragrant oil. 39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him sawthis, he spoke to himself, saying, “This Man, if He were a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner.”

40 And Jesus answered and said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.”

So he said, “Teacher, say it.”

41 “There was a certain creditor who had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 And when they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both. Tell Me, therefore, which of them will love him more?”

43 Simon answered and said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.”

And He said to him, “You have rightly judged.” 44 Then He turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has washed My feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head. 45 You gave Me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in.46 You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil. 47 Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.”

Out of a Trance and Facing the Original Big Fear

12 Apr

”]Cover of "Matrix-Trilogy [Blu-ray]"Didn’t the mass population in The Matrix sort of go through the motions of life without truly living?  That’s how I remember it, anyway.  At this point in my life, with no clue where to move as we leave this toxic apartment, I believe God may be giving me a wake-up call, as though I’ve been just going through the motions without committing to living for Him the way I’m supposed to.  Do you know who I think has a much better grasp on living for God than most of the rest of us?  The Amish.

No part of me believes for a second that I could exist as an Amish person because I’ve always been such a staunch individualist and entirely too impractical.  But I aspire to change my daily routine and my consistent actions as a parent raising these two young ones in my care.  I’m responsible for raising two grandchildren, ages 8 and 3; have I mentioned that?

I’m facing such a dark time right now, since where I’m supposed to live is so uncertain.  And it’s ironic because when I first became a Christian part of the reason I chose to marry the man I did (the wrong man) was because of the security of having a home.  He had established a career at a young age, and he was more responsible than any young man I’d ever met.  (Enough about the unfaithful ex.)

One of the first things I came to an agreement with God about was that, since I’ve always loved “home” and could easily panic about problems related to where home is, I would trust Him completely as regards every place I live for the rest of my life.   (This was after realizing that my marriage was a bit of a nightmare.)

And yet here I sit in a toxic apartment in which all kinds of personal turmoil with other family members has got each of our three lives reeling.  It’s like we aren’t on sound footing.  The toddler has taken to nervous eating, though I’m not going to let that continue, for her sake.  We’ll get more active together starting tomorrow.  And my 8-year-old has been consistently on his worst and most defiant and disobedient behavior.

The Bible talks about rejoicing always, and I believe we really are supposed to do that.  And right now, in spite of the yuckiness of the place I’m currently in, I am excited knowing that God is going to use this experience to set me on a better path to serving Him in the home.  An improved “me” will emerge from this creepy juncture of my short stay on the earth.

And while many people may think that living the way the Amish do is a bit creepy, I think it’s a great example.  I believe God intends us to be intentional in our separation from the ways of the world and in our devotion to Him.  And one of the most wonderful aspects of the Amish life is community – home and family and community life is very strong.  None of the faithful would ever have to wonder where they’re going to be laying their head for the next year.

Oh, wow, it just came to me that Jesus once said he had nowhere to lay His head.

You see how all over the place I am?  That’s one of the effects of not knowing where my place in the world is.  Very disconcerting.  Good thing God is so very faithful.  All will be well.

I’m Buried and I Can’t Dig Out

11 Apr

When I’ve needed a pep talk the most is typically when I have the most trouble giving one to myself, and that has been the case lately.  My situation has been so difficult and yet personal on several levels, I’ve had no words.  Even now, I don’t want to expose all the details of my struggle.  Don’t we all have at least a little something that we could complain about, if we really wanted to grumble?

Here’s the gist of my dilemma:  God hates complaining, and I have trouble knowing how to write sometimes without feeling that I’m partly airing grievances while tacking on a word of faith at the end.

And right now I don’t feel at all like a victorious Christian, although I believe that I am.  I’m clueless about how things are going to work themselves out, which is a very helpless feeling.  I don’t know what to do!

Česky: Kříže - symbol utrpení Ježíše Krista a ...

My hope is in Jesus and all He accomplished for me on the cross. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here’s one detail:  I just moved into this lovely, spacious apartment three weeks ago.  And because of the toxic air that even the landlord acknowledges, I must move.  Yes, they need to take responsibility; but if they don’t fully own it, I’m not capable of covering for their mishap at the moment.

And, Lord, where should we live?  I feel a little lost mostly for that reason.  I haven’t recovered from the recent move, and I’m physically disadvantaged because my arms and hands, which are permanently injured, are weakened and hurt more than usual.  So I don’t know where in the world to move and I don’t know how on earth I can achieve it apart from the management paying for me to be packed and moved, as I believe is only fair.

Here’s the pep talk part of this entry:  I have no doubt that this trial will ultimately work for my good because God is my Lord; I’m not trying to do my own thing.  (Right now I wonder if I have already somehow made a departure from God’s path; but since I’m not walking in any area of habitual sin that I’m aware of or trying to fulfill my own agenda, I’m inclined to believe I’m on the right track.)

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Romans 8:28

New King James Version (NKJV)

28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.